The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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August 3, 2009

A bike trip to the tip

Kato couple to bicycle to the end of S. America

MANKATO — With the way they’ve behaved lately, you’d think Eric and Christie Nelson were in a rush to get the heck outa town.

Sold their house. Quit their jobs. Sold the pickup. Eric even got rid of his cell.

But there’s nothing mysterious or illegal going on. It’s just a couple of adventurers getting ready for their next big expedition.

The Nelsons, who are no strangers to seeing the world and have never been afraid of a little bit — or in this case a lotta bit — of hard work, leave this week for the bike ride of a lifetime.

After they depart Mankato, they’ll ride roughly 15,000 miles — through the U.S., Mexico, Central America and on down to Tierra del Fuego, the southern-most tip of South America.

Why?

“Why not,” Eric says, smiling the smile of a man who has cut all ties to local commitments and responsibilities and feels free.

It began about four years ago when Eric first dropped hints that he was thinking about going for an epic ride. Two years of persuasive rhetoric later and Christie was on board. Then they began the real planning.

A trip of this scale requires a certain amount of sacrifice. So Eric, an engineer at Dotson Inc. foundry, told his boss he was done. And Christie, a recently minted registered nurse, told her boss at Immanuel St. Joseph’s that she’d be leaving. They also put their house up for sale on Craigslist and it sold in two weeks. The pickup had to go, too. They tried to sell the Prius, but they ended up having to keep that.

They’ve tentatively scheduled a trip that will take them through 15 or so countries in 18 or so months. The “or so” part refers to their attitude. Part of this trip has to do with freedom from the American values of money and a rushed lifestyle — “to be able to let go and be a little vulnerable, depend on others ... We’re kind of addicted to the unknown,” Christie said.

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