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Posts by Nathan Berg

Mailbag Monday #14

Today_we_continue our Mailbag Monday series…

We’ve had a ton of fun chatting with our pen pals, and here is the final letter, unless we get more…

Dear Nathan,

My name is Shane.  I like video games.  What do you like to eat?

Your friend,

Shane

Rainy climbs in Ecuador

Hello Shane,

I’ve been known to play video games every once and a while. My brothers and  have been on a pretty significant drought, although I did beat the Angry Birds game on my brothers iPhone. I was thinking about hanging up video games since I hit the pinnacle of my career, but I figure I should keep my skills sharp in case something more difficult comes along.

Lately, the bakeries in South America sell pineapple pastries that are impossible to resist. If there was one type of food that I miss currently, I would have to say a good sandwich. It has been several months of tacos, rice, and now chicken. It’s going to be an adjustment to come home to a kitchen with all the fixings. The simplicity of this trip has been an eye-opening experience; I won’t soon forget the convenience of a permanent home.

Thanks for writing!

Nathan

Mailbag Monday #12

Today_we_continue our Mailbag Monday series…

Dear Nathan,

How are you doing?  I’m doing great in school.  Do you ever feel like you are in danger?  How the scenery?  Are they cool awesome?  How long are you going in miles?  It will be great if you can answer the questions but if you can’t, it’s ok.

Sincerely,

Matthew

Hey Matthew,

I’m doing great! We just started the South American portion of our journey and the mountains are already kicking our butts. Each of the last four or five days we’ve had to climb a mountain, or a series of them. It has been a ton of work.  Each day we tackle several four to six hour climbs on terrain that varies between gravel and a mixture of rocks and mud. I’m glad you are having a good time in school, I have many silly memories from school. On warm days in wintertime we would try to make super-snowmen. Typically recess would end with massive snowballs that no one was capable of lifting.

To have an adventure atop a bicycle saddle comes with much danger. Some days, we travel on the shoulders of busy highways. Couple that with threats of bears and bandits, and there is plenty to make a person concerned. We do our best to be safe on the roads and use good judgement, and pray that others look out for us in the same way. It’s hard to worry about it when we find ourselves in the middle of such beauty. The Andes of South America have made my jaw drop on several occasions. The trip will end up at around sixteen thousand miles which sounds massive, but it’s amazing to think we are already over half done.

Thanks for writing Matthew!

Nathan

Trivia

Trivia_is_defined as insignificant or unessential matters, as well as obscure and useless knowledge. It is derived from the Latin words tri, “three,” and via, “ways.” In Roman times trivia would describe an intersection of three roads. At this point there would be kiosks and places to post information for travelers that was frequently ignored. We have made our obscure and useless knowledge into a game for you all, a chance to learn more about us and prove how well you know us. If you wish to keep score you may create your own scoring rubric and compete with other readers.

Choose the best answer to the following questions:

Me Gusta!

1. Choose the things, ordered from most important to least important, that we find most pleasing.

a) showers, tailwinds, laundry, free food

b) laundry, free food, tailwinds, showers

c) free food, showers, laundry, tailwinds

A wild ‘X’ appeared!

2. Which animal has eluded us in our travels?

a) Boa Constrictor

b) Crocodile

c) Grizzly Bear

d) Iguana

Adjusting brakes on a steep descent.

Como se llama?

3. What is the name of Isaiah’s bicycle?

a) Angus

b) Charlet

c) Hereford

d) Burly

4. What is the name of our Mariachi band?

a) Chupacabra Scramble

b) Tres Leches

c) Sangre de los Niños

d) Viva Oxxo!

Cyclist Badges

5. Identify the owner of the following tan lines:

a)

b)

c)

6. Whose calf is that!?

a)

b)

c)

You heard it hear first

7. Who is the speaker of the following quotes, and which location best suits the quote?

a) “Guys, we just dropped twenty G’s on ice cream.”

b) “I have bean juice all over me.”

Now that you are breathing hard from intense thought we hope you picked up some useless facts about us. We’ve had six months in the saddle and we are accumulating the marks of the road. Our callow skin has grown tough and tan, and our muscles are starting to match our spirits. With the Andes towering over us it couldn’t have come at a later time.

Highlight text below for answer key:

1. c
2. c
3. a
4. b
5. a) David, b) Nathan, c) Isaiah
6. a) David, b) Isaiah, c) Nathan
7. a) David, in Aipe, Colombia, b) Isaiah in Monarch Sanctuary in Mexico

Mailbag Monday #9

Today_we_continue our Mailbag Monday series…

Dear Nathan,

I’m Tara.  I live on a farm.   I love, love, love to ride horse.  Do you like to ride bike?  I sort of like to ride bike.  Do you live on a farm?

Sincerely,

Tara

Roadside spectators

Hey Tara,

I had the privilege of growing up on a farm and have learned and seen so many things I wouldn’t have even dreamed of growing up in a different setting. The only pain was that it was difficult to get to town to hang with the city kids, so I had to play with my brothers and sister. My family grows a wide variety of crops including wheat, barley, and sunflowers. We’ve also had beef cattle over the years, which have lead to some pretty interesting school nights. We plan on having the cattle give birth to calves starting in February so it won’t conflict with farming in the summer. The majority of the cows tend to give birth during the day, but occasionally there are a few who miss the memo and wait till well after midnight to get to work. Since it is so cold about this time, as you probably know, we have to bring the calves in to dry them off and make sure they get their first drink of milk. It’s crucial for their immune systems to be fed within hours of being born. We usually bring the calves into the barn in a sleigh that we pull by hand, although I bet we could use our horses if we really needed an extra hand, or hoof.

I enjoyed riding horse when I was back home as a kid and still ride when I get the chance. Occasionally I’ll have friends and family come out to the farm to try to tame our feisty beasts. There is a mutual satisfaction between the rider and the horse. The rider gets a ride and the horse its oats.  Riding a bike and riding a horse are two completely different thrills, and I love them both. Stick with the bike and you never know where you might end up, and it won’t need any oats either.

Sincerely,

Nathan

24 Hours

The_sun_ushers a green glow to the inside of our tent with the warmth in its wake.  At 7:xx the alarm rings a tone that one of us rustles out of our sleeping bag to silence.  Time to cue the music and our morning rituals.  Isaiah and I are usually the first to get up and out of our beds.  He who shall not be named continues to sleep or sits up to resume where he left off in his book, until breakfast is served.  A concoction of oatmeal, sugar, and granola has been the backbone of the trip, although we’ve been experimenting with scrambled eggs and vegetables.  We finish eating in about fifteen minutes.  Isaiah packs up the stove and food supplies while David and I work on our sleeping bags and air mattresses.  Once the tent is cleaned out we tear the tent down, pack the remaining things into our panniers and change into our riding clothes.  The morning reveals our respective moods, ranging from grumpiness to sassiness and smiles and sarcasm.  Mood is strongly affected by quality of sleep, difficulty of riding, and how tasty our oatmeal was relative to the 136 other times we have had it on Bound South.

Breakfast of Champions

Our new frying pan adds some variety to morning meals

The first few hours of riding go by quickly.  Our legs are fresh, leaving our minds wander as we dance with the white line. Snacks are consumed hourly to offset calories we burn riding at such awe-inspiring speeds.  Shopping for snacks has been simplified by the use of a convenient formula: Cost per Calorie per Gram per Unit of Volume.  Typically the tried and true Bound South snacks are Oreos, Poptarts, vanilla wafers and assorted Candy Bars.  Obviously the healthiness of the food isn’t a big factor since we are merely looking for quick energy.

Perfect lunch combo

A European lunch break helps to break up the day of riding and decompress, when we have the time for it. Since we’ve hit Mexico our lunch break has changed in a few ways. A place to sit in the shade has always been an integral factor, but Coca-Cola has become the focal point of our noon hour.  Oxxo and Pemex (convenience stores and gas stations, respectively) have become our oases in Mexico.  With a 2-3L bottle of Coke and a spot to sit indoors we are satisfied and ready for grub. We’ve converted to tortillas from bread, using them for both lunch and supper.  Peanut butter is becoming more expensive and harder to find, but still worth it in every regard.  Peanut butter-honey-granola tacos are keeping us fueled for lunch, if we aren’t taking advantage of cheap street food.  Meals have been supplemented with fruits and vegetables that are becoming incredibly cheap as we continue south.  After an hour of eating we overcome our lethargy from the food and sore muscles and resume our voyage, newly christened with Coke.

Following lunch, our schedule returns to snack breaks, map checks, and glances at the sun to keep us heading south.  With thirty minutes till sunset we begin to keep an eye out for a campsite.  Camping in the desert was simpler when we had the choice of pulling of the road anywhere to camp. Lately the land next to the highway has been fenced off, forcing us to be more creative.  Often times we find a secluded spot on a quiet side road, or we meet someone with a good suggestion or a nice lawn.  We have found people to be very kind, happy to offer their yard and occasionally well-received food. Warning: Don’t camp next to or near a chicken coop.

A tree belt between corn fields provided a stealthy spot for the night

Once we find a flat spot and put the tent up, we gather cooking supplies from our packs to prepare for supper.  Since groceries have been so cheap we’ve been eating like kings.  Our meals are comprised of peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, beans, rice and some type of canned meat.  Teamwork comes into play to get everything sliced, portioned out, and into the pot to cook.  Two of us work on the ingredients while the other continually stirring to keep the bottom from burning.  Gasoline burns significantly hotter than premium camp fuel, but it is cheap and easier to find.  When the rice softens up we serve out the mixture of ingredients.  After frenzy of flailing silverware and tortillas, something resembling the calm after a storm occurs.  With five months of experience eating supper in this fashion, I apologize to anyone that has bought us supper and didn’t have a typical dinner conversation till our plates were clean.

Our host's sons assisted us with tent duties

They were fascinated at the construction and happy to help

Sleep prep begins with inflating our air mattresses, brushing our teeth, and gathering any extra clothes we might need for a cold night.  The tent turns into a mosh pit as we all pile in and start to massage and stretch muscles, exercise, and read.  At some point things settle down.  Once our sleepiness causes the nooks to fall from our hands and hit us in the face it is usually time to call it quits for the night.  We all have a tendency to talk in our sleep, occasionally waking ourselves telling poorly received jokes or delivering impassioned speeches to cruise ships in our dreams.  This dialogue might be our best security for thieves in the night.  Ten hours of sleep is a good number for us until we wake the next morning and start another day all over again.

Our host provided artificial and natural light for our evening responsibilities. His sons huddled around the campfire as we prepared dinner and a sharpened branch (used as a stake), electrical cord, and lightbulb made this light pole possible.

Leaving a campsite feels like leaving an apartment, looking back you pause to see the barren potential of the space.  What is left behind is a haven that gave us a place to be out of sight (tenting under a bridge), exposed us to extreme unexpected weather (desert windstorms in the night), or introduced a new career possibility (bicycle goat herding).  Looking ahead to the next evening there is an exciting sense of uncertainty, something like a crab must feel scurrying to a better conch under the open sky–except we worry about trucks rather than gulls.  There’s a give and take with each new home. We take the time to convert a rocky patch in the desert or a family’s courtyard into a temporary home.  Upon departure we take a piece of it with us; a lesson learned on tenting 101 or fond memories from teaching a new game to nearby children.

Isaiah and Angus made a great goat-herding team

Children love to join in the frisbee fun

Mailbag Monday #6

Today_we_continue our Mailbag Monday series…

Dear Nathan,

How are you?  I am good.  I have a walking brace on.  I had an infection.  Will you send back?  I hope so!  I love dogs!  What is your favorite animal?  I like all animals.  Are you having fun?  I hope you are!  Do you ride 100 miles a day?  Well, I can walk 1/2 mile already.  That is to my mailbox and back!  Well, have a safe trip!

Your friend,

Elle

Mountains on the mainland

Dear Elle,

I’m doing pretty well, just had a hard day biking mostly up hill yesterday and my legs are a little stiff. My brother had to wear a walking brace for a while after he hurt his back in a soccer injury.  Glad to hear that you don’t mind having a brace on for the time being. We have two dogs back home that I miss from time to time, and I don’t dare strapping a dog to my bike rack to replace them.

I’m having an amazing journey so far, but I wouldn’t mind some cooler weather. Some of the long mountain climbs in the Mexican heat can get to you. The other day we had a climb that went on for thirty or forty minutes in the sun. We haven’t done a hundred mile day since we were in the states. We tend to average around 75 miles a day, the effort varies with the terrain. That’s a long walk to the mailbox! I bet you bring your dog on those adventures. Thanks for the letter!

Your friend,

Nathan

Mailbag Monday #3

Today_we_continue our Mailbag Monday series…

Dear Nathan,

Hey do you know how many miles long your trip is all together?  Do you want to know one of my favorite things is biking.  My favorite color is red.  What is your favorite color?  I live in a yellow house.

Your friend,

Gage

Hello Gage,

I hope all is warm and well back in North Dakota. My brothers and I are over halfway down the Baja, and the temperatures seem to hover between sixty and eighty degrees. In each town we pass through the people seem be wearing double or triple the amount of clothing that we are, especially when wearing our tank tops.

I don’t think I could give you the exact mile, foot, and inch where we are setting down the bikes and running into the ocean holding hands. Hitting the seventeen thousand mile mark is probably a reasonable goal. Even though I didn’t cover the same amount of distance as a kid biking around the farm was a blast. Ramps were erected from blocks of wood to spare tractor parts. Once upon a time there were thoughts of riding down a slide in the backyard, luckily we decided to bike on safer terrain later in life. My family went on annual camping trips, bringing a fleet of bicycles for bike path and trail use. These vacations were times of rest away from the hustle and bustle of the farm. My favorite color when I was a kid was blue, and I’ve decided that it is currently closer to a teal color.  I hope you can sleep soundly with your house being any other color than your favorite.

Thank you for taking the time to write me and tell me about yourself! I hope you enjoy the rest of school and have an amazing Christmas break. We are planning on hanging ornaments on some form of vegetation and having a little party of our own. It will most likely be in the Mexican desert, so we’ll make the most of it.

Nice to hear from you!

Your friend,

Nathan