Steve “Doom” Fassbinder is a bad-ass adventurer who combines mountain biking, rock climbing, and pack rafting to explore deep into desert, mountain, and coastal wilds. His trips require the sort of endurance and suffering that tend to either leave you in awe or scratching your head wondering why. Steve and I talked about his motivations to keep pushing his personal limits, as well as how he got into this sort of adventuring in the first place, his proudest moments, balancing risk and reward, teaching the next generation of adventurers, and a whole lot more.
Our theme music is by Will McKindley Ward.
Photo credit: Andrew Burr
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Posted in Adventure, Bike Touring, Mountain Biking, The Podcast
Tagged adventure, alaska lost coast trip, bike packing, devo explorers, doom, mike curiak, mountain biking, pack rafting, packrafting, steve "doom" fassbinder, steve fassbinder
Though The Bicycle Story is four years old, 2014 was a bit of a rebirth for the site. For the past couple of years, the project took a serious backseat to my day job, other obligations, life in general. This year, with the flexibility of full-time freelance journalism, The Bicycle Story was once again a high priority. We published new interviews nearly every week, readership grew, and fascinating bike people shared their valuable perspectives on adventuring in far off places; the growth of American cyclocross; women and Afghani tribal politics; long distance randonneuring; race and poverty’s intersection with urban biking, and so much more. It was a good year.
Year-end retrospective lists are kind of hokey and as much an attempt to squeeze a few more page views out of recycled content as anything. But they also provide a moment for valuable reflection on the year. Looking at The Bicycle Story’s top 10 most-read interviews of 2104 helps sheds some light on what you love to read and some of The Bicycle Story’s coverage gaps. This year’s most read are:
- Austin Horse: From Courier to Career Adventurer
- Nicholas Carman: Pedaling the World as a Gypsy by Trade
- Cosmo Catalano: The Snarky, Outsider Voice of Professional Racing
- Dan Malloy: Slow is Fast When You’re Surfing by Bike
- Casey Greene: Mapping the Future of Bike Touring
- Ed Ewing: Race, Equity, and Empowerment by Bike
- Mary Gersemalina: Coffeeneuring, Community, and Some Seriously Long Rides
- Mike Curiak: Finding the Edge of Human Endurance
- Jeremy Powers: Life at the Top of American Cyclocross
- Mike McGinn: Fighting Bikelash with Seattle’s Former Mayor
It’s not surprising that more than half of the year’s most popular interviews feature bike adventurers. Austin Horse parlayed the popularity of bike messengering into opportunities to travel the world and ride. Nicholas Carman scrimps and saves for half the year, then spends six months touring around the world. Pro surfer Dan Malloy rode the coast of California surfing along the way. Mike Curiak’s wilderness adventures are both impressive and a little terrifying. It’s inspiring to read about other peoples’ adventures. I know I’ll never do a 1200km ride like Mary Gersemalina or follow Curiak’s tire tracks across Alaska’s Lost Coast, but reading their stories gets the gears turning about what’s possible on two wheels.
It’s exciting that several of the other most popular interviews are about bike advocacy. Biking-as-transportation in the U.S. has a lot of momentum right now. Cities are recognizing the need for better infrastructure. More people than ever are getting around by bike. But, there are still huge gaps in our infrastructure networks, far too many people are dying on the road, and there’s real inequity between those neighborhoods that support bicycling and those that don’t. It’s helpful to tap into the insight of advocates such as Ed Ewing and former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn to think about the problems we’ve solved and the fights yet to come.
From the outset, The Bicycle Story’s mission was to capture the incredible breadth of the bike world. There are so many people involved in bicycling for so many different reasons. And while I’m proud of the project’s work in service of that mission thus far, I recognize that there’s a ton of room for improvement. It’s telling that eight of the 10 most read interviews of 2014 are with white men. I will work harder in the coming year to elevate a broader range of voices.
Thanks so much for reading. You, the readers, make The Bicycle Story possible and I thank you for your support. Looking ahead, I’ve got a few plans in the works to help reflect The Bicycle Story’s growth and evolution. Keep your eyes peeled for details soon. In the meantime, keep coming back weekly for great interviews with the best adventurers, advocates, racers, industry insiders, and frame builders the bike world has to offer.
Happy New Year. See you in 2015!
Posted in Everything Else, Interviews
Tagged austin horse, bike advocacy, bike interviews, casey greene, cosmo catalano, cycling interviews, Cyclocross, dan malloy, ed ewing, jeremy powers, mary gersemalina, mayor mike mcginn, mike curiak, nicholas carman
Mike Curiak at an Iditarod race in Alaska. Photo by Chris McLennan.
From the early rebels racing down the Repack to today’s craziest freeriders flipping off massive cliffs, every era of mountain biking has needed pioneering figures to push the boundaries of what’s possible on a bike. In endurance racing, Mike Curiak was one of those key people who helped define just how long and far the human body can go on a mountain bike. He is best known for his exploits at Alaska’s brutal Iditaraces. Over his 17 year race career, he won numerous iterations of the 225-mile Iditasport and 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational, set a course record on the 1,100-mile Iditasport Impossible, and later completed the 1,100-mile race fully self-supported. He also helped organize the first successful Great Divide race, won the Kokopelli Trail Race, and was a nominee for the mountain bike hall of fame among other palmares.
Curiak retired from racing almost 10 years ago after winning the 2005 Iditarod Trail Invitational. These days he says he’s focused more on fun, though it’s his version of fun, i.e. multi-day bikepacking trips that require packrafting across lakes and down rivers and other adventures like that. He’s also focused on his well established Lace Mine 29 wheel-building business. I spoke to Curiak before he set off on a three-week packrafting trip through the Grand Canyon. We talked about his early entry into endurance racing, endless laps on 24-hour race courses, his experience racing in Alaska, helping create the Great Divide race, his disappointment with the direction endurance racing has gone recently, and much more.
Posted in Adventure, Interviews, Mountain Biking
Tagged 29er, endurance mountain bike racing, fat biking, great divide mountain bike race, iditarod, iditasport, kokopelli, lace mine 29, mike curiak, mountain bike pioneer, packrafting, snow biking, tour divide
Image by Mike Curiak. From lacemine29.blogspot.com
Fat bikes are taking off in a big way. Once predominately the domain of Alaskan adventure racers tackling Iditasport, fat bikes are now being used for everything from mountain biking to bike packing to urban exploration. But at their heart, fat bikes still seem best suited as wilderness adventure machines, ready to tackle terrain long after the roads and trails have ended.
Mike Curiak, Eric Parsons, Dylan Kentch, Doom Fishfinder, and Roman Dial did just that this summer. The crew biked and packrafted along Alaska’s Lost Coast from Yakutat to Glacier Bay.
Curiak put together a beautiful video from the trip that does a great job of capturing the Alaska’s rugged, wilderness coastline. Watch it and enjoy ten minutes of vicarious adventure.