Cycling Kindness: Seven Years Bikepacking Around the World with Indiana Schulz

Next week, Indiana Schulz is starting an ambitious seven-year bikepacking trip around the world. Learn more about his Cycling Kindness project, find details on the route he’ll be following, and take a deep dive into his Pinion-equipped Solace Cycles OM-2P Ti build and complete gear list here…

As I rise from my morning meditation, I look around. I see two large bike boxes, four panniers, a duffle bag, and the bike that will take me around the globe over the next seven years. A heartfelt smile lives on my face. I feel lighter, almost nostalgic, as if I’m in a dream. It’s been a massive shift for me to exist with no keys in my pocket, no job to show up for, no car to drive, and no home to call my own.

My birth name is Ry Schulz, but I’m mostly known by my adventure name, Indiana Schulz. I’m 40 years old, and this is my midlife awakening. Ever since my brother Flynn passed away in 2013, I have been pursuing seemingly endless athletic adventures as a means of keeping my connection with him and dealing with grief. It wasn’t until last June, when I took a hero dose of psilocybin, that I was able to let go of that grief. It felt like 10 years of loving therapy wrapped into a five-hour, one-on-one session with the cosmos and the souls of my late brother and father.

  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
Indiana Schulz, American Trail Race, Salsa Fargo Ti
Indiana on the Colorado Trail and other bikepacking trips, including the first annual American Trail Race when we met up with him in 2017 (bottom)

When that energy shifted, I knew without a doubt that I no longer needed to race to feel human again. The only problem was that one week later, I would be in Banff to start my bikepacking schedule for the summer. This included the Tour Divide, Colorado Trail, Salida to the Sea, and Arizona Trail Race. How I ever made it through those events will forever be a mystery to me.

What is Cycling Kindness?

Cycling Kindness was born out of a desire to give back to the Earth and serve my fellow humans. It is centered around community, connection, and being present. I will share and document the journey on Cycling Kindness’s social platforms. This is not, and never will be, about money. I believe that once money gets involved, my intentions would shift. I don’t want to make content that is product-driven. I want to share the beauty and magic of the world with others, especially those who may never have the means to travel so freely.

If you’ve ever experienced kindness from a stranger during a bikepacking event, then you are familiar with Cycling Kindness. You haven’t showered for days, you look pretty unkempt, and then a woman with a small child comes up and offers you a slice of pizza or a place to stay for the night. For me, this is the single most challenging part of ultra-endurance racing. It isn’t easy to not be able to accept those simple acts of kindness because you’re in a race. Or you meet a guy who sees your rig and wants to buy you breakfast and tell you how he rode his bike across America in the 1970s in jean shorts with only $100 to his name.

  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz

I yearn for those types of interactions, but it’s difficult to cultivate and give them the proper attention in a race setting. Cycling Kindness is about slowing down and forging relationships with people around the world. It’s about breaking bread with strangers, hearing their stories, and helping them. I want to bring joy into people’s lives. The best feeling in the world when you are alone or down on your luck is when you receive kindness from a stranger. The only equivalent feeling to that joy is when you are the one providing the act of kindness.

I also desire to learn more about agriculture and farming in different climates. I’ll be using WWOOFing as a resource to extend my stays in different villages and towns along the way. I want to be more than just a visitor in these communities. I want to immerse myself in their cultures and learn about their history. I’m hopeful that I will learn how to build Earth Homes along the way, too.

Cycling Kindness is also a means to connect with other riders from around the world. Consider this an open invitation to join me on the journey anywhere in the world. I’m already in talks with people who want to join me on the Baja Divide, the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and several locations in South America. Feel free to shoot me a message on the Cycling Kindness Instagram or Facebook.

Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz

The Journey and The Route

The journey begins on May 15th in Deadhorse, Alaska. From there, I will head south, visiting friends in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Seward. I will also have my first WWOOFing assignment on the island of Halibut Cove, just off the coast of Homer, Alaska. The Alaskan portion of the trip is around 2,500 miles.

The route will be as off-road as I can make it. I have no desire to ride paved roads unless necessary. After Alaska, I will make my way to Jasper National Park and take the GDMBR (Great Divide Mountain Bike Route) into Montana. Then, I’ll hop on the Western Wildlands Route. Near the Mexico border, I’ll head West to the start of the Baja Divide. After that, I’m unsure where the route will lead me. The unknown is a huge draw, pulling at my curiosity and begging me to go deeper.

I am planning on giving myself seven years for this journey. It may take longer. I will eventually run out of money. I will relish the adventure and stay present. Every stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet.

How to Follow

Scott Morris of Trackleaders was kind enough to offer me a tracker link for the journey. Zoleo was kind enough to give me a discount on a device. I’ll carry camera gear, a drone, and a GoPro to document the journey. Feel free to follow Cycling Kindness on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for all the latest videos and media.

Bike, Bags, and Gear

Bike

  • Bike: ‘ilo’, which means ‘joy’ in Finnish
  • Frame: Solace Cycles OM-2P Ti
  • Drivetrain: Pinion C1.12 with Gates Carbon CDX Belt
  • Fork: Salsa Cycles Firestarter Carbon Boost
  • Handlebars: Velo Orange Seine Bars
  • Seatpost: Lynskey Ti
  • Saddle: Chromag Trailmaster DT
  • Grips: Ergon GP1 BioKork Gripshift
  • Brakes: Shimano SLX 4 Piston
  • Rotors: Shimano XT 180mm
  • Wheels: DT Swiss EX511 with 350 hubs (drilled for Schrader Valves)
  • Tires: Vittoria Mezcal 29 x 2.6″ (tubeless)
  • Light: Sinewave Cycles Beacon v2
  • GPS: Garmin Etrex 30
  • Tracker: Zoleo

Bags

  • Frame Bag: Shaka Packs X-PAC Cotton Duck
  • Top Tube Bag: JPaks Footlong EXT
  • Handelbar Bags: JPaks RukSak x2
  • Front Handlebar Bag: Revelate Designs Egress Pocket
  • Front Panniers: Ortlieb Gravel 12.5L Panniers
  • Rear Panniers: Arkel Orca 22.5L Panniers
  • Front Duffel Bag: Gill 20L Waterproof
  • Food Canister: Bear Vault 7L
  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz
  • Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz

Racks & Mounts

  • Pannier Racks: Old Man Mountain Divide with Thru-Axle Mounts
  • Handlebar Extenders: Generic Amazon Brand
  • Water Bottle Cages: Widefoot
  • Water Capacity: 8L+

Sleep Kit

  • Tent: Hilleberg Nallo 2
  • Sleeping Bag: Western Mountaineering TerraLite 25
  • Sleeping Pads: Sea to Summit Eggshell size small
  • Pillow: Exped

Electronics

  • Cache Batteries: (2) Belkin 20,000 mAh
  • Camera: Fuji Film XT-4 with 3 lenses
  • Drone: DJI Mini Pro 3
  • Action Camera: GoPro Hero 12
  • Computer: Macbook Pro

Final Thoughts and Thanks

It’s absolutely terrifying to be so vulnerable out there. But without vulnerability, there is no connection. I can live with failure, but I can’t live with the thought of not taking this opportunity, waking up at the age of 55, and saying, “what if?” The biggest challenge for me will be seeing the world with an open heart and mind. I cannot let preconceived notions distract me from all of the opportunities that lie ahead.

Cycling Kindness Indy Schulz

There are several people and organizations that deserve recognition for helping me get here. I am grateful to BIKEPACKING.com for their continued support of the world of bikepacking. Most of my gear was discovered by reading their articles and reviews. Many thanks to Jeff from Solace Cycles. He’s been incredibly supportive of my journey and has helped me with questions and sourcing parts several times. Thanks to Joe at JPaks. I only just met him at the start of the AZTR in October. He is an amazing person, and his bags are truly some of my favorites. Shoutout to the entire community of bikepackers. I met many incredible people during my seven years of racing and look forward to meeting some of them out in the wild. Thanks to my friends Kirk and Brian. And lastly, thank you to my mother, Pammy J. She’s been a constant source of inspiration as she has dealt with her own adversity over the last 10 years. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her.

Further Reading

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