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, March 27, 2010

Morning at Galbraith

Saturday morning, I had plans to go watch some collegiate cycling and root on my alma mater (GO WHITMAN!!) up in Bellingham, WA. Since I was driving, I looked for an opportunity to mountain bike. Enter: GALBRAITH!

After all I've heard and read of Galbraith, I had big, BIG expectations-- endless ribbons of dirt twisting through a fairy tale forest. So you can imagine my disappointment when I found:

washed out, overgrown, poorly drained trails that lead nowhere,

jumps hacked by 13-year-olds,

and an impossible entrance to the park.

Yeah, here's a tip:
TOTALLY MISSED THAT. From Birch St. Entrance: The left trail neatly switchbacks up to the Ridge Trail (the one you want), which will take you to the info kiosk and the AWESOME web of trails. The right, however, will take you to the washed out, over grown, hacked together mess-- which is possibly not even part of the park.

So, once I got that..

It was all good.

Dirt roads are the pipelines between trails.

Riding at Duthie has noticeably improved my skills already!

Well, not THAT much. Yet.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ride the Islands!

I have discovered several wonderful things.

First-- round trip fare for a cyclist on the Whidbey ferry is only $5.10. 

Second-- bus transit on the island is FREE!

Third-- Langley has really, really good coffee that is the perfect jet fuel.

So what this means is: riding around Whidbey Island is one of my favorite things to do with a weekend. I can ride or bus down to the ferry, then ride or bus up to Langley, drink a cappuccino, then ride or bus all over the island before ferrying, then riding or busing back home. What is 50 miles of riding for the legs, could be 100 miles of travel and sights to see. 

Buses aside, the island has quiet roads for riding, rugged beaches for relaxing and quaint towns with really great coffee for sipping. What a combo! If I pull my touring gear together, an overnight at Fort Ebey or Deception Pass becomes a scenic, minimal-planning mini-tour. After getting the hang of that, a third or fourth day would get me up to Anacortes or even the San Juan Islands. People fly across the country to ride these! I've got them in my backyard.

So if you're looking for a quick mini-tour-- try rolling out your front door and see what you find.

Loving Duthie

One reason to love Duthie Hill [mountain bike park] is because the trails are made specifically for mountain bikers. These aren't hiking trails that mountain bikers are allowed on-- these are mountain biking trails. And boy does it make a difference! The latter third of the "Boot Camp" trail is pure downhill swoopiness. Banked corner after banked corner after banked corner. It's not huge or advanced-- a beginner like me can handle it-- but it is SO FUN. It's a roller coaster ride that you're in charge of.

Another reason to love Duthie-- is that it is so BEAUTIFUL. Road riding is great because I can start out my door, but I can never ride far enough to get away from pesty cars. Mountain biking on the other hand, even though I have to drive to get there-- it's just me, the woods and my bike. Real solace.

I love it!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Touring Bikes Under $1500

If you're looking for an affordable touring bike, you can stop your internet wanderings. Joshua, over at Adventure Cycling, has compiled a list of touring bikes under $1500: click here to visit the blog post

I've posted a link to my review of the Trek 520 there, and hopefully other Adventure Cycling readers will do the same!

Friday, March 19, 2010

It all began with a small detour..

Today was an interesting day.

It all began with a small detour..
which resulted in a flat tire

and the route didn't really work out.

Fixed the flat, topped it off at a local bike shop, moved on.

Discovered that Mukilteo Blvd is a signed bike route with healthy shoulders!

Tried to buy a ferry ticket with my "Orca Card," only to discover that Orca did not understand that I was an adult who ALSO had a bicycle. The kind lady called in my problem in order to get it fixed for future Orca Card Carrying Cyclists.

I still think ferries are fun.

When I got off the boat, I saw a bus-- and I like buses.
Especially FREE ones that take me up the big ol' hill to Langley!

And cappucinos.

I asked a lady where I should eat.

She told me, then thanked me for coming to Langley.

And all of the baristas were cute.

Okay, so I RODE back to the ferry-- on my BIKE (not the bus).

And I discovered this:
So I poked and poked and poked it,
because-- you know-- that looks like something that needs poking.
Walked three steps away to go look at the water and
I didn't even look.
I just smirked.

A woman in a car said, "your tire.."
"Yeah, I know. Thanks. I was waiting for that to happen."

Sooo.. took the bus up the hill to the park across from our old house..

And waited for mom to pick me up.
The End!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Discovered a Pedestrian Bridge!

Discovered a pedestrian bridge over a river today. That just increased my ride options! Sometimes just poking around will teach you more than poring over a map. 

Oh, and I watched a chicken cross the road. I thought that was funny. Though I couldn't figure out why she was crossing the road..

Trek/Fisher Mountain Bike Demo

{Trek Remedy review, Trek Fuel EX review}

I got to test ride some bikes! Trek/Gary Fisher has a big truck an' trailer that drives around, toting mountain bikes for folks to try on the trail. This week happened to be a dealer-only event, but the truck also hosts public events.

I showed up an hour early so that I could take a few laps on my own mountain bike first as a "neutral" comparison. Then I tried a Remedy, a Fuel EX, a Remedy, and a Fuel EX. Yes, I rode two bikes back and forth-- because they were the only bikes in my size to ride. No 29ers, no HiFi, no Rumblefish, no Scratch, etc, etc. Wow, really?? Sure, there is a women's truck roaming around somewhere-- but I was informed by a demo guy that the only difference between the two were the stem and saddles. So why only 2 bikes in a small size? LAME.

Back to the EX and the Remedy.

In Mountain Bike Land, the spectrum, to me, looks like this:
  1. Cross-country race bikes. Light suspension, light bike, possibly hardtail or 29er. Fast. Very responsive handling, climbs incredibly, goes downhill okay.
  2. Do-it-all cross-country. A little more suspension, fairly light, quick, responsive handling but more stable than a racer, climbs, but holds it own going downhill. (*MY BIKE.)
  3. Beefy cross-country. More suspension, a fork/head tube angle that can handle rougher downhill, a bit heavier, stable handling. It can go up, but it much prefers to go down.
  4. After this, the bikes are really about going down.

My understanding of mountain bike #3 has totally changed. It used to be that these bikes were real pigs. They were pretty much "light duty downhill." You could climb on them, but you didn't really want to. 

Now-- these bikes are lighter, the suspension technology greater, and the angles tuned just right. This is the new "every person's" mountain bike. 

Is #3, without the dead weight. The bike felt super solid-- it stuck to the trail, I wasn't bouncing around. The steering was stable and generous to small mistakes, it didn't need to be micro-managed. It went down, it went up-- it was faster (lighter!) than I expected. To be fair, the REMEDY is the perfect bike for the park we were at-- Duthie Hill. Duthie is a park with trails built FOR mountain bikes (as opposed to trails built for hikers that bikes are allowed on)-- so it is super 'flowy' with all sorts of fun banking. It's Remedy territory.

Who I would recommend the Remedy to: enthusiast or first-time riders, looking for a bike that is quick but confident. You'll never shave your legs for a XC race. You hit the trail once-in-a-while or regularly. You're going to ride single track, flow park, small jumps-- Remedy it. This is the do-it-all. 

Comparable bike: the Enduro by Specialized.

If the Remedy were a sword, the EX felt like a scalpel. Or maybe a dagger. We'll let the real race bikes be scalpels. The EX could handle Duthie's flowy trails, but it was less forgiving to user-error. Rider-input had to be more exact. To be fair, the park was more suited to the Remedy than the Fuel EX. But boy, what small rollers I did climb-- I could tell that the EX really could jet uphill! 

Who I would recommend the Fuel EX to: enthusiast or first-time riders who prefer going up the mountain than down. You'd absolutely shave your legs for a XC race. When you ride your mountain bike, you're there to get a workout. You're going to ride fire road, single track, maybe some flow park. Fuel EX is a speedster with more confidence than a pure racer.

Comparable bike: Specialized Stumpjumper

I have to admit, I was a little worried that I would ride something cooler than my bike, then not like my bike anymore. Fortunately, I like my bike even more now. :)

Per my perspective-- my women's Stumpjumper (Safire) isn't quite so solid as a Remedy, but not quite so twitchy as a Fuel EX. 

For my purposes-- fire road, single track, flow park, some XC racing, endurance riding..

My Safire is goldilocks. Just right.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Trek 520 Touring Bike Review

We made it! Parked on the shore of Atlantic waters.
*There is a sleeping bag and cowboy hat under that yellow jacket,
in case you're wondering why it's piled so high. :)

Last summer, I rode a Trek 520 across the country. These days, the 520 rolls both as a super commuter and a plain ol' fun bike. This is my review.

As a touring bike..
The 520 is fantastic. When purchasing any bike, what you're really buying is the frame. The material and geometry of the frame dictates both how it fits you and how the bike behaves.
  • Is it a long or short reach? 
  • Is it snappy or stable? 
  • Is it harsh or forgiving? 
The Trek 520 frame has remained unchanged for many years. Probably because they got it right. 
  • The 520 supports a comfortable upright position. 
  • The bike is super stable, with or without a load (downhills are a delight!), yet still remains lively (not sluggish) when pumping and rocking (loaded!) uphill. This bike performs not just under the weight of a cross-country tour, but when unweighted-- it's still a joy to ride.
  • As to be expected, the steel is stiff (power transfer!)-- but absolutely melts over bumps and lumps. The only downside to steel is the heavier weight-- but heck, this bike has gears your great grandma could turn over! So who cares?!
So the frame, complete with a metallic powder coat finish which absolutely glows in the sun, gets 5 of 5 stars. 

If you plan to use the 520 for day to day commuting and leisure use, I wouldn't change a spec on the bike-- except that saddle appears to be there just for looks. Slap on your favorite saddle and you're good to go!

However, if you plan to ride this steel beauty on a long and loaded tour-- there a few key parts and accessories that I would recommend replacing:
  1. TIRES. Those Bontrager Race Lite Hard-Case tires are great for rolling around town and over your favorite hill and dale.. but their durability and flat protection is lacking for true long hauls. I had 2 flats and my tire shredded in Booneville, KY. Mia, my touring partner, rode Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires-- not one single flat. So I recommend a tire out of the Schwabe Marathon line. Remember, though-- the addition durability and flat protection aren't the only features of a tire, that extra rubber detracts from the butter and snap of your ride; though I have no complaints of the Schwabes which now roll on my wheels.
  2. RACK. The suggested max load of the Bontrager rear rack is 50 pounds. My total gear nearly weighed 50 pounds, depending on the food and water we carried-- so only 30 pounds at most was ever mounted on the rear rack. And it broke. Fortunately-- we were in Blacksburg, KY-- where there was a bike shop. My rack recommendation is a set of Old Man Mountains, Tubus or Surly. OMM for pure performance and reliability, Tubus for the same plus they're pretty, Surly for all of the above plus added durability (and weight). I ride OMMs.
  3. FENDERS. While the abbreviated fenders improve your toe overlap (the fender simply 'boings' out of our way should you hit it with your foot while making an awkward u-turn in a grocery parking lot), you'll be much happier on the road with FULL FENDERS and dry feet. 
  4. SADDLE. It's not uncommon for a bike to be spec'd with a saddle that the maker expects the consumer to replace with his or her favorite or preferred saddle. This is one of those saddles-- it's pretty and brown, but it has no cut-out and instead, is rather crowned and squashes all the things you don't want squashed. I ended up riding my Specialized Jett, my racing saddle. If you want something softer, I'd recommend a Specialized Lithia Gel-- but remember, softer does not necessarily equate better! That's a whole 'nother post.

And finally, full disclosure-- I was obligated to ride a Trek 520, as I was sponsored by Trek at the time. I already had a Surly Long Haul Trucker that I planned to detach from my Xtracycle. So would I buy a Trek 520 now? Sure would. The Trek 520 is great for:
  • A $1300 price point. 
  • Touring trips from one night to several months (or years?!).
  • A sturdy commuter.
  • A stable, comfortable, wide-gear-range everyday bike.
The only reason that I would buy a different bike: if I had twice or thrice the cash to spend. In that condition, I might ride more expensive parts and wheels-- but I'd still enjoy a frame just like the 520.

Was this review helpful to you? Leave a comment if you have any questions!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sharing Chapters

Photo left: (my photo) We rode with Melanie for a day in Wyoming. A good place for added company. There were very few services.

When touring on a popular route, such as the TransAmerican Trail (established 1976!), you are part of a constant flow of cyclists. Cyclists are traveling east, west, fast and slow. You may see them only for a moment, as you blister down a mountain pass, having time only for a nod and smile of acknowledgement. Or, you may meet them at a gas station, and share a chocolate milk, conversation and a campsite that night. They might be gone in the morning (speedy tourists!), or wave good-bye, because they're going to stay to catch the town's festival. You could meet them once, or many times over.

We met Melanie on the second day of our trip. After dozens and dozens of variables played out, we also saw her again later in Oregon, Montana and Wyoming, but never after that (we took a week off in Colorado). In those places, the chapters of our TransAmerica stories collided.

Melanie sent me these photos that she took of us in Oregon and Wyoming last summer:

A reflection of us taking photos of the halfway-abandoned town that we spent the night in.

A collection of bicycle travelers, sharing space in a mid-renovation building, still filled with nails, planks and sawdust. We didn't mind, though-- we were ecstatic just to be free of the mosquitoes!

We look so clean! This is before we even got to Eugene, OR.
Mia didn't even have her panniers yet!
(She bought a full set of Arkel bags in Eugene.) (Long story.)

These photos are interesting to see, because while they're of us, they're from someone else's memory of their tour. We're characters in someone else's story, and this is how we appear.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Duthie Hill: small park, big fun.

Duthie Hill is a work-in-progress mountain bike park just north of Issaquah, WA. It isn't a very big park (see comparison chart to right), but it uses its space QUITE efficiently. The goals for Duthie Hill are this:

  • An awesome park for mountain bikers.
  • A great place for kids -- make it easier and more fun for kids to get into the sport.
  • A great place for events and competition.
  • 4-6 miles of flowy XC trails that are also a great XC race course.
  • Dirt jumps / Flowlines.
  • More technical freeride downhill.

While I haven't been to many such dedicated mountain bike parks like Duthie, I have to say-- Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has done a fabulous job of meeting these design goals, and they're not even done yet. Just take a look at how many trails will cram into this space:

Yeah, no kidding. CRAMMED with trails!

This is what the park looks like currently, as of March 8:

The quality of work is just amazing. I've worked for the Washington Trails Association, leading trail building work parties on Mt.Rainier, so I know what good trail looks like. This is not just GOOD trail, it's good MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL. The banking, the flow, the diversity, the creativity, the challenge options.. all of it.. wow. VERY GOOD WORK.

If you've heard mostly about the many of drops, stunts and downhill/freeride lines in the park, but you're a cross-country rider-- don't worry, this park is also for you! Five to six miles of flowy singletrack have been (or will be) crammed in, by means of three-leaf clover loops and an alternate loop. PLUS, the cross country trails feature optional challenges-- a skinny log to ride, small jumps, etc-- that can be easily and intuitively by-passed if you want to skip it and keep your flow.

This Boardwalk leads from the parking lot to the heart of the park.

Boot Camp is a trail where novices can learn and advanced riders can sharpen.
I rode it 4 times in a row before work on Wednesday.

An example of an alternate challenge on the trail.

Duthie does not shy away from seriously advanced trails.


And THIS what what you ride to get to the banking!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Randonneuring: Permanent Course

A few days ago, I posted about randonneuring and my discovery of the Seattle International Randonneurs. I even learned how to pronounce "randonneur" just yesterday, but I've already forgotten. Anyhow, randonneuring involves riding quite a long way-- on the order of two to several hundred, if not more than a thousand kilometers. 

But even if you don't intend to ride a very long way all at once, but instead, say, in little bits and carrying a few things so you can spend the night along the way (read: touring).. the courses that the randonneurs take can be very useful for this!

Enter: permanents. Permanent courses developed by the S.I.Rs. Very handy indeed. Is there a randonneuring club in your area that has mapped some terrific routes?

Google Maps: BY BICYCLE!

It has finally happened.

Now, when searching for directions on Google Maps, you can search "by bicycle." That's right. In addition to searching by car, by walking and by public transit... you can search BY BICYCLE.

And yes, this includes bicycle routes and TRAILS!

Now stop reading this post and go play on it!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Bicycle Touring Packing List: IN REVIEW

Back in May, before my bicycle tour across the country-- this is the list I came up with. Here are my {thoughts in retrospect.}

  • 2 sports bras {could bring just one, plus a swim suit to wear while doing laundry}
  • a synthetic shirt {SENT HOME. Replaced with a long sleeve SPF shirt which worked great to circulate air and keep me cool. Eventually cut the sleeves off when it got humid.}
  • a thin wool shirt (cool even in hot weather) {fantastic. Would do this again, but with Smartwool or IceBreaker instead of Patagonia. The Patagonia shirt-- surprisingly-- fell apart.}
  • a WWR jersey {brought it to publicize my sponsor. Would ride w/o a jersey next time.}
  • ..kinda tempted to bring a tank top, too. You know-- for the tan. {If I brought it, I definitely sent it home.}
  • arm skins (SPF protection and COOLS you off rather than keep you warm) {These things actually do kinda work.. but didn't need 'em once I had my SPF shirt, which was more appealing to wear anyway, as it was billowy.}
  • arm warmers {I wear arm armers a lot in everyday riding, I don't think I used them very often during the tour, though. Debatable. Depends on other clothing items.}
  • long sleeve wool jersey, medium weight {Worked great, though could substitute with medium weight short sleeve + arm warmers.}
  • wind jacket {Brought a bright yellow, convertable kind. Used it a lot and draped it over my load on the rear rack for increased visibility.}
  • rain jacket {YUP.}

  • 3 pairs of underwear {Yup.}
  • two pairs of cycling shorts {Yup.}
  • gym shorts {Yup.}
  • synthetic knickers {Did I really bring these? I think I ended up bringing long pants. Better choice. Or some convertables.}
  • knee warmers {Yup. Sent 'em home once it got hot though, of course.}
  • 50/50 wool/poly long john/tights {Nights can be surprisingly cold! Would bring again.}
  • Probably not rain pants.. but MAYBE some quick-drying MUSA pants. {I don't think I brought rain pants.. }

  • shortie bike gloves {YES.}
  • and.. a windproof? a liner AND windproof? {I brought some really basic long fingered gloves. Worked most of the time, except when wet AND descending. Will go with wool next time and a Gore Tex shell.}

  • helmet. duh. {Yes.}
  • cycling cap-- keeps rain out of eyes {Or a helmet with a visor.}
  • beanie-- keeps whole body warm and a back up for a wet cycling cap {YES.}
  • visor > I love this visor in hot sunny weather, so it's coming! {Haha, gave it to my touring buddy when I bought a cowboy hat! Really great for cooling off when you're in a desolate stretch with no shade.}
  • sunglasses, with a light and dark lens set {Oh definitely yes. Love my Rudy Projects.}

  • 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 {Yes on all the socks. Sent the warm ones home once it got hot.}
  • cycling shoes {YES. I like it better to have a performance cycling shoe that's more efficient, then to take those shoes OFF at the end of the day and cool them off in something else. I don't like the one-shoe-for-both thing. Not for me.}
  • booties {YES.}
  • Keen sandals {Replaced them with flip flops. Will replace with Crocs for next tour. Keen's were too heavy and unnecessary. We didn't do any more walking than we needed to.}

  • MSR Whisperlite
  • Fuel bottle
  • Matches
  • {Yes to all. Also bring lighter as back up to matches. Even if they're "waterproof."}
  • 1 pot, 1 pan {Ended up with 2 pots, happy with that.}
  • Spatula {Yes.}
  • Wooden spoon {Ended up with a folding spoon.}
  • Cutting knife ..and a mini-knife sharpener (I'm a snob. And I like safety.) {Didn't bring the sharpener. :) }
  • Spices {At one point, we had a LOT of spices. Then we narrowed it down to what we could use most often. Only carried a few: salt, pepper, garlic, cinnamon, and one or two others.}
  • Hand-sanitizer {Oh, yes.}
  • Mug/bowl {My mug/bowl was one mug nestled inside another, which was handy. Plus it has measuring marks.}
  • Frisbee/plate/cutting board {Used a real thin-type cutting board after questioning the food-gradeness of the frisbee.}
  • Fork/spoon {Read: fork and spoon.}
  • 1/2 sponge
  • Camping Suds {Yup.}
  • Iodine {Yes, good for back up! Used it once, though we ended up finding water anyway.}
  • 2 small bladders (for when our water bottles aren't enough) {YES. Takes no space and no weight, it's just a no-brainier.}
  • Plastic bags {Ha-- we saved any useful looking plastic bags that we came across.}
  • Cord to hang food {YES. Not just for bears-- but for raccoons, too!}
  • 2 person tent w/ fly & tarp ground cloth {My 2-person was more like a 1-person. We were gifted a 3-person tent with MAJOR ventilation when we were halfway across.}
  • REI sleeping bag {20degree}, eVent compression sack {Yes.}
  • Thermarest or Ridgerest pad (undecided) {Went with Ridgerest foam pad for speed and it was comfy enough for me.}
  • Thermarest compressible pillow (YES, I'm BRINGING the pillow.) {And I'll bring it again!}
  • 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.) {Will buy a nice silk one next time. My sheet was haphazard and heavy.}
  • Bandana {Used one as a pee rag. :) }
  • Tent patch kit {Never used it, but glad I had it! Useful for patching other things besides tents.}
  • 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
  • {Yes to all. Definitely USED those pliers. That's a kind of leverage that's hard to come by otherwise.}
  • Mini Leatherman {I think we used this, but we didn't really need it. We had other tools to replace it.}
  • Brake and derailleur cable
  • Spare tube, tire boot
  • Extra bolts for rack, shoes
  • Brake pads
  • Zip ties
  • Hoseclamp
  • AAA batteries for bike lights
  • {ADD: Spokes! and a Tire!}
  • Curly combo lock {Yes, we brought one each, used them both to lock our bikes to each other and to something else. Often, though-- the bikes were unlocked. Really, I'd like to see someone just TRY and ride away on a fully loaded touring bike.}
  • Bungees {Yes, infinitely useful!}
  • Duct tape & electrical tape wound around a pencil {Yes. We nearly used it up!}
  • Reflective triangle {Definite YES.}
  • [Wind jacket is neon yellow]
  • Rear flashing light
  • Front light
  • {Yes & yes. Even if you don't plan to ride in the "dark," fog, rain, dusk and dawn are all low light conditions requiring lights for safety!}
  • Pepper spray
  • {Yes. ADD: Dog spray! We never sprayed it (very nearly did a few times), but pulled it out often in Kentucky. Some dogs recognized the can and gesture and went high-tailing the other way!}
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 {Ditched the last two.}
  • TOOLS: nail clippers and very pointy tweezers
  • BLISTERS: mole skin
  • {Used a fair number of this, would still bring all of it.}
  • Travel towel (super thin, light, dries fast) {Yes, but I could bring a smaller one. Mine was full size! A luxury.}
  • 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 {YES! Although I would bring Belgium Budder, as it's Paraben Free.}
  • Bug spray
  • Sunblock, SPF chapstick
  • MAYBE a lotion bar {Don't think I brought this-- or I sure didn't use it!}
  • {Yes to the rest!}
  • 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
{Yes to all. Plus a blank notepad for writing notes, addresses, scratching out math etc.}

  • Camera, 3 batteries, extra memory card, charger and a tiny thingy that plugs your memory card into a computer {the cord that plugs the camera to the computer would have been fine as opposed to the other plugger thingy. Although the plugger thingy worked without needing a charged battery!}
  • Add: Joby! My lil' bendable tri-pod. This enabled SO many self-timed photos!
  • 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. {I BROUGHT MY PHONE! Kept it off most of the time to conserve battery.}

  • 1 paperback {I would bring one only if I were traveling alone. My traveling buddy was way to entertaining to need a book.}

..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
{If I were traveling alone.. MAYBE. But definitely sent these all home! I know, I know..}

  • Kite! :)  {and it never flew. We threw the frisbee once, though. Sent that home too.}
  • Rubber bands. We used these to keep food closed, etc.
  • Clothes line, the kind that doesn't require any pins to use.

And there you have it! As I prepare to go on some shorter trips, I'll review what I've packed in a (somehow) more streamlined way.


"Women on Wheels" Report

That's ma' table!

Last Thursday night, I hosted a slice of table at Gregg's Cycles WOMEN ON WHEELS event-- which drew hundreds of women!

I had a fantastic time, because I set up my table with information about my summer bicycle tour and Adventure Cycling Association-- so I got to talk touring all night. I don't work for ACA, but I am very eager to talk about their work! This is the organization that not only established the most 'classic' route across the U.S. in 1976, but they continue to publish thousands of miles of top-quality touring maps AND publish a magazine AND a cyclists' yellow pages AND does a ton of advocacy, including pushing hard for a nation-wide Bicycle Route System. AND, if you use their maps, it will tell you when there is 60 miles ahead with no water. Isn't that awesome?

Anyhow-- I got to not only talk touring, but listen. I met some incredible ladies who have been on, or about to go on, some really terrific adventures. We were just rainin' insp'ration!

Including Mercedes! Shimano's northwest rep. She's ridden from Alaska to the Mexican border AND, on another occasion, in one crazy zig zag all over the U.S.

Hi Mercedes! (She actually has a forearm, she was just wavin' real' fast. :) )

Ellen was there to give mechanical advice, woman-to-woman.

And Sally Edwards was there! The famed triathlete, who motivates women everywhere. I was glued to my table, though, so I never met her-- but I didn't really mind, because I was having a great time.

I liked this shot of the band and the bikes in the same photograph.

These "Ladies' Night" events are happening all over the U.S.-- is there one near you?

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Brevet? Populaire? Audax?

Randonneuring. I am trying to decipher it-- AND to pronounce it! (It's French.)

Previously, all I knew of randonneuring was that it involved riding a very long way and that randonneuring bicycles usually sported one of those tiny front racks to support a big, boxy canvas handlebar bag. And matching frame pumps. All randonneurs must have a matching frame pump.

And check it out, a quick Google Image Search got me this picture: 

Obviously, they are missing their matching frame pump (which are AWESOME, don't get me wrong!). But I wanted to find out-- what is randonneuring, REALLY?

I discovered the Seattle International Randdoneurs. Or rather, I have discovered their website and web crawled over nearly every inch of it. So my renewed impression of randonneuring is this: WHY HAVEN'T I BEEN DOING THIS?!

Randonneuring is something in-between a race and a tour. It's not competitive,
 per se, but there is a time cut (if you want a pretty medal). And you're not carrying 50 pounds of gear so that you can spend the night, but you are equipped with a light load so as to be self-sufficient. As the S.I.R web site puts it: 
Participation in randonneuring events is part of a long tradition that goes back to the beginning of the sport of cycling in France and Italy. Friendly camaraderie and perseverance are the hallmarks of randonneuring.
And if that didn't sound inviting enough, try this:

Meet the randonneurs: riders who enjoy riding so much they don't want to stop. Randonneurs ride long distances, on beautiful courses, with nice people. The rides are unsupported, so you carry what you need or buy it along the way. (But usually, somebody in a car is on the course and makes sure everybody is OK.) Our events usually draw a few dozen people, and we are a friendly bunch, so you'll make friends in no time.
So.. Randonneuring, as I understand it.. means riding a long way, with fun people, in beautiful places, and occasionally getting a medal for it.

Sign me up!

No, seriously. SIGN ME UP. I'll see ya at the Bellingham 200!
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