Bojan Vitko focused on a busy career for most of his life. He’s exercised his extreme-adventure gene from time to time—climbing Argentina’s Aconcagua mountain (highest in the southern and western hemispheres), entering twenty-four and thirty-six hour mountain bike races, and mountaineering in the backwoods. Now that he’s retired, that adventure gene has free rein. But signing up for the Journey to Ushuaia pushed him beyond anything familiar.
“I know that every once in a while I need to go out to the edge and do something challenging. In the last five years, I’ve been rotting in the middle of my comfort zone. At my friend Angelo’s urging, I didn’t think too much about committing to a trip I knew would test me.
“The only thing I knew was that we were flying to Santiago and that it would be hot and cold. Leading up to the trip I was very busy and packed only twenty-four hours before leaving. Then I was thrown into a situation when I had to use all my cognitive, emotional, and focusing skills to ride. I was completely prepared to have my bike towed if it came down to it.”
Bojan admits the riding skills required were significantly beyond his ability. At age fifty, he’d bought a Vespa to get around the streets of Toronto, and a BMW 1200GS for longer distances. He rode for about five years and then rarely for the next eight. Angelo, who’s traveled with Renedian to Africa, organized all the logistics for the trip to South America and the pair was off.
“Because of my inexperience, I rode at the back of the pack. I felt I had an angel in the lead and a big bear of an angel, Piet, behind me. His guidance and support was concise, specific, kind, effective, and palatable. By the second week, I was in the middle of the pack. “I felt like it I was in the Jurassic park of the Canadian west coast. The views were massive and the experience physical. Passing through wide crevasses I felt like I could touch the rock walls. From the back of the line, I could see several kilometres ahead and follow the dust trails as other riders ascended a mountain or descended through a valley.
“I am extremely thankful that Rene didn’t turn his five-years-on-the-road experience all inward. He’s put out the effort and all the headaches to create this opportunity for others to experience what I did and is changing lives through it. I found my adventure spirit that I was afraid I’d lost.
“This trip created an incredible journey for me. Above all, it pulled something out of me, inspired me, moved me.” For retirement, Bojan bought an Earth Cruiser so he and his partner can travel around the world and live off the grid. They tested it earlier this summer, leaving for Tuktoyaktuk the day after he retired and returning mere days before leaving for Ushuaia.
Bojan’s adventures don’t just happen outdoors or on wheels. For example, over the winter, he and his partner sing, act, and dance in a local musical. This season’s production is Robin Hood, with Bojan playing Friar Tuck.
Then their plan is to get in the Earth Cruiser and head off to Utah and eventually Central and South America. Every once in a while, he’ll join Renedian on other excursions. “As a newly retired person, I needed something that would focus and stimulate my mind, spirit, and brain. This trip with Renedian infused youth, joy, excitement, and wonder into my bloodstream.”
Photo credits: Bojan Vitko