Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cycling for transportation is an epic expedition

 I am, in partnership with the National Park Service,  leading a carfree expedition this summer on the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R). I'm handling planning and logistics for the 700+ mile, 9 state expedition to map out a safe Bike Route for cyclists. I am finding, with the exception of the marketing and fundraising, this large expedition is similar to the short trips for transportation I do everyday.

Making sure the bicycle is ready to roll
While cycling for transportation I am always aware of the weather, my route, how long it will take, the possibilities of side trips, what gear I need to have-and what is optional, the terrain, my bike-wear on tires, potential for emergencies, how I feel, and the list goes on.

Every trip is a mini expedition, and can be just as impactful as going on a long bike tour.

Short trips can be epic trips
Back in 2001 when I learned about the Adventure Cycling Association I quickly realized how my cycling for transportation trips were similar to the adventure stories I read in their magazine, Adventure Cyclist,(they will send you a free copy). The "how to" advice for travel by bicycle was exactly what I needed to learn as it helped me to be a successful an confident cyclist.

Cycling for transportation is relative to each individual, what may be a short trip for one cyclists, may be a grand adventure for another. When I first started bicycling for transportation that first 14 mile ride to the gym was as epic, in my mind at the time, as any ride I have done since. :)

Sarah getting groceries for her family
 I have a friend, Sarah who bikes 3 miles to work and goes to the store on her bike. Married with kids, her bike trips involve the same careful planning as mine. When I talk to her, she will tell me stories of her exploits on that six mile commute that are every bit as interesting as more lavish cycling expeditions.

Epic fun!

Follow me this summer, starting July 1st,  as I roll through wilderness, suburbia, and urban wilds as I map out a safe cycling route on the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) National Historic Trail.


  1. I agree and disagree. I agree that one sometimes needs to plan, and ought to check the gear with a certain amount of regularity. And, I agree in that the feeling of accomplishment can be pretty awesome. Your comment that the first 14 mile ride was as epic as any ride you've ever done is spot on - I know *exactly* that feeling.

    But, I feel that describing transportational cycling as being an "epic expedition" risks making it seem so big as to be out of reach for everyday folks. Sure, you sometimes can make a decent amount of adventure out of a utility ride if you want, but you really don't have to. Sometimes its just running up to the store to grab a couple things, heading over to a friend's house, over to the farmers' market, or off to work. And sometimes, actually a lot of times, you don't have to take into consideration optional gear, wear on your tires or potential for emergency. Sometimes its perfectly fine to just climb on your bike and go where you want to go.

    There's definitely adventure to be had, I espouse it myself from time to time. And the parallels you've drawn aren't unreasonable. I just think this article paints transportational cycling as being far more complex than it actually is.

    Kind regards

  2. Excellent point Jack. Sometimes I can get carried away by my passion for transportational cycling:) Thank you for your comment!!!