As we tell more and more people about the upcoming trip, we get a lot of similar questions. Here they are:
0. What are you doing?
We are riding our bikes from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Argentina starting in June 2014.
1. Does the land even connect all the way to Argentina?
Yes it does. The Pan American Highway is the longest “motorable road” that connects all the mainland countries of the Americas. There is one section of land, however, that is impassable called the Darien Gap, which is an undeveloped forest and swamp. We will have to take a boat around the Darien Gap.
2. How many miles will it be?
The Pan American Highway is approximately 30,000 miles. We have great respect for those who ride the entire route, but we will be taking the most direct route possible from Northern Alaska to Southern Argentina, which we estimate to be anywhere from 16,000-18,000 miles.
3. How many weeks will it take you?
WEEKS?! HA!! We estimate it will take us about a year to get to South America. That will put us in the southern regions of South America in winter time. We think we may end up having to kick it for a couple months (hopefully in an awesome ski town) then finish in the springtime, which would make it about an 18 month trip. It all depends on timing, weather, road conditions, how much money we have left, and how badly we are wanting to be finished.
4. How many miles will you ride a day?
Not sure. We anticipate the first 500 miles on the Dalton Highway to be extremely difficult, therefore we are planning for 40 miles per day. We assume that we will get much stronger and more capable of big days after that. We also have to consider that this ride is more of a marathon than a sprint and we need to ride/travel in a way that will allow us to have fun, enjoy ourselves, and really experience all the places it will take us.
5. Do you speak Spanish?
Sort of. Alex has traveled in Central America a lot and is very good, maybe even fluent. I have been taking Spanish lessons for about two years and think that I am to the point that I will be able to get around, ask for things I need, and pick it up as I go. We are planning to take some immersion lessons throughout the trip as time and money allow.
6. Will you be camping?
Yes! We will be doing lots of camping in Alaska and the Yukon. We plan to continue camping in the US, but we also have more friends and family to stay with. There is also a website called Warm Showers that connects bicycle tourers with folks willing to host them for anything from just a quick shower to staying over and having dinner and swapping stories. We really hope to be able to utilize this community as it would allow us to stink much less and meet awesome people.
Once we get to Central America, we are hoping to use hostels and cheap hotels. Our budget should be adequate for this through Central America, but we expect it to become a bit more challenging in South America. We will probably continue to carry all of our camping gear until we get a feel for bike travel in foreign countries and the type of amenities we will have available on a regular basis.
If you know anyone who might be willing to host two bikers, we would LOVE to stay with friends or family or your friends and family!
7. How much are you budgeting?
We have budgeted $60 per day for the two of us. Also in our budget we have planned for flights, purchase of gear, and some money for unexpected extra expenses. We think that the $60 per day will be more than enough on some sections and cutting it a bit close on others. We are planning to try to get by as cheaply as possible whenever we can to try to give us more wiggle room when we get farther into the trip.
8. Where do you start? How do you get there? And how does your bike get there?
We will be starting in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. We will be flying there and so will our bicycles. We will have to take our bikes apart, put them in boxes, and check them on to the plane. We will be paying about $125 each for baggage fees.
9. What about the bears?
And the Bandidtos? And the Mosquitos? And the traffic?
There are plenty of scary things we may encounter on this journey. We are carrying two cans of bear spray and will be following bear etiquette while we camp. This includes keeping our food in bear cans, cooking and eating dinner far from where we plan to camp, and never ever having food in our tent.
The mosquitos are going to be horrible. Apparently they come in swarms and are the size of hummingbirds. There is no way to fully protect against that. We are bringing shirts with bug repellant in them, head nets, a big bottle of 100% Deet, and the best positive attitudes we can muster.
Travel in Central and South America had its dangers, we all know. We will do our best to be careful and smart, do research and avoid the riskiest places, and listen to our gut instincts. I believe that in general, people are good. I think we will meet a lot of amazing, generous, friendly people.
Well since you ask….
Most importantly, READ OUR BLOG! And let us know that you are reading. Comments and emails from friends and strangers will really keep our spirits up and keep us excited about what we are doing.
If you know anybody on our route, let us know! We would always appreciate seeing a friendly face on such a long trip. Care packages with home made baked goods and sunscreen will lift our spirits on even the hardest days. If you are interested in sending us something, contact us for more info.