Monthly Archives: October 2013

Previous trips and other blogs

Darling, this ain’t our first rodeo.

Daisy has logged 10,000+ mi (15,000 km) cycle touring, and has brought Jason along for 3,500 of those miles. Needless to say, we have a good idea of the gear we need, what to expect, how and where we like to camp, what we like to eat, how we like to handle the mountain passes, etc.

If you want to read about some of our previous tours, check out dandjadventures. On that blog we wrote about our trip from Mexico to Canada in May/June of 2012, and about a short Spring Break trip in March of 2013 to Harrison Hot Springs, BC, Canada. Those posts will give you a taste of what we’ll write about as we’re on the road, keep you a little busy while we are still prepping for our Pan-American trip, and hopefully get you a lot more excited about the trip we’ll start in May 2014!

Bicycle touring is gaining in popularity, and I believe since the internet allows cyclists to easily share stories and route ideas, more and more folks keep getting on their bikes. They do this in a variety of ways – from fully loaded touring in remote areas with a tent and food for 4 days at a time, to a light bag packed with lunch and a credit card for motels.

You’d be surprised who is out there doing it, too. Some of our favorite blogs to read are about families. Here are a few blogs that we have followed: The Pedal Powered Family, The Family Verhage, and The Vogel Family.

It is pretty easy to get ideas about where to bike through on our upcoming trip, since there are a bunch of folks blogging about their recent trips! Here are a few we’ve been checking out: Going South, Life is Like a Box of Chocolates, and HOPE.

You can find more by web-searching Cycling the Pan-American Highway or perusing

Now that you have plenty of reading material, I can leave you be for now. … Oh, did you think you would get work done today? Have fun!

Initial route ideas

Where will we go?

That is the question! Well, a 1-2 year trip can get you from Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina (the southernmost town in South America). This is our goal, and it will be 18,000+ miles (30,000 km) of cycling.

We came to focus on this route for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:
1. We wanted to bike in some remote, mountainous regions. Alaska and Canada are a good start, and the Andes in South America will also fit the bill!
2. We both know Spanish. Daisy is fluent, but I will have refresh my memory…
3. It is a popular route that others have blogged about. It is often called “riding the spine” and route information is available.
4. Most of the countries are very safe. But of course there are places to be more careful in than we would be in the US or Canada. And,
5. Cycling from so far north (65°) to so far south (55°) is just an amazing achievement!

Below is a sketch of the route we expect to follow for the North and Central American part of our trip. We’ve started putting a good deal of thought into this part of the route already. I’ll write later about all of the sights there are to see along the way.

Map with route outlined
Expected route through North and Central America

Below is a rough sketch of the route through South America. This route is pretty unknown right now because we don’t know yet exactly where we will want to go. Take a look:

Map with route outlined

Rough idea of route through South America

Columbia has certainly gotten a bad reputation in the US, but people who have cycled through recently often highlight it as one of their favorite sections through the Americas. Among the beautiful scenery and friendly residents, which are common to many countries, Columbia also has these awesome “Casas de Ciclistas” – a group of hostels that support bike tourists.

Also, I should mention that the preferred way to get to Columbia from Panama is via a cruise. (There is no road through the Darién Gap.) But, by cruise I actually mean a small boat, perhaps a catamaran like the Gypsy Moth. A few days on the ocean, broken up by a visit to some islands – its sounds good.

The full trip from north to south pushes 1.5-2 years because you have to wait for winter to thaw before heading the last leg south to Ushuaia. Also, it is just nice to take shorter days cycling and relish the time, or take the more mountainous route to fill those extra months!

Read on to see our latest posts.

Step 1: Setting a date

Step 1: Setting a date.

It is one thing to read about, dream about, and even talk about taking a “gap year” to explore the world, but it is another thing to actually do it. It may sound easy to commit to at first, but putting school/work/life on hold is really a hard task to do mentally. I can say that once the decision is made, it is very liberating!

Also, once we started to spread the word, and people started getting used to it, our co-workers, family members, and others started to get really excited about it!

Our Date: May 10, 2014.

We’ll start by flying in to Anchorage, AK, USA. We’ll have to have our bikes partially disassembled and boxed to get on the plane. Hopefully, we’ll spend that first night with a Warmshowers host. — It will be a nice start to chat with someone that has done some biking in the area we will be about to explore.

The next day we’ll head to the Anchorage REI to get some of our last supplies, most notably another bear canister or two to store food in. Then we’ll head north. After several days we’ll arrive in Denali National Park and bike the park road out to Wonder Lake and back, before it opens to motor vehicle traffic on May 20. The park road (gravel) extends about 90 miles into the wilderness with views of the largest peak in North America – Denali.

Mt McKinley from Wonder Lake

View of Mt. McKinley (aka Denali) from Wonder Lake (c/o Wikimedia Commons)

Doesn’t that sound great?! But I’m getting ahead of myself – there will be other posts to talk about our plans for where we will be headed on our two-wheeled gap year. We have a date, so let the planning continue…

Read on about our route ideas.

Taking a “gap year”

It was back in 2012 when we first considered the idea of taking a “gap year.” We read an article in the April edition of Adventure Cyclist magazine called A Two-Wheeled Gap Year for Grown Ups by Amaya Williams. Not-so incidentally, I just looked her up and found out she is still on her quest to cycle every country on the planet!

I remember Daisy and I were taking turns reading the article out loud while preparing dinner – she always cuts the veggies, and I cook them and add the spices – back when we lived at the Houseasaurus Co-op where we met.

Jason at the Houseasaurus Co-op with a head of lettuce.

Jason at the Houseasaurus Co-op with a head of lettuce.

Daisy has always had big ideas for adventures (one example: solo cycling from Alaska to Montana – which she did in 2010), and Jason has enjoyed accompanying others on their wild ideas (if presented as doable and relatively safe, almost every trip idea sounds good to him). Needless to say, we make a good team. Daisy generates adventure ideas, and Jason provides good company — and helps refine them, haha.

Daisy's first time in Alaska

Daisy’s first time in Alaska.

Anyways, back to that article… So there are 7 steps to taking your dream tour- it is that “easy”! Check it out:
1. Set a start date
2. Start saving
3. Get gear
4. Outline a route
5. Get a handle on health/money/blogging
6. Put life on hold
7. Say bye, and go!

Amaya also suggests a variety of routes – the Pan-American Highway, SE Asia, a cross-continent Eurasia trek – and now I realize she was actually just highlighting some of the touring she did, not just potential ideas!

OK. So, our ideas have percolated for awhile, and now here we are, stating our intentions for leaving our jobs, selling our furniture, and hitting the road for a gap year(+)!

Read on about Setting a Date.