I have been hard at work on my first book about my adventures throughout Central and South America by motorcycle. There is no hard deadline, but I’m shooting for the end of the year. There will be print and electronic versions, along with a media rich version containing videos and photos integrated into the story.
If you would like to be notified when it is available you can sign up here:
Here is a sample chapter:
It’s late and I’m riding south on Argentina’s Ruta 40. My pupils shrink from the beams bouncing back from Jenny’s headlight. The soft full moon illuminates the road better than her artificial light and I want to pull the fuse. Doing so would risk an impact from oncoming traffic so I leave it and continue riding half blind. I am 45 degrees south of the Equator and 10 degrees from my destination. That’s about a thousand miles, but I don’t use miles as the metric of my progress anymore. Some days of riding yields a degree or two and other days a fraction based on the difficulty of the terrain. It has been 19,000 miles of riding that has brought me so close to the edge of the world, the southernmost point of the Americas. Jenny is falling apart from all I’ve put her through and her pain is an extension of my own.
I try to keep the throttle steady with a broken thumb I don’t know is broken. The road is made of a powdery dirt and rocks the size of a fist. This is all by design. It is maintained by dumping more dirt and rock on it. Large trucks pack the loose mixture into a somewhat solid footing, but it must have been only a few days since they threw the last batch on the road. Trucks leave packed dirt tracks. Everything else is a dry mush that Jenny sinks into.
I muddle my way through the night at a slow pace, 30 or 40 MPH at most. There is very little traffic at this time of night, but the few trucks that do pass me kick up a swarm of rocky shrapnel. Complete concentration is required to avoid slipping into the mush. I can stop at any moment and sleep, but I won’t. I am so close. The destination I set out for 193 days ago is a few days away. I keep going, draining the last drops of fuel in Jenny and me. My dream is unfolding mile by mile and soon I’ll pass the gates into Ushuaia, the city that sits on the bottom of the world.
My eyes flash to the odometer too often.
“Ten more miles.”
This is the conversation I’ve had with myself for the past hundred miles until I put a piece of duct tape over the dial.
Despite all the trips to welders, Jenny’s left luggage rack broke off in Bolivia after all the crashes. She’s lopsided with a bag on her tail and the other on her right. Her balance is off and I have to constantly correct it. I’ve been making an endless left turn for the past three weeks to keep her straight.
Jenny violently veers to the left and before I can do anything to stop it, I realize my right case has rattled free. The corrective steering I’ve been applying is no longer, correct. At speed we take a dive and slide through the mush. We finally come to a stop and I kill the engine, but my leg is pinned. I can’t reach the ignition to turn off the lights. After 14 hours of Jenny’s single cylinder put-putting in my ear the silence is suffocating me like a vacuum and I lay there trapped, hypnotized by the spin of the rear wheel in the red glow of Jenny’s tail light.
After a couple of minutes of grunting and yelling I free my leg. I perform the post-crash tasks I’m too familiar with: lift Jenny up, check for signs of damage, then disrobe and check for signs of injuries. She’s been my best friend throughout this crazy journey.
I stumble back down the road along a small trail of impact craters created by the toppling of my luggage end over end. The case is resting right side up as if it had been placed there deliberately. I push Jenny into a ditch and call it a day. Hours pass and I’m still sitting on the side of the road, not sleeping like I should be.
I am battered physically, emotionally, and mechanically. I watch an imaginary game of tennis. Right, then left, over and over. One side, the destination I had dreamed of reaching for three years, and the other is home. I am a couple of bus rides and a plane ticket away from escaping this self-made hell.
Should I turn my back on the place I’ve been traveling to for over seven months? I am only a thousand miles away, a week tops. A few more hours pass and I watch the full moon pass overhead. I have made my decision. The anxiety over my two options is gone and I’m fully committed to my choice. I unroll my sleeping bag and curl up next to Jenny’s crank case. I sleep like a stone and rest up for the morning.