Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
May 05th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Around the World on Two Wheels

news2Cyclist sets off on a 30,000-mile bike ride

Twenty-seven-year-old Sean Ardley has spent much of his life perched on the seat of a bicycle, and much of the rest of his time doing something related to bicycles. He began mountain biking at age 4 through the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, got his first job at Santa Cruz Bicycles when he was 14 years old, and spent the last four years working at Ibis Cycles.

On May 14, he embarked on a journey that he hopes will inspire others to hop on a bicycle more often.

 

“Bicycles are underestimated in terms of what can be done with them,” Ardley says. “It’s a really viable method of transportation that people don’t seem to use because we have this culture of cars. There are a lot of people who don’t do it, not because of any actual aversion, but because they just haven’t tried or considered it. I’m interested in showing people that you can actually go really far on a bicycle in not a lot of time.”

In his case, “really far” is a whopping 30,000 miles, which he plans to do by circling the globe over the course of 10 months. The Santa Cruz native left from our seaside town and headed north to traverse Canada and Alaska. The route will then take him through Russia—where he will face 2,000 straight miles of dirt road—to Turkey, from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa, up the length of South and Central America, and, finally, from Miami, Fla. to San Francisco.

Ardley’s course includes a few plane flights and ferry rides when necessary, such as a flight from the United States to Russia, another over the dense Panama jungle, and a strategic flight that allows him to skip over a tumultuous Middle East.

“As my route stands right now, it is the closest to a circumference of the globe that anyone will have tried to ride,” says Ardley, later conceding that, “there is no real database for things people have tried to do.” Still, as far as Google can tell, Ardley would be the first to complete such a journey.

He hatched the plan more than a year ago when he stumbled upon the current world records for miles biked in a day (110 at the time; 144 currently, he says) and felt compelled to try and beat them. But upon further investigation, he realized that beating the record would require a strict schedule, sticking to well-off countries and “cherry-picking” the smoothest roads—not exactly the kind of adventure he had in mind.

“I’ve decided that, if I’m going around the world, I’d much rather not have to stick to the nicest roads that allow me to go the fastest, and instead have a good adventure of it,” says Ardley. “So I’m no longer considering a world record or anything like that, although that was what inspired me to do it.”

He hopes to be home in time for his 28th birthday on March 15, 2013—a timeline that requires him to cover about 100 miles per day. However, he says, “I wouldn’t be surprised if I take some detours and extend my time.”

Ardley quit his job at Ibis Cycles at the end of 2011 to plan the trip. “I was planning to make a career change anyway,” he says. In addition to training for the ride, Ardley took that time to study for the Graduate Record Examinations, which he took a few weeks before hitting the road. Upon returning, he hopes to study math as a graduate student.

Among the concerns that understandably led his mother to try to talk him out of the trip are wild animals, weather (although he is “following summer around the world,” which helps), thieves and terrorists. Due to strict Canadian gun policies, he didn’t start off with a firearm in tow, although he may try to pick one up along the way. In the meantime, he’s equipped with bear spray. “It’s like mace, but a whole lot of it with a lot of repellent,” Ardley says. Can bear spray also be used on terrorists? “I hope I don’t have to do that, but I’m sure you can,” he laughs.

Although he is going without a tent (thus the concern about being attacked by bears), solo (for most of the time), and unsupported (no help—that would be cheating), Ardley was surprisingly calm and collected when he met with GT just before his May 14 departure.

His biggest source of worry is disease, which he prepared for by receiving a dozen vaccinations and stocking up on medications that are likely to come in handy. He says a large part of overcoming this fear is acceptance: “Being laid up with digestive system issues at some remote truck stop in Africa for a week sounds kind of terrible, but it’s something I’m willing to risk,” he says. “And it’s probably inevitable … so as long as you’re comfortable with that fact, why not?”

(He also harbors some mild curiosities about his inevitably compromised hygiene, musing that, “that many days without a shower could be bad for you.”)

In a worst-case scenario, Ardley can phone in to be helicoptered out using the satellite phone he has taken along. The phone, which he will charge using a small, built-in solar panel on his bike, is his main means for updating his website, thelongcourse.com, “160 characters at a time” through text messaging. He plans to post longer updates and photos (his main concession in terms of heavy gear is a nice camera) when and where Internet is available.

Ardley expects to sleep on the side of roads and in ditches; hitchhike if he has mechanical problems with his bike; and rely partially on the kindness of locals for food along the way. “It’s really a fine line between bicycle touring and being a transient,” he jokes. In the days leading up to his departure, he learned some last-minute Russian to aid in his adventures.

Aside from the personal quest and his desire to raise awareness about bicycling, Ardley is riding for another cause: the World Bicycle Relief, an Africa-based nonprofit that donates bicycles with the goal of empowering people. While Ardley will not be accepting any money personally, he is asking anyone who wants to support his trip and message to do so by donating to World Bicycle Relief. 

“This is the inevitable culmination of my relationship with bicycles,” Ardley says of the expedition. “I’ve always loved seeing new places with them, going all day, going farther than I have before, [and] meeting new people on rides. If I were to fuse together all the elements of cycling that I love, I would have this adventure. “

Comments (4)Add Comment
...
written by Aunt Kate, July 03, 2012
Hey Sean...thinking of you and wishing you well on your travels. I hope you are keeping a journal..this would make a great book!
...
written by a guest, June 03, 2012
Sean, please be safe! And call your mother!
Will be thinking about you, and hoping this journey is all you hoped it to be.




Comment below-comments
...
written by a guest, May 30, 2012
Sean,
Wish you all the very best. This is a wonderful. Take care and be safe.
...
written by Scotty C-M, May 17, 2012
Best of Luck to you. Go far, go fast, go safe.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mountain Mystic

When Cora Evans died in Boulder Creek in 1957, her thousands of pages of religious writings hadn’t yet been published. More than a half a century later, Evans’ fiery visions and spiritual devotion have inspired a crusade within Catholicism to make her the Santa Cruz Mountains’ first saint

 

Wesak (Water) Taurus Solar Festival, Buddha Blesses the Earth

A most important celebration occurs Sunday, May 3—the Wesak Taurus Buddha Solar Festival/full moon. At the moment of the full moon the Buddha’s presence enters the Earth plane for eight minutes. He brings the Will-to-Good from the Father, which, when reaching humanity becomes goodwill (Mother Principle). Held yearly in a valley hidden deep within the Himalayas, the Wesak festival is prepared for for months in advance (beginning at Winter Solstice). On festival day, amidst pilgrims, disciples and Holy Ones gathered in the valley, the Buddha is invoked through movement, symbols and mantrams. At the moment of the full moon, hearing the words, “We are ready, Buddha, come,” the Lord of Illumination (brother of the Christ) appears in the clouds above the altar to emanate forth the will and purpose of God to earth. The blessing of the father is then held in safekeeping for distribution at the June full moon Goodwill Festival. The day of Wesak (May 3, 8:42 p.m. West Coast) all disciples (east and west) place crystal vessels filled with pure water outside (in gardens, on rooftops, porches and steps) under the heavens. As the Buddha blesses the world, all waters, including waters within our bodies, are blessed. The Buddha is accompanied by the Forces of Enlightenment to illuminate humanity’s minds. Humanity then begins to express new constructive, productive and beneficial ways of the Art of Livingness. Wesak covers five days—two days (before) of dedicated preparation, the actual festival “Day of Safeguarding,” and two days (after) distributing goodwill (the NGWS to humanity). Join us in the Valley by reciting the Great Invocation, mantra of direction for humanity.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of May 1

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Hole in the Wall

Popular Aptos spot opens for dinner

 

How do you connect with the natural world?

My connection to the natural world is through my art. I totally feel it there very physically in nature and even right here on the street. Jonathan Rosen, Felton, Pastor

 

Hess Collection Winery

My friend Emma from London came to visit for a few days in early March, so I took her wine tasting in the Santa Cruz Mountains—a rare treat for her, as there aren’t too many vineyards in the middle of London. Her visit reminded me how fortunate we are to live in this paradise of ultra-fresh produce, with grapes growing in wild profusion.

 

Springtime Walkabout

May Day Flower Festival, free tours of the UCSC Farm, and a nondairy chocolate indulgence