Garlits hefts his bike after completing the 160 mile Ride Across INdiana (RAIN) ride in 2014

I’m Jim Garlits, a mendicant hiker and bikepacker from Indiana looking for adventures. Over the years, I’ve advocated for bike and pedestrian friendly cities, as I believe that it’s part of a more sustainable future.

We’re all pedestrians from the time we learn how to walk, and learning how to ride a bicycle was a milestone for many of us. Planners call these two modes of transport (along with a few others) active transportation. It’s one of my passions.

But what I really love is to hit the open trail, be it a mountain path in Appalachia, or one of the sweeping rail-trails that adorn the landscape, rolling through an America that can’t be experienced from an interstate highway.

And I love learning about the people I meet along the way. That’s the sweet spot for me, and my plan is to devote my writing career to the people and places I move through by foot or bike. There’s a popular saying among Appalachian Trail hikers. “It’s not the miles, it’s the smiles.” But that’s true almost everywhere you can travel off the beaten path.

Home isn’t a place, it’s a moment in time. The author with fellow Shenandoan hikers Brian and Chyanne

Wearing a backpack through a small town or riding a touring bike with fully loaded panniers opens doors that remain shut to others. It’s a conversation starter. People want to know where you’re going, what you’re doing, and things that have happened to you along the way.

Turning the tables on them can lead to the most unexpected articles, when you say, “I bet your life has been more interesting than mine! What’s your story? What was your big adventure?”

That’s what I plan to do here. I’ll tell their stories, not mine. I hope you’ll come back often to check in and read.