WELCOME TO RIVER RIDERS
Following rivers by bicycle from source to sea.
Journeying with the river to see where it is born, where it goes, and what happens to the river on its way.
Bicycled over 5000 kms along four rivers since 2012: Danube in 2012, Loire in 2017, Seine in 2018, Bow and South Saskachewan Rivers in 2019.
Click on the link to watch the film I AM RIVER https://youtu.be/HWa5kfgx3dQ
This site is dedicated to water lovers and bicycle riders. It intends to build awareness on preciousness of water in rivers and invites many water lovers and cyclists to ride alongside rivers. This site aims to bring attention on many qualities of water, such as its beauty, purity, life giving force, and its existence in us, between us and beyond the boundaries that we can see.
Our wish is to be part of the river’s journey as it flows to the sea. Our vision is seeing rivers running clean to the ocean. It would be great to connect with many water lovers and bicyclists, share our passion about water and cycling, and ride together along rivers to raise awareness on the importance of water. Please connect with the River Riders if you have a passion to join us for the journey.
About River Riders
Why We Ride Along Rivers?
I love water and Peter loves long distance bicycling (see below for more on this), so we combine our love of water and bicycling for rivers, with rivers. We follow the rivers with our tandem bike (we have been on tandem bikes more than 25 years). When we did our first “River Journey” by the Danube River in 2012, we were fascinated with the peace and serenity we felt during our journey.
The river goes from its source to sea and may go through many changes. It may connect a number of nations, lands, and sources. In the river, there are uncountable water droplets that eventually will travel all around the world. Water is fascinating, it is “ONE” without boundaries and any categories.
Following a river is magical; the river becomes a leader and a teacher as we become the students of nature. We enjoy becoming part of life that the river brings, as it meanders through fields, brings nutrients and water to people, and becomes a nurturing ground to many species.
Water is precious. When we become part of a river, we relate to “what it is like to be water in a river”. The rivers are the arteries of our planet and we feel the river’s flow in our hearts as we ride along.
About Water, About Serap
I am a water lover. My father, from the Black Sea Region of Turkey, shared his love of water with me while I was growing up. Dad grew up in a land where there used to be an abundance of wild rivers with crystal clear waters (he grew up by a river called Yesil Irmak translates as "Green River"). Dad has always appreciated the abundance of life that a river brings. He, as a kid, picked up fruit off the trees, such as apricots, apples, mulberries, peaches, and walnuts, as he played by the river. He grew up as a nature lover and observed the bees, flowers, trees, ducks and many birds in that abundant land. I grew up with stories of nature and water that I adored.
My family shared their love of water with me as I was growing up, and a couple of memories come up as I think about it. I remember my mom wanting to jump into cold creeks whenever she could. Her joy and love of doing that somehow transferred to me, and I still have the same excitement about soaking my feet in clear waters. I also remember my first swimming lesson with my dad in the sea while I was struggling to keep my head up the water to be able to breathe. He taught me to trust water while showing me how to lay on the sea's surface, holding me gently on my back. "You just let water hold you, just like your bed that holds you while you rest on every night," he said. I loved this trusting relationship with water and enjoyed that many times in my life! I also remember snorkelling with dad in the lukewarm crystal-clear waters of the Marmara Sea. Dad shared his love of many magical creatures with me as he pointed them out underwater. (There was a whole different universe underwater!). So, I learned to love water.
I grew up in Istanbul, where I watched beautiful crystal clear blue waters turn grey and cloudy as the population slowly and slowly increased. As the years passed by, I could not swim and snorkel at the places that I loved so much once. I witnessed waste being released into creeks and rivers. At that time, I kept telling myself: "this is wrong," and yet did not know what to do. Instead, I just watched this change with sharp pain in my heart. Later after my university years, as I travelled the world, I again witnessed people intentionally or unintentionally polluting our precious water resources in our "ONE" world and harming water. I felt the same pain.
When I moved to Vancouver, Canada, in 1992, I felt like I had found crystal clear waters again in the world! I was fascinated with the aliveness of the water while swimming or canoeing in creeks and lakes (e.g., Wigeon Creek, Alta Lake, and Bowron Lakes). I became interested in visiting water sources (e.g., Cleveland Dam) and walking along the rivers. In Vancouver, I used to walk along the Capilano River from Cleveland Dam to the ocean. The water starts as crystal-clear at Cleveland Dam and stays as is until it reaches the Pacific Ocean.
My first journey along a river was in 2012 when Peter suggested that we bicycle along the Danube River - I loved his idea as a water lover! During that trip, I started to question the journey of a river as it interacts with humans. We bicycled 1200 kilometres by the Danube, and I observed the changes that the river experiences on its path from its source to the sea. I saw that the river comes out through the ground pure and clean at its source; brings minerals and life to the surface; flows, collects and carries nutrients while going down to the ocean as part of its life cycle. Meanwhile, I also saw that humans take water and food from the river, utilize rivers for transportation, and build bridges, roads or locks for access as the river continuously flows to the ocean. During its flow, the river meanders through lands that many civilizations have existed on, taking away whatever exists on its way. I wanted to learn more about these changes and what happens to a river during its journey when rivers are an essential part of the community of humans.
I am now living in Victoria, Canada, where many rivers exist. As I watch clean rivers running down to the ocean, I remember the waters that turned grey, which I had witnessed and my pain of not being able to do anything in the past. This is my second chance to act for water to keep rivers and oceans clean. I want to raise awareness for all water's preciousness, purity, beauty and vital life-giving force.
Protecting water resources is part of peace work. We are all born in water and carry water in us. We exist with water, and water exists in us, so we are water. No categories or divisions exist between us when we realize "water" is the life source connecting each one of us. Water is a founding member of our community. It is my desire to speak up and stand for water in our ONE world.
About Bicycling, About Peter
Probably I should have been born as a dog. To me, there is no better feeling than to have the wind flapping in my ears, because it means I am in motion. Serap calls me “the Wind”...
One of my earliest memories is of my father taking me for a walk out on the Ogden Point breakwater in Victoria, Canada, in a winter storm when I was about 4 years old. The wind roared past us, the waves broke over the walkway, and we were getting cold and soaked in the spray. My father was holding my hand tightly because, in those days on Ogden Point, no safety railings were holding us back from the wild raging sea. I was scared to death, but somehow, I loved the power and excitement of the wind and the water.
Of course, I grew up on a bike. I can’t remember anyone who didn’t have a bike. All of us did. Much as some people choose to be defined by their careers, houses, or fancy sports cars today, in those simpler times, we were defined by our bikes.
In primary school, all my friends had bikes. Banana seats, butterfly handlebars and sissy bars on the back. I pleaded with my father to get my first bike for my birthday. And I got one. Old, old, old. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Somebody had used a brush and some old house paint and roughly painted an old-style bike in big red and white stripes. It had embarrassingly large whitewall balloon tires. No banana seat. No butterfly handlebars. No sissy bar. When I saw it, I was mortified. Did I ever get a lot of teasing from my friends for that bike? But I rode it. The wind in my ears meant that I couldn’t hear the teasing of my friends so much. What I really liked was that it increased my range far past what I could walk.
At University of BC in Vancouver, the campus is very large. Hard to be on time for classes when there is only a few minutes break between them. So I got an old bicycle. I called it the “Bent Avenger”. It was in even worse condition than that ugly red and white striped beast that I had grown up on, but it faithfully got me to my classes. I had it for 3 years. Since it lived outside in the salty air near the ocean, each year it got more and more rusty. At the end of my degree, it was in such poor shape that I couldn’t even give it away.
When I started my Master’s, I bought myself my very first brand new bike. A nice one, a bit expensive. I rode it to school on the first day of classes and locked it to the hallway railing inside the building, just beside the laboratory where I had my first class. When I came out of the class 2 hours later, the cheap cable lock that I had also purchased was about 90% of the way cut through! Somebody had been trying to steal my bike from a busy hallway inside the building! On my very first day of using it! I had learned something and in the future I kept my bike safe with my first Kryptonite U-lock I bought the next day.
Fast forward through many years of university and work. I met my wife, Serap, and our first date was a bike trip (that story is given in great detail somewhere else in this website). One day, I casually mentioned to her that it had been one of my dreams for many years to do a 1000 km bike trip. She got a certain look in her eye. “Where?” she asked me. I hesitated a moment as I started quickly thinking of the necessary criteria in my mind: It should be on a bike path, not on a main road. And we wouldn’t carry camping gear, so it needed to be somewhere with places to stay. It would be our first long trip, so it shouldn’t be too rugged terrain, preferably somewhere relatively flat. As a joke, I thought to myself a bike ride that is all the way downhill would be nice! Which made me think about following a river.
Immediately I started searching on some websites and found the Danube River bike path. About 2500 km totally and all downhill! When I mentioned that to Serap, she got excited to follow a river!
Unbeknownst to me, that was the birth of RiverRiders!
Rivers to Ride
(Delayed due to Covid-19):
In summer 2020, we were to follow the North Saskatchewan River from its source, starting from Saskatchewan Glacier at the Rockies in Canada to Cumberland House.
A River Rider trip is an amazing experience as it starts from its source and can take as much time as one has to enjoy the flow. Ours usually takes about couple of weeks or more on a really long river, or it could be something shorter that can be completed in less than a week.
So far, we have followed Danube River in 2012 (1200 kms), Loire River in 2017 (1200 kms) and Seine River in 2018 (900 kms) and Bow and South Saskatchewan Rivers (1100 kms) and some other connecting tributaries. With a tandem bicycle and passionate hearts for water, we share the journey of the river. Rivers are the arteries of the earth. They have the same pattern as a human's blood system. Fascinating.
How do we plan our trips? We choose a river to meet with after some search depending on many different reasons (proximity, weather, climate, time availability, passion, awareness raising, etc.). Then, we look at the source and the mouth of the river, and does research about the river, accessibility, cities on the way, land, eco-farms, places to visit and our connections. We allow time to ride an average about 50 to 60 km per day. The perfect length of trip for us is about 3 weeks, which is about 1000 to 1200 km. With that decided, it is now time to plan. River Riders start their journey and post some of their observations and reflections on the blog, riverriders facebook, and instagram. In our experience, we meet people who love rivers on the way so we have started to build a community around rivers.
There are many rivers to follow and each one of them is so unique, and has different journeys. Just to give you a sense of riding possibilities in Europe, below list includes some of the rivers to ride along with- in alphabetical order:
Daugava River (1020 km) (starts in Russia and goes through Belarus and Latvia before flowing into the North Sea. Given that Peter’s mother’s side of the family was originally from the Latvia/Estonia area, we would like to explore this zone. Perhaps this one is more suitable for July or August since it is a bit further to the north.)
Dneister River (1362 km)
Douro River (900 km)
Ebro River (930 km)
Elbe River ( 1091 km)
Garonne River (602 km)
Glomma River (612 km)
Maas River (925 km)
Oder River (850 km)
PO River (650 km)
Prut River (953 km)
Rhine River (1230 km)
Rhone River (812 km)
Sava River (990 km)
Seine River (776 km)
Tagus River (1038 km)
Tisza River (965 km)
Warta (808 km) is a long tributary of the Oder River
Wisla River (1050 km)
If you have an idea for a future River Ride, please let us know. We will publish in advance our planned rides, and also if you would like to join us, let us know. It would be great to cycle down a river with like-minded people. Let’s keep in touch as we go with the flow!