Retirement, and a new beginning

Warren Thornthwaite would have loved what we are doing
Warren Thornthwaite would have loved what we are doing. Photo: Scott Ross

Tony and Joy are retiring from full-time work in early 2016, and taking off across the US on our bicycles. We have been thinking about early retirement for some years — we’re in our mid 50s — but our timing is clearly related to the illness and death from brain cancer of our dear friend Warren Thornthwaite in 2014. Warren was a smart, clean-living, healthy and active guy until he lost the health lottery. Warren was the second close friend in a handful of years to suffer health challenges. John — another creative, active guy — has suffered several dreadful strokes. Though we hope our own lottery numbers won’t come up until we’re in our 80s or 90s, we do not want to look back and say “I wish…” We aren’t wealthy enough to retire now and continue to live in the very expensive Bay Area, with our nice house and so on, but we can afford to live elsewhere and in a reduced style.

But first, we want to see the world. And we’ve decided to do that from the saddles of our bicycles.

From now until April 2016, when Tony retires, we will be “de-acquisitioning”: selling and giving away most of our stuff. We plan to hold on to one small pod-style container of our very favorite art, furniture, and kitchen utensils. Most of our furniture, clothing, tools, and certainly most of the 17 styles of glasses: all to go. The dog goes to my sister Linda. The storage pod goes into storage for N years.

Freed from the shackles of our material existence, we plan to leave in May 2016 for our first grand adventure: the TransAm bicycle ride across America. On our own, self-supported: carrying clothes (precious few), camping gear, and lots of water on our touring bikes, aka iron donkeys. We plan to take 5 months, which is actually pretty slow — it is often done in two. Our planned route is not a straight line. The basic plan is to camp 3 nights out of 4, and cycle 50 miles 3 days out of 4, departing from San Francisco in May and arriving somewhere in New England in late September.

We have an ambitious goal of raising $20,000 for brain cancer research from this TransAm. You can donate via a Warren Campaign page we set up with the National Brain Tumor Society. Even if you’re not able to donate, we encourage you to take a look at the links and materials about brain cancer.

After the TransAm, who knows? If we can look at our bikes without screaming, we may continue down the east coast, visiting friends, family, and historic sites. We do plan to return to the Bay Area for the 2016 holidays. Our current “plan” is to visit South America for Jan-Mar 2017. Probably with our bikes but not in the same way as the TransAm. After another visit home, we expect to spend much of the remainder of 2017 in Europe. Portugal? Spain? Italy? Croatia? Turkey? All of the above?

We have a very long bucket list of places to visit and bicycle. We will continue to work on that bucket list until… we feel like finding a new home. That may be 2016, it may be 2020, who knows. And we may decide to settle in California, elsewhere in the US, or some other country. We are not stressing about it right now.

I will end this long post with a list to answer the question many of you must be wondering: why bicycle touring?

  • Staying active and fit. We’ve seen many people retire and have nothing to do. This is something to do.
  • Seeing the world from a bicycle is notably different than from a car, certainly than from a train or plane. It allows us to really see what’s around us. We like it.
  • Traveling at the speed of a bicycle is an important step in helping us slow down from our Silicon Valley pace. (We recognize that riding across the country is pretty Type A, but there’s only so much you can do.)
  • Seeing the world inexpensively.
  • Being able to eat whatever we want, after years of dieting.

We sincerely hope you will follow our travels and travails via our periodic blog posts.

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5 thoughts on “Retirement, and a new beginning

  1. Joy, Tony, I just stumbled across your blog. Congratulations to you both. I really respect and admire what you are doing on so many levels, and especially your personal way of giving tribute to Warren. If you end in New England, and would like a place to crash, I live in Madbury NH and our house is very big, with a guest room. You are welcome to stop in or stay if you would like! My kiddos would love to hear of your bike adventure. Either way, we will be following you on your blog!


  2. Congratulations. A noble journey indeed. While I would have loved a 3rd version of the MSDWH Toolkit, that baton will have to go to someone else. Best of luck.


  3. Good luck on this fantastic journey! I can’t wait to read about your trip. It takes guts to do what you are doing! Safe journey!


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