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From Road Bikes to Bangalore: 1000 miles in India

When Erik Douds and Annalisa van den Bergh set out on their 1000-mile bikepacking trip across Southern India back in January, they didn’t expect to create quarantine-induced roots in Bangalore for the season. They didn’t forecast the gift of becoming family with their AirBnB hosts, the solace in an Indian morning, nor the unlucky food poisoning in their first week (pro tip: avoid hotel paneer).

Erik and Annalisa also did not anticipate their complex restrictions with water to switch into a simple, cost-reducing connection with natural resources.

Miles of Portraits

The duo isn’t new to bikepacking. In fact, they’re pros, with an established storytelling brand, Miles of Portraits, as the cornerstone of their travel. Ahead of their India trip, Erik and Annalisa were already boasting a combined 20,000 miles on the road from routes across and around the United States -- including Alaska. Their mission? Push beyond the sedentary world and into one of movement. Ride with, advocate for, and educate around Type 1 Diabetes. Enter into a spread of communities, learn their stories, and use multimedia to share them.

Once in India, the team’s vehicles of choice led to sharpened senses and a multifaceted understanding of the world around them.

"I like how cycling confronts you directly with environmental problems. From my hiking experience, you are often truly surrounded by nature. On the other hand, with cycling, you are often in the urban environment with glimpses into natural scenery. Cycling makes it hard to ignore these issues, so it’s up to you to figure out how to respond."
- Erik Douds
Watch video here

A personal challenge

Riding by mounds of burning plastic, while simultaneously refueling with bottled water didn’t sit well for Annalisa or Erik. Shortly into the trip, they made a decision to eliminate nearly 100% of their plastic consumption. In a country where clean water is either bottled or boiled, this proved to be difficult, until the team switched to using a Sawyer MINI. With just 2 oz added to their kit, the team gave themselves access to fresh water, while drastically reducing their environmental impact.

What impact does this have? Let’s go to the whiteboard for some math.

The Math

2 people (Erik + Annalisa)
8 bottles/day  
58 days (December 28 – February 23rd)
928 plastic bottles saved

1 bottle = 20 INR ($0.25 USD)
928 bottles = 18,560 INR (~$232 USD)

In under two months, Erik and Annalisa saved over 900 plastic bottles and $232 USD. With India’s average monthly income being around $420 USD, costs saved from using the Sawyer amounts to over 25% of a household’s average monthly income. We are proud of the social and environmental impact our filters are having around the world.

Going for a ride? Erik and Annalisa found the Sawyer MINI + Ortlieb’s 1L pouch to be a bikepacking power couple and the key to eliminating nearly 100% of their plastic waste.

Cycling With Virtual Summit

As COVID-19 hit earlier this year, Annalisa and Erik found themselves with new plans and an indefinite lockdown in India. One thing born from this period was the Cycling With Virtual Summit, an event showcasing cyclists from all walks of life who have experienced different conditions, barriers to entry, or discrimination.

Join us at the free Summit this weekend by registering here.
Follow Miles of Portraits, Erik, and Annalisa here:

Gear up with a Sawyer MINI here.


May 9, 2022

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