The Summers: An Overview
It all started with a simple, ridiculous declaration: “I want to ride my bicycle around the world!” Those words set in motion a seven-summer tour beginning in Lisbon, Portugal, on June 4th, 2015. That first summer, Sweeney rode across Portugal, Spain, and a sliver of Morocco before turning north, back into Spain, through France, and ending in Geneva, Switzerland. After a short vacation with his wife, Sweeney returned to France and onward to London, where he caught a flight home.
The following summer, Sweeney returned to Geneva and rode across northern Italy to the Balkans, crossing Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and most of Georgia. He flew home from Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi.
In 2017, Sweeney flew back to Tbilisi and made his way to Baku, Azerbaijan. He took a short flight across the Caspian Sea to Atyrau, Kazakhstan, where he unboxed his bike and proceeded to ride across all of Kazakhstan and two-thirds of China, finishing in the city of Xi’an after cycling over 4400 miles in thirty-nine days. Sweeney went back to Xi’an in 2018 and continued to Shanghai and the East China Sea. His book, Lisbon to Shanghai in Four Summers, details his ride across Europe and Asia, as well as the intervening years of his real life in Colorado. For more details, click here: The Book.
Of course, the journey didn’t end in Shanghai. In 2019, after a delayed start due to family issues in Michigan, he rode from Perth to Sydney, Australia. By the end of that 2400-mile trek, it seemed his ambition to ride his bicycle around the world wasn’t so ridiculous after all.
And then 2020 happened. Sweeney was scheduled to ride from Anchorage to Fort Collins that summer, but the U.S.-Canadian border shut down, along with everything else. With every state and county on lockdown across the Pacific coast, Sweeney had to rethink his plans. He rented a car and drove himself and his bicycle to Moline, Illinois. After returning the rental car, Sweeney crossed the Mississippi River, heading west, in the hopes that something on the Pacific coast would ease restrictions. In mid-June, Sonoma County opened its doors to tourists.
After pedaling across the Great Plains, Sweeney pushed his bicycle over the Rocky Mountains, down Nevada’s Highway 50, dubbed the “Loneliest Highway in America,” before ascending and descending the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He dipped his toes into the Pacific Ocean at Bodega Bay, California, on June 26th, 2020, having ridden the wrong direction all summer, a fitting tribute to 2020.
The following year, the journey began in Davenport, Iowa, where Sweeney again crossed the Mississippi River, this time on his way to the Atlantic Ocean. After a short detour to visit family and friends in Michigan and Ohio, he ended in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the closest he could get to Lisbon given border closures between the United States and Canada.
On December 22nd, 2022, Sweeney flew to Buenos Aires, Argentina, to fulfil a longtime ambition to ride across Argentina and Chile. He had to do the ride over the winter holidays because of the Andes mountain range, which were passable by road bike only during South America's summer months. He reached the Pacific Ocean on New Year's Day 2023, and then rode inland to Santiago, where he found yet another bicycle box and flew home.