Together with my husband and children, I cycled from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina at the southern tip of South America. We pedaled 17,285 miles through 15 countries. It took us nearly three years. My book, Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World is my story about our experiences.

For proof, here is a video from our final day of the journey and pics from the last 40 miles.

Comments: 168 • Responses: 85  • Date: 

_benny_19 karma

What are the odds... I just posted my own AMA about motorcycling from the US to Argentina.

I've been following your trip for a long time. Just wanted to say congrats to you and your family!!

familyonbikes9 karma

That's funny! I'll head over there to read yours. Thanks for the kind words!

alcalde13 karma

How did you support yourselves financially?

familyonbikes11 karma

Basically, we rented out our house (it's paid for) so that paid for about half of our expenses. For the other half, we freelanced, got some income from our blog, and whatever else we could do. At the end of the month, whatever wasn't covered by the above, we took from our retirement account. I've written the details of how we managed here:

mister_zurkon3 karma

Did you have an advance on the book?

familyonbikes1 karma

Nope. No advance at all.

DarthPeaches9 karma

Why did you decide to do this?

familyonbikes10 karma

To have time together as a family and have an adventure. Our sons were growing too rapidly and we didn't have enough time with them - so we took off on our bikes!

Civil7183 karma

Amazing. About how much did it cost. Lets say i wanted to do it what woul di need to prepare. Just me and my wife? And maybe a son one day or daugther

familyonbikes7 karma

Overall, we spent about $1500/month for basic day-to-day expenses. We also allotted an additional $500/month for one-off things like visiting the Galapagos Islands or Machu Picchu or rebuilding the bikes.

I've got a whole section on my blog about bike touring tips - with ideas of what to do and how to prepare. You've just reminded me that I need to update it :) You can find it here:

Civil7182 karma

Awesomeness thanks.

Thats pretty expensive. Dont think ill ever be able to do it. Thats more then my rent and if im out doing a journey like i wont be working.

Edit: now that i think of it... I wouldnt do it for 3 years probably a month or two go around the US or another country so it wouldnt be so bad if i save up.

familyonbikes0 karma

It's pretty doable.And remember - that was for a family of four. If you go longterm, then you don't have housing costs to maintain back home. If you only go for a month or two, you will probably be paying rent on top of your expenses on the road, but for a longer time period, you can give up your apartment and use that money for expenses.

Civil7182 karma

Thats something else im curious about, who and how did you rent your apaartment? Didnt you worry if someone wold steal stuff or just ruin everything? Tc

familyonbikes1 karma

We owned our own house. It was paid for, so we put all our stuff in storage and rented out the house - it helped pay our expenses on the road. Most people who go out for long bike tours end up selling/stashing all their stuff so they don't have to worry about it.

dexcel7 karma

Where you and the family quite fit before you left on your trip?

How did you deal with any illness on the trip?

How did you keep the twins education up during the trip?

What were your language skills like before hand. Fluent in Spanish?

Thanks for the Iama.

familyonbikes5 karma

Were you and the family quite fit before you left on your trip? - no. We were active, I suppose, but not overly. I rode my bike to school - 7 miles each way. The boys rode their bikes to soccer practice. But overall, I wouldn't say we were "quite fit" before we started.

How did you deal with any illness on the trip? - It depended on a lot of factors. If we could, we just stayed put until we were all better. If we couldn't do that, then we took it on a case-by-case situation and made the best decision we knew how to make at the time. See above for another question about how I had pneumonia in Argentina.

How did you keep the twins education up during the trip? - For the most part, their education came from our journey itself. The kids researched places we were passing through and wrote essays. You can see them here: For math, we carried math books and they worked on those in the tent or hotel.

What were your language skills like before hand. Fluent in Spanish? - I was fluent in Spanish before we left. The boys learned a lot on the way. My husband learned a little.

dexcel4 karma


Yeah after travelling in South America few years back I realised just how important it was to know Spanish. We struggled not being to speak Spanish.

Did you wear helmets all the time?

familyonbikes5 karma

For the most part, yes. There were a few times when my husband was sweating so much it was blinding him. He decided he was safer without a helmet, but being able to see.

intentsman7 karma

How did you get back?

familyonbikes28 karma

We flew. That messed with mind! It took us nearly three years to get there and then 10 hours to get back home.

Irrell6 karma

Would you ever consider doing it again? Also, did you stop anywhere on your trip which you felt was most significant?

familyonbikes8 karma

I wouldn't do this ride again - been there, done that. That said, I might consider taking off again on the bikes. If we did, I don't think we would have a big goal like last time, but rather just meander where the wind blows. Our PanAm journey was fabulous and I'm very, very glad we did it, but I don't want to do another epic quest again.

Of all the places we visited, I would say Honduras was the most special. I had worked there as a Peace Corps Volunteer many years ago, and it was great to get back. Besides that, we went to the Bay Islands off the north coast of the country and got to snorkel and scuba dive on the incredible coral reef.

Stopman5 karma


familyonbikes12 karma

We cycled across the Panama Canal on the Bridge of the Americas. We made sure we entered Panama City on a Sunday because there is less traffic then, so it wasn't too bad.

The hard part was getting across the Darien Gap - a 75-mile stretch of swamp between Panama and Colombia where there is no road. We took a boat around that part.

nicolascage15 karma

Did you ever get into any dangerous situations?

familyonbikes16 karma

Once - we were chased by a bear in northern British Columbia. I've got the whole story here:

hibbeldyflibbeldy3 karma

wow as a cyclist who rides alone in the mountains frequently , this gave me chills !

familyonbikes7 karma

It gives me chills! Fortunately, I was too scared at the moment to feel much of anything.

Oprah_Wind_Fury5 karma

No question, I just wanted to say, my class read your book last year. I have to say, truly incredible, and inspirational story

familyonbikes5 karma

That's awesome!! I'm so glad it's getting out there into classrooms to inspire kids to dream big!

zolltanzed4 karma

How many flats did you fix over the three years?

familyonbikes4 karma

Amazingly few! We used Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and they are very tough. They lasted and lasted and lasted... In fact, one of mine that I started with in Alaska was finally thrown away in Bolivia. You seriously need to check out the pics here:

As far as how many? We had three bikes and two trailers, so a total of 8 wheels. We probably fixed maybe 40 flats in the three years?

Roderick1114 karma

How were your kids allowed to skip this much school?

familyonbikes7 karma

They didn't "skip school", according to our definition - they went to a special school! My husband and I are both long-time teachers (I taught 21 years, he taught 20) so we made sure school went with us. Basically, we used our journey as the basis for our sons' education. You can see the essays they wrote here: We carried math books with us and they worked on them in the tent or hotels.

When we got back home, our main problem in the education realm was that our boys were significantly ahead of their peers! We are still homeschooling them, but they are taking some advanced math and science classes through the schools.

TheFork1012 karma

I think everyone should be able to do something like this. The kids will have an experience to remember forever and they learned something.

familyonbikes2 karma

I agree! My kids learned different things than they would have learned in school, but I think what they learned will serve them well.

TheFork1011 karma

At their age I was almost completely unaware of how the rest of the world lived.

familyonbikes1 karma

Me too. My parents took me to Mexico when I was 16 and that journey changed my life. I didn't want my kids growing up with blinders like I did.

whereisria4 karma

What kind of difficulties did you encounter during your trip? And what advice would you give to others who are thinking of doing something similar?

familyonbikes10 karma

Difficulties: extreme weather - cold, heat, wind. You have to be prepared for it all. We carried all our own gear, and didn't want to hassle with trying to have stuff sent to us, we carried heavy winter gear through Central America.

Advice to others: Just do it. Start out with an overnighter and you'll learn about 50% of what you need to know. Then do a 4-day tour and you'll learn about 50% of what's left. Each time you take off on the bikes, you'll learn more. The learning curve for bike touring is steep, but very short. You'll be confident in your knowledge in no time.

LoveYourLegWarmers4 karma

How was your back? Your wrists, knee, feet? Which countries to avoid? Which countries were the most surprising?

familyonbikes7 karma

As long as your bike fits well, your body is fine on the bike. We didn't have any major issues with that.

Countries to avoid? I'd say Costa Rica - it's way, way, WAY overtouristed. Of course, if you are riding the length of the Americas, you have no choice, but to go through CR.

Surprising? Belize. We had heard horrible things, but we loved it. And Colombia was incredible - friendly people, incredible scenery, and delicious food. Definitely the place to go!

Jtsunami3 karma

any problems w/ Giardia or any other parasites?
did you drink the local water?

deal w/ mosquitoes?

where did you stay in all of these places? hotels?

familyonbikes3 karma

We did not get parasites. We drank the local water if/when we knew it was safe, but mostly we drank bottled water.

Mosquitoes were crazy in Alaska. Here's a pic of us wearing mosquito hats while cooking dinner:

There was also a 600-mile stretch in Argentina where we battled some wicked biting flies that were WAY worse than the mosquitoes.

As for where we stayed - we camped in the north and south, but stayed in hotels in the tropics.

Death-Grind3 karma

Absolutely amazing. Which part of the trip was worse? The cold north or the hotter parts of south America? And finally, which specific part of the trip was the most memorable?

familyonbikes8 karma

Tough questions! The hardest part of the trip was northern Argentina. Everybody had talked about the wicked winds in Patagonia in the southern part of the country, but nobody even mentioned the northern part. And yet it was HARD! Long distances, absolutely NO water (we sometimes carried water for 2 or even 3 days), headwinds nearly every day... It was the hardest thing I had ever done.

Funnily enough, when we got down to Patagonia - where every single cyclist will tell you they battled crosswinds from hell - we had tailwinds!!! We made record distances throughout Patagonia! We couldn't believe it.

Most memorable? Probably that very last day. After 1018 days of working on getting there, we finally arrived at the end of the world.

Death-Grind3 karma

Damn! Makes it even crazier knowing that the hardest part was near the end of your journey!

familyonbikes4 karma

And it was totally unexpected. We thought we would cruise through northern Argentina - since nobody had mentioned it, we figured it would be easy. Or course, the whole mindgame thing was going on too - it was our final country and our brains were telling us we were nearly there and all.

Death-Grind2 karma

True test of perseverance. I couldn't help but notice the bear story, I'm surprised that the most dangerous encounter happened in BC, of all places! Was there any dangers that didn't involve nature? In other words, did you and your family ever come across a group of people who threatened you in any way?

familyonbikes5 karma

No, never. We did have a bike stolen one night, but we got it back. We were in a campground in Argentina, and some guys came over the fence, carefully took my bike and laid it on the ground, then took my son's bike over the fence. Fortunately, they woke my husband up in the process, so we scared them off and they dropped the bike.

We normally locked the bikes, but that night we hadn't. We had only covered them with a tarp against rain, so the rattling of the tarp woke John up.

Cabbage_And_Rice3 karma


I am planning to unicycle from Ushuaia to Cape Agulhas (South Africa), in a couple year's time. I'd love to see a detailed map of your journey. Also, did you get any immunizations before embarking on this trip? How many spare tubes did you carry with you? Did you have to get a visa for each country you entered? Any border crossing problems?

I could pick your brain all day, but your website looks like it will prove to be a compendious resource. Thank you for this extensive documentation.

familyonbikes2 karma

And I would love to see what route you are proposing. I just can't envision that route somehow.

familyonbikes1 karma

Wow! You've got your work cut out for you! My husband put together a really cool map of our journey, with wonderful pop-up pics, but for some reason it's not working right now. I'll talk with him about it in the morning. For now, here's the map indicating the essays our sons wrote, but it also shows our route:

We did not get any special immunizations. We generally carried two extra tubes per bike, although in some areas we had a bit more than that. As Americans, the only country we needed visas for was Bolivia. Regulations vary depending on your home country. Absolutely no border problems at all - getting cars and motorcycles through borders is a pain, but they don't even look twice at bikes.

diversitysurvey3 karma

Did you use GPS navigation to guide you?

What was the most interesting person you encountered on your journey?

familyonbikes4 karma

We did not use a GPS - I'm not sure how it would have helped us. Once you're on the open road, you can't get lost. In the cities, I doubt they are mapped well enough to really help us. Besides, we never had a problem getting through cities - we just stopped and asked people for directions.

Most interesting person... Oh gosh, we met so many! I would have to say the most interesting was Scott Napier ( - BTW, I took that pic of him). He broke the world record cycling the PanAm the fastest. What took us nearly 3 years, he did in 125 days.

diversitysurvey2 karma

Nice! How connected to the world were you? Did you get news updates, and keep in contact with friends and family?

familyonbikes2 karma

We blogged during our entire journey (all 1018 days of it!) so needed to be online whenever we could. We were able to stay in touch with people via email and Skype.

diversitysurvey2 karma

How'd you get internet?

familyonbikes2 karma

There are internet cafes in every little town. After getting settled in a hotel, I headed to the internet cafe for an hour or two to get blog entries uploaded.

diversitysurvey2 karma

But what if you were in the middle of a forrest of something? And also how often did you sleep in a tent vs a hotel?

familyonbikes2 karma

There were lots of times when we were camped out in the middle of nowhere. On those days, I handwrote my blog entry in my notebook and then typed it in once we got to town. It was frequently 4 or 5 days between towns where we could get online.

We slept in our tent in the north and the south because hotels were too expensive. In the tropics, it was so bloody hot in the tent that it was a big sweatfest and we didn't sleep. The good news was that hotels were cheap in the tropics, so we only used our tent as an emergency backup.

diversitysurvey3 karma

Ok. Thanks for doing the IAMA! and you are truly inspiring!

familyonbikes2 karma

Thank you so much! That's so sweet.

Pedo_Spider3 karma

Was it easier in the beginning or more towards the end? Also how physically prepared would you say you and your family were for this venture?

familyonbikes6 karma

It was significantly easier at the beginning. Toward the end, not only did we run into major challenges in terms of long distances, lack of food & water, and high winds, but we were physically exhausted.

Before we started, we didn't do much training at all (that's an understatement) but we just took it slow and easy. At the beginning of the journey our enthusiasm carried us. By the end, we were working on nothing but deep down grit and resolve.

Pedo_Spider2 karma

That's incredible. You're a stronger woman than I.

familyonbikes7 karma

I doubt it. I'm a wimp. I really am. I had just made up my mind that I would do it, so I did.

bundtlet3 karma

Have you profited much from your book?

familyonbikes2 karma

No - not yet. We've sold some, but it's only been out for 2 weeks now. We're still working on getting the word out.

brownrd23 karma

Where did you guys sleep? Did you bring tents, or use hotels and hostels?

familyonbikes3 karma

All of the above. In general, in the north and south, we camped as hotels were too expensive. In the tropics, it was too hot to sleep in our tent, but hotels were cheap so we stayed there.

In addition to that, we stayed everywhere imaginable. We slept in empty restaurants, at fire stations, on the beach, in people's houses, etc...

brownrd22 karma

Wow, that sounds like quite the experience! How old were your kids at the time?

familyonbikes1 karma

They were 10 when we left Alaska and 13 when we arrived at the end of the world. They are twins.

brownrd22 karma

Thats quite the adventure for kids so young. Good for you

familyonbikes1 karma


ThatGuyWhoIsCool2 karma

How old are the kids?

familyonbikes1 karma

They are 15 now. They were ten when we left Alaska and 13 when we arrived at the end of the world.

ThatGuyWhoIsCool1 karma

Thanks for the quick response. One more question.

What was their attitude towards the trip and how did they behave during the trip?

familyonbikes3 karma

They were totally on board. Once they made the decision that they wanted to do it, the decision was made. When I hit bottom in northern Peru and was ready to throw in the towel, it was Daryl who brought me back from the brink.

We were walking along the streets in Trujillo, Peru and I was bitching and moaning and complaining about how horrible everything was and 12-year-old Daryl turned to me and said, ""Complaining won't change anything, Mom. All you can do is keep going and things will get better." He was right.

gutterandstars2 karma

Amazing stuff!

familyonbikes1 karma

Thank you!

gutterandstars1 karma

What kind of diet did you guys follow??

familyonbikes2 karma

It varied tremendously from country to country, depending on what we could find. In general, I tried to eat relatively healthy but I'll admit there were times when we ate Oreos for breakfast. I've written about what we ate and how we carried it here:

gutterandstars1 karma

Oreos for b'fast sounds fantastic! I did a measly 150km trip and had a McD combo meal+extra burger for a lunch....and packed 2 cheese burgers for the road, but I ended up eating 'em within 30 minutes...sooo good!

familyonbikes2 karma

We found that our energy level suffered tremendously if we ate a lot of junk. Although we ate a lot of calories, a certain amount of them needed to be from healthy foods or we paid for it on the road. We were fine with a day or two of junk, but if we did it consistently for a week or more we felt it.

Viperi2 karma

Did you guys have time interact with locals and celebrate local customs in places you went through? Any plans for future?

familyonbikes3 karma

YES! We only cycled about 12 - 15 days/month, so had lots of time with local people. We were fortunate to be able to participate in many festivals - one of the highlights of our journey!

As for the future... Right now, we want to give our sons a different kind of experience. They spent their younger years living abroad as expats, then they spent a total of four years traveling on their bikes. Now we want them to have the experience of being part of a greater community and putting down roots.

We are in Boise, Idaho for now and plan to be here for at least the next three years. The boys are both involved with FIRST Robotics and they absolutely love it. They can participate in that until they are 18, so that's what we're planning. After that? Who knows.

Viperi2 karma

Great! You guys are really cool. And I guess the boys wud have started socializing with girls. Good luck with the plan and future.

familyonbikes1 karma

Thank you! I am proud of my sons for sure! (But then, every parent says that.)

shuloq2 karma

did anyone got sick? (like a really bad cold) if so how did you handle it?

familyonbikes3 karma

I did - I got pneumonia in northern Argentina. We woke up one day and knew I was sick - we didn't know with what yet, but we knew it was serious. We tried to get into town 66 km away, but after 22 km we knew I couldn't do it. Davy took my bike, Daryl got off the tandem and rode Davy's bike, and John took the tandem in alone while I hitched to the hospital.

I ended up spending a week in the hospital, then we hung out for another two weeks waiting for my lungs to heal before we hit the road again.

shuloq3 karma

wow, that must've been bad, you are really brave! looking forward to read your book.

familyonbikes2 karma

I wouldn't say brave - crazy, maybe? The pneumonia was bad. That was a very difficult portion of the journey for sure.

_benny_2 karma

Did you pay out of pocket or did you have health insurance? What was the cost if you don't mind me asking.

familyonbikes12 karma

We had health insurance, but didn't even bother filing a claim. The total cost for an entire week in the hospital, including xrays, medicines, doctors, nursing care, food and whatever else came to $514. We paid it and moved on. Can you even imagine how much it would have cost in the USA?

RuffSwami2 karma

Do you think this will have a lasting influence on your children throughout their adulthood? If so, how do you think this will influence them?

familyonbikes10 karma

YES! My sons know they can do anything. They know it won't happen easily, but if they stick with it and give it their all, they can do it. They also know that it's up to them if they fail or succeed. It will be interesting to see what they do with that knowledge.

RuffSwami3 karma

They sound really lucky to have had such a great experience early on in their life, if you don't mind my asking, how old are they now?

familyonbikes6 karma

They are 15 now - twins. They were 10 when we left Alaska and 13 when we arrived at the end of the world.

Somethingonmymind3 karma

How did you deal with the 3 years they missed from school?

familyonbikes2 karma

They learned a lot on the road and didn't have a problem getting back into school. In fact, we put them in a special school for advanced kids upon our return to the USA. They are still homeschooled now, but are taking some advanced math and science classes through the schools. I've written about roadschooling here:

Dynamics213 karma

That is incredible. Honestly, you sound like an awesome person and an amazing mother. They're lucky to have you. You should most definitely be proud of that accomplishment!

familyonbikes2 karma

Awww... that's so sweet! Thanks!

Autodidact22 karma

What advice would you give to someone dreaming of a comparable adventure?

familyonbikes2 karma

Just do it. There are a million reasons not to, but you really only need one reason to do it. It won't be easy. It won't always be fun. But it WILL always be rewarding. Just make the decision and then go.

_benny_2 karma

What was your technique for dealing with dogs who chased you?

familyonbikes3 karma

In Ecuador, we picked up a can of spray foam that they use for Carnival. It's kind of like shaving cream and comes in a big spray can that can shoot up to 20 feet. Daryl had one of those in his handlebar bag and could grab it and spray. We discovered, after he ran out of foam, that dogs were afraid of the can itself - all he had to do was pull it out and aim and they went away.

Davy and I didn't have foam, so we just yelled at the dogs and they mostly went away.

_benny_1 karma

Thanks for the advice!

familyonbikes1 karma

Sure - hope it helps!

Jennifersparks2 karma

What kinds of medical precautions did you take? Insurance, vaccinations, anti-malarial medications, etc.

familyonbikes3 karma

We did have health insurance through IMG. We chose a high-deductible plan that was very reasonable. We didn't get any special vaccinations or take anti-malarials.

Mostly, we just made sure that we ate a lot and we ate healthy. And we made sure to take plenty of days off so our bodies could rest.

Praskovya000012 karma

What was it like crossing borders? Was it difficult at all to cross from one country to another on a bike?

And also, what was the hardest part about adjusting to life back at home?

familyonbikes4 karma

We never had any trouble at borders. It was always a fairly straight-forward process. We filled out the forms, paid whatever fees they had, then they stamped us in. Getting cars and motorcycles over borders is a pain, but they don't even look at bikes.

Adjusting back to life at home... It was hard. The hardest part was accepting that this is where I wanted to be. After so many years of travel, my identity was wrapped up in those travels. If I no longer wanted to travel, was I being true to myself? About two months after arriving home, I had a big breakthrough moment when I realized that it was all about living the life you want - whether that is traveling or at home. As long as it's what will make you happy, then it's all good. It was a pretty amazing moment for sure. I wrote about it here:

kikassKK2 karma

Did you do some training or practice before biking that far.

familyonbikes2 karma

You can, but we didn't. We just started off slowly and took our time. We got in shape on the road.

django_drunkard2 karma

Great AMA! What are you and your family doing now that your trip is over? How are you adjusting back to normal life?

familyonbikes2 karma

We are in Boise, Idaho now. We love it here! The transition was rough, but we've finally accepted that every time we make a choice TO DO one thing, we make a parallel choice NOT TO DO something else. We could hit the road again, but that would mean giving up what we have here - and right now, we want what we have here more than we want the travel.

wildkilliams2 karma

How is riding through central and south America? All I hear on the internet is how dangerous it is, but then I see amazing trips like this, so I have no idea what to believe.

familyonbikes6 karma

Believe the people who are doing amazing trips like this :) Seriously - we had absolutely no problem in Central America and I would take my kids down there on bikes again in a heartbeat. Mexico won the hospitality award BIG TIME in our book - the Mexican people are wonderful! I've got many American friends living in Mexico and Central America and they report the same things I saw.

IsmaelCobrewibas1 karma

Opened this post, CTRL+F, Mexico, and then I found a good comment!!! Thanks!

I have to ask, how did you cross Mexico (East, West)? I assume you entered through California and then? Did you ride all the west coast? Did you went through Sinaloa? As a mexican who lives in Baja California (Border with California) I wouldn't have the pants to cross through Sinaloa.

familyonbikes2 karma

We crossed from McAllen to Reynosa, at the tip of Texas, then we cycled the whole east coast of the country. We cycled Baja a few years years, so decided to take a different route.

queenofbutts1 karma

that's amazing. I want to do this because i love biking. I wanted to go from L.A to New York. Now you have given me a great idea since i am from Argentina.

familyonbikes1 karma

Do it! It was so wonderful to pass through so many countries and learn about our world.

queenofbutts1 karma

what supplies did you take? how many tubes, and tires did you take?

familyonbikes1 karma

We were completely self-contained and had everything on our bikes that we thought we might need. In general, we had 2 spare tubes for each bike and we always carried a couple spare tires as well. I've got a lot of info here:

KennyMcCormick3151 karma

Why bicycle?

familyonbikes1 karma

Many, many reasons! The bikes affords you opportunities you can't get any other way. I've written a whole post about why I prefer traveling on bikes:

KennyMcCormick3151 karma

Air conditioning is a pretty compelling argument against, though. Hehe.

familyonbikes1 karma

True, that.

intentsman1 karma

Did the guy on the other AMA who rode a motorcycle to the same end pass you? Did you guys meet, or did he just zoom on by without nary a wave?

familyonbikes1 karma

I hadn't heard of him until we both posted here at the same time. His sounds like a grand adventure as well.

Cluckieduck1 karma


familyonbikes2 karma

Toward the end of their second grade year, my husband and I decided to quit our jobs and head out on bikes for a year. It was going to be just a year - a one-year career break only. Then we would come back and go back to work and the boys would go back to school. The boys were totally on board for a year traveling.

On that one-year trip (during the boys' third grade) we made the decision to bike from Alaska to Argentina. The boys were totally a part of the decision, so we didn't have to "prep" them or convince them at all. They were on the road for Grades 5, 6, & 7.

intentsman1 karma

Why did you stop there? Antarctica is only a little was farther.

familyonbikes2 karma

We really wanted to go to Antarctica, but cruises there are outrageously expensive. It would have cost $7000+ each and we're four people. We decided we could use that amount of money other ways. But darn! I would have loved to go!

ffcsin1 karma

Where did you cross into Mexico?

I once did 52 mi and I felt like Mike Tyson used my legs as a punching bag. What was your longest stretch of distance covered in one attempt? How'd it feel?

Congrats on living more in three years than most do in one life time!

familyonbikes1 karma

HA! Your legs get used to the demands after a while. Our longest stretch was 95 miles down in Patagonia. We had awesome tailwinds :)

We crossed into Mexico from McAllen to Reynosa, then cycled the east coast of Mexico.

meowcatlady1 karma

Did the whole family learn Spanish by the time you finished your long term bike ride?

familyonbikes2 karma

I was fluent from my Peace Corps days in HOnduras back in the 80's. My sons picked up quite a bit and can easily get around. My husband didn't learn a lot - just a few words.

GammaGrace1 karma

How did you take care of your hygiene? Bathroom breaks, showers, etc.? What was the longest amount of time on the bikes between towns?

familyonbikes2 karma

If we weren't staying in hotels or campgrounds where we could shower, we bathed in lakes, rivers, or streams if there were some. If not, we took sponge baths until we could get to a consistent water source.

The longest time between towns was 16 days from Prudhoe Bay on the shores of the Arctic Ocean to Fairbanks. It was the first 16 days of our journey.

TheFork1011 karma

How did you keep going when you couldn't find the energy? How old were your children? Where did you get the idea from?

Also, what about school??

familyonbikes3 karma

We tried hard to take enough rest days so that we didn't reach that point. That said, there were a few days that I called "rubber band days" that just stretched on forever. On those days we pushed on because we HAD to - you just do it.

The boys were 10 when we left Alaska and 13 when we arrived at the end of the world

While cycling in the USA, we met some other cyclists who were on their way to Argentina. That sparked the idea.

As for school, we used our journey as the basis for our sons' education. You can read essays our kids wrote about the areas we passed through here: We also carried math books that the boys worked through in hotels or the tent.

I_Am_Homeless_AMA1 karma


familyonbikes2 karma

We met Dominic when we were both cycling in Baja. In fact, one of my sons defected from our triple to climb on Dom's tandem with him!

I_Am_Homeless_AMA1 karma


familyonbikes1 karma

We LOVED cycling the Alaska Highway through British Columbia (except the being chased by a bear part). It was so cool to see the bison and bighorn sheep and bears and caribou - what a neat area. And Liard Hot Springs was fantastic!

Unfortunately, it rained the whole time we did the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff, so we were bummed about that. I guess you can't control Mother Nature.

I_Am_Homeless_AMA1 karma


familyonbikes1 karma

We keep saying that. We live just south of there in Idaho, but haven't gone north yet. One of these days...

lawrnk1 karma


familyonbikes3 karma

I don't understand what you're asking?

lawrnk2 karma

Sorry, I was referring to a post you made about tires. I figured you should be paid to be a spokesperson for that company, you have a unique story

familyonbikes3 karma

Got it! Schwalbe did sponsor us on our journey, but I don't sing their praises because of that. I do because they are, hands down, the best tires on the planet.

xwhizdumbx1 karma

Bicycles, man's machine.

familyonbikes1 karma

Bikes are wonderful things, that's for sure!

xwhizdumbx3 karma

Also just wanted to say I'm excited to read your book about your adventure. I was also wondering if you have had the chance to read David Byrne's "Bicycle Diaries" it's another great example of a persons experience through the perspective of being a cyclist in an unknown place. Thanks for doing!

familyonbikes1 karma

I haven't read that one - thought I had read every bike touring book out there. I'm off to find it!

siriusone1 karma

How did you fend of wild animals?

familyonbikes1 karma

There was no need. The only problem we had with a wild animal was being chased by a bear in British Columbia. You can read the whole story here:

Pepesilvie1 karma

Hi! I seriously want to do this in a few years if I manage to save up enough money. The thing is I won't have 3 years to complete it, I was thinking about doing it in a year, how plausible and how enjoyable would you say it should be given the timeframe? Also, there is one thing that worries me, how dangerous is cycling on a interstate road where cars and trucks whizz by you at 100+ km an hour?

familyonbikes1 karma

Many people do it in a year. It's a lot of riding, but it's doable. Remember, though, that you need to leave Alaska in early summer - June or July, depending on how fast you want to ride south before winter comes. And then summer in Ushuaia is reversed - you'll want to arrive there in January, February, or March. So really, a year and a half is more reasonable. You either do it in nine months to get the windows, or go for 18 months.

As far as riding on the interstate - it's actually quite safe. Boring, but safe because of the wide shoulders. You are very likely to get flat tires because of all the tiny wires that get shed from tires. We rarely rode on interstates - we only did it when there was no other choice. We generally cycled on small, country roads.

Pepesilvie1 karma

Great thanks! I'm from Argentina so my plan is to start from Ushuaia. One thing though, at least in Argentina, country roads most of the time don't have wide shoulders. More questions! sorry if this has been already asked, what kind of bike should I get and how did you generally plan your route?

familyonbikes1 karma

You're right that the country roads in Argentina don't have wide shoulders, but they don't have much traffic either. In fact, in the north, we had maybe one car every 15 minutes pass us.

As for a bike, I recently wrote a post about what to look for in a touring bike. You can find it here:

The route becomes obvious once you go. Carry regular paper maps that show a large-ish region so you know where you are going, then make sure to talk with local people. It's not a big deal at all.

Pepesilvie1 karma

Thanks for clearing out my doubts! This is really interesting, where did you usually store your bikes and gear when you where exploring cities, going to landmarks etc? How tough where the mountainous regions of Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and nearing countries?

familyonbikes1 karma

We always made sure we had a safe place for the bikes before checking into a hotel - that was the first question we asked. Sometimes they went in our room, other times they were in a warehouse or whatever, but we made sure they were safe. If we just stopped somewhere during the day, one of us stayed with the bikes.

The mountains in Colombia and Ecuador are really hard. They are very, very steep and the local people haven't discovered switchbacks yet. The roads just go up. In Peru and Bolivia, the climbs are higher, but the roads are created with switchbacks so they aren't as steep - but very, very long.

laxbro224-8 karma

Why would you make your children go with you? That just seems like bad parenting.

familyonbikes8 karma

Why would we "make" our children go with us? We didn't. They wanted to go and, in fact, were a huge motivator for me. I was the one who was reluctant in the first place and when I got down and considered quitting, they were the ones who brought me up and kept me going.

But even so, I'm with Autoadidact2 - having three years of dedicated time together as a family was a good thing. Climbing on Mayan and Incan pyramids was a good thing. Swimming with sea lions and scuba diving with turtles was a good thing. Meeting people from all walks of life was a good thing. And they now know they can do anything - if they can ride their bikes from Alaska to Argentina, what can't they do?

moonglow359-17 karma

this sounds as the most stupid thing to do ,like EVER. Highly disapprove.

familyonbikes7 karma

Can I ask you why? It was a fabulous adventure in my mind.