I read this in The Times, London, in early September, 2008:
Ian Hibell, cyclist who pedalled world, killed by hit-and-run driver.
A couple of paras about Ian Hibell got me hooked to the man:
“A cyclist who pedalled the world for more than 40 years, braving raging rivers, a lion and the hospitality of an Eskimo princess, has been killed by a hit-and-run driver in Greece.
Ian Hibell, 74, was a well-known figure in the world of long-distance cycle touring, setting several records and pedalling the equivalent of ten times around the Equator. Mr Hibell, from Brixham in Devon, set out on his travels in 1963 after asking his employer for a two-year sabbatical. He returned ten years later, having become the first cyclist to ride from Cape Horn to Alaska, among other journeys.”
And he went on to go around the world for on his bike for 30 more years, and has now achieved, in my eyes at least, immortality as one of those romantics which, thankfully, are still to be found.
The last para of the story is really the measure of the man. “In 2005, he said: “Every so often a bird gets up and flies some place that it’s drawn to. I don’t suppose it could tell you why, but it does it anyway.”
Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert –
That from Heaven or near it
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O’er which clouds are bright’ning,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of Heaven,
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight –
Keen as are the arrows
Of that silver sphere
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear,
Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there.
All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
As, when night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and Heaven is overflowed.
Rest in peace, blithe spirit!