Industrial technical engineer, lecturer, businesswoman. Edurne Pasaban’s fame as a high-level athlete, awarded with the prestigious Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic in 2010, somehow covers the multifaceted personality of this woman with philanthropic interests that led her to create the Edurne Pasaban Foundation. -Montañeros por el Himalaya, whose objective is to give access to education to children in Nepal.
The numbers that cycling offers
Although when naming it inevitably comes to mind the powerful image of the snow-capped mountains on the roof of the world, it will not be too much to remember that to live with its roughness, Pasaban polished his physical form based on hours and hours of pedaling on a bicycle.
He used the bicycle as training for the mountains and even a professional cyclist came to prepare a specific training for him. Does your love for cycling come from there or is it older?
The bike enters my life through triathlon. I know this sport and that’s when I start to train on a road bike. Everything is closely linked to my profession as a mountaineer, because triathlon and cycling taught me all the training philosophy that later served me in the mountains. At 22 I left the world of triathlon, although later I continued to use the bicycle as a way of preparation throughout my sporting life. In that sense, the bike was a fundamental tool when preparing for the mountain. After the time of those goals, cycling remains as a means to feel good, a health tool within the reach of any practitioner.
First cycling memory.
The memory of your first bike rides is always from childhood, usually with your friends in the neighborhood. Something that I remember now with my son. First you start walking and then they put you on a bike.
When you are older, it is time to train seriously. They gave me a road bike to try, I don’t even remember its brand. Being myself from Tolosa, my first reminiscence of the effort on that bike is of the typical ride through Tolosa, Ordizia and Larraiz.
My great adventure on a bike with saddlebags, the biggest I have ever had, was in 2005. From the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator, to Beijing. About 1200 kilometers. Crossing all of Mongolia by bike is one of my best pedal trips
They tell me that the roller has become part of the furniture in their home.
Yes total. Here in Vielha I have it disassembled now due to current needs, but in my house in Donostia it is always present, looking at the window. Now it is one more piece of furniture at home.
What role does the bicycle play in your life now?
I still really like riding my bike, especially in summer. Now I have moved to the mountain bike that provides you with another form of enjoyment and part of it is a vehicle that we use a lot to get around here and take walks with our three-year-old son. The bike for us, as for so many others, is fun.
Not a weekend goes by without us going for a walk on a path or a bike path. I think that when my son Max was four months old, we had already taken him in the bike cart.
Look, my partner has never been a person who has had sports as the basis of his life, but with the bike we have found a link to enjoy together. I used to do different sports and he didn’t, and look, with the bike we have become hooked together and it has united us even more.
Born adventurer, have you ever dared to travel by bike with saddlebags?
That is for me one of the best experiences you can live. My great adventure on a bike with saddlebags, the biggest I have ever had, was in 2005. So we went from the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Bator, to Beijing. About 1200 kilometers. Crossing all of Mongolia by bike is one of my best pedal trips and today, on another level, we have done a lot of greenways. Routes of three days by bike with saddlebags and taking the little one. Anyone who has enjoyed such a trip repeats, and you don’t need to go to Ulan Bator. Any less challenge on a bike is a great experience.
By bike, uphill or downhill?
I’m going up, going up hills, because I’m a motorcycle … Going down I’m more scared. I am one of those who takes advantage going up and loses it going down, heh, heh. But hey, everyone is on their own.
On the bike, better alone or with a rump?
Better in a group, although I often go out alone. The big plan is to go out with friends, take a walk with your crew to socialize, without great objectives. Then you end up having a snack, the best plan for any day of the weekend.
We are talking about two demanding sports: mountain and bicycle, what values do they share?
A lots of. The effort, the capacity for suffering, the feeling of freedom, being able to share those moments with a group of friends. In short, in both cases we are talking about activities that cost, that suppose an effort then surpassed by the reward that they offer you.
We have to change the chip that the bicycle is only for when it is sunny and good weather. That change, for example, I already see in Donostia. People go out even when it rains and that is something that still surprises people from other places
And they also provide a means of connecting with nature.
Yes. There are people who may be lazy to go up the mountain to walk, but not to get on the bike and go for a ride. It’s not about riding your bike, but you can go out into the country, take a ride around a swamp or something like that. And then the bike allows you an easy connection with nature, with that outdoor life that we need so much right now. We live attached to a computer, pending work and the bike is always a good escape route.
And urban cycling. Are our cities prepared to travel by bicycle?
There is everything, it depends. When we travel we usually carry the bike in the car.
If we go to cities that have municipal bicycle services, we take them and cycle through the city, although unfortunately not all of them are prepared for it. I am lucky to live in Donostia, which is a very well prepared city, a great example of mobility by bicycle in Spain. That we have a lot to improve in this regard? You are right. I have lived in Nordic countries and they ride their bikes there even though it is snowing. And you see the children with divers on who go to school by bike in the rain, and the women who at all times move on their bikes.
Here we have to change the chip that the bicycle is only for when it is sunny and good weather. That change, for example, I already see in Donostia. People go out even when it rains and that is something that still surprises people in other places.
And we come to the electric bike, what do you think?
Well, totally respectable. All those things of purism have passed me. I’m in something else, another league. I also ride an electric bike and I think it has opened a very big world, giving possibilities to many people who did not consider riding a bicycle. And the example I have very close, my parents who with 70 and 77 ride the electric bike, they do 40 kilometers and share routes with us. I would never have thought that I could go out to train with my father, who is 77 years old, and ride a bike together one Sunday morning.
Then there are the ‘pros’ who say you can’t train with the electric bike, and you can’t. I put on the heart rate monitor with the e-Bike and raise the corresponding pulsations that the trainer has indicated, so I think I will do something, right? I think this type of bike has opened up a world of possibilities for a lot of people.
Apart from being an athlete, she is a woman with values. We are talking about the Edurne Pasaban Foundation in which they work to give children in Nepal access to education, it is a very good example of this. Today the bicycle is a tool to improve our lives, a healthy, sustainable and economic alternative in favor of an ecological mobility transition. Are you sensitized in this regard?
Totally. I believe that the bicycle should be more present in our lives in order to make them more sustainable and to be able to leave a better future for our children. We cannot have large cities overflowing with pollution in which each of us goes in our car to take our children to school, looking for a parking space at the very door, on the sidewalk. The future should not go that way. Myself, there are days in Donostia when it rains a lot and I have to take Max to school. I am lazy on the bike, I take the car and arrive at school with a conscience. That is what we have to overcome because it depends on us as a society, not on the climate, because in fact I have already seen it in other countries. I hope we know how to transmit that idea to our children, so that little by little they change the mentality of our society.
Your ideal place to ride a bike?
To ride a bike many afternoons we do the route of the three beaches in Donostia: Zurriola, La Concha and Ondarreta. Ideal to do any day. Look, I think that if we could get something positive, however minimal, from the pandemic that we are experiencing, it would be that people have had such a need to activate after the confinement that now they go out more by bike. Hopefully this change lasts and is not something specific.
No weekend goes by without us going for a walk on a path or a bike path
A bike route that you have in mind to do one day?
Right now, uf… I have some in my head, but to do them with my son, on a bike with saddlebags. I think it is an ideal way to travel and in particular I know some very nice routes through Europe, but they take time and that is what we do not have right now.
She is an expert in expeditions to success; We are going to ride a bike and now we are starting to climb our first mountain, what can you recommend us?
It seems to me that a project like this of ‘Walking a bike’ is necessary to be able to visualize the good that the bicycle can bring us, something that is otherwise available to everyone. Cycling is very much like the mountains. We can all access a bicycle and we can all put on some boots and go up the mountain. From there, what we have to show, what to communicate to the whole world, are the benefits that this brings us, which are health and sustainability. There I think you are on the right track and I think yours is a brave project to be born at a time like the one we are experiencing. A recommendation? Knowing that all the great mountains are climbed little by little, camp by camp. Let’s take small steps, let’s set up the first camp and then the second and then the third and so I am sure that you will climb any mountain that you propose.