Saturday, January 21, 2017

Meet Duke Muir

Meet my new bicycle, Duke Muir.

Me & Duke Muir.

The story of how Duke Muir came to be is a fusion of three separate stories: Vowing to Get the Hell Out of Dodge, Applying for Lael's Scholarship, and Choosing the Hayduke.

Vowing to Get the Hell Out of Dodge

It is December 2015. I am in Seattle preparing for my upcoming bike trip to Patagonia. The skies are overcast. The weather is damp and cold. Though I love the Pacific Northwest in the summertime, the winters are wearing on me. I can't wait to get the hell outta Dodge. All I want is to pedal my bicycle through a perpetual summer.

I spent years molding this feral lifestyle I now live so I can enjoy a perpetual summer. I've sowed, and now it's time to reap. I vow to bike in a warm'n'sunny place next winter. Hell, I vow to spend every winter in a warm'n'sunny place.

Applying for Lael's Scholarship

It is the end of September 2016. I am one week into leading a six week bike trip down the Pacific Coast. Already, I am exhausted. I long for my own bicycle trip. I want to ride at my own pace, eat my own meals, and relish in downtime at the end of every day. I start thinking about that bicycle trip I will take to a warm'n'sunny place this winter.

Somehow I catch wind of Lael's Globe of Adventure Scholarship. The scholarship, named in honor of the legendary Lael Wilcox, is for women who plan to ride the Baja Divide route. The recipient will receive a new bike, a plethora of gear, and a travel stipend. I apply for the scholarship. If I get the scholarship, the destination of my winter ride will be decided for me; I will ride the Baja Divide. If I don't get the scholarship, I will figure out where I want to go from there.

Fast forward to mid-November. A recipient has been chosen for Lael's scholarship. Though the recipient is not me, I'm genuinely excited for the lucky woman; she is far more fantastic'n'worthy than myself. By this time, my excitement for riding the Baja Divide has grown. Though I didn't get the scholarship, my excitement has decided the destination of my winter ride; I will ride the Baja Divide.

Choosing the Hayduke

The Baja Divide is a 1,700 mile off-road bikepacking route. It extends the length of the Baja peninsula from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. The route was recently researched, developed, and gifted to the biking community by the aforementioned legendary Lael Wilcox and her partner, Nicholas Carman.

The Baja Divide route.

Five percent of the Baja Divide route follows paved roads. Ninety-five percent of the route is off-pavement. There will be riding on reasonably graded dirt roads. But there will be riding on yucky ungraded roads, too -- roads that turn to crema de cacahautes after a rain. Miles and miles of unavoidable sandy jeep tracks necessitate 3" wide tires, wider than my current traveling rig can accommodate.

The bicycle traveling I've done thus far is known as "bike touring." Bike touring is typically done on paved roads and typically involves a rack and pannier system for carrying gear.

My bike touring set-up.

"Bikepacking," on the other hand, typically involves off-pavement riding and a rack-less system for transporting gear. The Baja Divide route is best suited to bikepacking.

My bikepacking set-up.

While the minimalist in me grapples with the idea of adding a third bike to my repertoire, having the appropriate bikepacking rig is a necessity for this trip. I make peace with acquiring a third bike. A new bike will open doors for me. A new bike will enable me to better integrate cycling with the great out-of-doors.

In the awesome way that stars align when I open myself to letting stars rearrange themselves, I choose a Hayduke for my new bike. Described as an "incredibly versatile hardtail," the Hayduke has received numerous praises for its ability to tackle rugged bikepacking routes. The bike has a steel frame, front suspension, and 27.5+ wheels. As the Hayduke is a solid bike with a fantastic reputation, I am quickly sold on the bike.

But I'm doubly sold on the bike because it's a bike made by Advocate Cycles. Advocate Cycles creates great bikes because by doing so, not only are they generating profits, but they are also contributing to a laudable social mission.

As an ex-tax geek, a tingle runs up-and-down my spine when I think about Advocate Cycles's legal form. (Humor me for just a moment.) Advocate Cycles was formed as a Specific Benefits Corporation (SBC). A relatively new option for incorporation in the state of Minnesota, SBCs look similar to non-profit organizations on the facade. But unlike non-profits, SBCs pledge to look beyond profits to make decisions for the betterment of society. SBCs have a fully transparent, binding obligation to fulfill their social purposes. In an era when accountability is at an all-time low, how wonderful for corporations to proclaim responsibility. I see you're getting a tingle, too, aren't you?

As an SBC, Advocate Cycle's social purpose is "to support organizations, projects, and initiatives that have positive outcomes for cycling." It provides this support by contributing 100% of its profits towards cycling-related advocacy efforts. When a bicycle is purchased, a customer designates one of five organizations for their purchase to support: Adventure Cycling AssociationBicycles for HumanityInternational Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA), or People for Bikes.

Advocate Cycles was started by Tim Krueger and Odia Wood-Krueger. Neither Tim nor Odia are strangers to the marriage of bicycles and charitable giving. Nine years ago, Tim started a race called the Chequamegon 100. Proceeds from the race are donated to help with local trail building and maintenance efforts. Tim and Odia have since created similar philanthropic rides. In addition to running Advocate Cycles, Tim and Odia are also forming a local branch of Bicycles for Humanity. Without a doubt, Tim and Odia have humongous hearts of gold.

Advocate Cycles's logo is a universal symbol of empowerment.

Both bookworms, Tim and Odia have given meaningful names to their line-up of Advocate Cycles bicycles. They've chosen names for each bike model that honor protectors of wild spaces in literature. The model for my new bike is named "Hayduke," after the protagonist in Edward Abbey's well-known novel, The Monkey Wrench Gang. Hayduke is a fabled environmentalist hero who combines his ex-Green Beret knowledge and his disdain for corporate greed to wreck havoc on those who take advantage of the environment. Other Advocate Cycles bicycle models are named Seldom Seen (after another character in The Monkey Wrench Gang), Lorax (from Dr. Seuss's The Lorax), and Sand County (for Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac).

Odia has ties to the MΓ©tis First Nations and writes curriculum about Native Americans. As such, there any numerous connections between Advocate Cycles bicycles and indigenous cultures. For example, one Advocate Cycles bike model is named Watchman. This name refers to the figures carved into the top of totem poles who serve to protect the village and families below. Another example is the significance of the thunderbird artwork that adorns the Hayduke's top tube. The artwork, created by a friend of Tim and Odia's, signifies protector of water. I love how Tim and Odia have put so much thought into the symbolism of their bicycles.

When I travel by bicycle, I become deeply attached to my bike. My bicycle is like a friend, and so it feels natural to personify my bike. One way of doing this is by naming my bike. My Surly Long Haul Trucker is named "Shirley," and my Brompton folding bike is "Bromleigh." My Advocate Hayduke needs a name, too.

I reach out to my friends via a Facebook post to solicit assistance in naming my new steel steed.

Requesting help to name my new bicycle.

Here is a sample of the suggestions I receive:
  • Monkeywrench (for The Monkey Wrench Gang)
  • George (for the character George Washington Hayduke in The Monkey Wrench Gang)
  • Abbey (in honor of the acclaimed author Edward Abbey)
  • Duke (and variations thereof, such as Duchess and El Duque)
  • John Wayne (whose horse was named Duke)
  • Daisy Duke (for the character from The Dukes of Hazard)
  • Marmaduke (for the comic strip)
  • Cate (derived from Advocate Cycles)
  • Jewel (in honor of Sally Jewel)
  • Blanca or Blanquita (which is Spanish for "white")
  • Doctor Nanaimo Buttertubs (I'm not sure where this name comes from, but I like it. A Google search tells me there is a Buttertubs Dr., as in "drive," in Nanaimo, BC.)

As you likely notice, there are themes in these suggestions. One such theme is The Monkey Wrench Gang. I tried reading Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang a few years back, but I couldn't get far into the book before setting it aside; the writing was so-so, the plot was repetitious, and I didn't care for the crass dialogue between the characters. But with all of the references to The Monkey Wrench Gang in the list of names, I decide I need to give Abbey and his book another shot.

I spend 1 hour and 33 minutes watching a documentary called Wrenched, learning about Abbey's legacy of radical environmental activism. I spend another 16 hours and 46 minutes listening to The Monkey Wrench audiobook. (Thank you, Odia, for your sage advice that some books are easier to digest if consumed auditorially.) Though I still can't say I enjoy the book, I can say I now have an appreciation for Abbey's contribution to American literature and for my bicycle's namesake.

Though the Monkey Wrench theme doesn't fully inspire a name for my new bike, the Monkey Wrench theme coupled with a second theme, protectors of wild spaces, is just what I need to choose my bike's name. I christen my bicycle "Duke Muir."

The first name, Duke, is chosen in honor of George Washington Hayduke and his efforts to defend wild spaces. The second name, Muir, is in honor of John Muir and his environmental advocacy for the most beautiful wildernesses in all of North America. You will hear me refer to my bike as "Duke Muir," but also more simply as "Duke" or "Muir."

Duke Muir & I enjoy a test ride through Discovery Park.

Thanks to my vow to get the hell out of dodge this winter, thanks to the nudge of Lael's Scholarship, and thanks to Advocate Cycles's Hayduke, I will be setting out in just a few days to ride the Baja Divide with my new friend, Duke Muir. We will spend two months challenging ourselves on rugged roads under warm'n'sunny skies. Together, we will gain a greater appreciation for the out-of-doors.


  1. Here's to Getting Out of Dodge! Sancho and I will see you guys next week

  2. The naming baptism has happened. I see an immediate kinship between Sancho and Duke Muir. Good Adventure to each and all involved!

    1. Congratulations on your new grandchild! πŸ˜‰

  3. So excited to see you've joined our fatbike family! I can't wait to hear how you enjoy the ride and the new bike. I hope it inspires you to post a little more often. You have a dedicated following who is following! Take us with you, share your world, inspire!
    Much love to you!

    1. And I'm so excited to join your fatbike family! Having this set-up widens the options of awesome places to visit on two wheels.

      Due to limited space and limited connectivity, I will likely be posting less often...while I'm on the road, at least. (Gulp.) I won't be blogging during the Baja trip, but I'll definitely post some Baja blogs after I return. Do know that just because I won't be blogging doesn't mean I won't be thinking of you, wishing you could come along for the ride.

      Cheers, my friend. Looking forward to riding with you someday soon. πŸ˜€

  4. Can't wait to see you blog your Baja ride! Chuck from Palmdale! (You met me in the coffee shop on your way to Canada!)

    1. Hi Chuck. Of course I remember you! As it turns out, I'll be riding the Baja Divide with a friend named Ron. He was a Warm Showers host in Palmdale. I met him about half an hour after you and I met. πŸ˜€

  5. Funny, I have the monkey wrench gang on the kindle waiting it's turn. I will give it a shot soon.

    The lady who won the scholarship must be amazing indeed if you feel she is much more deserving! I am glad the Sarah I know did not allow not getting it to stop her.

    Duke Muir looks amazing, and I know he will take you places you have never been before. Without racks, and panniers, I will relinquish my normal spot going with you, but I will be very excited to see photos and posts when you are back.

    Ride like the wind lady, enjoy the sun, and know we are all there with you!

    1. Thanks, Tony. You're still welcome to come along on the trip. Like I told my mom: due to space limitations, any willing spirits will be ziptied to the handlebars. Hold on tight!! :)

  6. Hi,
    I came here while browsing for some brompton touring rigs (photos).
    Loved your blog.
    I ride a surly (LHT), brompton (H2L) and a bike friday pocket llama (that i have taken on short tours).
    All the best for your long ride on your new bike

    1. Hi Mahesh. Thanks for your note! You have a great selection of bikes. I wish you the best on your bike tours! ~Sarah

  7. Wow! Sarah you are still impressing me. As you wrote on a hill climb of the Big Sur, last Fall: "You rock! " I may take you as an example for future cycling adventure.

    1. Ha! You're so kind, Alain. Hope you're doing well! :)


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