Heinz Stücke

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Heinz Stücke
Heinz Stücke poses with his three-speed bicycle for a photo while selling his wares in Paris. (9 July 1999)
Born (1940-01-11) 11 January 1940 (age 79)
Other namesThe Bike Man
OccupationCyclist, photographer, writer
Known forCycling for most of his life through nearly every country in the world.

Heinz Stücke (born 11 January 1940) is a long-distance itinerate cyclist from Hövelhof, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany — noted for setting the world record for bicycle touring in 1995.[1]

In a global journey spanning more than 50 years, Stücke has travelled several hundred thousand kilometres by bicycle.[2]

Global bicycle tour[edit]

In November 1962, the 22-year-old Stücke quit his job as a tool and die maker, and rode out of his hometown on a three-speed bicycle, with a plan to see the world.[1][3] He has never since returned to Hövelhof; he says that his extraordinary desire to travel was partly motivated by his aversion to returning to factory work.[3]

In the early 1980s, after two decades on the road, Stücke decided to attempt to visit every country in the world. He believed he had accomplished his goal when he reached Seychelles in 1996,[3] but to him it felt anticlimactic. He had spent too little time in some countries, and there was still much to experience; so he continued on.[4] Between 1962 and 2010, he cycled more than 609,000 kilometres (378,000 mi), and visited 195 countries and 78 territories.[5] From 1995 through 1999, the Guinness Book of Records described him as having travelled more widely by bicycle than anyone in history.[1][6]

During his travels, he has encountered many hazards and suffered numerous injuries:

  • In the Atacama Desert of Chile he was hit by a truck.[3]
  • In Haiti he was chased by an angry mob.[3]
  • In Egypt he was beaten unconscious by soldiers.[3]
  • In Cameroon he was detained by the military for "slandering the state".[3]
  • In Canada he was hit by a car and pushed into a freezing river.[7]
  • In the United States he was abandoned by an automobile driver who stole all of his supplies after offering him a ride.[1]
  • In Indonesia, 1974, he suffered a serious bout of dysentery.
  • In Zimbabwe, 1980, he was shot in the big toe by rebels.[3]
  • In Mozambique, 1995, he was attacked by bees while bathing in a river.[3]
  • In Siberia, 1997, his bicycle was stolen for the fifth time, along with his luggage (all of which was recovered).[8]
  • In England, 2006, his bicycle—the same machine he rode from Hövelhof in 1962—was stolen again, this time from his campsite in Portsmouth. (The bicycle was recovered the following day in a local park.)[6][8]
Stücke's touring cycle loaded with luggage

Although he has ridden the same steel-framed bicycle on most of his journeys,[4] in 2002 he rode across Canada with a partner on a Hase Pino tandem recumbent bicycle, which Hase Spezialräder built and sponsored.[9]

Recording the journey[edit]

Heinz Stücke stands in front of an array of photos pinned to corkboard. He smiles slightly and leans against one of several glass-covered trays of trinkets on a table before him.
Stücke poses with some of his photographs and other memorabilia.

Since 1962, Stücke has taken more than 100,000 photographs. He funds his expeditions with licensing revenue from his photo catalogue; donations; and sales of his travel writing, postcards, and booklets that feature his photographs, writing, and illustrations.[3][9]

In 1995, around the time he set the world record for bicycle touring, Stücke self-published a memoir: Mit dem Fahrrad um die Welt ("Cycling Around the World").[10] In 2015, Dutch travel writer Eric van den Berg published a biography commemorating Stücke's career of international bicycle touring—a career which by then had continued for more than 50 years.[2] The book, Home Is Elsewhere: 50 Years Around the World by Bike, also features Stücke's photographs.[11]

Spanish filmmaker Albert Albacete's[12] documentary film The Man Who Wanted to See It All[13] explores Stücke's life, motivations, philosophy, and legacy; there also are plans to build a museum devoted to Stücke in his hometown of Hövelhof.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d Cowell, Alan (10 May 2006). "After 335,000 Miles, a Robbery Splits Man and Bike". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b Staff writer (8 December 2015). "'Home Is Elsewhere': Traveller's tales with Heinz Stücke". Sportive.com. Sports Gaming. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ratliff, Evan (1 June 2004). "Let Us Now Praise Crazy Mofos: Heinz Stücke: Pedaling the Planet". Outside. Santa Fe: Mariah Media Network. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b Stücke, Heinz. "Around the World by Bicycle". China Cycling Travelogues. Bike China Adventures, Inc. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  5. ^ "UN Masters". TheBestTravelled.com. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  6. ^ a b Staff writer (9 May 2006). "World's most travelled bike found". BBC News Online. BBC News. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  7. ^ Stücke, Heinz (1 June 2010). "An unfortunate accident". heinzstucke.com. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  8. ^ a b Seaton, Matt (21 May 2004). "Heinz Stucke rides through life". Taipei Times. Taipei: The Liberty Times Group. p. 18. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  9. ^ a b Atkielski, Anthony (29 July 2009). "Heinz Stücke, World Traveller". Anthony's Home Page. Anthony Atkielski. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  10. ^ Stücke, Heinz (1995). Mit dem Fahrrad um die Welt [Cycling Around the World]. Hövelhof. OCLC 723710974.
  11. ^ van den Berg, Eric (2015). Home Is Elsewhere: 50 Years Around the World by Bike. Brompton Bicycle. ISBN 9780993452406.
  12. ^ cf. Artesanos (2011)
  13. ^ The Man Who Wanted to See It All
  14. ^ Albacete, Albert (director) (December 2015). The Man Who Wanted to See It All. Vimeo (Motion-picture trailer) (in German and English). Albacete, Albert. Event occurs at 2:50. Retrieved 21 February 2016. A museum will be built here in Hövelhof in his honour. I really appreciate this and I support it.

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