Biking the Globe: Around the World in 6 Years

Stephen on his bicycle in North America. Photos by Stephen Fabes.
Stephen on his bicycle in North America. Photos by Stephen Fabes

Around the World in 2,190 Days:
Doctor Completes 6-Year Biking Journey Around the World

By Devinne Zadravec.

Stephen Fabes was a junior doctor working at St. Thomas'Hospital London in 2009. A fairly normal occupation for any normal guy. But, then again, Stephen Fabes is no ordinary guy. In 2009, he was 23 years old, and in this year he decided to bike around the world.

A scenic view in Africa.
A scenic view in Africa.

It was an ambitious dream, to traverse all six continents by bicycle. Though he was still a young man, it was not his first serious foray into cycling.

At 19, Stephen and his 17-year-old brother biked the length of Chile. Their journey covered nearly four thousand miles over the course of five months, and stretched from the southern town of Punta Arenas in Patagonia up to

forest.Arica in the Atacama desert. A self-described "magnificently amateurish effort packed full of misadventures," this first cycling adventure was also a large part of what inspired Stephen to take on his dream of biking the globe.

Why Do It?

Why do it? It is no small decision to embark on such a long and trying journey. Stephen explains on his popular website, CyclingThe6.com, how his biking journey was truly born out of his love of adventure.

The short answer is that I wanted an adventure, a new challenge, to learn about and experience the world in an intimate way. The intrinsic appeal of using a bicycle is that I can take off into more remote regions, avoiding the jump from one tourist spot to the next. It also breaks down barriers and brings me closer to local people, and I love the slow transition. One place slowly merges with another as you watch the world pass slowly by your handlebars. The bicycle is simply one of the best mediums to explore a country in detail.

A stop in the redwood forest.
A stop in the redwood forest.

I also enjoy a less complicated life on my bike… I have relatively few possessions, little money and hardly any strict schedules or deadlines. Living outside, all the exercise and all the unfamiliar faces and places have conspired to make me feel more alive than ever before. I’ve relished the unpredictability, of having no clue where I’ll be sleeping that evening, the buzz of carrying everything I need in my panniers and the freedom I’ll probably never have again. There have been few big decisions to make and those that come up can be mulled over and meditated on. I am no longer caught up in the tide of rapid decisions and consequences that inevitably comes with life in the city. It’s a good feeling.

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The journey has also been an opportunity to visit remote medical clinics and observe the fight against neglected tropical disease, an issue that I care about. I raised more than 20,000 pounds for the medical NGO Merlin before they merged with another NGO in 2013.

Stephen Fabes
Stephen Fabes on his 6 year around the world journey, in South America.

Finally I've also been able to hone a new set of skills - I enjoy writingspeaking and slowly getting to grips with video and still photography. In this way I hope to communicate my story in an engaging way, and perhaps even to inspire others to begin an adventure. I've also been learning about international healthcare by visiting medical projects. A long term goal is to write a book about the experience.

"I wanted an adventure, a new challenge, to learn about and experience the world in an intimate way. The intrinsic appeal of using a bicycle is that I can take off into more remote regions, avoiding the jump from one tourist spot to the next.

It also breaks down barriers and brings me closer to local people, and I love the slow transition. One place slowly merges with another as you watch the world pass slowly by your handlebars. The bicycle is simply one of the best mediums to explore a country in detail."

Such a poignant description makes it easy to see how this grand undertaking could appeal to an athletic twenty-something with a bad case of wanderlust.

It is an interesting thought, to boil life down to just a man and his bike. A simple life, despite the daunting prospect of traversing the globe by bicycle.

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Less Complicated Life

"I enjoy a less complicated life on my bike… I have relatively few possessions, little money and hardly any strict schedules or deadlines. Living outside, all the exercise and all the unfamiliar faces and places have conspired to make me feel more alive than ever before. I’ve relished the unpredictability, of having no clue where I’ll be sleeping that evening, the buzz of carrying everything I need in my panniers and the freedom I’ll probably never have

 again.

"There have been few big decisions to make and those that come up can be mulled over and meditated on. I am no longer caught up in the tide of rapid decisions and consequences that inevitably comes with life in the city. It’s a good feeling."

Stephen returned to his native London on Febuary 19th of this year and returned to his medical practice. Six years older and with a lifetime of stories to tell, Stephen plans to write a book about his experiences on the road, and continue his work in medicine.

Read more about Stephen's journey on his blog and website, Cyclingthe6.com.

Devinne Zadravec

Fond of big dogs, stargazing, and foods covered in hummus, Devinne Zadravec is a writer/photographer/explorer from New England. Her favorite hobbies include hiking, yoga and writing. Currently, you can find Devinne hanging with her sisters in her Massachusetts home, or off adventuring, writing, and loving life in some new corner of the globe.