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Seasons of Love

“How do you measure a year?”

It’s a question presented in the song “Seasons of Love” in the musical production, Rent. I had the pleasure of seeing it last night at the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre (“well done” to the entire cast and crew; it was a phenomenal performance!). For the characters in the musical, the question incites several responses ranging from various times of the day, “sunsets” and “midnights”, to units of measure, “inches” and “miles”. Realizing that these basic measurements fail to capture its value, they conclude that love is the only true measure of a year in a lifetime.

In the next ten months, each of us will be spending nearly 1500 hours on a bicycle over more than 15,000 miles of terrain. In its most raw form, we’re just three young men out on an adventure. It’s more than that, though. It’s the family that will be able to access affordable housing. It’s the stories that will be shared. It’s learning. It’s beauty in nature and life. It’s love.

It is the same love I have seen all through high school in the Fargo-Moorhead community. From my experience in Fill the Dome, Students Today Leaders Forever, and annual flood fights, I have seen the power of service and its enormous impact. To be able to serve in a unique way through this endeavor excites me because of it.

As I prepare to leave in a few short days, I am becoming more thankful for the loving friends and family that surround me. It’s those people who will always remind me to live as if there were “no day but today”.

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On Leaving

The Fargo Forum greeted us at our send-off last night, and features us today:

At a send-off party for the brothers Friday evening, Shirley Dykshoorn, executive director of Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity said she was excited for the brothers. She said that although build sponsorships have been done, the Berg’s trip is one of a kind.

“It’s really pretty awesome,” she said.

So many old and new faces blessed our time at Oak Grove.  This two hour celebration and farewell to family and friends passed too quickly.  The Trolls are being built and our last arrangements are being made.  Sometimes it is important to set aside the anxieties and exultations of what lies ahead in order to appreciate the richness of these last days at home.

Birth Pangs for our Trolls

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If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend preparing for a nine month bike expedition.  Actually going on that nine month bike expedition?  No comment, yet.  The preparation is a journey all by itself!  It often seems like bracing for death.  We evaluate the truly important things in life with more perspicacity, spend more time with the people you love, and our material possessions seem increasingly trivial as we prepare to sell them or leave them behind.

While we appear to brace for death, we fully intend on surviving all 20,000 miles between Anchorage and Argentina.  Our Surly Trolls will carry us there.  Today, they arrived!  Well, two of them at least.  UPS appears to have misplaced the third Troll somewhere in Minneapolis, MN and there is no telling when it might arrive.  But no fear!  Craig at Paramount Sports in Fargo is saving the day.  He’ll have a Troll substitute ready for us by tomorrow afternoon.

This bicycle build has me smiling.  Our wheels came in today and let me tell you: there is something positively beautiful about a well-built wheelset.  We are running Phil Wood front disc hubs, Rohloff Speedhub rear hubs, all laced strongly to Velocity Cliffhanger rims.  Yum.  I can’t wait to see them fully built!  You can see the full bicycle build spec on our gear page.

Normally I am a “big ideas” kind of guy.  I don’t get caught up in the minutiae of most things.  I embody the Type B personality.  Preparing for this expedition runs against the fiber of my being.  Questions such as, “How will we carry all of our gear?” and “What if we get caught in a snowstorm in Alberta?” and “How will we purify water?” cannot be met with calm ambivalence and an attitude that things will “just kind of work out.”  Every individual bike part needs to replaceable, durable, and cross-compatible.  The little things need to be worked out to exhaustive completion.  Luckily, preparing for the unknown is thrilling and we are all motivated and excited about what lies ahead.  Choosing saddles and tents may seem mundane, but for us it is another opportunity to determine how we will live, ride, sleep, and eat for the next ten months!

Tomorrow, Friday, we will have our send-off party at Oak Grove Lutheran High School in Fargo, ND.  Come to the Eid Center at Oak Grove between 7PM and 9PM to say good-bye to Nathan, David, and I before we leave for Alaska.

Beginnings

A few years ago, I finished a coast-to-coast bicycle trip with Bike and Build to raise awareness and funds for affordable housing causes.  I was a trip leader for the Northern US route, stretching from the cool harbor of Portsmouth, NH to  Vancouver, BC on the shores of the Salish Sea.  This was a very formative experience for me to say the least.  The rhythm of pavement and life on the road was addicting.  During my sophomore year, I started planning for a Pan-American bike expedition after I stumbled upon Ribbon of Road.

The foundations of a great journey are laid.  There’s work to do, and Alaska beckons.  For now, I’m savoring my last moments with my family on our farm in rural Starkweather, North Dakota.