From: Al Jazeera Close Up

Cycling to the World Cup

They crossed cities and deserts, weathered floods and flat tyres to watch their team play at the World Cup.

The French duo, Mehdi Balamissa and Gabriel Martin, cycled for three months, covering nearly 4,500 miles from Paris to Doha so they could cheer for France.

“We wanted to do adventures on our bicycles and collect a lot of memories for the two of us … It was an experience to strengthen our friendship,” says 28-year-old Balamissa when asked what inspired him to embark on a journey across Europe and the Middle East.

The two rode from France to Italy last year to watch Les Bleus play in the UEFA Nations League and decided to take it all the way to Doha this year. They wanted to travel by a sustainable mode of transport and test their abilities in more arduous terrain.

The journey through 13 countries opened the cyclists’ eyes to the generosity of strangers, especially in the Middle East.

“We tell people that we’re going in this direction and 50km later it turns out they have groceries in their cars and they drove all the way just to catch up with us and to offer us supplies,” says Balamissa.

Now that the cyclists have made it to Doha, they plan on enjoying the city and staying for as long as France is in the tournament. “We’re staying until the final because France is going to win, of course,” Martin jokes. “We wouldn’t have come on our bikes otherwise.”

Credits:

A film by Gautam Singh

Cinematographers – Gautam Singh and Shahinur Alam

Film Editor – Jameel Hodzic

Colourist – Kishore Kanchan

Audio Post – Linus Bergman

EP: Tierney Bonini