Big Adventure Planning

How do you start planning those big adventure dreams so they become a reality?? Whether you are planning a ’round-the-world trip on your bicycle or looking for a new adventure on a wilderness trail, we all start planning at the same place: the beginning.

Creating a plan of action for an adventure goal can be a daunting task in the beginning. Join others looking to begin their next adventure for discussion, brainstorming, and the initial phases of planning.

Big Adventure Planning is to help YOU start planning that big adventure. Whether it means you want to start hiking more, travel to a new country, take a year off of work, or learn something new, it takes planning and prioritizing to make it happen.


What’s your long-term adventure goal?

Whether it’s a new hike in the Adirondacks or a bicycle trip around the world, one person’s adventure goal can seem incomprehensible to others. The key to turning what others may deem “that crazy dream of yours” into reality is breaking the preparation and adventure itself into manageable steps.

  • Write down a clear goal: what, where, when, duration, and budget

Where do you begin?

To bicycle around the world, you have to start somewhere!

  • Find that pinpoint in your adventure – that starting point where it all begins.
  • Create small adventures to lead up to your big adventure goal.

Presented by Christine Perigen and Josh Fonner of Roam Life, Inc. 2012.


Taking Time Out for Daily Adventures…A How-To Guide

One of the major obstacles of adventure in our daily lives is how to find the time. Sounds silly, when I say it because isn’t this what makes life FUN? Shouldn’t we ALWAYS have time for fun?


The reality, of course, is that fun is the first element of our daily lives to go when we are busy, stressed, working, and have full to-do lists to complete.


Compound this with the fact that it’s now winter and daylight is at a minimum and now we are a bunch of non-fun ninnies all of a sudden.

Several of us are gearing up for a women’s workshop to begin December 15th that  focuses on a weekly adventure and reflection. Several of us may be asking ourselves, “How am I going to take some time out for my adventures?” In response, I have come up with a list that might just help you out:

Wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual. I know, this is a tough request. We’re already sleep-deprived, stressed and have a full day ahead of us. And for people like me, I am a COMPLETE non-morning person. I sleep until the last possible moment and then wake up angry on a regular basis just because I have to get up. Lately, I’ve trained myself to set the alarm 30 minutes early (and honestly I wake up 20 minutes earlier…snooze 1X!!) and I’m now able to enjoy a cup o’ joe with my man. And this makes me happy and I start my work day HAPPIER. Stay with me people…I know this is a post on how to have an ADVENTURE and I have a point that connects to this. See formula below.

While at work, take advantage of your breaks. Tear yourself away from work and actually walk or ride your bike somewhere – most beneficially, outside. If you can, combine your breaks and take one long break (good time to sneak in an adventure, too!) This helps your  blood flow, your brain wake up, and stress to go down amongst a plethora of other positives.

Before you come home, plan for some time to yourself. Hire a babysitter, arrange for chores to get done, do what you have to do to schedule in an hour of time for just YOU.

Make a wish list of activities. What are the things you wish you could do that you never get to? Your adventure doesn’t have to be crazy or exhilarating. It can be calming and relaxing, too. Make your decision. Do you want excitement and movement or calm and relaxing?

Put your wishlist in several places that will remind you to schedule it in. Have daily or weekly goals. What is really important to you to try and do this week? Is it to finish a book in the bath tub? Go for a hike? Sign up for a new class? Put it on your  calendar and schedule it in as a goal.

The biggest and most important aspect of daily adventures is making the adventure a priority. Take the steps and complete the actions to make sure that the adventure isn’t just a possibility – it’s a given. Avoid excuses. Plan for variables. If you scheduled a night hike but it’s too dark and too late – take a head lamp, a flash light and a shoulder bag and go for a hike or walk anyway. If you planned to have coffee with a friend and they cancelled, go have the coffee anyway.

The adventure rests within you. You just have to give it a little space to come out and dance.


How to Create a Self-Sustaining Adventure

The freedom of adventure awaits…

When’s the last time you woke up in the morning, packed an overnight bag, and just…went somewhere?

So often, we let days pass us by. We get pulled left and pulled right and all around meeting deadlines, getting things done, and perpetually rotating between what “has to get done” and “things I have to do.”

Look at the calendar and count back the days and find how many it has been since an entire day consisted of only things you WANTED to do.

How many days has it been?

This personal time is critical for growth. Personal time to pursue activities that you enjoy and that excite you makes you feel more complete, more capable.

Combine that with creating a sense of adventure – and now you have a real, life changing, eye-opening experience that will stay with you forever.

What if you had an entire day to work on you?

A self-sustaining adventure means to give yourself a day of adventure – a full day,

all to yourself. 

Self-sustaining means self-sufficient. It means that you have with you and within you all that you need for an entire day of adventure on your own. Whether you pack a bag and head to a new coffee shop, go to the local climbing wall, or find a remote part of a park to spend your day, this day is for you to experience something new, reflect on what you’ve learned, and enjoy an entire day on your own.

What would your adventure be? 

Adventure consists of doing something you’ve never done before and providing moments of learning and new experiences for you to take with you and keep with you forever. Adventure is excitement, seeing things from a new angle, and trying new things.

What would you plan? 

Adventure doesn’t have to be hair-raising or terrifying. In fact, it doesn’t have to be out of this world at all. It just needs to be something new  and something that gets your heart rate going. 

For me, it was a trip to Burlington, VT.

I started planning my self-sustaining day. It took three weeks to find a day on the calendar that I could block out, cordone off, and refuse to schedule anything. I then grabbed my favorite pack and started throwing things I thought I might need into it. It looked something like this:

Remember to keep it simple: This day is about your experience, not about stuff!

An entire day by myself?? Not doing anything for anyone else?? Not doing anything that I have to do? What would I need for that? How would I entertain myself? I packed every electronic I could think of plus a journal, a pen, and the Kindle. What if it rained or what if I got cold? I packed sweaters and gloves and hats and scarves…

It’s important to keep this part simple. A self-sustaining day doesn’t mean you can’t reach out and engage with others or buy a new pair of gloves (which I did in Burlington, by the way). Self-sustaining means mentally prepare to be aware of your environment, actively engage in learning new things, and seek out new places you have never been.

Now it’s time for the adventure to begin! Ok, where is it??

I have been living two hours away from Burlington for six months and have been longing to visit. Burlington has a great music scene, is an organic-hippie kind of town with a central market and natural stores, and is pleasantly walkable. Great restaurants and quirky stores line the main promenade. Off the beaten path you’ll find colorful art installments, tattoo shops, community centers, and cozy little coffee shops. I was excited to be in this new and vibrant place.

But where was my adventure??

I had no clue. I hadn’t gotten that far in the planning and the day snuck up on me before I figured the adventure part of the whole self-sustaining day out. I started brainstorming…Get a new tattoo? No. Rummage sales racks at the thrift store? Eh. That’s no adventure. Walk around aimlessly? Too cold. I decided to just play the day by ear and roll with it.

I ended up at Speeder & Earl’s Coffee House to start my day in a caffeinated way. I asked the woman for the strongest coffee they had and sat down with my coffee and some Words with Friends to try and get my head about me on this self-sustaining adventure.

The coffee roaster @ Speeder & Earl’s

I sat staring at that machine wondering where to go now. I took a walk along the Church Street Marketplace and found all sorts of great shops.

Church Street Marketplace

My stomach growled when I passed The Three Tomatoes so I decided for an early lunch and some Kindle reading time. I was finally starting to relax and enjoy some time with my thoughts and being by myself. No adventure yet, or was there? I realized that just being in the moment, being by myself, wandering by myself and meeting new people and seeing new things on my own was an adventure in itself. I had coffee with the sunshine and was about to eat lunch with a fictional character from a story I was reading. I met new people and was able to spend extra time chatting with the barista and learning about Burlington from the eyes of my waitress at The Three Tomatoes.

Three Tomatoes, Church Street Marketplace

My adventure became an experience through other peoples’ eyes.

How were people viewing me? Alone and chatty and curious? Where I was to go next depended solely on the conversation I was having with a stranger now. My heart rate had definitely gone up. Going on advice from my young and friendly waitress, I headed over to the City Market. City Market is an organic grocery store that blows Whole Foods out of the water. This place is legit. First, they were serving gluten free mini-cupcakes at the front door followed up with organic milk to wash it down. I almost blew a gasket when I saw that you could grab some peanuts from the bulk bin and make your own peanut butter. Hello, peanut butter adventure! Passing by the boxed stuff isles, I stopped in my tracks when I saw this:


These people obviously know their market. I wanted to buy one of each item just to support hippies being included in their marketing strategy. Arms full of organic soap, gluten free pretzels, and some hippie friendly items, I checked out and threw my things into a re-usable bag and headed out the door. I felt success! I felt excited! I felt that I had found a place that said, “Hey, Christine! This place is for people like YOU!”

I needed that.

Yea, I know. It’s not crazy out of this world adventure. I didn’t try anything crazy scary. But I did do something new. And I learned something new about myself – I like being around people like me. And apparently, Burlington has a whole community of people like me. Enough to open up a grocery store full of opportunity to think and feel and purchase in a healthy, eco-conscious way. Why hadn’t I been doing this kind of exciting connection-making at home?!?

Because I needed to try something new before I understood.

After that, I had the confidence to get off the beaten path. I walked down some side streets, got out of town…and just…wandered while munching on some yogurt covered pretzels.

And that’s when my adventure happened.

There was a man in a tattered jacket all bundled up riding a bicycle shopping cart. Somehow, he had taken a shopping cart and attached it to a bicycle. Thus, making a “bicycle shopping cart.” He wouldn’t tell me his name and wouldn’t let me take a picture of the bike but it was a piece of work. Fully functioning with pink streamers and hubcap lined cart art, This piece of machinery was colorful, creative, and practical. He loads it up with recyclables, instruments, clothing, anything that needs to be moved from one place to another. He told me that it took a long time to collect all of the “artwork” that he had decorated the bike with. Our conversation was short and I felt awkward having stopped him to ask about his bike but he said that most people just stare so he was happy to tell me about the bike. He took the shopping cart from the grocery store and got the bike from a friend and said it made sense to put them together. A shopping cart bicycle. I told him the trend would more than likely catch on. Just look at what they are doing in Copenhagen!

Cargo bike for all types of hauling

I said goodbye to my new friend and the new adventure and started heading home as the sun started dipping behind the buildings on Church Street.

Goodbye, Burlington

Self-Sustaining Adventure Day…Complete.



Rachel & Jessica Pedal Against the Grind

 by Christine Perigen


Jessica and Rachel started a cross-country bicycle tour in September, 2011. Terrified yet anxious, these two women rolled down Rachel’s family driveway, each with over 100 pounds of weight to carry down the road on their bikes. Uncertain of the journey ahead and thinking about all the unknowns to come, Rachel and Jessica pedaled away from Wisconsin and headed south.

Catching up with Rachel and Jessica during a break they took in February, Roam Life got to ask a few questions about cycle-touring, what these two have learned on the road, and what they plan to do once the pedals stop turning.

You started planning this cross-country trip because you knew there had to be something more out there for you. So far, what has that something been?

Rachel: I don’t know that I would necessarily phrase it that way.  However, I knew that I wasn’t satisfied with my life on the path it was headed.  I wanted to do more than just work in film.  I am an activist in my downtime and I find it very important to place meaning into my actions and affect others to do the same.  This was a manifestation of this belief.  We are using our filmmaking skills and storytelling skills to share and encourage other women to think outside their lives and look for something special.

Jessica: I think I was hoping to adopt this nomadic lifestyle and never look back.  In reality, I’ve discovered that this trip has show me what I miss the most about staying in one place (friends, family, having a full kitchen, not worrying where we’re going to sleep at night, etc) and taught me that people who like where they’re living and are happy where they are aren’t complacent.

What did it feel like to get on the bike and ride down the driveway and out on the road to this huge journey?

Rachel: I was pretty giddy.  I remember thinking, this is really happening! I didn’t express this until about 5 miles down the road when we stopped to fill out a permit form for the bike path we were using.  I don’t know why, but I wasn’t scared or worried, not in the way that I can loose sleep before an international flight or anything.  It just seemed natural since we’d spent so much time building up to this point!

Jessica: I was terrified!!  I was almost in tears because I was so uncertain about if we would actually be able to do this without giving up or getting killed.  I think about a whole month went by before I stopped asking myself every morning, “Can we really do this???”.  I also remember feeling extremely excited too, though.  I remember riding past farms in Wisconsin thinking, “This is it!  We’re living on our bikes!  This is what total freedom feels like!  All my friends are working, but I’m living on my bike!!”  I think that feeling lasted about a month, too.  But I still get that feeling when I’m somewhere especially beautiful (like New Orleans or Savannah) or doing something amazing (like swimming with manatees or interviewing someone really inspiring), but now the most exciting parts are by far when we’re off the bikes.

Putting aside actual dangers and concerns, how did you address the fears and concerns that people may have had about two young women heading out on this bike trip alone?

Rachel:  I was always certain they were overreacting.  I can’t remember now, though, whether I actually felt like we should take them seriously or not.  At least, not until we were actually on the road in rural Georgia and Tennessee and that little banjo ditty starts playing in my head.  I do remember simply chuckling and telling anyone who expressed concern that we would be checking in on a regular basis, that someone would know where we are at the end of each day and that we were taking a really big knife along with us.  Thankfully, we’ve been able to prove that the world really isn’t that scary so far.  Knock on wood.

Jessica:  I agree with Rachel.  There’s nothing we can do but thank people for their concern and try to assure them that it’s not as hard or scary as it looks and that we’re trying to be as careful as we can.  Everyone always tells us, “Be careful!” and I always respond with, “We try!”  I mean, that’s the best we can promise anyone– that we’ll try to be careful.

How has the use of bicycles impacted your interaction with people on the road?

Rachel:  I’ve dubbed this issue “Celebrity and Spectacle.”  Either people think what we are doing is immensely cool and think we are the neatest thing since sliced bread or people gawk.  It’s a conversation starter that’s for sure.  And I’ve had some really great conversations as a result.  The best ones are the two instances that a woman has stopped us on the road and invited us to stay with her (or in her community).  We’ve ended up spending the day with them and it’s really been life changing.  They are the reason I keep going because it reminds me how special it is.  I would have gone my whole life never having met them if I’d just driven through their state instead of bicycled through it.

Jessica:  We’ve had people pull over to take photos of us with all our gear.  We’ve also experienced the kindness of strangers that I don’t think either of us really believed in before this trip.  Just a few days ago, an elderly couple payed for two nights at a campground for us, and took us out to lunch and dinner both days!  We’d never met them before, either– it was a “friend of a friend of a friend of a friend” situation.  One of the hardest parts of the trip for me has been accepting the help of strangers, knowing I don’t have anything to give in return.  No one expects us to though– that’s also what’s amazing.

How has your journey changed since you started?

Rachel:  Quite literally, the trip has shrunk.  We (me especially) have realized the simple joy of a bed to call your own, a dresser full of clothes and a warm shower every day.  We originally planned to travel indefinitely, but now we have set a very hard end date that we can’t break without loosing a lot of money.  And we’re okay with this.  We know that we’ll be getting back on those bikes again, just not for a year or so (aside from commuting, since neither of us has a car).  Probably just for a few weeks maximum.  That way, we’ll still eventually see all that we’d wanted to see on this trip, but will still have a bed to which we can return.

Jessica:  So many things can effect a bike trip.  Anything from the weather, to the direction the wind is blowing, to the amount of sleep we’ve gotten, to if we’re in dire need of a shower or laundry can effect how slow or fast we go.  It’s been difficult to make plans for more than a few days in advance and our plans are always changing.  We were initially going to bike for 1-2 years.  Now, due to sheer exhaustion (no matter what you might believe, I swear bike touring can be monotonous after a while!) we’re looking at about 9 months.

What is your biggest hope for this trip?

Rachel:  My biggest hope for this trip is that we really will be able to use it to keep the message going for women everywhere that taking a big leap like this is totally doable and worth it.   This is by far the most difficult thing I’ve done ever, and likely ever again, and while I can pretty much say I hate every day because it’s that hard, I wouldn’t change a thing.  I want to take that message and sing it from the mountaintops.  We have a plan for the next stage of Against The Grind that we’ll announce once it’s more set in stone that will do this for sure and I’m very excited about that!

Jessica:  My biggest hope for the trip is to have lots of awesome videos on our website featuring lots of amazing women!  I’d also like to make it to California in one piece.

Your story is incredibly inspiring to people. Many wish they could do what you are doing. What advice would you give to those itching to take the plunge?

Rachel:  If it’s bike touring in particular that’s the plunge, the simplest answer is to start by reading all the blogs that are out there.  They really helped me get over the big stuff like, “Where do we sleep?” and “Where do we go if it rains?” and “What kind of bike might I want?”  Stuff like that.  If it’s anything big, just start early with the planning!  I think it really helped us to start the blog and filled it with all our thoughts and plans.  We then were able to get feedback from people who have already done something similar and amend our thoughts on things.  It also made it real, like we were now responsible for going through with our plan since the world knew about it.  And most importantly, don’t let your friends and family talk you out of it.  They’re just jealous you’re actually getting off your butt and doing something.

My other piece of advice is to be willing to make mistakes and accept that!  We have made so many mistakes on this trip.  I think half our time is trying to make up for them and make things better by finding other solutions.  For instance, a solution could be to find an abandoned barn at mile 12 of 45 and stay there for the night despite the rats because the wind and rain are creating a hypothermia risk!  (When we really should have just stayed another night at our motel…)

Jessica:  My biggest advice is to have realistic expectations!  There are going to be days that are boring as hell, that are hot as hell, and you might even have a few near-death experiences.  Adventure is never easy.  People we meet often remark that we’re “living the dream” or tell us that they’re jealous of what we’re doing.  I always think, “you wouldn’t be jealous of us last week when it was freezing/raining/10000 degrees/insanely  windy/thundering”.  There’s a saying I’ve heard: “There are only two guarantees in bike touring: there will be hills, and there will be wind.”  But not to scare you away from bike touring!  I’m still having a blast, but the best part of bike touring isn’t the miles you put down but rather the people you meet and the serendipitous experiences you  have.

Also just know that despite what many blogs will tell you, you don’t have to have super expensive gear to bike across the country!  Rachel and I have panniers made out of kitty litter buckets and use a tent that was on closeout sale at REI.  We’ve met people biking across the country on $50 beach cruisers.  No matter what your budget you can make your bike touring (or plain old adventure) dreams come true.

Planning a trip is one thing. Starting a trip is another. How did you contemplate risk and what steps did you take in order to move from your comfort zone into your adventure?

Rachel:  I wasn’t really worried.  We set a date and I knew we were going to leave.  I wasn’t going to have gone through a year of publicly planning, of selling my belongings, moving the things I kept across the country to my parent’s house just to say, “Nope, not going today or tomorrow!”  Maybe that’s the secret.  Do it all in baby steps and make those steps pretty permanent so that backing out is literally impossible.

Jessica:  I’d been saving up for a cross-country bike trip for almost a year before I met Rachel.  I voiced my dreams to lots of people.  I bought a good amount of gear (including my touring bike).  However, I’m convinced that if it weren’t for Rachel basically inviting herself along I’d still be sitting at my desk job in Boston, squirreling money away, and saying “Someday I’m going to bike across the country!”  For me, I think it really took having someone else to plan this adventure with me to really get the ball rolling.  Once Rachel got involved, we got a website, started blogging, and opened up facebook and twitter accounts.  I don’t think I’d ever have done any of that on my own.

What is an important reflection you have had about yourself along the way?

Rachel:  The thing I reflect on the most about myself as this journey goes on is how I think I’ve grown to be a much more open and willing participant in speaking and getting to know people outside of my current circle.  When I moved from the Midwest, where everyone strikes up conversations everywhere with anyone, to the East Coast where that doesn’t happen, I loved it.  I never liked just talking to a person in a grocery line or somewhere.  This trip has forced me to talk to people even when I’m tired and beat down by the road.  It has gotten me to go out on the town with people when all I wanted to do was stay in and read.  Now I see how this is a good thing for me and I like it!

Jessica:  My biggest reflection about myself is that I’m homesick for Boston.  I miss my friends and I miss the life I had there.  I’ve realized now that back in Boston, I NEVER had any bad days.  I was basically relatively happy all the time.  Bike touring has shown me a lot of extremes.  There are times when I’m deliriously happy (like more happy than I could ever imagine myself being) and there are also times when I’m completely miserable.

A quote of yours that I love is when you decided to give it up in the trenches of the Everglades in Florida and rent a car out of the swamp. Rachel, you said, “You have to learn…when you’ve had such a break down that sometimes the solution is not to continue in the direction you are going but to find another way.” Jess followed up with, “I don’t think there are any rules to bike touring…there are no set regulations that people have to follow to have a successful bike tour.” Please discuss.

Rachel:  I have always had a mantra in my life:  You are in control of your own life.  If you aren’t happy, make a change.  And this has been incredibly reliable and important to my sanity over the years.  I know that if I am not happy that I can turn around and walk out the door and will never live with regrets.  Why beat myself up over driving ourselves out of a miserable situation?  I don’t beat myself up over not finishing a book I didn’t like or not staying in a job where I didn’t feel fulfilled.  I’m the only person who is going to judge my actions at the end of the day, so if driving a car is the solution, then it’s a great solution!

Jessica:  I’m a LOT harder on myself than Rachel.  I’m always worrying about how my actions look to other people.  Driving out of the Everglades was really hard for me because I was worried that the people reading our blog would think we were cheating or that we had failed at bike touring.  In the end, I’ve been able to reconcile it with the fact that this is MY bike tour.  Not anyone else’s.  And you know what?  No one’s said anything to us about cheating or failing.  Everyone we know is amazed we’ve biked over 3,000 miles.  I just had an irrational fear, I guess.

You guys recently took a break to rejuvenate and spend time with family. How did it feel to be off the bike? Was the break helpful? Did you ride while you weren’t touring?

Rachel:  The break solidified my feelings about this not being a lifestyle I want anymore.  I am glad to be getting back on the bikes to finish this trip for myself and for the people who have invested their love and money into it as well, but I’ll be glad to start the next stage of my life too!  It’s funny because I sort of always feel like I’m just going through the motions waiting for the next stage to arrive, and I certainly felt that way before our break.  I realize now, though, that finishing is not about simply killing time before we go back to Boston this summer, it really has developed into a special event in my life to cherish.  (Even though I’m miserably sore!)

Jessica:  I think the break was nice, because it gave us both a chance to visit our parents and replace some of our warn-out clothes.  We didn’t ride while we were in Wisconsin though (way too cold!).  I think we were both ready to hop back on the bikes in the end because we’re really excited to check out the Western United States.

Back in Austin, you were back on the bikes. How did it feel to go to a life back on the road?

Rachel:  Austin was fun, and I really loved it, which I think surprised me because people had told me I’d love Portland, OR but I didn’t really.  But we’re back on the road now and out in the middle of Texas as I write this and boy is it brutal out there!  The roads are pretty much gravel, which makes for a bumpy ride.  But I know that in the end, I’ll have this beautiful little thing that’s mine and Jessica’s alone and that makes it worth it.

Jessica:  Life back on the road is pretty good so far.  The scenery is starting to change pretty quickly, which is always exciting.  We’re really entering the desert now and I’m really looking forward to the national parks we’re going to be visiting very soon!

A few on the road questions: What’s the best meal you’ve made on the road? TP Question: Crumple or fold? Any TP stories from the road?

Rachel:  The best meal?  Jessica’s the cook, so I can’t claim credit for any of it, but there was one night when we added rice to this cheesy potato soup mix.  Jessica will roll her eyes at it because she is so sick of soup mixes it makes her ill, but that was probably the most memorable.  As for TP stories, I really only can think of how grossed out and freaked out I was when I brushed off a deer tick in the panhandle of Florida after venturing out for a wee.  I really am terrified of a bug the size of a pinhead!

Jessica:  Once I made really delicious cheesy garlic bread out of pancake mix.  Another favorite is kale sauteed with carrots, fresh garlic, lemon juice, and a ginger dressing (store bought) over rice or noodles.  I LOVE cooking with fresh vegetables.  I also really like to cook “Mexican Rice Surprise”, which is really just rice, refried beans with fresh garlic, cheese, salsa, and, if we’re lucky, an avocado.  No real TP stories, although I do recommend using a pee funnel (I use the Whiz Freedom) so you don’t have to squat.  It’s not as inconspicuous as I was hoping though– someone in Illinois honked at me very angrily as I was using it on the side of the road.

Rachel and Jessica are two independent women traveling across the country on bicycles. Part documentary, part public engagement, and part cross-country bicycle trip, they are on a mission to explore and find a “new normal.” They hope to inspire other women to do the same.


South Africa from a Non-Cape Epic(er)

March 20, 2012

I didn’t do much preparation for South Africa. Josh, my partner, had been training for the Absa Cape Epic for almost six months and watching how much work went into that, I figured that was enough preparation for both of us.

I feel like I must state a somewhat obvious: A common mis-conception is that when you say, “I’m going to South Africa!” people assume you mean the wild safari of the African continent. South Africa has wild safari areas but Western Cape and the areas we were in were definitely colonial Dutch, very settled and developed. Cape Town is a modern metropolis and the surrounding suburbs are gorgeous with gated communities and multi-million dollar homes along the coast.

South Africa – We were in the lower Western Cape area.

Don’t get me wrong, there are dangerous areas, poor areas, wild safari areas – we just weren’t really in them.

It was a non-negotiable topic that we would both bring our bikes – mine, a steel stallion singlespeed Bronto and Josh, a fancy full suspension Anthem 29er… [keep reading…] 

Tread on Trafficking: Join the MOVEment

Tread on Trafficking is an eight-week fundraiser where treaders ask sponsors to support them for the number of miles or hours they spend running, swimming, biking, or working out with all the money raised going directly to Love146, an international organization working to end child sex slavery and exploitation.

Love146 became a personal interest of Christine’s, after her friend, Marilyn started working for the organization and shared the real stories of real girls and the real difference Love146 programs and support provide to children in need.

A few statistics from Love146:

  • It’s estimated that $32 billion is generated from trafficking people every year.
  • 27 million people are enslaved. Most women are put into the sex industry.
  • Two children are sold EVERY MINUTE into slavery.

This year, Roam Life will be participating as a TEAM to raise $1,500towards ending child slavery and exploitation.

Interested in joining the movement? Ready to make a real difference?

If you would like to make a contribution but are unable to participate, you can donate at the Roam Life page and help support our campaign.

For those of you willing to contribute $50 or more, Christine will Sharpie your name onto her jersey that she’ll wear during the Leadville 100 mountain bike race in August.


Click and donate to Love146 now.

The money goes straight into the organization and OUT to those who really need it.

Join the MOVEment.

Be inspired. Roam Life. 

Spiritually Speaking with Liz Grover

Amazing Women Doing Amazing Things:

Spiritually Speaking with Liz Grover


Liz Grover is one of those reflective and airy souls that tend to migrate to the Portland, OR area. She’s an activist, spiritualist, centered individual that has a slew of stories she can tell you but you have to ask. She’s non-pretentious like that. Her travels and spiritual quests are how I became connected to Liz and how I came to interview her on a snowy afternoon in March.

Do you consider yourself a part of a community of amazing women?

Modern young men in Kabul

I consider myself part of the global community. Women travelers are a unique breed. We have a lot of unique experiences and more restrictions in traveling.

I was treated really well in Afghanistan and in Kabul better than I thought. Sometimes though, I was treated as an object while traveling with a male friend and he wasn’t treated the same way as me. I didn’t like that feeling of inequality. There is a need for community within women travelers and I build it as much as I can.

Women’s empowerment outside of the US is the way that we’ll make the world a better place. It’s really important. Even the UN said that there is a huge imbalance of male and female energy on this planet.

How do you feel like your travels will help move the imbalance to balance?

When people in villages in Asia see me traveling alone they are almost in disbelief that I am traveling by myself and I’m welcomed because of it. I’m an oddity to them but they think it’s cool that I’m out there doing it on my own because women in their own society wouldn’t be travelling like I do and staying with strangers.

Liz Grover

I think I impact people on an individual level. Also, I think that I have helped women to realize that they can be empowered and they can do a lot on their own. I was in Kabul where it isn’t culturally acceptable for women to ride bikes. It wasn’t the safest thing for me to do but living in Kabul was a gift and I had a lot of freedom but I also had some cultural constraints. Riding a bike was one of them. So I felt restless and took a bike ride through Kabul a couple of times. Women would look at me and giggle and smile and they were excited. I think it was putting myself at risk but it was good for them to see.

Women travelers are a unique breed. We have a lot of unique experiences and more restrictions in traveling.

The men were mad at me and were asking me, “Why are you doing this?” and a small child threw a piece of food at me just because I was riding a bike. I wanted to show women you can ride a bike and it’s not a sexual act.

I’ve impacted people on the individual level over the years and hopefully as I grow bigger in my work and my reach it can affect people on bigger levels. In America, I have done things that not even my society wants to do or expects me to be like. Our society has restrictions too. When I was 18 I drove across the country from Maine to California by myself and I was doing it as a job for this woman who thought I should have a man with me and it would be safer that way. I went by myself and I had a great time and it was very liberating.

When we first chatted, you mentioned you were writing a book. What was the inspiration and who is your ideal reader?

I wanted to go to Afghanistan to this place that had so many media stereotypes from America and I wanted to know what was really going on. I am experiential so I wanted to go experience it. I wanted to find positive stories to share with people in America that no matter where you go you can attract some amazingly positive, loving people. There is no “we’re good and they’re bad.” I wanted to come back and share that.

I have been sharing it through the internet and talks. And being a unique story where a young American woman went to Afghanistan in the middle of war, on the main stage in the world – I decided to share it as a book. It’s a unique story and it’s inspiring. Finding a publisher has been difficult and I feel it’s because I’m not famous enough. I thought unique and inspiring would be enough. I hope to turn it into a screenplay.

I interviewed a woman who was forced to cook for Pol Pot, the leader of the Cambodian genocide. It was either cook for him or die.

Who’s your ideal reader?

My ideal readers would be young adults because I want them to understand that anything is possible. It’s a really important age bracket where you can either wake up and say, “Anything is possible,” or go the other way and say, “I have to get the office job and a mortgage and plug into the American program.” As people get older, they get stuck in that culturally.

What projects are you working on right now?

I’m currently working on some serious film projects that will be public at a later date. One is a project I’m working on and the director is an Indian man who is out of the closet and proud of it. He’s in India and it’s harder to be “out” there than it is here. He has more of a challenge. He started the first gay film festival in India. The story is about an intercultural couple where an American loses his Indian partner and has to go to India for the first time in his life to tell the family of the loss. He has to tell the family that their son was gay. I like the story a lot because the Americans can’t claim that he’s not legally married to him. It also brings up issues of marriage rights for all.

You spent some time studying under the Karmapa, the supreme leader of one of the major lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. Tell us about that.

I was in Notre Dame, France for three months before I went to Nepal where I met Kali Baba.I’m not religious but I was in Notre Dame because I wanted to speak with someone in French. I went to confession so I could practice my French. Going to confession it’s their job to listen. I had frustration at the time because I could speak French but I was having trouble with sentences and felt the French didn’t have patience for me.  My confession was that I wanted inner peace.

I always wanted to travel to places with extra money but in that situation I only had about $100 in my pocket and I realized that this is me experiencing what the Karmapa lives by.

Liz and Kali Baba

That was the beginning of my journey for finding my inner strength and I just told the guy in French, “Yea, I want to get over my past and childhood and be a people person.” He prayed for me and I feel that meeting this teacher in Nepal was the answer to that. I was 21 in Nepal when I met a Hindu mystic in a mud hut in the Himalayas. He’s living in pure joy. I’ve never seen anything like it. He is in a place of joy and not worrying about a thing. His job is to be joyful. People take care of him because of that. People give him money and take care of him. He never asks. When I met him he was only eating one meal a day but he was healthy and strong and had a glow about him. I was really inspired by that and during my time with him my energy was turned on.

He would travel around Asia: India, Pakistan, Nepal with nothing but he always had faith that things would work out in the universe. This is not an easy belief to always carry. That’s why I went to Afghanistan with nothing. I always wanted to travel to places with extra money but in that situation I only had about $100 in my pocket and I realized that this is me experiencing what the Karmapa lives by.

You have met some amazing people through your travels. What is a story that was shared with you that changed or affected you?

Victims of the Khmer Rouge

I interviewed a woman who was forced to cook for Pol Pot, the leader of the Cambodian genocide. It was either cook for him or die. She had to cook for him for  three years. She got separated from her family and even though I never experienced that it was one of those sobering moments when you realize, “Wow, I have so much freedom and such a gifted life.” What is amazing is that she survived a genocide, her brother was killed, she was away from her family for two years, and had no idea if they were alive. She couldn’t sleep the whole time. The Khmer Rouge (Cambodian solders) turned children into spies. Every time she would leave her hut she would see kids trying to hide out to find information and they would be eavesdropping.

After all of this, this woman was hopeful and smiling and happy. She became a prominent activist in Cambodia. If she can come out of that experience positive and hopeful, I think, for the rest of us who haven’t experienced that, we can follow in her footsteps and live life in positivity.

Talk about traveling responsibly and how traveling has opened your eyes up to how you impact a society.


Any traveler that goes to Asia goes to the beach. If you don’t know what’s going on in these places it seems like a pretty innocent thing to do. Sihanoukville is the capital of child sex trafficking in Cambodia and is a big beach town. I went there when I was 21 not knowing this. I felt weird and I didn’t want to be in the town but I was passing through and you could tell something was wrong but I couldn’t tell what it was. When I went back six years later, I found out it was a sex trafficking town and most of the hotel owners look the other way. People go there to prey on these kids and they pay off the hotel owners to look the other way. It makes me think about my choices and where I stay as a traveler and because I don’t want to pay money to a hotel that supports those kinds of things.

It boggled my mind why I didn’t take a stance against things like that . I know it’s almost impossible to stop it because there are just sick people in the world but it would be nice to have some kind of civil system and get these people out. When I went to stay in the town my friend told me which hotels to stay in that are against trafficking and unfortunately all those hotels were full. I ended up in a hotel and later as I was going around with an undercover detective, he pointed out my hotel as a traffic hotel.

There is a group of travelers, unintentionally or not, that don’t even have knowledge or don’t know where they are going and don’t realize what they are supporting. They go out to party and don’t think about these things. As far as interconnectivity, my choices as a consumer and a traveler directly affect people in Asia.

What is your favorite meal to cook/prepare on the road?

I like making Indian curries for people. Most people can’t find the curries that I make – they aren’t done in restaurants.

TP question: Folder or crumpler?

A crumpler.

Alright. We’ll add your vote on TP to our ongoing research analysis. 

Liz Grover travels the world as a spiritual activist, specializing in sharing the voices and events of social movements through writing, film, photography, and Internet media. She is an established speaker as a voice for peace and an inspiration for others to dare to face their fears by saying yes to their destiny. She is now producing her first feature length narrative film called Scarlet Poppy.


Presenter Series: Absa Cape Epic – REI SoHo, NYC

Interested in learning what it takes to compete in one of the toughest endurance mountain bike races in the world? Want to know more about South Africa and minimalist traveling? Want to learn how to train and eat nutritiously?

Join us at REI SoHo on Friday, May 11th at 7:00pm


  • Date: 5/11/2012
  • Event Location: Soho REI
  • Event Fee: Free
  • Time: 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. (EDT)
  • Presenter: Josh Fonner
  • Group Size: 45

Training hard since October, Absa Cape Epic is not for the faint of heart. It is the longest and most difficult team stage race in the world. 800 kilometers over 8 days of grueling and gorgeous terrain, these two were tested on the journey through the landscape of this beautiful country.

Out of 600 teams competing in the Absa Cape Epic, Josh and Jackie make up one of only 16 from the United States.

Join us as we introduce Josh, endurance rider and founder of Roam Life. Josh will share his experience of training and preparing for the 2012 Absa Cape Epic; an 8 day, 800km stage race located in South Africa. He’ll then present their journey on the road to Cape Epic, the experience of completing the biggest and longest mountain bike stage race in the world – including the frustrations, pitfalls, successes, and…overall bizarre situations that occurred during this agonizingly difficult 8 day race.

We’ll be sharing pictures, video, and stories as well as helping YOU decide on your next big adventure!

For more information or to ask questions, contact / 914-584-8760

Photo by Cape-Epic

Absa Cape Epic – The Saga of Suffering

The Saga of Suffering

by Jackie Baker for Liv/giant USA on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 10:19pm ·
Recently, Liv/giant’s Marketing Manager Jackie Baker joined Giant Bicycles’ East Coast Regional Sales Manager Josh Fonner to race the 2012 Absa Cape Epic. The two, racing as the “Giant Honey Badgers,” finished one of the toughest mountain bike races in the world, but getting to the finish line wasn’t all daisies and unicorns, as Jackie explains:
In Cape Town ready to race!

You’d think that eight days of racing a mountain bike across South Africa would give a girl plenty of story ideas. Yet, here I sit, nearly two weeks after taking that final pedal stroke across the finish line of the 2012 Absa Cape Epic, and I still can’t decide on the best way to chronicle my experience.

Everyone seems to expect me to say that although the race was tough, I’d gladly go back again.

 The problem is not that I don’t have material to write about: 17 days of international travel; four 10+ hour flights; seven nights of tent camping after spending an average of eight hours in the saddle each day; riding those days with a teammate that I’d ridden with about 15 total hours before arrving in South Africa—all of these facts involve specific quirky anecdotes that would be easy subject matter for an entertaining tale. The problem is that every time I approach a topic, I end up with a lengthy saga of pain and suffering. And who wants to read that?

My Liv/giant socks are dirty!

The “Untamed African Mountain Bike Race” race covers 8 total days of dirt road and singletrack riding over and through the mountains, vineyards, and orchards of the Western Cape. Most of the Epic is an undisputed sufferfest—on and off of the bike. From camping in a tent city with 3-season tents that act as saunas in any temperature above 60 degrees (but turn into sponges at the mention of a rain cloud), to biting into what I expected to be a peanut butter sandwich only to discover that I’d chomped into a mouthfull of Marmite—on a 95-degree day after 70k the saddle, there are plenty of opportunities to tug on a reader’s heart strings, but I’m going to keep it simple.

The term “race” as it applies to the Cape Epic means different things to different participants. To the pros battling for category leader jerseys and stage wins, their competition was with each other, and to see who could complete the course and be freshly showered before their soiguers had lunch ready for them. To those of us at the middle and end of the pack, our race was against the clock. Each day after the 27km prologue, we were given a course ranging from 114 to 143km (that’s about 70-88 miles) with anywhere from 1,500 to 2,900m (5,000-9,500ft) of climbing, and usually about 10 hours to ride it. Just figuring out the difference between a mile and a kilometer was exhausting.

The problem is not that I don’t have material to write about: 17 days of international travel; four 10+ hour flights; seven nights of tent camping after spending an average of eight hours in the saddle each day; riding those days with a teammate that I’d ridden with about 15 total hours before arrving in South Africa—all of these facts involve specific quirky anecdotes that would be easy subject matter for an entertaining tale.

Prologue start. Little did we know what we were in for.

Still, every day seemed like an achievable task at a moderate pace, until the black holes of time started to add up. First we’d enjoy a bottlenecked hike-a-bike up a steep hill with several hundred of our fellow racers; then I’d have to pee, then Josh had to pee. Because  of the lengthy saddle time, energy gels were usually not an option, so it was mandatory to stop, unwrap, and chew food. Someone flatted; someone had a shifting issue (and by someone, I mean me). The next thing we knew, we were worried that if anything at all went wrong in the final 20k, we’d overshoot the cutoff time and be eliminated from the race—meaning a year of preparation would be dedicated to watching from the sidelines while everyone else took off on the next day’s stage. No matter how badly pedaling hurt, the thought of not completing a stage always hurt more.

Finishing one of the hardest days. We’re not that tan….that’s dirt!

Everyone seems to expect me to say that although the race was tough, I’d gladly go back again. Or that I’m going to fill my summer with a series of grueling races and rides. The truth is, I’m satisfied. I am not an endurance racer. To prepare for the Epic, I meticulously followed a training program provided by Giant-Factory Off-Road’s cross country guru Kelli Emmett—without which, I would have been completely lost. I finished the race with my teammate Josh. We did it.

There were elite athletes who dropped out of the race. There were many seasoned Epic veterans who failed to cross the finish line as a team. For finishing, and for pushing through some of the toughest moments I’ve ever had on a bike, I’m extremely proud. Yet I don’t look back on the race and wish that I could relive any part of it—well, I could go back to some of the ridiculously fast descents and short-but-rewardingly-flowy singletrack sections. And there was one time that I felt really strong on a flat dirt road and pulled Josh and several other guys up to the next singletrack section (at which point I promptly exploded—but I would like revisit the few minutes prior to self-destructing). Other than that, I’m glad that my lengthy saga of pain and suffering has come to an end—and don’t hold your breath for a sequel.

 –Jackie Baker

 Photos taken by Christine Perigen of Roam Life.

Visit for more photos documenting our Epic.

Absa Cape Epic – Stage 2, Robertson (119km)

Absa Cape Epic – STAGE 2

Race time is EARLY. Alarm is beeping at 5:00am and all I can feel is mildew on my sleeping bag and the tightness of muscles. Usually the morning starts with, “Jackie???” and an answer of, “Yea….” then the unzipping of tents and the trudge to the port-o-john and off to breakfast. Honey Badgers don’t have time for a lot of words. They are about to head out on a 119 kilometer race day.

Breakfast starts at 5:30am in the dining marquee then bikes are retrieved from the Pragma bike wash park (click to watch the video!) and tuning/repairs are done. Cape Epic is tough on bikes. Long days, loose gravel downhill, and lopping off into the bushes to pass the slower folks (don’t ruin the roosting!!) can really ravage some of the parts on your bike. An hour later, the Honey Badgers are lining up in the starting area. It’s now only 6:30am. We won’t see the team again for another 6 hours and 45 minutes (they don’t know that yet).

6:30am the line up is ready to begin

The Absa Cape Epic is the most difficult, most televised, and most hyped mountain bike stage race in the world. Athletes from every competitive sport prove their toughness (or attempt to) by competing in this race. Water ski champions, mountain bike champions from all over the world, Formula 1 racers, triathlon champs, actresses, cancer survivors, you name it and they are here. The media coverage of the “Top 50 to watch” is frenzied.

Media interview and snap photos of the lead racers

Today, the Giant Honey Badgers will take on 119 kilometers and 1,650 meters of climbing (for you non-metrics, that’s over 5,400 feet of climbing).

Stage 2 – Route Profile

Feeling great about completing the prologue and stage 1, Josh and Jackie head out for stage 2. After a bit of climbing (ok, a lot) and a river crossing as well as some aggressively friendly high fives from the local children in McGregor, our team crosses the finish line back into the Robertson Cape Epic Village.

image courtesy of

A unique characteristic of Jackie and Josh: They always finish side-by-side. Cape Epic tests you personally and tests your ability to support another person on a team (and feel supported). With all honesty, this most important component of finishing Cape Epic is something that brought a cohesiveness and strength to the Giant Honey Badgers that MANY other teams struggled to maintain. These two genuinely cared that the other made it through to the end each day and got up and did it again.

Bringing it home like champs

Thanks to our sponsors: Stan’s NoTubes, Giant Bicycles, Wilderness Trail Bikes, POC Sports, Honey Stinger, Sigma