TROY, Pa. (WETM) – A man from Belgium who studied at Troy Area High School in 2013 made a return visit on April 27. But it wasn’t just to catch up; Robin Vanhoutte is riding his bike around the world.

Vanhoutte decided in 2022 to get on his bicycle and ride from Belgium, across Europe, across Asia, and now across the U.S. in an impressive worldwide tour. But 14,900 miles,19 flat tires later, and a few injuries later, his stop in Troy was a nostalgic one, too.

“Ten years ago, in 2013, I used to be an exchange student here,” Vanhoutte explained. “I stayed with two lovely families… I had a great experience.”

He said that his experience living in Troy sparked his passion for international travel. By the time he’s done with this journey, he will have traveled through 29 countries and “lots of different cultures and people.”

He’s been a mechanical engineer for the past four years, saving up money for such an intense project. “It’s a tight budget,” he said. But when it comes to housing, he said he’s met such nice people, especially in Central Asia, who have just opened their homes for him to stay.

When asked why he’s doing this, Vanhoutte joked, “I think I’ve been asking myself that question for a long time. I still don’t have a specific answer. But it could be to find the woman of my dreams!”

But on a more serious note, he said that he loves to satisfy his curiosity about learning about other people and their cultures. Plus, he said this trip gives him freedom. “You’re free to go anywhere you want, any time you want. It’s just great.”

He said this journey has also taught him a lot about patience. Biking across the world is bound to bring a few bumps along the way, and Vanhoutte has seen it all: tornadoes, snow storms, dust storms, and 125-degree weather.

His next stop will be New York City before he’ll fly to France. From there, he’ll make the final leg (albeit, a long one) back to his home city of Brussels.

See Vanhoutte’s full conversation with WETM below: