Looking back at 2012, it feels immensely odd to think that, one short year ago, we were celebrating the holidays at the other end of the world. When we flew to New Zealand, we were so sure it would be the gateway drug to a year or more of international rambling that we traveled on a one-way ticket. Instead, our Kiwi adventure pointed us back to the US, and a new trajectory that has turned us from active bicycle travelers to advocates for bicycle travel.

Far from being a sad twist of fate, for us, this change means a chance to build something bigger – to take all of our vast experiences of the last three years and put them to use in a way that increases opportunities for others to travel by bike.

We welcomed 2012 in a small backpackers in Turangi, drinking beers with three other international travelers. It was raining outside and we almost missed the stroke of midnight because there was no Dick Clark-esque TV special with a countdown. The international incident hadn’t happened yet and we were still in the honeymoon period of understanding this foreign place. Two months later, we would ride the Otago Central Rail Trail, and find ourselves in the middle of a complex theory that had sprung to reality. Several months more, we would dig deep into the memories and emotions of our New Zealand tour, and synthesize it all into a very-hard-to-write article for Bicycle Times.

We still grapple with everything that happened while we were in New Zealand, and what it all meant. But we still smile when we think about all the incredible people we met, and we still laugh when we think about all the pickled beets on all the hamburgers we ate, and we know that we learned something immensely powerful about the economics of cycling that has opened so many opportunities for us.

In May, we did something we never saw coming: we signed a lease on an apartment in Portland, Oregon. After nearly three years of living as nomads, we knew it was time to take a break from continual travel, put down some roots, and give ourselves the space to focus on bigger projects. We chose Portland for many reasons; chief among them is the simple fact that Oregon is leading the US in recognizing the power of cycling, particularly in terms of rural economic development, and we dearly want a seat at that table. Being in Portland has enabled us to work with Travel Oregon and Cycle Oregon, creating video content that captures the stories behind the Scenic Bikeways and the iconic Cycle Oregon ride. The more we sit in on bike tourism meetings and meet with proponents in small towns, the more deeply we understand how Bicycles Can Save Small-Town America.

This year also saw us take on larger speaking gigs, blending real-world findings with storytelling, to inspire a variety of people and communities to embrace cycling and bike travel. From the Oregon Active Transportation Summit to a targeted meeting of Haywood County officials in North Carolina, we’re helping people think about bike travel in an entirely new way. Believe it or not, both of us hated public speaking until we started traveling; now, we get geekily excited at the prospect of standing up in front of more and more audiences and building more and more support for bike travel.

So what about the actual travel part? Do we miss being on the road? Yes and no. The road is exhilarating and full of incredible new and spontaneous adventures. It’s also deeply introspective and free of the hustle-bustle-multitasking of “regular” life. We miss it enough that, in a few weeks, we’re hopping an Amtrak train to bike tour around some of our favorite parts of California. But after all of the time we’ve spent on the road, we also know that we want more than just the simplicity of the road. We’ve built up an incredible karmic debt over the past three years, and it’s time to start paying it down, all the while channeling energy into building a movement behind bike travel. We may not be vagabonding around at present, but we still live and breath bike travel – and we can only hope that 2013 turns out to be as awesome as it looks.