Lorenzo Barone,
the last true explorer

He began to travel the world on his bike, driven by a desire for adventure and a quest for a connection with the wildest and most unspoiled nature.

Lorenzo, in 2015 at the age of 18, you set off on your bike. Why did you choose the bicycle? And what fuels this unstoppable desire to travel?

Since I was a child, I have always been drawn to the woods near my home and the nearby reed beds, where I enjoyed spending time alone, I was an energic child with the constant urge to move and doing things. As I grew older, I moved away from that place, but I always maintained the need to express my physicality. So, I started doing parkour, which in a way allowed me to explore other environments and experience them in my own way. Of course, as a teenager, I really wanted a scooter, but my mother, being a physiotherapist, was against it because she constantly dealt with children who were victims of road accidents. So, for years, the bike was the only mean of transportation I was allowed, but I never saw it as a deprivation. On the contrary, the bike had many positive aspects: it was free from fuel, it took me far, and, as someone who enjoys sports, it allowed me to stay fit. Additionally, it was ecological (although I didn't think about it at the time). So, for all these reasons, I always considered it the ideal mean of transportation anywhere. And so, at 18, I set off, first for a trip near home, and once I returned shortly after, I set off again for Portugal, and from there, I never stopped. Setting off alone was a bit like returning to my roots, returning to the woods near my home but going to see what lies beyond the boundaries I knew until then.
But as your adventures progressed, you continued to add and change modes of travel: first with skis through Iceland, and now in your latest crossing of Norway, you have also added kayaking. A constantly evolving way of traveling.

I set off with the bike thinking that the bike could give me the opportunity to travel without limits, but then I realized that the bike itself was "the limit" because I saw the mountains but couldn't climb them; I saw the rivers but couldn't descend them; I saw the ocean but couldn't cross it; I crossed the deserts but only on beaten tracks. The goals I am setting for myself and the trips I am planning involve different types of transportation: I would like to travel by mixing a bit of everything: biking, boating, skiing, and running. And for this reason, I am trying to train a bit in a 360-degree way on several activities to ensure that I don't have problems when I am traveling. I would like that the only limits are my abilities rather than the use of a specific tool so that I am free to fully experience every experience.

Of course, in all this traveling of yours, you have gone from extremely hot environments to extremely cold ones, which do you prefer?

Both (laughs)! Perhaps I feel a little more at home in the cold. Heat is a bit simpler because even if you sweat a lot, all you need to do is replenish; so, you drink 12 liters of water a day, and you're fine. Cold is more technical, it requires more preparation, and it doesn't forgive even the smallest mistakes. If you sweat when it's very cold, it's a problem, so you must learn to manage sweating, you have to learn to advance without sweating to avoid freezing once you stop.
How would you describe what it's like at -50°C to someone who has never experienced extreme cold?

It's like being in an oven but in reverse, the air is dry, but it burns. The wind burns your face, I don't know if it's the composition of oxygen that changes at those temperatures, but you have a sensation of breathing in a dusty room. In fact, to breathe in those conditions, I had to modify a balaclava to make sure the air was slightly warmer before inhaling it. It's amazing how perceptions change from -40 to -50°C: at -40°C, you're relatively fine (laughs). It's a particular cold, I don't have many memories of tremors, but you must manage it well, otherwise, it can cause serious damage. Your skin can get frostbite very quickly; in fact, I checked quite frequently that the nose under the balaclava always had sensitivity.

Someone once said that the first thing to pack when you go on a trip must be the desire to return because if you don't have a point to return to, the risk is to get lost. Have you ever risked getting lost and not wanting to come back?

Absolutely, in fact, at the beginning, I got lost, especially before I got married. Today, it's my wife who gives me the motivation to return. For the first two and a half years of travel (the first 35,000 km), I always did them lost: I had no goal, when I found another traveler maybe I would change direction to do a piece of the road along with him, or extended my stay in one place. It was a vagabond journey. This happened especially at the beginning, then later I evolved a bit in my way of traveling. I set myself goals, even quite close ones, but I didn't pay too much attention to how long it took me to reach them. The important thing was to connect many pieces. Now, however, I plan the trip, and I try to plan it so that it makes sense to me first and foremost, but above all, it has a deeper meaning. For example, the northernmost road in the world, or the southernmost road in the world, rather than the coldest road: I'm looking for a logical thread. When I'm at home, especially after finishing a trip, I always feel that need for another goal, it doesn't have to be something to achieve in the short term, but at least to have it. I need it to feel that I have something to strive for because otherwise, I stay at home and feel totally lost. Compared to the beginning, where I took my bike and left, even if it was just to go to another region, now I no longer have the goal of testing myself in extreme conditions, but rather of living new experiences, giving them meaning, and being able to tell them to bring them to a wider audience.

Searching for a new way

Searching for a new way

You set off that you were an introverted and very shy person, now your events are filled with people who come to listen to your travels, has traveling changed you?

In my travels, I have done several things: street juggling, selling photos of my travels to finance myself a little, and evenings where I told my experiences. More than the journey itself, it was the direct contact with other people that helped me to open up more. The instinct underneath has remained the same because if you ask me, do you go to a city and do events every weekend or do you go to a remote island? Maybe I would choose the latter, but I have learned to manage both things, which I could never have done before. When I started with the events, at the beginning, I had difficulties, then as the days went by, I gained courage, and things improved. It's an inner growth, a natural evolution of being.

The three places that have given you the most from a human point of view?

First, I would say Yakutia, especially the populations of the most remote villages, those I visited on my journey through the northernmost road in the world, they have an incredible hospitality that truly has no equal. Then I would say Indonesia and Southeast Asia like Borneo. There, I had the opportunity to meet the Dayak populations, in the jungle, I had no expectations when I started, and I was really amazed by the welcome I received. Lastly, the African continent, it's an experience that has given me a lot on a human level.

And the places that have left you stunned from a landscape point of view?

Certainly, the first times in the Arctic areas, Lapland in 2016, seeing the Northern Lights for the first time. Iceland, which is a unique country: volcanoes, endless moss, these volcanic rocks that make you feel like you're on another planet, and then there are the glaciers, icebergs, waterfalls, it's truly a country that has stayed with me. Yakutia for its cold, truly indescribable. But also, Borneo with the sounds of the jungle, I had to record them with my phone because they are something indescribable. Namibia and Tanzania left me with unforgettable stretches of road in my eyes. The Sahara, the Atlas Mountains. But perhaps in the end, it's not so much the place itself but the state of mind with which you approach these places. If you are open and can appreciate all the little beautiful things around you, it's not so much where you find them but with what eyes you look at them.