Once I put out my name for individuals to function right here on Bicycle Touring Professional, Derek Gytenbeek was one of many first people to contact me. Simply 21 years outdated, Derek is at the moment within the midst of a yr lengthy bicycle journey round North America. At this second, he’s sitting simply north of Acapulco, Mexico, has been on the highway for about three months and has plans to be touring for an incredible deal longer.
To start with Derek, the place are you from and what was your life like earlier than you left in your journey?
I used to be born, raised, and have lived all 21 years of my life in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. I can’t say I’ve ever settled all the way down to a regular life. Since highschool, I’ve spent one yr touring round Canada and two years working two totally different 9 to 5 labor jobs within the building business. In June of 2008, run down and worn out from the humdrum of full-time work, I joined the Otesha Venture (www.otesha.ca). Otesha is a youth run charitable group that makes use of bicycle touring and theater to mobilize youth and to create native and international adjustments by way of their day-after-day shopper selections. For 2 months I used to be a part of an unbelievable group delivering theater performances whereas touring Vancouver Island B.C. From this I used to be impressed to proceed additional and have been biking ever since.
How did you first discover out about bicycle touring?
Bicycle touring has at all times had some half in my life. I come from a household of cyclists. As a teen I used to be fortunate sufficient to be taken on many outside journeys with household and associates, together with a bicycle tour of British Columbia’s scenic Kettle Valley Railway, an outdated deserted railway that stretches throughout southern B.C.
I do nevertheless bear in mind the day that re-fueled my enthusiasm for bike touring. In the summertime of 2006 I met a gaggle of younger individuals on the primary day of their bicycle tour from Vancouver to Tijuana on the U.S. Mexico border. I cycled alongside this group for the total day secretly hoping they’d take me alongside. However alas, we reached the U.S. border and I acknowledged that with no cash, no passport, and no gear, my journey wouldn’t be very pleasurable. My hopes of calling into work with the message “I received’t be in for a couple of months, I’m using my bike to Mexico”, have been eradicated. However from that time on I entertained all prospects of motorbike touring, understanding then how simply accessible it actually was. All I needed to do was pack up and pedal.
Why did you give bicycle touring a attempt? And why did you resolve to go the place you probably did?
I made a decision to provide bicycle touring a attempt for numerous causes. After two years of thoughts numbing full time work I developed an colossal craving for brand new experiences. I had no post-secondary training however the considered sitting in a classroom was none too inspiring, and after finishing highschool I’d felt as if I had completed my time. So, I made a decision to take a trip. With some saved cash within the financial institution, no automobile, no mortgage, and no kids, all I needed to do was give up my job and I might be a free man. I’d been a biking fanatic for a while and knew this is able to be the good method to journey. This was my probability to journey to Mexico!
The 2 summer time months I spent using with the Otesha Venture didn’t totally fulfill my bicycle cravings, so I instantly started planning my solo journey. This was a course of that might take me lower than two weeks, as I used to be already packed. Heading south was my solely choice with Canada’s winter swiftly approaching. The unique plan was by no means to come back this far, however to migrate the U.S. Mexico border and wait out the winter.
However my route plan has grown cheerfully uncontrolled like an untamed backyard, and has been extra of a growing course of than a one time resolution. Shortly earlier than leaving I acquired a phone name from my brother. He was quitting his job to journey with me. This was good news. And with a using companion I felt snug crossing the border into Mexico. Collectively we’d journey to Cabo San Lucas at the southern tip of Mexico`s Baja peninsula.
Over two months later, midway down the Baja, I used to be struck with the inspiration to cycle the Yucatan Peninsula. On the time I wasn’t conscious of the gap between myself and the Yucatan, however determined that if it wasn’t too far I might journey the stretch. I checked out a map and was dismayed to see that it was over 2500 miles away! However by this level I had already subconsciously made my resolution, I used to be going to journey the whole expanse of Mexico.
And immediately I sit in Puerto Escondido, within the south of Mexico, my newest expectation is to journey so far as the southern finish of Belize, earlier than returning to Canada by way of the east coast of Mexico and U.S. The ultimate leg of my journey will take me throughout Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. However after all, nothing is etched in stone.
What sort of motorbike and kit are you utilizing in your journey and why did you choose these specific objects?
I’m using a Trek 520. I made a decision on this bike by way of Web analysis. My data of bicycles could be very restricted, however I knew what I used to be searching for. I wanted a touring prepared bike that would stand as much as my abusive habits and one that might proceed to roll with a minimal of day by day upkeep. I’ve been very impressed by the Trek. It has survived my occasional mishandling and the one troubles I’ve skilled come type the pure put on and tear of bicycle touring, an exercise that’s tough on any bike.
Along with the Trek, I’ m using with a set of three Axiom dry panniers (two on the entrance rack, one on the again) in addition to a special rear proper pannier from Canada’s Mountain Tools Co-op (it’s because I wore a gap by way of my different Axiom dry bag). With the plan to journey the Pacific coast by way of October and November I figured dry baggage can be a marvelous thought. I bought the Axioms as a result of they have been on sale and the one baggage I may afford. At this level in my journey the stitching is slowly beginning to disintegrate and my rear bag tends to flop round on my rack whereas I journey, which might get to be a nuisance. You get what you pay for. I wouldn’t advocate economizing on gear for an in depth journey if this may be averted, but these baggage nonetheless get the job completed.
What did your loved ones and associates take into consideration you leaving on such an epic bike journey? Did they suppose you would do it? Had been they nervous? Excited? Scared?
My father was actually the one particular person I talked to about this journey, and being an journey seeker himself, he was and nonetheless could be very excited for me. And naturally some individuals are nervous for my nicely being, in any case, I’m biking by way of unknown areas on precarious roads with harmful drivers in shaky autos, however that’s half the enjoyable.
What’s the greatest place you’ve been so far?
One place that stands out is Cabo Pulmo and its surrounding space. This paradise lies on the southern tip of the Baja, east of Cabo San Lucas. Solely accessible by “graded dust highway”, this facet journey was an enterprise price each jostle and crash. Alongside with my brother and a buddy I cycled thirty miles throughout washboard gravel and thru broad and abysmal sand pits. Situated beside a dwelling coral reef, the world has the most effective snorkeling I’ve encountered so far. We spent a while enjoyable and studying underneath palm timber and palapas. We did some spear fishing as nicely, cooking our catches on nightly campfires. The few days spent there have been the proper respite from the obnoxious stink and clatter of freeway using.
Honorable point out goes to the Oregon coast for being supremely scenic and biker pleasant.
What’s been the most effective expertise of the journey so far?
The best expertise has been assembly many marvelous and interesting new associates alongside the best way. My brother and I met three individuals which have been circumnavigating the globe on bicycles for almost six years! We met a number of of us using from Alaska to Patagonia, and we’ve had the pleasure of spending time and using with totally different individuals from everywhere in the world. Since my brother stopped in Mazatlan, I’ve been biking with a highschool instructor we met on the Baja peninsula. There’s barrels of data to be gained from the individuals you meet, and this is a useful a part of bike touring. I’ve been on the highway for 3 and a half months, and I’ll be using alone for the primary time so far simply one week from now.
What has been the most important shock so far? What’s the most important factor you’ve realized?
The most important shock and unequaled studying alternative got here from the flat troubles I skilled on the Baja. With 5 flat tires within the first two months of my journey, I used to be bursting with confidence, sure that I used to be prepared for something Mexico needed to supply. I used to be frightened and alarmed when my flat depend instantaneously jumped. For over per week I used to be struggling by way of 5 flats a day, and I used to be fully unprepared to take care of the state of affairs. My tires have been worn, my rim tape was peeling off, and the cacti have been enjoying video games with me. I do have a phrase of warning for these hoping to cycle by way of much less developed international locations with touring highway bikes. These bikes are an alien species in international locations reminiscent of Mexico. Spare elements are almost unattainable to search out, together with tubes and tires for 700mm wheels. I got here into Mexico fully ignorant to this and suffered by way of this tough month with over sixty flats. I used to be in determined want of two new touring tires, new tubes, and new rim tape. It’s been a month lengthy wrestle, however I’ve lastly acquired what I would like. Most of those elements have arrived by way of airplane with family and friends of some superb cyclists I’ve met alongside the best way. In the event you plan on biking Mexico with a highway bike, make sure you come nicely ready to sort out any challenge your self.
How a lot is the tour costing you per day? How a lot cash have you ever spent?
Coming by way of the U.S. I used to be comfortably spending about $20-$25 per day. By Mexico I’ve been spending about $10-$15 per day. Up to now, three and a half months into the journey, I’ve spent about $2200 US. One nice half about Mexico is the simply out there free roadside tenting.
In the event you had only one piece of recommendation for somebody who was new to bicycle touring, what would you inform them?
If I had to decide on only one, I might say to persevere by way of the exhausting instances. Bike touring won’t ever be with out frustrations and quagmires, however the rewards are price each trial. And the trials make for unmatched studying alternatives.
You’ve nonetheless obtained quite a lot of your tour left. Are there any elements of the tour you might be actually trying ahead to?
Wow, there’s a lot to stay up for. I’m particularly desperate to see the traditional ruins of Palenque, Chichen Itza, and Tulum, in addition to among the much less visited historic websites in Belize. I’m anticipating to reach in Cancun for SPRING BREAK 2009! This may occasionally or will not be an excellent time (giant crowds aren’t my scene), however it is going to be an expertise. I even have a mysterious draw to America’s deep south and the New Orleans (hopefully recovering) jazz scene.
Though you continue to have a lot of your journey in entrance of you, what do you propose on doing as soon as your tour involves an finish?
To this point my plan is to collect my associates and make a beeline for the pub. From there I’ll type issues out. I suppose discovering a job and a house will likely be my first precedence. I’d be very excited by enhancing my data of bicycle mechanics, this may higher put together myself for my subsequent tour.
And Once I requested Derek if there was anything he’d like so as to add, that is what he mentioned:
Male, 6’2″, brown hair, inexperienced eyes. All the time searching for extra bicycle associates. Pursuits embody: bicycling, music, and over-consumption of baked items. If anybody desires to hitch me for any upcoming stretch of my tour, firm is at all times welcome. You simply must put up with my idiosyncrasies. I foresee a extreme case of loneliness by the point I attain Texas in late March or early April.
When you have a query or remark for Derek, please go away your message for him within the feedback part beneath. I’ll ask him to examine again each as soon as and awhile and reply any questions that you simply might need for him.