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Family On Bikes

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Craig Frew | 11:17 UK time, Thursday, 12 November 2009

Mark is set to take around nine months to complete his journey down the Americas, a good pace of around 70 miles a day allows him to experience life all along the American Cordillera. There are many travellers on the Pan-American Highway, and there's even one whole family of cyclists who take pride in the fact that they are taking their time in the journey from Alaska to Ushuaia. Nancy, John, Davy and Daryl have been on the road for almost 18 months and have pedalled over 10,000 miles in their quest to reach Argentina.

With 11 year-old twins on board it's a truly remarkable challenge for the Vogel family, and it's not the first time they have hopped on the bikes for something like this - visit their website to find out more. When they reach their destination, the boys will have earned the Guinness World Record as the youngest people to cycle the Pan-American Highway.

Nancy has kindly written an article about their tales from the road for the blog, this is their story...

Family on Bikes
by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

One might expect a strong, young, single male to take off to ride his bike from one end of the earth to the other, but a family? A life on the two wheels may not be the expected route for raising kids, but it's a whole lot more fun!


In June 2008 my husband and I climbed on our bikes along with our kids, (then) 10-year-old twins Davy and Daryl, to cycle halfway around the globe - north to south - along the Pan American Highway. The day we pedalled southward out of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on the shores of the Arctic Ocean was one of those crystal clear arctic days and I felt like I could see all 18,000 miles of our journey ahead across the grassy tundra. All four of us were excited to finally be on our way - the whole earth lay before us like some kind of massive red carpet welcoming us to a life filled with adventure.

In the 17 months since we first embarked on our journey through the Americas, we've had our share of ups and downs - both literally and figuratively. We've ground up mountains and plummeted back down the other side, sailed through valleys with tailwinds pushing us on, and woken up to snow blanketing our tent and the surrounding countryside. We've pedaled through deserts, along coasts, and through rain forests.

We've shivered in unimaginable cold, sweated like fevered pigs in sweltering jungle heat, and basked in beautiful spring days. Our children have climbed trees of every imaginable variety, swung on vines like Tarzan, and tasted exotic fruits they had never heard of. In short - the four of us have had to opportunity to get to know our world.


As we've cycled through eleven counties so far, we've also had the opportunity to get to know the world's people. There is something about the bikes that draws people toward us; that encourages people to reach out to us in ways they never would if we were in our own car. It might be something simple like handing us a bag of apples or tomatoes, or it could be as complex as hiding caches of Gatorade along the highway, but people of all walks of life have reached out and added magic to our lives.

I can tell story after story about the people we've met. About the woman in Oregon who handed us the keys to her house and said, "Go on in and make yourselves at home. I'll be there in a few hours." And she didn't even know our names. Or the ER doctor in California who pulled up alongside us and asked, "Would you like to stay at my house tonight?" Or the man who cycled up to where we were eating crackers and cheese in a park in Texas and invited us to his home for a warm dinner and soft bed for the night.


One day in Mexico we ended up in a migrant workers' camp and our boys played on the dirt floor of a tumble-down shack with some of the poorest kids in the country. Another day, we were invited to stay with an incredibly wealthy family where Davy and Daryl played video games while sitting on posh, luxurious furniture. Young and old. Rich and poor. White, black, and brown. All have reached out to add magic where none was expected, but all was greatly appreciated.

I'm convinced traveling on bike is best way to see the world. On bikes, we live the world. We experience the mountains by grinding up and plunging down. We understand the idea of valleys and coastlines. We see how life varies depending on altitude and latitude. In short - traveling on bike allows us and our children to gain a much deeper respect for Mother Nature and the earth's peoples than we could ever gain in any other manner.


And so we come to the question we are asked all the time - why? Why would a normal, everyday, ordinary, American family take to life on the road? No, it isn't necessarily to break the world record as the youngest people to cycle the Pan American Highway, although that is a part of it. Mostly, we just want to get to know the world as it really is - not through some kind of sugar-coated, glass-encased glasses. John and I want our boys to truly understand what our planet is made of and to understand her people - and that is exactly what is happening.

Nancy also had a chat with Mark about his motivation for his expeditions and found out where his passion for cycling began.


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