Half way around the world by bicycle…

After our last few posts, we’ve been getting lots of questions, so this post aims to answer some of those and tell you about what’s next for us.

First of all, yes it’s true. We are stopping our cycle tour and are returning to the USA.

The most common question is, Why?

There’s no single answer, so I’ll touch on a few thoughts and experiences we’ve had that led to this decision.

As we began to travel, the idea of becoming permanent nomads was very intriguing, traveling from place to place, picking up odd jobs or remote work, and continuing to see the world. This was great for the first six months to a year, and then the reality of our nomadic lifestyle began to set in.

The travel itself was amazing and eye opening, and every day was a new adventure. It’s impossible to over state how much we learned and grew on this trip, and we have absolutely not one single regret, and only thankfulness for having such a unique opportunity to pursue this dream.

But we missed our family and friends with a longing we’ve never felt before. Even in our connected online world, nothing matches physical connection and presence in the real lives of those we love. And this weighed on us more and more. Sure, we made many new friends along the way, many of whom we will keep in touch with (you know who you are, we are so thankful our paths crossed!). But only rarely did these connections last more than a day or two, leaving us yet again feeling lonely even when surrounded by crowds.

Further, our brains were becoming overwhelmed with new experiences. We had life changing exposure to people, countries, and cultures, but yet we were losing the ability to appreciate, gain perspective, and make sense of it all. Exploring the locales we cycled through began to sometimes feel like a chore rather than a delight.

We began to greatly miss some form of permanency. Having to, every day, figure out new routes, find new shops and restaurants, and communicate our needs to new people started to weigh on us. We realized how nice it is to have a regular store, familiar roads, and regular restaurant with staff who recognize you and remember your favorite dish.

For the first year or so, figuring out our travel routine was fun and exciting, and we relished in trying to find the best way to do things. Planning routes, finding accommodations, and finding new food to try were all highlights of our adventure. Even figuring out new ways to pack our bags more efficiently, and fine tuning our minimal selection of clothing was an exciting way to spend our spare time. But as time went on, parts of this routine became banal, something that just had to get done in order to get to the enjoyable cycling or other adventures. And towards the end of our trip, it became frustrating. Packing our bags every single day became a chore. Convincing hoteliers and guesthouse staff that we needed a safe place to store our irreplaceable bicycles, when they wanted us to leave them unsecured on busy streets and in dodgy alleys, turned an exhilarating adventurous day of cycling into a sour and frustrating evening of finding new accommodations or politely arguing our case over and over again.

It was becoming clear that we needed a break.

In addition, I was having a strong desire to return to my career of software engineering, a field that has always fascinated me since I first learned about computers, and is something I enjoy tremendously. My experiment as a digital nomad in Chiang Mai was disappointing, as my fantasies of networking with super smart geeks working in exotic locales, sipping rum drinks and inventing new things at co-working spaces with beach or mountain views was replaced by the reality of a handful of inexperienced and broke wannabes and borderline scammers crowded in claustrophobic shared offices, looking for the next get-rich-quick scheme (all the blockchains!), working illegally on tourist visas and making too-frequent nerve-wracking visa runs and hoping to fly under the radar of immigration.

I longed to return to my career where I worked on products like YouTube where my efforts impact billions of people, and where I had the support and the opportunity to really create new things and change the world in positive ways. With the opportunity to do this kind of work again, our two-year trip began to feel like a bit shallow, benefiting only ourselves and the few of you wonderful folks following our journey who we have been able to inspire. It is time to take our experiences, and leveraging the life lessons we have learned, do something bigger that will touch more people.

And so with that, I decided to go back to work. We briefly considered pursuing an opportunity over seas, but when I learned of an exciting new project that some very smart colleagues of mine are working on, I jumped at the chance to contribute. It is in the San Francisco Bay Area, so we will be moving back there to pursue this.

Steve, meanwhile, is looking for ways to give back with his newfound perspective on life, and is very interested in changing careers to work in the nonprofit sector. He is actively searching for jobs, so please contact us if you have any leads. After a year of living minimally, the idea of working in retail again and pushing people to buy things they may not need feels unrewarding and antithetical to all we have learned.

We will cycle tour again! But we look forward to doing smaller trips, where we can focus on embracing the challenges and immersing ourselves in the adventure.

We are not giving up on cycling! In fact, we have signed up for AIDS/LifeCycle, a 7-day fundraising bicycle ride that raises money to support HIV/AIDS programs. We are both committing to raise $10,000 each before June 2019. This will be my 4th year participating, and Steve’s 3rd.

If you have enjoyed following along, we urge you to be one of our first supporters and make a contribution to this worthy cause that means the world to us.

Contribute to Tim

Contribute to Steve

A lot of people ask if we are writing a book. The short answer is, we might. But right now our primary focus is on beginning our new lives and being thankful for the opportunity we’ve had. We hope you have enjoyed following along with us. This blog is going to stay put so you can enjoy reading old posts and following along on future adventures.

Love, peace, and respect to all of you. And most importantly, get out there! Ride your bike. Go for a walk or hike. Explore the world yourself. Sign up for www.warmshowers.org or CouchSurfing. Be generous in your hospitality to other foreigners and tourists you meet, and help to give back the kindness we were shown everywhere we set our feet and tires.

14 Replies to “Half way around the world by bicycle…”

  1. Welcome back and thanks for all the adventures shared vicariously these past couple of years. I’m looking forward to sharing the road with you on ALC 2019 where safe bike parking and food is always plentiful. Good luck with the new project and job search. Roy just switched from the corporate world to a non-profit (he’s a CPA) and is finding the work far more rewarding. See you soon. Jim

  2. Though I came late to the party, I have enjoyed your pictures and blogs very much. You have expanded my horizons and Iโ€™m grateful. Thank you both. Best wishes for successful job searches.

  3. thank you immensely for the opportunity to travel along. great goo luck in all future endeavors

  4. Your post echoes something I realized back in the 90โ€™s when I was a nomadic worker on a contract that flew me to a different city every week for 6 months: home is where you know where to go to get any thing you want, be it bagels or bandages.

  5. Welcome home, Tim and Steve!! Thanks for taking us along on such an amazing journey; your photos (especially of the food!!) and words transported me to other worlds! Looking forward to riding with you both on the ALC 2019! xoxoxox

  6. Thanks for sharing a wonderful experience with all of us who remained safe and sound here at home. So glad you made it home in good shape. Loved your blog and looking forward to the book. ๐Ÿ˜‰ We’ll continue to watch your progress and cheer you both on in the next phase of your life. Love, Joe and Betty

  7. So nice words.
    Iโ€™m also happy to be at home but here I have first to solve one big problem till I can start the rutine life here.
    The 2. Problem is how to instal the PC so I can use it for long time, well somehow I wil and can solve it like many pinackles and mountains rvers and and
    All the best for you 2 ower there

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