Many graduate students are preoccupied with research, dissertations and everything necessary to complete their doctorates and master’s degrees. However, IU graduate student Trevis Matheus is taking a break from the work this winter.
Starting Nov. 30, Matheus and his freshman-year roommate, Dominic Metcalf, will begin a three-year, three-leg journey to Ushuaia, Argentina, on motorcycles. The total trip is around 6,500 miles.
“I haven’t ever left the country,” Matheus said. “It’s a very ambitious undertaking. I’m hoping to learn more about people and different cultures and to walk away with a better understanding of different people besides U.S. culture.”
Metcalf said he has similar hopes as he anticipates their journey south.
“I am really excited to see different cultures and different ways of life,” Metcalf said. “These are places that I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid like Machu Picchu and the Panama Canal.”
The first leg of their trip will take them from Bloomington to Costa Rica and end Dec. 22. They will store their motorcycles there. Then, in the next two years, they will fly back and complete the next two legs.
Because of constraints like getting time off their jobs and the high import taxes some countries charge to bring the motorcycles into their country, Matheus said they decided to break the trip up into these separate parts.
“It’s kind of a nightmare,” Matheus said. “Originally we wanted to travel straight through.”
The pair allotted five to six extra days in their trip because Matheus said it’s hard to estimate how long it will take to bike through the countries outside the United States. They said they are not sure if the roads will be paved or rocky.
They also gave themselves extra time to explore the places along their route and participate in volunteer work at various charities. Matheus said he hopes they will spend multiple days volunteering.
“We are working with a couple different charities,” Matheus said. “Nothing is set in stone.”
Metcalf said he would like to help at the Conservación Patagónica. The conservation in Chile needs help taking down fences to allow the wildlife to return to the area that was once private property, Metcalf said.
“I grew up around nature,” Mecalf said. “I want to go down there and help to make an impact. (Preserves) are not a good thing just for Chile but for the whole world.”
Matheus said they also hope to promote these charities on the website they set up for their trip by writing about and taking pictures of the organizations and their work.
Part of their task, too, will be enduring long days on the motorcycles.
“The most I’ve ever ridden a motorcycle back to back is three or four days,” Matheus said. “I really do think it’s going to be a challenge. But, it’s going to become routine.”
Metcalf said the Bloomington-to-Costa Rica leg alone will be the longest he has ever driven or flown. He said he plans to take it one day at a time.
“For me, I grew up around motorcycles,” Metcalf said. “I never really was too inspired by the adventure motorcycling movement, but the more we’ve been planning and the more we’ve been checking it out, the more excited I am to get on the road and do it. “
Despite the logistical challenges, both Matheus and Metcalf said they are looking forward to the trip.
“We just can’t wait until Nov. 30,” Metcalf said. “We are both excited to get out on the road and on the adventure. In the end, we have to remember it’s an adventure. Adventure starts when all the plans go out the window.”
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