From Alaska to Argentina on a bike
From Alaska to Argentina, on a tandem bicycle—it sounds like the premise of a movie or a song, but for Cameron Williams, it’s an adventure of a lifetime. This Australian adventurer embarked on a cross-continental journey, starting from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska to Ushuaia in southern Argentina, the southernmost accessible point on the continent. Many stories exist of people undertaking similar quests, but Williams’ journey has a unique characteristic: he travels on a tandem bicycle, a bike designed for two. Throughout this expedition, the bicycle has become a symbol of the power of human connection across cultures and countries.
Cameron’s journey began in 2017 when he was 24 years old. He set out to travel the world, seeking the most authentic way to do so. After cycling through Europe for several months, he wondered what his next adventure would be. In an interview with Sol de Medianoche News, while crossing the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, via boat, he shared, “I started thinking, what’s the grandest version of this form of travel that I could find? In other words, what’s the longest point-to-point journey? Alaska to Argentina quickly jumped out at me as I looked at globes and maps of the world.”
However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Cameron to postpone his plans, prompting him to make his adventure even more unique. This is where the idea of the tandem bike originated. It served as a way to combat the inherent loneliness of the road. Cameron expressed, “The hardest thing for me in Europe is the amount of time you spend on your own. You know, there might be one or two weeks, or even more, where the most meaningful interaction you’re having is with someone at a gas station.” Additionally, he wanted to provide others with an opportunity to experience a journey like his, even if only for a brief period. He explained, “Many people would say to me, ‘This is wonderful, I would love to do a travel like yours, but I don’t have the gear, and I don’t really know how to.’ Traveling with me would give them a chance to experience a journey like that.”
Those who join Cameron on his journey need not worry about gear or preparation. He carries enough supplies for two people, including camping gear, helmets, and eating utensils. However, when embarking on such an adventure, it is also essential to bring items that hold personal significance. Hence, he carries two bags filled with board and card games, reminiscent of his enjoyable pastime in his hometown of Perth, Australia. He also brings filming equipment as he documents his trip for a video series. He commenced his biking on June 19th, 2022, and spent the initial eight days cycling from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks. During this stretch, he was accompanied by Danny Eagan, a friend he met through the cycling support website WarmShowers, who not only became his first co-adventurer but also a lifelong friend.
Cameron was captivated by the beauty of Alaska, remarking, “It was incredibly pretty. The wildlife was abundant. Alaska feels like a national park in its entirety. Wildlife was everywhere. It was truly special.” Places such as Atigun Pass and Cantwell left a lasting impression on him, but it was Mount Denali that astonished him the most. He shared, “Being there during a rainy season often made it feel like I was the sole human being for hundreds of kilometers, and that was truly special. It’s an exquisite part of the world. In fact, I think I want to name my first child Denali.”
Since crossing Alaska, Cameron has experienced numerous adventures, including having his food bag stolen by a bear, encountering beautiful beaches in Mexico and tropical mountains in Costa Rica, and meeting fellow adventurers. Just a month ago, he crossed paths with Lucy Barnard, a hiker who is undertaking the opposite journey—traveling from Argentina to Alaska on foot. However, the journey hasn’t been without challenges. Adapting to weather conditions has been a learning experience for Cameron. He admits, “I initially took a somewhat laid-back approach to planning for the weather, assuming it would be fine. I didn’t check it as much as I should have, particularly when it came to preparing for snow during the winter in the United States.” This became especially apparent during a treacherous section of the road near I-90 as he aimed to reach the Rocky Mountains. Cold fronts and extreme winter weather made it difficult for Cameron and his companion at the time, Alec, to return to the highway after their bike was damaged and their physical integrity started to be in jeopardy.
Despite the hardships and lessons learned, the true magic of the journey lies in the people Cameron has met along the way. Spending extensive amounts of time together fosters profound human connections. He explains, “You’re camping together, cooking together, sharing everything together. There’s no way you can’t develop a genuine connection with someone during that time.” Individuals like Danny from Alaska, Chris from Washington, and Elizabeth or Raymond from British Columbia have left an indelible mark on Cameron. Moreover, he collects wisdom from every person he encounters during his journey. Carrying a journal, he poses a single question to them: “Tell me about a significant, profound, or special moment from your life.” He adds a little qualifier, stating, “It can be anything, big or small, silly or serious, life-changing or life-affirming, or none of the above.”
There’s something uniquely wonderful about hearing Cameron’s story. I think it’s more than the beautiful scenery, the unique bike, or the adventures. Fundamentally, it’s a story about connection with other people, nature, and the disposition to be open and flexible to live the adventures that life puts in front of us. This spirit that leads us to follow our hearts should be replicated by everyone, maybe not in cross-continental quests, but in every day adventures that we can do not only to discover the world, but to develop meaningful connections with those around us.