My first year on the road – thoughts
Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting: Holy shit…what a ride! – Hunter S. Thompson
What a crazy story. A year has passed already since 13 August 2015 when in the early afternoon of a normal rainy day I left Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse on the Arctic Ocean to enter kilometre zero of the Dalton Highway, a spot considered to mark the beginning of the Panamerican Highway.
It’s easy to indulge fully in a technical stocktaking: the mileage (about 20,000Km) and all the other statistics such as the number of flats (three on the front wheel with the same tyre, several more on the back and I just fitted the third tyre), the number of countries crossed (ten plus one). The encounters where I came out pretty much unscathed with lethal animals including grizzly bears, black bears, bison, moose, scorpions, snakes, pumas, spiders and crocodiles.
Accidents with fellow humans from which I came out just as unharmed: an accident with a pickup in Vancouver, a bus in Costa Rica took me off-road, another bus in Colombia, three robbers in the desert of La Guajira.
Heat, cold, rain, wind, snow, frost.
But then there are the people. The multitude of people who have welcomed me into their houses, as a complete stranger. They gave me a place to sleep, let me rest for a few days, fed me, gave me money and helped in various ways to be able to continue the journey. To each and every one of them goes my most humble and sincere gratitude. Their support, the support of people who do not know me and who still want to help me to continue my adventure is amazing and moving at the same time.
There was the loneliness of the beginning months, the company of others bike tourers with whom I shared a few days, the two dear friends who joined me from Europe to accompany me during their holidays. All those who have taught me to travel and who have changed my perception of the world. Rob Liwall and Alastair Humphreys who inspired with their adventures on my trip (Alastair has also helped me with useful information and valuable encouragement).
Yes, my perception of the world has changed. The journey has changed. The way I travel has changed. I have changed. At first I had a destination to long for, now I have a lifestyle. Because it is impossible to bike for so long and not let it become a way of living. Getting to Ushuaia in Patagonia is not so important; more important are every day’s experiences, the adventures I create and the new experiences to which I expose myself, the skills that I learn. Getting to Ushuaia will not be the last leg of my journey on my adventure but it will be an intermediate stage.
When on the bike I always spend the day with the same commitment, squeezing as much as I can out of my body until the evening, until sunset and even a little longer sometimes. I like to suffer, a little like when I was training for cycling races at a younger age.
But then I’m open to the most diverse experiences to enrich my wanderings. I have met people who live their lives in full freedom to travel without restrictions, without mental and material constraints. Lifestyles of which the Stoics of the likes of Seneca and Marcus Aurelius would be proud of.
When I’m on the bike I feel a sense of freedom never experienced before, the journey has completely changed the way I see the world. A new world is presented every day in front of me but it’s not just physical places to discover, new cultures and peoples to interact with, but above all a new state of consciousness. Someone said that our mind is like a parachute – it only works when open. It is an explosive truth. This journey has equipped me with new filters to see the reality, it has changed my measure of what is possible while expanding my horizons. I cannot help but continue the journey beyond the barriers and rules that are normally imposed on us with a newfound curiosity, the curiosity of a child. So I want to continue regardless of the destination, continue my journey as a metaphor of detachment from the miseries that society demands of us and therefore create new forms of happiness.
I want to thank all the people I have met on this trip for teaching me how to live, for helping me; I want to thank those who know me and made me a donation so I can continue to live on the road, I want to thank my family and friends, old and new, for being always present and never making me feel alone.
Finally, I would like to thank the friends at 100%FOOD for feeding me for most of this trip. The friends at Bike Cafe who helped me with Isabella, my bike, and continue to follow my journey. And last but not least the friends at Skyroam who have allowed me to communicate with the world through wifi connection at the times when I needed it the most.