During my junior year of college abroad in Argentina, I made a weekend getaway to Mar del Plata, a popular beach town in the province of Buenos Aires. While there, I struck up a conversation with an Argentine gentleman. The topic of our conversation was, naturally, vacation.
Having been raised by an internationalist, I had done a substantial bit of international travel by my early 20s. The Argentine fellow, well into his 40s, had not. I asked him, "Have you ever left Argentina."
He unabashedly responded, "No."
I naively continued with my questioning, "Why not?"
His response stuck with me to this day. "Argentina is a great, big country. There is plenty for me to see at home. I would prefer get to know my own country before getting to know others."
The comment brought my internationalist orientation into question. I reflected. I too live in a great, big country. Why don't I know more of it? That quick conversation on the beach at Mar del Plata sparked a desire within me. I wanted to get to know my country.
Fast-forward five years. I departed on a flight out of Thurgood Marshall BWI airport. My mind wandered, as it always does on flights. I scoured the American Way magazine and came across the domestic map. My heart fluttered. I grabbed the only pen I could find and began scribbling. I could discover my country. I began mapping my journey.
When I returned home, I excitedly shared the plan with my girlfriend at the time. She was displeased. Understandably. I was planning my trip, not our trip. I hid my sketch on the side of my bookcase, facing a wall so no one could see it. Understandably. It sat there and collected dust for about three years.
Now, at 28 years of age, I am realizing that I am not getting any younger. I will never get 28 back. Now is as good a time as any for me to make this dream a reality.
And what better way is there to see this country than by bike? What better way is there to see, smell, feel, breathe, taste and experience every inch of this country than by bike? I can't think of another.