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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Legendary British cyclotourist Ian Hibell dies

World-renowned cyclotourist Ian Hibell, the author of "Into the Remote Places" and a cyclist who put in more than 250,000 miles cycling the world, survived gun attacks by bandits, tropical ants that nearly ate him alive, mangrove swamps that nearly swallowed him and his bike, chases by rogue elephants and and an encounter a hungry lion.

But Hibell could not survive a Greek hit-and-run driver.

The Times of London reports that Hibell died on the Athens to Salonika highway on Aug. 23, when he was struck by a car apparently involved in a race with another motorist. The driver left the scene but was arrested two days later and charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

The Times credited "Into the Remote Places" for inspiring other cyclists to pack up thier saddle bags and taking off on their own adventures.

One of Hibell's most famous trips was his Trans-America expedition from Cape Horn to Alaska from 1971 to 1973. The video below shows his effort to cross the Darien Gap, a vast swampland that separates Panama from Colombia and North America and South America. This journey was taken before the advent of mountain bike, so he was riding a touring bike

Hibell also bicycled from Europe to the Cape of Good Hope in Africa. The Daily Mail had this to say about his experiences:
He enjoyed the hospitality of an Eskimo princess, a Dyak headman in Borneo, African chiefs and missionaries and once asked for a two-year sabbatical from work -- only to return ten years later.

Ian used over 800 cycle repair kits during his travels and refused to use standard pannier racks for carrying items - insisting instead that custom-made racks be welded onto his Argos bike frames.
Longtime friend Nicola Henderson told the Mail: "At the time (of his death), he was doing what was his lifelong passion of cycle-touring. He had been touring the world more or less continuously for over 40 years."

I'm certain his legacy will live on as new generations of cyclotourists use "Into the Remote Places" as an inspiration.

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