Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Sep 02nd
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

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

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

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual