Hope you look this fresh at the end.

Josh Fonner is a good friend of mine, we met while working for Giant.  He is a good solid dude with a serious itch that needs to be scratched.  This itch can’t be cured with creams or antibiotics.  He didn’t even get this itch in any of the nefarious ways one would think. Josh likes LOVES to roam. 
Josh’s hankering for travel has sent him all over the globe and even prompted him to start encouraging others to roam around a bit.  He started a website Roamlife to share his experiences and encourage others.  He is not passively telling stories.  He is living them and bringing people together to inspire one another.  Case in point…. Last weekend he kicked off his presenter series of speakers at REI in SOHO NYC.  
This desire to roam resonates with me since I like to roam as well.  In fact, at a moments notice last year Josh encouraged me to attend the Single Speed European Championships.  I wrote about it HERE. Josh knows how to roam with style and panache.  Ask me in private and I just might show you the picture I won’t publish.  
Last year Josh decided that he was going to do the Absa Cape Epic pin South Africa.  He put out a call on the Facebook asking someone to join him.  As much as it pained me, I couldn’t say yes.  Jackie Baker accepted and they formed the Honey Badger team.
I had questions galore for Josh on this so I went ahead and asked him what was up.
Here is how it went.
MLBB – Hi Josh
Josh – Hi Gary
MLBB – Josh can I start off by telling you that I scratched my brake lever putting my bike in my spruck and I am not happy about it.
Josh – That is very troubling.  Hmm, I am sorry to hear that.  Are you going to be OK?
MLBB – Yeah, I guess so.  But it was brand new
Josh – silence
MLBB – This is my first interview so I am going to bounce around in my normal rambling manner.  does that work for you?
Josh – Yeah Man, fire away
MLBB – First talk to me about Roam Life.  How did you get this serious case of ants in your pants?
Josh – I have traveled a lot, moved back and forth across the country five times, and even been to Europe a few times.  The last time I drove my motorcycle cross country by myself and something changed.  Then I travelled to South Africa for the World Cup in 2010 and everything changed.

MLBB – Changed how?

Josh – When I travel people always say to me, “You are so Lucky”.  The truth is I am not lucky, this is a choice. I am not wealthy but I choose to go new places and see new things.  I have had the best experiences in my life stepping outside of my comfort zone.

MLBB – It seems that you are pretty comfortable traveling, so what do you mean?

Josh – It wasn’t always that way and it still sometimes isn’t.  I decide that I want to go somewhere and I don’t want some pre-packaged homogenized version of a trip.  I want to see the real place I am visiting and experience through the eyes of the people who live there.  I want to be immersed in the culture.  I’ve met good people everywhere and they enhance the experience.

MLBB – I have always believed that people are inherently good and if you trust and believe in them that most things will work out.

Josh – Exactly! Making connections around the world and enjoying the experience are mainly why I started the Roam Life project.  Think about the great people that we met in Belgium.  We met Kerry from Austin and had a ball.  Since then we have both reconnected with her in various places and rode our bikes.  Same goes for Mark from England, or David from Belgium, and David the Ex-Pat in Belgium.  I have met up with all of these people again and experienced new things and had fun.

MLBB – You are a wise man for one so young.  I only “see” or interact with the Dave’s or Mark on Facebook but I feel like I would invite them to visit and they would do the same.

Josh – Exactly!

MLBB – That said, how do Facebook and Twitter play into this?

Josh – Facebook definitely helped me out.  When I traveled to New Zealand for Singlespeed World Championships and to the World Cup in South Africa I put a shout out on Facebook.  It helped me get acquainted with people living there and really get immersed in my surroundings.  When I was headed to South Africa for the World cup I put a shout out on Facebook and asked if anyone knew anyone in South Africa.  A friend of a friend knew someone and connected the two of us.  They ended up putting me up and showing me around most of the time while I was there.  Without that connection my trip may not have been the same.

MLBB – That is pretty cool and kind of flies in the face of all the people who say Facebook is bad.

Josh – Yes it does, in fact when I decided to ride Cape Epic I put a shout out on Facebook asking for someone to join me on the adventure. My now fellow teammate, Jackie Baker, responded and here we are ready to head out on the greatest adventure of our lives.

MLBB – Wow, that was an amazing seque.

Josh – Thanks. I am good like that and I’m getting a little tired of talking to you.

MLBB – You will need more stamina then that to complete the Cape Epic.

Josh – Have you ever had to speak to you? It’s a little rough.

MLBB – Touché, I guess 8 Days, 781 Km’s, and 16,300 meters of climbing could seem easy after talking to me.

Josh – Something like that.

MLBB – I get the sense that riding for you is similar to me.  I love to ride my bike but don’t like to train.

Josh – True.

MLBB – How does that translate?  What did you do to get ready?

Josh – Jackie and I both work for Giant and we have gotten to know Kelli Emmitt (Editors note: name dropper) and we enlisted her help.  Kelli works with Training Peaks coaching and built us individual training programs.  I followed mine closely, although I did deviate some.

MLBB – That must have been tough.

Josh – It was but I had a goal that I was working towards so that made it easier.

MLBB – What kept you motivated?

Josh – With the busy schedule I have with work and getting my masters degree I needed someone to tell me what to do and when.  Plus I don’t want to let myself or Jackie down.  That kept me motivated to literally ride hundreds of miles on my trainer, plus I got to travel some with work and that let me train in warmer climates and with Jackie.

MLBB – How does the teammate thing work?

Josh – Basically we have to stick together.  We have to finish within a certain time of each other through checkpoints and at the finish.  The most crucial piece of the Cape Epic experience is the bond with your partner.  You are both pushing each other.

MLLBB – What is your main goal?

Josh – The main goal is to finish.  There is no way to gauge what is going to happen.  I want to enjoy the experience, enjoy my trip and time with Jackie in South Africa. Placing is in my mind but way down on the priority list.  If I had a better idea of what was to be thrown at us, I could possibly aim higher, but I would be bummed to not finish.  We will see what the adventure hands us and deal with it.

MLBB – That sounds like the best goal I could think of.

Josh – We need to be realistic.  This trip is an adventure and a pricey one at that.  I would like to enjoy the experience and not blow it doing something dumb.

MLBB- If I may be so bold…. What kind of money are you talking about?

Josh – The entry alone to the Cape epic is $5,000.  $1,500ish for flight, and then a rental car hotels food etc.

MLBB – So you are talking over $6,000 a piece?

Josh – Around there.  I am lucky to have the time and money to do this.  I will have this memory, this experience forever.  These are the moments that make life worth living.

MLBB – Amen Brother, Amen.  Why don’t we end it here?  I will wish you both good luck and look forward to following your exploits.

Josh – Cool. Take it easy and it’s time for me to go finish packing.

MLBB – As Dave the Ex-Pat who lives in Belgium said on Facebook “Kick the Epic in the Nut’s”  See ya.

Josh –  Ummmm Bye I guess

MLBB – Bye indeed.

You can follow Team Honey Badger, Josh and Jackie by getting updates from the Cape Epic by clicking HERE.

You can also get the updates on Facebook HERE.

Team Honey badger is supported by Stan’s NoTubesGiant BicyclesWTB TiresHoney StingerPOC Helmets & ArmorSigma


Good Luck to you guys and I’m looking forward to a recap when you get back and I just may have to get a few words from Jackie as well.  (You have been warned)



Velorambling