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Photo by Colt Fetters
Even today, more than 30 years after his death in 1982, you're likely to hear the name "Clarence Pickard" mentioned with reverence by a fellow cyclist or two if you brave the crowds, July humidity, and miles of cornfields to ride the Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI).
As detailed in a past "Waypoints" column in Adventure Cyclist magazine, an Adventure Cycling member by the name of Jeff Nussbaumer has researched and mapped a new high-altitude fat-tire route in Colorado. He calls it Ride Along the Divide, or RAD. A guidebook to the route, titled Ride Along the Divide: A High Elevation Mountain Bike Route, was published by Jeff in 2013. (Full disclosure: He asked me to write the Foreword to the book, and I consented.)
Vélo Québec's La Route Verte ("The Green Route") has been described as "The best bicycle route in the world." A bold claim, indeed.
I'd like to share a pair of slide shows involving the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail that I personally can't get enough of. Both of them I first found three or four years ago.
One of the things I most enjoy about my association with Adventure Cycling is the fascinating stories I often get to hear or read. Consider the following, a correspondence sent recently by a fellow named Nick.
A few days ago it came to my attention that VeloPress, the book-publishing arm of the bicycle-racing journal VeloNews, has issued a pair of new titles that could help cyclists and aficionados of other outdoor activities reach their 2010 athletic goals. Alternatively, if you have no such goals, one of these books might help you think of some.
As I write this, snow covers the ground outside my window and the thermometer reads an absurd 20 degrees below zero. The cycling season has come to a screeching halt, obviously; now, however, the dreaming and planning wheels are spinning up to speed.
Two of my favorite topics are 1) bicycling and 2) rock 'n' roll music (going all the way back to the '50s). That's why I'm making it a personal mission to compile a list of rock 'n' roll songs that delve into the subject of bicycling. But I need some help, because so far my list is woefully short.
The Rough Stuff Fellowship is a poetically named organization in Great Britain whose beginnings date to 1955. On the home page of their website, they point at that this was "long before anyone had heard of Marin County."
When it comes to self-propelled travel, there's no reason to stick to a single mode of getting from point A to point B. Consider, for instance, travel writer and Chicago resident Ted Villaire's recent 10-day trip along the western shores of Michigan, which he made by bicycle and kayak.
Adventure Cycling member Bob Youker of Bethesda, Maryland, is a former World Bank employee and current cheerleader of all things rail-trail. He emails me on a fairly regular basis, telling me about trails he's recently ridden and urging me to promote them. I guess his efforts work, because here I go ...
Remember that classic country song by Crystal Gayle, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?" You don't? Oh well, regardless, in a twist on its title, in Michigan they could soon be singing, "Don't it make my blue roads green?"
Last week I received an email containing the link to an intriguing story in Scientific American, titled "How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road." According to the author, Linda Baker, "In the U.S., men’s cycling trips surpass women’s by at least 2:1. This ratio stands in marked contrast to cycling in European countries, where urban biking is a way of life and draws about as many women as men — sometimes more.
If expeditionary travel by bicycle ever had its own version of Sir Edmund Hillary, I would have to say it was the late Ian Hibell (HIGH-bell). Ian, small in stature but huge in spirit, was killed by a hit-and-run motorist in Greece in August of 2008 while on a "training ride" from his home in Britain for a planned trip to Tibet.
When you see or hear the words "Laramie, Wyoming," the first thing that comes to mind might be things like guns, horses, and classic westerns—say, The Man from Laramie, a great 1955 shoot-'em-up starring Jimmy Stewart.
Earlier this month, the first eight miles of a planned system of more than 40 miles of separated bicycle and pedestrian pathways (and enhanced road shoulders) opened in Grand Teton National Park. The completed stretch of pathway connects the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Moose with the bustling south Jenny Lake area.
In September 2005 my wife Nancy and I joined a few hundred other riders in the 8th annual Mickelson Trail Trek in South Dakota. The George S. Mickelson Trail — or "the Mick" for short — is a 114-mile rail-trail connecting Edgemont near the south end of the Black Hills with Deadwood in the north.
Two of Adventure Cycling's most popular and talked-about routes are the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. The Great Divide, the longest mountain-bike route in the world, is legendary for the wild, high places it leads bikepackers to and through; the Underground Railroad is more storied for its cultural significance: it takes riders from the Deep South along a route that freedom-seeking slaves might have followed to find sanctuary in Canada in the pre-Civil War days.
You might be interested in taking a look at the cover story I wrote, on behalf of Adventure Cycling, for the current issue of the Seattle-based Bicycle Paper. In Prepping for the Big Tour, I begin by relating my own first experience getting ready for a big ride.
A friend of mine from Wyoming is trying to persuade me to travel to Nova Scotia for a bike trip this fall. I've heard great things about that Maritime Province and its cycling opportunities—but that's about the extent of it. (Actually, I did visit there when I was very young, on vacation with my family, but I remember zippo about it.)
We're not sure about the genesis of the term "bikepacking," but we at Adventure Cycling have been using it off and on since the beginng days of Bikecentennial, and that includes utilizing it extensively to describe the type of riding you'll find on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
Back in October of 2002 (it was spring south of the equator) I had the pleasure of joining approximately 300 other bicyclists on "2002 Bicycles: An Outback Odyssey." The ride followed South Australia's Mawson Trail, a Great Divide-like mountain biking route that traces two-tracks, dirt roads, and occasional singletrack trails and stretches of pavement. It begins in the state capital of Adelaide and winds north for about 500 miles to the outback town of Blinman, near the spectacular—or, as the Aussies would say, "specky"— Flinders Ranges National Park.
Pretty much everyone in North America is familiar with rail-trails, which follow abandoned railroad grades and are used by cyclists, hikers, in-line skaters, and other recreationists. Sometimes hard surfaced and other times claiming surfaces of crushed limestone or even dirt, rail-trails run where the tracks used to run, before they and the ties were pulled out. More and more these days we're hearing about rails-with-trails, which refer to recreational trails running alongside, but a safe distance from, active rail lines.
Several weeks ago I received an email from Oriol Molinos, who lives in Spain. He wrote to say this:"In two weeks I'm going to do a 2,200-kilometer bike trip on the TransAndalus trail in Andalucia, in southern Spain. It's not as long as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route but it is quite a long one by our standards. The work has been done by some Andalucia cyclists, and all the information, including tracks, maps, and roadbooks, are in a PDF to be downloaded free of charge."
Hi, I'm Michael (better known as 'Mac') McCoy, Adventure Cycling's media specialist. This column is one of several we at the organization are launching to coincide with the arrival of spring — which, of course, heralds the beginning of the cycling season in so much of North America.