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5 Books Every Cyclist Should Read

booksThough I don’t expect everyone to be as fanatical about cycling books as I am, there are some great cycling books. I thought it would be easy to narrow a list to five books. Boy, was I wrong! After lots of mulling, here’s my list:

1) A great sports story for everyone: Major Taylor: The Inspiring Story of a Black Cyclist and the Men Who Helped Him Achieve Worldwide Fame, by Conrad Kerber and Terry Kerber. Major Taylor, a black, Christian athlete, raced bikes in the late 1800s and early 1900s. What Major Taylor accomplished during that era rivals that of the best black athletes of any era – Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, Cassius Clay. It’s unfortunate Taylor’s story has been overlooked by so many historians. I think this is the greatest sports story in history.

2) The cult novel: The Rider, by Tim Krabbé. First published in Holland, this book has a cult following in part because it can be read year after year. It’s the story of a 150 kilometer race, and even if you’re a non-cyclist you can feel your heartbeat elevate as the physical and emotional aspects of the race unfold.

3) The literary novel: The Wheels of Chance: A Bicycling Idyll, by H.G. Wells, is for anyone who enjoys 1900s prose and a whimsical tale. The story describes how bicycles changed the social and sexual landscape during the late 1800s, as the book’s main character, Mr. Hoopdriver, prepares for a bicycle touring vacation through the
English countryside.

4) Oh, those French: Sex, Lies and Handlebar Tape: The Remarkable Life of Jacques Anquetil, the First Five-Times Winner of the Tour de France, by Paul Howard. While Anquetil’s accomplishments on a bike are beyond comparison,
his story off the bike is even more unbelievable. TMZ could not make this stuff up. He takes drugs, is motivated by money, seduces and marries his doctor’s wife, and that’s only the start.

5) The history book: Road to Valor: A True Story of WWII Italy, the Nazis, and the Cyclist Who Inspired a Nation, by Aili McConnon and Andres McConnon. Many books fall into the category of paralleling cycling with world affairs, but this story of Gino Bartali is particularly poignant. Bartali holds the record for the longest span between Tour de France victories. Nicknamed Il Vecchio (“old man”), he lost his best of years of racing
to the war, but stayed in shape smuggling fake identification papers to Italian Jews.

What are your top 5 cycling books? Any that you think should knock any of my top 5 off the podium? Let us know in the comments section – I’m always looking for a great cycling story.

– Todd Starnes
President & Co-Owner
Bicycle Adventures

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New Float Plane on San Juans Tour a Real Highlight

michelle float plane

This past summer, we made some improvements to the San Juan Islands 6-Day tour, making the itinerary a little more relaxed so our guests have time to enjoy the charm of the islands and the great lodges that we stay at. One of the new highlights is a Kenmore air float plane from quiet Lopez Island on the last day of the tour. We set out from Fisherman’s Bay and fly into Lake Union, the heart of downtown Seattle.

Let me tell you, flying to Lake Union is about a million times better than driving. It’s a unique experience in the Pacific Northwest which for me highlights the beauty of Washington State, from the Olympic Peninsula across Puget Sound, all the way to the Cascade Mountains. On a clear day you may be blessed with a peek of Mt Rainier dominating the distant skyline as the float plane settles in on Lake Union.

It’s really a great way to see the area — and all of us are just glowing when we step off the plane!

Michelle Longstreth
Head Guide
Bicycle Adventures
float plane

Mickelson Trail, from Guide to Guest

Pretrip2
Preparing for South Dakota

“There were side bets going on, I was wondering if I could relax and let others work…” I told Jill, Brad Barnard’s wife, “I am going to prove them all wrong…” – Teri Smith, Bicycle Adventures guide on her first trip with Bicycle Adventures as a guest. The following story is from her Facebook Page.

Pre Trip: Leading up to this Custom “All Dawgs” Mickelson Trail tour in South Dakota, Dave, my husband, was feeling a little uneasy… By Memorial Day, however, the weekly bike rides had become fun, and on this day we hit a trail in the Columbia Gorge that would feel similar to what we would encounter on the Mickelson Trail with Bicycle Adventures. Next stop, Rapid City, SD!!!

Taking a trip as a guest, and not a guide was a first for me. Having never been in the state of S.D., I had zero expectations. Dave and I were blessed enough to find the best United Airlines employee in Portland and received standby tickets for an earlier flight out of Denver. She also went ahead and scheduled our bags to be on the earlier plane. All worked out, and all but three of the All Dawgs crew filled many seats on the 3:45 to Rapid City. (They call these trips the “All Dawgs” trips because the participants are all rowdy UW alumni.)

Pretrip3

Parks, cool alleyways, surprising restaurants, presidential statues, and smiles of friendly locals filled Rapid City. We had a fabulous night with friends! After having dinner, I laid down ready to sleep. Soon after, I looked at the clock and almost immediately thought of our guides, Carrie and Renee. They were probably outside, finishing up. Maybe shopping for our lunches or trying to organize packets. Oh boy… quiet mantra in my head to let these thoughts go, I fell into a sweet slumber, ready to ride. The next morning, on our way to breakfast, I saw Todd Starnes carrying the water jug to be filled and felt a small twinge of guilt… but changing into bike clothes and sharing in the fun banter about the coming days melted those thoughts. David, my husband, was about to see what I have been doing all of these years and I was about to share a passion with him. It could not be a better day!

Day 1: Waking up in darling towns is always special. As a guide, our faces light up just as a guest’s will when we see something interesting. The biggest difference between the two roles is that, as a guest, I was able to have the time to explore and discover little hidden gems. On this day, we explored Hot Springs, SD, had a delicious cup of coffee, wrote in chalk on a table, took goofy pictures of Brad Barnard (would have done that anyway), saw some incredible nature moments, watched a film about Tatankas, and had a very memorable (50th) birthday surrounded by love. Phone calls from Charlie and Jalen that weren’t interrupted by work capped off a perfect day!

Day1
Rails to Trails…what better way to see parts of our country that only train engineers, passengers, and folks on horseback used to see.

Day1.2
Well, hello beauties! Tatanka, or Bison, are powerful and beautiful creatures. Their eyes have stories to tell, and this day allowed ample opportunity to learn their history, see them up close in their natural environment, and to remind us all that we must stay diligent in our respect of all living things.

Day 2: The All Dawgs week with Bicycle Adventures continues to shine. After a heavy storm last night, we slept in a bit and woke to sunny skies and lower temps. Our ride is just 17 miles with about 1,200′ of elevation gain, but it bookends a visit to Crazy Horse Memorial and culminates in Custer at Sylvan Lake Lodge… read the picture caption to follow along on our memorable day!

Day3
Old architecture makes me happy… and a bank turned coffee, ice cream, and beer shop makes me even more so. Perfect combo!

Day3.2
On this tour, we watch a movie, take a bus tour, and explore the grounds at Crazy Horse Memorial. There is a lot to learn, both about the family who made this happen and continues to work their father’s vision and about the monument itself. Thank you for bringing us here!

Day 4: Today, our rest day, was PACKED and WONDERFUL! We asked if we could hike early, and Todd, Brad, Jill, and David joined the two of us at 6:30 a.m. for a hike to Black Elk Peak (once known as Harney Peak.) Black Elk Peak is the highest natural point in South Dakota at 7,242′. It is also the highest point east of the Rockies. Leaving early, we were able to walk without seeing other people until we hiked out, saw some mountain goats settle in place for their morning sunning, and made our way back to the lake for an afternoon paddle. A visit to Eye of the Needle and Mount Rushmore capped a beautiful and adventurous day!

Day4
Sylvan Lake Lodge to Trail 9 to Black Elk Peak, then Trail 3 to 4 for a round trip of just about 9 miles… perfect! Sore legs all around at the end, but the BEST views and lots of stories to share. Don’t miss this!

Day4.2

Day 5: Today our intrepid group rode from Hill City to Rochford, then into Deadwood, SD. We have 23 miles to ride with 1,300′ elevation gain… David is feeling legs today but is staying strong and intends to finish this week with over 100 miles. Others in our group (all of us!) are feeling our legs, too, but the beauty of the Mickelson Trail (well, one of the beautiful things about this place) is that the grade stays around 1-3 percent and is doable. Slow or fast, your riding style doesn’t matter. Just doing it takes you on a ride through time, brings a sense of becoming one with our beautiful outdoors, evokes moments of “I can’t wait for our next tour,” and allows all of the senses to be present in each moment. We all feel very blessed to be able to ride this trail, and I am very much in my happy place.

Day5
Another little gem in the city park at Hill City. Here, early in the morning with no one overseeing your time, you can walk inside this old cabin and read about the history of Hill City. South Dakota is amazing, and YOU should visit, too!

Day5.2
Al, Doug, and Betty enjoying the trail

Day 6: Riding in Spearfish Canyon to Cheyanne Crossing is just plain fun! We all enjoyed a nice long downhill today, and David decided that, next time, he’d like to go on the Bryce/Zion trip. I am down… you in?

Day6
Brad and Jill take in the beauty of Spearfish Canyon. It does not disappoint.

Post Trip: To say the last six days were wonderful would be an understatement. I do believe that David and I had what was arguably the best trip we have ever taken together. To quote Dave, “I have heard that you will appreciate the country better from a bicycle. Having had that opportunity, I understand what Teri and the others are talking about. The world slows down around you, allowing you to be one with the beauty as you pedal each day, sharing time with new friends…” Brad Barnard took some photos of the two of us along the way, and I am sharing one of those now… I did not have a hard time being on a trip as a guest (sorry Deb!) but I did truly enjoy looking at what I have done for work from the other side. Renee, Carrie, and Todd did a very good job during our trip. We felt cared for, informed, pampered, heard, and each day that passed was better than the last. Being on a trip during my birthday was such a wonderful blessing, and the entire day I felt special. THANK YOU to everyone for sharing in this trip with me, and now I shall return to what I am passionate about… creating the “best vacation” experience for those I am lucky enough to guide. I really do feel like I work alongside the best in the business, and I hope you will ride with us soon so we can share our passion with you.

Posttrip
David, Jill, and Brad playing around on rocks…

Bicycle Adventures Has Hiking Tours?

Wildflowers, Mt. Rainier, on Bicycle Adventures' Mt. Rainier National Park Hiking Tour. Photo: Guide Chad Maurer

Wildflowers in bloom on the slopes of Mt. Rainier, Washington State

Sure. We understand that your first question may be, “Why would I go on a hiking tour with a company named Bicycle Adventures?” The answer is simple.

Bicycle Adventures has run dozens of hiking tours in the past and our current series of tours is better than ever. They are hand-picked, planned and led by our staff naturalist and experienced guide, Chad Maurer (24 years at Bicycle Adventures).

Of course, each of our hiking tours offers fantastic scenery, but are you inclined to wonder: How did that mountain get there? What was this place like 25, 100, 1000, 10,000, a million years ago? Who lived here? How did they survive? What tree, plant, bird or animal is that? Why is it here? What is its role? How does it survive? Is it edible, medicinal, useful, poisonous, or dangerous? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then Bicycle Adventures’ Hiking Tours are for you! Explore these fascinating mysteries while admiring the spectacular beauty for which the Pacific Northwest is famous. We guarantee you will come away feeling connected to the area in a way that no mere “walk in the woods” can deliver.

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK HIKING TOUR

The Olympic Peninsula is the home of the largest of the four North American species of elk, the Roosevelt elk, named after Teddy Roosevelt. So revered were these elk that the park was almost given the name “Elk National Park.” It is also the home of the Blue Glacier, the lowest glacier in the contiguous United States. This tour encompasses the most variety of any of our hiking tours: temperate rainforests – inland and coastal – wild beaches, lowland lakes, alpine lakes and snow-capped mountains. Each of the lodgings has accessible walks and trails nearby, providing opportunities for self-exploration.

Sea Anemones on Bicycle Adventures' Olympic National Park Hiking Tour. Photo: Guide Chad Maurer

Sea Anemones, Olympic National Park Hiking Tour.


Since its establishment in 1938, the Olympic National Park has become the 6th most-visited of our National Parks and continues to attract travelers from all over the world. In 1976 it was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and later a World Heritage Site as well – recognizing that it is older than any nation and thereby in a sense belongs to the entire world. True to that spirit, it remains virtually undeveloped by comparison to our other National Parks and truly wild at its heart. This is evidenced by the fact that to this day not one single road, paved or unpaved, crosses this 1500 square mile wilderness.

Concerned about the weather? It is a rainforest after all. The good news is that, while up to fourteen feet of precipitation falls here every year, the area averages less than four inches per month during the summer. July is a good time to visit, and there’s no better way to do it than staying at two of the National Parks Lodges along the way!

MT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK HIKING TOUR
Mt Rainier was the 5th National Park to be established in the United States. To the Pacific Northwest native tribes, the mountain was Tahoma, “the mountain that was God.” To the current residents of Puget Sound she is reverently acknowledged as simply “The Mountain.”

Wildflowers on Bicycle Adventures' Mt. Rainier National Park Hiking Tour. Photo: Guide Chad Maurer

Wildflowers blanket the slopes of Mt St Helens

On this tour we circumnavigate The Mountain, contemplating the highest concentration of glaciers anywhere in the U.S. outside of Alaska, and taking time to get to know the residents as we go. We also take the time to make a side trip to Mt St Helens to view the changes that have taken place since the cataclysmic eruption 35 years ago. Together, these are the two most active volcanoes in the Cascades. Triumphant views provide a continual backdrop for our classroom as we explore the natural history of these singular environments on some of the most spectacular trails the area has to offer.
The August tour is scheduled to be after most of the snowmelt to improve trail accessibility and still catch the tail end of the wildflower season. In September you should enjoy spectacular fall color! We operate this tour during midweek-only to avoid the weekend crowds from the city.

COLUMBIA GORGE HIKING TOUR

Multnomah Falls, Bicycle Adventures' Columbia Gorge Hiking Tour. Photo: Guide Chad Maurer

Hikers on Bicycle Adventures’ Columbia Gorge Hiking Tour soak it up at Multnomah Falls

Truly one of the world’s mighty rivers, the Columbia is the largest in western North America. The New York Times describes the Columbia Gorge as being “like Europe, only better.” Hailed as one of Oregon’s Seven Wonders, the region’s fleece-capped mountain peaks, primeval forests, abundant wildflowers and waterfall streaked highlands whisper of the Swiss Alps.

Learn about the rich natural history of the region as we visit each of these diverse environments up close, including a whitewater rafting trip down a spectacular gorge. From Multnomah Falls to Hood River to Mount Hood, easy to reach trails abound, making this the ideal location for a hiking tour!

Hoh River Trail, Olympic Peninsula, Bicycle Adventures' Olympic National Park Hiking Tour. Photo: Chad Maurer

Hiking the Hoh River Trail on the Olympic National Park Hiking Tour. Photo: Head Guide Chad Maurer

The #BikeBlackFriday Community

Bicycle Adventures is back with our second-annual #BikeBlackFriday event! Paying homage to REI’s #OptOutside, we are claiming a space for cycling on the day after Thanksgiving. We hope you’ll go for a ride, or better yet, go for a group ride with friends or the family that you see only once ayear at the holidays.
New Friends Riding Toward Joseph, OR

The act of cycling is uniquely suited to building community. Hailed as “the new golf” in business, riding in a group fosters communication, facilitates sharing and helps us see how dependent on each other we really are. I’m not sure if it’s the fresh air, the departure from our office desks into wide-open spaces, increased circulation or the shared experience of cycling through a beautiful spot – riding bikes with someone is uniquely special. Whether you are truly teaming with other cyclists in a full-on peloton, out for a casual ride to the coffee shop, or playing Bike Bingo – you are actively creating community.

And this is a great time to do just that, on the week that we give thanks for what we have, our friends, our families, our health…and the gift of time with each other, breaking bread, and having fun on bikes.

– Jennifer Schofield, Manager, Tours & Guest Services