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!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Colombia: Part One

Colombia: Part One
I arrived in Cartagena barely standing. Well that's how I felt
anyways, but I shook my head clear and held my head up and put on as
best I could the appearance of being focused and sharp. I was not
fnctioning at my best and so and did with extra care everything I
needed to do. The flight arrived late that night and as I came through
customs the woman behind the glass asked me where I was staying, 'I
don't know,' I answered. She paused, smiled and stamped. I managed to
get all my baggage and my boxed bike onto a cart and out to the curb.
The air was hot and still humid; the terminal small, and fairly quiet.
Getting a taxi was easy although the large box with the bike inside
hung out of the open back and I had to hold onto it behind my seat to
keep it from sliding out. I had very little cash on me and no idea
where I would be sleeping.
The cab driver turned to me and said something quickly in spanish.
What I heard was something like:
'Where tandaboysa going for tonight donso?'
'I don't know,' I said in Spanish, shutting the door. 'Where go the
tourists? Is there a cheap hotel in the tourist area?'
I'll save the details for a real journal entry, but much later I
was cashed up and conked out in a little hotel in an only semi bad
part of town.
What I wanted to do in Cartagena was to spend two months in a dark
air conditioned room drinking nutrient rich meals in liquid form while
watching bad movies. I knew that that was not going to happen, but I
at least hoped to get some rest in a nice and quiet place for several
days. What actually happened was very far from rest. What actually
happened, while less than my normal exertion, was the kind of
experience that requires recovering from, rather than providing time
for recovery. The next morning I woke early under the anxiety of what
I had to do. I took a cab into the nice part of the city, tracked down
a cheap room and left a deposit. After a slightly disgusting and
greatly overpriced breakfast I headed back to the hotel and dragged
the large box with my bike into the entry, slit open the tape with my
knife and began to put it back together. I was pleased to see that
everything arrived unbroken. An hour and a half later, under the full
heat of the day I packed up the room, loaded up the bike, and left for
the old city to try and find my room again.
Without too many extra turns I found the room, heaved the massive
bike up the steep stairs and shoved it in the barrow space between the
bed and the wall. I squeezed the door shut and switched on the AC.
That was the moment of accomplishment. That was the moment where
everything was in its place. I was where I wanted to be, the bike was
in one piece and still functioning. Everything was not accomplished, I
still had emails to write, calls to make, parts to buy, places to
find, laundry to do etcetera, but the stage was properly set. I turned
on the small fan also and lay down for twenty minutes. I should have
made it longer.
The rest of that day I found myself running all around the sweaty
scenic little town until that evening when I found myself in one of
the poor barrios playing a scrappy game of fútbol on my poor broken
legs. I got back to my room far too late, and instead of having a
blissfully empty day planned for the following morning, I had instead
a new friend to make sure nothing ever became to dull. I spent the
rest of my time there refusing drugs, prostitutes, jewelry, fake
cigars and bad art. I found myself in bad neighborhoods late into the
night, not that I was concerned for my safety but I was concerned for
my sleep. I could hardly walk after my game of fútbol, but I walked
the city, saw the monuments, fished along the harbor at night, went
diving, saw the islands, went to the wrong clubs and the right
restaurant and hardly had five mintes to decompress. When I finally
did get back on the road I had the grateful sensation of leaving
something frantic and stressful behind. I was grateful for the
simplicity of solitude and the road, but wow, I was in Colombia and
while many things would be good, nothing was going to be easy.