Welcome to A Touring Spokesman, a blog dedicated to my bicycle tour slated to start in July 2009.
On July 25th I will forgo life as usual and embark on a trip of a lifetime. From my parents' cabin in Star Prairie, Wisconsin, I will pedal my way to Anacortes, Washington and turn left heading south to San Diego. There is no need for all the details to be worked out, so don't even bother. Here are the essentials...
The most common question I am asked is why on earth would I want to take on such an extraordinary project. There are many reasons, but this simple memory seems to explain it well. I remember sitting in the kitchen of my girlfriend's home. Her father was talking about how he wished he could have traveled when he was out of college. Unfortunately, he couldn't afford it, nor could he spend the time. Silently, I promised myself I wouldn't tell that same story years later. This dream is fueled by my desire to see our country with the wind in my face. By my desire to do something most people wouldn't dare to do. By my desire to visually recall one continuous memory, four thousand miles long.
I am fortunate and proud to be traveling with a great friend from high school, Justin Lee. Justin and I backpacked Costa Rica and Nicaragua in 2005, and thus I am confident that I will be able to tolerate, and perhaps, even enjoy his presence on this trip. Justin just finished working as a Sustainability Coordinator at Macalester College in St. Paul. Furthermore, he recently received his LEED certification.
The premise of this trip is quite simple, to bike from western Wisconsin to the Pacific Ocean and turn left. Given my route selection, this means I will pedal through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington. Once reaching reaching the coast, I will turn left and head though the Oregon coast and into California. When I reach San Diego I will reevaluate my travel plans, bank account, and the heath of my rear to determine the next course of action.
I will follow the Norther Tier Route, created by the Adventure Cycling Association
, a fantastic organization devoted to the creation of maps for the touring bicyclist. Justin and I picked this route for a number of reasons. For me, returning to my own state of Minnesota was a huge draw. I have fond memories of car rides to Brainerd, MN and the eternity it seemed to take to get there. I remember feeling so small standing under Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox. I am excited to return to my home state.
This trip is an opportunity I have made for myself though hard work and sacrifice. However, I could not have dreamed it a possibility without the help and support of many people. Daniel J. Barker fueled my love for all things with two wheels, sans motor, J. A. G. gave me needed encouragement when I needed it, and Justin Lee is the only one I could have imagined asking to embark on this with me. He is one of a kind. To each of you, thanks. My wonderful girlfriend, Meghan Hanes, continues to provide me with endless support as well as countless techniques for outrunning bears and wolves. She has helped me find my way and will help me find my way back. Thank you to the moon and back, everyday. Pete Connors is willing to tell anyone stories about his adventures in Europe, and you should listen. Just be aware that his stories are awe inspiring, one of a kind, and often filled with danger, laughter, and great food. This will cause you to create your own stories or to steal his. Pete, for your stories and inspiration, thank you.
To my mom and dad, who always remind me of who I am, where I come from, and what family means, thank you. For teaching me when to put my head down and work for what I want, thank you. For loving me no matter who or what I become or what crazy thing I dream up, thank you.