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.


Anonymous B-rent said...

"4. stop wasting so much food." DON'T DO IT! DON'T FINISH YOUR PLATE! IT'S WHY AMERICANS ARE OVERWEIGHT, unless you are extremely inefficient like Rob and me.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005  
Blogger sam said...

Great blog Hirsch! I'm glad that some aspects of technology still interest you. Do you mind if I peruse your blog via my new web-enabled cell phone during my next weekend warrior outdoors trip?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005  
Anonymous Sam U said...

Dude, what's up!
I wish you were coming through, NYC so you come talk to my 12th grade class about beards (I'd wear my beard wig).
If you go through Tucson I can give you some advise on where to camp.
Good luck braw

Wednesday, July 06, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said... the imortal words of George Thorogood..."Get a haircut and get a real job...Clean your act up and don't be a slob...Get it together like your big brother Jim...Why don't you get a haircut and get a real job?"


Thursday, July 07, 2005  
Blogger Carny said...

Hirschy, you say "i plan to spend, on average, between $5-7 per day max. spending money, though i do it, makes me want to vomit."
I understand you have limited resources, but isn't getting this worked up over spending money defeating the purpose of some of your other points about not worrying so much, living life to the fullest etc.
You can't take it with you so might as well enjoy whatever you have (big or small), not let it make you sick, trouble you, become an obsession of some sort...
No need to listen to Carny though
Enjoyed your thoughts...

Thursday, July 07, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That which you wish for you shall find in nature...

Thursday, July 14, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laughter is the best medicine.

Thursday, July 14, 2005  
Anonymous Gayle said... are truely inspiring! I know your Dad and I know how proud he is of you. After reading your entry....I'm really blown away. Good luck and can't wait to read what happens next.

Saturday, July 16, 2005  
Anonymous Nofare said...

I'm writing this from New Caledonia as I am New Caledonian. I found your blog by chance and was surprised to read that you biked around NC. Hope you liked it.
Good luck to you. I'll check on your blog from time to time.

Sunday, July 17, 2005  
Blogger HUGHES said...

Best wishes, Hirsch. Look forward to seeing you up near Moab. It is excellent to see that you are on the path. Your journey through life means a lot to all of us.

Sunday, July 17, 2005  
Anonymous Ted said...

Outstanding narrative followed by ten wonderful points to guide one's life (I believe we should all ignore number 11).

Sunday, July 17, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How the hell did you leave our apartment so quietly? good luck!

Sunday, July 17, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Hirsch,

Just wondering how you are doing? I met you just before you got to Radium (I had a BOB trailer too, remember?) Did you ever see Jim again? I gave him your message. I had an interesting encounter with a Grizzly the next day as I left Marble Canyon campground. First time a bear has taken a real interest in me, or perhaps it was the trailer he wanted to check out; usually they are too busy with their own stuff.

I hope your trip is going well.



Thursday, July 28, 2005  
Blogger chase said...

hirsh, good to read you alive and thriving. Your energy is still the same, and relaxing to be with. Thanks for the reminders on the importance of keeping it real. I'm walking the fine line, trying to pull it off urban style, cycling with kids and teaching science for work, which really is exactly what I want to do with my days. Anyhow, check out, a new project.
love to you brother,

Saturday, September 03, 2005  
Anonymous Andre said...

Hey Hirsch!

I read some facts about you in a travellers-book by a german guy called Andreas Altmann. Think you've meat him in La Paz.

Just wanna cross my fingers for you that no bad things will happen during your journey!!!!!

Good luck and all the best from Berlin (Germany)!

Monday, October 15, 2007  

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