Q&A with the Krudmeister: ASC Interviews Adam Bradley About His Cycling Tour from Nevada to Alaska and Back
Adam Bradley is a life-long adventurer who is best known for his speed record attempts, including the 2009 unsupported speed record on the PCT which he completed faster than a supported runner. He has traversed over 20,000 miles on foot and descended over 13,000 miles on rivers throughout North America. Adam has now turned his focus to cycling and conservation, embarking on a long cycling tour from his home in Reno, NV to the arctic circle in Alaksa. Adam is collecting data for ASC's roadkill and wildlife observation projects en route. ASC caught up with Adam to hear about his recent adventure, the "Tippy Top Tour", and a little history on the "Krudmeister".
ASC: You go by the moniker "Krudmeister". Where in the world did that come from?
AB: My musical tastes run the gamut, but I especially like electronica. Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister are known for their downtempo – dub remixes of pop, hip-hop and drum and bass songs. They are hands down some of my favorite musicians. My partner Shelly and I were joking around one night and she fused Kruder and Dorfmeister into Krudmeister, which I thought was hilarious. Most long distance hikers have trail names and I adopted that one. It has stuck and lots of my buds just call me Krud.
ASC: You hold the 2009 speed record for the PCT and covered tens of thousands of miles under human power. What inspires you to take on such crazy adventures?
AB: I did set the all out PCT speed record in an unsupported fashion in 2009 along with my hiking partner. It was worthwhile to me as it proved that an unsupported backpacker can best a supported runner on a longer record without the aid of vehicles or minders. I like to compare it to a mountaineer climbing without supplemental oxygen. The thing I am the most proud of is that our form of travel has a much smaller carbon footprint than a record set with the aid of 2 vehicles and 12 minders. I started to contemplate the impact of my selfish pursuit of speed records with consideration to several vehicles following me all the way along a 2,700 mile long trail. Is it worth it? I assumed that a supported record was the next logical step in my pursuit of long distance speed records, but then I realized that this doesn't justify the negative impacts on our planet. Since 2009, I've been committed to low-impact adventuring by human power, or eco adventuring. Now, if I am “racing” anywhere, it is to see as much of the planet and its inhabitants as I can (chiefly indigenous peoples and animals) before they are irrevocably changed. This summer, one of my colleagues in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) pointed out that if you want to see the impact of climate change over a very short period of time, hang out at the extremes. I have lost all interest in speed records now and focus instead on returning as frequently as possible to my birthplace: Alaska. I should have never returned to Alaska last summer on the BLC to Bering Sea adventure because now I want to spend every summer back home!
ASC: You're current expedition takes you from Nevada to Alaska and back by bicycle. Where did the idea for this project come from?
AB: By the end of last year's BLC to Bering Sea adventure, I racked up some substantial bills. One of my main expenses is shipping all of my equipment to Alaska. I started penciling out some budgets for this year's potential objectives and realized I wasn't in a position to afford another multi-sport adventure. I started honing in on a long bicycle tour when I landed the environmental internship in ANWR. Some of the route is the exact same route I pedaled last year, but most of it is roads that are new to me. So far the route has been superb. I do much of my mapping on Google Earth in advance of the trip. I can honestly say the path has a lot of soul in it and there isn't one bit of the route that I dreaded or didn't look forward to.
ASC: You're working with ASC on our Roadkill Survey project. How did you hear about and get connected with ASC in the first place?
AB: Last fall/winter I was contacted Mary Catherine O'Connor of Outside Magazine Online who writes on Adventure Ethics. Mary Catherine has proven to be a wealth of knowledge and I thought I would ask her if she was aware of any NGO's I could partner with during this year's adventure. She told me about ASC and after quick perusal of ASC's website, I zeroed in on the roadkill survey. It seemed like a good fit and something I could do without having to invest too much time daily into collecting the data.
Adam's observation map for the first half of the "Tippy Top Tour"
ASC: How has working with ASC impacted your adventure?
AB: It has made my adventure more worthwhile to me because I am doing something that is more valuable than just selfishly pursuing my own happiness. Much like working in ANWR this summer, I am proud to help provide valuable data in order to better understand the impacts we have on our planet and the creatures we share it with. Pursuing speed records was about seeing how I stacked up against others; adventuring in the name of science is going to be more about the wildlife that allow me to share their home while I pedal along these remote roads. I have found that shifting the focus off of myself and onto what I am seeing, experiencing, and observing has resonated with the audience I have worked to build over the past few years.
ASC: Have you always been interested in science?
AB: More so later in life. After dropping out of college, I became a river guide and pursued that profession for 15 years throughout the US. I was interested in natural sciences and history because it was important to weave that into the trips I ran. I became an amateur birder while living for 6 years in Big Bend National Park, which is right along the flyway for many migrating birds. After this summer's experience, I hope to spend as much of every summer as I can doing field work, collecting data. Whether I am on my own adventure or working on a study, I look forward to increasing my knowledge and understanding of the boreal forest and its inhabitants through collecting data.
ASC: What other ways do you incorporate science and conservation into your adventure life?
AB: Recently I have been trying to capture more photos and videos of animals for my documentaries. Alaska seems pretty wild to many Nevadans so these are fun to share back here in Reno. Last year on the BLC to Bering Sea trip, my partner mentioned it would be cool to waypoint every animal I saw, which I did. That was fun to look at on a Google Earth map and I am happy ASC can actually use that data too. In the future I would like to learn how to collect data for other studies that ASC is doing.
My experience in ANWR this summer as a field tech has also provided me all of the necessary fodder for what I hope will be a lifelong passion to preserve the refuge. It is still very possible that we may drill oil there someday. Now I can share with others how important an intact ecosystem like what we have in ANWR can be for science, beyond which it is one of the most magical places I have ever visited in Alaska. This is our one and only Arctic refuge. The things I experienced there this summer will be part of who I am for decades to come.
ASC: Tell us a little more about the documentary you're working on.
AB: Well, I better be careful here with what I say. I ended up with a lot of footage from last summer's trip - BLC to the Bering Sea. It took me about 3 months to edit it into a 13-minute trailer I posted online. I have no real timeline for editing the film which is really just a homemade documentary of the trip. All I can hope is that my audience is patient with me. I have several years' worth of footage from different trips and I am finding I can't keep up with them. Editing and producing a professional-looking video is a labor of love. Once it is finished, though, I think it will be a very compelling form of media as it engages all of our senses. I enjoy sharing my adventures with others.
ASC: What's on the horizon for the Krudmeister after you finish the cycling tour and will you try to continue to incorporate science and conservation research into that adventure?
AB: A resounding yes to collecting data and incorporating science and conservation into my adventures! I am hooked. First on the horizon is to pay bills. I am floating quite a bit on no interest credit cards. In all seriousness, though, it will be another winter of backcountry skiing, editing video, blogging, work and hopefully some presentations on my time spent in ANWR. I will get all of my journals up from this summer with photos upon my return too.
I'd like to add that it has been an honor being able to incorporate ASC's roadkill study into my Tippy Top Tour. I have taken every opportunity to share ASC with others and I have encouraged everyone to take part in its studies. I try to let people know they don't have to go on a long adventure to collect valuable data. Hopefully I can inspire others to get involved at what ever level they are comfortable with.
Keep up with the Krudmeister and the Tippy Top Tour both on ASC's Facebook & Twitter (@AdventurScience) and on Adam's blog.
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