Or, evangelism and the art of bicycle maintenance on a long journey of self-discovery.
Instagram personality Jenkins works a familiar trope: a challenging season of travel as a means of finding out what makes him tick and working out the big questions. Granted, his travel was far more challenging than most, as he decided to leave a job and a life that afforded him plenty of satisfactions in order to ride a bicycle from Oregon to the tip of South America. “It wasn’t the job that chased me away,” he writes of hitting the 30-year-old mark, “it was mortality.” He adds, meaningfully, that he had plenty of background; what remained was to acquire experience, or “background and tools,” with which to live his life henceforth. The trip took 16 months and brought him a built-in audience for this memoir as he posted photographs and observations to social media. In the company of an adventurous friend, Jenkins found plenty of occasions for that self-discovery, sifting through the wreckage of family crises, wrestling with sexual identity, and grappling with questions of faith and religious belief. “I think that you’re scared, and that’s bullshit,” said his friend after a critical moment that managed to touch on most of these points. “I just want you to be free.” Jenkins gets there—to that freedom, that is, and also to Patagonia. His account runs a little long, some of it a mere slideshow of impressions ("Mexico City is a beast”; “It was beautiful, the air was clean, the light angled just right”). Other moments are more successful, though. The author is especially good at eliciting wisdom, even if sometimes of a loopy kind, from the people he encountered—his traveling companion in particular but also people like a young Argentinian woman who confided that she wants to do a road trip through the U.S.: “I want to see the empire before it falls."
Jenkins’ many Instagram followers won’t be disappointed.