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Posts by David Berg

Homework

Tis_the_season for new beginnings. A year ago, we were riding the Alaskan Range.  Now, we are building a home at 1534 1st Ave South in Fargo. We volunteered and took part in the wall-raising ceremony last week.  We pounded nails, secured wall supports, and used muscles that bicycle saddles and tractor seats don’t train.

To see and feel a structure that you and so many others have invested in is really special. To know its impact is even more magical.

The build site, 1534 1st Ave S

Window and door frames.

Pounding away.

Hammer time.

Double hammer time.

Carpenter belt.

Picnic table assembly.

Basement work.

Foundations.

Keep on building.

Bro 1

Bro 2

Bro 3

Hula Girl 1 (of many. Too many to photograph, really.)

“It’s five ‘o clock somewhere.”

Thee wall Dewalt.

The crew, sitting on the newly finished picnic table.

Enter the wall-raising ceremony, complete with new Bound South shirts!

Grandma and Grandpa ventured out to see the action.

Interview time.

The End of the World

“We_saw_a_vision of the entire Western Hemisphere rockribbing clear down to Tierra del Fuego and us flying down the curve of the world into other tropics and other worlds. “Man, this will finally take us to IT!” said Dean with definite faith. He tapped my arm. “Just wait and see.” 

On the Road – Jack Kerouac

Las Torres

The_wonders_of the world are only made more magnificent when you approach them from the humble perch of a bicycle.  We woke that cold, blustery morning in the horse stable we camped in for the night.  We were surprisingly feted with free breakfast by an amazing luxury hotel with giant portions of succulent lamb, eggs, and bread.  Riding west to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine we encountered the best weather we’ve seen yet in Patagonia.  We did not deserve it and will never forget it.

Nathan, Joe, and Isaiah rolling fast towards the park. That night we camped in a horse barn to escape the rain and cold. No mice this time.

The next day revealed stellar views of Torres del Paine.

And a chance encounter with the staff of the luxury hotel, Tierra Patagonia, and their chef, David.  He hooked us up.

Coffee and tea, scrambled eggs, toast, and these slabs of lamb were his gift to us. We had just had oatmeal, but we couldn’t say no. Our rationale: something we call preventative eating. It was outrageous.

Javier, local rancher and owner of the barn we slept in.

Joe being Joe.

More crisp views of Torres del Paine. 

Laguna Amarga

Thanks for the great photo, Joe.

We came across a group of eagles and an Andean condor feeding on this guanaco.

Sweeping descents and steep climbs matched the sheer nature of the landscape.

It was otherworldly.

And painful at times for Joe, shown here massaging his legs.

An unforgettable day.

A Friend to the End

When_I_decided to hop on my bicycle after high school, I knew that I wasn’t alone.  My best friend, Joe Burgum, also chose what is unconventional and created an experience.  He lived and worked in Australia, traveled to New Zealand, and made a difference.  Now, I am glad to say that his experience has led him here to Patagonia (with warm socks, snacks, and lots of peanut butter), where he will join us for the final leg of our journey.

Joe and I share a lot.  We enjoy playing croquet and cards, organizing and leading events, taking risks, and serving.  We did everything together in high school.  We rallied a community to Fill the Dome, volunteered across the United States with Students Today Leaders Forever, constructed an ice tree for our school, and so much more.  He’s well-spoken, intellectual, courageous, and witty.  He has been someone I have missed dearly on this trip, and someone I am now ecstatic to share it with.  It brings a smile to my face to know that I will be among both brothers and best friend as I ride to the end of the world on Tierra del Fuego.

Joe, writing a few postcards home before riding with us to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

Cañón del Pato

Every_so_often, Bound South embraces its wild side.  We leave the ease and surety of pavement for the uncertainty and doubt that coincides with the road less traveled.  When we do, we get lost, fall off of our bikes, and endure steep climbs and rotten roads.  Adventure is always available in the Andes.  Leaving Trujillo and the north coast of Peru, we surrounded ourselves with it, wall to wall.

Oatmeal on the plain

Winding our way to the Santa River

Cañón del Pato, translated “Duck Canyon”, is the product of two Andean ridges in Peru, the Cordillera Negra (Black Range) without snow to the west and the Cordillera Blanca (White Range) with snow to the east.  The valley between contains the Santa River, which winds its way to the coast through the canyon.  These two ridges parallel each other from Huaraz to Caraz, where they converge to form the canyon.  Near the canyon’s narrowest gap, a mere six meters across with walls rising up to Cordilleras’ crests, the raging waters of the Santa River power the turbines of a Duke Energy hydro electricity plant.  The Cordillera Blanca consists of hundreds of glaciers, lagoons, and hot springs.  Eight of its peaks rest over 6000 meters, with its highest, Huascarán Sur, sitting at 6768 meters.  Its nature is colossal which gives reason for the canyon’s grandeur.

Part of the hydro electricity plant

The beginnings of the canyon

Incredible rock formations were common on each canyon wall.

Even more impressive is the road that winds its way through the canyon.  Carved into the cliff walls, at times hundreds of meters above the river through tunnels and under overhangs, the road climbs gradually from barren desert at sea level to green mountain valleys above 3000 meters.  Beautiful, yes.  Easy, no.  To this day, the inverse rule has held true.  Established in Alaska, the rule reads: “The difficulty of the ride will be inverse to the beauty of the scenery.”

Rocky road

Mud and water substituted rock in some sections.

Isaiah in action

And challenging it was.  Mango-sized stones and mud holes covered the single-lane canyon road.  Dust coated our sweaty skin as drivers passed by.  Shade was in short supply.  Simply pedaling wasn’t easy; maintaining contact with each pedal over the bed of rocks was an unexpected challenge. It wasn’t the grade of the road that slowed our pace to 80 kilometers a day; it was exhaustion from riding through a bone-jarring sea of loose rock day after day in the heat.  The conditions were tough.  A different approach to riding was absolutely necessary.

Canyon walls of contrast

Switchbacks led us away from the canyon momentarily

Goliath, equipped with fat and knobby Kenda tires, was put to the test on this road.

Three in a row

Each watt of energy we apply to our pedals is work.  Slick tires and smooth surfaces allow us to easily build speed and maintain momentum.  On rough roads like the one described above, however, each rock or imperfection resembles a hill we must climb, which significantly slows our progress.  Pedaling from Alaska to Argentina isn’t easy.  I sometimes wish that there was only one  mountain pass between Alaska and Argentina (unfortunately, the road south of the equator does not gradually descend to Tierra del Fuego) or that it could be done with a single pedal-stroke.  These are impossible, though; I know that.

Tunnels were a great place to sing.

At the heart of Duck Canyon

We were all exhausted after this day

Spilled fuel meant no cooking for a few days.

And I know the realities of the road.  Challenges and pitfalls are everywhere.  Jagged rocks will puncture your tires and give you a sore butt.  Caps will come loose leaving you with no cooking fuel.  Tunnel darkness will surround you.  The road isn’t perfect.  Yet I have learned to embrace all that shapes this experience – both the discomforts and joys – and ride with purpose knowing that what we ride for is good and just.

Mango celebrations were to be had after reaching pavement once again.

The snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Blanca in sight.

Avenue of the (Hidden) Volcanoes

When_a_given stretch of highway is titled “Avenue of the _________”, we know great riding is in store (like our days on the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California months ago).  Thus, excitement was my immediate response when I heard from our host in Tumbaco that our route would lead us to the Avenue of the Volcanoes, a portion of the Pan-American Highway in Ecuador that lies between two mountain chains and their respective volcanoes.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  Leaving Tumbaco the next day, we familiarized ourselves with the cloud-shrouded Cotapaxi, the second largest volcano on the avenue at 19,347 feet, as we climbed up 6000 feet over its shoulder at 12,000 feet.  At the top of our ascent, we were treated to spectacular views of the volcanoes lining the highway ahead.  Before long, however, clouds rolled in and blanketed the peaks.

The Avenue

Nathan's rain gear: yellow rain jacket, orange dish gloves, blue rain pants, and black booties. Now that's style!

Ribbon of road in the highlands

We were treated to hot cocoa, juice, bread and hard-boiled eggs for breakfast with the Ambato family

Our time on the avenue after those brief glimpses was one of hidden volcanoes and inclement weather.  Rain, hail, and lightning fell from the sky.  Clouds enveloped us in fog on high mountain climbs and descents.  In spite of these daily trials, our time was also filled with incredible encouragement.  Honks, cheers, and waves became common, and increased in regularity with each additional rain drop. Even our favorite “two hands off the wheel thumbs up” was deployed by one very enthusiastic truck driver.  A family gave us space to sleep sheltered from the rain.  Kids showed us shelter near their favorite soccer field.  A restaurant housed and fed us.  After each rainy night, we started the next day energized and dry.  The conversations, food, and laughter we shared with the people along the avenue contrast with the challenges we faced while riding it.

Roadside panaderias (bakeries) are trending for Bound South. Fresh buns and pastries for a dime each hit the spot. Plus, Jif from Miami is still in good supply.

Approaching the clouds

So many roads to explore

The clouds created a nice backdrop for this monument in Alausi

Caution was absolutely necessary in the fog.

Mariella and her mom

One night outside of Ambato especially stands out.  A family of eight brothers gave us an unfinished home to lay our sleeping mats and sleepy heads down for the night.  Handshakes and greetings abounded while we were shown our sleeping quarters.  It wasn’t long before we were seated around their dining table enjoying coffee, bread, and conversation and joined by their sisters and daughters of similar age (it’s funny how that works).  I sat next to Mariella, one brother’s one-year old daughter.  With a growing vocabulary, her parents solidified us as her new friends.  At first, we were her “nue-ego”.  With a little practice, though, it wasn’t long before we became her “nuevos amigos”.

Our second-most favorite sign

Into the fog

Wait, someone is missing.

Found him!

This boy and his friend insisted on hanging on to our bicycles as we rode out of town. The push up out of town was appreciated, but it became a bit dangerous as we started descending. Even after Isaiah sternly told them to go home, they chased us down the main highway.

When I look back on the road from Alaska, people are what I remember most (and maybe the food, too).  Mountains, lakes, coastlines, deserts, roads, towns, and cities blend together to form a vague painting of the americas in my mind.  Only when I reflect on our new friends does that painting gain clarity and color.

Owned and operated by three sisters, this beautiful restaurant took very good care of us. La Escondida, just south of Chunchi, has delicious food (especially grilled cheese), groovin' 80s american tunes, and friendly staff. A big thanks to them for giving us shelter for a night.

Our bike alarm for the night outside the restaurant

Cold drizzle beaded on our skin, eyelashes, and hair in the fog. Here's me, being all serious.

Sunlight breaks through the clouds near Chunchi

Mailbag Monday #13

Today_we_continue our Mailbag Monday series…

Dear David,

How is your trip?  I love to ride bike.  I take piano lessons.  I am realy good at my Chrimas songs.  How many miles do you ride every day?  I am in the 3rd grade in the Hazelton School in North Dakota.  I have a farm.  I have kittens at my farm.  They are about 6 weeks old.  What kinds of things do you like?  What is the state you are in now?

From,

Summer

Tunnel silhouettes near Quito

Dear Summer,

Our trip is going very well.  Ecuador is wonderful.  The people are very kind and the views are spectacular – we are beginning to see snow-capped peaks again!  It’s great that you enjoy riding your bike.  It is something you can enjoy for many years to come.  Piano is a wonderful instrument to learn.  I took lessons for a few years but took up other instruments as a I grew older.  On average, we ride about 120 kilometers, or 70 miles, a day.  It varies depending on the terrain and our overall health.

My family has a farm, too!  In addition to many kittens, we also have horses, cows, and dogs.  I like many things.  I have always enjoyed playing sports, namely soccer and basketball.  I also enjoy camping and exploring.  Last summer, I went backpacking in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming with three friends.  Photography, reading, music, and serving others are a few other interests I really enjoy.  Currently, we are in the Cotopaxi province of Ecuador. Its area surrounds Cotopaxi, an enormous volcano that soars close to 20,000 feet above sea level. Thanks for your letter!

Sincerely,

David