Mary and Ed. Photo courtesy Mary Gersemalina.
Every week, the #ThrowbackThursday meme fills Twitter and Instagram feeds with photos of friends’ childhoods, drunken college antics, and old vacations and adventures. On The Bicycle Story, #ThrowbackThursday is an opportunity to revisit great bike adventures from year’s past. Today, Mary Gersemalina of Chasing Mailboxes shares a throwback to her first bike tour.
It is June 2005, and my boyfriend Ed and I are going on our first bike tour together. Our route starts in Rockville, Maryland, and from there we will pedal for eight days straight until we reach our final destination of Niagara Falls, Canada. We will not be camping as we’ve chosen the way of the credit card tour.
Our bike of choice for this adventure is a Cannondale mountain tandem. We have been riding tandem together since for the last six months and really love it. Our tour group consists of a small group of around ten cycling friends (including three tandems!), one of whom is our informal tour leader. A genius at routing, she has carefully plotted out our route and overnight stops.
Every week, the #ThrowbackThursday meme fills my Twitter and Instagram feeds with photos of friends’ childhoods, drunken college antics, and old vacations and adventures. That stream of remembrance got me thinking about some of my own past bike adventures. I decided to do my own version of Throwback Thursday and tell the story of my first time camping by bike.
I took my first bike camping trip in May of 2009. I’d built up a Long Haul Trucker the previous winter and spent the spring commuting on it between Silver Spring, Maryland where I was living at the time and my newspaper internship in Bethesda. No less prone to daydreaming about bike adventurers then than I am now, I often passed time at my internship thinking up potential trips and chatting about them with my fellow intern and would-be bike tourist, Jeff.
The earliest incarnation of my touring bike.
It was Jeff who inspired me to finally make one of those proposed bike adventures a reality. A few days before Memorial Day Weekend, he told me he and his girlfriend Ava were planning an overnight bike trip along the C&O Canal and invited me to come along. Their plan was to ride to the hiker-biker site nearest the White’s Ferry crossing, camp, take the ferry across to Virginia the next morning, then ride back to DC on the Washington & Old Dominion trail. I was on board and set about borrowing a tent from a friend in DC and a decades-old foam sleeping pad from my roommate so that I could join the ride.
Photo courtesy of Martina.
Martina Brimmer is the force behind Seattle-based pannier and bag company Swift Industries. She’s also a dedicated bike tourist, adventurer, writer (she is a co-contributor, along with me, to the forthcoming bike touring guide Cycling Sojourner Washington), teacher and more. She and her partner, Jason Goodman, launched Swift Industries out of their home in 2008. It’s now a full-fledged business with full time employees and customers worldwide. I sat down with Martina in the Swift studio to talk about the challenges, successes, and growth of the company, her bike adventuring, her literary project Tough and Tender, and much more.
Photo from Van Dessel.
In 2008, the MABRA cyclocross series championship race was a heated battle between Jeremiah Bishop and Jeff Bahnson. Ultimately it was decided by a close sprint at the line with Jeremiah—a seasoned pro and multi-time mountain bike national champion—winning by half a bike length. That a championship race came down to a sprint is not surprising, but Jeff’s near-victory is remarkable because he was just 15 at the time.
Something of a cyclocross wunderkind, Jeff grew up in Newark, Delaware. His mother, Lauri Webber, is a strong elite racer and Jeff came up racing with the Delaware Cyclocross Coalition of Delaware (which includes notables Weston Schempf, Marc Vettori, and others). He has four junior and collegiate national championship titles and has had strong results in the US and Europe.
This summer he took a break from training and toured across the United States with his friend Felix Smith. They chronicled their trip with photos and stories at lostonbikes.com and plan to put together a book of the 35mm photos they took along the way. In this interview, Jeff talks about his early experiences racing, his rise to the elites, his summer bike touring adventure, his future as a professional cyclist, and more.
Kyle Dempster is one of the top alpine climbers in the world. The 29 year old has pioneered new routes on some of the tallest mountains including Baintha Brakk in Pakistan and K7 in the Karakoram. He has won two Piolet d’Ors and several Golden Pitons, awards that recognize mountaineering’s greatest accomplishments each year. In 2011, he spent two months on a solo expedition, bike touring the backroads of Kyrgyzstan and climbing in its many mountain ranges. The video footage he gathered on the trip was recently turned into a short documentary, The Road From Karakol. I had the opportunity to speak with Kyle about his Kyrgyzstan trip, combining biking and mountaineering, the highs and lows of solo touring in remote and rugged terrain, the future of bikes in the climbing world, and much more.