Photographer shares world journey
November 19, 2008
After spending nearly three years bicycling around the world, Rick Gunn said people often ask him how he can ever top that adventure.
“I don’t want to top it,” he said. “Now, what I need to do is share it.”
Gunn, 44, quit his job as a photographer for the Nevada Appeal and started his journey from the Golden Gate Bridge on July 1, 2005.
Thirty-three countries, 25,811 miles and 34 months later, he returned to his South Lake Tahoe home. In the six months since then, he has shared his experiences and photos in slide shows around the area.
He will hold his first presentation in Carson City, “Soul Cycler: The Man Who Rode a Bicycle Around the World,” on Thursday at the Brewery Arts Center.
Although there were times on his trip when he missed home, he said, there’s a sadness now that he is home and has a longing for the people and places he left behind.
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“People know I’m home, and they think that’s it. They don’t notice there’s something wrong,” he said. “I’m going through these tremendous emotions trying to decompress. It’s something like the mourning process.”
He saw a lot of beauty and humanity in the world, he said, as well as suffering and heartache. And the suffering still haunts him.
“Every time I replay this show my guts get wrenched,” he said. “Some of these stories don’t have happy endings.”
But sharing his stories with those who come to watch his presentation relieves a bit of his unease.
“I can take a little weight and put it on their shoulders,” he said. “They can find their solutions and their ways of dealing with it. I can’t tell people what to do. It’s more than just writing a check. People need to get involved.”
Eventually, he’d like to take his shows nationwide, as well as finish a book about his travels.
“I’ve got the skeleton of a book,” he said. “Now I’ve got to weave the narrative.”
However, it’s proving to be difficult for the man who says he could “win a Pulitzer in disorganization.”
Afflicted with attention-deficit disorder, he said it’s hard to balance the creative side along with marketing and budgeting.
“The creative side of my brain is about the size of a walnut, but the financial part is like a sesame seed.”
He had a job during the summer, and spent very little time writing. So he’s dedicating himself full-time to his book, eking out a living on his presentations.
“Money is not important to me. That’s the good news, and the bad news is money is not important to me,” he said. “Right now, I have a liquid net worth of 76 cents. I’m living day to day.”
He’d like to find someone, he said, who’d work with him to book presentations and market his work so he can expand his audience and also expand his message.
“About 80 percent of Americans don’t have a passport,” he said. “They don’t travel.
How do they shape their opinions of the world?
“It’s not about the leaders we put in place, it’s about our choices as individuals. I think we can do a lot better as the human race.”
Once this book and project are complete, he said, he will look for smaller projects to work on in places like Iran and Darfur.
In the meantime, though, he still makes time for fun, which includes riding his bike almost daily.
“That simple machine brings a simple man a lot of pleasure,” he said.
– Contact reporter Teri Vance at email@example.com or 881-1272.