"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”– Lao Tzu
I had to tell you all about two of the craziest guys I have ever met! When we were in the Bolivian Salt Flats two weeks ago, after travelling through some of the bleakest, emptiest lanscape I’ve ever seen, two guys rolled into the hostel we were staying at. They both had bikes loaded with everything you could need, stuffed into paniers on the side. Even in the freezing cold of the altitude, one, Tom, was just wearing a flannel and shorts.
As you can imagine, we were all intruiged, and it turns out that they had started cycling in Ushuaia, at the very bottom of Argentina, more than 4500 kilometers away. Tom Henson-Webb, from Cornwall, England had started in November and was heading all the way up to Alaska, which should take 18 months!!!! He had started off travelling with another friend, but they had split up, and he had met Mark Mumford in Chile. Mark, also from the UK, was going from Ushuaia to Ecuador. Still a pretty insane idea.
I’m incredibly impressed at the sheer effort of their ride. They go about 100 kilometers a day, mainly camping out on the side of the road, with the ocassional hostel as a treat. It’s an enormous trek to even do something like the US, with nicely paved roads and bike lanes, but in places like Patagonia and Bolivia, which are so remote, it’s nearly impossible to imagine. For example, it took us 5 hours to get from Tupiza, near the border to Uyuni. The whole way was on gravel roads, and up and down steep mountains. Jon and I tried biking on gravel in Puerto Madryn and got about 10ks before we gave up, as it made it so hard to control the bike. SO doing that up mountains?? In a place where we saw only a few cars over 5 hours? Insane.
We left them in the Salt Flats, and went to Sucre, but when we got to La Paz, Jon mentioned that they might have made it there too. And bizarrely about an hour later, we heard a shout behind us, and there was Tom, and two people he had met on the road, Patrick and Tara.
It was great to catch up with him and hear how the last two weeks had gone. Apparently, they had taken it pretty easy (easy = 50ks a day -ha!), and now Tom was going to spend a few weeks in La Paz, waiting for another friend of his to come join him for the rest of the trip North.
I’m fascinated by the whole thing. If you want to follow their journey, Tom is blogging at www.thelongestroad.net and Mark has a facebook page – South America The Wrong Way Up. On Tom’s blog click the BLOG section because the main page only has the GPS updates, and Tom kinda lost his GPS tracker.