1×10: Russ Roca, 1/2 of Path Less Pedaled

Welcome to 1×10, where we ask 1 inspiring human 10 questions about how they are using cycling as a force for good. Read on to learn more about Russ Roca, Chief Button Pusher, purveyor of the #supplelife and 1/2 of Path Less Pedaled. He inspires bicycle travel through great storytelling and amazing content posted on their site and on their social channels. More recently he and his partner Laura have been also working with rural communities to share the benefits of bike tourism for local economies. I first came across Russ and Path Less Pedaled when I was researching bikepacking trips in the Los Angeles area. Learn about how he fell in love with cycling, his most memorable ride, and more in his 1×10 interview. Also learn how to properly pronounce pannier, on their You Tube Channel; you know you’re curious!

1. How / why did you fall in love with cycling?

I discovered cycling late in life in my mid-20s.  My truck died and I decided not to replace it. So I started walking and taking transit, then transitioned to inline skating then borrowed a neighbor’s bike and started bike commuting.  From then, it was all downhill. I became a dedicated bike commuter, started a photo based business on bicycle, discovered touring…and the rest is internet history.

“My truck died and I decided not to replace it.”

2. Favorite Bike (that you own or covet)?

Favorite bike is a Breadwinner G-Road I got to test last year.  It was a good balance of stability, nimbleness and funness 🙂 Saving up to get my own in the future.

3. What’s the most memorable ride you’ve done, and what happened?

The most memorable ride (if I can count a continuous 15 month tour as a single ride), would be our first extended tour back in 2009.  Laura and I sold everything and decided to keep traveling “as long as it’s fun.” It changed how we looked at the world and ourselves.  It also planted the very early seeds of what I still do today with the Youtube channel and other social outlets.

“Laura and I sold everything and decided to keep traveling “as long as it’s fun.”

4. Who do you admire in the cycling world?

That’s a tough one.  I actually admire John Watson (of The Radavist) a fair amount in terms of turning a blog into a businesses.  We are going through the same transition and I really dig his tenacity in terms of work ethic but also the thick skin he must have developed to push on despite comments from the peanut gallery.

5. Top tip for a new rider, or a cyclist about to take on a new challenge?

Do your research, but at the end of the day you have to do what works for you.

“Do your research, but at the end of the day you have to do what works for you.”

6. Favorite trend or innovation in cycling?

Wide and supple tires.  Easily. Without the tires available, we wouldn’t be seeing the innovation in the adventure bike arena.  Once people got over the hump that thin hard tires were the absolute grail and that you could have a wide and high performance tire, it blew open the flood gates in terms of bike design creativity.

“Without the tires available, we wouldn’t be seeing the innovation in the adventure bike arena.”

7. What are you doing to use cycling as a force for good?

I think cycling media focuses on the extremes.  Extreme road racing, mountain biking, bikepacking, etc.,  There are few large media sources that create practical content for the Everyperson that likes bikes but has no interest in competing or squeezing every last drop of efficiency from their drivetrain.  My goal with our Youtube channel is to create a space for people that feel alienated by the direction of the bike industry and present information in an entertaining, informative and non-condescending way.  

“My goal with our Youtube channel is to create a space for people that feel alienated by the direction of the bike industry and present information in an entertaining, informative and non-condescending way.”  

In our non Youtube work, we’ve been working with communities interested in bicycle tourism and give them the tools to better understand cycling and attract them.  We saw a lot of opportunity during our bike travels where cycling can help small towns and have slowly over the years been presenting to dozens of small communities about the economic development potential of bicycling tourism.

“We saw a lot of opportunity during our bike travels where cycling can help small towns…”

8. Thinking about the work you’re doing, what do you see as the potential change for people or the planet? If you are successful, what impact will you have?

In terms of the bicycle tourism work we do in rural places, I think it has great potential in bridging some of the urban/rural divide as well as providing a means of economic development in places that are struggling.  I don’t think it is the silver bullet or will solve everything, but bikes can certainly be part of the solution in some of these places.

If we’re successful, there will be greater empathy towards cyclists in rural places, new businesses will start up and older businesses will thrive.

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“If we’re successful, there will be greater empathy towards cyclists in rural places, new businesses will start up and older businesses will thrive.”

9. What’s your biggest challenge/obstacle to success?

In terms of the Youtube channel it is discovery.  It is easy to find content about “road racing” or “mountain biking” but what do you search for if you don’t identify as either. That was part of the motivation of the hashtag #thesupplelife. It’s a silly word and probably isn’t the best, but at least it can be sort of a banner to rally behind.  I think any cyclists that feel like they don’t fit in the large silos that stumble upon our content are stoked. It is just a matter of time and patience to constantly grow what we have started.

“That was part of the motivation of the hashtag #thesupplelife. It’s a silly word and probably isn’t the best, but at least it can be sort of a banner to rally behind.”

10. How can people help? Where can they learn more about your work?

People can help by sharing our Youtube channel with those that think would appreciate it. They can also help directly so we can improve the content  by covering more events through our Patreon or PayPal subscription page (http://www.pathlesspedaled.com/support/).  Or they can purchase a patch! (http://pathlesspedaled.bigcartel.com)

Russ Roca is the chief button pusher and 1/2 of the Path Less Pedaled, creators of content that inspire bicycle travel through great storytelling. When he’s not out discovering routes, testing gear, or shooting video and photos, you can probably find him flyfishing, trail running, and generally in search of the #supplelife.

Edited by John Kim. When he’s not out for a ride, John uses his expertise in Corporate Social Responsibility to help companies do well by doing good. Find him at virtcyc@gmail.com or VirtCyc on twitter or instagram.

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