Adventure Cyclist - AUGUST 2011



Adventure Cyclist - AUGUST 2011
Wayp oi nts 8 trave ls with wi lli e
ope n r oad r oad galle ry
Adve ntu r e
GO THE DISTANCE. august/september 2011 $4.95
Where the
rubber meets
the sky
Texas from the saddle
touring Iceland’s ring road
road test: soma saga
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n Recruit the most new members in 2011, and you’ll win a $500
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companies like Old Man Mountain, Cascade Designs, Showers Pass,
and others.
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A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
August/September 2011 · Volume 38 Number 7 ·
A dv e n t u r e
is published nine times each year by
the Adventure Cycling Association,
a nonprofit service organization for
recreational bicyclists. Individual
membership costs $40 yearly to U.S.
addresses and includes a subscription to Adventure Cyclist and discounts on Adventure Cycling maps.
The entire contents of Adventure
Cyclist are copyrighted by Adventure
Cyclist and may not be reproduced
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permission from Adventure Cyclist.
All rights reserved.
Our Cover
A cyclist rides along Alpine Route
1 in Switzerland. Photo by Aaron
aaron teasdale
(left) A cyclist reaches a directional
sign on Switzerland’s Alpine Route 1.
Switzerland is all in when it comes to bike travel, and their Alpine Route 1 is a major draw.
The mission of Adventure Cycling
Association is to inspire people of all
ages to travel by bicycle. We help
cyclists explore the landscapes and
history of America for fitness, fun,
and self-discovery.
Lost in the lone star state by Laura Crawford & Russ Roca
vikings and lakers by Roy M. Wallack
underestimating the alps by Aaron Teasdale
Texas hasn’t been on the radar of many bike traveler’s, but it should be.
When bike touring in Iceland, you best be prepared for some serious challenges.
Our strategic plan includes three
major campaigns:
Creating Bike Routes for America
Getting Americans Bicycling
Supporting Bicycling Communities
How to Reach Us
To join, change your address, or ask
questions about membership, visit us
online at
or call (800) 755-2453 or (406) 721-1776
d e pa r t m e n t s
07 companions wanted
40 geared up
42 life member profile
43 Marketplace/Classifieds
04 LETTER from the Editor
05 LETTERs from the readers
[email protected]
Subscription Address:
Adventure Cycling Association
P.O. Box 8308
Missoula, MT 59807
test: soma saga / Patrick O’Grady
36 road
Soma Fabrications adds a rugged touring frameset
Adventure Cycling Association
150 E. Pine St.
Missoula, MT 59802
with willie / Willie Weir
38 travels
The advantages of getting out of your comfort zone
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Letter from the Editor
A dv e n t u r e
August/September 2011
is hell freezing over?
volume 38 number 7
Cycling enters the mainstream
www .adventurecycling. org
michael deme
[email protected]
art director
greg siple
[email protected]
technical editor
john schubert
[email protected]
FIELD e d i t o r
michael mccoy
[email protected]
c o n t r i bu t i n g w r i t e r s
dan d'ambrosio nancy clark
willie weir jan heine
patrick o'grady
Copy Editor
phyllis picklesimer
advertising director
rick bruner
[email protected]
executive director
jim sayer
[email protected]
c h i e f o p e r at i o n s o f f i c e r
sheila snyder, cpa
membership & Development
julie huck amanda lipsey
amy corbin joshua tack
thomas bassett
winona bateman michael mccoy
p ub l i c a t i o n s
michael deme greg siple
derek gallagher rachel stevens
intern: heather andrews
it d e par tm e nt
john sieber richard darne
a r l e n h a l l m o m i s l i v e t s paul hansbarger madeline mckiddy
routes and mapping
c a r l a m a j e r n i k j e n n i f e r m i l y k o virginia sullivan kevin mcmanigal
casey greene nathan taylor
sales and marketing
teri maloughney
cyc lo s o u r c e
ted bowman sarah raz
office manager
beth petersen
board of direct ors
carol york
vice president
jennifer garst
s e c r e ta ry
andy baur
andy huppert
board members
jason boucher todd copley
george mendes jeff miller
donna o'neal wally werner
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 Cycling has been a part of my life since I first
hopped on a child’s tricycle. I’ve ridden them
to travel, commute, or just to have fun. For the
vast majority of that time, most of my family and friends
considered my appreciation of the bicycle a bit odd. For
instance, they would
say things like, “I don’t
understand. You’ve got a
perfectly good car. Why
don’t you drive to work
like everyone else?” My
response would usually be something that
shouldn’t be repeated in
these pages.
But lately a strange
thing has been happening.
I’m hearing about bicycles in songs, seeing
them in television commercials, and their
popping up in the mainstream media.
On a recent Sunday night (July 24),
I was getting ready to watch a baseball
game on ESPN. I was in the kitchen
when I heard Karl Ravech of “Baseball
Tonight” say they were going to feature a
story about Darren O’Donnell, a 24-yearold from Bellingham, Washington,
who has so far visited 16 cities on his
10,500-mile quest to see a game at all
30 Major League Baseball parks (check
out Baseball Biking Tour on Facebook).
O’Donnell, of course, is not the first to
attempt this feat. As many of you will
recall, we published a story in the June
2006 issue by Charles Hamilton (“Thirty
Ballparks On A Bicycle”) who did the
same thing. Unfortunately for Charles, he
wasn’t riding the crest of the resurgent
bicycling wave, as is Darren. He’s no
Kim Kardashian, but he’s certainly been
somewhat of a press darling, garnering
local newspaper articles along the way as
well as coverage by Good luck
the rest of the way Darren. You’re well on
your way to achieving a feat that Tampa
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
Bay Rays manager Joe
Maddon (an avid cyclist
himself) called, “mentally staggering.”
And then there’s
Peter King, a wellrespected sports journalist who writes a column about the National
Football League for
com called “Monday
Morning Quarterback.” In his first
column about the upcoming 2012 NFL
season on July 26, and the day the NFL
Players Association voted to end the
labor standoff, he assembled a list of the
10 things he liked most about his recent
vacation. Number four on his list was
bicycling through Chicago. According
to King, he “Rented a bike in downtown
Chicago on a hot and sunny morning
eight days ago, rode past the joggers
and in-line skaters and walkers and the
sun-worshipers on the city beach 5.2
miles up Lakeshore Drive, hard by Lake
Michigan. Took a left on Addison and
there I was — at Wrigley Field, two
hours before Cubs-Marlins. Rode around
the stadium, saw the Goose Island Pub,
locked the bike, and sat out on the patio
for a noontime Wrigleyville White, with
a lemon. Magnificent. Got back on the
bike. Rode back. I doubt I had two better hours on the entire vacation.”
Pinch me. Ouch! That hurt.
Michael Deme
Editor, Adventure Cyclist
[email protected]
Letters from our Readers
Naïveté about Cuba, the ride that started it all
helmets save heads
Cuba crisis
The article about Cuba in your June 2011
issue made me more than a little upset.
According to the author, Cuba is a misunderstood paradise of 1950’s Cadillacs,
ox carts, and charming cities caught in a
time warp. And so many young and old
Cubans ride bicycles!
The readers of your magazine, myself
included, are fortunate enough to be able
to pretty much travel wherever we can
afford to (including Cuba) and we ride
bikes because we choose to. Wouldn’t it
be nice if the “kind-hearted denizens”
of Cuba were afforded the same political,
personal, and economic freedoms as we
are and thus able to ride bikes as a choice
rather than a necessity.
Matthew Thiel
Phoenix, Arizona
More Hemistour
Thank you to June Siple for re-sharing
her Hemistour Expedition story. Their
story first appeared in the May 1973
National Geographic, which I still have.
I was 14 years old at the time, and their
story ignited my bicycle-touring ambitions. Years later, they presented a slide
show of their Hemistour Expedition at
Arizona State University where I was
attending undergraduate school. At
that time, I also decided to plot a route
through the “Great White North” following much of the same roads in Canada,
Yukon, and Alaska. After graduating
in 1982, a college friend and I flew to
Vancouver, British Columbia, and then
rode east to the Canadian Rockies, back
across British Columbia, through Prince
George, and then turned north heading up the Stewart-Cassier Highway into
northern British Columbia, Yukon, and
Alaska. Our trek then took us down the
inside passage via ferry to Vancouver,
British Columbia, where we then rode
down the Pacific coast back to Arizona.
Whether the story is told by an article
in National Geographic or slide show as in
the years past, or in the blogs or tweets of
today, they can be extremely inspirational. Thank you June, and may you, and all
those who you inspired, have many more
happy and safe miles.
Tim Joganich
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Helmetize yourself
I am amazed at how many individuals I
see riding without helmets. A few years
ago after a nice easy 40-mile ride, my
ride buddy was coming off the bike path
onto the street and his front wheel hit a
groove on the curb. He instantly went
down. Afterward, I happened to look at
his cyclometer and the last speed show-
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T ing was three MPH. We were only two
blocks from my place so we continued on.
When we got there, he put some salve on
his road burn, popped a beer, and soon
after he prepared to head home. When
he picked up his helmet to put it on,
he noticed it was banged up and badly
cracked. Amazingly, he did not even
know that he hit his head when he fell.
Can you imagine what would have happened if he was not wearing a helmet?
Put it on!!
John Fedak
Thornton, Colorado
Correction to the July issue’s
“Americano Rohloff + Gates”:
According to Ben Moore of Co-Motion,
the standard Americano has 145mm
rear wheel spacing but the Americano
Rohloff has 135mm rear wheel spacing.
Sorry for the confusion.
Your letters are welcome. Due to the volume of mail
and email we receive, we cannot print every letter.
We may edit letters for length and clarity. If you do
not want your comments to be printed in Adventure
Cyclist, please state so clearly. Please include your
name and address with your correspondence. Email
your comments, questions, or letters to [email protected] or mail to Editor, Adventure
Cyclist, P.O. Box 8308, Missoula, MT 59807.
AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Letter from the Director
Travel Connections
Exciting news on partnerships and people for bike tours and travel
The end of summer is in sight, with some fantastic fall tours coming up —
from the Sierra Sampler (splendid, supported road riding from Lake Tahoe
to Mammoth Mountain) to Great Lakes Relaxed (mellow, scenic road riding
New tours leadership and
new partnerships
Jim (on the left) with Yellowstone National
Park Superintendent Dan Wenk. The girls
in the middle are Jim’s daughters, Keilan
and Samantha, who enjoyed the thrill of
Yellowstone … and meeting the person in
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 Here are some highlights:
New tours leader: We are thrilled
to announce that Arlen Hall is our new
Tours Director. Arlen is a charismatic,
experienced tour leader, who has led
all types of bike trips for Adventure
Cycling and his own tour company. He
receives the highest accolades from tour
participants, including the many young
people he’s taken across the U.S. and to
other places by bicycle. Arlen started
with us August 15 and is working on
the final elements of our 2012 tour slate,
which will soon be coming your way via
the web and the mailbox. Look for some
fresh new tours from Arlen and his team
in the coming years.
National Parks and bikes: Some
of the most interesting and beautiful
places to cycle are America’s national
parks — and we’re working with the
National Park Service (NPS) to improve
the bikeability of those parks. As part of
our effort to create an official U.S. Bicycle
Route System, staffer Ginny Sullivan is
working on a formal agreement with NPS
on ways in which we can cooperate on
bike facility construction, signage, and
promotion. We’re also connecting with
leaders in some of the most iconic parks.
In July, I had a terrific meeting with
Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk
(the recent deputy director for NPS)
and his top staff on planned road and
education improvements in the park to
improve cycling conditions.
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
Travel partners: Over the last year,
we have begun to meet with broader
travel groups — such as the Adventure
Travel Trade Association and the Global
Sustainable Travel Council — to help elevate bike travel in the fast-growing tourism industry. We plan to use these connections to attract more people to bike
travel — and to encourage policy makers
to realize the importance of investing in
bike-friendly roads and communities.
We’re making real progress across the
nation (and possibly the planet), though
it isn’t all good news. Despite enormous
efforts to partner with federal agencies
on cycling conditions, we are still having problems with the Federal Highway
Administration issuing advisories that
give short shrift to cyclists, especially
on rumble strip applications. With your
support, we will keep reaching out and
advocating for better treatment of bicyclists. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of
your summer and happy riding!
Jim Sayer
Executive Director
[email protected]
and temperatures) and self-contained spectaculars from the Pacific Coast to the
Southern Tier. But beyond specific trips, Adventure Cycling is bringing on people and
connecting with partners to create and preserve more opportunities for bicycle travel.
Companions Wanted
Providing partners for tours, domestic and abroad, since 1978
Thailand/South East Asia November 2011. I
have two to four weeks to explore Thailand and
maybe the areas of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam
surrounding Thailand. Flexible dates and route.
Maybe Bangkok to Chiang Mai or Phuket.
Prefer to ride mostly on road and stay at guest
houses, hotels, and hostels. I’m a 50-year-old
female with some touring experience from
Florida and am very heat tolerant. I’m looking
forward to an awesome and amazing adventure.
If interested email [email protected]
Crossing Asia I’m looking to start cycling from
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to Bali, Indonesia,
on March 2012 (my prediction for the trip is 3
months). Prefer an road route, guest houses, or
a tent. Riding to enjoy the trip, scenery, and to
take beautiful photos. I’m 28 years old and male.
If interested email [email protected]
Tour de Tummy — Southern Europe Highlights
would be an early September Athens start,
tastes of the islands, then off to Barcelona via
Provence and Marseille. As we burn through
calories, why not indulge our food and wine
appetites? Expect to meet fellow couch surfers
along this trails-and-rails mosey for unhurried adventurers. The harried need not apply.
Experienced single male, early 60s. I’ve enjoyed
a self-supported coast-to-coast U.S. tour in 2008
and published a blog at
Meet/ride/train summer in Mainefor preparation. If interested email [email protected]
parts of France (beginning in the mid 1980s) and
now I’m living here permanently. I know the
country very well so if you are thinking about a
bike trip in France, I would be happy to answer
your questions and to give you any information
that I can. Maybe we could even ride together
for a few days while you’re here. If interested
email [email protected]
Skyline/Blue Ridge — SAG Driver Needed I’m
organizing a ride of the Skyline Drive and the
Blue Ridge Parkway for some friends (retired
NYFD) for late September/early October and we
need someone to drive our sag wagon. We will
be driving from New York City but the driver
could meet us in Front Royal. All expenses met
and maybe even some extra compensation for
the right person. Motels and meals included.
Very casual, some free time each day to explore
on your own. Probably 12 to 14 days. If interested email [email protected]
Want to Wander — Destination Unknown I’m an
experienced female self-supported cyclist who
would like to travel by bike for a month or so. I
have flexibility to be gone for a month or more
and will consider various locations. Prefer back
roads, 50 to 100 miles per day with camping,
inns, and hotels. My spouse may join periodically
en route. If interested email [email protected]
Texas to Canada and Back A friend and I are
riding from Amarillo, Texas, to Banff and Jasper
National Parks then heading west and south
along the coast until we get to San Francisco,
and then we’ll head back to Texas. We would
love companions on any part of the route. We
plan to have an easygoing pace and to complete
the trip in six months. Several of the Adventure
Cycling routes will be used and we will camp
most of the time. This is our first cross-country
trip. If interested email [email protected]
Pacific Coast, September 2011 I will be fin-
ishing college in the spring and I work in the
summer. I would like to take this cycling trip
for a month and a half or two months. Starting
either from the south going north or vice versa,
depending on the way the wind blows … literally. I’m looking for people around my age to
join me (from 18 to 28). I’m very flexible in
terms of the dates (but must be after August)
and planning of the trip. If you would like
to ride only one part of the trip, that would
be great. Email me with questions or ideas at
[email protected]
A Year on the Road As of April 1, 2011, I’ll
18-year-old girls looking to bike-bum around
Europe as part of a gap year after graduating
high school, either September to November,
2011, or February to May, 2012. Both of us have
cycled across America before and miles per day
will vary. Looking to have fun and see as much
as we can; lots of camping and a relatively small
daily budget. Looking for companions who are
also graduating this year and taking a gap year,
but others in the age range are also welcome. If
interested email [email protected]
begin a year of RV-ing around the U.S. on my
Surly Long Haul Trucker, which is my ultimate recreational vehicle. I plan to follow the
TransAm Trail from Virginia, then pick up the
Northern Tier Route to Washington state, then
pedal up to Prince Rupert, Canada, take the
ferry to Alaska spend a few weeks there, ferry
back to Washington, take the Pacific coast or
the Sierra Cascades Route to Southern California,
use the Southern Tier to Louisiana, where I
will forge my own trail back home by way
of Memphis. I’m a woman seeking short-term
companions for sections of my trip. If interested
email [email protected]
Backroads of France I’m an American woman
North America Two weeks of cycling begin-
who’s done self-contained bicycle tours in all
ning September 25, leaving from Berkeley,
Biking Around Europe on Gap Year Two
California, and heading to wherever. I’m 63,
an avid cyclist, and good for 60 miles a day.
Partner? Anybody? Also, I’m willing to drive to
an alternative start destination to meet you. If
interested email [email protected]
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T Pacific Coast in October Companions welcome
to join me on or about October 1 in Bellingham,
Washington, to ride the Pacific Coast Route. I’m
a fairly experienced (coast-to-coast on tandem in
2009) 58-year-old male. Plan is to average about
70 miles per day with a day off each week.
Mostly camping but probably won’t cook too
many dinners. If all goes well, we should arrive
in San Diego at the end the month. If interested
email [email protected]
Adventure Cycling Association assumes, but cannot verify, that the persons above are truthfully
representing themselves. Ads are free to Adventure
Cycling members. You can see more ads and post
new ones at
anions.cfm or send your ad to Adventure Cyclist,
P.O. Box 8308, Missoula, MT 59807.
AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
News you can use from the world of bicycle travel
by Michael McCoy
Sue Knaup, the executive
director of the Prescott,
Arizona-based One Street, an
entity that consults with and
advises the leaders of cycling
and walking organizations,
recently launched a course
at Prescott College with the
intriguing title “The Bicycle:
Vehicle for Social Change.”
According to One Street
(, “The Prescott
College Bicycle Solutions
Campaign is a focal point
of this course, which guides
students through the bicycle’s
beneficial role in society. They
learn about beautiful street
designs that encourage even
timid cyclists to try riding with
traffic, and the health benefits
of cycling that add physical
activity to even the busiest
schedules. The students work
on articulating these benefits:
that reshaping streets into
appealing public spaces will
invite people to linger and
respect the human dignity of
traveling by one’s own power.”
In March, Sue and three
of her students traveled to
Seville, Spain, for Velo-City
(, where
they heard about the latest in
designing bicycle-friendly cities
from advocates and officials
worldwide. Combining what
they learned there with their
class findings, the entire class
brought a package of requests
back to officials at the City of
Prescott. We hope to report
later on their progress.
Beautiful book shows bicycle design over time
The new book Cyclepedia
(from Thames & Hudson in
Europe and Chronicle Books
in North America), is a visual
exploration of the bicycle, centering on 100 iconic models
from the past 100 years. The
book features the unusual and
the groundbreaking — bicycles
of unexpected beauty, inspired
design, and sometimes shortlived (or never-lived) popularity.
The 100 bikes included are
grouped by type, although
some fall under more than one
category: mountain, racing,
singlespeed, touring, kids’,
tandems, urban, folding, cargo,
and curiosities. Among the
AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
three dozen bicycles falling
under the Touring category are
a stunning ultralight aluminum
bike from France known as the
Mercier Mecadural Pelissier
(circa 1950); a Bob Jackson
2002 Super Legend custom
tourer (one of only 120 made);
an Alex Moulton Speedsix
17-inch-wheel bike from 1965;
and a most peculiar-looking
1939 recumbent out of France
called the Sironval Sportplex.
Time Out London had this to
say in a review of Cyclepedia,
calling it “A sumptuous collection of machines that powerfully illustrates not only the
engineering precision man has
poured into the bicycle in the
last century and a quarter, but
also the design and artistry.
Anyone who respects the lore,
history, and beauty of bicycles
needs a copy of this book.”
Without a doubt, this book
was made for permanent
residence on your coffee table.
The photos alone, which just
about anyone would enjoy, are
worth the price of admission.
Also included are detailed
technical specifications that
will make even the dedicated
collector and hard-core techy
squeal with joy. So look for it
at your favorite bookstore or
your favorite online vendor.
1976 + 35 = 2011
For bloggers and overnighters
In recent months, your favorite cycling organization has
launched a pair of new websites aimed at informing and
inspiring both veteran and
would-be bicycle travelers.
details short tours that have
been ridden and written up by
a large array of rider-contributors. On a bike overnight, you
start riding on one day — quite
possibly from your front doorstep — and stop and stay the
night somewhere, then ride
back the next day or the day
after that. Bike overnights can
be camping trips, or they can
be getaways to a local inn,
hostel, or B&B. “For those of
us who love to bike tour but
don’t always have the time or
money, bike overnights are a
great option,” reads copy at
the site. For neophytes “bike
overnights provide an easy
way to test the waters before
heading out on an extended
adventure.” A few of the site’s
featured overnights include a
Seattle to Port Townsend ride,
a family trip on the Farmington
River Trail in Connecticut, and
“Falling in Love on Skalkaho
Pass, Montana,” by our own
Sarah Raz.
Second, BicycleTravelBlog is, according to web
developer John Sieber, a blog
aggregator: “The idea is that
we wanted to put a website
together that would help promote cyclists’ bicycle-travel
blogs, as well as make a single
spot on the web to aggregate
the content on these blogs.”
Featured writers include
Adventure Cycling’s regular
staff and guest bloggers, along
with a growing number of independent writers. There’s lots of
adventure and advice to read
about here, and new bloggers
are always welcome. Submit
your blog and, once approved,
your posts will appear in the
feed. See you there.
Halstead property
Bicycling to location, location, location
Waypoints heard recently from
Kari Neering who wrote to say,
“Good morning! I wanted to
pitch you a fun story involving real estate brokers in New
York City who bike to work. I
represent Halstead Property,
which has nearly 1,000 agents
throughout the tri-state area. I
know of several brokers of all
ages who hop on their bikes
each morning (in corporate
work gear!) to go to the office,
showings, and so forth.”
Although this may be a new
and unusual concept amid the
crazy traffic of the Big Apple,
it’s not new to North America;
in fact, bicycling real-estate
agents could be considered
a trend. Boulder, Cambridge,
Toronto, and Salt Lake City
are just a few of the cities
boasting their own bicycling
realtors. Not only is this trend
healthy for the agent and good
for the environment, it helps
clients — provided they ride to
the showing themselves — get
to know which neighborhoods
are relatively bicycle friendly
and which ones aren’t.
Edward Herson, Senior Vice President, Halstead Property.
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T “It began on a spring day in
2007, about 9:30 PM, when
the phone rang. A guy on the
other end said something like
‘This is a person from your
past.’ The man turned out to
be Gary Mollenhauer. Gary not
only found me — he located
every other member of our
cross-country cycling group
as well.”
This passage is from an
email sent to us by Ivan Ford,
a member of 1TAWB613, one
of the many Bikecentennial
groups that pedaled across
the country on the TransAm
Trail in 1976. (The “secret
code” indicated that Ivan’s
group would depart from the
West Coast on June 13, and
stay in bike inns along the
His missive continued: “A
reunion of 1TAWB613 is
going to happen. We’ll do a
lot of reminiscing, catch up,
and share some libations and
a meal. There are just 13 of us
now [two members have died],
we share a common bond,
and who knows if and when
we may get together again.
Let’s roll back the clock and
for a day or two relive a summer without cell phones and
computers when we were kind
of in a world of our own, just
sharing the days and the experiences with each other while
pedaling across America.”
The get-together was scheduled for the Chicago suburb
of Buffalo Grove on Saturday,
August 6. When we last spoke
with Ivan, he was working to
arrange a meeting between
his group and members of
1TAWK613, the camping
group that shared the same
riding itinerary and was planning its own reunion in the
Chicago area that weekend.
It seems the two groups are
still on the same schedule 35
years later!
We’ll report how it went
in a future edition. And we’d
love to hear from other
Bikecentennial ’76 groups that
are having — or have already
held — 35th reunions.
AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Photos and story by Aaron Teasdale
A ride on Switzerland’s new nation-spanning mountain-bike route
“Why in God’s name didn’t I take the Alps
more seriously?” I say to myself while desperately clenching the brakes as my bike
careens down a snowfield high on a windblasted mountainside. It’s the first week
of October and my riding partner Crash
and I are at 9,000 feet somewhere in the
remote mountains along the Swiss-Italian
border. Everywhere there’s snow and cliff
and one monstrous mountain after another
plummeting into an uninhabited valley
far below. A trail can be seen there, in the
distant valley floor, leading away into a
tightly-packed labyrinth of peak and valley. We would very much like to reach this
trail, but to get there we’ll have to navigate
this snowfield and then find our way to a
series of snow-choked, plummeting switchbacks packed with loose rocks and gullied
by running water. I pause to contemplate
our situation when clouds envelop me and
I lose sight of Crash. He’s somewhere flying
down the mountainside ahead and soon to
enjoy his second, and not final, unintentional dismount of the trip.
You’d think that if you were heading over to one of the most mountainous
countries on earth to ride a new mountainbike route across one of the world’s most
famously rugged ranges that you might,
you know, do a little planning. Not Crash
and me. We show up undertrained and
shockingly uninformed.
Consider our flight to Zurich when Crash
says, “I should have gotten some francs in
the Chicago airport.”
“Franks?” I reply, while wondering why
he would want to bring hot dogs.
“Yeah, to have some money for when we
get there.”
Realizing my mistake, I recover quickly
and say, “I bet they’ll have some there.”
It’s not that we’re wilfully ignorant or
that I’m obsessed with hot dogs, it’s that as
fathers, husbands, and professionals, our
lives are packed full of weighty responsibilities. We don’t have time to plan. Which is
why we’re here — Swiss Trails, the national
organization that books trips on the country’s many cycling routes, makes it easy.
All I did was tell them the route we wanted
to ride and bought plane tickets. They
arranged our lodging, sent us maps and an
English-language guidebook, and had full-
suspension mountain bikes waiting at our
starting point. They even promised to haul
our luggage from village to village.
For someone used to bikepacking in the
North American wilds, this sounded impossibly posh. So what if we’ve never been in
the Alps before — this is Switzerland,
a meticulously organized country where
cycling routes are signposted at virtually
every turn. I figured there’d be espressoserving mountain villas every few hundred
yards staffed by buxom Heidi lookalikes
and men in lederhosen playing those long
wooden horns. Heck, there aren’t even
grizzly bears in Switzerland. I was looking
forward to a leisurely tour through a civilized mountain range.
The first clue that our ride in Switzerland
Climb to the sky. Crash gets out of his saddle to keep momentum going on one of many ascents along Alpine Route 1.
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
Chaschauna Pass. The route was often so steep between Italy and Switzerland that walking was necessary.
might be a bit tougher than planned comes
early on the train ride from Zurich. It’s our
first view of the Alps, and not only are they
shockingly large and steep, they’re covered
with snow.
“Are we going, like, right over those?”
Crash asks as the train carries us into
Switzerland’s far eastern hinterlands.
“Pretty much,” I answer, and then,
“I think.” The truth is that I don’t really
know. All I can say for certain is that
we’ll be spending the next week riding
Swiss Alpine Route 1, their recently created answer to North America’s Great Divide
Mountain Bike Route.
Our next surprise comes in the mountain village of Scuol, the route’s starting
point, in the canton of Graubünden, the
highest and least populated region in the
country. A poster in a visitor’s center
shows a grizzly bear with cubs wandering through a meadow in the neighboring
national park.
“They have grizzly bears in Europe?”
Crash says.
We ask the gray-haired man behind the
counter who politely tells us that he doesn’t
speak English — in German. Or maybe it’s
Romansh, a variant of Latin still spoken
in Switzerland’s isolated eastern mountain
communities. I’m not even sure what he
said; all I know is that Crash and I don’t
understand a word. Like classic American
doofuses, we’ve made the mistake of thinking everyone in Switzerland would speak
English. Fortunately, we’re good smilers,
which at least makes us friendly doofuses.
We look over our Swiss Trails packets and maps that night in the castle-like
Hotel Engiadina. The elevation profiles
are daunting — over 3,500 feet of climbing each day. It’s the first week of October
when Swiss weather is typically still sunny
and warm, but an early-season storm has
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T buried the mountains in snow and the
forecast calls for highs in the 40s. On our
itinerary is a handwritten note: “Ask about
snow getting over Chaschauna Pass. You
may need to find an alternate route.”
I fall asleep that night to visions of me
lying hypothermic in a snowbank in the
Alps while a grizzly bear gnaws on my leg.
The note launches a debate that will
continue between us for the next three
days — do we attempt Chaschauna? We’re
slated to cross mountain passes every day,
but at 9,000 feet Chaschauna is by far the
highest. I’m inclined to go for it, but Crash
is less sure. Of course, he’s also developing
an unnerving habit of wiping out unexpectedly, his first spill coming on wet stairs
during our ride around Scuol. Plus, as an
emergency room doctor, he has a front-row
seat to the grisly consequences of people’s
bad decisions, so I consider him biased.
Leaving our bags in the hotel lobby for
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Late-night meal. Crash enjoys the delicacies of the only place serving food in Santa Maria.
the Swiss Trails luggage van to pick up, we
head out the next morning at the civilized
start time of 11:00 AM. Crash, my original riding buddy from college, recently
emerged from the black hole of medical
school, and we’re thrilled to be riding
together again as we pedal up a paved road
into the mountains at a conversational pace.
The Alps slowly emerge, their snowy summits piercing patches of cumulus cloud,
and we talk about our lives, marriages,
careers, and the incomprehensible fact that
we’re both teetering perilously close to 40.
As we climb into the alpine mountains,
cutting into the sky on all sides, the village
of S-charl appears, one of Switzerland’s
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 most remote and picturesque villages.
White homes with window flower boxes
and wooden shutters overlook pastures
of grazing horses. The steeple of a white
church casts a shadow over a cobbled
square. We roll up to a wooden chalet
where a scattering of hikers enjoy drinks
on a sun-drenched deck and it occurs to
me that the only things missing are singing
elves and a few prancing unicorns.
“This is the Switzerland I envisioned,”
I say to Crash while we sip iced mineral
water on the deck.
After gorging on pasta and fried trout,
we spin up a wide dirt path along a creek
into an alpine wonderland of meadow and
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
glade and towering, snow-laced summits.
To our right is Switzerland’s national park
— as the only one, it’s commonly called
“the national park” — and the mountains
to our left form the border with Italy. We
keep our eyes open for grizzly bears. After
being extinct in the country for almost 100
years, they have recently begun ambling
over from a remnant population in Italy,
bringing a dash of wildness back to the
landscape. But there have only been three
sightings of them in the last five years, so
we don’t get our hopes up.
As we near Pass da Costainas, recent avalanches visible on the mountains, marmots
ducking into their burrows at our passing,
we assess the snow, which blankets the
nearby mountainsides and clings to shadier
patches around us. We’re still 1,200 feet
lower than Chaschuana Pass. This does not
fill me with optimism.
Our descent, however, delivers enough
endorphins and stunning beauty to render
optimism irrelevant. A ragged dirt road
spirals down through a tidy larch forest,
the tree’s needles brilliantly bronzed by the
cool kiss of autumn. Rocketing out onto
a cliff ledge, the roadside drops off into a
distant blue valley 2,000 feet below. As the
sun slides behind snowy peaks, we stop
at a pasture where the oversized cowbells
that seemingly adorn the neck of every
cow in Switzerland ring through the mountain air. A pristine Volvo parked outside a
nearby farmhouse speaks to Switzerland’s
status as the 10th wealthiest country in the
world. In Switzerland, where farmers drive
Volvos, being picturesque is apparently the
national ethos.
“They might not have wilderness here,”
I say to Crash. “But, man, have they got
Our lodging for the night is in the village of Santa Maria, which is slightly off
the actual route, leaving us to freelance our
way there. Rather than the certainty of a
valley-bottom road, we opt for the adventure of mountainside singletrack. Through
darkening forest, we plunge down steep
goat trails and feather our brakes through
switchbacks, occasionally passing through
farms and backyards, while the flickering
yellow lights of villages constellate in the
valley far below. Switching on our lights
and chasing their illuminated circles, we
yell and yodel our way down, boyishly
giddy from the feeling of controlled peril,
until we roll into a village along the valleybottom highway. Except there’s no way
we’re spoiling this golden day of mountain
biking by riding the highway.
“Hey, it looks like there’s a singletrack
running along the creek into Santa Maria,”
I point out as we study the map by headlight. We find where it cuts in along a
tumbling creek and ride on, laughing and
hollering as we fly down the creek through
black forest.
“Aaauuuggh!” I hear Crash yell ahead,
grabbing my brakes in momentary shock.
A huge man is standing with an axe over
his head, about to swing down onto the
trail. Crash laughs as he realizes it’s a
wooden carving, left trailside for either
macabre decoration or to terrorize nighttime mountain bikers. Turns out there are
many wooden carvings decorating Swiss
forest trails — beavers, marmots, bears,
and, apparently, Swiss lumberjack axe murderers.
“Man, that was so much fun!” Crash says
as we cross the bridge into Santa Maria,
where we reach our hotel at 9:00 PM just
before they lock the doors for the night.
Remote Swiss mountain villages are not
known for their nightlife, and we wander
narrow cobblestone streets only to find all
four restaurants in town closed for the evening. Thankfully we convince, through the
kind of desperate pleading only a cyclist at
the end of a 10-hour-day can deliver, the
matriarch of a family-run hotel to serve us
a sprawling platter of salami, cheese, and
bread. We gratefully devour our meal in a
low-ceilinged dining room of wood floors,
wood ceilings, wood walls, chairs, tables,
and grandfather clocks. Virtually everything our eyes behold is wood, much of
it ornately carved. Not surprisingly, they
don’t take credit cards. Indeed, the very
presence of plastic here feels like an affront.
We’ve somehow been transported into Old
Europe, removed from the modern world,
where people speak Latin and all is wood
and stone.
On the walk along the cobblestone back
to our hotel, through the cool nighttime air
of the Alps, we both agree it’s been one of
the finest days on bikes we’ve had in ages.
While we’re casually gorging on a hearty
breakfast in the hotel’s mountain-bikethemed dining room at 9:00 AM the next
morning, the Swiss Trails luggage van
arrives to pick up our bags.
“Oh, crap!” we cry, then run to our
room, jump into our riding clothes, quickly
think through and pack into daypacks
everything we need for the day’s ride, and
bring our luggage down to the van driver,
who gives us an annoyed look and speeds
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T away.
Soon we’re interrogating the front desk
clerk, one of the only people we’ve met in
Santa Maria who speaks English, about the
best trails to take out of town. The density
of trails and tracks lacing the mountains
here is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced, which makes sense when you
consider how long people have been building trails here. Some of the routes date to
Roman and even pre-Roman times. We ask
the clerk, who is a keen mountain biker,
about Chaschauna Pass, which we’re due to
hit tomorrow. He shakes his head and says
it’s sure to be buried under snow and, with
a look over the rims of his glasses to stress
his seriousness, it’s “very steep.”
“Chaschauna can’t be much steeper than
this,” Crash says later that morning, as we
muscle our granny gears up a car-free dirt
road through larch forest. Views through
the golden needles reveal clouds sweeping
across high mountains, which birth long,
slender waterfalls. It feels like a mystical
fairyland — a mercilessly steep mystical
“I guess this is why people always say
places with steep, pretty mountains are the
Alps of wherever,” Crash says.
“Yeah, that might have been a good clue
AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
for us to train a bit more,” I say between
As we crest the pass of Doss Radond
amid bracingly cool mountain air, the
clouds begin to clear, revealing an impossibly beautiful scene of snow-draped mountains, soaring gray cliffs, and a gravel path
threading into the distance along a grassy
valley bottom. I try to pay attention to the
roll of my tires as the sun reappears and
hides, but I’m soon completely lost in the
play of alpine light across mountain and
meadow. We pass a group on horseback
and two different couples on mountain
bikes whose steady smiles confirm that it’s
not just the doofus Americans who are feeling exalted by the landscape.
A short while later we’re in Italy, having
unceremoniously crossed the border somewhere along the trail. We can tell because
the trail signs have changed — they now
show actual distances to locations, not time
in hours like the mystifying Swiss signs.
When we meet a group of hikers with binoculars, I tell them we’ve just seen a pair of
rare endangered vultures up the trail. Well,
I don’t actually “tell” them — flapping my
arms like wings, I pantomime the message
that there are huge birds up ahead.
Hours later, we’ve climbed to another
pass where the sky darkens and turns an
otherworldly blue. A new valley drops
away ahead of us, deeply cleft and shadowed by massive pyramids of stone. We’ve
only another hour or so of daylight, so we
shoot down a cart track into the valley
through golden tunnels of larch, waterfalls
spilling over cliff faces at our side. Crash
laughs demonically as we cross narrow
wooden bridges and slide through turns,
coming perilously close to their open-aired
edges. Emerging at a lake that fills the lower
valley, we stop to rest our braking fingers
and revel in the thrill and beauty of what
we’ve just ridden. A relaxed path delivers
us to the ski resort town of Livigno, Italy,
where we head straight to a bike shop to
ask about Chaschauna Pass. The owner tells
us there are between 30 and 50 centimeters
of snow at the pass.
“Do you know how many inches 30
to 50 centimeters is?” I ask Crash quietly
while he examines booties and waterproof
“No idea,” he replies. “But it’s a lot.”
Glitzy Livigno is no sleepy mountain
village like Santa Maria, and at a four-star
hotel a dapper, suit-wearing man at an
immaculate front desk offers us champagne
glasses of orange juice and cookies the
minute we walk in. Our gusto in devouring
the cookies may shock him, but he stays
professional. When he introduces us to
Severin, a fit-looking Swiss lad in his 20s
who is the hotel’s mountain-bike guide, we
immediately ask him about Chaschauna,
explaining that no one we’ve talked to
thinks we can get over it.
“You can make it over,” he says confi-
Nuts & Bolts: Switzerland
When to go: July through mid-October
is your window. September and early
October typically offer good weather and
less tourist traffic.
there can be junctions with specific Route
1 signage. As long as you have a map (provided by Swiss Trails) and basic navigational
skills, you should be fine.
Alpine Route 1: One of the world’s premier
mountain bike routes, the Alpine Route 1
spans the Swiss Alps for 413 miles. Though
Switzerland’s Route Network:
Switzerland has the most elaborate, most
meticulously-organized, best-signed cycling
route network in the world, with over 7,500
miles of road and mountain bike routes rated
for varying ability levels. There are also hiking
routes, canoe routes, and, curiously, inline
skating routes that crisscross the country.
All are bookable through Swiss Trails or can
be ridden independently (though it’s recommended to get their excellent route maps).
Getting around: You’re responsible
for getting to and from your starting and
ending points on Swiss Trails trips, but,
unsurprisingly, Switzerland’s train and bus
systems set the gold standard for convenience, comfort, and ease of use. It’s
even possible to cherry pick stretches of a
route, using buses or trains (both of which
accommodate bikes) to leapfrog along.
much of your time is spent on paths and dirt
roads, those without serious mountain biking
skills need not apply, as every day will feature
sections of outstanding, sometimes technical
singletrack (and, yes, you need a mountain
bike). The route is generally well-signed, but
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 Swiss Trails: You won’t find an easierto-organize international trip anywhere in
the world. Swiss Trails will organize your
itinerary, book your rooms, transport your
gear daily, and have bikes, maps, and
guidebooks waiting at your starting point.
Offering five levels of accommodation for
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
their rides, you can stay anywhere from
four-star hotels to hostels to barnyards. We
chose the Standard level, with nights in
clean and comfortable hotels, hearty breakfasts included. For five days and four nights
expect to pay around $800 for Standard, or
$550 for hostel-style accommodations.
Bike rental: Swiss Trails rents high quality, full-suspension European mountain
bikes with hydraulic disc brakes. We
brought our own helmets, shoes, and pedals. I’d also recommend bringing basic trail
tools, including a shock pump, and giving
your bike a good once over before setting out. We needed to make a few minor
adjustments to get our bikes in tip-top
shape (derailleurs, shock inflation, etc.)
Swiss Trails,
l Switzerland Mobility, www.switzerland, has printable route maps for
every cycling route in the country.
l Swiss tourism and general travel information:
l DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Switzerland.
Of the several guidebooks referenced, this
succinct, photo-intensive book proved the
most useful and informative.
For more about bike travel in
Switzerland, check out our web-exclusive “Traveling Solo Swiss Style” by
Gigi Ragland at www.adventurecycling.
Night lights. When caught riding into Santa Maria after dark, the guys were sure glad they brought their bike lights along.
dently. “There will be some snow, but you
can make it.”
Crash and I look at each other and smile.
Severin, a young man about the same
age Crash and I were in our riding glory
days, has given us all the reassurance we
need — Chaschauna is on. This is also a
good reminder that whenever you need
encouragement to do something everyone
tells you you shouldn’t do, just ask a male
in his 20s.
After having a relaxing breakfast interrupted again by the unfortunately punctual
luggage van, we pedal out of town the next
morning toward Chaschauna. Up a side valley, through satellite villages, past grazing
cows with giant bells, we ride, turning at a
dirt road that vaults high into the treeless
peaks. 3,000 feet above us is the pass.
Marmots chirp at us from the mountainside and we’re quickly reduced to pushing
our bikes up an incline so steep it almost
seems physically impossible to ride.
“That guy in Santa Maria was right,”
Crash says, “This is insanely steep.”
Snow begins appearing in the shadows.
Alpine choughs, birds of the high Alps,
whistle past. High on the mountainside
where the road ends, a concrete-walled
refugio, now closed for the season, provides
a temporary windbreak as we prepare
for the final push. Now on a trail, snow
blankets the ground and a metal crucifix
appears on a pole ahead, seemingly floating in the sky. Clouds engulf us in blinding gray as we trudge through snow and,
somewhere, cross from Italy back into
Switzerland. We’ve reached Chaschauna
Wind slices through our clothes and
we don’t spend time noticing the lack of
a view. The snow is deeper on the pass’s
backside, but now, with the benefit of
gravity, we climb on our bikes and begin
a treacherous controlled slide down the
mountain, hoping to find the trail that will
deliver us into the valley below. My hands
are so frozen I can barely squeeze the brake
We pick our way down the mountainside with significantly less abandon, using
our uphill legs as outriggers as we execute
a sliding traverse to where we’ve spotted
the trail. But the trail is no relief. It’s stunningly steep and technical, and we ride
controlled slides through loose rocks and
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T running water. The lunacy reaches its peak
when my rear wheel comes off the ground
and I barely steer a nose wheelie around a
tight switchback, an eye-popping drop off
the side.
Minutes later Crash loses control and
smashes his ribs into the back of his seat.
“Dude, that might be the burliest
descent I’ve ever ridden,” Crash says, while
probing his ribcage and looking back up
the trail. Having ridden with him on the
mountain trails of Crested Butte, Taos, and
Moab, this was saying something.
His propensity for unintentional dismounts aside, Crash is a handy partner for
an overseas mountain-bike tour. Not only
is he an ace ex-bike mechanic, but he’s an
emergency-room doctor, which means that
he can adjust derailleurs and knee strains.
Of course, it also means that after he, say,
slams his ribcage into his seat, he internally
catalogs the possible consequences, then
turns to me and says, “Don’t take this the
wrong way, Teas, but if I go unconscious,
it’s because I’ve ruptured my spleen and I
need a surgeon.”
Fortunately his spleen stays intact, and
as we rocket down the trail, then dirt
AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Through the mountains. One of many carefully-carved tunnels on Alpine Route 1.
road, into the lower valley, we ride side
by side, giddy from having made it over
Chaschauna. We’re covered in mud and
laughing, hooting, and catching simultaneous air off any berms and ripples that
come along. Severin had been right. This
was a victory for young males everywhere,
and, er, not-actually-that-young-anymore
males, too.
shop your way
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T After hours of exploring forested side
trails and following bike paths through a
chain of hamlets, we roll up to the ritzy
resort village of St. Moritz that night,
where our beds feel like gifts from angels.
It takes me approximately 43 seconds to fall
into a sleeping coma. Nope, we’re definitely
not 23 anymore.
For three more days, we pedal out each
morning from a different village in one
picturesque valley or another — our day
packs stuffed with provisions — and follow trails, paths, and roads across the Alps.
It becomes clear that St. Moritz marks the
end of Switzerland’s wild country and the
beginning of a more developed, traditional
Switzerland. Trading in the rugged passes
and lonely valleys of the country’s southeast
corner, we ride from village to village, where
farms, chalets, and trim pastures spread
up the mountains. To our surprise, it’s just
as fun as the boonies. The wintry conditions of the first few days are replaced with
70-degree sun as the route takes us through
a riot of terrain and riding styles. Roads hug
sparkling blue lakes, tunnels carve through
cliff faces, rocky trails plummet down mountainsides, and everywhere are snowy peaks,
golden forests, and centuries-old villages so
perfectly manicured they look like paintings.
I now understand Goethe’s description of
Switzerland as a combination of “the colossal
and the well-ordered.”
Besides its easy-to-navigate orderliness,
the long European heritage of public access
serves cyclists in Switzerland well. Being
from the U.S., where private land pervades,
Crash and I quickly learn to appreciate
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AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G 1 2/16/2011 1:14:06 PM
the less restrictive sense of property in
Switzerland, even if it does leave us occasionally befuddled.
“Is this the trail?” Crash says hesitantly
to three women talking by a wooden farmhouse. We’ve just ridden past chickens and
into their backyard. A large pig watches us
from a nearby pen. The women laugh and
assure us it’s the trail. Or at least we think
that’s what they say.
Other times we found ourselves riding through quasi-industrial zones, across
dams, along train tracks, and through lumberyards. Rather than detract from the
ride, it adds intrigue, like we’re riding
guerilla-style through secret Swiss backways. Except this is a national bike route,
and each junction is signed and leading us
ever closer to the next mountain pass, the
next thrilling descent, the next immaculate
hotel with perfect beds. Even Crash’s final
and most spectacular wipeout of the trip,
coming as he lost his traction on wet rocks
and slid hard into a boulder, can’t dampen
our enthusiasm.
On our last day of riding, it hits me
that we’ll soon be saying our goodbyes to
Switzerland, and to each other. We’ve talked a lot about how we wish we could ride
the whole route together, but neither of
us have the time. We’ve got busy lives and
responsibilities waiting for us back home.
As we catch air off rocks and take
corners a little too fast, it occurs to me
that might be exactly why I hadn’t taken
Switzerland more seriously. Maybe we
needed something like this. After years of
building careers, leading families, dialing
back the excesses and impetuousness of
our youth, never leaping without looking, here we were, fathers, a doctor and
a writer, riding mountain bikes across a
faraway land without the slightest clue as
to what were doing, where we were going,
or even how to talk to anyone. Neither of
us had been this spectacularly unprepared
for anything in ages. It was exhilarating.
Sure we’re “responsible adults” now, but
those college kids who rode their bikes into
snowdrifts two decades ago are still in there
and they’re having the most fun they’ve
had together in years.
The journey is
the objective.
Not the end.
The perfectly coordinated rubber compound
provides speed, durability and grip. Tread
and side wall doubly protected. Roads
become uplifting and drift easily by.
Trails are sublime in their ruggedness.
DUREME is the most versatile
Marathon in the high tech
Evolution series.
Aaron Teasdale is a freelance writer and photographer
who lives in Missoula, Montana. In past years, his contributions to Adventure Cyclist have twice earned him
the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism award. You can
read more about Aaron at - 1.877.743.3191
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Lost in the Lone Star State
by Laura Crawford and Russ Roca
Texas is perhaps one of the least likely
bicycle touring destinations in the U.S.
When imagining Texas, a cyclist’s head is
filled with the image of angrily speeding
drivers in pick-up trucks, and endless days
of sandy desert and cactus. We’ve all heard
the myriad negative stereotypes and, due
to its sheer immensity, simply crossing the
state is a feat in itself. For us, however,
riding through the Lone Star State was
one of the great highlights of our recent
15-month, 10,000-mile trek around the U.S.
What makes Texas so great is precisely
the fact that it is so big and varied. Far
West Texas is completely different from
the Hill Country, which itself is entirely
different from East Texas and the Gulf,
and the Plains of the North. Lumping the
state into one dry, sandy image does it a
great disservice. In this one state, you can
experience a wide range of culture, nature,
food, and people. Texas also has an incredible network of roads, which means it’s
easy to find a quiet one that’s perfect for
cycling. Because Texas is so large, we’d like
to offer up our two favorite regions to get
you started in planning your own Texas
cycling adventure.
Far West Texas
This part of Texas is the dusty hidden
gem of the state, sandwiched between New
Mexico and Mexico. As one of the most
remote parts of America, it is vast, empty,
quiet, and full of that desert cowboy imagery. Far West Texas can be a difficult place
that will push you and demand awareness
and preparation. You will often encounter
long, desolate stretches with very few, if
any, services. Despite the sometimes challenging conditions, it is also one of the most
fascinating corners of the country and will
introduce you to some of the friendliest
people you’ll ever meet.
We entered Far West Texas near
Guadalupe (pronounced Guad-a-loop)
Mountains National Park (on Highway 18062), just across the border from Carlsbad,
New Mexico. The park features the highest
point in Texas (8,751 feet), so it’s well worth
the stop. Unlike many National Parks with
paved roads that traverse the reserve,
Guadalupe has no vehicle infrastructure. If
you want to explore it, you have to hike in.
Even without the hikes, however, you can
get a sweeping view of the valley below
from the visitor center and campground.
From Guadalupe Mountains National
Park, head south on Highway 54 into the
small town of Van Horn, along Adventure
Cycling’s Southern Tier Route. If you’re
looking for a relaxing refuge from the
desert sun and dusty roads, the Hotel El
Capitan is very welcoming to bicycle tourists. Renowned architect Henry C. Trost
was responsible for the design of the hotel.
Trost, a Midwesterner who moved to El
Paso in 1903, was heavily influenced by
the Chicago School of architecture and
designed many other buildings in Far West
From Van Horn, you have two options,
Highway 90 or Interstate 10 (Cycling on
interstates in Texas is discouraged but not
prohibited.) I-10 has more services along
the way, but we chose to follow Highway
90 through the funky little towns of Marfa,
Alpine, and Marathon, gaining access to
Big Bend National Park. Highway 90 is
mostly free of traffic because most travelers
take the interstate, which means that you’ll
have peaceful riding conditions and you’ll
need to be very self-sufficient (read: carry
lots of water!).
From Van Horn you’ll ride through the
The evening meal. Laura prepares a meal at one of the many excellent campgrounds in the Texas State Park system.
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The rugged west. The roads of Far West Texas provide many a quiet mile for traveling cyclists, like this one in Big Bend National Park.
small town of Valentine. When we passed
through, all the shops had been shuttered. All but one public building, the Kay
Johnson Library, was closed. This little gem
was financed and built by folks in the area
and also provided an opportunity to get
water. Near Valentine you’ll stumble upon
the Marfa Prada, an art installation made to
look like a Prada retail store, complete with
shoes and handbags from the 2005 Prada
collection. It was met with mixed reactions
when it opened, including being burgled
of all merchandise (the installation no longer has pairs of shoes, just unmatched
In Marfa you’ll find a fascinating mix of
New York art lovers and dusty Wranglerwearing ranchers. In the 1970s, the minimalist artist Donald Judd adopted Marfa
as his new hometown. Now Marfa is home
to the Judd Foundation and the Chinati
Foundation, which house world-class
What’s holding up
your next Adventure?
A Dream becomes
a Memory one pedal
stroke at a time.
Bring your camera.
modern art. You’ll also find some of the
best pizza in the country at the Pizza
Foundation and a “hotel” where you can
stay in refurbished trailers or a teepee (El
Next along Highway 90 is Alpine, the
largest town in the area. Alpine is home
to an Amtrak station, a fantastic independent bookstore, and the annual Cowboy
Poetry Festival. It is also the best place to
stock up before heading into Big Bend.
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A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T Visit the new
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Just beyond Alpine is the tiny town of
Marathon, centered around an Old Weststyle Main Street. You’ll now find art galleries, the Gage Hotel, and incredible food
and hospitality. There is even a hostel made
entirely from papercrete (a construction
method that utilizes paper and clay), where
you can stay free if you’re bike touring.
To head into Big Bend from Alpine, ride
south along Highway 118. It’s approximately 80 miles, and there are very few oppor-
tunities to stop for the night along the way.
We found ourselves at Cowhead Ranch, a
small replica of a western town run by a
warm-hearted cowboy named Chris, who
hand-built the plywood and corrugated
steel structures to create accommodations
for passing travelers. Cowhead has a small
bathhouse with on-demand hot water and
a saloon with wireless internet!
Continuing on Highway 118 will take
you to Study Butte-Terlingua. Head west
Carlsbad Caverns NP
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Mountains NP
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just a few miles on FM170 into Terlingua
Ghost Town to soak up some true local
color. It’s traditional to have a drink on The
Porch while watching the sun set against
the mountains. Locals and travelers mingle
for impromptu jam sessions and storytelling. Plenty of lodging is nearby, including
the Terlingua Camping Hostel, which has
an old school bus that has been converted
into a kitchen/lounge.
For the hearty cyclist, we recommend a
ride into Big Bend National Park and camping/lodging in Chisos Basin. But be prepared for a challenge. From the main road,
it’s a five-mile, 2,100-foot climb into Chisos
Basin. Although it’s tough to get to, it’s an
amazing place to hike and camp, nestled in
a ring of mountains.
Far West Texas is full of experiences that
we guarantee you will not find anywhere
else. But a word of caution, conditions can
be harsh. Distances between services can
be very long, so plan ahead and be sure you
always carry extra food and water.
The Hill Country & North-Central Texas
The Hill Country is roughly located in
the middle of the state and is anchored
on the east by the capital city of Austin.
casey greene
Shoppers delight. Funky shops adorn Far West Texas, so plan on stocking up on plenty of what the Lone Star state has to offer.
You’ll find quaint towns with German and
Scandinavian heritage, old stone farmhouses, incredible wildflower blooms during
the spring, and plenty of hills to climb. Just
to the north of the Hill Country, you’ll find
yourself surrounded by the rolling plains
of north-central Texas. This is a different
Texas than most of us imagine. It’s lush and
green in the spring, peppered with lakes,
and replete with small towns centered
around a courthouse square.
We entered Hill Country after months in
the desert and were immediately struck by
the green trees and rushing rivers. After a
long stay in Austin (an amazingly bicyclefriendly city), we headed west through the
Hill Country on a long and roundabout ride
to Fort Worth. Without realizing it, we had
timed our trip through the Hill Country
at the peak of the wildflower bloom (in
mid-April). For a true Hill Country experience, we suggest you do the same. It’s an
amazing experience to soar down a country
road and breathe in the sweet fragrance of
thousands of bluebonnets, the Texas state
Our rambles through the Hill Country
were punctuated by stops at the numerous
state parks throughout the region. Texas
Prada Marfa. A sculpture by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset outside Valentine, Texas.
has an incredible network of these gems
with fantastic camping facilities, so we
highly suggest taking advantage of them. A
few of our favorites, Pedernales Falls, Inks
Lake, and Enchanted Rock, are accessible
by small back roads. One of the highlights
was climbing up to the top of Enchanted
Rock, one of the largest batholiths in the
U.S. (Half Dome in Yosemite is another well-
known batholith formation).
The Hill Country also boasts a number of great towns to explore. West of
Austin, you’ll find Fredericksburg and
Kerrville, complete with myriad restaurants, museums, and shops. Just south of
Fredericksburg, and way off the beaten
path, you’ll find a very small town with a
big reputation — Luckenbach. The town
Photo: Ryan Bonneau
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Different altogether. The Hill Country is lush and green compared to West Texas.
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was made famous by country music artists
Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson in a
song of the same name that harkens back to
a simpler life. In Luckenbach we stumbled
onto the annual Texas Hat Festival and
bought a couple of hat pins with the Texas
star for our panniers.
South of Austin, you’ll find Gruene,
New Braunfels, and Lockhart. Gruene Hall
is the oldest dance hall in Texas and is still
a thriving anchor of the community. Stay
for a show or simply pop in for a beer and a
slice of history. On a hot summer day, make
time for a swim in the nearby Guadalupe
Lockhart is known as the barbecue
capital of Texas and has three famous establishments vying for supremacy: Kreutz’s,
Smitty’s, and Black’s. We flipped a coin
and chose Smitty’s, located downtown. The
brick walls are black with soot, and the
smell of smoked meat hangs permanently
in the air. In Texas barbecue is synonymous with seasoned and expertly smoked
beef brisket. You buy it by the pound,
and your choice of sides includes either
Wonder bread or saltine crackers. Texas
barbecue traditionalists will tell you that
good brisket doesn’t need any sauce and
good meat should stand on its own. Despite
that, many establishments are acceding to
the demands of the masses, and sauces are
reluctantly offered.
One of our favorite parts of exploring
the Hill Country by bicycle was that it’s a
popular place for cyclists. You’ll no doubt
pass others on bikes enjoying the hills and
scenery, and they’re often happy to share
their favorite routes. When we were touring through the area, we even ran into an
Adventure Cycling-led group at Pedernales
State Park. Having that many cyclists in an
area also means that car drivers are more
aware and accommodating.
Heading north you begin to leave Hill
Country and start to enter the prairies
and lakes region. The hills gradually
become less severe, and the bluebonnets
are replaced by fields of wild grass. In
the small town of Glen Rose, you’ll find a
small and revitalized courthouse square,
a historical museum, and a small bakery serving delicious homemade pie. Also
nearby is Solavaca, a private ranch now
open to mountain biking. After using a
bike to repair holes in his fence, the owner
invited friends to ride on his property and
has since begun hosting organized races.
Camping is allowed on a limited basis and
requires advance notification.
Nearby Granbury is also centered
around a revitalized courthouse square
and offers shops, restaurants, galleries, and
museums that will entice you to take a
break. If you’re staying the night, take
advantage of the shuttle system. You can
leave your bike in the room and let the
shuttle take you to the town center and
In our rambling travels, we spent three
months exploring Texas and we were continually delighted and impressed. Our
experiences challenged our preconceived
notions of the Lone Star State. Not only
did we meet friendly people, see beautiful
scenery, and eat delicious local foods, but
the network of farm-to-market roads meant
that we could crisscross the state without
dealing with much traffic. Texas is so large
that it’s tempting to race through it, just to
get across. For the bike tourist who prefers
to meander and explore, Texas offers a multitude of touring options, from challenging
cycling to epicurean delights.
Russ Roca and Laura Crawford are doing what they’ve
always wanted to do — an open-ended bicycle tour
— and they’ve recently incorporated Brompton folding
bikes and trains into their travels. You can find out
more about them at
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Flint Hills gravel somewhere near Emporia, Kansas – Photo by Gnat
Bike shown – Vaya
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We make bikes to help you get there.
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Iceland’s windblown Ring Road journeys between
medieval and modern, unleashing Norse lore,
rotten shark meat, troll statues, blackened sheep
heads, mail-order Filipino brides, raspy liquor,
and the world’s only phallus museum.
Story and photos by Roy M. Wallack
“You will not like mysa,” the museum restaurant director said, pouring a clear, eggwhitish liquid into a shot glass. “Hardly
anyone here in Iceland even drinks it
anymore — only old, fat pensioners who
started when they were young because
they were told it would grow big muscles
and put hair on their chests.”
In desperate need of the latter, I swigged
the shot, my face twisting as if it were back
in college chugging tequila for the first
time. Non-alcoholic, mysa (pronounced
“missa”) is the sour, vinegary, briny water
that floats atop old milk or yogurt — the
same stuff Viking sailors drank and pickled
meat in 1,000 years ago because it was the
only thing that didn’t go bad on their epic
journeys from Norway to Iceland and the
New World. Emboldened by its historical significance (and my desensitized taste
buds), I asked for another shot — and
another and another. It tasted like … liquid courage! That’s because as the carton
of mysa disappeared down my throat, so
Protective measures. A group of British
girls mask themselves from volcanic ash.
did my paralyzing fear of the Ring Road,
the 830-mile two-lane highway around this
Ohio-sized island at the top of the world,
which had left me hobbled, freezing, technologically impaired, hating every pedal
stroke, and closer to throwing in the towel
than I’d ever been on any other bike trip
in my life.
Could a few slurps of a millennium-old
soft drink spark an epiphany that could
get me my mojo back? Could I trick myself
into forgetting the miserable mileage of the
Ring Road by turning myself into a rolling anthropologist in search of interesting
(or disgusting) stuff about the great Norse
explorers and the culture they left behind
— like mysa?
Many people visit Iceland to run whitewater rapids, watch whales and waterfalls,
shop for stuffed puffin dolls, and pose with
troll statues. But a deeper perspective was
crucial motivation for a broken-down man
with abandonment issues. I was riding
solo on Highway 1 — the official name of
the Ring Road — because a photographer
pal who’d recruited me for the trip never
showed up at the airport (“Didn’t you get
my email last week?” he texted me. “I’m
doing a diving shoot in Panama.”)
Worse than that was the bitter, terrifying cold. I’m from Los Angeles, where
breathing out frost is considered a magic
trick. I waited all morning in the capital
city, Reykjavik, for the icy wind and rain
to abate and the sun to shine. It didn’t,
probably a sign that I should stay in town
for the night and see if the legend of “the
world’s most beautiful women” was reality
or myth. But with a wedding ring on my
finger and a 10-day schedule of 83 miles
per day on the line, the macho side of me
took over and I headed north.
Rocking the bike out of the saddle into
Arctic headwinds, my torso quickly was
soaked in a cold sweat, and my nose and
hands ceased to function correctly. My
camera was next to go. When I took it out
for a shot about seven miles out of town,
the sub-freezing windchill (as low as -5
C, according to the occasional electronic
weather signs on the roadside) actually
shorted out the circuitry. Just like that, my
Lumix was dead. Less than 45 minutes into
my adventure, I’d become a picture-loving
participant on a buddy bike trip without a
camera or a buddy.
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 No trees here. Roy climbs above one of Iceland’s many barren, windswept landscapes.
within two minutes of stopping, I shorted
my normal stretching and feeding routines
all day long. Oddly, for a sunless day, I
was also darker than usual. It seems that
the fallout of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano,
which blew its top from March to May
and disrupted flights all over Europe, had
coated my face in volcanic ash and mud
kicked up from the wet roads. When I saw
myself in a mirror, I looked like Al Jolson
singing “Mammy.”
Game Over, Range Rover
Getting a hot shower and shelter after
that hellish day was a priority. After find-
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ing that a Chinese group had bought out
the entire youth hostel, I lucked into the
last room at a bed and breakfast.
“We opened this when the market
crashed,” said the proprietor, referring to
the national banking scam that blew up
and brought Iceland to bankruptcy in
2006. Icelanders left by the thousands.
So did businesses that had to buy goods
abroad, including McDonalds.
“Many people have opened B&Bs —
and museums, too,” she continued. “We
had to — anything to make ends meet.
The exchange rate dropped from 68 kroner
to the dollar to 130 now, and we all went
from rich to poor. We all wanted to be
Americans — big SUVs, big-screen TVs,
big this, big that. Now everyone else comes
here for vacation because it’s cheap. And
we’re back to being Icelanders again.”
The crash gave rise to a slogan that I
would hear all over Iceland in the next
week: Range Rover, Game Over.
Could it be that as I was discovering
Iceland, they were rediscovering themselves?
Being marooned here in little Borgarnes
for a day put me way behind schedule, but
it turned out to be a blessing in disguise
that rejuvenated my body and spirit. After
sleeping through the midnight sun (you
have to pull the shades all the way down),
I bought a cheap camera when the shops
opened the next day at 11:00 AM, charged
the battery for a couple hours, then ren-
casey greene
The next camera shop was in the picturesque town of Borgarnes, located on
a peninsula 40 miles north of Reykjavik,
population 1,900. It took me over 10 hours
to get there due to a long, underwater tunnel that bans bikes and forced a 60-mile
detour around the Hvalfjörður inlet. By
the time I got back to the Ring Road, it
was a shoulderless, busy two-lane freeway
passing through a desolate, treeless landscape of tundra and lava rocks — with no
cities or stores along the way. No surprise
there, as there are just 300,000 Icelanders,
with 200,000 of them in the capital area.
As for the lack of trees, the first wave of
Viking pioneers cut down all the native
birchwoods a millennium ago. They regrow
slowly in the four-month growing season of
these near–Arctic Circle latitudes. “If you
get lost in the forest in Iceland,” goes the
saying, “just stand up,” — which refers to
the sparse and runty forests that look like
Christmas tree lots.
Standing up on a bike in a frigid headwind for over 80 miles takes its toll. By
9:00 PM, when I crossed the 1.5-mile
Borgarfjarðarbrú bridge (the second longest in the country) into Borgarnes, all the
shops were shut down — and so was my
body. The hardest double centuries never
beat me up like this. I was coughing, sneezing, soaked, and hurting from head to toe.
My muscles — quad and hip flexors especially — were destroyed. My shoulders,
neck, and triceps were stiff and spasmodic.
Worst were the knees, screeching with pain
like rusty hinges. Working hour after hour
with no break, I was bonked beyond bonk.
Shivering and shaking from the windchill
dezvoused with my fateful mysa at the
newly opened Settlement Centre museum.
Its exhibits focused on the tourist-friendly
“Saga” craze — stories of the country’s
founding that usually feature Egil, the
Viking pioneer and heathen warrior considered Iceland’s George Washington.
While hanging around town, I even got
in a swim workout and hot-tub rehab for
my aching legs at a geothermally heated
pool and sauna, $3 entry fee. Iceland, which
straddles the grinding North American and
European tectonic plates, is a bubbling
cauldron of volcanoes, geysers, and steam
vents that are used to provide cheap electricity and hot water. That’s why the country has over 200 public aquatic centers,
including an Olympic-sized lap pool, kid’s
dip, water slide, sauna, and locker rooms
in Borgarnes. That’s probably why Iceland’s
national sport is swimming (or as the guy
next to me said, “sitting in a hot tub and
The pools don’t use much chlorine, so
strict hygiene rules apply, such as taking
a naked shower before swimming. Wall
posters and a human inspector instruct
you to scrub all private areas — crotch,
armpits, butt, feet, face, and hair — in
five languages, including Icelandic, Danish,
Norwegian, German, and English. “You
forgot your butt,” the man firmly reminded
After a necessary and satisfying day
of shopping, mysa guzzling, fried chicken
eating, and swimming, I spent the second
night of my trip watching YouTube videos
of the NBA finals and arguing the merits of
Kobe Bryant versus Michael Jordan. Like
most Icelandic males, Victor Rodriguez,
the night manager of the Borgarnes youth
hostel, was an obsessive fan of American
sports. In the next couple of hours, this
half-Icelander/half-Spaniard became my
cultural guide, railing against the high
unemployment rate and complaining of
minor slights against Iceland’s growing
population of black-haired halfbreeds such
as himself and the kids of the one-time
Filipina mail-order bride down the street,
who ran the restaurant where I bought the
Hearing that I’d liked mysa, Victor told
me that young boys still drank it, but as
a sugar-laced beverage called garpur that
is marketed as a “he-man” drink guaranteed to grow chest hair. He then went
into the kitchen and came out with some
traditional Icelandic cuisine he thought
I’d enjoy because, as he put it, “they taste
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A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
like crap.” That’s how I got to sample slátur
(pronounced slouter), a sausage made of
sheep liver, blood, and intestines, ground
up together, sewed up in a ball, boiled, and
sliced, and Brennivín, a 40-percent-alcohol
liquor dating from Viking times made from
fermented potato pulp and caraway seeds.
It’s known as the Black Death, and I know
why. It tastes like black licorice from hell.
“And do you in America eat svid (pronounced “sweeth)?” he asked. “You must
try it. It’s an entire roasted sheep’s head,
with the eyeballs, ears, and other parts
Before he shut the hostel down for the
night, Victor asked if I’d be passing through
Husavik, a small town in the far north 30
miles from the Arctic Circle best known for
whale watching. When I said no, seeing on
the map that Husavik was a full day’s ride
off the Ring Road and I couldn’t spare the
time, he shook his head. “Then you will
miss another unique thing in this country found nowhere else in the world: the
Icelandic Phallological Institute.”
My curiosity was piqued. After all, how
could I come all the way to Iceland and not
go to the renowned Penis Museum?
Size Matters
The 210 miles of Ring Road between
Borgarnes and Akureyri, Iceland’s second
biggest city at 17,000 people and its northern sightseeing hub, are ideal for cycling —
if you’re headed southwest. Unfortunately,
I was still going northeast into a freezing
Back-to-back 170- and 140-kilometer
days on this busy, barren, shoulderless
stretch of rolling road, almost devoid of
stores and shelter were only made tolerable
by the lack of rain, my rested legs, and my
new upbeat attitude. The ho-hum scenery — pastoral farmlands, volcanic moonscapes, grasslands with grazing horses and
sheep, and occasional Christmas tree-lot
forests — finally got interesting the last
50 miles. Long, steep climbs led to a veritable Little Switzerland — row after row
of snowcapped peaks with the white stuff
dripping down the sides like melted marshmallow on chocolate ice cream.
The reward came when the road topped
out at 4,000 feet and I began a wild
90-minute, 30-mile descent that led all the
way to the outskirts of Akureyri. Facing
a breathtaking wall of mountains framing
Eyjafjörður, Iceland’s longest fjord, the
Ring Road turns right for the last 10 blissful miles into town. Heading south for the
first time, tailwinds whisked me into the
city, which sits in a sheltered natural harbor at the end of the inlet.
Depleted by the tough two-day ride, I
switched into R&R mode for the next 36
hours. I found a B&B and a supermarket,
swam laps in the pool, and made a visit
to the famous Listagi Street art and craft
center. Of course I continued eating all
the Viking foods I could lay my hands on.
I tried hákarl (pronounced how-kahrl),
a gray cube of putrefied shark with tiny
bones and a nostril-twisting ammonia reek.
And I became addicted to skyr, a tasty
Icelandic cheese-like yogurt with a built-in
spoon in the lid.
I received more history on Iceland’s precarious economics from the B&B’s friendly
manager-owner, Elin Conway, daughter of
a G.I. stationed here during World War II,
when the U.S. and Britain took over the
island for several years.
“You know, I was a big-time real
estate agent before the crash,” she said
with a laugh. “We were all trying to be
Americans — so I drove a Range Rover
and took expensive vacations. I loved San
Francisco.” Her daughter Ritta was a top
manager at Iceland’s Landsbanki bank that
precipitated the country’s rise and fall
by offering exorbitant interest rates and
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A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
The one and only. The extra miles couldn’t keep Roy from the Icelandic Phallological Museum.
then defaulting. Unemployed, she has since
emmigrated to Canada.
When I told Elin I wanted to take mysa
back to America to sell to health-food
stores, she gave me her business card and
said she’d help me market it as the “Viking
chest-hair grower.”
I found the Icelanders to be a helpful, outgoing people who enjoy a good
laugh, at odds with the dour reputations of
their Nordic cousins on mainland Europe.
They have sort of an odd-man-out view
of life that might stem from their country’s modern-day economic and geological
travails. More likely, their outlook is due
to their thousand-year geographic isolation and near-unpronounceable Viking
language, which is unintelligible even to
the linguistically similar but modernized
Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians. Seeing
me fumble over a nine-syllable street name
while asking directions to a hardware store,
several people just looked at each other,
threw their hands up, and laughed. “Just
look for a long word that starts with a T,”
they said.
They apparently like to laugh so much
that they elected a comedian to one of the
most important offices in the country
Jon Gnarr, a non-politician and Iceland’s
best-known comic, had been elected
Reykjavik’s mayor the night before. The
only candidate of his self-created Best
Party, he ran on the slogan, “Government
in Iceland is a joke. So who better to run
it?” In an attempt to calm the nerves of
the business community after the election,
he said, “No one has to be afraid of the
Best Party because it is the best party. If it
wasn’t, it would be called the Worst Party
or the Bad Party.”
Bad puns were flying two days later
following a crazy-hard climb out of town
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 
Ascent of a different kind. Roy joins others to top 6,921-foot Hvannadalshnjúkur.
on the Ring Road and a night in Mývatin
National Park, a pretty mini-Yellowstone
with a lake, volcanic hot pools, and stinky,
sulfurous fumes. I looked at the map and
realized that I not only had no hope of
completing the Ring Road, but was only 35
miles from Húsavík and what could very
well be the climax of my trip — the Penis
Believe me, this members-only institute,
identified on the street by a tall wooden
log carved into the shape of an erect penis,
measured up to expectations. Highlights
of the Phallological Institute’s 276-specimen collection include a 67-inch sperm
whale penis preserved in formaldehyde, a
48-incher mounted on the wall like deer
antlers, lampshades made from bull testicles, and, as of May, its first human
schlong: the 11-inch pickled penis of newly
deceased 95-year-old Icelander Pall Arason.
“He was a boaster, a braggart, a funny
guy,” said curator Sigurdur Hjartarson, the
69-year-old former Reykjavik college professor who had founded the Phallological
Museum in the capital and moved it up
north when he retired three years ago.
Allowing Húsavík tourists to combine
whale watching and whale penis watching, the museum is considered a significant
stimulus to the local economy.
Turning south to Akureyri, I basked in
the sweet afterglow of a 30-MPH tailwind
for 40 miles. Suddenly I remembered that
cycling was fun. It was actually kind of
romantic: After spending time with 276
phalluses, I fell in love with bike touring
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
But the riding was coming to an end.
After doing 440 mostly hard miles, I still
had 500 to go and only three days to do it
— so I did the logical thing and bused the
Ring Road around to the island’s southern
In my hostel’s dinner hall, a large group
of Icelanders invited me to join them for
hrutspungar (chewy pickled ram’s testicles), and svid (the blackened sheep’s head
with eyes and intact teeth that Victor had
told me about). As we washed Sven (as
we named him) down with shots of Black
Death, the group’s leader, a 48-year-old
named Odin, explained that my companions were part of a larger group of several
hundred who the next morning would be
climbing up the country’s largest and tallest glacier, 6,921-foot Hvannadalshnjúkur,
which covers 11 percent of the island’s land
mass. They’d all trained for four months in
a program called “Reach the Top.”
“We’d invite you to come along,” Odin
said, “but this is rough, steep stuff requiring ropes and crampons most of the way.
No way riding your bike for a few days
would give you the fitness to keep up.”
He didn’t know his own headwinds. My
legs were super fit from the ordeal. Joining
the fast group the next morning, I went to
the roof of Iceland and back in 11 hours. At
the top, the Reach the Toppers celebrated
like it was the Super Bowl. For many of
them, Odin told me over swigs from a flask
of mysa, it was a chance to “get in touch
with their roots” after some years of excess.
On my last day on the Ring Road, I
stopped by several pretty waterfalls, then
rode the last 30 miles into Reykjavik, stopping for a swim and a shower. Before catching my airport bus, I took a picture with a
troll, downed a couple tubs of Skyr, ate a
lamb hot dog at the Baejarins Beztu hot dog
stand (known as the most popular restaurant in the country since Bill Clinton ate a
lamb dog there a decade ago), then headed
up to the landmark Hallgrímskirkja (the
church of Hallgrímur) for a final picture.
At the rocketship-shaped church, I ran
into a tall Scotsman on a touring bike. It
had four waterproof panniers and a full
camping kit. He wore a rain jacket imprinted with the words Paris-Brest-Paris 2007,
referring to a famed 762-mile ride held
every four years in France to be completed
in three and a half days. This guy was a
hard-core randonneur.
“How’d your trip go?” he asked. “I
saw you head off from here 10 days ago.
I was going to do the Ring Road too, but
got intimidated by the rain and wind.” He
stayed in town that day and instead opted
for the Golden Circle route, a tough, sightseeing-rich 186-mile loop in the Reykjavik/
southwest region with nearly 10,000 feet
of climbing. He got some great photos of
waterfalls and geologic formations.
As I looked at his camera screen, I
thought, “This guy should have been my
partner!” On the other hand, he didn’t mix
much with the locals and stuck to his own
oatmeal, sardines, and energy bars — no
cool Icelandic stuff like Svid. And he did
bail out on the Ring Road even before he
Bottom line? The Ring Road has a nice
ring to it, but it’s not for the weak of heart
(or legs). Iceland is big, harsh, and spread
out. You need at least 10 days to do it right
— by car. By bike, double that time if you
can, go in mid-summer (when it’s merely
cold, not freezing), and be social. The
descendants of the Vikings will show you
stuff you can’t see anywhere else.
Roy M. Wallack owes it all to bike touring. An article
about his 1982 Pacific-to-Atlantic tour launched
his journalism career. His first book, The Traveling
Cyclist, detailed his many trips in the 1980s and
1990s, including the first into the USSR. His son was
born exactly nine months after his 1994 honeymoon
tandem ride from Nice, France, to Rome. Last summer, they did their first father-son tandem trip, from
Portland, Oregon, to Yellowstone. An L.A. Times fitness columnist, Roy has edited several bike magazines
and written five bike and running books, including
Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100.
The real art of the bicycle is for each to have its purpose.
The perfect marriage between humanity and machinery.
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A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Road Test
soma saga
Soma Fabrications’ touring frameset arrives
by Patrick O’Grady
Returning to cycling as an adult, a former competitive swimmer gone
soft in the service of journalism, I relied upon the tools of my trade. I
did some research, interviewed a few shop types, and started writing
up cyclocross gave me a
chance to play product manager, because my first racing
machines arrived as frames
and forks. Cyclocross had yet
to achieve even niche status in
America — on this side of the
pond, it was more of a pothole.
I dressed my framesets up
with parts I’d come to rely on
in road and mountain-bike
racing, read about in books
like Cyclocross: Training and
Technique by Simon Burney,
or had scattered about the
place awaiting some purpose.
Occasionally, an old bike had to die so
that a new one might live.
As cyclocross grew in popularity, it
became possible to buy complete bikes,
and I got hold of a few. But by then I
had developed a number of perfectly
defensible biases regarding components
and so eventually returned to buying
steel framesets and equipping them with
my favorite bits.
That’s how I stumbled across Soma
Fabrications. My wife likes to ride, but
doesn’t much care for streets or singletrack, so, in 2006, I bought her one of
their inexpensive Tange Prestige Double
Cross framesets and she’s been happily
navigating the local bike paths ever
The frameset got the usual anarchic
assembly, a hodgepodge of this, that, and
the other, and she liked it so much I bought
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 a Double Cross for myself, the formula for
the optimal number of bikes in my garage
being n + 1. I built mine up almost entirely
with old parts stripped from another ’cross
bike that had proved too whippy for me,
and I found its ride both lively and comfortable. Plus it had mounting points for
racks and fenders, front and rear, making it
capable of doing more than going round in
muddy circles for an hour.
Naturally, when I saw Soma had
begun offering a loaded-touring frameset, I was immediately interested. So
was Adventure Cyclist, and soon I was in
possession of a Soma Saga, plus a box of
parts that fell short of a complete build.
Oh, boy — Frankenbike time again.
The Soma folks, otherwise known
as The Merry Sales Company of San
Francisco, don’t sell the Saga as a complete bike, but they were kind enough to
include a Sugino Alpina 2 triple crankset,
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
Dia-Compe/Rivendell Silver
friction bar-end shifters, Somalabel Tektro brake levers and
IRD Cafam cantis, Nitto B135
Randonneur bars, Soma Thick
N’ Zesty tape, and an IRD
Techno-Glide headset. I was on
my own for the rest, rooting
through boxes, appraising idle
bikes and making notes as to
what would need to be begged,
borrowed, stolen, or — as a last
resort — bought.
Ironically, my Double Cross
became the first organ donor.
Having undergone categoryreassignment surgery a while back, it
was now a touring bike of sorts, and surrendered its beefy Rich Lesnik/Rivendell
wheelset, Shimano A520 touring pedals,
and Tubus Cargo rear rack. Another bike
contributed a Flite saddle, Ritchey seat
post, and Cane Creek Crosstop brake levers.
A Tubus Ergo rack was presently
unemployed, as was an Ultegra front
derailleur, but the Deore rear I had to
buy. And since I was in a rush, I also
bought a Dura-Ace chain, 9-speed
Shimano HG50 cassette, bottom bracket,
Origin-8 Pro Fit stem, and some silver
SKS P45 fenders for style points. Old
Town Bike Shop stitched it all together, I
plugged in my Visa card and brrrzzzzap!
It’s alive! It’s alive, it’s alive — it’s alive!
My build runs 26.3 pounds without
racks and bags, but with a lighter set of
wheels the Saga would make a refined
patrick o’grady
— checks, mostly, for a series of off-the-rack, ready-to-ride bikes. As I pedaled
through flab to fitness, from century rides to amateur racing, I learned through
trial and error what worked for me, and more important, what didn’t. Taking
townie, with its navy powder coat, vanilla panels, and gold lettering. Sling a messenger bag over one shoulder and head
for cube farm or café. Ride it no hands
while checking your email via smartphone. Cross your ankles over the stem,
lace your fingers behind your head, and
have a nap. No, on second thought, don’t
do any of that. Not around me, anyway.
But you’ll be tempted, because the Saga
serves up a very stable, reassuring ride.
I’m famously timid in corners and on
descents, but the Saga makes up for my
shortcomings. I believe I could roll up
to a stop light on this bike, climb off,
stroll over to the button that triggers the
pedestrian-crossing signal, punch it, and
walk back — and the Saga would be sitting there patiently waiting for me, like a
well-trained horse.
But what’s a horse without saddlebags? Soma’s website describes the Saga
as featuring “rear load bias geometry” —
geek-speak for “it rides best with loads
in the rear or at both front and rear”
— and they’ve beefed up the rear rack
mounts in case you’re a two-bagger by
So I installed the Cargo and loaded a
pair of Arkel B-40s with about 18 pounds
worth of this and that and played creditcard tourist for a while, without actually
deploying the credit card (my wife had
raised questions of authorization regarding the parts purchase).
When I stood to climb with that load,
the Saga wanted to wag its butt a bit,
like an old, plump lab with bad hips. But
like that elderly, chubby mutt, it wasn’t
remotely frightening. With its fat top
and down tubes, long chainstays, and
stretch-limo wheelbase, the bike remained
eminently manageable, whether going up,
down, or around and about. I never needed the 24-tooth granny ring on the Sugino
crankset, and not once did I clip my toes
on the front tire or heels on the rear bags.
Got more in mind than a casual weekend outing? The frame has three sets
of bottle bosses, a flat chainstay plate
suitable for a double kickstand, a spoke
holder and pump peg, plus the usual eyelets and mounts at dropout and seat stays.
And the flat-crown fork sports low-rider
mounts and double eyelets at the dropouts. So on went a third bottle cage, fenders, Ergo rack, and some Arkel B-26 bags,
plus a Princeton Tec EOS Bike headlight
Specifications: Soma Saga
Price: $499 (frame and fork only)
Sizes available: 44cm, 47cm, 50cm,
52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm, 60cm, 62cm
Size tested: 58cm
Weight: 26.3 pounds with pedals
Seat tube: 22 inches (center-to-top)
Top tube: 22 1/4 inches actual, 22 5/8
inches virtual (center-to-center)
Head angle: 72°
Seat tube angle: 73°
Chainstay length: 17 3/4 inches
Standover height: 32 inches
Head tube length: 7 5/16 inches
Bottom bracket drop: 3 inches
Crank spindle height above ground:
10 5/8 inches
Fork rake: 1 25/32 inches (45mm)
Wheelbase: 41 1/2 inches
Frame and fork: Tange Prestige heattreated chromoly main triangle, butted
and tapered chromoly seat stays and
chainstays, 1.25-inch butted downtube
and top tube, extended head tube.
Spoke holder, pump peg, flat chainstay
plate for double kickstand, three sets
of bottle bosses, double eyelets at rear
dropout. Flat-crown Tange Infinity fork
has double eyelets at the dropouts and
low-rider mounts
Headset: IRD Techno-Glide
Rims: Velocity Synergy Asym 36-hole
(rear); Velocity Synergy 32-hole (front)
Hubs: Shimano LX
Spokes: DT Swiss 14/15 gauge doublebutted stainless steel spokes with nickleplated brass nipples
(the Cargo already sported a Busch &
Muller 4D Toplight Permanent Taillight).
At this point the Saga was getting
pretty stout. Before loading the bags it
tipped my scale at 30.9 pounds. Fully
loaded front and rear, it weighed in at
61.7 pounds (15.4 up front, 11.2 behind,
plus 4.2 pounds of tent and pad lashed
to the rack). Happily, I need the exercise
and am rarely in a hurry. The path is the
goal — and the path I chose included
several of my favorite climbs and leastfavorite descents, peppered as they are
with mule deer, motorists, and other
oblivious Colorado wildlife.
I was surprised at how well the Saga
climbed while thus loaded — at no point
did I feel as though I was wrestling with
the bike, and out-of-the-saddle efforts
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T Cranks: Sugino Alpina 2 triple, 172.4mm
arms, 48/36/24 chainrings
Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
Rear derailleur: Shimano Deore
Shifters: Dia-Compe/Rivendell Silver friction bar-end shifters
Brake levers: Soma-label Tektro aero
levers with Cane Creek Crosstop topmounted levers
Brakes: IRD Cafam cantilevers
Pedals: Shimano A520 touring
Stem: Origin-8 Pro Fit
Saddle: Selle Italia Flite
Seat post: Ritchey WCS
Handlebar: Nitto B135 Randonneur,
Cassette: Shimano HG50, 11-12-14-1618-21-24-28-32 9-speed
Chain: Dura-Ace 7701
Bottle cages: Blackburn CS-2 stainless
Front rack: Tubus Ergo
Rear rack: Tubus Cargo
Fenders: SKS P45
Headlight: Princeton Tec EOS Bike
Taillight: Busch & Muller 4D Toplight
Permanent Taillight
Gearing in inches:
11117.8 88.4 58.9
12108.0 81.0 54.0
1492.6 69.4 46.3
1681.0 60.8 40.5
1872.0 54.0 36.0
2161.7 46.3 30.9
Contact:, (800) 245-9959
felt just like climbing in slow motion on
one of my lighter, pricier bikes.
Adding weight to the front made the
Saga track as though it were on rails.
I was perfectly comfortable twisting
around with one hand on the bars to
check for oncoming serial killers and
even rode no-hands for short stretches.
And while I was a little tentative on
one very steep, fast descent, I soon settled down and enjoyed the ride, whether
up hill or down dale.
And out there is where we all want
to be. This bike will take you there and
bring you back. So what are you waiting
for? Compose your own Saga.
Patrick O’Grady has written and cartooned about
cycling since 1989 for Velo, Bicycle Retailer and
Industry News, and a variety of other publications.
AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Travels with Willie
Don’t get me wrong, I like comfort. Comfort
is, well, comfortable. But over the last 30
years of bicycle travels, my most memorable
and most valued moments have happened
when I’ve been uncomfortable. Over the recent
years, bike tours have trended more toward
the comfy and luxurious. Which isn’t surprising in a country where parking a 43-foot-long
recreational vehicle complete with bumpouts, satellite television, and leather
recliners on an asphalt pad in the forest
is considered camping.
For every route across the country,
there are numerous organizations and
companies that will cater to your every
need. They’ll carry your bags. They’ll
cook your meals. They’ll arrange for a
soft bed, or, if you have to camp, they’ll
go to great lengths to bring a hot shower
to the field where you will pitch your
I’ve lost track of the number of bicycle
travelers I’ve heard announce, “Oh, I
could never go a day without a shower!”
I feel sorry for them in a way. How
can someone truly appreciate the joy of a
warm shower if they’ve never gone without one?
My wife Kat and I have been cycling
and traveling together since 1996. Our
first trip was a summer journey through
the Balkans. We camped most of the
time. If we had spent every night in a
hotel, our money would have run out
in three weeks. Our journey lasted over
four months.
There were times that we were invited
into people’s homes, and they offered
a bath and a feather bed, and other
creature comforts. Getting clean and
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 lying on top of a down comforter was
sheer joy. But that joy was intensified
because, more often than not, the nights
prior had been spent sweating in a tent
pitched next to a corn field or haystack
after sponge bathing with a warm pot of
Then there was the night when there
was no water source, so we lay next to
each other, exhausted, the day’s dust
and road grit clinging to our bodies. We
stank. We were laughably filthy. I looked
over at Kat and realized just how beautiful she was and how much I adored her. I
took her salty, sweaty hand in mine and
kissed it. In its own odd way, it was the
ultimate romantic moment. No candlelit
table. No expensive bottle of wine. No
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
violins playing. Just us. We didn’t need
anything more.
If someone had offered us a free
fully-supported luxury bike tour of the
Balkans, complete with five-star hotels,
would we have accepted it? You bet!
It would have been fun. But it
wouldn’t have been the intense, visceral,
gritty journey that bound us together as
a couple.
But one person’s uncomfortable is
another person’s routine. Going on a
bike-camping trip might be an adventure
for someone who works a desk job and
the norm for another who works as a
field biologist.
There is a place for luxury tours, of
course. Sometimes you just want to pamper yourself. Sometimes you just want
a vacation. I know. I used to lead those
luxury tours.
I worked for a bike touring company
in the Pacific Northwest. One of the
more popular tours was a six-day trip
in the San Juan Islands off the coast of
Washington. We stayed in nice hotels
and ate at fabulous restaurants. My
guests were an amazing mix of lawyers,
doctors, university professors, accountants, and every other profession under
the sun.
One beautiful summer morning, we
had a short pedal from our inn to the
ferry on Orcas Island. I was riding sag
and most of my guests were long gone
before I pedaled out of the parking lot.
One man lingered, pedaling slowly. I just
figure he was hanging back so I’d have
some company.
Once all of the other guests were out
of sight, he looked at me and said, “Can I
ask you a personal question?”
“Go ahead.”
“What do you …”
There was an awkward pause.
“What do you do if you have to … to
greg siple
A case for skipping the warm shower and B&B
by Willie Weir
My immediate reaction was to burst
out laughing. This was a joke. But the
tour guide in me held back my guffaw
and my brain went into overdrive.
What is this guy really asking? This is
awkward. Wait. Wait.
I managed to keep a neutral expression on my face.
He continued.
“I mean how do you go about it? Can
you get arrested or get a ticket for indecent exposure?”
Was this man pulling off a practical
joke that would be shared with the rest
of the group at lunch?
My mind flew to the guest list: One
couple from Nebraska. A family from
Illinois. A doctor and his wife from
Florida. Two couples from California, and
this man was from New York City.
If this 47-year-old man was born and
raised in the Big Apple, it was quite possible that he had never peed outdoors.
I now could see from his look of
embarrassment that it had taken a lot of
courage to bring this up. This man was
way beyond his comfort level.
“No. It’s no big deal out here,” I said.
“Why don’t you go behind that tree and
I’ll keep a look out.”
“Thanks,” he said, with a look of
gratitude and relief.
I didn’t follow up the conversation
with him. Didn’t ask him how it went.
But I’ll bet that his life has since been a
little richer for having finally peed outdoors.
I guess what I’m trying to point out is
you don’t have to go on an epic journey
to step out of your comfort zone.
Like lifting weights, you don’t get
much benefit until you go beyond what
is comfortable. Lifting a barbell with 20
pounds of weight is a workout for some
and not even close for others.
Kat and my journey in the Balkans
was a leap, but both of us had prior
experience of being away from the
shower head and comfy bed. But Kat had
never been on a long-distance bike trip
and I’d never gone wild camping with
someone I’d just asked to marry me.
If you’ve never been more than 18
hours without a shower, planning to ride
the Adventure Cycling Association’s off
road Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail
from Canada to Mexico is perhaps a leap
too far. I’d recommend a weekend camping trip first.
Take advantage of Adventure Cycling’s — a site developed
to highlight and promote short out-andback bike tours.
If you’ve done organized bike camping tours, consider heading out on your
own. If you are a veteran bike camper
here in the U.S., take the leap and tour in
a foreign country.
Discover what is beyond your comfort
zone. Go out and pedal. Get sweaty and
grimy. Pee outdoors. Forgo the shower.
Then sleep on the ground, underneath
the stars. Feel this world on your skin
and don’t wash it off right away. Travel
in a country where you don’t speak the
language. Eat food you can’t identify. Be
Then, if you want, reward yourself
with a meal at a restaurant and a room
with a king-size bed.
You’ll be amazed out how much better
that food tastes, how blessedly warm that
shower feels, and you might rediscover
how decadently comfortable it is to sleep
in a bed.
And if you’re like me, you will treasure
those uncomfortable moments as the great
joys and wonders of your life. Adventure Cyclist columnist Willie Weir has been
wild camping and traveling by bike for 30 years. He
enjoys the benefits of being uncomfortable, but will
admit to not heeding his own advice.
Experience Live Olympic Cycling
London 2012
Olympic Road
Race Route
King Upon
In addition to the games, auction winners can cycle the Surrey Hills, day-trip to Dorking or
London, explore the history of North Holmwood, and visit
the Denbies Estate Vineyard and
other local attractions.
This auction is only open to
Adventure Cycling members.
For auction details and to
place your bid, visit the
website below.
Location of
Home Stay
Adventure Cycling Association is auctioning a 10 night home stay for 2 in North
Holmwood, England, during the London 2012 Olympic Games. The house is located in the
beautiful Surrey countryside along the route for the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Cycling
Road Races.
Box Hill
The winner of the auction will stay
in the home pictured to the right.
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Geared Up
eat, sleep, drink, shoot
by Mike Deme and Josh Tack
Cateye INOU
($250, cateye.
ucts, 800522-8393)
from Cateye
is a still camera and
GPS video recorder that
you can mount to your helmet
or handlebars. I’ve toyed around
with a few helmet cams before but,
so far, the INOU has been the easiest
to use, mostly because the versatile
mounting strap actually fits many
styles of bike helmets and was not
intended for helmets with few vents.
Not only is the INOU an easy way to
record your rides, you can also upload
and share them using the INOU Sync
software (available for PC and Mac) in
conjunction with INOUAtlas (inouatlas.
The recording process is pretty
simple. You mount the INOU to your
helmet (preferable to the handlebars,
which provides a bit shakier picture) and
press the power button. The INOU will
show a solid red light while it acquires
your position via GPS and will switch to
a flashing red light once it has. It’s now
ready for action and, when you’re ready,
you press the video record button. That’s it. When your ride
is over, you press the power
button again and the recording stops. A 1GB Micro SD is
When you’re ready to
upload the video or pictures,
you pull the Micro SD card from the
INOU and plug it into a data card reader.
(There is no mini USB port built into the
INOU so you’ll need a separate reader.)
You then fire up the sync software and
follow the on screen instructions to
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 upload
will need
to start a free
account to complete
the process. You
can also access
the video and
photos without
uploading by
clicking on the
Details button
and then the
Display data
folders button, but be careful, if you
alter the data that’s been downloaded to
your computer before you send it to the
INOUAtlas site, the upload may not work
properly. The INOUAtlas website allows
you to share your data via Google
Maps and also through both
Facebook and Twitter.
The INOU runs on two
AAA batteries and
will run for about
six hours. It can
handle a Micro
SD card up to
32GB and
the camera
records at 640 x 480 pixels. The camera
and mounting strap weigh in at 5 oz.
One odd thing is that the INOU
doesn’t record sound, which may or may
not be a big deal to some.
The INOU offers an easy way to
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
record your rides, and if you like to
share what you’ve been up to on your
bike, it makes it easy to do so.
REI Quarter Dome T2 Plus
ter-dome-t2-tent, 800-426-4840)
In many ways a tent is like a touring
bike — when you find the right one, it
feels special. That’s the way I felt about
a Quarter Dome I had for few years. But
that tent is now somewhere in Oregon
— I know not where — so I decided to
see what REI had done with the Quarter
Dome. Much like Travis was at first with
Young Yeller, I thought I’d be disappointed, but I’m actually pleasantly surprised.
REI offers five models of the Quarter
Dome and I decided to
try out the T2 Plus version. This
freestanding model boasts 35.2 square
feet of rectangular floor space (94” x 54”
with a peak height of 41”), five pockets,
two air-flow chimneys, two entry ways,
and a seam-sealed, waterproof, coated
ripstop nylon floor. The Tension Truss
architecture provides excellent stability
and the preassembled poles, which are
color coded to match the tent, allow for
easy setup, and there are no annoying
pole sleeves as the tent body clips to the
frame. When packed up, the T2 Plus
measures 7.5” x 20” and weighs in at a
packed weight of just under 5 pounds.
While the vestibules may not be
big enough to allow an entire bike
under them, they easily accommodate
panniers and, if you use this as a oneperson tent, there’s plenty of room
inside to store gear. I found that staking out the rainfly at the corners was a
better option than using the tent pole
grommets when it rained, allowing the
water to drain further from the main
tent body.
Another option with the T2 Plus is
to use the rainfly, poles, and footprint
(additional $30.50) to pitch a quick,
minimalist shelter. If you’re looking for a
tent for bike camping (especially if you’re
tall), the Quarter Dome T2 Plus is a very
good option.
Snow Peak Hybrid Summit
Solo Cookset + Titanium Spork
($4.95/$8.95,, 503-6973330)
If you’re planning to knockout a
few bike overnights (check out bike or have plans for a solo,
week-long, ultralight bikepacking trip,
you might want to consider taking along
the titanium Hybrid Summit Solo cookset and spork. These weight savers are
perfect for short trips, weighing in at a
combined 6.8 ounces. The cookset consists of a 28-ounce pot, a silicone lid/potholder, and a silicone base that doubles
as a cup or small bowl. Yup, that’s it.
An ultralighter’s dream. And the spork?
Well, it’s hard to wax eloquent about
such a utilitarian device, but Snow Peak
at least allows you to choose a color:
green, blue, or purple. And the dang
thing works well — it pierced all sorts of
fruit and allowed me to shovel all forms
of edible materials into my melon (hardy
har har).
If weight is your chief concern and
you’re looking for a simple cooking solution, check out the Hybrid Summit Solo
cookset and spork.
Showers Pass VelEau 42
($80, show
veleau-42, 800-557-5780)
Showers Pass is a company that is well known
for doing a great job of
keeping you dry, however, their new VelEau 42
saddle bag is focused on
keeping you hydrated.
The VelEau 42 saddle bag is
a unique way to add some extra
water capacity to your bike that
doesn’t require carrying any
extra weight on your
back, like you would
with a hydration
backpack. The
large saddle
bag has a
42 ounce
that easily attaches to your bike through
a Velcro strap that wraps around your
seatpost, and a ratcheting strap that
loops around the rails of your saddle
for a secure fit. On the top of the bag
is a wide mouth bottle opening, which
makes it very easy to not only fill up,
but also to clean.
To get the water from the reservoir
to your mouth, there is a long drinking
tube that is routed between the rails of
your bike saddle, along the top tube,
and up to your stem. There are three
small clips that Velcro to your frame
and keep the tube in place, so you don’t
have to worry about it getting caught on
anything, or getting in the way of your
knees as you pedal. At the end of
the drinking tube there is a bite
valve, which allows water to
flow freely when you bite down
on it. It also prevents water
from leaking when you are not
drinking from it. If you have
a very large bike frame, don’t
worry, as there is plenty of tube
available. My top tube measures
22.5”, and I ended up cutting 4” of
tube to get the length just right.
Grabbing the drinking valve and
putting it back is nearly effortless
on the fly. Two of the clips holding the hose have retractable
reels, which mean that if you
drop the tube unexpectedly,
it will reel back to where
it originally was. Each clip
also has a magnet that helps
secure the clip back onto its
respective Velcro strap, so you
can concentrate on hydrating
and riding, and not getting
everything put back in a neat
After all of this, you may
continued on page 46
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Life Member Profile
vicki marugg
With knowledge gained from the ground up, this life member can do it all
by Dan Schwartzman
hen Viki Marugg first got into
cycle touring back in 1980,
she couldn’t find a bike to fit
her, so she decided to make her own. The
Californian bought a copy of Eugene A.
Sloane’s Bicycle Maintenance Book, cruised
over to Palo Alto Bicycles, and bought the
smallest frame Trek offered and all the
components that she had just read about.
Four days later, Marugg had a beautiful
bicycle built from scratch.
“It was still a little too stretched out
for me, but I learned a bicycle from the
ground up,” Marugg said. “With that
knowledge, one has the freedom to go
A graphic designer, artist, and photographer, Marugg has long regarded the
bicycle with admiration — both for its
functionality and its aesthetic appeal.
Marugg vividly remembers her first
pangs of “bicycle envy” at the age of
three, when she was riding on a tricycle.
A few years later, Marugg received her
first two-wheeler (“a gift from Santa”) in
1955, while living in Japan.
“I was in love from first sight,” Marugg
said. “My brother and I would ride late
into the evening and would often cruise
outside the Lockheed Compound to explore
the nearby train yard.” (Marrug’s step-
Life Membership
A lifetime of benefits, long-term support
for bicycle travel.
Following is a list of cyclists who have
made the commitment of Life Membership to
Adventure Cycling over the past six months.
Funds from Life Membership are put into a
special account to provide long-term support
to the organization. In the past, these funds
have helped us purchase our headquarters
building, saving us thousands of dollars in
interest payments. We then put the savings
toward route creation and reaching out to current and future cyclists. 42
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 father was Vice President of Lockheed
International and in charge of operations in
Japan during the Korean War.)
Over the years, Marugg’s passion for
cycling has remained a constant, and
has propelled her to many adventures
whether commuting 14 miles daily, riding
centuries on the weekends, touring, or
planning organized rides.
During the 1980s, when Marugg organized her first tours, long cycling treks
If bicycle travel is important part of your
life, please consider making a life-time
commitment by joining as an Adventure
Cycling Life Member. To find out more,
ship or give Membership Director Julie
Huck a call at (800) 755-2453 x 214.
Thanks to these new life members who
signed up mid-March 2011 through July:
Kevin Anglin, Osteen, FL
Dick Combs, Bartow, FL
Andrea Commaker, State College, PA
Pamela Fischer & Scott Spaulding, New
Gloucester, ME
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
were already part of her daily routine.
“Now I find it hard to believe I rode as
much as I did,” said Marugg, recalling
when she joined a square dancing club in
San Jose while she was living in Menlo
Park, about 20 miles northwest of the city.
“Friday evenings the club would meet
from 7:00 until 10:00 PM. I would commute to work, change clothes there, pedal
to San Jose, square dance for two hours,
and pedal home by midnight. Ahhh,
Marugg said back then bicycle touring
required more planning and routes had
to be given consideration before hitting
the road.
“I used the library,” she said, adding that Google did not yet exist. “I
researched it and drew the maps and
organized a SAG crew. We had five riders and seven SAG crew members. What
Her first three tours included a ride
around the island of Maui, a jaunt from
San Francisco to Los Angeles along the
coast, and a five-day trek throughout
parts of Arizona and California. For her,
bicycle travel evokes a powerful feeling.
“I like the pace. It’s perfect. The
continued on page 46
Liam Healy, Washington, DC
Bradley Herman, APO, Korea
Betsy Hunter Family, Seattle, WA
Elizabeth Labadie, Seattle, WA
Veronica Massey Family, Tampa, FL
Kathleen McHugh & Ernest Cole,
Los Osos, CA
David Miller, Santa Clarita, CA
Timothy S. Smith, Foster City, CA
M. P. J. Squier, Santa Barbara, CA
Gregory & Leslie Stone, Red Bluff, CA
Ray Swartz, San Francisco, CA
Steve Tolle, Fernandina Beach, FL
Richard J. Voss, Minneapolis, MN
Marketplace ads start at $195 per issue. For rate information, please please contact Rick Bruner.
Phone/fax: (509) 493-4930, Email: [email protected]
ATD 2.25x1-V1.pdf
9:38 AM
Shorts & Jerseys
Sizes X-Small to 5X
continued on next page
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Rate: $115 for the first 30 words, $2 for each additional word. For more information, please contact
Rick Bruner at phone/fax: (509) 493-4930, email: [email protected]
Bicycle Touring Gear — Buy Expedition
Quality Panniers, Racks, & Bicycle Touring
Gear at Great Prices! See Ortlieb, Tubus,
Lone Peak, and More! Questions? Call Wayne
Toll Free at (800) 747-0588, Email us at:
[email protected], or visit us at
— The largest
selection of Bike Bags & Bike Racks - by
Ortlieb, Vaude, Lone Peak, Tubus, Old Man
Mountain & More! —
The largest selection of Bike Cargo Trailers
— by BOB, Burley, Extrawheel, Wandertec
& More! 1-800-717-2596.
Touring Gear & Camping Equipment. 50+
Top Quality Brands - Ranked in the TOP 1%
at - FAST Shipping +
FREE Shipping on orders >$120 - Enjoy our
Forum, Daily Articles and our Experts Corner
Bike Shops
Open Roads. Friendly Waves.
Rans, Easy Racer, Sun, Cycle Genius, Bacchetta
Recumbents - KHS, Schwinn, Raleigh
Tandems - Greenspeed, HP VeloTechnik
Trikes - Electra Touring. Jay’s Pedal Power,
512 E. Girard Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125;
(215) 425-5111, Toll-free (888) 777-JAYS, Visit
our website at:
— Eugene, Oregon’s
Urban Cycling Outfitters. Gear, guidance
and enthusiasm to support your life-biking. Basil, Ortlieb, Tubus, Detours, Showers
Pass, Ibex and Endura plus loads of fenders,
lights, reflectives, tools and Brooks saddles.
Xtracycles! 2705 Willamette St., 541.484.5410,
[email protected]
TANDEMS EAST — Road, Mountain and
To learn about the
Kansas Byways,
scan the QR code or
Travel Tandems. Over 60 in stock. Wheel building, child conversions, repairs, parts catalog,
test rides. Back-stocking Conti and Schwalbe
touring tires. 86 Gwynwood Dr, Pittsgrove, NJ
08318. Phone: (856) 451-5104, Fax: (856) 4538626. Email: [email protected] or visit our
website at:
– Georgia BikeFest, October 14-16, 2011,
Columbus, GA. Spring Tune-Up, Madison,
GA. April 20-22, 2012. Great fun for families
and groups. Various mileage options. 770498-5153, [email protected],
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
— 13th Annual “Mountains to the Coast”
(October 1 – October 8) – Begins in Elkin,
NC and ends on the Coast of NC in Corolla.
Cycle 425 plus miles while experiencing
the North Carolina countryside on scenic
back roads amidst beautiful fall colors.
Explore quaint towns, visit famous State
Parks, Historic Sites, wineries, and more.
Fully supported with SAG Support and rest
stops. Various registration options available.
[email protected],
BIKE THE FLORIDA KEYS — The ultimate Bicycle Vacation. Bike the entire key system, down and back. Fully-supported including breakfasts and most dinners. Beautiful
sunsets. Swim with the dolphins. Snorkel.
Dive. The Seven Mile Bridge just might be
the most beautiful seven miles you will ever
bike. November 5–12, 2011. Details from or [email protected]
Escapade TRIRI —
September 11-16, 2011. Scenic, historic tour of
southern Indiana with inn or camping overnights at Indiana State Parks, two layover
days, and ten catered meals. Contact: 812333-8176; [email protected]; or
Russian Heritage of North Dakota
— including fantastic churches and unique
cemeteries as you breathe deeply the cleanest air in America. August 6-13, 389 mile
loop, 1-800-799-4242. CANDISC Tour ’11
Box 515 Garrison, North Dakota 58540-0515.
[email protected] click
on Recreation then click on Activities.
20TH Annual OATBRAN — One Awesome
Tour Bike Ride Across Nevada, Sept. 25-Oct. 1,
2011. “America’s Loneliest Bike Tour” is a fully
supported motel style tour across US Hwy 50,
420 miles, border to border from Lake Tahoe
to the Great Basin National Park. Limited to 50
riders. For more info:
International Tours
personable travel company offering creative
cycling and multi-sport adventures in many of
the world’s best places, including Nova Scotia,
Newfoundland, P.E.I., Costa Rica, Croatia,
Italy, Greece, Norway, and Ireland. Guided
and self-guided. Van-supported. Friendly
guides. Charming inns. Custom groups
anytime. Over 70% return clientele since
2005! Toll Free Phone: 877-777-5699. Please
email us at [email protected]
com or visit our website: www.pedalandsea
& SELF-GUIDED — Small groups since 1987.
Flexible, positive service. Famous and unusual rides in Canada, Iceland, Europe, Israel,
Central America. Go your own pace. Choose
hills and distances or flat and relaxed. 800672-0775;; [email protected]
— Bike Tours Direct - Guided and self-guided tours with European bike tour companies.
Weekly and daily departures. Tours from
$600. From familiar - Loire Valley, Provence,
Danube, Tuscany, Bavaria, Ireland - to exotic
- Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Slovenia, Adriatic
island-hopping. 877-462-2423 [email protected]
EUROPE — 7 to 10-day self-guided and
guided cycling vacations. We are a specialist
for bike tours in Central Europe since 1996.
We concentrate only on the countries where
we live: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria,
Hungary, Germany, and Poland. Visit and ride
between the beautiful cities of Vienna, Prague,
Budapest, Krakow, Salzburg, Dresden, and
Passau. Carefully planned self-guided tours.
Small guided groups with local knowledgeable guides. We can customize our tours
according to your wishes. Quality bike rental
available. [email protected]
Undiscovered Italy with us! Several confirmed 2011 tours to choose from: Bike
Tuscany Maremma with departure dates on
September 11, September 19, or October 4.
Consider cycling the Amalfi Coast September
25. Enjoy the Apulia Easy Biking Tour set
for September 18. Join us for Umbria Easy
Bike Tour departing October 8.
www. or call 1-800-881-0484.
North American Tours
ported bicycling & hiking adventure vacations with an organization whose sole focus
for 26 years is extraordinary adventure
throughout western U.S. & Canada. Website: Email: [email protected] Phone: 800-417-2453.
ages and abilities. Fully supported, inn-toinn, bike path & road tours. Cross-country,
National Parks, Europe & more. Bicycle workshops, wine tasting, yoga. Call for free catalog. 800-247-1444,
Vacation Bicycling — “After taking more
than 90 bicycle tours, Vacation Bicycling is
one of our top 10 experiences!” We provide
beautiful 7-day tours from $1099, including hotels, food & SAG through Martha’s
Vineyard/Cape Cod, NC Outer Banks, Maui,
Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, Florida Keys and
Canada’s Prince Edward Island. Come join us!
— Celebrating 15 years of excellence! Come
ride with Tracy Leiner - owner, cyclist and
tour director. Tracy travels with every group,
everyday managing daily logistics, driving
support vans and pedaling with her cyclists.
Small groups, personal attention, superior
accommodations and meals. Extensive pre-trip
support including training plan and telephone
consultations. Rider reference list available.
(800) 971-2453
service bicycle touring leader. Chose from 38
tours ranging from 5 to 52 days. Let us take
you on your dream ride — Coast to Coast! 888-797-7057 FREE CATALOG.
Coast 2 Coast — Hassle free closely fol-
lowing Southern Tier averaging 63 miles per
day. Fully supported including freshly- prepared great-tasting meals, and a mechanic.
You dip your rear wheel into the Pacific and
your front wheel into the Atlantic, I will
do everything in between. March 8 – April
30, 2012. or
[email protected]
VACATIONS — Easy, flat terrain tours
include: South Carolina’s Lowcountry, North
Carolina’s Outer Banks, and Maryland’s
Eastern Shore. More challenging, mountainous
tours include: Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
and North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. All tours include intimate group size, cozy
country inns, and outstanding cuisine. www.; 888-251-3206.
Challenge yourself riding 400+ miles and
climbing 30,000’ through the Scenic Byways
and National Parks of the West. 714-267-4591
Cycle Canada — Affordable Supported
Tours Book now for our Fall Colours Tour
From the organizers of Tour du Canada Call
800-214-7798 or visit
Discovering Canada by bike since 1988.
Sockeye Cycle, since 1988. Offering guided
trips throughout our breathtaking region.
Experience the beauty of Alaska and the
Yukon with local guides and gourmet cuisine. 877-292-4154
Bike GapCo — June 24-30. 2012. Finally a
bicycle tour connecting the Great Allegheny
Passage (GAP) and the C&O Canal Towpath
(Co). Ride safely on off-road bike paths,
void of motorized traffic, from Pittsburgh to
D.C. while passing through some of the most
spectacular scenery you will ever see from a
bicycle. Details for this fully supported tour
can be found at
Bike the International Selkirk Loop, North
America’s only two-nation Scenic Byway
through Washington, Idaho, Canada. Pick
your pace for 280 miles of incredible selfsupported riding!
TRAIL TOUR 2012 — Ride through the
history of Ruts, Wagons, Forts, Cowboys
and Indians on Americas Mother Road.
Fully supported, affordable, camping tour.
Friendly experienced staff and delicious
meals. 402-499-0874, Website: www.histor
DAKOTA BIKE TOURS — Fully supported
inn to inn, on road tours showcasing iconic
features such as Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse
Memorial, Badlands National Park, Devils
Tower Monument, and the Heart of the
Colorado Rockies. www.dakotabiketours.
com; 605-359-5672.
Intermediate tours across the USA. You will
stay in unique lodgings and dine on scrumptious meals. Experienced staff and fully
supported tours. Visit us for more details: 877-880-bike.
— It’s not too early to start planning a
cycling adventure for 2012. We’ll soon be
announcing our early and epic rides for next
year, with several options for a classic, coastto-coast self-contained or van-supported
adventure and our popular fully-supported
rides, which come complete with luggage
transportation and catered meals. See our
website for a full listing of our 2012 early and
epic tours.
(800) 755-2453.
AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
continued from page 41
be wondering where you’re supposed to
put your tool kit if your saddle bag is full
of water. It wouldn’t make much sense
to take the water off your
back if you’re just going to
transfer your tools over to
your jersey pockets, and
Showers Pass is on top of
this. In a wedge shaped
space underneath the
water reservoir, there is a
compartment plenty large
to house a multitool, tube,
patch kit, and tire irons.
With a durable build, and
thoughtful design, this
is ideal for long stretches
between watering holes.
-Josh Tack
Pacific Outdoor Equipment LTW
Small Bike Pannier
ltw-small-pannier, 406-586-5258)
Also perfect for the quick overnighter
or ultralight tour, the LTW small panniers
are a lightweight solution for those who
like to carry gear the traditional way. The
waterproof roll-top panniers weigh just 18
ounces each, offer an internal volume of 19
quarts (18 liters), and are made of 50 denier
Diamond Ripstop recycled P.E.T. fabric.
The attachment hardware consists of
an auto adjustable bottom connector and
two top clamp connectors that shut to
prevent the pannier
from popping off while riding on rocky terrain. The top
connectors are also adjustable
so they can accommodate many
standard racks, but you’ll need
to keep a Phillips head screwdriver handy.
The main body of the LTW
small pannier is simply a roll-top
dry bag — there are no pockets,
and the backside offers two stiffeners at the top
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 and bottom. This leaves the middle of the
bag with no stiffener but, because the bag
is so light, I didn’t find this to be a problem on short trips. If you want to travel
light and use quality, simple panniers, the
LTW small pannier could
be a good fit for you.
Park PRS-25
uct/team-issue-repair-standprs-25, 651-777-6868)
I was recently looking for a new repair stand
and my chief concern was
portability. I don’t always
work on my bike in the
same place; sometimes I’m
upstairs in the kitchen,
other times I’m in the
garage or the basement, so I
wanted a stand I could easily carry and move around that wouldn’t
always be knocking into doorways and
other pesky objects, like a refrigerator. In
the PRS-25, I’ve found the stand for me.
The PRS-25 weighs just 13 pounds
and, while folded, measures 47” high. In
this state, the professional macro-adjust
clamp is stored upright between the clamp
bracket and leg brace, and the legs are
folded together. To employ the stand, you
loosen the top quick release and remove
the clamp, then install it by cranking it
into the bracket. You then release a second
quick release and push the legs apart a
bit. After that you push down on the leg
bracket and the legs unfold easily.
The PRS-25’s clamp is extremely adjustable, able to clamp vertically onto your seat
tube or horizontally on to your cross tube,
and it can be adjusted up to 60” high.
There are some nice options available
from Park Tool that make using the PRS25 even better: the 106 work tray, the
TS-25 wheel-truing mechanism, and the
PTH-1 paper towel holder, which doubles
as a wheel hanger. All together, the PRS25 package makes working on your bike a
snap. For a preview, check out their demonstration video online.
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G
continued from page 42
pace varies according to how you feel.
Anywhere from 7 to 25 MPH. The speed
is enough to get you there — even
hefty distances — and slow enough to
experience the journey through all your
One cycling event that Marugg took
particular pride in was the Mono Lake
Bike-A-Thon, which took place from 1980
through 1995. The six-day, 350-mile annual ride raised money to help protect the
lake from being drained by the people of
Los Angeles and was ultimately successful
in achieving its aim. Marugg said it was
her first bike ride used to earn money for
a good cause. Along for the ride was Jim
Sayer, now Adventure Cycling’s Executive
Cycling itself has remained a good cause
to Marugg, who later joined Adventure
Cycling Association as a Life Member in
A cyclist for 54 years, the love of riding influenced Marugg profoundly in
many ways. Politically, she has been a
Green Party Member since its founding.
Environmentally, she defines herself as a
lifelong ecologist. Physically, cycling was
a large part of her life when she faced a
bout with breast cancer while she was
training for the Adventure Cycling’s
Leadership Training Course.
Marugg dreams one day of setting out
on a 10-year tour around the U.S. But,
no matter how close to home or far afoot,
cycling remains a journey for Marugg.
“The whole point of cycling is that
every ride can become an adventure, even
if it’s just to work. It’s just about getting
in the saddle and doing it; chances are
you’ll run, smack-dab, into an adventure
each time you hop on the saddle.”
Dan Schwartzman is a Bikram Yoga instructor and
avid bicycle tourist. He is currently planning a tour
of the West Coast and will be teaching yoga along
the way.
Open Road Gallery
setting goals
by Sarah Raz Photograph by Greg Siple
The rules for Hardcourt Bike Polo can vary a little depending on location, but they’re pretty
simple. Any type of bicycle is allowed but the handlebars must be plugged. Mallets resemble a
croquet mallet with a wide side and a round end — you can build your own with a discarded ski
pole. Three players from each team are allowed on the field at any time and are allowed three kinds
of contact: body on body, bike on bike, and mallet on mallet. Your feet cannot, repeat, cannot, touch
the ground. A street hockey ball is used. A game can be played until one team reaches five points,
or a game can be decided by the most points scored within a prescribed time.
Krista Carlson discovered bike polo in North Hollywood, California, in 2008 and was instantly
hooked. She began to travel all over the U.S. to attend polo tournaments. Her passion for the game
also led her to host and befriend traveling polo players from all over: Phoenix, Geneva, Toronto,
and even Helsinki. When Krista came to our headquarters in June of this year, she was riding from
Los Angeles to Chicago, with lots of layovers for play! Krista declares, “I have met players from all
regions of the country and am eager to play on their courts.”
Although Krista was eager to continue her Tour de Polo, she got the news while in Missoula
that she had been accepted to a journalism workshop in New York so she packed up her bike and
four mallets and moved to the Big Apple. She reports that the workshop is going well and, when she
isn’t studying, she plays bike polo with the NYC club. When she’s done with her course, she will
head to Seattle to compete in the Wildcard Tournament for a chance to play in the World Hardcourt
Bike Polo Championships in September. Given her scoring history, we think she has a good chance.
From Adventure Cycling’s National Bicycle Touring Portrait Collection. © 2011 Adventure Cycling Association.
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G. O R G
Adventure Cycling Association
P.O. Box 8308
Missoula, Montana 59807-8308
Adventure Cycling
A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I S T AU G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 1 A DV E N T U R E C Y C L I N G . O R G