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Posts from the ‘North Dakota’ Category

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.

Fruition

Missing_the_open_roads between Alaska and Argentina is easy at this point.  Since returning home we’ve been working on our family farm in North Dakota, praying for rain and driving tractors as we fly through the growing season.  The steady rhythm of farming, the planting and growth that leads so inevitably to harvest, is a life apart from the wild unpredictability of a day by bicycle.  One is rooted, the other nomadic.  For a summer, at least after so many months on the road, rooted is a good thing.

The central idea of Bound South was that we could not only seek stories, self-transformation, adventure, and brotherhood, but also contribute to a good cause.  That idea is coming to fruition this August as we begin building a house we have co-sponsored with Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity.  That all of those many miles and faces of the Americas would lead to a physical home for a family in need is truly humbling and inspiring.  We are so proud and thankful for the good that will be done through the generosity of so many family and friends.

Within the next couple of months, this chapter of our lives will truly come to a close.  David will travel to New Hampshire for college, Nathan will leave the farm to begin his own career, and I will begin training at the United States Marine Corps Officer’s Candidate School in Virginia.  The three of us will probably never experience this kind of an opportunity again, with all of us together, in the same place, chasing the same dream.  It was a beautiful thing to share as brothers, and it will be equally beautiful to recall and recount in the years to come.  We’re going to make for some mighty fun uncles someday.

For now we content ourselves with super fast rides on our skinny-tired road bicycles, reminiscing about all of the crazy stories from our journey, and continuing our work with Habitat and our forthcoming e-book.  Thank you for following us, and in doing so, becoming part of this story that is Bound South.  It is a blessing to see these dreams come to fruition.

Dad and Isaiah showing off some teamwork while on vacation. They made the shot.

Walleye fishing on the Lake of the Woods in northeastern Minnesota and southwestern Ontario.

The day’s catch.

Family photo

Waves of grain

Canola in bloom

Lightweight steel and carbon bikes, check. Honda Big Red to get us to pavement, check. Game faces, check. – We really like our road bikes.

July project: new shingles

Job done.

Ripened waves of grain.

The harvest crew.

Event 1 of the Berg Family Farm Olympics: the 800 meter combine dash.

 

Barley, barley chaff, and more barley chaff (this stuff isn’t fun).

Nathan and his workhorse

Dad and Jamie (a friend from Fargo who is working with us) were a part of the trucking crew. 

Mom’s flowerbed

Familiar roads.

 

 

Familiar Roads

Hard to believe we’re home.  After nine months and 15,000 miles between Alaska and Argentina, the three of us have reunited with family and friends in North Dakota.  Daily showers, home-cooked food, fast cars, and comfy clothes are just a few of the wonders of life that we are growing re-accustomed to.  Meanwhile, the inevitable question lingers over us: “What’s next?”  We have been sharing our story with local media and we are so thankful for the outpouring of support that we have received since stepping off the airplane from Buenos Aires.  To be honest, we’re all a little worn out and looking for a few days of time off with family.  Our sister’s graduation day was a special time for us to be home.

In time, we’ll announce our plans to tour the state of North Dakota and Minnesota by bicycle.  We have many speeches and presentations about our 15,000 mile journey to deliver this summer.  David will look forward to college this fall.  Nathan is hopeful for employment in music teaching.  I am preparing for Marine Corps Officer Candidate School.  Somehow all this bicycling doesn’t help with pull-ups.

After months of life by bicycle, perhaps the hardest thing about coming home is the speed of an airplane.  We saw landscapes drift by at the steady, measured pace of our Surly Trolls.  We crossed international borders and mountain ranges and deserts in a manner that allowed us to acclimate to the steady changes and regional differences of the Americas.  Our airplane brought us across the same distance in one redeye flight from Buenos Aires to Atlanta, and beyond to North Dakota.  Stepping off the plane in Fargo, ND, we couldn’t help but feel like we’d been hastily transported to a foreign country.  We noticed especially the new cars filling the streets and the enormous homes that were so unremarkable to us before traveling abroad.  There is much we’ll never take for granted again, now that we are finished.  We’ve been changed in profound ways by what we have experienced, and we look forward to sharing that with local communities in the months ahead.

Bicycles being packed; the process took us all day in Ushuaia.

New and old friends in Buenos Aires.

Our sister’s pickup came in handy to get Angus, Sam, and Goliath home safely.

Family photo; at this point we still hadn’t showered or changed in days.

The Berg family farm has produced some unbearably cute kittens since we left.

Marta is all grown up now.

Since leaving, our parents have erected what I call “the Marta shrine”.

After graduation day, tragically, Marta’s face is permanently frozen in this posture.

We really, really missed being home.

Kids love the old trampoline in the backyard.

The famous “toppling cake”; a group of men were so busy loading up on pulled pork they didn’t even notice when it fell over.

Vegetables!  Real, fresh, delicious vegetables!

Note the stares of incredulity; this was pulled-pork-sandwich-#5.

Fruit!  Real, fresh, delicious fruit salad!

Did we mention how much we like food?  These are called oreo balls.

We love you Mom.

Flower for Marta.

The Berg family does its part to sustain the greeting card industry.

Rain and cars make for a muddy, messy farmyard.

Bound North

It’s been years since we first dreamed of this journey.  It has been a matter of days since our bicycles were built at Paramount Sports, our expedition gear was provided by Scheels All Sports, and our lives were fit into five small bags.

The thing you miss the most in leaving is love.  Our family and community has showered us with a powerful kind of love that is hard to leave and impossible to forget.  That is why we’ll come home as soon as our work is done.

We’re on the road to Alaska now.  Forty hours later, we will sell our car and take our Surly Trolls on the road.  Until then, we’re bound north for Anchorage.

 

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”.

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.