Words: Daniel Wakefield Pasley | Photography: Chris Milliman | Date:
Our desire to move, travel and expand, and road trip is central to our identity and consciousness. Americans love frontiers. We are restless and ready at once to pack-up and move-on should life require it, for a job or a woman, or for gold or for fame. Road Trips are a national rite of passage, a pop-cultural update and interpretation of the American Native Vision Quest. From Huck Finn’s Mississippi mischief and wendings, Walt Whitman’s Pioneer O Pioneer to Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ and Woody Guthrie’s ‘On the Road Again’ we are all pioneers, cowboys and frontiersman at heart, it’s in our blood.
And for a few months this summer, bikes were our reason and theme.
Not surprisingly, reason and theme make all the difference between biking across the surface of America and dipping in and fully immersing ourselves with the Americana, the folklore, layout and landscape of America. Reason and theme bring you in proximity with the real character of person, place, time and energy.
We rode in places we only imagined and in some cases hadn’t yet, and maybe never would have. This summer we met 25 Continental locals, as well as some of their friends and family, who each shared with us their intimate and practiced knowledge of the local roads and riding. Knowledge handed-down to them from friends and generations of cyclists as well learned day-after-day and year-after-year of miles, exploring, vetting and refining. Locals from, and most cases still living in, cities, towns, villages and outposts across the country from which to jump-off and into the wilderness.
So, for bikes, and on bikes, we went deeper and deeper into the countryside and remote America on lesser and lesser roads. In Oregon, many unpaved roads are described by the signs at their feet as unimproved. Apropos of that this summer we went looking for Unimproved America. For its tradition and peculiarities. To be scared, educated and entertained. To be enthralled. To revel and relish. To ride bikes.
No, this wasn’t the last Great American Road Trip but it was possibly the first of many Great American Unimproved Road Trips.
Big Loop, a 155-mile long march through Idaho’s Rocky Mountains, and the last ride of the summer was no different and as such a fitting end to an incredible summer.
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