Frenchman Pedals Around World

Jean-Gabriel Chelala stops in South Florida while boating and biking from France to, well, France.

Early in the cross-Atlantic journey, four small fish began following his boat. Soon he was talking to them, naming the quartet: Andy, Charlie, Bobby, and Teddy. "They thought I was the mother," he says. They were small when he first saw them, but as the weeks passed, he says, they grew to three times their original size.

Every person at the dock eventually gets around to asking Chelala the obvious question: Why do you want to pedal around the world?

"Is it just cheaper than plane tickets?" a woman asks.

"I want to remind people to dream," he says. "This is a human adventure — challenging myself against the elements."

There is no way to verify Chelala's tales, though a blog on his website recounts them in three languages, complete with photos from the middle of the ocean. And French and Spanish newspapers have written about his extensive training and his European departure. He has a weather-beaten look, and he speaks with the hyperanimated cadence of someone who's been alone for weeks at a time.

Everyone at the dock is convinced he's telling the truth about his adventures.

Soon, a waitress brings Chelala a glass of ice-cold cola. It's just what he's been waiting for. He takes several large gulps, swallowing almost half the soda. Then he looks down at the glass in his hand. "Oh, the incredible things humans can do."

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