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Dover, New Hampshire - Fosters Daily deemocrat 06 September, 2011

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Dover, New Hampshire - Fosters Daily deemocrat 06 September, 2011

Post  ChasingSanity on Fri Sep 09, 2011 12:30 pm

http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110906/GJNEWS_01/110909728

Living 'off the grid': Man loses job, wife, home, decides to bike across the world

By CONOR MAKEM
cmakem@fosters.com
Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Conor Makem/Times photo Ari Gold stopped off in the region recently on his bicycle trek across the world. Gold is looking to work on board a ship heading to Europe in exchange for transportation on his planned five-year journey.
(Democrat photo - Makem)
Click here to view Foster's prints for sale

ROCHESTER — Two years ago, Ari Gold's life was at a tipping point. The company he worked for in Las Vegas, which made slot machines, had gone belly up and he couldn't find a replacement job. He and his wife had divorced and he had to leave his house. Gold had no idea what to do.

That's when he had a life-changing conversation with a good friend. His friend told him that he finally had no responsibilities. He could do whatever he wanted.

"He was right, but what do I do? I asked myself that question every two minutes," Gold said. "Eventually I decided I wanted to see the world. I feel like I was given lemons and I made lemonade, lemon pie and lemon everything."

His slogan is displayed on his backpack: "Bike to Australia."

The 6'2" ex-Air Force National Guardsman hopped on his bicycle and 13,000 miles and 23 months later, he arrived in Rochester, NH. The American Legion Post 7, in Rochester, having been notified of his around-the-world plans, donated $250 to help with his journey, in what Gold describes as his first donation from an organization. And he camped out on their grounds as well.

Gold carries everything he owns on two wheels, sleeps in a tent or wherever someone will offer a bed. He exchanges services for goods or money, traveling from one "community bike shop" to another. Community bike shops allow him to work on other people's bikes in exchange for repairs on his own. He practices scaring off animals at night, usually skunks.

Gold has epilepsy and has had grand mal seizures, but hasn't had an episode since 2002. His life since leaving Las Vegas could easily be made into a Hollywood movie and he has years left on his journey.

"I had a plan. I was going to go from Vegas to Salt Lake City into Canada into St. John, New Brunswick and get a ride across the ocean from there," he said. "When I got to Salt Lake City, the Mormons and the Christians tried to convert me. The Mormons will provide you with free housing, but there were a fair number of drug addicts and problem children looking at my bicycle as easy pickings."

Gold couldn't take any chances. He changed direction toward Albuquerque, N.M., to look for work on farms, but the farms there already had plenty of help. And it was there that someone stole his bike — with everything on it.

Someone gave him another bike. The donated bike was ill-fitting, but it worked for awhile. Gold met up with a friend riding from Juneau, Alaska to Key West, Fla. They rode to Santa Fe and Roswell, before his friend disappeared in Carlsbad, N.M. Gold checked the jail, hospital, police and even the morgue before moving on.

He traded in his bike for a larger one through a community bike shop and slowly built up his supplies again, 125 pounds worth of gear in all. A bike rack allows him to carry a tent, sleeping bag, two sleeping pads, clothing, winter gear, a skillet, a spare wheel and knives for cooking, olive oil, spices, cheese, peanut butter, honey, nuts and dry food. Add in some hot dogs or tuna fish and he can make something quite tasty, he notes.

Over the next leg, he hitchhiked, totaled his bike running into a car in Austin, Texas, fixed up another bike and stayed with people for the winter in exchange for work.

Upon leaving Texas, Gold made his way north, looking once again to cross into Canada. He was waiting for his wife to send him a passport. Short of it, the Canadian government needed several pieces of ID, which he had, thanks to bank statements, military IDs, a driver's license and more. Then they told him they needed proof of $1,000 in income a month to prove he could support himself while in the country.

He couldn't provide that.

Gold began looking for sponsorship opportunities. He was finally offered a sponsorship from a bike shop in Las Vegas, but what they were offering wasn't worth much. Spiderflex, makers of ergonomic bicycle seats, provided him with a used, but very much appreciated seat.

It was about this time that his friend, who had gone missing in New Mexico, called him. He wanted to start a business manufacturing one of Gold's ideas: a mirror that attaches to the back of your hand. It's especially useful for biking, Gold explains, because you can move it to any angle and keep your eyes on the road at the same time. Unfortunately, the partnership was not going to work out.

Gold headed for Florida, passing through areas still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

"People were restarting their lives, just like me," Gold said.

In Florida, he had hopes of finding work on a sailboat in exchange for passage to Europe.

"That hasn't worked yet," Gold admits.

He rode up the eastern coast to Myrtle Beach, S.C., where a glass artist offered to drive him to Pennsylvania. The artist, according to Gold, liked that he was living "off the grid." Gold was slated to meet someone in Newport, R.I., who had offered to sail to Europe with him and the drive to Pennsylvania saved him considerable time. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough of a timesaver. He missed that boat. Other boaters in the area were either racing or staying in dock, so Gold made his way to Maine. On Aug. 9, he traveled from Kennebunk, Maine to Rochester.

And he's still looking to work on a sailboat over to Europe.

"I plan to tour the U.S.A., Canada, the U.K., Europe, the Orient and the islands of the Pacific and Indian oceans," Gold said. "Then, back to wherever I like it most, my place in the sun."

His business card lists him as "explorer, inventor, philosopher, poet, lifestyle researcher, athlete and available."

Looking to help, offer him a ride to Europe, sponsor him or help market his biker's mirror? E-mail Ari Gold (not to be confused with the HBO character) at bike2australia[@]gmail.com or call him at (702) 355-0788.

You can also keep up with his travels by visiting http://biketoaustralia.roflforum.net or searching for "BiketoAustralia" on Facebook or Twitter. http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110906/GJNEWS_01/110909728
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