On March 3rd, 2010 I arrived in Ushuaia, Argentina and ended my journey to the southernmost city in the world.

On July 25th, I left for Prudhoe Bay on the north shore of Alaska to begin a solo bicycle journey 15,000 miles south along the Pan-American Highway to Tierra Del Fuego, the bottom of South America. I traveled through the vast Alaskan wilderness, into Canada and crossed into the forests of northern Washington. From there I followed the coast down, all the way through the deserts of southern Baja, where I took a ferry to the mainland. I continued to follow the coast south through the rainforests of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Then came South America: Colombia, Ecuador, the endless deserts of Peru, Northern Chile and then finally Argentina. I will ended in Ushuaia and the bottom of the Americas.

This ride is a reminder of what can be accomplished through perseverance and a little hard work. It’s a reminder of what we as people are capable of, of what the human mind, body and spirit can achieve. I hope that I can help people realize that while it may take time, and it may be harsh and lonely at times, we can make our lives how we dream them to be. I do not want to be guilty of owning a life devoid of any living. Comfort and convenience are not synonymous with happiness!

For some reason I am under the impression that I will find both myself and God somewhere along this road. Maybe I won’t find either, but I must look! I want to allow the light of introspection a pure and undiluted chance to examine my soul. I have found greater value in thoughts born in solitude than those that spring from the fray of ordinary life. I hope this trip will be the beginning to a life full of experience, beauty and understanding. I don’t ever want to forget the way the world felt when I was a child: magical and huge, full of possibility and hope. I won’t let go of that. I am an artist at heart, and this, I hope, will be my first great work.

I am riding to raise awareness for 'Acirfa,’ a non-profit organization which provides quality bikes to the people of Zambia, giving them the means to help themselves, rather than depend on charity. A bicycle changes the life of a Zambian in ways that are difficult for Americans to imagine, allowing doctors to see more patients, parents to make a living and teachers to get to school.

To clear the air and clear your head, ride a bike once a week!

On Facebook? Join the Earning the Horizon group!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dogs, Mace and a T. Rex

So far I have had to mace dogs on four different occasions. I have
carried a large can of bear spray since day one, but didn't use it
until just north of San Francisco where I used it one night on a
persistent and fat troop of raccoons. In San Diego I picked up a
holster for the can and secured it to my fork, ready to grab in an
In baja as I was riding on flat ground through the desert I passed
a ranch, out of which sprinted some mean lookin ratty ol' collie mut
that charged after me with unquestionable intent to attack. I am
incredibly vulnerabe on the bike, my feet are clipped in so I can't
kick the dog, and if I took my feet off the pedals I'd stop, which is
the last thing I want. And if a dog charges you from the side of the
road it would be the easiest thing in the world to swerve in surprise
and shoot out into traffic.
The dog swung around behind the bike as I pulled out the mace,
unclipped the safety, turned in my seat and sprayed the dog square in
the face. Instant shut down. It's so effective that its almost
comical, it's as though the dog has been instantly deprogrammed. I
looked back a minute later and saw the dog lying relaxed on the side
of the road, panting with its head up.
Three times I have had to use it in mainland Mexico, once on the
leader of a pack of feral dogs which charged suddenly out of the grass
on the side of the road, once on a large dalmation which was leading
three more, and most recently on a pit bull which was perhaps the most
ferocious I have encountered so far. Whenever I sprayed the leader the
rest of the dogs seemed to sense the danger and lose enthusiasm.
Several days ago I found myself biking at night. Dogs seem more
suspicious and aggressive at night, and in about an hours time I was
charged by three dogs. In one hand I held a surefire flashlight which
I was using to intermittently flash the road ahead of me, and with the
other I controlled the bike. It would have been very difficult to grab
the mace, but by waiting for the dogs to get close and suddenly
blasting them in the eyes with the ultrabright light I kept them away.
I don't think that this would work on an especially determined dog,
but forrunatley it worked on those three.
I like dogs and I take no pleasure in causing any creature pain,
but I have felt zero hesitation or remorse in using mace on the dogs.
There is risk of a situation occuring where the direction of wind and
position of the dog would make it impossible to avoid spraying myself,
but so far, by waiting until the dog is just a few feet away I have
been able to direct the spray in such a way as to avoid this. You have
to be aware. As soon as you hear the dog bark and see it charge you
can't just react, flinch, swerve or run. There are usually about three
seconds from bark to bite, and in that time you need to check the
wind, decide whether or not you can outrun the dog or not depending on
the inclination of the road, look and listen for traffic, check the
shoulder for bushes, potholes and more dogs, look for kids or
pedestrians, grab the mace and unclip the safety, decide if the dog is
attackig or just barking and charging, wait until the last possible
second and then turn in your seat and not miss, all without swerving
or slowing.
The mace is an integral part of my security, I have slept with it
by my side all along and have subtly moved my hand to it many times
when approaching questionable situations with people, although in such
situations I have never had need to use it. I have actually had
several dreams about trying to use it as it ran out. The most
ridiculous yet terrifying of these was with a determined and crafty T.
Rex which finally slumped down and lay still as I sputtered the last
few drops into its eyes.