March 17, 2022

An Octogenarian Odyssey

Sometimes it can be tricky to know what’s waiting for us around the next corner, but Bob Fletcher, a retired educator from Edmonton (and ARTA member), has been planning his next corner for over a year. On July 4, 2022, Bob will set out from Fairbanks, Alaska, on his e-bike and travel all the way south to Panama City, a trip of 14,000 kilometres that will take him just over five months. What’s more, Bob will be celebrating his 80th birthday on the road.

A five-month bike ride is a daunting task for someone of any age, but for Bob, it’s just his next big adventure; he’s been exploring the world on his bike for well over a decade. “I love to travel and see new places,” says Bob. “I’ve been to over one hundred countries, and more than twenty of those visits have been on my bicycle.” As for the dangers of the road, Bob knows the risks, but he’ll be accompanied by a cycling partner and a documentary film crew who will be able to assist him if need be.

While always an avid cyclist, Bob’s interest took off when he joined the Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club after retiring. “I got to know my fellow riders and found there was a lot of comradery among cyclists,” says Bob. “Some months after my wife passed away in 2013, I found myself in Dubrovnik, waiting for a bike tour to begin. It was the first time I had been on a trip without her, and I was just wandering around, unsure of what to do with myself. When the tour finally started, I got to meet the other riders, and of course, they immediately accepted me as one of their own.”

Bob has taken cycling trips across nearly every continent since then, and he doesn’t plan on slowing down after this year’s trip. “If I’ve still got the energy, I think I’ll continue south and do the length of South America, parts of which I’ve done before,” he says. But that’s not all he has planned. He’ll be working with a writer to turn his big adventure into a book, Octogenarian Odyssey: Trading the Sofa for a Bicycle Seat. It will feature one chapter for every week he spends on the road. And then, of course, there’s the film crew, who will be turning his adventure into a documentary series. And after that? Well, for Bob, there’s always another trip waiting for him, around the next corner.