My journey evolved a long time ago away from just travelling by bicycle from place to place. A more figurative movement from one experience to the next grew out of people, places and opportunity. So many tangents have developed around the spine of my bike tour that it’s become hard to distinguish what’s part of the tour and what’s not. So I don’t try to make the distinction anymore. Just like the rest of us, I am purely on a journey through life. Over the last couple of years this attitude has catapulted me all over the place, from the highest mountains of Central America to a farm in Michigan and recently from New York City to London and Paris. I set out to cycle from Alaska to Argentina and that is a road I am still on. There have been tests and distractions and I have found more important things in my life along the way. But come October 23rd, 2013 I will find myself in Cartagena, Colombia, once again alone with Shermy (my bike) at the top of a strange continent I’m determined to explore. Most pan american cyclists get a boat from Panama to Cartagena, I just happen to have taken a longer route.
The last few weeks I rode in Central America were testing. I struggled with the distinction between my geographical and emotional journeys. I had fallen in love and wanted to be in the US with a girl I want in my future. But I’d spent the last few years programming myself to see destiny as an arrival on two wheels in Tierra Del Fuego. And believe me, it is no easy thing to give up on a focus that has been driving you for years. I did though, I acknowledged something more important to me than myself, my cycling and adventures. I decided to give up one love for another. It was the right decision and one that I am proud of. So, I rode as far down the road as I could, to Yaviza, the Panamanian start of the Darien Gap. Then I put Shermy on the top of a bus and began the journey up to New York City to be where I felt I belonged.
Living in New York City far outstripped my expectations. Settling into a routine of writing, swimming and cycling, the privilege of the opportunity to live in one of the world’s great cities was never lost on me. Starting to pen a book about my experiences thus far became my job but I needed more. I needed the opportunities that come with a work visa. So I wrote to a load of immigration lawyers before eventually visiting one. I needed to nail down how I was going to be able to stay in the US. But there was sadly no nailing to be done. He delivered the sad news that my chances of getting the visa I craved were very slim indeed. And that was that, I had no choice but to give up on my American dream.
It’s hard when immigration law comes between you and the girl you want to be with. And I found it hard to come to terms with the fact that I now had neither of the things I’d been wrestling between. A future with the girl of my dreams in a country I love had been snatched away by reality. My momentum south by bike had all but disappeared and the idea of it now confused me. So I did the only thing I know. I got on my bike and rode it. On May 30th, 2013 I loaded Shermy once again and rode over the George Washington bridge and away from New York City.