Blackburn hosted Ranger Camp way back in April, but it feels like no time at all since we collected our gear in the San Jose airport parking lot. I’ve spent the past few months dialing in the perfect fit on my Niner RLT—with three stem swaps and two handlebar changes—and simultaneously preparing for a cross-country road trip. On tour I’ll be toting my ten pound Pomeranian along for roughly 1,400 miles, and I’ve been intensely debating myself on how best to carry her. We tried a trailer, a backpack(!), and a front and rear basket—there’s some last minute tweaking to do before she joins me (starting in Olympia, WA), but I’m happy to report that Giselle is riding safe and sound.
I’m a bit of a kitchen sink traveler: my biggest challenge with this tour is packing down. I’m not the most experienced of bike tourers, but I have done a far amount of backpacking, and I’m basing my packlist off of past multiple-month trips. Carrying gear for myself and Giselle has made it a little easier to toss additional items, but I have caught myself pulling extra dog toys out of my panniers more than once.
Rather than pack in a ton of mini-tours prior to my ride I’ve turned the Niner into my all-around bike, temporarily retiring my road, mountain, cross, and commuter bikes. I spent this summer commuting twelve miles round trip across Brooklyn and took every opportunity to get out of the city, just to get a taste of how the bike responds. New York is relatively flat, and the tour, with its intense climbs and descents in the NorthWest, will be my first chance to use the full range on the SRAM Road 1x.
In addition to touring, I’m hoping to fit in a relatively challenging hike at least every other week. Giselle is ten years old with a minor heart condition: she’s got about twenty minutes of climbing in her before I get puppy-dog stares for a list. Me and this older pup have some long days ahead of us (or I have some long days of carrying her up mountains). In addition to all of my cycling gear, I’ll also be fitting in some backpacking gear with room to tote her around the trails of the west coast. I have to say, I’ve never been so grateful to have such lightweight outdoor gear.
Mostly I’ve been pre-carbing, because when life gives you a lemon poppyseed doughnut from Seattle’s Mighty-Os at the end of a ten-day road trip fueled on diner coffee, you order a second.
- Pacific Coast Milestones -
- FROM: Brooklyn, New York
- DOB: 2016-01-01
- OCCUPATION: Mechanic and Social Media Communications
What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure?
I’ve had the fortune of seeing a lot of the world, and it’s taken me time to recognize that there is so much amazing adventure within close reach here in the US. Travelling from one end of the country to the next will give me an incredible lens into the landscape of my home, and I am excited of the people and natural beauty that I will meet along the way. I’ve followed the Blackburn Ranger program for the last few years, and the variety of their backgrounds and approaches were immediate inspiration for me to tackle the same path in my own way.
Have you traveled by bike in the past?
The last time I traveled by bike was a few years ago, but I can always be found around one of my bikes, commuting or exploring on day trips. When I travel, I make sure to rent a bike or bring one with me: there’s no better way to see a place than to get around by bicycle.
What is your goal for the route?
I plan to camp along the entire route, and share all of the natural beauty and cultural quirks along the way. I also plan to hike a number of summits with my bike and friends, and find beautiful views that can only be found far away from cities.
What do you hope to get out of this journey?
I'm excited to shake up my routine, and the routines of my friends (and friends-to-be!) along the way. I want to push my limits to get the most out of the time I have, and to learn more about myself.
- Pacific Coast Milestones -