A few weeks ago I met a woman named Mollie. We had been in each others company once before, as she was attending the Resolution Ride hosted by the BTA as part of their Women Bike initiative.
In truth, the folks here in Portland don’t know how good they have it. Us recent transplants (celebrating my two years of home ownership this week – woot woot!) understand, especially if biking was part of our lives before the shift to living in this place, but I wonder how much of the cycling community and infrastructure is taken for granted years after Critical Mass and the hardcore activism/advocacy that carved out what we have here now. This Jersey girl is so appreciative of the active transportation foremothers and forefathers that built PDX-by-bike.
Mollie, as an intern for BTA/Women Bike, was present on the Resolution Ride, and we met at a coffee shop in North Portland we recognized each other instantly.
I’m psyched because she reached out to me to co-host a bike overnight with her to L.L. Stub Stewart next month, March – kind of early in the season for this usually soggy PNW weather, but hey, history has proven when a gal asks me to go bike camping, I usually say yes.
Mollie will be taking off on her own epic bike tour down the Pacific Coast in April, and is using this as part of her pre-tour shake down.
She drank black coffee, developing her palate for life on the road, and we talked about how we could host other women who had probably never been bike camping before on the first overnight of the rest of their lives.
This weekend she and I and maybe one or two others will be doing a pre-ride out there, make sure we have cues and stops mapped for the group, and our actual event is the weekend of spring equinox, a few short weeks from now but a fantastic way to kick-off the season.
We had an informational session this past weekend with interested participants – mandatory if you’re planning to join us – and I’m thrilled that so many enthusiastic gals at varying levels of ridership are going!
To say I’m excited about this is an understatement! It’s an “easy” ride to the park we’re staying at, and I’ve been there by bike once before, but this time we’re opting to take a longer, advanced route over the West Hills, as opposed to my previous ride when I took the Max/light rail to it’s terminus and rode from there.
Also, as it’s a bit early in the season, we’re going to be equipped with rain gear, something wholly necessary. Honestly, I have always ridden in my sneakers, but I’m going to have to have a shoe solution in just 4 days, because I’m positive sneakers aren’t going to be optimal, especially if we have wet weather.
I have platform pedals on the bike, clip-ins are still indoor only, reserved for spin class. I love my Keen sandals, and I’m thinking about trying out wool socks or the Showers Pass waterproof socks and booties over them.
I found some info on the Internets that support my theory:
This will be my first overnight since Pele came into my life. I’m psyched! I do want a front rack installed before this weekend. Previously, on the hybrid, I’ve only had the rear rack, but not only would I like to carry a little more gear, I’d like to distribute more of the weight to the front of the bike. Plus, since we’re hosting a decent sized bunch of new-to-bike-camping women, I want to be able to carry a larger camp stove for group meals and coffee.
As Mollie and I were compiling gear lists and building out talking points for our meeting, it got me thinking that I could use a dedicated resources page here on GirlEatsBike, so I’m building that now!
Here are a few of my favorite resources for bike overnight beginners:
- Adventure Cycling Association: BikeOvernights.org: Bikeovernights.org provides inspiration, resources, and tools for short bicycle tours (1-2 nights).
You’ll find stories, tips, and how-tos about embarking on short overnight cycling adventures, whether you’re traveling to a beautiful state park solo, lounging at a B&B with friends and family, or anything in between!
- The Travelling Two: The Travelling Two Bike Touring Basics book was just updated in 2015 and is a fantastic wealth of information. Friedel & Andrew are two Canadians who’ve travelled through over 30 countries on a bike tour around the world from 2006-2009.
- The Path Less Pedaled: Russ & Laura sold just about everything they and toured on folding bikes. These days they put their talents toward helping local communities across the country develop into successful bicycle tourism destinations. They’re kind of my heros.
- Cycling Sojourner: Ellee Thalheimer is an experienced tour leader who has penned a few guidebooks about cycle touring in the Pacific Northwest. She also collaborated on a great guide to exploring Portland’s craft beer scene by bike! (Not suggesting to make that one a bike overnight, but hey, safety first.)
- BTA/WomenBike: Women Bike is the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s program to inspire more women to incorporate a bike in their lives and utilize biking to meet their personal health, fitness, and transportation needs.
- CrazyGuyonaBike: A free, independent website for hosting bicycle touring journals, forums and resources. Lots and lots here. Try not to get lost.
- BikeCampCook: Eating on tour doesn’t have to be all pasta and trail mix. Here we have the hungry cycle tourist’s guide to slowing down, eating well, and savoring life on the open road.
- Bicycle Traveler Magazine: A magazine that shows what cycle travel is about and why people dream of undertaking round-the-world tours. Inspiring pictures aplenty!
- Skalatitude / Women on Wheels: A celebration of solo female cycling around the world!
- Bicycle Touring Pro: Darren Alff followed and then unfollowed me on Instagram once. I don’t hold that against him. He’s got lots of info here, some paid products, but lots o’ wisdom nuggets scattered throughout. He’s super “pro” but there’s always something to learn.
Yes, the second half of the list is a bit more advanced, so don’t get overwhelmed by these sites or think you need to be a “pro” or whatever that means. Just take your time and take it in. The world will be there, waiting patiently for you.
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