Adventure Prep, Fellowship of the Wheel, Spotlight

Help Us Launch the Fellowship of the Wheel

Fellowship of the Wheel bicycle

I’ve never been a whiz with videos. I can write, I can draw, I can even kind of sing—but shooting and editing videos is just not something I grew up doing. That’s why I’m particularly proud of the one I just shot for the Fellowship of the Wheel funding campaign. Once it was edited and live, I sent it to a few friends to get their reaction, and the consensus was “it’s cute!” (That’s a lot better than the consensus for my last video, which was “you need a better microphone.”)

This campaign aims to raise at least $1,200 to cover costs such as a support vehicle in the border region, a portable wi-fi device and more pre-adventure training. The goal is to keep us safe and keep our risks to a minimum.

Many thanks to all of you over the past week as I planned the campaign; your comments on the prospective rewards, both here on the site and privately, have been immensely helpful. I made a few small changes to the rewards list and I believe we’re offering some very gratifying perks to contributors. The goal with almost all of them is to help our supporters feel closer to the Adventure and participate in it from home.

I hope you’ll take a look at the campaign, check out my attempt at a video, and consider throwing your support behind us as we gear up. And, of course, please share the campaign link with as many people as possible to help increase awareness. Click here to take a look.

Thank you!


André, Spotlight

Live on the Radio It’s the Rogue Priest

Photo by Guigui Lille

What are you doing after work? I’ll be giving an interview for Radio Enso, an internet radio show, and I’d love for you to tune in.

Greg Berg, the host of Radio Enso, has dedicated himself to meeting and interviewing people who have unique and creative ideas. He’s sat down with a number of innovators and inspirers over the years, and I was on the show once before around the time I started my journey across the Americas.

Greg is particularly interested in two topics: the Fellowship of the Wheel’s upcoming ride across Mexico, and my recent report on the quest to meet the gods.

However, I warned Greg that this time I plan to turn the tables. I have a question I want to ask him and I’m going to do it on air.

You can tune in at Radio Enso at 6 p.m. Pacific/9 p.m. Eastern. If you’re listening live, you can also ask questions via the same site; otherwise, you’ll find the full show archived there tomorrow if you’d rather listen to it later.

Adventure Prep, Fellowship of the Wheel

What Do You Think of These Rewards?

Yesterday I asked for help choosing rewards for a Fellowship of the Wheel crowdfunding campaign. The funds we raise will help defray group expenses, like a support vehicle that will help us stay safe in the riskiest leg of the adventure.

After a lot of thought and many good suggestions, I have a draft list of rewards. What do you think?

$1 – Moving Thank You

Your name is inscribed in a booklet and carried across Mexico, traveling with me on my bike! I will say “thank you” over it every day. (Okay, I might forget some days, but it will definitely be a lot of thank yous.) It’s almost like you make the whole journey with us, but with less sweat.

$15 – Behind the Scenes

You get the Moving Thank You PLUS you receive exclusive access to a weekly video log, posted at every rest stop (10 videos total). You will see firsthand our triumphs and challenges every step of the way.

$25 – Story Collection

The Moving Thank You and Behind the Scenes PLUS you receive advanced supporters-only digital copies of four short stories written during the journey, inspired by the places we visit and the people we meet. These stories will bear my signature “magical realism” style and tell the tales of the secret places of Mexico.

$35 – Post Card

What is better than a handwritten postcard from a wanderer in a faraway land? You get the Moving Thank You AND I will send you one post card from Mexico, in my own sloppy but adorable handwriting.

$50 – Take Me With You!

You get EVERYTHING ABOVE! One post card, all the stories, all the video logs, and we carry your name across a nation. Stop stalking us!!

$50 – Blessings to the Wind

Moving Thank You PLUS name the person or cause you want blessed. I will perform two offerings for you: one to the sky gods at the famous pyramid of Chichén Itzá, and one to the chthonic gods at the underground river (cenote) beneath Valladolid. I reserve veto power so don’t ask me to pray for Hitler!

$75 – Moar Adventure

You just can’t get enough, can you? You get EVERYTHING above, the post card, the stories, the videos, your name carried 2000 miles, AND I make offerings for the cause of your choice at two of the spiritual wonders of the world. Are you satisfied yet??

$100 – Pen Pal

You get MOAR ADVENTURE and I will send you a full handwritten letter in addition to the postcard. I don’t write chit-chat, it will be good. It will be at least one page long and likely several, as I write until my poor millennial hand cramps up.

$150 – Autographed, Inscribed Adventuring Shirt

This is THE t-shirt I wore every day while I cycled all 1,800 miles of the Mississippi River, from the source to the Gulf. It’s an irreplaceable World Domination Summit shirt from the first ever WDS. At that conference I told the camera I was going to live my dream by bicycling the Mississippi River, then I put on that shirt and did it. This shirt is faded, stained, worn down and was with me every minute.

I have hand inscribed the shirt with an adventure quote in gold ink, and will autograph it for you. It will arrive framed and ready to hang (or wear). Plus, you get everything in Moar Adventure.

Me setting off in the t-shirt in question. Photo by my mom!

Me setting off in the t-shirt in question. Photo by my mom!

$150 – Autographed, Inscribed Adventuring Shirt (Texas Edition)

After I did the Mississippi, I turned west toward Texas and the Mexico border. This time my cycling shirt was a custom-made Rogue Priest baseball tee, with long sleeves to protect from the sun. You will be the proud owner of THAT SHIRT! The night that I crossed a train bridge and had to race a speeding train, I wrote this shirt. You can still smell the fear maybe.

This will arrived hand inscribed with a different adventure quote in gold ink, autographed for you, and framed for display (or ready to wear). Plus everything in Moar Adventure!

$200 – Digital BFF

You get everything in Moar Adventure PLUS I will video call you from the road. This is not a quick hello call, this is a one hour video call (or two half hours, your preference) from the road on the ride across Mexico (I mean, I will be sitting down, not actually ON the bike… you get the idea). We can talk about anything you want or I can just tell you the latest crazy misadventures. What is it like talking to someone in the field on a real adventure? This is your chance to find out!

$250 – Vodou

Did you know we practice Vodou in New Orleans? You get everything in Moar Adventure PLUS I will send you a hand painted, ritually blessed piece of Vodou (voodoo) artwork. I paint veve’s, which are ritual symbols used to invoke the spirits of Vodou. You will receive one 10 x 13″ veve on handmade paper loaded with good juju. You can pick the spirit or I can let the spirits choose. I will prep this veve for “activation” to bring the spirit into your life, or just leave it as a nice piece of art. Your call!

$500 – Masterpiece Vodou

Everything in Moar Adventure PLUS one full size Vodou veve painting on canvas. This will be a layered, splattered, energetic piece of artwork in bright Creole colors. You can choose the spirit or I will ask them for you, and I can ritually prep it for “activation” if you want to bring the spirit into your life. Would fit perfectly over a home shrine or just use it as a one of a kind piece of artwork, painted by a real New Orleans Vodou initiate (that’s me).

$1000 – Personal Adventure

Wanna have an adventure, but don’t want to bicycle across Latin America? Come to the most Latin city in the US and let me be your guide. You get everything in Moar Adventure, plus I will be your personal tour guide for a full day and evening of exploring New Orleans. We can bike it, walk it, streetcar it or drive it… and I will tailor the adventure to your tastes. I can show you a hidden boardwalk through a silent bayou where I guarantee you’ll see alligators. Or we can explore beautiful bars, great restaurants and unforgettable music. We can even coordinate it so you can attend a real Vodou ceremony at a local temple.

You pay your own travel costs, and I will make sure you see a side of New Orleans most visitors never see.

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think of these rewards. In particular I wonder two things: which of these rewards do you like the most? And do the dollar amounts seem right for them?

Your comments will help me make the strongest list of rewards possible, so I hope you’ll take a moment to share your thoughts. What do you think?

Adventure Prep, Fellowship of the Wheel

Bringing the Fellowship to Life

“I’m really excited about the prospect of exploring Mexico, rediscovering biking, meeting new people and doing some good thinking and talking and breathing.”

That’s a comment from one of my potential co-adventurers for the Fellowship of the Wheel. I’ve spent pretty much all my waking time over the last two weeks working on, thinking about, or promoting the Fellowship—and it seems to be paying off.

We have a small roster of interested folks now. Pixi, whom you may remember from the Texas ride, signed up from the beginning; she’ll be doing at least the first leg with me and as many more legs as possible. Then I got word from two personal friends of mine, separately, who are both interested in the last leg or two of the trip. And just in the past 24 hours I’ve had four (!) total strangers contact me declaring their interest.

This is exciting.

Photo by Lili Vieira de Carvalho

Meanwhile I’m working on logistics. Joining us on the Fellowship is completely free (you pay your own travel costs), but there are expenses I’ll need to cover. That has me considering a Kickstarter campaign so that I don’t have to pay entirely out of pocket. These expenses include:

  • Support car. During the first three days, I’m planning to have a support vehicle tail us. That way if we have a mechanical problem we can get a ride to town before dark. $300.
  • Fuel. $350.
  • Wi-fi. During our break days I will be catching up with clients and working, which requires wi-fi. Although internet is pretty ubiquitous in Mexico, I don’t like to take chances. I plan to invest in a portable wi-fi device, likely a dongle from local carrier Telcel. $100.
  • Data plan. $200.
  • Training & education. It’s been suggested to me that now would be a good time to take classes on bicycling safety and bike repair. The more knowledge I have once we’re on the road, the better. $250.

That’s a total of $1200 to crowdfund. Is that doable? I’d like to think it is, but I’d love your suggestions about what kinds of rewards to offer. The ideal Kickstarter rewards are things that aren’t physical, so that there’s little cost involved in delivering them: perhaps exclusive access to a video log of the journey, for instance. I was also thinking postcards from Mexico would be a good reward, and at higher levels we could do physical things as well. But those are just some basic ideas. What would you like to see as a reward for people who support the Fellowship?

Adventure, Adventure Prep, Ask Me Anything

Advice for a confused dreamer?

Diego asked:

I just decided to take a break for four months to go travelling in Asia. My younger self applauds my decision, but at 29 I have this niggling feeling at the back of my mind that I’m somehow trying to escape. I’m not one to be influenced by others as we all leave our lives differently, but I still find it difficult to fully ignore the fact that others now seem to have it “sorted out”.

The question is, what advice would you have for this slightly confused dreamer who’s about to leave a pretty stable job to try and find some adventure and maybe even some purpose?

Are you really trying to escape? I felt this way when I started but very fleetingly—mainly just because other people told me I must be “running away.” But I never really felt that. I felt I was running toward something.

My advice for someone about to leave their stable job is to make very, very sure you have enough savings to make your new start. I left my old job on a deadline I had set for myself, but it would have been smarter to wait one year longer. I wasn’t willing to do that, and I don’t regret it, but I probably wouldn’t have regretted having a better starting situation either. It took me two years to build up a good freelancing income and finances are still precarious sometimes.

Adventures are always more fun when you know you can eat, sleep somewhere safe, and survive a few months between jobs/clients.

But ultimately it’s all up to you. If you believe the time is right, then no one else can tell you it’s the wrong time to go.

Adventure, Poetry, Spotlight

The Rule of Travel

So this is pretty neat. Poet/adventurer S. Tarr has dedicated a poem to my Journey. He sent it to me after I told him about the upcoming ride across Mexico (which you can join, if you like, starting in November). With his permission, the poem is presented here in full:

The Rule of Travel

The rule of travel is this,
to always be prepared,
to always plan ahead,
misadventures will happen,
yet in planning’s stead,
the ready will walk on,
but not in woeful dread.

I’ve received lots of support and encouragement over the past two years, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever had a poem dedicated to me. It seems particularly appropriate given the amount of planning that has gone into the Fellowship of the Wheel. Guiding a group of cyclist across another country isn’t easy, but planning it carefully has, I hope, made it as accessible as possible.

You can find this poem and many more in S. Tarr’s book Thoughts Discovered: Love, Adventure and Other Noble Quests.

André, New Orleans

Birthday in New Orleans

Photo by André

Photo by André

A few days ago I celebrated my birthday here in New Orleans. (For anyone who doesn’t know, I’m back here for downtime until the Fellowship of the Wheel takes off to bicycle Mexico.)

In New Orleans, the tradition on your birthday is for a friend to pin a $1 bill onto your lapel. Over the course of the day, other people will spot it and pin more $1 bills on you. Eventually this becomes a sort of cash corsage, which you can use to buy your birthday drinks.

I’ve had at least one friend—a transplant to New Orleans, like me—express dislike of this tradition. To them it feels a little like begging. I wasn’t sure what to think, but this year I had no choice: we had my birthday brunch at a local café, and when my friends sang Happy Birthday a woman from another table came over.

“Is it  okay if I do this?” she asked, flashing a $1 bill and a blue safety pin.

Honestly, I was ecstatic. It was the first time anybody’s ever done the corsage for me. And Yankee conservatism be damned: this is a local tradition. One of the unsung tragedies of Katrina is that tens of thousands of native New Orleanians left and never came back, and the city has not recovered from the loss of culture (even as newcomers come and take their place). I can’t change the fact that I’m not from here, but I can at least learn the traditions and pass them on.

But this was more than just a lesson in local culture. Wearing the corsage definitely does not feel like begging—in fact, it feels like magic. It marked me out as a birthday person, and total strangers came up to give me their well wishes. People broke into giant smiles. They came over, introduced themselves, and chatted under the guise of pinning a dollar on my shirt. A tourist even saw me and asked what it was all about, and I got to explain this tradition I’ve inherited.

Edit: A friend who is a lifelong New Orleanian just gave me some interesting history on this tradition. Originally the corsage was a black tradition and wasn’t really practiced by white New Orleanians. Now, my friend says, “it has been adopted by some New Dats like you!” New Dats are (mostly white) transplants to New Orleans. 

There is something really special about this tradition. As kids, one of the best parts of a birthday is that it’s that rare time when you’re at the center of attention. As adults we don’t really get that—we have a little gathering with friends and some cake (my friends actually went well above and beyond that, but you know what I mean). But the corsage became an emblem that invited even strangers to come wish me well. It was like being in a Disney movie, where the whole world is singing for you.

Anyway, it was a good birthday, and one more gift from my beautiful New Orleans. Thank you to everyone who was there, and everyone who reads these words week after week. It’s an honor to be your rogue priest.

What are your favorite birthday traditions? Are there any you don’t like?

Want to give me the best birthday present ever? Spread the word about the Fellowship of the Wheel as far and wide as you can!