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!

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lost in Translation.

Navigating in central and south america is generally very easy. Once I
have a map, (and getting one can be tricky,) I simply find the red
line that goes to the next country and then follow the road signs that
point to the cities along that red line. Very easy. No GPS, no
orienteering, nothing fancy. Frequently there are intersections and
forks which are unmarked, but there is generally someone nearby,
usually just standing on the side of the road waiting for a bus who I
can ask. Even if I didn't speak any Spanish all I'd have to do it say
the city name and shrug my shoulders and they would point me in the
right direction.
It gets more complicated when trying to find something specific lin
a city or when the roads become more complex. Then the instructions
come more quickly and involve many more words and require much more
intricate hand gestures. Those hand gestures are funny. They
frequently come with sound effects, usually at the point you connect
back to the highway or have a nice big straight section. Depending on
who is giving the directions I can either understand every word or
hardly one. Some people really mumble and slur and have difficult
accents for me to understand, so I have learnt to watch their hands
very closely. All of the verbal information is encoded in that complex
hand gesture. What I hear in a bad case might be something like,
'Asolodontondoar up! Bayanda Joe. Around bomboa the sigonandolono
Hotel and coca cola anaota wshhhht!'
But the hand, the hand speaks truth if you can read it. It points
ahead and continues up till the stoplight, it turns to the left and
heads an equal distance up the hill until the hotel with the Coke
sign, where it turns to the right and wshhhht! Straight ahead to the
highway. Nevertheless traveling as I do can give a whole new meaning
to the phrase 'Lost in Translation.'