When it came to distance riding on a bicycle, Ian Hibell made Lance Armstrong look like a wimp. Winning Tour de Frances by riding 120 miles a day for two weeks might seem like hellish torture for most couch potatoes, but for Hibell, that was simply a warm up. Let’s see Armstrong ride his bike from Alaska to the tip of Cape Horn. Or ride his bike the equivalent of ten times around the Equator in his lifetime. And all without a hint of the use of performance-enhancing drugs for the Brit, other than perhaps some tea.
Throughout Hibell’s journeys, he had cheated death, having been shot at, attacked by lions, and faced hunger, dehydration and exposure. But as THE TIMES reports, the one thing that he couldn’t avoid: idiots racing their cars.
Hibell was struck and killed by a car while riding his bike near Athens by a driver apparently engaging in some street racing. The driver has since been found and arrested. And we all know how dangerous it can be riding a bicycle in Europe.
Among the people Hibell met along the way were Mongolians who welcomed him into their yurts and offered him food (likely meal: Yak Stew with Yak Salad and Yak Pudding for dessert, all washed down with a healthy glass of Yak Juice), and an Eskimo princess who offered him shelter (which sounds like the plot to the worst “Letter to Penthouse” you’ve ever read in your life). Needless to say, for someone who basically lived on a bike around the world for 40 years, and probably didn’t shower a lot, he was a lifelong bachelor.
But of all the stories of Hibell’s life, the most frightening is that he apparently had one of his tents devoured and he himself was almost eaten alive by tropical ants during one such trip. I can’t even process the idea of flesh-eating ants that will kill you. This is why I stay at a Sandals Resort whenever I go anywhere remotely tropical.