What have we talked ourselves into? Yikes…another six month bike trip! We leave October 30 on the long, 2 day flight to Ushuaia, Argentina, a town at the very southern-most tip of South America, truly the end of the road. From there we plan on riding north, more or less following the spine of the Andes until Cartagena, Columbia…or at least that’s the plan. We only have the first few days planned and then we figure things out as we go. Cartagena is +/- 11,000 kms distant so the six months we’ve allotted for the trip is probably unrealistically short.
To be honest, we are both anxious about what lies ahead. We are not getting any younger (Claire is 62 and I’m 63) and our persistent aches and pains have us worried. My chronically bad back and Claire’s shoulder issues we hope we can manage but an acute knee pain caused by riding with new bike shoes had me quietly freaking out as our departure neared. Hopefully we’ve put that behind us and our health will not be an obstacle.
The last month has been focussed on getting ready. Our trusty bikes, Surly ‘Long Haul Truckers’ are tough and outfitted to withstand long stretches of rough road. We’ve updated and carefully planned out our gear. Our assorted technology is in place and working well. All of the myriad details of our home, garden, tenants, banking, wills, insurance, business, etc., etc., are all in order. Nina, our daughter, is manning the fort in our absence. Claire has retired and is starting a new phase in her life. I’ve shuttered my business temporarily and so, once again it is time to hit the road.
Friends wonder why we’re putting ourselves through the inevitable hardships our trip entails. Others just don’t relate to the six month duration and still others think we’re putting ourselves needlessly into dangerous situations. There are no easy answers to the above. Crawling into our tent for the umpteenth time after a long ride in the rain sounds a bit grim but we now have our new light weight chairs so that, in theory, we can stretch out inside and read or write in relative comfort. Sounds almost luxurious, no? Our last, long bike trip from Istanbul to Lisbon (+/- 9,000 kms) took almost six months. Sure, we were anxious to get home by the end but we so enjoyed that trip it is the motive for this one. Moreover, to ride the length of the Andes, from as far south as one can go to the northern tip of the continent has a symmetry to it that just cries out to be done. And finally, the perceived dangers. I guess it’s all relative. We speak decent Spanish and are used to living, working and travelling in countries during difficult times (civil wars, terrorism, drought, famine, etc.) whereas our proposed route takes us through reasonably stable democracies on well travelled paths. In my opinion, biking the Sea to Sky Highway or riding our local single track poses similar dangers.
Most importantly, is that life on the road is so elegantly simple. Our focus is on where we’ll sleep, where our next meal will be and which way to go at the fork in the road. Each pedal stroke covers new ground and leads to new experiences. Trump, pipelines, carbon tax, etc., will be distant memories.
Of course, we will miss home. The clear sunny days of the last few weeks has reconfirmed what a stunningly beautiful area we live in. It is an inspirational place to call home and we will miss skiing, hiking, paddling and biking with friends and family. We’ll forgo another winter season but the mountains, the ocean, rivers and forest aren’t going anywhere.
So wish us luck. Write comments, ask questions, whatever….it will all help us feel in-touch and closer to home.
Hasta la vista