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Turlock cyclist travels around the world and back again
Erin pic1
After her nearly two year journey around the world, cyclist Erin Nelson with a few friends in tow makes one last stop to Pops Bargain Outlet Friday morning. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal


One Turlocker’s two-year quest to complete a bike ride around the world came to an end when she concluded her last stop at Pop’s Bargain Outlet on Friday morning. 

Erin Nelson, who’s now 20, started her quest around the world on Nov. 6, 2010 and has since then gained an appreciation for her country, friends, and most importantly, her hometown.

“When I started this world tour it was merely a dream.  I never really thought I’d make it all the way around,” said Nelson.  “After visiting all those countries I felt grateful to be a part of such an amazing country where we have freedom to pursue anything we want to.  Being in other countries only made me miss America more.”

During her international journey, Nelson visited over 21 countries, she said, trekking through England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Greece, Macedonia, Turkey, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.  She’s been to the Eifel Tower, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Roman Coliseum, Venice, the Taj Mahal, and New York City, where she addressed a youth Bike Summit and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge.

Through her journey she faced some bumps along the road, including confrontations with Grecian protestors, a broken wrist from a bad crash in Palestine, and an unpleasant encounter with the Hungarian border patrol, who she said stole her passport and made her spend a night in jail.

Those challenges came on top of constant bike breakdowns, inclement weather conditions, and sometimes rowdy locals.

“If there’s anything I learned through my journey is that people from different countries are not as hospitable as you would hope they’d be,” said Nelson.  “Out of all the places that I’ve toured these past years, cycling around the U.S. was the best experience for me.”

Pop’s Bargain Outlet owner Tony Vargas has been sponsoring Nelson since she initiated her tour back in 2010.  He helped her financially on a monthly basis and supported her from start to finish. 

“If Erin was short on cash and needed extra assistance, I gave it to her,” said Vargas.  “We are all proud of her.  For someone her age to travel all those countries … is amazing.”

Although Nelson concluded her tour around the world, she shows no signs of slowing down.

“I want to go back to school and get my degree.  The next step for me is to move close to the beach.  I can’t wait,” she said.