Like Forrest Gump's run across the United States, once Robert Hirsch began riding his bike, he just couldn't stop. "When I started in British Columbia, I had no idea how far I would go."
Now 5 1/2 years, 60 countries, and 3 Kona bicycle frames later -- Hirsch has returned to his hometown of Memphis to be with his mother for Christmas.
"When I finished college, I said maybe I should go to med school or law school. Not that those things aren't challenging, but I knew I could do them all."
Drawn to bigger, self-propelled challenges, Hirsch walked the entirety of the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.
While walking the Pacific Crest trail, he received word that he'd been accepted into the Peace Corps to serve in Vanuatu in the South Pacific.
During his service in Vanuatu, Hirsch sent an e-mail to the Kona Bicycle Co. "I said I was a kid with a dream to ride my bike around the world, and they said, 'If you can get to Vancouver, we'll get you a bike and a trailer and a waterproof bag."
Immediately after he completed his Peace Corps commitment, Hirsch set out for Vancouver.