Scott Stoll's bicycle ride around the world: 4 years, 41,444 Kilometers (25,752 miles), 50 Countries and 6 Continents.
cycled every inch to meet my goal of circumnavigating the globe
under my own steam. (The equatorial circumference of the planet
is 40,077 KM.) And, thats not including my 10,609-Kilometer
warm-up ride across the USA from border to border and coast to coast.
would anyone ride their bicycle around the world?
Essentially, I decided to find the meaning of life or die trying, because my life seemed meaningless, and I figured if there was rhyme or reason to the universe, I would find it. For a more detailed description click
here to read the introduction.
do you ride a bicycle around the world?
Read the introduction.
did you go?
here to view the map.
Click here to view the list of countries.
did you decide where to go?
Primarily I followed the weather and the wind. Crossing the equator at times, for example from fall in Argentina to spring in England. And I left my schedule rather open-ended to account for fate and chance. I also simply asked the locals for advice. An interesting fact about cycling: it is possible to follow good weather all
around the world only at the speed of a bicycle — walking is too slow and cars are too fast. Read the summary on climate.
My new book Falling Uphill is also written in a Q&A short-story format arranged from the most popular survival questions to the more profound questions that we all ask as we journey through life. Read the Preface (download the PDF) to learn how the questions people asked gave me insight into human nature and the meaning of life. Falling Uphill is written so that you'll feel as if you're riding the bicycle and making your own discoveries, a much more entertaining and rewarding format than this Q&A.
Falling Uphill: Dreams for the young at heart answers over 225 frequently asked questions, including in-depth advice on how to bicycle around the world, and how to dream your own dream and make it a reality, whether that be an adventurer or street sweeper or anything.
much did it cost?
half the time. I spent the first 15 months cycling with Dennis Snader,
who called my bluff to cycle around the world. In Europe, Dennis
deciding he found what he was looking for and went home.
I averaged about $25 USD per day, including airfare, equipment and enough money to visit the
local attractions and have some fun. It was possible to tour for as little as 3 dollars
per day, if I bush camped, cooked my own food (or restaurants in undeveloped countries), filtered my
own drinking water, and washed my laundry by hand. Unless I was near a city, which was seldom, this is what I had to
the detailed expense estimate.
did you afford it?
Basically, I worked all
the time and never spent my money on anything that I didn't really
need to survive, i.e. no music or movies or fancy cars, no wining
and dining. I brought a bag lunch to work everyday. And, I invested
you ever sick?
salmonella intestinitis, giardia, Montezuma's Revenge over and over
again, dengue fever, boils, strep throat, conjunctivitis, irritated
bowl syndrome, prickly heat rash, plus every other little thing
you'd probably not care to imagine. View the summary on health.
did you bring with you?
I carried over 200
items, and I still can't figure out how. View
the entire list of bicycle touring supplies.
was your favorite...?
View the Top 10 List.
kind of bike did you ride?
a very strong and durable steel mountain bike (steel can be welded
by any auto mechanic or farmer) with downhill racing rims and kevlar
tires. Read more about my bike with a cool slideshow and neat captions.
much weight did you lose?
lost 65 pounds of fat and gained 15 pounds of muscle. Those pounds
really melted off after eating a salmonella sandwich in Guayquil,
Ecuador and cycling over the Andes Mountains on nothing but bananas
and Coca-cola. See
the before and after picture.
Do you have any advice? Quite simply there is no simple solution to anything. the world is an ever-changing place. So, find the faith that if you have the will find the way. For more practical advice see resources or tips and tricks.
many flats did you get?
many tires did you wear out?
10 sets. In South America, I had to use a local brand, and they would explode about once a week from the weight of all my gear. Plus, I wore out my gears 4 times, wore through four rims,
12 chains, 4 seats, and more.
you have any major breakdowns?
6 broken spokes, 9 welds, 2 snapped chains, 1 mangled derailleur,
2 broken seats, 1 snapped rear cog set, two broken racks (Blackburn
aluminum racks are crap), and many minor breakdowns, like bolts
falling out due to the vibration. (I do maintenance and replace
worn parts regularly.)
do you ride a bike across the oceans?
put extra air in the tires.
many kilometers did you average?
My goal was 80 kilometers (50 miles) per day. The furthest I rode
was 187 kilometers in about 6 hours. On the contrary, I've done
as few as 35 kilometers in seven hours of pedaling not including
breaks, and one day I did less than 10 and most of that was walking
my bike through mud.
long did it take to bicycle around the world?
took me 4 years, 500 days of continuous bicycling plus pitstops
and sightseeing. You could do it about 2 years, if you feel like it is a race.
Don't you get tired?
Yes! Both mentally and physically. I rested about 2 out of 7 days plus vacations. Now, my body is a bit worn out and I've reached the point of diminishing returns as far as bicycling is concerned.
Did you ever get in an accident. Or....
the worse thing that happened to you?
teenagers were trying to frighten me and lost control of their scooter
and ran into me head-on and injured me severely and destroyed a
lot of my gear. A close second was spending a day in Zimbabwe
the best thing that happened to you?
more difficult to quantify this than the worse thing. I feel it
was the cumulative effect of all the people I met along the way.
you ever injured?
syndrome, dislocated wrist, bruised tailbone, sprained knees, heat
exhaustion, sunburn, hyper-extended elbow, saddle sores, nappy rash,
broken heart, and every other little thing you can imagine.
was the most difficult aspect of bicycling?
Loneliness, boredom, headwinds, aches and pains.
many times did you crash?
Dozens of times. Almost all very minor. A couple crashes took some time to recover, but nothing that one doesn't expect doing this kind of thing.
many times did you cry?
did you eat?
times whatever the locals eat.
Is it safe?
Safer and friendlier than riding a bike in America. As you travel people will tell you where to go and where not to go. It's that simple. Not much planning needed. In general it's the big cities that are unsafe. The rest is more a matter of preference. You're biggest safety issue will be avoiding collisions, but that is just the nature of the beast of bicycling, and most countries have more respect for bicycles than Americans. Along with that you'll want to take the ordinary health precautions and stay clean.
you ever robbed?
I was held at gunpoint (one main with a revolver and another with
a sawed-off shotgun in Antigua, Guatemala. I've also been burgled
many times, conned and blackmailed.
did they steal?
robbers took my brother's tape recorder, which I dropped on the
ground when I ran away. The burglars usually take little stuff,
as if I won't notice it, like: food, toothbrush, lighter, water
much water did you drink per day?
averaged about 8 liters up to 25 liters per day in the Australian
you ever had trouble with animals?
chasing me. Mice, opossums, raccoons, crows, cockroaches and monkeys
stealing food. Wild boar, dingoes, wallabies, jackals, etc. prowling
around my tent all night. Nearly trampled by a herd of wild elephants
(twice). Stung by a scorpion in my bed. Annoyed by flies, mosquitoes
and gnats; they're the worst. Generally speaking, there is a shortage
of wild animals in the world and too many people.
was the most dangerous animal that gave you trouble?
you do any training?
I had six surgical operations to get ready: knee surgery, eye surgery,
and skin surgery four times. Plus, physical therapy, chiropractics,
vaccinations and some weight training.
are you from?
was born in Milwaukee, WI, USA, and lived in various places, including:
Sunderland, England, Washington, DC and San Francisco.
is your job?
used to be a graphic designer. Then I rode a bike. Now I am a graphic
old are you?
I spent from 31-34 years of age traveling around the world, plus
year 27 crossing America on my warm up tour.
you work along the way?
I stopped to help people plant food, build roads, fix cars, etc.
but not for money.
you ride for a charity?
I bicycle for myself. My goals were spiritual ones.
you have sponsors?
it is easier to earn the money myself, besides I don't want to answer
I didn't have a girlfriend, wife or children. It wouldn't have been
fair to leave them.
Would you do it again?
I haven't decided yet.
How did it feel to return home?
This is a big question. But basically extreme culture shock. I finally saw my own country with the objectivity of a foreigner, including all the good and bad. I didn't feel I had a place to stand anymore in this culture that is materialistic and lacking community and offering happiness in bottle at every turn.
What did you learn?
The main lesson learned: That I can create my own meaning to my life, essentially recreating myself and my community.
If you did it again, what would you change?
Go slower. Enjoy the moment more. Meaning to really internalize the cliche: "Life is a journey, not a destination." Spend longer periods of time in small communities to really get to know the culture. For the most part, I wish I had less angst and spent the time to create more meaning in my life and other people's lives, rather than thinking there was some exterior solution (meaning to life) that would make me happy. I also wished I had documented the trip better: more photos, more emails and newsletters, and I wish had brought a video camera. On the other hand, if I didn't have the angst and the soul-searching drive, I probably would have been content to stay home.
you plan to write a book?
One man's quest for happiness
Re-live and re-imagine bicycling around the world in quest of happiness. I've traveled the world by bicycle to discover the "secrets" of life, and I've spent many more years to digest my trip, exemplify the lessons learned and create a book that I believe is both entertaining and enlightening: I almost die, fall in love, find "God" and discover the meaning of life — what more from a story could you ask for?