He was hit by a car in Colorado, attacked by a crocodile in Australia, detained as a suspected spy in Egypt, and survived illness and periods of despair.
On Saturday, British adventurer Jason Lewis finally came home, completing a 13-year, 46,000-mile human-powered circumnavigation of the globe.
The 40-year-old carried his 26-foot yellow pedal craft the last few miles up the River Thames, pushing it across the Meridian Line at Greenwich, where his expedition began in 1994.
"I'm overwhelmed, I'm overwhelmed," Lewis told Sky News television after stepping across the meridian. He struggled for words as he described his feelings at the close of an odyssey that took him around the globe, powered only by his arms and legs - on a bicycle, a pedal boat, a kayak and inline skates.
"It's been my life, for 13 years, I've put everything into this," he said. "To be honest I didn't know it was going to happen. There were many times in the trip where it should have failed."
Lewis was recruited by fellow adventurer Steve Smith, who first dreamed up the idea of going around the world using only human power in 1991. The pair had little experience at sea, but Lewis thought the prospect of hiking and biking across the world was "wildly romantic."
"The three and a half years the expedition was projected to take sounded like an acceptable amount of time to rejuvenate from the wearisome London scene without totally going AWOL," Lewis wrote on the expedition's Web site.
Trouble began early. After two years of planning and fundraising, the pair set out in July 1994, only to get "horribly lost" on their way to the English coastal town of Rye, where their pedal boat was waiting.
After making their way to Portugal, the pair began pedaling in shifts across the Atlantic, reaching Miami in February 1995 after surviving close encounters with a shrimping trawler, a whale and a rogue wave that swept Smith overboard.
By that time, the two adventurers had been cooped up in a broom closet-sized space for 111 days with little in the way of food, and their relationship had begun to deteriorate. Smith and Lewis crossed the U.S. separately, with Lewis strapping on his roller skates for the 3,500-mile trip to San Francisco. It was on this leg of the journey that he was hit by an elderly driver with cataracts in Pueblo, Colorado, breaking both legs. He spent nine months recuperating.
Smith and Lewis met in San Francisco and eventually pedaled from the Golden Gate Bridge to Hawaii, where the two split for good. Smith went on to write a book, "Pedaling to Hawaii," while Lewis continued on to Australia.
Accidents and sickness dogged the trip. The collision in Colorado nearly cost Lewis his leg. While kayaking across the Barrier Reef, off the Australian coast, Lewis was attacked by a crocodile, which bit off a piece of his paddle. The trip across the Pacific left him sore, inflamed, and a little crazy.
After 24 days on the ocean, his diary entries spoke of struggling with "creeping gray funk" and falling into "semi-hopeless despair."
Authorities could be a problem as well. Lewis logged "interesting experiences" with Alabama police and gun-wielding locals in the United States. He had to cycle through Tibet at night to avoid detection by Chinese roadblocks. And when he crossed into Egyptian territory from Sudan, he was thrown in jail by the Egyptian military on suspicion of being a spy.
By that time he had biked across the Australian outback, dodged supertankers in the Singapore straits and hiked the Himalayas.
After his release from Egyptian prison, he biked through the Sinai desert, into Jordan, Syria, and Turkey. He powered across Europe over the summer, arriving in Greenwich, in southeast London, to cheers from family, supporters and the Duke of Gloucester, the expedition's British patron.
Lewis said he hoped to use the expedition to raise funds for humanitarian causes and draw attention to environmental issues.
"Instead of running away from England (as I think I was at the beginning) it is now more a question of riding forward on the back of ideas that I feel passionately about," he wrote on his Web site.