The bad news is that these merit badges can’t be bought.
The good news is that they’re free and you’ll get two of them (more on that a little later).
First, a little backstory.
Ride bikes. Travel. Do good. This is our mantra.
In all our years of traveling by bike, what has stuck in our memory more than breathtakingly beautiful sunsets, screaming mountain descents or (believe it or not) the joy of a well-timed greasy spoon diner … are the people. Traveling by bike affords us the unique chance to interact with both the landscape AND the people in ways the other modes do not.
The bike is simultaneously transportation, adventure-mobile and conversation piece.
We’ll never forget the inspiring fellow riders we’ve met (like a 65-year-old woman touring solo across America with a service dog in her handlebar bag), businesses that went above and beyond to accommodate us (like the KOA in Dillon, MT that saved a cabin for us because it was raining… or the owners of Fall Hollow who fired up the grill before their kitchen was open, to cook us burgers when they saw us hungry upon arrival) and other random acts of kindness or friendly interactions with people while traveling on the road.
We have a large karmic debt to repay, and that is why we have dedicated a large part of our lives the last few years to focus on the “Do Good” part of our mantra. Bicycle travel and tourism has the potential to do amazing good to not only the traveler but the communities travelers pass through.
We want to spread this message.
Think of it as the social equivalent of “Leave No Trace.” Instead of just setting the bar at not leaving a mess, let’s strive to leave things a little better than when we first found them. We want to encourage and recognize people who embody this idea of bicycle travel doing good. While a little woven merit badge is really a small token, it’s a start of a new narrative. We want people to ride bikes, travel and get rad… and also look at the larger picture, because one person’s Outback is another person’s Backyard.
As bike travelers, let’s be better guests. As communities, let’s be better hosts.
The merit badge is available for free to anyone (we do have a limited supply though) who also believes or embodies these ideals. Especially, the “do good” part. We want to give them to businesses who are particularly bike-friendly; to people in the travel and tourism industry who are reaching out to cyclists; to people in the bike industry who are promoting bike travel in a responsible and diverse way; to bike tourists themselves who believe it is important to be a good ambassador for this activity we love; and to anyone else who is positively spreading the love of bicycle travel.
We need your help in finding these people (it could be you or someone you know or someone you met months ago on your last bicycle adventure.) Email us, contact us or tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #ridebikestraveldogood – and tell us about that person.
When you contact us, send us the person’s name, contact information (so we can notify them), photo and three to five sentences about how they #ridebikestraveldogood. We’ll feature this on our site and other social media channels. That person will get two merit badges. One for themselves and another to pay forward when they encounter someone who is a good ambassador for bicycle travel.
After you or the person you’ve nominated receives the merit badge, please send us a photo of you and the badge!
That’s it. We have no intention of selling these. We just want people to look beyond “getting rad” for a second and be more conscious of the landscapes and communities they go through. We only have a limited run and the badges will be given out very intentionally so let us know of someone who should get one today!
Ride bikes. Travel. Do good.
For our last few tours, we’ve been combining fly fishing with bicycle touring. It is a great secondary activity to do on a bike tour and really allows you to see your environment in a different way. It gives you a reason to stay at a beautiful riverside campsite for a few days and explore, rather than feeling the eventual pull of momentum drag you along. In this video, we talk primarily about our tenkara fly fishing kit. Tenkara is a Japanese form of fly fishing that has grown in popularity the last few years because of its lower learning curve. You can literally be taught how to cast and catch fish with a tenkara rod in less than half an hour.
In this short video we share how we make coffee while bike touring and for #coffeeoutside get togethers. If you’re interested in just gear links, our grinder of choice is the Porlex Mini, and we totally dig this Esbit Cook Kit and our favorite brew method is the Snow Peak folding coffee brewer.
For the past two years, we’ve partnered with the good folks behind the National Bicycle Tourism Conference, to help them broaden their mission and their conference sessions to be more inclusive of the issues facing destinations. This year, we’ve been able to help behind-the-scenes, organizing a few of the sessions, which we think will be full of great information and inspiration.
Bike Tourism 101 Roundtable
For the first time this year, we’ve created a Bike Tourism 101 Roundtable, to follow the highly-popular format of the Events 101 Roundtable – only focused on the nuts and bolts of the tourism side of cycling. We’ve compiled a wide variety of experts, who’ll discuss issues related to bike-friendly business programs, safety, marketing, tracking success – as well as the often-overlooked niches of mountain bike tourism and urban bike tourism.
We first envisioned this session almost two years ago, when a conversation at the 2013 Bicycle Tourism Conference led us to wonder how to bottle the basics for destinations who are beginning to dip their toes into bike tourism. So, we were really thrilled to be asked to organize this session this year, and we’re excited to see what conversations are sparked as a result.
Bicycle Traveler Experience Interactive Session
To be honest, I can almost not contain how excited I am for this session. If you’re a destination representative or a tourism-focused business owner, and you’re trying to figure out how to be more successful at reaching out to cyclists – this is your session!
So many times, as bicycle travelers, we show up at our destination and have to jump through silly logistical hurdles. Maybe it’s asking permission to bring your bike into your hotel room. Maybe it’s figuring out where to park your bike while you stop for lunch in town, without a lock. Maybe it’s shipping your bike ahead, or landing at the airport and having to put your bike back together in an ill-equipped baggage area, or figuring out how to get from your lodging to the trail without having to drive.
We’ve crafted this session to help folks who are in the tourism world start to think through these details that bicycle travelers routinely have to navigate. Our goal is to lead an open discussion of these hurdles and how to make it easier for bike travelers, all while doing a bit of role-playing in the sunshine in San Diego. You know you want to be there.
Connect With Us!
We love this conference because it’s always a fun and enlightening few days – and because it’s a great opportunity to connect face-to-face with folks who we work alongside in the virtual world. We love meeting colleagues and readers, so give us a shout if you plan on attending, or just find us amongst the crowd.
When: November 4-7, 2015
Where: San Diego, CA
More info: www.bicycletournetwork.org
In this exclusive never before seen video interview (footage was from 2013….took a while to get to), we visit with Rob Perks of Ocean Air Cycles. He walks us through his Rambler bicycle, which is designed to be the perfect all-rounder. Rob also started the #coffeeoutside hashtag which has taken the bicycle Instagram by storm. Learn the origins in this exclusive interview.