"Sal, we gotta go and never stop going 'till we get there". "Where we going man?" "I don't know but we gotta go" - Jack Kerouac, On the Road -

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The route

I am hacking together my own route. I took the atlas and I pointed at where I wanted to go: the places I haven’t seen and the places I want to see again and I want to cycle to. An unsophisticated and romantic thought system has gone into selecting my route, nothing else.

I have chosen this route on the basis of 4 non-negotiable aspirations (in order of relevance):

1; cycle across the US, from sea to shining sea!
2; cycle on as few highways as possible
3; cycle the Pacific coast Highway 1
4; cycle through Badlands in South Dakota and cross the Rockies at Yellowstone Park.

I leave Washington DC on the second week of August. I want to take the shortest and less painful way to negotiate the steep inclines of the Appalachians, cutting West from Leesburg through Winchester and Morgantown on highway 50 and road 7. My route through the Midwest will be as flexible as possible as I will ride through the patchwork of midsize cities of Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, small cities and back roads of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois avoiding the traffic but mindful of the infrastructure that the cities offer (hotels and bike shops primarily). Once I cross the Mississippi, I expect long straight roads and fewer arteries to travel on in Iowa and South Dakota until I hit the first mountains in Wyoming. Past Rapid City, I purposely veer North taking a slight detour so that I can cycle the Beartooth highway, the National Scenic Byways All-American Road which will take me all the way into Yellowstone and south to Grand Teton National Park. From there I turn West zigzagging through the mountains of Idaho and Oregon. This will be the toughest part of the whole ride as the terrain is hilly throughout and the services on the road are few and far between. My plan is to reach the Pacific Ocean at Crescent City, North California. From there I have 1000 miles or so to go as I follow the Pacific Coast Highway 1 through Redwoods, San Francisco, Monterey Bay and all the way to LA, my final destination. 15 States and 5000 miles, give or take.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Why water?

A world where every 21 seconds a child dies due to preventable water-related diseases sucks big time. When water becomes an economic commodity, when water gets contaminated by drilling activities, when deforestation, climate change and poor management of water resources deny populations their most basic resource people die; the marginalized, the uneducated, the downtrodden, the poor. They always die first.

These are some of the facts:

2.5 billion people lack adequate sanitation. Nearly 800 million people live without clean drinking water, mainly in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Many people walk up to 3 hours to collect water that’s been exposed to all kinds of junk. Some women in Sub-Sahara Africa spend more time collecting water than on any other activity during the day. 443 million school days are missed each year due to water-related illnesses. (WHO, 2012). An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day (UNDP, 2006). 4100 kids will die today from water-related diseases.

The goal of 5000Miles for Water is to raise -at least- US$ 5000 to help bring fresh, safe water to those who desperately need it. Help me do it.

100% of public donations made through charity: water goes directly to the projects on the ground, because all costs of organizational operations are covered by private donors and other means, such as sale of merchandise. Completed projects are photographed and mapped on Google Earth so the evidence of progress is visible and tangible to the donors.

The projects are balanced by community ownership: community members contribute labor when possible and a small percentage of necessary materials such as sand or gravel. A gender-equal water management board of six to eight community members is formed to ensure that the well is always maintained for proper operation.

I am very excited about the challenge and the opportunity to help people without access to clean water.

I leave Washington DC on August 8.