Today, we will not focus all our attention on the mountain guide Yvan Bender, member of our partner “Les Guides de Verbier“, but we will travel in the space of these few lines in the saddle and on two wheels with his family.
It is in their cabin in Sarreyer, very close to Verbier, that we were received by Yvan, Sophie and their two sons: Noé (15 years old) and Yannick (14 years old). A warm atmosphere prevails within this friendly and radiant family. The boys are immediately at ease and instantly take us into the world of their bicycle trips.
When cycling is part of a family’s DNA
Every summer since the boys were born, the Bender tribe has independently set off on a bicycle trip of several hundred kilometres. For them, cycling is not a passion, it is rather an art of living that they shape during the summer holidays in order to nourish themselves with unique experiences, to cultivate slowness, to discover landscapes, to interact and welcome the present moment as a gift of life.
Travelling by bike means allowing yourself the luxury of slowness
The children’s first trips started in a trailer towed by the parents. This is how the boys gradually got used to the pace of the two-wheeler movement. Although many prefer to travel with stopwatches in hand, the family prefers to take it slow, so that they can take the time to experience their trip.
Then, as the children grow up, the bikes get bigger, the saddle-bags are added, the journeys get longer. With years of experience, the weight becomes lighter for parents and heavier for children. Today, the family carries nearly 80 kg distributed in the bags according to the capacities of each one. The children together tow nearly 80 kg (bikes included). The dad, carries nearly 47 kg, and he weighs little more than his load. The weight of his bike is heavier because Yvan has opted for the more comfortable practice of the longabike. The mother carries the rest, about 35 kg.
In the saddle-bags, the bare essentials: food and water for the day, camping equipment, maps, repair equipment, a few clothes that are washed regularly and that attach to the back of the bike, acting as a mobile laundry dryer. A very nice spectacle for passers bys.
Simplicity, adaptability, tolerance
The trips are punctuated by the essential needs of eating and sleeping, with a preference for bivouacs and campsites. They are sometimes hosted by local people through the Warmshower community. In this way of travelling, where simplicity is the order of the day, they must also accept the unexpected and make do with what is there. Thanks to their many expeditions, the whole family has developed a sense of respect, flexibility, openness, curiosity and perseverance. Competition is never on the agenda, except for the occasional fun with electric bikes, tractors or some cyclists they meet along the way.
For the Benders, cycling makes them free and happy. Despite the difficulty of some routes, or the capricious weather, it is a factor of cohesion. “We are a very close-knit family” admits guide Yvan.
Encounter in all its forms
For the four cyclists, such journeys are not only about meeting themselves as a family and as individuals. It takes different forms: the encounter with other travellers, with the world, with nature which reveals its generosity, its mystery and which forces respect. Pedalling allows you to tune in with the earth, to get out of your comfort zone, and to get rid of social codes.
As Einstein said: life is like riding a bicycle, you have to keep moving to keep your balance.
And indeed, the Bender tribe has swallowed many kilometres, with the strength of their calves, in harmony and precarious balance: each summer a different crossing, favouring countries with cooler temperatures, i.e. Denmark, Germany, Austria, Holland, England, etc., most often trips along the water, such as along the Inn, the Rhin, the Danube… Then, from 2020 onwards, the boys will be big enough and sharp enough to tackle the big Swiss Alpine passes.
Cycling for children
To this day, summer of 2021, the family has covered by bicycle more than 1,300 km, more than 14,000 m of ascent, and 10 passes in inclement weather. The rain accompanied them for most of their routes. But their motivation has not weakened. Especially since they decided to ride for UNICEF’s program with the action “Cycling for children”. More than 3000 CHF.- were collected for the program.
Besson Immobilier wishes the Bender family to experience many more family trips in order to take advantage of these special and intense moments!