Aug. 16, 2012
California woman finishes her world bicycle ride
Marek Warszawaki | The Fresno Bee
Over the past 20 months, Erin Nelson said she pedaled her bike 21,000 miles through 32 countries wearing out 40 sets of tires and five speedometers.
After crossing five continents, the 20-year-old Turlock, Calif., woman officially ended her tour Aug. 6, by riding to Rubber Soul Bicycles in Fresno, Calif., one of her main sponsors.
"I'm really happy I did it," Nelson said. "I was doing whatever I wanted to do. I had no schedule and no job."
While free of responsibilities, Nelson described an arduous and occasionally hazardous journey.
Five times she got hit by cars or motorbikes (including once in Fresno).
In Palestine, she broke her wrist in a crash and spent four weeks recovering.
In Hungary, officials tossed her in jail overnight and confiscated her passport, forcing her to ride 300 miles out of her way to get a new one.
But there were fun moments, too, such as learning how to surf in Australia, where Nelson spent several months.
Nelson carried all of her equipment with her on front and rear panniers. She camped most of the time but also stayed in hostels and guest houses. Monthly stipends from sponsors covered most of her expenses.
Initially, Nelson set out to become the youngest person to ride a bike around the world. It could take several months for her application to be certified.
"But really, the record doesn't matter to me," she said. "I just wanted to do it."
Now that her journey is over, Nelson plans to return to school and possibly study economics.
She also plans to move closer to the beach. And, of course, keep traveling.
"I can't see myself in one spot," she said. "It's depressing even to think about."
PHOTOS AND REPORTS