Lets get one thing straight: I lied on my application. Well, more of a white lie I guess. I said that I was definitely planning to ride the coast, but had no idea it would happen this summer. It’s a dream I’ve had for a while, but like many dreams, it’s easy to make excuses and plans that conflict with each passing year. I applied to the ranger program thinking, hey, what a cool opportunity; these guys are offering a chance for people to ride their bikes, test some products, and tell a story. So I applied with fake confidence, saying that I was definitely doing this trip, I had a plan, and all I needed was some extra support. I didn’t know I was going on a bike trip until sometime in March. It wasn’t until I saw a plane ticket in my inbox that said I was going to Arizona to meet the other Rangers.
It doesn’t feel real, and although many things about this trip still feel uncertain, I’ve realized over the years that I kinda like it that way. I am a compulsive planner, but not so much the detailed-type. It’s the big plans that keep me motivated daily, and though I’ve followed through with quite a few of them, none have been this substantial. It has caused me to question my lackadaisical approach to trip-planning, but not once have I questioned my desire to do it. Now that I have a deadline, I have no excuse but to make this thing happen.
I just moved for the 3rd year at my summer job at a zipline course in Ketchikan (AK), where it rains about 9 inches per month during the summer, and the single 30 mile-long highway is laden with cycling hazards such as boat trailers and bear scat. I stick out like a sore thumb, and I still get the occasional driver pulling over to tell me I’m supposed to biking against traffic instead of with it. Despite the adverse conditions, I really like it here. It gives me the chance to focus in on the coming snowboard/school season and save up the necessary funds for the transition between. It also gives me the chance to cross-train with some incredible hiking and kayaking opportunities.
When it comes time in September, I will effectively move out of my temporary housing and ship my camper-truck up to Anchorage where I will meet it in October at the journey’s end. Conveniently, the Alaska Ferry goes straight from Ketchikan to Bellingham, so the first leg of the trip will be water-based. In Bellingham I get a few days to hang out and test out my packed setup, rebuild my bike, and head up to the Canadian border to start. These are the plans I’ve made, and with any luck, everything will come together one way or another. I am confident in my cycling/packing/dirtbagging abilities, but this will be my first really long tour, and my first solo tour to boot. Although it is somewhat intimidating, I am excited for the trip, to get truly lost in the adventure and find purpose in the simple act of riding my bike each day. I am also excited for the people that will be joining for segments along the way such as my friends (close and distant), my sister, and my extremely supportive girlfriend (who is putting up with all of these crazy plans, by the way). Let the journey begin!
• Accessories (lights, fenders, computer, etc.): Bell Blackburn Atom SL 3 computer, B & M IQ Headlight, Blackburn Central Front Smart Light
FROM: Bellingham, WA
OCCUPATION: Currently a full-time student, getting ready for grad school to study Occupational Therapy. During the winter I am a Snowboard Trainer at Mt. Baker, and during the summer I am a Zipline Course Supervisor in Ketchikan, AK for a company called Alaska Canopy
What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure?This trip has been a long time coming. Back in 2008 I began spending a lot of time at my local community bike shop in Bellingham (the Hub). I was beginning to learn a bit about bicycle repair, and did the typical college kid thing and built up a fixie. Eventually, I found a bike in a ditch and it was my goal to rebuild it from used parts and ride it to Portland. My buddy and I chose to ride the Washington Peninsula because we had never seen it, and thought it might make a good story. (It also had an easy bus system if anything catastrophic happened to my makeshift bicycle and trailer). We made our way to Portland over 10 days, and by day 3 I decided that I wanted to do the entire coast. Unfortunately, our short timeframe prevented that from happening. The trip to Portland went flawlessly, and I rode the train back to Bellingham hoping to complete the journey some day.
Have you traveled by bike in the past? I have done multiple other 2-3 day trips since the Portland trip, but nothing as substantial. Around town I commute to school/work every day, mountain bike 2-3 days per week, and have the weekly town/interurban rides with the gang (The Wetboyz).
What is your goal for the route? I have never seen to Northern California! I want to ride my bike through a tree, do some beach touring, find more small community bike shops, and do some surfing. It is also my goal to find some dirt connectors instead of just doing road the entire time. I want to have a loose plan, but let the trip adapt and change as the journey goes on. I want to share stories with people on the road, and travel to places recommended to me by other people, instead of relying solely on the guidebook.
What do you hope to get out of this journey? I hope to see some new places, make some new friends, and connect with myself in ways unknown at this point. I hope I can inspire people with this journey, and show them that it doesn’t take years of planning and thousands of dollars to see some of these beautiful places that are right in our back yard. I believe the biggest barrier for most people is simply getting out there, and I really believe in Blackburn’s mission statement. “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-Tsu Yes, it’s cheesy but that quote has inspired me in many ways. It encourages me to be open-minded and go bold-headed into projects instead of holding back and being overly particular.
“What’s in my bag?” 1.) Pink/silver Kershaw Leek knives. I lost and recently refound the pink one for a year, and the silver one was a birthday gift from my girlfriend to replace the pink one.
2.) Fujifilm Instax 210 Camera + photo of my girlfriend and I from the Portage Glacier (Whittier, AK)
3.) Lucky Bike Shorts – Had ‘em since high school.
4.) Ratball. (a drinking game for the rats, developed by the Wetboyz) For making friends on the road.