Life Without Wheels: Chronicle of a Car-Free Lifestyle
On day two of our overnight shakedown, we went on a nice hike up Bass Creek, where Astro was expected to carry his own gear. Then we rode into Stevensville, about a 15 mile round trip, for burgers and beer and to pick-up groceries for dinner and the next morning's breakfast. 

Here are some pics from the hike. It was gorgeous. Tree shade almost the whole way. We didn't hike all the way up to the waterfall, but I highly recommend a pack lunch and going all the way up. 

Later that day, we hunkered down in the shade and rested. Astro got tired of the flies and got up and walked over to our tent and looked back and me, and waited. So I got up to see what he wanted, and let him in the tent. He got in the tent, laid down, then looked at me as if to say "close the screen and keep the flies out!" He hung out on his own for about 2 hours. He's so funny. 

The next day we got up early, packed up, and headed back to Missoula. My colleague Arlen seemed a little impressed at how well I handled the hills with all the weight. That's because I'm so awesome. And so is Astro. 

In preparation for a week-long self-contained bicycle trip in a couple weeks, Astro and I re-scheduled our 'shakedown' overnight. The purpose of a shakedown ride is to figure out anything that might not be working logistically or mechanically with the bike and if there is any additional equipment needed. For ours, we went down into the Bitteroot to Bass Creek, camped for two days, then rode back. 

Day One: Getting there

It's been a busy day, as you can see by this pic of Astro, who has fallen asleep on his frisbee. 

We've been busy pulling together our gear, making adjustments and repairs to GoFast, testing out the set-up with the trailer and the Springer, grocery shopping, etc. Somehow I even managed to fit in a nap and a 6 mile run. 

Here's almost all of our gear.
Here's our rig. Astro will only have to occupy the trailer for about 12 miles. He can run next to me for the other 12 if he feels like keeping up.
Dear friends,

Throughout the month of May, I have been raising money to support the creation of an official U.S. Bicycle Route System, a national network of bicycle routes that connect local and state infrastructure. When complete, the U.S. will have a network rivaling those in Europe and Canada--allowing cyclists to travel further and explore better by bike!

The exciting thing is that routes will be nationally recognized, designated, and protected! Let's fill the gaps and connect America with bicycle routes.

Think of the closest metropolitan area near you (and if you live in one, think of the closest metropolitan area to the one you already live in). How long does it take to drive to that city? How long does it take to bike to that city? Is it even possible to bike to that city? If you work in a busy city but live in the suburbs, is there a network of routes that can take you home?

An official U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) will allow us to crisscross the country with ease on officially numbered interstate bicycle routes. These routes will connect you to major metropolitan areas, national parks and forests, and to suburbs and rural areas that might only be 15-25 miles from you — connect you by bicycle, of course. 

The U.S. Bicycle Route System was officially established in 1978, and AASHTO (the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) recognized two routes in 1982: east-west U.S. Bicycle Route (USBR) 76, through Virginia, Kentucky, and Illinois, and north-south USBR 1, through North Carolina and Virginia. Six new routes were approved in May 2011: USBR 1 in Maine and New Hampshire, USBR 20 in Michigan, and USBR 8, 95, 97, and 87 in Alaska. And just last week, AASHTO approved 2 more routes: USBR 35 in Michigan and USBR 45 in Minnesota. All thanks to the efforts of Adventure Cycling Association and partner nonprofits and state organizations.

My goal is to raise $500 by May 31st. (My original goal was $250, but since some of my friends have been very generous, I have been able to increase that goal since I still have time to raise funds before the campaign ends.)

Adventure Cycling Association (the lead nonprofit on the US Bicycle Route System project) is trying to raise $50,000 by May 31st to support the development of the U.S. Bicycle Route System. We are very close to $40,000 right now, and have nearly one week to raise the last $10,000. Adventure Cycling has provided all the staff support for the project since 2005 and has coordinated all the state efforts, route research and planning, and supervised states on the application process for route designation. 

Donate today and your gift will be matched 1:1 by business sponsor Giant AND you can win cool prizes like a gift pack from Planet Bike. 

Please consider donating $10 or more today to help me build the U.S. Bicycle Route System. You can check out my campaign page and more information here:

Thank you for helping me create  a more bicycle-friendly America,
Sigh, Astro doesn't look too happy does he? Well, while his dejected look is because he is not a big fan of his Burley Tail Wagon (YET!), I'm feeling dejected because of the weather forecasts for Memorial Day weekend. 

Astro and I have been planning our first bike overnight, or sub-24-hour (S24O) trip this weekend. I am really excited about this trip because I've got the trailer, I've figured out the gear set-up, and I've chosen a route that only has a few miles that are a little tight with traffic. In fact, about 15 miles of the route is on a dedicated bike path, and I can hook Astro up to the Springer and let him run (pull) beside me. 

When it rains in Missoula, typically it rains for a little while then the clouds move on. So the forecast could call for rain, but that doesn't mean it will rain ALL day or even ON me. So I have to continue to prepare like we are going and just wait to check the weather forecast (and the weather itself) on Saturday morning. 

Preparing to travel by bike with a pet like Astro--50lb border collie--is definitely an undertaking. After conferring with colleagues, I discovered a few routes and destinations within 40 miles that would be suitable for us to travel on our first time out. 

Bike touring with Astro makes me very excited for the continued development of the U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS), which I am proud to work on as part of my position at Adventure Cycling Association. Someday my four-legged friend and I might even be able to  ride (pull) cross-country together. I look forward to a day when I can look at a road atlas of America for bicyclists, and Astro and I can easily traverse the country together--it's one thing to brave the roads by yourself; it's quite another to do so with another being dependent on you, like your dog or, sure, maybe your kids too.  

My dreams of bicycle travel with my furry partner in crime are just one reason I'm raising money to help develop the U.S. Bicycle Route System. Certainly providing access to bicycle travel for all Americans is a big motivator. Also, doesn't it seem sort of disappointing that the U.S. doesn't have a national bicycle route network? I mean, England has one, Germany has one, even in Canada, Quebec Province has a state-wide network. I don't mean to get all patriotic on you, but it's Memorial Day, and I'm feeling a little "Yay! America!" Shouldn't we have the best cycling network and conditions in the world? 

Okay, before I go too far on that tangent, consider a donation to support the further development of an official U.S. Bicycle Route System. Donating just $10 can go a long way to making progress in designating more routes, just like the two that were designated last week--USBR 35 in Michigan and USBR 45 in Minnesota.

On my bicycle commute to work the other day, I realized the truth in the equation: bikes = smiles. And like Santa and his sleigh, a cyclist can spread the joy of the daily commute simply with a smile and a "good morning" or a smile and a nod or just a smile. 

Unlike my commute to work in LA, in which I shared the road with drivers, my commute to work in Missoula takes place mostly on a multi-use trail that follows the Clark Fork River. It's amazing for a few reasons:

  1. There are only a few places where I have to cross an actual street, and, for the most part, auto drivers are very courteous, patient, and polite. 
  2. Because it's a multi-use trail with very few street crossings, I can go as fast as I want. I can make it into work in 10 minutes (beating the bus) if I really want. Usually I enjoy a slower pace and take in the scenery and remind myself of all the wonderful things surrounding me--the mountains I get to hike after work, the sound of birds instead of cars, and, of course, the great feeling of just being on my bicycle. 
  3. It follows the windy Clark Fork River, and I always marvel at how I'm on my way to work and surrounded by nature, not pavement.
  4. So many people joining me in bicycling as LA, the cycling community feels small and large at the same time, but, as cyclists, we're definitely an anomaly. In Missoula, and with the university being such a center in the community, so many people bike to work and school like it's nothing. Cycling around town is just a no-brainer. (I mean, hell, the town is only like 5 miles wide.) I've never been to Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but coming from a place where the "war" between bikes and automobiles is so heated, Missoula really does feel like a cyclist's heaven. 

So riding my bike makes me smile. It's just fun. And I'm a little bit of an introverted person. I'm kind of loner and don't mind doing things on my own. (Yeah, I know that's hard for you all to believe, but it's true.) So I don't typically say "hi" to people I don't know. Except, when I'm on my bike, that tends to change. As I pass a pedestrian, with their head down and trudging along the trail, I ring my bell and pass on a "good morning!" as I ride by. Their face lights up as they smile, nod, maybe wave, sometimes even give a "good morning!" back at me. This happens all along the trail on the way to work. People running and looking miserable, people staring at their cell phones, the guy in a motorized wheel chair--I'm like Santa Clause, except instead of bringing gifts, I spread smiles. Smiles that started with a bike. And maybe, just maybe, I brightened that person's day and it didn't go to waste. 

So here's my equation:




Not everyone has such an inspiring ride to work though. And that's one reason I'm working to raise funds to support the U.S. Bicycle Route System. The tagline of the campaign is: Build It. Bike It. Be a Part of It.  
I won't go into all the details about what a U.S. Bicycle Route System is, but essentially it's a national network of bicycle routes--using existing infrastructure--that fills the gaps between cities, destinations like national and state parks, and connect state-to-state bicycle infrastructure. The goal is for routes to be designated by number by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and be signed, maintained, and even upgraded to accommodate bicyclist use. 

My goal is to raise $250, and I need your help to get there. Please consider donating just $10 today. AND, if you donate $25 or more by Sunday, you could win a sweet set of panniers from Ortlieb. Tell me that's not awesome. 
Wow, I am so behind on posting! I have lots of great ride reports to write and pics to share. I started this post back in August 2011, but I guess it's better late than never to throw up good times (hahaha---throw up good times?). This was my first bike overnight done by camping. Before this I was a hotel/hostel kind of rider. 

My first weekend in Montana, when I was sleeping on an extra bed at a colleague's house still, another colleague invited me (late Friday night) to ride up and over Lolo Pass into Idaho the next day to camp. It was Memorial Day weekend, so we would return by bike on Monday. He had some friends camping in Clearwater National Forest in Idaho, so we wouldn't have to carry our gear. 
So yeah, lots of fun over in Idaho. Hope you enjoy all the pics of my smiling face. 

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention again that I'm participating in the Build It. Bike It. Be a Part of It campaign to support the creation of an official U.S. Bicycle Route System. Help me reach my personal $250 goal (and earn me an extra half-day of vacation) by donating today! Just $10 will go a long way to helping us reach our goal and making the dreaof a bicycle-friendly America a reality. 
I shared this on Facebook, and thought I'd repeat it here, since not everyone follows me there...Right now, I'm participating in the Build It. Bike It. Be a Part of It. campaign to raise awareness and money to support the creation of an OFFICIAL, DESIGNATED, SIGNED national network of bicycle routes criss-crossing the United States. What is the network called? The U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). 

Besides the obvious reasons of why a bicycle route system for the whole country is important, there are other implications that may not be quite as apparent. One important benefit of the USBRS is it's affect on how we all will survive the zombie apocalypse. 

As you know, someday the zombies will take over the world, and we will have to travel by bicycle to outrun them and survive the horrific devastation of a zombie-infested America. In preparation for the zombie apocalypse, help us prepare for survival by building the U.S. Bicycle Route System -- a national network of interstate and intercity bicycle routes that will connect communities across America AND allow us to create rural headquarters for our assault on the zombies. 

And since I have the inside scoop, I'll let you know a little secret. If you donate $25 or more (starting tomorrow through Sunday evening) you get the chance to win a set of Orlieb panniers to ride out the zombie apocalypse and store all your necessary gear and weaponry. 

So donate now, help us prepare for world devastation, and help us give more Americans access to cycling (before the chaos begins, that is). 

And remember, the U.S. Bicycle Route System is so powerful, it will transform zombies back into happy cyclists, so help us cure zombism with bikes and national bike routes. 

Don't worry, I won't do this too often, but I wanted to reach out to my readers and inform you of a very important project being led by Adventure Cycling Association--the U.S. Bicycle Route System. You can read all about the project here: and you can join the Facebook page here: In the meantime, help me raise a little money to support Adventure Cycling Association's efforts to bring this dream to reality! Come on! Show me just how much you love your bike! And if you don't own a bike, show me how much you love the cyclists in your family by giving them a great network of routes that traverse the United States.
I'm still a California resident, and my senator is still Barbara Boxer. This morning, an email from Adventure Cycling Assoc. Executive Director Jim Sayer landed in my inbox. I'm sharing this call to action with you, my friends and fellow cyclists in California, to ask you to do what I just did: make a call for safer streets for all. Read Jim's letter below:
"Dear California cycling friends,

Senator Barbara Boxer needs to hear from you RIGHT NOW.

The committee she leads in the US Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee, is deciding what goes into the very important federal transportation bill today and tomorrow. She needs to know that we want her to fight for bicycling and walking programs like Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails program.

If we don't act now, bicycling and walking programs may be written out of our transportation system for the next six years.

At this very moment, she is negotiating with other senators who don't think bicycling and walking are an important part of the transportation bill. She needs to know that we have her back on this issue and she shouldn't give up on these crucial programs.

Call Senator Boxer RIGHT NOW and tell her:

"I am one of your constituents and I think bicycling and walking need to be a part of the transportation bill. Please ensure that Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School and the Recreational Trails program continue with strong and dedicated funding as they are today."

Calls to DC are best. Her Washington, DC office number: (202) 224-3553. If it's busy and you're short for time, here's her LA office number: (213) 894-5000.

Thank you for calling as soon as you can. Good luck!

Jim Sayer
Executive Director
Adventure Cycling Association

PS - You can email Senator Boxer too at, but given the urgency of the situation, please call her DC office. Thanks!"