Friday, August 24, 2007

The Countdown: One Month Until We Leave

Today marks 30 days until we leave. The panic has not set in yet...

We've been starting to focus on the trip almost exclusively: health insurance, visas, finances and procuring the last few pieces of gear. Now we'll have some time to pack and re-pack our panniers the best way possible. In addition, we will be going out on a mini-tour in the next couple of weeks. We're definitely cutting it a little close but we have to work with the time we have left.

We've also been deciding how much or how little to plan the first few weeks in New Zealand. Leslie's parents will be arriving in late October and we're leaning towards following a pre-defined route from a book until then. After their visit we plan to be very flexible. Our only committment is a week in Nelson for Christmas. We hope to preview most of the South Island while touring with Leslie's parents to get a sense of where we might want to go on our bikes.

Most of all, we're very anxious and excited to start the trip.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thanks to the Sponsors

Back in January of this year we decided to pursue sponsorship opportunities for our Bicycle Geography trip. We did a lot of research and decided to go for it even though we planned to fund the whole adventure ourselves. We realized it would be good professional development to seek out gear sponsors. In addition, we knew it would provide opportunities to share our trip with others besides friends and family.

Working off the best examples we could find, a small set of media materials was developed. See the Sponsorship page on our website for our bread and butter; a introductory postcard and press release:
Drop us a line at if you'd like an example of the detailed media letters we sent out.

Here are some things that worked for us as we sought out sponsorship:
Keep it simple – get to the point and be direct
Be professional – spend a little extra time to make your materials and message worth reviewing
Believe in your cause – be committed to your goal when you share it with others
Take Chances – all they can say is no – go for it!

We’ve had a couple good laughs about going through this process. Why? Because we really don’t take ourselves that seriously. A press release? Come on, isn’t that for important people…

Anyway, after we had our materials together, we (Chris) started contacting vendors. Through phone calls and emails he followed up on every postcard we sent out. He knew that it would be up to him to keep up with them, not the other way around. Of the people he talked with, Chris was pleased to find out that they were generally interested in our trip even if they couldn’t help us. Those positive responses really kept us motivated when things were getting too surreal and chaotic.

So, after starting with about 30 gear companies we ended up receiving “pro deals” from four different sponsors. See below for a short description of each one:

Honey Stinger: Makers of honey based energy foods.
We’ve been using the bars and gels all spring and summer. We like the instant energy without the sugar rush.
Favorite flavors: chocolate and strawberry gels and apple-cinnamon bars.

Outdoor Research: Outdoor gear company based in Seattle, Wa.
We loved our OR gear well before we partnered with them. This summer we’ve been able to test a lot of our trip gear. Overall, we really like the simple design of every product.
Some of our favorite products so far:
Hydro DryComp AirX compression sacks
Exped Ibis Sleeping Bag
Alias Cap
Wool T-Shirts – Men’s Sequence, Women’s Essence
DryComp Summit Sack - compression stuff sack that doubles as a backpack

In addition to producing quality gear, OR is involved in the outdoor community. Through the website,, they promote “self-propelled adventure”.

Schwalbe Tires: Bicycle Tire Company started in Germany in the early 1900s.
Just about everyone doing an extended bike tour is using Schwalbe tires. We’re ready to find out what it’s all about.
This summer we’ve been running the Racing Ralph tires on our full suspension bikes. They ride really well on the hard-packed, smooth trails. Once the trip starts, we’ll be using the Marathon XR tires.

Brunton: Wyoming based company that makes quality camping gear and instruments.We’re really wanted to incorporate solar power into our trip and were really excited to partner with Brunton. Chris has done a fair amount of research to connect the Solaris solar panel with our computer, camera, iPods and miscellaneous batteries.
Once again, we'd really like to thank the companies that have decided to partner with us. It has really raised the level of excitement for our trip.
We also hope this post is helpful to anyone who is planning a big adventure and might be interested in acquiring sponsorship.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Biking Life - Bozeman

Another week has passed. This last one we spent staying with Chris’ family in Bozeman, Montana. We decided to trade our hiking shoes for biking shoes and turn some rubber on the trails. Bozeman has some sweet singletrack – Bangtail Divide turned out to be our favorite. Bozeman also has a great bicycle vibe. The city is set up with bicycle lanes and routes and has a thriving commuter scene.

Bozeman Vital Statistics:

Location: 45°40′40″N, 111°2′50″W, Montana, United States
Elevation: 4,810ft/1,508m
Population: 32,500
Area: 13 sq miles
Maps: Beartooth Publishing

Thursday, August 09, 2007

On Foot in the Tetons

We’ve been on a road trip now for nearly two weeks now. We spent last week hiking and climbing in the Tetons. Our main goal was an ascent of the Grand Teton. While we were not successful, we put a lot of miles on our shoes and were treated to some amazing views. We stayed at the Climbers' Ranch, a collection of bunkhouse cabins managed by the American Alpine Club. It was a real treat to have a place to cook, a hot shower and fantastic views.
Also, congrats to our friend Chris who stood on the summit of the Grand for his 40th birthday!

Grand Teton National Park can be described as spectacular and awesome. The mountain range rises dramatically from the valley floor. Geology buffs will appreciate the exciting events that shaped the landscape that visitors see today. About 13 to 17 million years ago, earthquakes along the Teton fault caused the mountains to rise and the valley floor to drop. The vertical displacement topped 29,000 feet at one time. The landscape was then sculpted by glacial erosion over the next several million years. As the mountains eroded, the debris was carried to valley floor by the movement of the glaciers. The true valley floor is buried 18,000 feet below what is seen today. Wildlife is also a huge draw in Grand Teton National Park. We were lucky enough to see a black bear and a bull moose during our hiking adventures. It was definitely exciting and we were very glad to see both animals from a distance. This area, along with Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding national forests is home to the 18 million acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem - one of the largest temperate zone ecosystems left on Earth.