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Ushuaia

Jeff Bartlett interviews Davy and Daryl Vogel, the youngest cyclists to bike the length of the Americas.

Unlike most 13-year-old kids, Davy and Daryl Vogel haven’t been in a classroom since they were 10. Instead, the twins have been cycling the Pan-American Highway along with their parents, John and Nancy. It took the family on bikes two years, nine months, and 13 days to ride 28,000 km from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina.

I first encountered the Vogel’s at my local supermarket in Fort St John, British Columbia. While the Alaska Highway News and Shaw TV were interviewing them, I just kept looking from bikes to family, wondering if they’d make it.

They did. Now, Guinness will officially recognize the boys as the youngest to have cycled the entire Pan-American Highway without support.

The day after their arrival in Ushuaia, I had the opportunity to ask the two young cyclists a few questions about their education, sibling rivalries, and new world record. Here is what they had to say:

Your arrival into Ushuaia marked the end of your three-year cycle tour. What were your first thoughts upon arrival?

Davy: We are finally here!

Daryl: I got to beat Davy to the sign. When we first saw the end of the world sign we had to walk the bikes over some curbs, but I jumped off the tandem and ran so I could get there first.

Traffic

Argentina is huge, and it really tested your family’s attitudes. Long distances between towns, hot temperatures, limited water, illness, bad roads, and headwinds all slowed your journey. Was Argentina the hardest part of the entire trip?

Daryl: No. It was pretty hard though. In Argentina we, for the first time, had to carry extra water. Once we even ran out. Also, Mommy got pneumonia here, so it was the country where we got the sickest.

When you look back at this journey in five years, what single aspect do you think will stand out as the most important?

Daryl: The world record. It stopped us from accepting a lot of offers to ride up a hill in a car.

Davy: I’m going to have to wait five years to answer that one, but I think that I will remember that I can do anything I want to. I think I will remember that I have done this, and that the only time I thought about giving up was at the beginning of this trip.

Most 13-year olds are in seventh grade. If you two could speak to a typical classroom full of your peers, what would you say about their learning environment compared to your own?

Davy: I forgot what it’s like in school, but I think I have learned that to understand things is better than to memorize them. I might not know more history than kids back in school, but I have lived it and I understand it.

For example: Magellan’s journey. Most kids in school have heard about it. Mom told me I have, but I forgot about it. Now I will remember it because I have been to the place where they spent the winter and gone into a replica of his boat. I have seen how incredibly small that boat was, to fit 50 people on board along with supplies.

Magellan

In terms of education, what have you learned about the world you’ve traveled through?

Daryl: That it’s big. There are a lot of countries and they take a long time to get through on a bike. I also learned that people are all the same and that it doesn’t matter which country they live in.

What advice would you give to parents who want undertake a similar trip with their kids?

Daryl: Do it. You really don’t need to have a chest full of toys and your own bed. All you need is a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and imagination.

Davy: Don’t be afraid to go and do it. The kids will learn from being there, and you won’t be mugged or attacked like everyone thinks you will.

In a little over a week, you will be home for the first time in three years. What will you miss most about life on the road?

Davy: Being with nature.

Daryl: Seeing new places and doing new things every day.

Do you think it will be easy to readjust to a normal lifestyle?

Davy: No. It will be hard to stay in one place for a long time. I am used to getting up and riding. Instead, it will be get up and go to school, do your homework, and play video games. I’m used to having something new every day, but it will be all the same for however long until we go on the next trip.

In what ways do you two compete against each other?

Davy: For the TV remote, our deal that every week that Daryl does not ride my bike I get half an hour on the internet, and a lot
more.

Describe teamwork and how it applies to you.

Daryl: Working together to pedal a tandem. I also translate Spanish so Davy can answer.

What do you see as the biggest changes between the two boys who began this ride in Alaska and the two boys who finished in Ushuaia?

Daryl: Being in the Guinness World Records book.

Davy: I am a lot taller and I am also a better cyclist, and I think I now have more confidence.

Let’s revisit your favorite and least favorite parts of cycling the Pan- American Highway:

Best meal

Davy: I have no idea. We have had so many different meals in so many different places, eating so many different foods. I liked the beans and tortillas in Mexico and the cheese empanadas and chorizo in Argentina.

Before and After

Best and worst moments

Daryl: The best moment was either sand surfing in Peru (http://matadornetwork.com/pulse/matador-friday-photo-sandboarding-in-peru/) or River Hiking in Belize. The worst moment was when rain was falling in a slow drizzle and there was no escape from it. I was soaked. But now I’m not sure what country that was.

Best and worst campsites

Daryl: One just a couple days ago where there were trees to climb, sticks to find, and dead trees to knock down.

Davy: The worst might be somewhere in Alaska with the mosquitoes. They were so annoying!

Longest and shortest riding days

Davy: The longest was 146 km. The shortest I don’t know exactly, but we’ve had a lot of days that were less than 20 km.

Do you think you’ll do a similar journey in the future?

Daryl and Davy: Yes.

Community Connection

Check out Oli Broom’s photo essay on his cross-continent bike trip.

All pictures provided by Family On Bikes

CyclingInterviews

 

About The Author

Jeff Bartlett

Jeff is an adventure photographer and writer with a penchant for masochistic outdoor pursuits. He is now based in Jasper National Park. More of his work can be seen on his website and blog. You can also find him, periodically, on Twitter.

  • http://www.buythekit.com Nikia Angel

    Wow! I’m so proud of you guys I could bust! I’ve been following you and your family’s adventure from the beginning. Relax and enjoy being at home! I can’t wait to see what you will accomplish next! The world is your oyster!

    P.S. My husband says when you’re ready to skydive (in a few years) he’d be proud to help you do it! SkyDive New Mexico!

  • http://www.kaleidoscopicwandering.com JoAnna

    The entire Family on Bikes team should be proud of this accomplishment. I’ve been following their journey from almost the beginning, and it’s really exciting to see that they’ve finished what they set out to do. Congrats Davy and Daryl!

  • Harry Verburg

    I am so proud to have met this family on their last trip in 2006 at the Grand Canyon. I have been keeping statistics for them and will miss this daily routine. It probably won’t be long until their next adventure. (I suggested the Australian Continent.) I knew they could do it after completing the Dalton in Alaska. Peru was kind of a bummer for Nancy but as a team they survived. Will be flying up to Boise next week to personally congratulate them and see how they have grown. D & D are truely a couple of world class cyclists. Congratulations.

  • http://www.pedalpoweredfamily.com Reuben

    Hey Davy and Daryl, great interview. Wonderful to hear your direct take on the experiences you had on your trip.

  • Helmut

    Congratulations! Glad to see you made it safely to your goal and that you enjoyed your time with us in Belize. All the best as you get back to “real life”.

  • http://matadortrips.com/ Hal Amen

    So cool!

  • Kathryn

    Davy and Daryl, another good job with this interview! May your journey home be uneventful and on schedule. You and your parents are amazing people who have taught all of us a great deal. Thanks..

  • http://bikenbreakfast.com mrbill

    I love to travel and I think it’s great what this family has done, great education for Davey and Daryl, I have really enjoyed the journey.

  • http://blog.photojbartlett.com Jeff Bartlett

    Great to see all the supporting comments.

    I’ve followed their journey for so long and really got involved with interviews, encouragement and such once they hit Argentina. I’m super pleased they made it.

    Interviewing the boys was a pleasure and they should be proud of their record.

  • http://cuadernoinedito.wordpress.com Julie

    Like many of the other commenters, I’ve followed the Vogels’ journey since they started pedaling out of Prudhoe, and I was really proud to see them make it to Usuaia. Their family dynamics must be incredibly special. Thanks for giving us a peek with this interview.

  • http://www.hopenardini.com HKNunzio

    Davy’s comment “I have learned that to understand things is better than to memorize them” is why more students should study abroad if they can.

  • Pingback: Border Crossing Guide(s): Peru to Ecuador to Colombia

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