Man and Cat Update: Biking to Thailand, Eventually

Will Dean Nicholson and Nala’s adventures by bike continue, or will e-commerce success spoil these two unlikely media stars?

Dean Nicholson’s original plan was to bikepack through Europe with his buddies — a lads’ outing. But when Dean came across a stray cat on the side of the road three months in, his adventure took on a unique trajectory.

That was 2018. Since then, Dean Nicholson and Nala, as he named her, have captured hearts worldwide as they biked through Europe together. The pandemic temporarily “pawsed” (pun intended) their escapades. Since then, Nicholson has hatched new plans for their “pawesome” future.

Perched either on Nicholson’s shoulders or in a custom-built front basket, Nala traveled from Montenegro to Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Germany, Azerbaijan, and elsewhere. By the time the pair arrived in Austria, COVID had devastated cross-border excursions.

So Nicholson and Nala swapped the rough-and-tumble of life on the road for a comfortable cottage on the outskirts of Vienna. Here, Nicholson channeled his energy into creating a range of merchandise featuring the big, bearded, tattooed former bro’ and the delicate feline.

Nala may or may not be looking forward to hitting the road again. Photo: @1bike1world


The pair have been tremendously successful. Their book, Nala’s World, reached number five on Germany’s bestseller list and number six in the U.K. An audio version is also available. Nicholson even released a picture puzzle to help locked-down audiences combat boredom. Proceeds from merchandise sales help support animal and environmental charities. And, one supposes, the two of them.

It’s a world away from how they lived before the pandemic: in the elements, along country roads and hills, and sleeping beneath nylon.

But what next?

“We have daily walks around the block so Nala can sniff every bush, tree, plant, and stick in sight,” Nicholson told ExplorersWeb. “We have even been able to get in some longer walks and a little camping in the Austrian hills.”

Nala on a local overnight camping trip. Photo: @1bike1world


Currently, Nicholson is waiting to receive his COVID-19 vaccine in Austria. Then he’ll assess which countries they’re eligible to travel to. According to the World Health Organization, animals like Nala won’t require additional quarantine measures.

Nicholson’s ultimate goal is to bike 8,000km to Thailand. This will mean giving up the relatively cushy existence to which both have become accustomed as media stars.

“We haven’t got a set plan or route yet,” said Nicholson. “As far as traveling goes, it’s still very much go with the flow.”

To reach Thailand from Austria, they’d likely travel through the ‘Stans (Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan), India, Nepal, and Myanmar. Others have cycled a similar route: Dervla Murphy famously traveled from Ireland to India by bike in the 1960s. But with India’s COVID infections currently out of control and Myanmar in a “state of emergency and martial law” in recent years, we will keenly await the pair’s itinerary.

In the meantime, they’ll continue the profitable but not-too-taxing regime they’ve adopted for the past six months, a vacation-style adventure with e-commerce initiatives. Nicholson wants to take on more fundraising projects and one day to publish a children’s book, “something I have wanted to do from the start”, he says.

Nicholson sells a jigsaw puzzle of the pair of them to combat lockdown-related boredom. Photo: @1bike1world