If you and I are ever sitting around a campfire going tit for tat with travel stories, it won’t take me long to bring up Javier Colorado. The mythically elusive, Matthew McConaughey-looking dude who embodies the spirit of the convicted wanderer. The guy who handed me a bottle of rum in Ecuador and said with a flourish:
One day we stop being travelers and become tourists…today we drink as travelers!
The guy who, after finishing said bottle of rum ran into the Pacific Ocean at midnight only to have it explode with photo luminescent plankton (“I could be at a desk, going to work everyday. But I am here! I AM HERE WITH THE FUCKING PLANKTON!”) He is simultaneously more out of his mind and more calmly put together than anyone I’ve ever met on the road.
I found myself entranced by him. He just seemed to live better than everyone else.
Javier is a Spanish-born Chemical Engineer who suddenly decided Chemical Engineering wasn’t for him. He picked up one day, got on his bike named Bucéfalo (“Bucéfalo is the name Alexander the Great gave his horse to conquer the world 2,300 years ago. He is one of my heroes and I honor him.”), and began riding. He kept riding the next day. And the next. And still today, he ventures on:
I dream of completing the bike tour around the world, to live a unique adventure, to explore other cultures, discover landscapes I never knew existed, see animals I never thought to see, and know more people than I can count.
At some point early in the adventure, it became clear to Javier that the goal was to bike around the world. Chemical Engineering would always be there; the world needed to be circumnavigated by Bucéfalo.
Life needed living.
When I fist met the man we were roadblocked in Baja, Calif. Our vehicle was stuck on Route 1 as a flash flood rushed across a dip in the highway. Hundreds of cars were just parked in the road as Javier rolled up and assessed the river. We talked for a bit and shared stories from the road. He watched and watched as a few brave souls attempted to make it across the surge.
A calculating type, the engineer decided that wouldn’t do. We walked into the desert to see if there was any other potential for a crossing. Javier found a spot he thought was fitting and took off across the water. We met him again hours later at a campsite, 40 miles away. He continued on while we sat stranded because stopping was simply not a part of the day’s plan.
I love the sport and take the bike trip as a personal challenge, which also carries an ecological and sustainable message.
He keeps riding simply because he said he would. The challenges are always present and the odds may be stacked against him, but he continues. In different countries his efforts have been focused in different directions. In Columbia he focused on scaling the mountains in the southwestern part of the country, mountains that ultimately got the best of our van. In Peru, he set his sights on crossing the deserts, in Southeast Asia he explored, in Turkey he learned, in Pakistan all of his effort was focused on surviving.
Turkey and Iran was the first time I knew Muslim culture, they are very hospitable. In Pakistan I survived two terrorist attacks in 12 hours, the most terrifying experience of my life. India broke my heart but finally gave me hope. South East Asia was exotic. In the United States, I lived the “American Dream” and Latin America has been very funny.
Everyday are memorable!
I have crossed paths with Javier on four separate occasions and every time he seems more excited about his intrepid lifestyle than before. He knows there are challenges on the road ahead but, he continues. He seems to know things most don’t. He travels with an unspoken purpose.
To date, Javier has traveled for 780 days and pedaled 30,000 miles through 34 countries and three continents. He survives off of what he can carry on his bike. Like most travelers, pasta is the preferred/affordable go-to:
My diet is based on the money that I have. Pasta is the star dish and I eat fruit as long as I can.
If I have money and food, I like to cook something healthy.
Right now Javier is preparing for one of his biggest challenges yet. By press time he will be arriving in South Africa and gearing up (pun intended) to pedal north, back to Spain. He is frantically researching where to find spare parts and bike shops on his route in Africa and wrapping up an IndieGoGo campaign to finance the whole expedition.
If you know of a bike shop in Botswana, he’ll want to know about it.
I made a Crowdfunding to finance new parts for the bike. I’ve got the plane ticket and on Monday 7th I will be in Cape Town!
I’ve asked Javier many times why he keeps going. He’s been robbed, bombed, frozen, and tired. Why?
Because I am a warrior. There is nothing that gives you more happiness to fight than to see come true something you love.