Heidi leads the way with her belt drive Santos, towing a trailer and supplies while Reuben pulls the kids. Photo: Jenn Stark
Many bicyclists dream of exploring America on two wheels, leaving behind the stress of jobs, bills and obligations and enjoying an epic adventure. Reuben and Heidi Vanderkwaak and their two young children Eden and Harper–collectively known as the Pedal Powered Family–are doing just that. They left their home in Hamilton, Ontario on May 21 and plan to ride across North America, Mexico and Central America for 12 months, their children in tow. “We seek to live simply, give generously, and travel slowly on our bikes,” Reuben says.
So far they have covered about 1,500 miles of their 12,000-mile journey, which has taken them across the heartland of the US and into the Rockies on their way to British Columbia and the Pacific Coast. At the Pacific, they will hang a sharp left and follow the coastline of Washington, Oregon and California down to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. They will then shuttle back to the US, heading up the East Coast from Florida to Maine before turning back through Vermont and New York on their way home to Ontario. You can read more about their journey at www.pedalpoweredfamily.com.
So what kind of a bike does one choose when embarking on a yearlong trek across the plains, over mountains, through sand and storms and rugged landscapes? For Heidi, it was an aluminum Santos Travelmaster with Gates Carbon Drive and Rohloff internally geared hub. Reuben rides a modified Surly Big Dummy. The children’s seats and sun canopy are custom DIY creations.
When Gates heard about the Pedal Powered Family through Facebook, we contacted them and invited them to lunch during their short stay in Denver. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear their stories and get to know an amazing family that is leading a life less ordinary. We look forward to checking back in with Reuben and Heidi in the months to come as their journey progresses. Meantime, if you should encounter a young family on bikes down the road, say hello, offer to buy em lunch, provide them with a place to stay the night. You may just be inspired to pedal off into the sunset yourself.
All smiles after lunch with the Gates crew. Photo: Tim Lucking
Thanks to Jenn Stark www.jennstarkphotographers.com for the top three photos.
Brad Cole and his belt drive Boo 29er after winning the Crusher
Boo Bicycles’ bamboo and carbon fiber race bikes have won many accolades for their beauty. With Brad Cole’s victory in the grueling 80-mile Crusher in the Tushar endurance race, which featured a whopping 10,000 feet of climbing, Boo has confirmed that bamboo paired with Gates Carbon Drive also means fast. Riding a belt-drive rigid fork singlespeed Boo 29er, Cole took took first in the singlespeed division of the Utah race. Cole even powered through much of the pro field, passing geared competitors, to take a top 15 finish overall. Cole was running the new 46/30 CenterTrack system from Gates. In addition to the Gates drive, Cole’s bike is one of the most innovative bamboo 29ers ever built, featuring a Niner carbon fork, TRP Dash Carbon brakes, prototype Challenge tubular tires, and a number of Chris King goodies. Read Boo founder Nick Frey’s writeup about Cole’s 29er and see more pictures of the bike here.
In addition to Cole’s victory, Boo’s Tyler Wren bagged first place in the pro men’s open category riding on a geared bike. “The Crusher in the Tushar is now officially on the map,” says Boo founder and pro racer Nick Frey, “and I’m very proud to see Boo at the top of two of its podiums.” To learn more about Boo’s manufacturing process and bamboo (It’s a grass!), watch this video of builder James Wolf crafting a Boo frame by hand in his workshop in Vietnam. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kk0h8kYuZO4
Milk Bikes is a great UK-based builder that is cooking up some sexy belt drive models. Check out the writeup from Road.cc, which took Milk’s prototype Bullet fixie for a test ride. Read more about Milk Bikes commuter bike the RDA with Gates Carbon Drive here.