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Laura Loretz - Sponsored Athlete

Laura Loretz - Sponsored Athlete

Laura Loretz – Adventure Cyclists / Mountain Whitewater Descents (Click on picture to view Laura's blog page)

This past summer I convinced a friend of mine to join me in exploring the American Northwest. Hoping to keep with the idea of traveling with the environment in a sustainable way, we planned a self supported bicycle tour. With the help of a travel grant provided by Mountain Whitewater Descents (Fort Collins, CO) and a pro-deal purchase for some amazing panniers from Pacific Outdoor Equipment, we took off on our first ever trip of this sort . The two of us began in Lander, WY with little expectations, only a simple goal of reaching the coast of Washington in the 30 days we had to complete the journey. What we learned was there was no way to plan for what was about to take place.  

We spent our tour traveling via parts of various Adventure Cycling Association routes. It took us from Wyoming, through Grand Teton and Yellowstone, to the Adventure Cycling headquarters in Missoula, MT. From there we headed north to Whitefish, MT and then headed west through Sandpoint, ID and Northern Washington State. We knew that we were going to be going through America’s wilderness and experiencing amazing parts of the country, we were not prepared, however for the social impact of touring. From what I have gathered reading blogs and books by other cycle tourists, we seemed to have a unique experience in this social surprise! Almost immediately on our trip we began meeting others who were heading in our direction and frequently we were adding and subtracting members to our group. Complete strangers became very close friends within minutes and miles.

At one point we went from being 2 to 4 and then to 6 traveling single-file along the roads of Montana. (then back to 2, up to 3, 4 and then down to 3 again…) Those that we did not drag along with us we made the time to share stories and names and sometimes a beer or two before going our own separate ways.  Among cyclists it may seem understandable that the comradery was so great considering many were at the very least on a similar journey albeit with different destinations. What was so astonishing to us, however was the openness of complete strangers in the small towns we passed through on the way.

In Twin Bridges, MT 6 of us cyclists gathered at the Twin Bridges Bike Camp, a facility set up for cycle tourists at the town park.  The facilities provided us with a cover over our heads as well as flush toilets and a hot running shower, bike literature, a bike stand and small grill. We met a couple who bought us a few drinks at the Anchor Bar and the next day brought us pizza and took us to the local high school football game. In Missoula, MT another couple met through warmshowers.org took us in. They opened their home and shower to us as well. In Sandpoint, ID while inquiring at a local store about camping a woman offered us her backyard and invited us in to use her shower, bathroom and laundry. Not only did we appreciate the use of running water by these strangers, but also the conversations that we were able to share.  Every house we stayed at, or town we slept in, even gas stations we dropped into for snacks... we were able to share stories and have deep conversations with people we had just met.

After 29 days of riding, now a final group of 3, we made it to Anacortes, WA. We toasted with champagne as we dipped our wheels in the waters of the Puget Sound.

I have since returned to Fort Collins, CO. I am back to the “real world” of work and traffic and waking up in a bed instead of the woods. I miss being on the road but am excited to do this all again, maybe next time go for a little longer, or perhaps I will never come back at all. I know that this trip has changed me. Driving through town the other day I saw pedaling to my right a man with a fully loaded bicycle, obviously touring. I could hardly contain myself as I began honking for him and cheering out my window, sometimes that is just what you need at the end of a long day of cycling. Now, looking back over the mountain passes we climbed, the cold and wet weather of September we pedaled through, trudging back against the windy miles and even looking out over the beautiful views we were able to see along the way… what I will remember most will always be the people. Thank you Pacific Outdoor for being a part of this group.

Why Pacific Outdoor Equipment is a company that reflects your focus:

Pacific Outdoor Equipment has a very simple philosophy, better gear = less waste.What better way is there to reflect my focus on traveling with the environment in a sustainable way? The truth is the adventures that I love to do can often have a negative impact on the environment in which I wish to enjoy them. It is my job to minimize this as much as possible so that we can continue to explore and that future generations can be just as amazed by all that is offered to us.

It's not just about being human-propelled on a bicycle that makes cycle touring environmentally friendly, it's about the gear and the energy and resources used to make the gear. It is also about having good gear that won't wear out on you while riding your bike across a mountain pass. Why use new gear every other year if you can get gear that will last. Pacific Outdoor Equipment makes quality gear that does all of these things, which in turn lets me sit back and enjoy the ride!

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