This is one of the unbelievable recumbent cycle touring stories that just leave your mouth open like the one from Viktor Zichó traveling from Hungary to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan during the COVID times or Alve Henricson’s winter velomobile expedition to Nordkapp

You have heard about Nicola most probably before. He is an Italian expedition cyclist who was kidnapped by Islamist terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda in Mali, Africa on February 4, 2019 when peddaling towards the city of Timbuktu, in the Sahara desert. They stole everything from him and Nicola was held captive for 20 months. He was released on October 8, 2020. Gary Solomon did a long interview with him in the Laidback Bike Report in January 2022.


However, Nicola is a truly adventurous guy, and he likes dry and deserted countries, so he started to cycle again in August this year. As his fat trike was lost in Africa, he bought a used recumbent trike, made a few adjustments to it, incl. a roof protecting him from sunburn, and headed north through Italy. There he turned East and went through Balkan countries, Bulgaria and Turkey, and is in Iraq now. Again, a rather exotic country, and although there are quite some cyclists touring through Iran, Iraq is usually avoided even by serious travelers. 

Here is a summary of Nicola’s recent trip, including some photos and images from his first cycling tour in South America. Some of his affordable solutions and way of problem-solving are just admirable. If you want to support Nicola, here is a link to the PayPal website where it is easy to help with few bucks, or you can also just follow him on Facebook or Instagram (links below) and share his story around.


Adventurer: Nicola Chiacchio
Kilometers/miles covered: 6 000 km / 3 700 miles 
Expected kilometers/miles ahead of you: unknown 
Bike: AZUB TRIcon 20

Description of the tour: From Italy to Iraq and further.
What do you expect from the journey: I expect to get to know different culture and people.
Best moment until now: Here in Iraq every day has a best moment. People are fantastic. They help me in everything. Stop me on the road to take a selfie, to give me water or food, to invite me to a restaurant or their house.
Worst moment until now: In Istanbul. I wanted to go in front of Santa Sofia church with my trike but the police stopped me. They did not know pedal-powered trike and did not let me to go.
The most memorable person you met until now: Iraqe peopl.
Impact on your life: travelling is my life since 2018, so this trip is just my normal life.
Future plans: Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Gibuti, Somaliland, Oman, Emirates, Iran, Afganistan, etc. I’d like to cross some desert but with 20″ wheels no way to go. I NEED a fat trike/quad!

Two more questions:

Why do you travel to all the Arabic countries even after you have been kidnapped in one of them?
I was kidnapped in Mali, which is not an Arabic country. For this current trip, I planned to go from Kurdistan in Turkey to Iran, but I did not get a visa, so I decided to try to cross all of Iraq. Not a good idea, but I am here not far from Kuwait. Maybe in 5 more days, I will be out of Iraq. I want to go to Saudi Arabia and Oman to escape the winter, and then if the situation in Iran is better, I will go there and maybe to Afghanistan too.

Also, why do you like to travel by recumbent trike?
Well, I wanted to go through some desert, so I bought a fat trike that got stolen in Mali. I felt very comfortable with it. Now, with the TRIcon 20, it is not the same comfort, but I lost too much money in my kidnapping, and I can not buy another fat trike now. So for the moment, I will travel with this TRIcon trike. Anyway, I like to travel to countries that are different from Europe. Iraq is dangerous, but the people are amazing.


And few photos of his DIY solutions from an upright bike expedition in South America.