Casey Greene planning for an adventure. Photo courtesy Casey Greene.
There is a trend afoot in bike touring to get off-road and onto dirt. It is, in many ways, the logical conclusion of several years of exploding popularity of bikepacking races like the Tour Divide, gravel events like Almanzo 100, and the continued growth of on-road bike touring. And, after all, what’s not to love about riding quite forest and country roads, in beautiful settings, away from the noise and danger of cars and trucks?
Casey Greene is doing his part to help encourage this growth of dirt riding. He is Adventure Cycling Association’s cartographer and the man behind their newly created Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route, a 750-mile dirt road and singletrack ride that links over 50 natural hot springs. I spoke to Casey about what it means to be a cartographer in the digital age, creating the Idaho Hot Springs route, his own backcountry adventures, and much more.
Lael Wilcox and Nicholas Carman on the Arizona Trail in 2013. Photo by Nicholas Carman.
The chorus to the JJ Cale song “Homeless Man” goes, “I’m not a homeless man/I’m a gypsy by trade/And I’m traveling this land/I’m not a homeless man.” It is the source from which Nicholas Carman’s blog Gypsy by Trade draws its name–an appropriate umbrella for the journals and photographs of a man who spends about half of each year exploring the world by bike.
Nicholas and his partner Lael Wilcox have toured on and off road through Europe, Canada, across the United States, on routes like the Great Divide and Kokopelli, and plenty more. They’ve structured their lives around travel, spending winters working and summers on the road. Nicholas answered my questions by email from Anchorage, Alaska where he’s currently working seven days a week at a bike shop, saving up for the next adventure. In this interview, he discusses his foray into extended bike touring, his favorite trips around the world, how he and Lael make their travel work, his evolution of thought about bike touring gear, and much more.
Ellee on tour. Photo via author’s website.
This interview with guidebook author Ellee Thalheimer was originally published in July 2012. I am reposting it to celebrate the release of her new Washington state bike touring guidebook Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-day Tours in Washington! Click here to purchase your own copy of this awesome book.
Portland, OR’s Ellee Thalheimer is an author, freelance travel writer, and avid bike tourist. Her newest book, Cycling Sojourner, is a guide to multi-day, self-supported touring in Oregon, the only one of its kind for the state. I reviewed the book last month then finally got a chance to talk to Ellee as she wrapped up her book tour and some exploratory bike touring for another potential touring guide. We spoke about her past experiences touring nationally and abroad, her background in writing, her process for Cycling Sojourner, and more.
I’m excited to announce the release of Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-day Tours in Washington! This brand new guidebook covers nine distinct tours all around Washington state, from the coast to Walla Walla’s wine region to the San Juan Islands and lots in between. In author/publisher Ellee Thalheimer’s words:
The nine tours in the book provide meticulously laid out nuts and bolts information, including cue sheets, maps, and information about weather, difficulty level, camping and lodging options and how to get to the ride’s start. Yet, the soul of the book lies in the voices of the five authors, four of whom are Washingtonians, who use storytelling, local history, and humor to elevate the book beyond just an everyday guidebook to an inspirational muse that draws out your inner adventurer.
I wrote two chapters for Cycling Sojourner. The first: an easy overnight tour from Seattle to Tolt MacDonald Park in Carnation targeted at beginner bike tourists looking to get their feet wet and experienced tourists looking for an easy escape from the city. The second: a challenging, rewarding, beautiful tour of the Olympic Peninsula. Riding the Peninsula was one of the most spectacular bike adventures I’ve ever had. I wrote a little bit about the experience for the Cycling Sojourner blog.
Interested in getting your hands on this awesome book? You can buy a copy from The Bicycle Story! Get inspired for many summer’s worth of adventures AND support The Bicycle Story’s work. It’s a win, win!
Posted in Bike Touring, Cycling Media, Everything Else
Tagged bicycle touring in washington, bike touring, bike touring guidebook, cycling sojourner, ellee thalheimer, okanogon, olympic peninsula bike tour, san juans bike tour, wala wala
Donnie Kolb at the Cowboy Dinner Tree, a restaurant along the Oregon Outback route with 30oz steaks. Photo by Gabriel Amadeus.
Simply stated, bikepacking is backpacking on a bike. Rather than using touring bikes with panniers, bikepackers use mountain bikes with frame and seat bags that allow them to maintain agility on singletrack trails. And though people have been using bikes to explore trails and dirt roads for about as long as bikes have existed, bikepacking’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past several years with new races and events popping up all over the country and long running events seeing record participation. In Oregon, Donnie Kolb is a central figure in the bikepacking world. In his own words he is, “spreading the gospel of dirt and gravel riding throughout the Pacific Northwest.” His website VeloDirt serves as a resource for bikepacking and gravel road routes throughout Oregon, a travel journal for Kolb’s adventure stories, and a hub for loosely-organized, semi-official bike events. In May, VeloDirt is putting on their largest ride yet, the Oregon Outback. It is a wild, 360-mile route tracing most of the distance of the state south to north. I spoke to Kolb about the history of VeloDirt, his love for bikepacking adventures, the unexpected popularity of the Oregon Outback, and the future of bikepacking in Oregon and beyond.