I’m in so deep now, I’m pretty certain there’s no way out of this mess.
Growing up, I always thought that all I wanted to do was ride my bike. It started with little kid bikes, progressed to a sting-ray type with chopper bars and banana seat and there was even a take-apart bike called a Voyager that was more than a take-apart … it broke apart. So my first “Ten-Speed” came into my life after combining a summer’s worth of wages from working at a boy scout camp with cash from a couple weeks of bailing hay at a friend’s farm. That green Dunelt changed everything.
Over the years, there have been many bikes and many adventures, beginning with a 1000 mile solo tour at age 16 on that Dunelt, later sharing tours with my wife Karen …
… and since the Spring of 2015, as a tour leader for both Adventure Cycling Association and Wilderness Voyageurs. I’ve discovered that “retirement” isn’t. I’m more committed to my new gig than any prior career path, and I think I’ve found my place. After my first year as a tour leader, my local bike club awarded KAREN (not me) recognition for putting up with my being gone and on the road half of the year, and it seems that dynamic continues to today.
I decided to get a new bike for “work”. Given the demands of the places I’ll be going in 2018 combined with a need to minimize paying attention to MY needs, and focusing on my “peeps”, I had a super-tough and reliable machine built up by Co-Motion, based in Eugene Oregon. Co-Motion has a rep for making the best tandem bicycles anywhere, and the inherent toughness of a tandem applies to the single touring bikes they build as well.
Dwan and company took the finished bike to display at the 2018 North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show in Hartford Connecticut, and I was able to bring it home after the show. (That was the longest drive home ever!) I guess I wasn’t the only one excited about the bike as it even caught the eye of the Radavist.
So, where to in 2018?
Two Adventure Cycling gigs, almost back to back. Both are Dream Tours, but they couldn’t be more different. First up is a brand new 8 day Inn-to-Inn tour in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah. I’d love to invite you along, but it’s sold out. In fact, we originally only had ONE run of this tour planned, but had to set up a second because the first sold out in just a few days! If you’ve ever been to that neck of the woods, you’d understand why. Follow me (us) on Instagram when we get going, and you’ll get it too.
Not long after we finish that tour, I need to get to Missoula Montana for the next gig: The North Star! Yeah. Really. Alaska. By bicycle!
Some of our friends know the story here. Karen and I always wanted to ride to Alaska. Figure 6 months from Rochester, up and back. Damn … we liked our jobs, and didn’t want to quit. And it seemed that the North Star tour that began in the ’80’s was unused … maybe abandoned … was no more. Scratch that idea. So, we did it on a motorcycle instead.
Imagine my reaction when I was asked to lead the new and improved North Star this year for Adventure Cycling! Dreams come true after all!
Switching gears … from a nice lightweight (almost luxury) Inn-to-Inn tour; the next gig is a real toughie. Two months on the road. Mostly camping. Some of it “wild” camping. Hundreds of miles of back dirt roads. Hundreds more with little to no services.
Mosquitos. “There’s not a single mosquito in Alaska. They’re all married, and have very large families.”
The Icefields Parkway … Cassiar Highway … Dawson City Yukon … DENALI NATIONAL PARK!
(And I just picked up my Senior Park Pass this year! Whoo-hoo!)
Sounds like a Plan!
With only three weeks off between the two gigs, I can’t justify asking the boss to pay travel costs back home, then right back out west again to Missoula. Seems silly. Especially since I could use that time to “commute” between Grand Junction and Missoula and see some really cool, yet very remote regions in between. I’m figuring 900 miles and a couple weeks to get to Gig #2. With the 300+ miles of Gig#1 and 2700+ miles of Gig#2 tacked on, this little adventure should end up close to 4000 miles in 3 months, all in one shot on the new bike!