September 25, 2023
This teenager cycled from Alaska to Argentina

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He’d longed to go on a “loopy journey” for years, and as Liam Garner’s highschool commencement day grew nearer, {the teenager} was extra decided than ever to make his escape.

An skilled bike owner, Garner, who’s from Lengthy Seaside, California, had beforehand ridden from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and realized that he might pedal throughout the continent with out a lot issue if he selected to.

After studying a guide by adventurer Jedidiah Jenkins, who biked from Oregon to Argentina, Garner determined that he would cycle from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the northernmost level in the USA accessible by highway, to Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost level of South America.

And whereas a lot of his faculty buddies have been making ready for school, Garner started making ready for the journey of his life.

This teenager cycled from Alaska to Argentina

“I spent all the month after I graduated simply getting the tools after which I left,” Garner tells CNN Journey. “It was actually speedy. It wasn’t deliberate out very exhausting to start with.”

Garner was 17 when he set off on a KHS Zaca mountain bike with only a tent, a sleeping bag, round a day’s price of meals and water, some transportable batteries, a medical equipment, and additional components for his bike.

He started his journey throughout the Pan-American Freeway, a community of roads extending throughout the Americas, on August 1, 2021.

{The teenager}, who had already amassed a big variety of followers from his TikTok video sequence following his journey to San Francisco, determined to doc the journey, which noticed him cycle via 14 nations, together with Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina.

“There’s an official route, after which there’s unofficial routes,” he explains. “I mainly made my very own [route] as I went alongside. So long as I used to be going south on daily basis, I knew I used to be stepping into the appropriate route.”

Garner admits that his mother and father, who’re separated, weren’t significantly thrilled concerning the prospect of their teenage son driving all the best way to South America alone.

He says his mom refused to consider him at first and went via “most likely eight months of terror” whereas he didn’t truly inform his father till after he’d set off, as he was so certain he’d be in opposition to it.

“He referred to as me whereas I used to be in Alaska, and I instructed him the place I used to be,” Garner explains, earlier than including that each at the moment are his largest supporters and avidly observe his progress.

The teenager had reached Chile's  Carretera Austral by late 2022.

Though Garner initially started biking as a result of he didn’t have a automotive, he now considers it one of the best ways to journey, and wouldn’t have needed to do that journey every other manner.

“It’s probably the most intimate method to journey,” he says. “You go so sluggish, and it’s important to bodily work to get to locations. So you actually acquire an attachment to probably the most random little cities and curves within the highway.

“There’s one thing about being self-sufficient and figuring out that you just bought someplace by yourself two toes. I really feel like typically once you drive or fly, it’s as in case you’re simply teleporting to a spot. You weren’t exterior. You weren’t smelling issues. You weren’t touching issues.”

{The teenager} spent round 4 and a half months biking throughout Mexico and describes the expertise as one of the crucial important of his life.

“My entire household is from Mexico,” he explains. “I grew up going [to Mexico] however I by no means discovered the language. So it’s one factor to go to yearly, and it’s one factor to stay there.

“So crossing all the nation on a motorcycle and reconnecting with my tradition and staying with my household and studying the language within the place my household is from was so deeply vital to me.”

Garner, seen in Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia, says he was robbed five times during the trip.

Garner left California with little or no cash, and says he’s been surviving on a price range of round $430 a month.

He notes that he’s heard individuals commenting that he’s solely capable of do what he’s doing “as a result of he’s a straight white, wealthy man,” and is eager to level out that this merely isn’t the case.

“I’m a primary technology Mexican immigrant. And I’m not wealthy,” he says. “This was self-supported. And it actually doesn’t take that a lot cash to do that.

“I don’t need individuals to suppose that you want to be wealthy to bike tour. I’ve met individuals from all financial statuses.

“Folks can do it and keep in motels each night time, and I’ve seen individuals actually simply have trash baggage on the again of a motorcycle.

“I’ve seen individuals of all ethnicities, solo and with companions, in each nation that I’ve been in. And I’ve met so many unbelievable, inspiring girls. It’s actually obtainable to everybody.”

Garner had a driving companion named Logan for round eight months or so of the journey. Nonetheless, he departed once they reached Colombia, and Garner traveled solo for the rest of the journey.

Of the various nations he cycled via, he was significantly shocked by El Salvador, which he describes as “one of the crucial peaceable, nicest, quietest nations.”

Whereas the journey was filled with unbelievable highs, Garner additionally skilled some crushing lows all through the journey.

He says he was robbed at the very least 5 instances and needed to spend a month in hospital after coming off his bike in Colombia and touchdown on his head.

“The concept you would possibly get damage, and one thing actually terrible would possibly occur is in your thoughts touring a lot,” he says, earlier than explaining that he obtained round 40 stitches and needed to have cosmetic surgery to restore his ear and sew it again collectively.

“However it wasn’t actually a actuality till I bought damage in Colombia. I used to be blacked out for about quarter-hour and it took me a couple of hours to even be capable of communicate once more.”

Garner determined to put in writing a will after the incident, and says that having to remain nonetheless for weeks took an enormous toll on him.

He admits that he briefly thought of giving up throughout a very troublesome time after he was robbed within the south of Mexico and struggled with excessive warmth.

“For about two and a half weeks, me and my companion Logan had no connection to the surface world,” he explains.

“We didn’t have cell telephones. The climate was troublesome. it was over 40 levels Celsius (104 F) each single day. I bought sick throughout that point.”

In accordance with Garner, the pair have been solely capable of bike for a couple of minutes earlier than having to drag over as a result of warmth and mentioned probably taking the bus house as soon as they reached Central America.

“There’s no level in torturing ourselves,” he recollects saying on the time. “This isn’t enjoyable.”

Fortunately, the climate was a lot cooler as soon as they reached Guatemala every week or so later, they usually determined to persevere.

Garner finally reached Ushuaia, Argentina on January 10, 2023.

Over the past month of his journey, Garner considered little else than his “wheel crossing the final inch of pavement” and typically bought so emotional that he’d “begin crying on the bike for no motive, regardless that it hadn’t occurred but.”

He lastly arrived in Ushuaia on January 10, after biking 32,000 kilometers (almost 20,000 miles) over the course of 527 days.

Nonetheless, Garner, now 19, says that the second he had spent a lot time imagining felt considerably anticlimactic.

“It [Ushuaia] was a extremely touristy city, and there have been so many individuals,” he explains. “I couldn’t actually get any alone time. And I used to be somewhat disenchanted.”

Feeling barely dejected, he determined to go to a nationwide park for a couple of days and spend a while reflecting on his time on the highway.

“I noticed that I didn’t care what the final city was,” he says. “It was simply getting there. And I do know that’s very cliche, however that actually was what I got here to the conclusion of.”

Garner was quickly joined by his companion Chloe, who he first met throughout his journey to San Francisco, and had stayed in contact with.

He says the pair have been simply buddies at first, however their friendship blossomed into one thing extra whereas Garner was on the highway.

“For a few yr, over the course of my journey, we did lengthy distance,” he says.

The couple at the moment are backpacking their manner again to California, taking just about the identical route that Garner took on his manner over – he’s shipped his bike to a buddy in Chile, who’s sending it on to Lengthy Seaside for him.

“We have been hoping to make it house in July for summer time,” he provides. “However it’s open ended. We nonetheless have about 4 to 5 months, and that’s loads of time backpacking house.

“It’s very nice for me to get to see the locations yet another time earlier than I transition to regular life.”

Garner's video series documenting his journey has amassed hundreds of thousands of views.

As soon as he returns house, Garner plans to put in writing a guide about his journey within the hopes of inspiring different younger individuals to tackle a journey resembling this.

He says he usually receives messages from individuals who’ve seen his story on Instagram or TikTok and have felt compelled to do one thing comparable.

“I’ve truly gotten so many extra messages than I ever thought I might,” he says. “And individuals are actually doing it.

“I observe a number of the people who messaged me, they usually’re truly biking from Alaska to Argentina now.

“It’s a tremendous feeling to know that I’m getting extra individuals into it, as a result of there have been people who have been liable for getting me into it. And it makes me really feel nice to do the identical.”

Whereas he’s very a lot wanting ahead to catching up together with his household and buddies, a few of whom have been busy learning whereas he’s been away, Garner has completely no regrets about taking a unique path.

“If I had stayed house, and I had gone to group school, or one thing alongside these strains, would I’ve actually been a greater individual than I’m now?” he asks.

“Would I actually be as open minded as I’m now? I strongly suppose that I wouldn’t be. That’s why I believe this was probably the most competent choice I’ve ever made in my life. I’ve by no means been extra certain about one thing I’ve accomplished.”