Howdy Traipsers,

As you read this, I’m finishing a gravel bikepacking trip on the Oregon Outback. If all went well (i.e. I didn't take a wrong turn and end up in Idaho), I pedaled a full traverse of Oregon from south to north and the trip was full of sleeping under the stars, minimal washboard roads, and beautiful desert landscapes.

This week’s newsletter:

Scary monsters, whale culture, mind-reading tennis, and finding the snow line. Oh, and every picture in this newsletter features a bike. I AM WHAT I AM, OK!?


I'm doing a dance to the Washboard Road Gods for my Outback ride and hoping for gravel as smooth as the Erie Canal was back when we pedaled it in 2014. I'm prepared for disappointment...

The scariest monster


I haven’t seen a horror film in ohhh 20 years (they’re scurry!), but I trusted my friend Brandon's recommendation to watch this Vimeo film. “Wait for it – it’s not what you expect,” he said.

And right he was. It starts out talking about Hollywood monsters and ends with a doctor discussing acceptance and death!

In case you don’t get a chance to watch the 9-minute video, here’s the doctor discussing bringing people back from dead in the operating room.

“The first thing they asked was, ‘Why did you bring me back? I went into this space and it was bright white light. I felt completely accepted for the first time in my life.’”

And also:

“Death is not an endpoint, it’s a transformation moment, it’s an expansion beyond the limits of this frail, biologic shell that we carry around. And the instant that we step out of that, we find out that the universe embraces us in every single second of our existence in complete acceptance of who we are. We are enough.”

Now how do we adopt that complete acceptance concept – we are enough - while we’re alive and kicking?

Related: My blog post about ditching a self-bullying mindset.

Whale culture

"Behavior is what we do. Culture is how we do it," says the whale biologist in this this excellent article.

Whale, I sure learned a ton, not to mention the photos are stunning! A quote from the article:

"These are very complex societies in the sea. We know that they have cultures, that they celebrate identity, that they exhibit joy and grief. They understand that family, community, societies are important, and they need each other. And I think it's a nice reminder of what I think we already know as well."

A recent evening drawing. Biking creates tough perspectives!

Mind-reading tennis

“I hate tennis.” So begins Open, Andre Agassi’s fantastic autobiography and one of my favorite books.

I’d probably hate tennis too if my dad forced me to hit 2,500 balls a day, a cool million a year! Brutal, but effective. Is the cost of greatness worth the pain?

In a short Twitter video, Agassi talks about how he decoded Boris Becker’s thunderous serve by watching the location of Becker’s tongue. Years later, Andre and Boris were hanging out and Andre shared the secret.

Becker said: “‘I used to go home all the time and just tell my wife, ‘It’s like he reads my mind'.”

Related: My friend Jono (my bike trip companion this week), wrote an insightful blog post, “The Best Skills Come From Practice, Not Talent.” In it, he dives into IQ vs. talent and what matters more.
Spoiler: higher IQ leads a person to skimp on practice, which lets them be passed up by someone more diligent.


A smarter way to find the snow line

One nice thing about writing online is that my brilliant readers help me avoid repeating stupid blunders. Case in point: hiking through snow with my bike. Sure, I could guess at trail conditions, OR I could do what the geniuses around me do: research where the snow line is.

After I posted about my snow misadventures, JT from Alpenflo pointed me at his how-to article. It it, he details how he plans spring expeditions that DON’T involve questioning why I bother leaving my house when there’s a perfectly good piano there.

Another, less-granular option is Sentinel Playground, which pulls from satellite images and allows you to see where the white stuff is. (Thanks, John!)

Traipsing About Archives: Bikepacking the Oregon Timber Trail

Just to clarify, I'm not riding the Oregon Timber Trail right now. My route, the Oregon Outback, stays east of the Cascade Mountains and is gravel and fire roads, not mountain bike trails.

If you want a mountain bikepacking trip report and haven't read about my experience bikepacking the Oregon Timber Trail - broken bikes and other trials - check it out!

Pfffft, I don't need any stupid how-to article on finding snow line. I found it myself! The trail was barely under 6' of snow and will be rideable anyyyy day.

Thanks for stopping by Traipsing About! Confront the scary monster, have a whale of a good time, and practice your mind-reading. Maybe it'll help you find the snow line.

P.S. Hey, the CDC says vaccinated folks can party like it's 1999! Maybe accompany your gathering with this fun (and brilliantly-named) Spotify playlist, Upbeat Indie Hipster Party Mix.

P.P.S Speaking of Spotify, are your music tastes hip, cool, with it? (<--clearly I'm not.) Check out "Judge My Spotify," where "our sophisticated A.I. judges your awful taste in music." Pre+Tentious? Yup, that's a category.

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