Thursday, July 28, 2005


“no trespassing,” “keep out,” “private property,” “beware of dog,” “absolutely no trespassing,” “stay out,” and a “welcome to the u.s.a.-the land of the free” welcomed me to the states where i crossed the border at eastport, idaho. the crossing was thankfully uneventful. i wasn’t even searched. i was only asked if i had any drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. i responded that i get high on top of mountains. and i was waved through.

instantly, one of the sweetest parts of canada, i.e. the two meter road shoulder for bicycles, vanished, and i immediately found my self tight-roping a white line next to a ditch while semi’s and rv’s that could house the populations of a small country gleefully whizzed by. but i have to admit that by and large, traffic has respected me, and i haven’t been grazed once. which is good because sometimes once is all it takes.

currently, i’m just south of missoula, montana staying with a friend of mine, hunter townsend (a friend from furman university) and his soon-to-be-wife, cecily. luckily i arrived at their beautiful home while they were still out picking huckleberries. so i was able to take my first shower in three+ weeks and detox some clothes before they saw me (they would, of course, have smelled me first). it’s been great to get off the bike and hang out with two super cool people.

lance armstrong says, “it’s not about the bike.” i say, “it’s all about the bike.” and i love my bike.

the “sutra” is kona’s newly developed touring bike. not only did kona provide me with this bike, but they also provided me with a one-wheeled trailer to haul all my stuff. the only modification we made to the bike was to put a riser handlebar (more upright, like a mountain bike) as opposed to a drop-down handlebar (like the kind they use in the tour de france). this is much more comfortable for me. now, my “job” for kona is to write about how the bike is performing on the trip. this is an easy job because currently, all i have to write is “don’t change a thing.” kona is not funding this trip monetarily, but they are supplying me with abundant amounts of kindness and support as i periodically contact them (thanks lisa).

the kona sutra has 700 X 32 wheels which are thicker than an all out road racing bike and quite thinner than a mountain bike. a non exhaustive description of the bike: 27 speeds, disc brakes (which stop you by grabbing small discs encircling the hubs on both wheels as opposed to normal brakes which grab the rims of the wheel), and a steel frame (in the unlikely event of the frame snapping, i can have the steel welded).

the bleeding stopped, the scabs finally wore down to nubs, and calluses are beginning to form. so now, and only now, can i say that i like the bicycle seat. that’s all part of it. the seat also has a cut out section to allow blood flow through a vital nerve to keep my manhood from becoming numb’ish, which i’m thankful for, because who knows, maybe i’ll change my mind and want to mix my dna with someone i love and see what comes out. and while we’re in this area of anatomy, i do have some “special” underwear. no, i don’t have a leaky faucet (yet). they’re anti-shock gel and they help to keep my soldiers happily swimming.

but i will go on record here to say that i am doing this entire bike ride sans spandex.

what i do is this. i wake up, pack up my things, and ride. everyday is somewhere new. i never know when i’ll stop. usually it’s before dark, but sometimes, in these lands we have created which are bound by barbed wire, it’s hard to find a home for the night. but something, eventually, always comes up.

so why don’t i stay in campgrounds? because most campgrounds do not distinguish between an rv and a bicycle. in other words, i am charged the same as a family of four using electrical, water, and satellite tv hook-ups. and this charge is between $15 and $25. and this fee alone is 200% to 350% of my daily budget. so i free camp, and i have definitely slept in some interesting places. i just make sure i’m invisible from the road, and i’m good to go.

many people want to know about nourishment. my appetite cannot be quelled so i eat ungodly amounts of food (and waste none). i usually ride about fifteen miles or so before i eat breakfast. because i like to enjoy a meal, i typically take a two to three hour lunch which also includes reading and writing and napping. the same goes for dinner. because there are local grocery stores in most small towns, i eat whatever vegetarian friendly sustenance i can find. i do not eat out as it is too expensive and the portions rarely dent my hunger. the exception to this was a local all you can eat pizza/pasta/salad/desert place here in missoula. i grazed for three+ hours and my calorie consumption at this sitting alone was sickening. my bowels reaked havoc on me later, but at the time of my gluttony, it was worth it. someone told me that the place went out of business the next day. one of my favorite feasts upon entering a small town: box of cereal, gallon of milk, four bananas. delicious. burp.

the icefields parkway (“the prettiest road in the world”) in alberta and british columbia was definitely a highlight: craggy peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, elk, bears, coyotes, killer climbs, daunting descents, monster valleys, turquoise lakes, and the smell of christmas from the pines. idaho and montana have been spectacular giving me some faith that, however rare and soon to vanish, there are indeed still undeveloped and wide-open spaces in this country.

the maps i carry are simple and don’t provide too much information. i have met some other cyclists who carry the most detailed of maps, including elevation profiles. for me, this is information i don’t want. what i know is this: it’s never all uphill, it’s never all downhill, it’s never all flat. i’d rather not know and just go.

my hobby? i collect license plates of the states i travel through. they are relatively abundant on the side of the road, though virtually unnoticeable when speeding along in a car. i have already acquired ones from british columbia, alberta, montana, and colorado. i was sadly empty-handed in idaho although i still have faith because i think i will cycle there again near the wyoming border.

in mentioning all these states, i will mention again that i don’t have a planned route for this trip. i am currently debating heading east to go through rocky mountain national park and the san juans of colorado (strongly leaning this way) or to stay west and go through canyonlands and the desert country of eastern utah. who knows, maybe i’ll do both. in terms of my immediate future, i will be checking out yellowstone and the tetons. then? i’ll just have to see. i can look at maps for hours.

what i wear (starting from the bottom):
1. sandals
2. board shorts
3. synthetic long sleeve shirt
4. t-shirt
5. gloves
6. sunglasses
7. helmet

what i’m carrying:
1. tent
2. sleeping bag
3. sleeping pad
4. minimal extra clothing
5. rain jacket
6. small tool/repair kit
7. two extra bike tubes
8. book by ayn rand (the greatest)
9. journal by hIrSch (wishes for 1% of talent of ayn rand)
10. camera
11. toiletries
12. bike lock
13. maps
14. two water bottles
15. mini air pump
16. headlamp
17. pictures of family
18. neoprene socks
19.. wallet stuff
20. and this.
what is this? this is what i’m typing on now under a shelter as i hide from an intense thunderstorm with grape sized hail as the lightning strikes uncomfortably close. it’s a keyboard with a 5cmx15cm screen. yes, it’s my luxury item. and i’m so glad i’ve got it.

i usually don’t talk because there’s just me and that kind of talking i can do in my head. i do sing, especially on the downhills where i’m convinced i had a career as a rock star. i have yet to cry, but i’m sure i will, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

the most frustrating thing for me are headwinds. although i love my trailer which makes me much more streamline than boxy panniers (bags that hang on the sides of the bike), it is still disheartening to have to actually pedal to go downhill. i do, however, really enjoy climbing, more so than the downhills.

sometimes, bugs get lodged in my beard. i remove them as delicately as i can. i love my beard. if you have one, you know... what is it about beards?

some of the interesting things i see on the side of the road: knives, basketball backboards, “disposable” diapers, tons of beer cans, magazines, dead animals, shoes, toys, smashed cell phones (the only good kind of cell phone). the most common things i see are cd’s. i have also found about $2 and a relatively intact granola bar.

this is what i love. somehow and somewhere, i lose a bungee cord while riding. about six miles after realizing it, i find a perfect one right on the side of the road.

sometimes, when i wake up, i don’t know what state (neither of mind or geographical boundary) i am in.

i am up with the sun, i am down with the sun. i ride the greater part of the day with movements of fluidity, my body is an oiled machine, my legs are pistons. i enjoy moving under my own power. there’s a feeling of genuine satisfaction. and peace.

i am now no longer in missoula. i will be in yellowstone national park on 30 july.

i helped hunter townsend with his landscaping business during my stay near missoula. we made many trips to the city landfill. on one of the trips, a wal-mart truck pulled up and took a gigantic dump. i had to laugh. i inspected the refuse, but couldn’t find anything salvageable.

i also shaved my head in missoula and my first night out was my first frost of the trip and my just about bald little head froze. timing is everything.

and then i met ivan from argentina. i was climbing a steep mountain pass and this motorcycle pulls right up next to me and i hear a latin american accent, “are you hungry, i’ll cook you some pasta!” we make brief introductions as he slows down to my 6 mph pace and he tells me he’ll meet me at the rest area at the top of the pass. he’s from buenos aires but started his trip in seattle, then up to the arctic, and now he’s heading south back to his home. a pound of penne pasta later, we had covered all the major topics including how to get around the roadless area of northern colombia to how much he likes america and americans but just hates our president. he also tells me what a different vibe there is in central and south america, how people are super friendly and just invite you to their homes and share a meal. and he showed me the best routes to take through chile and argentina. a really cool guy who said no one believed he was going to do this trip until he finally shipped his motorcycle to seattle, quit his job, and hit the road. iTwaStObEanDiTwAsUptOhIm.

the next morning when i wake up, i have yet another bloody flat. so i put in a new tube and got to my wheels. five miles later, another bloody flat! so i patch the hole and then find a staple lodged in my tire. staple extracted, should be good to go. but for some reason, i can’t inflate my tire with my mini-pump. frustration. can’t figure out what’s wrong. so i take it all apart again, and the entire valve on the tube has ripped out. not good. so i patch my already patched emergency replacement tube comes ivan the argentinian on his motorcycle. i’d somehow gotten ahead of him. he whips out an electric pump, and i’m finally good to go. then he offers to go to the next small town (65 miles ahead) get me a new tube, and bring it back to me just in case. i tell him no worries but he insists. and sure enough he does it. but he bought the wrong size....but he kept the receipt so he was golden. but it turns out i didn’t need it anyway because i met two cyclists from the netherlands on a tandem bike, and they gave me the exact size replacement tube i needed. i handed them $5 and he insisted i put my money away but did insist on having his girlfriend take a photo of him handing me the tube while we simultaneously shook each other’s hands. he said, “just like your politicians!”

of course there’s so much else to say., i learned my lesson. no, wait a minute, i’m going for it. i invite anyone to email me or post a comment with a question about the ride be it philosophy or fact. every one i receive will be answered. so ask away.

i want to send big love to everyone who realizes this site is not a site of conversion, just confession. i have received some stellar comments and private emails that have really challenged me and have the wheels spinning. i abSoLutEly welcome comments and emails, so don’t hesitate.

Friday, July 22, 2005


that’s it, the blog is over. every time i check it or my email, i get further and further down. friendships i have needed and depended on are threatening to vanish. that’s the last thing i ever wanted.

wait, wait a minute man...what are you talking about?

this site. i originally intended it to include my thoughts and outlook on life. just share what’s in the attic. sure, not everyone is going to agree, but i figured no worries. to me, it’s like this: i like eggplant. i know people who do not like eggplant and they may or may not know that i like it. doesn’t matter. so let’s say, to these non-eggplant liking people, i go on record that, hey, you know what, i like eggplant. shouldn’t matter, right? i’m going to continue eating eggplant, they’re going to continue not eating eggplant. not trying to start an eggplant revolution or anything. i may think to myself, “man, they’re missing out, it’s so good!” but they’re going to think to themselves, “dude, that’s so disgusting, how can he eat that junk?” and life will go on. that’s what i imagined. but that figment withers away every time i check this site.

so what’s actually happening?

people, dear friends, are accusing me of wanting to make everyone in the world an eggplant aficionado. and that’s never been the case. sure, i may have directly alluded that all the non-eggplant eaters are really missing my opinion. but i figured, hey, it’s my blog and i can do that. and if someone doesn’t agree, that’s fine. there’s no parliamentary precept that homology is imperative. i would think we could agree on the nonnecessity of a need for total agreement. and if not, put the mouse in the upper right hand corner, click the “x,” done.

enough with the eggplant. give me a concrete example.

ok, one example is that i said that i think many (not all) people work too hard and many are miserable for it and people who are such should have the confidence to quit their jobs and start fresh with whatever their passion is.

that sounds reasonable.

yes, that’s what i thought.

so where’s the problem?

well, people wrote back saying that i am telling them that they are miserable and that they should quit their jobs.

but you never said that.


well, it seems to me that someone who read that and wasn’t miserable in their job would just read it and perhaps feel sad for anyone that was miserable with their career. end of story..

no, you see, that’s just the beginning. because people are inferring that my website is a personal address directed at each one of them.

is it?

no! it’s just a massive missive of my opinions! that’s it.

well, then why is it being interpreted as such?

i think it’s because of some of the, and i hate to use this word but i will, unconventional views i have. in other words, much of what i feel and do is in direct opposition to what most others feel and do. which is fine, right? i mean, who really cares? but when they read what i write, i think they feel it is a direct personal attack.

again, you’re going to have to help me and give me a solid example.

ok, the baby thing. currently, i don’t want kids. that’s my opinion and i have my reasons and i’ve stated them. so does this mean i think anyone who has kids is inherently evil? no way! not at all! why? because they wanted kids. and they did what they wanted to do. and i think that’s great and have no problem whatsoever with that. i like kids! different things bring different kinds of happiness to different people. that’s what makes the world great.

again, that sounds what’s all the fuss about?

i don’t know bro! i’ll go deeper with another example. engagement and wedding rings. to me, they’re a waste of money. i think that money could be spent on things like a child’s education, a vacation, food, whatever. that’s how i feel. so does this mean that when i meet a married couple who wear wedding rings, i elevate myself to some platform, look down on them, point, and declare, “ha ha ha, you unenlightened fools, you! maybe someday, but probably not, you will reach my stratum of shrewdness and realize what nincompoops you are!!”? no way! all it means is that they value things differently than me. hey, they might be taken aback when they meet my fiancee and see she doesn’t have a ring. and maybe they’ll feel she should have a ring, or maybe they won’t even care. the point is, it doesn’t matter!

well, hIrSch, if it doesn’t matter, then why write about it?

because i think it challenges some people to possibly think about things they might not have otherwise, and based on what they think and how they respond, it challenges me and the views i hold.

like what?

like showering. i would say most people leave the water on the entire time they shower and that they’ve never really thought about it. i believe leaving the water on is unnecessary and a bit wasteful. so i don’t. now, someone who reads that might think, “i leave the water on the entire time i shower, and you know what, i find it quite enjoyable and am going to continue to do it.” and that’s fine! they’ve heard a differing opinion, briefly considered it, and decided against it. done. the same goes with uneaten food at restaurants. so many people, when the waiter comes by and asks, “can i take your plate?” give the head nod and the vertically oriented palm and say, “yes, i’m stuffed.” and then that food, perfectly good food, goes into a dumpster to rot. if i were the stuffed person, i would definitely take the food, no matter how small of a portion, home with me and have it for lunch the next day. however, if someone doesn’t feel that this is important and would rather just toss the food, that's fine! i don’t agree with it, but then again, that person doesn’t agree with me, and the world keeps spinning and we both realize that everything is perspective. and we can still be friends!

again, this seems reasonable to me.

i know, it’s kind of a live and let live outlook.

well, i’d have to disagree with you there...


i don’t think you follow a live and let live philosophy. if you did, you wouldn’t have this blog. you wouldn’t have written all this stuff. you’d just live. i think you’re more of a: live, explain why you’re living that way for anyone that may care, and let live. you seem to have some very strong opinions and you seem to be willing to share them. i think people, because your opinions are in direct contradiction to most of their opinions, might initially feel a bit slapped in the face by them. but i also think these same people should step back and say, well, that’s his thing, and i’ve got my thing and everyone has a thing and there are many different things, and no worries. and if they really disagree with something, they can let you know by saying, for example, “i think marriages should involve rings because....” or “i think riding a bike for who knows how long is foolish because...” then there’s dialogue. and friendly dialogue is the way to go.

i agree.

so how did this whole thing blow out of control anyhow?

i asked people to vote as to whether i should or shouldn’t use some mcdonald’s coupons i had. somehow, that was the fuse.

do you have a problem with mcdonald’s?

yes, and i don’t patronize them.


i guess there are three main reasons, and i realize that it’s not just mcdonald’s which is why now i don’t patronize fast-food at all, but nonetheless:
1. the food is generally unhealthy and over the long run contributes to various diseases and health problems which creates an unnecessary dependance on health care which raises insurance costs and taxes for everyone. so many people just eat without an ounce of consideration as to what they are putting into their body.
2. people are more likely to just grab something to eat "on the run" rather than sit down to a nice meal with their family and/or friends. it intensifies and makes the rush-rush world we live in that much more real, something i consider a downward spiral.
3. the corporation is insatiable always pushing its niche into every imaginable market. almost 80% of interstate exits include a mcdonald’s. 90% of americans live within 5 miles or less of one. giants like this and walmart and many others are taking over towns such that it doesn’t really matter where anyone grew up because we all come from anywhere, usa. and it’s doing this the world over.

now there was a time when i loved mcdonalds and would scarf down happy meals and hope beyond hope that the toy i got was cooler than my sister’s! and there were also days, and my family will vouch, when i could spend unbelievable amounts of time roaming around wal-mart contemplating the purchase of a goldfish or a radio alarm clock. but this is how i feel now about these things and i’m just sharing those feelings. if you value mcdonald’s differently than i, then by all means, enjoy your filet o’ fish. just because i’m not going to eat there doesn’t mean i will think any less of you if you do. and all i can say is that i truly mean that and i guess it’s up to you as to whether you believe me or not. i know it’s not as simple as i always try to make it. 40 shades of gray. perfect example, last night, i’m lubing up my bike chain and i start lauging at myself because the grease contains petroleum distillates. so i pause, because in my mind, i might as well be the one manning the oil drill in the arctic national wildlife refuge in alaska right? i’m no different than the hummer driving urban commuter. sure, i’m contributing to a lesser degree, but is it degrees or is it absolute? i don’t know. i’m a work in progress, always sorting stuff out. and the miles glide under my feet. my current opinions could change 180 degrees in the future. i’m just sharing what i feel now and definitely welcoming any constructive input. i’m addressing no one in particular. that’s all.

well, maybe you should let people know about the bike ride. i mean, based on this site you could be living a stationary life in tulsa slaving away at a 7/11 engulfing slurpee’s and donuts while tapping away on your keyboard...

brilliant idea! next blog is about the ride. no philosophy, no etiology, no stoicism. just me and the bike! my oh so beautiful kona sutra. after all, the two of us have become quite intimate. so stay tuned!

may i say again that, really, you do have a spectacular beard.

again, i both thank and salute you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


with the enormous surge in popularity of this blog site, you can celebrate my next posting with a midnight release a la harry potter (no way, i don't read those books...reading them would be like, uh, like eating at mcdonald's or something). you can pre-purchase your special login password to get a sneak peak at what's coming soon! just send $25 to me and i'll hook you up. cash only please. no receipts given. warning: i will probably spend it at wal-mart.

buy big mac buy big mac buy big mac buy big mac buy big mac buy big mac buy big mac buy big mac buy big mac buy

ba da da da daa, i'm luvin' the comments. especially the ones that disagree with me. not especially the ones that seem like personal attacks, but hey, i can ride a bike with a knife in my back no problem. just makes the uphills a bit more painful. a big thanks to all those that defended me. it's sweet because until i checked my blog, i didn't even know i was on trial.

so now i've got the mic. and the burning question is, what, if anything have i done with ronald's coupons (which, by the way, are only good in canada)? having read all the comments yesterday, my mind was racing. i'm a sell-out, i should be using my chemistry degree to fight cancer and alzheimer's, the food is horrible, it's free food, i don't believe in god (entirely not true!!) etc. so what do i do? here's the answer...

i'm going to share with you two things that annoy me:
1. people that post as "anonymous." who is you?
2. people that write 12:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m. there is no such thing. it's 12 midnight or 12 noon. please make a note of it.

...i glided my way down the canadian roads towards my next and incidentally last candaian town (i'll be in the big, bad, scary usa tomorrow). and on the horizon, yessssir, there they are, the most recognizeable emblem in the world. a big fat curved m. decision time. and so...

i got two flats today. in the span of 10 km. bloody bad luck. hope the patches hold, because all i want to do is ride.

...i just kept riding. screw it. i'm not eating there, decreased profit margins or not. but then, as if the m were a magnet, i turned and went inside. and i made a lifestyle change. seriously. today was big. screw vegetarianism. i feel the call of the carnivore. and so i ordered three big macs, took a deep breath, and munched. and you know what? they were delicious. and then i told myself, dang it hIrSch, no more overanalyzing everything, no more thinking life to death, just go with it man. quit trying to save the world and quit your dadgum making life such an ordeal. and so then i got a chicken sandwich. and then my years of non-meat eating caught up with me. i vomitted, quite violently, all over the mcdonald's lawn...

wal-mart has just rolled back prices. go get something plastic right now, right now!

...and as i looked at the vomit, i realized my own stomach acid was going to kill the grass! so now it's decision time, do i screw my environmental consciousness too? or do i dive to the lawn face-first and lick up my own vomit in the name of photosynthesis?! seconds were passing. chlorophyll were dying. i could feel the greenhouse effect thickening. it was all my fault!! i'm atlas. and i can't just shrug that off. so i did the next best thing, i grabbed a hose and diluted the chunkies of big mac and chicken. by this time, quite a crowd had gathered. and then i realized, dear god, i'm wasting all this water, i might as well be flushing toilets after every use!!...

because and only because my free internet time here on this college campus is running out, i'll get on with it. the above is fiction. a real shocker, i know.

i rode right past the mcdonald's to rocky mountain college where i ate my (all generic) peanut butter, saltines, strawberries, choclate raisins, and banana. it was delicious. and then three guys from japan walked outside near my bench and had a smoke. they said nothing to me. i retunred the favor. they were practicing their english. all sorts of different words. and then, unbelievably true, they were all three attempting to say (and i swear to this) "mcdonald's." they were having trouble. i was having trouble keeping quiet. and then i couldn't stand it any longer. i gave them the coupons. i even went into a little rhetoric of all that was behind those little sheets of paper. and i told them to please never actually spend money at mcdonalds because of all the things you have heard before. they agreed and said, "mcdonald's makes you fat." but they were college students and glad for some free grub. i feel it was for the best. if i have disappointed you, then by all means, revel in your disappointment.

yes, everything is a corporation. what good does it do for me to buy raisin bran at ma and pa store and not wal-mart because regardless, some dude at colossal kellogg's is reaping the dough, right? so what does one do? yes, i have picked and chosen what i support and what i will not support. i try to make the world as black and white as possible because in my eyes everything else is just an excuse. i've picked some easy targets. but i do what i do because i feel it is right. please remember and review the blogs: i, hIrSch, have never told anyone not to eat mcdonald's or shop at wal-mart. i have just stated my stance. and maybe it's ridiculous. maybe there's no point.

i just checked my blog comments again. you guys should check out comment #34 signed, "--the definition--." who are you oh great one? or shall i just call you my personal "webster"?

anyhow, it's time to go south to idaho. and i've got plenty to keep both my mind and wheels spinning.

so comment away! love me or hate me or indifference me, i am hIrSch.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


jasper, alberta is a sweet little place with an awesome bicycle shop, freewheel cycle. they have hooked me up with places to stay while i take some rest days and wait out the crappy weather. the icefields parkway through jasper, banff, and kootenay national parks is all about views so i’m waiting for the clouds to dissipate and in the meanwhile, my body can resuscitate.

i have started this trip big doing about 80-100 miles a day. with the super long lit days up here. it’s been no problem covering this kind of ground. sometimes, it’s a bit hard to find a place to camp. so i just have to keep on riding until i see something relatively flat and dry. and something always comes up...but sometimes it’s a little later than i’d like.

i’ve taken some slack for my first blog. i hoped i wouldn’t but i have. it’s just my i feel. i realize that i may have a tendency to oversimplify life. but, quite simply, it makes sense to me that way. i believe most complications are self-introduced, and, following, can be self-removed. it’s just crossing that line, taking that step, or pushing that peddle...that is all that’s required.

the side of the road is the lazy man’s garbage can. have you made any contributions lately?

i’m at a rest stop and a dog is walking by which brings me to an interesting statistic. americans, according to pet industries, inc., spent $32 billion, yes with a b, on pets and pet products. meanwhile, children barely cling to life in other countries having never felt what it’s like to have a full stomach. don’t get me wrong, i love pets, but it is an interesting world.

i have learned that i am an intensely nostalgic person. my memories are my greatest godsend. i fear alzheimer’s. will it get me? do i already have it? what about cancer? is it just a matter of waiting for a manifestation and metastasis...hmm, what’s that strange spot on my leg....dang it all, i can’t remember what i had for dinner two nights’s scary. how will i die? how will you die? i can’t imagine my non-existence, but then again, that’s the point.

when i’m cycling i’m seven again and everything is just so perfect and happy and i’ve not a care in the world because my backyard and the creek is my world and nothing bad happens there and it’s comforting to know of nothing else. but now i know of too many else’s and it can be a bit overwhelming because there’s just so many questions that lead to more questions and the more i know the more i know i should know but at the same time i want to know less because the bliss of ignorance, once gone, is gone forever. and forever’s a pretty long time.

my dilemma is this. i purchased some granola bars. the box contains coupons for mcdonald’s fruit and yogurt parfaits and for an entree salad (great coupons for a vegetarian). i hate mcdonald’s and will not buy food there. i’m not giving myself a self-congratulatory pat on the back for my little meaningless one man battle against the megalopolis, it’s just what i do. an interesting sidenote about mcdonald’s and jasper, alberta (where i am now): there used to be a mcdonald’s here. it closed, yes, closed, two weeks ago. the community did not support it and it turned out to be a money pit. it just goes to show what can happen when a concerted effort is made. it can happen. if everyone stopped patronizing wal-mart, there would be no more wal-marts. it’s that easy. back to the coupons. no purchase necessary. translation: free food. translation: makes hIrSch happy. but it’s dadgum mcdonald’ should i not use them? i have almost justified the rationalization that if i indeed use them, the result will be positive for me (full tummy) and negative for them (decreased profit margin). but it’s mcdonald’ i leave the question up to you. click on "comments" and vote. so i guess, ifItiStObEiTiSupToyOu.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


i’m at 30,000 feet with no supplemental oxygen, in a pressurized cabin enjoying the extra leg room in the exit row i was able to score. the tomato juice is tasty, the person next to me isn’t on the neutral arm rest, and the view below is of some monster mountains i will soon cross on my bicycle.

i’ve got a knot in my stomach, but a good knot because these are those moments that accompany an imminent change...a dramatic lifestyle. for the next however long, i will be on my bike. a bike i haven’t even seen yet. i will wake up in my nylon cocoon, i will collapse and pack up my home, and i will ride. this will be the definition of my life, a definition i have chosen. if i see something that looks interesting, i will check it out. if i’m tired, i will take a break. if i’m amped, i will ride hard.

this lifestyle, similar to what it was hiking the appalachian and pacific crest trails, akin to being in vanuatu for three years, resembling that of cycling around new caledonia or new zealand or exploring tasmania with my backpack and my thumb...this lifestyle involves an ample supply of what i revere as the most priceless gift: time. uninterrupted time. time that is not riddled with other things that should be done or soon need doing.

and so naturally, it follows, what does one do with this cornucopia of time? and the most perfect of answers is: anything i choose. mostly, i will ruminate on things i didn’t remember i had forgotten. and i will gain new levels of love and appreciation for my family who have, however reluctantly, endured all these transitions in lifestyles i have chosen over the years. endured them, and i am so thankful for this, with kindness and support. i’m sure it’s not easy when a mother and father or sister, when asked the most ubiquitous of questions pertaining to those with similar dna, have to answer: "well, uh, he rides his bike..."

i just can’t see suffering and struggling through "x" in order to provide enjoyment for a future "y." because what if, by the time "y" eventually roles around, you’re in a casket? what, then, was the point?

so then i’m a hedonist? for tomorrow we’ll die? no, not at all. but i can’t help but not to forget that it is a possibility. and so if there’s a way for me to enjoy tomorrow or not enjoy tomorrow, i’ll positively pursue the former. and that way, if tomorrow comes and i am dead, the mortician won’t have to put the smile on my rigor mortis’ed lips...because it’ll already be there.

in vancouver, a guy comes up to me and tells me to give him any word and he would make it into a rap for me. "indecipherable," i said. he rapped. and despite the fact that i couldn’t really decipher what he was saying, i gave him $1. he asked for $1.50. i told him to be happy with what i gave him. i’ll never see that guy again. our lives collided for but a little hip hop, the latter of the alliterative h’s being what i want to do on my bike.

kona bikes is a sweet company, and i’m not just saying that because they styled me out with this bike and trailer, and they’re not paying me money to give them some good pr. it’s just a cool place. i got there and my "kona sutra" (not making that up) was ready to roll. doug lafavor, aka dr. dew, a bike designer at kona, totally hooked me up with customizing the bike exactly how i wanted it. it took a bit of time, but it’s done. the guys at kona, doug, brad, kevin, eddie were so cool to me and full of positive vibes for this ride. the time is now.

as with anywhere i ride, the hardest part is actually getting out of the bloody city and putting it behind me. confusion abounded but i got out and never looked back. thankfully, i was immediately in the mountains on the "sea to sky" highway. this is it. i’m finally riding. what i’ve been dreaming about for over a year is now open eye reality. nice.

i met a guy who invited me to stay at his house. he was all about the weed ("c’mon brah, eVerYone does it man...") which is fine, but i’m not everyone, and i knew if i took him up on it, i would have a late night. plus i still had plenty of energy and was feeling great. so i thanks-but-no-thanks’ed him, grabbed some air for a flat tire (on my first day!), and pushed on. found a home for the night with a sweet view of the snow capped mountains.

5am the next morning and i’m riding. my sandal’ed feet are numb and i’m too lazy to do anything about it so i just deal with it. some "warning: extreme grades" signs were everywhere i looked, upto 18%. but no worries. what’s the point of easing yourself into something? trial by fire. which is exactly what my legs were on. with sweet views that only got sweeter no matter which way i looked. i have concluded that canada is a dang cool place. i’m loving it (but i hate mcdonald’s).

i’ve never pulled a trailer before so i’m learning. it’s definitely pushy on the downhills, but i’m getting used to it. and sure, on the uphills you can feel it but it’s all part of it and you just deal with it and get on with it. based on several days with a trailer here and 6 weeks with panniers in new zealand, the trailer is the way to go. i’ve finally reached the point where i don’t have to keep looking behind me just to make sure it’s still there. all together, my big rig is about 3.5 meters long. it makes me feel like a bit of a spectacle.

my appetite is soaring and i’m trying to satisfy it with a healthy diet. i rationalize that ice cream is healthy. food availability is where cycling surpasses walking, or as most like to call it, hiking. when i cycle, i can always stop somewhere and feast. very little need to carry and ration out food.

currently, i’m heading north. so when people ask me what i’m doing and i say i’m going to south america, confusion abounds. soon, i’ll be in jasper, alberta- the gateway to the icefields parkway ("the prettiest road in the world," says my map). then i make my southward swing. then this trip will make a bit more sense. i will no longer be riding north to south america.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


faq’s~~~or~~~a conversation with myself*

*these are my personal views. perhaps your views, in relation to mine, are diametrical. and that’s cool because i’m probably wrong keeps life interesting.

so this bike ride...are you crazy?
i don’t think so

but it’s impossible!
how so? most of us learned to ride a bike forever ago. i’m just going to do what i already know how to do everyday. how hard is that? it’s just like the appalachian trail and pacific crest trail. if you know how to walk, you can do it. it’s that easy. it's just walking. i think most people like to talk about doing things rather than actually doing them (one of my biggest pet peeves).

so you’re doing this with some sort of group, right?
not at all. just me and my bike.

how long will it take?
no idea but people like numbers so i’ll say 9 months, plus or minus 2 years.

will you have a website?
i beat myself up over this but i think i’m going to do it. but don't expect entries like “today was hot and windy and i saw a pretty mountain.” more along the lines of, “once you leave your comfort zone, you will immediately recognize how uncomfortable you were...”

oh, i get it, you think you’re some sort of beatnik philosopher hero...
nope, i just found that writing what i think versus saying it is more effective for me. it’s my therapy and it’s free and it doesn’t involve brain-altering chemicals, something i don’t believe in anyhow.

what are your major character flaws?
i too often take life too seriously.

have you ever done a long bike ride before?
i cycled around the island of new caledonia (~850 miles) and the south island of new zealand (~2500 miles). this will be the longest.

why all this movement? you've done the appalachian trail, pacific crest trail, peace corps, and now this?
yes, i do like to move. for whatever reason, i don't like to be at the same longitude and latitude for more than three tuesdays in a row.

may i say that you have a very nice beard?
why thank you.

where will you be riding?
from vancouver towards calgary and down (more or less) the continental divide thru montana, idaho, wyoming, utah, arizona, new mexico, and texas. probably the middle of mexico, and then staying on the western side of central america. south america is still a bit of a question mark but i’ve got plenty of time to decide. i do plan to cross the andes a couple times to check them out.

do you speak spanish?
not a lick. i’ll stop in honduras (probably) and hang out for a month or two and get functional by living with a family.

how many miles a day will you ride?
between 0 and 150 but probably averaging 70’ish.

how will you carry all your gear? where will you sleep? it can't be done!
i will pull a one-wheeled trailer behind me with all that i require for this trip. i will sleep in my tent hidden from the road. anything can be done.

will you ride everyday?
no way. i’ll be stopping all over to check places out like yellowstone, the tetons, moab, mayan ruins, etc. if it looks interesting on my map or sounds interesting from someone else, i’ll give it a go. i'm basically doing an rv tour of the americas minus the gas guzzling rv, but similar to the rv in that i will slow traffic down and people will get annoyed with me so they can rush off to their destinations and find something else to be annoyed with and complain about.

what about when it rains?
i’ll get wet. i enjoy living outside and submitting myself to weather versus creating a personal climate zone that is eternally 72 and fluorescenty. i can't stand a/c. people are forgetting that it's ok not to be 100% comfortable 100% of the time. this is making us weak and needy on things that unnecessarily drain our bank accounts. deal with what your dealt with and get over it.

how on earth do you have enough money for this trip? are you a millionaire?
kona bicycles ( is providing me with the bike and trailer, i have all the camping gear, and i will sleep in my tent almost every night. my only real expenses will be food and high risk health insurance, two expenses i would have regardless of whether i was behind a desk or on top of two wheels. i plan to spend, on average, between $5-7 per day max. spending money, though i do it, makes me want to vomit.

how do you have the time to do this? don’t you need to be worried about starting a career/marriage/family/401k/blah?
what’s the point of a career when it causes so many people misery for 50 weeks a year which is somehow justified by those 2 decent ones? marriage would be cool if i could find the girl. if you're her, please email me and we'll set a date. warning, i don't subscribe to the belief that constant physical proximity is necessary for love and i also refuse to drop money on any sort of finger decorating, money wasting rings. i also refuse to ask anyone to get me eight identical matching plates or 400 count cotton sheets or some sort of silver plated soup ladel. can someone tell me why i don't have a girlfriend? and yeah, sure, a family would be nice but at this point i don’t want to create another mouth that will be hungry when hundreds die in darfur everyday and we just don't care while our front page stories are dominated by the innocence of michael jackson or whether or not tom cruise supports anti-depressants. a 401k is worthless when i am perfectly willing to surrender myself to a job when i am sixty-whatever and my hip's blown out and my knees don’t work...stick me behind a cash register then, that’s the time for work, not now.

don’t you realize you'll be murdered a minimum of seven times going through all of “those” countries?
bad things happen everywhere. i hope to not be a part of those bad things. i can’t live my life in fear of the what if’s. did you leave the usa on 12 september? assume goodness in all that you meet and hope for the best. and also realize that notwithstanding what nbc allows us to know, the world is generally a really good place. people tell me i'll be assassinated if i ride through columbia because they saw something on cnn headline news. the news is news because it has no fulcrum. it bombards us with bad and keeps us locked into our patterns of life based on predictability and reproducibility. don't deviate, and please stay behind the white line. does the news tell us about the mother in venezuela who hugged her son when he came home from school? or the man in nicaragua who checked his mailbox and smiled at the sign of a familiar font from a friend? of course not. that's not news. i don't want my world intelligence to be derivded from a producer at fox. i want it to be based on my eyes. is this ignorance? possibly. but if so, isn't it also bliss? statistically, the most dangerous country i will cycle through is none other than the good ol' u s of a.

so how do you propose we change our method of delivering news about the world?
all i'm saying is that it's poignant that a 13 year old can tell me what paris hilton is up to but can't point to uganda on a map. it keeps us numb to ignore the easily solvable world problems when we can substitute it with celebrity bickering and our gossip culture.

don’t you realize you’re taking a tremendous risk in riding on all these roads...i mean what if you’re knocked off the road and left for dead in a ditch?
every time you get in your car you’re putting you and your passengers’ safety at risk. we depend on thousands of unknown beings for their sobriety, recognition of red lights, minimal distraction by those gadawful cell phones, etc. the next time you are on a two lane road at night, realize that you are putting blind faith and the continuation of your pulse in the driving skills of whomever it is behind those approaching headlights. i am taking no more of a risk than you will tomorrow at 8 am as you drive your tin can in excess of 70 mph.

what if you're shot?
it'll hurt.

do you consider yourself some sort of modern day explorer with all the wandering you've done and plan to do?
no. what i do i consider perfectly normal, but everything is perspective. i could never do what many of the people i know do everyday. but they do what they do, i do what i do, and it all seems to work out. there is no place left to explore on this planet anyway. it's all been done.

so do you think you'll ever settle down and get a job?
if i can find a job that, if i went into work and the boss said, "sorry, we can no longer pay you," but i still kept coming and doing what i had been doing previous to this proclamation, then that's the job for me. i hate the fact that people have to do things more for the money than for the joy of the thing they're doing. yes, yes, i know, we need money to live, i'll admit it, but think how sad this is when you really break it down. people pay lip service to the fact that they love what they do, but perhaps it's that they love the lifestyle that what they do provides them with. and that's fine if they're fine with it. i realize that buying new things makes some people quite happy. but i could never be fine with that. i don't want my life to be dedicated to the accumulation of money and stuff. i don't want to wake up to sonic beeps, look at the same three red numbers, go to the mirror, and have to confront myself as to whether i'm actually living. it just doesn't make sense to me.

well, the only reason you can do these sorts of things is because you don't have a career/wife/home.
everything in life is a volitional choice. a career is not a cage. you don't need a key, just the courage to walk away and never look back and realize that there will always be something else you can do even if it ultimately involves a struggle, however minor. i'm convinced that many people truly become their jobs by spending an ungodly number of hours doing them and the subsequent hours talking or thinking about them. but again, if this is the definition of enjoyment for them, go for it. as to the wife/home thing, i think many suffer from same faces same places syndrome (sfsps). it's okay to take off for a couple of weeks on your own. it doesn't mean you don't love your spouse, and in fact will probably have the opposite effect. and i believe people should more frequently vacate the familiarity of their homes. if today is thursday, and you have an inkling that seven thurdays in the future will be identical to today, then by all means, gEt oUt wHilE yOu cAn! but that's just me and what do i know.

what if you're mugged?
i will hand everything over with a smile and reevaluate.

but i still don't understand why you do it...
neither do i. and i don't think there needs to be an explanation. sure i could say something like i don't want to live my life via national geographics but rather through experiences, but that's not it...that just sounds good. the beauty of a rainbow is ruined when explained in terms of dispersion. i have no credible ratioinale for what i do other than it's what i feel like doing. and as with anything i do, if i ever feel like not doing it, i'll stop and do something else. it's that simple.

that's an incredibly selfish philosophy!
if it's selfish to maintain and foster personal happiness, then label me as such.
it would make both me and ayn rand quite proud.

so you're just one of these "go with the flow, see where the wind takes you" sort of people?
absolutely not. the result of going with the flow is that, as a result of no effort of your own, you simply end up downstream with everyone else. and if you allow the wind to blow you, you'll eventually be stopped by some sort of impediment or the wind will die out. remember, ifiTiStobEitisUptOmE. i plan for the things i want to do, really investigate it, and then commit to it. however, this does not imply that i overplan. in fact i have no real route planned for this bike ride other than to head east from vancouver and south from calgary. allowing the inbetweens to develop is the sweetest part.

i’d love to do something like that......but, but...
enough with the conjunctions, you haven't missed your chance. just choose to do it and do it. it's that simple. thoreau said, "simplicity, simplicity, simplicity." thanks henry, but i'm taking it one step further and changing the nouns to verbs: "simplify, simplify, simplify!" downsize. start saving money. quit buying useless and unnecessary junk to surround yourself with and give you reasons not to do things. stop buying food and then for whatever reason throw it away. don’t buy new clothes to earn respect because that’s respect you don’t want. have friends cut your hair. minimize the stuff around you so you can easily leave it all somewhere during your exodus. sell your house (don’t be scared), quit your job (you’ve wanted to forever anyway...) and do it. do something. don't wish your life away. it doesn't have to be like that unless you want it to be like that and if you want it to be like that then that's fine as long as you realize that it all boils down to your personal choice. don't comfort yourself with easily eliminatable excuses and just turn on the tv so that your brain becomes babble. i can feel myself getting preachy. so i'm done and will conclude with the extent of my spanish: adios.

wait wait, before you go, if you could tell the world ten things, what would they be?
here they are for you, for me, in no particular order, and with an included renunciation for any pedagogical interpretations:

1. don't flush toilets after every extrication. we defecate and urinate in perfectly potable water and each flush is 4 gallons the girl in sri lanka who just died of cholera could have drunk. i'm not saying we should ship the water to her, but out of respect, we could all flush a little less. in addition, change the way you shower. rinse your body for 15 seconds, turn the water off. lather up and scrub. rinse for 15 seconds. don't let the water run while you brush your teeth or shave. done.

2. recycle unless you want your great grandchildren living on top of all your crap.

3. stop getting so angry (especially behind the wheel)...the next time you start to fume, take a deep breath and ask yourself, "is it really worth it?"

4. stop wasting so much food. the amount of food squandered hourly...from any restaurant is obscene. bloody hell, take it home, even if it's just a bite, and eat it later. don't fill up our landfills with food for which in other places on this sphere people would take the life of a fellow human being. eat what you buy. why on earth wouldn't you?

5. that thing you find yourself daydreaming about, do it. don't be content with being bored out of your skull. the change you desire is possible and requries one ingredient: you.

6. use cloth diapers, disposables are extraordinarily non-biodegradable and not worth it, especially for just a squirt of urine.

7. do something somewhere to someone no matter how little or insignificant to help eliminate racism. a lot of littles make a lot of difference. and racism, though usually expresses with initial disclaimers, is rampant.

8. spend one day completely alone without talking to anyone or being entertained by any external media. having read your mind i will counter by saying it shouldn't be boring.

9. if you can't explain or fully understand god, take comfort in the fact that god must be infinite which to me is synonymous with enigmatic and since we are just foolish futile finite creatures, a comprehensive understanding of god would do one of two things; elevate us to the status of god or bring god crashing down to our level; both of which i think are impossible. enjoy the mystery, don't speak negatively about others when they are not present, and have a kind heart.

10. when people try to judge your motivations and you know they are wrong, be content and don't feel obligated to explain.

11. never listen to a word i say.