British Columbia

Around the world by bike: Canadian couple pens book about travels

For ten years, Shahla and Peter Nygaardt pedalled their way through 77 countries and across six continents, bicycling and tenting their way around the world.

Shahla and Peter Nygaard are in B.C. touring their new book 'Decade of Discovery'

Shahla and Peter Nygaard travelled around the world almost exclusively by bike for a decade. (Culture Quest)

For ten years, Shahla and Peter Nygaard pedalled their way through 77 countries and across six continents, bicycling and tenting their way around the world.  

Now, the Edmonton couple has just released a book of those adventures called Decade of Discovery and they're back on the road again, this time by car, to share stories and highlights from the book.

CBC's host of North By Northwest Sheryl MacKay reached them as they headed into B.C.

"We had grown a curiosity of the world," Peter said. "We thought about travelling a little bit and the more we thought about it, the more the thought grew into 'Well, we really are curious about the whole world so why don't we try to do the whole world in one stint.'"

And that's exactly what they did — the world in one decade-long stint.

Peter and Shahla Nygaard are in B.C. touring their new book. (Culture Quest)

World adventures

Shahla and Peter started off from Germany on foot and by the time they made it to Greece, four months later, they decided they needed a new mode of transport.

"By this point, we knew that walking was not for us," Shahla said. "It was really hard to keep ahead of the weather and it was getting colder and colder by the day."

Beyond weather concerns, there was the pain of so much walking.

"Our shoulders were sore, our hips were bruised and bloodied from the straps of our backpacks and our feet were suffering from athlete's foot," she said.

Shahla Nygaard on the road in Turkey. (Culture Quest)

No more walking

Inspired by a travelling circus on bicycles they met, Peter and Shahla settled on a pair of wheels each.

"We assembled two working bikes and that was the beginning of our cycling odyssey," Peter said.

From Europe, they worked their way into Africa and then over to Asia, Oceania and finally the Americas. All along the way, adventure awaited them, from getting stuck in the Sahara desert to hitching a ride in a truck that crashed in Congo to running out of money and panhandling in Venezuela.

The people they met along the way were the highlight of the trip, both Peter and Shahla agreed.

"Every single day, there was something awesome that happened to us because of wonderful people," Shahla said.

Peter Nygaard taking a break from the heat in Casamance in Senegal. (Culture Quest)

Future adventures

For now, their world cycling adventures have taken a back seat as they raise their young children but they haven't stopped exploring yet — an indefinite travel plan may be in the works for after they retire, Peter said.

As for their book tour, they will be in Vernon on the evening of Sept. 16 and Kamloops the following day, as well as in Vancouver and Nelson next week.

To head the full interview with Shahla and Peter Nygaard, click on the audio link below: 

With files from North By Northwest


Clare Hennig


Clare Hennig is a web writer and digital associate producer at CBC Vancouver. Follow her on Twitter: @clare_hennig