Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Poem from Mike Ward

Inspire me Panama
With all of your wonders
Inspire me Panama
As I ride with my brother
With the sound of the wind pushing through the trees
and those created by rustling leaves
Inspire me PanamaWith your singing birds and long stretched beaches
With your rolling hills and the lesson each teaches
With the sunrise as it lights each cloud
With the work each day that makes a man proud
Use your lush green forests and sugar cane farms
Greet me with smiles and waving arms
Bring me through valleys and over mountain peaks
The feel of your air like a kiss on the cheek
With friendly people who are quick with their smiles
So beautiful to see as I cover your miles
With each of your sunsets always comes a reward
Each day something gained that cant be ignored
Inspire me Panama
With all of your treasures
You have inspired me Panama
Beyond any measure

Friday, January 30, 2009

270 kilometers in 3 days...time for a break at the beach

Dominical- Jaro 60 kilometers

Im all about the Casado. Cheap, quick, varity and great energy food. Check out the Imperial! Costa Ricas finest cerveza.
Ceasar got me to the beach. Its been a tough three days but we made it!

Can you see the road through the trees? Its so nice hearing the waves crash onto the beach as your hauling through the jungle. Days like this are the best!

I love these fruit huts. They make for a great break in the day. This day was 36 degrees! Freakin hot man and humid as heck! Chop up another watermelon buddy! Check out the kid in the background. Hes probably 13 and running the shop.

Ok...ok....I know what your thinking. Its a pic of me on the bus. Well I had too!
The day started at 4.45am. I had to catch this bus because the road for 40 kilometers is one of the worst in Costa Rica. It goes along the pacific coast. Apparently the government doesnt want to pave it because they know there will be a huge rush of gringros ready to buy up all the pristine beach land. was an early start. At first, the bus driver told me that I couldnt bring the bike on. F that man! I got up too early to walk away in defeat. After paying the dude off, something like $2, my bike and I were quickly aboard.
The day started off fine but then things fell apart.
It was SO HOT! Something like 36 degrees. It was the longest 60k yet. On top of that I was nearly to the beach when I blew ANOTHER tire. I finally fixed the tire, dripping in sweat and all greasy when my pump broke! AAAAHHHHHH! Frustrated I tried to put everything on the bike. Then I got my finger stuck somewhere and a piece of metal ate threw my skin on my findger. Now blood everywhere! Damn I needed the beach.
Another crazy thing happened as well. So Im making some adjustments to my bike when this silver Jeep rolls by me. The dude driving is waiving and yelling or something. Hey I know those guys. If you follow the postings youll know that it was the guys from the Costa Rica-Panama border and the same dudes from the hostel in Panama City from 3 weeks ago. They turned around and we chatted on the street for a minute or two. Crazy stuff...I know people even on small backroads in Costa Rica. The people in the back of the jeep were like...Who the hell is this dude and how do our friends know this guy!? hilarious! Biker short moment of the day.
Bus stop...
Eventually we made it. Beaten up...bloody...half full tire.

Time for a day off!


Is that guy riding in chaps?

Rio Claro - Dominical 120 kilometers

Big day! The biggest yet. Everything was running great. The legs felt perfect and I wanted to make it to Dominical. A small Beach town on the pacific coast.

The Costa Rican back country is spectacular for cycling!

Hey Mike... don{t worry about me going off by myself. I got a partner. This guy is bad too! Check out his big machete dangling from his neck.
So Ricardo and I rode for a bit today. Ricardo is from Buesnas Aries originally he lives in Palmer Norte and is a farmer on a small plantation 10 kilometers south from his home. He makes the commute everyday by bike. He says that its good for him. Although he hates when the big trucks dont slow down a bit. My spanish was on fire today!
Oh ya...hes riding in chaps...biker short moment of the day!

A small church along the Panamericano. I tried to get closer but there were the HUGE Iguanas in the bushes!


A moment on a bridge.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A quick Thank You

I just want to take a quick moment here and Thank everyone for their support thus far. I have been floored by the donations, the messages, the letters of inspiration from family, friends and friends of friends. I've been touched by the dedication days as well. Before this fundraiser started I had no idea that I would be lucky enough to reconnect with so many people. The dedications have been amazing! Keep them coming.

On top of that were almost to $2,000 in donations. Again I'm so excited. The money is going to a great cause. Keep it coming. hahaahah!


Donde esta Costa Rica?

UUUUmmmmmmm ya....what the hell is this all about? hahaah!

Welcome to Costa Rica. The roads and obviously the signs are a bit of a change from Panama.
The scenery turned straight jungle!

The solo rode. Wheres Mike?

David, Panama-Rio Claro, Costa Rica 90 kilometers

Here we go. Solomente.

The day started around 6 am. It was raining pretty hard out. I thought I would have to shelve the bike for the day but in true Central American fashion the rain stopped, the sun came out and it turned humid as hell. Today was my first day alone. Mike is headed to do a bit of sight seeing in Buquete before he gets on a bus back to Panama City. His vacation time is almost up. I'm making my way out of Panama and to Costa Rica. After breakfast and a few goodbyes I was hitting the road.

So I had to do it. I'm kind of a cheesy guy and I had a perfect opportunity to crack myself up a bit. As I was rolling out of David I noticed a gas station on my right. I wanted to get some quick directions before fully committing to the direction I was going. I saw this gas attendant chilling by one of the pumps. I rolled up with this huge smile under my helmet. The guy was an old timer. He looked like a Mr. Rogers type with a bushy mustache, a goofy grin, and huge glasses. I rolled up and said, "donde esta Costa Rica?" He quickly bent back and threw up his right arm and made this hilarious crazy noise , something like ooooooossssssssiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaa...and finished with a big laugh and grin! "Directo amigo...directo..." pointing in the direction I was going. I made a quick reply "Gracias Amigo....gracias!" How many times do you get to pull up to a gas station and ask where Costa Rica is...on a bike??? Anyway...That noise he made was hilarious and I'll make that my biker short moment of the day.

The rest of the road to the boarder was clear and cool. It was a great road with amazing farmland scenery. I was making great time as well. I was flying! A few friends from the hostel drove by as well. They gave a big smile and waive. It was nice to see those guys. One Aussie and one Mexican driving to the Costa Rican border...sounds like the beginning to a classic joke. The border crossing was no big deal. Quick and easy really. So here I am. Costa Rica. Pura Vida! I got to catch up a bit with my friends from the hostel at the border crossing. They were having a hell of a time getting there truck back to Mexico. A ton of paper work and lame old immigration officers can make for a hell of a day or in their case 4 days! Anyway...if you guys are reading this I hope you made it to San Jose!

Costa Rica first impression.... There is no shoulder what so ever. The road turns into 2 lanes instead of two. Its some serious jungle. For the first hour the road was headed directly for this massive jungle covered mountain...I really hope I don' t have to climb that in the next day or so. The road conditions are doable but its nice because there are a lot less cars. The scenery changes instantly. Theres jungle on both sides and you can see some amazing birds and wildlife. Unfortunately I saw an Iguana that just got hit by a car. A bunch of local kids were screaming about it. It was massive, at least a meter in length!

I had my first real scare of the trip. I was cruising along at a good pace when I heard this massive big rig come flying up on me from behind. These days I can tell if the truck is loaded or not. This one was. It was also down shifting fast, I could hear it and it was loud, which meant that the driver probably didn't see me. It was a one lane road with a really messed up shoulder. Cars were coming up ahead which meant that he had no room to get over. I got over as much as possible but I knew it was going to be close. I was able to slow down a bit. The truck came within inches but the wind blew me off the road. SUPER BUMPY! My seat turned on me and I had to slam on the brakes and ditch the bike it motion! Everything was ok and I didn't get hurt but that was close. I'll make sure to be extra careful tomorrow! No worries!

Anyway...thats it for now!


Panama it's been real!

A picture of the border crossing at Paso Canos

Panama will always have a special place in my heart. It's where a dream was launched. Panama had been good to me. A few months ago I decided to give back and create a grassroots charitable fundraising event to help children living in poverty. Panama was the launching point. I was in the country for nearly a month.

At first Panama kinda got on my nerves, but after a while I learned to love the small differences about the country. Once I did that it opened up quite nicely. Getting out of Panama City was also an eye opening experience. The people were some of the kindest around. Everyone was quick with a smile and a waive as Mike and I passed through along the streets and on the Pan Americana. We encountered beaches, big rigs, road kill, farms, farmers, cowboys, tarantulas, wild beautiful birds, flat tires, strange night clubs, big hearty meals and made new friends.

Thanks for the love Panama...I'll miss you


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dedication: To Debbie and her dad

First of all...let me explain this photo. One, I didn't take the picture and got it off google. Two, this is a picture of an extremely beautiful butterfly that is common to Costa Rica, especially in the south where I am right now. Three, this butterfly is special because when its wings are closed its colors are a dark brown with black spots but when it opens it wings to fly BOOM all the colors pop out at you. So if your lucky the butterfly will come out and open its wings so you can get a glimpse.

I would like to make a very special day of dedication, from Rio Claro to Dominical 120k (my hardest day yet) to Debbie Shu^s Dad. Debbie was so kind enough to donate $50 to the cause. Mike asked if she had a dedication and eventually Debbie told us that she wanted to make a dedication to her father who has been battling lung cancer for the past 2 years.

I had a moment on my big day. I was cruising along in Costa Rica when the highway turned more into something similar to a back road. The road turned into two lanes and started to take me into this valley. I was surrounded by these massive jagged mountains on both sides covered in green thick jungle. I eventually rolled up on this older looking bridge. Below it was a creek. I could see, off to my right, the river bed wind and turn up into the mountains. I could feel the cool breeze coming off the river which was a nice relief from the hot and humid day.

My mind was clear at the time. I was just taking a breath and chilling on the bridge when Debbies dedication came to me. I thought I would dedicate that moment to her and her father.

I have no idea what its like to have to battle something so tuff as cancer. Or to even have a family member so close to me, like my father, battle cancer. Im not even sure what to even say at times like this. I talked to Mike a bit about this, [what do I even say?[ Well...we came up with this. Debbie we send you our love and positive thoughts. Mike and I have a mantra for this bike trip and maybe you can take something from this. We take it one day at a time, little by little... well get there. We feel optimistic and we believe that being positive will bring us to our goal. Were surrounded by people who support us and will help us around every corner.

Crazy thing...right then this butterfly came out of nowhere. It was HUGE. The colors were so bright. It was beautiful. Maybe the butterfly felt the vibes I was giving out.

It was a great day on the road. My hardest and longest yet. The last 30 kilometers were such a tease as well! Downhill...Uphill...Downhill...Uphill... My legs were throbbing and it hurt so much but finally I got there! An amazing day!

Thanks again for the donation Debbie...


Monday, January 26, 2009


Here's a pic of Mike and I celebrating raising $1,000 for Plan USA. The dinner was great. The conversation, of course, was entertaining, inspiring and hilarious.

Our friend Mason McDrew donated $15 and put us to $1,000! Hell ya...Boooyyyyyy! Mike and I were bouncing around this small internet cafe in this small town in Panama. We were so excited. It really started to hit us that we were on our way to making a difference for the kids in Central America!
Keep the donations coming people!


It´s like riding with one leg

Mike and I at Playa Las Lajas, Panama


I don't even know where to start with this bro...

Thanks for making this trip man. You have no idea how much it meant to me. At first I was in such a state of shock because I couldn't believe that you actually made it to Panama. You have a ton of stuff going on back home and you made some serious sacrifices getting get down here. What you did for me, this fundraiser and for the kids that are benefiting from the funds that we've raised is huge.

I thought when you had to leave that it would be hard as hell to continue. I thought that it would be like riding with one leg. Instead it's been quite the opposite. My batteries are charged brother! I got a long journey ahead of me and the time we spent together was great.

A few things we learned while in Panama...

Panamanian women love jazz
Panamanian cigars are better when having a "big boy cut"
Never underestimate the Panamanian butty bump in the club
Arrozo, fijoles can pollo is the best meal ever! All day baby!
Coca Cola does keep you up at night
Naming bikes is a good thing especially when you got 5 kilometers left
Biker guuuu is amazing
We don't look good in biker shorts

But more importantly...

Take it one day at a time
Little chunks
Let the bike do the work
Have fun
Smile, even if you don't know why...there's usually a smile waiting for you on the other side
Grassroots fundraising events do work...and do make a difference
enthusiasm and optimism do bring you good things
positivity can conquer

I had a great moment today. There's a stretch of road about 15 kilometers before the Panamanian and Costa Rican border. It's about 7 kilometers long. I hit this stretch earlier today. It was a straight road, slightly down hill, the scenery was beautiful. Jungle and rolling green hills on both sides. I was on an amazing pace I felt like I was flying. The sun and wind were hitting my back. I felt one with the bike and the road. On top of that I wasn't worried about being alone. I wasn't worried about the massive amounts of kilometers and hills. I was in the moment man. It was perfect. I was thinking of friends and family back home. I was sending you thanks for a crazy journey in Panama. I would like to call these moments, of being in the now, with the bike, the road, the environment and feeling the love the T Factor. So...from here on out...if you here me say the T Factor its because of you brother. I got a long journey ahead and so do you in many ways. Lets hope that there full of the T!

Thanks Mike T Ward! I appreciate all the support....


Another 2 days

Sona-Playa Las Lajas 80 kilometers
Playa Las Lajas- David 85 kilometers
Mike rolling into the hostel.

He's not all that to happy in this pic. We had some serious soul searching to do on his last day. We were 5 kilometers from town...5..and he got a flat tire. On top of that we had no other tubes. To call a cab or not to call a cab that is the question. "Mike...dude..let's call a cab." Mike looks disgusted, "really bro." I reply, "well it's looking that way." Mike doesnt want to talk anymore. He looks down at Goodsby (his bike) and mentally asks Goodsby if he's got 5 klicks left. We've almost come 500 kilometers and were not about to freakin give up now! Mike and I do a crap job at patching some tires and Mike, the champ, rides 5 klicks on a half deflated tire and makes it to the hostel. I guess it couldn't be an easy landing!
Mike is doing some last repairs before our last day to David. Check out the ladies in the backgroud. There from a small typical village in the hills near Las Lajas. There handmade cloths are super cool.

Sunset at Playa Las Lajas.

Another sunset. Not a bad view from the hammock.

Not a bad place to camp for the night. $5 a night. Direct view of the ocean. Listening to the waves as you fall asleep. Great way to end the day after 12 hours of riding.

In all seriousness these birds posed for this picture. Once they saw the camera they were fighting for the good spot on the stick.

The beach baby! check ths out. Mike and I rode 12 hours the day before. We finally make it to the beach and set up the tent (in the dark). We get woken up to this maddness...some locals blairing crappy electronic/salsa/reggeaton at 7.30am on a sunday. These guys have no shame. And yes...this car pictured here is a taxi!

We took a day off at the beach and DID NOTHING!

After the 12 hours we were rewarded with this! Amazing sunset.
I'm not happy here. Lonely Planet declares that the 13 kilometer road from Las Lajas to Playa Las LAjas is paved. OUt rip went from 45 minutes to 3 hours after riding for 10! Damn you LP and your outdated BS!

Cruising through the beautiful back country in Panama.

Ya baby!

The road off the Americana was beautiful. The road from Santiago to Sona was a cyclists dream. Few cars, some hills and beautiful countryside.

So check out the dude in the hat (no, not Mike). These Panamanian dudes love to wear their hats like this. Mike and I always ask them (in english) if they just walked into a wall. They never respond...
Great view!

A cool farmer proudly poses for a picture. Im off in the distance somewhere trying to change my tire.
Taking a break.

Mike takes about 45 minutes to get his "white trash saddle bags" ready. Thanks again for the riverrafting bags dad, they worked out great!


Dedication: From Ben to Mike

A dedication to Mike from his best friend Ben David, Panama to Rio, Claro Costa Rica!

Mike{s best friend Ben donated $50 to help support children living in poverty in Central America. Thanks for the donation Ben!

Its kind of ironic that my first day on the bike alone was also the dedicated day to Mike. Mike being the good guy that he is didn't want to ride on a day for him. I asked Mike about his buddy Ben. Mike told me about his speech at Ben's wedding. Mike told a story from there childhood. Apparently Ben sat behind Mike in science class. The teacher asked the class who knows the speed of light, Ben, being the smart guy that he is was quick with an answer. Mike said to himself, [damn...I want that guy as my lab partner.] Since then they have been best friends.

I had a moment on the road that Id like to share. Theres this stretch of road that has all these banana plantations along it. The trees look super old and it makes for a scenic route along the way. As I was grabbing some water I noticed this amazing hawk in the distance sitting on a branch watching me. The hawk had a flat head and these black markings along its eyes. It looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger with shades on. It was just chilling there checking me out. Making sure I wasn't getting into any trouble. Kinda like a best friend watches over you from time to time. Anyway...It was a cool moment. Hopefully Ill see the hawk again.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Panamanian Backroads

Getting the morning coffee on. Panama´s coffe is damn good but I take 2 or 3 before the first ride. I need the energy!

Santiago-Sona 45 kilometers
This was the most beautiful day yet. So I made a bit of a miscalculation with kilometers and towns. I did a bunch of planning before I left but of course things come up, after all Í´m in Central America.

So we decided to leave the Pan American behind a take an alternative route to a place called Sona. Lonely planet say´s, ¨every 5 business´are a bar, and they have 2 hotel´s¨. Well here we come. I don´t want to have to knock on some farmers door and ask to camp in there yard...not yet anyway.

So here Mike and I are trying to find the road to Sona. Of course we get a bit lost and end up riding 5 kilometers (up hill...Mike´s pissed...hahahaha) past the turnoff. We ask some highschool kid on a kids bmx bike for directions. He´s talking SUPER fast but we eventually figure out that we missed the turn. After getting a few more directions fom the locals (lento...lento...amigo is becoming my favorite phrase) we find the road.

The road isn´t paved and up hill. Finally we get to a paved part and we find ourselves in the most beautiful back country. Rolling green hills, jungle, palm trees, bamboo huts, farmers waving and saying good morning, not many cars, everyhting. Were having a blast!

Finally we make Sona! Great day!

I almost crashed into a wall on a bridge somewhere in Panama´s back country trying to take this one!

Mike´s cruising along.

Taking a second to enjoy the scenery!

Local kids waiving us on.


Thursday, January 22, 2009


The name is Ceasar.

I´ve been trying to come up with a name for the bike for a few days now. I´ve had a few ideas but nothing stuck, nothing was even verbalized.

Here´s the story...

Mike and I obviously have a lot of time to talk, to say the least. Hahahaah. One reacurring theme that we have is this. ¨One day at a time...One day at a time¨. You see, everytime I start to think about Costa Rica or Honduras or Mexico I start to get excited and then I start to get really overwhelmed. It´s thoughts like those that can really hurt a trip like this. Sometimes I think I can be my own worst enemy. I start to think about the $15,000 goal that we want to raise for kids in Central America. I start to think about the extra equipment that I´m going to need for the bike. I start to think about donors that I need to contact. It can be quite paralyzing really. Then I take a step to Mike a bit...and we both come back to our mantra. ¨One day at a time¨.

So Mike and I climb this BIG ASS hill. Mike and I are heaving and sweating like never before. Were taking a break at a small bus stop and enjoying the scenery and trying not to get dust in our eyes from the trucks flying by. By the way...these cliff bars are damn good for a long haul bike trip.

I start think about my legs and how they feel like jello. I start to curse in my head a bit because, of course, I´m getting a bit worried about the ride. Will my legs make it?

Aaron- ¨Rome wasn´t built in a day!¨ (trying to calm myself down here)

Mike- ¨Ya baby...One day at a time. Did you see that hill man...huge!¨

Aaron-(That´s not what I needed to hear.) ¨Ya man...crazy stuff!¨

Another bus zooms bye.

Mike- ¨Cesar...that´s it. Rome wasn´t built in a day. One day at a time.¨

Aaron- ¨The name. Hell ya! One day at at a time. (Speaking to the bike) Alright Cesar...let´s do this for the kids!)

Mike- (10 minutes later) ¨I can´t believe that stuck!


102 Klicks...go baby go!

¨Children form a disproportionate part of the population in developing countries, over 50 per cent is some national contexts. In any given population, children are disproportionately poor. Women and girls bear much of the brunt of the poverty, facing heavy farm labour in rural areas and the need to collect fuel and water. In urban areas, children are often employed in harsh working conditions, unprotected despite child labour laws or social welfare systems. In the context of both rural and urban poverty, children are perceived as economic assets, many of them, especially girls, do not attend school because their contribution to household income forms a critical part of the survival of their family.¨

Penonome- Santiago 102 Kilometers

We´ll we decided to double up on a day of riding. The bikes were feeling good. Our legs felt strong and we didn´t mind catching up on a day, after all Mike only has 2 weeks before he has to get back to work. It was a super long day along the Pan Americana. We rode for about 12 hours stopping for lunch and to take a few pictures. Either way it was nice to test out the legs to see if they can hold. Before we left when I was doing a bit of planning I figured that I had to average about 100 kilometers per ride.

Above is a cool picture of a trurtle. There was a strecth of about 25 kilometers along the interamericana that had some cool murals.

Another mural along the way.

This was a great surprise. We stopped for lunch in a small small town called tata. We were actually supposed to stop here for the night but we arrived at about 10 in the morning. No way were we going to stop sooooo soon! This is actually one of the oldest churches in Latin America. One of the first churches that the Spanish built when they were searching the country for mysterious gold.

Pondering the road ahead.

Mike holding the world up!

The scenery started to get A LOT better. At first the scenery was nothing but billboards and trucks flying by. As we got further and further away from Panama City the billboards went away, the trucks were fewer and fewer and the mountains started to creep up! It was an amazing ride through Panama.

Mike is chillin´!

I think this was the second time I poped Mike´s 1 day! damnit!!!