‘The destination is the journey’

Roei Sadan closes four-year, 66,000-kilometer bike ride around the world at the Western Wall.

Roei ‘Jinji’ Sadan completes journey at Kotel 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Roei ‘Jinji’ Sadan completes journey at Kotel 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Sixty-six thousand km., 1,520 days, 42 countries, two wheels: Roei “Jinji” Sadan can easily just use numbers to tell the story of his four-year journey around the world by bicycle, which he finished on Wednesday night in Jerusalem at the Western Wall.
But a journey of this magnitude isn’t about the numbers, he said on Wednesday.
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The ambassador on wheels
“I learned that the journey doesn’t have a destination, the destination is the journey,” he said, as more than 100 family members and friends joined him for the last three kilometers of his ride from downtown Jerusalem to the Western Wall.
Over the past two years that The Jerusalem Post has followed his journey, Sadan, 29, has stressed that it is the locals, the random acts of kindness, the stunning scenery, the friends and other bikers along the route, the sheer determination and the little moments that all together add up to an incredible 66,000 kilometers.
“At first I didn’t think he’d finish,” a teary-eyed Rachel Sadan, Roei’s mother, told the Post at the final ceremony. “But then he did one route and another route and another route and he’s Jinji, and he knew he would do it,” she said.
Roei Sadan has previously said that the trip was harder for his mother than for him, which she thinks is probably accurate. “I’m very excited [that he’s done], after four really hard years, when I didn’t know where he was, what he was eating, what he was wearing, if he was OK,” she said.
The theme of Sadan’s journey, which he began in March 2007, is “Dream with Open Eyes,” encouraging people to follow their dreams. He was sponsored by Eden Water.
His route took him from the northernmost point of Alaska down the entire west coast of North, Central and South America, then from the tip of South Africa to Ethiopia, a two-week break in Israel, then across Europe from Spain to Istanbul, across Turkey through Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to a tour across China the long way, and a final four months in Australia along the coast. He also biked for two weeks on a tandem with blind Israeli biker Orly Tal in Australia.
Along the way, he was one of Israel’s farthest-reaching informal ambassadors, bringing his blue-and-white hybrid Thorn bike named Emuna (Faith), bedecked with an Israeli flag fluttering behind, to corners of Australia’s Outback, Africa’s deserts, and Central America’s jungles that had never seen an Israeli before. He spoke at schools, embassies, Jewish communities and synagogues, encouraging people to follow their dreams.
As for what comes next, Sadan isn’t quite sure. He knows it will involve lots of rest, catching up with friends and family and perhaps a book deal.
“I know that I cannot top this, that’s OK,” he said on Wednesday. “But when I started, I knew that this is the biggest challenge that I can think of. Now, after I did it, I know that I was right.”
He finished the four-year journey at the Western Wall in an emotional ceremony that included a recitation of Birkat Hagomel, a blessing of thanksgiving traditionally said after a long, arduous journey or after surviving a dangerous situation.
“I’m not an Orthodox believer but the Kotel is the place for Israel, if you want to pick one place in Israel that symbolizes Israel, and this is the place that I want to finish my journey,” he said.
A representative from the Western Wall blessed Sadan, telling him, “From this point, the Jews went into exile, a long journey that lasted more than 2,000 years. Your journey also took you throughout the whole world... now you are closing the circle as an ambassador by returning to this place.”
As for the general public that’s maybe a little overwhelmed by his mammoth journey, “Jinji” has a simple message that he has repeated over the years: “Do whatever you want to do, but do it the best way,” he told the Post during his journey.
“Wake up in the morning and start to train. It doesn’t matter if you want to cycle around the world or you want to be a lawyer, every guy has his journey. There are bad parts, but it’s all part of the journey – things happen. Listen to the heart. The heart is the best compass.”
And then he added: “You don’t have to be crazy to do what I want to, but it helps.”
Read more about Sadan’s journey on his website www.dreamwithopeneyes.com.