Top 10 Expeditions of 2018: #9: Radu Paltineanu Cycles Alaska-Patagonia

Over the last 12 months, ExplorersWeb has documented incredible adventures in climbing, cycling, running, walking, skiing and anything involving force of will and dedication to a dream in the outdoors. As this year comes to a close, we present our countdown of the Top 10 Expeditions of 2018.


Radu Paltineanu arrives in Chile. Photo: Radu Paltineanu

Even in the hard-core adventure community, few people ever commit to a 34,000km project. More than a mere physical or mental test, it requires a total life upheaval. In 2015, Romanian endurance cyclist Radu Paltineanu abandoned his job as a software engineer to cycle the entire spine of the Americas, from Alaska to Patatonia.

Paltineanu wasn’t entirely new to long-distance solo cycling. He had already pedaled Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and Central Asia, but this journey was of a different order of magnitude. Determined to remake his life after breaking up from his girlfriend, he set off, backed by just his modest savings and the kind donations of strangers. Families took him in and fed him. He adjusted quickly to the lack of comforts we typically take for granted, like a bed or a proper meal, and opted for anything he that came his way: jail cells, fire stations, anything with a roof. However, he didn’t eschew the cold, hard floor of the outdoors, and took the time en route to climb several mountains in Mexico and Ecuador.

Crossing into Bolivia.

Like all who travel the whole Pan-American Highway, he had to endure the dangers of the infamous Darien Gap, between Columbia and Panama. He bribed his way through the criminal elements and convinced suspicious Panamanian authorities that his project was, in fact, as innocent as it seemed. South America was a dangerous time for him, considering the unrest, particularly in Venezuela. Inevitably, he became a target to the desperate but he managed to avoid robbery and injury.

Many things could have gone wrong, but he saw the adventure through with dogged optimism. In the end, his persistence paid off. His life will never be the same.

Previous coverage of Paltineanu’s journey: