22-year-old Cal Poly grad biking from Alaska to Argentina

David Sacher is a quarter of the way finished with riding his bicycle through the western half of the world. The 22-year-old Cal Poly business graduate embarked on his solo journey on the north shore of Alaska on July 27. His destination is the southernmost tip of South America.

Sacher — who saved $15,000 for his planned eight-month excursion — passed through San Luis Obispo this week to visit friends and discuss his experiences.

“When I started, I think for the first time in my life I had an intense feeling that I was doing exactly what I should be doing,” Sacher said. “I felt like it was my moment and my time in life. It was go time.”

Since his start, Sacher has traveled on some of North America’s most isolated roads in Alaska and Canada while camping, showering and eating along the way.

He has battled rain, flat tires, head winds, trucks whizzing past and a sore knee. He has received numerous quizzical looks.

Sacher typically rides 80 miles a day, spending between seven and nine hours on the road. The days he hasn’t ridden would equal just a week.

He’s now making his way south toward his hometown of Encinitas before setting off through Mexico and Central America. He will then hop a plane to Colombia, where he’ll continue his ride through South America.

To best avoid danger during the rest of his journey, Sacher plans to dress as plainly as possible, keep his bike with him at all times and avoid the most perilous locales on his route.

Sacher eats as much as he can, sometimes multiple dinners, often at truck stops or hamburger joints. Or he’ll set up camp and heat chili and pasta on his miniature gas stove.

He finds spots anywhere he can to put down his tent for the night — sometimes just a few feet off the road.

“The trucks in Alaska were extremely loud and they woke me up several times at night,” Sacher said. “You can hear them coming from so far away.”

The start of his journey in Alaska was the most lonely stretch so far, Sacher said. Sometimes a vehicle — or even another person — wouldn’t appear for 12 hours at a time.

He has met numerous interesting people during his travels — including a woman walking the same route he’s traveling. It will take her five years, she said.

The woman showed Sacher detailed journal entries, maps and photos of her route.“That night I lay awake in my wet sleeping bag trying to imagine the depressing pace of 10 miles a day and to imagine five years as a transcontinental vagrant,” Sacher wrote in his journal on his multimedia Website, www.earningthehorizon.com.

Sacher said he has crashed only once, on a rain-slicked bridge in Canada’s Yukon Territory. The scariest moment of his adventure was navigating congested roads and highways in Seattle.

He has traveled up to speeds of 40 mph on downhill passes and come to the realization that “waterproof” rain gear doesn’t really live up to its billing.

As he travels, Sacher is also trying to raise money and awareness for the nonprofit organization Acirfa, which provides bicycles to needy people in Zambia. Another person is monitoring this effort for him; Sacher does not know how much has been raised so far.

Nor does he know what he will do once he completes his adventure. But Sacher has a quick answer as to why he’s taking on this extraordinary trip.

“I hope that I can help people realize that while it may take time, and it may be harsh and lonely at times, we can make our lives how we dream them to be,” Sacher said in a posting on his blog. “I do not want to be guilty of owning a life devoid of any living. Comfort and convenience are not synonymous with happiness.”