Day 537 – The end of the world

Posted by on March 14, 2015

Day 537 / Tolhuin – USHUAIA!!!, Argentina / 65 miles (Total 15,005)

There are moments in life that can change the path you walk on. A thought that sends you to the unknown. A simple decision that can bring closure to the lost of a loved one. I let go to the confusion of life and followed a dream. On November 22, 2010, I told family and friends about Pedaling for Pennies. A fundraiser to honor my father. to raise money for cancer research and to travel a path to bring peace within myself. Without ever raising a dollar for charity or an overnight bike ride, I set out to the unknown and pedaled from Minnesota to Alaska. 3000 miles and three months later my life changed. I fell in love with the simplicity of living out of 5 bags, the endless shifting of landscape, and the kindness of strangers. When I returned from my tour, I exceeded my goal and found my niche in life. I wanted more and I never could have imagined where the Mother Trucker would take me next.

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The first day of my first tour. A day that changed my life forever. Freaked out and filled with determination, I made my way to Alaska. Top 3 days of my life. Thousands of kids sending me off with style. My hometown of Zimmerman has been AMAZING with supporting Pedaling for Pennies. Thank you all

My thoughts are pure and my mind was clear. I wanted to keep pedaling for myself, my father and cancer research. The thought of riding the Pan-American highway has been on my mind since meeting James and Sara in Alaska. From Minnesota to the Southern tip of South America, 15,000 miles and 14 countries. I’ll do it. For a year and a half I saved, planned and prepared for a 18 month bike ride. I set a goal of $100,000 for cancer research and packed my bags once again.

Taking my first pedal back on August 19th, 2013. A million thoughts running through my mind. Will I make it to Ushuaia? Will the bike hold up? What if it doesn't? Where the heck will I sleep tonight? As the days went on I slowly found my rythem

Taking my first pedal back on August 19th, 2013. A million thoughts running through my mind. Will I make it to Ushuaia? Will the bike hold up? What if it doesn’t? Where the heck will I sleep tonight? As the days went on I slowly found my rhythm

 

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You don’t need a lot in life to smile on the road.

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A flower for a loved one

 

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Sometimes life throws up a roadblock and you have to jump over it. My friend Todd joined me in Northern California for his first tour and I wanted it to be good. We rode the coast line till a road block wanted us to detour. We ended up jumping the road block and pedaled some of the most prestige land you could imagine

People would ask what was my favorite part of the trip. Well, this isn't bad. Redwoods in Oregon

People would ask what was my favorite part of the trip. Well, this isn’t bad. Redwoods in Oregon

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I crossed into Mexico the day before Christmas with everyone warning me about the dangers. Hospitality and kindness was what I saw from Mexico to Argentina. The most kindness came from the poorest countries. People with nothing would offer a place to sleep, a warm meal, or would just want to hear about my travels. Truly amazing!

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The Darien Gap separates Central and South America with no roads available. I had to choose between flying over it, or sail through the Caribbean sea for 5 days. I went with the boat. Snorkeling around the San Blas islands.

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What was my favorite country? Colombia. Riding the Trampoline of Death. Once considered one of the most deadliest roads in the world

 

A post from Facebook. It's official! I have completely fallen in love with Colombia after 3 days of riding. Some of the best food and the fruit here is out of this world. The Colombian folks might just be some of the nicest people I have met on tour. I stopped in front of this house for a quick snack and these kids came running out all excited. They told me their mom was making me some hot chocolate and sent me off with my saddlebags full of food.

A post from Facebook. It’s official! I have completely fallen in love with Colombia after 3 days of riding. Some of the best food and the fruit here is out of this world. The Colombian folks might just be some of the nicest people I have met on tour. I stopped in front of this house for a quick snack and these kids came running out all excited. They told me their mom was making me some hot chocolate and sent me off with my saddlebags full of food.

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As the months went by I passed border after border, mountain after mountain and learned to adapt to whatever life threw at me. Carrying a 90 pound, fully loaded bike for two days. Up and over 16,500 ft, just cause

 

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A lot of checks off the bucket list on this trip. Machu Picchu, Peru

 

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What was the hardest part of your tour? I left Northern Peru with a few more white hairs then I thought. To describe Northern Peru in one word. Tense. The drivers are insane with fast driving and  constant horns honking. The dogs were worse though. Every corner seemed to have a savage dog or two waiting to attack. It seemed I was climbing hills 90% of the day with the sun beating down. But I loved every part of it. When traveling long distance your mind seems to grow stronger and adapt to your surroundings. You learn the hard days are the same as the good days. You find peace in the chaotic patterns of the day. You learn to let go

 

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What’s your favorite part of touring? The friends you make along the way. Matt, Anja, Marko and Tom. Friends that will live in my heart forever.

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Sometimes you just need to strip down and ride free. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

 

 There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.


 There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more – Lord Bryon

The last day

 537 days on the road, 14 countries, 15,000 miles and today is the last day. Excited to be home, but the thought of leaving this lifestyle scares me to death. I left the La Union bakery after a few goodbyes and made my way to the main road. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. There was no wind pushing me around and the sun was out. I found every excuse to slow down and to take the day in. The closer Ushuaia was the more intense the view became. I was about 15 miles out from Ushuaia when someone on a motorcycle parked 20 feet from where I was taking some photos. The person started to creep me out with him gazing at me through his helmet. I thought to myself what the heck was this weirdo looking at? He took of the helmet and it gave me a good laugh. It was my friend Brian checking to see how far I was. We chatted a bit and then I had some fun grabbing onto his cycle for a few hill climbs. A couple miles out of Ushuaia he took off and told me he would see me in town. I came around my last corner and saw the Ushuaia sign far off in the distance, but there was something else waiting for me. Michelle, Brian, Markus, and Karin were waiting for me to cross with a banner. I was blown away with so many emotions. The end of my trip and having four great friends surprising me at the finish line was the perfect way to end the tour. After a few photos I made my way into Ushuaia and grabbed a hostel where everyone was staying.

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Words cannot describe how incredible the ending was to this story.

Never expected this. Thanks guys

Never expected this. Thanks guys

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This is the end. 15,005 miles, 537 days, 14 countries and raising money for cancer research.

 Back at home

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The last few days in Ushuaia were a bit stressful. Someone hacked my debit card, my laptop died, and my camera and credit card were stolen, but I’m home in one piece. Thanks Michelle and Brian for helping me out. I’m home now working and trying to get back to the real world. The Plunging for Pennies turn out was great and we raised close to $10,000 in one day! Thank you Tammy for everything you have done for Pedaling for Pennies. Thanks Randy for all the support

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Dedicated to you dad. Miss you

3 Responses to Day 537 – The end of the world

  1. Dusty Pence

    You must have read my mind; no sooner did I ask, “will you be writing a final blog entry?”, and it appears! Thank you, James, for sharing your most amazing journey with us. I hope there is a book in this somewhere….I envision: photos of scary roads and beautiful people, tales of the love and kindness people showed you along the way, and your reflections on it all. (And someone correcting your autofill spelling of course!)

    And Africa! I will wait with bated breath for 2018 and yet another fabulous blog.

    I look forward to finding out what will come of Pedaling for Pennies in the interim, and to learning how you will direct the funds you have raised. Keep on truckin’!

    I want to reiterate something I have told you in the past—I have never followed a travel blog the way I followed yours, even those written by dear friends I have known for years. I feel privileged to have met you in the Black Hills and to have shared your journey vicariously. Thank you so much.

  2. Goldiefox

    Congratulations! Thank you for posting the final post for those of us around the world who have followed you. We may never met you, but we cheer for you. Personally, I think I can call you one of my heroes. I have read all 537 days of your journey from the start. I can’t believe it’s over already. Looking forward to Africa. Look up this show and watch: Long way down. You’ll love it!!

  3. Terry Nelson

    James, you are “The Man!”
    Thanks again for the wonderful tour of South America, it felt like Michelle and I were right there with you all the way.
    It was great to finally meet you, Amy and Tammy at the Plunge. We had a blast! Wow, $10,000.00, what a great turn-out! Zimmerman is a great community!
    If you’re ever near my hometown, give me a call, you’d be more than welcome to stop for a cold one.

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