It wasn’t my idea, but I decided to ride a bicycle with my friend across the US a few years ago. If you ever make a decision to do the same, here’s what happens next: Everyone you know will tell you it’s a bad idea. Everyone will tell you all the reasons why only the thoroughly prepared cyclist should even attempt it. This is the part where you exercise a little thing called “fuck it.” Why not? The mix of inexperience and spontaneity can produce some of the greatest experiences of your life. Coincidentally, they are also the perfect recipe for melt downs and tearing out your own hair
In 2011 we went up the largest granite wall in the world with Timmy O’Neill and felt real real small and a little bit stupid. In 2013 we rented a raft, get dropped off at the start of the Grand Canyon, and rowed 225 miles of the Colorado River for 16 days with no prior experience and no guide. This year brought us to the Pacific Ocean where we will attempt to row and sail our homemade wooden boat 900 miles down the coast of Baja California. Wish us luck…
“It’s pretty simple to do the same things all the time and the next thing you know you’re much older and you haven’t done anything that you’re really proud of in a while except go to work and make money.”
Most people have accepted the tedium of adulthood by the time they’ve reached their mid-thirties. That’s just how life works. We start to worry about things like job security and mortgage payments, not to mention the health problems we’ve developed from years of terrible eating habits. There’s no thrill anymore, no real stimulation at all aside from occasional sex with a less-than-attractive spouse. Life gets heavy and the responsibilities pile up. It’s impossible to drop everything and skip town for a few months like you used to; that is unless you never plan on coming back.
And yet, Jeff Vallee and Heath Kirchart manage to do exactly that. Each year they pick something they know nothing about and plan a trip around it. In the past few years they’ve ridden bicycles 3,300 miles across the country, climbed El Capitan and rafted 215 miles of the Grand Canyon, all with little-to-no experience. This year they’re building a 17-foot wooden boat that they’ll row/sail for more than a month, traversing the 900 miles from Southern California to the tip of the Baja Peninsula. So what if they’ve never built a boat before, or sailed one for that matter? They’ll come back with a good story if nothing else, because while the rest of us are sitting around reminiscing about the good old days, they’re out there, still living them
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