New Internationalist

Pedalling to Hawaii

May 2006

‘I believe it is important in our era of cars, trains and aeroplanes, that we are reminded of what human beings can achieve with their own strength and resources,’ says the Dalai Lama in his introduction to Pedalling to Hawaii.

Stevie Smith was working for the OECD in Paris when he decided, with his friend Jason Lewis, to embark on a journey around the world using pedal and leg power alone. They were hardly endurance freaks. Stevie had once cycled 50 miles – Jason’s record was more modest. Yet their aim was to cover more than 80,000 miles by bike, pedal boat and on foot. Stevie thought it would take ten years. He decided to stop after six. Jason is still pedalling twelve years later.

It often seemed they would come to grief as they slowly crossed the Atlantic in their custom-made pedal boat Moksha (Sanskrit for freedom). The journey took several months, with the pair doing alternating four-hour shifts, one pedalling, one sleeping.

Stevie, today a ferryman in Devon, England, concludes: ‘You can’t depend on the accomplishment of goals or journeys… for your happiness. You just have to enjoy them all, and from beginning to end. Because happiness is the acceptance of the journey as it is now, not the promise of the other shore.’

Nikki van der Gaag

This column was published in the May 2006 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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