Carole Bookless gives her Adventure Series talk at Cycle Alaska on Thursday night. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Carole Bookless gives her Adventure Series talk at Cycle Alaska on Thursday night. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Almost 20 countries in one year: Local bicyclist talks international adventures

Carole Bookless gives tips on bike touring

Planning a long-distance bike trip and don’t know where to start?

There was an Adventure Series talk at Cycle Alaska for that.

Carole Bookless, a 12-year Juneau resident who’s twice toured internationally on two wheels, shared the do’s and don’ts of biking long distances during an hourlong presentation on Thursday night in the Cycle Alaska garage. The talk emphasized how to eat, clothe and stay connected while traveling in foreign lands with sparse goods.

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The bike enthusiast made a point to talk about the less obvious side of such excursions: the emotional and mental challenges they can bring. She said a big part of any successful tour — stateside or internationally — is keeping an even head about yourself before, during and after the ride.

“You’ll laugh and cry, you’ll be ecstatic and miserable,” Bookless said near the end of her talk. “Can you roll and keep things going ‘til times change? So you will have those times when you are absolutely, desperately, sad. Can you keep going until you get to the part when you’re not sad?”

Bookless made the case why biking can also be such a boon for psychological health. Bookless grew up south of Chicago near big industries that bombarded her with noise and commotion.

“For me biking was about freedom and getting away from the pollution and all that,” she said. “I would bike out to the green fields where all you could hear is crickets and you see the cows mooing and all that kind of stuff. Whenever I could, I would bike all day long out there. For me, that kind of set that in my mind that this is an easy way to travel, an easy way to get where you can be independent and away from stuff you want to be away from.”

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Bookless in 1989 spent a year touring close to 20 different countries: starting in New Zealand, she traveled west to Asia, Europe and finally back in the United States. She shared a story about not having a place to stay one night in Malaysia. So, she was invited over to a young woman’s house who reached out to help her.

“She took me around and said ‘please be kind to the people here because they probably have never seen a white person before,’” Bookless said. “They stared — because this is a village back in the bush there and they didn’t see a lot of white people come through.”

The Adventure Series, hosted by Cycle Alaska, is a seasonal monthly series on Juneauites’ bike tours. All presentations start at 5:15 p.m. and go for an hour. Free drinks and snacks are provided and all talks are free.

Ryland Buller, 30, one of about 20 people who attended Bookless’ talk, said the adventures in Asia interested him, in part because of how hospitable the culture seemed to be in that part of the globe.

“I think you’d have some really unique and interesting experiences there,” he said.

Buller, who added he’s also got his sights set on the Yukon and Interior Alaska, said hearing Bookless talk was inspiring as much as it was informative.

“It kind of kicks you in the pants to make it happen,” he said.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


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