GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - When we last saw James Rienstra, he was gearing up for his amazing bike ride from Minnesota to the southern tip of South America.

He called it a great adventure -- a year and a half away from home, riding his bike to raise money for cancer research in honor of his late father.

That was 5,600 miles and seven months ago.

"When I first started, 30 miles a day was tough," says Rienstra. "I would go to bed exhausted. Now, by noon, I'm putting in 50 miles and by the end of the day 80."

The view from Rienstra's bike is spectacular. He camps outside virtually every night, either on the side of the road or someone's yard, anywhere he deems safe. One night, he decided to camp out underneath a bridge in Mexico.

"As soon as I put my sleeping bag out, I heard this sound and I turned around and there were bats coming at me from every direction, between my legs, over my head," says Rienstra. "Rats were (also) everywhere, out of nowhere. I just ended up sleeping in the ditch that night."

Rienstra's grungy appearance is on purpose. He wants to look as inconspicuous as possible.

Rienstra crossed into Mexico on Christmas Eve and he's now some 300 miles from the Guatemalan border.

He's ridden through some dangerous areas where the battle with the Mexican drug cartel is very real.

"They just told me up ahead is the cartel and they're preparing for a war on them I guess and I just put my head down and pedaled as fast as I could through that state," says Rienstra.

The rest of the trip has been amazing. Rienstra has raised more than $26,000 for cancer research. His goal is $100,000 and he has about a year left to ride.

"It's a little better than I thought , so the legs are doing good, the butt's doing good and I can't complain", says Rienstra. "Everything is holding together so far."

To follow James on his journey go to Pedaling for Pennies or visit the Pedaling for Pennies Facebook page.