3 Brutal Feats of Strength During My World Travels

  November 17, 2016 travel posts 🕑 4 minutes read
Me lugging a propane tank into the town center of Savusavu, Fiji.

Me lugging a propane tank into the town center of Savusavu, Fiji.


“Hey! *YOU* should be protecting *US*!” ~ Group of NYPD Officers to Me in NYC, Circa a Long Time Ago


Back in the day I was a bodybuilder.


I have the fitness bug.


Always have.


I started playing basketball as a 5 year old.


I played through the junior college level.


So the fitness thing has always been in me, and the strength obsession began budding rapidly when I was in college.


I have since slimmed down to Olive Oil like proportions – at times – during my world travels compared to TOM (The Old Me) but can still put on a halfway decent feat of strength.


Especially when I NEED TO put on a feat of strength, for survival purposes.


Without further delay…..


1: Carrying the Week’s Groceries 3 miles into the Jungle in Buena Vista, Costa Rica


My hamstrings screamed at me.


I was on the verge of puking.


Sweat poured down my entire body, forming a torrential slick reminiscent of Niagara Falls.


My forearms were on fire, burning from the immense weight I lugged around like a Gringo Pack Mule.


Sans groceries. Starting the mile long downhill hike in Buena Vista. Yeah. The Easy Stuff.

Sans groceries. Starting the mile long downhill hike in Buena Vista. Yeah. The Easy Stuff.


Kelli called me her Gringo Sherpa.


I’d carried our grocery for the week – approximately 6 bag’s worth – through:


  • 4 jungle streams
  • 90 degree temperatures
  • 90 percent humidity
  • mud that sunk knee deep in some areas


AND…..I had to carry the bags up a mile high hill with a 30% grade in some spots.


After abusing the piss out of my body as a physique model and bodybuilder this feat is far and away the most brutal, ass-busting, excruciating thing I’ve ever done in my life.


It’s one thing to walk with a shit load of groceries for 3 miles.


It’s quite another to walk 1 of those miles up a hill that rose at a 30% grade in the most steep, brutal, devastating spots.


Thank God I only had to do this once weekly.


2: Carrying 2 Full Sized Suitcases Up a 40% Grade Mountain for 20 Minutes then Carrying 1 of the Cases 2 and a Half Hours into Town in Buena Vista, Costa Rica


I almost blacked out.


After my back went out the prior week and my body completely broke down I spent the entire week laying down in a hammock.


I walked for roughly 2 minutes each day.


To visit the outhouse.


I literally spent every waking and sleeping minute gaining my strength for this monumental task during the prior 7 day stretch.


My nutrition had been poor.


No fridge = dry food, water, some spinach from the grounds.


I’d lost 15 pounds.


No real protein.


So when I hit the 40% grade slope, with rocks, tree roots, mud and bullet ants, having to CARRY both big old, 44 pound suitcases in each hand, my body and mind screamed at me to STOP STOP STOP YOU MORON!!!!!!


I carried on.


My lungs were on fire, feeling like they’d been seared white hot inside of an industrial furnace.


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My legs burned up so much I teared up in agony, thinking Satan himself fanned the flames of the unbelievably intense fire burning in my sticks.


After this 20 minute savagery I carried and rolled my suitcase for the remaining 2 hours into town through jungle terrain that made the Amazon Basin look like Route 66.


That’s a 44 pound piece of luggage.


And in some spots – like through those jungle streams – I had to carry Kelli’s 44 pound suit case too.


3: Lugging a 70 Pound Propane Tank 3 Miles into Town Savusavu, Fiji


The picture up top explains.


We could have called a cab.


Or I could get a vigorous Fijian workout.


I went with the latter.


Note how I crammed said propane tank into a liliputian backpack.


Standing in a Nicosia, Cyprus alley. Not looking strong or weak. Just right?

Standing in a Nicosia, Cyprus alley. Not looking strong or weak. Just right?


Like a stuffed sausage.


My shoulders were ablaze, burning with a white hot intensity usually observed during nuclear blasts.


I made it.


I pussed out on the return trip, hailing a cab to bring the full propane tank home.


How have you taken it to the limit on the road?


What feats of strength can you share with us?

  1. Eric || The Bucket List Project says:
    at 3:51 pm

    haha love the groceries thing! I just bought groceries yesterday and refused to run back to the car for a 2nd round! So I carried all of them, 8 bags, as they cut off the circulation from my wrists into my house.
    Now that may just be a guy thing but I wouldn’t go back for a 3 mile hike!

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 8:40 pm

      Hi Eric,

      I am often spotted doing the same thing LOL. No need for a second trip, just 7 to 10 bags and yep, cut off circulation each time. It starts at the creases in the fingers LOL. Thanks for commenting!


  2. Emily Kydd says:
    at 4:46 pm

    Oh Ryan, been there man.

    50lb backpack for 7 days on the West Coast Trail. Parks Canada recommended, for my weight, that pack should be tops 34 lb. Oh well! There was also the literally crawling up a Peruvian mountain at 5300 metres, grappling at loose gravel with my hands and thin air with my lungs. A good question is why? A great answer is Why NOT?!?!

    To foolhardy and backbreaking endeavor!

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 8:39 pm

      Hi Emily,

      Impressive!!! 50 pound backpacks are nothing to sneeze over! Especially lugging it around on a trail for a week. Brilliant. 5,300 meter heights and climbing? Crazy. I recall feeling woozy at 12,000 feet in Cusco. Hey, likewise buddy!


  3. Muhammad Ahmad says:
    at 9:17 am

    Great Ryan!
    Be strong 🙂
    Be the best!
    ~ Ahmad
    P.S Please do have a look at the latest blog post @ meetAhmad [dot] com, would love to see your views there.

  4. Suze - Luxury Columnist says:
    at 10:09 am

    I got the fittest that I have ever been when I was lugging a suitcase around Europe on an Interrail journey. Embarrassingly, my friends had all brought rucksacks but I had weirdly decided that a huge suitcase would be the perfect thing to carry around 😉 Cringe!

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 5:12 pm

      Hi Suze,

      Goodness have I been there. Kelli and I lugged 2 gargantuan suitcases all around SE Asia for the first 2 years of our trip. It was nuts. They broke down, got ripped up, were so darn heavy and we overpacked too.

      Eventually we traded in these behemoths and started throwing out at least 1 item or piece of clothing after every location and have kept to this habit for years.


  5. Amar kumar says:
    at 1:35 am

    Hey Ryan,

    As i said earlier, in your post is fully loaded with fresh energy. You always share fantastic circumstances in way of travel blogging. I really love to read this post, it is fully entertaining and informative from top to bottom. Eventually, thanks again for sharing your thought with us.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar

  6. Sue Slaght says:
    at 11:08 am

    Ryan I think I might be sweating from having read the post. We try whenever possible to travel with carry on only. Now having said that we have never done a multi month long trip. As to exertion well a lot of our cycling trips seem to be through European mountain passes and then there was that high Altitude bike trip in Peru. I can’t really remember because I think my brain was completely oxygen deprived. The sound from my lungs resembled that of a asthmatic horse or possibly a moose I can’t be sure.


    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 1:12 pm

      Hi Sue,

      Those altitude bike trips sound stupid intense. I felt hazy just walking around Cusco for 5 minutes. The moose sound seems more intense but a horse struggling for breath comes in a close second 😉


  7. Shannon - SoleSeeking says:
    at 8:03 am

    I think carrying a 50lb backpack around Geneva for a few hours has been my most exhausting feat so far, physically and emotionally. On top of the aches it gave me, I had all the rich Swiss with their fancy handbags and Rolex watches giving me funny looks like I’d just come from the Amazon. I don’t know why I didn’t just put it in a locker at the train station…

    • Ryan Biddulph says:
      at 9:55 am

      Hi Shannon,

      Impressive! I think we all ask those questions after the fact 😉 I had to take the food unless we paid for an ATV ride from a Tico kid. I enjoyed the workouts. Save 1 day when I felt death knocking on my door. Those Swiss musta loved that site. Thanks for sharing 🙂


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