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The Though Kitchen - Dedicated to Stirring the Pot

Archive for June, 2012

Riding Across the Cultural Divide

Posted by Guest | June 26th, 2012 | Filed under Bikes, Outdoor Sport, Personal Reflection

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Editor’s Note: Yeah, we like bikes. But our obsession for the velocipede goes beyond the obvious. This week, in the Thought Kitchen, friend, freelance writer and fellow rider, Ellee Thalheimer echoes yet another reason why we trade in four wheels for two—to experience something far better than cruise control and heated seats.

By Ellee Thalheimer

Throughout the wind-thrashed land of Argentina’s Pampa, the remote, bustling hamlets became ghost towns for three hours every afternoon. After the siesta, everyone from leathery-skinned cowboys to laughing women in designer jeans would huddle in groups sipping yerba mate from a communal gourd and metal straw.

On this trip and many others, my secret tool to bridge the cultural divide and nose my way into the heart of another culture was my massively loaded bicycle. At car checkpoints, Argentine police officers would invite me to share a mate, and curious onlookers approached me as a fascinating—and possibly off-my-rocker—oddity.

They wanted to know where I was from, where I was going, how far I’d come, and how many miles per day I rode. That inquisitiveness enabled me to ask intimate questions and wiggle my way into some pretty stellar conversations and cultural understanding.

People’s curiosity in exotic places like Argentina, interestingly enough, is not all that different than at home. Crossing over the West Hills, just outside of metro Portland, Oregon, the culture subtly changes; there are slight differences in how people talk to each other, variant political signs in front yards, and deviations in restaurant menus.

A bicycle, with bags slung all over it, seldom fails to pique folk’s interest, even if they are used to cyclists. So the rural Oregonian with a gun rack chats with the Portland cyclist toting Kombucha in a non-toxic metal bottle.

The bicycle ends up building a link between diverse people who might never have interacted. And when folks from disparate cultures connect and learn about each other, empathy is born, and the world becomes a better place. A two-wheeled device all of the sudden accomplishes more than anyone would have ever expected.

Elle is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her past work includes Cycling Italy and contributions to the Lonely Planet editions of Mexico, USA, Caribbean Islands and Pacific Northwest guidebooks. Learn more about cycle touring in Oregon in her new guidebook: Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-day Tours in Oregon by checking out her website www.cyclingsojourner.com. And stay tuned for her upcoming venture: Hop in the Saddle: A Guide to Portland’s Craft Beer Scene, By Bike available in November.

Dealer Dispatch: The Wild Trails of Rock Creek

Posted by Bryanna | June 12th, 2012 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Partnerships, Positive Change

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Located in the heart of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Rock/Creek Outfitters has been named one of the “Top 25 Outdoor Retailers” year over year. They’ve also been a long time brand ambassador and retailer of Nau Clothing. This week in the Thought Kitchen, we caught up with the adventure retailer to find out more about their Rock/Creek Trail Series: an eight-race event benefiting Wild Trails, an organization dedicated to the use, expansion and promotions of trails in Tennessee.

Ten years ago, Matt Simms—a Rock/Creek employee at the time—decided it was time for the general public to discover the wilderness in Chattanooga. So he, and a few others, started a trail race called the Rock/Creek River Gorge, one of the eight races still in the series today.

Needless to say, the races were a hit. So in 2007 Matt, along with a few others who shared his vision, founded the Wilderness Trail Running Association  Their mission? To promote the sport of trail running and the preservation of trails not just for runners but for everyone with a passion for the outdoors.

In the months following, the board went through a process of refining its mission and evaluating what would be required to build a sustainable organization committed to promoting outdoor recreation and preserving trails in the region. One of the founder of Wild Trails says, “Trail running will always be our first love, but we realized that the work we were doing on trails was benefiting not just the trail running community but all users of trails. We also realized that to gain the momentum we needed to affect positive change and create a culture of commitment to preservation we needed the support of more than just the trail running community. “

While some of the races are strictly for experienced marathoners, the appeal of the Trail Series is to have everyone enjoy running on trails.  As Jeff Bartlett, organizer for the series, says, “Some will start out running 10k races and end up running 50k races, and some won’t, and we think that’s just fine!”

Jeff’s attitude is the epitome of Wild Trails mission, to get the people out and active on these trails while preserving them for generations to come.

To donate, participate or just learn more, check out Wild Trails and the Salmon Rock/Creek Trail Series.