After Life…

“A permanent reference point does not exist.”  Author unknown


Finally, I’m catching my breath long enough to sit down and write a post-script.  I’m finding that processing is a continuous process (imagine that!).  In other words, this is what I’ve concluded up until today – tomorrow may change!


To start with, I hit the ground running.  I was only home about five days before I started back working full-time during the summer.  This was perfect; it’s what I asked for and needed to do, but I found that I was constantly asking myself, “Did I just finish a mega-ride through South America, or did I make that up?”  My worn-out clothes, trashed muscles, and broken down bike tell me that it was all very real.

Quickly, I learned that there are two Denise’s that live inside this sturdy frame.  The Denise of travel who is observant, curious, laid back and open to what comes her way and then there’s the Denise of “back-home” who is fast-paced, task-oriented, impatient and just wants to get shit done.  It’s like a switch is flipped in the plane somewhere around 30,000ft. altitude both coming and going.

I know also know for sure that you can indeed do anything, as they say, if you really want to.  Something happens at the cellular level when you start to believe in your own dreams, ability, worth, and desires.  It’s almost as if you can feel the vibrations become a reality in your bones.  It’s crazy cool!

I’ve learned that once decisions are made and the die is cast, so to speak, then you must simply “lean-in” to the discomfort, uncertainty and fear that instantly sets in.  From here on out it’s a matter of shear faith in the process (plus preparedness, of course).  As soon as you know that the little demons of doubt are intentionally messing with you, you  can just give them a little pat on the rear and send them along their merry way, or just outright tell them to go to hell.

Finally, as we all know…it really does take a village!  I, without doubt, know in my heart that it was the power of all the believers and supporters out there (yep, I mean YOU!) that gave me the energy, motivation and courage to continue on.  Blog likes, comments, emails, FB likes, donations, personal contacts, sharing my info, instagram likes, whatsapp messages all equal LOVE.  Honestly, I totally felt the support and it touched me profoundly!  Thank you!!

All in all it was the most awesome adventure of my life!  Every morning I got up (aching bones and all) with a huge grin on my face ready to take on a new day.  Miraculously, nothing bad ever happened.  I fell a million times in the gravel and washboard roads but never seriously hurt myself, I was never robbed and never even lost anything (except for a sun hat).  Everyone I met along the way was kind and generous.  People always smiled and waved at me as I passed through their street, village, town or city.  I was often offered food, water and shelter.  Honestly, the ride completely restored my faith in humanity on the community level and constantly reminded me of the urgent need to honor our amazing planet which is showing signs of abuse and destruction even in the most remote corners.

Post Trip Fall-out:

  • An article about my adventure was published in the Kitsap Sun (Bremerton Newspaper).
  • I did a two-day photo shoot with R.E.I to advertise their new line of R.E.I Co-op bicycles.
  • I told a story at “The Moth” about my trip.
  • Adventure Cycling put a link to my blog in their “Bike Bits” email.
  • I did a Ten day self-contained bike trip up to Victoria, Canada via the San Juan’s sleeping in my tent every night just to confirm how much I love a real bed.



Next time?

Bike/supplies – I have to say that I’m pretty happy with everything I brought along and super happy with my little Surely Long-Haul Disk Trucker.  The only thing I would have done differently is have a quick drying towel (couldn’t find mine at the last minute and didn’t want to buy another one) and probably buy a Brooks Saddle, otherwise no complaints on equipment.

Health/Nutrition – I rode hard and long most days which worked at least for the first half of the trip (three months).  My diet got worse over time and my pre and post stretching dwindled down to nothing which slowly affected my overall stamina and contributed to on-going aches and pain (duh!).  On my way up to Buenos Aires, I really felt the strain.  I didn’t have the same energy I had at the beginning of my trip.  In this situation, I flooded my body with caffeine, threw in a multi-vitamin and bullied it into high gear.  It grudgingly obliged.  When I got back to Seattle, I went to a sports doctor who basically said that I’d depleted my nutricional reserves and as a result, my body was kicking and screaming.  Now, I’m eating well, taking supplements, doing a lot of yoga and swimming and giving my body a well-deserved rest.  Well, that is after commuting to work all summer on my bike.  Anyhow, next time I will incorporate real food into my diet – things like fruit and vegetables, do a bit more stretching and maybe even take more breaks off the bike.  Crazy talk I know!

Next Steps…

  • I really want to edit the videos I took along the ride (Good Lord, why am I procrastinating so much? Oh, maybe because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing?)
  • I really really want to write some articles/essays about different aspects of this experience.
  • And…drum roll… I want to go again!! This time farther and longer.  It’s addicting.  Frankly, I never wanted to get off my trusty steed.  I wanted to ride all the way back up to Seattle, and then beyond that.  So, maybe, next time I will!

Final Note...Oh ya, in case you were wondering, She-RA is alive and well.  Unbeknownst to me, she fell off my bike along Route 40 in Argentina. Her leg fell off and she was run over by a car.  A couple on bikes saw her and picked her up.  They ran into me a couple hours later and asked if she were mine!! I duck taped her leg back, fixed her matted hair and clean-up her bruised body.  She is happily still with me today.

*New photos in this blog post taken by Dana Hansen.  I just saw them for the first time!





2 thoughts on “After Life…

  1. Denise, you are truly an inspiration to the couch potatoes in the world (I’m a member of that club, I fear!) Your determination to live life to the full and bravely conquer “new” worlds is fantastic. Long may you ride!


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