A little time off-road

Look Ma, no cars!

Kudos, Midwest on your great bike trail infrastructure! Rails-to-trails paths that wind through Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan have provided a much-needed respite from the buzz of the road over the last few weeks. My initial excitement over finding the Great Allegheny Passage trail (Awesome! Beautiful!) through Maryland and Pennsylvania quickly grew after I realized that there were hundreds of miles of bike paths between DC and Houghton. Hopefully one day there will be a national network of these fantastic resources that encourage community health and stewardship!

Stylish ladies on bikes

Imagine a female-friendly bike shop that caters to your average novice woman rider. One that organizes ‘Sip n’ Spin’ cruiser rides and carries darling Nutcase helmets. Well, you’re in luck, because it exists! Greenville, South Carolina, is home to Pedal Chic, a great shop that hosted me when I passed through town last month. Not only did the owner host me in her home but she also organized events, scheduled me a massage, had her mechanic tune my bike and attended my school presentations. I can’t say enough great things about Pedal Chic – if you’re in Greenville, pay them a visit!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The side effects of bikes

On bike tours, as in life, it is often a stranger who imparts on you the most valuable pieces of wisdom. Such was the case for me today in rural Georgia. After a morning of excitement in the form of charging pit bulls, overexcited golden labs and beautiful scenery, I stopped for a quick break at a lonely mini mart perched on the intersection of two lazy secondary highways.

As I sat drinking a cold juice in the shade of the building’s eaves, a slightly bedraggled gentleman sauntered up muttering under his breath. After being a [cycling] transient for 5+ months, I am now quite used to interacting with the down & out types that one often encounters while living on the road. I smiled politely and said hello, but before I could return to my beverage he began to comment on my bike.

“Ya’ll ridin dem bikes, ya’ll be crazy!” he exclaimed. “Not crazy, it’s a challenge,” I replied. “Well ya’ll sure do look good. Everyone one of you on a bike. Is that why you be doin this? To look good?”

My answer was reflexive. My mouth spat out the words before my brain was done conjuring them, “No, I ride to feel good.” And with that my new friend nodded in approval, tossed his soda into the trash and continued on down the line.

It was heartening to see a stranger agree that a healthy body is a result of treating yourself with respect – giving it the exercise and movement that it craves. I’m out here riding to feel good about my body, to feel good about the SFT and to encourage others to feel good too. As it turns out, looking good is just a pleasant side effect.