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    Posted August 4, 2010 by
    La Paz, Bolivia
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Did you 'Eat, Pray, Love?'

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    A Family Lives Their Dream on Two Wheels


    “Are you crazy?” I shouted at my husband when he came home one day and proposed a year-long bike trip with our sons.  “Have you lost your bloody mind?  We are parents, dear husband!  We have children!  We have to do what every red-blooded American parent does: stay at home and raise our boys the right way – by staying home like everyone else.”


    But then I started thinking about our life in Boise, Idaho - middle aged parents with two boys comfortably nestled in a large house in a suburb with a couple of cars in the driveway. We got up early and headed off to work, dropping the kids at daycare on the way. We worked all day, and came home late. And then we collapsed into bed, utterly exhausted. Isn't that the American Dream? Isn't that the way it should be?


    But the real question was:  was it the way I wanted it to be?  Was the American Dream the be-all and end-all?  Was it the Path to Enlightenment and Roadway to Happiness?  Would I, could I, be content with a big house in the suburbs and some cars?  Was that really what life was all about?


    One thing led to another and it wasn't long before we hit the road on our bicycles.  Everything we needed – tent, sleeping bags, stove and cooking pot, clothes, and homeschooling supplies were lashed, strapped, or buckled to the bikes.  After a year cycling the USA and Mexico, we knew one thing - we wanted to continue on.


    As a family we made the decision to cycle from Alaska to Argentina, and set about preparing for a much longer tour than any of us had ever attempted - three years through extreme conditions. And then, somewhere along the line, the idea for a world record attempt came up.   Our ten-year-old twins were all grins, and I quickly dashed off a proposal to Guinness World Records.


    The response wasn’t pretty.  If our sons wanted to break the record as the youngest to cycle the Pan American Highway, they would have to cycle the Dalton Highway from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks.  Davy and Daryl would be the first children to attempt it – if they did.  I wasn’t convinced it was worth it.  We held another family meeting.


    “Here’s the deal, guys,” I explained.  “The record starts way up north in Prudhoe Bay.  We’re planning to start in Fairbanks 500 miles south of there.  If you really, really want to go for the record, we’ll go to Prudhoe Bay, but you need to understand how hard it is.”


    “500 miles?  We can do that, Mom,” Daryl interrupted.


    “You need to know that it’s more than 300 miles of dirt road and when it rains the road turns to soup.  It’ll be much, much tougher than anything else you’ve ever done. And you need to know we most likely won’t make it through – lots of cyclists way stronger than us have been beaten by the Dalton.”


    “Let’s do it!” they both agreed.  “We can make it!”


    That night as I lay in bed trying to sleep, my mind went wild.  All along I had figured the trip wouldn’t be all that arduous – we could simply hitch through the difficult parts.  But now, if the boys were to make a serious attempt at the world record, that would not be an option.  No matter how hard, no matter what kind of obstacles lay in our way, we would be committed to pedal over them.


    I wasn’t worried about my husband – he’s as strong as a bear.  I didn’t worry about the kids – they had an unending supply of energy that would power them through.


    But me?  I didn’t trust my own abilities.  Could I really cycle all the way from the Arctic Ocean to Tierra del Fuego?  Did I want to?  I’ve always been the weak link in our family.  I’m the one who tended to give up when things got tough.  Rather than having legs of rock-solid muscle like John and the boys, my legs resembled jelly.  The extra 40 pounds I was carrying around wouldn’t help matters either.


    In my mind I played back our conversation of earlier that day. I saw the fierce determination in my sons’ faces; I heard the excitement in their voices.  How could I take that dream away from them?  I’m Mom – I’m supposed to be the one who encourages and supports her children as they reach for their dreams.  And here I was considering taking the dream away before it even started.  Could I do that to them?


    By morning I had made my decision – I would do it.  The four of us would pedal every kilometer between Prudhoe Bay and Ushuaia together.  If we failed, we would fail trying.


    And now, over two years later – we are in La Paz, Bolivia.  We’ve pedaled 13,000 miles through North, Central, and South America.  We’ve ground up impossibly steep mountain passes and slept in our tent while temperatures plummeted to single digits.  We’ve outrun a bear and pedaled alongside a massive bison running along the road.  We’ve met good, kind, generous people of every color imaginable and have learned more about humankind that I dared to dream of before we began this journey.


    And so we continue south.  The four of us will pedal together and slowly make our way through Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.  We will arrive at the southern tip of the world at some point in the next year or so and I will be proud to say, “We did it!  We dared to live our dream!”


    Read more at www.familyonbikes.org

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