By: JACK M.
Six years ago, Mike Boles woke up to yet one more day in the slow lane. He was bored, and he was in a rut. “I had a job I really didn’t like very much; I was making money I didn’t really spend, and I felt I was wasting time I couldn’t replace,” he would later say in an interview with CBC. “You can’t lie to yourself, so if it doesn’t feel right you need to make it right.” So he decided to go for a spin on his bike. And he never stopped. Six years and six months, 60,000 kilometres and 38 countries later, and with enough stories to fill a book, he’s back home.
In June of 2009, the world was mired in a recession, but Mike quit his job, packed his saddle bags with whatever would fit into them, strapped on his helmet and left his home town of Regina in Canada’s prairie province of Saskatchewan. And to make it just a little more interesting, and a lot more challenging, the intrepid cyclist decided to start his journey not from his home town, but from the small community of Inuvik, 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
From here, it was over to Alaska, down the west coast of Canada and across to the Great Lakes. By this time, Mike had been on the road for four months, and his next plan was to get to Europe. So he hopped on a freighter that was headed across the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway, and, from there, across the Atlantic. 25 days later, Mike and his bike arrived in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. From there it was south through France, Spain, Portugal and across the northern coastline of the Mediterranean to Istanbul, passing through Italy, Austria, Germany and Romania, to name a few.
It was now October 2010, and Mike had been on the road for 16 months. Across central Asia, down through Southeast Asia to Australia and, by December 2014, he had arrived for a few months’ cycling and exploration around New Zealand. And early in September 2015, he caught a flight from Auckland to San Francisco to begin the final leg of his around-the-world trek before heading home.
The entire six-and-a-half years were done on the same bike, a 2007 Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30. But it wasn’t a smooth ride by any means. Mike had dozens of flat tires and 13 serious crashes. He survived a blistering 43° Celsius in Bosnia and a bone-chilling -16° in China. He was hospitalized with a bout of dengue fever in Indonesia, had a life-threatening experience in Uzbekistan when his bike and gear were stolen, and he survived hurricane-like winds in Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. But the stories, the people and the places will last him a lifetime. You can check out Mike Boles’ story, complete with a six-year blog and hundreds of photographs, here.