November 8, 2018
Where it All Began: The Greg Siple Award for Young Adult Bicycle Travel

Some of you have been following along on this blog since I first began my bike tour from Vancouver. Today I would like to to go back and explain in more detail how this trip was made possible. I cannot thank the Adventure Cycling Association enough.

Before August 2017, I had never dreamt of doing a bike tour. I’m an outdoors person and love camping, but I never considered taking my bike on a major trip. I’d done a month of adventuring in New Zealand for school and loved the backpacking and sea kayaking. I started to wonder what other modes of transport could be used on major backpacking trips.

That’s when a coworker introduced me to the Adventure Cycling Association. They’re a nonprofit with the goal to inspire people to travel by bicycle. It’s the premier organization in North America for bike-travel. The association’s website is filled with routes & maps, guided tours, issues of Adventure Cyclist magazine, gear recommendations, a useful blog, and more. If bike touring interests you, definitely check out their website.

It was on the Adventure Cycling Association’s website that I stumbled upon their Greg Siple Award for Young Adult Bicycle Travel. I did some research and applied for one of their awards. They give two people an Intro to Bike Travel award and two other people Outdoor Leadership awards. I won one of the Intro to Bike Travel awards.

I applied in December when I was cold, stuck in the house, and wanting to make plans for when it warmed up. The application was basically a promise of what I would make of the opportunity they were presenting. I proposed how I would use the free gear and valuable connections to their community. My bargain: I would take peers on bike tours and directly show them this world. My promise has grown in scope since then. My goals have changed from taking one or two bike tours to trying to get a system set up and running many tours inside my beautiful home of West Virginia.

I won in March. Throughout the spring, I received an assortment of amazing bike touring gear. Equally valuable, I now have access to this well-recognized group that is the authority of bike tours in the USA. If my career takes me down the bike touring pathway, I’ve made great connections from this.

You don’t need to be a bike touring expert to win one of these awards. For the Intro to Bike Travel Award, it’s fine to have never bike toured in your life. If, while following my journey on this bike tour, anything has seemed exciting or inspiring to you, this award is a possibility for you to win. You just need excitement and an idea. It could be to conduct workshops about bike tours, take others on them, or to cycle down the coast and publicize it. ;)

If you’re between the ages of 18 and 30, located in the United States, and interested in bike touring, I encourage you to apply for one of these awards. This award has very directly changed the course of my life. I didn’t know something like this was possible for me, but I’ve almost biked down the entire west coast.

Even if you’re not interested in the award, check out the Adventure Cycling Association’s website for a bunch of great resources. My bike touring began with the Greg Siple Award for Young Adult Bicycle Travel and I’m far from being done touring (although I’m very close to finishing this particular tour!). In a way, this is just the beginning for me too.