We passed a sign the other day. It was a simple, unassuming sign in inauspicious surroundings. I pedaled past it at first – until the significance of it hit me and I turned around for another look. It said: USHUAIA 4000
It takes someone who has spent two and a half years pedaling 24,000 kilometers from Alaska to appreciate the significance of that sign. It means we only have to cycle the distance of Idaho to Washington, DC to reach our goal.
In many ways, that simple sign is cause for celebration: only 4000 kilometers to go! Only one seventh of our journey left – which means we’re 6/7 of the way done! If 100 kilometers takes us eight hours to pedal, we’ve only got 320 hours left to cycle!
And yet, those very same reasons are cause for concern. We still have 4000 kilometers to cycle - which is, truth be told, a very long way. We still have four months on the road – 120 days of having to find enough food to eat, water to drink, and a place to sleep at night. We’ve still got a whole lot of hours with our feet going around in little circles beneath us.
Yes, our journey has been terribly exciting and it’s been some of the best times of our lives. We’ve enjoyed each and every day – even the hard times, in retrospect. I know that all four of us will look back upon these years on the road with fond memories and the lessons we’ve learned will be with us forever.
And yet, I think I’m ready for it to come to an end. When these 4000 kilometers are behind us and we’ve accomplished our goal of cycling from one end of the earth to the other, I’ll be ready to head back home – for a little while anyway. I’ll be ready to have a stove I don’t have to haul out of my pannier and hook to the gas canister before I can use it. I’ll be ready to have a refrigerator so I don’t have to shop every day. A toilet to sit on… A washing machine for my clothes…
It’s the simple things I miss. Things most people take for granted. Things like being able to buy granola bars at the supermarket. Heck – things like finding a supermarket in the first place!
But I know I’ll miss our life on the road too. I’ll miss the quiet peacefulness of climbing into my tent at the end of a long day. I’ll miss the excitement of not knowing what’s beyond the next bend in the road. I’ll miss the sun on my face and being surrounded by Mother Nature’s handiwork.
I’ll treasure these last 4000 kilometers. As I pedal through the Argentine pampas and the wilds of Patagonia, I’ll burn the sights and sounds and feelings of each day into my memory knowing it’ll come to an end all too soon. Or not soon enough, depending on which way my mood is swinging at that moment. No matter which way I look at it, I’m sure these last 4000 kilometers will provide plenty of adventure.