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Final Post (Ushuaia reached: 5/17/2012)

posted Oct 27, 2012, 6:36 AM by Matthew Gorzlancyk

            I left El Calafate alone, knowing that I would be coming to the end of a very interesting chapter of my life. I had ridden my bicycle from my home in Wisconsin and would finally make it to the Southern-most point of South America within weeks.  I was about to accomplish a task I had set out for myself only a little over two years before.

Up to this point I had ridden through almost every possible circumstance I could have imagined, had some of the best and worst days of my life, met some of the most incredible people along the way, had realized potential and skill sets I never knew I had, eaten some of the weirdest things imaginable, created lifelong friendships, met my wonderful girlfriend and life partner, Gaby, encountered that the world isn’t as scary as it is displayed on television or in the news, that I could do anything I wanted with this life I have, and began understanding how in many ways my priorities had been altered and were going to need a little fine-tuning in the future. My life had changed. My views had been furthered in many ways, and in some cases, turned upside-down.

Everything was coming at me in full-speed as I began pedaling deeper into isolation South of El Calafate. This path was coming to an end. The reality that I had known for the last two years was to be coming to a halt. New choices were to be made. A new life was coming… What was I going to find!?

            I think you catch my drift. I had had a bunch of thoughts running through my head. From thoughts of school afterward, how I would meet up with my girlfriend, what I was going to do with my life from then on…

            I was finishing the trip! I left El Calafate with all of this in my head. I was excited, I was nervous, I was close, and (jaja) I was cooooold! I had thought I would be making this final run at Ushuaia in the Summer, but I was running a little late. I was now dealing with cold, rain, and was even hit with snow while arriving to Ushuaia.

            The solo ride from El Calafate to Punta Arenas was a good one. I was taken in a few times and even fed some great Patagonian sheep meat along the way. Though the riding was tough and a bit desolate, it was beautiful and exactly what I needed to get to get my head where I needed it.

            I spent some time in Punta Arenas with some very nice cyclists (Marc and Indira, and Thomas and Marta). I also met a really cool Australian dude named Hugh who I think might have become inspired enough to get on a bike and ride in Mexico! It was a really nice break there and fortunately I even received the bank card my mom had sent me, for I had lost my card up in Coihaique with Sam!

            In Punta Arenas I met two really great Japanese cyclists Ai and Hiro who had began cycling from El Calafate to Ushuaia. I had actually met them just outside of El Calafate, but at the time I was moving a little faster than they were. We met again in Punta Arenas and I found out about the reason for their goal.

These two were actually finishing a tour that a friend of theirs had begun years before. Their friend had been cycling around the world and passed away before reaching Ushuaia, which was to be his final destination. Hiro and Ai were going to finish the route for him, but on two beat up old rental bikes and some sketchy gear that was really only adequate for summer months in Patagonia.

We decided to ride together (for many reasons, but also for I had a little more experience and would be able to aid them in finishing), and it went perfectly. We slept indoors every night on the road (without paying) and were even fed the majority of the nights by farmers along the way. It was a great experience that made the road a little less lonely, and a little more enjoyable for all of us during those final kilometers. Ma-jee-day Ya-bie!!!

            I really am surprised by how it all ended. I thought I would maybe feel a strong wave of emotion as I left the Panaderia at La Union on my final day (Thanks guys for everything!!!!), though it really never passed. A mixture of nerves and excitement stirred in my belly as I rode that morning and lasted throughout the day, but I never felt a sharp feeling of sadness or joy. Maybe it is because I knew I would reach Ushuaia by the evening and that I would pedal one more day to Lapataia (the real end of the road) the next day. I don’t know. I guess I just came to the realization that this was just another chapter of my life amongst many others that I had written and those that were left to be written.

I know I have finished something that not many will ever do. I know when I began I imagined the finish. I imagined the moment so many times along the trip when I was fighting headwinds, bouts of torrential rain, climbing passes, escaping weird situations, fighting varied illnesses, feeling lonely in the morning knowing my Gaby was nowhere near to hug, etc...

The finish wasn’t what I had imagined. It was beautiful, but it was now time to move forward and begin the next challenge. I just thought about the many things I had learned along the way. I learned that I can do whatever I want if I work for it. I found that I can tackle even quite daunting challenges. A guy once told me that, “We are the writers of our own story.” When it comes to many things in life, he is right and it really can be boiled down to that. Of course we all face different barriers, but once you have overcome the fear of falling down (or sleeping under a bridge, getting robbed, etc…) you can do whatever you put your mind to…

            In closing, I just want to say that even though I displayed to myself very strong heart and determination, more than anything, the help of others is what got me through. I found along the path that the more I opened my heart, the more open the world was to me. I rode hard, yes, but I did not do anything that most of the people on this world couldn’t if they only simply overcame the barriers they put on themselves. I put trust in those around me. I opened myself to everyone while on the road, regardless of the many differences that may exist amongst us. My accomplishment is the accomplishment of a chain of people that I connected with over the two years I spent on the road. I rode into Ushuaia, but they all came there with me, in my heart and in my spirit.

            When I look back on the last two years of my life, of course I think of some of the wonderful landscapes, campsites, and food I ate. But, you want to know what? More than anything, I remember the helping hand, the hikes with little kids, the meals with the many families along the way, the fire I felt meeting my Gaby, the kid telling me he will sleep with his parents so I can have his bed, the family digging into their pot of beans and rice so they can share with me even though they may be lacking in resources, the support that I received (from those with me and from afar), the friends I made, those that I met, the smiles that were shared, the laughs that were had, the kindness that I received, and the love that I felt. I will carry all of the memories, and all of you who were part of what made my last two years on this earth so incredible, with me, in my heart, always.

 

Thank you everyone for following my journey. Below you will find my final photo album. If anybody has any questions or would like planning a tour in the future, you can find me on facebook or look at the contacts tab where you will find my email.

 

 

 

 

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