Chicago, Illinois to Cusco, Peru by Bicycle?

For the last two years I’ve been using a bicycle as a primary form of transport… By primary, I mean that I either cycle, walk, or catch a taxi. (As a bynote: I’m not an eccentric tree-hugger, I could buy a car if I needed to, but there is a long story behind the bicycle. At some point I’ll post the rambling, yawn-inducing article on it.) However, since adopting a bicycle to get around, I’ve been suffering from a recurring, nagging question – given that I only have a bicycle, how far could I possibly go on it?

I guess this is similar to the questions you ask yourself when you have a new Ford Mustang (except, my bicycle runs on McDonald’s burgers and will only go 30mph if you grease it and throw it down a mineshaft). When I first got the bicycle, I cycled from Lisle to Schaumburg and back (~60 miles), and it hurt, but I lived. This summer, I ambushed my girlfriend with a surprise cycle trip to Milwaukee in Wisconsin (~100 miles). It was actually amazingly fun, scenic beyond belief (she really enjoyed it – seriously!). The distances slowly become easier and easier. The question is how far could I possibly go?

That is, would I be able to start from home (Chicago) and be able to visit my girlfriend, now residing in Mexico?

Practicality aside, it’s a question that’s beginning to grow roots… and some rather big leaves. Would I be able to cycle from Chicago to Mexico, pick her up, and then cycle with her to Cusco, Peru? I’ve always wanted to see South America, and that’s a helluva way to get there.

Today I sat down and planned the route, just for shizzles and giggles:

  • Sore Legs Part 1 – Chicago, Illinois to Aguascalientes, Mexico (2.924 km):
  • No Manches, Bicicleta – Aguascalientes to the Panama Canal (3,721 km):
  • Crossing the Darien gap (80km) seems to be a little tricky, and probably would have to be done by boat. There’s a great article on it at
  • Once you are over the Panama canal, the real adventure would start! Hola Hemisferio Sur – Panama to Ecuador (1,500 km):
  • Donde esta el Cotorreo – Lastly from Ecuador to the final destination of Cusco (3,200 km):

I mean, it’s just a hypothetic idea. The final distance is in the ludicrous order of 11,000km (6,900 mi). Totally, totally a thought experiment. Schrödinger’s cat is a more feasible thought experiment than this…

But… would it even be possible? Lol, I just can’t seem to shake the idea off…

– Sam


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