The short answer is – I hope a little; the long answer is – I hope to live to tell about it. The answer I give my mother is that it is very safe and she has nothing to worry about.
I am forever being asked about the dangers and or fears of cycling through Mexico or Columbia. I ask them where did they ever hear of such dangers and their response is always – the media. No one has ever been able to come to me with a personal experience; but everyone has a media story about Mexico or Columbia. My researches based on accounts from people that have actually travelled these particular countries are nothing but positive – beautiful country and the friendliest people they have ever met.
Danger, what is it? Perhaps an opportunity to reorient our priorities or a chance to appreciate what we have? I guess I see what is on the other side of danger – life. It’s biblical - Mathew 16:25 Those who try to save their life loose it; and those who give up their life gain it. Whether one looks at this verse literal or spiritual I believe it to be one of the truest things about man. So many people today seek out the safest choices and decisions about their life that most have killed their soul with boredom. I see so many bored people out there. When was the last time you had a really interesting conversation with a person about decisions, directions or dreams that they were actively, aggressively working towards daily? I am not talking about vacations or dreams (that you know will never be accomplished); I am talking about fulfilling ones destiny, dream or lifestyle reorientation.
I don’t necessarily think danger is a requirement for fulfilling ones destiny or dream; but a very close word would be risk. When was the last time you took real risk? And I am not talking about going over on your credit card limit for a new sofa. With risk comes the chance of failure then comes shame. Oh shame, what we wouldn’t do to avoid that word.
Are there fears about this bike ride? Yeah, I guess I would have to admit there are; fear of failure, illness, getting mugged, hit by a drunk driver or killed to be never found or heard from again. I guess failure would have to be the big one. But just on the other side of failure; the risk and danger to make sure failure is not an option is life. And life is a stronger force than failure.
Back in 2004 I did a road trip all the way to Prudhoe Bay at the Alaskan Arctic Ocean in a PT Cruiser. To make a long story short I decided to leave the Dempster Highway (our Canadian Highway to the Arctic) for a later date. Years later I created a bucket list that included the Dempster Highway by mountain bike. Years later in 2010 when in Calgary I found myself purchasing a bicycle and heading north. I never did make it all the way that far north but somewhere in the Yukon or maybe it was in Northern BC mid-way through one of the most amazing experiences of my life I realized the ultimate biking dream and challenge; to cycle the Canadian Arctic (Dempster Highway) to the bottom of Argentina.
Two months later upon completing that bike ride; in Vancouver I had purchased a map of every country in North, Central and South America. Taking each country map individually I tacked them to a wall and Goggled the 10 best destinations to visit in each country. I also came across a new style of travel books that Lonely Planet had started to release. Some amazing and eye catching titles such as A Year of Adventure, 1000 Ultimate Sights, A Year of Wildlife Watching to name a few.
Every destination of note I pin pointed on each map and did my best to connect the dots. Before I knew it I had almost 50,000 km’s routed between the Arctic and Argentina.
Many people who have similar goals of cycling the Americas seem to start in Alaska and follow the west coast all the way south along the Americas; commonly known as the Pan-American Highway. This direct route south usually runs around about 27,000km’s. This route definitely simplifies your routing but in my opinion has you miss some truly amazing destinations such as the Grand Canyon or what about reaching Colombia and not travelling east towards the mouth of the mighty Amazon River? How does one reach South America and not visit the Amazon and what about some the rarely visited countries along that route such as Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname or French Guyana?
I should also take a moment to address the suggestion of throwing out the tour book and just winging it and letting the road take you to wherever it takes you. While it can be hard to argue about the wisdom of these words, I point out how easy it ends up being to miss some of the greatest wonders of the world. My personal experience comes from Vancouver Island; that road trip in 2004 took me to an amazing park called Cathedral Grove. Little did I realize only a few short hours down the road was some of Canada’s last remaining temperate rainforest. I discovered these rainforests during my 2010 bike ride and while it was an amazing discovery I would not have felt bad about first visiting these rainforests back in 2004 either.
I suppose I could write something under each point; but is that really necessary?
#1 Did you risk? Or play it safe?
#2 Did you love? Did you love well?
#3 Did you make a difference? Or not?
#4 Did you complain? Or solve?
#5 Did you find God? Or were you too busy?
#6 How many near death experiences have you had?
#7 Did you create? Or consume?
#8 How many times did you leave your comfort zone?
#9 Did you follow your dreams?
#10 Did you live a great story? Or a small story?
#11 Did you make a difference? Or not?
#12 Did you consume? Or give back?
#13 Did you get in the game? Or were you a spectator?
#14 Did you have an amazing adventure? Or an excuse?
#15 Are you exhausted thanks to a full life?