Bicyclist rounds the globe, now shares lessons learned |

Bicyclist rounds the globe, now shares lessons learned

Rick Gunn takes an unflinching look at the world in his Soulcycler slideshow:

Long, lonely landscapes from places where the horizon stretches unbroken for miles.

Photos of impoverished people affected by war, disease and hunger.

Gunn, a South Lake Tahoe resident and former photographer for Swift Communications, The Union’s parent company, is bringing words and images from his 26,000-mile bicycle trip around the world to the Center for the Arts in downtown Grass Valley Thursday night.

“What I hope is that people will be so moved by what they see and hear, they will, first, investigate the problem, then find their own individual way to contribute,” Gunn said. “Each individual knows their best way to give. I think my job is to remind people that’s why we’re here – to be of service to others.”

Gunn, a former photographer for the Nevada Appeal newspaper in Carson City, started his journey at the Golden Gate Bridge on July 1, 2005.

After 33 countries, 25,811 miles and 34 months, he returned home a year and a half ago. Since then, he has been presenting his “Soul Cycler: The Man Who Rode a Bicycle Around the World” to share his experience.

When he left the developed world of North America and Western Europe to enter developing countries in Eastern Europe and Asia, he saw a major difference, Gunn said.

The nations were decimated by war and disease, but by biking through them, Gunn found he had complete access.

“On a bicycle, you are immersed. You’re part and parcel of everything there,” Gunn said.

“Poverty and disease – you’ve got a front row seat.”

The experience was seminal; spurred him to action.

“I made a promise to myself, and I made a promise to the people when I was in these places, seeing what I saw, that for the rest of my time here, I would do something,” Gunn said.

He has given his presentation at schools, senior centers, community auditoriums – anywhere people are interested, mostly in the West.

“All I can do is keep giving” the presentations, Gunn said. “I hope at some point I can reach a larger audience. As long as there are children starving and suffering, then I will share this message.”

The most challenging part of the mission was to give up his job and personal connections to get out the door.

“The hardest 25 yards of the whole trip were out of my driveway,” Gunn said. “It’s lonely.”

The trip was started in honor of his late mother, who died when Gunn was a teen before she had a chance to see the world. It became his mission to give people a view of the world they won’t get on television.

“I want to show them the world in the light of my own experiences, instead of the five-second sound bites on CNN,” he said. He hopes those who see his images “will recognize there’s a huge difference.”

Nevada Appeal reporter Teri Vance contributed to this report. To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail or call (530) 477-4239.

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