Category Archives: Bike Touring

Luc Mehl: Life, Death, and Philosophy in the Alaskan Wilderness

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Luc Mehl (right) mid-way through a 200 mile ski and packraft trip. Photo by Danny Powers.

Luc Mehl is an adventurer in the truest sense. His deepest passion is to set a course across a tract of the Alaskan wild then cover it by foot, ski, packraft, bike, and even ice skate. He documents his human-powered traverses in great detail on his website through photography, video, and writing. For the past several years, his biggest objective was to complete traverses across North America’s three tallest peaks–Denali, Logan, and Orizaba–trips that took Mehl and partners across hundreds of miles of forests, desert, glaciers, rivers, and mountain peaks for nearly a month each time. In between, he’s done dozens of smaller traverses and many summer and winter Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classics, brutal point-to-point adventure races.

Bikes played an important role on two of his “Big Three” traverses, but Mehl is not a cyclist, per se (though he loves mountain biking and recently got a fat bike). Nonetheless there are universal themes of challenge, risk, reward and satisfaction in his adventuring that transcend modes of travel. I spoke to Mehl about growing up in the Alaskan interior and his early introduction to adventuring, the logistics of 30-day wilderness trips, what he gets out of his traverses emotionally and physically, balancing the very real risk of death with the rewards of his trips, and much more.

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Free Shipping on Cycling Sojourner WA!

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For a limited time only, Cycling Sojourner ships free to U.S. customers!

Cycling Sojourner Washington is an in-depth guide to self-supported bicycle touring in Washington State. It features 9 distinct tours throughout Washington with all the info you need to set out for an adventure on two wheels. I wrote two chapters of the book and have copies available for purchase through The Bicycle Story’s store. Get a copy for yourself or give the gift of bike touring this holiday season!

Alastair Humphreys: Epic Adventures are for Ordinary People

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British Professional adventurer Alastair Humphreys. Photo by Alastair Humphreys.

For most of us, the idea of a months- or years-long expedition feels like an unrealistic dream. Maybe an extended bike tour or thru hike across mountains is appealing, but we convince ourselves it’s what other people do. It’s for someone with more time, more money, more expertise, special circumstances. If Alastair Humphreys is to be believed, however, adventurers are just ordinary people who put a departure date on the calendar and stick to their guns. Given that his accomplishments include riding his bike around the world on a four year tour, rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, walking across India, hiking and packrafting across Iceland, and dragging a specially-built cart across the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter desert, he’s probably a credible source.

Recently, Humphrey’s has worked hard to elevate the notion that adventuring is for everyone by encouraging people to take microadventures. Microadventures are meant to be easy and accessible for all. Leave from work, sleep on a hill under the stars somewhere just outside of the city, get back in time for your morning meeting. For his efforts advocating for everyday adventuring, National Geographic named him a 2012 Adventurer of the Year. I spoke with Humphrey’s about his lifetime of travels, the inspiration for pedaling around the world, how he’s managed to make this into a career, why people should take microadventures, and much more.

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SEA to PDX with the Boyz on the Hoods

The Boyz on the Hoods are a crew of bike camping and randonneuring dudes from northern California. This summer they spent five days touring from Seattle to Portland on back roads through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Some of their route overlapped with my own 7 day dirt road tour from Portland to Seattle in August. They made a little video that really highlights the beauty of the Northwest and the fun of bike touring with your friends.

Dan Malloy: Slow is Fast When You’re Surfing by Bike

Bike ride with Dan and friends.
Kellen Keene, Dan Malloy, and Kanoa Zimmerman on the Slow is Fast surf tour. Photo by Kanoa Zimmerman.

Dan Malloy’s surf career began in typical fashion. He started competing in and winning contests as a teenager and eventually attracted the attention of big name sponsors such as Billabong and Hurley. That sponsorship lead to a cycle of world travel for contests, photo shoots, and video filming. For Malloy it was an exciting and privileged experience, but one that also led to serious burn out. He quit competing in the early 2000s, concerned that contests were killing his love for surfing. He continued traveling extensively filming videos, doing photo shoots, and working as a brand ambassador and product developer for Patagonia. In the process he evolved into something of a professional surf nomad with near-constant trips to standard surf destinations such as Indonesia, Hawaii, and Mexico and breaks as far flung as Liberia and Antarctica.

Now 36, Malloy has settled down a bit, at least by his standards. He and his wife have a small working farm with goats and produce in Ojai, California. But he still finds time for surf adventures. In September 2012, Malloy and two friends, Kellen Keene and Kanoa Zimmerman spent two months bike touring down the coast of California surfing and staying with farmers and artisans along the way. From that trip they created Slow is Fast, a book and film that document the surfing, riding, and people they met. I spoke to Malloy about the ups and downs of a surf trip on two wheels, the unique perspectives bike touring provides, lessons learned from his time with farmers and artisans who live intentionally, the possibility of future bike and surf trips, and much more.

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