Around the world in 120 days

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By David Davis

A Russian newspaper reported the future had come to its village with the speed of the past. Three months later, that future arrived in Chiefland personified by a German man on a Norwegian electric bicycle.

Robert Mohr, 41, left Oslo, Norway, May 16 at noon with the hope of riding into the Guinness Book of World Records on a Buddy Bike Model M2. He expects to finish during the Street Life Festival in Munich on Sept. 9-10.

He got the idea of circumventing the globe because he wanted, “to do something pollution-free in my life. The environment is so polluted and it’s getting worse. This is the way to show that you can travel on electric bikes like this, so you should be able to do this in your hometown.”

Though he is not a hardcore environmentalist, he became sensibilized to pollution while studying geography for his job as a logistics writer, “But I’m not a Greenpeace member, but I think it’s important to leave this world not like we found it because that’s impossible, but at least so our children and grandchildren can survive.”

But most people don’t think one or two generations ahead. They’re not bad people, but naïvely trash the environment. China, he said, is the most polluted just because of the large population.

“America is handling it somehow. I wonder … everything is kind of clean,” he said.

In Germany, they burn recyclables in power plants, but that to him is not recycling. It’s burning.

“The worst places to me on this journey are in Southeast Asia and those are also the prettiest places to me. I’m a diver. There are islands with clear blue water but so much has changed since I’ve been going there the last 25 years. Now there is Styrofoam and plastics all over the beaches. Nobody cares. Now it’s not about air pollution, it’s about throwing waste in rivers. It’s going to go to the ocean. It’s brought back by the water to the beaches and I don’t know how to stop it.”

The journey is a minimum of 24,000 kilometers and will take about four months. If successful, he will beat the old Guinness record of 12,000 km.

Guinness World Records North America Inc. Public Relations Coordinator Sofía Rocher confirmed the longest journey by electric motorcycle is 12,379 km (7,691.94 miles) was achieved by two Italian women, Nicola Colombo and Valerio Fumagalli, who rode through 11 countries, starting in Shanghai, China, and ending in Milan, Italy, from 10 June to 23 July 2013.

Rocher also confirmed Mohr’s application to break the record. He will send Guinness a witness book, a logbook and a GPS tracking record he will send to Guiness.

Unofficially, he broke that record in West Texas and now he is continuing to make it farther and farther.

“The world is more than 40,000 km, but you can’t drive on the ocean,” he said. “That’s why I rode from Norway to Shanghai, China and now coming to Los Angeles and going coast-to-coast. Now I’m in Florida and this is the end in America and then a few more countries.”

Next on his itinerary is Portugal, Spain, France and back home to Munich.

So far, the most difficult part of the trip is finding the cheapest way to transport the bike. He had to “dump” the three lithium batteries in Shanghai and buy new ones in Los Angeles.

“I hope that was just because of the language,” he said.

But there was the issue of finding a place in Chiefland to charge the batteries so he could make it to Crystal River by nightfall where he planned to spend the night. The adventurer always looks for the cheapest motel rooms, or churches are good, safe places.

“They realize that while I’m a little bit crazy, I’m not a maniac,” he said. “Last night it was a private house on the side and on the other side it was a motorcycle dealer. So there are all kinds of places.”
That problem was solved when he arrived at the Luther Callaway Public Library who allowed him to charge the batteries while he searched for flights on the computers.

According to a press release issued by Buddy Bike, Mohr will prove that electric mobility is a good transportation solution. At home in Munich, he bikes daily between home and work. The journalist for a niche logistics magazine said bicycling is faster and more enjoyable than it is for commuters who make the daily trips in automobiles. He hopes his journey around the world will encourage people to change their transportation behavior.

People turn their noses up at the suggestion of commuting to work on a bicycle because it’s too far or it’s too sweaty, “but buy an electric bike and you don’t get stuck in traffic jams every morning and afternoon.”

Mohr is no stranger to around the world adventures. In 1992-93, he was the first to drive around the world in an electric car. That journey took eight months and covered about 32,000 km.

He plans to write a book and hopefully, earn enough money is sales to pay for the trip, which will cost him about $7,000.