(TheOceans.net) Remember Colin and Julie, the Canadian duo who rowed from Lisbon to Limon? Well theyre back on the road again only this time theyve traded in their oars for a pair of bicycles as they continue their battle to circumnavigate the globe using human power.
After 10,000 km of rowing and 13 long days of endless paperwork a logistical nightmare in Central America, the duo opted for a short vacation in Puerto Viejo. By mid-March, they began their pedal north. Their route is taking them through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and finally up the west coast of the United States.
Back in the saddle
Colin and Julie chose to ride on lightweight bicycles with minimal gear, so they could achieve an average of 200-250 km per day.
They have adjusted their bikes for touring the rougher roads of Central America and fitted them with wider tires. As for their diet, they continue to load up on supplements considering their need for high energy levels and wear and tear on their joints.
So far the team has clocked almost 35,000 km through some of the roughest places on the planet. If the bikes, their bodies and their will hold out, Colin and Julie expect to make it to Vancouver, and complete the circumnavigation, sometime in late April or early May.
Six countries in 20 days
Colin and Julie are now in Mexico, riding through its mountainous central region and heading towards the US border. Currently they are 180 km from Mexico City.
It has been 20 days since the duo departed from Limon, Costa Rica, and in that time they have passed through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and southern Mexico, reported their home team.
Although the landscapes traversed have been stunning, both Julie and Colin are looking forward to reaching the safer roads of the USA. The dangers of the middle Americas have been all too apparent, and the team feels very fortunate to have made it through unscathed.
Dangers of Central America
According to the two Canadians, Nicaragua was the country most intimidating to pass through. No surprise given it is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Civil violence is not uncommon.
Often, as Julie and Colin cycled the quiet roads in this country, locals would ride alongside, machetes strapped to hip, eyeing every item of gear secured to the bikes," said the team. "Julie and Colin tried to pass it off as curiosity, but this was difficult when their attempts to start conversation initiated nothing other than a spit of disdain.
Although Nicaragua and Honduras were nerve-wracking to pass through, the greatest danger lie seemingly ahead of them in the unstable Chiapas region of southern Mexico - a well-known Zapatista stronghold.
Down Mexico way
In the past five weeks four different groups of cyclists have been robbed by pistol and machete wielding bandits in this region, said the home team. Since there is only an average of about one group of long-distance cyclists passing through this area a week, the odds of being attacked are extremely high.
Julie and Colin received a warning from Gregg Bleakney, another cyclist who is pedaling from Alaska to Argentina, and was recently attacked in the Chiapas region. His tale is that of nightmares: Machete wielding thieves, blatant robbery, and hair raising close escapes.
As they left Guatemala and entered the Chiapas region, Julie and Colin reached a roadblock of burning tires and chanting villagers.
When they skirted the roadblock and pedaled through the angry throngs, the crowd took notice, and a new chant was voiced, saying something about the gringos. The team quickened their pace and cycled hard until Chiapas was in their wake, two days later, reported the home team.
Putting it all behind them
With most of the human dangers are behind the team now, Colin and Julie are now facing the hardships of Mexicos deteriorated roads. Much to their surprise the roads of Central America (especially El Salvador) have been excellent, with huge wide shoulders for cyclists.
Despite the dangers and struggles, Julie and Colin have extremely enjoyed their passage so far. Most of the people have been friendly and helpful and Central American food has been good, they said. Every once in a while, the team removes their road-weary bodies from the asphalt to watch a red sun setting over a cactus dotted landscape.
According to their home team, Colin and Julie are in perfect physical shape, having cycled non-stop for the past 19 days and averaging around 150 km per day.
The expedition can be also followed in the Globe and Mail travel section every second Saturday. Discovery channel interviewed the couple and filmed them in their boat for an extensive piece they are producing that will be aired on Daily Planet this week [most likely on Thursday, March 2].
Here's the expedition itinerary:
JULY to AUGUST 2004 - Paddle the Yukon River
Colin and Tim (Harvey) transferred their equipment into a canoe and paddled 1,500 km on the Yukon River, navigating through rapids, stormy weather and suffocating smoke from the raging forest fires to reach Fairbanks, Alaska. They then switched to an ocean going rowboat that they customized and delivered ahead of time. They rowed the remaining 1,600 km of the Yukon River to the North Pacific Ocean.
SEPTEMBER 2004 - Row across the Bering Sea
From the mouth of the Yukon River, the team rowed 800 km across the Bering Sea in their offshore rowboat to reach Siberia. This is one of the most treacherous areas of ocean in the world and had never before been crossed in a rowboat.
OCTOBER to NOVEMBER 2004 - Hike Eastern Siberia
In Siberia a Russian female explorer, Yulya, joined the team. The trio hiked 850 km across the roadless mountainous terrain of Northeastern Siberia. The conditions at times were quite difficult with bogs forcing the team to walk through rivers in -15°C temperatures while blizzards blinded them.
DECEMBER to JULY 2005 - Ski and cycle across Russia
Once the bogs froze and the ground snow-covered, the 2,300 km overland ski and bicycle trek began. Their bikes were specially modified to ride on frozen roads and rivers of ice.
JULY to SEPTEMBER 2005 - Bike across Europe
In Moscow the team celebrated the end of Part 1 of the expedition, Vancouver to Moscow. Colin and Julie continued to travel from Moscow to Vancouver, bicycling 5,500 km across Europe, traveling through the Ukraine, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal.
OCTOBER 2005 to FEBRUARY 2006 - Row across Atlantic Ocean
An ocean rowboat was shipped to Portugal and readied for its Atlantic crossing. Originally the team wanted to use the same boat that crossed the Bering Sea, but it proved too difficult to transport it out of Russia in a reasonable time period. Instead the team is using a 24ft Woodvale Pairs ocean rowboat.
Colin and Julie left for their crossing in mid-September, timed to avoid the hurricane season just ending. It will take approximately 100 days (and up to 140 days) to cross the Atlantic and reach Florida.
MARCH to MAY 2006 - Cycle across North America
Once the team is back on land, they will quickly regain their cycling legs as they pedal 10,000 km across North America and return to Vancouver.
Colin Angus and pals traveled the 7,000 km length of the Amazon River in a raft - from the first trickles of melting snow in the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean. In five months, they crossed a desert, climbed mountains, shot rapids and ducked bullets, and 119 days after setting out from Lima on Sept. 13, they navigated the entire length of the river.
Based in Vancouver, Colin has spent the last twelve years pursuing a life of adventure. Colin sailed across the Pacific Ocean (much of it solo) as a teenager, organized the self-powered expedition down the Amazon, and most recently completed a descent of the 5,500 km Yenisey River through Mongolia and Siberia.
Colin has authored two books for Random House and co-produced two documentaries for National Geographic, one of which garnered awards at the Banff and Telluride Festivals of Mountain Films.
Visit our new website