The Band Will Play On:

If I had reason to feel bad about closing the end of my last post with a confession to quitting, then I have an even harder task this go around to explain that I was mistaken. In the face of mounting frustration at the prospect of solo travel, I made the only decision available. It would have been impossible to complete an additional 15,000 miles by the same means I had recently followed, and the rational choice was to move on to the next thing. Perhaps worse than the guilt over quitting, was realizing that I didn’t have the next thing figured out. While support for my decision was flowing in from all directions, it was always tinged with a tone of disappointment, not so much in me, but just at the knowledge that this fun opportunity for some vicarious armchair travel was coming to a close. I had a few friends with long-term international experience (peace-corps) express the common thread throughout the experience was an emotional bottoming-out somewhere in the middle of the experience. It was by climbing out of this hole that the true growth and development would come.

We can hike up mountains too!We can hike up mountains too!


We can hike up mountains too!


I had to hit bottom, and quit, for my next door to open; an invite from Nathan to resume our two-man traveling wolf-pack. It took the better part of a day for me to go from dis-interest, knowing I had already made a concrete decision, to absolute commitment to joining up. First, it struck me that there were obvious sacrifices he was making in his trip to add this desolate fella. Ultimately, it presented an opportunity to get the trip moving again, and I couldn’t in good conscience pass it up. Whether I find the motivation, or companionship, to assist me all the way to the bottom isn’t a huge concern. At this point, it is just about giving it the best shot, and joining Nathan in Southern Mexico is that best shot. The advantages are many; sharing the cost of rooms, food, cooking, safety in numbers, joy in sharing good experiences and sights, commiserating in shared bad experiences, someone to talk to (even if they are a looney Brit./ even if they are a looney American), and so on.

The plan at the moment is to finish up some remodeling tasks here in CO, rebuild my bike (or potentially and new one), and meet Nathan in 5 or 6 weeks down in Cancun. From there we will journey over to the island paradise of Cuba for a month of bike-touring, before heading south through Central America. We hope the route will be both remote and rugged, bringing us farther from the PanAmerican Hwy and closer to authentic Central America.

I must now decide what to do about my bike. It was not intended for the abuse the Great Divide dished out, so is also not ideally suited for the rougher routes down south. I must decide if I can tweak and change it, or if it is better to equip myself with a new and more appropriate steed; say a Surly Troll (26″ wheels, disc brake ready) or a Salsa Fargo (29er, disc brake ready, off-road touring monster). In a dream world, not confined to financial limitations, I would put myself on a Co-motion Americano or Pangea with the Gates Belt Drive and Rholhoff hub. Surly Sue is a touring machine, but with 700c wheels is much more comfortable on pavement and within the confines of North America. With the exception of Europe and the US, it is hard to impossible to find replacement parts for 700c or 29″ wheels anywhere in the world. Most adventure tourist choose to ride any bike that puts them on 26″ mtn wheels for easier repair and replacement when abroad. However, there are a few hardy souls that recognize the rough-road eating style of the 29er Fargo and push onward with it. All I can say is that it is wonderful to be debating these issues once more, and to be filling my idle times with dreams of the road.

I hope that I haven’t disappointed too many of you, or that I lost your trust in my trip. One pedal stroke at a time I hope to pick this thing back up again and see what I can make of it.

4 Responses to “The Band Will Play On:”

  1. Alison Kent says:

    Hey Justin, I just read your post, and I am so excited for you and Nathan to continue with your biking adventure! I look forward to following your progress, and eventually meeting up in Ecuador! ‘ll be in touch, take care.

  2. dan says:

    An emotional rollercoaster. I think travel and adventure are always easier when you have a partner to share with. Going solo can get lonely. I’m looking forward to reading about your travels through Central America.

  3. Martha says:

    I’m glad I didn’t have a chance to respond to the previous post before this one arrived. I so appreciate that you use these pages to let us in on your challenges, struggles, successes, experiences. I feel like I’m watching a remarkable documentary that’s being filmed and shown at the same time. I know that me telling you to let go of the guilt is pointless (after all, I’m a German Catholic and we’ve got guilt all sewn up), but you have to know somewhere inside that EACH of your decisions is the “right” one, and disappointment isn’t even on the table. Can’t wait for what’s next!
    PS, I made a cherry pie for your birthday, but you weren’t here so we ate it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Patrick says:

    Good choice dude. Happy 30th birthday! I knew you would shake it off.

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