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Posts tagged ‘why we ride’


We_know_why we ride.  You know how you help.  Yet it wasn’t until a few days ago that we truly understood why we share.  More specifically, I didn’t fully grasp the value in parking our bicycles in an unfamiliar city and stumbling through countless streets and Spanish conversations in search of an elusive internet connection, known in these parts as WiFi (pronounced wee-fee).  To be certain, we love the opportunity to sit in the comforts of a café or restaurant and connect with the world.  Yet from the very beginning of this journey I had a tinge of uncertainty about Bound South as it exists on the web, sharing all of the minutiae of a Pan-American bicycle expedition.

WiFi with a view in Taxco

This uncertainty was a part of my broader discomfort with social media and internet culture as it currently stands.  We live in a world that is increasingly about copying rather than innovating, and  sharing rather than doing.  I was afraid of how the act of posting our photography, writing, and experiences would color how we lived each and every day of this journey.  Would we act differently, write differently, or change the nature of our journey for our audience?  Would our connectivity isolate us from the people and places we encounter?  As I sit in a café and write this post, I see countless people streaming past the window in front of me, each offering their own story or portrait of the world they inhabit.  How much richness will I miss between Alaska and Argentina while fumbling through my memories and sensations?  The thoughts and conversations of one day spent riding with my brothers through these strange lands are enough to bury my feeble attempts to log them.  I gave up journaling before I even started (David’s religious consistency with nightly journaling continues to amaze me).

Climbing through a valley in the western highlands of Mexico

I gave Bound South a chance.  I reasoned that the social pressure to assure family of our survival and to share our experiences with the world would ensure a rigorous schedule of reflection.  I was willing to bear the costs to our “authenticity” whatever they may be.  Five months later, I know we made the right decision.  Our connections with the outside world are limited to a couple of times every week when we stumble upon an internet café.  This is simply not enough time to distract us from our experience (or to assure our family of our daily safety).  Our time spent writing in comfort has been a necessary respite from long mountain climbs, navigational uncertainty, exhaustion, and the nitty gritty of our adventure.  Our website is also our vehicle for collecting donations and advancing our cause.  A few days ago, WordPress decided to feature us as among the best of the 700,000+ posts that are shared on the web every single day.  Comments and traffic and messages have poured in, and we are overwhelmed with a sense of humility and gratitude.

In the end this isn’t about us.  This is about our journey and our cause.  Yet Bound South will always be bound up in who we are as brothers; David in his youthful boldness, Nathan in his calm mentorship, and myself in my sharp wit and incredible good looks.  What we are doing is compelling, dangerous, and uncommon.  We can’t deliver you stylized and idealized travel guides, or depictions of heavenly Latin American cuisine.  We can only promise you our world, a world that is raw, mortal, and perilous; but it is shot through with love, courage, and the laughter that only brothers can enjoy on a long road to Argentina.

Thank you for sharing that world with us.  We take so much joy in this journey and the privilege of sharing it with you.  Your donations, messages, and comments sustain us whenever we have the chance to see them.

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.