Ian Hibell – a Carradice legend
Ian was the original and greatest cycle tourist. He achieved many records in cycling including the first to cycle from the south of South America to the north of North America – Cape Horn to Alaska – completed in 1973. On this epic journey he also became the first to cycle the Darien Gap in Panama, which is the missing link in the Pan-American Highway, 100 miles of swamp with no roads.
His other adventures include cycling from Norway to the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa and from Bangkok to Vladivostok all thrillingly recounted in his book “Into the remote places” published in 1984.
Naturally there are many extraordinary stories to tell, so many people and places, so many miles. Chased by an elephant, sniffed by a lion, lost his bike in the middle of the Sahara. More friendly encounters led to hospitality by such as an Eskimo princess, a Dyak headman in Borneo, African chiefs and missionaries.
How did it all begin?
Ian was given leave of absence from Standard Telephones and Cables, Paignton in 1963, in order, it was hoped, to get the travel bug out of his system. He left for a two-year tour, he returned ten years later, a modern day Marco Polo. He never did summon up the nerve or the inclination to ask for his old job back and just kept on travelling.
New Carradice bags
Ian got his bikes specially made to his specifications, with pannier racks integrated into the frame. And he came to Carradice to get the panniers he needed. He worked closely with Neville Chadwick to develop some of the very first nylon panniers that were strong enough to withstand the rigours of his expeditions, yet light enough to not be a burden to him. These bags became the Carradice Overlanders and their heritage can still be seen in our CarraDura range of bags.
The biggest dangers Ian faced on his travels were, however, people. He’s been chased by spear-throwing Turkana in northern Kenya, pelted by shovelfuls of gravel in Brazil and his hand and arm was run over by a van driver in China in 2006. Having recovered from that injury, Ian unfortunately lost his life aged 74 in 2008 when he was knocked off his bike by a hit-and-run driver in Greece while cycling from Salonika to Athens. A very sad end to a courageous life. Ian, your legacy lives on.
Many thanks to Nic and Andy Henderson, Ian’s friends and archivists, for their help with this story.