In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Erik Binggeser shook up his established routine by selling most of what he owned, moving out of his condo, taking a break from his career as a graphic designer, and living on the road in a van. About a year later, he shed his creature comforts even further, trading the van for a titanium Omnium Cargo. He’s been pedaling that bike all over the United States in the time since, slowly getting to know various corners of the country on a street-by-street basis.
Erik rode more than 20,000 miles in 2023 alone, which is roughly the length of the Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Argentina. However, rather than crossing continents or flying around the globe in search of new horizons, he’s been very intentional about experiencing the world at a speed that enables him to fully soak in his surroundings, leaving time to interact with locals and immerse himself in all manner of unique cultural experiences. Early in his journey, he even picked up some 10,000 discarded cans along the roadside in Arizona in support of an art project.
At least according to Strava data, he saw more new roads than anyone else on Earth last year, racking up a little over 18,113 miles of new streets and trails from the saddle of his cargo bike. Reflecting on the experience, Erik said, “If there’s anything learned from exploring more last year than anyone else in the world, it’s that there’s way more magic close to home than you expect.” Inspired by his approach to riding, I asked Erik to share a little about the tenets that guide him. Find that below, followed by a selection of route maps and images from cities around the US.
No Car, No Gnar, No Far
Words by Erik Binggeser
No car, no gnar, no far. It’s a pretty easy one to remember. Crafted in early pandemic times by friends in Michigan when travel was limited, sometimes by law (what’s up, Australia?), it’s a phrase I took to heart and have kept in mind as I’ve rambled around the continent for the past year and a bit. Let’s break it down:
The easiest of the three to understand. If the bike thing you want to do requires the use of a car (storage, maintenance, and other expenses total an average of $12,000 a year), then see what’s possible if you pretend that isn’t an option. Imagine your Tacoma is in the shop for a week or air travel doesn’t exist, and see if bikes is still fun.
Explore some alternate textures. See if bunny hopping sidewalks and curb cuts around the neighborhood satisfies the same video game vibes that well-sculpted, flowy singletrack provides. Build some green circle cutty shit in the woods past the end of the cul-de-sac for the next generation to learn on. It could be a better return on investment than day pass after day pass spent on lift service black diamond downhill runs or a ticket halfway across the world for a week-long ultra race. Keeping it in the backyard makes the dirt mean more than something your tires touch once, no matter how beautiful the mountain in the background might be.
Okay, I get it, you’ve been riding in the same city for years, maybe a lot of years. You’ve definitely passed everything interesting there is to see, right? Even the most dedicated bike commuter wouldn’t vary from the smoothest safest speediest route from home to work/bar/LBS/grocery store/etc. once they’ve solved that problem. There’s no reason to take Avenue G to Groom when Speedway is right there, but then you’d never find the pocket park for next week’s #coffeeoutside or the crochet sign street art or that one house with the grrreat porch!
Impressions from the Road
Throughout his ride, Erik has been photographing a diverse array of things, people, and places he encounters, from the mundane to the bizarre and a little of everything in between. Find his impressively thorough routes through a handful of US cities (mapped via Wandrer) and assorted scenes he encountered while pedaling below:
You can learn more about Erik, his work, and his ongoing ride at CargoBikepacking.com.
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