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Around the world by bike

Alastair Humphreys spent more than four years bicycling through Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, North America, and Asia.

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Have you ever dreamed of taking a long bike ride, maybe even staying overnight along the way? Alastair Humphreys did – and he actually followed that dream.

In August 2001, when he was 25, Mr. Humphreys left his family and girlfriend and cycled out of Yorkshire, England, on a bike he named Rita. He didn't return until November 2005.

During those four years and three months, Mr. Humphreys cycled 46,000 miles. He traveled through parts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, North America, Asia, and back through Europe. He rode through cities and across deserts, mountains, permafrosts, savannahs, and pampas. And he met and stayed with hundreds of people.

Here's how Alastair Humphreys answered some questions about his amazing expedition:

How did you decide to take such an ambitious journey?

When I was a child, I used to read tons. But later, at university, I started reading books about people climbing Mt. Everest and going to the South Pole. And I began to wonder if I could do that. The combination of a full bookshelf and maps of the world can get you in real trouble!

How did you fund your trip?

I worked through uni [college] and saved my student loans. I left home with the worldly wealth of £7000 ($11,000 then), and I had to make that last.

You originally planned to ride through Asia to Australia and not through Africa. How did Sept. 11, 2001, change your initial route?

Once war broke out, I thought it wouldn't be safe to ride through Iran and Afghanistan and perhaps Pakistan. So when I got to Istanbul [Turkey], I decided to turn right and head through Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. From there, I went through Egypt and on towards South Africa. I will never know how things would have gone had I continued [on the original route]. Certainly, everything would have been totally different. But I had a good time the way I went!

Describe a typical day.

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