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CYCLING — If you're dreaming up a plan for a bicycle tour in 2015, check out the recently released list of 2015 early, epic, and educational tours from Adventure Cycling.
The Missoula-based bike touring association has a delicious schedule of group tours you can join as well — as well as educational sessions that teach riding/touring/camping skills for cyclists.
When I enrolled to be a leader for Bikecentennial TransAmerica bicycle tours in 1976, I took the group's leadership training course. (Bikecentennial later became Adventure Cycling). That four-day course saved me months of trial and error learning and gave me skill set and confidence to make that summer a success that goes down as one of my most memorable adventures.
When my oldest daughter started planning a major bike tour, I suggested she enroll in one of the Adventure Cycling courses. She traveled to Denver for the course and she'd agree that the sessions such as on-the-road bike repair, camp cooking and logistics plus social and riding skills are worth the investment.
Here's what Adventure Cycling is offering in 2015:
- Introduction to Road Touring | Florida, April 5-10 | Virginia, May 3-8 | Wisconsin I, June 13-18 | Wisconsin II, June 20-25 | Oregon, July 26-31
- Introduction to Dirt Touring (NEW!) | Maine, June 14-19 | Montana, July 21-26
- Leadership Training Course | Florida, January 22-25 | Texas, April 23-26 | Oregon, May 14-17 | Indiana, June 1-4 | Massachusetts, September 21-24
- Under 30 Introduction to Road Touring | Florida, March 15-20 | Texas, March 22-27
- Women's Introduction to Road Touring | Virginia, May 10-15 | Oregon, July 19-24
If you're interested in joining a group for a bicycling trip, consider this wide range of options:
- Pacific Coast, September 8 – October 22: After a three-year hiatus, this self-contained autumn adventure is being revived. It follows Adventure Cycling's most popular route.
- Atlantic Coast (New!), April 30 – July 1: Follow the spring and summer blooms north from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to Bar Harbor, ME, on this van-supported tour.
- Western Express – TransAm (New!) | Van Supported | June 7 – August 22
- TransAm | Self Contained | May 2 – August 2
- North Star | Self Contained | June 13 – August 12
- Southern Tier | Self Contained | September 13 – November 16
- Southern Tier | Van Supported | March 8 – May 4
- TransAm | Van Supported | May 17 – August 7
Early Self Contained and Inn to Inn Tours
- Puerto Rico (NEW!) | Inn to Inn | January 11-22
- Florida Keys | Self Contained | January 17-27 | January 31 – February 10
- Outer Banks | Inn to Inn | May 2-9 | May 10-17
- C&O Canal/GAP Spring | Self Contained | May 16-24 | May 23-31
Early Fully Supported and Van Supported Tours
- Southern Arizona Road Adventure, March 7-13: Get a jump on spring and summer cycling in the sunny Sonoran Desert, featuring moderate mileages.
- Natchez Trace, Van, April 11-18, April 19-26: NEW! April is a magical time on this All-American Road, a nearly continuous greenway linking the antebellum cities of Natchez, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee.
- Southern California Vistas, Van, March 15-21: NEW! Forget about the cold and treat yourself to a sun break.
- Texas Hill Country | Fully Supported | April 11-17
- Ragin' Cajun Country | Fully Supported | May 2-8
- Florida Gulf Coast | Van Supported | February 21-28 | March 1-8
- Death Valley Loop | Van Supported | February 28 – March 6 | March 7-13 | March 14-20 | March 21-27
- Big Bend Loop | Van Supported | March 28 – April 5 | November 1-9
WILDLIFE — The photos show the wolf that chased the Sandpoint bicyclist in the Yukon last weekend as reported in my outdoors column.
The photos (click "continue reading" below to see them all) were snapped by Pennock, Minn., resident Becky Woltjer, who was in the RV that stopped to rescue William "Mac" Hollan from the wolf that had become obsessed with his bike, nipping and tearing at his rear bike packs even after Hollan dropped the bike and took refuge in the RV.
Alberta resident Melanie Klassen helped chase the wolf away by beaning it in the head with water bottle.
The photos also show Hollan saluting the RVers after the wolf had left and he resumed his Point to Bay bicycle tour from Idaho to Prudhoe Bay with his two cycling companions.
Read on for Woltjer's Facebook account of the incident, and why she felt compelled to give a stranger from Idaho a big hug:
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — "Credit them for having bear spray," said Nancy Campbell, Environment Yukon spokeswoman in Whitehorse, referring to a Sandpoint bicycle tourist who, while separated from his companions, was chased on the Alaska Highway by a wolf.
As today's Outdoors column points out, short bursts of bear spray bought Mac Hollan time to be rescued by motorists even though the relentless wolf kept coming back to nip and rip his paniers and tent bag as they raced down the highway.
"We tell everyone to have bear spray with them and in a holster ready to use any time they go into the backcountry, which can be a few steps off your back porch in the Yukon," Campbell said.
Hollan said he and his friends had fully prepared for encounters with bears by having bear-proof food canisters, keeping clean camps and keeping bear spray readily available clipped to their handlebar bags.
"I never dreamed I'd need it for a wolf," he said.
WOLF OR DOG?
Some readers are pointing out that chasing a bicycle or motorcycle is abnormal behavior for a wolf but normal behavior for a dog, such as a husky or wolf hybrid that may look like a wolf.
Indeed, no one, including a biologist, could verify this was a wolf involved in this incident or the June 8 incident with a motorcyclist in Kootenay National Park (photo above) without getting DNA documentation. That could be done from saliva on the packs, I suppose, but no one is likely to fund that effort.
The lesson, regardless of the animal's species, is that having bear spray readily available is a wise prepareation for muscle-powered travelers.
UPDATE, July 14, 10 a.m. — See photos of the wolf attacking the bike and an account from the RVer who helped rescue cyclist Mac Hollan from the wolf's relentless pursuit. Also, I've interviewed one of the motorist heroes who drove the wolf away from Hollan's bike. Read her account of the story in today's Outdoors column. — RL
BICYCLE TOURING — A Sandpoint, Idaho, man and two companions riding bicycles on a 2,750-mile tour to Prudhoe Bay as a fundraiser for a school charity had a tense encounter with a gray wolf last weekend.
- This is similar to a recent incident in Canada, except for one big difference: the man from Banff was riding a motorcycle.
Mac Hollan, 35, who will be student teaching at a Sandpoint elementary school this fall, posted this chilling detailed account on his Point to Bay Facebook page on Monday.
Two days ago I was attacked by a wolf while riding down the ALCAN. With all the planning for bears, road safety, and everything else, this scenario was something that none of us had ever considered. But, if you read on you will find out how I found myself alone on my bike being chased down and attacked by a Canadian Gray Wolf.
It was around 2:30, about 60 miles west of Watson Lake on the ALCAN,… I was a bit ahead of the guys when I heard something to my right. Thinking Gabe or Gordo had caught up without me noticing I looked over my shoulder and was shocked at what I saw. The first thought that ran through my head was "that is the biggest damn dog I have ever seen!". This surreal moment of shock and confusion passed immediately was the "dog" lunged for my right foot and snapped its jaws just missing my pedal.
WOLF!!! At this point I received the biggest jolt of adrenalin I have ever had in my life. Without so much as a thought I shifted my bike to the highest gear possible, started to mash the pedals like never before, and reached for the bear spray in the handlebar bag. I threw off the safety and gave the wolf a quick blast in the face which served to slow him down so that he was now 20 feet behind me but still not stopping. He hung back for maybe 20 seconds and then raced forward and attacked my panniers, in the process ripping my tent bag and spilling my poles onto the highway.
I gave him another shot of pepper spray, which again backed him off to about 20 feet behind. Despite pedaling like I have never pedaled before, the wolf kept pace with me easily. It was at this point that I saw an 18 wheeler round the corner and began to wave, shout, and point to the wolf frantically. As he slowed I began to breathe a sigh of relief, thinking if I could just get off my bike and into the truck fast enough I would be safe. After taking a good look at the scene the driver resumed his speed and drove on.
This same scenario would happen to me 4 separate times, with my desperation growing with each car that passed me by. Every time the wolf would begin to close on me again, I would shoot a quick blast of bear spray behind me to slow him down.
As I came around the corner, to my horror I saw a quick incline, and knew that I would not be able to stay in front of this wolf for much longer. I just kept thinking about all the shows I have seen where wolves simply run their prey until they tire and then finish them. It was a surreal moment to realize that I was that prey, and this hill was that moment. The only plan I could think of was to get off my bike, get behind it, and hope that I had enough bear spray to deter him once and for all when he got close enough.
It was also at this point that I realized I might not be going home, and I began to panic at the thought of how much it was going to hurt. About .2 mile before the hill an RV came around the corner, and I knew this was it. I placed myself squarely in the center of the road and began screaming at the top of my lungs "help me, there's a wolf, please help me" while waving frantically. Seeing the situation the driver quickly passed me and stopped on a dime right in front of my bike. I don't know how I got unclipped or off my bike, but I swear I hurdled the handlebars without missing a beat or letting go of my can of bear spray. When I got to the backdoor of the RV still screaming, the door was locked. In an absolute panic I began to climb in the passenger window, but the driver reached across and threw the door open to let me in. By the time I shut the door the wolf was already on my bike pulling at the shredded remains of my tent bag. I began to shake, and cuss.
More cars began to pull up and honk at the wolf, but he would not leave my bike, as though he thought it was his kill. It took someone finally beaning him in the head with a rock to get him to leave. At this point Gabe and Gordo showed up looking confused and concerned with a set of shattered tent poles in hand. While I know I got the names of the man and woman who saved me, for the life of me I can't remember them now. I do remember the woman giving me a hug that felt like the greatest hug of my life.
Still jacked on adrenalin, all I wanted to do was get out of that place, and get out fast. The folks in the RV were nice enough to watch our backs as we got a ways down the road before leaving, and gave one final wave as they passed by. I gave them a card for the ride and I hope they are reading this so that they know how much I am in their debt and how grateful I am that they stopped to save me. Otherwise I honestly don't think this story would have ended well.
We made it about 10 miles down the road before the full adrenalin rush wore off and then everything seemed to go into slow motion and I just felt dizzy and tired. We pulled over to a roadside creek where I stumbled down to splash water on my face and basically sat in the creek and lost my s%$t. The full implication of what had just happened to me sank in, and I just lost it for a good 15 minutes.
We have spent a lot of time talking about the incident since, and the only conclusion we can come up with is that the wolf was old, sick, or injured, to be chasing something down on the highway. I would not doubt I am the first cyclist ever to have this happen to them on the ALCAN. That being said I have tried not to let this experience change my positive feelings about being out here, but I do look over my shoulder more, and am a bit jumpy.
While other things have happened since the last update, this is all I can really remember. We're in Whitehorse, Yukon now, having pulled off a century before 2:30. We're planning on doing some bike work here and relaxing for the afternoon. That's all for now.
Point to Bay is a charity bicycle tour from Sandpoint, ID to Prudhoe Bay, AK supporting the Sandpoint Backpack Program. The Sandpoint Backpack Program provides students in need with backpacks full of food for the weekend to ensure they return to school on Monday fed and ready to learn. This ride is 100% self-supported, and 100% rider funded, meaning every bit of your donation goes directly to students in need. The 2,750 mile ride begins June 17th, 2013 and will take roughly 6 1/2 weeks to complete. For more information please follow the links to the Point to Bay website. Full bellies, full minds!
BICYCLING — RAW — the popular Ride Around Washington organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club — is focusing its 2012 on the region from Chewelah south through Spokane and around the Palouse.
The seven-day, 400-mile supported bike tour isn't until Aug. 4-10, but it's already 92 percent SOLD OUT.
Download the 2012 RAW Ride Guide for a detailed description.
- The guide is a masterpiece of organization, with checklists worth reading for any bicycle tours.
Online-only registration for RAW opened on January 10, 2012. It was 92 percent sold out on March 27.
Cyclists may join the Cascade Bicycle Club when registering for the event or in advance by visiting the membership page.
BICYCLE TOURING — OK, so it was done first in cars during a 1920 showcase event.
But one cyclist/writer says there's bicycling merit to the Playground Tour, a 4,500 mile, four-month bike ride through the Western United States.
Rick Olson, editor-at-large of adventure journal Wend Magazine, spent June – October of 2010 peddling a bicycle (nicknamed “Buck”) across miles of western landscapes, recreating on two-wheels a historic auto tour of 12 National Parks that took place in 1920 to celebrate the creation of the Park-to-Park Highway.
“I was inspired when I saw Paving the Way, a documentary about the creation of this amazing bit of the US highway system,” says Olson. “I wanted to bring attention to this great achievement and at the same time highlight the need for more bike friendly routes around the US.”
While en route, the Playground Tour raised money for the United States Bike Route System, supported by the Adventure Cycling Association. The goal of this effort is to create the world’s largest bicycle route system.