Cyclist of the Month: Rick Morse

What Are You Doing With Your Life?

Age: 45
Occupation: GIS Analyst, NOAA
Degree: Masters, Watershed Management, University of Washington
Residence: Phinney Ridge, Washington
Wheels: Trek 520

Mr. Braddock: “Ben, what are you doing?
Benjamin: “Well, I would say that I’m just drifting. Here in the pool.”
Mr. Braddock: “Why?”
Benjamin: “Well, it’s very comfortable to just drift here.”
– Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate

Drifting comes naturally to Rick Morse, a GIS specialist.. Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, Turkey, and New Zealand are Rick’s favorite travel destinations. Cycling combines Rick’s love of active travel and his passion for geography. Not comfortable lounging around, It was a similar pool-side challenge that inspired Rick to bike ride cross-country after receiving his undergraduate degree in 1984. Later, a car accident drove Rick Morse to stop driving and start biking full-time.

Carless for six years, Rick’s bike odometer accumulated over 9,000 miles during 2007; he expects his odometer to turn over 100,000 miles before the end of 2008.

Three years after his cross country experience, Rick decided to tour Europe for 30 days. Unplanned, his one-month sabbatical turned into a three-year tour – including visits to Australia, the Balkans, China, Israel, and New Zealand.

Since then, Rick has cycle toured one to two countries per year, including: Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Tibet, and Nepal. “I love cycling too much to make it my job.” Yet, Morse will do whatever it takes to finance his travels: teaching English in Korea; working in an Israeli kibbutz; making maps in Vienna, Austria; and working in a factory and picking fruit in Australia.

Rick gripes about the fees that airlines now charge for bike transport. “Since 9/11 you have to pay to take your bike anywhere.” Rick once refused to pay a bike fee, protesting to a flight attendant “You’re Air France; you’re the air carrier for the country of the Tour de France! How can you charge for bicycles?!” (He did not have to pay the fee).

Surprisingly, Rick may see more of other countries than his native Washington State. Although Flexcar conveniently allows him to run errands locally, it is not as convenient for overnight travels, so he cycles closer to home.

Since 2000, after finishing his graduate degree, Morse has toured South America, Canada, Mexico, East Africa, the Sierra Nevada’s Death Valley, the Pyrenees, and the Himalayas, where, after riding 850 miles, he succeeded in sending 17,486 foot Taglang La pass.

After Northern Railways lost his Trek 520 during his tour of India, Morse spent a year and a half trying to track down his missing bike and recoup compensation. Growing up in the political climate of Washington D.C., Rick strategically contacted the Ambassador of India in Washington DC. Unexplained, his bike was soon after delivered to him D.C., in perfect condition, by the state-controlled rail company.

A club member since 1996, Rick is a Chilly Hilly and RSVP alumnus. He particularly enjoys the Cascade Training Series out of Magnuson Park, close to NOAA; and Sara’s Southend Saunters around the Cedar River and Enumclaw. Rick also frequently puts his bike on the bus to start rides outside of town, including North Bend.

A former Bike Buddy with the Bicycle Alliance, Rick often lends helpful advice to fellow cyclists. If you are considering a self-supported bicycle tour, Rick recommends leaving some unplanned time for exploration, “Let the road lead you to your destination.”

This fall, Morse plans to tour Southern Utah’s National Parks: Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Zion. Until then, he’ll continue his training, riding 15 miles to and from NOAA for his daily commute, and participating in the Cascade Training Series.

Scott Marlow was marketing director for Cascade Bicycle Club from 2001 – 2005. Currently the Club record-holder for the shortest commute (under six-seconds), Marlow works from his home office in Ballard. Nominate your cyclist of the month!