Happy 200th birthday to the bicycle! While today we rely on bikes for exercise, commuting and touring the wine country, the bicycle originated in difficult times. It all began in 1815 after a large volcano erupted in Indonesia. So much debris was ejected into the atmosphere that global temperatures cooled and crops around the world were ruined. This also meant starvation for animals, and in a pre-automobile era, left the problem of how to transport people without horses.
Stockholm is not a city that speaks for itself. Like the Swedes, it exists with a quiet elegance and humility that is discovered by the foreigner with the patient peeling away of layer after layer. Its skyline is one of the most striking I’ve seen in Europe, with spires reaching towards the sky and pastel-colored buildings lining the canals and bridges that unite the city across 14 islands. From Lake Mälaren through a web of canals and rivers reaching the Baltic Sea, the Stockholm Archipelago draws city dwellers from the capital’s urban chic into the countryside.
Put together everything you love about Italy: a warm climate, the rugged coastline, mountains, food, history, wine and rich cultural traditions. Lake Garda, at 31 miles long and touching three Italian provinces, manages to offer it all.
The perfect cycling combination awaits in the rolling desert hills near St. George, Utah: a butt-kicking workout on the way up followed by an adrenaline-pumping downhill race. When I first rode up Snow Canyon last summer, it was a real "sufferfest." Finally I crested that last sweaty hill, pushing my poor legs harder than they had any right to be pushed, filling my lungs with hot desert air... then I looked around. Miles of pristine Navajo sandstone stretched out before me, carved into towering walls of red and white striations. I felt like I was on Mars, and I was hooked.
Before I became a Backroads Trip Leader, a crazy project took me on a bicycle adventure along the spine of the Americas, from northern Canada to southern Argentina, chasing down the Rockies, the Sierra Madre and the Andes mountains. Here is what I consider to be the Top 10 Best Roads Segments from that trip. This list includes different sceneries, jaw-dropping sights and some of the places that made me shout out "wow" uncontrollably. Moreover, some of these routes can be experienced on your next Backroads adventure!
Mixed abilities, mixed interests, mixed goals, or maybe mixed inclinations. Whatever label we put on it, this is one of the key quality factors that differentiate Backroads: choice. You choose where you want to go, who you want to travel with, what activities you want to enjoy – and for how long or how far. The leaders are not there to decide your day, but to see what you want to do and help make it happen.
As a Backroads trip leader, I often get asked what is my favorite city in the world. Many of my peers answer, "Oh, that's tough..." For me, it's not tough at all. It is, without a doubt, Barcelona.
It’s not unusual to gear up with new equipment before a Backroads trip; we all know how wonderful it feels to don a fresh pair of bike shorts with a brand new shammy. There are some things, however, that should be broken in before embarking on an active travel adventure.
For the 35th anniversary of Backroads, we decided it was about time to get me out talking to the press, something I hadn’t done in ages. Everyone wanted to talk about Ebikes, electric assist bikes. All the editors and writers I met challenged my decision to offer them on trip.