Where did it all start?
In January 2010, after finishing 5 years of study in University College Dublin, Ian Lacey moved to Denver, Colorado, USA to work for the environmental non-profit organisation, The Wilderness Society. It was there that he was recommended a book by Swedish adventurer Goran Kropp – a man who cycled from Stockholm to Mt. Everest in Nepal, climbed it without the aid of bottled oxygen, came back down and cycled home again. After such a brave and raw adventure, Ian just knew he had to take on a similar human powered journey. And within minutes, after looking at the National Geographic map on his bedroom wall, it seemed that cycling down the Americas could be a pretty nice way to spend a year. Ian had recently met Lee, a friend who worked in a coffee shop during the week and went rock climbing and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains on the weekends. After chatting about the idea, they both realised it was high time they did something that matched their adventurous spirits. There and then, they decided to cycle the length of the Americas in 350 days.
**The idea for 350 days came initially after Ian wanted to support the work of 350.org – an international grassroots organisation aimed at solving the climate crisis. However, on further thought, he decided that working with a national charity he was extremely familiar with from experience – The Carer’s Association of Ireland – was the way to go. The name 350South remains as an historical artifact**
Where will we be cycling?
The trip will take us from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska – the northernmost town accessible by road in the Americas – to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina – the southernmost city in the world. The 17,000 mile (27,300km) route will see us closely follow the Pan-American Highway, the longest motorable road in the world, and will take us through some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet.
We will cycle through 15 countries in total – USA, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. We will be privileged to experience Alaskan Wilderness, Californian sunsets, Costa Rican rainforests, Bolivian Salt Flats and Patagonian pampas – all from the saddle of a bike. We both believe that cycling is one of the greatest ways to travel and that this human powered adventure will bring us far closer to our natural environment than any other mode of transport could.
Why we ride?
At the very heart of 350South is the desire to experience geographically and culturally diverse places and people. The advantage of travelling by bike means we can use all of our senses to discover these places and it allows us to stop and chat with people we otherwise wouldn’t meet.
We also want to meet other Irish people living abroad and generational Irish while we ride south. Irish people have had an immense political and cultural influence throughout the Americas, in places not often considered such as Mexico, Chile and Argentina. We will be filming a documentary film as we travel and the diaspora will be a major part of that project as well as the bicycle journey itself. So, if you have a friend or family member or know someone else on our route, tell them about us and see if they’d like to connect.
After a while of dreaming about the trip, we both came to the conclusion that we should make it more than just our adventure and do something that benefits others with it. We are also looking to raise €100,000 for The Carer’s Association of Ireland which provides vital in-home respite services and training to family carers throughout the country. Family carers provide high levels of care to a range of people including frail older people, people with severe disabilities, the terminally ill and children with special needs. While Ian was a part-time carer for his grandmother along with his Mam until she passed away in 2008, he saw the emotional and physical benefits staying at home had for her but also the severe strain and sacrifice his mother needed to make. Therefore, the Carer’s Association of Ireland, a charity very close to Ian’s heart was the natural choice
The journey has also brought with it some opportiunities to be creative. In February 2011, beActive Entertainment came on board and are now producing a documentary film and online series which follows our adventures to Patagonia by bicycle. You can watch our Video Diaries which document our travels on this website or through beReal TV online. Extended versions of the diaries are now showing on Setanta Sports Ireland as we make the leap from YouTube to the telly!