And You Thought Your Trip Was Impressive: Armando And The 1,000,000-Kilometer Bike Trek

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Okay, everyone, don’t get pissed at me, but you’re just not as cool as this guy. I’m sure your ratty backpack has loads of patches on it and your passport needed supplemental pages years ago. Still, you got nothing. I got nothing, either. But Armando Basile, on the other hand, he’s definitely got something.

This past weekend I welcomed a leather-faced older man into the bike shop I work at (when I’m not writing for your entertainment). He pulled his bike into our rack just outside the front door, complete with the most loaded bags of any long-distance biker we’ve seen stop at the shop this summer. I had no idea who I just met. Our exchange went as follows:

“Greetings, I would like six tubes.”

“Wow, that’s quite a few. Where are you heading?”

“I come from Alaska and go to Germany.”

[Laugh] “That might be tough on a bike.”

“No problems. I bike since 1983. Yesterday, 160 kilometers.”

“Whoa, how far have you gone since 1983?”

“About 940,000 kilometers.”

“No shit.”

“I show you.”

And with that conversation, out came a map of North America with a thick red line scrawled across the United States into Canada. Numbers buffeted some of the circled towns and calculations filled the margins.

Soon, Armando was telling us of his travels. He began cycling based on a doctor’s recommendation after a back injury. His wife, Gisela, joined him for over 400,000 kilometers, through almost every country in Europe, across America, across Australia, and then from Canada to Mexico, before she was tragically killed in a cycling accident in 2005. That would, perhaps, put an end to his adventure one would think. Nope.

Last year, solo, Armando cycled around Australia, almost dying from dehydration until some locals helped him out.  The 67-year-old survives on many, “cans of baked beans and peas,” and saves money by camping as much as possible.

He is currently in the middle of a spin back to New York before he returns home to Germany. He told me that next year, for his next trip, “I go 1 million kilometers.”

That’s over 620,000 miles. As I said before, I had no idea who walked through the door.

A quick internet search revealed this article about Armando from the Cortland Standard and this article from the Post Hotel in Lake Louise.

[Photo of Armando Basile Bob Ellis/Cortland Standard]

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