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How to Make Your Road Trip 40 Percent Better

A couple of months ago I stumbled upon semi-rad.comSemi-rad.com is a website that showcases the work of writer Brendan Leonard and in his words, "The relentless pursuit of the everyman's (and everywoman's) adventure." This was the first story I read on his site and have now re-read it again and again. Anyone who has ever been on a road trip knows exactly what Brendan is talking about in the piece. Brendan was kind enough to let us repost some of his work here on GearGenius.com. Take a couple of minutes to read what I consider some inspired writing.

Make your road trip 40 percent better with FIST PUMP OUT THE WINDOW

Remember your last road trip, the day you left town? Wherever it was, whenever — July 4th, Memorial Day Weekend, Spring Break — you were driving toward a place where you wouldn’t have to work. You could just play. Biking, climbing, backpacking, whatever. You were going to sleep on the ground in a place you could see stars, for more than one night. And it was all just beginning as you tore out of town on the freeway, maybe the sun was going down on a Friday night. You had a couple friends with you. You had some music playing. Do you remember what it was? Let’s just say it was this song:

Try to remember how it felt. I am going to give you a secret to make this feeling 20 to 40 percent better. It is called FIST PUMP OUT THE WINDOW.

Fist Pump

It’s actually a very simple concept. Do you like that song that you’re listening to in the car? How do you express it? Maybe you do a little dance in the driver’s seat. Maybe you’re bobbing your head with the beat. Maybe drum your fingers on the steering wheel. On the freeway at night, maybe you are even singing along, loudly — hell, no one can hear you, or see you.

All these things are good. Music is joy. You are celebrating this joy. You are rocking it, a little bit. Perhaps you would like to ROCK THE SHIT OUT OF IT? If you are on a road trip, about to take a 3- to 10-day vacation from all that stuff that wears you out on a daily basis, of course you want to.

Here’s what you do:

1. Turn your car stereo up as loud as it’s comfortable. Blood should not be pouring out of your ears,  but you should not be able to communicate with your passenger by talking, or even shouting.

2. Roll down the driver’s side window.

3. Make a fist with your left hand.

4. Stick your fist out the window, and pump it. I prefer to pump my fist in time to the beat of the song, but whatever you do is up to you. If you are listening to speed metal, you may not be able to keep up the tempo for very long. You should be making big pumps, like 2 feet in diameter, out the window. Other drivers should be able to see your fist pumps no matter what side of your car they are on –front, back, driver’s side, passenger side. Your fist pumps should be visible way above the roof of your car.

5. If you have successfully completed all these steps, congratulations. You are the car on the freeway that everyone else wishes they were riding in. And you have just made your favorite song at least 20 percent more awesome.

Road Trip

The above photo is from a road trip I took with my pal Nick in 2008. The idea was that each of us would show up with an iPod loaded with a minimum of 8 hours of music, and one guilty pleasure song somewhere in the list. We alternated iPods, playing them on shuffle, and whenever either of those two songs came on, it was mandatory FIST PUMP OUT THE WINDOW. The songs were “Kickstart My Heart” and “Paradise City.” Imagine two 29-year-old men, one going through a divorce, the other wondering if he should take the leap and move in with his girlfriend, trying to figure it all out in the Tetons, Yellowstone and Devils Tower. Then imagine them pumping their fists out the window, yelling at each other things like, “Do you even know what this song is about?” “I think he’s listing off the guys in the band in this verse, isn’t he?” “Sometimes, I pretend Axl is saying ‘Very Nice City’ instead of ‘Paradise City’” and “Do you remember the video for this song? Axl actually has a legit referee’s whistle for that part in the song.”

That was a good road trip.

About the Author

Brendan Leonard

I have not been featured in a climbing video, or a ski film, and I will likely never win a bike or foot race. I have a creaky knee, a stiff hip, and two fragile shoulders. But I LOVE the mountains, and being outside. I’m probably a lot like you. I like rock climbing, but start to flail when it gets vertical. I like bicycles, but not racing against other people on them. I like running and trail running, but I probably like ice cream more. I mostly avoid avalanches by not being a good enough skier to get on slopes steep enough to slide. But I sure like to get out there.

Semi-Rad is enthusiasm for things regular folks can do. It’s what can be done with 52 weekends and a few weeks of vacation a year. It’s adventures for the everyman and woman. It’s a web site for those of us crushing it, kind of.

In August 2011, I moved out of my apartment and into my car, and am currently traveling around the coffee shops, campgrounds and couches of the West, looking for a story about the American road. I can be reached at

For more of Brendan's work check out semi-rad.com


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