We’ve all been there. You’re surfing away your life on the interwebs when you discover a blog from some radical rider blazing a pioneering path in some far off, exotic land. Bonus points if there’s glacier travel and packrafting involved! I find most of these travelers are out there for deeply personal reasons. They’ve simplified their existence to securing basic needs as they roam forward with open minds and open hearts. Sporadic uploads from back road cafes keep you abreast of their experiences as we all eagerly follow them on their blogsites and facegrams. Never have I been lucky enough to cross tracks with one of these inspirational adventurers in real time. But a chance encounter at a remote crossroads in the Arizona desert would change all of that for me this winter. In early 2014, Scott Pauker, a 38 year old body work practitioner from Seattle, WA closed up shop, bid farewell to friends and family and hit the trail. Working his way south from Alaska, he plans on pedaling to the tip of South America and will then set off for the next leg of his around the world ride. I met Scott as he was descending from the Bradshaw Mountains to link up with the Black Canyon Trail. Like myself, Scott is a kid from Boston and we’ve traveled an eerily similar, albeit dysfunctional trail through life. Pauker’s larger story is stuff of great literature but I’ll save that narrative for another day. As Scott took a moment to rest and resupply in Phoenix, I was grateful to have more time with him to continue our desert conversation. When did you discover the call of bikepacking’s muse? Summer before last. Well, actually 2 years ago, January of 2013. I’d been searching for the perfect journey to take. I had felt deeply drawn to putting my Seattle life on pause to set out on a quest of sorts. I considered hiking routes like the AT or PCT so I could take my dog. Then I came across the movie Ride the Divide on Netflix. Cheesy I know to find out through a movie, but that’s the truth. I saw the fun and excitement of mountain biking combined with the rapture of the wilderness and knew in my soul that was the thing. So I built up a used bike, got the bags and set out from my doorstep in Seattle to ride to Banff and start the GDMBR, touring. I’d never done a bike tour before that, just one overnight on road a few years before. But the moment those loaded down tires left the pavement for the first time outside of Nelson BC, I was in love. I rode the whole route, adding detours to amazing parks and wilderness areas. I’d pull the bags off the bike anywhere there was good single track and ride all I could before pushing on. In 3 months of travel I took about 5 days off of the bike. Tell us about your current adventure? SP2I’m currently riding my bike around the world. Route planning at this moment into Baja, seeing what I can hit of the Baja 1000 race route based on water and food availability, then seeking out bikepacking routes South to the tip of Argentina. After that the next leg will either send me to Capetown headed North to Norway or to Australia headed Northeast through Asia and Europe, eventually down through Africa. Are you sponsored, affiliated with the bike industry, or riding for a team? I have minimal sponsorship at this moment. I’ve received cost pricing and other support from a few bike shops along the way. But [I] am in search of financial support to keep on this journey as long as I can… Of course my expenses are 95% gear and food. Is there a greater mission to your bikepacking exploits?  Are you riding to save the world, end poverty, shed light on injustice? Interesting. When I decided to close my life in Seattle and set out to circumnavigate, I felt like I should have some sort of GREATER mission. I sent out a message on Facebook asking, “If you could spend the next few years of your life dedicated fully to a cause, what would it be?” I got back lots of interesting ideas, about awareness of water conservation, about biking advocacy, and many other things, but none felt really deeply right. I landed on the idea of human generosity and random acts of kindness. So I started out my journey with that in mind, to document the spirit of human generosity both that which I receive and that which I give. But I quickly found that writing about what I gave felt narcissistic and egotistical. It didn’t feel clean. Eventually the whole idea started to not feel honest. I still love to offer random acts of kindness but don’t want to prove how kind I am to anyone. I actually offered on my blog to return any donations people had given me because I was renouncing that theme as an official goal of my journey (none responded). I still love writing and sharing about human connection, but in a less structured way. SP1 Do you share your adventures with others online? I compose blog posts quite regularly these days on my website, www.spokeandwords.com. I am available to offer photo/video presentations of my journeys. I offered a few presentations around Seattle before I left which were well attended.  Can you share a bikepacking highlight- cool experience, anecdote, or triumph? On the Colorado Trail as I summited the climb over Indian Trail Ridge, hoisting my bike over a pile of boulders, I said, “This is not F&(*)ing bike riding, damnnit! This is dragging my bike over a mountain!” I was so frustrated. But then all I had to do was look up, look out, and see that I was in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Pure rapture. In that moment it was worth it. In fact, all the hardest climbs and routes have been worth it. I can always turn around and ride back out to the nearest road if I’m not enjoying the experience. I almost never actually do that. Can you share a bikepacking low point- mistake, adversity, or failure? Maybe the moment just before that one?!? I often find that the highs and the lows tend to occur in rapid succession. But another that comes to mind is the following: Cresting the climb on Mingus Mountain on the Coconino 250 route, I heard my rear tire rubbing against the chainstay. That was odd. I thought maybe my Rohloff bolt, but the chainstay had broken. Enter gorilla tape. I created a sling of sorts against the seatstay which somehow held all the way down the 12 mile singletrack descent and 18 miles of road into Prescott! So maybe that’s not actually a low since it all worked out fine and I met some fantastic guys at the bike shop in Prescott (Bikesmith) who helped me and took me in. What advice would you give someone new to the sport? Have fun with it, that’s what it’s about! Figure out what the difference is between what you need and what you want to carry with you, and accept the weight of your bike based on the comforts you carry. If you find yourself complaining regularly about something, change it! I’m by no means and ultralight bikepacker. But then again I’m living on my bike. I do however understand the inverse relationship between weight and fun when bikepacking on technical terrain… Probably why I pull the bags off to ride singletrack so often! SP4Answer the following- Why Bikepack? Because you can get to places a touring bike can’t, and cover distances a hiker can’t. You go lighter than standard touring setups, which allows you to experience the beauty of living with minimal luxuries. You learn the value of the little things. And you learn humility, quickly. From my extended sections on pavement in BC I got attached to the accomplishment of riding 100+ mile days back to back. Then I hit the Colorado Trail and that number went WAY down for me. After some time, I let go and realized it was just a number. I was surrounded by beauty and that was far more important. Currently, Pauker is completing the Baja leg of his journey. An amazing writer and photographer, follow all of Scott’s adventures at  www.spokeandwords.com *Article images courtesy of Scott Pauker

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