“There are dreamers and there are doers, but what the world needs are dreamers that do.”
At twenty-five years old, Mike and Emily were living a sort of perfect life: they were happily married, held jobs that they loved (which gave them ample time off) in one of the most amazing ski/rock climbing towns in North America, and traveled and explored different countries and national parks for vacation. They had careers, a house, and a stable happy life, yet they were willing to leave it all behind because they just weren’t ready to be completely settled, at least not yet. Many of the cycle tourists we meet have similar stories, a job they hated and a life which was stagnant and not what they dreamed of, and so they set out on an adventure to shake things up a bit. Along with Kevin and I, Mike and Emily are in the group of young cycle tourists who aren’t running away from anything, but rather are running straight into adventure as we all have this inexplainable pull towards travel, the mountains, and living in the great outdoors.
Mike and Emily left in September on two weeks notice when Emily received a job offer to teach at an international school in Ecuador, a job she had applied to two years earlier. They rented out their house, gave their jobs two weeks notice, and packed up what they could to live on Quito for four months as they both worked at schools. As the job wasn’t exactly quenching their thirst for adventure, they left in December as they began to cycle up to Colombia before flying out to Ushuaia just a few days after us. As they left on such short notice they were unable to acquire all of the cycling gear they had wanted, but yet with broken racks and skinny road tires they are willing to push upwards in order to fulfill their dream of exploring Patagonia. They plan to cycle until May at which point they hope to spend the summer working outdoors in a seasonal job before buying a truck or small camper in order to spend the following months exploring the States and all of the wonderful climbing, trekking, and national parks it has to offer.
Why did you guys decide to do this portion of your trip by bike?
Because we really wanted a way to travel independently, as well as on a budget. We also thought it would be a great way to get off the touristic track and see regions we wouldn’t otherwise get to see.
What’s the hardest part about cycle touring?
At first the hardest part for us was realizing that cycle touring is not about the destination, but rather about the journey and the experiences in between point a and point b. We thought that cycle touring would simply be a way of transportation rather than a whole way of life, and at the beginning, we were too concerned with getting to the next town only to be disappointed once we arrived since we don’t enjoy exploring cities. We also didn’t plan to be doing so many rough roads as we assumed we would mostly be going quickly between each town on pavement, so we are now frustrated with our skinny tires and bad racks as we have come to realize that cycle touring is really all about the small back roads and the camping therein.
What do you like most about this lifestyle?
We love the simplicity about it and the fact that we get to be outdoors all of the time. It’s also a great feeling to exercise all day, especially in beautiful places, and we love that it has allowed us to visit regions we never would have gotten to see otherwise.
What lessons will you take back home with you from this trip?
We knew when we left that we had a wonderful life, but after being away from it all, we will appreciate everything we have and where we come from even more. We also are learning how to slow down and appreciate the little things in life (like a hot shower), and are learning to focus on the journey rather than the destination, both while cycle touring and in life.
What would you suggest to people who are interested in bike touring?
There is no right or wrong way to do it, so just go out and start. There are so many different types of people with different ways of cycling, so you will see what works for you once you begin. If you want to make your life a little easier, we would highly suggest that you invest in good gear (tires, panniers, racks) as it’s frustrating always having breakdowns or always having to worry about your bike making it.
Mike and Emily grew up with Kevin in a small town of 4,000 people on the Oregon coast, and we are so happy that we got to share these last few weeks on the road with them. They are both awesome adventurists, a wonderful couple, and great friends with whom we hope to share many more trips throughout the coming years.