Cyclist nearing completion of record trip

Eddie Fitzgerald is ready for a rest.
After 15 years on the road, the record-breaking cyclist is peddling towards Toronto, where he will end a journey that likely will place his name in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Fitzgerald, 65, was in Fort Frances yesterday to visit one of the few places in North America he’d never seen.
“I’ve been almost everywhere but I thought hell, I’ve never been up in Fort Frances,” the haggard-looking but energetic Fitzgerald said, leaning against the bicycle he calls “Maggie.”
Fitzgerald’s journey began in Winnipeg in 1986 after his wife of 30 years passed away, leaving him grief-stricken.
“I was running away from life,” Fitzgerald said “Everyone was gone. My wife was gone, my kids were grown up, I had nothing.”
To numb his sorrow, the former bulldozer operator embarked on a bicycle ride that has since taken him across the continent more than nine times–making it the longest continuous bicycle trip in North American history.
In the process, he has covered more than 197,000 km, gone through 14 bicycles, lost his front teeth in an accident, and been robbed at gunpoint. But he’s also been helped financially by countless generous strangers, and has had his story told in some 400 newspaper articles.
Once he retrieves the log books signed by people in every town he’s visited, Fitzgerald will enter the Guinness Book of World Records. He left the log books in the care of a friend in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Fitzgerald said he no longer cares much about how much ground he covers each day. “I don’t pay much attention to the miles, I just do ’em,” he said. “I don’t have to prove anything.”
Always on the go, Fitzgerald will peddle out of town sometime this morning, with his next major stop to be in Thunder Bay. Fitzgerald, who camps outside nearly every night regardless of the weather, estimates it will take him four days to cover the roughly 350 km.
Going “home” for Fitzgerald no longer means heading back to Winnipeg, where he lived most of his life after immigrating from Dublin, Ireland as a baby. Instead, home is now wherever his family is.
Once in Toronto, Fitzgerald will stay with his daughter, a schoolteacher, and catch up with his grandchildren.
But not for long.
At the end of the summer, Fitzgerald plans to buy a small car and retrace much of his journey, stopping to visit the friends he’s made in countless towns along the way. He also plans to get a dog from the pound to accompany him on this next adventure.
“I’m a nomad. I’ve always been a nomad,” he explained.
Maggie, however, will go into retirement. Fitzgerald plans to donate the bicycle to a museum in Toronto.