Cycling Pioneer: Path Less Pedaled
Laura Crawford and Russ Roca built their dream job on wheels — and it took off. It’s a job that thrills them and that benefits others. They call it the Path Less Pedaled. In 2009, Roca and Crawford set off to explore the world on their bikes. They sold nearly all their earthly possessions and hit the road at the end of July on a cross-country bike tour. Their goals were to experience beautiful scenery up-close and to stop and spend time with people across the country who are living what they called “a life less ordinary.”
Over the next three years they traveled 18,000 miles by bike, across the U.S. and New Zealand. “Traveling by bicycle offers us the best opportunity to really experience a place and its people,” Crawford says. They blogged about their experiences at PathLessPedaled.com, and as they took pictures and documented their journey, their project struck a chord with readers. As their following grew, this passion for bike travel and shared experiences set the wheels in motion for Path Less Pedaled to become Crawford and Roca’s full-time job.
Today, both partners are important voices in the travel-by-bike and bike tourism movement. They work with communities, bicycle advocates and tourism organizations to market and promote bike travel. They speak with diverse groups across the country about the benefits of cyclotourism and how communities can build their own cycling initiatives. And they create inspiring editorial, video and photo content — such as our own Scenic Bikeway videos — to help market bike travel opportunities and inspire individuals to get on their bikes.
“Our goal is to grow bicycle travel into a mainstream activity, so that everyone feels they can choose to take their vacation by bicycle and be welcomed by the communities they pass through,” Crawford says. “It’s a goal that’s based on the sheer joy of bicycling and traveling by bicycle, as well as the increasingly documented economic benefits that bicycle tourism can bring to a small or rural community.”
It’s worth mentioning that while Crawford is from California and PLP’s first cross-country tour departed from Long Beach, she and Roca both now call Portland home. “The first time we cycled across Eastern Oregon, we were hooked for life,” Crawford says. “You can find virtually any biking experience you want in this state.”
From its humble beginning as a longing for new adventures and deeper connections, Path Less Pedaled has become an authority and an inspiration in the world of bike tourism, helping small communities connect with visitors through travel and authentic outdoor experiences.