Oct. 27 is the day of the Lowell 50, a classic old world-style cycling road race. This Michigan event takes competitors on a 28- or 50-mile-long ride along the banks of the Flat River and through rural Ionia County on largely unpaved roads. The rough gravel surface probably makes the ride feel five times longer than it is. This race, however, isn’t quite on par with some recent cycling journeys undertaken by riders pushing the limits of the sport.
Meet six of today’s most extreme cyclists.
Perhaps nobody has gone on a more remarkable bike ride than British adventurer Alastair Humphreys. Humphreys sums up his epic journey thus: “60 countries. 5 continents. 4 years. 46,000 miles.” Humphreys left England when he was 24 to cycle the length of the Earth’s three great landmasses: Africa, the Americas and Eurasia. Humphreys’ two-wheeled trek took over four years. If your geography is solid, you are probably wondering whether Humphreys’ bike had wings to get him over stretches of ocean. Indeed it did not — he took boats here and there — but still earned enormous admiration for his cycling feat. In today’s world, where adventurers dash up Everest in less than a day, sail around the world in ten weeks, and write best-selling books about three-month motorbike rides, Humphreys’ journey stands out as amazing. Legendary explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes called it “the first great adventure of the 21st Century”. Humphreys’ self-funded ride took him from the deserts of Sudan to a Siberian winter, and as he rolled, he raised funds and awareness for Hope and Homes for Children.
Photo Credit: sochacki.info – flickr.com
Extreme cycling enthusiast Scott Mullin started his epic journey on his birthday: February 21, 2009. He kicked off from Pompano Beach, Florida.
“No mortgage. No wife. No kids. And now no job. What’s a guy living in South Florida to do? Jump on a bike and ride to Alaska of course. When I make it up there the plan is to head down to South America and then wherever the road takes me,” he told PowerCycle.net.
True to his word, Mullin wandered in epic fashion, finishing his grueling trip on July 22, 2012 after 3 years and 5 months of pedaling that certainly put the average spin class in perspective. En route, Mullin delved into Mexico and went through every county in Central America, pushing on into Colombia and then along the Andes mountain range. Next came the place widely seen as the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia, Argentina. Then he headed up to Western Europe, continuing through the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom and finally Ireland. He crossed a total of 24 countries on three different continents, racking up 28,454 miles. Hopefully by now someone has given the man a job.
Jimmy Button and Cory Worf
Go to Jimmy Button and Cory Worf’s website, MilesforMiraclesToday.com, and bam! The first thing you see is a message saying, “the ride has been completed!”
What ride? The “miracle ride,” which began on Feb. 20, 2011, when former motocross champion Button and his trainer Worf started covering the 2,428 miles from San Diego, California to Daytona Beach, Florida. The aim: to raise money for spinal cord research.
The story behind the duo’s trip is just as remarkable as the trip itself. Rewind to January 2000 when Button suffered paralyzing injuries from the neck down after crashing during practice for the AMA Supercross series. After many months of rehab, however, he began regaining strength and a decade later, he and Worf started cycling. Averaging 60 miles per day, they finished their journey in 57 days, 14 hours, 52 minutes and 23 seconds.
Another extreme cyclist, Brit Rob Penn, rode 24,000 miles around the world in three years. The bike fanatic set off from New York in 1995, sick of working in London as a city solicitor and ready for an adventure. He decided to pursue it on a bicycle by default, as he could not ride a horse, walking would be too slow, driving would be too pricey and he had already heard too many “worst ever bus journey” stories to take the public transport route.
His global cycling journey proved eventful. He was robbed three times, arrested twice and stoned by children in both hemispheres. What really forced him to show his mettle, however, were the mistakes he made. In the Australian Outback, he ran out of food and water because he failed to count the miles to the next town correctly. Likewise, riding through searing pre-monsoon central India heat, he contracted dysentery and lost his appetite but kept riding until he collapsed. Still, he got back in the saddle, continuing through countries such as China, Krygyzstan, Lebanon and Syria. Penn found he was better at facing gun-toting maniacs than making conversation with London solicitors. Since the trip, he has saddled up almost every day of his life, which he writes about in his book, It’s All About The Bike.
In November of 1962, German adventurer Heinz Stucke pedaled out of his hometown, Hovelhof, on a bicycle journey that has yet to reach its end. Yes, you read that correctly. Stucke has been cycling from the swinging sixties until the present. At a time of life when most people kick back permanently, Stucke, who was born in 1940, keeps hitting the road, exploring and camping in some of the globe’s wildest places. Why? One reason is his reluctance to return to factory work and “the very small-minded people” of Hovelhof in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state. The nomad’s website describes him as, “the man who wanted to see it all.” Here are the stats: 5 continents, 257 countries, 48 years, 368,861 miles, 20 passports and 8 bikes, including 6 stolen and recovered. His tour continues. In fact, he reportedly cycles more than ever despite being in his seventies. We wonder when he will reach the end of the road.
Cover Photo Credit: tejvanphotos – flickr.com