Friday, February 20, 2009

Bicycle Odyssey

For Okhwan Yoon, the way to spread the word of peace is to get on the road and bring the message to others.

That road is a long one, and in getting on the seat of a bicycle, he didn't exactly pick the fastest mode of travel to cover all the miles he's wanted to travel.

Still, by the South Korean cyclist's count, he's come a long way.

When he crossed the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to El Paso, Texas, last month, he entered the 169th country in what he describes as a personal journey to spread the word of peace.

On Tuesday, he arrived in Yuma on his way to San Diego and then Los Angeles.

Yoon, 47, said he tries to promote the concept of peace through personal connections with the people he meets wherever his bicycle takes him.

"Every country becomes my garden, my home," he said in a phone interview. "I experience the mysteries of human beings."

He hasn't had much time to meet Americans, he said Tuesday, because he has spent most of his time here on the road, pedaling. Still, the greatness of this country is inescapable, he said.

"America is the climax of my journey," he said in broken English. "America is a cutting edge country and that makes it great."

After he gets to Los Angeles, he plans to fly to Florida, the jump-off for the country he will visit next: the Bahamas.

Yoon figures to have visited 195 countries before he concludes the journey.

He hopes to share to share his experiences with people back in his native Korea, he says. He wants to write about his experiences in his travels.

Yoon said he previously owned an import-export business that primarily dealt with Japan, and that he used primarily the earnings from that enterprise to pay for his bicycle travels.

"I'm a messenger. I couldn't oppress the passion I had to explore the world and meet people and find the real meaning of peace."

A bicycle rider since 6, he spent three years training for the international bicycle journey he started in 2001, Yoon said.

Since then, he said, he has pedaled through war zones, been robbed, was kidnapped by rebels in the Sudan and has survived six accidents with automobiles. He has gone through five Trek bicycles in the course of riding an average of 150 miles a day, he said.

Facing and overcoming the various challenges on the road has been life-affirming, Yoon says.

"That makes me feel great. It makes me respect people and respect families."

The idea of the journey may be the spread the concept of universal friendship and peace, but Yoon says he is also taking something from his marathon ride.

"Life is short, the road is long. I can't see the end of this road. But the road is teaching me a lot."

1 comment:

  1. Hello sir, im a young writer from asia, now im working with scripts for movies. I saw the movie Life in a Day and I saw you there. So i would like to write about you script for the movie if its possible. Please contact me -
    Thank you very much, with tonnes of respect and interest Alisher