15,000km on a bike
with a baby
Céline and Xavier Pasche continue
their cycling journey from
Switzerland to New Zealand with
their baby daughter, Nayla.
50,000km by bike including 15,000km
with a baby. Step by step, we
brought our daughter into this
nomadic life. Diving into the
unknown when she was five months
old, together we crossed high-altitude passes
and deserts. From the Swiss Alps to the
Southern Alps of New Zealand, we reached
our destination five years later with our
“You’re crazy!” exclaimed our Chinese
neighbour in Penang. “How are you going to
cycle with a five-month-old baby?”
“We really don’t know,” we replied, feeling
the tension in our stomachs.
For three years, we had been living a very
simple life, a nomadic life by bike. This long
journey took us to some of the most remote
areas of the world, from Mongolia to Tajikistan
and into the heart of the human movement of
countries like Syria. From an adventure to
discover diverse cultures, it became a way of
living. That was when we decided we could
start a family.
A month later, our daughter
whispered her presence. Céline was pregnant.
Despite all doubts, we knew we wanted to
live this lifestyle as a family, or at least try. But
we had no idea how it would work out.
2.6kg of love
As we arrived in Malaysia, we were seven
months pregnant and still touring pitted roads.
“How could you risk it? Isn’t it too much to
lose?” asked a woman on the side of the road.
We had no fear about the pregnancy. We
fully trusted the ability of Céline’s body to
nurture our baby. Every time she cycled, the
baby would be in a position where she hardly
looked pregnant. But on our resting days, her
belly doubled. The most difficult part wasn’t the
cycling; it was the intensity of the countries we
crossed. In Bangladesh, the population
represents an unmatched human density. All
day long, we were escorted, accosted,
surrounded and stared at.
Looking for a place where we could have a
natural and water birth, everything converged
towards Penang in Malaysia. And that was
where our daughter Nayla was born.
On the road again
“What have we done!” Nayla’s temperature was
40°C. It was 2am in the morning and we were
sleeping in a tent in the middle of eastern
Thailand. “Is it dengue fever? Malaria?”
That night, we didn’t sleep. We were too
worried. In the morning, the fever went down to
38°C. Released from the fear, we cycled to a
Buddhist temple, and discovered her first teeth.
We had to learn to travel at a different pace
with a baby, to find a balance between her naps,
breastfeeding, her need to move, her desire to
learn, and the necessity that the road imposes:
the weather changes and the need to find a
place for the night.
We learned one thing throughout this journey
and that is to trust life. Step by step, we found a
balance and learned to be in harmony. 15,000
kilometres and two years later we reached New
Zealand, the ultimate destination of our journey.
“How will you keep her safe? Keep her safe
The reality is that the only time we had to see a
doctor was when she was two months old for a
check-up. We went swimming in tropical waters
in Thailand, admired the fabulous temples of
Angkor Wat in Cambodia, met the hill tribes in
Laos, followed the Ancient Tea Horse Road in
China, cycled to the sacred Yushan Mountain
in Taiwan, crossed the Nullarbor Plain in
Australia and finally reached the Southern Alps
in New Zealand.
Riding one day after the other, we cycled
around 60km a day, about the same as before
but with a lot of breaks. We usually rode for one
to two hours. Most of the time, Nayla would be
sleeping in her hammock or playing. The most
important thing for us was to follow her rhythm.
A typhoon will hit Taiwan tonight
“You have to find a shelter!” shouted a local. We
were just reaching the top of a pass, tired and
sweaty. We had to hurry. Arriving in the first
village, we were welcomed by the population
who offered us a place to stay in the school. The
hospitality of the people was always fantastic.
We slept in Buddhist temples, schools and
Living outside also meant living under all
weather conditions. When the sun disappeared
behind the dark clouds and the first drops
announced the coming rain, we needed to find
alternatives. Nayla was a ray of sunshine in the
icy mist. She played and laughed in the puddles.
She lived the moment for what it was, master of
an innocence that knows how to create games
in each conditions.
Cycling in these countries was also the
opportunity to meet people and their culture.
In Thailand, children take a bath at the hottest
time of the day. So we were invited to bathe
Nayla in a bucket in the middle of the market.
“How do you deal with hygiene and nappies?”
wondered our friends back home.
We washed with a homemade shower. We
used organic coconut oil for our skin and chose
washable nappies that dried on the back of the
trailer as we rode.
Homeschooling on the road
Now we are back in Penang, Malaysia, for a few
months. Nayla is two years old, sparkling with life
and joy. As a small cocoon, our family bubble
moved through the world, following our
inspirations, in the wonder of discoveries and
sharing, trusting the magic of life.
Now we are planning a new route. We want to
continue to live this nomadic life on bikes,
at least as long as it nurtures our soul. At the
moment, we are thinking about homeschooling
Nayla on the road. But we still have time to think
about it and after all, our desire to cycle the world
Now, we are happy we made this choice,
although it’s certainly not for everyone. We
breathe easily at the pace of life, having a
powerful feeling of freedom. It also gives us the
amazing opportunity to be together all the time
and that is the most precious gift of all.