One of the great things about Kelleys Island in the spring is that it allows you to slow down a bit and connect to a sense of new beginnings. While the Earth is trying to bloom its early flowers, the seasonal islanders come back to open their homes and get ready for a busy season of entertaining and enjoying their families.
In the brewery business, we are privileged to meet people from all over the world. This weekend was especially dynamic, we met a cycling enthusiast on a trip of a lifetime. His name is Charles, from Quebec City. He has been on the road for just about a month. Charles is on his way to the southernmost point of South America, called Ushuaia, Argentina. He will have traveled over 20,000 miles, on his more than bilingual trip, and he plans on meeting as many of his neighbors along the way as he can.
Charles took up serious cycling cycling seven years ago, when his trip took him from Quebec to Vancouver. This much longer journey was greatly inspired by that successful trip, and also the one that took seven months and went from Portugal to Uzbekistan, with a short visit to Iran. Charles will be riding all the way to San Francisco on his way to Argentina, to see his friend Simon Roy, who he took his first cross country cycle with, in this new home in California.
But let’s begin with his visit to Kelleys Island. Charles came here because he prefers rural villages and scenic areas for his travelling adventure. Also, being a geologist, he was intrigued with the Glacial Grooves, and how they could be so deep and twisted. Seeing them in person, and with a local tour guide (thanks Roxeanne and Ken), he was able to see the ‘beautiful limestone’ and the stories that it tells. Although he has many motivations for riding the roads of multiple countries, and sets his own conditions each day (usually 50-100 miles), he said, “Personally, I like to stop and relax in a park.” But also many days “it feels good to push it.”
Destinations were not as important as the fact that he would be in the Southern most point in South America at some time, preferably not in June, July, or August. The entire trip will be on paved roads except for the small boat he will have to take between Panama and Columbia. He also shared that ‘small experiences’ were what he looked for on the daily routine and that he doesn’t have a schedule. He wants to experience adventures, and enjoys not being in a hurry. Charles is impressed with the beauty of individual families no matter which country he finds them in.
When I asked Charles about his inspiration for such an adventure, he talked about his father. In 1966, before he was a teacher, his dad taught in Columbia. With Charles’ love of maps and geography, and his slightly nerdy tendency toward memorizing countries’ capitals, he thinks it is a natural match for someone who is never afraid to change and take an adventure, no matter where it leads.
Charles wants people to know along the way that he is not special, just normal. People can be genuine. He is sure that he will never forget this place, Kelleys Island, because of its uniqueness, and because of its people. His choice to take a 20,000 mile bike ride is a personal statement about the unwillingness to sell his freedom to a corporation. When you are alone and you don’t have a workday, your body and mind become natural again. This is overwhelmingly liberating. Sometimes this extreme feeling of freedom can be frightening. He writes his experiences on the blog, crazyguyonabike.com/doc/paspireride, to tell people whatever it is….you can do it. Whether you want to meet people, travel, absorb a culture, be active, pursue a certain landscape, you don’t need a lot of gear or money to be inspiring. Charles wants to be the ‘guy cycling to South America,” so that others will try their pursuit with confidence. If he can cycle that, I can do……. He spoke that the freedom he experiences is because of courage. That courage led him to an island to have a beer, and will lead him to his next meeting with fellow enthusiasts from www.warmshowers.org. A cooperative counter culture that supplies kindness and necessities and the experience of a human connection for travelers of all walks of life. Charles is an inspiration that ‘If you take the chance and try it, your true character of your person will come out and it’s okay to be different. If you go to a resort in the Dominican Republic, don’t be afraid to go out. The place is about the people, not the value.
Even in a snow storm in May, Kelleys Island has the kindest and humblest people in its midst. We are so grateful to be able to bring people together One Sip at a Time.
Kelleys Island Brewery