In autumn 2007, I did a one-month train and bike journey around British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba with fellow bike adventurer, Michelle Eisele. I was on assignment for Momentum Magazine to test-ride a Dahon Speed TR and Dahon MU XL. I wrote 35 stories for my Adventures of Mitey Miss cycling column. I’ve republished those stories in this new blog.
Posts Tagged ‘Adventures of Mitey Miss’
Posted by UR on June 13, 2012
Posted in cycling, stories, travel + tourism | Tagged: adventure, Adventures of Mitey Miss, bicycle, culture, cycling, hostels, Momentum Magazine, train, travel + tourism, Vancouver, Western Canada, women | Leave a Comment »
Posted by UR on July 7, 2011
A cyclist’s checklist for pounding the pavement
I’m looking for work—a place where I can be smart, passionate, persuasive, and unapologetically car-free. But as I freshen up my career website and surf the job boards I wonder: can this cyclist pass for “Normal?“
Normal wears brisk suits, looks polished and drives to work. Normal also works tirelessly, is paid handsomely, and receives dental benefits. I want all that and am willing to do all that — except for the “drive” part. I won’t drive to work, and I feel so strongly about it that I’ve developed this Cyclist’s Job Search Checklist to keep my career and cycling in balance:
1. Set your parameters
Before I even start looking, I establish how far I’d be willing to ride, in what direction, and for how many seasons. Is transit available nearby? Which bike would I ride and will it be secure?
2. Scrutinize the company’s job posting and the website
Some companies are bike-friendly and they don’t even know it. I recently applied for an editorial position with an online publishing service I’ll call “Writing Is Us.” They used words like “sustainable,” “friendly,” “fun,” “creative” and “forward-thinking” on their Careers page. And a peek at their Contact page confirmed that their address was a pleasant 30-minute ride away.
3. Drop the word “cycling” into your cover letter or resume
Don’t proselytize the Word Of Wheel, but don’t hide your faith, either. I try to sneak it into the cover letter somewhere (“able to blog about modes of sustainable transportation, e.g. cycling”) or bury it in the “hobbies” section of the CV (“volunteer bike guide for school groups”). You never know—someone on the hiring team may be into cycling too, and you could set off their bikey radar. Another tip is to describe yourself as “forward-thinking.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by UR on March 14, 2011
Mitey Miss suggestions from An Introduction to Adventure Lite
Thanks for coming in out of the rain and sharing the world of Adventure Lite with me this past weekend at Seattle Bike Expo! Thank you Peter Verbrugge and the rest of the amazing, 14,000-strong membership of the Cascade Bicycle Club for inviting and hosting me. And a special thanks to the brave and curious bike riders who joined me and asked questions at the Raleigh Stage.
Reassuring truths to reduce your travel fears and excuses:
- That could happen at home
- We all share the same basic needs
- You have a Home tribe and a Travel tribe
- It’s okay to ask for help
- It’s just a bike
- It’s adventure LITE!
Suggested Mitey Miss posts:
- A Biased Bike Travel Packing List: a gal’s guide on how to pack panniers for a cycling trip
- What I Know For Sure: four nuggets of wisdom learned cycling the Pacific Northwest islands
- Touring Goa, India: join the Goa cycling expedition with Hostelling International
Adventure Lite photos (Flickr):
- Canada: cycling the the Icefields Parkway in the Canadian Rocky Mountains
- New Zealand: cycling New Zealand’s North Island including Coromandel Peninsula and central region
- Cuba: cycling Cuba including Varadero, Havana, Vinales valley and the ‘circucto norte’
- Belize: cycling Central America’s secret, English-speaking nation just south of Cancun
- India: cycling backroads Goa, India with YHA Hostelling International
Books and music:
Posted by UR on November 6, 2010
Can we share an Oprah moment?
I ask because a hefty issue of O Magazine kept me company on a recent bike trip in September and one of its topics kept bouncing around in my head.
Someone once asked Oprah, “What do you know for sure?” Oprah thought the question was such a good one, she made it a regular feature.
Now that I’m back from my tour of the Pacific Northwest’s islands by folding bike, bus, ferry, train and automobile; I can tell you there are a few things I know for sure.
Bicycles are precious
Elsewhere in the world, you can toss a bicycle into a bus, train or ox cart without much fuss or cost. But here in North America, Greyhound considers a bike so precious that they require it be boxed, labelled and charged passage. While my own fare added up to about $30 at the ticket counter my bagged, folded bicycle commanded $33.
The whole idea of travelling with a folder was to avoid this backwards-thinking ridiculousness. I was choked and told my driver so. “You shouldn’ta told them it was a bicycle,” he countered.
Pedaling is meditation
Cortes–like the other Gulf Islands in British Columbia–is very hilly. It is also home to a spiritual wellness center called Hollyhock. I suggest that–rather than chant mantras or punch cushions–its visitors spend a couple of days contemplatively pedaling Cortes’s steep inclines in the granny gear of a 20″ wheel bike. It’s easy: focus on the pavement at your front wheel, empty your mind, and and don’t forget to breathe.
Prepare for spontaneity
VIA Rail runs a historic rail journey up and down Vancouver Island. The Victoria-to-Courtenay train service is run by the Government of Canada but isn’t well-publicized and–despite the scenic region’s growing popularity as a cycling destination–doesn’t allow bicycles.
Burned by my Greyhound experience, I bought a ticket online without mentioning the folding bike. On departure day I took a stand on the platform with my bicycle bagged in a clear VIA Rail bicycle bag. Four panniers and a drybag of camping gear leaned against it for support.
I waited for the other passengers to load, then passed the conductor my folded Dahon. He carefully placed it at the front of the rail car, positioned the bags around it, and actually thanked me for preparing my bike so thoroughly.
Cycling slows you down
The Pacific Northwest has a powerful cycling voice in the Cascade Bicycle Club and this became apparent when I stood in line to board the Black Ball ferry from Victoria, BC to Port Angeles, WA. Suddenly my lonesome folding bike was joined by a tie-dye tandem, a family of BMXs, and a couple of recumbents.
I overhead the two recumbent guys tell the tandem couple that their goal was to cycle to the Mexican border.
“You guys are lightweights,” I joked as I surveyed their pannier-free bikes and shifted the weight of my own laden Dahon.
“Yeah,” they joked back, “We’re packing credit cards. We want to make it to San Diego in twenty days and we don’t want anything to slow us down.”
“You mean, like, scenery?” I asked.
What I know for sure is that I am not myself unless I can explore. The most authentic, efficient and balanced way to do that is with a bicycle. Cycling lets me move, meditate and mingle at the same time. And it’s fun as hell.
I wonder if Oprah has given it a try?
Posted in culture, cycling, stories, travel + tourism | Tagged: Adventures of Mitey Miss, bicycle, bus, column, culture, cycling, Momentum Magazine, rail, society, train, travel + tourism, women | Leave a Comment »
Posted by UR on July 17, 2010
A typical cyclist muses on a typical day
“You cyclists,” spat a driver as I caught up to his beat-up hatchback at a red light, “You ride around like you own the streets, you break all the rules, you bang on my car – “
“But that’s not me,” I huffed, “I’m not like that–”
“It doesn’t matter,” he roared as he furiously rolled up his window, “you cyclists are all the same!”
Sometimes when someone like him sees someone like me on a bike, he sees all cyclists and I become a typical cyclist
For example, when I savor a steak, arrive at a gala or call myself lazy, a non-cyclist will look at me incredulously.
“You eat meat? But I thought you were vegetarian! Why? Well, you’re a cyclist – you know – the environment and all that.” “You rode a bike here? But you look so – dressed up! Usually bikers wear those loud yellow rain jackets!” “You? Lazy and out of shape?! But you ride your bike every day! You’re an athlete!”
Apparently, because I ride a bike, I am a superbly-conditioned, badly-dressed, soy-sucking environmentalist. Don’t you hate when people generalize? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by UR on July 16, 2010
A gal’s guide to packing panniers for a cycling trip
People fuss over bike travelers and how brave, adventurous and fit they are. But really, a bike traveler is just someone who wonders, “What if I rode my bike somewhere else…?” and does.
If you get around by bike at home, why not take it with you the next time you go “somewhere else?” It’s easy: pack your bike, pack some stuff, start pedaling and ta-da! You’re an Adventure Cyclist!
I credit my first foreign bike adventure – a winter getaway to Mexico’s Yucatan – to the fact that I’m too stubborn to break my daily cycling habit; too lazy to haul a heavy knapsack on and off buses; and too curious to just sit on a resort bar stool.
I aim for destinations that are warm, flat and mildly touristy. Why? Lighter gear, fewer hills and more places to enjoy a cheap, chilled, sociable beer at the end of the day.
Novice bike travelers agonize for months over what to bring on a trip, so I’ll share my own highly-biased, female-friendly, low-tech cyclist’s packing list. You may notice the absence of a cell phone, GPS and laptop, and the presence of mini-pads, brassieres and hair ties.
Posted in culture, cycling, travel + tourism, women | Tagged: adventure, Adventures of Mitey Miss, bicycle, column, culture, cycling, Momentum Magazine, solo, travel, travel + tourism, women | Leave a Comment »
Posted by UR on January 1, 2010
Life on the edge (of traffic) has its pros and cons
Last spring I shared My Dirty Little Secret that sometimes I hate riding a bike. This winter I wonder if cycling hates me.
I’ve been bike commuting all my life and for many of those years, I’ve had a chronic cough. It’s a deep, seal-like bark that starts with a tickle in my throat and erupts into chest-wracking spasms. Minutes after stepping inside after a ride, the hacking starts and my friends wonder how I’ve managed to hide a two-pack-a-day habit.
The thing is: I don’t smoke. I’ve never smoked, and the only vice I’m guilty of is my addiction to tasty beer and tearing through town on a bike. I ride my bike to my chiropractor, who lauds my healthy lifestyle as she adjusts my spinal subluxation; and I ride my bike to my massage therapist, who pinches my seized trapezius muscles into submission.
“Do you ever see those photos of road racers at the podium?” asked Francois one time as he squeezed a rock-like cord of muscle in my neck. “They stand up there and they’re all round-shouldered from years of bending over their handlebars—like you!”
Posted in culture, cycling, health, stories | Tagged: Adventures of Mitey Miss, bicycle, column, culture, cycling, environment, health, Momentum Magazine, people, society, sustainability, Vancouver, Western Canada, writers, writing | Leave a Comment »
Posted by UR on November 8, 2009
Do bicycles change the way we communicate?
I was really looking forward to my dental appointment – the adjustment to my night-guard would be pain-free; but more importantly, I would enjoy a long ride across town on one of Vancouver’s traffic-calmed commuter bike routes to get there. I hadn’t done a good spin on it since before I’d left to live and cycle in India a year ago. When I returned I worked from home and – you’ll only hear this from a cyclist – I no longer commuted as much as I wished. I was curious: had traffic changed while I was away?
I set out in golden autumn air that shimmered off storefronts selling felt hats and pumpkin spice lattes. One foot on the road, one foot on my pedal, I waited for a green light at a busy intersection. A coal-gray Pathfinder pulled up along side me at the white line.
“Hey, hello,” called the burly driver across his girlfriend in the passenger seat. I peered into the open window of the SUV, not quite sure what to expect.
Posted in culture, cycling, stories | Tagged: Adventures of Mitey Miss, bicycle, column, culture, cycling, environment, Momentum Magazine, pedestrian, people, society, sustainability, urban, Vancouver, walking, Western Canada, writers, writing | Leave a Comment »
Posted by UR on September 2, 2009
[Published in the September/October 2009 issue of Momentum: the magazine for self-propelled people.]
Bicycle traveler’s new book describes experiences, not logistics
“I am not an avid cyclist,” admits Willie Weir in his new book Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist, “I am an avid traveler who has discovered that cycling is the best way to see the world.”
Weir is an award-winning writer, radio commentator and advocate in Seattle who has cycled over 60,000 miles around the globe. He writes a column about living and traveling by bicycle for Adventure Cyclist, a colorful magazine mailed to members of the nonprofit, Montana-based Adventure Cycling Association.
True to the association’s mission to “inspire people of all ages to travel by bicycle for fitness, fun, and self-discovery,” Weir’s writing describes the experience of riding a bicycle rather than the logistics. His new book is a collection of his columns, and nowhere in the paperback’s pages does this seasoned bicycle traveler even mention mileage, equipment, routes or the type of bike he rides.
Instead, Weir describes facing fear and finding adventure; guardian angels and going the wrong way; the kindness of strangers; communicating without a word; and the privilege of travel.
Posted in culture, cycling, stories, travel + tourism | Tagged: adventure, Adventures of Mitey Miss, bicycle, column, culture, cycling, Momentum Magazine, profiles, reviews, society, sustainability, travel + tourism, writers, writing | Leave a Comment »
Posted by UR on September 9, 2008
Face, meet the world of the food and beverage hostess
“What you need,” Christopher murmured, peering into my face, “is a silicone primer.”
Oddly, he wasn’t talking about bike frames. I had run into a department store to escape the rain and a handout In the ladies’ room had caught my attention. “Come by the Calvin Klein counter,” it suggested, “Receive a FREE Foundation Consultation and Sample!”
I wandered the maze of make-up boutiques until a red-haired woman at the Clinique counter with eerily perfect skin asked if she could help me.
I motioned at my handout. “I’m actually looking for the Calvin Klein counter but…” I offered, “you could show me what you’ve got since I’m here.”
“Well sure,” she said as she opened a tube of foundation, “We can dab a little on your hand if you like.” I looked down as she spread the flesh-toned liquid on the meat of my thumb. It blended in fine, but bits of lotion stuck in the lines of my skin. It reminded me of women I’d seen (usually in the late-night food and beverage industry) who walked around with tiny, tawdry channels of makeup dried into their eyelids.
I showed her the bits and told her that’s why I’d been avoiding foundation up til now. “Well,” she said sweetly, “That’s why you need to exfoliate.” I thanked her and headed for the Calvin Klein counter.
Posted by UR on March 1, 2008
Being on a train is like riding a bicycle: it’s slow, social, historic, and rebellious
What is it about trains? And what was it about a train journey into western Canada that yanked on my heart hard enough to make my eyes water? That wasn’t the idea. When we first batted the idea around, Momentum editor Amy Walker and I played with a “gonzo car-free road trip” that would see me, a buddy, and a couple of bikes onto a few trains and into a few communities for laffs and blog stories.
To select a route I pored over road atlases and train brochures and happily found that, not only can you circle the region by train (as opposed to just going across), but that two rail providers ~ Rocky Mountaineer Vacations and VIA Rail Canada ~ are wowing the tourists doing just that.
Now, I’ve travelled by bike and train in Thailand, New Zealand and the U.S.; but it wasn’t until California-based Dahon put a couple of tour-ready folding bikes into my hands that I even considered doing it at home.
Posted in culture, cycling, stories, travel + tourism | Tagged: adventure, Adventures of Mitey Miss, column, culture, cycling, environment, hostels, Momentum Magazine, people, society, sustainability, train, travel + tourism, Western Canada | Leave a Comment »
Posted by UR on January 1, 2008
UPDATE: May 12, 2013: I am now selling my travel-ready 2006 Dahon Speed TR described below. Contact me if you are interested.
Folding bikes lead to greener pastures
“Hey!” bellowed a voice across the Jasper train platform, “Is that one of those collapsible bikes?” Michelle and I had just gotten off VIA Rail’s westbound line and while she and her Dahon MU XL lounged at Freewheel Cycle, I was left to unfold my Dahon Speed TR surrounded by panniers, helmets and curious tourists in the shadow of the station.
“Yes, it is,” I said patiently over my shoulder. We were halfway through our four-week rail-and-bike exploration of western Canada, and our pair of tour-ready folding bikes never ceased to draw stares and questions.
“What’s something like that cost?” the American asked, stepping closer.
“Folding bikes range in price from $200 to $2000,” I replied. “Do you want to see me fold it?”
“Oh yeah!” he gushed.
“Great!” I straightened up, “That’ll be ten bucks!”
Posted in cycling, stories, travel + tourism | Tagged: Adventures of Mitey Miss, bus, column, culture, cycling, dahon, folding bike, Momentum Magazine, reviews, sustainability, train, travel + tourism, Western Canada | Leave a Comment »