I worked at Intel Corporation for 14 years, traveling all over the world cutting deals and climbing the hierarchy. I enjoyed the competitive, intellectually challenging environment, but eventually felt a nudge to leave the security of my job for a riskier, more adventurous path.
In 2009, when my son was 8 years old, I decided to take a 2-month leave of absence from Intel to cycle the length of Japan with him – 2,500 miles over 67 days. He rode on a trailer cycle connected to my bike, and we carried about 75 pounds of gear.
We raised money for a global tree-planting campaign and were named “Climate Heroes” by the United Nations. The trip was sometimes harrowing: we were pummeled by powerful storms, exhausted by the effort of cycling over eight mountain passes in the Japan Alps, and even took on sumo wrestlers. Free tip: Don’t challenge a sumo wrestler. It’s a bad idea. I published a book about our experiences, entitled, Rising Son: A Father and Son’s Bike Adventure Across Japan.
The week after leaving Intel, my wife, 4-year-old daughter, 10-year-old son and I flew from our home in New York City to Reykjavik, Iceland. We spent the next 46 days cycling the circumference of that remarkable country, using our ride to support the United Nations’ efforts to tackle climate change. The following summer, we cycled across Germany, Switzerland, France and England.
This summer, we will spend two months re-tracing the 3,200-mile Lewis & Clark Trail in the Western U.S.
Along the way, we will identify plants and animals Meriwether Lewis and William Clark documented in their journals, and talk with Native Americans, ranchers and scientists about changes to the natural environment since Lewis & Clark passed through over 200 years ago. Working with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, my children and I will collect data for their roadkill project, which aims to reduce the impact of roads on wildlife. I hope my children come back from this adventure with a deeper understanding of the effect human beings have on the environment. The more time kids spend in nature, the more connected they feel to the world around them, and the more they want to protect it.
After the trip, we will give presentations at schools and science museums about what we learned. I hope students who hear us will think, “If a 6-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy can ride bikes over the Rocky Mountains, I must be able to do some incredible things too!”
Follow Charles and his family’s epic adventure on their blog. You can support his trip on kickstarter here.