This summer, a foursome of bikers were brought together by Cycles for Change, rode a distance of 2039 miles on a way-one trek from the Twin Cities to Seattle, and did so in only 23 days. That’s an average of nearly 90 miles a day. And in honor of C4C, they made this ride a fundraiser for the organization, which ultimately brought in over $1000 in support.
Jack McCarthy and Hannah Field, both Macalester College students, volunteered at the Youth Bike Summit, which was held on their campus and hosted by C4C in May 2016.
“We decided to do the ride and thought we could use this as a fundraising opportunity,” Hannah, a Mahtomedi, Minn. native, explained. “We picked [C4C] because of the good work [they] do, and we met Bastien Lauras and his friend Alexis Geslin, both here from France [for internships], through volunteering at the Youth Bike Summit. So we owe C4C for bringing us all together.”
Jack was the mastermind behind the ride and wanted other bike-tour-enthusiasts to join him. It was an easy sell to Hannah, Bastien, and Alexis. But what motivated him to want to do a ride like this was that he’d done one before, and was ready for another long haul.
“The one bike tour I did was from Macalester to my home in Evanston, Ill.,” he said. “I had no experience biking long distance; I didn’t have a road bike or touring bike. But I was in a new home and wanted to connect it my home near Chicago. In my head I could picture a route to Illinois. So, after doing that, I thought about other trips I could do. I just arbitrarily picked this one to Seattle: Mississippi River to Pacific Ocean.”
The four took the Adventure Cycling Association’s “Northern Tier” route. It followed the Amtrak, which they took back to Minnesota after their one-way bike trek. Though the trip had major cities as beginning and ending points, the journey and all the places in between were what really made this trip an adventure.
“What I enjoy about a bike is that I experience so much more about the journey than being in a car. Not only do I know the route from here to Seattle now, but I know the terrain. I know where the hardest hills are. I know it better than I would in a car when I zone out. I had to be vigilant all the time to get up and down the hills,” Hannah said. “It forced us to have opportunities we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We had to spend a lot of time looking at the landscape. We really got an appreciation for the scope of the land,” Jack added.
There’s a lot of land and people out there, and a lot of interested experiences to be had. They can be good, like getting shuttled across a pass when the asphalt is too hot to bike across or watching a woman pick up a rattlesnake with her bare hands. And bad, like RVs that don’t move over as they drive past or getting 13 flats. And because of that, these four came back with stories to tell.
“One guy called the cops on us on our way to Shelby, Mont.,” Jack recalled. “The shoulder was small and there were very few cars, but one car drove by, rolled down the window, and said ‘Get off the road!’ A few minutes later the sheriff pulled us over and said there were complaints about us. He commiserated with us about the shoulder but said the law is that you can’t ride in the lane. Sometimes, those people can ruin your ride.”
Luckily, the good outweighed the bad. The foursome had the opportunity to stay with Benedictine monks in North Dakota and on a farm in Washington where they had ice cream from milk from their cows. They even connected with someone who was blasting Fleetwood Mac, just like them.
“We were looking for water in the desert-y part of Washington and we couldn’t find any, but [someone driving past] said he had water in his truck,” Jack said. “He read us a poem he wrote for his dead wife and gave us his son’s phone number who lived in Seattle.”
These unexpected highs and lows of meeting people came after much planning to make sure everything else went smoothly, as expected.
“Everyday we’d look at the weather and see what the wind would be, but we didn’t actually have a lot of wind. When we did, it helped us,” Jack said. “Our route followed the Amtrak line so we’d see the train sometimes and wave and they’d honk. It was cool to do the route in reverse, but strange to feel like we knew that place,” Hannah added.
For Jack and Hannah, they got to see a new part of their own country. For Bastien and Alexis, a whole other country. After being out on the road for three weeks, seeing only these places, they enjoyed gaining that feeling of familiarity. But at summer’s end, Bastien and Alexis went back to school at École Polytechnique in Paris, and Jack and Hannah to Macalester. Back to comfortable familiarity, at least until their next adventure.
Come hear Carlos Marroquin, founder of Bici-Tec, talk about the context and challenges facing rural Guatemalan farmers, share his experiences addressing these challenges through pedal power machines, and how the School of Appropriate Bici-Technology is building a global network of pedal powered innovators.
Monday, October 24, 2016, 6-8pm
Presentation will be in Spanish with English translation
Centro Tyrone Guzman
1915 Chicago Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Event is sponsored by Cycles for Change
How comfortable are you riding your bike in street and in traffic? Would you like to be more comfortable? This short article will offer a few tips and resources to be more confident cycling in traffic.
According to the founders of CyclingSavvy, Keri Caffrey and Mighk Wilson, “…fear of cycling in traffic is the greatest hindrance to cycling and bicycle transportation.” However, CyclingSavvy teaches that “Bicycling in traffic is safe and easy. It does not require athleticism, speed or bravery. Successful bicycling does require a basic understanding of traffic dynamics and a belief in one’s equal right to the road.” (Quotes credited to CyclingSavvy.org)
So how does one get started? Plan ahead and map out a route that you are comfortable with. Consider the time of day and weather. Some roads that are very busy during rush hours have much less traffic at other times. I often choose streets with less traffic because it is more pleasant for me. Check out the following traffic principles and confident cycling “do’s.”
Traffic principles to understand and follow when biking:
- Always ride the same direction as traffic.
- First come, first served.
- Yield to traffic before entering a road.
- Yield to overtaking traffic when changing lanes.
- Obey all traffic control devices.
- Ride as far to the right as is practicable (possible and also safe for you), but also
- “Take the lane” or “ride big” whenever you need to for your safety.
Confident Cycling “do’s” :
- Be aware of your surroundings: Scan for road hazards and always stay aware of other road users and pedestrians.
- Be visible, “ride big.”
- Be predictable, communicate (by signalling turns and using head movements, eye contact and bike positioning) with other road users.
- Avoid the “Door Zone”: In general never ride closer than 3 feet to parked cars (an extended arms length). This can mean riding on the left edge or even outside of a designated bike lane.
- Understand how traffic flows in the areas where you will ride.
Resources related to confident cycling:
- Cycles for Change will offer a “Street Skills” class 9/22 at our MPLS location. Also check out local Slow Roll Twin Cities rides every Thursday, co-sponsored by Cycles for Change.
- The Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota has a calendar listing a variety of Confident Cycling classes here.
- The League of American Bicyclists, CyclingSavvy, sharetheroadmn and the bicycling page on the City of Minneapolis website are all locations to find out more about confident cycling in traffic.
- Finally, remember to have fun and enjoy your ride! This is an important advantage of traveling by bicycle, right?
This position is primarily responsible for supporting C4C’s retail operation through bicycle repair and customer sales and service. This position will primarily balance three activities: repairing used bicycles for C4C’s sales floor; performing tune-ups and repairs on customer bikes; and staffing the retail floor and service counter during open retail hours.
Interested? Learn more or apply here.