No mortgage… no wife… no kids… and now no job… what’s a guy living in South Florida to do? Jump on a bicycle and ride to Alaska of course. When I make it up there the plan is to head down to South America and then wherever the road takes me.

Latest route map: [full size]

Route Map

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments 25 Comments »

The day has finally arrived. Today marks the last day of a trip that started 3 years and 5 months ago when I set off from my home in Florida. During that time I managed to make my way up to the great state of Alaska, down to Mexico, through every county in Central America, into Colombia and then along the Andes mountain range until finally reaching Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world. After that it was up to Western Europe for more riding around the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom and finally Ireland. In all I managed to cross through 24 countries on 3 different continents racking up 28,454 miles (45,792 km).

Throughout my journey I went back and noted some of the more memorable highlights however these pages don’t even begin to capture the enormous range of feelings I had as a bicycle tourist traveling through so many different countries and environments. I can’t put into words what it’s like seeing killer whales leaping out of the water, hearing glaciers calving, seeing volcanoes erupt, riding through a city with more than 20 million people living in it, walking amongst thousands of penguins, staying in villages so remote that I was quite possibly the first foreigner they’ve ever seen or spoken to, standing in the ruins of entire towns where tens of thousands of people died in landslides/floods/volcanic eruptions, seeing small children begging for change, seeing a grizzly bear playing with her cubs, seeing entire villages forced to live in tiny shacks on the side of a raised dirt road because their homes are flooded, having three guys try to rob me of everything I own, being waved at dozens of times per day by people living in what I’d been told was one of the most dangerous countries in the world, having these same people stop and offer me food, water and places to sleep, riding a bicycle up and over one of the highest passes in the world, having someone from one of the poorest areas in the western hemisphere bring a plate of hot food to my tent just to make me feel welcome, desperately trying to hold my tent up from the inside during a storm in tornado alley, getting chased by hundreds of stupid dogs and nearly getting hypothermia. The list is endless.

So why am I stopping? It wasn’t that long ago that I’d planned on continuing my trip through Europe, Russia, the Middle East and North Africa for at least two more years. I had my route all planned out, a fancy spreadsheet showing over a dozen different considerations for traveling in each country, the funds to make it happen, a fully functional bicycle and physically I was (and still am) at 100%.

I’m stopping for two reasons. The first is that I had to see about a girl. :) As things tend to happen, sometimes when you least expect it, I just fell head over heels for this incredible woman whom I’ve known for many years but only just recently came to appreciate for the truly remarkable person that she is. There’s no way I can let her get away. When it came time to decide how I wanted to spend the coming years it was a very easy decision.

The second reason would most likely have had me thinking about stopping within a month or two. I’ve seen so many amazing things in the last few years and have a huge appreciation for this planet and everything on it. Seeing the damage we’ve caused day after day, mile after mile through every single country I’ve ridden through is incredibly disheartening. Some people might argue that it’s not that bad and blah, blah, blah. It is that bad. When you are riding a bicycle through it for nearly 30,000 miles you see it, you taste it, you smell it and you hear it. There’s absolutely zero doubt in my mind that we aren’t systematically wiping out every other living thing on this planet and the thought of seeing more of it for another two years isn’t that appealing.

Sure I could jump ahead to more “pristine” areas but if I wanted to skip over things I’d just go on a cruise. So for now it’s back to Florida where I’ll work on building a new, more subdued life because if I’ve learned anything from the past 3 years it’s that everything is connected. I know I don’t need a bunch of things to feel safe or successful. I’ve also seen what it takes to support the developed world and what effect this has on the people forced to live in areas being exploited for production material.

Dear old Koga 3.0 will be relegated to just shuttling me back and forth from the grocery store instead of through strange and exotic lands.

To all my family, friends, admirers, supporters, teachers, hosts and would-be robbers: truly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for making me a better person. To all the dogs: suck it. :)

Enjoying the view

Enjoying the view

Comments 21 Comments »

07/20 Made it safe and sound back to Karin and Marten’s house. It’s so good to see them again. My room was just how I left it. :)

Easy ride on the ferry. Slept right through the night so I guess the seas were calm. Having an all-you-can-eat breakfast was a mistake for them but I didn’t get too crazy.

Riding in the Netherlands is about a million times better than the UK if only for the fact that the roads almost always have enough room for cyclists and the drivers actually slow down to pass if it’s tight. Nice weather all day and the sun has even made a rare appearance. I guess it’s been raining here as much as it has where I was.

Elevation Profile
GPX track

And of course a windmill. :)

And of course a windmill. :)

I love this old truck.

I love this old truck.

Awesome bike trails--so not used to this.

Awesome bike trails–so not used to this.

20 minutes waiting for this thing.

20 minutes waiting for this thing.

The ferry that got me back to the Netherlands.

The ferry that got me back to the Netherlands.

Mood:Good Weather:Cloudy/Warm
Wind:Brisk Wind Direction:
Avg Speed:12.6 mph (20.3 km/h) Top Speed:27.5 mph (44.3 km/h)
Total Ascent:232 ft (70.7 m) Max Elevation: ft (0 m)
Distance:40.43 mi (65.1 km) Total Distance:28567 mi (45974.1 km)

Comments Comments Off

07/19 Lincoln was a little harder to leave then I thought it would be but this morning I finally got back on the road. The place I stayed for almost 2 weeks was called Orchard Guest House and I can’t say enough good things about it. The owner, Stephen, was so helpful. He went way out of his way several times to make our/my stay more comfortable. Unfortunately he was booked up last night so I had to move about four houses down to another B&B. That place was also really nice (Archers Lodge Guesthouse) and the elderly couple that runs it very friendly.

The weather was decent enough today. A bit of rain in the morning and then it stayed dry for the rest of the day. No sun though. The route I ended up taking was perfect. Almost all the roads were small, local roads, traffic wasn’t bad at all except for one moron who thought he was in a rally car race and the hills, although plentiful, weren’t excessively steep. I did get stuck on a bridleway and had some fun sliding through the mud for about a mile. Even managed to see a bunch of cool little weasel things. Not sure what they were. Maybe ermines? Maybe Google will help me out when I get internet. (update: ermine it is).

Tonight I’m sitting on a ferry on my way to the Netherlands. It arrives tomorrow morning in Rotterdam at 8:30am. I spared no expense and got myself hooked up with a cabin for this overnighter. It even has a shower in it. :) Quite fancy I think. My short term plan is to visit Karin and Marten for a few days. They only live 40 miles or so from the ferry terminal so it’ll be an easy, flat ride to their house. Can’t wait to see my friends again. My long term plans have also changed. More on that to come.

Elevation Profile
GPX track

Bottom of the bridge.

Bottom of the bridge.

IMG_6049.JPG

IMG_6045.JPG

IMG_6035.JPG

IMG_6030.JPG

IMG_6029.JPG

IMG_6021.JPG

IMG_6014.JPG

An ermine.

An ermine.

Fast little guy.

Fast little guy.

IMG_5994.JPG

My new Nashbar Ragster II Cycling Sandals didn't last long.

My new Nashbar Ragster II Cycling Sandals didn’t last long.

Mood:Good Weather:Cloudy/Mild
Wind:Brisk Wind Direction:
Avg Speed:10.9 mph (17.5 km/h) Top Speed:37 mph (59.5 km/h)
Avg Grade:2% Max Grade:9%
Total Ascent:2225 ft (678.2 m) Max Elevation:520 ft (158.5 m)
Distance:64.58 mi (103.9 km) Total Distance:28527 mi (45909.8 km)

Comments Comments Off

Nothing is ever as difficult as having to say goodbye to someone you care about. Ruth’s flight back to the States was this afternoon and even though I had the best week I can ever remember having it was sure hard seeing her go. We had a blast hanging out, siteseeing in Lincoln and keeping the local wine sellers in business.

As far as a touristy review of what’s it’s like spending a week in Lincoln I can’t think of a better place to stay. The city is just big enough to have the necessary mix of pubs/restaurants and attractions without being overcrowded. Even the weather cooperated and we had several days of sunshine. Some of the bigger things we saw were the Lincoln Castle, constructed during the late 11th century by William the Conqueror, one of the four surviving originals of the Magna Carta, the 11th century Lincoln Cathedral, reputedly the tallest building in the world for 249 years (1300–1549), a medieval Bishop’s Palace and several museums including one with a collection of very disturbing medieval torture instruments and another with one of the first tanks used in WWI.

Maybe the big highlight of the week was a ghost walk tour which we fittingly took on the evening of Friday the 13th. OK, the tour was pretty cheesy, it rained most of the time and we didn’t see a single ghost. We did walk over an area where they buried plague victims from the Black Death so it’s not like there wasn’t an opportunity for something to reach out from beyond the grave. :)

I’m not sure where I’m going next so the extra couple days will be spent trying to figure that out. The original plan was to ride around northern France before cutting up through Luxembourg into Germany and then onto Poland. I’m not particularly keen on spending any more time in populated areas of Europe which presents a bit of a problem because there aren’t too many unpopulated areas. I tracked down a map of population density and think I’ll reroute myself through to Berlin using that as a guide. We’ll see how that goes. I’m having this big problem as of late with not knowing exactly where I want to go. There’s more about that on this older post that I hadn’t published until today. One thing is for sure–I need to get somewhere where it’s not raining every day.

The rather scary Liquorice Park

The rather scary Liquorice Park

Taking a walk in The Arboretum (park in Lincoln)

Taking a walk in The Arboretum (park in Lincoln)

Sometimes I wish I could just stop time

Sometimes I wish I could just stop time

Pottergate Arch, Lincoln

Pottergate Arch, Lincoln

More houses in Lincoln

More houses in Lincoln

P7120006.JPG

12th century Medieval Bishop's Palace in Lincoln

12th century Medieval Bishop’s Palace in Lincoln

Steep Hill street in Lincoln

Steep Hill street in Lincoln

Ruth making a call

Ruth making a call

Amazing what female teachers had to deal with back then

Amazing what female teachers had to deal with back then

P7110023.JPG

Me and some old bikes in the Museum of Lincolnshire Life

Me and some old bikes in the Museum of Lincolnshire Life

Old newspaper in the Museum of Lincolnshire Life

Old newspaper in the Museum of Lincolnshire Life

Ellis Mill

Ellis Mill

Enjoying some lunch

Enjoying some lunch

Inside Lincoln Cathederal

Inside Lincoln Cathederal

Lincoln Castle from the roof of the Cathederal

Lincoln Castle from the roof of the Cathederal

Lincoln Cathederal

Lincoln Cathederal

Comments 7 Comments »