Saturday, February 27, 2016

Winter Fuel: Little Brick

 All rides should involve coffee. Before, after, during—doesn’t matter. Coffee just needs to be somewhere on the agenda of any civilized bike ride. It’s part of the Code of the Semi-serious Cyclist.

And in winter, this rule can be extended: All cold-weather rides should also include sustenance, some fortifying foodstuff, whether it be a hearty snack or a full-on hot meal. Winter rides call for something substantial to stoke the engine and boost the blood sugar before heading out to face the chilly wind. I’m talking about winter fuel--steel-cut oatmeal or Irish stew or cheese fondue—the kind of cockle-warming fare worthy of a wintry effort.

To that end, I’m introducing an occasional series on some of the Dusty Musette’s favorite winter pit stops, places worthy of a refuelling stop on winter bike rides. And to kick this off, I’ll start with Little Brick Café and General Store, the latest piece in local coffee guru Nate Box’s suite of hip Edmonton cafes. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Miles from Nowhere

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Bikecentennial, America’s great participatory cross-country ride in 1976, which signalled a moment of great optimism for bike touring in America. Bikecentennial’s legacy includes the formation of the Adventure Cycling Association in Missoula, MT, not to mention countless golden memories for a generation of Boomer cyclists.

In honor of Bikecentennial’s 40th, I recently re-visited Barbara Savage’s round-the-world-bicycle-adventure book Miles from Nowhere (1983), which tells the story of husband-and-wife team Barbara and Larry Savage setting out from their California home in 1978 and venturing through 25 countries and across 23 000 miles over a two-year-plus journey.

Now, the Savages journey wasn’t technically a Bikecentennial project, and, in fact, the book makes no mention of Bikecentennial (though there is reference to an inspirational slideshow by another couple who had recently cycled across the United States, possibly as part of BC). But it seems to me that, consciously or unconsciously, the trip is inextricably linked with the BC zeitgeist, which lingered over American cycling for many years after the bicentennial. The Savages embody the plucky, can-do, hit-the-road ethos of Bikecentennial, with their twin goals of operating as frugally as possible and seeing as much of the world as they can on their bikes. (They were no credit-card bike-tourists; their commitment to camping cheap, even amid dire circumstances, is commendable.) In my view, Miles from Nowhere is an embodiment Bikecentennialism.