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Man Cycles Around the World for 50 Years and Writes a Book

In November 1962, the 22-year-old Stücke quit his job as a tool and die maker, and rode out of his hometown on a three-speed bicycle, with a plan to see the world. He has since never returned to Hövelhof, stating that his extraordinary desire to travel has been partly motivated by his aversion to returning to factory work.

In the early 1980s, after two decades on the road, Stücke decided to attempt to visit every country in the world.

He believed he had accomplished his goal when he reached Seychelles in 1996, but he continued on.

Between 1962 and 2010, he cycled more than 609,000 kilometers 378,000 miles and visited 195 countries and 78 territories.

From 1995 through 1999, the Guinness Book of Records described him as having travelled more widely by bicycle than anyone in history.

During his travels, he has encountered many hazards and suffered numerous injuries:

  • In the Atacama Desert of Chile he was hit by a truck.
    In Haiti he was chased by an angry mob.
    In Egypt he was beaten unconscious by soldiers.
    In Cameroon he was detained by the military for “slandering the state”.
    In Canada he was in a car crash that plunged him into a freezing river.
    In the United States he was abandoned by an automobile driver who stole all of his supplies after offering him a ride.
    In Indonesia, 1974, he suffered a serious bout of dysentery.
    In Zimbabwe, 1980, he was shot in the big toe by rebels.
    In Mozambique, 1995, he was attacked by bees while bathing in a river.
    In Siberia, 1997, his bicycle was stolen for the fifth time, along with his luggage (but soon recovered).
    In England, 2006, his bicycle—the same machine he rode from Hövelhof in 1962—was stolen again, this time from his campsite in Portsmouth. (The bicycle was recovered the following day in a local park.)
    Although he has ridden the same steel-framed bicycle on most of his journeys, in 2002 he rode across Canada with a partner on a Hase Pino tandem recumbent bicycle, which Hase Spezialräder built and sponsored.

Since 1962, Stücke has taken more than 100,000 photographs. He funds his expeditions with licensing revenue from his photo catalogue; donations; and sales of his travel writing, postcards, and booklets that feature his photographs, writing, and illustrations.

Now 75, Stücke has published a book, Home is Elsewhere: 50 Years Around the World by Bike, which contains no fewer than 18,000 pages of his diaries and what seems like an unending compendium of photographs. 

 

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