Frequently Asked Questions

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Here are answers (or attempts) to answer some of the questions you ask us:
Who are you anyway? What were you doing before?
Randy and Nancy were 52 at the end of the trip... Our previous life was in suburban Denver, Colorado, USA. Randy had a little business as a computer consultant, and Nancy was doing graphic arts for CH2M Hill. We have 3 kids between us, all adults. We spent years getting ready and practicing for this trip, and we actually did it!
What in the world are you doing? And why?
We rode 14,000 miles (22,000 kilometers) from the top of North America (Inuvik, in western Canada) to northern Argentina in South America. It took about 2.5 years total - We wrapped up in January, 2009. So what are you up to?
How many miles do you travel each day?
We usually aim at 30-50 miles (50-80 kilometers) per day. In most of Central America it has been on the low side. It's terribly important to remember that bike touring isn't about getting somewhere, it's about enjoying where you are and meeting the people you see and seeing the things you see. You can see the actual average on the front page.
Why do you call yourselves "hobobikers"?
When we were doing our first long tour we were up in the Canadian Rockies and had some rough weather. We had all our clothes stretched drying all over Randy's BOB trailer, a repaired tube strapped on, and even a friend's old tennis shoes dangling from the back. We thought "Hobo" was the best way to describe our appearance. We've cleaned up our act a little, but we're still hobos. (In the US, a "hobo" is/was a person who rides freight trains without paying a fare.)
Has anybody ever done anything like this before? Are you trying to break a record?
People do it every year. And no, we´re going far slower than the record-setting 9 months or so. We hope to take at least 2 1/2 years. Read about some of the other cyclists who have done this.
Are the roads terrible in Latin America?
We've had generally good experiences in Mexico and Central and South America. We seek the back roads and are always looking for information. Horrible traffic is not worth the effort. Randy wrote about our Mexico experiences here and Nancy wrote about riding in Latin America here.
Do you ride at night?
(Everybody asked us this in Central America!) No, we always try to be tucked in somewhere at nightfall.
Do you ride every mile of the way? Do you ever use other transportation?
We like to ride everything, but we make exceptions. When we come to water, we take ferries (across Lake Nicaragua, and many times in Canada, for example). We took the train into Copper Canyon in Mexico, and took a bus from Durango to Zacatecas to avoid the dangerous Holy Week holiday. There are a few other times we´ve put the bikes on a bus for a ways. But we ride most of the time. We´ll have to take a boat around the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia.
Aren´t you worried about your safety in Mexico and Latin America? Are you carrying a weapon?
We keep our eyes and ears open, but we´ve never ever had any threat in Latin America. And no, we don´t carry a gun. Read more about security issues.
How can you afford to take so much time off of work?
Nancy says we're temporarily semi-retired or else we're taking a long sabbatical. Our kids are grown and we've saved for it and we're renting out our house. We saved up and sold our house and invested the proceeds and hope that the savings and the income from the house proceeds will do the job.
Do you have a sag wagon? Are you camping? Where and what do you eat?
No, it's just us and what we can carry. We carry all our camping equipment and are starting to use it a lot more in Peru, after not using it much since central Mexico. Mostly it´s little hotels along the way. Read about the tradeoffs here.
Are you carrying a laptop computer?
We did for awhile, but have now left it back at home to get our weight down. We use a flash drive that has our programs on it, and stop in at an internet cafe.
Have you had any mechanical trouble?
We've had pretty normal wear and tear - a new chain here, new chainrings there. Take a look at our Bike Maintenance Log.
How many tires have you gone through?
We´ve used up three sets of tires so far (as of Central America). We haven't had too many flats (see the front page for the count).
Do you speak Spanish?
Randy is speaking pretty good Spanish now, after trying to learn all his life, it seems. Nancy butchers the language pretty well and wins everyone over with her smile.
Have you lost a lot of weight?
No, we generally stay pretty stable. We're slow and not riding beyond our body's capabilities. On some segments, we've actually gained weight!
What do you eat? What do you drink?
We eat whatever the local people eat along the way. Right now (in Peru) we're kind of tired of chicken and rice. But if it's cooked, hot, or dry, we can generally eat it and over all we haven't had an extraordinary number of digestive problems. We drink water that we filter with our Katahdin Hiker water filter, or buy water. In Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia there were actually several cities with drinkable tap water, too.
How about health insurance? Healthcare? Your health?
We carry health insurance but haven't used it. Our health has bene quite good, except for the whooping cough episode. Here is a complete discussion of health, healthcare, and health insurance.
Don't you get tired? bored?
Yes, we do, as all travellers do. We try to find interesting routes and rest when needed and avoid thinking about how far we still have to go. Here's a little article on this subject.
Where will you be in ... I'd like to join you for awhile
We'd love to have you join us for a section of the trip! Send us a note to coordinate. We're pretty loose about our schedule, and can make something work with you.