What this blog is about

Bicycle commuting, bicycle touring, bicycle racing; bicycle ADVENTURING.
To the grocery store, up a mountain, across the country or to the finish line--
it's all an adventure.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

That's it! A bell!

A Jelly Bell! 

During the holiday season, people seem to shop not only for friends and family, but for themselves and their pets as well. I decided that my BICYCLE needed a Christmas present just as much as your cat.

And I found the perfect Christmas gift to my bicycle: a bicycle bell, for cheerful greetings on the bike path.

Unfortunately, most bells only fit a very thin bar, like a children's handle bar. I had to do some 'hacking' to get it to fit. Yes, there are some other bells on the market that would fit.. and 'classier' ones at that.. but I wanted THIS bell. The Jelly Bell. It's just the right kind of bell for this bike. 

This is the end product, mounted at the end of my drop bars near my shifter. I have my mirror mounted here on the other side, so I know that I don't mind having an accessory take up space here.

This is what used to be there! I ended up totally dismembering the plastic band.

And how did I do it?

I melted it off (and melted a hole for the zip tie) by heating up a screwdriver on the stove.
My dad's idea.
Love my dad.

To you and your bicycles.

A Gift to my Bicycle!

When people are out buying holiday gifts, they shop for their family, their friends, themselves and even their pets!

So.. shouldn't I be Christmas Shopping for my.. BICYCLE(s)?! 

Ordinarily, new bar tape is the 'funnest' way to perk up your bicycle, but the '520 already has some awesome (zippy green) fresh tape.


I did buy some 'Epic' White Lightening wax lube, but that hardly counts as a present! That'd be like giving toilet paper for Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Draw a map to your goal.

Start at your goal, then work backwards.


Ride the Cape Epic.


Ride a 7-day MTB stage race.


Go on an off-road MTB summer tour.


Ride a 3-day MTB stage race.


Ride an epic MTB one-day race.


Get a few solid seasons of summer MTB racing under the belt.


Move to a place (in the greater Seattle area) with easy access to mountain biking.


Buy a mountain bike.


Work in a bike shop.


Move to Seattle.



*Various steps may be repeated, overlap, and even skipped-- though skipping is not advised, as that's less fun.

My real goal map would be a bit more complex than that-- it would include some classes, some cross-training, some friend-making, a lot of riding, and a belief that I can let myself do what I want to do. Because that's a funny thing I learned about people this summer while on my cross-country tour--

that too many people actually know what they want-- and yet, they're still afraid to go and get it.

I plan on getting mine. Do you?

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Blog Roll

  I'm in the mood for some shout-outs, since all these bike blog contests have me feeling all warm and fuzzy about bike bloggers. Of the blogs I read, very few see any real financial profit from their efforts. Most bloggers are blogging to blog. It is evident that while we write 'for others,' often we write for ourselves. 
  Posting about that EPIC ride may rouse your readers to discover their own adventure-- but it also, I feel, puts an onus on the blogger. An onus to revisit adventure, discovery, camaraderie-- over and over again. I find that when my blog is quiet, my bicycling life is quiet (or so intense that I haven't got 'round to a computer to talk about it!)-- and I feel that tug in my brain and my heart that says, "hey! You need an adventure to blog about! Go find one!" Not every adventure includes riding across the country, per se-- but certainly adventure can be found in something as simple as discovering full service bicycle parking or putting the bike on the bus for the first time. Or at least that's the way I feel about it.
  So without further ado-- I shout out to a few of my fellow bloggers!

I have to say-- Bike Hacks is just fun. It's about solving bike problems with zip ties, duct tape and things found in the trash. While I wouldn't do 95% of the ideas on there to my bike-- it sure is fun to read about the creativity people exude! 

You've gotta love Meli. She adores espresso (gold star), wears bright, colorful clothes (gold star) and takes bright, colorful photos (gold star) and she rides a 'town' bike AND a roadie (five gold stars from RJ!). And I like her cat.

A family guy, who rides in Eastern Wa (I spent 6 years there) and even being a bike nut-- tries to cut down on how much 'stuff' he has. And I like his cat.

Pretty much everybody reads EcoVelo, right? It's our source for commuter bike eye candy. And epic photo contests. Not sure if he has a cat, though.

Takes rad pictures, rides an Xtracycle, and awarded me a Sigg bottle for submitting the winning 'name' for his Xtracycle! ("Soots!")

A new discovery of mine-- this family rocks a Madsen (if an Xtra and a Bakfiets had a lovechild). Enough said.

These aren't ALL the bike blogs I read, of course-- but they are a few favorites. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Two Contest Wins!

I have not one, but TWO online contest wins to announce! 

ONE is at Jerome's Bikes
Jerome rides bikes, owns an Xtra and takes photos that'll make you pause even while you're zooming around the internet like an antsy-nancy. Thus I subscribe to his blog and took note of his ("first-ever") contest! The goal was to name a new member to his family: an Xtracycle.

I was on it.

Besides, Jerome was giving away a SIGG bottle (scrub brush and tablets included!). I SO wanted to rock a Sigg on my commuter bike.

You can see all the entires, including my winning entry, at his blog HERE.

TWO is at EcoVelo. 
(And you ALL subscribe to EcoVelo, right??) Now, before you think that I'm hogging the podium for online bicycle-related contests (I did win a Trek 5.1 Madone after all!), it wasn't *I* that won this contest, but my riding buddy from this summer's bicycle tour across the country. I just happen to be the good-lookin' lady that's in the picture. [GRIN.]

Her photo of me dipping my bike in Atlantic waters (the conclusion of our trip) garnered honorable mention-- and because everybody loves EcoVelo, EVERYTHING on the prize list is awesome! 

The award is also a humorous punch line to an ongoing argument between the two of us. This summer, I took tons and tons of photos on our cross-country bike tour, as I am quite the shutter-bug-- but we'd be standing at the same spot on the side of the road taking photos of the same mountains, then she'd look over at me, I'd look at her, and we realized that it was a waste of memory cards to take the same photo on two cameras. Then she concluded that I "take better photos anyway" so I was left to take a majority of the photos on the trip! Then I would gripe about not being IN as many photos and our friendly argument would continue in circles. 

THEN. At the end of our trip.. she took just about the best photo of me ever, which apparently, is supposed to make up for the lack of quantity. 

And I think it does.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bicycle Parking in Downtown Seattle!

I have discovered something wonderful. 

In downtown Seattle, next to (and operated by) the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, is a cool place that I can't tell you the name of because they're re-branding soon. BUT! I can tell you how cool it is.

It's simple-- a parking service for bicycles. Yes, I know-- part of the convenience of bicycles is that you can park them just about anywhere and for free. However, one of the inconveniences of parking your bike anywhere is that your bike and everything on it is subject to theft, especially at night. And I really like my bike. And all of the stuff on it.

Enter the un-named bicycle parking service. Between the hours of 9am-5pm, you can park your bike inside a staffed building for FREE. Your bike is out of the elements and under the eye of video cameras and staff (though they do not guarantee security, you are still encouraged to lock your bike and take your valuables). The facility is locked from 5pm to 9am, but if you become a member, you gain 24-hour access by means of a swipe card. You can become an annual, monthly or pay-per-use member. Since I don't visit Seattle too often, I opted for the pay-per-use plan.

I paid a $20 annual fee, then purchased a $20 bundle of 10 overnight uses. So anytime I want to visit downtown Seattle, I pay TWO DOLLARS for parking ($4 if you include the annual fee) and that's only if I plan on staying past 5. If my destination is not in walking distance from the facility, I can just hop on one of the FREE downtown buses. Awesome.

Additional features include:
  • An in-house bike shop-- for parts, accessories and service
  • Lockers for monthly and annual members
  • A workstand and tools for member use
  • A vending machine with bike supplies for when the shop is closed
  • A warm and spacious changing room
I look forward to the day when these are more common than an ugly car parking garage!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How to Wash Your Bicycle

For the quick-ZIP!-video, scroll to the bottom!

Seems like a simple thing: washing your bicycle. But there are a few nuances in bicycle washing worth knowing that can make your bike so fresh and so clean, clean.

  • Bucket filled with dish soap and hot water
  • Rubber gloves
  • Degreaser  ..chain-specific also available by Park Tool.
  • Rubbing alcohol  ..the United Bicycle Institute uses this as a general degreaser. I just use it on my rims.
  • Windex  ..for mirrors
  • Pine Sol (not pictured)  ..for bar tape. I used Windex.
  • Bike-specific lube  ..WD-40 is NOT lube!!
  • Sponge or rag
  • Scrubbing tools  
  • Medical rag  ..commonly used by mechanics. Does not leave lint behind!
  • Sandpaper, found in patch kit (oops! not initially pictured)  ..for buffing brake pads.


Using a rag/sponge, wash your bike frame with soapy water, top to bottom. Stay away from your drivetrain (chain, derailleurs, etc.) until the end because it will only muddy up your soap water in a jiffy. If you don't have a work stand or kick stand, propping your bike upside-down works well. Also, remove the wheels for better access. Places where dirt likes to collect around: 
  1. Brakes
  2. Underneath, near the bottom bracket (the axis that your cranks/pedals go 'round)
  3. Derailleurs (the do-dads that shift your gears, both front and rear).


Again, with a rag and soapy water-- wash your sidewalls (sides of tire), rim, whatever you can get at. For the cassette (cogs), you'll use degreaser. Mild soap is not strong enough. Spray degreaser on the edge of a shop/medical rag and "floss." A scrub tool helps here, too. Finish with a spongy rinse. For the rims, I prefer to use rubbing alcohol because it leaves no soapy residue (like degreaser or soap) which is no good for a braking surface. Degreaser is fine, though, so long as you take care to rinse it off.


Brake Pads
After moderate use, especially in wet conditions, brake pads can become "glazed" and lose that grippy rubber texture. Use the sandpaper from your patch kit to buff the brake pad, then wipe away the residue with alcohol. 


Remount your wheels (take care to re-engage your brakes!). If you don't have a rear-mount kickstand or a workstand, turn your bike upside-down so that you can freely pedal the bike backwards.
  1. Spray degreaser onto a shop/medical rag.
  2. Run the chain through the rag, holding both the top/bottom and sides of the chain.
  3. Use a scrubber for tough gunk.
  4. While you've got the scrubber out, scrub the jockey wheels (see rear derailleur) and chain rings (front cogs).
  5. Give a good rinse! You don't want degreaser hanging out on your chain, pushing off lube when you apply it.
  6. Lube! Bike-specific lube. WD-40 is NOT lube. You want the (bike) lube to get INSIDE the chain, not outside.. so after you give it a few spins..
  7. Wipe off the excess! Lube on the outside only collects dirt.


Give that mirror a shine. 

Bar Tape
Spray and scrub. I used Windex, but I have also heard that Pine Sol, blue Dawn dish soap and plain degreaser can brighten your bars.


Washing your bike is about more than looks, it keeps your bike functioning properly. In particular, your drivetrain and brakes/rims need regular attention in order to shift smoothly and brake quickly. Also, washing your bike is an opportunity to check-up. You might notice that your brake pad was misaligned or that your cassette is worn down. If you find any problems beyond your mechanical knowledge, it is also nice to hand your bike mechanic a CLEAN bicycle. They really appreciate that.

Now, in quick-ZIP!-video-form!

How to Wash Your Bicycle from Rebecca Jensen on Vimeo.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why Cyclocross?

Why Do I Cyclocross? from hank greer on Vimeo.

One of the blogs on my regular blogroll is Cycling Spokane. It's written primarily by a guy named John, whose cycling vibe I like. The steel, wool, and adventuring good times sort. And we both cycle(d) in Eastern Wa, which to me, makes us kin.

Recently, John smartly invited his friends and conspirators to blog with him. A good move, that! I especially love this video. Simply done, but neat and warm (and they are FLYIN'!! at 1:30!!). This course was also one of my FAVORITES last year. I am super bummed that I had to miss out on the cyclocross season this fall, but you can bet that my flying mount is going to be ready come September!!

"Because I think it is a very hard and fun aerobic race." THAT IS SO CUTE! Right on!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

This is You

{just a sampling} This is a compilation of many people's answers, but it's amazing how it reads as one. Love it. Thank you to all who took the survey!

This is Us

the sense of completion, surpassing boundaries


picnic rides with my wife

just to take it all in

it helps to keep me sane

relieve stress

feeling good!


a good ride is just something peaceful

tow the kids to the park

a great excuse to get coffee

unwind after a tough day

all my troubles melt away when I ride

roaming around

only 3 days this year in the car

the challenge, facing the elements, waking up on my way to work, getting in shape, not contributing to pollution

appreciation of the land and distance

to advocate for cyclists' rights and safety

fell in love with the bike

that's a lot of ass to be kicked

Friday, November 13, 2009

I want to know about YOU!

What types of cycling do you do and why do you do them?

Tell me!

*Your answers may be published as an anonymous.

To further define the categories listed in the survey (per my personal, on-the-spot definition):

Competition = You train for race day.

Recreation = Clad in lycra, you go on short to long, occasionally fast rides that a racer might call training. Usually oriented around fitness while socializing. Race your buddy to the yellow sign sort of thing.

Leisure = I included this as a "slower" version of recreation. Less lycra, more coffee shop sort of thing. More likely to ride on bike paths or around town than a 50 miler up a mountain.

Transportation = You bike commute at least somewhat regularly, whether to work or around town.

Travel = Multi-day bicycle travel.

Other = You tell me!

I understand that these categories overlap, and indeed, encourage such behavior-- but in a survey ya gotta define categories somehow!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bicycle Light Comparison

Light Comparison from Rebecca Jensen on Vimeo.

Here is a light comparison of my bike with:

  1. No lights
  2. Cheap lights
  3. Good lights

"Cheap lights" = one red Blackburn Mars 3.0 light and a Blackburn front light that runs on AAA batteries. 

"Good lights" =  adds a Planet Bike SuperFlash to the Blackburn rear and uses a Light & Motion Stella 300 Dual (rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery) on the front. 

Other lights featured are the Planet Bike BRT Strap and an amber Down Low Glow from Rock the Bike.

Conclusions from this demo:

  • Cheap lights work okay (so long as you keep feeding them batteries) front and rear, but have basically no side visibility.
  • Cheap front lights drown in headlights.
  • Good lights work great front and rear and provide some side visibility.
  • Good lights continue to be seen even when flooded by headlights or competing with sign lights, etc.
  • The Down Low Glow provides some flippin' AWESOME side-vis and a wide spot beneath you, discouraging cars from getting too close.
  • Also note that I wore dark blue jeans and a black jacket for this demo. While I do own neon cycling clothing, I don't rely on it as my (only) source of visibility. It's best to have your BIKE always be visible so that you can wear whatever you fancy.

Notes on reflective parts (which I didn't include in the video, oops!):
  • Reflective sidewalls on front tire (Schwalbe Marathon)
  • Reflective/light-up ankle strap
  • Orange reflective tape on frame
  • Blue reflective "slap bracelets" on head tube
  • Reflective detail on trunk bag
  • Reflective rear triangle (with a dowel slid in to hold its shape)

Featured on Bike Shop Girl!

Poking around the internet, looking at bicycle things like I do, I came across:

Of course, I am excited about Bike Shop Girl, because it's a website for cyclin' ladies! BSG features product reviews and how-to's in a subscribe-able and searchable blog format. That's awesome.

What's also awesome, is that good ol' An Adventure Called Bicycling is listed under "Friendly Blogs."

Right back at ya' Bike Shop Girl!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Biophilia-- it's a love, an affiliation for nature. This includes, plant life, animal life, even weather. It's a huge part of why I ride: to simply be OUTSIDE and let the weather affect me. When it's raining, I want to FEEL that it's raining. When the autumn chill sets in, I want to FEEL that on my cheeks, my nose. I don't want to move from one seventy degree box to another, I want to step outside and sear my lungs in the wintry air.

Did you know that it is estimated that Americans spend NINETY PERCENT of their time indoors? And that lack of sunlight is linked to depression, irritability, weight gain, alcohol abuse and migraines?

In post-operative patients, those that had a view of natural surroundings spent fewer days in the hospital than those that could only see a brick wall. 

Grass and greenery has been shown to reduce domestic violence, school truancy and road rage.

Outdoor runners are less anxious and depressed than those that run inside on treadmills-- and also experience higher levels of post-run endorphins, those natural feel-good brain chemicals.

So I know that it's getting wet and chilly-- but please, put on a jacket--

and get OUTSIDE!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Riding with a Buddy

This one just about sums up a huge part of our trip:
me taking photos, and Mia being in them.

While there are many ways to experience a tour-- solo, with a friend, two friends, lots of friends, a stranger, people you meet, a guided group-- for me, I am happy that I travelled with a buddy, and of all people, a best friend. 

Because I get to say to someone:

"Hey, remember that time we got spooked by the fog and moved across the street to camp in front of the church?"
"Hey, remember that time we spent like the WHOLE DAY at the breakfast buffet?"
"Hey, remember that bird that landed on your BIKE? And that baby turkey that POOPED on you?"
"Hey, remember that uphill headwind going into Yellowstone when 8mph was all we could muster and we ran out of water? Then we split two candy bars and a soda and had dinner with that really sweet family at the campground and slept in the cab of their truck because we thought we were going to be eaten by a bear like the guy the other week and the kids gave us each a little flower bouquet and a sharp stick.. and THEN we actually used our sharp sticks in Rawlins to open our buffalo salami when we were trying to buy a cheap dinner at a farmers' market but actually kinda spent a lot and I got cinnamon bun you were jealous of so I went and bought you a cookie that was like TWO dollars because I felt bad?"

Those stories don't necessarily warrant a story told to another person-- but I can still get a nod of acknowledgement or a smile from my riding buddy,

"Yeah, that was HILARious."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why Bicycle Crashes Happen-- Part TWO

This is a follow up to my original post, "Why Bicycle Crashes Happen". 

Out of all bicycle crashes, only 17% actually involve a motor vehicle. This video breaks down that 17% into the various causes AND shows that each cause (even when "the motorist's fault") is quite avoidable! My use of "avoidable" is to say that there is something you can do to help prevent it from happening. It is NOT to say that it is 100% avoidable. Now, without further ado..

Why Bicycle Crashes Happen (and how to avoid them) Part TWO from Rebecca Jensen on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why (bicycle) Crashes Happen!

A week ago, I took a class from the League of American Bicyclists in order to become a certified League Cycling Instructor and teach classes such as Traffic Safety, Bicycle Commuting, etc. As students, we took turns giving presentations on the material. One of the topics I was assigned was statistics. While the feedback I got was, "you did a great job of making something boring really interesting!" I was thinking, "..but I think statistics ARE really interesting.."

AND enlightening!

By studying statistics, we can discover the most common causes of bicycle crashes and learn how to AVOID them!

Here is a video I made that breaks down the basic statistics of why bicycle crashes happen. There will be more videos in the future that go more in depth. This is Part One of a series.

The complete list of why bike/car collisions happen (and how to avoid them) is posted over on my blog for Trek!

Friday, October 23, 2009

HERE IT IS!! What We Saw: TransAmerica Bicycle Tour 2009

What We Saw: TransAmerica Bicycle Tour 2009 from Rebecca Jensen on Vimeo.

This summer, my bud Mia and I rode BICYCLES across the WHOLE FREAKIN' U.S. Follow the "TransAmerica Tour" link in the Contents bar to the right to see more photos, read more stories and start planning your own tour.

You're entitled to adventure. So GO GET IT! Stop telling me that you're too old, too fat or too tied-down. We all know that these obstacles have been circumnavigated time and time again.

And please, if this inspired you-- share with others! Whatever your or their adventure may be.

Yes, the show is 20 minutes long-- but it is fast-paced and musical! Stop reading and WATCH!!

By request, the playlist:

  1. Funiculi Funicula, Andrea Bocelli
  2. On the Road Again, Canned Heat
  3. Just a Girl, No Doubt
  4. One Red Thread, Blind Pilot
  5. Boy With a Coin, Iron & Wine
  6. You Can't Always Get What You Want, The Rolling Stones
  7. Shut Your Eyes, Snow Patrol

Faces of Cyclocross

It seems that there are a few categories of facial postures in cyclocross. See if you can match the following categories to the faces above!

  1. WORRIED, fear for life.
  2. FIERCE, I will destroy you!
  3. DELICIOUS, my lips taste nice an' salty!
  4. CONSTIPATION, eeehhhhhh.
  5. ARE YOU FOR SERIOUS?! That run-up is ridiculous.
  6. TOTAL SURPRISE. (!!!!)
  7. Any others?
  8. What's YOURS?!

Race Across the Sky-- w/ Movie Review UPDATE

Are you racing across the sky tonight? I AM!

Race Across the Sky is showing in theaters for ONE night only, TONIGHT! Go to their website to see which theaters are showing the film. Sure, you could watch it on DVD-- but there are some incredible air shots that are worth seeing on the BIG screen.

I am just DYIN' to ride mountain-- and I'm scheming up some ways to finally do it. ;)

10/23 UPDATE, Movie Review:

The film lived well up to my expectations, sharing not only the stories of Dave Wiens and Lance Armstrong-- but also the collective story, the experience of all those in the race. The Leadville 100 is unique in that it attracts an elite field at the front end of the race, but anybody who thinks they can make the time cut may enter. It is an Everyman's Race. Additionally, the route is an out-and-back-- so even if you're blazing off the front, you see EVERYONE on the way back.. cheering you on. It will be exciting to watch the Leadville 100 become a universal dream such as the Boston Marathon, the Ironman and other pinnacle events. I highly recommend you see and share this film!

Bicycle "Bubble Exhaust" Greens the Neighborhood

Yes, you're seeing right. That is "bubble exhaust" trailing behind a bicycle. And it gets better! The soap is vegetable based and holds teeny tiny seeds. When bubbles land on cracks in the pavement, flowers grow!


I've been wanting to make something like this! 

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Urban Cycling Techniques

A few weeks ago, I took a 2-day class-- Urban Cycling Techniques-- from the local Cascade Bicycle Club in order to learn how to teach it. And of course, I even learned a few things! In fact, I'm glad I took the class if only to learn those things. 

I'm a pretty confident cyclist already. I've raced, toured across the country and moved out of an apartment by bicycle trailer. That's a strong resume. However-- I've done most of my cycling in WALLA WALLA. Walla Walla is about 5 miles wide and major 4-lane arterials are easily avoided. While I do have 'advanced cycling skills' for riding in traffic-- I know when to take a lane, change lanes and what dangers to look for at intersections-- I haven't spent a lot of time cycling in a truly urban setting.

And I KNEW that we would be riding in an urban setting for this class.

But I didn't think that we would deal with--

merging and diverging freeway ramps.

SWEET! I was strangely excited. That's possibly one of the most complicated or intimidating situations you could find-- and now we were going to conquer it. And we totally did. And it was totally easy and intuitive. 

Additionally, I was glad to have some 'official' input on my unresolved questions about riding in traffic. IS it okay to enter the roadway using the crosswalk? What is the law regarding lights and reflectors? Do I have the right to take the lane in every state? If the bike lane is unsafe, do I have the right to NOT use it?

And finally, I'm glad I took this class for my initial intent-- to learn how to teach it, both in class and in a casual setting. Now I know how to ride safely and also how to EXPLAIN how to ride safely.

Moral of this story?

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced cyclist-- take an Urban Cycling class!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ode to Landscape

For Walla Walla

I ride to
spend time with landscape.
Get to know it,
have conversations with it,
and songs 
and dancing with it.

Tears crawl out
laughter rings out
blood comes out.

but never more glad

than to be with
my landscape.

My lovely landscape.
I unconditionally love you.

The shape of your hills
and the breeze in your wheat

You've slapped me around.
Spilled me to the ground,

more than once.

I've been pissed on,
hailed on,
burned on,
by your moods.

And yet I delight in it

can't get enough of it

want to see more of it.

What is up this road up here?
Where does this lead?
Will you share it with me?

Can we spend all day together?
Maybe even spend the night together?

Can I come see you again tomorrow?
And then all weekend too?

Shall we sprint today?
Take it easy today?

What do you want to do today, Landscape?
I don't really mind
as long as I can spend it with you--


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

StarCrossed 2009

Elite Women.

[click to enlarge]

Thursday, September 24, 2009

TransAmerica Q & A: What did we eat?

One of the most common questions we got about our bicycle tour across the country was:


What you eat depends on these factors:
  1. Your budget.
  2. Calorie/energy needs.
  3. Available resources.
  4. How many days you've been on the road.

Convenience and Weight Savings
If you have a plump budget, you can eat at restaurants for nearly every meal. This can be an attractive choice, since you can avoid the chores of cooking, cleaning and carrying all the things you need to prepare a meal (stove, fuel, utensils, whatnot). 

Time Savings
You may or may not save yourself time. Mia and I would spend foreverrr in the grocery store (2 hours!) to find something that 
  • A) wasn't too heavy
  • B) was filling, 
  • C) had enough protein
  • D) was at least half-appealing to eat
  • E) was affordable
  • F) could be cooked on high rather than a simmer, and 
  • G) we could agree on. 

  • Eventually we sent just one person into the store in an effort to hurry up! Oh, and we also had fun trying to avoid TBHQ, a frightening preservative found in a lot of cheap, processed foods. Avoiding high fructose corn syrup, which I ordinarily do, would have been impossible (according to our appetites). 

Eating out may be convenient, but doesn't mean that you are awarded many options. In Wyoming, we came across one diner that was the only food resource for at least 50 miles in either direction. 

Meeting Locals
Convenience aside, eating out is a prime way to meet the locals. While sitting out a rain storm, we ducked into a McDonald's and got to chat with 4 hilarious elder gentlemen who were pretty amused with us. Their southern accents were so thick that I kept asking them to repeat what they had said. Eventually one man said, "You ain't a foreigner, you know what I'm sayin'!" Except.. I didn't. Ha ha! I always brought my helmet inside to encourage such locals to inquire.

As mentioned, we spent a lot of time in the grocery store because we had so many factors to consider. We would have eaten out more often, but we were motivated to eat in so we could:
  1. Save money.
  2. ....uh, save money.
  3. and to maybe get a few more veggies and a bit less deep fry in our diet.
A sampling of what we ate:
--Powdered milk + cereal (sometimes cold oats) + fruit (fresh or dried), we had to eat several bowls of this to be satisfied.
--Scrambled eggs, cooked very, very quickly and with great care. (The stove is either ON or OFF.. no simmer!)
--Hot oatmeal + fruit, etc.

We tried to not cook for breakfast, because it took so much time-- but we (I) would be more satiated after eggs or oatmeal than cold cereal, which meant that we were less likely to have to stop for second breakfast in another hour.

A successful tactic that many other touring cyclists used, was to eat a snack when you wake up, ride down the road an hour or two, then stop at a diner to have a hearty breakfast. This got you out of camp much earlier, but required the buck$.

We mostly ate 1 of 3 sandwich options, depending on our mood and needs:
1. PB&J
2. Cheese sandwich
3. Cheese, veggie, & sometimes meat sandwich. When we really craved it. This didn't seem to be very cost effective for us.

--Crackers + cheese
--Cheap granola bars
--Bananas, other fruit
--Snickers, other candy
--Ice cream
--Gummy worms
--Pop Tarts
--Can you see this list degenerating? :)

--Pasta & beans, & sometimes a can of veggies.
--Dehydrated soups when we could find it, plus bread.
--Chili & bread.
--Breakfast burritos out of the gas station. Oh, delicious. 500 calories each! I would have two, and a few snacks to top it off. Probably some ice cream for dessert.

Having the Adventure Cycling maps was very helpful, though-- because we could see that a grocery store was up the road, and count on (most times) buying dinner food at the end of the day, instead of lugging it around all day (and up many hills). We only got sorta screwed a few times. Always keep a lightweight emergency food option in your bag (Ramen and some candy bars).

One thing is for certain: you will need a LOT of calories! Possibly more than you can imagine. The most important thing is to listen to your body, and if you haven't heard your body talk about hunger before-- you will. If I didn't eat enough at dinner the night before, I knew the next morning and for the rest of the day until I dug myself out of an energy deficit hole. And then I discovered Snickers ice cream bars, which pretty much solved that problem.

Also, don't be overly influenced by how much others you are traveling with are eating. Mia and I found that our "hunger graphs" were slightly different. She was hungrier than I was in the beginning, but soon I was putting down more ice cream than she could-- or would.

A quickly rendered and highly scientific display of hunger over time.


So, you want to eat a vegetable-rich diet with whole grains like usual? I wouldn't count on it. Get used to donuts. This is just SOME of what I ate in the same day:

Gas station chimichanga & coffee.

Pop Tarts.

That's salt from the chips I was eating on my fingers.

Don't eat fast food sandwiches that are only 99cents. That was disgusting.
A McDonald's sausage biscuit on the other hand? AWESOME.

We were going to have some plain cheese sandwiches,
then someone gave us cucumber out of their garden!

I ate one almost everyday. Right around 3 or 4pm.

If you have extraordinary discipline and a tight budget, you can live on PB&J and cheese the whole way. For us, we eventually became tired of the monotony and the effort. We ate out more and more as the trip went on and resorted to cheaper and fattier foods to satisfy ourselves. We also found that we spent much more on food and much less on camping than we had anticipated. 

So that's what we ate! Please leave a comment if you have question about something I did or did not cover!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Every time I come across any map of the United States, I am startled at how big it is. Did we really ride bicycles across all of THAT? No wonder people were so impressed! That's a long way!
How did we become so ambitious?

Say, anyone know some good rivers to paddle? Bicycle-rafting has me curious. I think a ride-paddle-ride tour is in the works.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I am moving!

I am moving!

No, not the blog-- ME-- I'M moving!

This summer (see: TransAmerica Bicycle Tour) we showed up to towns with little to no idea as to where we would sleep that night. But what we did know, was that we would figure it out.

Now I have shown up to Seattle with that same "I can figure it out" confidence.

STEP ONE: Job! Check.
I am so excited to share that I will be working at Gregg's Cycle in Bellevue! I have always, always (well, since I really fell in love with my bike) wanted to work in a bike shop. And another thing I learned on my tour: it's okay to do what you want! HA. Fancy that.

AND, I'll also be working at Cascade Bicycle Club as an instructor for their Urban Riders class! If you've been following this blog, or just have known me, for any length of time at all, you know that this is the PERFECT job for me. I love teaching people to ride.

STEP TWO: A place to live! ..uh, no check yet..
But I've got some options! And like I said: I can figure it out. ;)

Well, this is exciting! Bicycle commuting in Walla Walla is, well, pretty easy! Nothing (except wheat fields) is farther than 3 or 4 miles away, there are more quiet streets than busy streets, it's flat and sunny.

But Seattle? Seattle is big, busy, hilly and rainy. But that won't stop me from riding my bike as transportation. I look forward to "solving the problems" of bicycle commuting in a challenging environment, to illustrate that just a little bit of preparedness can make bicycle commuting really safe and fantastic, not a soggy chore.

And don't worry: there are still some TransAmerica Bicycle Touring HOW-TO posts in the works!

Thanks for readin'!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

So Says a Brew Snob

TransAmerica Bicycle Tour 2009, Flashback Memory # 1672:

SCENE: [Mia and RJ peruse a diner menu, calculating calorie to cost ratios, while the waitress approaches the table.]

WAITRESS: Can I get ya'll anythin' to drink?

RJ: Um, yeah. What do you have on tap?

WAITRESS: The usual.

...[awkward pause.]...

RJ: Uh.. what's that?

WAITRESS: [Her face: are you kiddin' me??] Bud. and Bud Light.

RJ: Oh. Okay, thanks. I'll uh-- I'll let you know. Thanks.

Friday, September 4, 2009

TransAmerica Q&A: Where did we stay?

One of the most common questions we got about our bicycle tour across the country was:


Well, that is both totally up to you and quite nearly, totally out of your control. Touring has funny contradictions like that.

For us, we were not only on a budget, but also interested in having a "ground level" experience. Staying at a hotel every night would have been feasible (given that we had money to do it, which we didn't), but it would be a wholly different tour. In a hotel, you can always wash up, always sleep well and never meet the locals. On the ground, you make personal sacrifices (those daily showers and a soft place to sleep) to realize that you're really not making much of a sacrifice. Indeed, you make a profit. A profit of creativity, insight, willpower and new conversations. All worth the 'price.'

To cut to the facts, here's the pie of where we stayed:
  • State parks & private campgrounds
  • City parks
  • Homestays
  • Churches
  • Fire stations
  • Someone's yard
The west was full of state parks and recreational areas. We were also still pretty green to touring. As a result, we stayed most at 'official' state parks and private campgrounds. Some had special hiker/biker rates, some did not. We paid anywhere between $4 per person and $23 for one tent. Though the host at the Virginia City RV park tried to tell us that we had two tents. ???

Once we hit Kansas, we stopped seeing state parks or any private campgrounds (or any postcards, for that matter!). Instead, we learned that most towns allowed cyclists to stay in the city park! (Think TOWN park. This is small-town America.) Most towns just ask that you let the police know that you're there. As a bonus, most parks in Kansas come with a POOL (thus showers) and were usually free for cyclists.

We heard that the local police could be helpful in finding us a place to camp in town, so sometimes we just went straight to the police station to ask where we could pitch a tent in town. If the town was accustomed to hosting cyclists, a police officer would direct you to the city park, as usual. However, we also found that police can be kind of stingy about the law. Which is good, I guess. But fire fighters aren't!
Fire fighters are AWESOME. They're often happy to let you pitch in the grass or they might even invite you inside for a shower and a truck tour. 

Acquiring a homestay is part luck, part art.
  • You're more likely to find a homestay if you're actually in a pickle. Such as a stormy forecast or pending darkness. You're not going to get a homestay because you're being lazy or a wimp!
  • Take off your sunglasses. People want to see your EYES and see that you're trustworthy.
  • First, ask indirectly. "Do you know a safe place, out of the rain that we could pitch a tent?" This allows the person an 'out,' or an opportunity to say 'no' if they're not willing or able to host you. 
  • If indirect inquiry fails with several people, and you're becoming a bit desperate, be more direct. "Could we just pitch a tent in your yard? It's getting dark and we can't ride any farther. We'll be out really early in the morning."
  • Know your customer. For Mia and I, we look quite harmless and as young women are perceived as vulnerable. We're more likely to be helped by a mother who is concerned for our safety. If you're a scruffy guy that could pass for a bum, you're more likely be to be helped by a scruffy guy that kind of looks like a bum.
  • Be genuine. Maybe it sounds contradictory at the end of this list, but I don't like to be manipulative, just honest. I just lay my situation flat out there. 
Traveling on a well-established Adventure Cycling route, we found many churches that were accustomed to housing cyclists. These churches were often prepared with a cyclist guest book, a donation box, a place to shower, cook, launder and even access the internet. Don't expect ALL of these services at every church you encounter, but at the very least, you can at least find a safe indoor space to sleep. On a 3-month tour, THAT is luxury enough!

The only hotel that we ever stayed at was on a goof-up day. We somehow got off route and rode at least 50 miles on the Blue Ride Parkway instead of 30. The Parkway is beautiful, but lacks services and certainly is NOT flat, as it follows the ridge line of the Appalachian Mountains. Anyhow, long story short-- it was dark, the area looked sketch (unsafe), and for the first and only time on our trip, we paid for a hotel (and ordered pizza).

However, we were the recipients of jaw-dropping kindness when we were put up in a bed and breakfast, first by complete strangers, then again by a treasured friend of mine. We will always remember those experiences vividly and fondly. The timing could not have been better, as it quenched our thirst for rest before tackling the notorious hills of the east.

Do you have more questions? Leave a comment!

A state park near Yellowstone.

On a popular route, you're more likely to meet other cyclists!

Some parks are quite nice!

Other parks are quite basic.

In a church, be sure to ask first where it is appropriate to sleep!
This church asked us to not use the pew cushions, but sleeping between the pews was fine.
Except on Saturday night. ;)

A storm chased us out of our campsite,
so we ended up in this barn instead!

In Charlottesville, we had a hard time getting a yard or homestay until we started asking directly. We thought that it would be easy to find a place to crash in a college student housing area, but we forgot what a bubble colleges can be. People looked at us like, "and WHY are you asking to camp in my yard?" We finally succeeded when I explained what I thought was obvious, "we've been riding our bikes since Oregon."

If you're fortunate, you'll have the opportunity to stay in a unique place
like this botanical garden!

We were riding to an Illinois town with no real plans on where we would stay
when we were caught by a group of recreational cyclists.
We traded phone numbers and Greg was kind enough to take us out
to pizza, then let us stay the night!

When we arrived in Baker City, OR-- we weren't sure where we would stay because there was a huge motorcycle rally going on that weekend! Every campground and hotel would be booked to the brim! Before we even had the chance to ask anyone, Joy found us and invited us to stay! We even took a day off in Baker City and enjoyed our time with Joy and Ray.

The most luxurious and appreciated night I have EVER had.
A surprise courtesy of a friend.

The ONE TIME we booked a hotel. Of course it rained the next morning.
We had to walk our bikes for 2 and 3 miles downhill because our brakes wouldn't work
on the wet, oily streets. And then I walked through Poison Oak. Good thing Mia knows what it looks like!

"trekwomen" BLOG is now UP!

In March, I was selected as 1 of 5 women to represent Trek in the Trek Women Who Ride program. Since then, I've visited Trek headquarters, gone sailing on my Trek Madone 5.1 and gone touring on my Trek 520 across the country. And now {trumpet fanfare!}, we're blogging!
Click HERE to visit the blog and HERE to learn about the ladies.

My Bicycle Resume

Are you in/near Seattle and hiring?


·       Share my enthusiasm for bicycling to get more people on bikes!



Community Center for Youth, Bicycle Program Manager                                            

·       Developed, managed, coached, fundraised, designed jerseys and

advertised for junior cycling team and bicycle repair program.


TransAmerica Bicycle Tour                                                                                                                      

·       Rode self-contained across the country on the TransAmerica Trail.


Trek Woman Who Rides                                                                                                                       

·       Selected as 1 of 5 to represent Trek in the Trek Women Who Ride program.


5 Collegiate National Champion Jerseys                                                                                   

·       An enthusiastic leader on the Whitman Cycling team.

·       Strong work ethic. Rode off the back in 2004, off the front by 2005.

·       2005, 2006, 2007 Collegiate Team Time Trial Champion.

·       2005, 2006, Collegiate Team Omnium Champion.


Committed to Bicycle Commuting

·       Moved out of apartment by bicycle trailer.

·       Bought an Xtracycle instead of a car after college.


Self-motivated Bicycle Advocate

·       Ride director for Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic. 

·       Started Bike Thyme, a “spandex-free” leisure ride. 

·       Co-organized Bikes and Buses are Beautiful contingent for local parade. 

·       Served on Walla Walla Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee

·       On own volition, designed an improved bicycle map for the Walla Walla area. 

·       Maintain a blog, full of tips, information, reviews, videos about bicycling. 

o   http://anadventurecalledbicycling.blogspot.com


Riding Experience

·       Road, touring, cyclocross, commuting, cargo hauling, triathlon, track.


Additional Skills

·       Fluent in American Sign Language

·       Photoshop                                                                                    



High School

Lakeside School, Seattle, WA. 


Semester Program

The Mountain School, Vershire, VT. 



Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA. 

B.A. Studio Art


Bike Repair

United Bicycle Institute, Ashland, OR. 

Introduction to Bicycle Maintenance

Related Posts with Thumbnails