Max Peer has ridden 80,000 miles in the past six years, bicycling on every continent except Antarctica.
Now the 40-year-old Austrian is heading around the world promoting a Danish nonprofit’s efforts to create a more human-centered generation of designers and programmers.
Peer, who began his latest journey 79 days ago in Orlando, Fla., rolled into La Crosse this week via the Elroy-Sparta trail, where he encountered some singing Amish children in the ¾-mile tunnel near Norwalk.
With a rear wheel that had given out, Peer brought his bike in to Smith’s Cycling and Fitness, where mechanic Scot McCollum got him rolling again just in time for him to meet with the sponsor of his trip, SAP La Crosse.
The idea for the “Share the Knowledge Tour” was hatched through a long friendship with the founder of the Interaction Design Foundation, a Danish nonprofit publisher devoted to educating and stimulating the world design community.
IDF provides free, cloud-based educational materials and courses designed in collaboration with top universities, companies and programmers.
Peer got connected with SAP, a German software company with offices in La Crosse, at a conference he worked in Madrid.
SAP is sponsoring this leg of the tour to promote the work of the IDF and the importance of training new workers in the social media and mobile technologies in the hands of more than 15 billion people, said Jack Kalander, vice president of product development.
“We’re trying to hire smart people who know how to deliver for mobile platforms,” he said.
Peer’s journey — some 35,000 miles in all — will take him three to four years to complete. The longest he’s done to date was a 20-month trek across Central and South America, China and Eastern Europe.
He bought the heavy-duty Tout Terrain bike about a year and a half ago and rode it from Germany to Turkey “to test it out.” With a few weeks between gigs as a sound engineer in Berlin and a stint at a music camp in Hungary, he decided to ride to those as well.
Fully loaded, the bike and rider weigh about 420 pounds. Watertight bags hold a tent, stove, pots and pans — everything he needs to stay warm, dry and fueled.
A flexible solar panel strapped over the top of the trailer charges a battery that Peer can use at night to power his laptop and charge his phone and cameras. A generator in the front hub powers his GPS navigation unit.
The frame has mounts for four water bottles and a folding lock that rarely gets used.
“You’re not running away with this,” Peer said.
Peer has a folding canoe for water crossings, though he said foul weather has limited its use so far to the Chesapeake Bay and two days across the thumb of Lake Huron.
He’s not planning to paddle across the ocean. Instead, he hopes to hitch a ride on a cargo ship, providing he can work out the timing.
Peer, who said he grew up riding mountain bikes in western Austria, has worked doing sound and video, including a one-year stint with the Zurich-based Salto Natale circus.
He had a steady job for six years as a service technician in Berlin.
“It was good,” is all he had to say about that.
On his current journey, he rides about six hours a day. With the variables of wind, weather and terrain, focusing on distance leads to burnout, he said.
His next stop is Eau Claire, where he’s scheduled to appear Monday at the university. From there, he plans to make his way to Vancouver. Other than stops in Minneapolis, the Badlands of South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park, he’ll figure the route as he goes.