Three and a half years ago, Dr. Stephen Fabes left his medical practice at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital in London to begin a cycling journey. The goal was to travel across six continents on a trip around the world. By Steve’s estimates, he will visit 60 countries and log around 60,000 miles. The initial leg of the journey was from London to Cape Town. His current leg is taking him from the southern tip of South America to northern Alaska. We caught up with him at his second cousin’s home in Menlo Park, where he’s been staying the past week before hitting the road again on Wednesday.
InMenlo: What prompted you to stop your medical practice and start cycling the world?
Steve: I never seem to satisfy people with the answer to this question. I wanted an adventure and a new challenge. Also wanted a simpler life with less deadlines and routines. Then there was the goal of achieving a new level of fitness.
InMenlo: How many miles a day do you typically ride and do you have days off?
Steve: I typically ride 75 miles if it’s fairly flat and on tarmac and there’s no problem with wind. That said, I don’t often get perfect conditions, so I cycle from 20 to 150 miles, the latter being the most I’ve done. I never cycle at night. And I’m not rushing. I usually bike for 5 days and rest 2. Every six weeks or so I take a whole week off.
InMenlo: What kind of bike do you use and how many tires have you gone through?
Steve: It’s a custom built touring bike made by Santos Travel Master. You choose all the bits, and they but it together. I wasn’t really an avid cyclist before the trip and I’m not mechanically minded, so I got advice from other people. I’ve gone through about 15 sets of tires.
InMenlo: Are there any similarities to practicing medicine and cycling?
Steve: Medicine taught me a few things that I’ve used on the journey, like decision making. When you’re up against a difficult decision, medicine teaches you how to work through things.
InMenlo: On your website it says you’re interested in neglected diseases, but the ride is also raising money for Merlin. Is there an intersection between the two?
Steve: Because the trip has gotten some media attention, I thought I could also heighten awareness about neglected diseases.
Merlin is a medical charity that works on the front lines of global emergencies. I liked the idea that I could help raise money for a non-profit that had a medical tie in. People can donate through JustGiving.
InMenlo: What has surprised you most about your journey so far?
Steve: The fact that world seems safer and friendlier than I imagined it to be. I was a bit scared about certain areas but places people warned me about turned out to be the best. Over 150 strangers have given me a bed for the night along the way.
Editor’s note: As a way to fund his journey, Steve is giving talks along the way, as he did Monday night at Freewheel Brewing Company. If you’re reading this from one of his points northward and are interested, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs about his journey.
Photo by Irene Searles