Some people will go great distances to find epic adventures. Others find that bikes can make everyday adventures epic. Spend a few minutes talking with Josh Rizzo and you’ll understand why “short trips are more fun.” You might also want to move to Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
For 20 years, Josh has been a year-round cyclist. Now with three young children literally in tow, he is passionate about microadventures on two wheels.
“For me, it’s about making simple things extra fun,” Josh says. “I probably get out on ten short rides every week. My family goes everywhere. We like to get ice cream. So we bike to get ice cream. We like going to the park. So we bike to the park.”
“I tell people to think about the content of the adventures more than the numbers of the adventure. We pack lots of snacks, chairs, and hammocks. We take it easy and bring the adventure with us. And eat lots of snacks!”
Josh was instantly hooked on Adventure Cycling’s annual Bike Travel Weekend. He now leads an annual 22-mile family-friendly ride through forests and the beautiful hills of Wisconsin. They end the day with farm-to-fork wood-fired pizza, beer, and camping at Dancing Yarrow.
“I definitely consider myself an Adventure Cycling Ambassador. We love to get out together and bring new people along,” he says.
For this year’s Bike Travel Weekend, Josh led four families with seven children and traveled a not-very-record-breaking 4.5 miles per hour.
“We’re not fast and serious,” he says. “We give people options. Some want the adventure of camping, but some want to bike and have pizza and go home. And that sounds wonderful, too. We have a blast.”
Over the last few years, Josh reconnected with an old college friend, Garrett Denney, after the two both learned they had cycling and fatherhood in common. The two friends gathered a group for a bike-to-yurt trip as well as a bikepacking expedition to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Josh and Garrett also co-led a family-friendly ride for Bike Your Park Day. The adventure started at the popular SHIFT Cyclery and Coffee Bar.
“It’s a ride totally geared toward families,” Josh says. “I’ve got kids and Garrett’s got kids, and we pulled a Burley and a Trail-A-Bike. We rode slow, and we just went up and down a state park trail that follows the Chippewa River. Not real long, not real hard. But it was a fun closing ride for the season. Well, not for me, cause I bike all year.”
When Josh isn’t hooking up Burleys or doling out snacks for the kids, he can often be found at work on his grandma’s sewing machine making quick access stem bags. The hobby grew quickly into the business and brand The Nxrth. Josh jokes that his own stem bags are filled with gummy bears, but the sacks also make a great space for wallets, keys, phones, and a granola bar.
“I’ve always loved backpacks, bike bags, and stuff sacks and the idea of bringing a little adventure kit wherever you go,” said Josh in his vlog “Grandma’s Sewing Machine.”
Josh’s favorite pack to create so far was a special request. His five-year-old son Rowen requested a fanny pack with every color in Josh’s fabric library.
At this busy time in Josh's life, epic rides are rare, but he doesn’t mind.
“It’s fun to explore close,” Josh says. “I like to find my favorite routes and do them again. And bring new people each time. That’s why we go to the same pizza farm for Bike Travel Weekend every year.”
He’s also been thinking about creative ways to get out of town for an evening, inspired by the new Bike Overnights short routes.
“It’s got me thinking about how from noon to noon you could sneak in a sweet bike overnighter. Get away in a beautiful area that has lots of camping options,” he says. “That’s been really fun to discover and talk with locals about old logging roads in our county’s wilderness area.”
Josh credits his grandma’s sewing machine and making bags for opening the door to everyday adventures. Josh lives by the Sir Edmund Hillary quote, “I have found the long expeditions are rarely as much fun as short ones.”