I ride bikes to get places. Sometimes those places are far away. Often, I enjoy taking my time. And that’s Lael. She is almost always in front of me or behind me or beside me. We spend half the year working and saving money, and half the year riding bikes. In fact, we ride bikes all year. We left on our first bike tour in September 2008 on two secondhand bikes, each purchased for $300.
Our travels are mostly documented in the archives of this blog, which I began in 2011. Any and all of it was great fun, and is recommended. Rather, I’ve never been on a bike trip I didn’t like.
I condone any and all travel by bike or on foot, by ski or snow shoe or regular shoe or no shoe; by air, in a balloon; by water, swimming or by canoe or kayak, sailboat or board. Disregard them (naysayers), you can transport yourself!
I am fascinated with cycling utilities in the form of signed and mapped bicycle routes as well as cycling facilities such as rail trails, canal trails, bike lanes and paths. Off-pavement touring is blissful, and popular routes such as the Great Divide are affecting a new season of cycletourists, of which I am one. I am perpetually infatuated with bikes; old bikes, new technology that makes life better, and cheap creative solutions to problems. I love bikes, but they aren’t sacred. Make your bike better for you. Make it yours.
We have toured the US, Alaska, Canada, Mexico; the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Switzerland, Czech, Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece; South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland; Egypt, Israel and Jordan.
We have ridden some or all of the Great Divide Route, Kokopelli’s Trail, the Colorado Trail, Arizona Trail, GAP/CO rail and canal trails, Traversée du Massif Vosgien, GR5, GR12, the AlCan and Cassiar Highways, the Taylor and Top of the World Highways, the Denali Highway, the Denali Park Road, the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route, the Northern Tier, the Southern Tier, the East Coast of the US, the entire coastline of Florida, the Dragon’s Spine route in South Africa, the HLC in Israel, the 1000 Miles Adventure across Czech and Slovakia, the Bicycle Odyssey race route in Greece, the Top Trail 3 in Montenegro…
Check out our route project in Mexico called the Baja Divide. We spent three months in the winter of 2015-16 developing the route, and published it the following summer. The Baja Divide is a free resource for a route that is open to ride at any time, provided as a gift to the bikepacking community with limited support from Revelate Designs and Advocate Cycles.
2016: After the Trans Am Bike Race in June, we worked to publish the Baja Divide route this summer. In the fall, we flew to Denver to ride the Colorado Trail, we went to Interbike in Las Vegas, and rode a new route from Vegas-Reno, linking to Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, and down the coast range to San Diego. We are currently in Southern California and northern Baja California to arrange some details of the Baja Divide group start and to enjoy some time in Mexico.
Following our time in Baja last winter, we returned to Alaska to ride for the month of March, followed by several months of work at The Bicycle Shop in Anchorage. Lael built up a Specialized Ruby for the Trans Am Bike Race and rode down to the start of the race in Astoria, OR. She won.
We spent three months from this winter in Baja California researching and designing a nearly 2000 mile bikepacking route called the Baja Divide, projected to be complete in 2016.
2015: We left San Diego in December for Baja California.
We flew from Alaska to Las Vegas for Interbike in September, and rode to the start of the Arizona Trail, completing the route in the next few weeks. Lael returned to the AZT for a solo time trial in October and recorded two blazing fast days on the route, including her second hike through the Grand Canyon in a month, but left the route due to breathing issues similar to her Tour Divide ride.
I worked at The Bicycle Shop in Alaska during the summer while Lael raced the Tour Divide in June, and returned for a solo time trail on the Divide at the end of the summer. She set a new women’s records in June, despite severe breathing issues, and improved that time in August, finishing in 15:10:59.
We returned to Alaska in May after ten months of bikepacking in Eastern Europe, Southern Africa, and the Middle East. However, Lael left within a week on a new bike to race the Tour Divide. She rode to the start in Banff.
Flying from Johannesburg to Cairo, Egypt, we rode through Sinai to Israel for several months of riding, mostly along the incredible HLC route. A week in southern Jordan leaves us wanting more, but with a fatbike. Lael races the HLC in April.
2014: Flying from Athens to Cape Town, we avoided the northern winter by passing three months in the southern hemisphere, riding from Cape Town through South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland to the border of Zimbabwe, before turning back to Johannesburg to catch a flight north to Cairo, to avoid the intense heat of tropical summer.
In July 2014, we landed in Vienna to continue our search for dirt routes across Europe, riding through Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, and Greece.
We spent the winter working and riding fatbikes in Anchorage, AK.
2013: We returned from Ukraine to catch the last few months of summer and fall in the southwest. We began riding out of Fruita, CO on Kokopelli’s Trail to Moab, UT, and chased the last few week of summer on the Arizona Trail and assorted routes through Arizona, before returning to Alaska for the winter.
In May of 2013, Lael and I landed in Amsterdam with the goal of exploring footpaths and off-pavement touring routes across Europe. We enjoyed riding off-pavement and on small trails in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Czech, Slovakia, Poland, and Ukraine. Briefly, we also spent some time in Germany and Switzerland. All of these places offer incredible cultural bikepacking, blending great riding and rich communities. Read the article Bikepacking Europe from Bicycle Times #30.
In two consecutive years I have ridden to the start of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in the Canadian Rockies– from Maryland and from Alaska– which means I have ridden well over twice the distance of the route, simply to reach Banff!
2012: I rode from Anchorage, AK on my secondhand Surly Pugsley, connecting with the Divide Route at Banff, some of the Colorado Trail, and assorted dirt routes before settling in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the winter.
2011: I rode from Annapolis, MD to northern New York, then westward to Banff, Alberta to hook up with the Divide for the first time, finishing in Silver City, NM before flying to Alaska for my first winter up north. I bought a used Pugsley during a week-long layover in Seattle.
2010: Seattle to La Paz, Baja California, MX; Guymas to Copper Canyon, MX; Pittsburg, PA to Annapolis, MD
2009: St. Malo to Chamonix and back, St. Malo to Paris, France; Tacoma, WA to San Francisco, CA via Lost Coast; Anchorage, AK to Denali NP
2008: Maine to Quebec to Key West, FL for several months of work, Key West, FL to Mississippi; Phoenix, AZ to Seattle, WA
He said, “I’m not a homeless man
I’m a gypsy by trade
And I’m travelin’ this land
I’m not a homeless man”
J.J. Cale -“Homeless”