ITHACA, N.Y. — A bicyclist from England who has spent more than a year traveling across myriad landscapes — deserts, mountains, vineyards, grassy plains — made hilly Ithaca one of the last destinations on his tour.

Peter Reynolds, a 32-year-old electrician from Abingdon, England, has traveled through Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and across the United States. He took a sabbatical from work and set off on his trip in October 2015.

Reynolds came to Ithaca by recommendation of a friend he stayed with in Chicago who went to Cornell University. It also fit perfectly on his route, since Manhattan will be his last stop.

All along the way, Reynolds said his trip has been filled with small surprises and generosity from strangers. Like when he arrived in Ithaca Friday morning. While stopped a coffee shop, a man noticed his bike, they talked and he offered to give Reynolds a tour of the area in his car. Reynolds said he thought the Ithaca area was beautiful.

Reynolds initially set off from Abingdon, England, a town just south of Oxford with roughly the same population as Ithaca. From there, Reynolds traveled through France, Belgium, Germany and Austria before catching a plane to Vietnam. Reynolds has journeyed through impressive landscapes, like mountains, vineyards and lush green hills in New Zealand, busy streets in Cambodia and Thailand. He also toured Australia and Indonesia.

Touring by bicycle has allowed Reynolds to see and appreciate the world at a slower pace, he said. Bicycling has made him engage with everything around him more intimately. And, it’s been a great icebreaker.

So people, like for instance yesterday, I would have never met this guy Scott had he not seen my bike … you just find yourself with all these stories just because of the bike that people notice and they want to meet the crazy guy on it,” Reynolds said. 

The bicycle has drawn attention no matter where he is. In Vietnam, Reynolds said children were pointing and smiling and wondering what he was doing. He said they shouted, “Superman!” as he went up a hill.

“It’s fun to … start opening up to all these new experiences because you’re traveling by bike,” Reynolds said.

While traveling, Reynolds said he is carrying about 150 pounds worth of equipment. He has items to help with repairs, spare parts, electronics, extra clothes, a tent and sleeping bag.

Reynolds said he has done a lot of camping along the way, but has also found shelter from acquaintances along the way, too. On Easter, he said he met a man on a tractor whose family offered him dinner, and then a place to stay.

“All you’re doing every day is you’re riding, getting food, staying dry and then at night thinking of somewhere to sleep, and maybe have a shower if you can. And then everything else is a bonus,” Reynolds said.

After all the traveling, Reynolds said he is more aware of some of the things he took for granted before, like a roof over his head and warmth. He also said the trip has made him more open-minded. When he gets home, he said he’s going to make more of an effort to connect with people and the community.

“People tend to struggle with having time for other people. They won’t stop and talk to you in the street, but they’ll go home and send you a message or something like that,” Reynolds said. “When I get home, now I’m going to try and make more of an effort to speak to more people and engage more people because you’re not on this planet forever and it’s so nice just to have a chat with someone. It’s something we take for granted.”

Now, his tour is nearing the end. Reynolds left Ithaca on Saturday morning and headed toward Manhattan.

Learn more about Reynolds and his trip at www.bikingaroundtheworld.com.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.