December 19, 2017
Paul Duyckinck is the newest member of the Adventure Cycling Tours Department. He has spent the past six years working in the bicycle tourism industry with companies like PAC Tour and Sockeye Cycle. Paul believes travel is best done from two wheels!
First off, how do you pronounce your last name?
The name is pronounced, DIE-kink. I’ve heard the name is Dutch, but the really old Dutch that no one uses anymore.
How did you come to find Adventure Cycling and your new position as a tours specialist?
For the past six years, I’ve been a professional transient cyclist guide. My working season has taken me all over the U.S. In between tours, I found myself traveling and picking up odd jobs when I was not guiding. No car, no mortgage, no debt ... I loved the lifestyle and all the wonderful experiences that it gave me.
During this time, I always kept my eye on cycling organizations to see if any opportunities would arise and make my two feet settle down. From reading the Adventure Cycling magazine to seeing their tours on the road, this organization has always impressed me with its cycling advocacy and community. At the right moment, I saw the tours specialist position open up last summer and thought, “Time to switch it up!” Plus, what a privilege it is to work for the leading bicycle touring organization in the U.S.
Tell us about your early experiences in the cycling world?
Bicycling was not on my radar, especially in my youth. I rode cheap bikes around my neighborhood, and that was about it. After graduation from Illinois State, I traveled for a couple months and came home to where I grew up in the Chicagoland area. My mind was set on traveling, and not on getting a nine-to-five.
After speaking with my childhood best friend, he told me his summer plan was to ride his bike across the country with his aunt and uncle. I asked if I could join in, and they said, “Sure, why not!”
His aunt and uncle ended up being Susan Notorangelo and Lon Haldeman, two of the original winners of RAAM and owners of PAC Tour, a cycling company that has been leading transcontinental rides since the 80s. With no experience or resume needed, I set off and helped 30 people ride across the country and rode about half of the ride myself. By the end of the tour, I was standing in the Atlantic Ocean and thinking that I wanted to work in the bicycle touring industry for the rest of my life.
What is a funny story from your early cycling years?
On my first tour, I was given a Brooks saddle and told it took about 500 miles to break in — a notoriously long time. After I rode my heart out on the saddle, I was shortly informed that the saddle wasn’t for me. I handed it over confusingly, and then was given a new Brooks saddle.
“Now, this saddle is for you. Go give it another 500 miles ...”
What was your first bike? And do you still have it?
The first real bike I got was an old Klein aluminum bike. It was red, which made it extra fast. I have never really been a sentimental guy, so I never held onto bikes for very long. I like to switch up the types of bikes that I ride and try out different styles.
One of my favorite bikes I had was an old trek 520 that I got from Lon and Susan, who received it from a Dutch guy after he rode it across the U.S. I took the bike to Southeast Asia for a three-month tour and ended up having the head tube break in half on the third day. Luckily, I had it braised back together and rode it for the rest of the trip. I ended up selling that bike to one of my friends in Thailand. That Trek 520 rode a good life.
Where is your favorite place that you have ever ridden?
I think that cross-country rides will always be my favorite. They feel like such a big adventure and it’s fun to look at a map and see how far you’re riding. It seems like such a long distance, but honestly, it doesn't take that long to get across. You just have to keep pedaling.
Besides those trips, Alaska and Arizona will always have a special place in my heart. I spent the past four years of my life helping run tours in those states and love the big wide open spaces that both have to offer. You can’t think of two more polar opposite places, but I will always gravitate to those spots for the rest of my life.
Photos courtesy of Paul Duyckinck.