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Your adventures aren’t only about showing up. The paths you walk will demand more of you. Think of bike touring as an example or a metaphor. No matter what adventure you’re planning, you need to be holistically prepared.

Your adventures aren’t only about showing up. The paths you walk will demand more of you.

Think of bike touring as an example or a metaphor. No matter what adventure you’re planning, you need to be holistically prepared. You’re an complete human being, not a pair of legs.

On a long bike tour, you could be in the saddle for 4-6 hours most days. And I want you to have some energy left to enjoy yourself when we get to our destination.

Biking takes its toll on your back, your arms, and your joints. You have to build those up, along with your legs. 

I’m not a trainer or a physical therapist, but here are a few basic principles that will help you.

Challenge yourself

Don’t push yourself. Don’t torture yourself. But you should always give yourself a little healthy challenge.

Think three months ahead, and aim to be a little better, stronger, and faster than you are today. 

This means going just the slightest hair’s breadth beyond what’s easy or comfortable today. 

Focus on pre-hab

A big part of your training should be about preventing injury. Work on your core and your back. Get really disciplined about warmups and stretches. 

Include a lot of movements and exercises that you won’t do on the bike. Running, jumping, push-ups, pull-ups and burpees should be a foundation. If you have time, throw in some acrobatics, yoga, or martial arts. You’ll thank yourself later.

Your muscles are like armor when they are toned. They can hold your limbs in the right position and prevent things from being wrenched the wrong way. Strong muscles help you snap back from a twist or a fall. Take care of all of them.

Also give yourself plenty of easy days to rest, recover, and grow.

Use your untapped resources

If you haven’t already been using this secret, you might be surprised at the immediate boost you get in power and stamina. 

Most people rely on their quadriceps when they bike. But all your quads really do is straighten your legs. The other part of the equation is in your gluteus maximus--your butt. 

There’s a lot of muscle down there, and it rarely gets sore or tired. Think of this as the main force, driving each leg down like a piston. The quads are just assistants.

If you’re not sure how to engage your glutes, stand up and pretend you’re kicking a soccer ball that’s behind you on the ground. This will give you the feeling, and then you repeat that when you’re riding.

If you’re not literally thinking about a bike tour, this principle can still help you. What untapped resource is right in front of you (or behind you in our case), that you can start to use immediately?


Yup, you gotta do it. Hours of biking, several times a week. Maybe you already do this. I don’t do enough of it.

First, get solid on all the other principles. Use your butt, challenge yourself, and get in the habit of exercising all those muscles that you don’t think you’ll need. 

But then, once you’ve done that, get on your bike and ride. As much as possible. 

Get used to riding, have fun riding, and get used to having fun riding. 

I want to help you experience the magic. Especially if you’re the kind of person who dreams about a journey like this, but you’re frightened to try.

overcome_obstaclesIt won’t be easy. It may take longer than you thought.

If you can do the one thing that you think isn’t possible, if you can cross that mountain range, it will change you forever. You will be able to do anything, and you will know it.

Some of the obstacles you think are holding you back will melt away as soon as you push back against them. Many of the things you fear and worry about will never materialize.

I'm going to help you overcome those obstacles. Let me explain.

If you’re a seasoned, confident bike tourist then I would love to have you along next spring. But if you think there’s some insurmountable obstacle that would make the journey impossible, no matter how badly you want to go, then this post is for you.

This post is for you if you’re interested in biking via Appia but you aren’t doing it because you think:

  • You can’t afford it
  • You’re too young
  • You're too old
  • You’re not in shape
  • You’re afraid of being in the wilderness in a foreign country
  • There is some other reason holding you back

You can do it. And I’m going to help you. Here’s why:

10 years ago, at the Leo Carrillo State Beach hike and bike campground, I met a man who took a group of developmentally disabled teenagers on a bike tour. They rode north from LA to San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge, fighting the wind all the way.

Below Golden Gate Bridge

I met them on their way back home. The kids were confident and street-smart. I got the feeling they could go anywhere they wanted. And they knew it.

“The ride up was brutal,” the guy told me. “The only thing that kept these kids going was the idea of riding across the Golden Gate Bridge. You should have seen their faces when they finally did it.”

Ever since then, I’ve hoped to meet another person like that. Maybe it’s time to become someone like that, at least in my own small way.

So here’s the deal.

I’m going to do another bike tour of via Appia in May, 2017. I'm looking for people who have a burning desire to come along, but something is stopping you.

I will help you.

I can’t buy your plane ticket for you, but I can show you a number of ways to raise the money you’ll need.

I’m not a doctor or a physical therapist, but I can direct you to resources for strengthening your mind and body. In fact, if you think you’re not in shape for a trip like this, that makes two of us! We’ll hold each other accountable as we get in shape (and to tell you the truth, this tour isn’t superhard as far as bike tours go).

If you have a specific physical challenge that you think is going to stop you, I’ll look for someone who can build a bike that’s adapted to your needs.

I will personally coach you on getting into shape, making money, even learning Italian if that will make you more confident. We’re gonna make this happen!

Maybe you’re not especially interested in a bike tour of Italy. There’s still something in this for you.

Over the next several months, you’re going to hear stories of people overcoming their fears, their doubts, and their limits. Hopefully these stories will inspire you to do that one thing that you dream of, the one thing you think is impossible.

If you are interested in biking via Appia with me next spring, here are just a few of the things you’ll get to do as a result of this journey:

  • Tap into hidden physical and mental powers you didn’t know you had
  • Build lasting friendships with extraordinary people
  • Bring back stories and experiences that will change the way you look at the world
  • Grow stronger and healthier than you dreamed possible
  • Give yourself the classical education you always wanted

This journey will change you forever. I challenge you to join me. I dare you.

In fact, I beg you.

You see, by coming along on this trip, you’ll give me a chance to face down one of my own big fears.

Gravina in Puglia bridgeI’ve biked the entire Appian way from Rome to Brindisi already. I know enough about Italy and Italian to fix most problems that I can’t avoid in the first place. I’ve done bike tours that are longer than this.

But now I want to help you experience the magic. Especially if you’re the kind of person who dreams about a journey like this, but you’re frightened to try.

If I commit to helping you do it, then I have to face my own fear of failure, that maybe I won’t succeed in getting you to Italy and across the finish line.

But I accept the challenge. I will teach you to overcome any obstacle, and you’ll ride triumphantly into Brindisi like an ancient Roman noble.

Let me be clear about this offer, and especially what I am not offering to do.

This is not a free ride. I can’t pay for your airplane ticket or your AirBnB. (I would like to buy you a coffee, or maybe something stronger, while we’re in Italy.)

I’m not a doctor, physical therapist, or psychologist.

But what I do bring to the table is experience, creativity, a lot of good ideas and the will to help you carry them out.

Are you in? Fill out the form below, and we’ll be in touch.


Carlos asked me how long it took me to ride my bike from Temple City to downtown Los Angeles, and he laughed when I told him I spent 2 hours on the ride.

I have tremendous respect and admiration for the kind of bike riding Carlos does. He has a carbon frame racing machine, with aero bars and wheels as thin as capellini. He could make the trip in a quarter of the time, maybe less.

But that's not my way, and it doesn't have to be your way either. Not always.

I've met a lot of would-be bicyclists who are put off by bright multi-colored lycra shorts and intimidated by speedy racers. If this is you, don't worry. There's nothing wrong with riding slow, wearing anything you want.

Your bike can be an amazing tool of discovery. It will take you places you'd probably never go by foot, and probably never notice by car. It makes you a part of the landscape, puts you in contact with the weather, scenery, maybe even the people. Slow down, and you might get a gift from the universe.

I can ride pretty fast when I need to, but it's usually not my choice. Early in the morning, seeing the moon reflected in the water of the Rio Honda, it seems a waste of the morning if I go too fast. I get up extra early just so I won't have to race.

Slow down, and you might get a gift from the universe. A lot of people are doing it.

"It's a party on wheels," someone once told me on Midnite Ridazz. Nobody left behind, half the bikers riding one-handed with drinks in the other. Once I pulled out of the group to use the restroom, and when I came back out the bicycle parade was still sauntering past me, flickering lights ablaze, no hurry.

One of my dreams is to join the Wolfpack ride. I don't know at this point if I could keep up. Maybe some day I'll try out a triathlon, just to say that I did it. But when it comes to the pure enjoyment that makes riding a bike worthwhile for me, I'm more in favor of the people who strap a radio on their rear rack, and saunter along at their own pace.

Even if you just have a few hours free, you can jump on your bike and have an adventure. There's a small residential road that I had never explored, but on the maps it looked like it continued on for a while.

I had a free afternoon with just about three hours until sundown, so I took a bike ride down the mystery road to see where it would go. It turns out this particular section of Olive street intersects with El Camino Real, the Royal Highway of "New Spain."

I ended up in the historical center of San Gabriel. The road went almost in a straight line to one of the early California missions. People from the San Gabriel Mission went on to found the city of Los Angeles, so this bike ride took me to some of the roots of LA's history.

I even got to see one of the first and oldest grape vines in southern California, and later on I tasted some California wine to celebrate.

If your a biking newbie, this just reinforces the point: It doesn't matter how far you want to ride or how much time you have. Just get on your bike and explore. You'll run into something interesting you've never seen before, or discover a new bike route to places you've already been.


I spent some time yesterday coaching a newbie on how he could start riding his bike to work at least once a week, avoiding a stressfull drive through the heavy morning traffic of downtown Los Angeles.

I lot of things came up that I thought were obvious-and if you're already a bike commuter, they'll probably seem that way to you, too. But he kept saying, "I never would have thought of that" so I guess it's time to post some tips in case you're just starting out at bike commuting.

Side Streets

The best streets to ride your bike aren't usually the same streets where you drive. Plan a route that goes on bike trails, bike lanes, and residential streets. Wherever major transportation corridor you drive through probably has a road or two that runs parallel to it. These side streets are usually almost as fast, with far less traffic. Residential streets are great for this. Drivers avoid anything with a 25 MPH speed limit, but on a bike that's a very good pace. You'll save your lungs, and possibly your life.

Trial Run

Test your bike commute route on a weekend. Make sure it's doable, safe, fun and scenic. You also want to get a good idea of how long it will take you to ride your bike to work, and how you'll feel when you get there.

Don't Sweat It

You're going to get to work a little bit sweaty, and you need to plan for this. Deodorant, baby wipes, and possibly a change of clothes may be merited. If you can stash some of these on-site, you're in luck. In the summer I ride in shorts and a t-shirt, and change into business clothes when I get to my destination. Garment bags work great for this.

Rainy Weather

There are really three schools of thought on riding your bike to work in the rain. You can be a bike commuter warrior who always makes the trip, rain or shine. You can opt to ride only when the weather is good (and be proud that at least you're doing something). Finally there are the loonies who don't feel like they have to ride in the rain, but they do it anyway for fun.

Make sure you've got the right gear (which could simply mean a change of clothes when you arrive, and a place to hang up your dripping biker garments), cover yourself and you bicycle with lots of blinking red lights, and keep your sense of humor (or sense of honor?)

Plan B

Bikes are sometimes fragile pieces of equipment, and sooner or later you're going to have a flat tire, a broken cable, or other minor nuisance. Take the time to learn some basic bike mechanics. REI does free workshops and classes on this, and so do a lot of community colleges and local non-profit organizations. If you're in Los Angeles, check out the Bicycle Kitchen. Anywhere else, you can find out about stuff in your area by going to the regional section of

Sometimes knowing how to fix your bike on the fly isn't enough to get you to work on time. Get familiar with the buses and trains that run near your bike route. Maybe even put a cab company in your cell phone.

Enjoy Your Treats

Eat up! It's more than just a reward, it's bicycle fuel. When you start riding your bike to work, you're going to burn a lot more calories, and you'll notice that you're feeling hungrier. Go ahead and have that bacon, avocado, and chocolate sandwich. Not only have you earned it, you need it.

This morning I got stuck behind a bus during my bike commute. It felt like I was sucking air right out of the exhaust pipe. But this usually doesn't happen, because I have tactics I use to keep my lungs safe most of the time. If you ride your bike in a polluted urban environment like Los Angeles, there's really a lot you can do to minimize the smog you breathe in.

First, if you have the option, you can cut your exposure to pollution by 10-30% just by riding in off-peak hours. The best time is early in the morning, before rush hour. Next best would be midday, or late at night.

If you're not commuting by bike, and you just like to ride for the fun of it, be a weekend warrior. Ride your bike on the days when there are fewer cars on the road.

If you commute to work, and have to ride your bike during rush hour, you can save your lungs by taking alternate routes.

Almost every busy street has other streets running parallel to it, and the traffic on these other streets can be a lot lower. If you can get just 50 feet away from the heaviest traffic, you can make a dramatic cut in the amount of pollution you breathe in.

In fact, a Danish study found that when you bike on streets with low traffic volume, you can reduce your exposure to pollution by 50% to 60% or even more.

And when you think about it, you'll have a safer, more quiet ride. Also more scenic. You're more likely to pass parks and gardens. You won't have to worry as much about being hit.

If you commute by bike, there might be stretches where you have to be on the busiest roads, but probably not for the entire route. Anything you can do to reduce the time you spend riding in traffic will pay off.

There will be more stop signs, and you might add an extra 10 minutes onto your journey. But you could also add years to your life.

A few weeks ago I started learning Enbukan battojutsu, a school of Japanese sword fighting. After biking to Griffith park to practice, and pondering the connection between biking and martial arts (which I've mentioned before), I wanted to share this with you.

Italy biker Lorenzo Viaggi writes:

"The cyclist should practice his skills and regard them with the same discipline and reverence as the Japanese of old mastered their fighting arts. When you conquer a hill or a great mountain pass, when you complete a long journey, your bicycle becomes a tool of honor, and instrument as sacred as a finely-crafted steel sword."

--Lorenzo Viaggi, La Via della Bici (Which could be translated as "The Way of the Bike")

I'm still at the stage where I can barely draw a wooden sword out of the sheath without hurting my wrist. If I had a real sword I'd be all stitched up by now, probably with a few missing fingers. I tell you this only to point out that my Italian translation skills are somewhat better than my swordsmanship, but any mistakes in Lorenzo's quote are mine.


I'm trying to start a beginner's biking group in Los Angeles. If you're here, let me know what you're looking for. I put up a survey here.

If you'd like to be in on this, let me know!


Even just a 10 minute bike ride a few days a week will have you looking and feeling better by the end of the month. But if you're a beginner, you might feel daunted.

Fear not! I can show you a safe bike ride in your home town. I've been networking with bikers all over the United States, as part of a research project into safe and scenic bike rides. If one of them is near you, we can find you a ride. Just leave a comment if you're interested in trying this out, and I'll get back to you soon.

Better yet,  sign up for free biking tips--just leave your name and email below:

I read all those recommended training routines in Bicycle Magazine, but even when I have the time to try and follow them (which is rare and inconsistent) I'm usually not up to snuff.

But I've found a way to really benefit from the saddle time I have.

Nearly all of my bike riding time is commuting in the city. I get a short stretch of biking in between traffic lights and stop signs. Normally I would take the whole route at an easy pace, the kind meant for bike touring, and get restless and frustrated whenever the usual urban obstacles forced me to stop.

Now I look at my daily bike route as a series of sprints through an obstacle course. Now when I hit a red light I'm breathing hard, my thighs are burning, and I'm grateful for the 45 seconds of rest. The results:

  • More fun on the way to work, and less frustration
  • I might end up in better shape after a few months of this
  • I'm learning how to handle sharp turns, potholes, and bumps at faster speeds
  • I get to workearlier

This connects with a very popular philosophy of bike touring. Use what you've got. On a tour this means fixing a bike with duct tape, broken pens, or anything you can find because the only other alternatives are walking or hitchhiking.

In an urban bike commute, you practice this philosophy through better training. The "duct tape" is the time and circumstances you have available. Use what you've got.
Try this. Seek more challenges, fun, and rewards without changing where, when, or how long you ride. The secret is to change how you ride the bike.


Want to get in shape fast? I'll kick your butt until your legs turn into sleek pistons of steel! Get a training plan from a professional coach!  Click Here!