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One woman on one wheel with one goal: meeting people

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Taking a 1,480-mile route through Patagonia on a bicycle would no doubt be quite a challenge, though probably not unique considering the availability of biking tours in that region.

But imagine taking the same route—from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Santiago, Chile—on just one wheel.

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That's what Frenchwoman Anne-Sophie Rodet of Vancouver, British Columbia, is doing, going where no unicyclist has gone before, or so it is believed.

Rodet, who has been riding a unicycle since age 6, began her solo journey on Jan. 27 in Ushuaia, and as of Wednesday, she is 87 miles from Santiago, or about 3 1/2 days, she told GrindTV Outdoor in an email.

About four years ago, Rodet began dreaming about a self-supported adventure somewhere in the world she had never been and "pretty soon Patagonia with its vast and sparse stretches emerged as a region I really wanted to explore," she wrote on her website MonoCyclette.ca.

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The goal is to meet people from different cultures and riding a unicycle is "great bait" to attract people's interests.

"No offense to cyclists […] but there aren't many places in the world untraveled by bike,” Rodet wrote in a post on Woman's Adventure on July 3.

"It's especially true along the route I've chosen, which has grown more and more popular in the last few years: during summer, the towns of Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia see a lot of cyclists passing through each day. So, doing it a bit differently makes it more exciting for the people I meet and for myself. How many times have I heard 'We've seen bicycles, motorcycles, recumbents, tricycles, scooters, people pushing carts … we thought we had seen it all, but a unicycle, it's a first!'"

No question, it would definitely be easier on a bike. Rodet explained that unlike with a bicyclist, she can never stop pedaling, even when going downhill. And she has had to deal with gravel roads and strong headwinds that make balancing with her backpack all the more challenging.

But the hardest part—even harder than taking photos of herself by using a timer—is the mental challenge of having to make so many "smart" decisions in an unfamiliar environment, such as what route to take and when to stop.

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Of course, the most asked question she has gotten along the way has been por qué—why?

"At first, I wasn't sure what to say, where to start," Rodet wrote. "Putting this into words, explaining my adventure, became necessary. In reality, though, I feel that the meaning I'm giving to this journey evolves all the time through the people I meet–locals and other travelers–and through my own thoughts. Who knows, maybe only at the end of this trip will I really be able to answer that question."

Photos courtesy of Anne-Sophie Rodet’s Facebook page. Map is from Google Maps.  

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