AN AMERICAN cyclist has passed through the Riverina as part of his hugs and high fives tour across the globe.
David Sylvester's friend died in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001, aged 45.
He tried to make sense of that senseless moment by jumping on his bicycle and connecting with people.
Since, he has cycled across 33 US states and 22 countries with a message - "find your bike" - which translates to finding your passion.
He first rode from Washington to Philadelphia in 2002, then from Cairo to Capetown in 2005, from Istanbul to Beijing in 2007 and two trips across North America in 2008 and 2011.
Mr Sylvester, 49, rode through the region at the weekend, as part of his first Australian cycling tour, which departed Sydney last Sunday and will arrive in Melbourne on Friday.
"Every trip I've done, people have been inspired, so I instantly wanted to do more and more," he said.
"Hugs and high fives.
"It's nothing more than that.
"It's about stopping and having moments with people."
Mr Sylvester rode from Gundagai to Holbrook on Saturday and stayed overnight in Wodonga on Sunday.
During the Riverina leg, he encountered his first wombat, was followed by a kangaroo uphill and was acquainted with decaying road kill. He took flies in at the mouth, nose and ear.
"God damn there's a lot of flies," he said.
"It is rivalling Kenya."
But Mr Sylvester believes the Australian scenery and wildlife plays second to the people he meets along the way.
He cited meeting a Coolac family, and a Gundagai woman whispering a prayer into his ear upon leaving, as highlights of the leg.
"Going through these small towns, you get a unique slice of the country and culture," he said.
"It's been all about the people.
"I tell my story, a lot of people find it empowering.
"I'm just trying to inspire people."
It is the first time a bike has been provided on his self-funded trips.
Mr Sylvester will present at a Beyond Blue function in Melbourne upon completing the ride.
A personal trainer by trade, Mr Sylvester wrote his first book, Travelling at the Speed of Life, in 2012 about his cycling trips.