Let me start with a big thanks … Thanks for hanging in there readers!
I know things slowed down a bit for the last few weeks, but life has been hectic. My latest adventure was definitely a part of the reason.
I was in Peru during the first 3 weeks of October for an event known as the Mototaxi Junket, an adventure race organized by The Adventurists. With 19 other teams, we raced Mototaxis (an awful piece of machinery) from the small beach town of Colan to Urubamba – a small town nestled in the Sacred Valley.
It was a trip full of adventure, hardship, and unbelievable beauty. I don’t want to give too much away, because it is my intent to write about it in more detail later. Suffice it to say, it kept me busy and distracted me from this blog.
Since my return to the states though, I’ve managed to make more progress on my recently released book, The Divide. It was published the day before I left for Peru, so it too has suffered much neglect … at least it’s marketing campaign has. But the situation there has improved.
You can find The Divide now on:
and for purchase on:
If you’re a reviewer interested in reading this book, contact me and I’ll see that you get a free copy of the ebook.
Until next time …
I needed a break. I stopped at a convenience store for a drink. There were two guys inside, both Hispanic, one behind the counter, leaning on it, and one in front. We talked about the day’s heat and how they had been seeing cyclists since the racers came through.
“Yeah man, where is the rest of your group?”
“Oh it’s just me. I’m riding solo.” The two raised their eyebrows and glanced at each other. The guy behind the counter stood up. My brow furrowed in response to their movement. “What?”
“Well, it’s just that this isn’t the best road for bicycles. Not a lot of people around here care enough to share the road, you know? And on top of that you’re alone. This isn’t the best road for a white boy to be alone. You know what I’m saying?”
“Yeah, I hear you. Thanks for the heads up.”
“Yeah, when you get back on your bike I wouldn’t stop until you get to Cuba. That’s another 40 miles down the road.”
“What’s the road like? Flat at all?”
The clerk’s friend spoke up while he shook his head. “No, it’s all up and down. It’s not even the best road to drive because of all the hills. It’s probably worse on a bike.”
I was riding a prejudice, non-cyclist friendly road. Great detour. I finished my snack and grabbed another sports drink.
“Good luck out their, man.”
“Hey, thanks guys. I appreciate it.”
After almost a year, it’s finally time to reveal my new book The Divide. It’s my personal account of riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, a route that runs from Canada to Mexico down the Continental Divide. Here’s a brief synopsis:
How far would you go to answer a simple question?
After his final year at university, Nathan Doneen wasn’t satisfied with the direction his life was heading. He had doubts … he had questions. In June of 2013, Nathan set out on his mountain bike to search for answers along the Great Divide, a 2700-mile route that traces the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico… and he set out alone.
Thrown into the world of erratic weather, cramped bivy sacks, and overwhelming solitude, Nathan was continually forced from his comfort zone, putting his personal growth on steroids.
With both his future and past in mind, Nathan’s revealing and honest account illustrates the challenges of the route—and life—and how it’s possible to find the strength and courage to move past them.
This is also a good time to introduce the next big adventure. It’s called the Mototaxi Junket. I’m headed to Peru along with two friend to embark on a race for honor and respect—our chariot: the Mototaxi.
Our roughly 2200 mile route will carry us across a substantial portion of Peru and will test not only the limits of our motor vehicle, but the limits of ourselves. To see what I mean, check out this video.
You can be sure I’ll be writing about his experience, so stay tuned. In fact, if all my flights were on time, I’ve just landed in the city of Piura, Peru … so bring it on Mototaxi Junket!
Until I return to the northern hemisphere, read The Divide and let me know what you think!
“What the hell am I doing?”
My legs burned with a week’s worth of laziness and my lungs with the cold morning air. I sat next to my bike in the shadow of the mountains, gravel digging into my legs. Why had I ever considered this?
“I can still bail Nathan. Megan can’t be that far away yet. You have no idea what you’re doing.”
My first bike tour was off to a great start. Twenty minutes earlier, my friend Megan dropped me off at a trailhead at the south end of Banff, Alberta. I had assembled my bike and packed my gear. We asked two mountain bikers to snap a few photos before I set off. Locals. My gear gave away my intentions and my chest swelled when they said neither of them had attempted the route and only knew one guy that had — he hadn’t been able to finish. Riding high on my bike, my chin to the sky, I set off into the mountains where the sun had just touched their tops. I extended my arm and gave a final wave to Megan and the mountain bikers.
Now, 1.6 miles later, instead of riding my bike, I sat next to it trying to assess the damage. I had come around a blind corner and hit a trench carved into the trail by the rain. The impact, paired with my poor pannier packing skills, caused each of the rear plastic pannier clips to snap. I was 1.6 miles in and not sure I could effectively carry my gear. That’s a problem when you’re riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, the longest route in the world, following the Continental Divide through two Canadian provinces and five US states, reaching as far south as the Mexican border.
“What the hell am I doing?”
This last summer, I went for a bit of bike ride… well, a pretty long bike ride.
One of my favorite songs on the trip was Xavier Rudd’s “Follow the Sun.” I thought it ironic at the time, because I was generally traveling south… not east to sunrise or west to sunset… I wasn’t really following the sun at all.
Too literal? You think!
That was my education in the hard sciences coming through. “The sun rises in the east… The sun warms the planet… The sun sustains almost all life on the planet… And then the sun sets in the west…”
It didn’t occur to me until later that I was actually following the sun. I was passionate about this bike ride I was on. I was excited to be out there, exploring. This wasn’t something I always wanted to do though.
One day this passion rose… This passion warmed my heart… This passion sustained my soul… And then, this passion set, falling below my emotional horizon.
I had followed the sun through the entirety of that bike trip… through several weeks, thousands of miles, and hundreds of thousands of vertical feet.
I bring up this metaphor because I want you to consider what really nourishes you and brings light to your world. Sure, life can exist without the sun… but that is in the deepest and darkest places… and that is survival.
So consider what really makes you thrive? What is your sun?
Do you follow the red line? Do you trace its every angle and hug to each meander? Do you even know which line I’m talking about?
If you’re lost, don’t count yourself alone. I too was ignorant of the red line until recently. To demonstrate, let’s travel through time, back 2 years to when I was a college senior 3 months from graduation. I was passionate about science and would receive a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science. Biology, huh? That should land me a decent paying job right out of college, right?
Frankly, I don’t know. I haven’t even put that degree to use. Two years ago, I began an introspective journey, a very critical evaluation of myself and my values. This culminated in a bike ride along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, the longest mountain bike route in the world. Now I spend my days writing, trying to capture that experience and the lessons it taught me.
One lesson I learned: the red line doesn’t own you, so go your own way.
The GDMBR traversed 2700 miles of country roads, forest service roads, single track, and quad track from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. To guide me, I had a set of 7 maps. Each side of each map was bisected by the “red line,” the route, the path that I was supposed to follow if I was going to claim that I had completed the longest mountain bike route in the world. Hell of a resume entry, right? I suppose it was pretty important to stick to that red line then.
This wasn’t the case though. The map makers couldn’t know what I would be experiencing as I rode, what I would value, what I would hope to gain from the route. The further I rode, the less value I assigned to the red line–I didn’t let the red line dominate my life. On the 40th night of my backcountry-bicycle journey, my last night before finishing, this was the advice I passed on to a pair of cyclists that had just begun their own ride along the GDMBR. It seemed natural to me, even obvious: “Don’t let the red line dominate you.”
I still needed to apply this to the big picture of my life though. When I graduated from high school, I had aspirations to be a writer. I threw those under the bus though when I left for college. I enjoyed science and there was a career to be made in such promising fields as chemistry and biology. Better go that direction, right?
Now, almost two years a post-grad, I can tell you that if it were not for some life-shaking events, I would still be on that path–I would still be following the red line, the line drawn by someone else in a way they saw fit. I would probably be in some stuffy lab in a graduate program where thinking is confined to measurable observations, statistics, and line graphs. I would probably be building my credentials in anticipation of arriving at the red line’s next destination.
This isn’t to say that this particular path, this particular set of life choices is wrong. In fact, I hope to return to graduate school, albeit, to study something different from my Ecology/Wildlife education, something I’m more passionate about. But what I am trying to say is, don’t follow any red line, purple line, pink line, green line, black line. Don’t live up to the expectations set for you by someone else. Live up to your own expectations and go where your passions might lead you–leave behind a line that is its very own shade of you.