I’ve mentioned this hairbrained idea to a few people, and I always seem to get asked the same questions. So to give you a better idea of what this is all about, I’ll just go ahead and answer some of those questions.
What, exactly, are you doing?
I’m riding a bike. Not a motorcycle, a bike with pedals. I’m starting in Montreal, heading across the USA, and then heading south. I say I’m headed for Argentina, but that’s really just my direction. I’ll go until I either run out of money or don’t feel like doing it anymore. Whichever comes first.
Why would you do such a thing?
Well, mostly because it seems like fun. To boil it down to the most fundamental level, I’m looking to have an extended period with no commitments to anything. I want to wake up every morning and do exactly what I want to do, without concern for anything. Whether that means riding to the next town, spending the day reading a book in the library, or finding some rocks to climb, if I want to do it, I will. This is likely the last time in my life where I won’t have major life commitments- a family, a mortgage, a career, etc- so I better do it now.
How long do you plan on this taking? How far is that?
If i make it all the way to Buenos Aires, Argentina I figure it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 13,000-15,000 miles, and should take roughly a year.
I no longer have any idea. It would be pointless to make an estimate. All I can say is it’ll take at least a year and a half, and be at least 15,000 miles.
How can you afford to do that?
I’ve gotten used to living a low-budget lifestyle while having a source of decent income. I’ve been saving for two years, and I plan on living as cheaply as possible while I’m out.
Where will you sleep?
Wherever I feel like. I plan on camping and couchsurfing where possible, but staying in hostels/motels/hotels when necessary.
Are you going alone?
My roommate Al is coming with me across the US, and then we’ll probably part ways when I head south. I’ll just make friends along the way from there.
My good friend Al rode with me from Boston to Chicago, but I’ve been mostly on my own since then, and will probably be solo for most of it going forward. I like the added freedom and interaction with people that comes from traveling alone. And no, I don’t really get lonely.
Can I come?
Sure, but I reserve the right to go my own way whenever I want. I don’t want to have to worry about your needs or feelings. Not to be a jerk or anything, but that’s kind of the point to the trip, remember?
Isn’t there some body of water preventing you from being able to bike all the way there?
You’re probably thinking of the Panama canal, which is a man-made body of water that has man-made bridges over it. The canal shouldn’t be a problem. There is however, a jungle/swamp region between Panama and Colombia called the Darien Gap which as far as I know has no roads through it and is by most counts impassable. We’ll see what I do about that when I get there. Maybe take a boat around it, maybe try to go through it. Whatever I feel like.
You should get a sponsor.
That’s not a question. Stop telling me what to do. I had considered looking for sponsorship to help with the financial burden, but then I realized that nobody will sponsor me without some sort of commitment on my part. I want to be able to stop at any moment without any repercussions if I so choose.
You should do it for a cause.
Enough with the non-questions already! I am doing it for a cause. Is my own personal fulfillment not cause enough for you? Because it is for me. When you wake up in the morning and go to work, are you “doing it for a cause”? To say that “I’m biking to South America for such-and-such a cause” makes no logical sense to me. My bike riding benefits nobody. My money, however, does. So when I want to support causes, I give them my money, and encourage you to do the same. But it’s got nothing to do with anything here.
Do you have it all mapped out? Where are you going?
No, I don’t have anything mapped. I’m not planning that far in advance. I do have some places in mind that I’d like to see along the way though.
Are you taking a road bike or a mountain bike?
No. The bike I’m riding is in a category all its own. We’ll call it a cargo bike (as many others do). It’s got mountain bike wheels, and is built to carry a lot of stuff.
Are you going to put all of your belongings in a backpack?
No, everything will be in bags that attach to the bike. It’s more comfortable this way.
What will you do when you get there?
Well, there isn’t really any “there.” When I said I was going to Argentina, it was really just an arbitrary destination. I may not make it all the way there, or I may get there and just keep going. Either way, it’ll be just like any other day- I’ll do whatever I feel like!
You know what you should do?…
Yeah, whatever I feel like. Try not to get offended when my eyes glaze over and gaze into the distance as you tell me I’m doing it all wrong.