The Domino Effect

21 04 2010


The Three Bikers of Baños

A fellow traveller, once a bus-traveller, writes: “A Change of Plans. On March 26, 2010 I left Buenos Aires, Argentina. I am heading back to Southern California. I am, however, traveling by bicycle.” Fantastic!

Then I found this on his blog

Argentina, where I was attacked by killer bees: “On, March 27, my second day of riding, I rode through a large swarm of bees. I didn´t even see it coming. I just felt one hit my arm, looked up and…while I wish I could say that everything slowed down and like Keanu in the Matrix, I dodged them all like a CGI acrobat, I don´t want to brag. Actually, I don´t even think I remembered to close my mouth. Hopefully that doesn´t happen again…” 

And the domino effect:

(Flashback to December of last year): “Later that night in the rooftop, self-serve honor-system bar, I started talking to this guy… As it turns out, Sam has been working with the Peace Corps in Paraguay for the past two years and is headed home now, on his bicycle. He is riding his bike to raise money to save the rainforest where he lived in Paraguay ( He shouldn´t even have been in Baños but he had a problem with a tire and no where in town even carried the proper size replacement. So, he had been waiting for a few days for a replacement to come in from Colombia. For some, unknown reason I became curious. We talked for a while, he answered a bunch of questions and we ended up heading out for the night in a big group.

I still don´t know what it was about our chat, but something planted in my mind, “Hey, you should do that!” And I was seriously thinking about it. So, the next day, I woke up after sleeping for four hours, rented a bike and took off on a 35 mile trail down river to the east. I had done the same trail on the previous trip, but on an ATV. I figured, let´s have this be a little mini-test to see if I am capable of this kind of thing. About twenty miles into the trip, the back wheel began shaking from side to side. “No problem”, I thought, “I can handle a little shaking, let´s see if it gets any worse…”. Well, after the next patch of gravel, the rear wheel began shaking rather violently. I had to stop. I quickly realized that I don´t know the first thing about bicycle maintenance. “Hmm, that may be something worth looking into if I decide to go through with this”, I thought to myself. So, I hitch-hiked back into town, feeling really excited about the ride I had just had, but with a creeping sense of doubt as to my ineptitude as an emergency bicycle repairman.

The next day Sam´s new tires had arrived and he was heading north to continue his trip back home. I decided to give it another try and joined him for the ride from Baños to Ambato some 25 miles away. At some point I asked him, “OK, I know that if I end up doing this it will be an adventure etc., but, given what you know about me, do you think I would be putting myself in unnecessary risk given my total lack of knowledge of the bicycle?”. He gave me an unequivocal, “No, it would not be taking a stupid risk, you can do this.

We ended up riding together for six hours, 90% of it uphill. As I turned back towards Baños and Sam continued on to Ambato, I felt uplifted by his endorsement, but in the back of my head that same sense of doubt was creeping, but now it was directed toward my physical capabilities.

Despite this doubt, the moment he told me I would not be making a rash decision, I knew I had to do this.”

The biggest risk is the naysayage, the dominoes that kill dreams, spouted from the mouths of people who call dreams impossible.

Hope you’re enjoying the ride, Matt!

And for any students out there who have been inspired and want to do something about it, check out to ride across the U.S. with 20 other students while supporting affordable housing.




One response

29 04 2010
Matt Sepulveda

Sam! Ha, those were good times in Baños. Thanks again for all of your help. I just crossed into Bolivia today, 2,200km north of Buenos Aires! Lovin´ it.

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