OWL Interview with Zack from "I'm on a Bike"

Hola, Michelle here.  A long-time family friend, Zack Skerritt, is gracing our blog community with answers to some questions coming from our OWL peeps.  You may have noticed the link to Zach's website on the right hand side.  It's a pretty cool documentation of his adventures.  Check it out (www.zackskerritt.com) and enjoy this interview.  :)

What made you want to get on a bike and do what you're doing with your life right now?
The trip I am on at the moment was actually a last minute idea, and perhaps it´s spontaneity says more about the personal motivations behind it than anything else does.

When I left Australia, the only plan I had was to ¨travel around South America¨but first I was going to go to the US to visit and spend time with my sister in Southern California. Whilst visiting her, she and I went on a bit of a road trip and we were able to meet up with an old friend of mine (from my time living in China) who now lives near San Francisco. Over a couple of beers we caught up with each others´ lives and I informed him that I was going to be heading down to South America in the next month or so, that I had no plan yet as to where I would start, and that there was a good possibility that I would end up living somewhere down there at the end of my travels. ¨Great!¨he told me, ¨If you do end up living down there let me know where you are at. I´m actually thinking about riding a bicycle down there next year.¨

*Click* That sentence stuck in my head. It struck me as a very good idea. I mulled over it for the next few weeks, and then - once the decision was made - it took me less than two weeks to find a bike, fit it out for a long-distance tour, and hit the road.

That’s the way the trip actually came to be, but the motivation for hopping on a bicycle was actually far more deeply set in the desire to have a genuine adventure. I had travelled extensively (45+ countries on 5 continents) before this trip, and when you travel a lot you become obsessed with getting off the beaten path and finding more unique, more meaningful, experiences. These days it’s a crowded world filled with lots of adventurous people, so to break away from the pack you need to do something a bit more extreme. For years I had been trying to arrange a more adventurous trip - from a scooter trip from Hong Kong to Tibet to a sailing trip from Thailand to Turkey - but life tends to often get in the way of big plans so when an opportunity presents itself you need to be ready and willing to grab at it. After all, we only live once.

Can you tell us what was your transition like going into being able to bike "around the world" so to speak?
For me the transition was one that developed from years of travel experience, and years of scheming up big adventures. Travel is not just about exploring the far-flung corners of world, it is just as much about exploring the far-flung corners within yourself. It is about breaking out of your comfort zone and breaking past personal fears and self-construed personal boundaries. Hopping on a bicycle to travel through what are generally perceived to be “dangerous” countries like Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Colombia is in many ways a matter of faith. Faith in yourself, and faith in humanity.

If you could go back to yourself 5 years ago and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t worry about life getting ahead of you or about “falling behind”. Many of us come out of high-school or university feeling obliged to participate in this race toward societal success. In reality, there is no race and there is no finish line. Run on your own and enjoy the moment, because your life, your real life, is happening right now.

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