Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ward and Jacky

Getting Started

After we had all committed to the idea of a bike adventure, the three of us didn’t really know how to take a first step in planning. Luckily, our Decorah community came through for us and provided all we needed to get started. We received contact information for Ward and Jacky Budwegprevious owners of the Decorah Bike Shop, who just so happen to have biked from Ushuaia to Bogota and frequently bike around the world.

We quickly set up a meeting at T-Bocks, a local place known for its burgers, beer, and free peanuts and popcorn, hoping that Ward and Jacky could give us some advice for our trip. Trying to plan ahead, we came with a list of questions to learn about their experiences and specifics we may need to know like bike model suggestions, how many spare parts to bring, how many miles per day to travel, what sort of expenses to expect, etc. While we eventually covered our specific questions, we were surprised it was not the focus of our meeting.

Big Questions

Rather than what type of equipment we should use, Ward and Jacky made it clear those details are not really that important. While gear and an overall plan plays a factor, what really makes or breaks a trip are bigger questions and aspects that need to be agreed upon before departure. This included great pieces of advice, and most of which we hadn’t considered:

  • Are you alright splitting up? For how long?
  • If there’s a sickness or death back home, will you go back? Return to the trip?
  • If someone gets sick on the trip, do you stick together?
  • Instead of total expenses, focus on how much money are you willing to spend per day?

Other Advice

Aside from the big questions, the two also gave us plenty of tips for a successful trip:

  • You won’t find clothes that fit, carry essentials!
  • If you see food, buy it. You can’t bank on always entering a town.
  • If locals aren’t on the street, you shouldn’t be either.
  • Only carry a little money in a spare wallet with fake credit cards. If approached, show the cards and money, throw them, and run in the other direction.
  • Demand an entry paper from every country. They may not let you out without one!
  • Give each person a day to be the decision maker. That way, you get your preference at least 1 of every 3 days.

Final Thoughts

Talking with Ward and Jacky was a great way to gain tons of information, right away. We felt more educated and prepared to tackle our trip, and were able to discuss some of the larger questions we hadn’t previously considered. The best part for me, however, was just getting to know Ward and Jacky over a couple of beers. Their experiences and passion made them some of the most interesting people I’ve had the opportunity to talk to. I know they influenced our trip, so I also wanted to share a few quotes that I especially enjoyed from our evening, that seem to show what they’re about:

  • When asked if they ever got lost, Ward replied “No, I just saw stuff no one has ever seen before.”
  • “The gifts we were given from the world, we can never repay.”
  • “If someone asked three times to show hospitality, we always accepted. Sometimes it can be more of a gift to them than to you.”

I hope our trip is as meaningful for us as the travels have been for Ward and Jacky. They seem to have a lifestyle established that works great for them and a number of worldly experiences that are incredibly inspiring.


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