Keys To Freeze

Megan Healy is one of a six person crew biking 9000 miles from the Florida Keys to Deadhorse, Alaska, aka “Keys to Freeze.” Imagine propelling all your possessions up hills, across canyons, and along rivers – Megan fills us in on this unique form of life on the road. Interview below!

Photo above (C) 2015 George Eklund

Meet Strong & Creative Megan

How did your trip come to be? Tell me the origins of “Keys to Freeze”.

Photo by Megan Healy
Photo by Megan Healy

Whenever I am in one place for longer than a few weeks, I start daydreaming and planning one-day-some-day adventures. More often than not the adventures take the form of bike trips, mostly because my bike is the only real form of transportation I have access to at all times. In the fall of 2013 a friend shared his own daydream planning for a trip from Key West to Alaska, and I worked my way into those plans.

You are traveling with a group of six other people to film a documentary. How long did it take for you to gel as a team? How do you dictate pace?

The team gel process is a tricky, ever-evolving one. Our process and challenges can be shaped by emotions, logistics, fatigue, miscommunications, and eventually end with coming together, most frequently over a meal. Full bellies are key for clear heads. On the road we tend to break up into smaller groups and go at our own paces. We know where we are starting and ending each day, and operation get-there goes into effect. This gives us the freedom to rest when we want to rest and explore when we want to explore.

What is your sleeping situation on the road? Do you typically tent camp?

We are equipped to tent camp, and personally that is what I prefer. We act upon a take-what-we-can-get model, which has varied from traditional campsite to houseboat deck camping, couches, floors, and everything in between.

Photo by Megan Healy
Photo by Megan Healy

You participate in the Postcard Project to raise money for your adventures by sending out postcards to people along your way. Why did you choose to paint a watercolor rather than writing words? Do you ever feel a loss in letting go of a small piece of artwork?

The Postcard Project came as a combination of goals and interests. I intended on keeping a sketchbook with illustrations and journal entries, and also sending out postcards from time to time just to say hello to friends and family. When I found out about the Postcard Project I was immediately inspired to combine the two. Instead of hiding my sketches in a book, I wanted to challenge myself to share my visual interpretations and thoughts from place to place. It is a strange feeling to pop the postcards in the mailbox, never to be seen again. I’ve made sure to document each one for my own records, but the letting go process helps me in the end, not only with sharing my experience but also lightening my bags!

What have you learned about yourself that you might not have learned without this adventure?

I have experience with bike traveling, but mostly during free time in the summer when I had nothing but time to spare. This time around my travels are very intentional and calculated, and revolve around work and the time I can make for myself in between jobs. All of a sudden I am hyper aware of how I spend my time and strive to make the most of this time I have set aside for adventure and personal growth. Without this lengthier adventure I don’t think I would have realized the necessity of purpose driven travels and exploration, and using this time to gather inspiration and experience for my future.

Photo by George Eklund
Photo by George Eklund

Name your most frustrating experience thus far.

The most evident frustration that stands out is the feeling of moving too fast. Since we made a preset schedule and have concrete plans set up in certain places, we have to keep going and going. When we pass through awesome areas that we’d like to spend more time in, we mostly have to make a mental note to come back on some other road trip or adventure, and keep on pedaling.

Take a photo of your five must-haves for bike travel:

Besides the obvious bike gear…

Scroll over the (+) symbol in the photo below for more info on each of Megan’s must-haves!

Jetboil cook system: a one pot kitchen for all my gluten free vegan needs.

Goal Zero solar chargers: for keeping my technological needs fed and running.

Watercolor kit: supporting my Postcard Project visual sketchbook journal.

Digital camera: A must! Point and shoot for days and days.

Solar recovery cream: made by a friend, a refreshing luxurious lotion to heal my skin after a long day in the sun, wind, and grit.

How many times did you repack your bag before you left? Do you have any tips for cutting down on pack weight?

Ha! Not once, unfortunately. I need to sprawl out and see everything when I pack, and I didn’t have that opportunity before arriving in Florida. My packing was done and redone every few days for the first few weeks. Prioritizing is key when it comes to cutting down on pack weight. I split everything up into piles: food, clothing, shelter, and everything else falls into the luxurious necessary evils pile. From there I try to decide between what I absolutely can’t live without, what I really want, and what I can let go of and mail home.

With all the miles you bike, how do you stay fueled on the road?

Eat or be eaten. That’s kind of the name of the game. If you don’t keep up with your nutritional obligations, then everything starts to fall apart and becomes more difficult. I have a weird habit when it comes to biking because I am not a breakfast or lunch person. I also am terrible at snacking. Once I start eating I can’t stop ‘til I am full, so I usually am pretty good ‘til dinnertime and then the gauntlet is thrown. Once the dinner bell rings I eat like a bear preparing for hibernation.

Photo by Megan Healy
Photo by Megan Healy

Where are you now [April 25, 2015] and where will you be in one month?

I am currently in Green River, Utah in between Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Park. In one month I will be on the Pacific Coast, somewhere very near San Francisco, preparing for the Pacific Northwest.

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