Attention: Click HERE if you are interested in listening to Sam’s FULL INTERVIEW, in which he goes more into depth regarding his spirituality.
Right up until I was probably about 25/26, I had a pretty narrow view of the world to be honest. I really just wanted to focus on earning as much money as possible so I couldn’t and never would realize the life I had growing up…
When Sam and I started talking about recording a podcast, he asked me if I wanted whole story or the vanilla version of his life and events leading up to the bike tour. Right away I knew it would be an interesting story to share, so I told him to just tell it as it is. It ended up being such a long conversation that I ran out of time and we had to finish up a week later once I got back to Ottawa and was able to take the time to sit down with him again. That’s the beauty of doing interviews over the phone.
Sam started off his story by talking about growing up in a pretty normal middle class family, but which tragically was shattered when his father committed suicide when he was 11 years old. The result of this was that he was constantly driven towards success. Having seen what his mother had to go through to provide for three boys, he spent his life chasing success, possibly as a means of forgetting about the past. Fast forward a bunch of years and his engagement to a longtime love falls apart and he decides to move to Australia, following a good job prospect but also trying to run from his past and just get as far away from everything as he could.
Sam’s story continues to degenerate at about the same pace as his health and mental well-being. He starts to search for answers in the metaphorical bottom of the bottle and begins to build a dependency on alcohol, hurting those closest to him through his words, actions and inactions.
Every headwind is actually a tailwind in disguise. You just have to ride the opposite direction, so you’ll figure it out.
Fortunately for Sam and before it was too late, Sam met a Sufi Mulsim that introduced him to spirituality and he began to build an interest in mysticism, Buddhism and other East Asian spiritual practices. As is often the case, Sam discovered religion, or spirituality, when he was at his lowest point, and he clung to it much as someone might cling to a life preserver when floating in the ocean. As Sam began to change his mindset and mental health, he also got motivated to change his physical shape and began to wake up early and go running along the coast in the mornings.
It was at this time that he started to notice these big pelotons of cyclists, decked out in lycra, bashing their way down the coast in the mornings. Long story short, Sam started talking with some of them, bought himself a carbon fibre bike and found that by being on the bike, he was able to enter a type of flow state, when he could forget about all his life problems and just focus on the moment, spinning the legs, pushing up the hill, beating the person in front of him. Within a few months, he was spending 12 or more hours every weekend on the bike, and even took part in a 240km race.
There are three things in life that are think are undeniable and that’s death, taxes and change. I think that change is going to be, you know, the most beautiful thing.
It was at this point that Sam met a guy that goes by the name Growler, and he began to hear stories of grand adventures by bicycle around the world, cycling through Vietnam, crossing the Pamir Highway, and being stuck in Egypt during the Gulf War. Sam says that he immediately knew this was what he had unconsciously been saving for. Somewhere along the way, Sam also met people from a small community of people that use ayahuasca, a plant based psychedelic medicine. This is used in a controlled environment and is meant to help treat people suffering from past painful or traumatic experiences. Sam says that through using ayahuasca on two occasions, it helped him to achieve two main things: ask why instead of keeping things bottled up inside and also to drop his addiction to alcohol. In the time since his second journey, he has never felt the desire to touch alcohol again. This was all pretty deep and way over my head, so you should definitely listen to the FULL EPISODE if you are interested in knowing more about this.
Despite what people say, always carry a tent, because the tent gives you so much freedom… It’s everything for me. It blocks the sun if I’m on the beach just chilling. It offers me places to sleep at night. It’s obviously a great mosquito net so that I don’t get bitten to death and get dengue or anything like that.
Sam started the bike tour in Feb 2019. He tries to get off the beaten path as much as he can, preferring to engage with locals and engage in what he calls unlearning. Unlearning about his previous conceptions of people, religions and cultural differences. He tells an amazing story of a day where he was enjoying the day so much that he didn’t notice nightfall arriving. He rode up to a temple in a small town near to Trang and asked if he could spend the night. The next morning they woke him up at 4:30am to invite him along on their morning ritual of tak bat where the monks go out and collect food donations from houses and restaurants in exchange for buddhist prayers. The use of alternate currencies such as reciprocity. After three days of giving impromptu English lessons, helping around the temple complex and engaging in the daily lives of the monks, Sam was able to continue on with his journey of discovery, knowing that what he is searching for is out there.
In discussing Cambodia, we talked about how many people say that Cambodia is corrupt, the country is undeveloped, dirty, etc, and that it should just be crossed as quickly as possible rather than wasting your time there. Having lived in Cambodia myself, we both felt that the people themselves were fantastic, and even though they are generally very poor, they have very generous and open hearts and that it shouldn’t be skipped, but because of their terrible history, it is important to understand that they still have a long way to go regarding growth, democracy, and even cuisine.
Sam is now in Vietnam, and has just recently reconnected with his girlfriend, who flew to Ho Chi Minh City to join him on the bike tour. They are slowly going to head up through Vietnam, and then make their way through Laos, Northern Thailand, Myanmar, Indian and finally to Nepal, where they will spend some time hiking the Anapurna trail, stay in a monastery for a month and hike to Everest basecamp before deciding where to head next.
If you want to follow Sam, and now Becky as well, check out the links below. They both love photography, connecting with locals, and getting off the beaten path.
Cheers Sam. Keep on pedalling.
Follow Sam on his adventures at:
~ 30 sec Intro
~ 2 min Talking about podcasting and other random stuff
~ 5 min Who is Sam Rice
~ 9 min Moving to Australia, developing an alcohol dependency, meeting the right people
~ 11m30s Started running, got hooked on biking
~ 14 min Realizing he loved being on the bike. Freedom was more important than the competition factor
~ 17 min The story of Growler and how he changed Sam
~ 20 min Deciding to do a world tour by bike, prepping with a 10 day tour to learn about his bike and needs
~ 25 min First leg through Malaysia and Thailand was a way of testing his gear and making necessary changes
~ 29 min Why he wants to spend several months in Nepal and why he has no known plans afterwards
~ 33 min The bike he is using and why he chose to use it, what set-up he is using and why.
~ 41 min Discussing spirituality, meeting Sufi Muslim, and not drinking
~ 55 min Talking about learning, unlearning, what he hopes to gain from the tour and claiming back time
~ 1h 3m More about the tour and where he is going
~ 1h 10m Highlights so far, temples in Thailand and people in Cambodia
~ 1h 20m Currency luggage system and a bit of a talk about bikepacking vs bike touring
~ 1h 24m Becky coming to meet him and tour and needing to build her up slowly
~ 1h 27m Best piece of advice he’s received or would give
~ 1h 31m End of episode and introduction to next episode