Save the Date: October 3 – November 21
7 cups, 7 weeks
More details to come…
I have always seen road bikes as superfluous and silly, the toy of transport for the self-indulgent– those who ride for exercise, sport, and speed, with little interest in practicality.
I failed to see the point of a bike with little-to-no fender clearance, narrow tires that suffer through street cracks, and a shameful lack of carrying capacity. My interests veered toward bikes that easily accommodated wider tires, fenders, and racks.
These preferences for a multipurpose setup cultivated a belief that I was prepared for anything, from an unplanned evacuation or cross-country tour to a trip to the grocery store. I patted myself on the back for my devotion to the practical steel touring frame and all its trappings.
Two years ago, impulse overtook my sensible side and I purchased my first road bike, a Bridgestone RB-1. For the next year I let the fenderless skinny-tire bike idle in the Dining Room Bike Shop, denying its occasionally plea to be ridden with weak excuses. It might rain. I might need a triple. Those tires… too narrow for D.C. potholes!
Time passed, and the Bridgestone waited patiently in the Dining Room Bike Shop amid all the touring frames, sure that it would one day have its time.
Felkerino and I put the finishing touches on the RB-1 this spring, and over the summer I took to riding it on sunny weekend days. This little red hot rod showed me the ways of riding light and fast.
That doesn’t mean that I’m actually riding fast, mind you, but compared to our tandem and my other bikes, the RB-1 rides like a rocket. We move swiftly on flats and zip up hills without any additional gravitational pull caused by bags or fenders. Without Felkerino, I’m half a bike!
I smile and pedal away under the summer sun. I feel fit and strong, finally understanding the attraction of riding light. The sensation of speed seduces me, and as soon as my ride ends, I eagerly anticipate the next time I will reunite with my dear little RB-1 hot rod again.
NOTE: Shout-out to our friend Jerry, who finished his cross-country tour this weekend– 9,254 kilometers in 9 weeks, including a spectacular rando-style stint between Minneapolis to Pittsburgh (1,570 kilometers in 7 days). You’re amazing!
Almost two weeks have passed since Felkerino and I were last turning our tandem wheels through Idaho and Montana. This bike tour, combined with my recent work travels, really helped me appreciate my Washington, D.C., home.
The District is bikeable and diverse. Career prospects are good. Over the last decade more and more people have moved into the city proper, and chosen bikes as their main form of transport.
This has led to improved bike infrastructure (not perfect, but better!) and provided opportunities for local businesses and restaurants who can cater to these residents. Travels have taught me that this is not a given in all places.
Usually I end our summer bike tours with a sense of sadness or a wish that life on the road would continue, but not this time. Unlike past trips, I thought our tour lasted just long enough and I welcomed the return to life in the District.
While for some, life inside the Beltway is a subject of constant grousing, I’ve realized that D.C. has become a comfortable home base for Felkerino and me.
The readily available resources within walking and cycling distance spoil me, and sleeping in my own bed and 24-hour access to a washing machine have been a real treat. Life here is good.
I miss aspects of the road, though. My windowless office brings a longing for the outdoors, and the bright sun’s rays on my cheeks and neck. I miss the gradual rise of daily temperatures and the freedom of sweating up and not wearing deodorant.
I love that dusty sweaty odor that builds up on my body and absorbs into my clothing over a full day of riding. It’s refreshing to breathe in the smell of a day outside, the scent of physical effort.
During our bike tour, every site was new. It takes energy to always be wandering through new terrain, but it’s also exciting. We began many days in rural areas. Now it’s a 30-mile ride from the built-up city to the countryside, and almost all of the paths between here and there are familiar.
Mostly, I miss riding our tandem on the open road. For now, we’ve ditched our minimalist touring setup for full commute panniers and short rides here and there. We’re tending to business like the flat tire on the Quickbeam that I kept procrastinating (thanks for that, Felkerino).
Oh, and planning future tour. We’re doing that too. I tend to drift into the post-tour funk, but Felkerino wards it off by thinking ahead. He likes to keep the anticipation of the open road within reach. I married a dreamer, which is a good antidote for the unexpected post-tour letdown.
Over the last year, one piece of workout gear has firmly inserted itself into my closet– the Nuu-Muu exercise dress. I use them for commuting, running, and even ran a marathon in one earlier this spring. Continue reading Running In a Dress: Nuu-Muu Review
I’m over 50, and getting back into biking as a significant part of my lifestyle has led me into a whole new area of serving my community and region as an advocate. I’ve learned about infrastructure, Safe Routes to School, bike master plans, and I’ve met a whole new group of people in each arena of interaction that have enriched my life.
Even when I run into a bike-hater, I’m challenged to be the advocate– to win his/her heart and mind– or at least try to defuse the anger. This volunteer advocacy recently turn into a paying job. It’s something I never thought I’d be doing at this point in life, but I’m doing it because it’s fun.
Greetings from Crouch! It smells delicious here, like a sweet wildflower I don’t recognize. The dry air heightens my senses; the afternoon sky is pure blue, and there is no haze, anywhere. Continue reading Cascade to Crouch, Idaho: Taking Off the Training Wheels
After days of roadside observation of the stand-offish peaks on our tour, Felkerino and I received an invitation to the mountains in the form of the Adventure Cycling Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route. And so we went. Continue reading McCall to Cascade: An Invitation to the Idaho Mountains
Today Felkerino and I had a hard time getting our bike touring act together and ended up leaving Riggins at 9:30 a.m. Gasp! Continue reading Riggins to McCall, Idaho: 50 Miles Up
To make up for our 90-mile gradual downhill to Kooskia, we spent much of the following day climbing. Continue reading Kooskia to Riggins, Idaho
After our layover day in Missoula, Felkerino and I rose early for a 135-mile day over to Kooskia, Idaho, via Lolo Pass. Continue reading 135 Miles from Missoula, Montana to Kooskia, Idaho
After three days of riding and fretting about my bike tour fitness, I’ve now decided that it’s a much better plan to focus on pedaling rather than worrying. This approach makes the day better. Continue reading Lost Trail Pass into Montana
Today’s episode in bike touring found Felkerino and I sidling along the Salmon River for most of the 82 miles we covered. Our route was via highway Idaho 93, but it was quiet except for the perpetual singing of the Salmon River. Now that’s the kind of highway noise I could get used to. Continue reading Challis to North Fork, Idaho: Salmon River Serenade
We began today with a quiet exit from Lowman, a town nestled between the mountains. As we rode I wondered how life would be if, in order to go anywhere, I had to climb thousands of feet away from home. Continue reading Pickup Truck Dreams in Idaho: Lowman to Challis
It’s our first day touring Idaho and I already feel in the teeth of it all. After some urban trail riding out of Boise that took way longer than it should have due to our lack of familiarity with the area, we ascended away from town. Continue reading Riding Out the Bike Tour Kinks: Boise to Lowman, Idaho
I started riding when I was 7 or 8. On a trip to the county dump with my dad, we found a gem of a purple bike in the heaps of trash and took it home. He fixed it up, my grandpa spray painted it pink, and I was off!
I first met Zoe through the D.C. Randonneurs, I think, or maybe it was Friday Coffee Club. A fellow Iowan, last year I watched virtually as Zoe set out on a solo bike tour from Virginia to Illinois. Never having solo toured, her journey intrigued me. I asked if she would be up for talking about her tour as well as other cycling-related issues. As you can see, she agreed. Thank you so much, Zoe, for being part of the Women BikeDC series. Your solo tour and independent spirit is truly inspiring to me. Continue reading Joy, Adventure, and Solo Bike Touring: Zoe of Women BikeDC