Pepper Cook
Pepper Cook

Pepper Cook

DENVER ---> MELBOURNE ---> SEATTLE

Another lanky goofball out to prove the best way to see the world is behind the bars of a bike! I originally hail from Denver, Colorado but after studying at University I left the States to ride New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia. I truly believe in the bicycle as a tool to spread equality and joy to folks all over the globe!

Pepper's Kit

As I ride in more places, I find myself searching for ways to make my trips meaningful by giving back to the trails and the communities I pass through.

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WHAT IS THE CYCLING ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU ARE MOST PROUD OF?

I am most proud of my solo lap around Iceland. It was my first-time boxing and flying my bike overseas, and is my biggest accomplishment on a bike besides the first time I removed my pink sparkly training wheels (I left the streamers on though!).

WHAT KIND OF A CYCLIST ARE YOU?

I would describe myself as an expedition tourer. After years of regular asphalt road touring I discovered that trips where cars can’t go are quieter, smell better, and have a lot more wildlife so I put some bigger tires on and never looked back!

HOW LONG HAS CYCLING BEEN A PART OF YOUR LIFE? WHEN DID IT BECOME MORE THAN JUST “RIDING A BIKE”?

Cycling has been a big part of my life since I was 15 and spent all my money on a $500 van at a garage sale that fell apart almost immediately after I got my license. My only choice was to go buy my first steel roadie (also at a garage sale but only $50 this time), and that was the first and last car I ever owned. Riding bikes became more meaningful to me after I moved overseas. I was able to understand the intimate connection that is possible with faraway cultures, plants, and animals when you sit down on a bike and slowly start looking around.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE YOU’VE BEEN ON A BIKE SO FAR?

My favorite place I’ve been on a bike would have to be Tasmania. Tassie is an incredible blend of amazing creatures, food and history. It can be as cultural or as remote as you need it to be and nowhere on Earth that I’ve ridden since has compared!

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO DAYDREAM ABOUT WHERE YOU HAVEN’T YET RIDDEN?

My favorite place to dream is my adventure HQ. I live in a tiny spot above a garage in Washington state, and the beach is a three block walk away. I love to stare out at the ships passing by and imagine I can see the coast of Alaska, which is one of many places I’d love to tour! Every square inch of the walls of my adventure HQ is covered in paper maps that I purchase as part of a tradition I have when I complete a big solo tour.


HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE WHAT THE BICYCLE MEANS TO YOU?

The bicycle to me is a complicated mix of community, freedom, equality, and silliness. I love that as an adult I can still get that giddy feeling of running away from home after shoving panniers full of bread, cheese and beer...be it for a night, or for two months. Nearly all of my friends are folks I’ve met through cycling, and the past ten years of jobs I’ve worked were in the cycling industry. When I ride bikes overseas, folks think it’s incredible that a solo woman could be found in such a state in the middle of nowhere...and I like to think I can start to challenge that incredulity. Just like I thought when I was 8 years old and riding bikes in a rowdy pack of pals around my neighborhood, bikes are for everyone, and they can take you anywhere!

HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR FUTURE AS A CYCLIST UNFOLDING?

As I get older and look at my past adventures, I’ve started to notice something missing. At first, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I’ve had so much fun and overcome so many challenges, seen so many amazing places- but what would truly take my trips to the next level would be finding a way to make them more meaningful. Last year I visited some remote birding research stations and I started thinking about how hard it is to get volunteers out to some of these places to help further the important work being done there. I started to get inspired and wondered if the bicycle might be the perfect mode of transport to get scientists and volunteers out to these programs. Now when I plan trips I focus as much on scouting volunteer conservation efforts as I do into planning my packlist or route!

WHO INSPIRES YOU AND YOUR RIDING?

My biggest inspiration so far has been a guiding gig I had in Australia. I got to lead groups of 40+ students with one other guide on a 3-day mountain bike trip, and the absolute hilarity and grit of the young people I rode with was absolutely jaw-dropping! They were falling and bleeding all over the bikes, getting mud and sticks stuck in their pigtails, all the while laughing and throwing gummy bears at me and each other. It’s so easy to feel crushed under the weight of adult responsibility and start comparing your path through life to those around you, even on a bike trip! But watching the young folks crushing the trail made me remember...I do this for fun, and it never has to end!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SALSA BIKE MODEL AND WHY?

My favorite Salsa model is the Fargo. I just love the comfort and durability of steel bikes. I love how they look, and I love knowing that in a pinch you could have some car mechanic in the middle of the outback weld everything back together! I am also very minimalist after years of moving from country to country, and the idea of a bike that can ride across countries or just to the grocery store-and can accommodate such a wild variety of tire sizes- appeals to me greatly!

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PRE, DURING, AND POST RIDE/RACE FOOD AND BEVERAGES?

My favorite food pre, and during, is avocado, cheese, tomato & vegemite sandwiches. My favorite food post tour is ONE OF EVERYTHING, especially pizza! My favorite bevy before, during, and after a ride I would have to say is IPAs.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING WHEN YOU AREN’T CYCLING?

When I’m not cycling, I am working either a bar or bike shop job long enough to save so I can go on another month-long bike tour. Besides that, I organize a worldwide wooden spoon carving exchange that now has over 700 members! Folks can sign up and I swap their address with someone from a different country than theirs, and they have 30 days to carve and mail each other a wooden spoon. I also love playing ukulele and practicing yoga to help recovery (mental and physical!) in between trips.

WHAT DON’T YOU LEAVE HOME WITHOUT ON A RIDE?

Besides the usual tools and camping gear, I never leave home without a birding book for wherever I will be exploring. I also enjoy taking a couple of spoon carving tools, and of course I never forget my pee funnel Haha! They are a time-saving/efficiency must if you are someone who would otherwise have to lay your bike on the ground, remove your fanny pack, unzip your shorts, and finally squat all while your friends end up miles ahead!