For our first Bike Trekker episode, we’ve decided to film our experience at the Cycle Oregon Weekend ride. Cycle Oregon is an epic week long ride that showcases the great rural communities around Oregon. Aside from creating a well organized and wonderful riding experience, they do a lot of philanthropy for the small communities they go through. The Weekend Ride, just like it sounds, is a mini-version of the week long ride. This year, it took place in Corvallis, Laura’s home town and within a long day’s bike ride from Portland. We thought, “what better way to start a biking event than to bike there!”
It was a LONG ride, coming in over 80 miles. We took the MAX out to Hillsboro and began our ride there. For the most part we meandered all day through small country roads right in the heart of Willamette Valley wine country. Our favorite part of the trip was stumbling upon some quiet gravel roads with nary a car in sight.
We arrived in Corvallis tired and famished from the ride. Thankfully, we had a rest day before the madness of the Cycle Oregon Weekend began. On Friday, we rode to the OSU campus, registered and then set up our tent on campus. We got there fairly early so we were able to find a spot by some trees. In a few hours, people trickled in and the field became a tent city!
That night, we walked around the grounds and chatted with some fellow cyclists. We ran into quite a few readers which is always a treat. The folks camped next to us followed our trip to New Zealand and were planning their own NZ tour in January. We gave them a few tips of where to go and what to avoid. Later in the evening we had a few drinks at the beer garden and listened to some music on the main stage. This was our first ever “event” style ride and after years of fully supported touring this felt pretty luxurious even though we were still in a tent. We crashed out fairly early, still tired from our ride from Portland and rested for the next day.
The next morning we got up bright and early (with about 2200 other cyclists!) had a quick breakfast with bleh coffee (sorry, Portland coffee has spoiled us) and hit the road. We opted to do the medium length rides on both days since we knew were going to be stopping a lot to take photos and video.
The first day was the hillier of the two, but didn’t have any major climbs and only a few rollers. It was beautiful riding through several scenic back roads around Corvallis that we had not been on before. Some were so devoid of traffic we didn’t see any cars on them. Another first for us was pulling up to rest stops with food and drinks! We are so use to carrying all our own stuff that through force of habit we still had a pannier filled with almond butter, fruit and tortillas. Riding without carrying all your gear is a strange new world
One thing we did enjoy immensely was pedaling along and seeing we were traveling at a decent clip of around 15-18 mph! Much faster than our turtle like touring pace. It was good to know that beneath the piles of all our panniers, we can be pretty zippy bicyclists. On the evening of the first day, we had some wine in the beer garden and spotted a copy of the new maps of the Oregon Scenic Bikeways, which featured some of our photos form our recent trip out there.
The second day, some clouds rolled in and there was a forecast for strong winds. We got up fairly early and banged out the miles quickly but still stopped at all the rest stops (what a luxury!). We even got a tour of an old water-powered mill.
At the end of the second day, Cycle Oregon rolled out the red carpet for the cyclists at the finish. There was a balloon arch and a small squadron of cheerleaders, as well as a freezer truck full of ice-cream. Cycle Oregon Weekend was our first ever event ride and it was definitely different from what we were use to. Although the camping wasn’t quite as scenic, it felt pretty pampered to have rest stops with local volunteers serving sandwiches and fresh local fruit (if only that would happen on all our tours!). We had a great time and it was nice to have a few days where all you had to do was pedal your bike and everything else would be taken care of. With such a positive experience with the weekend ride, we hope to one day get a chance to do the full week ride and really get the full Cycle Oregon experience.
We are headed back to North Carolina! We’ve been invited by the wonderful people at the Waynesville Rotary Club to speak and ride at the Blue Ridge Breakaway! We will be giving two presentations on Friday, August 17th. One will be a Lunch and Learn for the local business community focusing on bicycle tourism and the benefits of being a bicycle friendly community. Then, later that evening we’ll be doing a kick-off presentation about some of the ups and downs of traveling on bike with lots of photos and stories from the road! And on Saturday, we’ll get to ride those beautiful roads without any gear (yay!)! So come join us for the presentation and the ride!
Nuts and Bolts
Blue Ridge Breakaway – BlueRidgeBreakaway.com
Friday, August 17th
1pm – Lunch and Learn
7pm – Friday Evening Kick-Off (Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center)
Saturday, August 18th
We are really excited about attending the event and hope to see some readers there!
Our friend Brock from The Sprocket Podcast is currently on tour and emailed us this photo the other day. It is a dry erase board from Bike Camp in Twin Bridges, Montana. I drew this little sketch nearly a YEAR ago and miraculously it has managed to not be erased all this time. “Bill” in the note is William White, the man who had the vision to create Bike Camp in Twin Bridges, Montana. It is one of the kind in the country. A purpose built structure for touring cyclists that includes a bathroom, shower, sink, repair stand, reference books and safe haven from mosquitoes. When we passed through there last year, we ran into Bill by pure luck in a coffee shop/curios store on the main drag. We spent the afternoon talking about how Bike Camp came about. He had been seeing touring cyclists passing through but not stopping in Twin Bridges. In his words, “it was like watching gold flow down the river.” He wanted to give them a a reason to stop in town so he lobbied and pulled money together (a lot of it was from his own coffers) and created Bike Camp.
In emailing Brock, he mentioned that Bill White passed away. It is strange to feel such sadness for someone we met so long ago and only spent a few hours with. But there are some people you meet that are so full of kindness, dreams and intelligence that though you only spend a few minutes or hours with them, they leave a lasting imprint on your life. Bill was one of those people. Bike Camp was a great example of his problem solving and his kindness working together. Its aim was not only to aid passing cyclists but also to give people a reason to stay and help support the economy of Twin Bridges. Though his work was localized in a small town, Bike Camp has reached and touched people from all over the US and the world. It is a beautiful and grand legacy in the guise of a humble wooden building.
A quick search on the internet and I found an obituary to William White in the Dillon newspaper. It does little justice to such a great personality. I’m a little late in learning the news but feel no less saddened by it. I thought it was important to share the news of his passing to the greater bike touring community. If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Bill White or staying at Bike Camp in Twin Bridges, Montana, please leave a comment and I will compile them and pass it on to the chamber of commerce.
Thank you Bill White, a friend to all bike tourists.
William W. White
1948 – 2012
William W. White, 64, passed away peacefully on March 30, in Logan, Utah, after a year-long fight against melanoma.
He is survived by loving family and friends around the country.
Bill grew up in Manchester, south of Akron, Ohio. The family traveled every summer, and he fell in love with the West and fly fishing.
After high school, he headed to Utah State in Logan. A career in construction came next, with many years as a contractor in Santa Fe, N.M., where he was also chief of the volunteer fire department.
In between, he returned to Logan and earned his degree. After moving to Farmington, N.M., he built The River’s Edge fishing lodge, served as host to guests, and enjoyed fishing the San Juan.
He also fulfilled a dream of getting his pilot’s license and owning a small plane, Little Bird.
Back in Logan as Western Airtrails, Bill researched, authored, and self-published two books, The Santa Fe Trail By Air: A Pilots Guide to The Santa Fe Trail ,and The Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails by Air: A Pilot’s Guide to the Emigrant Trails.
He most recently lived in Twin Bridges, where he continued to enjoy flying and fishing. With the help of friends, Bill established the Twin Bridges Bicycle Campground. (www.cyclecamp-twinbridges.com).
Before the diagnosis in January 2011, he was planning to move to Boise, Idaho, to open a school teaching do-it-yourself home remodeling.
Along his route, Bill touched many lives. He left life the way he lived it, with creativity, energy, good humor, concern for others, and the never ending curiosity about what lies around the next bend.
Bill will be missed by those who loved him, and even those who didn’t.
There will be a gathering for Bill’s friends on Sunday, April 15, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Twin Bridges Bike Camp, in Jesson Park.
Donations in memory of Bill can be made to The Friends of the Twin Bridges Library.
I recently got a chance to go on another bike camping trip with CycleWild. This one was billed as a family friendly trip and three families attended. It was great to see such a wide array of bikes from Bromptons to Yubas to bikes hauling trailers – not your typical touring steeds. I took some photos and wrote a post about the trip for BikePortland. I took a look at my footage and there wasn’t enough for a full episode, but I did want to cut a short and sweet vignette to show people what it looks/feels like to do a bike overnight especially with a family. (Vimeo version of the video)
Things have been a little quiet on the site lately, but that is because we’ve been busy getting settled in Portland. After a month and a half of couch surfing we finally moved into an apartment with a roommate. As we get situated, one of our goals is to advocate for bike travel. One component of that is making sure there are safer intercity roads for cyclists and Adventure Cycling’s US Bicycle Route System is instrumental to that end. They are doing a fundraiser this month and need your support. Since our main asset on the site is storytelling, I decided to create a real short animated video about why we support USBRS.
Organizing a project of this scale is a kin to cat herding on a national level and we’re glad that Ginny Sullivan of Adventure Cycling is taking it on. A US Bicycle Route system doesn’t just benefit bicycle tourists, but local communities as well. We saw this first hand in New Zealand with their cycle trail network. Many routes that were built for tourists were being widely used by local residents. Go to their fundraising page and support them today.
For the last few years, Seattle cyclists have always looked on with envy at BikeCraft, Portland’s bikey craft show. For the uninitiated, you could buy everything from clothing, rain capes, art prints, bike mustaches to coloring books at BikeCraft. This weekend, a few handmade bike gear makers who were tired of waiting for something to happen organized their own show, Pedaler’s Fair. Put on by Ryan from GoMeansGo and Jason, Martina and Sonia from Swift Industries , Pedaler’s Fair was Seattle’s first independent bike show outside of the very large Seattle Bike Expo. The venue was a working studio space for several makers and lent an industrial feel to the show.
In total, there were 23 very diverse vendors from some frame builders, clothing makers and even a high end furniture maker that included bicycle parts in his design. Some highlights from the show:
Haulin Colin is well known in the Seattle bike scene, particularly for his work with cargo bikes. At the show he debuted a non-destructive cycle truck conversion kit. Think of it as the Xtracycle for front loaders! We have an affinity towards cycle truck and think of them as more of an Everyman’s long-john that can still be transit friendly. This conversion kit will be something to watch in the coming months.
The beautiful and functional furniture of Independent Woodworks caught our eye. Jesse had some amazing wall mounted shelving units that held up bikes to cabinetry that had cogs as handles and crank arms as feet.
Another standout was John from HighAbove who has been working with Cuben Fiber, a sort of super fabric that is stronger and lighter than Cordura. He had on display some wares using Cuben from a “touring wallet” which weighed a scant 7.51 grams. John also had a rucksack and some classy computer cages made with an oil-cloth on the exterior. He hinted at making panniers from Cuben with carbon fiber hardware that would weigh less than an Ortlieb!
Swift Industries had their Bilenky cargo bike out with all their latest wares, including lots of multi-colored rando bags and even a brightly colored Brompton bag! One small item that I was pretty excited about was some pocket kites that Jason’s dad is making. We are big fans of bringing non-bike related items along to introduce some fun while bike touring and these pocket kites are perfect.
Another notable mention was T’s Leatherworkz. Tarik, a full-time chef and bike aficionado is just entering the bike craft industry and is making brightly colored leather fenders with rivets. They look great and last long (with some proper proofhiding) even in Seattle’s wet weather. He has a brand that he heats up on a stove at home to burn in his signature T. At $19 per flap, they are a steal!
We gave a presentation to about 30-40 people about our travels and got to meet some longtime readers. It is always a special treat when we get a chance to talk to someone who has been following for the last three years. During the event, I did some bike portraits for show attendees.
Even though it was only the first year of Pedaler’s Fair, the organizers managed to put together a really great bike event. Perhaps the true measure of its success was the diversity of cyclists that showed up. Seattle has a reputation for a really stratified bike community with very little overlap. However, at Pedaler’s Fair roadies, commuters, family bikers, cargo bikers, bike polo and fixie kids were all in the same room celebrating cycling in all its forms together. Can’t wait for next year.
On Monday, we boarded an Amtrak bus from Portland with our Bromptons – but this time we weren’t going bike camping. In fact, we left our well-worn camping gear at home, in exchange for shirts with collars and buttons and nice shoes. We were embarking on a completely different kind of bike overnight. We were going to Salem, Oregon’s capital, to the Oregon Active Transportation Summit, to give a presentation about our experience with the Otago Central Rail Trail in New Zealand to a roomful of some of the state’s brightest bike and active transportation advocates. Yes, we were a bit nervous.
We’ve been traveling more or less constantly for three years by bicycle. In that time, we have always viewed our trip through an advocacy lens. We love bikes. We love bike travel and we want more people to do it. To this end, we gave presentations across the country about the lessons we learned about bike touring. However, the more we traveled, we saw that the next logical step of the puzzle, after inspiring people to try bike touring, is to inspire businesses and rural communities to embrace bike travelers. So this week, we took our first step in the new role we hope to forge for ourselves. We are changing hats from being active bicycle tourists to advocates for bicycle travel. What this will look like, exactly, we are not quite sure. In many ways we are still winging it like we were while we were traveling. One thing we do know is that the voice of touring cyclists, especially the upcoming younger generation, has to be heard. What are their wants and needs? Is it different from the touring cyclists of 1970s? How can we make the experience better? How can we inspire communities to embrace bicycle touring? What other groups and organizations have to be engaged?
For our first public presentation with our new hats, we were in some pretty esteemed company. We shared a panel with long-time Oregon bike advocate Scott Bricker, Jerry Norquist from Cycle Oregon, and Kristin Dahl from Travel Oregon. We presented our findings from our New Zealand trip to a full room, focusing on what we thought were the successes and important lessons from the Otago Central Rail Trail.
Laura and the audience watch our video on the Otago Central Rail Trail on the big screen.
Our videos were a hit, and I think we gave everyone in the room a new vision of what bicycle travel could look like. It was stressful but it was fun and fulfilling. After the presentation, we got a chance to meet with advocates (a lot of whom were readers as well!) about our future plans. The personal highlight for me, was when I talked about the importance of transit and bicycle travel and questioned why it was so difficult to get from Portland (a super bikey city) to Bend (another bikey city) without driving. There are bus services, but they make it an absolute nightmare to take a bicycle on board. It was obvious by the crowd response that it was something that many people had thought about as well.
We’re updating from our hotel room in Salem, dead tired after two intense days of talking bikes, transit and active transportation. For those who are afraid our bike traveling days are behind us, don’t be. We still fully intend to continue to travel by bike, but now we are hoping to more fully engage the communities we are going to ride through. So stay tuned and we hope you join us on the next phase of our constantly evolving journey.
While in New Zealand we had the pleasure to talk to a few members of parliament. Perhaps one of the most vocal champions of bicycling is Kevin Hague, who also happens to be a keen bicycle tourist himself. We visited Kevin at his home in Greymouth and talked to him about his role and vision of the New Zealand Cycle Trail network. A few things emerge from the interview, the importance of making cycling cross party lines, the importance of cycling to local economies and some unexpected benefits outside of tourism that the new cycle trails are creating.
There was recently a flurry about mirrors on our Facebook Page after I posted an Amazon link to the Take-A-Look mirror. Opinions on mirrors are varied. Some swear by them, others think they are the epitome of Fred-om and a fashion abomination. Say what you will, we think they’re infinitely useful and are an underrated safety tool.