ISB Alumni Sean Henry (2014)
Sean Henry ('14) recently graduated from the University of British Columbia with a major in physics and minor in geophysics. After working for the summer researching glaciers he decided to pursue his dream of cycling from Vancouver, Canada down to the Andes of Chile, while raising money for World Bicycle Relief.
Since leaving Vancouver, Canada on 4 October 2018 he has cycled around 11,000 km and climbed over 100,000 meters.
Sean’s passion for cycling began when he moved to Switzerland to attend International School Basel in Grade 10. He would commute by bike from his home in Ettingen to the Reinach campus, a 15 km roundtrip. He took up road bike racing with a local Swiss team called Goldwurst Power, and continued his racing career for the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He is now competing at a semi-professional level. While he has been racing competitively for 6 years, he had never done a cycle tour, so this trip would be taking him into completely unknown territory.
We got in touch with him as he was passing through Ecuador to ask him a few questions.
Can you tell us about your daily life on the road?
Most of my day is filled with riding my bike, but that's what I love to do. I find that traveling by bike, you're going at just the right speed to truly absorb your surroundings. So on most days I just ride and learn about the country and people from what I see as I pass by. Moreover, if I come across something that I would like to stop and check out, I stop. It's as easy as that. And if there is a place I would like to see for the entire day, that's what I do and that day acts as a rest day for me. So it's a win-win.
Since I need to carry everything on my bike, the less I can carry, the better. I carry one set of clothes for any weather I might encounter, and have tools and spare parts to fix the majority of things that could go wrong with my bike. This is quite important, so that I don't find myself stranded in the middle of nowhere.
Of course every day I have to eat a lot in order to keep my energy levels up. I do lots of snacking throughout the day, on packaged food and juices. This is certainly a lazier part of my trip, as I would prefer to produce less waste and eat more raw foods. I do try for at least one proper meal each day, and as a vegan I often incorporate beans and bananas into my meals. Since food and water add quite a bit of weight, I try to carry just enough to feel comfortable about getting to the next place where I can restock without running out on the way.
Do you have any plans for the future, after the trip?
I graduated from the University of British Columbia back in the spring of 2018 so my next step is to get my career started. I plan to work with one of my past professors on a glacier up in the Yukon territory for part of the summer. Beyond that, I'll be honest, I haven't quite figured that out yet. I know I want to work at something that makes me happy and contributes positively to society, but I haven't yet pinpointed what job might fit that criteria.
Do you have a favorite memory from ISB?
That's a tough question because I really enjoyed my time at ISB, and so many moments could take the place of my favorite memory. But I guess what really made my time there great were my friends and teachers. It's these people that taught me about what it means to attend an internationally diverse school. I gained a greater understanding and appreciation of other cultures, and a more open-minded way of thinking. This has been useful for me along this trip, as I pass through different countries and ways of living, trying my best to understand the various cultures.
Why are you raising money for World Bicycle Relief?
When I decided to set out on this journey, I also wanted to try and help people in some way. While I am always looking to volunteer locally in the places I pass through (feel free to shoot me a message if you know of any opportunities), I thought I could also use my story as a way to raise money for a worthy cause.
I strongly believe that the bike as a mode of transportation has a very important place in the solutions to many of our modern-day problems. Moreover, my dream would be to see everyone with access to a bicycle, because in addition to how it can make daunting tasks suddenly become straightforward, I believe there's also an overwhelming joy unlike anything else that comes with riding a bike.
With this in mind, it seemed only right that I raise money for an organization such as World Bicycle Relief. The money raised helps to provide specially designed, locally assembled bicycles to students, healthcare workers, and entrepreneurs in rural Africa; connecting them with education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.
World Bicycle Relief is currently working to provide bicycles to students (70% girls), teachers and educational workers in rural parts of Africa. For $147, they can provide a bicycle to a student in need. With a bicycle, student attendance increases up to 28%.
How can someone support you?
Please feel free to follow my adventure on Instagram @bikesandhikes4life. You can also leave a donation at one of the following sites. No amount goes unnoticed by those in need.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
To anyone reading this, go make your dreams a reality.
Thank you to Sean for sharing his story with the ISB community. We love to hear from our alumni. If you would like to share your alumni story, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .