August 13, 2012
If you get a tour of the Adventure Cycling headquarters in Missoula, I'm your last stop. I sit upstairs, on the far end of the building and I spend most of my time staring at a computer, wearing headphones. Lots of times I'm listening to This American Life, because then it feels like I'm actually interacting with humans.
Please don't get me wrong, I more than love my job. (I can't believe I've already been here a year!) Getting to do graphic design for one of Outside's "Best Places to Work" is a dream come true. But my Monday through Friday seat makes me love working on Saturdays and talking with cycling enthusiasts.
During the cycling season, Adventure Cycling is open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. We have two staff members here to give you information about the organization, show you around the building, help you buy stuff, and offer you ice cream!
I've worked two of our recent Saturdays and it was incredible. We had 97 people visit in those eight hours of operation! The following people (and many more) graced our office...
• A trio of hilarious men from Boston trying to make purchases for each other (for their upcoming trip) while simultaneously trying to stop the other two from buying them anything. "I'm ganna buy these for thems. Don't let them buy me nothin'!"
• A cyclist from Japan that wanted me to help him figure out how to wear his new bandana.
• Two first time long-distance touring cyclists who had their third companion recently crash. Now they're waiting out his full recovery in Missoula and loving every moment of their time here. I later saw them while I was tubing on the river. (Small world!)
• Locals wanting to see our new expansion.
And there were many more cyclists and non-cyclist visitors, but the most memorable was Paul VanDevelder. Paul was so excited to be in the building. He hadn't been inside Adventure Cycling since 1976, when he was part of the staff, working in the Publications Department. Back then we were Bikecentennial.
"Oh, no way!" I told him, "I work in the Publications Department now."
"This is unreal. We worked in a space as big as your Cyclist's Lounge and worked for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," Paul replied.
"Wanna see where the Publications Department is now?"
As we were walking, I first took him to our conference room to show him some of the Bikecentennial photos.
"Yep, that was us. Wow. This is such a trip."
And then pointing to this photo,
Paul said, "Ahh, the Tetons. I love them so much."
"Me too," I agreed. "I lived there for five years. That's where I moved from when I came here."
"Yeah, I lived in Jackson when I was pretty young. I worked for the Jackson Hole Guide."
"No way! So did I!"
Years apart, we both worked for the same publication; the same newspaper. We really couldn't get over it. Our lives seemed to be paralleling one another's, decades apart.
I finished up the tour and we continued to exchange stories of Jackson, of Adventure Cycling, Bikecentennial, the Jackson Hole News & Guide, and the life in between and onward. We couldn't help but get each other's business cards, excited to keep in touch.
A friend joked with me, saying, "You should find out where he worked after Bikecentennial so you know where you're going to end up next!"
I laughed, but I'm not going anywhere for a good, long while. I love working here and, even more so, I love connecting with the community of Adventure Cycling.
The two photos used are photos of photos originally photographed by Dan Burden.