Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Incoming (or Outgoing)

DQ Fitness Advisor Doug Walsh has a trip planned. A huge, incredible trip, and hopefully he'll be providing updates as he goes. I'll let Doug explain it from here.

Like many of you, I began my e-friendship with Bill back when he was writing for around the turn of the millennium. I was a budding strategy guide writer, moonlighting for IGN, Gamespy (remember them?), and the companies that provided the 1-900 tip lines. My very first official assignment in the industry was writing the 1-900 scripts for "Daikatana" -- talk about your humble beginnings. Fast forward a year or two and I was on my way to becoming one of the go-to guys for market-leading publisher, BradyGames. As a child of the 80s who received his first Atari 2600 at age 4 and who pored over every issue of Nintendo Power throughout the NES glory days, it was a chance to live out my dream job. Games and writing: what could be better? And pretty good money to boot! I quit my day job in 2001 and never looked back.

I went on to write well over one hundred official guides for nearly every major franchise of the past dozen years. A career that began with a game considered to be one of the worst of all time has ended with "Diablo III: Reaper of Souls" due out in a couple of weeks. It was a good run and I got to work with a lot of great, dedicated people, both at my publisher, and on-site at companies like Blizzard, Gearbox and especially Epic. I saw a lot of changes during that time. I remember the days when editors would stress out about a book exceeding 144 pages. Now we try to keep them under 400. The Diablo III guide I was lucky to be lead author on weighed in at 496 pages. The publishers used to release a guide for just about every A, B, and C title to come along. These days, it's AAA or bust. We used to always work from home. Now it's 60-90 days on-site a year, which means lots of time in hotels and away from loved ones. But even that was worth it for a while. Sadly, gaming has really changed over these past few years, as this blog has chronicled. And so has my interest in the hobby. Not for the better.

Knowing a change was going to be needed before long, I decided several years ago that it was time to live out an adventure of my own, with my wife, IRL. What started as a decision to take a simple mid-life gap year and travel the major cities of the world has morphed into a round-the-world bicycle trip. Yes, as in "without a motor." We've always loved to travel and I've long since wanted to embark on a career as a travel writer. We started doing some shorter bicycle tours a few years ago and found it to be the greatest way to travel, as it really forces you off the main roads and into a pace where you can really get to know a place and the people who live there.

The trip has been a long time coming, but we're finally set to pedal east out of Seattle on March 23rd and begin our journey. First across North America, then across Europe and Central Asia, before continuing southeast through China to Vietnam, Cambodia, and beyond. If all goes according to plan (fat chance), we'll wrap it up sometime in 2017 by riding the spine of the Andes southward from Colombia to Tierra del Fuego. I get goosebumps just typing that.

If this all sounds rather random and absurd, I'd like to provide my bona fides: For I have not only been a videogame guidebook writer periodically dropping anonymous hints on which games to be excited about, but also the Dubious Quality Fitness Advisor. And I can assure you all that such a title doesn't come without a very thorough and comprehensive background check.

Our journey is being documented for posterity's sake at Our plan is to check-in once or twice a week on Facebook (WiFi willing) and publish more detailed posts, stats, and videos every two weeks or so on the website. Let Bill know if this trip sounds even vaguely interesting to you and, if so, we'll try to put together a monthly dispatch from the road.

Since I suspect many of you are as interested in the logistics of such a trip as others might be the imagery, here's a brief FAQ to hold you over to the next post:
 Mileage: We aim to average 55 miles per day.
  • Weight: My bike+gear+food weighs approximately 106 pounds. My wife's weighs 84.
  • Budget: A combined $60 USD/day budget to work best for our desired comfort level.
  • Duration: The pie-in-the-sky grand plan should take approximately 1000 days.
  • Sleeping: We plan to camp several times a week, utilize hospitality networks once or twice, and spend some time in hotels.
  • Rest: We like to take every 7th day off, regardless of location. More time off to sightsee at major destinations.
  • Oceans: We'll be taking the Queen Mary 2 across the Atlantic and cargo ships between Asia and Oceania and South America.
  • Possessions: We've sold our house, our cars, and the vast majority of all possessions. Mementos and some clothes (and my Alienware gaming rig) are being stored in a very small 5'x5' storage unit.
  • Fear: Am I worried about being mugged or killed by terrorists? No. I'm worried about cars, stray dogs, and cycling through my childhood state of New Jersey.
When I was in college, I did some fairly insane things (bicycling from South Texas to Florida by myself, running 150 miles along the Padre Island National Seashore from the Mexican border to Corpus Christi in 77 hours), but what Doug is planning to do makes my little trips seem like pebbles.

I can't wait for the monthly dispatches.

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