Thứ Hai, ngày 28 tháng 7 năm 2014

Ridge Graduate Biking Around The World


BERNARDS TWP. – It’s challenging enough to circle the globe by plane, ship, train or automobile, but Doug and Kristin Walsh plan to do it on bicycles.




The couple has already completed the first phase by peddling across North America, and later this summer plan to sail for England and journey across Europe and Asia, with a goal of returning home in early 2017.



“We’ve been talking about it for six years, really planning for two years, and roughly guessing a line around the world,” said Kristin, a 1993 graduate of Ridge High School. “There are hundreds who’ve gone around the world in bits and pieces.”


“Especially a lot of Europeans,” added Doug, her husband. “Once you start looking into it, it’s not as rare as you’d think, but it’s not commonplace.”


Along with planning, the trip requires time and resources. The Walsh’s, both 38, are not leisurely multi-millionaires – they launched the trip after leaving full-time jobs that produced enough savings to achieve their goal on a fairly frugal budget.


The former Kristin Nahm grew up on Granville Way. Her parents, Eric and Ruth Nahm, now live in Far Hills.


 Doug grew up in Carteret, and met Kristin while both were attending Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. They were married two months after graduation.


They now reside in suburban Seattle, Wash. Before leaving their jobs, Doug worked in the video game industry on contracts, while Kristin worked in information technology as a program manager.


They have no children, which makes the trip idea a little easier.


Mapping A Course


The planning process has included reading web sites and blogs in which other bicyclists described their experiences.


“We picked some key points of interest,” said Kristin. “There were a couple of countries each of us wanted to go to. I really wanted to go to Morocco so we’ll take a ferry from Spain.”


Doug remarked that “originally, we wanted to go to Syria because we heard some wonderful things, but it’s a different place now.”


Some bicyclists have also enjoyed Iran, he added, but “we have American passports” and might not be welcome there.


The European phase will start in late July with the boat to England, followed by a bike trip to Scotland and back to England. From there they will take a ferry to Denmark, a bike trip through Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and Spain, a ferry to Morocco and back to Spain, and a bike trip through France, Italy and Greece.


The goal is to be in Rome on Dec. 25, said Doug. “I was raised a Catholic, and if I could spend Christmas in Rome, that would be pretty special.


“One of the neat things is that we’re really trying not to use any airplanes,” he noted. “We’re trying to stay on the (earth’s) surface.”


The couple may spend the 2014-15 winter in Greece before heading into the Asian phase. They hope to go through Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia, all the way to Singapore.


Visas and vaccinations are another aspect of planning.


Kristin said some countries grant entry only to visitors who acquire a visa in advance. Doug said the rules are particularly strict in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan, where visitors must register with police to stay in a hotel.


“The trickiest is likely to be China,” he said. “China doesn’t like people coming through its western border.”


Once they reach Singapore, they’ll take a boat across the Indian and Pacific oceans to New Zealand, then sail across the Pacific to Panama. Finances will dictate if they proceed to South America or wrap things up with a boat trip back to Seattle.


“If we still have money we’ll go to the southern tip of Argentina and if we do, we would have absolutely no money by then,” said Doug.


Kristin said the couple budgeted an average of $60 per day for three years. In terms of lodgings, they plan to spend about one-third of the nights camping, a third at hotels, and the remaining time at the home of a local host. The hosts are participants in Warm Showers, a worldwide hospitality exchange for touring bicyclists.


“People let you use their bedrooms and you meet local people, which is really nice,” said Doug.


Across North America


The couple got a taste of the upcoming journey during their recent, 4,885-mile trip across North America.


 The trip began in the Seattle area on March 23 and ended June 28 with their arrival at Kristin’s parents’ home in Far Hills, where they planned to stay before departing for England.


Along the way, they bicycled through Washington State, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota before crossing the Canadian border and straddling Lake Superior and Lake Huron on the way to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec.


They then crossed the American border into Maine and continued through Vermont, New Hampshire, New York State and Pennsylvania’s Delaware Water Gap into New Jersey.


They averaged 60 to 65 miles per day, according to Doug. An exception, he said, was in North Dakota where one day the winds were so strong that the couple couldn’t manage more than 15 miles.


Kristin said one her favorite memories involved a stay with a Warm Showers host in Washington State.


“It was a 450-acre farm with goats, chickens and cows,” she said. “We got to work on the farm for a day-and-a-half. I helped milk goats and it was a lot of fun. It’s something I couldn’t have done otherwise.”


Said Doug. “People are pretty hospitable to bicyclists around the world. In Canada, people will stop and ask if you need a place for a night. Complete strangers – it’s really neat.”


Throughout their journey, the couple has posted notes and photographs online every two weeks at www.twofargone.com. Doug said he hopes to save the most interesting material for a future book.


He added, “A lot of people ask us, aren’t we worried about our career?”


 He said there seems to be an expectation that people have kids and then retire. But “a one size fits all in life doesn’t apply to us, and we wanted to shake it up.”


Kristin added that after graduating from college, she started working and never got more than two or three weeks vacation.


 “I wanted to do long-term traveling but it was too difficult” under that scenario,’’ she said. “We didn’t want to wait for retirement because there’s no guarantee you’ll get there.”



Ridge Graduate Biking Around The World

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