A Chance Encounter with some Fantastic Bikers!

I was biking home Monday morning after a good ride, and I met three bikers at an intersection. They had baggage on their bikes and were obviously travelers. I greeted them, and they asked if I knew of a bike shop in town. This began a most interesting day!

We went to the bike shop, stopped by Colombia to check out their shoe sale, and then went to the supermarket, chatting along the way and getting to know each other. Then, we said goodbye so they could be on their way. But, it wasn’t long before the skies opened up and we had a major downpour, and I received an email. Could they come back to David and stay for a night?

What stories, so inspiring! I was really glad to have more time with them, and for Joel to get to meet them as well.


Mike is on the left. He is from Mississippi, USA. He has taken numerous bike trips, and on this one he has ridden from Mississippi down through Mexico and Central America. He is headed to Ecuador where, if I remember correctly, he has a job working on a sustainable agriculture project and writing articles about that and health related subjects. He will earn enough money to enable him to return and finish his degree in geology.

Elif is in the middle. She is from Turkey. She flew to Orlando FL, and then proceeded to bike west around the southern US and down into Mexico. She spent a year in Mexico recovering from a fall and a broken shoulder, and enjoying a relationship with someone she met there. From there she has headed down into Central America and plans to continue into South America. She has been on her bike for 7 months since leaving Mexico.

Alain is on the right. He is from France. He biked east into Eastern Europe and Turkey. He wasn’t allowed into Iran and Afghanistan so he flew over them, and then proceeded through India and then Asia – Thailand, Singapore, China, then flying to Japan, and then to Los Angeles, USA. He intended to bike north but by the time he got to San Francisco winter was coming and it was too cold, so he reversed direction and went south making his way through Mexico and Central America. He also is heading to South America, and he has been on his bike for 2 1/2 years!

Mike is 38, Elif 40, and Alain 41 though they all seem much younger. They met on the road at one point, then went in separate directions, and met back up again about 3 weeks ago. They all said they worked hard and saved money to fund these travels.

Before dinner though, they admired our area and eagerly accepted an offer of a walk in the woods which turned into a visit to the river as well.

It’s a good day when there is a rainbow. And, it’s a good day when you get to spend time with very interesting people. We all had a good time putting a meal together, some Italian chicken by us, a rice and veggie stir fry by them, and a squash and plantain stir fry as well (Elif and Alain are vegetarians). Dessert was banana and jam sandwiches (which sounded interesting but I was good and didn’t indulge) We all sat on the terrace and ate and talked and told stories until bedtime. Then, they unrolled their sleeping mats on the living room floor and it was lights out, because the next day was an early morning (post to follow on another great day!)


Here they are in the morning heading out again towards Panama City, where they plan to either take the new ferry or find other transportation over water to South America. I am glad we are Facebook friends now so I can follow their future adventures. How great that a chance encounter turned into such an interesting experience.

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous, Panama, travel and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Chance Encounter with some Fantastic Bikers!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Kris,I love your posts about bicyclists and this one was very interesting. After you introduced us to Warm Showers I signed up for warmshowers.org and hope that some traveling cyclists will contact us next summer (not many on the road in Alaska this time of year).
    Btw ~my countdown for arrival in Chiriqui is so short …. we arrive 12/30 so I hope to meet you in person and perhaps go for a nice bike ride!


  2. John & Susan says:

    That is so cool! It was meant to be! Maybe you can be a stop over for others biking their dream?
    What kind of maps/travel books are they using?
    BTW once they get to Panama City they should check out the Balboa Yacht club and see if they can hitch a ride to Cartagena by boat. Or westward to Ecuador. From our experience a lot of cruises that transit the canal are looking for line handlers and help doing watches.There is a VHF net in the morning and if they can make their attentions known, I am sure they can get a ride.
    Good for them! Inspiring!


    • I have thought about signing up for that site “warm showers” where bikers and hosts can find each other. Alain had a travel map, just one of those handed out everywhere for tourists (and he left it behind here, oops) I’m not sure what else they have but they seem to be getting themselves where they want to go. Thanks for all the info. I will pass it along to them.


  3. I love this! Chance encounters are the best. These bikers are amazing. I can’t even begin to imagine biking through Central America to S. America. I know you were wonderful hosts. Thanks for sharing this story.


  4. schuttzie says:

    How fantastic you got to meet and visit with these bikers! Wow, I would imagine they have some amazing stories from all their travels. Certainly not a chance encounter and you have blessed each other with your meeting, I’m sure. You should try a long bike trip, too 🙂


  5. They were lucky they met you! So kind of you to allow them to stay for the night :). What an awesome turn of events for that day!


    • I almost invited them before the storm but I thought they wanted to get going, so it was great that it worked out that way. They had all their gear and only needed some floor space so it was no trouble at all, and such a great evening!

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