People ask this question more than any other. I’ve heard it hundreds of times:
Are you crazy?
I rode a desk in misery from kindergarten to cubicle and nobody batted an eye. Now I ride a bicycle around the world with a big smile on my face and people think I’m insane. That is crazy.
But why are you doing this?
Because it makes me happy and because the life I left behind didn’t. God knows why, but only from a bicycle seat can I catch my reflection in the world and love what I see.
Why go now?
I’m blessed to find both my pocketbook and my knees in good health. I figured I’d hit the road before one or the other starts to crumble.
Where are you going?
In circles, I suspect. I began my journey in Canada in June 2009 and I’ve been biking sorta-kinda east ever since. Someday I’m going to end up where I started and I’ll have to decide whether or not it’s home. Until then, I’ll keep enjoying today.
Why do you travel alone?
I’m not opposed to the idea of biking with another person. I just need to meet the right one, that’s all.
Why did you start in Inuvik?
The Canadian Arctic is tough country. It demands things I wasn’t sure I had and I hated not knowing. I would have been a fraud and my journey a farce if I hadn’t started in Inuvik.
Why didn’t you go to Africa?
I knew I wasn’t ready. If I’m lucky enough to do another extended tour someday, that’s where I’ll go.
How much does a trip like this cost?
When I was growing up, my family never discussed politics or money. I kinda like that.
Okay. But how did you save for the trip?
I worked two jobs and lived below my means for a long time. I moved into an ultra-cheap bachelor suite, ate almost nothing but rice and potatoes, stopped buying new clothes and avoided money vampires like cellphones and cable TV. I’m also single and debt-free, and I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid car/house/alimony payments.
I want to save money to travel. Any advice?
Work hard, save harder.
How did you get so much time off work?
I have all the time in the world. I quit my jobs.
You quit? During a recession? Are you a moron?
Nope. I think most people spend their lives toiling at jobs they hate so they can buy products to patch their youth. They have made their choice. I’ve made mine.
How far do you cycle each day?
This depends on many different factors – terrain, weather, time of year, traffic, border delays, etc. With a tailwind, I’ve cycled close to 200 km in a day. An average summer ride is around 125 km and a day of farting around drinking Slurpees is about 60 km. It all depends on where I’m headed and how badly I want to get there.
Do you cycle at night?
Only if I must. Bad things happen on the road at night.
What do you eat?
Rice is the only constant. It’s the perfect cycling food – lightweight, packed with carbohydrates and easy to prepare. Plus, it’s cheap and even the smallest jerkwater store carries it.
Have you lost any weight since you started?
I’ve lost around 20 pounds since I began my trip. I need to eat more rice.
Have you ever been sick?
East Asia really did a number on me in 2011. In the space of a few months I had dysentery, a stomach parasite, a brutal ear infection and dengue fever. But now that the sweating and shivering are over, I’m as healthy as a horse.
Where do you sleep?
Anywhere as long as it’s safe. I’m a big believer in free camping so I try to sleep outside whenever possible. I’ve slept in fields, abandoned buildings, forests, gravel pits, cemeteries and under bridges. You name it, I’ve probably pitched a tent there. If I can’t find a spot outside, I’ll gladly surf a couch or crash on somebody’s floor.
Where do you shower? You do shower, right?
I’ll take a shower anywhere and as often as I can. Lakes and rivers are my favourite bathtubs, but I’m not opposed to sneaking a freebie at a campground or a YMCA. People sometimes invite me into their homes, too, which is fantastic.
How do you communicate in other countries?
Poorly. Besides English I speak basic French and Spanish. I was also able to learn some Farsi in Iran and Bahasa in Indonesia. For most countries, I memorize a few simple phrases and hope they carry me to the next border. My secret weapon, when all else fails, is this little gem. It has been a lifesaver.
Do you listen to music when you ride?
No. Right now the world sounds wonderful on its own.
What are you, some kind of Luddite?
Meh. Luddites wanted to destroy technology. I’m happy to ignore most of it.
Don’t you get lonely on the road?
Loneliness isn’t quite the right word. I miss people, but I don’t wish them here or want me there. All that stings is a desire to share the beauty of my experiences with the people I love.
How many passports have you filled?
I’ve used three passports on my travels. One was ruined by rain in Portugal, one I filled and one is safely sitting in my man-purse.
Does your bike have a name?
Yup. Anything that spends that much time between my legs had better have a name.