Biking the Americas: Two Dogs and Their Owners Ride from Canada to Argentina
While Brexit may have left many UK residents stunned and unsure of the future, for Luba and Tom the historic vote spurred them into action, pushing them to finally make a plan to quit their jobs and embrace a life on the road.
Luba, a pediatrician, and Tom, who was training in surgery, had spent years working insane physician schedules, often only seeing each other a couple times a week and rarely enjoying days off together despite living under one roof. They were both on the road to burnout, and when new healthcare reform and the Brexit vote changed the professional climate even more, they knew it was now or never.
Luba and Tom loved to bike and had taken many trips in the past, but this adventure was going to be a whole new level of bike touring. What started as a plan to pedal around Europe for a summer and then fly to South America to continue the trip soon morphed into a wild vision to bike continuously from Canada to Argentina. With their dogs and without any real training.
Fast-forward to today. The couple and their beloved pups, Phoebe and Lolo, are now in Colombia, having successfully biked more than 17,500km of their nearly 30,000km planned route. They set out from Vancouver and took what they call “the scenic route” to travel down through the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
While Luba and Tom said that those first few weeks of traveling solely by self-powered bike, pulling a heavy dog trailer and all their supplies, was an intense sort of bootcamp, Phoebe (a seven-year-old hound mix) and Lolo (a four-year-old terrier mix) settled right in. The two rescue pups -- who Luba and Tom found on Facebook and adopted from their home country of Slovakia -- love life on the road, riding in the trailer when roads are rough or busy, running alongside with a bungee leash when on dirt, sleeping next to their humans in tents every night, and enjoying plenty of space to explore, swim, and play along the way.
Luba and Tom have had their own share of adventure on this journey as well, taking their time to see landmarks like Little Wild Horse Canyon in Utah, paddling beautiful bodies of water including Lake Tahoe, hiking iconic mountains like Acatenango in Guatemala where they watched the Volcán de Fuego volcano erupt, and even spontaneously deciding to get married as a ploy to lure friends and family down for a visit while spending the rainy season housesitting in Mexico.
But it isn’t all fun and games. Not only do Luba, Tom, Phoebe, and Lolo have to brave the elements and carry all their own gear -- including the Rex Specs both dogs wear on the road -- through all kinds of weather conditions, they spent much of their time in Canada and the U.S. battling with tourist RVs on the highways and contending with buses on more rural roads in Central and South America.
Being trained physicians, Luba and Tom have a leg up when medical issues arise like torn pads on the dogs’ paws or when Lolo got into a nest of baby ticks, but they say the hardest part of the trip is dealing with the paperwork it takes to cross borders with the dogs. In fact, the crew bypassed Panama altogether and flew over the country because the bureaucracy was so overwhelming.
Luckily the good outweighs the challenges, and Luba and Tom are in no hurry to end the journey. The couple raves that the best part of this trip is getting to share it with Phoebe and Lolo, who burst with joy every day, greet them with excited kisses each morning, and run headfirst into any adventure.
The group likely has another year left to reach their final destination at the tip of Argentina, and from there, they haven’t decided yet. All they know is that they don’t want to return to a life that they’ll eventually want to escape again. Instead, they hope their future finds that perfect balance of work and adventure, and of course, to do it all alongside their favorite travel buddies Phoebe and Lolo.