August 18 marked two whole years of life on the road for us. I can honestly say I didn’t expect it to go by so fast. In fact, one particular memory comes to mind as I reflect on how quickly the past two years have gone by. It was only the sixth night of our trip, a short time really since we left the comforts of home, family and familiarity. We had just finished our “baby wipe bath” in the tent, camped out in a small town park in north-central New York. I sat there in my sleeping bag, exhausted from the day of riding, and knowing I most likely wouldn’t sleep that well as I hadn’t adapted yet to camping every night. And suddenly, it occurred to me that two years might be a very long time. I was overwhelmed by the thought of it… more than TWO YEARS of living this way? Had we lost our minds?
Fortunately, I managed to balance that emotion with some logical reasoning, which reminded me I was still adjusting to our new lifestyle and things would inevitably get easier as we went. And I was right. It’s kind of amazing, really, to think about how natural this nomadic lifestyle has become.
Though there may be days that seem slow as we pedal into winds or over mountains or past boring terrain, here at the two-year mark, we feel the reality of the fleeting nature of time. And because of that, we’re even more grateful we’ve done what we have.
So in honor of this anniversary of our departure, we wanted to celebrate some significant “twos” of our journey.
2 Surly Long-Haul Truckers: These trusty bicycles have carried our food, water, clothes, tent, camping gear–our very LIVES–for these two years! What would we do without them? At this point, the labels have worn off, some of the paint has chipped, and we’ve replaced lots of inner tubes and brake pads… but altogether, the bikes have held up great.
20,000 miles: We rolled over 20,000 miles about a week and a half ago. We didn’t even take a picture, since ironically enough, we celebrate “milestones” every 5,000 kilometers. But you can know this… the 20,000 miles is representative of a LOT of time pedaling!
2 years (plus a little): The amount of time we were married before we left on “the tour.” As we’ve hit our two-year mark on the trip, we realize that we have now been on the bikes for about HALF of our married life. (And… we still really love each other! Perhaps that is the most significant part!)
22 hosts: The number of amazingly awesome hosts we’ve met this past year through the network warmshowers.org. We had barely heard of warmshowers when we left two years ago, but it has become one of our favorite parts of the trip. Through warmshowers, we can often find a free place to stay inside or to camp, as well as wonderful local advice and great company.
2 friends who toured with us: We’ve had two friends actually come and ride alongside us in this journey. Before we left, we campaigned to have people use us for an “excuse” to take a vacation and come cycling in some exotic location. While many family members have met us to travel for a week or two, we’ve had very few people actually take us up on the cycle touring aspect. But props to Siska Kockelbergh and Brett Warta! Siska is a cycling friend we met on a hiking trail in South America. She is Belgian, so when we showed up in her part of the world, she took off for a couple of days and met us to ride. When we were in Belgium, our local friend Siska (whom we had met in South America) met us and rode for a few days through Flanders’ fields. Once we made it back to the US, Dave’s friend Brett from grad school met us in Portland and made a trip up the Columbia River Gorge and around Mount Hood with us. We’re grateful for these two who were able to actually share in the experience of cycling with us!
Some other more random statistics from year two (not the trip as a whole):
Distance Ridden: 16,184 kilometers/9,710 miles
Longest Day in distance: 162 kilometers/100 miles (coastal Vietnam)
Longest amount of time on the bikes in one day: 8 hours, 31 minutes of riding from Fry Canyon to Monticello, Utah–121 kilometers/72 miles (about 80 percent of which was climbing)
Number of countries visited: 24 (14 in Europe, 8 in Asia, Canada and the USA)
Highest Altitude Reached: 11,312 feet/3,448 meters at Monarch Pass, crossing the Continental Divide in Colorado
Best Riding Conditions: Croatia in late fall. We rode a coastal road that boasted some of the best scenery of our whole trip, the weather was neither too hot nor too cold, and there was virtually no traffic because we were in the “off” season.
Best people: Turkey and Malaysia–we experienced so much hospitality in both these countries!
Here’s a graph to give you an idea of “where we slept” for the past year:
Some side notes about this graph:
Please remember the term “hotel” is used quite liberally. This is any time we paid for a place to sleep indoors. In Asia, these rooms might cost as little as $5 or as much as $20, and could range in quality from a decent place with Western standards to a bed we wouldn’t even touch and a large tub of water with a scoop bucket for showers and flushing the squat toilet.
Vacation indicates time we left our bikes and went on a side trip with separate accommodations.
Transition is any time we slept on a train, bus, plane or ferry… or in the train station, airport, or ferry port! We have learned to sleep in almost any situation!
Workaway is a web site where you can organize working for someone in exchange for food and accommodation. We spent a couple of weeks “working away” in Olympia, Washington, on an organic farm. Click here for the more detailed version.
We are spending one week in Denver with two of Dave’s brothers before making the final push home. We are so close now–fewer than 1,500 miles! In the next week, we plan to announce an official homecoming date and celebration plans, so please keep checking back in for details.