The Race Across America (RAAM) is one of the most challenging and rewarding races in the world. It’s something that many cyclists aspire to achieve and I know it’s on the mind of at least a few of you right now.
This photo from last year’s Race Across America is one of my favorite cycling photos ever. Not only did I have to share it with all of you, I wanted to let you know more about the photographer, location, and rider pictured in it as well. It’s a beautiful cycling photo, but just might serve as motivation for you as well.
Dex Tooke in Monument Valley RAAM 2011 – Photo by Dan Joder
This is a classic image of RAAM–the solo rider climbing a long grade in the spectacular Monument Valley. Although there was almost no traffic in the area, there were two or three cars on the road in the far distance as Dex approached my lens–I had hoped to have a completely clear highway to emphasize the feeling of emptiness and space. The clone tool in Photoshop took care of the motor vehicle problem and turned the image into what I felt and saw when I was there. I also experimented with various versions of this image from B&W to different special effects as Dex was, at one time, considering the image for the cover of his book.
Although Dan has spent the past 25 years of his life as a Cat 3 (and presently a Masters) bike racer, he doesn’t consider his photography to be focused on cycling. Generally his photos are of nature, landscapes, and streets. But when he crewed for his friend, Dex Tooke, in the 2011 Race Across America that all changed.
During last year’s RAAM, Dan’s official job was taking a shift as one of the “Navigators” in the follow van, but whenever his hands were free, he was shooting photos of Dex and the scenery around him.
Going coast to coast at 15mph is a great way to see the country! If you don’t know much about RAAM though, rest assured, it is most certainly the Mt. Everest of competitive ultra cycling. For these riders, the competition is much more an internal, psychological affair than a battle against one another. All, from the fastest to the slowest, deal with fatigue, saddle sores, hallucinations, sleep deprivation, wind, hail, heat, traffic, crew conflicts, navigation errors, mechanical issues and more in their 3000-mile crossing of America.
If you get a chance to crew for a RAAM rider–DO IT!
– Dan Joder
Last year, Dex Tooke was on his second attempt to tame the Beast that is RAAM. You could say he had some “unfinished business” (his slogan and the likely title of his upcoming book) because, in 2010, he was forced to withdraw just 180 miles short of the finish line in Annapolis. In 2011, he was successful, crossing the finish less than three hours before the time cut-off. By doing so, he became just the sixth rider over 60 years of age to complete the event. To put this in even greater perspective, ten times more people have climbed Mt. Everest than have successfully finished RAAM as a solo racer.
We got our hands on some digital pre release copies of “Ride” a new collection of short stories (not to be confused with British publication “Ride Journal”). Below are our collective thoughts on the Kindle and iPad versions.
I have to say that I was pretty stoked when I was asked to review the book Ride: Short Fiction about Bicycles. As a crazed bike fanatic, and a guy who enjoys short stories as opposed to a full out novel… this book sounded like something that would suit me just fine, and I was very interested in reading it.
As you can likely make out from the title, this book is composed of a bunch of short fiction stories about riding a bike. There are nine stories to be exact. Each of the stories are as different from one another as the people who wrote them, but there is a nice flow that transcends through the entire book making it a seamless journey from start to finish. I think that flow comes from the fact that each of the contributors to the book are crazed bike fanatics themselves, and their love for the bike comes shining through in each captivating story.
It’s hard to cut out one story and praise it as being the best because each of them have their special ingredients making them enjoyable and unique in their own little way. With that said, I would like to mention that one story in particular stayed with me after finishing the book. I’ve seen a few other reviews of this book, and I know I’m not alone in saying that “Red Dot” by Barbara Jay Wilson lays out a story that is sure to put a smile on your face. I’m only guessing, but I’m pretty sure that Barbara Jay Wilson is a person who spends a lot of time out there on her bike connecting with the beauty and nature that surrounds her.
Adding to these wonderful nine stories are some incredible illustrations by Taliah Lempert… so if you’re more into visuals than you are reading, this book has got you covered there as well. On top of it all, the asking price is pretty decent as well. What are you waiting for? Grab a copy and increase your bicycle fanaticism.
I have never reviewed a book before. But I certainly have read a great number of them. I know what I like and don’t like in a good read. I love everything about cycling, though admit I will never be “good” at it. So when the editor at Cycling Short. asked me to read a pre-publication e-book entitled “RIDE” I jumped at the chance.
The book came to me via a tidy e.pub formate, but I suddenly found myself swamped with prior commitments, so I asked my husband to give it a read. Now he is an avid cyclist! And having ridden lots: Barcelona to San Sebastian, Geneva to the Stelvio, and many Classic sportives in-between I figured it would be great to get his take too.
Not half an hour into his read, he calls out to me. Have you read this first short story, “it is demented. It’s great. it’s real. But it’s totally weird. You should read it, and see what you think” Well, no I hadn’t read it yet, and I can’t say this was a common occurrence, as we generally don’t read the same books, but being a short story I dropped my work and picked up the e-reader.
And I read. It was an interesting story, a guy who wants to ride in great places around town, but needs to get behind the gated community fence to do it. He sails down the hills, he climbs with the beautiful metaphor only a well practiced cycinst and writer could combine. But from there it was exactly as Randy said it was. It was weird it was dark, it could so easily happen. Just like Steven King’s Misery, you know it can’t end well, but you keep reading. And remembering………
There are 9 short stories in the book. Some are about cycling and others in which the bike is the main character. Most are gritty, a couple are a bit cliché, but Bob’s Bike Shop a story mid-stream in the book is a very touching story that brought to mind the feel and devotion to cycling and bikes that was so well represented in the movie “Breaking Away”.
Overall, it was a good read. More about bikes than cycling in a few stories, more about people with bikes than the epic cycle or grand tour. I didn’t know what to expect, but I’d have to say I enjoyed reading most of the stories, but the flow of stories was a bit uneven. A couple I loved, a couple I just didn’t get. And one I think will definitely stick with me for a while.
I love the introduction to the book by author and editor Keith Snyder…
“Love or money.
Those are the two good reasons to bring a book into existence.
Either you think it’s going to pay the rent, or you want to read it but nobody’s written it yet.
This book will not pay the rent.
Not while reading.”
It pretty much sums up the experience, it’s fresh and different from other cycling books. I have to say I’m new to “cycling fiction” but it approaches the subject from many different angles and writing styles, cycling being the common thread in the stories, or to be more precise bicycles. It’s a pick and mix which makes it great to dip into for a quick escapist bike fix, lovely illustrations throughout by Taliah Lempert. I would agree with Cristi that the flow is a bit bumpy but probably unavoidable. I found a couple of the stories a little odd and not my cup of tea, but I don’t think you can expect to like everything you read in a book that has a collection of authors and styles. The book gives you a short introduction about each of the authors and links to their own websites before their story, each entry is illustrated with one of Taliah’s paintings. The iPad app (which is the pre release version I read) is very easy to navigate allowing you to add notes, skip through chapters (as you’d expect). The layout suits an iBook app it looks fresh and it’s cleanly designed, often publishers overcomplicate the layout because they know they can make a book do anything in digital form. The publisher of this book has been more restrained and it makes it pleasant to flick through. For those who aren’t big readers of fiction, give this a go, you only need a few minutes to read some of the shorter stories and it’s peppered with illustrations to keep your eyes entertained too. The writing style is very American as are some of the storylines but it doesn’t exclude international readers. I enjoyed the variety of storytelling styles.
….I do hope it in some part helps to pay the rent for the authors, a labour of love that keeps a roof over your head is a rare but wonderful thing!
This book brings the passion of writing and cycling together in a beautifully illustrated publication. Worth a read and a great price.
Ride – Short Fiction About Bicycles Authors: Keith Snyder, Paul Guyot, Simon Woods, Stephen D. Rogers, Teresa Peipins, Christopher Ryan, Kent Peterson, Barbara Jaye Wilson, David A.V. Elver Illustration by: Taliah Lempert Publisher: Typeflow
Purchase now from:
Barnes & Noble Nook edition: $3.99
From iTunes for iBook: £1.99 / $3.99
What the Author/Editor says about the book:
In this collection of short stories about bicycles, a grocery store worker finds more than he bargained for when he wangles his way into a gated community with a perfect hill for climbing…an ancient Constantinoplean invents a two-wheeled contraption to impress a girl…a bicycle reflects on its life while chained outside in New York City…an eerie rider exacts gruesome revenge on automobile drivers…
These and more in eight stories of gears, pedals, and the need to RIDE.
Cycling Shorts unleashes Santa’s Little Helpers.
Yes the panic is setting in, so much to get organised and so little time, so we’ve got together to give you a list of gift ideas that won’t disappoint the fussiest cyclist in your life.
We’ve split our choices into three perfect price parcels. Let us know what you intend to give, or hope to receive.
Santa’s Little Helper
Anna: I’m going for a selection for this choice, I’d be over the moon with any of these but Shutt have a huge range of items you could mix and match to make a gift of under £30 including women’s and men’s arm and leg warmers and if you can’t make a decision you could always get a gift voucher! Or go for a Shutt VR accessory and pair it with a Bruce Doscher Tour de France Print.
Shutt VR Polar Buff
Shutt VR Musette bag (buy it for the your non cyclist in your life as a shopping bag, then you can “borrow” it! ;D
Bruce Doscher Tour de France Print
Cristi: I got this selection for my husband Randy a few years ago and they remain a firm Christmas present favourite. I brought some nice bottles of Belgian beer and the requisite matching glasses home from a December trip to Bruges. Obviously they were a hit! Nice to know he truly appreciated the very careful Trans-Atlantic care they took to bring back, too. He loves the beer glasses, and uses them a lot!!
An Assortment of Belgium’s finest & glasses – Chimay (Blue and Cinq Cents, Duvel, etc.)
Felix: Past Present Future by Condor Cycles
Park PZT1 Pizza Cutter
John Allen: Park Tool 106 Work Tray
Nancy: I love this range of ladies cycling clothing so I’d choose:
Smuggler Neck Warmer by Ana Nichoola
Jon Tiernan Locke: Mmm Chocolate!
Tub of SIS Rego in chocolate flavour
Darryl: Cycling inspired jewelry – Silver and Bronze necklaces and earrings that are sure to show off your passion for bicycles.
Bicycle Necklace & Pendant by Green Goat Designs
Yanto: OK… Slightly over budget… but worth it!
Le Col Arcus Hat
Something Under The Tree
Rapha Classics Pack – Jersey, Socks and Cap
Snow Cat Jacket by Ana Nichoola
Darryl: Loving the Bike Kit (by Groucho Sports) – Are you “loving the bike”? Show everyone you pass by on your bike, just how much you love being out there riding.
John Allen & Jon Tiernan-Locke:
JA “Bicycle mechanics looks so much easier when you see it done on a work stand, probably because it’s done by a professional who knows what they’re doing. It’s got to be much easier setting things up on a stand, leaving both hands free to adjust things.”
JTL “The perfect gift for the keen cyclist!”
Park Tool PCS10 Home Mechanic Workstand
Le Col Winter Jacket
Garmin 500 Cycling Computer (or the new lower priced 200 and more beer!)
Soineur Merino wool jersey or Training Jacket or the Ana Nichoola Snow Cat Jacket for the ladies. Every cyclist loves a good coffee, so why not get them a dinky Lavazza coffee machine.
If you’re an armchair cyclist or just hate winter cycling why not go for a Rouleur (Road) or Privateer (MTB) Magazine Subscription.
Dream gift… The sky’s the limit!
Darryl: Winter Cycling Getaway and Trek Madone 6.9 SSL Leopard/Spartacus Edition – What could be better than waking up to find this beautiful bike under your tree, and then finding out that you get to enjoy riding it around the incredible Caribbean island of Bonaire?
Bonaire Trip Package
Pair of Zipp 202 wheels
Sidi Genius 6.6 Woman
Obviously I’d like happiness for everyone and maybe a little Trek Madone 6.9 SSL WSD with a Canon EOS-1D X on the side. ;D
Sharp 3D TV – hoping to see so 3D cycling action soon!
John Allen: This one’s easy,
tickets to the 2012 Olympic Games track cycling, priceless, I’d like some please!
Cycling Santa's by Jim Wend
Cristi:My husband’s idea of the expensive gift is a double bonus, as a trip for two (the giving partner can ride or not) is always great. It’s a gift for the giver too!! If you like like the Alps, though they have some other super well managed and top-flight 4**** trips too. Never a bad hotel, which is a plus when you’re super tired from a long day conquering mountains on your bike!!
Top of the range Nikon Camera with Accessories and tickets for two to the 2012 World Track Championships in Australia… well I can always dream!
I was very fortunate (and Thankful) to spend three days with a couple incredible guys who are currently cycling their way across the United States. I’ve been online buddies with Ryan van Duzer for over a year now and have enjoyed following his amazing adventures. I watched the Out of the Wild television series last year only because Ryan was one of the cast members, but so glad I did because it was a very interesting show. Nick Albini was also on Out of the Wild and has joined Ryan on his latest cycling endeavour.
Nick and Ryan should arrive in Florida around December 12th and you can follow their wild escapade at www.ryanvanduzer.com. These guys are super fun, positive, and inspirational…..before they took off, we sat down together and talked about “The Cycling Life”.
There was so much great information and wisdom that flowed from Ryan and Nick that I decided to put together an extended version of this video with much more footage. To view the longer version of the video, check it out right here.
How about you? Have you ever wanted to go Cycling Touring? If so, what would you like to accomplish?
I love all things about cycling, but one of the things I love to hear about is when people tell me about their Car-Less lifestyle. I’m totally amazed by what these people are doing and have the utmost respect for anyone who has chosen to take this route in life.
There is also the term “Car-Light” which, as the name implies, is a step down from living a full out Car-Less life and only occasionally taking out the car. Living extremely Car-Light has been on our goal sheet for the past six months now, and my wife and I are doing what we can to move ourselves into that reality. I hadn’t really considered it before, but it mentioned that in today’s society, families who get by on only one car could pretty much be considered “Car-Light”….I realised that I’m closer than I thought. We’ve been a one car family for 7 of the past 9 years, and I love it.
So what’s it like living Car-Less?
I really wanted to know more about this lifestyle, so I reached out to some people in the cycling community to find out. To me, the king of living Car-Less has got to be Ryan Van Duzer. Not only has he been living his life without a car, he doesn’t even have a driver’s license.
I’ve never had a license!!! When I turned 16 I kept on riding my bike, while all my friends got cars and forgot about their bicycles.
-Ryan Van Duzer
And what a life he’s been living. Keep your eyes on this dude because he is totally going places. Fresh off being the star of “Out of the Wild“, he was awarded the gig of being host of the show “
Ryan’s adventurous Car-Less life didn’t just happen, he made it happen:
People always ask how I live without a car…truth is, I created a life that doesn’t require a car…When I travel, I look up bike stores to rent a bike, not Avis.
Amsterdam and Copenhagen seem like places where everyone lives the Car-Free lifestyle…what about the European country of Sweden? I asked Marcus Ljungqvist (not to be mistaken with the Pro Cyclist, Marcus Ljungqvist from Sweden) what the cycling situation is like in Sweden:
“Malmö is the best bike-city in Sweden and probably pretty good in an international standard too. It is light years behind cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, but is working hard to close the gap.”
Marcus began commuting to work about 2.5 years ago and soon realised that the 50km round trip didn’t really take much longer than his car or the bus. He says that taking his bike is a fourfold win. The four factors that he builds his argument against when promoting the bike as the Ultimate Transport are: “time, economy, environment and exercise.”
Now that he’s living the Car-Free life, Marcus says it feels really strange to not take a bike somewhere. ”The very rare occasions when I use the car within the city, I always hate it; congestion, parking and the cost of gas.”
Andrew Wright’s Car-Less journey began when his vehicle was taken off the road due to a “roadworthiness” issue. He and is wife live in Australia and decided to give it a go by riding busses and trains as their means of transportation. Before too long, Andrew realised that co-ordinating the schedules between these two sources really “sucked” and he looked to the bike to save him. As a guy who used to say, “If it has no motor between the wheels then I’m not interested”, this was a major shift in lifestyle. He bought himself a $20 garage sale bike and hit the road. Within 3 months Andrew had lost over 40 pounds and was hooked on the Car-Free life. His love of cycling has now filtered down to his three daughters and he rides them to school almost every day…even in the winter.
“So there is my story. We cycle. We catch the bus. We catch the train. We borrow a car when necessary.”
If you’re not able to live the full out Car-Free life, becoming Car-Light is a great option….especially when you have a family. Rob Perks of oceanaircycles.com started living Car-Light four years ago so that he could combine outdoor exercise with his commute to work.
With a young family, you’d think it might be a little challenging, but what does Rob say about living car-light?
“It’s not too hard. Our daughter is almost big enough to ride in a kid seat and then we will be able to ride again as a family. For now my wife and I mostly ride in shifts. I run many of our errands by bike. When we do fire up the car we combine as much stuff into one loop around town as we can.”
Cyclelicous‘ Richard Masoner has been living the car-light lifestyle since he was in college…..and continues this way now that he’s married and has a family. He doesn’t really consider his family to be “car-light” because they do own and drive a car for certain things….but in my opinion, he’s definitely living it and doing a great job of promoting this lifestyle along the way. Richard says all the “schlepping” to and from events can be challenging, but “cycling is it’s own reward” and makes it all so worth it.
The list of people living Car-Less and Light goes on and on…here are few tweets from Twitter friends living the lifestyle:
Advice from the Car-less/light Experts:
So what do you think? If you’ve been thinking about making the switch to a car-less or car-light lifestyle, here are come comments and advice to those already doing it:
Marcus Ljungqvist:“Just do it. A lot of people see it as a huge challenge, but it is a lot easier than one could imagine. For sure, some things might get a bit more complicated, like buying new furniture, but you may still have your car, a friend with a car, car-rental and so on. Some stuff are actually easier, like dropping the kids off in the morning and grocery-shopping (using a bike-carrier or cargo-bike).”
Ryan Van Duzer:Don’t be scared of leaving the car behind, the bicycle will bring so much joy to your life that you’ll forget all about that heavy box on wheels!
Richard Masoner: LIVE CLOSE TO WORK, SCHOOL, SHOPPING!
Rob Perks: Start with whatever bike you have, even a rusty beach cruiser with a flashlight taped to the bars will work. Do not obsess over “needing” the right bike to get going. Start with easy stuff like going to dinner where there is less time constraint. Move more and more of your car time to bike time as it comfortably works for your situation. As you ride more and gain experience you can tailor you bike(s) to better suit your needs. Once you start to cut the car dependence you will wonder why it took you so long to get started.
Are you living car-less or light? What advice do you have for others thinking of making the switch? If you’ve been thinking about moving to this lifestyle, what barriers are preventing you from doing it?
Photos c/o Michael Graham Richard, Ryan Van Duzer, and Marcus Ljungqvist
Do you picture bikes or cycling when you think about the Caribbean? I’m sure sun, sand, and palm trees pop into your head a lot sooner then the idea of riding a bicycle in the Caribbean….especially on the beautiful island of Bonaire. But I’m here to tell you that bikes and Bonaire go hand in hand.
I was lucky enough to spend three years of my life living on the amazing island of St. Kitts, which is also in the Caribbean just a little north of Bonaire. It too is a great cycling island and one of the most memorable rides I’ve ever had was on it’s South East Peninsula. Many other islands should be looked at as good places to cycle as well, but I wanted to point out the fabulous Dutch island of Bonaire in this post.
Bonaire is well known as one of the best diving locations in the world, and is also highly regarded as a windsurfing and kitesurfing haven, but what about cycling? Well, here is what the people from Bonaire Bike Tours have to say about riding on their island:
The best way to experience the beauty and outdoors, meet the locals, and enjoy all Bonaire has to offer, is on a bike. See the flora and fauna, cycle past our natural history, and get exercise in our clean Caribbean air. We have challenging climbs, incredible mountain bike terrain, and miles and miles of fabulous road and off-road cycling routes.
Here are my top 5 reasons you should consider Bonaire as your next great cycling escape, holiday, or adventure:
1. Where else do you get to go cycling in a beautiful climate (consistently between 24 and 30 C / 75 and 90 F), with limited rain, and located outside the hurricane belt? I’ll bet that sounds awfully nice as the temperatures begin to drop in your home town.
2. Cycling is important enough on this island that they even have a Cycling Map available. I’ve never seen one of these for any other Caribbean island:
3. Cycle along with Donkeys and Flamingos – Bonaire has both a donkey and a flamingo sanctuary on the island….and who doesn’t like donkeys and flamingos? This is sure to be scenery that you don’t generally experience at home.
4. Learn Dutch or Papiamentu – The official language of Bonaire is Dutch, but English is widely spoken. But the native language just happens to be Papiamentu which is a mixture of many languages including Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, French, English, Caribbean Indian, and African. Imagine how beautiful that must sound.
5. Road and MTB Riding – Mountain Biking is probably the most popular type of cycling on Bonaire, but they do have some excellent road riding as well. There may not be a lot of options for road riding (the island is only 180 sq. km / 112 sq. miles, with only part of that with paved roads), but they do have great riding on the north end of the island that includes a small climbing optional section as well.
If you’re looking for a beautiful cycling package to get you to Bonaire to experience all the island has to offer, have a look at this Bonaire Cycling Holiday: Click here.