By Antonio Zullo
Many times I asked Juliana “why cycle the world”? Her first reply, before expounding, is always the same. “”Why not?”. True freedom, that which scares most human beings, those constrained to live under the teachings imposed by society, who fear the opposition between desire and duty, leaving the latter winner. Juliana, with her past, doesn’t have these problems. She doesn’t live with the fear of what people might think of her. People. I have seen many in recent months trying to destroy Juliana’s dream, with phrases such as, “Are you crazy?”, “It is dangerous!” “You, cycle 200 km?… hahahahaah it’s impossible! “. They have seen in Juliana that which is unique, different, which goes beyond the sanctity of duty and flies towards her desires. She is attacked by those who envy her freedom and courage, and yet more, praised by those who see in Juliana someone who has conquered their fears, identifying with and, perhaps, blaming themselves for having lived a life of fear.
I saw Juliana leave Naples and arrive in Latina, pedaling under the pouring rain with a smile on her lips. In that moment, nothing mattered. In Italy, without work, without professional experience, Juliana was in all the newspapers as the first woman to circumnavigate the world by bike, someone who, until just a year ago was totally unknown. The rain was just a nice shower which relaxed her muscles. Nothing could touch her. In successive stages, Pegasus flew to the Aurelia in Tuscany, with a daily average of 240 kilometers. In the Apuan Alps I stopped at 185 km, more destroyed than her. When she arrived in France, the hospitality of the Frenchmen in the Provence was amazing. In two nights, Juliana got dinner and about 200 euros in donations for her trip. A journalist was waiting near Avignon to witness her passing, taking photos and interviewing her. First problem: the derailleur, worn by many gear changes in the Alps. Then there was Spain, land of plains and winds. Juliana finally had a tail wind that pushed her to average speeds of 38 kmph, reaching 270 miles a day.
In the city of Zamora, not far from the border of Portugal, I left Juliana in the hands of the Russo brothers, Fabrizio and Marco, who would accompany her to Porto. I couldn’t hide a little emotion leaving Juliana alone in the world with a bike. Looking at her face, her reassuring muscles, her smile of “see you soon”, I returned to Barcelona. More problems began on the stretch after Zamora. The next morning, a couple of minutes after starting, deadly cobblestones caused the smartphone/navigator to fall off the bike, smashing the screen. Luckily, having Fabrizio and Marco around proved providential. While Juliana continued her journey, they went in search of new support in a Portuguese town.The Portugese roads are not helping Juliana’s progress. Forced to cross mountains and hills for more than 200 miles, without becoming discouraged, and arriving on the scheduled day.
Juliana arrived on August 4 in Boston, ready for her American adventure. August 5th, she began cycling stateside. The first few days, she was forced to slow down due to four punctures and a change of tyres, coupled with rain and winding roads. On the third day the bike started to give serious problems. Stopping at a mechanic, she was told that the shifter had to be replaced at a cost of about $ 700. Not conducive to her dwindling funds. But this did not discourage her. The fifth day, Juliana rode for over 240 kilometers, recovering some of the time lost on previous days.
Today her journey is being sustained solely by donations received on the site julianabuhring.com, which lists all donors, and whom I warmly thank for continuing to make Juliana’s endeavor possible. And thank you to those who are supporting her on the road, offering food and accommodation. I am sincerely surprised by the support, both on Twitter and Facebook, that she is getting from all over the world!
One of Juliana’s motivations is to prove to the world that anyone can achieve something notable, starting from nothing. In September 2011 Juliana began her training, cycling about 60 kilometers a day, three times a week, with sneakers and no notion of cycling. In 12 days across Europe Juliana has covered 2,700 km, facing the Alps, Pyrenees, rain and temperatures of 40°. She has already made history!