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Stories from Bernie's current trip - a mule voyage from Canada to Mexico

Pedal Billionaire Reverend Hans
April 11, 2007

Nothing gets the point of wealth across like being a billionaire. But who says it has to be measured in dollars? I mean really, it’s just a measure, right? Well, this week I met a billionaire – in a generally overlooked currency.

Meet Reverend Hans.

I spotted him pedaling North on US 1, outside Southern Pines, NC, and just had to pull over for a chat.


The Reverend’s rig
Southern Pines, NC

The first thing that struck me about him were the tan lines on his face.

Unlike the ski set that jets to Taos and returns sporting tan lines that make them look like raccoons, Hans’ tan line strangely resembled a chin strap.



Which is precisely what created the white-on-tan effect.



Then there was the dark spot on the back of each of his hands.



“Oh, yeah,” he replied when I commented on the odd tan mark, “kids tell there parents ‘Look! That man has spots on his hands”.



This set of tan lines came from an opening in his gloves.

Immediately, I felt wimpy, pasty, the way blades of grass get when they’re covered with a board. I was, after all, the guy who rode a mule across America wearing two bandanas, long-sleeved cotton shirts, gloves, sunglasses, and, where, horrors, the sun might touch my skin, SPF 30 sunblock.

Parked on the side of US 1, the good Reverend explained how he’d earned his unusual pigmentation.

It was largely a story of stick-to-it-ness. A meticulous record keeper, as of 2007, he’d pedaled 168,000 miles, replaced 315 inner tubes, and crossed the United States 14 times – once with a hamster named Schroeder.

But the Reverend was chasing more than just big numbers.

He traveled by bicycle to spread word of his cycling ministry “Pedal Prayers”. “Pedal Prayers is a hands on mission,” he explained. “I want to show people that the best sermon is an example. That the best way to preach is to do.” To back up his philosophy, he has pedaled to natural disasters, including the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, to offer physical and spiritual assistance.

Other sermons in action include helping build, “over sixty homes for Habitat for Humanity.”

It was sinking in that I was speaking to an adventurer who was the perfect complement, yet perfect opposite, to me. I explained that I too, had once traveled across America by mule, slipping in that the feat had consumed almost 13 months – a good pace, I reckoned, because I stopped along the way to help folks from time to time.

So how long did it take him to ride coast-to-coast on his metal steed?

“61 pedaling days.” he replied.

Oh.

I never bothered mentioning that I planned to travel by mule wagon from Canada to Mexico. Or the fact that I planned to measure the mileage in mule steps instead of miles. There was no way I could compete.


How I travel these days
Smith Creek Bridge
Oriental, NC

Then he hit me with the Big Number. As of April 2007, the Reverend has completed 1,055,928,402 wheel revolutions, which, yes, in my traveling book, earns him the honor of a bicycling billionaire.

With that, he remounted his bike and disappeared up US 1.

Reverend Hans, I wish you well on your second billion – give or take another sixty Habitat Houses.

Bernie Harberts
Millionaire (in mule steps)

Posted Wednesday April 11, 2007 by Bernie


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