Fabes, a physician in his early thirties, had a vague plan. From Londontown he’d bump over the Alps, cut south from Istanbul and pedal Africa from nape to tailbone. Then on to the Americas, Australia, and Asia. He’d traverse six continents — 50,000 miles — in five years.
The first few weeks weren’t so bad, despite the fact that Fabes didn’t train for the trip (“I thought, ‘I have a lot of cycling ahead of me, why should I do more now?’”). But soon the spine of Europe appeared before him, and things got frigid. French motorists beamed incredulously as he ascended the mountains. One night a blizzard struck, hardening his gloves and turning his sleeping bag into an ice cocoon. He eventually breezed down to the Riviera and dipped into a tunnel that spit him out in a balmy valley east of the Alps. One thing he missed about the cold, he later mused, was the absence of “winged nasties.”
Soon he rolled into Italy and heard a clicking sound. This sound wasn’t coming from his bike. It was coming from his knee. “I could feel," he blogged, "a small curious mobile mass within the joint space which often got trapped causing me sudden pain.” Still, he couldn't turn back. He rode through the Balkans and Greece before an MRI revealed a bit of cartilage caroming in his knee. He stored his bike in Istanbul and hitchhiked back to London, where surgeons presented him the stray piece in a jar.