Introducing Laurie Chipps
If we'd introduced you to Laurie a few years ago, she'd have been living in Chicago and working as a librarian. While it's a fantastic career in a vibrant city, Laurie needed a change. So here she is in 2019, living in the mountains of Missoula, Montana, USA where she works with the Adventure Cycling Association as a Tours Specialist.
"While I dreamt about having such a job for a long time, I took the long way to get here. I reached a point five or six years ago where I was ready for a big change, though, but I wasn't sure what the next steps where. It struck me that I didn't really need to know those next steps right away, so I decided to leave everything behind and do the one thing the made me happy until the rest worked itself out."
Read more about Laurie and her love of the outdoors over on her dedicated blog.
For the Love of Bike Touring
We asked Laurie to tell us more about how the Adventure Cycling Association came about, and what it is about bike touring that she loves so much.
"Adventure Cycling was born out of an idea that two couples, June & Greg Siple and Lis & Dan Burden, had while they were on an epic bike tour from Alaska to Argentina they coined the "Hemistour" in 1973. In a nutshell, they thought, "wouldn't it be great to get a ton of people together to ride their bikes across the USA to celebrate the upcoming Bicentennial of the United States?" Cut to 1976 after three years of route research and planning, 4,200 people did in fact participate in the ride that came to be known as Bikecentennial and the route is still known as the TransAmerica Trail. Out of that one event, Adventure Cycling grew as an organization and now 43 years later we're still thriving and doing our best to get more people to experience the world up close by bicycle.
There are so many things I love about bicycle touring. Being out in the open air and seeing everything at up close at a slow speed and the sense of personal accomplishment that it can provide. Looking at what your day has in store to get to the next place, whether it's getting a mountain pass, riding inclement weather, or the like -- just carrying on and riding through whatever challenge or hardship, and then being able to end your day with "wow, I DID that" is a pretty great feeling.
Even more than that, though, the reason I love bike touring is the people that you meet along the way. I truly believe that if you ever want to restore your faith in humanity, go on a bike tour. There's something about you showing up in a small town or being on an open road, just you and everything you're carrying with you, that bring out the best in people. They become not only curious about where you're going but also want to go out of their way to help you and make sure you're taken care of. So many times I've had people - total strangers - offer to let me camp in their back yards, make me dinner, or even offer to call their relative in the next town over to see if they could put me up for the night. Biking across the entire United States, I never once felt threatened and politics never came up in conversation -- rather, I met some of the kindest, most good-hearted people that I otherwise would not have met or shared time with, all because the bicycle was an ice-breaker.
For those considering a bike tour but aren't sure where to start, it doesn't have to be an epic adventure and you don't even necessarily need camping gear to get started. All you need is a bicycle and the curiosity to get out and push yourself a little bit further. Ride to a campground or even friend or relative's house or motel in the neighboring town, then ride home the next day. Stop along the way, take in a bit of history of the area, talk to some locals -- I'm sure doing so will change your perception of what's possible and maybe next time you'll be inspired to go a little farther."
Book of the Week
We challenged Laurie to pin down her favourite book, and as an ex-librarian this was quite the challenge! In the end, she came up with Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Laurie says, "I have long enjoyed this book. There are so many layers to this novel, but at its core, it confronts what tradition views as a conventional family and home and celebrates freedom and a rebellion against convention".
Housekeeping sits at number 92 of The Observer's 100 greatest novels of all time. With Barack Obama as a fan of Marilynne's work, who can argue? An early review in the New York Times describes the novel as being “about people who have not managed to connect with a place, a purpose, a routine or another person. It’s about the immensely resourceful sadness of a certain kind of American, someone who has fallen out of history and is trying to invent a life without assistance of any kind, without even recognising that there are precedents. It is about a woman who is so far from everyone else that it would be presumptuous to put a name to her frame of mind”.
This book, thanks to Laurie, is on our wishlist this winter along with all of Marilynne Robinson's other books!
Music of the Week
We’re building a FINDRA Community Playlist over on Spotify, bringing you music of a rather eclectic variety! From classic dance tunes to lesser-known indie songs, we hope there’s something new in there for you. If you’ve got a favourite you’d like to hear in the playlist, drop us a tweet!
Laurie tells us that, "Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run pretty much became my anthem when I was getting ready to quit my job and bike across the country and it's still a special one".
Whatever you’re up to this week, friends, remember to find your everyday adventure.
Love, Team FINDRA x