I’m re-publishing this article I wrote some months back in honor of the Seattle Bicycle Music Project & Festival. I think it’s important and amazing to see how what we’re doing today is part of history. When the bicycle first became popular in the late 1800s, people were excited about it in much the same way that many of us are today.

With each article I write about bicycle history, I discover information and artifacts that are completely new and amazing to me. I feel like an archaeologist in a way. While all of this information is available on the web, much of the great stuff is buried deep. My aim is to present what’s interesting and amazing to me, in the hopes that it may be interesting and amazing to you.

I recently stumbled upon one of the collections of Norman Batho, who passed away in 2008. He was an avid collector of things related to bicycles. He amassed a collection of over 400 pieces of 19th Century bicycle sheet music, and converted more than 300 of these old bicycle songs into audible music MP3 files. An effort is being made to create a CD with Norm’s favorite bicycle songs.

Norman Batho wrote, “The bicycle had an extraordinary impact not only on personal mobility, but in every aspect of our culture. One example of how the bicycle penetrated society can be seen in the illustrations on sheet music, which enjoyed wide and popular distribution before the advent of home and commercial recording and playback technology. By studying examples of sheet music from the mid-19th century onward, we can see the evolution of the bicycle and the impact it had on society and popular culture.”

Tens of thousands of bicyclists clogged New York City streets at all hours during the 1890s. The Scorcher March and Two-Step was a popular dance piece written for piano by George Rosey (George. E. Rosenberg) and published at the peak of the bicycle craze in 1897. Fast riders were called “scorchers” for the way they seemed to blaze down the roads. Racers were called “cracks.” Impromptu sprint races between riders meeting on the street were called “drags.” This stylized cover girl is wearing the new “bloomers” which shocked many women who decried women’s cycling. Her bicycle’s frame was designed to accommodate a woman’s skirts.

The period between 1890-1905 approximates what bicycle historians refer to as the “Golden Age of the Bicycle”. This same period overlaps the “Golden Age of Popular Music” in America (1890–1920).

By 1890, the “Safety Bicycle” with its two small wheels of equal size, a chain drive, and gears, replaced the hazardous “Ordinary”, or high-wheel bicycle. With the introduction of the pneumatic tire and improvements in brakes, the number of bicycles in use boomed as yearly production rose from an estimated 200,000 bicycles in 1889 to 1,000,000 in 1899.

By the start of the 20th Century, cycling had become an important means
of transportation, and an increasingly popular form of recreation. Bicycling clubs for men and women spread across the U.S. and across European countries.

Jane Viator of Antiques Roadshow Insider writes, “American popular music enjoyed a golden age from 1890–1920, an era that left a rich legacy of colorful sheet music. And it’s more than a musical legacy: The period’s “sheets,” as they’re called, offer a clear window to the ideas and ideals, concerns and customs of the time that produced them. That’s especially true of the “parlor songs” published by the thousands from the late 1800s through World War I.”

Remember that prior to the phonograph (and later radio, TV, & Nintendo) becoming common in homes, people commonly sat around the piano where they were forced to entertain each other. The sheet music business was big business.

In 1896, women’s rights pioneer Susan B. Anthony said, “I think the bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

The L.A.W. or League of American Wheelmen was a prominent advocacy group for the improvement of roads and highways in the U.S. long before the advent of the automobile. The Good Roads Movement in the late 19th century was founded and led by the League, which began publishing Good Roads magazine in 1892.

Norm Batho wrote,“The bicycle also contributed many hours of entertainment through racing and stunt riding. Cycling, and its woes, became common topics at minstrel shows, at bicycle club dinners, in music halls, and variety theaters. Bicycle rags, cake walks, schottisches, gallops, waltzes, and two-steps became common in the dance halls. Alas, the automobile put an end to it all. Only one bicycle song has survived the test of time. This is “Daisy Bell,” also known as “A Bicycle Built for Two”, composed by Harry Dacre in 1892.”

“Daisy Bell,” also known as “A Bicycle Built for Two”, is the most recognized song from the era, composed by Harry Dacre in 1892.

Between 1900 and 1905 the number of bicycle manufacturers in the United States shrank from 312 to 101. Interest in the automobile was only partly responsible for this. Additional factors were a switch to other forms of recreation, and the fact that a considerable number of electric railways took over the sidepaths originally constructed for bicycle use. Thereafter, for over half a century, the bicycle was used largely by children.

Jane Viator of Antiques Roadshow Insider writes, “The golden age of sheet music didn’t last long, however: It ended around 1920. Technology played a big part. As electric power spread, the piano in the front room was replaced by radios, record players, and player pianos.

Music preferences changed, too; ballads and two-steps gave way to more complex rhythms and compositions. Jazz, the new leading music form, was tricky to play and lacked easy to sing verses and choruses. Sheet music continued to be published, but the imaginative cover illustrations gave way to photographs of the performers or the stars of the movies and musicals for which the songs had been written.”

Minstrel music and the minstrel show, one of the earliest indigenous forms of American entertainment, developed in the 1840s, peaked after the Civil War and remained popular into the early 1900s. The minstrel show evolved from two types of entertainment popular in America before 1830: the impersonation of blacks by white actors between acts of plays or during circuses; and the performances of black musicians who sang, with banjo accompaniment, in city streets. While unacceptable in our times, the sheet music of the day is clear documentation of the blatant undisguised racist attitudes that existed in America at the time. Warning: This is one of the milder covers. Oh! Susanna, Dixie, The Camptown Races, Buffalo Gals, and Jim Crack Corn are a few of the popular songs known from the minstrel era that we consider acceptable today.

A common cause of the demise of the golden ages of both the bicycle and of parlor song sheet music were advances in technology, attributed to Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. We’ve been taught to believe technological advancements make our lives better. It’s also worth considering what has been lost along with these advancements.

Additional Resources

The Wheelmen: An organization dedicated to the enjoyment & preservation of our bicycling heritage.

Antiques Roadshow Insider: Vintage sheet music article by Jane Viator.

Smithsonian Institution: America on the Move Exhibit: Bicycle History from the late 19th century

Parlor Songs: Popular Sheet Music from the 1800s to the 1920s. The story of Tin Pan Alley.

Wikipedia: The history of the bicycle.

The Bicycle & the West: T.R. & the Scorcher Squad.

Wikipedia: a history of the Minstrel Show.


That's Penny Leclair from Ottawa on the left and me (Eric) on the right. Penny is an experienced tandem cyclist and I am not. It was a privilege to meet and ride with her.

I just returned from 2.5 amazing days at the Lighthouse for the Blind’s Seabeck Deaf Blind Retreat. I was invited by Randall & Barb Angell (Team Angell), a dedicated tandem cycling couple who want to share their passion with people in the blind community.

For 31 years, Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. of Seattle, has hosted a week of fun, laughter and tactile love for American and international Deaf Blind adults, as well as sighted volunteers. About 60 Deaf-blind campers ages 20 to 82 attended the camp, where they participated in a vast range of camp activities, socialized with new and old friends, and partied hard. The retreat was held at the historic Seabeck Conference Center on Washington state’s beautiful Hood Canal.

Each camper was usually accompanied by a volunteer support service provider (SSP). SSPs worked as interpreters, many using tactile communication, some using close vision, some signing from across the table, depending on the visual field of the deaf-blind camper.

As a sighted and hearing person this was a new world for me. I started with little understanding of the deaf-blind community. I’ll try to tell a short version of the story in a way that sighted and hearing people like myself can understand. I’ll do my best to accurately convey information here, but want to apologize in advance to my new deaf-blind friends. Should I make any major errors, feel free to correct me.

That's dedicated stoker Joshua, enjoying our northwest summer weather, with captain Randall. Joshua signed up for at least 6 separate 2.5 mile rides. Randall and his wife Barb are Team Angell. If Joshua and I had our own team it would be called Team Danger! Joshua is a cycling fanatic who needs a tandem captain in his Minnesota hometown so he can pursue the sport he loves.

All campers are legally blind with some degree of hearing loss. This encompasses a broad spectrum. Individuals have vastly varying degrees of mobility and communication techniques. Some campers can see at close range, but still rely on a cane for walking, and are able to communicate by visual signing. Some communicate by speaking and signing. Some communicate via tactile hand-over-hand signing.

Though legally blind, Joshua has some sight and pretty good hearing. On top of that I think he is a bit of a thrill-seeker, which I admire. In case you're wondering, this photo was taken in the church parking lot (our base) and not on the open highway. I'm confident in saying Joshua's cycling skills are better than the driving skills of many of the sighted drivers we cyclists encounter on the roads.

Some individuals have Usher Syndrome, or “tunnel vision” and the range of that tunnel varies person to person. Some individuals were blind first and later lost hearing, and may be more reliant on spoken English and the use of assistive listening devices and may not sign at all.

Stoker Elizabeth Walker is a native New Yorker like me. She lives on Delancey St. in NYC and loves to sign-talk as much as I love to speak-talk. I clearly detected a NY accent in her signing.

My friend Penny (photo at top of article) has been blind her whole life. Later she became completely deaf. She lived completely deaf and blind for years until receiving an experimental cochlear implant which gradually enabled her to hear and speak again. Her story is an example of the complexity and diversity within the deaf-blind community. It is not one thing. Since Penny is a writer, rather than attempt to tell Penny’s story here, I’m looking forward to having Penny share her story with you in her own words in the not-too-distant future. What I can tell you is that Penny rode tandem with her husband in Ottawa for many years. He passed away two years ago. She owns her own tandem and rides with sighted friends from time to time, but not as much as she would like. She told me that tandem cycling is a wonderful way for blind people to be part of the “normal” world and stay healthy. She is actively advocating and promoting tandem cycling through her writing.

Update: Penny wrote her story which you can read by clicking here.

The camper at left is riding with my son Gabe on a side-by-side tandem manufactured by JTB (Just Two Bikes) and provided by Outdoors for All Foundation. Gabe is learning sign language and will be taking classes in Deaf Studies at Seattle Central Community College as a Running Start high school student.

As a sighted-hearing person I do not consider tandem cycling with deaf-blind people to be a charitable act. I believe each of us is isolated in our own little worlds and benefits greatly from sharing our lives and experiences with people from all cultures and backgrounds. I captained a borrowed tandem with deaf-blind stokers, and would be lying if I said I was fully-abled in that capacity. No one was injured, but we had one close call (sorry Randall!).  I’m looking forward to riding tandem again with fearless deaf-blind stokers and bringing my sighted cycling friends and their friends into this world. Participating in this camp affirms my belief that if cycling is not a social activity for you, you’re doing it wrong.

My son Gabe (right) communicates with Kevin Sampson with the help of SSP Cindy Holmes, as SSP Jason B. looks on.

Stoker Kevin Samspon is a Yakima tribe member from eastern Washington. Captain Randall said Kevin is a powerful rider with non-stop endurance.

Another rider readies for take-off.

Veteran tandem captain Steve Haverstock and stoker Jeff Foster just finished their ride.

Another tandem team just returned from successfully completing the 2.5 mile loop through the neighborhood.

Camper and SSP enjoying the ride on one of the side-by-side tandems provided by the Outdoors for All Foundation.

Volunteers and seasoned tandem riders Pat & Kathy enjoy the late summer Puget Sound weather.

Randall & Barb Angell (Team Angell) were the hub around which this wheel was built.

The beautiful and powerful Hildegard having her face decorated before the dance. Hildegard was my first rider. At about the 1.5 mile point the tandem chain broke. Fortunately for me, Hildegard kept me from panicking. We walked the remaining 1 mile back to our base just as our group was organizing a search party. Hildegard is German born, lives in the East Village in NYC, and swam every morning in the Puget Sound lagoon at camp. She's tough stuff and now a good friend!

Mardi Gras had nothing on the dance party. It was a wild & crazy scene. The music volume was pumped up so high that hearing participants were given ear plugs. DJ Tobias signed, pantomimed, and brought the house down with his devastatingly funny physical interpretations of classic songs like Sam Cook's 'Having a Party'. When he pantomimed 'cause I'm havin' such a good time, dancing with my baby', I clearly saw him dancing with a toddler. People will be signing about his rendition of 'I'm Too Sexy' for years to come. If anyone has a youtube video of his performance please send me a link.

Friends talking at the dance party. The gal on the left came to camp all the way from Netherlands.

Strikingly glamorous camper and SSP at the dance party.

I often noticed the woman in the red cap at every meal. Though she communicates exclusively through tactile hand-signing she is such a powerful communicator I found myself deeply moved by her conversations with friends. I don't believe in telepathy, but perhaps that's what was going on. I don't know her but my sense is she has defied her disabilities. Her guide dog is sitting under her chair.

Footnote: Even within the sighted-hearing community there are many shades and nuances of perception and communication. Photographers typically have a heightened sense of seeing. Some of it’s innate, but can also be learned. We’ve all heard people who despite playing a musical instrument for years will never be considered good musicians. There are painters who clearly have a heightened sense of color. When we eat at a nice restaurant, we hope the chef has an acute sense of taste. Where many people see woods or hear birds, a naturalist sees complex nuanced ecosystems and hears specific birds. Mathematicians are able to visualize another dimension that most of us can’t see. A good nurse can detect subtle cues in a patient’s health. Then there are the horse whisperers, dog whisperers, and all, who dare not reveal what their pets told them in secret. So, this whole sighted/blind, hearing/deaf thing is complex and highly nuanced. Each of us may never know the intensity and detail of how and what another person is perceiving when they smell a rose, taste an apple, look at a dragonfly, hear the wind, or feel a warm summer rain on their face.

Click here to view about 180 photos I took at camp.

Essential Resources & Links

Call to Action: We’d like to be part of making tandem cycling a year-round activity for blind cyclists. If you’re a sighted cyclist interested in doing what you already love and making new friends, click here to contact Randall & Barb or me, Eric Shalit and we’ll try and make it happen. Perhaps you’ve got a used tandem in your garage that you’d like to contribute to the cause. I’m sure you could get a nice tax deduction for it.

Outdoors for All Foundation provided most of the bicycles and bicycle-like contraptions. The Outdoors for All Foundation is a national leader and one of the largest nonprofit organizations providing year round instruction in outdoor recreation for people with physical, developmental, and sensory disabilities since 1978.

The U.S. Blind Tandem Cycling Connection endeavors to increase the participation of individuals who are visually impaired or blind in the exhilarating sport of tandem cycling. They serve as a resource to:

  • Connect blind and visually impaired cyclists with sighted cyclists
  • Educate people about tandem cycling
  • Disseminate information about cycling clubs, events, and opportunities
  • Address the needs of the blind tandem cycling community

The Seattle Lighthouse is a private, not-for-profit agency providing employment, support, and training opportunities for people who are blind, Deaf-Blind, and blind with other disabilities since 1918. Its philosophy maintains that each employee be provided with whatever supports are necessary for success in the workplace. Supports include an in-house sign language interpreting department to ensure effective communication for Deaf-Blind employees, staff mobility instructors to teach independent travel with a white cane or dog guide, and over 100 computer workstations adapted for use by visually impaired individuals.

Seabeck Conference Center provides non-profit organizations with the perfect escape from the hectic pace of daily life. The facilities are located on 90 beautiful acres with sweeping views of Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains. The grounds are reminiscent of a small village, complete with walkways that meander past manicured lawns, fruit orchards, and wooded trails. Steeped in history and beauty, it’s easy to find yourself transported back to a simpler time.

Many thanks to the Christian Worship Center of Seabeck, Washington for providing their facilities as a staging area for the tandem bicycle rides.


Bicycle Corps at Minerva Terrace, Yellowstone National Park, 1897. Photo by Frank Jay Haynes.

While doing research for an article about military bicycles I came across the above photo of African American soldiers on bicycles. The Twenty-fifth United States Infantry Regiment was one of the racially segregated units of the United States Army known as Buffalo Soldiers. In 1896, the 25th Infantry U.S. Army Bicycle Corps stationed at Fort Missoula, Montana set out across the country on bicycles, on several obstacle intensive test runs of the iron two-wheeled alternative to horses for transportation. Their greatest trip covered 1,900 miles to St. Louis, Missouri, returning to Missoula by train. Writer Lynne Tolman has allowed me to re-publish her succinct 2001 article here:

When the Swiss army announced this year (2001) it would abolish its 110-year-old bicycle brigade, the world’s last remaining combat cyclist regiment, it didn’t need to spell out how much the world has changed since the 1890s.

The U.S. Army had a bicycle unit back then, too. Formed in 1896, the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps at Fort Missoula, Mont., was established to test the practicality of bikes for military purposes in mountainous terrain. The idea had been kicking around for years, as bikes already had been put to military use in Europe, and cycling for sport, recreation and transportation gained tremendous popularity on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1890s.

Gen. Nelson A. Miles, born in Westminster, Mass., began advocating for bicycle couriers in the Army after seeing a six-day bicycle race in Madison Square Garden in New York in 1891. He wrote that unlike a horse, a bike did not need to be fed and watered and rested, and would be less likely to collapse. Furthermore, a bike is smaller and quieter than a horse and thus could help a soldier sneak up on the enemy, he argued. It was Gen. Miles, who became known as “the patron of military cycling,” who approved Lt. James A. Moss’ request from Missoula to form the bicycle corps.

The 25th Infantry regiment was made up of black men, known as buffalo soldiers, commanded by white officers. Its Bicycle Corps began with eight riders using one-speed Spalding bicycles on loan from the manufacturer in Chicago. Their exploits are detailed in the book “Iron Riders: Story of the 1890s Fort Missoula Buffalo Soldiers Bicycle Corps” by George Niels Sorensen (Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 2000).

Their first major outing was a four-day, 126-mile trip to Lake McDonald and back. Each bike loaded with gear weighed about 76 pounds.

The lieutenant listed their rations: “1 jar Armour’s extract of beef, 1/4 lb.; 7 cans beans, 19 lbs.; 2 lbs. salt; 5 lbs. prunes; 6 lbs. sugar; 5 lbs. rice; 2 lbs. baking powder; 1 can condensed milk; 20 lbs. bacon; 3 cans deviled ham; 2 lbs. 2 ounces pepper; 2 lbs. coffee; 35 lbs. flour; 3 cans corn, 5 1/4 lbs.; 1 can syrup, 12 lbs.; 3 lbs. lard. Total, 120 lbs.”

At times the dirt roads were so muddy and the grades so steep, the men walked the bikes along railroad tracks. After crossing Mission Creek, the soldiers had to re-cement loosened tires onto their wooden rims. Despite breakdowns and delays, their commander considered the trip a success and immediately planned a longer, tougher one.

This time the soldiers covered 790 miles in 16 days, visiting Yellowstone National Park. They dealt with mud, headwinds, rain, punctured tires, stomach ailments and other suffering, but the riders all kept a positive outlook, according to Lt. Moss’ account.

The following summer, 1897, came the Bicycle Corps’ most remarkable adventure, a 1,900-mile trip from Missoula to St. Louis, Mo.  In 34 days of riding, 20 soldiers averaged 56 miles per day. Their average speed registered 6.3 mph. Newspapers carried daily updates on their journey, and the Army & Navy Journal quoted Lt. Moss at the conclusion:

“The trip has proved beyond peradventure my contention that the bicycle has a place in modern warfare. In every kind of weather, over all sorts of roads, we averaged fifty miles a day. At the end of the journey we are all in good physical condition. Seventeen tires and half a dozen frames is the sum of our damage. The practical result of the trip shows that an Army Bicycle Corps can travel twice as fast as cavalry or infantry under any conditions, and at one third the cost and effort.”

Buffalo Soldier Bicycle Brigade

Sorenson’s book puts the Bicycle Corps’ accomplishments into perspective by exploring the role of blacks in the U.S. military, the attitudes leading up to the bicycle experiment, the Western setting in which the troops were stationed, and the rapid changes taking place in America at the time, including the evolution of the bicycle itself.

In 1974, 10 bicyclists honored the Buffalo Soldiers Bicycle Corps by retracing their route from Missoula to St. Louis. The ride was organized by two professors, Pferron Doss and Richard Smith, from the Black Studies Department at the University of Montana. They borrowed the motto of the original 25th Infantry: “Onward.”

Of course, the 20th century riders encountered a changed nation. But when viewed over the handlebars, some things were hardly different. One of Doss’ reflections on the Bicycle Corps odyssey:

“It was not until we were pedaling down their shadows that we could fully appreciate what they had endured. Though 77 years’ progress boasted the luxuries of paved freeways and high-caliber equipment, the steep hills, weather and snakes proved to be equal opportunists in evening the score.”

Lynne Tolman is a copy editor and former bicycling columnist for the Worcester, Mass., Telegram & Gazette, and a board member of the Major Taylor Association. Her numerous bicycling columns going back to 1991 can be viewed at www.ltolman.org/97arch.htm

They carried all their own gear.

Wyoming teacher Mike Higgins publishes an incredible blog, The 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps containing first-hand accounts and biographies of the soldiers who participated in the expedition. In 2009 Mike re-traced the route on his own bicycle expedition.

Mike writes, “The accounts I’ve compiled on this blog come almost completely from a pamphlet Moss wrote, titled Military Cycling in the Rocky Mountains. The pamphlet was payback, I think, for the Spalding Bicycle Company, which not only published the book as part of their “Athletic Library” but provided the bicycles the men rode. Moss gives a ringing endorsement & testimonial of the “practicability” of the “fine machines” at the conclusion of the book. For all of the trips Moss made, the Army gave it’s blessing — so long as Moss covered the major expenses, like procuring bicycles.”

Booklet by Spaulding bikes promoting the military bicycle venture.

Here’s another interesting tidbit from the blog which brings the story to Seattle. “In his baseball memoirs, Dalbert Green states that “October 1909, found the regiment in the United States again; Headquarters, Staff and Band Companies A, B, C and D, at Fort Lawton, Washington. Companies E, F, G, H,I, K, L and M, at Fort George H. Wright, Washington”.

The regimental baseball team at Fort Lawton, Washington “was very successful in games around Seattle… and adjoining towns”. Green reports that he was assisted by Sergeant B. Proctor, who was also a “regimental star”.

In 2000 Montana PBS and the University of Montana produced a documentary film, “The Bicycle Corps: America’s Black Army on Wheels”.  Though not on DVD at this time, VHS copies can be found on Amazon.


Oregon Coast Family Bicycle Adventure

by Eric Shalit on January 13, 2015

Kodak moment. Cycling on the beach at Yachats, Oregon at sunset.

Editor’s note: I’m bringing this article from last summer back in the hope that it may be helpful to those of you considering family bicycle trips.

I recently returned from a successful week-long bike trip to the Oregon Coast with my two boyz, Max (18) and Gabe (15). Max is a serious cyclist who typically rides 200+ miles a week and races in Seattle’s underground (non-team) events. Gabe is a strong rider, but juggling and acrobatics are his main passions.

We began our trip by riding our bikes and gear to Seattle’s King Street Station, where we boarded an Amtrak train bound for Eugene, Oregon. Amtrak has a limited number of runs that enable you to hang your bike in the baggage car. Most runs require that the bike be boxed in one of Amtrak’s boxes. This is an inconvenience best avoided if possible. The baggage car has hooks for 6 bikes, so advance reservations are recommended. The 6-hour trip to Eugene was very relaxing and cost only $130 (one-way) for all 3 of us and bikes. I hate driving or even being in a car. Amtrak was the perfect way to travel.

Amtrak from Seattle to Eugene.

We arrived in Eugene at 8:30 PM and headed to a motel less than a mile from the train station. It had received decent reviews online, but I believe the reviews were posted by the motel owners and their friends. Our “No Smoking” room may have been tobacco-free, but I suspect it was the site of many crack-smoking and binge-drinking events. Fortunately, once the air conditioning got up to speed, the Lysol cleared and the room became a bearable cave for the night.

We went out on our bikes in search of dinner and had the good fortune to get a recommendation from a college student we met at a crosswalk, who sent us to the Pizza Research Institute. Having grown up in an Italian section of Brooklyn, I consider myself a pizza connoisseur. While they do not make Italian-style pizza, I am thrilled to be able to say they make the best “natural-style” pizza I have ever eaten. We ate there at the start and end of our trip. Pizza Research Institute is in and of itself a good reason to visit Eugene. Our favorite was chevre, marinated eggplant & carmelized onions on an unbleached flour crust. I am getting hungry just thinking about it. The atmosphere and decor of this restaurant is eclectic, creative, and original. In an age of crappy American franchises where the likes of Domino’s and Papa John’s are endemic (perhaps “epidemic” is a better word), Pizza Research Institute is an oasis of hope.

The kitchen inside the Pizza Research Institute.

The next morning we headed out on our bikes toward Florence, on the Pacific Coast. I had researched routes online, but stopped at a reputable local Eugene bike shop, Paul’s Bicycle Way of Life to confirm whether or not my route was a good one. As it turned out, it was not a good one, and the store manager drew me a terrific map that would take us to the coast on a beautiful bike-friendly scenic route. Since I still struggle with maps we managed to take a wrong turn. We stopped at a Mini-Mart for drinks, and debated whether to back-track several miles or take an alternate less scenic highway. We were befriended by a Willy Nelson look-alike who convinced us that the highway all cycling sources told us to stay away from was even better than our original route and much closer. Since it was hot and we like Willy Nelson, we took his advice. As it turned out, Willy was wrong. While his route (Rt. 126 Eugene to Florence Hwy.) was the most direct, it was the least bike friendly. On our return trip we took the scenic route (Rt. 36) and although it was winding and indirect, it was gorgeous — traversing rivers, creeks, and lakes. Moral of the story is “don’t trust Willie Nelson”. We did arrive in Florence on the Pacific that same day though, after cycling 80 miles. Our first destination on the coast was to explore the Oregon Dunes.

Dunes above Lake Clewox in Honeyman State Park. Note tiny people on the shore below.

Sandboarder dude twins from Colorado. Sandboards can be rented in town.

The Oregon Dunes is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America. Some dunes tower up to 150 meters above sea level, stretching approximately 40 miles north from the Coos River in North Bend, to the Siuslaw River, in Florence. The dunes adjoin Honeyman State Park where we camped. The campground has a separate secluded campsite for hikers and cyclists, so we were not sleeping next to Winnebagos. The campground is fantastic and well-maintained. Hot private showers are a wonderful thing after a day or more of serious cycling. At $4 a day per person, it is an amazing deal. There were about 20 cyclists camping in the spacious campsite that night. Many were cycling the entire Oregon Coast into California, including one couple who were cycling from Portland to California to get married.

After a few days at Honeyman, we headed north on Hwy. 101 to Yachats (YAH-HOTS), one of our favorite places in the world. The 28 mile ride had significant elevation gain as the coast changes from dunes to a mountainous rocky geography.

Heceta Head Lighthouse just south of Yachats

This area is spectacular. We saw whales from the overlooks and sea lions just about everywhere. We set up camp at Beach Side State Park in Yachats and rode our bikes 4 miles into town for meals — sometimes on Hwy. 101, sometimes on the beach. The food choices in Yachats are terrific. We ate breakfasts at the Green Salmon Bakery, an amazing earthy cafe that serves organic natural-food meals, baked goods, and locally roasted coffee. They produce a portion of their electricity with a wind generator outside their front door. We ate lunches at Luna Sea, a small chowder house serving handcrafted slumgullion, chowders, and fish & chips. For dinner we ate at the Drift Inn, a tavern-style eatery that served a wide variety of excellent food, and featured live music by professional musicians who were passing through. There was always a line to get in.

Gabe juggling at Yachats.

Yachats is the kind of place you don’t want to leave. In winter it’s a great place for storm watching. In Spring and Autumn you can watch the annual Gray Whale migration from the beaches and overlooks. In Summer it reminds me of the Big Island of Hawaii. Once we were in Yachats, we settled in and felt less motivated to put big mileage on the bikes. The weather on the Oregon Coast is dramatic and completely different from areas 30 miles inland. When temps were over 100F in Seattle and inland Oregon, it was only in the 60s on the coast. I thought my son Max was crazy for packing wool pants and sweaters, but he made good use of them on the coast. The cooler temps were perfect for cycling (and sleeping).

Yachats, Oregon

I bought a new ultralight tent for the trip. Weighing in at just under 7 lbs., the MSR Mutha Hubba is a terrific tent for bike camping. Gear weight adds up quickly, and you can feel the weight of every extra pair of socks on long steep climbs. Although the nearly $400 price tag is not cheap, it is a very well made tent. I figure it paid for itself after a few days of not staying in motels. It’s now part of my collection of gear that I hope will keep me seeking new outdoor cycling adventures.

MSR Mutha Hubba Tent. This is one of MSR's 3-person tents. I am currently using a MSR Hubba Hubba HP for 1-2 person bicycle camping excursions.


A Grand Day Out. Seattle Tweed Ride Photos.

by Eric Shalit on January 12, 2015

Tweeders going for tea at Gasworks Park.

Tweeders playing their favorite sport in Gasworks Park.

Tweeder with his vintage Danish Postal Bike, bought at Ballard yard sale for $50. Original leather bags and bell are embossed with the Danish Crown.

Pablo Tweed

The Seattle Tweed Ride was amazing on this most beautiful mid-February Day. A loud hurrah for Nova & Silvie who organized the event.

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“I don’t have Parkinson’s when I’m on my bike,” says Larry Smith. Apparently even advanced Parkinson’s patients can cycle. The bike gives Larry independence and makes him feel good.

With all the antagonism and negativity about whether or not cyclists have a right to share the road, or deserve infrastructure safety improvements, it pleases me to be able to share stories like this.

On New Year’s Day I rode my bike 35 miles to a friend’s party in Bellevue, WA. It was there I had the good fortune to meet a guy who told me about a program he was volunteering for in which Parkinson’s patients were paired with cyclists on stationary tandem bikes for a study on the benefits of forced exercise. ‘Forced exercise’ doesn’t mean the person doesn’t want to exercise. It’s that their body is unable to move at a particular pace without being ‘forced’ by their tandem partner. The film clip below will show you what that’s about.

Cycling and Parkinson’s Disease: What’s the link?

In the past few years, several studies have begun to show a beneficial relationship between cycling and Parkinson’s — in both disease diagnosis and in potential neuroprotective benefit. An important research trial funded by the Davis Phinney Foundation has brought together two of the leading researchers in this field, Dr. Jay Alberts of Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Bastiaan Bloem of Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands to continue to explore this link.

Ride With Larry: a short documentary film

This documentary focuses on Larry Smith, a retired police captain, beloved small-town baker, and avid cyclist who has had Parkinson’s for the last 20 years.

Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation needs you to be part of their STP Team.

I contacted Alecha Newbern, Program Director for Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation for information so I could bring you this story. I knew, after hearing about this many people in the cycling community would want to get involved. The forced exercise tandem cycling program is still too new and small scale to accept a major influx of new volunteers, though that time may yet come.

However, Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation has an STP team and is in serious need of cyclists to join their team. The number of STP team participants has been declining for several years. I suggested this story had the potential to boost participation since many readers may already be riding the STP. Alecha told me they go all out to support team members and that some of the team riders have Parkinson’s.

Upon fundraising a minimum of $500 each Team Parkinson’s rider will receive the care and pampering usually reserved for elite cycling teams. Joining the team doesn’t mean you have to ride with the team as a group. You can still ride at your own pace.

Benefits include:
  • An official Team Parkinson’s 2011 jersey
  • Catered gourmet meals at designated lunch stops
  • Free bike repair in Spanaway and Lexington
  • Complimentary massage at designated lunch stops
  • Discounted bike tune-up prior to the ride
  • Training and support to help you reach your fundraising goal
  • The chance to win a new custom-fit cycle – valued at $2,500 AND
  • reimbursement of your Cascade Bicycle Club STP registration fee (unless you decide to donate it)

    7-human-powered Monster-Truck designed, engineered, and fabricated by boy-genius Haulin' Colin. That's my son Max in front-right.

    Yesterday I reveled in urban bicycle culture at the Dead Baby Downhill. Ok, so the name is offensive. Perhaps a more palatable name would be something like “The PEMCO Insurance Safe Streets Ride”, but that event would be no fun at all. Dead Baby is the name of the bicycle club that hosted this massive ruckus of bicycle street culture. The Dead Baby Club is like a motorcycle club, or gang if you like, but on bicycles. No babies were harmed or killed or made to be dead in any way, shape, or form. In fact, if the event was anything, it was a celebration of life. Personally I’m more offended by having corporate logos stuck on every event and public facility. Are we past the name now?

    The streets around the Canterbury were packed with cyclists.

    This was possibly the best bicycle celebration I’ve ever been to. It was a multi-faceted festival. There was a race, but it wasn’t the only component of the festivities. Think mega Halloween party with a best-costume contest, parade, music, beer garden, food, and shows…but on bicycles. It was exceptionally well organized.

    Bicycle cheer.

    Male and female winners of the messenger race will be getting plane tickets to the CMWC (Cycle Messenger World Championships) in Panajachel, Guatemala (September 4-12, 2010). That’s a substantial prize.

    Racers and paraders of all stripes and persuasions.

    Hundreds of cyclists and racers amassed at the Canterbury Ale & Eats on Capitol Hill (first place I ate at when I moved to Seattle in 1984). Lots of DIY (Do It Yourself) bicycle culture was in evidence. The high point was a 7-human-powered vehicle designed, engineered, and fabricated by boy-genius Haulin’ Colin. The machine was built from a re-purposed truck and it’s my understanding it utilizes the original gear box. The finish line was in Georgetown, perhaps the last remaining genuinely hip Seattle neighborhood. For several blocks, Georgetown streets were packed with what I’m guessing were well over 1,000 cyclists. Bikes were hung on every fence and chained to every pole for blocks.

    Cyclists of all occupations took to to the streets for the Dead Baby Downhill.

    There were bands on every street; BBQ, falafel and other food trucks; bike tricks; tall-bike jousting; and water bottles filled with beer from the beer garden. The mood was very friendly, peaceful, and full of bicycle love. Sadly, if you weren’t there, you missed something amazing. On the positive side, the event will happen again next year. This was the event’s 14th year. Even if you don’t have any tattoos and all your cycling gear is spandex plastered in corporate logos, you will feel welcome at the Dead Baby Downhill.

    Tattoos abound but are not mandatory.

    I went to the Seattle Times website and there was zero coverage or mention of this event. Why is this? In my opinion it’s because they are out of touch with grassroots culture (and likely under-staffed). If a PR firm doesn’t send them a press release and follow-up media kits the event is unlikely to exist to them. This event is  done without corporate sponsorship and sale of naming rights. It is the opposite of the corporate sponsored events we have grown used to. In all the riding and talking with cyclists of all stripes I’ve done over the past months, I never heard anyone ever say “I’m training for the Dead Baby Downhill”.

    The Dead Baby Downhill is not just for beer-swilling ruffians.

    I ride with and participate in events sponsored by Cascade Bicycle Club, Bicycle Alliance, COGS (Cyclists of Greater Seattle), and Tacoma Wheelmen. These groups put on some great events. They are established and considered “legitimate” organizations. They are dedicated to bicycle safety, and advancing cycling and bicycle commuting as a mainstream activity.

    Dead Baby Bikers love the Constitution and America more than Tea-Partiers do.

    Events like the Dead Baby Downhill and Westside Invite are the tattood children (and grandchildren) of these mainstream organizations. The massive popularity of grassroots events like the Dead Baby Downhill is evidence of the success of advocacy organizations like Cascade Bicycle Club and the Bicycle Alliance. Thanks in part to their efforts, love of cycling and the bicycle have gone mainstream. Perhaps some of the participants are not as clean-cut or respectful of traffic signals as many older generation cyclists would like, but that’s the way many youngsters like to play. It’s like wanting to instill the love of music in your kids. Even if you’re successful it doesn’t mean you’re going to love the same music they do. I am seeing lots of beautiful bicycle tattoos on guys and gals. Do you love your bicycle enough to emblazon its image across your chest? It’s a safer bet you’ll still wear it with pride in 50 years than the name of your first girl or boyfriend. I’m reaching out to cyclists of all ages and tribes to realize we’re part of a big family based on our mutual love of the bicycle. Now let’s have a big group hug!

    One of the entertainment activities at the finish line party in Georgetown.

    Flying ramp action in Georgetown.


    Metrofiets cargo bike that takes inspiration from an earlier art nouveau design.

    There’s a renaissance happening in the world of bicycles. Perhaps even a new Golden Age. Portland, Oregon is at the center of it. Why Portland? My theory is Portland offers a combination of vibrant bicycle culture and consumer demand, combined with the availability of cheap shop space, that allows creative individuals to set up small custom manufacturing businesses. From the people I’ve spoken with, becoming a frame builder requires taking a vow of poverty. Like musicians and artists, only a handful make a decent living. Cities like Austin are home to a thriving local music scene because of this same availability of affordable practice space and plenty of demand. Here in Seattle, most 20-somethings I meet seem to work as software developers at Amazon. I believe Seattle’s high cost of living and lack of cheap industrial work spaces is putting a damper on the development of artisan businesses. Eugene, Oregon also contributed its fair share of handmade bicycle builders.

    Evidence of a bicycle renaissance?

    The show was clear evidence of a Renaissance in the art of the handmade bicycle. Although a custom bike costs way more than a stock “Made in Taiwan” number, the more I look at them, the more I am convinced they are reasonably priced. These bikes have SOUL! Each is a reflection of the designer/artisan builder. Even the most expensive custom bicycle costs way less than the cheapest car. I am looking forward to the day when I can have one made for me by one of the constructors I met at the show.

    Beautiful detailing on Belladonna bike.

    The culture of the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show is not about racing, carbon fiber, or the latest aerospace technology. Spandex was rarely seen in the great hall. These builders are moving the bicycle back to its place as a beautiful form of sustainable personal transportation. Notice the front and rear racks, upright handlebars, and cargo carriers — perfect for carrying groceries, kegs of beer, and babies.

    Bicycle baby.

    Another bicycle baby.


    Boxer Bicycles of Seattle

    M.A.P. Bicycle by Mitch Pryor.

    Click here to see more photos from the show

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    Bend in the Smith River heading west to Reedsport.

    It’s late April, and I’m heading off solo for a much needed adventure after working long hours on a big project for a company that makes hi-end camping gear. Most of the people I’ve been working with are serious outdoors-people. One new friend even traveled around the world for a year and a half via bicycle, including places like Mongolia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. This has inspired me to get out of the house and head off on a week-long bicycle adventure.

    I’m taking Amtrak from Seattle to Eugene, Oregon (7 hours), staying overnight with friends, and then heading off by bicycle for the Oregon coast to Bandon, where I will be camping near the beach. I’m carrying about 47 lbs. of gear on my bike.

    My route takes me along the Smith River from a town called Alma, coming out near Reedsport on my way to the Pacific Ocean.

    Smith River Route to the sea.

    Wed. 4/28/10: Eugene to Smith River Falls

    I headed out of Eugene at 11AM. Eugene is a great place to ride. The Amazon Creek Trail and Fern Ridge Path are beautiful bike trails ending in a spectacular meadowland and wetland bird sanctuary. From there I headed to Crow Rd., Coyote Creek Rd., and Wolf Creek Rd., which quickly led to rural farmland. Along the way I saw many newborn sheep with their mothers. I had my first and only flat here. While putting in a fresh tube the sun came out and I took off my rain jacket. Within minutes it started to rain. From here on the weather was rainy with occasional sun breaks. In the lowlands the rain was almost warm. Seemed like every time I took off my rain jacket it would start to rain. When I put my sunglasses on the skies would darken.

    The first day’s route had 3 major climbs before reaching the Smith River Road. It was cold and rainy on each mountaintop. Hail and icy rain in places, warm and sunny in others. The Smith River meanders like an intestine. It’s a perfect cycling road. For about 40 miles I saw only one car, amazing for a paved road. This is definitely off-season. I have the place to myself, but the price is weather that is comfortable only for the likes of Sasquatch. I eat lots of snacks, but plan to take a lunch break in a town called Alma. It’s clearly marked on the map, but it never appears.

    It’s getting late in the day. Maybe 6-6:30 PM. The light is dimming, but it was dim much of the day. I’m pretty tired from climbing with nearly 50 lbs. of gear, and somewhat battered from the weather. The road has meandered through lush rainforest. Numerous waterfalls spill from the hillside rocks. The river is running fast and muddy. Winter bike commuting in Seattle has taught me how to dress for wet weather cycling. Wool Ibex tights under synthetic mountain bike shorts, wool socks, rain booties, and a Showers Pass rain jacket keep me comfortable even though I’m as damp as a baby. Like Sasquatch, I’ve grown accustomed to traveling wet. I make so much body heat that my legs dry quickly during the sporadic non-rainy periods.

    My destination for the night is Smith River Falls, but having never seen Alma I wonder if I could be on the wrong road. After not seeing a single car for 3 or more hours (I really have no sense of time. I just chug along through the rainforest mist), a blue pickup truck passes and stops. The driver, Jack asks me if I’m doing OK. I ask him where Alma is, and he tells me I missed the turnoff to Alma some 35 miles back. Then I ask him what road I’m on (there are no signs out here). He tells me I’m on Smith River Road. That’s good news. I’m on the right road, but Alma is not right on the road as it appears on the map. My city-boy expectation that a town would be on the main road was wrong. It likely wouldn’t have met my expectation of what a town is supposed to be either. Maybe a few houses, maybe a store, maybe not.

    Jack offers to drive me to Smith River Falls which is about 15 miles ahead. Though I realize it’s cheating, I accept his offer and throw my bike and panniers into the pickup truck bed. Jack lives out here and is returning home from barber school in Eugene. He’s rugged and looks a bit like Oliver North from Iran/Contra fame. He tells me he lived in Portland for a time but didn’t really like it. There’s not much logging happening anymore, and that’s what this area was about and why this amazing winding road was built through what many people would call “the middle of nowhere”. I can tell it’s not the middle of nowhere for people like Jack who grew up and live here. It’s a spectacular place where you hunt and fish and breathe rainforest air. Sasquatch country.

    Camping at Smith River Falls.

    Thurs. 4/29/10: Smith River Falls to Bandon

    I camped along the river at Smith River Falls Park. I figured the falls were submerged by the high water, making them look like rapids. I slept warm and comfortably in my tent on a Therm-a-rest NeoAir mattress I borrowed for the trip. It rained all night and the roaring sound of the river woke me periodically. In the morning I felt good. The weather looks like RAIN with occasional sun breaks. Traveling off-season, that’s part of the deal. The payoff is that I’ve got this world to myself, which is pretty amazing.

    I packed up and got back on the bike. Headed off and discovered the falls were actually 1/4 mile downstream from my campsite. Upon seeing the falls I yelled “Look where the fuck I am!”. Sasquatch country is magnificent. It’s the rain that makes it so. As such, don’t complain about it.

    I spent about an hour at Smith River Falls, looking around, taking pictures, breathing the rich air.

    The forest downstream steamed as the sun burned away the top layer of mist.

    I filled my water bottle from one of the many feeder falls spilling from the hillside cliffs. A bottle’s-worth of water poured down my sleeve. This particular spot and time was the highlight of my trip. Over the next hour I saw one or two cars.

    Occasionally, the rain stopped and the sun came out. This is a very lush spot.

    Occasionally, a surprised grouse exploded from the roadside like a hidden Jack-in-the-box. I forgot to mention that the day before I saw the tail end of a Bobcat, as it headed into the forest from the roadside. A pair of what I think were Ruffed Grouse stood in the middle of the road facing each other until I came quite close.

    Smith River Grocery & Tavern

    Eleven miles from the falls, I stopped at the Smith River Grocery on Jack’s advice, hoping to spend some money, and spread some bicycle goodwill. I often wonder how us odd granola-breathed city folk are perceived out in rural areas where pickup trucks are actually used for hauling stuff, and bicycling to work is impractical with the vast distances between places. The sign said OPEN, but I had to look twice, as it looked dark inside.

    I opened the door and stepped into a general store not unlike what you might have found 80-100 years ago. Behind the counter stood a pretty young mother and her son who appeared to be about 7. The boy preferred to go shirtless despite the cool temperature. A happy healthy looking kid. The mom was very shy and I suspect I may have been a surprise customer. Considering the fact that I’d seen a total of maybe 3 cars during the past day, how many customers had they had during that day, that week, that month?

    The lights were dimmed and I had a sense that the business was in a kind of hibernation, looking forward to summer, when the road would be full of tourists, and their single gas pump the only place for gas. I suppose they had business during hunting season, but I don’t know when that was. I had to circle the shelves several times to find food that would be suitable for my healthy energy needs. Those pickled eggs sitting in a jar were out of the question. Who eats those? Hunters? My tastes are pretty eclectic and I’m willing to try most ethnic foods, but I’d sooner eat a light bulb. They had a few different kinds of beef jerky, but fear of digestive problems while riding 75+ miles that day caused me to pass them by. I asked the boy “what should I get?”. “Chips are good!” he said. “Chips ARE good,” I replied. Finally, I spotted a few bags of salted almonds and pretzels.

    Dad appeared behind the register. I wondered if my forward ways were making them uncomfortable. I hadn’t had much human contact for a day and that was new to me. I suspect the arrival of a strange city weirdo on a bike may have raised their antennae. The kid was thrilled though. I’m 100% certain I was the only cyclist through this road for quite some time. I paid for the bags of almonds and pretzels. “Summer’s coming,” I said as I headed out the door and got on my bike.

    "Baby" is my traveling companion. By looking at "Baby" you can easily tell what the weather conditions were.

    Several private suspension bridges cross the Smith River, leading to isolated homes. Judging by the bold NO TRESPASSING signs, they like it that way.

    Eventually, I emerge from the rainforest, as the Smith River road merges with a higher traffic road. The towns of Gardiner and Reedsport lie ahead. As pleased as I am to be making progress toward my destination of Bandon, I am sad to leave Sasquatch country.

    Stopping at a scenic overlook near Winchester, I see a mode of transportation totally unlike mine. My trip is fueled primarily by a variety of baked goods and dried fruit.

    Lonnie and Nancy are two of the super-cyclists I met on the road.

    I met Lonnie and Nancy at the scenic viewpoint near Winchester, which was my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. Lonnie and Nancy are not traveling together, but have periodically crossed paths. Lonnie is celebrating his 60th birthday by cycling from Vancouver, BC to San Diego. His wife will meet him somewhere ahead for dinner and motel. His sons, both in their 30s will meet and ride with him at different points, using a bicycle Lonnie’s wife carries on the back of her car.

    Nancy is a schoolteacher from Vermont. She is circumnavigating the US on bicycle. She’s a terrific writer, photographer, and patient explorer. I’ve included a link to her blog at the bottom of this article. She reminds me that I am a wimp and my bicycle adventure is just a walk in the park. Thank you Nancy!

    Here's an impressive photo of Nancy from her blog.

    I’m set on reaching Bandon tonight if physically possible. At Charleston I see a sign that says “Bandon: 24 miles”. I can easily ride 24 miles in Seattle. Mileage isn’t the issue. It’s the elevation gain and hauling 47 lbs. of gear that takes energy and stamina and gradually wears me down as the day progresses. Seasoned expedition cyclists pace themselves for the day-in-day-out climbs. I don’t yet have that patience and am anxious to reach Bandon. Fifty miles a day is a reasonable goal for this terrain and load. I am going for somewhere around 75 miles today. Immediately after the sign to Bandon, the road climbs very steeply. The road name changes to Seven Devils Road. Is it named after the seven climbs over the next 24 miles? I don’t know. I wasn’t counting. My race-face is gone, replaced by my schlep-face.

    First sign of Bandon.

    The next 24 miles felt like 75, and I didn’t enjoy it much. I could have set up camp at this point, but knowing that I was going to make it to Bandon by end of day kept me going. There were scenic route signs pointing to alternative ways of getting to Bandon. By this point I’d have plenty of scenery and wanted the quickest route into town. I stopped at the road leading to Bandon Dunes, a world-class golf resort, and flagged down a car driven by an employee. He told me the road through the resort was a public road and was the best route. The road wound from gatehouse to gatehouse through this very posh but rugged resort. I was told by a caddy I met in town a couple days later, that Bandon Dunes is modeled on the old Scottish links. Caddies actually carry the bags. No golf carts allowed except for limited handicapped use. He also told me you’d spend about $1,000-$1,500 per day to golf and stay at Bandon Dunes.

    I pedaled into Bandon at about 7PM, worn but satisfied that I’d accomplished my goal. I often have a food destination, and today’s was a restaurant called Wild Rose, a bistro we’d eaten at 10 years ago when my kids were small. Back then, the owner made them macaroni & cheese even though it wasn’t on the menu. The restaurant had since changed hands, and offered an upscale menu catering to foodies and golf resort clientele not on a budget. Unshaven, damp, and dressed in an assortment of escaped circus-clown bicycle gear, I stood out among the more properly attired clientele. It should be noted that wherever I stopped to eat, people were very friendly and interested in what the hell I was up to. The menu consisted of the sort of food and small portions you’d expect from an expensive French-style bistro. I started with a plate of 6 fresh oysters ($2 per oyster). They were exquisite and I’m craving another plate right now. I chased these down with a locally brewed beer on tap, followed by a locally-grown asparagus soup (which I’m going to attempt to replicate tonight), and an entree of premium scallops. As an endurance cyclist, at the end of the day my appetite is a bottomless pit. So, although I didn’t feel full, the meal was very satisfying. At $50-$60 the meal was expensive, but I was dining alone and celebrating.

    After dinner, I turned on my numerous lights, and raced across the Coquille River Bridge to Burrards Beach State Park, where I set up camp, took a very hot shower, and slept like a rock.

    Fri. 4/30/10: Rest Day at Bandon Beaches

    The simplest explanation of my trip goal was to ride my bike to Bandon where I would lay on the beach, drink coffee, and look for fossils, regardless of the weather. That's exactly what I did.

    This is the beach south of the Coquille River.

    This is one of the fossils I found on the sandy spit beach north of the Coquille River.

    In the hope of not boring you to tears with every detail of my stay at Bandon, the wonderful baked goods and biscuits & gravy I ate at the Bandon Bakery, as well as the trip back home to Seattle, I’m winding down my story here. I would be remiss in not acknowledging all the wonderful people I met during my travels. Thank you Scott & Nancy for allowing me to stay in your home in Eugene. Thank you to those who helped me with a lift when I needed it, even though it was cheating. The great conversations are as important to me as the ride. The bicycle has allowed me to meet interesting and extraordinary people.

    I rode for a whole day on the trip north from Bandon to Winchester Bay with Kat & Ant from England, who have given up the bummer corporate life and are circumnavigating the US from NYC (where they worked) to Key West, and across the southern states. I met them on their journey north along the west coast. That's Kat on the right.

    Additional Resources

    Click here to see my Flickr photo stream.

    Click here to see a Google map of my route.

    Follow Nancy Wright’s travels at crazyguyonabike.com

    Follow Kat & Ant’s journey around the US.

    Pizza Research Institute: Where we eat when in Eugene.

    MSR Hubba Hubba Tent in action.

    Essential Gear

    MSR Hubba Hubba HP Tent

    This is a beautifully engineered 2-person tent that is also perfect for 1-person bicycle expeditions. It weighs 3 lbs. 11 oz. A great trick for self-supported bike camping where pannier space is tight, is to pack the fabric part separately from the poles. I used a Granite Gear compression sack to squeeze the tent fabric down to a ball the size of a grapefruit, thus saving precious space.

    Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Inflatable Mattress

    I borrowed one for this trip, but am going to buy my own. The Regular size weighs just 14 oz. and rolls down to the size of a water bottle. I recently learned that over-inflating the mattress does not make it more comfortable. Inflating the mattress, lying on it, and releasing air until it molded to my body like a nest, resulted in the most comfortable sleep I’ve ever experienced while camping.

    Granite Gear Compression Stuffsacks

    I’m a big fan of compression sacks for self-supported bicycle camping. I used a size Small to compress and hold my tent. The sack weighs just 2.2 oz.

    Showers Pass Rain Jackets

    Designed in Portland by people who know rainy weather cycling first-hand. Comfortable, lightweight highly breathable technical fabrics. Plus, I think they look pretty good. I wear the Elite 2.0, but they have other styles. Their jackets are likely the best made.


    Folding American-made Columbia 'Compax' bicycles were tested by the U.S. Marine Corps but saw no action in Europe in WW2. Nevertheless, the myth that the Compax was used on the battlefield helped Columbia in its advertising battles for market share.

    Above: British BSA Airborne Folding Paratrooper Bikes were used in all the major landings including D-day and Arnhem.

    That bicycles have been used by the military is not surprising. The fact that they were designed specifically for use by paratroopers during WWII is another matter. While I am in no way glorifying warfare, I think the use of the bicycle for combat shows another dimension of this amazing invention. The history of this subject is so deep and interesting that I expect to publish additional articles in the future as time permits.

    Additional Resources

    One of my favorite vintage bicycle resources is www.oldbike.eu, which is published by an enthusiast named Colin, who buys, sells, and collects vintage bicycles, motorcycles, and ephemera. Based in the UK he has access to some incredible old machines from across Europe. His thorough devotion to researching the history of these machines makes them accessible to those of us who may never own them. Here’s an excerpt from his page about the use of the BSA folding bicycle by British paratroopers during WWII.

    The BSA Airborne Bicycle was developed at a time when the only British Troop-carrying glider was the Hotspur. Like the Welbike, transport for the paratroopers was needed that was small and could easily be transported. As a result, BSA, who made the M20 Motorbike, developed a bicycle that could be folded in half so a paratrooper could jump out of an aircraft with it. When folded out, it was used as a conventional bicycle. They were used in all the major landings such as D-day and Arnhem.

    Ironically the greatest use of the BSA airborne bicycle in action was by British and Canadian infantry on the invasion of Normandy, France (D-Day 1944 June 6) in the second wave. Some had been used on the invasion of Sicily in 1943 by Canadian infantry (Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment “Hasty Pees” re: Farley Mowat).

    The BSA airborne bicycle was used in battle, but not as much as originally planned. The plan appears to have been that the bicycles would be mass produced and make the airborne soldiers mobile once they had landed. It was better and faster than walking.

    The British-made BSA Junior Parabike was a non-folding kids version of the BSA Airborne Bike used during WWII. Pretty cool!

    Military Bicycles of WWII is another excellent site, published in Belgium. It features photos and info about American-made military bicycles.

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