May 24th, 2018
Since 2014 I’ve done at least one long bike and music tour per year. This year I’m riding the GDMBR to help celebrate its 20th anniversary. I want to play free shows along the way to give thanks to all the people and communities who continue to support this iconic route.
Last summer I was in the middle of a tour across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula performing shows and using primarily dirt routes to connect venues. On one particular day, I had been riding a series of snowmobile trails and unimproved logging roads. I had stopped on a bridge for a snack in the rain. Sitting on a stump looking at my bike covered in mud I realized very few people had a sense of what my life had become. Riding 100 miles a day carrying a banjo and a guitar through the woods playing shows.
I started wondering what it would look like if these tours could reach more people. What if I rode a route that was more known? But then, why would I want more people to know? Was it about my ego needing to be recognized and validated? Or was it about something bigger?
Performing music by bike has always been about something bigger. It’s about saying yes to life. Making the time, taking the risks and plunging into the unknowns. It’s been about pushing my limits both physical and mental. To challenge the existing stories for what an authentic life can look like. To intertwine my art with my passion for the natural world and bicycles.
In a sense these tours have become a way for me to offer a living example that you don’t have to work a job you don’t love, you don’t have to put off your sense of adventure. You can make it all how you want it to be and you can go live it right this very moment.
It was on this bridge that I decided to ride the GDMBR in 2018. I intuited that the community and networks surrounding the route would help my story reach more people, which in term would help more people increase the amount of adventure in their lives.
To begin my planning process for Music for Free, I had a long call with my friend and fellow Salsa Cycles rider Jay Petervary. We both laid out all the Adventure Cycling maps on our floors and went over all potential communities where I could stop for a concert. I then used all the resources in the ACA maps to begin contacting people and was overwhelmed by the responses I got from places like the Whitefish Bike Retreat, Ovando, Pie Town, Del Norte, Steamboat, Brush Mountain and more.
What all the front end work has yielded is a 31-day tour with about 16 scheduled shows in just under 3000 miles. It’s a huge undertaking and I am grateful to have the company of my friend and filmmaker Keenan Desplanques who is joining me with his camera to ensure that we are able to capture all the incredible stories of the people we meet along the way.
I view Keenan and me as part listeners and part messengers. I want to focus on what makes these communities along the GDMBR so unique and what makes the people who live in them so resilient. The people who live in these communities who are providing places for us to perform, and who continue to support riders on this iconic route, they are the heroes of Music for Free.
When you do the things that you are meant to do the universe conspires to keep you on that path. If your dream is to do a one night, one year or anywhere in between bikepacking trip or anything of the sort, start moving towards that with little steps. Look at maps, make lists, ask questions, set yourself up for success, say yes, let the adventure show you that you are capable of meeting it!
Super fun seeing the first round of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route riders come through this year! It’s always inspiring to meet all the interesting folks from all over this world who choose to ride the whole 2768.4 miles from Banff, CA to Antelope Wells, NM, or even a smaller section of it, whether at breakneck speed or at their own leisurely pace. These two are traveling with a banjo, guitar, filming gear and great big smiles on their faces. They’ll be bringing their music and storytelling to @whitefishbikeretreat MONDAY evening, June 10th. And check out @benweavermusic and @keenandesplanques ‘s Music For Free project that they’re doing in honor of the ride’s 20th year @adventurecycling . Riders, anything we can do to help along the way, please stop in and just ask. -HA) #musicforfree #greatdividemountainbikeroute #gdmbr #homesteadcrew ????????????????
June 11, 2018
Thank you @benweavermusic for landing on our Ridge Deck tonight - beautiful way for you to share your music with our community! Ben leaves tomorrow to continue to ride south on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route - next stop is Missoula for more music and story telling!!! ##whitefishbikeretreat #bikeretreat #salsacycles #adventurecyclingassociation #adventurecycling #explorewhitefish #flatheadareamountainbikers #outsiety #visitmt #visitmontana #glaciercyclery #glaciercountry #bikepacker #bikepack #bikepacking #freehubmag #dirtragmag
Ben Weaver back on the road again pedaling south - so just try to imagine what is like riding or racing the Tour Divide and then try to imagine riding the route with 2 instruments! These guys are BEASTS!!! #explorewhitefish #whitefishbikeretreat #bikeretreat #salsacycles #adventurecyclingassociation #bikepacking #bikepacker #visitmt #visitmontana #glaciercountry #glaciercyclery #flatheadareamountainbikers #outsiety #freehubmag #dirtragmag #adventurecycling #benweavermusic @salsacycles @adventurecycling @benweavermusic
... Had another great show in Silverthorne tonight / catch us tomorrow in Salida @subculturecyclery #musicforfree thanks @keenandesplanques for taking such great shots ... @salsacycles @ospreypacks @adventurecycling @hedwheels @onyxracing @cedaero @kates_real_food @ridge_merino @bigagnes_ @rubyroasters @wolf_tooth_comp @redtablemeatco @swrve_la @klite_dynamo_power @angrycatfish @bentpaddlebeer
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