Wednesday, November 6, 2013

two weeks before B2B starts

I wrote that application letter to Mestre Acordeon about joining his B2B journey to Brazil two weeks ago. Got a quick, not very encouraging (completely on purpose, thx Mestre) yet very nice response. Since I don't have a go or no-go, my plans for purchasing my bike, gear and settling my affairs in Seattle are suspended. Only two weeks to go! How much longer can I wait? How short can the time really be for a person to shut down their life?

The few people that I talk to about this start retelling all the old "Peter's a rolling stone, and gathers no moss" and " You can't keep Pistol tied down" jokes. They thought that guy was buried in the catacombs of a multinational corporation. This makes me happy.

On Monday I mention to Professor Fenix that I have not heard back from Mestre Acordeon since I wrote the letter. We think its weird, but not much we can do about it. The next day Bebum  calls me and says this:"Pirata, pack your bike. Pack your gear. Show up at the B2B starting event in Berkeley. Line up with all the other bikes and then just ride. Unless Mestre says no, you go."

W. T. F.

White people don't do that kinda shit. We don't just show up for a one and a half year long BYCICLE journey unannounced or without knowing that we are welcome to join. We plan. We examine our plan. We change the plan. We make new plans. We have endless conversations about the risks and rewards, about who will be a pain in the ass and why the sky is blue and water wet. We will have every visa lined up years in advance. Check, Austrians don't need visas to any of the B2B countries. We will literally organize the shit out of a completely nutso project like riding your bike from San Francisco to Salvador, Brazil.

But life is like Capoeira. And once Capoeira is your life, paths and opportunities that were previously unavailable light up. It works something like this "Oh, OK, I'll start packing".

The ability to make life changing decisions in split seconds has always been a problem for me and those around me. Going to Japan on a one way ticket with 50 bucks in my pocket? Sounds like a great idea. Moving to the USA with a girl and getting married to her? Excellent, just what I was never looking for. Riding my bike around the world for years? Jackpot!!!

Oh good, I only have 10 days to:
  • Quit job gracefully right before shipping the next version of Windows Phone.
  • Tell parents that you won't be around for the 4 week vacation that they had planned for a year 
  • Get rid of apartment Sell Bronco 
  • Manage Finances for none presence 
  • Shut down a bunch of services
  • Extend my Greencard for extended none presence
  • Triage possessions, dump most of them, keep two bags. What you arrived with 12 years ago.
  • Pack a 200 item deep list for living on a bike for 2 years
Right away things start falling into place. You can call it Celestine, you can call it a coincidence or selective recognition. In any case I start follow ingthe path and find that recumbent bike I wanted to use for the journey on right away. These bikes are not manufactured in the USA. You can usually only find them in Europe. No idea how this one showed up in Seattle to be sold on the day that I needed it. Check.


I tell one friend about my plan and he says "Can I buy your Bronco, I love that ride". Check. My roomie wants to take over my apartment. Check. I decide to ignore my finances, my greencard and close down everything that I can think of. Check.

I have a number of difficult conversations with my parents. In one of them I sing "Reise nach Afrika" - a song about riding away on your bike - to my pops. He chuckles, my mom fumes. I know this will be temporary. It is after all my parents fault that I am who I am, right! Check.

I pack two bags of stuff that I want to keep. That is so much easier than I thought. Still not attached to things - Check LIFE! I ask some of my most supportive friends for help with disposing of the rest. Thank you and Check. I start buying a bunch of gear. REI makes sure you are well equipped. And broke. Still Check.

I start practicing on my recumbent bike. Sorry, no Check! I keep falling on my ass. Honestly, sometimes my idiocy amazes even... me. How will I be able to ride this thing with 40 pounds of stuff strapped to it. Where am I even going to attach that much to it? Its not like there is room for a front rack.

First things first, find a spot for your Berimbao.

10 days later, on a Wednesday like any others, I pack my bitchy recumbent bike and my gear into a rental mini van, wave a wet and lonely good-bye at Seattle and drive to Berkeley. Not knowing where I was going to stay that evening. Not knowing if I was going to be allowed to go on the journey. Not knowing anything but that I wanted to ride bike. I was about to find out if rewards are equal to risk.

Really Peter, Haserl, Pistol, Pirata? This time you actually shot the Pooch.

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