Is my bike ride in jeopardy?
In a single word – yes. And my mind is so full of chaos that I need to unload everything about my current situation on paper/computer and the trick will be whether or not I am able to articulate and explain myself clearly and properly.
My original dream and goal
To bike 50,000 km’s across Canada and then from the Canadian Arctic zig zag my way through a total of 23 more countries to the bottom of Argentina over 3 years.
What actually has happened to date
I ended up starting this bike ride on November 12, 2019 forcing me to bike through a Canadian winter. This would become one of the greatest experiences of my life. Through the generosity of Atlantic Canada, a story began to unfold that in my greatest imagination could never have been realized.
I would ultimately end up pedalling 4,900 km’s by the first day of spring. This would also be the eve of the Covid-19 world pandemic. I would be stuck for 60 days in Kingston Ontario from March 19 to May 19. Getting back on the road May 19 I would continue my journey west ultimately pedalling 12,340 km’s across Canada arriving in Victoria on October 17, 2020. Ultimately taking 11 months to cross Canada. Most people bike across Canada in a summer. It took me 11 months. But I would also argue that I biked one of the greatest bike rides that ever crossed Canada and I would not change my experiences or decisions for anything.
Covid also caused my first route adjustment. The Canadian Arctic was closed and to this day is still closed because of Covid. The second adjustment, but very minor adjustment is that I had to spend just over $500 to fly myself and bike from Vancouver to Seattle because of border restrictions.
If Covid had disappeared like we all wanted I might have biked quickly straight down the Pacific Coast to Mexico. But Covid did not disappear and at the same time did not restrict my travel through the US. So, from Los Angles CA I went east to Death Valley and to Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas I made an unplanned and snap decision to stay in Las Vegas for 60 days (Feb & March).
There were 3 main reasons for this decision and I believe all 3 reasons proved themselves wise and correct. Reason #1 – Covid was still going strong and I wanted to give the virus more time to play it’s self out to not ruin my Mexican experience. Reason #2 I wanted to enjoy and spend time hiking in Utah. Utah would be very cold during February and March. My timing for entering Utah would be nothing short of perfect as a result of my time in Las Vegas. Reason #3 To give the US enough time to make the vaccine available to me to avoid travel restrictions as I moved south. Once again, my timing was perfect and I was able to get my second shot right before entering Mexico.
My biking through the US may not have necessarily been the most epic ride through the US but given that I was able to travel freely during a world pandemic and as far as I am able to confirm I was the only Canadian that bike toured in the US during the pandemic and travel restrictions. Once again, I would not change a thing or a decision. I would ultimately pedal almost 8,000 km’s in the US and cross into Mexico at Mexicali June 9, 2021. Therefore, spending over 7 months in the US. From a timeline perspective I am now at the halfway mark of my planned 3 year journey but am now only leaving the USA.
When I crossed into Mexicali the temperatures were 115F, probably the worst time to ever arrive at the Baja. It took almost a month to bike to La Paz. Almost every day I would almost die of the heat. This part would be the hardest section of my ride (including biking through a Canadian winter). But because I did survive this experience it would become a lifetime memory. My experiences so far through Mexico would ultimately be equal to the amazing and surreal experiences that I experienced biking across Canada. Biking the northern half of Mexico has resulted in enough lifetime memories that I could write a book just about Mexico.
At the time of writing this blog post I am over 550 days on the road plus 120 days off the road for Covid. In other words, close to 2 years of a 3 year journey and I am just barely into central Mexico. My ride is not even half completed, but I have probably realistically lived 100 lifetimes of amazing experiences all since November 12, 2019.
So, what has changed? What’s the problem?
The one main thing that has always risked interfering with my plans to reach Argentina is my home in Belize. I am Canadian but since 2002 I have owned a home in Belize and a few years back I also acquired 40 acres of land (jungle). Belize is not as cheap to live in as one might assume and this house has been a tremendous drain on my financial resources. And what has become a tipping point is that only a few days ago (Sept 6) I received an email from my property managers that my house now needs to be repainted inside and out after only 5 years at the approximate expense of $3,000 CAN. This email was a shock and has added considerably to the stress and anxiety my home brings me on a fairly regular basis. This anxiety and stress have also strained my relationship with my property managers to a point that I may not have property managers for much longer.
Every month that goes by on this bike ride I send $1,000 Canadian dollars down to Belize for property maintenance (plus $1,800 CAN a year for house insurance). Keeping in mind I have now been on the road already for 22 months. $1,000 x 22 months + $3,600 (2 years house insurance) = $25,600 since my bike ride started. Also remember I have been unemployed for almost 2 years with no source of income but still requiring money to live.
Some people may conclude that that sounds like a lot of money for property maintenance. For the purpose of this post, I am not going explain that expense. It is what it is. Added to this monthly expense I am now facing a reality that every 4-5 years my house needs to be repainted. The immediate response might be that I am somehow using a cheap quality paint. No, I am using the best quality paint that can be found in Belize. The reality is that unless one has lived and had a house in a jungle you can not appreciate the destructive forces of the jungle climate on a house. So please don’t waste your time with questions or comments that won’t be helpful.
In addressing the fact that I am only now learning that my house needs to be repainted after only 5 years. In 2014 I had to completely rebuild my house. (So, the house is fairly new). I rebuilt my house to solve the problem I was dealing with my house at that time and I ultimately created a headache 10 times worse and now have to live with that decision. Ultimately it was the worst financial decision in my life. I should have just left the old house to rot.
My home in Belize
What is my biggest worry?
I continue on with my ride and I run out of money before my ride is completed and I am forced to fly back to Canada and find a job. Keeping in mind I am an uneducated, unemployed (almost) 50 year old person who will have an empty bank account who’s first $1,000+ of every pay check has to be sent down to Belize. It would be possible that I may spend my entire life just paying for a home that I never get to visit or live in, not to mention the challenge that my property managers are considerably older than me. That’s even if there is any kind of relationship left at this point.
Other consideration given my biggest worry
For 6½ years leading up to my bike ride I was a long haul truck driver driving 1.2 million km’s over that time. That meant every night was in a new city or state for 6½ years. The last 2 years in a truck I actually lived in my truck without even an apartment. In a sense I have been homeless for about 8½ years!
Also, whenever my bike ride does end it will also represent the 10th time I am starting my life all over from basically scratch in my adult lifetime and I am only 48! While these considerations do not weigh too heavy on me. The thought of returning to Canada because I made a bad decision about my bike ride is very unsettling.
An attractive option
I conclude my bike ride in Belize, having just completed the most amazing bike ride a person could hope for. I haul my ass and take whatever money I have left and I make a life that works for me and I start my next adventure and legacy goal of planting 1 million trees for reforestation of jungle and rainforest in my lifetime. Not to mention the amazing adventure of living in a jungle.
If I conclude my ride in Belize without biking to the bottom of Argentina or until my finances run to $0 I feel like I have quit. I mean what if “something” happens between Belize and whenever I run out of my current finances that would cover my expenses? Or what if I am forced to quit in Nicaragua anyways because I have no one anymore to watch my home anymore?
Part of me feels that if I do not have a full proof plan to see a reasonable chance of success at arriving in Argentina than I am being foolish to continue with this ride. An extra 6,000 km’s or 6 months on the road does not make me or my bike ride anymore successful.
How much money do you think you need to continue your ride?
At the rate I am going I could be on the road 2 or 3 more years. $20,000 a year?
But what about GoFund Me or Sponsorship?
GoFund Me – That takes a lot of time and work and truthfully, I find hard to justify to myself to asking people to continue financing my adventure and bike ride. I have already won the lottery. I had the most amazing experiences that any person could hope for in 10 lifetimes and now I am asking for more? While most peoples lives where in complete chaos because of Covid I was having the time of my life. Also, if a person only donated $15 (which is an easy donation) I would need 1,300 people to donate each year!
Sponsorship – Have you ever looked a webpage of a company that offers sponsorship? They require about a weeks worth of filling out paperwork and at the bottom of their webpage it says – “We receive about 1,000 requests a day, so don’t expect a reply.” And if you are lucky, you receive a tent, not $20,000.
So what do you need to happen? Do you actually even want to continue this ride or are happy to quit?
First of all, I do want to continue with this ride. I would do just about anything to continue this ride. I sacrificed 9 long years for this ride. While the blessing that I have received during this bike ride are often overwhelming at times I do see the value that my bike ride brings to other people. It’s humbling and an honor.
So, what do I need? I guess I have a fantasy that some very wealthy person has been following my ride and has seen the value of my ride to my followers and sees the necessity of the ride continuing and solves all my problems with one cheque.
Another possibility is that if I found property mangers that actually lived in my house that traded labor for rent. This is a reasonable possibility but comes with a whole pile of risk and anxiety. Few people are capable and have the skills to live in the jungle. I have known my property managers since I was in grade 9 high school.
So now what?
I wrote this post and now I keep pedalling and letting the ride unfold that way it is meant to. The one fact that is very secure in my mind. Where I am geographically on this bike ride is exactly where I am supposed to be. And I would not have changed a single thing if it meant the difference of succeeding or failing to get to Argentina. (I guess that’s 2 facts). Also, keeping in mind at the speed that I am going through Mexico I am between 3-6 months away from Belize.
That being said. My ambitions will not let sit long in Belize (when I arrive). I either need to get busy pedalling to Argentina or busy making a life for me in Belize.
You can always complete the last half of your ride at a later date
Given the resources (money, time and labor) required to make my life work in Belize at my age I will assume and move forward as if the remainder of my bike ride is dead. I have learned in life never to say never but while most people would not consider 48 old, I am not 20 any more. My ambitions will not allow my other goal in life to sit idle. My other goal of planting by my hands or entrepreneurial endeavors of 1 million trees in my life time. As I biked 1 kilometer at a time I plan to plant or grow one tree at a time.
Many people may comment that I don’t need to explain myself or my decisions. But ultimately, I will get flooded with questions. Instead of spending an hour answering each question individually I can simply share this post. Also, if my financial savior is out there than that person now has a pretty good picture of my current situation.
I can’t thank my fans, followers, supporters and all the people that have given out of their limited resources enough. You have all been apart of a great story and the story is far from over.