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“There is gonna be a point when the fart jokes stop being funny,” says Tommy Crosby, deadpan. That’s how serious this situation is.
On May 8, Crosby and his close friend and fellow 2014 University of Denver alumni Tyler Michael will embark on a 15,000-mile bike ride from Crosby’s front door in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District to Punta Arenas, in the Patagonia region of Chile. They’ll be biking 50 to 100 miles a day, camping for 300 nights and documenting their journey through a podcast, “The Spoken Tour.”
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The pair start their trip heading west from Denver straight into the Rocky Mountains, biking up through the Front Range to Carbondale before swinging southward to Durango.
“It’ll be a rude awakening as to what we’re in for,” says Crosby. “Right off the bat going up and down mountain passes with fully loaded bikes that aren’t dialed in to what we want them to be. But I think that’s the only way we can do it. I’ve lived in this state for almost a decade now, and I’ve fallen head over heels in love with those mountains. Part of this trip should belong to those mountains.”
Then it’s on to San Diego, so that by the time Crosby and Michael cross the border into Mexico during the high heat of the summer, they’ll have their bikes tuned and ready to hit the Pacific coast of Latin America without the safety net of REI, the English language, or cell phone service.
Part of this journey, the duo says, is about losing those safety nets, and retreating from daily routines and the buzz of city living. Crosby is quitting his job at DaVita and Michael is taking time away from leading outdoor tours for people with disabilities in Phoenix to tackle this adventure.
Crosby and Michael met in their very first class as freshmen at the University of Denver in 2010. A friendly beer started them on the path to friendship, and ultimately led them to become weekend exploration buddies. They both found a necessary retreat in the great outdoors—one that has had them cycling, climbing, skiing, and backpacking almost every weekend for the last seven years.
“It always seemed like it was more real than getting caught up in a television show or something that draws your attention into a digital box,” says Michael. “It seemed more expansive and a lot more interesting.”
Now, Crosby and Michael will spend a year getting to know a different rhythm of life, along with the people, history, and culture of Latin America. Their podcast will cover the good, the bad, the ugly of their trip, while also telling stories of the places they go and the people they meet. They’ll also incorporate interviews, with a focus on environmental and social justice issues.
But they won’t be completely cut off from the folks back home. They’re asking the community to get involved with an interactive map, where people can make suggestions for their trip—camping spots, places to eat, relatives and friends to meet. They’ve already received 35 suggestions along the route.
For now, it’s just a matter of loading what they need into packs and compartments on the frame of a bike (“one of everything, we’ll double down on socks and underwear for the sake of everyone involved”), stepping out the front door, and pedaling—all the way to Patagonia.
Follow along at thespokentour.com.