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Oct 20, 2011:

Tackling 16,000 Miles Day-by-Day

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In two months, we'll be standing at the end of the world with a map in our hands thinking, "Seriously? 16,000 miles?!" And about 3 months later, after battling through strong winds and rough roads, we should be in Santiago and, again, with a map and thinking, "That's all? 14,000 miles to go?" So, it's not surprising that many people have been asking us lately what our strategy is for attacking this colossal distance. Afterall, it's like crossing the United States five times consecutively!

Here is our strategy:

#1: The Tortoise and The Hare

All maps of North America will be off limits for at least the first six months. The way we are planning to tackle this ride is by keeping the one-day-at-a-time mentality. When we rode across the United States in 2009, we typically rode between 30 to 70 miles a day, feeling very comfortable with the 50 to 60 miles per day range, and we took rest days every couple of days. We plan to incorporate this same approach to our Americas ride, with perhaps a few modifications.

30 out of the 62 riding days were between 51 to 70 miles. This is pretty good considering that we usually didn't start riding until 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning.

You see, in 2009, we took our days casually, typically clipping into the pedals around 11 o'clock in the morning. However, we were held accountable to a hard and fast end-date: we had to be in the Outer Banks of North Carolina by September 19th to coincide with Christi's family vacation. This meant that (1) the bulk of our daylight hours (once on the bike) consisted solely of pedaling to our next destination and (2) we had no time for side excursions or sightseeing.

For The Americas, we still plan to average 50-mile days, but we're planning to get on the bike earlier in the morning, allowing for more breaks, more opportunities to meet people, and more time to get to our next camp before it gets too dark for Tauru to see. Besides, a stuffy tent bright with the morning sun gives little reason to linger.

When you're on the bike at 9 am and your only objective for the day is to get to the next town, life is pretty simple. We can ride about 50 miles in 4 hours given the perfect conditions, but having a full 8 hours of riding will allow for the less-than-perfect conditions that we are sure to encounter. If we can ride 60 to 70 miles in a day, that will give us more time for touristy activities. And if we only manage to ride 20 miles in a day because of hills and headwinds, well, no big deal. Such is the way of the road.

#2: Positive Thinking

This isn't a race. This isn't even a rally. This ride should take about 18 months to complete assuming all goes well. This will be our lifestyle! If we are feeling good, we'll ride. If we are in pain, we'll stop. If we wake up sore or sick, we'll do something else that day. It's that easy!

Sure, 16,000 miles (~26,000 kilometers) is a really long way to go, but we'll get there. In 2009, our highest-mileage day rang in at just over 82 miles (and that was with a late start!). Sure, we were beat by the time we pitched our tent in the Walmart parking lot in Hopkinsvilles, Kentucky. Sure, Christi would have happily passed out without supper if it weren't for the fact that Tauru was so excited about the cheap fried chicken. But the next morning, we woke up, hopped back on the bike, and our legs did what they knew best: pedaled on for another 75 miles.

#3: Travel the World

Not only is this a bike trip, it's also an intimate and interactive exploration of the Americas; one in which we share our story of blindness and adventure in return for experiences, scenery, and stories from people with lives different from or similar to our own. Traveling is what we do; it's what we love. From tasting empanadas to watching a farmer herd llamas, this journey is sure to have much in store to keep our minds fully occupied with thoughts entirely unrelated to the bike.

We LOVE traveling! When we did our trip around the world in 2008, we spent some time on Koh Tao, a small island off the coast of Thailand. We hear there a similar paradises along the coasts of the Americas.

There's nothing better than sipping on a local beverage (Singha Beer from Thailand) while watching the sun set. It should even feel better once we're on the road and riding every day -- a much deserved drink!

Everyone goes to see the Pyramids in Egypt, but there's also the White Desert in the Western Oases in the Sahara Desert. We got there by taking a network of local buses. The bike will give us the freedom to roam the roads of the Americas to find interesting sights.

Here, we trek along glaciers in the Himalayas.

In India, sitting on top of the bus as it swerves along mountain roads was really fun. The 360°-view was amazing. Soon, we'll be riding and having this same view!

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