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Posts Tagged ‘cycling’

“On January 1st I hit a significant milestone on this journey – 10,000 kilometers of bike riding. I have travelled about 20,000 so far, half on the bike and the rest by bus, boat and 1 plane ride from Panama City to Bogota.”

That was Peter Brother’s first blog entry for 2013. Pretty impressive! His cycling journey began in August 2011 in the Yukon, Canada and has taken him along the western coast of Canada, the United States, through Mexico, Central America and into South America.

His bike was stolen while he was in Peru, and he spent a couple of weeks trying to decide what to do next. It was too expensive to get another bike shipped from Canada, and he couldn’t find what he wanted in Peru. Initially, he decided to continue the trip by bus and hiking, but eventually his longing for wheels led him to a bike shop in Iquique, Chile.

So he’s back on the road again, about to start exploring the Lake District in Argentina. After that, his plan is to head to Chile and either ride or take a boat down the inland passage through lakes and glaciers to the southern tip of South America.

Oh, did I mention he recently turned 70?

Kinda raises the bar for the rest of us, doesn’t it?

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In my last post, I wrote about the dilemma faced by Peter Brother after his bike was stolen in Peru. Suddenly his dream of cycling from the Yukon in northern Canada to the southern tip of Argentina came crashing down around him. He had managed to complete two-thirds of his journey, and now had no bike to finish what he had started.

It’s a good example of what can happen as we pursue a dream. Sometimes life gets in the way. Circumstances beyond our control pull the rug out from under out feet, and we’re left dazed and confused, asking why. And wondering what to do next.

At first, Peter was shocked. He spent a few days trying to come to terms with this change in his plans. Then he decided to see if he could get a bike built to meet his needs in Peru. He also explored the possibility of having a new bike, identical to the specialized one he had bought for his trip, shipped to him from Canada.

Neither option worked out.

At that point, he could have give up. So close to achieving his dream, and yet so far.

Instead, he decided to revamp the dream. He realized that he still wanted to go to Chile and Argentina. He wanted to continue the journey. However, now he would do it by bus. He felt it would give him plenty of opportunity to meet people, and to do some hiking.

So, for the past few weeks, he has been hiking in the mountains and the desert, exploring caves and glacial lakes. He will also be trekking to the world’s largest canyon in Peru, the Lake district in Argentina, Patagonia in Chile and a number of other locations.

His dream continues to evolve. In a recent post, he wrote,

“While in Hauraz, I had a couple of significant dreams, that seemed to me to indicate I want to continue cycling for part of the journey through Chile and Argentina. I am now rethinking about biking.  I will go by bus to Nazca and Arequipa in Peru and then bus it to Santiago.  Then I may pick up a “new” bike there.  Then go to Mendoza, down to the Lake District and cross back and forth between Argentina & Chile, biking and hiking.”

It’s important to be flexible and open while following your dream, yet keep in mind your focus, the main reason you started on the journey in the first place. In this way, you’ll stay open to possibilities and … those possibilities are endless!

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Over the past year, I’ve been giving periodic updates on the adventures of Peter Brother, the Canadian cyclist travelling from the Yukon to the southern tip of Argentina by bike. Since my last post, he’s journeyed through all of Central America and is now in South America. In Peru, to be exact.

He’s had some incredible experiences, met lots of interesting people, and continues to post updates and photos on his blog.

He recently celebrated his 70th birthday, and has no intention of slowing down. In his words,

“I’ve already done a lot in my life and could sit back and be satisfied. But in a sense I feel like I am a caterpillar about to burst out of the cocoon. I hope that my journey inspires people of all ages, to not assume any limitations, to discover what our true limitations are, our weaknesses and our strengths. It takes courage to do what you want to do, because there will be pain, disappointment, but there will also be more joy and happiness. The journey of life is to rediscover the heart, moving toward our heart’s unfolding.”

Peter recently had a first-hand experience of the pain and disappointment he mentions in this quote. He had spent the day exploring the sacred site of Machu Picchu with a group. When he returned to his hotel, he discovered that his bike was missing. He checked to see if it had been moved to the garage behind the building, but it wasn’t there. It had been stolen.

That bike had been his constant companion for over a year. It had taken him through city streets and mountain roads, along coastlines and across continents. It was a specialized bike, chosen because it was both lightweight and durable, able to carry him as well as his packs.

There he was, in Peru, three-quarters of the way through his dream cycling journey and … without a bike.

What would you do? Would you be able to dream bigger?

Later this week, I’ll let you know how Peter approached this. For now, I’m curious to hear what you’d do under those circumstances.

 

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Spring is in the air here in southern Ontario. We’re enjoying temperatures in the mid-teens this week (unusual for this time of the year), the birds are returning early, the snow and ice has melted and the geese in the pond behind my building are into mating rituals. I went for a walk in the woods yesterday and saw signs of new growth stirring under the layer of matted leaves.

It’s a time of year when I clean out closets, dig out the patio furniture, and dust off my dreams. The ideas that have been germinating in my heart and soul all winter are now ready to sprout. There’s a sense of growing excitement inside me mixed with the fear of stepping into unknown territory.

Spring brings dreams of gardens, wonderful new plants to discover, pots to fill, green spaces to create. It’s also a season of cycling and hiking, getting back out in the world after a winter of hibernation. I dream of paths to follow and woods to explore.

After spring comes summer – long languid days and starry nights. The pace of life slows down. Gardens explode with colour, pots overflow with texture and fragrance, the woods are filled with dancing sunlight and bird songs. I dream of casting anchor and setting sail on one of the Great Lakes, canoeing and camping in the northern woods, and walking barefoot along a beach.

As summer gives way to autumn, the air grows crisp and cool. Leaves take on brilliant hues, squirrels gather nuts with a growing sense of urgency, and I pick up my pace as I take my morning walk. My dreams are more vivid now – of capturing the kaleidoscope of colour through photography or watercolour, of writing my next book or travelling to a far-off land.

Once winter returns, I dream of skiing through snowy woods, snuggling up by a cosy fire as I sip mulled cider, and taking walks through the neighbourhood amid snowflakes dancing in the air. It’s also time to reflect on the year and notice how many of my dreams became reality. Then I plant the seeds of new dreams for the coming year.

What dream seeds have you planted lately? How will you nurture and encourage their growth this spring?

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As we in the northern hemisphere move into winter, adding layers of clothing and hunkering down into hibernation mode, my friend Peter Brother is donning shorts and savouring the warm breezes of southern California and the Baja Peninsula. His cycling journey has now taken him over 5200 kilometres of rugged and beautiful terrain. He arrived in San Diego just before Christmas, a destination he had hoped to reach before the end of 2011.

In his blog, he writes of Imperial Beach where there are 60-foot swells and some of the best surfing in North America; Pismo Beach and 24,000 Monarch butterflies in the State Park and Refuge; cycling through groves of eucalyptus trees, inhaling the strong sinus-clearing aroma; and all the wonderful friends, cyclists and local residents he is meeting along the way.

As I write, Peter has now crossed into Latin America, leaving behind the familiar language and culture of North America. He admits to feeling both fear and excitement. He has new challenges ahead. In preparation, he’s spending a week in Ensenada, Mexico, living with a family and improving his Spanish.

In a recent article in his hometown newspaper, The Record, Peter mentioned one of the things he hopes to accomplish with his journey. “I’m inspiring people to follow their dreams, to do what you really want. The only obstacle is in my own mind.”

What’s your dream? What do you really want? If the only obstacle is in your mind, what can you do to move past it?

The next time you say to yourself, “No, I can’t because … “, I challenge you to pause for a moment. Consider the dream that Peter is following – cycling for nearly two years from the Yukon to Ushuaia, Argentina – and ask yourself instead, “What’s one step I could take today toward my dream?”

Then take that step!

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A month or so ago, I wrote about Peter Brother who is cycling (primarily solo) from Whitehorse in the Yukon, Canada along the western coast of North America, through Central America and South America to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. It’s a journey of 25,000 kilometers, some of it through major urban areas and some through rugged and remote terrain. Not a journey for the faint of heart.

As he goes, he’s sending out blog updates to involve friends and family in the experience. Some of his posts make me wish I was travelling along with him, while others remind me why he’s the one on the bike, not me!

In the first month from the Yukon through northern British Columbia, he faced frosty temperatures, days of endless rain, breathtaking mountains and valleys, and seven bears beside the road in one remote stretch. He has made new friends (cyclists who may join up with him later in the trip), and even met people who used to work in cycle shops in his home town of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. Here’s a few excerpts from his blog posts that give a sense of the contrasting experiences he’s having.

“September 6 – Awoke to clear skies and magnificent puffy clouds and sunshine. The ride to Dease Lake allowed all our wet things to get dried out by the strong (very strong) wind. It was one of the most terrifying rides I have ever had – on more than one occasion I was pushed 3 or 4 feet over. In place there was no shoulder and the drop off on either side of the road was steep and long. With the wind playing a major factor we had our slowest ride so far, averaging only 11.5 km an hour…One challenge lying ahead of us is that there have been several mud slides closing highway 37, which is the only way we can get to Terrace.”

“September 12 – with a tailwind and fairly easy hills we were cruising along at our fastest pace so far when we came to a road block. The highway has now been closed for a week and today they are allowing vehicles through in a single line one way with a pilot vehicle. We were advised that we could not ride our bicycles through the recovery area; so we got a 95 km ride in the pilot pickup truck.”

“Haida Gwaii – an Archipelago that rises up out of the Pacific Ocean on a shelf that extends to the mainland. The geography is very similar (so I’m told) to that found in southern Chile and Argentina in Patagonia…It is also the land of the Haida, an indigenous people with roots that go back several thousand years…Each family has a totem in front of their home that symbolizes the story of that family…Although I have only been able to be here for a few days, I am struck by the gentleness and beauty of these people. I have talked with a few people about their language and culture, walked on trails in the rain forest and watched the rain falling, lots of rain, but today beautiful sunshine sparkling and dancing on the waters on the bay…I am off on the bike to explore a little more and visit a sandy beach to walk along beside the salt water.”

Peter’s now on Vancouver Island visiting with family and friends before continuing south along the western coast of the United States. You can follow his journey here.

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In recent posts, I’ve been writing about people I know who have been going the extra mile, literally, to see just what they’re capable of. My son cycled across Canada and my daughter ran in the City2Surf run in Sydney, Australia (and is now so pumped about the experience that she’s looking for other races to enter). Last week, I wrote about Peter Brother, a good friend who has now begun a two-year solo cycling trip from northern Canada to the southern tip of South America.

It’s got me thinking…

You see, although I was an athlete when I was young, in recent years I’ve become decidedly more focused on comfort. I still think I’m in relatively good shape, but I’ve noticed that walking up hills tends to leave me breathless. Legs aching, heart pounding, lungs throbbing, I’ll call out to whomever I’m walking with, “I’ll catch up with you at the top, okay?” Definitely not the sign of someone who’s physically fit!

I think my partner may have grown tired of my sighing and groaning about facing hills when cycling or walking. So last week, he suggested we go out for a walk together. He had already planned the route in his head – as many hills as he could find. I quickly understood what he was up to and was determined to keep pace. I did pretty well, only fading slightly on the last one. Then he suggested that I do the same route three times a week.

Have I ever mentioned in this blog that I have a wee bit of a competitive side? So far, this week, I’ve done the hills three times and even added in another, much longer and steeper, hill for good measure. I’m not huffing and puffing as much, my legs are growing stronger, and I’m starting to feel better in my body. In fact, I’ve noticed that on the days I don’t get out for a walk, there’s a craving inside me for physical activity. I guess that’s what runners often talk about – the high that comes from prolonged movement.

So, to my surprise, I’ve started pondering what kind of goal I can set myself. I get bored easily, and the hills I’m walking are already feeling too “easy”. I’m not about to take up running, but I have been cycling more, and getting more comfortable with being on the roads with my bike. Maybe there’s an event coming up that I could enter?

I’ll keep you posted!

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