Adventure Cycling Association’s Executive Director Jim Sayer.
As winter turns to spring and the weather starts airing on the side of nice, cyclists give in to powerful daydreams of summer adventures to come. Staff meeting bullet points are lost to fantasies about dry singletrack in remote forests. Dreadful morning commutes in the pouring rain are rationalized as preparation for that big ride marked on a distant page of the calendar. And now, more than ever, those summer cycling trips are taking the form of bike tours. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but the cycling world is experiencing an undeniable bike travel boom, from fully supported luxury rides to self-supported cross-country tours to family bike rides out to the local park for a night of camping. Nonprofit Adventure Cycling Association has played a role in that growth. For the past 43 years, ACA’s been mapping routes, leading tours, and advocating for better bike touring conditions in North America. Executive Director Jim Sayer has been at the helm for the past 10 years. I spoke to Sayers about ACA’s work, his love for cycling and bike travel, bike tourism advocacy, the huge economic impact of bike travel, and more.
Posted in Advocacy, Bike Touring, Interviews
Tagged aca, adventure cycling association, bike advocacy, bike overnight, bike touring, bikepacking, cross country bike tour, great divide, jim sayers, s240, us bike route 66
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 isÂ 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.
Former Bicycle Story interviewee Russ Roca posted an excellent argument on the Path Less Pedaled site about a bike tourist’s economic benefit in a small, rural town, versus that of a car traveler. In short, he says that over the same 200 mile trip, bike tourists will have significantly more impact than car drivers. Whereas a car might have stop once, if at all, over that distance, loaded tourists will stop many times for food, overnight stays, resupplies, etc.
All of this is not to simply say “bikes are better.” Russ was inspired by he and Laura’s stay at Bike Camp in Twin Bridges, Montana, a facility built by the community for bike tourists along Adventure Cycling Association’s Northern Tier route. Russ thinks small towns, especially ones along major bike touring routes, would see a significant boost to their economy if they made similar efforts to accommodate tourists as the folks in Twin Bridges did.
Go read Russ’ post in full and be sure to check out his excellent hand-drawn, economics infographic.