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83-year-old California cyclist reaches mileage milestone

Al Merritt has been tracking his mileage everyday for the last 10 years with the goal of riding 24,901 miles, which is the distance around the world.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Hundreds of people gathered Sunday in one Carlsbad neighborhood to celebrate a major milestone achieved by 83-year old Al Merritt.

“He rides by on his bike everyday, and he’s always just really happy and holding up the peace sign,” said neighbor Soleil Daniels.

“Every time you see him, he’s riding his bike,” said neighbor Andy Gates. “He’s waving, he’s pointing at you.”

Al has been tracking his mileage everyday for the last 10 years with the goal of riding 24,901 miles, which is the distance around the world.

“I just tried to see how many miles I could ride, and it kept going year after year,” said Al Merritt. “And finally last year I said, ‘I wonder what the circumference of the earth is,’ so I looked it up and I said, ‘I think I got a shot,’” said Al.

He rides the same route every day, and his neighbors love seeing him wave and give his famous peace sign.

“It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Andy. “It just makes my day better when I run across Al riding his bike.”

“He’s just an amazing guy and he deserves this because he’s always happy,” said Soleil.

“He waves to everybody,” said John Lacey. “He’s just a great guy and I’m really happy to have him as a neighbor.”

His neighbors set up a surprise celebration for him with a finish line and trophy. And as he approached on his bicycle, the crowd cheered.

“I tell you, I’m just overwhelmed, ya know, I can’t believe it,” said Al. “I feel like I might’ve accomplished something. Takes a long time for it to set in.”

Taylor Plecity and Natalie London have been filming his journey for a documentary called, “Around the World in My Neighborhood.” And they’ve learned a lot from Al.

“Just to remember the simple things,” said Natalie. “To be kind to somebody, to wave, or to notice your neighbors.”

“Along his journey to go around the world,” said Taylor. “He also made it his journey to bring happiness and positive energy into his own community.”

For Al, he may have ridden around the world, so to speak, but his journey is far from over.

“I looked up the circumference of the moon and I thought maybe I could do that. I have time to do that,” said Al as he chuckled.

When the documentary, "Around the World in my Neighborhood," directed by Taylor Plecity and Natalie London, is finished, it will be shared on their social media pages (instagram.com/heykingband/ and twitter.com/HeyKingBand).

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