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.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's 3am

It's 3 in the morning. I've sorted through my colored pencils and have eliminated half of them. I haven't managed to eliminate any of my FOUR journals, though. 

My vision probably is as blurry as this photo.

We are sorting, resorting, finding, washing, labeling and listing. 

We'll have more time on Saturday afternoon in the hotel my parents have treated us to (thanks, mom and dad!!) before shoving off Sunday morning to ride 4200 miles (not all at once, of course). On Saturday, we'll be able to give the bikes a final groom, write down addresses, pick up stamps and all those last minute things. But surely, we wouldn't want to leave the house without our beloved bike shoes or comfy bike shorts or any of the essentials that we have carefully gathered.

We've made our lists,

and we're checkin' it a bajillion times.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Okay, so it had been a whole whoppin' WEEK since I had last gone on a bike ride (not including commuting, of course). That's quite a while for me to go without a bona fide ride. What's the deal? Have I had a lot on my plate recently? Sure, but even amid a busy schedule, I am usually able to prioritize a ride.

So, my explanation? I've been hibernating. 

Yep. I'm savin' up!

I can feel my body anticipating the long, arduous journey I'm about to endure (touring 4200 miles across the country)-- and my body's response has been to sit on my butt and eat ice cream. Hmm, maybe that's just the stress coming through. Ah, well. I finally ripped myself away from my To-Do Lists and WENT FOR A RIDE. A short one, but a ride.

Oh, and I found my camera battery charger!! I've been without it for some odd weeks now. Of course, I had hidden it in a clever place. :)

It's hot! 

Well, it's probably only 85 degrees or something. But this is new to my body-- so IT'S HOT!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Journals.. TIMES FOUR!

Okay, so I went to the local Book & Game today to buy A journal. ONE journal. And I came home with..


Okay, I know-- but you gotta hear out my reasoning! First of all, it has been a struggle to work a habit of drawing/creating into my life. The only real outlet I've had is this blog. But that's just messin' around. Well, I shouldn't degrade it THAT much, but-- I need something a bit more visceral and a bit more tactile. 

While some parts of my life have really sprouted after college, I feel like my full potential has been weighed down by silly, interfering habits. Little things that I can't stop doing, and that add up to nothing at all and prevent me from becoming something better. This summer, I hope to unshackle some of these weights and replace them with better things. Like drawing.

So, back to the four journals.

The first is a Moleskine journal with graph paper inside. While people like to peg me as 100% right brained , I do love charts and graphs (okay, it's visual math, but whatever). There are all sorts of useful and useless pieces of information that I could track over 3 months and 4200 miles. Aside from hours, miles and elevation-- there are also things like how many lakes have been jumped in? How many tires gone flat? How much wildlife spotted? How many cookies consumed?

The second journal is panoramic  at 5.5" x 8.25". While I am likely to take oodles and oodles of landscape photos along the way-- many will look inevitably flat, cliche, or just entirely miss the grandeur of the scene. This is just one reason why people still draw and paint. A human hand can selectively emphasize and exaggerate in order to share a very specific moment, idea or feeling. I want to sketch the Oregon coast on the first page and the Virginia coast on the last (and, of course, everything in between).

The third journal is square. I want to interview people I meet along the way. Having such a journal would encourage me to seek people out and prevent me from being too shy. I might even ask a common question or maybe just record people's responses to our journey, like, "You're crazy!" or "I'm jealous!"

The fourth journal is pocket-sized. If the first three journals are themed, I've got to have a place to put everything else! This is a place to draw my shoes, my bike, the cafe, whatever I please. It's the overflow.

And THAT is why I'm bringing four journals!

Put on your fancy shoes and GO RIDE A BICYCLE!!

In fits of fashion, I have posted and re-posted about a wonderful blog called Copenhagen Cycle Chic. I always point new cyclists there, just to show them that:
  • YES, you can ride a bike in heels
  • YES, you can ride a bike in a skirt
  • YES, you can ride a bike in style

Don't believe me? Please visit, Exhibit A, Exhibit B and Exhibit C.

These are not models or set-ups. These are snap-shots taken during day-to-day life in Copenhagen. 

But just how many people are riding bicycles in style anyway? Well..

*This is the result of a "back-up" from waiting for a drawbridge.

NOW do you believe me? Okay, moving on.

A more recent CYCLE CHIC blog favorite of mine is Bikes and the City, by Meligrosa. She is not only adorable as heck with a fashion sense to admire-- but she lives in SAN FRANCISCO! 

We've got a chic lady on OUR team! :D

Now, to show off some fantastic Bikes and the City shots:

So GO! Put on your fancy shoes and GO RIDE A BICYCLE!!

Friday, May 22, 2009


It is rather exciting to me to meet other people who are so excited FOR me and my adventure across America this summer. It makes my tour feel a bit less selfish, like it can create some good outside of my own personal growth. If anyone can learn anything from watching my story develop, I hope that it's this: 

Don't ask what the world needs.
Rather ask - what makes you come alive?
Then go and do it!
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

-Reverend Howard Thurman


I'm touring coast to coast this summer..

embarking in only a matter of days now..

and I hear in Kentucky,

they have FIREFLIES.

Ooo! I've never seen FIREFLIES! I'm so EXCITED!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Sidewalk: Part 2

In a recent post, I abhorred riding on the sidewalk for its hidden dangers. I expressed that I deemed cycling on the sidewalk instead of on the road to be inappropriate and unsafe unless:
What if the road you are on is just really, really terrible? What if you've chosen the best route possible and you just have to ride along this crummy street and riding in the road spells s-c-a-r-y a-s s-h-i-t. And to top it off, you're an experienced commuter that understands the risks of riding on the sidewalk and will take special precautions to prevent these particular dangers.

Then, YES-- in my PERSONAL opinion.. I think that it would be appropriate to ride on the sidewalk.

HOWEVER! Amy, one of the wonderful (and fellow) Trek Women Who Ride, pointed  this out to me in a comment:

Hey RJ! I agree - cyclists on the sidewalk (especially going the opposite way!!!) are generally not a good idea. However, I do have my daughter ride on the sidewalk while I'm in the road (going with traffic on the right side). I take her on-road when I feel it's safe, but overall I just find kids to be way too unpredictable to have in the road. Even responsible and knowledgeable (my daughter's been urban biking for half her little 6 year old life) kids on bikes make mistakes that could be disastrous - swerving out to avoid something, not paying attention, etc. I do teach her to be on the lookout for cars coming out of driveways and parking lots (and I look too), and she MUST ask pedestrians for the right to pass when coming up behind them. That's the only time I see sidewalk riding as necessary. I haven't really had any experiences as an adult that I felt was safer on a sidewalk, but I live in a pretty bike friendly place. Anyway, good blog!!

I absolutely agree with everything that Amy said! The demographic that I was scolding (in my mind) for riding on the sidewalk were those 13 years old and up. But what DO you do when you got a wee little one and they really DON'T know how to behave in traffic? A trailer or a tag-a-long only work for so long until they need to ride on their own. I think that Amy's solves the problem well by riding WITH her daughter. Amy can act as the adult eyes and ears for her daughter, while motorists are more likely to see Amy and stop when appropriate.

But REALLY what we need-- is better bicycling infrastructure. In the Netherlands, the kids go on FIELD TRIPS by BICYCLE. And no, they're not wearing helmets-- that's because cycling is so, so much safer there (and it's fairly safe even here!). In the Netherlands, it would be like wearing a helmet to walk down the stairs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Voicemail Greeting

I just updated my voicemail greeting:

Hi, you've reached the cell phone of Rebecca Jensen, or RJ. As of May 31, I will be pedaling from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast.. and also.. my cell phone contract will expire. And I'm not renewing it.

So if you want to keep in touch or get in touch, visit my blog on trekbikes.com -- under women who ride-- which will be up and running shortly.

Or, you can currently follow my adventures on my blog, anadventurecalledbicycling.blogspot.com

Thanks for callin'! And if you want me to call you back-- you have to leave a non-mysterious message.


And enjoy life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pre-Bicycle Tour Thoughts

With only 12 days until I dip my rear tire in the Pacific Ocean to begin my tour across the country, I realized that I may as well just eat whatever I want at this point. Also, there is some Tillamook Mudslide ice-cream in the freezer.

It's the graduation season and I can't help but feel that I am swept up in the emotion of graduating too. Closing up loose ends at work is nearly as draining as taking finals. I'm trying to get rid of the growing mountain of stuff that is following me around. And I'm about to leave work to go do whatever I want with an air of a new beginning. 

The longest outdoor trips I've been on were 8 days. The only experiences that come close to 3 months 'away' are my semester at The Mountain School in Vermont and a summer working on Mt.Rainier for Washington Trails Association. In both those cases, three months was long enough for a new way of life to become familiar and 'normal'. Hopping into my dirt-caked Carharts and lacing up my boots became normal on Rainier. Bottle feeding sheep and cutting the day's salad greens became normal in Vermont. Re-applying sunscreen, riding my bike for hours, and looking for a good place to sleep is going to become normal. The sensation of "vacation," of something temporary and unusual, that will fade away. Riding my bike all day and seeing something new-- it's going to be normal. Or so I think.

And no, I don't mean gear decisions! I mean every day on the tour will be filled with a string of endless decisions! What should we eat? Where? And when? Should we keep riding? Should we stop? Where's a good place to sleep? Should we ask them? How long should we spend here? Can we wait out this rainstorm? Should we carry extra water? It will be interesting to see myself and my touring buddy work these decisions out. To sum us up to an extreme, I'm impulsive and she's indecisive. Not always, but you could simplify us that way.

Bicycle Tour Clothing Packing List

In less than two weeks, I will be bicycle touring across the U.S. My best friend and I will hit some seriously varied terrain: 
  • Oregon Coast
  • Eastern Oregon, Idaho
  • Missoula, MT
  • Yellowstone, WY
  • Rockies of CO
  • Eastern CO, Kansas
  • Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia

Even though I'm touring in the summer (May31-end of August), the greatly varied terrain requires that I be prepared for both hot and cold. High elevation and rain storms are two good reasons to pull on a long sleeve mid-weight wool jersey or a rain jacket. The barren sections of Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming are good reasons to take almost everything off! At the same time, I've tried to be as "reasonably" lightweight as possible and choose items that work both on and off the bike or are flexible for another reason (such as arm warmers, which are small and can quickly change your warmth).

Alright. Too much, too little, just right? There are only a few 'unresolved issues' left: hands and rain paints. 

To me, this looks like a fairly scant list, with a few luxury items: 
  • arm skins (weigh nothing and take zero space)
  • a jersey (I gotta represent Trek WWR! Holla!)
  • cycling cap or beanie (this is arguably a bit redundant)
  • the visor (this cools me way off in hot weather)
  • too many socks (but I like to be nice to my feet). 
  • One luxury item I recently kicked off the list was my Patagonia synthetic down vest that's thin and packs way down (for a down vest). I had thought of it as my "emergency layer for guaranteed warmth," but I can layer up under my rain jacket or just get into my sleeping bag if it's that cold up in the mountains. The vest could make a comeback, though. I'm rather fond of it.
Okay, here it is!:

  • 2 sports bras
  • a synthetic shirt
  • a thin wool shirt (cool even in hot weather)
  • a WWR jersey
  • ..kinda tempted to bring a tank top, too. You know-- for the tan.
  • arm skins (SPF protection and COOLS you off rather than keep you warm)
  • arm warmers
  • long sleeve wool jersey, medium weight
  • wind jacket
  • rain jacket

  • 3 pairs of underwear
  • two pairs of cycling shorts
  • gym shorts
  • synthetic knickers
  • knee warmers
  • 50/50 wool/poly long john/tights
  • Probably not rain pants.. but MAYBE some quick-drying MUSA pants.

  • shortie bike gloves
  • and.. a windproof? a liner AND windproof?

  • helmet. duh.
  • cycling cap-- keeps rain out of eyes
  • beanie-- keeps whole body warm and a back up for a wet cycling cap
  • visor > I love this visor in hot sunny weather, so it's coming!
  • sunglasses, with a light and dark lens set

  • 2 thin short cycling socks, hot weather
  • 1 thin tall wool socks, cool weather
  • 1 thicker tall wool socks, cold weather and post-rain ride
  • cycling shoes
  • booties
  • Keen sandals

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bicycle Tour Gear Packing List

I'm riding across the country for 3 months.

So, do you think I can cut anything out? To me, this all looks essential. To you, I may have overpacked!

  • MSR Whisperlite
  • Fuel bottle
  • Matches
  • 1 pot, 1 pan
  • Spatula
  • Wooden spoon 
  • Cutting knife ..and a mini-knife sharpener (I'm a snob. And I like safety.)
  • Spices
  • Hand-sanitizer
  • Mug/bowl
  • Frisbee/plate/cutting board
  • Fork/spoon
  • 1/2 sponge
  • Camping Suds
  • Iodine
  • 2 small bladders (for when our water bottles aren't enough)
  • Plastic bags
  • Cord to hang food
  • 2 person tent w/ fly & tarp ground cloth
  • REI sleeping bag, eVent compression sack
  • Thermarest or Ridgerest pad (undecided)
  • Thermarest compressible pillow (YES, I'm BRINGING the pillow.)
  • Cotton liner (an old bed sheet) (This is to keep my bag from getting stinky and also for those hot nights that a sleeping bag is just too much.)
  • Bandana
  • Tent patch kit
  • 3 tire levers, patch kit
  • Mini pump
  • Huge Alien multi tool that has EVERYTHING
  • [except] very miniature pliers
  • Lube, 1/2 blue rag, small bottle of degreaser
  • Mini Leatherman
  • Brake and derailleur cable
  • Spare tube, tire boot
  • Extra bolts for rack, shoes
  • Brake pads
  • Zip ties
  • Hoseclamp
  • AAA batteries for bike lights
  • Curly combo lock
  • Bungees
  • Duct tape & electrical tape wound around a pencil
  • Reflective triangle
  • [Wind jacket is neon yellow]
  • Rear flashing light
  • Front light
  • Pepper spray
FIRST AID *all in mini-packets
  • MEDS: Pepto-bismol, midol, sting relief wipe, benadryl, ibuprofen, poison ivy wipe, eye drops, Neosporin
  • ROAD RASH: alocohol, iodine and saline wipes. Gauze pads and mini roll. Band aids.
  • HOT/COLD: Hand warmers, chemical ice pack, icy/hot patch
  • TOOLS: nail clippers and very pointy tweezers
  • BLISTERS: mole skin
This might seem like a large first aid kit, but I used to be a student athletic trainer-- so to me, this is the minimum!

  • Travel towel (super thin, light, dries fast)
  • Terry wash cloth 
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • 'Feminine products' and a coffee bag to keep stinky ones in
  • Dr.Bronners for soap/shampoo
  • Butt'r chamois cream
  • Bug spray
  • Sunblock, SPF chapstick
  • MAYBE a lotion bar
  • Driver's license
  • Medical and car insurance card
  • A card with my medical info written on it
  • Debit card, credit card, checkbook, cash
  • Stamps and addresses
  • Camera, 3 batteries, extra memory card, charger and a tiny thingy that plugs your memory card into a computer
  • Phone, charger -- I am NOT bringing a phone on this trip. I am letting my cell plan expire and will rely on my touring buddy's phone for emergencies.

  • 1 paperback

..to read my "full explanation" as to why I'm bringing FOUR journals, click here.
  • A Moleskine graph journal to make charts/graphs out of our trip
  • A panoramic drawing journal for landscapes
  • A square drawing journal for interviews
  • A mini drawing journal for everything else
  • Various pencils, erasers, colored pencils, sharpener, pens
  • Kite! :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Planning a Transamerica Tour

This is by no means final.. but I've been working on some sort of schedule skeleton for the summer (I am touring by bicycle across the U.S. on the TransAmerica trail!). I don't want to plan every single day because I think that's unrealistic and a bit less fun, not to mention a pain to plan!-- but we do have some date/locations that we can't miss, so we need to be on SOME sort of schedule. I figured out that weekly goals would be the best balance of schedule and flexibility. 

Some things I kept in mind while allotting dates: topography, weaker or stronger legs early/later in the tour, places of interest, weekend tourist traffic (on Trail Ridge Road), rest, and some inflexible dates (a family reunion and returning home!).

I have this written in a calendar format, but I bring it to you in a list format-- which is another interesting way to look at it. What a long trip!!

satMAY30:: arrive in Astoria
sunMAY31:: dip wheels and DEPART!

satJUNE6:: arrive/rest EUGENE, OR

satJUNE13:: arrive/rest BAKER CITY, OR

sunJUNE21:: arrive/rest Missoula, MT


monJUNE29:: arrive/rest YELLOWSTONE
tuesJUNE30:: Yellowstone
wedJULY1:: Yellowstone

thuJULY9:: Rawlins, WY
satJULY11:: Walden, CO
sunJULY12:: Grand Lake, CO

tuesJULY14:: arrive/rest BOULDER, CO
wedJULY15:: Mia buses to Denver airport
thuJULY16:: M's family reunion/RJ in Boulder
friJULY17:: reunion/boulder
satJULY18:: reunion/boulder
sunJULY19:: reunion/boulder

friJULY24:: Pueblo, CO




sunAUGUST23:: fly back.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


National DivII Womens Team Time Trial Champions
National DivII Team Omnium Champions
National DivII Criterium Champion

Comeback baby.

Whitman College just made a HUGE splash at Collegiate Road Cycling Nationals.

Road Race: a team of balance.
Hard and smart teamwork by both the men's and women's team put Duncan McGovern and Kendi Thomas in the top ten (9th and 6th). With the team omnium in mind, the domestiques (racers that ride in support of the team leader) still turned in great top-20 finishes.

Criterium: a team of speed.
The women absolutely DOMINATED the criterium, sending off so many attacks.. they started to wonder if maybe they were being a bit TOO aggressive. Kendi grabbed handfuls of prime points, Mia won another, Emily went flyering, then Mia laid down a blistering lead out for Kendi for the WIN and Roxy came up 6th!!
The men rode in fantastic support of Ben Chaddock, who came 2nd in the bunch sprint for 4th overall. Again, with the team omnium in mind-- the boys kept in the top 20.

Team Time Trial: a team of KICK ASS.
The women flippin' WON IT by OVER a minute-- even while Kendi found her tire to be at 60psi at the start line (ordinarily you'd want at least 110). The ladies proved that their talent is deep.

The men, I believe for the first time-- PODIUM'd in THIRD!! They have been working SO hard on their TTT all season, it's wonderful to see it really pay off for them. I think their euro mullets were probably the tipping point.

Banquet: a team of high thrift store style.
Keep the tradition rockin', kids.

Stop to smell the.. photos.

Gravel trail curving toward Bennington Lake.

Okay, so I own THREE camera batteries so that I NEVER have a "DOH! My battery died.." moment ever again. But now I've gone through all three batteries and my charger is not to be found! DOH!

What will I do without my camera?

A cool and grassy spot just off trail at Bennington Lake.

When riding alone, I do a lot of starting and stopping to take photos at my leisure. While I clearly love taking photographs (and messing around on Photoshop) as there is a lot of evidence of this on my blog-- sometimes I think I ought to leave the camera at home more often so half my ride time isn't spent setting the self-timer. Yeah, I know-- riding along at a stroll and looking around isn't a bad deal. But sometimes-- you just need to get your heart rate up and your legs burning. And when your lungs are wanting to burst-- there's no time for pictures. Hmm.. I think I'll take Mr.Madone for a spin.

Oh my, having two new bikes absolutely requires at least two good rides per day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

For all your love: THANK YOU!

Sending you love from Walla Walla!

Remembering Ann Community Ride

While everyone has an opportunity to remember Ann during the Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic fundraiser ride, the local community also pays respects by riding up Mill Creek (Ann's favorite route), wearing purple ribbon (her favorite color) and toasting champagne in her name at the top.

I was not fortunate enough to know Ann, but I do appreciate the spirit of the group when remembering "one of our own." 


Pass it here!

Debi, Ann's best friend, rode Ann's bike.

Remembering Ann

Ann Weatherill was a local middle school teacher and cyclist who was struck and killed by a motorist while riding with friends on Mother's Day 2004. In 2005, the Ann Law was passed in Washington State, making it illegal for motorists to pass while an oncoming cyclist is approaching. 

In remembrance of Ann, during the last part of June, a fundraiser ride is held: the Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic. The ride rolls through some of Walla Walla's most scenic wheat fields, offers three distances and a lunch buffet by Merchants complete with wine from L'Ecole No 41. 

Funds from Ann Weatherill Cycling Classic go towards the installation and maintenance of the yellow "Share the Road" signs throughout the county that were installed on popular bicycle routes to raise awareness in Ann's honor and other bicycle safety programs sponsored by Wheatland Wheelers.

To visit the website, GO HERE.

To register now, GO HERE.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hello, Trek 520

Well-- I'm not only the zippy sort, you know! One more reason I write this blog is to show that one person can enjoy many types of cycling. There's no need to take sides and toss our noses up in the air! Sometimes I like a hot rotating pace line and sometimes

I like a stroll.
His name is Bennington. 

and strong.

Hello, Trek Madone 5.1

If you haven't heard already, I was chosen as one of Trek's Women Who Ride. This is a really awesome program by Trek because it recognizes not just elite cyclists, as cycling companies usually do-- but it recognizes real, everyday cyclists that love to ride. And if you're a woman who is thinking about getting into cycling-- being able to ask questions of a woman who you can relate to is so much less intimidating. So I am excited not only for myself and the opportunities (and gear.. AND NEW BIKE) that have been given to me, but I am excited for Trek and their approach to women's cycling.

NOW. Without further ado.. I introduce, Mr.Madone:

..this picture is currently on my desktop. :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bicycle Touring Charts

There are a few logistics to figure out before embarking on a 3-month bicycle tour. Some logistics are enjoyable to figure out. For instance-- the gear that you'll carry-- to me, that's a fun logistic.  How can I make another item multi-purpose and further reduce my load? What is the ideal footwear for diverse weather conditions? The puzzles go on and on.

Since I found a list too cumbersome to navigate since I could not immediately make comparisons with just a glance-- I ended up sketching out a chart to organize my gear. Everything on the top half was "on the bike," everything on the bottom half was "off the bike" and items were allowed to overlap by hovering on the line. Similarly, everything on the left had to do with the torso or top half of the body and everything on the right had to do with legs or the bottom half of the body. Then items were arranged from hot to cold and hand wear, head wear and foot wear each found a special place of their own.

I was so a happy with my chart, I decided to make a fancier one to share with anyone who might find it helpful!

Click to enlarge.

And while I was at it, I threw in some other tools as well. These are still very much like lists, as I haven't found the most harmonious visual arrangement for them yet. Nevertheless-- here they are:

Click to enlarge.

This chart lists some of the most common accessories or customizable features of bicycles, such as racks, handlebars, mirrors and tires. Making this list helped me remember that I need to get a mirror!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Riding on the Sidewalk

Riding on the sidewalk is usually not only a faux pas, but in many or most situations can be extremely dangerous compared to riding on the road. That's why my heart sinks and my head feels conflicted whenever I see a kid (or adult!) riding AGAINST traffic on the sidewalk. I'm sure that mom or dad told them that riding on the sidewalk would be safest and riding against traffic so that you could "see" the cars would be best. What these parents don't know is that riding against traffic while on the sidewalk is just about the worst place you could be. Or just riding on the sidewalk, period.

Traffic, especially cross-traffic, doesn't see you. When a car pulls out from a business, the driver scans THE ROAD and NOT the sidewalk for vehicular traffic. Even if the driver checks for pedestrians, cyclists are speedier and could be out of sight one moment and on a car hood the next. Similarly, if a car wants to pull into a business, generally drivers are NOT checking the sidewalk for fast moving traffic.

What if the road you are on is just really, really terrible? What if you've chosen the best route possible and you just have to ride along this crummy street and riding in the road spells s-c-a-r-y  a-s  s-h-i-t. And to top it off, you're an experienced commuter that understands the risks of riding on the sidewalk and will take special precautions to prevent these particular dangers.

Then, YES-- in my PERSONAL opinion.. I think that it would be appropriate to ride on the sidewalk. I have done so in this very situation I've described. However, I don't come across this situation very often. I am usually very good at route selection and I am not shy about "taking my lane," as it is my legal right to do so. I'll write more about "taking the lane" in the future-- in short, it's when you ride in the MIDDLE of the traffic lane instead of the right third. This forces traffic to have to change lanes and go AROUND you instead of trying to squeeze you off the road.

Interestingly enough, one of our "bike paths" here in Walla Walla is along Dalles Military Road. It's basically an extra-wide sidewalk that bikes are supposedly expected to use. I didn't know that it was such a "shared use path" until it was pointed out to me by a City engineer during a Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee meeting. My response was, "you want me to ride on THAT? How am I supposed to make a left turn??" Not to mention-- it trains cyclists to think that it's okay to ride on the sidewalk all the time. And it tells cars that bikes don't belong on the road. In reality, Dalles Military Road actually has a HUGE shoulder and there is PLENTY of room for two lanes AND a bike lane.. and maybe even a parking lane too (if they hadn't put in the glorified sidewalk).

Now, if this "shared use path" actually looked and was marked as a shared use path-- like the Copenhagen-style cycle path that is now being installed in Portland..

Graphic designed by the folks over at BikeHacks, one of my favorite blogs!

Well, you see-- a cycle track is separate from pedestrians, protected from traffic by parked cars and marked heavily so that cars know to expect bicycles there. The Dalles Military sidewalk is none of these things.

The real solution to this whole problem, would be for our towns and cities to spend an appropriate amount of money on bicycle infrastructure (instead of straightening out curvy roads that are TOTALLY FINE.. *ahem). But until then-- we do our best with what we've got..

and complain about it 'til it changes. :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

You're TWICE as likely to die driving a car than riding a bicycle

Alan over at EcoVelo just posted these statistics from Failure Analysis Associates. I've been looking for something like this. When I am talking to someone who is considering bicycle commuting, one of the most familiar "but" excuses I hear is, "but it just seems so dangerous!" The best I ever could come up with was, 
well, it's all about the routes you choose and being a smart cyclist. And I feel like I'm safer on a bike anyway-- I ride like cars can't see me and am less prone to take the risks we take in cars.. and I'm sure there are some statistics somewhere that show that driving is probably more dangerous anyway.. and you get better long term health from riding a bike...

WELL. Here are those statistics I've been grabbing for! You're twice as likely to die while driving a car-- but you don't say, "oh, I don't want to drive to work.. it just seems so dangerous!"

Activity Fatalities Per Million Hours
  • Skydiving 128.71
  • General Aviation 15.58
  • On-road Motorcycling 8.80
  • Scuba Diving 1.98
  • Living (all causes of death) 1.53
  • Swimming 1.07
  • Snowmobiling .88
  • Automobile Driving .47
  • Water Skiing .28
  • Bicycling .26
  • Flying (domestic airlines) .15
  • Hunting .08
Bicycling also provides long term health benefits that driving doesn't. It's also a LOT better for the health of the environment. And it's just more fun.


you just need to          over your perspective
in order to

actually see

not just cyclists and trees.

That's a cheese poetic way of saying that turning photos away from their usual orientation is a good way to see a photo for the composition and not just the content. 

And sometimes you spin your legs on your bike reallyreallyreally fast! And it's fun. And they are called "spin-ups." It's what cool kids do. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

RJ's Walla Walla Bicycle Map

The City of Walla Walla, with input from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, makes a fairly fantastic bicycle map both of in-town bike routes for commuters and also longer excursions for recreational cyclists. This map is available at our local bicycle shops, Allegro Cyclery and Bicycle Barn, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and other locations.

The map appropriately folds out to 18 by 24 inches and it is rumored that the next generation map will be even larger. The map highlights a lot of useful information for a cyclist, including bike lanes, routes, trails and more. If you are new to the area or just new to bicycling, this map is a very helpful resource.

However-- I found that as a local, I wanted:
  • A smaller map, that's easier to pull out quickly and read.
  • Less information that I don't really need.
  • More information about the ride-ability of roads to quickly scan for an ideal route.
Also, when I give out a bike map, I usually suggest highlighting more roads that are especially good for cycling. So finally, I just decided to..


I highlighted roads according to my personal opinion (and no scientific study!) of each street's ride-ability. It is possible and to be expected that my idea of ride-able roads may vary from another person's idea of ride-able roads. However, this map is always a work in progress! If you think that I inappropriately marked a road or intersection, please leave a comment on this post and let me know!

These maps are intended to be printed out on a regular 8 1/2" by 11" paper. You will likely have to make an adjustment on your Printer Preferences to make sure it fits the paper.

Click to enlarge.
This map includes a larger area than the close-up below.

The streets are labeled:
  • BLUE, for bike lane
  • GREEN, for great for bikes, very light traffic, highly residential
  • YELLOW, for good for bikes, light traffic, wide shoulders, sometimes residential
  • ORANGE, for ok for bikes, steady traffic, few shoulders, speed limit over 30, sometimes more than one lane in direction of travel
  • Orange DOTS, frequent congestion
  • Red DOTS, exercise extra caution in this intersection

Click to enlarge.
This map is a close-up of the map above.

Frequent Congestion and Extra Caution Intersections are labeled as such because they may:
  • Experience increased traffic when the school day starts or ends.
  • Have poor visibility.
  • Require a confident and experienced cyclist to maneuver through safely.
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