By this time next year Jacky Chen hopes to be in Rio de Janeiro in time for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
While he won’t be a competitor, he could possibly qualify.
The 37-year-old Taiwanese electrical engineer has embarked on a trip around the world by bicycle and was in Williams Lake last week.
Sitting at Caren Pritchard’s kitchen table Friday afternoon, Chen told the Tribune he departed from Anchorage, Alaska on June 5 of this year.
“I think it will take me three to five years to do it,” he suggested of his journey’s duration.
Chen is staying with Caren and her husband Todd because he found them on Couchsurfing.com.
The Pritchards have been offering couch surfing since 2009.
“We get lots of people,” Caren said. “It was dying down a bit in August but now I’ve been getting three and four requests a day.”
Chen started planning his trip about five years ago, inspired by a book written by a Japanese man who had biked around the world.
“He planned to do it in three and a half years, but it ended up taking him seven years,” Chen said.
Once he made up his mind, he trained for the trip by biking around Taiwan four times.
“It’s 1,200 kilometres. The first few times it took me 10 days and the third time I pushed myself and did it in five.”
Chen pulled out a computer and opened up his Facebook page titled “Go or die,” where he has a world map outlining his route.
He regularly posts photographs of the places he’s been and people he’s meeting along the way.
As he pointed to a photograph of a grilled cheese sandwich, he said it was the first one he’d ever eaten.
In Alaska he got lost and ended up in Eagle River Park.
When he asked a couple for directions to Palmer Lake, they asked him why he was going there.
“I told them I had couch surfing place to stay and they told me I could couch surf right there with them at their campsite.”
Grilled cheese was on the menu that day.
Another day it was pouring rain. He didn’t have any rain gear and was very cold so he disembarked and just walked with his bike.
A woman stopped and asked if he needed help.
She and her husband had recently lost their home to a fire and were staying with friends, but she asked if she could bring Chen to stay there too.
Another rainy day 100 kilometres from Dease Lake he met a man from Vancouver and his three adult sons on a hunting trip.
“They had a campfire going so I asked if I could camp with them,” Chen said.
“They told me of course.”
Before Chen left they loaded him up with some food and one of the sons, who lives in Kelowna, invited him to stay with him.
So far he has seen two bears, five moose, two foxes and lots of little creatures.
And he’s had some bike troubles — a broken chain, backpack caught in a sprocket, punctured tire, a cracked rim and a bent brake disc.
While in Williams Lake, the guys at Red Shred’s Bike and Board Shed fixed his bike for free, Caren said.
Along the way he’s discovered if he doesn’t have a couch surfing arrangement, then camping outside a health centre is the next best thing.
“There’s grass, which is softer for sleeping, and wifi,” he smiled.
And often if people see him there, because it’s a health centre they stop to ask if he’s OK.
On his last evening in Taiwan he took a photograph of himself and then shaved all his hair off and took another photograph.
Since then he’s taken a photograph of himself each day and once a week puts one photograph into a folder.
In a year he plans to make a video of his 52 photographs.
Normally he rides 120 kilometres a day and when he left Williams Lake he planned to travel to Clinton where he’ll be couch surfing once again.
“My trip isn’t only about seeing the world, it’s about the people,” Chen said.