Bike-IN landscapes: Bikepacking NM and the wild US

“Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?”  –Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Unique in the New Mexico 2019 legislative session is House Memorial 10, which recognizes the contributions of bikepacking for outdoor recreation.  Bikepacking is a combination of camping and cycling, akin to backpacking, but gear is mounted on one’s bicycle instead of carried on one’s back! Outside Magazine covers the genesis of this grassroots, community-driven movement in New Mexico, which was born out of residents’ interest of getting to know this place better, and enjoying the abundant natural assets of quiet, dark night skies, and wonderful landscapes.  Bikepacking creates unlimited, sustainable travel opportunities while supporting local communities and small scale enterprises, and keeping nature intact.  It encourages us to slow down and take in the treasures of the places we inhabit, all while improving mental and physical health and well-being.

photos from day rides. With bikepacking those envoys of beauty, the stars, string our days together

Bikepacking speaks to the most important issues of our times.  You don’t need expensive equipment to enjoy it, so it’s affordable and accessible.  Think of the health boom bikepacking creates!  A health boom could expand indefinitely and include all people, residents and visitors, natives and newcomers.  A health boom has no down side. Bikepacking preserves natural habitats and biodiversity, and utilizes the existing network of trails, dirt roads and paved connecting roads from population centers.  Through bikepacking adventure, we learn to take better care and pay attention to all we have, including our subsistence infrastructure.

Bikepacking contributes to health, economy, and communities all in one activity, and seems to honor the essence of things.  It contributes to the upbuildling of human lives and community and the conservation of nature for future generations, while increasing the capacity today for appreciating the life we are living.  Bikepacking is not an extractive activity, rather it is regenerative.  We can also train for it right here in the villages, towns, cities and countryside where we reside.  Cycling has many practical uses, and is beautiful poetry, too.

Bikepacking brings people IN to the landscapes we call home and we see the world with new eyes from a bicycle.  We sharpen our ingenuity and hone our skills.  We learn to sense better when a rain storm is coming, to know when to pitch camp for the evening.  Truths flow out of the recesses of our consciousness in the backcountry, and we realize there is a tranquil sense of unity throughout nature, one that flows in us and through us and that we are a part of.  We meet people while bikepacking and build up the fabric of engaged, supportive community.  Biking in nature helps us appreciate things and know ourselves.

“The charming landscape which I saw this morning is indubitably made up of some twenty or thirty farms.  Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape.  There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet.  This is the best part of these men’s farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds give no title.”  RW Emerson, Nature

 

References and Resources:
House Memorial 10 recognizing the importance of bikepacking in New Mexico
https://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/19%20Regular/memorials/house/HM010.pdf

Outside Magazine “New Mexico Wants to Make Bikepacking Mainstream”
https://www.outsideonline.com/2391248/legislators-trying-make-bikepacking-go-big

I’ve written about my cycling day trips.  I would like to try overnight trips by bikepacking.
https://bikeinitiative.org/2016/12/18/cycling-from-home/

A couple Team CSP-SBI New Mexico cycling ambassadors took a wild ride just yesterday
https://www.strava.com/activities/2205526850 “Cabezon loop extended aka luxury gravel”
https://www.strava.com/activities/2205408125 “Exploring that other side”

I could see some write-ups on bikepacking here, in the ‘slow travel’ section
https://www.theworldinstituteofslowness.com “the fastest way to a good life is to slow down”

Team CSP-SBI kits available

Southwest Bike Initiative invites you to join our team of cycling ambassadors, Team CSP-SBI, on this bike to work month 2018!  Clothing is available through Wednesday May 22 on our online store.  Take a look and enjoy the ride!  Sizing chart is here: Sizing  And here is the direct link to the store:  https://custom.zootsports.com/CSP  Items ordered ship about end of June.  More information on Team CSP-SBI is below!

Team CSP-SBI cycling ambassadors, leading by doing

Team CSP-SBI creates a welcoming and truly inclusive cycling community.  We are open to everyone.  We bring people from all backgrounds, ages, genders, abilities, disciplines and interests together through cycling.  We celebrate cycling as a way of leading by doing.  Cycling is an action we can take that makes a positive difference in our lives and communities.  It is healthy, practical, affordable, sustainable, low impact, and worlds of fun. I hope you, your family and your friends will consider joining us in sharing the joy of cycling and spreading the word!

unnamed-283 copy.jpg

More on Team CSP-SBI—

 

Southwest Bike Initiative (SBI), a sustainable transportation nonprofit in Albuquerque, NM, partners with Conservation Science Partners (CSP), an innovative conservation science nonprofit, to organize this global network of cyclists.  We use storytelling and social media such as Strava to share our cycling experiences and encourage others to discover more of the joys of cycling.  SBI provides educational tools and resources to help members build confidence and advocate for safer roads in our communities.  Most of all we take pleasure in cycling with friends! Team CSP-SBI grows the culture of cycling by expanding the community of practice.

Participation—

Your experience with Team CSP-SBI is what you make of it!  We have a dedicated race team in Albuquerque, NM but most of our members are non-competitive.  Cycling ambassadors can be on other clubs, too!  We strive to create unity through cycling and build a diverse network.  We participate in a wide range of cycling activities from daily commutes to community rides, events and competitions.  Our network increases learning and skill acquisition, and expands access to cycling by opening doors for people.  We help people get started and grow their cycling life.  Cycling is unlimited!

unnamed-285.jpgOur logo—

The American pronghorn is native to North America, and the fastest land animal in the Western Hemisphere.  Its top speed is about the same as that of a person on a road bike, around 55mph.  Pronghorn have a large heart, lungs and windpipe for sustained swift movement.  Pronghorn were more numerous than bison when the United States expanded West, with a population around 100 million.  Due to overhunting and habitat alterations such as fences, by the 1920’s there were only about 13,000 pronghorn left.  An ongoing conservation success story, their numbers are now approaching 1 million again.  They have large eyes, weigh 87 to 129 pounds, and walk just 30 minutes after birth.  Pronghorn are only found in North America, across the American West, in Baja and northern Mexico and in parts of the Great Plains.

About Team CSP-SBI technical cycling clothing—

Team CSP-SBI apparel are designed to optimize your cycling experience.  They are comfortable, stretchable, breathable, moisture wicking, they block sun and are soft and silky to the touch. The jerseys are a standard cycling jersey, with a full zip front for ease of wearing and for cooling down on hot days.  Three pockets in the back can carry food and anything else you want to bring on a ride.  The shorts have a pad to provide comfort and protection where the body rests on the bike seat.  The arm warmers and vest are great for cool morning starts, downhills, and protection in case of changes in weather.

Leadership–

Team CSP-SBI is led by Mark Aasmundstad, the founder and director of Southwest Bike Initiative.  Mark is a cycling instructor (LCI) with the League of American Bicyclists, and has trained as a commercial truck driver and geographer.  He’s focused on using planning, design and education for making transportation safer for everyone, growing sustainable communities and encouraging people to walk and bicycle more often.  Mark bicycles for every reason, and keeps discovering more reasons to ride.  We learn bicycling from others, and Team CSP-SBI is about building relationships and connecting people to opportunities to get into cycling and make it more rewarding.  Mark is an everyday cyclist, and a six-time State champion at the elite level, and a masters national hill climb champion.  When it comes to cycling he is a true amateur, one who participates for the love of it.

More about the kit—

Items ship in 4-6 weeks, so they arrive around the start of summertime!  Sizing chart is here: Squadra Size Chart. Sale of the kits cover the costs of production only. If you would like to contribute money to Southwest Bike Initiative to support our work, here’s the link:  DONATE
Donations are 100% tax deductible.  THANK YOU!!!
#biketoworkday

2017, a year in cycling

2017, a year in cycling by cycling ambassador Stephen Wolfe

My wife Kyoko and I started out 2017 with a cycling adventure as part of our planned trip to New Zealand, a place neither of us had been. We spent a month in the country, and managed to take an electric bike tour of Wellington, our first time on E-Bikes. They were very heavy, and hard to maneuver, but I must admit they helped on the climb up Mount Victoria. The following week we journeyed to Christchurch, a city devastated by an earthquake in 2011. The experience was sobering, but the resourceful Kiwis are busy rebuilding. Christchurch was also the start of our cycling tour of the famous Otago Trail. The Otago Trail goes from near Mount Cook on the southern island, to near Dunedin, a major port. The trail is an abandoned rail line that served the gold and silver mines in the Otago region near the mountains. The line continues to utilize the original tunnels and trestle bridges and 145km has been rehabilitated for cycling travel with hard-pack gravel. Because the steam trains used for the ore cars were not very powerful, the average gradient is only 2%, making for an easy climb from East to West. However, taking the even easier choice, we started in Clyde, an old mining town, and rode mostly downhill to Middlemarch, spending the night at several other old station towns along the way, and even trying out the ice sport of curling in Naseby’s indoor rink. From Middlemarch the rail line is still active, so we took the train through some beautiful gorges to Dunedin. Overall, the people were very friendly, the food and coffee (the Kiwi’s only ever drink flat whites, and even McDonald’s and Burger King only had espresso machines for coffee) were great, and the scenery along the trail was unmatched.

http://www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz/about-our-trail/

Back in Japan, I took what was my second tour of the Shimanami Kaido, a route in Western Japan that is fast becoming a destination for cyclists from all over the world. Kyoko and I first rode the route in December of 2016, and were so struck with the beauty of the riding across six islands and connecting bridges over the Seto Inland Sea–from the largest island of Honshu to the smaller island of Shikoku–that we vowed to come back soon. My enthusiasm for the ride (and food) was contagious, I guess, as two of my friends expressed an interest, so in April I was down there again. The 75km route, although along local roads, is well-marked, and each of the six bridges  have dedicated cycling/pedestrian travelways, including the Kurushima Bridge, the world’s longest triple suspension bridge at 4.1km. The area is known for its citrus fruits and delicious fish, and the meals we had did not disappoint. We stopped halfway to stay at a Japanese inn and use the local hot springs to ease fatigue, and finished on the second day. My friends, not being dedicated cyclists, took public transport on the return, so I cycled on to another route in the region (more about that later).  Along the way we met cyclists from many different countries, who availed themselves of the many bicycle rental locations along the route.

http://www.go-shimanami.jp/global/english/bicycle/

Later in the spring we traveled to Kagoshima, a city on the southern-most main island of Kyushu. Kagoshima is one of the major cities on the island, is full of history, and features great Berkshire pork products. We took a day tour by rental cycles around Sakurajima, an active volcano across the bay from Kagoshima. The lap around the island was only around 35km, but there was ample evidence of previous eruptions everywhere. The volcano almost continuously spews ash.

May brought the Japanese edition of L’Eroica. The tour was plotted around 4 of the lakes at the foot of Mt. Fuji, and over 100 participants gathered with their vintage bikes to ride the course, which featured some wet, muddy sections. I rode the De Rosa I’ve had since I bought it new in 1980, and had a great time riding and talking with fellow vintage bike owners.

https://eroicajapan.cc/

I decided that for my 68th birthday I would climb Mt. Fuji as far as the paved road goes. The climb is about 24km with an average grade of 5% and 1,200m of ascent, which makes it quite similar to the Full Sandia Crest ride in the Albuquerque region (21.5km, 5%, and 1,150m), although the Fuji climb ends at 2,300m and Sandia peaks at 3,246m, making the altitude more of a factor in the latter. In September I also participated in a “fun ride” put on by the Bandai area in northern Japan to promote the region.  The 65km run was around and up Mt. Bandai, with a total of 1,400m of climbing, and lots of good food at the aid stations.

In October we went to Spain, the first time for my wife and over 40 years since I was last there (Franco was still in power at the time). Needless to say, Spain has changed dramatically since then, and the many areas we visited were vibrant, full of great food (ham, cheese, and wine), and nice people. During our time there we spent a week in Girona, the cycling capital of Spain and a place where the amenable winter weather and great cycling roads have led many pros to spend the off season. Our first day of riding was up to Olot for a ride down the converted rail line. The 60km ride featured lovely scenery of ancient volcanoes and farmland, and mostly downhill riding along the well-maintained trail. Our second day was a circular route to the Vall de Llemena, a quiet and unspoiled rural area near Girona. The following day we took our bikes on a train (the trains are well set-up to accommodate cycles) to a nearby village and toured six medieval villages. On the fourth day, the bike shop that arranged our self-guided tours had a group ride, which I joined for a 90km loop around the city. On the final day we rejoined the converted rail trail to ride from Girona to Sant Feliu de Guixols on the Mediterranean. It was very easy to see why Girona is so popular with cyclists. Cyclists were everywhere!

The last big tour of the year was with a friend who works at the same Japanese steel company where I used to work. We traveled down to Hiroshima, and from there took a ferry to the Kakishima Kaido, one of seven cycling routes established in the Shimanami region mentioned above. This island route featured vast oyster farms along the seacoast, and totaled about 90km. We over-nighted in Kure, a town where the famous Yamato battleship of WWII was built, and the next day we rode over 5 islands connected by bridges along a very rural and beautiful shoreline road, with a stop in a village that features houses from the Edo period of Japan, built over 150 years ago. A short ferry ride at the end took us back to the Shimanami Kaido, over four more islands, and ending in the shipbuilding town of Onomichi, a total of 110km.  We are looking forward to seeing how 2018 unfolds and though we have nothing definite planned, are sure it holds adventure.

Editor’s note: You can learn more about Stephen and meet more of our cycling ambassadors on the Team CSP-SBI members page:  https://swbikeinitiative.wordpress.com/team-csp-sbi/team-members/