Samer Abouhamad discovered two passions during his visit to his parents’ homeland in 2020: how “very proud” he is to be Lebanese and how exhilarating bikepacking is in Lebanon.
He returned to Boston with the idea growing in him to bike his way in an extraordinary adventure from his hometown all the way to Patagonia in South America, which he has been currently undertaking for a little more than four months now.
Samer had seen the images of the Beirut Blast from Boston, and wished he could do something to help Lebanon and its people.
Hence, reaching Lebanon after the blast, he joined the Lebanese NGO Offre Joie as a volunteer. It was “a life-changing experience,” he said. “I showed up in October 2020 not knowing anyone nor expecting anything.”
He volunteered with Offre Joie helping restore and repair homes destroyed by the blast, and got to meet people from around the world and locals. He also got the opportunity to (finally) learn the Lebanese language.
During that visit, he decided to explore the beauty of Lebanon. He took his bike and set off on many adventures to explore the country and reconnect with his roots.
It was during these cycling adventures that he got the idea to cycle from his home in Boston all the way to Patagonia in South America, and he went for it, taking the roads on his bike to his far destination in April 2022.
So far, he has taken two breaks: a 3-week interlude in California and a 10-day layover in Mexico City.
“This was an amazing experience for me and I began reading the stories of former bike adventurers who traveled the world (Al Humphrey’s 2 books in particular- he passed through Lebanon in 2002!),” he said.
“There is also a German Heinz Stucke who traveled the world on his bike for 50 years after leaving from his home in 1962,” he told us. “So these guys (among many others!) showed me the endless possibilities of bike travel, all in an era before cellphones, the internet, and GPS!”
However, as he shared with us, he “never felt fully Lebanese” due to the language barrier.
“I wasn’t able to speak Arabic and felt like an outsider looking in at times. When I moved to Lebanon after the blast, I feel as though I was able to reclaim this part of my identity,” he said.
“Whether it was working to help rebuild after the blast, hand in hand with other Lebanese, or biking through my grandfather’s hometown of Rashaya (and even getting detained at the police station there for a bit),” he told us that this allowed him to connect with Lebanon.
“I would say I am super proud to be Lebanese,” Samer stated.
Samer has a dream for Lebanon, a long-term goal he has set for himself, as he shared with 961: “To organize and bring an ultra-distance bike challenge to Lebanon, which would bring cyclists from around the world to compete on a circuit that would highlight some of the country’s most beautiful places.”