My husband, Ville, and I, Kristen, just completed a bicycle journey lasting 20 months and over 18,215 miles. We flew with bikes up to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska (the northernmost point of the Americas with a road) June 25, 2016 and rode into Bahia Lapataia, Argentina (the very end of the road) Feb. 17, 2018. We had everything from close encounters with bears, dog attacks, a bought with dengue fever, and more wild adventures! We biked from 300 ft up to over 16,000 ft crossing the Andes 6 times in Peru alone. And we are back! Ready to share our stories and harrowing tales with you. Please join us May 23rd at Mountain View High School Auditorium in beautiful Bend, Oregon, doors at 6pm show at 6:30pm. Free admission, donations gladly accepted. Please help us to get the word out and bring friends. See you there!
Ville went to the doctor for his check-up and blood work and because his pulse was so low, he passed out. They sat him in the waiting room and he doesn't remember walking out. He doesn't remember walking across town home and "came to" a few blocks from our house as cars were honking at him for being in the middle of the street...
Hey there everyone! Thanks for your patience, I know it took us a while to get to an update, but we have been busier than biking the Americas. Last update, Ville and I were in Portland, having taken the train from Los Angeles straight there because we wanted to catch up with family before the chaos ensued in Bend. Words can't describe how good it feels to be reunited with your entire family after so much time apart. When Ville and I were riding, as we moved south and further and further from everyone, we always made sure to call home and check in with our families. To hear the sounds of their voices and to see their faces on a cell phone screen, was a needed reprieve from the constant revolving door of new faces. To finally hug each other in person and kiss faces, after waiting so long to do it, was the best feeling.
My sister, her husband, and their young son live south of Portland and my brother lives in the city. So for the weekend, my mom and dad (whom were on the second half of the cruise with us along with my brother), drove from Bend to Portland to install a door my dad built at my sister's house and spend family time all together. Grund klan unite! And after a busy weekend of family time, mom and dad drove us the 3 hours back home to Bend, Oregon. Unfortunately for us, the first thing we did on re-entry into Bend was head straight to a County Meeting on the Preservation of a 3 mile Stretch of Canal in Bend (of which is a political mess and has put my poor parents and their neighbors in the middle of). If you want more information about the canal preservation debate, check out this site : http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/NATREG/Pages/Central-Oregon-Canal-Historic-District.aspx. After spending two years traveling the world to see historical places, with a love and appreciation for preserving our history while building our future, and being a native of a city that plows straight forward to the future barely glancing back to the past, I felt it important to be there and speak up for the preservation of a piece of canal from the piping of all the canals in Bend.
The re-entry for Ville and I in Bend has been a roller coaster. Elated to be back, full circle from where our bicycle journey began, to the place I am from, and the place we have a home together. To see our friends again, those whom we left so long ago riding south, has been the best part of it all. On our first night back in our house, our buddy Marc stopped by for a beer by the fire, our neighbor Pat saw our front room lit and headed over with beers, and our other neighbor Paul skidded into the driveway sideways and smothered us in hugs. It felt so great to be back and so nice to be missed by everyone.
We had rented our house to friends, Zoltan and Kristi, and their two kids to be able to fund our ride, and we are extremely grateful to them for taking care of our home and making our journey possible. Thanks in part to Bend continually making the "most desirable places to live" list, the buying and renting market has skyrocketed and for our return, our friends struggled to find an affordable place to live and understandably had to move out a month and a half early leaving us in a rough spot financially coming back broke off a bike tour. To top things off, our health has really been a struggle coming off the ride
On our return, we both had a laundry list of ailments. Most of them expected from someone who lives on a bicycle seat living in "fight-or-flight" mode for 8 hours of almost every day for 2 years. And after a forced trip to the doctor (thanks mom for financially helping us to go), we are told to rest and take it easy with an expected full recovery to take up to a year! And are we resting? Hell no. We walked straight back into the Money Pit house. Ville and I had bought this little diamond buried deep in rough over 4 years ago and then spent over a solid year gutting it down to studs and trying to make it livable. All 2,000 square feet of fun. And after spending all waking moments of time not working jobs, we were living in our continual remodel. And did we have our very own 40 man crew like HGTV? I wish! Nope. Us. With a little help from Dad and Zoltan. After the year, we couldn't take it anymore, and pulled the plug, rented it to our friends and went to ride bikes. For 2 whole glories years.
And after the honeymoon was over, and we rolled in the door to our old home, dropped bags and bikes, reality set in that our house is still unfinished. And the memory of why we left this remodel project house has beyond crept back in. Like crept in and drove over the top of us and reversed back over us. My absolutely incredible parents, rolled up their sleeves and have been at our house every single morning until past dark every single day to dig in and help us get the house finished. Repainting the entire house, drywalling walls, redoing the kitchen, adding a full bath, etc. etc. We took a "break" for a weekend and drove to my Uncle John's 75th Birthday Party in Medford, Oregon to see more family and get away from the house. So prescribed rest, not quite.
Ville went to the doctor for his check-up and blood work and because his pulse was so low, he passed out. They sat him in the waiting room and he doesn't remember walking out. He doesn't remember walking across town home and "came to" a few blocks from our house as cars were honking at him for being in the middle of the street. Once home, he was painting with my mom, and passed out again on the floor. My poor mom called the doctor and the doc was upset he had left and demanded he immediately crawl into bed and actually rest. We are both planning rest in a few weeks when our house is finished.
After two years spent traveling on bikes together living a very simplistic way of life, we both feel we want to continue this way of life until we don't want to anymore. Adventuring, traveling, meeting people from all over the world and finishing our book. Not ever knowing what is in one's future, the time to do this is now. Although living on a shoe string while on our ride allowed for experiences we would never have had otherwise, we have decided to sell our house to free up some funds that will allow us to pursue these dreams. So we have chosen to dig into the house, so that once it sells, we can then rest. Rest, finish the book, and Ville can finally go back to Finland. My parents came to see us in Peru and then again with my brother at the end of the ride, but Ville has not seen any of his friends or family in over 2 years since before beginning our ride. And it has been really, really rough on him. So he needs to be able to go.
Last week, Ville and I were brought back to Mountain View High School (my old high school), to give a presentation to a large group of the Freshmen class there. At the mid-way point of our ride (a year ago), when we flew back to Bend from Costa Rica, we had given a handful of talks for the then Freshmen and Seniors and they asked us to come back at the end of the ride. As promised, we went back to speak, again this morning and will be heading back there bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to speak tomorrow morning. Giving back and inspiring others is incredibly important to us, and even though we are consumed by the house right now and suppose to be resting, we will make time for the kids. We were also in the Bend Bulletin and have been contacted by the Central Oregon Community College and the Library to come speak as well. It feels good to be able to share our story, and even better when we are told how it inspires someone in someway.
Last weekend we had a Welcome Home Potluck at our house and it was great to see heaps of friends and family again. Our fantastic neighbors, Matt and Mo, helped us to put it on and we jammed with instruments late into the night and wee hours of morning around the fire pit in the back yard. Felt great to be surrounded by friends and family. Feel bad that being buried in our house every day has not allowed us to follow up with anyone, but we know that it soon will be over and we can relax with friends. Well, gotta get to bed. Burning the midnight oil and we have a presentation tomorrow at the crack of dawn. Until next time friends, keep on keepin' on...
BIG "Thank You" to Mark at The Bulletin for writing such a great article on our bike ride! Mark met with us to write an article at the very beginning before we even started the ride, when we stopped through Bend, at the half-way point and now at the bitter end. Will post the other articles soon, but get the latest here:
K.G. & Ville
In Helsinki, Finland still writing the Book
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson