Being a penniless student, I did not fool myself that the motoring lifestyle that had just passed us would be available to me anytime soon, but perhaps someday…
..” (From: The University of Gravel Roads
Ten years later, I was the Communications Manager of Colorado-based RockShox and had the world by the tail. Just before leaving for a month-long motorcycle vacation from Colorado to the Arctic Circle in Alaska, the company was sold and I was told that many positions, including mine, would be transferred to Chicago. After due consideration, I declined the position but agreed to stay until the end of 2002 to help with the transition—after returning from vacation.
With a fledging romance, a work-visa that would expire with my job, and an unplanned period of unemployment, I had much to think about during that trip. A chance meeting with two riders from Colombia in a ferry lineup in Alaska planted the seeds which would change the course of my life. They convinced me to take a year-long trip to South America, but with empty time stretching out in front of me, that idea grew to a multi-year trip around the world. Why not? I might not have this opportunity again.
Financing such a venture was the biggest constraint. I had no idea how much it would cost but a little research would give me a good idea. I came up with an ambitious plan to travel for three years on a budget of $25 a day. It required selling my house and all my material possessions to generate the needed cash, an exercise which revealed just how ambitious that plan was.
On October 5, 2008 I pulled into Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver, completing a circle that had taken me 154,000 kilometres (95,000 miles), 41 countries and five years. I thought back to how green I’d been crossing that first border into Mexico and how my perspective had changed.
I’d learned that the world was full of loving, generous and honest people. I’d learned how little money it took to be happy on the road. I’d learned that the more of myself I shared with the locals, the more they shared with me and the more I rode away with. I’d learned that the simpler my life was, the more I was able to enjoy it.
The travelogue of that ride, The University of Gravel Roads, won the Bronze medal in the 2010 Independent Book Publishers awards, the 2010 da Vinci Eye award, and was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Award for Short Prose and Literature.