Planning an 18 month cycle trip, spanning the extent of the American continent, has certainly had its challenges. Not least of these the fact that, for the majority of our planning time, Meg was based in Wisconsin, USA, while I was living 10,000 miles away in Sydney, Australia. In truth, before beginning work in Peru with Operation Groundswell in May, we’d only spent a sum total of ten days in each other’s company. Our shared dream to cycle the Americas has come a long way since a chance conversation in Pisco, Peru in the summer of 2011!
While volunteering with Pisco Sin Fronteras in June 2011, Meg got chatting (around the obligatory campfire) about a dream to, one day, cycle the length of the American continent. I happened to mention that I’d read a book (The Trail to Titicaca by Rupert Atlee) about three English guys who had cycled from the southern tip of Patagonia to Lake Titicaca and, captivated by their stories en route, “I felt I had something like that in me…one day!”
Fast forward to July 2012 and Meg arrives in Glasgow in the early stages of her European Tour. Two things stand out about that weekend. Firstly the sun shone in Glasgow for four consecutive days and, secondly, Meg announced that she would be graduating in May 2015 and would then be embarking on her Pan-American cycle. “Are you in?” said she. “Let me think about it” said I.
A year later, having transferred to Australia and mindful that Meg needed an ‘yay or nay’ after a year’s deliberation on my part, I asked myself could I really go through the angst of watching Meg posting blogs and photos of her Pan American adventure while I was sat behind a desk in an office (albeit a desk that overlooked Sydney Harbour)? The answer was simple.
And so began an eighteen month period Skype calls, whatsapp messages, e-mails, videos, word docs, excel spreadsheets, internet forums - in short, every medium explored other than face to face! The fifteen hour time difference, coupled with Meg juggling four jobs at the time, made for some interesting scheduling – early morning, late night, work-time (I had a very understanding boss – thanks Bob!).
So as I sit here in Anchorage, reflecting on the past four years and what can result from a chance conversation around a campfire, I concede that it may not be the most conventional way to plan for a trip. That said, I suppose cycling 15,000 miles from Alaska to Patagonia wouldn’t exactly be filed under conventional either!