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.

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

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Things I Learned on Tour

TransAmerica Bicycle Tour, Looking Back: Things I Learned

I am both more capable and more vulnerable than I ever knew.
After pedaling over 4,000 miles to the east coast, swimming in Atlantic waters leaves one empowered. If I can adventure by leg power and good wits across a continent, what else can I do? What's next? BRING IT ON!

Swimming in Atlantic waters can also leave you a bit cocky.
I can do ANYTHING now!!

That over confidence, fortunately, is tempered by wind, rain, lightening storms, cruel climbs, hairy descents, mechanical problems, impatient drivers, hungry stomachs and sores in very unfortunate places. For three months we were

e x  p    o        s       e    d .

While we did travel successfully and smartly through many remote places, it only took one bum tire in Booneville, KY to realize-- CRAP. This trip could fall apart as instantly and unexpectedly as this tire.

We met a cool kid in Virginia who had.. ALMOST.. ridden across the country. Only ONE WEEK away from finishing, he and his friend became dehydrated to the point of puking. It ended their trip.

So as we neared the coast, only days away from finishing-- I just kept reminding myself. It just isn't over yet. Every single day takes both determination and luck. Every day.

But, boy. When you-- if you do-- you look back and see. DAAAAng. I woke up each morning with determination and luck on my side (okay, maybe I wasn't so determined EVERY morning. Especially at the end there, I thought real seriously about renting a car and sagging Mia for a day because that dang knee, you know.). Anyhow. I woke up each morning and DID IT! Even if by just barely. WE did it. 

I am, we are-- more capable and more vulnerable than we know.

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