After an eye-opening talk with Bill White, the man who rallied the community of Twin Bridges together to erect the nation’s first ever Bike Camp, we’ve been thinking a lot about bicycle touring and its effects on small towns. He started Bike Camp as a means to get touring cyclists to stay in town and to benefit the local economy. He became enamored with the many stories of passing cyclists but also saw an opportunity for the town of Twin Bridges to benefit from hungry and tired bike tourists riding through.
For Bill, it was simple. To not do something to keep the cyclists in town was like “watching gold flow down the river.” So he dreamed up Bike Camp and raised the funds and community support to see it happen. It was such a simple insight, but one that we as bike tourists always clamor for. Show us a modicum of bike friendliness and we’ll be eternally grateful. Heck, we’ll even spend money in your town.
This got me thinking about our spending habits and how it would be different if we were in a car. We’re pretty average as far as touring cyclists, shooting for about 50 miles a day. Far enough to move through the landscape, but slow enough to do some fishing and eat some pie. Because of our limited distance per day and the massive amounts of calories we’re expending a day we eat a lot and require a place to overnight (camp, RV park, motel, etc.,).
I began thinking of how our spending habits would be different if we were driving. Take a 200 mile road trip. It would be easily accomplished within a day in an automobile. You’d probably stop for lunch, refill the gas tank along the way and get dinner and lodging at your final destination. You might pass a handful of small towns along the way, but since you’re moving so fast and not expending any calories, chances are you probably won’t stop unless you have to use the bathroom. Those small towns would just be a blur from inside your car.
Take that same 200 mile stretch and think of how a bike tourist would move through the landscape. If they’re 50-mile-a-day cyclists like us, they would require 4 nights of lodging or camping. Because we’re constantly burning calories, that same trip would require 12 meals or snacks in between (either cooked with food bought from local markets or meals at the local eateries). We would definitely stop in every town to refill water bottles, stock up on food, use the restroom and spend the night.
Given the same 200 mile stretch, a touring cyclist will make more of an economic impact on the small towns along the way than a person driving in a car. Now imagine, if small towns across the country welcomed cyclists by offering simple accommodations like the Bike Camp, especially those along Adventure Cycling routes. Not only would it benefit cyclists, but small towns would benefit as well with a constant stream of tired and hungry bike tourists coming through town. The more accommodations, the more people touring, the more people spending money in small towns.
It’s a dream for sure. But after seeing Bike Camp, in Twin Bridges and talking to Bill, we had a momentary glimmer of what bike tourism could be.
Just a goofy video of us going down Big Hole pass into Wisdom, MT. The road had little traffic and was straight as an arrow in parts. I let it go and hit 42mph with the fully loaded Brompton!
Just a quick micro-post to let you all know where we are at. Internet has been a little scarce in Montana. After a relaxing week in Missoula we set off towards Bozeman. We crossed the Continental Divide yesterday at about 7200 feet, the tallest pass (so far) on the little wheels. It was a challenge with headwinds, multiple flats and even a tire blow out. The next few days will take us through Jackson, Dillon, Twin Bridges and Bozeman (hopefully by the end of the week).
The sky seems infinitely bigger on this side of the divide.
In this video, we make it out of the Wallowa mountains and land in Joseph, OR. While there, we have the opportunity to spend a day with Dan Price, author of Radical Simplicity and The Moonlight Chronicles. Dan has been living the “simple life” for decades before minimalist bloggers (heck, before blogs!) and 100 thing challenges. True to his word, he lives simply in Hobbit home and gives us a tour of the meadow.
I got a flat just as we rolled into Missoula and we decided to make a little instructional video out of it. I share some tube patching secrets and wrestle on the TIGHT Brompton tire on and win….just barely : )
We’ve been getting a ton of questions about how we’ve attached backpacks to the the Bromptons. We’re using a pretty lo-fi solution, a dowel and some leather toe straps but it seems to work pretty well. We had some down time at Lolo hot springs so we made a short little video there and uploaded it from a little motel in Missoula, a few blocks away from Adventure Cycling HQ. Enjoy!
Updating from a hotel room in Lewiston, ID. We’ve FINALLY left Oregon but I’m still editing footage from there. It has been a challenge the last few days to find an ideal environment to edit videos (ie. electricity, WiFi and shade). We’ve been doing a lot of climbing and sometimes there’s barely enough energy to eat dinner and set up the tent, much less piece a narrative together. That said, I’m really pleased with our video on Baker City. We happened to be in the right place at the right time with some fun and interesting things going on! From here, we’re pushing into the mountains again with Lolo Pass looming ahead of us. We hope to be in Missoula next week and will take a few days off to catch up on videos and posts.
Updating from the Knight’s Inn in Baker City, OR. We’ve decided to take a few rest days in the cute town of Baker to get caught up on some posts and videos. In our latest video, we leave the Crooked River and hop on the Adventure Cycling Trans America route in Prineville, OR. We go up our first extended climb on the Bromptons and experience an absolutely wonderful descent into the tiny town of Mitchell where we camp in the city park!
In case you missed it, we’re finally ready to hit the road! Six weeks, to the day, from when we had planned to head out, my ankle is finally strong enough and we are heading East! (And we are very excited!) We made a few adjustments to our original plans, based on some connections we’ve made over the past few weeks, and we wanted to share our (tentative) route with you all.
While it would have been a beautiful route, we have decided to forego our original plan of leaving Portland via the Columbia Gorge. In our conversations with folks at Cycle Oregon and TravelOregon, we’ve heard so much about initiatives to entice cycle tourists to Eastern Oregon towns. We decided that we had to check this out for ourselves, and share our findings with you all!
So, from Bend, we will be heading East along (mostly) the ACA TransAm route. Since we love to freestyle our route planning, we are open to diversions, but it seems like a great way to get from Bend to Eastern Oregon to Missoula (which we know we want to be our next big stop). If you happen to be in or around Eastern Oregon or Central Idaho (along the TransAm route), or you know of something amazing that we should see or experience or people we should talk to, drop us a line. It looks like we’ll be headed through Prineville, Mitchell, Dayville, Mt Vernon, John Day, and Prairie City (Oregon), before rolling into Baker City for a few days. Then, we’ll likely continue on through Cambridge, Council, New Meadows, Grangeville (Idaho) and up and over Lolo Pass into Missoula.
Our Big Adventure on Small Wheels is finally ready to roll, and we’re thrilled to have you all along for the ride!
Even though Laura’s ankle is still healing, we’re not letting it stop us from having some bike adventures. Like Amtrak, regional bus systems can be a great way to augment bicycle travel. In this video, we take the very bicycle friendly The Wave bus out of downtown Portland to Tillamook. From there we stay at a bicycle friendly hostel in Rockaway Beach. Along the way, we eat beef jerky, bubblegum ice cream, feed fish and camp at the amazing Cape Lookout hiker/bike site.