Was it really 19 months ago that I stood in my doorway and stared at that pile of boxes in my driveway? Eight boxes of varying sizes filled with everything we would need for the next two and a half years. Life had been reduced to simplest terms – three bikes, two trailers, and three bins of gear. That’s it.
When I think back to that day – June 8, 2008 – I remember my fears and concerns. I remember feeling like I was standing on the edge of an abyss about to throw myself over with no safety net below to catch me. I was ready to take off from one end of the earth and pedal to the other – with my two precious sons.
Now, with 11,000 miles and 570 days behind me, I have a very different perspective. Now, I feel comfortable with our decision and know it was the best one we could have made. My husband and I have had a blast with our two children, and our boys have grown and matured into wonderful young men. Life is good and I’m finally standing on solid ground.
During our months on the road, we’ve experienced more than any family can reasonably hope to experience. We’ve pedaled alongside a wild bison and we pedaled faster and faster to try and keep up with him as he ran along sending small clouds of dust into the air with each thundering gallop he took. We’ve cycled past massive glaciers flowing down to the road and felt the frigid air blasting us from over the ice. We’ve crested 13,000 foot passes through cold, windswept grasslands and sweated like fevered pigs in Central American jungles.
It’s been a wild ride, and we’ve enjoyed each and every day of it. Yes, there have been tough days – days when we’re pushing our heavily-laden bikes up the impossibly steep Andean mountainsides or slipping and sliding on loose scree and struggling to maintain some semblance of control of our bikes. But there have also been many perfect days when the sun shines warmly on our faces and the wind flows gently through our hair. Days when people come out of the woodwork to help us out and add magic to our journey. Days when we stumble upon unexpected surprises that amaze and delight us…those are the times that keep us going.
All four of us are looking forward to the next year as we slowly make our way through South America toward Tierra del Fuego. We will awake each morning and wonder what challenges will confront us in the coming hours. We will eagerly approach each bend in the road and look forward to the unexpected surprises awaiting us up ahead. We are excited about meeting people from all walks of life who will be strangers one moment and good friends the next.
Life as a family on bikes is the best life we know – and we are thrilled that we have the opportunity to live it!
Are you inspired by Nancy’s story, or do you think she’s crazy for setting off on this journey, or both? Let us know in the comments!
Nancy Sathre-Vogel is a modern-day nomad and vagabond who travels the world in search of beads and other treasures. Her preferred mode of transportation is a bicycle, although she’s been known to travel in car, bus, plane, boat, donkey cart, elephant, and camel. She is now pedaling the length of the Americas because her eleven-year-old sons have decided they want to get the Guinness World Record as the youngest people to cycle the Pan-American Highway. Although there are times when she questions her sanity, she somehow keeps going, knowing that treasures await in countries far and wide. You can read about her and her travels at familyonbikes.org.