Mark Watson is a New Zealand-based photographer and author specializing in landscape, adventure and travel photography. Mark spent four years cycling from Deadhorse, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina, a distance of 28,000 miles (46k km) linking together bikepacking routes and researching his own way into the culturally diverse towns and environments of the Americas.
Inside the Episode
(6:00): We get the broad scope of Mark’s bike ride before breaking down the details of his trip.
(9:20): Mark gives us some back story on his travel experiences and how this trip from Alaska to Patagonia came to fruition.
(13:15): Make breaks down how he prepared for such an extensive trip, including how he saved and the jobs he had on the road to continue making a bit of extra cash.
(23:00): Mark made the wise choice to avoid the Darien Gap, a tough area of travelers in the Panama Jungle. Instead, he took the opportunity to bike through rural Cuba - experiencing the island nation beyond the touristy infrastructure and meeting people who rarely see outsiders take the opportunity to visit them.
(29:51): As Mark made his way through rural Columbia, his partner, Hannah had her phone swiped right off her bike handlebars.
(32:05): “People are generally good” - One of Mark’s main takeaways from his 28,000 mile cycling trip through the American continents. He met tons of people along the way from varying cultures, races, economic classes, and occupations. This was heartwarming, and something we do not get tired of hearing from our guests.
(36:40): The journey became the destination. As Mark and Hannah made their way across the Americas it became obvious that seeing and experiencing the people and environments around them was prioritized over getting from Alaska to Patagonia in a set amount of time.
(38:05): Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 brought Mark’s journey to a stand still. When Mark got word on how coronavirus was ravaging Italy, he was in Chile, incredibly close to finishing his route.
(46:50): Check this out. Have you ever seen the night sky light up like this? When you’re alone in the middle of the Colombian wilderness, this is your nightlight.
(49:45): The day to day of a man on a 28,000 mile cycling journey across two continents is all about keeping it simple and light. From carrying only a sliver of soap to cutting the ends of his toothbrush to conserve weight and space, life on a bicycle has to be creative. Carry what you need, forget what you don't, and just look ahead.
(55:00): What about water? Vital to Mark completing his trip, he obviously had to map out and know where each potential water source was located in close proximity to his route. Being a crucial consideration, Mark mapped out each potential water source on the route. His rule of thumb: Carry enough water to make it beyond the next known water source….take notes.
(1:06:00): Mark discusses future trips, including how he’d like to retrace the migration of ancient man. From Africa, into Eurasia and into the Americas.
(1:09:20): Listen to Mark as he describes this environment in Northern Argentina. Surrounded by volcanoes and salt flats, calm in the mornings and hostile winds in the afternoon. Truly ‘no mans land’. A place few will ever experience, partly because they don't even know it exists.