How does one define bicycling around the world? Well, you wouldn’t get very far trying to bicycle around the equator since it is mostly water. However, you could try lugging your bicycle to the North or South Pole, once there you could finish the trip in minutes. Or, you could even join the astronauts as they pedal a stationary bicycle while their ship orbits the earth every 90 minutes. Maybe a more practical definition involves bicycling every continent or every country. As it turns out, these aren’t practical options. For instance, the definition between continent, continental plate and island is not clearly defined; while zigzagging between the invisible and often disputed political borders seems silly. I define bicycling around the world as cycling the circumference of the earth (40,077 KM [24,855.34 miles] as measured around the equator) without treading the same ground twice (otherwise I could have stayed in San Francisco and bicycled circles around the donut shops and pubs) and visiting as many cultures and phenomena as practical. As you can see from the map my route consists of a compromise between all the above considerations while avoiding prevailing headwinds, rainy seasons, war zones, health emergencies and cold weather. All the while, I constantly pushed forward, never counting the same kilometer twice.
Read about how Guinness World Records defines circumnavigating the world on a bicycle in Did You Break a World Record?
Where did you go?
As an example of how to ride a bicycle around the world, the red line above is where I rode my bicycle (41,144 KM). Although I did cycle all of North America in a continuous line, I am not a “purist”. There are too many places that are just too ugly, unfriendly and dangerous for cycling. So, to complete my circumnavigation, I connected the dots and lines with either an airplane, train, bus, truck or ferry. See the complete list below.
What countries did you visit?
Note: Some countries listed are given the benefit of the doubt, such as Tibet.
- El Salvador
- Costa Rica
- Northern Ireland
- San Marino*
- Czech Republic
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- New Zealand
- South Africa
* Countries visited by train due to time, weather and visa constraints.
In the United States, some Native American lands are still honored as sovereign nations. I visited quite a few, including:
- Potawatomi Nation
- Lakota Sioux Nation
- Navajo Nation
- Blackfeet Nation
- And more…
Countries that I visited but didn’t leave the airport. Many people don’t count these, but I spent such a long time in these airports and saw the cities landing and taking off that my experience was culturally significant to me:
- Chile (I flew through the Chilean Andes. It was awesome!)
- The United Arab Emirates
Countries that I saw from their neighbors. Okay, this stuff probably doesn’t count, but it was with my own eyes!:
- Saudi Arabia
- Cuba (great view from the airplane)
- And more that I couldn’t get a good look at…
Countries I’ve visited again:
- The United States (the culture shock was terrible, I crisscrossed my own country and the Americas again just to get used to it)
- Argentina (this time as an honorary Cultural Ambassador of the United States)
Countries since my big trip (breaking out of my box again)
- The Dominican Republic
- The Bahamas
- Puerto Rico, unincorporated territory of the United States
- The Virgin Islands, a territory of the United States
- Jamaica. Ya mon!
And hopefully many more. More importantly, I feel like I see my own country with new eyes every day, which has been one of the greatest rewards of my travels.