Love adventure? Apply to become a Blackburn Ranger

To paraphrase a famous Army cadence:

“I wanna be an Blackburn ranger / I wanna live the life of adventure”

Sponsorships for the non-racers out there can be rare. Blackburn is stepping up into that gap and offering support to the adventures out there with the Ranger brand ambassador program.

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The main criteria for Ranger-hood is a commitment to ride either the Pacific Coast bicycle route or the Great Divide mountain bike route. Of course, Rangers will be responsible to share their adventures via the various social media platforms. In return Blackburn will outfit Rangers with Blackburn gear (including prototypes!) and a small travel stipend to help defray the cost of your adventurous undertaking.

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Also in the perks category: Ranger Camp at the Whiskey Off-Road in Prescott, Arizona, paid for by Blackburn. I don’t know about you, but I’d be down with missing out on some spring showers to hang out in Arizona April 25-27. The application process involves submitting a short essay, a few photographs and uploading a short video to YouTube. Best get busy!

Learn how to enter here.

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Excerpt: ‘Travel on Two Wheels’ by Jeff Commissaris

Jeff Commissaris is an author, musician and world traveler who has ridden his touring bike all over the world. He sent us this excerpt from his book “Travel on Two Wheels” documenting his adventures through the United States and Europe.

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I handed the officer my passport, where he took it back to the police car for computer examination. A few minutes later, the officers came back and they told me that I could not ride on the highway anymore and I had to take a detour. I would have not ridden on the road if it had not been the only choice available and the one that the nice Swedish couple had recommended to me. From head to toe, I was drenched with a thick rain.

“Where are you riding to?,” one of them asked.

“Paris,” I told him.

“Paris?!”

They pointed me to a trail just off the highway that seemed to just run around in circles. “You can ride there,” they told me. “This might take you to Paris.”

They handed me back my passport after making it clear that I couldn’t ride on this particular road anymore and drove off. An hour later, I realized that the trail was definitely not going to take me to Paris and I was more or less riding around in circles. Also, the weather situation showed no signs of turning for the better, still. The highway seemed like the only way to get there, but it wasn’t an option anymore.

I took shelter in an abandoned barn for a few minutes. There was a huge hole in the top of the roof, and all around me the skies were grey, lighting streaked in the distance.

An hour or so later, the sun finally decided to peak out fromt eh clouds a bit. I started riding through the farmland into the city area. The small villages in northern France were like ghost towns; I rode past empty parks and houses stood still with often times no trace of life whatsoever. It was like time was at a stand still. One could only assume that the people were indoors spending time with their families on this dreary Sunday day.

I stopped at a boulangeries (French pastry shop) and got some bread. I started talking to the store owner and he told me that he was also a lawyer but had opened the store so that he could “create jobs for his family.” After buying a few pieces of bread, he added a few extras and said,” These are for you my friend. I wish you safe travels and welcome to France!”

It wasn’t too long until I ran into a German guy who was bicycle touring for a week through the French country side. He was taking a week vacation off his job to fullfill his dream of cycling France. He was upbeat, and he spoke English well—much better than my lack of German. I made an executive decision and decided to purchase a train ticket to make it to Parist and bypass some of the bad weather.

So the German guy and I rode about five miles into the central area of Donkurque together, passing by parks and businesses that the locals would call “home.” That’s one of the great things about cycle touring—you can meet up with another bicyclist and immediately make a connection based on the simple passion of biking. We both enjoyed our ride together, and after the ride he headed off towards the direction of the campsite he was staying at that night.

I opted for the five-star stay underneath a bridge along the river. I woke up around nine o’ clock, bought some local food and was well on my way to Paris.

To read more, pick up a copy of Commissaris’ book, “Travel on Two Wheels” for only $6.99, and you can read more of his adventures on his blog.

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Bina’s Tour d’Afrique – Chapter 1, What to pack?

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By Bina Bilenky

By the time you read this my husband and I will be heading to Africa for the 2014 Tour d’Afrique. We will be staff members for the four-month, 7,500-mile cycling expedition that starts in Khartoum, Sudan, and wraps up in Cape Town, South Africa. There is a lot to do in preparation for the trip including ironing out the details for the fifth annual Philly Bike Expo at the end of 2014!

If you’re not familiar, the Tour d’Afrique is a test of mind, body and bike that winds its way through 10 countries along the Nile River, past ancient temples, across the Equator, past Mount Kilimanjaro, Lake Malawi, Victoria Falls and finally to Cape Town.

Read more about Bina’s preparations here…

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Meet the Kona Freerange bikes

We’re always debating what these types of bikes should be called. They’re not touring bikes per say, but they can certainly tour. They’re less racy than a cyclocross bike. And I don’t even know what a “gravel” bike is supposed to be.

Kona has dubbed them the Freerange, and I think it’s a great name. The Rove and Sutra share a frame, but sport different build-ups, and if you’re looking for something a little more extravagant, there’s the Rove Ti, built in the USA by Lynskey.

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Review: Co-Motion Divide

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The Co-Motion Divide’s rugged looking frame is hand-built in Oregon using oversized Reynolds 725 chromoly tubing. Co-Motion’s tandem expertise is evident in the massive chainstays and the 40-spoke wheels, built using DT-Swiss 540 tandem hubs (with 145mm rear spacing for a dishless wheel) and Velocity Cliffhanger rims. The stout 44 mm-diameter head tube on the Divide is another clue that this bike means business.

The Divide rode like it meant business, too. As soon as I got her built, I zipped through the mean streets and hit the local trails. The bike felt incredibly stiff and well built. I took that as an encouraging sign for the loaded tour that lay ahead—a 355-mile self-supported tour along the unpaved Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C.

Read the full review here.

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Adventure Cycling honors Bicycle Travel Award winners

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The Adventure Cycling Association‘s nationally recognized awards program acknowledges exemplary contributions to the success of bicycle travel. There are four awards:

  • The Pacesetter Bicycle Travel Award recognizes individuals, groups, businesses, and organizations that have consistently demonstrated extraordinary commitment, dedication, and service to the advancement of Adventure Cycling’s mission of inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
  • The June Curry Trail Angel Award honors an individual or group encountered during a bicycle tour who made the cyclotourist’s journey easier or possible by helping the cyclist through an act of goodwill.
  • The Braxton Bicycle Shop Award honors bicycle shops throughout the nation that go out of their way to provide unique or exemplary services to bicycle travelers.
  • The Adventure Cycling Volunteer of the Year Award is our way to say ‘Thank you’ to Adventure Cycling volunteers who are helping us inspire others to travel by bike.

Click here to see the 2013 award winners

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The only way out is onward

Fatbikes and packrafts are the only way to explore a remote section of Alaska before mankind’s approach changes the landscape forever.

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By Bjørn Olson

On a late July afternoon, we rode our fatbikes off Homer Spit and onto a 176-foot landing craft, a ship loaded with cargo for transport to the remote side of Cook Inlet. Though the vessel had made this crossing many times, passengers were uncommon and in our case, a curious sight. In addition to our oversized bicycles, Brent and I carried one packraft apiece, five days worth of food, plus some minimal camping gear and camera equipment. After an exciting and sleepless night onboard the vessel we were deposited on the far shore of the inlet at 4 a.m. Waiting for the light, we watched the boat unload its cargo and then began cycling the gravel Pile Bay Road to Iliamna Lake in the early dawn.

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I was drawn, in part, to this route because Alaska is in the midst of mineral development projects that could entirely transform the landscape. Our route would bring us through a proposed, controversial, open pit copper mine—the Pebble Mine. I wanted to see clear streams full of sockeye salmon, bears and untamed landscapes, as it has been for millennia, before it is allowed to be transformed—forever.

Read the full story

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