Rider’s 3,500-mile bike journey takes him to Asia

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) — Columbus resident Loran Bohall will spend the next five months riding a bicycle 3,500 miles through southeastern Asia, building homes for Habitat for Humanity, hiking in the Himalayas and experiencing new people and cultures.

He and fellow bike buff Kevin Altevogt also will do their best to avoid criminals, malaria and venomous snakes.

Bohall, who has lived in Columbus for most of his life and works at The Bicycle Station in Columbus, has taken long bike trips before, in Europe and the northwestern U.S. He said he looks forward to this new journey.

“I’m excited to go on the adventure,” Bohall told The Republic (http://bit.ly/19eEE9o ) recently, as he rested his trim, 5-foot-11-inch frame on a chair in the bicycle co-op at the United Way Center, where he volunteers. He said he usually weighs about 155 pounds but had gained 12 pounds to prepare for the trip.

Altevogt, a former Cummins engineer, traveled to India in March and has recounted some of his experiences on a blog, thesurly samaritans.tumblr.com. One of the blog’s recent photos shows Altevogt next to a Royal Enfield motorcycle at Khardung La, one of the world’s highest motorable passes, at 18,380 feet, which is higher than any point in the lower 48 U.S. states.

The two will meet in India and travel, mostly by bicycle, through Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Along the way, they plan to engage the local population, in part through charitable projects. They plan to take a boat from India to Thailand.

“We’re both 29, and this is just a really great opportunity for us,” Bohall said.

The two initially considered doing the trip by motorcycle but figured that bicycles will allow them to get in contact with the local populace more easily — although they will take some motorized excursions.

Early on, the two plan to bike about 50 miles per day to let their bodies adapt, although they will encounter some of the highest elevations early in the trip. But Bohall said he knows from previous long trips that you get used to the exertion.

“It’s amazing how fast you can … regenerate,” he said.

Bohall said they will spend many nights in hostels, friendly strangers’ homes, hammocks and tents.

Despite his anticipation, Bohall said some apprehension remains.

Beyond financial considerations, he has to think about exposure to potentially fatal illnesses, being injured in remote areas, falling victim to criminals and potentially deadly wildlife.

Bohall hopes to defray some of the estimated trip cost of $5,000 through kickstarter.com, a website that allows people to raise funds for projects. Finances in general will prove challenging, Bohall said. He does not want to carry large amounts of cash, but many areas will not provide easy access to ATMs, either.

“We’ve been grappling with that a little bit,” he said.

Food might be a challenge, too, especially with the physical exertion the two have planned. Bohall said he plans to take some energy bars for emergencies. Without blood sugar, he said, you lose all your energy.

His doctor told him that he needed to be prepared to battle stomach bugs and other minor illnesses, and Bohall said that in some cases, “you’re rolling the dice.” Vaccination for Japanese encephalitis costs $500, he said, but it’s very rare, so he passed.

And, he said, beyond malaria, dengue fever and other deadly illnesses, you think about venomous snakes and other dangerous wildlife, especially if you’re in a hammock in the middle of nowhere, which, he said, they will try to avoid.

The two considered buying anti-venom kits, but how do you know if you’ve got the right anti-venom? And emergency medical evacuation insurance sounds good, Bohall said, except the crews need somewhere to land, which may not be possible in remote areas.

“I’ve had a lot on my mind,” he said. “It’s super hard to prepare for something like this.”

He has lived in Ogilville for the past couple of months as he prepares for the trip. During the hour it takes him to ride into the city, he thinks about what lies ahead.

His longest trip so far took him 1,000 miles through western Europe, including the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and Spain. On a trip in the U.S. West, he rode from Portland, Ore., to northern California and hitchhiked to Black Rock City, Nev., for the annual Burning Man festival, where he met Altevogt.

The two will keep a journal and video-document their trip through Asia in the hopes that they may find a way to publish the material.

Bohall’s mother, Liz Bohall, who manages the Bistro 310 restaurant, said she feels a mix of excitement and apprehension about her son’s journey. She said that the whole family has traveled abroad, and her son will gain fabulous experiences in Asia.

“I’m excited for him about that,” she said.

His plan to help others, reflects his personality, she said.

And, she said, her son will easily make friends and get along well with people.

But she worries about land mines, diseases and bugs.

“Those are my biggest concerns,” he said.

Laura Garrett, who works with Healthy Communities and knows Loran Bohall through the bike co-op, said she wholeheartedly supports his adventure.

“It’s great for people to go out and do things like that,” she said.

But, Garrett said, lots of local cycling enthusiasts will miss his passion for cycling and his help at the co-op.

Bohall said he plans to come back to Columbus, although he will fly back from Asia to San Francisco, where he plans to spend some time with family and/or to work in a bike shop — though that part of the journey, too, is somewhat open.

“Maybe I’ll just be super homesick when I get back to California,” he said.

His mom said she hopes he’ll be back at Christmas.

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Information from: The Republic, http://www.therepublic.com/

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by The Republic.

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