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Around the whole world - on a bike

Mary Mulke 1 August 2003
Rob Cassibo

A victory smile at Cape Agulhas, the most southerly point on the African continent.

Riding a bicycle around the entire planet is not everyone's idea of a fun time, but for Rob Cassibo who breezed into Sandton to stay with friends while his bike was being fixed, it has been his lifelong dream.

Rob is a small-town physics/chemistry teacher from Northern Ontario in the heart of the Canadian wilderness. Not just any teacher, he was named Teacher Of The Year by Canada's Public Broadcaster, TVO. After years of telling his students, "You can be anything you want to be, you simply have to dare to dream it, and then chase the dream", his students turned the tables on him by encouraging him to chase his dream. And so he did ...!

Rob admits to doing precious little planning for his epic journey. "I simply looked at a map of the world and decided that I would try to ride from the north of Canada to the southern tip of South America, then from the southern tip of Africa to the most northerly point in Europe, then across Russia, China, South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and then back home to North America." Sounds easy enough, if you say it fast. Rob says some people see the world as a huge place, but he sees it as a little ball that you can ride a bike around!

The equator is 40 000 km in circumference, so Rob's goal was to ride 40 000 km. The problem is that he has already ridden 35 000 km and is not even halfway. So now he has the double challenge of cycling the rest of the world and of stretching money for a two year trip into four.

Asked about safety, Rob said, "The world today is vastly different to the world I started off in. I got on the road less than a month before the September 11th attacks. I've missed two entire wars. Maybe it's a little naive to think a man can still ride his bicycle around the planet, but there are good people and bad people everywhere ... I just hope I meet the good ones. If I had listened to the doom merchants I would never had gone to El Salvador, Nicaragua, or even South Africa for that matter."

To finance the trip Rob sold his house. He has attempted to find sponsorship, but so far has been unsuccessful.

"South Africa has turned out to be my favourite country to date, by far," he exclaimed with enthusiasm.


Rob has been:
  • attacked by machete wielding bandits in Peru
  • buried in a mudslide in the Amazon Basin
  • threatened by an active volcanoes in Ecuador
  • hit by a car in America
  • dehydrated and near death in a Mexican desert
  • frozen in a blizzard in the High Andes
  • and chased down the road by a herd of angry elephants in Caprivi.
He has ridden through Canada, America, Mexico, Cuba, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.

Rob's bike is outfitted with everything needed to survive. He carries a tent, sleeping bag, mattress, stove, pots, food, cold weather clothes, hot weather clothes, wet weather clothes, guide books, maps, camera, he's even carrying a laptop. In total, roughly 50 kilos. He has already used up 40 sets of tyres.

Around the whole world - on a bike

Another of the quaint and amusing sights Rob came across during his travels.
South African Airways

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Copyright © 2003, Rodney Jones, rtjones@amethyst.co.za, Randburg, South Africa (Last updated on 7 August 2003)