Part One: Portland to Manzanillo

Interior-of-Baha-PeninsulaA storm had blown in from the Pacific and settled on western Oregon. On the slopes of Mt. Hood, fog shrouded the forest and rain pattered our jackets. I climbed the pavement slowly, watching as my fiancée, Kelly, steadily pulled away and then stopped to wait for me. Even with 150 pounds spread between four waterproof panniers and a bulging trailer, I couldn’t keep pace with her. I was in the lowest gear of my handcycle, barely going 4 mph while cranking, and still I had to stop and rest every two-tenths of a mile. Two days in, and Kelly and I were already exhausted.

Too little sleep and too much stress as we’d prepared for departure had left my body feeling like a hollow shell, and Kelly was fighting to keep her eyes open as she waited for my sluggish approach. As I crept up towards her, the driving rain and unending slope pestered me, as did my questions. A