Where are you based?

Where's your favourite place to ride?
Anything with hills and dirt. Ironically Chicago is lacking in both, though I think I'm kinda taking the reigns on finding every little stretch of dirt Chicago has. As for hills, well - it's the Midwest. We have wind instead. That said, I've had two amazing, defining rides for 2014: the Colorado River Road century and my backwoods tour of inland Maine. Both featured a lot of hills, 90% rutted, washed out, and unpaved roads, and I did them both on a road bike that can't clear fatter than 27s. For a while it's been either that bike or my Surly Pugsley, but I'm finally sorting out having the right bikes for the kind of riding I do.

What type of riding do you like to do the most?
I used to race cross, gravel, and mountain bikes but it turns out I'm not competitive at all. I found true bike happiness in #fattiresandcampfires. At the same time I have a huge respect for everyone out there who pushes themselves so hard with racing. Unfortuantely I was never motivated with that and my preference has shifted to ultra-light touring/bike packing/dirt rando things - the less pavement the better. Taking advantage of the fact that I can go on those kind of adventures cheaply and in a low-impact, sustainable way via trains and busses has made me completely shift my priorities and lifestyle so that I can almost always take time to head out for a few days and document my travels for the blog.

How do you discover a new route? Do you plan ahead with maps or just see where the road takes you?
Definitely a hybrid of the two. Maps help start the adventure, and give you confidence that you can get out of trouble fairly easily, but once I'm out there I prefer to let the universe guide me. That won't always work, but flagging down a local always helps me find my way. To anyone interested in doing this kind of riding: you really do need to give yourself to fate, stay friendly and thankful to strangers, and definitely learn how to find north without a phone or compass! That last one has bailed me out multiple times when I was completely lost, stuck in rain, and just ready to break down.

What equipment do you use to capture your ride?
On Instagram I'm really snobby about only using my iphone in lieu of the growing trend of putting DSLR images up. The photos going along with this were all done with my iphone and vsco cam. I'm also just lazy and have no interest in going through all that work of getting non-mobile photography onto a website designed for sharing mobile photography. If I have room in my bag I'll bring my Mamiya 7 and shoot medium format film. The Mamiya is seriously the best camera ever, and medium format plays very well with my habits of shooting semi-wide and with a low depth of field. Otherwise, I always have a Yashica T4 on me with a couple rolls of porta 400. I guess I should note that I only shoot colour, since I just don't have the eye for black and white. More often than not I'll sacrifice the quality of the Mamiya for the flexibility of my travel-DSLR: a Fuji X-Pro 1 with 35mm f1.4 and 50mm f1.4 equivalent lenses. I used to bring a big, heavy Nikon D800 with lenses in the same focal length, but I've been blown away by how good the Fuji X cams are! So much less weight in my bags/around my neck, and I'll feel waaayyyy less bad if I ruin a $900 camera than a $3000 one.

What destination would be on your riding wish list?
I've gotten a lot of offers around the world to be lead on super remote, unsupported rides. For bike trips in the US (I'm still trying to figure out how to get over seas/across Central America without planes or cars), the Great Divide and that new Idaho Hot Springs route are at the top of my list, as well as some lesser known stuff in Portland, North Carolina, LA, Montana, and hopefully back out to Maine in slightly better conditions next fall. I'm trying to make 2015 even more amazing than 2014 was, which is not an easy goal. Hopefully there's other people out there doing the same to keep me motivated and inspired!