Skip to content

Archive for

Hallowed Highway One

“Enthusiasm” might be too soft a word to describe our anticipation of the roads ahead of us.  Excitement for the next highway is always distracting.  Just last night we talked about the Carretera Austral in Chile.  Great roads are often proxies for the landscapes that they border.  North of California, the State acquiesced to Nature and placed its roads in the hospitable margins of mountain ranges and river gorges and splintered glacial-volcanic landscapes.  Builders of highways and dirt roads worked in the safety of the low passes and river banks.  Political lines were redrawn, roads rebuilt, and names re-chosen (Mount Hood was Wy’East to the Multnomah long ago) while the ancient features remained as they were.  The roads ringed them and so each new turn bowed to the new landscape that bounded it.

Nathan ponders a camping location in the Redwood Forest.

Highway #1 was always about the ocean.  As we rode out of Oregon it was Highway #1 that distracted our imaginations, bordered as it was by the same ocean that forced us southwards and will one day stop us in Tierra del Fuego.  Since riding through the Redwood Forests of Northern California we have never been more than a day’s ride from the ocean.  Yet while Highway #1 does respect the ocean’s borders out of necessity, it has an independent spirit and longevity that sets it apart from any other road we’ve known since Alaska.

Scene of the crime: countless burritos killed at lunch stop on Hwy 1.

Contrary to popular belief, Highway #1 doesn’t end at Tijuana.  Technically.  Where the United States ends and Mexico begins, so does Mexico’s Highway One.  In Big Sur of California, Highway #1 cuts across the cliffs.  Human engineering defied natural obstacles. It is spectacular to experience it by bicycle, with every sweeping turn made more exciting by the low speed warning signs.    In Southern California we flew through the metropolitan areas of Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, and San Diego with our eyes already set on Mexico and La Paz.  Now in Mexico, we have felt like our journey has truly just begun.  The vast majority of our journey takes place in the Spanish-speaking world, after all.

A different kind of American agriculture in the fields near Santa Cruz.

Highway One has a lot of stories to share from the Redwoods to the inhospitable Mexican desert.  In the coming days we’ll be publishing our Highway One Diaries, a short series of posts that will illuminate our ride down this singular ribbon of road.

Mailbag Monday #2

TodayOweOcontinue our Mailbag Monday series…

 

Dear David,

I hope you are having fun.  Do your legs ever hurt?  Oh and by the way my name is Taiya and my dad is a farmer and we live on a farm and I have a brother and mom.  Oh and I’m a cow girl to! We have four hourses.  Rosebud.  She is 31 years old me her want to do bearlle racing I hope to become a famous bearlle racer and a country singer.  Oh and I love pets.  Ok that’s some things about me for you to know.  Now lets talk about you.  So do you like pets.  Do you restle with your brothers?  Oh and last but not least are you having fun?  And thats it.

Sincerely,

Taiya

Dear Taiya,

I’m having a blast! My legs hurt sometimes, but they feel very strong right now. A day or rest is the best medicine for tired legs. My dad is a farmer, too! Now, I don’t really consider myself a cowgirl… Rather, I like to think of myself as a cowboy, or even a bicycle cowboy! We have two horses on our farm. That’s wonderful! Keep working hard, and I’m sure great things will come. I love pets, too! We don’t have any with us, but I’m sure Isaiah or Nathan would go for a couple puppy dogs if they had handlebar baskets! Wrestling only occurs if one’s personal space is invaded, which happens from time to time. I’m having a lot of fun! Thanks for your letter, Taiya!

Sincerely,

David

This Day

Every_day_of_Bound South is a thanksgiving. Be it a simple meal, a warm bed, or an uplifting conversation, we can’t help but to give thanks on the road. To all those who have had a hand in any of these daily blessings, thank you. You are what makes each day so special to us.

Today is Thanksgiving, a holiday that reminds us not only to be thankful but to reflect on what we are so thankful for. Although we will not be feasting on turkey, dumplings, and mashed potatoes in North Dakota with family today (how wonderful that would be), we have much to be thankful for, including our health and safety, the stretch of road that has brought us here, the road that lies ahead, and the people that greet us on the road.

So much of what we do everyday revolves around people. Their experiences and knowledge are what makes each waypoint and destination so meaningful. And they are always helpful (thanks to all who have noticed our disorientation and given us direction!).  This is my first Thanksgiving away from family in North Dakota, but I like to think that we can share this day with our Bound South family, a family of kindred character that we’ve been growing since leaving Anchorage.

Mailbag Monday #1

For the past few weeks we have been enjoying a number of letters from some very special students.  We were notified that an elementary school in North Dakota was enraptured by our journey from Alaska and was eagerly following our every posting about Canadian mudslides and bike rides and more.  At our last mail drop, we got their letters; countless handwritten missives by third-graders who were quite enthusiastic to share our North Dakotan commonalities and investigate the strange wonders of our bicycle expedition.  Monday will now become Mailbag Monday at Bound South, where we will share these letters and our responses.

 

 

 

Dear Isaiah,

My name is Michaela.  I am 9.  I do not like to ride bike up hills but I love going down them.  Do you like riding bike?  How long do you ride a day.  Do you ever get tired?  Is there anything you are really looking forward to?  I drove to Vermont with my moms friend Gary, my grandpa, my mom, and my brother.  I live in ND.  What are all of the states you are going to see?  And how on earth did you make your own bike?  My class is third grade.  How old are you?  when is your birthday?  What is your favorite color?  My birthday is July 2, 2002.  My favorit color is black.  Do you ever eat at a restraunt?  Do you get to go to bed or do you drive that whole time?  Why did you choose to ride bycycle?  I would drive atleast a motorcycl.  I hope you don’t fall off your bike with all that stuff on it.  I have three siblings Austin, Carter, and Jason.  They are all boys!  I think yours are David and Nathan, hey, they are all boys too but I am a girl and you are obviously a boy.

Sincerely, 

Michaela

Dear Michaela,

I have always liked to think that I love riding bike uphill and downhill.  I just love riding uphill a lot less!  Riding bike for me is about freedom; it’s a form of incredible transportation that can take you almost anywhere under your own power.  It’s the mechanical fulfillment of the human engine.  It is beautiful to me, even when I am totally exhausted from it.  Yes, even us three Pan-American bicycle adventurers get tired from riding!  We like to ride about sixty or seventy miles in a day.

I think that I am looking forward to the vast regions below the US-Mexico border more than anything.  The Andes and Tierra del Fuego are always on my mind, but they do not distract me from the beauty I get to see every day.  The US states of Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California have been spectacular in their own way and I hope that we capture that on our website.

I’m 22 years old, I was born on June 15th, and my favorite color is blue.  I most definitely sleep at night, and sometimes even during the day when I get the chance.  If I ever get the crazy idea to do this trip again one day, I bet I’ll be riding a motorcycle and eating at more restaurants.  I hope I don’t fall off my bike either!  If there was ever any doubt about whether we were boys, this trip has cleared it up.

Sincerely,

Isaiah

Citystates of Mind

Communities of the Pacific coast are tied together by the ribbon of road known as US Highway 1.  One grueling day took us across Los Angeles.  We found that many disparate communities were shockingly proximate to one another.  The limitations of bicycle travel did not prevent us from seeing spectacular beaches, hillside estates, beachfront mansions, and urban blight all within a few miles of one another.  Cities have always provoked the human spirit with their visible geographies of inequality; after all, it was the hellish and urban factories of Manchester that inspired Marx and Engels against capitalism.  The landscapes of pastoral agriculture rarely incite our passions in quite the same way.  Cities seem to bring out the worst in humanity and yet somehow provide the structure for all of those terrible little demons to coexist so productively.

Beach murals.

Cities are here to stay.  The world continues to urbanize.  Opportunities and human possibilities abound in cities and usually cannot be found outside of them.  The spectacular and unexpected means of progress within cities is what makes The Economy of Cities one of the most important books to my personal intellectual development.  The city has grit, romance, rubbish, flash, and jazz writ large across its complex landscape.  In this city of Los Angeles and every other great city I know, I am hopelessly intrigued but also troubled.  My roots in rural North Dakota have bred a fierce and rugged individualism rooted in a supportive, tight-knit community.  I’ve been blessed enough to travel to some other corners of the world, with college in a New England town and terms abroad in Peru and the Czech Republic.  I’ve never truly lived in a city but I’ve spent enough time in them.  I know only what I see and I do see a city in my future.  Which city – who knows?  Perhaps any one where I can ride my bicycle to work and to get groceries and to escape. There is something disconcerting about that inevitability, however.  Embedded in the city are decades of infrastructure and regulation and decisions and history upon which the matrix of modern life is negotiated, for better and for worse.  There are car commutes full of angry souls imprisoned in speeding vehicles, ossified social roles and city cultures, zoning codes and permits and endless asphalt and city lights that sparkle to dim the stars.  There is also the critical mass of diverse people and passions, boundless opportunity, and the promise of progress and new ways of doing.

What if we could dissolve the boundaries between the parallel urban universes we encountered by bicycle in Los Angeles?  Can one shrink social distance and eliminate the dehumanizing anonymity of the city?  And can it be done while preserving the urban diversity and freedom that produces ever more spectacular expressions of the human spirit for innovation and prosperity and joy?  These are just a few thoughts that occupied our minds and our conversation as we crossed the great cities of southern California.

Our last campsite before the string of cities.

By The Numbers #2

We’ve now been riding for just under three months and North America has flown by. Within two weeks we will reach the Mexican border that will bring a great deal of change to our journey. Our diets are going to switch from peanut butter and pasta to beans, tortillas, and rice. Our typical lunch breaks will be missed, but we’re excited to move on to the next leg of our trip.  We are riding along some of the most beautiful coastal highways on the Pacific coast.  It has already been a wild ride down Highway 1 and there are many more stories to come.

In our last numbers post we tallied up the first month. In three months we have covered just about all of North America and have a number of things that we are proud and thankful for.  Here’s our accounting from San Francisco:

Total Miles Covered: 4035 mi

Longest day: 109 miles from Mt. Hood to Bend, OR

Longest streak of consecutive riding days: 12 

Laugh attacks while out riding: 3-20

Bleached eyebrows: 2

Rest days, sans rest: Hiking in Jasper, Cyclocross race in Portland, Building with H4H in Bend, and dancing in San Fransisco

Dance Skill Atrophy Index Score: 100%

Days ridden without rain: 27 days

Most consecutive days without a shower: 5

Average cost for each day: $4 per person

Days sick: 0 *knock knock*

Best pen pals: 3rd Graders from rural North Dakota (more on this later!)

Culinary Innovations: Campbell’s Chunky soup with pasta, ricotta cheese and potatoes

Best food splurges: Smoked pork ribs, Jenny’s Burgers, “12 Tacos for $10” deal at Taco Bell

David’s Role: The Sergeant

Isaiah’s Role: The Cheerleader

Nathan’s Role: Professor Pumpkin

Most Epic Campsite:  Treacherous cow pasture on the cliffs over the ocean, with unknown vehicle stalker.

Quickest Campsite Departure: 30 minutes after waking at 5:45AM from the treacherous cow pasture on the cliffs over the ocean

Habitat Donation Total: $4,140

Saddle Up, Cowboy

Inextricability is frequently misunderstood in life.  Contrasted with the wandering of the autonomous, inextricable lives are obviously entangled with notions of purpose, community, and continuity.  Many twenty-somethings fear the specter of commitment, perhaps not out of loathing for these principles but out of fear for frequent separations.  Yet the inextricable life is inevitable.  Life is an election that you cannot stay home from because you vote with your feet.  We carry necessary anchors with us through life and our bodies grow stronger from the movement.

Beautiful Highway 1.

Minimalism is like moving those anchors, not cutting their ropes.  Humanity drops anchor in wealth, homes, cars, relationships, and careers to name a few things.  There is an important dual lesson in all of this: the first is that we have a choice in where we anchor ourselves.  The second is that we have no choice but to choose.  I remember selling my car in Anchorage three months ago before we began riding our bicycles north to Denali.  That sudden liquidation of my trans-continental transportation left me feeling liberated and proud.  Do not underestimate how liberating minimalism can be!  But months later, the personal anchor of my beloved Honda has been wholly transferred onto the rack of my Surly Troll.  I covet and adore it with the same intensity.  Don’t fool yourself by thinking that you can live anchor-free; take it from three guys with nothing but three bags and a bicycle.  We carefully measure the inextricability of our lives by bicycle, always critically self-aware of our perceived necessities – whether they be your only comfy pullover or the heaping bowl of oatmeal we delight in every morning.  Minimalism forces you to confront and better appreciate your anchors of necessity.

Cool California coast.

Time compels us forward and bids us southward, away from these past days with family in the Bay Area.  Our cause calls us to our fundraising and other personal goals for this journey.  Inextricability is a daily rhythm that binds us once more to a road going south from San Francisco.

Reveling in the Redwoods.