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Italian cyclist pedals across the country

Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe Armando Basile relaxes with his bicycle Tuesday afternoon outside of Worthington's Wal-Mart. Basile is in the midst of a cycling journey is taking him from New York to Alaska and back again.

WORTHINGTON -- For Armando Basile, his bicycle is everything.

Basile, 63, is in the midst of a cross-continental trip that has already seen him cycle from New York to Alaska. He's now pedaling his way back east and has a Sept. 6 flight from New York to Germany he plans to catch.

A native Italian, Basile enthusiastically explained his trip in broken English Tuesday afternoon while catching a breather -- and doing a little shopping -- at Worthington's Wal-Mart.

Basile has been cycling since 1983, soon after suffering a debilitating injury to his back.

"My doctor say I must sport," Basile recalled. "Now, for 27 years I go on bikes."

All that cycling has helped Basile cover more than 940,000 kilometers -- or more than 584,000 miles -- of ground. Along the way he's seen a great deal of the world and is in the midst of his fifth North American cycling adventure.

"My first time, in '95, New York to Los Angeles," he said. "In '96, Atlanta to Mexico City. Ninety-seven, Vancouver to San Diego."

Then, last year, Basile suffered multiple injuries and underwent a spleen operation; he wound up hospitalized for a month in Fergus, Ontario, Canada.

"I say to nurse, I say to doctor, 'I come back next year,' and now I am here," Basile added, noting that he visited the Fergus hospital in June while cycling to Alaska.

In fact, three months after his operation, Basile was already back on his bike, making his way on a 30,000-kilometer trip around Australia. After his return to Germany, where he now lives, next month, he plans to pedal with his girlfriend to Italy. In October, he'll return to Australia for three months of cycling.

Basile hauls roughly 60 kilograms (or 132 pounds) of necessities while riding, including such necessities as a tent, torch, snacks and more.

"I sleep in no motel; I go to a rest area or a big truck gas station," he said.

Basile also relies on the kindness of strangers, who often give him food, drink and occasionally a little extra money. And, he continues to enjoy his global riding despite the death of his wife, Gisela, in a 2005 cycling accident.

In fact, Basile is well aware of a rapidly approaching milestone.

"(I've been cycling) 65 days, 6,500 miles, 100 miles per day," Basile said of his current excursion. "Next year, I'll be at 1 million kilometers."

Ryan McGaughey

I first joined the Daily Globe in April 2001 as sports editor. I later became the news editor in November 2002, and the managing editor in August 2006. I'm originally from New York State, and am married with two children.

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