The end of the road…in summary…

The end of the road…

We did it!!! After several years of traveling the back-country roads of several continents, we finally finished our bike trip! Crossing over 26 time zones, it took us a total of 4 years and 10 months (including the approximately one year that we spent between Pennsylvania and France with our families during the course of the trip). We biked across 22 countries on 4 continents, including 10 months in Europe, 4 1/2 months in the Middle East, 6 months in India, over 1 year in Asia, and 11 months in the United States. We carried 310 lbs. (130 kg.) of equipment (including the two bikes) and pedaled a total of 14,000 miles (22,000 km.). And all this time, we had only a dozen flat tires between the two of us (10 in India and 2 in Arizona), thanks to the high-quality tires from our sponsors “Schwable.” One tire even lasted 11,000 mi. (18,000 km.)!

Aside from the polar regions, we biked through almost all of the world’s landscapes and terrain: desert, jungle, tropical forest, mountains, fiords, coastline, alpine regions, and river deltas. We biked through snow, ice, hail, wind, rain, and sunshine. We biked through sun-baked rain-starved desert and through monsoon-soaked muddy highways waist-deep in mud. We biked from sea level up over 30 passes in Tibet to a height of 16,830 ft. (5,100 m.) in the Himalayas, over cobble-stoned and dirt roads sometimes washed away over the cliffs by avalanches or glacial rivers. We endured temperatures ranging from 0F (-18C) in central Europe to 121F (50C) in California’s Mojave Desert.

We tasted food, good and bad, from around the world. People often ask what is the strangest food we have eaten. Among the strangest, I would have to count snakes, eels, tarantulas, insects, dogs, unhatched baby chicks in egg shells, camels’ milk, and fermented yak butter tea. My favorite food was Indian and Thai.

We saw a great variety of flora and fauna, including camels, elephants, monkeys, buffalo, whales, seals, dolphins, wallabies, koalas, kangaroos, bears, and a large variety of birds. The only incidents we encountered with animals were a scorpion bite in Laos, scary leech experiences in Thailand and Laos (anyone who has ever seen “The African Queen” with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn will know what I’m talking about), a run-in with a cobra in India, a small fright from a few aggressive monkeys in India, and several chases by wild, hungry mountain dogs on the steep slopes of Tibet (by far the scariest experiences of my life, and thankfully, only once did one manage to catch up with me, and he only put a hole through my saddle bag and not through my leg!).

We learned a lot about the planet on which we live and the people who inhabit it, including their different cultures, religions, and ways of life. We met a lot of wonderful and interesting people and learned a lot about one another on the way.

Were our travels always easy? Of course not. But were we glad to have undertaken a trip around the world by bicycle? You betcha! We had trials and tribulations, we had ups and downs, and we experienced everything from extreme happiness to misery (mostly when sick) to fear and joy and everything in between.

But mostly, we shared five years of happiness together, getting to know our planet a little bit better and hopefully becoming better people for it. Our ride was the ride of a lifetime and will be our last one for a while. While we have mixed feelings about it – a bit of nostalgia and a bit sad that our trip has come to an end, we are also very happy to have accomplished our dream together. We are very glad to be home, to be with our family and friends, and are looking forward to settling down and starting a new adventure…this time one of work and family life!