Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why Bike?

Initial Reactions

Whenever you tell someone you're planning a bike trip for 6 months, the initial response is usually pretty entertaining. Sometimes you see eyes light up by inspired people who think it's "so cool" that we're taking steps toward an adventure. Others seem to laugh and say "good luck" or "sure you are." A few simply look like they must have misheard the words coming out of your mouth because the last phrase was one of the least relatable statements imaginable.

I think my absolute favorite came from a kid I was working with for a class at Luther. After telling him my plans, he paused for a moment and said "Well, that's the stupidest idea I've ever heard! Why would you want to do something like that?" It makes me wonder how many people actually feel this way but are too polite to put us in our place.

I've always wanted to share this bike trip with anyone who finds it even remotely interesting. Biking through Central and South America is something I find fascinating, if not life changing, and it's both inspiring and strange to have people interested in my future plans. While having such outstanding support by friends and family makes everything feel more personal and real, the funny thing about promoting a trip like this is you spend a lot of time answering questions. The same questions.

Common Questions

Luckily I didn't have the same reservations as Jonathan. I remember he originally wanted to plan the trip on our own, make a quick Facebook post on our way out saying we'd be gone a while, and those that happened to see it would be able to follow the trip. While I'm still sure his way is a terrible one, occasionally the serenity of secrecy sounds alright.

To clarify a few things before we go any further, I thought it might be helpful to share answers to some of our more common questions:

Yes, our parents know we are going.

No, we don't know how far we'll bike every day since no two miles are the same. Instead we'll shoot for a standard number of hours per day and see how far we get.

No, we don't really speak Spanish besides what I like to call "survivor Spanish" to get our essentials. High school is going to come in handy here.

Yes, we are aware there are dangers in Central and South America.

That last one is one of me favorites. Safety is brought up in nearly every conversation I've ever had. Don't get me wrong. I am very thankful everyone is concerned about our well-being. So are we!

To put you all at rest a bit, we are doing research by keeping tabs on the news, talking to people and reading blogs of those who have done similar trips, and are planning on using our travel experience to minimize risks whenever possible. We'll still gladly take suggestions or new information, but know that we have no intentions to go into this completely blind.

Why it's Worth the Risk

Knowingly putting ourselves in a situation that is potentially dangerous means we must have some sort of justification. Something to outweigh the risk that is more rewarding than an alternative.

Last spring, I had a guest speaker for my entrepreneurship class named Kevin Langley who travels the world trying to help entrepreneurs start businesses and stimulate economies. One of the most significant takeaways I had from the lecture was the importance of values. Not only should you have a great idea or solve a significant problem, but you should be very defined on why the project is important to you.

I decided to give it a try and made Jonathan and Kai join me. At one of our planning dinners, I handed them a sheet with a long list of values and forced them to select their top 5 for the trip. After making it clear to Kai that it is indeed cheating to hyphenate two separate values and call it one, we each shared our top "bike trip values" and verbally explained why we chose the word, since everyone has a different interpretation. Here were my five:


There's something inside me searching for the excitement of travel. It's an indescribable feeling to test your limits and gain a worldview unseen by many.


I want to know what lies in the unknown. There is so much of the world to see, and too often people don't find out what it has to offer.


Not only do I feel strongly about lifelong learning in general, but this trip provides an opportunity to understand a variety of people, cultures, and places.


Riding a bike everyday is about as simple as it gets. All my life I've been keeping busy, heading from one class to the next and doing my best to follow deadlines. It sounds pretty nice to take a bit of a break and bring everything back to basics. A reset.


One of my largest goals for the rest of my life is to find a quality balance in all that I do. I hope this trip will be the start of an understanding between work and play, as well as adventure and stability.

Although we all had different words and explanations, after discussing our trip values together, we came up with the following statement. I hope it better explains why the three of us are willing to embrace whatever awaits.

"This trip embodies the culmination of our beliefs. It is an opportunity to discover and humanize the unknown, connect with and bridge communities across borders, learn about other cultures and places, and act upon a dream while remaining rooted and caring in community."


1 comment:

  1. Great work. This might be a blog you have to return to time and again when you forget why the heck you are out there. Stick with the values and know they can be lived out in a variety of ways. Go team!