Tag Archive: bicycle touring

Some positive trailbuilding news from Florida…

It’s fairly rare that anything positive in terms of bicycle-infrastructure news comes out of Florida, but here’s something pretty big: lawmakers have approved $50 million to create the Coast To Coast Connector:

The Pinellas Trail could become the first leg in a 275-mile bike and walking path stretching from St. Petersburg to Titusville.

State lawmakers recently approved $50 million for the Coast to Coast Connector, which will link more than 200 miles of existing bike paths.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s goal is to bridge seven gaps among more than a dozen regional trails that snake across Central Florida. Collectively, the gaps cover 72 miles.

Once completed, the trail would be longest continuous bike path in Florida and among the biggest in the nation.

Read more about the plan by visiting the Tampa Tribune page.


Link to larger version

The plan still has a number of hurdles to overcome…namely, Governor Rick Scott’s potential veto (he’s no fan of sensible transportation/recreation plans). In addition, similar connector trails in Florida have been fraught with hassles from landowners balking at selling portions of their properties to complete trails. Here’s a perfect example of an existing project that has been languishing for years.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the kinks can be ironed out — this will be a great project to commingle Florida’s many disparate regional trail systems.

A great S24O video!

We’ve talked about S24Os before (quick overnight camping trips by bike)…take a look at this story, and also this one by seasoned bike touring experts Russ Roca and Laura Crawford (now of The Path Less Pedaled).

Filmmaker Jesus Beltran sent in a short video he made of a recent trip from Fremont, California to Samuel P. Taylor State Park in the Marin Redwoods…gorgeous scenery, good friends, wonderful touring bikes and fabulous music. Take a look for yourself!

Back to Earth from El Zumpango on Vimeo.

I need to dust off the tourer and get out there for an overnighter of my own one of these days…anyone care to join me?

We’d love to hear about your overnight camping jaunts…just leave your comments below.

Book Review: “Jackfruit” by David E.X.N. Nghiem

Towards the end of last year, author David Nghiem contacted us to see if we were interested in taking a look at his book Jackfruit: A Bicycle Quest Through Latin America (Bangor, ME:, 2009). Being a fan of bicycle travelogues, I of course said YES!


Jackfruit is the story of Nghiem’s personal and spiritual journey through Central and South America. The author had finished a research project for NASA and was doing some soul-searching to determine his place in the world. Something “spoke” to him about getting himself and his bicycle down to Peru to kick off a lengthy trip. The author tends to ramble at times, particularly in the chapters leading up to the start of his journey. Throughout, there seems to be a lack of cohesiveness — as if Nghiem has so much to tell that he doesn’t really know where to start (or stop). Also, the English-composition tutor in me (during my undergraduate years, I tutored English-comp students) cringes at the punctuation and grammatical errors peppered throughout the text. Both of these detractions suggest that the author was in desperate need of a better editor.

But fear not: despite the grammatical problems and the rambling prose, this book is packed with glorious descriptions. Nghiem is extremely talented at painting the people he met, the situations he found himself in, and the terrain he rode through. Much of the descriptions are simply breathtaking, and those parts kept me slogging through the rest of the book. That slog can be tough; Nghiem brings up a variety of sub-topics that tend to fizzle out on their own with no resolution. In particular, there is a recurring bit about ancient symbols and an ancient earth-based power source I was dying to hear the conclusion to, but alas, that storyline petered out.

At his best, Nghiem captured the personalities and the generosity of the people he met along the way. He seemed to have a great ability to make real connections with these people and those interactions are some of the most heartwarming tales of his journey. This book isn’t for everyone; it is sparse on the technical details of bike touring, and the flow/grammar problems can be difficult to overlook at times. But, if you appreciate a good story about adventure in exotic locales, it might be worthwhile to track down a copy of Jackfruit.

Join the Cycle pedals through Chicago

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to meet the ladies who formed Join the Cycle as they passed through Chicago on their cross-country journey.

the ladies of Join the Cycle

Melissa, Casey and Hannah (plus a fourth adjunct member) created the Join the Cycle team and are riding bicycles across America the summer of 2009 to inspire others to make cycling a part of their lives. Back on June 11th the ladies set out from L.A. and rolled into Chicago on August 17. I met up with them during their meet and greet event at REI on August 18.

Why are you doing this?
Well, each of us has slightly different motivations of course, but we all love riding bicycles! And we each strongly believe that cycling has been a positive change in our lives, and want others to experience the same benefits we have. We think that cycling is the best way to get around, because of the health of our planet and our bodies, and we want other people to try it out and fall in love just like we did! Please see our mission for more.

How can I get involved?
There are so many ways you can get involved with Join the Cycle! The best thing you can do is challenge yourself and sign our pledge to try biking more for transport! Then help spread the word by following our blog, becoming friends with us on Myspace and Facebook, and telling your friends! Want more? You can always host us, feed us, ride with us for an afternoon, help us organize an event in your area, or best of all, ride our homestretch from NYC to Boston for a week in September! Contact us for more info.

I’d like to try riding a bike for transport, but I don’t know what to do!?
Check out our Pledge Tips when you sign the Pledge. It’s full of helpful hints for first-time commuters, and links to even more info!

Their journey has relied on the generosity of sponsors, friends and the couch surfing community as they make this self-supported trek from coast to coast – and hauling about 100-lbs worth of gear on their bikes.

full gear bike

Their final destination is Boston, where they plan to arrive in time for the city’s Critical Mass on Friday, September 25, and conclude the trip with a finale celebration on September 26.

Along the way, Casey admitted (and Hannah and Melissa agreed), “The problem with this trip is that we wish we could stay longer at every place we visit.” Chicago represents the two-thirds point of their route. These women are making their mark on each city, despite their short stays. They are visiting community bike shops, like Chicago’s West Town Bikes and Blackstone Bicycle Works, where they hope to educate youth and “hope to make it safer so many more will bike.”

If you want to get involved and support Join the Cycle’s cause, take the pledge:

I pledge to use my bicycle to bring me places, to use my car less and to have fun doing it!

Chicago welcomed Join the Cycle. I hope you have the opportunity to meet this team of women along the route, too.

Book Review: “Bike Touring — The Sierra Club Guide to Travel on Two Wheels” by Raymond Bridge

Orli Cotel, publicist for The Sierra Club, graciously sent us a copy of the newly revised 2nd edition of the classic Bike Touring: The Sierra Club Guide to Travel on Two Wheels by Raymond Bridge (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 2009) for review.

sierra club cover

Planning on doing any bike touring? Not sure where to begin with preparation, gear selection and route planning? Look no further…this book is a complete guide to all aspects of bicycle touring. The author concentrates an incredible amount of information into this pocket-sized guide. Bridge spends a lot of time discussing gear (both the bicycle itself and its cargo-hauling apparatus), giving even the newest “greenhorn” a comprehensive view of the things to look for when selecting a rig for touring. But that’s not all; there are also extensive tips on route planning, packing checklists for different types of tours and other logistical considerations. Finally, the author includes a lot of resources (both print and Web-based) at the end of the guide.

The author presents all of his information in a matter-of-fact, clear manner. He doesn’t try to “dumb things down” for the amateur, yet he never gets bogged down in overly complex descriptions either. The book reads well and is easy to follow.

Bridge’s first edition was a wild success and was a must-read for the new (or seasoned) bicycle tourer. With this 2nd edition, there is even more to share — the addition of Web resources is a great thing. And, this 2nd edition is FRESHLY updated…there are mentions of guides and gear that have only been around for a few months.

If you’re interested in bike touring…from quick overnighters to lengthy cross-country excursions, this book is worth a look. Perhaps my only gripe with the book is that the author fails to include our own Russ Roca in his discussion of valuable bike-touring Web resources. Russ’s “Epicurean Cyclist” deserves a mention in this guide!