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The following are stories written for the Selkirk Journal and the Comox Valley Record during my 11-month bicycle expedition through South America, from January to November, 2004:

Border Bound (a pre-trip introduction)
Against the Wind Through Tierra del Fuego
Hurry Up and Slow Down (cycling in Patagonia)
Chugging Through Chile (cycling Chile's Carretera Austral)
Argentina a Lot Like Canada (crossing the Argentina pampas)
South America's Hidden Gem (travels in Uruguay)
The Bolivian Paradox
Pushing Through Peru (misadventures on a Peruvian riverboat)
Jungle Journey a Drag (cycling the Brazilian Amazon
Grand Finale (cycling Venezuela)

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Border Bound
by Ryan Parton

A few short days ago I abandoned my cosy little life in Canada for the glacial wilderness of Tierra del Fuego, a windswept hulk of an island whose jagged crags stand sentinel at the bottom of the world.

From here I will embark upon an epic bicycle journey to the Caribbean Sea, some 10,000 kilometres and several million pedal strokes from my starting point in the remote south.

Along hte way, I will traverse nine countries and an eclectic array of landscapes, from the celebrated beaches of southern Brazil to the inhospitible plains of western Paraguay; the frigid highlands of the Bolivian Andes to the lush tropics of the Amazon jungle.

The question that begs to be answered is, "Why?"

Why am I so compelled to leave behind all that is familiar and embark upon such an ambitious and masochistic quest?

One reason, undeniably, is an insatiable thirst for adventure and, conversely, a near-frantic flight form the mundane.

Probably this trip has something to do with a phobia of staying in one place for too long, a case supported by my geographic track record: Four cities and 12 changes of address in the past eight years.

A fear of emotional attachment, as has been suggested by a friend who understands me better than she gives herself credit for, is perhaps another culprit.

Whatever the paramount contributing factor, the energy fueling this trip's preparations has been a stubborn refusal to believe that I'm not capable of completing it.

In all honesty, I'm not a particularly gifted athlete. I'm not blessed with the chisled legs of Lance Armstrong or the infinitely deep pockets of Bill Gates, and I've forsaken a ride in the rain in favour of a movie and a tub of ice cream more often than I'd like to admit.

I've never attempted anything on this scale before, and I'm intimidated by the very thought of it. But I know I can do it.

I've dubbed tihs expedition "Atravesando Fronteras," which is Spanish for "Crossing Borders." Sure, I'll be crossing the ones you see on a map, but the borders I'm really referring to are the ones in our minds that exist subconsciously and set false limits on our own perceived capabilities. They're the ones that say, "You can't do it," and so prevent us from even trying. Atravesando Fronteras is aobut doing what you want to do, about conquering inhibitions and living your dreams.

Over the course of this year-long endeavour, as I weave my way through a fascinating and diverse continent, I welcome you to follow my travels in these pages, where I will provide tales of my adventures to all my friends and neighbours back home.

I also encourage you to visit my web site at http://rgparton.tripod.com/af.html , where you can find out more about the trip, the countries and my progress through South America, and where you can send me your comments or words of encouragement.

Above all else, I encourage you to cross your own borders and follow your own dreams, whatever they may be, and to never underestimate the power of a determined heart.


Next

Border Bound (a pre-trip introduction)
Against the Wind Through Tierra del Fuego
Hurry Up and Slow Down (cycling in Patagonia)
Chugging Through Chile (cycling Chile's Carretera Austral)
Argentina a Lot Like Canada (crossing the Argentina pampas)
South America's Hidden Gem (travels in Uruguay)
The Bolivian Paradox
Pushing Through Peru (misadventures on a Peruvian riverboat)
Jungle Journey a Drag (cycling the Brazilian Amazon
Grand Finale (cycling Venezuela)

Back to my writing samples
Back to Atravesando Fronteras home page