He was held-up at gunpoint in Guatemala, trapped in the middle of riots in Colombia and avoided bears in Alaska, but Billy Lavelle, 37, has completed his epic 28,000 kilometer cycle from Alaska to Argentina.
Almost precisely two years after setting off from Prudhoe Bay, the most northern point accessible by road in North America, Lavelle, from Blackrock, Co. Dublin, has safely arrived in the Argentinean city of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world.
His cycle, which raised €12,000 to support Irish charity Trócaire’s work in Latin America, saw him pass through 15 countries.
Reflecting on his amazing journey, Lavelle said, “There were some very challenging moments. The worst was getting held up at gunpoint by three masked men on an isolated dirt track in Guatemala. They stole most of my valuables.
“I arrived into Colombia during a nationwide strike and had to attempt to get through road blocks. In Alaska I had to cycle by a large bear, who stood up on his hind legs for a better view. Thankfully a car happened to be passing and the driver kindly waited until I was safely past the curious animal before continuing on the journey.”
The cycle took Lavelle through varied landscapes and conditions.
“I got stuck in a vast salt flat while crossing a very isolated and baron stretch in southwest Bolivia. I was progressing about 10 meters a minute into a gale, pushing my heavily loaded bike through the salt and muck, cursing and laughing at how comically difficult it was,” he recalled.
“During my first 10 days on the Dalton Highway in Alaska I was eaten alive by swarms of large mosquitoes. I was so desperate to get away from them by the 10th day that I cycled through the night. I fell asleep cycling and had a small crash!”
On finishing his two-year cycle, Lavelle said, “Part of me does not want the trip to end, but with the weather getting colder and more severe by the week I was happy to finally reach Ushuaia. I stayed in the frame of mind of just taking each day one at a time to keep me sane.”