The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
For Bruce Gordon, a circumnavigation of the globe began with the first push of a pedal on his Bacchetta recumbent bike.
The former Comox Valley resident is on a solo trip around the world with a two-fold purpose: to beat the Guinness world record for fastest unsupported global circumnavigation by bicycle and to raise funds for World Vision.
Taking some major time off from his job as a roofer in Sechelt, Gordon has had many adventures, the most recent being celebrating his 49th birthday on July 23 as he peddled through the sweltering heat that has hit the east coast of North America.
“Right now the biggest challenge has been the heat,” Gordon said in an e-mail sent from a recent stop that had WiFi access. “This morning, 10 a.m, as I rode through Greenwich (in New York), the temp was 97F. Not sure what it was at noon but I can tell you, it was smokin’ hot. The breeze felt like it was coming from an oven.
“As I am set to travel south as far as Fort Myers (Florida), then turn towards the Canadian Prairies, then turning back towards Yuma before turning towards home, I best not be complaining about the heat,” he said.
Gordon’s remarkable journey began April 8 from the driveway of his Halfmoon Bay home (just north of Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast). That’s also the finish line, but he says nailing down the day the trip will end is tough. “Somewhere around the end of August. I will know better as I get closer.”
While enjoying spectacular scenery in locales such as Italy, Spain, Greece, and Australia, Gordon also has an eye on the clock as he attempts to get into the Guinness Book of World Records.
“The current record is held by Vin Cox of the U.K.,” Gordon said. “He completed the circumnavigation (29,331 kilometres) according to the Guinness rules in 163.5 days — an average of 177 kilometres per day. My average has slipped some since arriving back in America.
“Still, I’m sitting at about 185 kpd. I hope to finish with at least a 200 kpd average. That means I’ve got some work to do.”
Gordon says the number of hours a day he spends on the road varies.
“If I were to figure out the average, I’d guess it would be around eight hours of actual ride time, not including the breaks for lunch, etc. Many days have been over 12 hours actual ride time, some have only amounted to five or six.”
Gordon says he has not suffered the loneliness of a long-distance solo cyclist.
“I thought it was going to be a lonely adventure but it hasn’t been. I meet lots of folks who want to gab. Lots of people interested in the bike, then the adventure. And I keep in touch with a growing number of friends through social media – Twitter, Facebook, TMT, e-mail, etc.”
Speaking of social media, all the details of Gordon’s tour are on his website at www.globebent.org. There is a link to donate to World Vision, and a regularly updated blog that is well worth the read – especially the tale of his run-in with a Mad Max-type big rig trucker in Australia.
The tour has its challenges and highlights, Gordon said.
“Major challenges change from day to day. Sometimes it’s the headwinds, or the rain. Sometimes it’s simply the terrain. If it’s hilly for days on end, it really wears you down. Sometimes it’s just getting up in the morning when what you really want to do is sleep … but then, everybody has that challenge,” he quipped.
“Highlights? There have been many … making it back to the spot I cruised into when returning to America by cruise ship – the Cunard pier in NY Harbour. I flew from there to St. John’s, Nfld. to begin the America leg of my ride on Canada Day.
“The last day in Australia was both the toughest of them all — for a lot of reasons — and the most memorable. It really tested me, that one did.
“So many evenings riding into the sunset, then after dark, as the desert came alive with the night sounds. East coast New Zealand with its huge waves crashing the shoreline, seals by the hundreds, surfers.
“The day I creeped over the record holder’s daily average. Meeting other cyclists travelling the world. The kangaroos. The open vastness of Australia. Barcelona. Food … sometimes a big meal at the end of a tough day is a huge memorable highlight. People’s kindness and generosity. The crazy rain and awesome lightning show in Macedonia. One very windy day in Italy. There’s plenty more,” Gordon said.
Gordon’s proud mom Audrey Fallock, who lives in the Valley and worked at St. Joseph’s General Hospital for 23 years, encourages people to visit her son’s website and help him meet his goal of raising $16,250 for Zambia’s poverty-stricken children.
“Let him know you are rooting for him,” Fallock said.