Lithe, beardy and tanned, Nathan has been on and off his bike for three and a half years. Fed up with the insecurities of freelance film-making, he upped and left the UK in his late 20s. "I realised I was just a middle-class white boy who didn´t know anything about the world."

He started in Alaska, which doesn´t quite have the romance of ´Into the Wild´. "It´s the graveyard of the world. Things go there to die. Canadians drive old trucks and cars over the border to avoid paying tax on them."

After the US, he entered Mexico, experiencing the most extreme contrast of all border crossings. "Suddenly there´s just rubbish, everywhere. And a smell which I´d never encountered before. Rotting flesh." He stopped in Nicaragua for three months, working as hiking guide for a charity which donated its profits to a school for street kids. He also took time off the bike to work on a friend´s farm in Michigan. "He loves his job, but I couldn´t do it my whole life. It´s too hard, too full on."

Most of his trip, however, Nathan has been alone. And actively avoiding company. Sleeping in his tent, eating rice, lentils, oats. "I didn´t know a word of Spanish when I got to Mexico. Not even yes or no." It felt dangerous in the north of Mexico. People go missing all the time, bodies turn up in the streets."I met a girl, who´s now had to go into hiding, who kept a blog, documenting photos of all the bodies, so relatives could track them down."

It was getting to know people in Nicaragua that persuaded him that human company wasn´t such a bad thing. "They´re fun people. They love life." Something which might be hard to believe after experiencing drivers taking their (and our) lives in their hands on the Colombian roads. "You know what, I feel safest here. Everyone drives like lunatics, so everyone expects the unexpected. In the UK, drivers just switch off, because no-one´s expecting anyone to break the rules."

At first, he pushed himself to his limits, getting by on a few dollars a day, and trying to cover as much distance as possible. "In the US, I´d sleep in people´s gardens, dig a hole to do a shit in." Now, he occasionally treats himself to the luxury of a $5 a night hotel, for a hot shower and TV.

How long will he keep going for? He doesn´t know. And where did we meet him? In the Tatacoa desert. "I come here for a peaceful night with the stars. And what do I get? A bloody British conversation."


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