Are You Considering a Road Trip on Your Bike?

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: So, are you considering bike travel and really not sure where to start? We're gonna tell you today. We got our guest is Teri Maloughney. And, Teri, so, if someone out there in Florida is considering bike travel, where would you send them to get started? They're just not sure what to expect or what steps to begin to take. What would you do?

Teri Maloughney: Well, I'd suggest they go to our website at adventurecycling.org. There, they can find how to plan for a bike trip, maps for your bike trip, what to expect on your bike trip, how to train for a bike trip. And just remember that it's just one pedal at a time and as many pedal strokes as you take is how far you'll go.

Jim Dodson: Very interesting. So, I know a lot of people, I've interviewed people who have done bike travel. Like, from Florida to California, Florida to Oregon and back. And many people who've spent months sort of planning out their route. But that's not really necessary, because you have access, on your website, to a lot more detail than that, that kind of relieves us of the responsibility of planning our own way. Tell us about that.

Teri Maloughney: Indeed we do. We have our Adventure Cycling Route Network which is over 42,000 miles of planned, researched routes that will get you from Point A to B. And, along the way, it shows you services, so, you can find bike shops, grocery stores, campgrounds, motels, all those things that you're gonna need as you travel by bike, are on our maps.

Jim Dodson: So, and you are the Marketing Director, actually, tell us who you are, what's your official position?

Teri Maloughney: My title is Community Marketing Director for Adventure Cycling Association.

Jim Dodson: Right, I had the marketing in there but not the community.

Teri Maloughney: Yeah.

Jim Dodson: And how long has the Adventure Cycling Association been around?

Teri Maloughney: You know, we were originally established in 1974 and we led our first TransAmerica Trail ride in 1976, to celebrate the bicentennial of the United States of America, and, at that time, we were called Bike Centennial. Now we're Adventure Cycling.

Jim Dodson: Right. Okay, so, when you were talking about trail maps or maps that you guys have already developed, this isn't just something someone dreamed up. Your trails actually have 42 years of experience behind them. Is that correct?

Teri Maloughney: We do, and that's, you know, a nice thing about using our routes, is that people are accustomed to seeing cyclists on these roads, and that's an advantage. You know, the more people are aware of you, the better off you are as a cyclist.

Jim Dodson: And what do you use to sort of try to get people on the lowest volume roads, the safest routes? What are your resources, in addition to the experience of people that are continuing to ride your routes? What do you basically do?

Teri Maloughney: We actually send human beings out on the routes to do route research, which is very unusual. In addition to, of course, using GPS and all the technology that's available, we do have human beings who ride these routes beforehand, take notes, bring them back to our cartographers, and then our cartographers create these beautiful maps.

Jim Dodson: Okay. I interviewed Tracy Sefcik several months ago, who did a cross the country ride supporting veterans, and I think Adventure Cycling was involved in her trip as well, weren't they?

Teri Maloughney: We were, Tracy reached out to us and we donated the maps for her trip, and she's an amazing human being. She's a veteran and she's just fabulous.

Jim Dodson: So, you know, Tracy's ride was largely unsupported on very basic equipment, with very basic skills. Tracy's not a big mileage rider, so, that's a very fascinating program if you wanna check that out on our Facebook, as well.

Teri Maloughney: Good.

Jim Dodson: So, I know a lot of people are concerned about, you know, they don't know what to expect when they get on the road, what's it like being out on the road, traveling that way, it's a long way to go. What kind of resources do you have in the website that's gonna help them sort of understand what to expect?

Teri Maloughney: You know, we have some great planning tools on the website, and they're things that talk about navigation, camping, and actually one of the tools is about hardships, because not every day is easy and, you know, your bottom gets sore, and what you're gonna do about those kind of things. So, we try to cover all that. How to train so that you're really ready to go. But we also know there's a lot of people out there who are not gonna train at all, and that's okay, you know? We have people who have never ridden more than 15 miles, and if they do that first 15 miles, then the next day they'll do another. And it's amazing how you can build up mileage as you begin with just a few pedal strokes.

Jim Dodson: It's very interesting to me that cycling is a sport that, in essence, all you need is a bicycle to get you from Point A to Point B. We who do this recreationally spend a lot of energy and money on every tech gadget, the latest frame design and all of those things. What would you say to people that are saying, I don't have the money for an $8,000 bike. I don't have the money, I'm not inclined to get that stuff. What do you say to someone thinking that way?

Teri Maloughney: You know, we really believe that, we don't tell you what kind of bike to ride, we just want you to ride a bike and, you know, you can pick bikes up in such a variety of places. There are police auctions, there are pawn shops, people on Craigslist. And the thing is, you don't have to have a three to five thousand dollar bike. You can have what you have in your garage, take what you already have that you've probably had hanging up there for quite a while. And, on our website, we tell you, these are the things you need to think about. You know, make sure the chain has been lubricated and you may wanna take it into a bike shop and have a basic, you know, maintenance moment for the bike. But you can ride anything and, you know, the most important thing is, is what's gonna work for you and what you have available to you. But you don't have to get crazy stuff. One of the things on our site shows you how you can make panniers, which are saddle bags, out of kitty cat litter boxes. So, you know, you do not have to go high-end. You can really use, you know, common household things that you have available to you right now.

Jim Dodson: As a matter of fact, a young woman that I interviewed who followed the butterflies, the monarchs, from Mexico to Canada, that's exactly what she used for panniers, was kitty box-

Teri Maloughney: Kitty litter boxes, yep, yep. She was an amazing story, too. Her story was actually on the cover of our magazine, Adventure Cyclist. We did a big feature on her story and it's spectacular.

Jim Dodson: So, you've mentioned something, so, we've been talking about your website and just, I wanted one more thought before we leave that.

Teri Maloughney: Okay.

Jim Dodson: I really would urge people who are giving thought to taking off and creating an adventure on bicycle, listen to what Teri is saying, because it isn't necessary to get all involved and bogged down with the latest gadgets and equipment. When people get on the road, you quickly find out, there are many people doing amazing things with the most basic equipment and supplies. The beauty of it is the adventure. You don't get hung up on having the best or all teched out with the equipment.

Teri Maloughney: True.

Jim Dodson: Get back from that and just get started.

Teri Maloughney: Absolutely, yeah. And, you know, take advantage of where you live and if there's bike paths in your neighborhood, start riding there, start riding around the block. Just get out there and give it a try.

Jim Dodson: So, I know that... What are the real goals of the Adventure Cycling Association? What are you trying to do? Your dream, your goal for cycling?

Teri Maloughney: Our vision is to get people connected by bicycling, to bicycle travel. You know, we wanna inspire and empower them and give them the opportunity to find the transformation that happens to you as an individual, as you achieve goals or as you just find out how strong you personally are. That is our goal, is to have you have this opportunity to find out that bicycling is as fun as it was when you were a kid.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, I think everybody, I think most people remember their first bike. You know, in our practice, we give bikes away, multiple bikes away, every year, at Christmas we usually give six or seven bikes to kids and I think every child remembers that first bike, it's that feeling that you have when you have freedom to ride a bicycle.

Teri Maloughney: Yep.

Jim Dodson: And, you know, we really shouldn't get past that because riding is really that simple. That's the euphoria we should all enjoy every time we go out.

Teri Maloughney: Yeah, it is, and that, you know, just that feeling of independence is phenomenal when you're on a bike. You feel everything. And, you know, there's pros and cons to all that, too, sometimes it's warm, sometimes it's cold, but, you know, it is you taking care of yourself at that moment and that's empowering.

Jim Dodson: Well, yeah, I mean, you have to be mindful of you're setting off and you're going out into the world, you have to be mindful. You don't wanna freeze to death, you don't wanna-

Teri Maloughney: Certainly.

Jim Dodson: You don't wanna have hypothermia or dehydration, so there's basic things you need to be concerned about. But don't get overly concerned about, you know, having just the right stuff.

Teri Maloughney: No, no. Wear a jacket, sunscreen, you know, just, basic life necessities, bring water. You know, and a snack.

Jim Dodson: So, where is the Adventure Cycling Association headquartered?

Teri Maloughney: We're headquartered here in Missoula, Montana. We've got about two and half feet of snow that has fallen in the last couple days. It's pretty, I just looked outside and it's still snowing, so, I'm envious of all you Floridians right now.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, I think it's 80 today here.

Teri Maloughney: Ooh, hm, I know.

Jim Dodson: I say that but, you know, I love, I'll be in Salt Lake City on Friday next week with my son and his family for the weekend, so, I enjoy seeing what you enjoy, as well, out there. Just not a great time to be riding.

Teri Maloughney: Living with the snow.

Jim Dodson: Out there.

Teri Maloughney: No, we have probably have half dozen staff who are still riding to work on their bikes, commuting every day, so...

Jim Dodson: So, talk about, I wanna give you a chance to talk about the magazine. So, I've been a member of the Adventure Cycling Association for a number of years. My participation largely is enjoying your magazine.

Teri Maloughney: Yeah.

Jim Dodson: I enjoy, it's just a quality magazine. Matter of fact, I think this month you have an article about the fat tire riding, right?

Teri Maloughney: Probably, it's that time of year. The magazine really is a fabulous vehicle to inspire people. It tells other people's stories, it gives great narrative. It also has some gorgeous photographs in it. We do tech coverage. The last month was our Bike Buyers Guide, where, although we don't tell you what kind of bike to buy, we give you an opportunity to learn what's out there. And, you know, those are just some of the things we cover. Every month we have, in the very back of the magazine, people love, it's called the Open Road Gallery. And these are the people who have come to Missoula, Montana on their bikes to visit us. And, so, we take their photograph with their bike, it's a black and white photograph, and then we write up what their story is. And people's stories are amazing. Why they have chosen to do this. And, also, we have several routes that come through Missoula, Montana. But people get to Missoula and they are so excited because this is where the headquarters is and they have this real opportunity to experience what we do every day.

Jim Dodson:Yeah, so, from my perspective, being an armchair rider, in terms of touring, since I'm still working. I love to get the magazine because you always have the ads in the back for the touring companies, you know?

Teri Maloughney: Uh huh.

Jim Dodson: And they're talking about all these wonderful places to go both here and across the country, across the world, really. But you always have good stories about the adventures that people have taken. Some are incredible, around the world, not just adventure travel in the United States.

Teri Maloughney: Indeed.

Jim Dodson: But I really highly recommend the magazine and I think I've never picked up a copy that I didn't thoroughly look forward to sitting down and going through.

Teri Maloughney: That's good to hear.

Jim Dodson: It's one of the first things that I do when it comes.

Teri Maloughney: Yeah, it is. We're very proud of the magazine and it is, you know, supported by our members and you also have the opportunity, when you go online to our site, to check out articles and things that will appear in the magazine.

Jim Dodson: So, let me just do a little programming note. You know, we're talking about adventure travel and that's not exactly what we do in terms of our practice. You know, we're here in Florida, I'm an active attorney, I have a passion for cycling, I'm a cyclist myself for many years. We represent cyclists all across the state. I always tell people you're more apt to get into a car crash. I mean, I think the statistics are there's more of those than we have with cycling, thankfully.

Teri Maloughney: Absolutely.

Jim Dodson: So, people many times think of me as a cycling- well, obviously, think of me as a cycling lawyer, as the Florida Bike Guy. But if you have a need for a lawyer for anything related to an injury, don't hesitate to call me, even if it's outside of the cycling world. We're only a phone call away and we're accustomed to representing people across the state. So, Teri, how many members do you have in the Adventure Cycling Association?

Teri Maloughney: We have over 52,000 members. As I said, we've been around since the first ride in 1976 and we continue to inspire people to travel by bike. And that's why they join and that's why they continue to participate.

Jim Dodson: Well, you know, here in Florida, the demographics are, we have a broad range of people who are recreational cyclists, but a lot of them are concentrated in the retirement age, Baby Boomer retirement age group. How does that reflect in the demographics of your association?

Teri Maloughney: It's very similar, you know, I think it has to do with, people have a passion, they have time, and I think that time is something that is hard for people. Trying to find time to do things. And, you know, one of the points that we try to make is, that you don't have to go overnight or you don't have to go cross-country, but you can go overnight. And so, going overnight is a great way for people of any age to try bike travel.

Jim Dodson: So, you have two things that you have coming up that are encouraging people to get out and use their bike for some travel. Talk about the overnight adventure, I think that's in late May or early June. What's that?

Teri Maloughney: It is. It is, it's the first weekend of June, first Saturday of June. It's called Bike Travel Weekend and it gives people an opportunity to get together with their friends and ride wherever they would like to. They can leave their home and go to their mom's house, or go, you know, to a nearby BNB or a hostel, or go camping, but we just encourage to take that first step of giving an overnight a try. And, on our site, we have lots of information about how to do that. We have ambassadors that can help you all over the United States and in many foreign countries. And this is just an opportunity for you to have some support, we tell you, we give you great support on how to. And just get out there and give it a try. So, it's Bike Travel Weekend. It's June 1st and 2nd this year. And then the other program we have comes up later in the season, the end of September, the last Saturday in September. And it is called Bike Your Park Day. And this is really encouraging people to get on their bike and to go to National Parks, local parks, or public lands. These are things that we all own as U.S. citizens and just, you know, if, this isn't even going overnight but, this is just, take a look at what's out your backdoor and do it by bike.

Jim Dodson: Those are great ideas. You know, the Bureau of Land Management is probably one of the largest landowners in the country.

Teri Maloughney: They are.

Jim Dodson: They have a lot of land, of course, out West, but I think we'd be surprised how much land is available. Florida's gotten to be, when I was a kid, we had a lot of open spaces, lot of cattle ranches and farms, and those are sprouting houses, it seems, these days. But there's still plenty of wild places to ride and undeveloped places, even here in Florida, to ride.

Teri Maloughney: Yeah, no, and it's amazing. You know, there's also the National Monuments and things, and we have been working with the Park Service. Some Park Service, some National Parks are gonna have car-free days that day, so that people can come in and ride without cars, which I, being here in Montana, we're very close to Glacier National Park, and there's a certain couple of weeks in late May and early June, before they open up the Going to the Sun Road, where we get to ride without any traffic at all, and it is an-

Jim Dodson: Oh, wow.

Teri Maloughney: It's an amazing experience. Yeah.

Jim Dodson: That'd be cool. So, tell me more about that, how does that work?

Teri Maloughney: In, as I said, late May, early June, they have not finished, sometimes, plowing, it's called the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park

Jim Dodson: Right.

Teri Maloughney: And they have either not quite finished plowing or they don't have all the guardrails in, and it's open to people to come in and either hike or ride their bikes, and there's just no traffic at all except other cyclists. And I have had mountain goats jump up in front of me and it's just spectacular, it's an amazing thing.

Jim Dodson: How far is the road?

Teri Maloughney: It's one of those bucket list things.

Jim Dodson: How far is that road?

Teri Maloughney: You ride up and from where we start it is about 16 miles. And the first eight are pretty reasonable and then you just keep wondering what's happening that next eight, because you just keep climbing and climbing, but every turn brings about an amazing... picture of glaciers and waterfalls and it's just truly, truly exciting.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, that's fantastic.

Teri Maloughney: Yeah.

Jim Dodson: So, one of the things we were talking about when we spoke yesterday, preparing for this, is... What do you offer, like, when somebody comes to your headquarters, I know that there's various, what are the trails that sort of converge there and what do you see when you're there? What do they do?

Teri Maloughney: Well, you get to come to the World Headquarters of Adventure Cycling and we have over 1,100 visitors each summer. And, every day, one of the staff members is a greeter, that is their job that day, is to, just hang out with the cyclists that come in. We give them cold ice cream and soda, or drinks. We provide maps of the local areas, suggestions where they can stay. And we weigh their bike for them and we take photos, and then their photos are placed on the board in our front office. And it's really fun because we have people who are coming from both East and West, they do the TransAm Trail or our Lewis and Clark Trail or our Great Parks North Trail, and they will have passed each other. And so, they get to Missoula and they look on the board and they're like, "Oh, there's so-and-so, we rode with for a few days." Or, "we ran into that person on the road." You know, it's a lovely connectivity thing. And, you know, also, people share their stories. Why they're riding their bikes and doing the things that they're doing, and it gives staff a real opportunity to live vicariously in some degrees. Because, you know, not all of us get to take a huge amount of time off and do cross-country. So, it's really cool when we have these people come in and they share their stories with us.

Jim Dodson: So, what are the... Does somebody sort of stand out in your mind? I'm sure you have an opportunity to interact with a lot of unusual people that are riding, some cross-country, maybe not, maybe they're riding regionally, but some of the more colorful people that have come through, that stick to your mind? Do you have any things you wanna share with us?

Teri Maloughney: Sure, I mean, we've had people who have carried a spouse's ashes across country because that person was not able to go on the ride with them. We have a-

Jim Dodson: Let me interrupt you. That would be someone whose bucket list was to do it but never got it done. So, the one spouse-

Teri Maloughney: Exactly.

Jim Dodson: Does it for them.

Teri Maloughney: And somebody stepped up and did it for them. We have a life member by the name of Danny who did the original TransAm ride when he was a teenager in 1976, who has come through four times on the TransAm. And so, it's amazing to see him age, or not age.

Jim Dodson: Not age.

Teri Maloughney: He's still like a young person. We get families who are... understanding, particularly with teenagers, that you don't have your teenagers around forever and that this is a really big family moment to, you know, do some bonding. We have people with little kids who will come in. You have some of the coolest things are people whose parents, in particular, have done the TransAm trail or something, and then they are doing it themselves, you know? So, there's this historical point where it becomes a family objective that everybody gets to do this

Jim Dodson: Yeah, that's very cool.

Teri Maloughney: And so, you know, we just see all sorts of people. We also get a lot of foreign travelers who are very excited about riding through the U.S. And, you know, it also gives us an opportunity to play host to people, you know, and show them the beauty of Montana and, you know, how kind and friendly life is in America.

Jim Dodson: That's amazing, I just love that. So, we started off the program with someone who's considering bike travel but doesn't know where to start, and we've talked about a lot of options if you're actually going to start traveling more long distance and you have some weekends coming up. But, what about someone who maybe would like a taste of bike travel but they wanna do maybe a supported ride? What does Adventure Traveling, excuse me, Adventure Cycling, offer to them?

Teri Maloughney: We also-

Jim Dodson: Both supported and unsupported tours.

Teri Maloughney: We also run over a hundred supported tours. And we do everything from family fun vacations, as we call them, which are one week events with an adult and children who are fully supported. All they have to do is ride their bike and then they get into camp, set up tents, we have caterers. There's lots of things for families to do. We also have those type of tours for adults only. We have end-to-end tours, where you carry your gear but you stay in a hotel and eat in restaurants. And then we have our traditional self-contained tours where you carry your gear, and then you are with a group, and the group does camping and cooking. So, those are kind of our three basic types of tours. Fully supported, end-to-end, and then self-contained.

Jim Dodson: So, if somebody wanted, didn't wanna just go navigate the website but they just wanted to call and get information, do you guide them through all of that through your headquarters, as well?

Teri Maloughney: Absolutely, we have an 800 number and we have staff, you know, particularly if you have a question about navigation, you know, you'd be able to talk to someone in our routes and mapping department. We have staff who have done many of the rides, so, if you have particular questions about a particular route, they can tell you what it was like with their experience. If you wanna go on an organized tour, we have tour staff who are more than willing to help you find your correct adventure.

Jim Dodson: You know, I think that anyone who shares a love of cycling is aware of the transformative power of bicycling. Sort of give us your view of how Adventure Cycling fits into that transformation in people's lives.

Teri Maloughney: Well, we really believe you have the power. And that, you know, bicycling gives you the opportunity to, sometimes you have to reach pretty deep inside, you know, sometimes the hills are steep, the days are long, but you get done with a ride and, you know, for some people that's 15 miles, for other people it could be a hundred mile a day, but you get done and you know you have taken care of it yourself. You know, you are self-driven. You have a lot of time to think, too. So, there's a lot of self-revelation and actualization that goes on, too. You know, it gives you an opportunity to, you know, look at the world around you, meet new people, and also to realize, you know, we're very lucky, in my opinion, to live in the States. And, as you're following these backroads and going into smaller communities, people are really interested in what you're doing and are very, very kind and willing to help. And I think that gives us all of this opportunity to find out more about ourselves.

Jim Dodson: Yeah, you know, invariably, the people that we've interviewed on our program who have done cross-country riding, they all talk about, we get so embroiled in the Democrat-Republican thing. You have all the news that's coming out of Washington.

Teri Maloughney: Yeah.

Jim Dodson: And that sort of disappears when you get out there on the road and you just deal with real people who aren't concerned with all of that.

Teri Maloughney: Yeah, yeah. I mean, we all have basic needs. We need water, we need shelter, we need food. And, when you're out on the road, those are your main concerns. And it's amazing how often people are willing to help you with that, you know? If you look thirsty, people will offer, you know, sometimes if you're coming up a mountain, there are definitely stories of people getting up the top of the mountain and there's somebody who was in a car that passed them, who hands them a cold drink, you know?

Jim Dodson: Right.

Teri Maloughney: Or a snack or something. And it's because, in my opinion, people truly are kind. So, you get to see a lot more of that when you're bike traveling.

Jim Dodson: Everybody talks about the beauty, the wonder, the self-satisfaction of having done something that you set out to accomplish, even overcoming difficulties, but they always talk about the goodness of people.

Teri Maloughney: Mm-hmm.

Jim Dodson: And how reaffirming that travel has been to them and the fact that the world is basically a lot nicer than it sounds on the T.V.

Teri Maloughney: Indeed, indeed. And, you know, we particularly hear that from our foreign visitors, you know? Because they're coming from a place and, you know, coming to the U.S. is exciting and then to actually meet real people and not what you see on T.V., and to have people offer help. It's an amazing thing and they're very excited, and really feel like they've come away learning more about the U.S. than they could ever do in a vehicle, by traveling by bike they really get to put themselves out there, and they enjoy it.

Jim Dodson: Well, Teri, this has been a great conversation, and I appreciate you taking the time out in the two feet of snow out there to talk to us today.

Teri Maloughney: Thank you.

Jim Dodson: I would encourage, Kati's running a trailer there to go to adventurecycling.org. Join the association, check out their website. They've got a tremendous number of resources. I think you'll... I will personally tell you you'll enjoy the magazine. It's certainly worth the membership fee. Do you have anything to say before we sign off?

Teri Maloughney: No, we'd just love to have you join the community and, you know, you don't necessarily have to join the organization, but check out the resources. And also look what's available to you locally through your local bike shop or club, because they are, you know, the starting point for a lot of help.

Jim Dodson: Thank you so much, Teri. We appreciate your time today. Good luck to you guys out there. It'll be warm sooner or later.

Teri Maloughney: I hope so.

Teri Maloughney: Thanks, Jim.

Jim Dodson Alright, we'll see you out there.

Teri Maloughney: Thanks.

Jim Dodson: Take care, thank you very much.

Teri Maloughney: Bye now.

Jim Dodson: Bye bye everybody.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.