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Posts tagged ‘Whitehorse’

Why We Ride

We were given a very special gift before we left for Alaska: Nooks.  We have at our fingertips a small and simple gateway into the endless world of literature and ideas.  It fits into pockets that books simply cannot.  I do miss the pleasantries of an archaic, physical page turn; yet I find myself hopelessly content with this device that eliminates all of the material distractions from reading.  Minimalist high technology has let me dive into Tolstoy, Bloom, and Sun Tzu.  I’m currently wading through Blank Slate by Steven Pinker, a real intellectual game changer in understanding neuroscience, psychology, human nature, and social science.  

Pinker writes about proximate and ultimate causes.  Why am I hungry right now?  The proximate cause is my active hypothalamus signaling hormones to me that I could demolish a tub of ice cream.  The ultimate cause is that the human body is evolved to seek out scarce food resources and enjoy eating them to survive.  My need for ice cream isn’t actually life threatening.  Yet the ultimate cause is still manifest in the proximate.  Proximate ice cream is a wonderful thing but it is not as profound as the ultimate system of which it is a part.

I think of every day on our bicycles like a big tub of ice cream.  Except you lose weight, increase your hunger, and regret eating so much ice cream every day.  The proximate cause can seem silly.  We are going to this campground or that town (why not something closer?).  Sometimes it is less silly, like when we must reach a certain water source or escape a very certain grizzly bear.  The proximate envelops the breathtaking peaks of Denali and the miserable windy days outside of Haines Junction.  Proximate causes have us climb dozens of mountains, capture hundreds of photos, eat thousands of calories, and move with great intention between lonely old places that we might never see again.

There is a greater ultimate cause that we are about.  It does not take away from the magnificence of the proximate.  It is the raison d’être.  We’re riding our bikes to build a home with Habitat for Humanity.  Every photo, story, person, and mile between here and Ushuaia is proximate joy.  To build a Habitat home in eastern North Dakota is an ultimate necessity.

This is our dream and our vision.  We will pedal across these proximate Americas and attempt to capture their stories and blessings.  That journey will come to an end in Argentina while the ultimate work will remain at home.  If we are successful in our fundraising, we will return home to North Dakota and volunteer to help build a Bound South house.  Our Pan-American bicycle expedition can build windows into the manifold wonders of the world and the walls of a single-family Habitat house.  Please help us make a difference.


Nature Sans Nurture

Whitehorse has embraced us with its warmth and graciousness.  We are “actively resting” which is not a misnomer when one is extremely tired and hungry, or when one is taken into a retirement home and fed delicious moose stew, rhubarb pie, and saskatoon berry desserts.  Nathan made the acquaintance of Father Jim, the priest of the Catholic church in downtown Whitehorse, and before we knew it we had been housed in a home for retired priests and fed like kings.

Lunch stop on top of a lonely old station wagon.

If only Mother Nature was so kind to us.  This present splendor dulls the pain from a week of difficult riding.  The road from Tok has been challenging.  Nathan has struggled with tendonitis in his knee which led to a hitchhike to Whitehorse to rest and recover.  We battled five straight days of 20mph headwinds.  Unrelenting, unforgiving, unbelievable headwinds.  Our “modest” pace of 65 miles per day was made grueling by the uncooperative attitude of Mother Nature.  The wind was so fierce that our bikes would roll to a stop on slight downhills if we ceased to pedal.  To give you an example of a day in the life of Bound South: the winds with steep mountain climbs near Haines Junction meant that we began to ride at 9:30AM, rode hard all day, completed 70 miles by 7:00PM, and finished just in time to devour 2,000 calories at a generous grocery store.

Bridge across Destruction Bay

Our last day of riding was a 100 mile trek from our campsite in Haines Junction to the city center of Whitehorse.  We were so mentally and physically exhausted that the crosswinds seemed like a gift from above.  To be taken in by the community here was a gift from above and this rest is much needed.

EKG of a living day in the Yukon

Ten miles outside of Whitehorse, fierce and cold headwinds appeared.  Once more we found ourselves yelling and laughing out of exasperation and exhaustion-induced euphoria.  I said, “Don’t forget, David, there are thousands of people out there that envy us right now.”  There are certain times when you lose sight of the important things; like when you’re hauling a heavy bike up a steep mountain into a headwind with grizzly bears around.  

The diet of Bound South: bagels, peanut butter, and honey.

We’re riding bicycles from Alaska to Argentina, building a house for Habitat for Humanity, and capturing the essence of this spectacular adventure as we go.  This is not easy, but it is a privilege and a dream and like any difficult and wonderful thing it is worth doing.