*** FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ***


These are some of the most frequent questions that I receive when I’m traveling by bike. So, here are the answers to satiate the general curiosity:

1) Where did you start the trip?
In Anchorage, Alaska.

2) Where are you going to?
I’m going towards Ushuaia, Argentina, in the southernmost point of the American continent and then returning back home to the city of Mar del Plata

3) How many kilometers in total?
Approximately 50,000 km.

4) Do you travel alone?
Yes, just my bike Maira and me. Perhaps an occasional companion, but the trip is a personal and individual life project

5) Aren’t you afraid of traveling alone?
There’s danger everywhere, on the remote roads as well as at the corner of the street. It’s just a matter of common sense… and a bit of luck!!

6) How about loneliness?
You have to get along with yourself. I think that I have learned to do it in my previous biking experiences

7) Aren’t you afraid of getting robbed?
Sometimes one is more insecure in the “tranquility” of home than by being in the middle of “nowhere”

8) Do you get tired?
Of course I get tired. But it’s something that can be solved by sleeping and resting from each leg.

9) Do you ride at night?
No, if it’s possible. It’s very dangerous because I cannot see the potholes in the road, the vehicles can’t see me and you lose the beauty of the landscape. The risk of having some trouble concerning safety is much bigger. Better to rest and take advantage of the daylight!

10) Where do you take showers/baths?
I take a shower/bath depending on the facilities that I can have access to… in general I don’t spend more than a week without getting under the water!! It isn’t that bad, is it?

11) What do you eat?
Anything that I can and in the biggest portions. It’s the fuel that moves the bike…

12) And what about the laundry?
When I have the change of using a laundry machine, I use it. Otherwise I do some hand washing of urgent (or too stinky) things… only if there’s water for those tasks and is not just for drinking or cooking.

13) Do you get sick often?
No. Being all the time outdoors and doing a physical activity all day long generates better defenses… The most common sickness is an indigestion or intoxication due to the food or the water.

14) Why by bicycle and not another type of transportation?
Because you can really live the road while on the bike. Is the best way to interact with the area that surround us and the different people that we come across during the trip. Traveling alone is sometimes hard, but forces one to interact with the people and places, giving me fulfilling and unique experiences.

15) What do you do if you get a flat?
I just simply fix the tube or change it for a new one and I keep pedaling.

16) How many tires will you use?
They usually last for 5,000 km before they fall apart. You do the numbers…

17) How many bicycles are you taking?
One!!! I just have only one butt and two legs!!!!

18) Do you have a phone with you?
No. It would be necessary to have a special cell phone or a satellite phone and their cost would be too high. On the other hand, why would I need it? The last thing I want is to get a call when I’m riding on the bike.

19) Do you have a laptop?
No. It’s too fragile, delicate and costly to take on a bike. It is always easy to find someplace where I can use a computer to check my mail and write my chronicles.

20) So then, what are you taking on the bike?
Everything!!! I take the necessary equipment to be self-sufficient and able to stop anywhere. That includes a tent, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cooking gear, stove, tools and parts for the bike, water purifier, books, maps, 1st aid kit, clothes, food and water… among other things.

21) Where do you put everything?
On the bike. I have two front panniers, to rear ones, two waterproof bags and a bag for the handlebar. I take nothing on me.

22) What’s the weight of all the equipment?
It’s between 50 and 60 Kg (110 and 132 lb) without counting the bike and according to the amount of food and water that I’m taking with me. It can easily top 80 kg (176 lb) which isn’t just a little…

23) Why do you call your bike Maira?
I consider my bikes my companions and I always call them with a female name. The conditions is that it has to be a nice name and that I haven’t met anyone with that name previously, so if I later break up with that person, the bike wouldn’t carry with that weight for the rest of its time. So, Maira will be always a bike first and it won’t be associated with any girl in particular.

24) What type of bike is Maira?
It’s a specially built bicycle designed for long trips. Its origin is Swiss, Villiger brand and it’s very robust… and heavy. The frame is Cr-Mo steel and compared with a road bike, which would be a sport car, this one would be like a trailer truck. But it holds up well!!

25) How much does the bike cost?
For me, it has no price. It’s like part of me.

26) Are you biking all the way?
Yes, unless there’s a portion of the trip that has to be made by boat or plane. My philosophy is to pedal where it’s possible, unless a fatal mechanical problem, a health reason makes it impossible or if I have to return to the some place using the same road and it’s not very scenic or safe.

27) How many kilometers do you do in a day?
It’s very variable. It depends on the road condition, the geography of the place and the weather. The daily distance can go from 150 km on flat paved roads to only 30 km on hard climbing roads in the middle of the Andes. Places of natural and cultural interest also can determine the extension of a leg. The general average between pedaling days and kilometers done is approximately 85 km/day. Nevertheless, this is neither a race nor an effort to break records!

28) Do you ride every day?
No. Depending on the short term objective, the weather and the accumulated fatigue, every once in a while I stop for longer time to rest. There are places that deserve to be visited on detail and not only to pass through them. Nevertheless, there is an advancing chronogram to follow the appropriate seasons and avoid being in the jungle during the rainy season, the hurricanes in Central America or a harsh winter.

29) Do you work during the trip?
No. The idea is to do a continuous trip stopping only for short periods of time.

30) How much will the trip cost?
A lifetime of savings. It’s the addition of small deprivations and efforts for the last eight years.

31) Do you have paying sponsors?
No. The trip is done by self support and my own resources. I have institutional support form organizations and companies that support my trip. However, if anybody knows of a person or company willing to collaborate with money, it will be welcomed.

32) How much money do you carry?
Not much. It’s like a backpacking trip, but on a bike!!!

33) Don’t you miss your family and friends?
Of Course! But the exceptional people that one meets along the way mitigate the nostalgia for the home land and the love ones. After all, this is just a long return trip home!!!

34) How do you cross into different countries?
Simply, with a valid passport and the necessary visas. In my case, because I’m from Argentina, I only needed them for Canada and the USA and I already had them both from my previous academic trips.

35) Are you married? Do you have kids?
No. If that was the case I wouldn’t be able to be doing this trip because I would have had to assume the responsibilities associates with a forming a family. It’s a question of life choices and the sacrifices that one has to make to do a trip of this kind.

36) What are you going to do once you return to Mar del Plata?
That’s the million dollar question and it will be answer only when I get there at the end of the trip. In an experience of this kind someone changes in every aspect and the person that will arrive will be certainly different from the one that left in June 2007.


 

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