The Rails to Trails Act of 1983 may rank as the best thing to happen to American cycling in the last 25 years. Technically section 8(d) of the National Trails Systems Act, this landmark legislation greases the skids for the conversion of abandoned and unused railroad corridors into recreational trails. According to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, America’s rail-trail count currently stands at 1,534 open trails for a total of 15,346 miles. It’s refreshing to know that even Congress can occasionally knock one out of the park.
Certainly, I appreciate the utility of my bicycle for everyday commuting. And the highlight of my week is often a blissful moment spent piloting my mountain bike through the local woods. However, there’s something special about the long and winding rail trail. There’s an epic adventure waiting to happen—just add biker.
Case in point: last spring Franklin Jefferson Wuerthele and I cranked out a 267-mile self-supported tour along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Trail from Southwestern Pennsylvania to Washington, DC. Except for a short segment of pavement at the beginning, and a short mid-ride detour, we rode on a relatively-level, car-free trail all day long. Amid spectacularly scenic surroundings that blended nature and history in an tasty mix.
Without further ado, I present the following travelogue in the hopes that it will inspire you to discover a rail trail near you, and punch your own ticket to an epic journey, complete with memories to last a lifetime.
Franklin Jefferson Wuerthele at the trailhead in Somerset, PA. The wet snow did not dampen our enthusiasm as we began our journey:
First night tenting in the snow at Husky Haven campground was quite cozy, thanks to the ample supply of firewood that’s provide at no additional charge with your camping fee. We got our money’s worth:
The 1908 ft. long Salisbury Viaduct (insert Marx Brothers routine here) crosses the Casselman River valley west of of Meyersdale. PA (it crosses CSX tracks and U.S. Route 219). The entry is a great photo op:
When I said "relatively-flat" I was conveniently ignoring the fact that the Great Allegheny Passage gradually climbs the Allegheny Mountains and peaks at an elevation of 2392 ft. near the town of Deal PA, just shy of the entrance to the 3294 ft. long Big Savage tunnel (a stone’s throw from from MD border). Here’s a self-portrait of Franklin and me smiling as we emerge from the tunnel (with the climb behind us) and we get a our first glimpse or Maryland countryside:
My first visit to the beautiful mountain town of Frostburg, MD—where our friends at Adventure Sports bike shop hooked us up with crash space for the night:
At Cumberland, MD the two of us met up with a couple dozen other riders who were on the annual C&O Canal ride (a.k.a. CANDO) organized by Maurice’s brother Michael Tierney. The group is a rolling party on two wheels. Our CANDO group camped at primitive sites along the C&O trail. Huge honking campfires and sing-alongs were the order of the day, er, night:
Camping is great, but… One of the conveniences of rail-trail touring is the fact that the routes often roll through small or medium sized town and, with proper planning, you can pop into town for meals, beer or emergency needs. Is it just me or does Sheetz deli food really taste four-star good after pedaling all morning? While most nights our dinners were "pack and cook your own," the CANDO crew took over Bill’s Place in Little Orleans, MD (very near our campsite) for a "dinner night out" party:
They say the Paw Paw Tunnel is made of 6 million bricks. That’s impressive:
An "oldie but goodie" dam along the Potomac:
Franklin Jefferson and I made the mistake of sleeping late to "wait out" the rain on what was the longest-mileage day of the trip. We were still a couple miles from the camp when the sun went down. Oh, well it made for a great self-portrait as the dim orange sun set over the Potomac:
Here’s a shot of me with the Novara Randonee touring rig (read the review here) that I rode during this excursion:
The C&O trail ends in the Georgetown district of Washington, DC. By this time, the temperatures had warmed and the sunshine made thing feel milder than they did during our snowy start:
Are you feeling inspired? I hope so. Or maybe you’ve already completed your own epic excursion and you’d like to share? Please use the comments field below to share your thoughts. See you on the rail tails!Tweet
The Bicycle Times & Dirt Rag World Tour is storming Richmond, VA this weekend and roaming the halls of the the North American Handmade Bicycle Show sponsored by Shimano. Our road crew is getting the lowdown out the latest in custom bicycles from builders from all over the world—as well as the freshest produce from component and apparel designers. Shutterbug Justin has been busy at the show snapping pics. Check out his first day’s worth of eye candy at this link, and his day two gallery here. For additional NAHBS coverage, visit the Dirt Rag blog.Tweet
Eugene, Oregon’s Co-Motion Cycles has been hand-crafting bikes since 1988. The company is probably best know for their wide range of tandem offerings. However, one of their single bikes—namely the Pangea 26"-wheeled touring rig—caught my eye at last fall’s Interbike trade show. When it came time to wrangle myself a test bike to kick off the 2010 season, I made a call to Oregon, and was happy to find that Co-Motion had a 57cm Pangea available. Sign me up!
Co-Motion’s website says that the Pangea is " Far from a mountain bike with a drop bar, the Pangea is designed with the stable, responsive touring geometry that has made Co-Motion an industry leader." When I spoke with my contact at Co-Motion, he explained the key differences between the Pangea and your garden variety mountain bike. From the geometry angle, a lower BB height (26.7cm) offers improved loaded stability and longer chainstays (45cm) facilitate carrying loaded panniers without heel-strike.Co-Motion builds the Pangea to shoulder the additional burden that touring places on a bicycle. The Pangea’s extra-burly Reynolds 725 tubes are custom-fabricated for Co-Motion using proprietary specifications and Co-Motion’s own tooling. The handmade fork on the Pangea is oversized diameter—similar in size to Co-Motion’s tandem forks, but using a thinner gage tubing, which is suitable for the "less than tandem sized" loads that a single bike exerts on a fork. The massive-looking chaninstays are the same ones they use on their tandems. Co-Motion advised me that if I decided to put knobby tires on the Pangea and romp off-road it would probably be the most rigid-feeling mountain bike I’d ever ridden. As shipped, the Pangea tipped the Bicycle Times Scales at 27.8 lbs. a testament to it’s burly construction (with F/R Tubus racks, but without pedals).
I look forward to putting my fair share of commuting and touring miles on the Pangea as soon as the weather breaks. I’ll report back later, after I have some ride impression to share. In the meantime, enjoy the eye candy and specifications. And dream a sunny, warm dream for me.
Model year: 2010
Country of origin: USA
Wheel size: 26
Frame material: Super-duty, extra-large diameter Reynolds 725 tubing
Fork: Co-Motion Pangea Super-duty taper-gauge Cro-Moly with CNC steerer
Handlebar: FSA Omega
Front Rack: Tubus Tara
Rear Rack: Tubus Cargo
Stem: FSA OS 150
Headset: Chris King Threadless
Bottom bracket: RaceFace
Crank: RaceFace Deus XC triple
Chain: Shimano HG-93 9spd
Saddle: Selle Italia C2 Flow
Seatpost : Kalloy Seraph Microadjust 29.8mm
Front hub: DT Swiss 540
Rear hub: DT Swiss
Front derailleur: Shimano XT
Rear derailleur: Shimano XTR
Shifters: Shimano Dura Ace 9spd bar end
Cassette: Shimano XT 11-34 9spd
Brakes: Avid Single Digit 7
Rims: Velocity Aeroheat 26"
Tires: Continental Town & Country 26" x 2.1"
Sizes: 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57 (tested), 58, 59, 60
Colors: 30 stock colors, custom available
Weight: 27.8 lbs. w/ racks, w/o pedals
MSRP: $3841 w/ optional racks
Company website: www.co-motion.com
The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate students says that bicycling generates more than a $1.5 billion economic impact in Wisconsin, exceeding the impact of even the deer hunting industry. The cycling industry industry in Wisconsin ranges from sales of trail passes and participation in racing series and events, to retail sales and manufacturers like Planet Bike and Trek.
The study recommends accelerating investment and development of bicycle routes, lanes and paths throughout the state for safety and convenience and encourages people to replace short automobile trips with bicycling trips. The report also suggests that increased bicycling has the potential to deliver significant health benefits and savings to the tune of $319 million annually.
Read the full Press-Gazette story at this link.Tweet
The first annual Brompton U.S. Championship will take place in West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia on Saturday, March 20, 2010, as part of the Philly Phlyer collegiate bike race. The event is inspired by the Brompton World Championship (BWC), first held in Barcelona, Spain in 2006. The BWC has grown into a international event, which attracted more than 500 riders for the 2009 event, which was held at Blenheim Palace, England. Like the U.K. race, the Philadelphia event is limited to riders of the Brompton Folder Bike.
The U.S. race will follow the U.K. rules: helmets are a must, but so is a blazer or suit jacket, collared shirt and tie. Sports attire is not permitted, unless it is hidden by business dress.
"Poor dress sense will not be tolerated," said the organizers of the 2009 race. In reality, some participants’ concept of "business attire" ran to kilts and wild plaid trousers. One cyclist raced in a gorilla suit—with a necktie, of course. Brompton offers prizes for the best-dressed racers, and the U.S. event will do the same.
Brompton dealer Michael McGettigan of Trophy Bikes in Philadelphia has taken part in two BWCs, and is helping to organize the Philadelphia race. "This is a big step for U.S. bike culture," says McGettigan. "The Brompton World Championship is one of those events you have to see to believe. It’s a bit Halloween, a bit Tour de France, and a bit, ‘Hey, let’s ride down the pub!"
The U.K. race has attracted some fast company: in 2008, Tour de France stage winner Roberto Heras competed—and came in second to Britain’s own Alistair Kay. Heras returned to win in 2009, by just a fraction of a second, with Kay relegated to third. Alistair Kay called the BWC "A fantastically eccentric British day out."
Brompton is sponsoring the U.S. event—hoping to bring America’s quickest Brompton riders to this year’s BWC in England this fall. The winning man and woman in the Philadelphia races will get their plane tickets—and BWC entry fees—covered by Brompton. There will also be prizes for second and third—and Best-Dressed.
The U.S. event will run a single, 6-mile lap starting near Memorial Hall in West Fairmount Park. Participants will run to their folded bikes at the start, Le Mans style. Full details on the Brompton U.S. Championship are available at: www.bromptonbicycle.com/busc. BikeReg is handling online registration.
[Ed notes: read Andrew Crumpler’s Interbike Mini-Review of the Brompton S6L at this link.]Tweet
Velochicks.com is a brand new website dedicated solely to the promotion of women’s bicycling. Their goal is to provide a forum that feeds your passion of cycling, whether you are a novice, avid adventurer or seasoned bike racer. If you are just entering the sport of cycling, velochicks.com hopes to provide the information to get you started and get you hooked. Velochicks.com seeks to provide exposure to cycling athletes of all skill levels.
Velochicks.com wants to hear from you. What inspires you to ride or race your bike? Do you have a bike adventure, upcoming event or race report you would like to share? Contact velochicks.com and they’ll put you on the site.Tweet
The good bicycling folks at BikeTrailerBlog.com have just re-purposed their blog to make it a forum of bike trailer ideas, big and small. BikeTrailerBlog.com is asking riders to send in photos and stories of bike trailers, for posting on their blog. They are especially fond of innovative and/or entertaining topics such as: DIY trailers, bike trailers on tour, bike trailers at work and bike trailers for commuting. They also like photos of families out biking pulling their child trailers.Tweet
A new facility in downtown Pittsburgh offers secure indoor bicycle parking. A giant bicycle painted on a bright-green backdrop on the Century Building marks the spot where where two green shipping containers offer bicycle commuters secure parking spaces for their steeds.
As reported on Bike Pittsburgh’s website, this "Bicycle Commuter Center" is the brainchild of Bill Gatti from TREK Development Group, the company that developed the Century Building in partnership with neighborhood stakeholders to try to attract young people of various incomes to live Downtown. When asked about the inspiration behind this project, Mr. Gatti gave Bike Pittsburgh the following statement:
"The vitality of downtown is contingent upon the creation of 24-hour residential traffic. Critical mass will only be attained through development of living options for a variety of income levels and life-styles. Trek Development Group recognized a need for moderately priced rental housing and worked with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to make the Century Building a realty. The Bicycle Commuter Center was a natural extension of our goals to create an environmentally healthy and sustainable community."
The funding for this project was provided partially by TREK Development Group which contributed both monetary and in-kind support, and partially funded with federal Transit Enhancement funds through Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.
For the complete report, visit Bike Pittsburgh via this link.Tweet
Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report is an essential resource and tool for government officials, advocates, and those working to promote bicycling and walking. The Benchmarking Project is an on-going effort to collect and analyze data on bicycling and walking in all 50 states and the 51 largest U.S. cities. This second biennial report reveals data including: bicycling and walking levels and demographics; bicycle and pedestrian safety; bicycle and pedestrian policies and provisions; funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects; bicycle and pedestrian staffing levels; written policies on bicycling and walking; bicycle infrastructure including bike lanes, paths, signed bike routes, and bicycle parking; bike-transit integration including presence of bike racks on buses, bike parking at transit stops; bicycling and walking education and encouragement activities; and public health indicators including levels of obesity, physical activity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The report is full of data tables and graphs so you can see how your state or city stacks up. Inside you will find unprecedented statistics to help support your case for increasing safe bicycling and walking in your community.
Bicycling and Walking in the U.S.: 2010 Benchmarking Report was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made possible through the additional support of Bikes Belong and Planet Bike. Click here for more information on the Benchmark Project, and to download a free copy (or purchase a hard copy) of the report.Tweet
In celebration of Sidi’s 50th Anniversary, the venerable shoe company wants to hear some amazing stories about riders and their Sidis. Top prize package includes a pair of Sidi shoes, a Look 556 bike with SRAM Rival components and Look Keo pedals.
Tell your story in 350 words or less. Or write a poem. If you’d like, include a photo of yourself and your Sidis. Or just your Sidis. Get creative.
Hurry, contest ends March 1st, 2010. To submit your entry, and for complete contest rules, visit sidiamerica.com.Tweet
Bicycle Times has partnered with Klean Kanteen to bring to you an eco-friendly, reusable water bottle featuring our Bicycle Times logo. This 27oz. bottle is made from 18/8 food-grade stainless steel. It does not have an inner lining, so it’s non-leaching, toxin free, 100% recyclable and will help to reduce landfill waste.
This durable bottle has a wide mouth for filling with ice cubes and makes cleaning easier. The BPA-free screw cap includes a sport drinking valve, lanyard cover, and loop. Get one at this link while you can for the low, everyday price of $17.95.
The Kanteen bottle cage is sold separately and is designed to hold the 27oz. bottle securely without damaging it. A standard cage will not fully support the bottle’s height and may damage the exterior. The Klean Kanteen cage is available on our merchandise page for $6.95.
Adventure Cycling Association announced that it has received two new grants in support of the organization’s work to establish an official United States Bicycle Route System (USBRS). The grants were awarded by Bikes Belong and New Belgium Brewing and will enable Adventure Cycling to continue its organizing and cartographic work with federal and state agencies and non-profits to establish what could become the world’s largest national cycling route network.
Bikes Belong awarded Adventure Cycling $15,000 in support of the project. Bikes Belong executive director Tim Blumenthal said, "The U.S. Bicycle Route System is a powerful, big idea that will encourage Americans to bicycle more often. It will also focus attention on crucial missing links in our bike route system and speed the process of correcting them." Bike Belong is the U.S. bicycle industry organization dedicated to putting more people on bicycles more often.
New Belgium Brewing awarded the Association $15,000 annually for two years. Bryan Simpson, media director for New Belgium Brewing said, "Adventure Cycling’s U.S. Bicycle Route System proposal stood out because it works to connect communities and create a safer, more bike-friendly environment nationwide. We’re excited to be able to contribute in whatever way we can to make this project a reality."
"We are grateful for this show of support for the U.S. Bicycle Route System. This project is receiving important support from funders, as well as from the halls of Congress and the leadership of state departments of transportation," said Jim Sayer, executive director of Adventure Cycling. "We also want to thank our members, who have been the principal supporters of our work on this visionary project." Adventure Cycling is the largest cycling membership organization in North America, with over 44,000 members.
The U.S. Bicycle Route System project is part of a global trend, as countries and provinces establish national cycling networks—composed of on-road and trail facilities—to make cycling easier and more enjoyable in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Examples include the National Cycle Network in the United Kingdom, La Route Verte (the "Green Way") in Quebec Province, the D-Route Network in Germany, and VeloLand Switzerland. These systems are spurring major growth in bicycling and other non-motorized trips, with corresponding reductions in fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Adding to the USBRS momentum is growing interest on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The USBRS project was included for recognition and funding support in legislation recently put forward by Congressmen Jim Oberstar (D-MN) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR). These influential members of Congress are, respectively, the chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. The legislation—to re-authorize the federal government’s transportation program—will be considered by Congress in the coming year.Tweet
Outerbike is a consumer demo event for both road and mountain bikes that is scheduled to take place in Moab, UT on September 30th through October 3rd, 2010. Participants will receive demos for all four days of the event, lunch at the trailheads, and discounted tickets to evening parties and films. Exhibitors will include: Breezer, Cannondale, Fox, Fuji, Ibis, Kona, Marin, Maverick, Pivot, Rocky Mountain, Santa Cruz, Specialized, Trek, Turner, and Yeti. It’s a safe bet that additional companies will sign up, as this new event gains momentum.
Outerbike promoter, Ashley Korenblat of Western Spirit Cycling, explains: “There will be three different trailheads to give participants a chance to ride short and medium loops of all types. It is an opportunity to ride your dream bike on a world famous trail. Plus there is great road riding in Moab, making it the perfect place to demo both road and mountain bikes.” The three trailheads are: The Bar M, the Sovereign Trail, and the Slicrock Trail.
Korenblat adds, “We have been thinking about this for years. The bike companies work hard to get their new product ready for the Vegas show, but since that show isn’t open to the public, only dealers get to ride the new bikes. Now everybody can.”
To register go to www.outerbike.com or call Western Spirit Cycling at 800.845.2453.Tweet
Scheduled for March 9-11th in Washington DC, the League of American Bicyclists’ annual National Bike Summit is where advocates, industry executives and education experts gather to speak up for bicycling on Capitol Hill. The League believes in getting more people on bikes more often, for a number of reasons. Whether it’s obesity, health care, climate change, air quality, energy independence, traffic congestion, economic development or quality of life issues—bicycling should be part of the solution.
In 2010, Congress and our Federal agencies will be setting national targets and goals for 2020. They will be writing transportation, climate, health care, natural resources and other critical pieces of legislation that will shape our future. Bicycling needs to be prominently featured in these important pieces of legislation, documents, funding streams and programs.
Ten years ago, the first National Bike Summit brought just over 100 advocates and industry leaders to Washington, D.C. This year organizers hope to see closer to 1,000 participants. Join in and help the League propel a new decade of the bicycle.
Click here for more information on the 2010 National Bike Summit. Online registration is now open. Do it today and you can save $100 or more via early bird prices, which are in effect through Feb. 4th. IMBA is a proud sponsor of the Summit, and IMBA members can save an additional $100 by registering via this special link.Tweet
One Street is an international bicycle advocacy NGO helping organization leaders increase cycling in their communities to solve many of the world’s problems. Serving non-profits, for-profits and government agencies, One Street offers campaign planning, ethical management coaching and resources to these leaders so they can focus their talents and time on increasing bicycling.
One Street’s Social Bike Business program tackles poverty by providing affordable, quality transportation bicycles through locally-run bicycle community centers and bike shops that serve disadvantaged neighborhoods. One Street has developed the replicable program elements and helps local leaders raise the funds needed to open their bicycle community center. At their center, locals can take part in certification job training courses that also pertain to other business careers including business management, customer service and bicycle manufacture.
This program offers a fresh look at solving the serious lack of access to bike shops and affordable, sturdy transportation bicycles for the majority of the world’s population. It offers a more efficient, global solution that keeps bikes close to where they are made as it lifts people from poverty forever. Through running their own bike business, or simply buying their own bike, people can save on transportation costs, increase their quality of life and create additional business opportunities.
One Street recently announced that the New Belgium Brewing Company has made a grant to the Social Bike program, to ensure it serves the Southwest of the United States. “We are honored to partner with the New Belgium Brewing Company to expand our Social Bike Business program into the Southwest,” said Sue Knaup, Executive Director of One Street. “Their understanding of the enormous impact bicycles can make towards climate improvement and affordable transportation choices, sets them apart.”
The New Belgium Brewing Company prides itself on its sustainable operations through use of wind power, building with green materials, reuse of resources and recycling. Their parking lot is designed for bicycles. And their grant making program specifically favors programs for increasing bicycling.Tweet
The Los Angeles Bicycle Plan Update is a joint project of the Department of City Planning and the Department of Transportation. The draft update is available for download. Public comment is being accepted through January 8th, 2010.
200 N. Spring St. Rm. 721
Los Angeles, CA 90012
The folks at BikeTrailerShop.com are looking for a highly motivated, self-starting individual to join their team and work on, manage and develop a variety of tasks and projects involving their internet marketing strategies, blog and webstore content. Their business is focused on marketing bicycling products through the BikeTrailerShop.com webstores. Strong writing skills and an advanced background in bicycling are requirements for the position.
For more details on the job requirements and to contact BikeTrailerShop.com visit their online job posting.
About: The folks BikeTrailerShop.com share a collective interest and passion for using bike cargo trailers for fun and utility. As They began to appreciate the range of possibility for using bike trailers, they noticed a lack of consistent offering for replacement parts and accessories for bike cargo trailers. BikeTrailerShop.com was created to grab this market by the horns (Yak & Ibex) and create a complete web-based solution.Tweet
We are proud to report that Bicycle Times was included in Utne Reader‘s 2009 Alternative Press Gift Guide. For more than 20 years, Utne has functioned as a guide to the alternative and independent press. Their editors glean the best material from cutting-edge publications that provide compelling, delightfully written stories, interviews, and cultural criticism, then edit and reprint the most essential.
Here’s what Utne had to say about Bicycle Times: "On a more practical tip, Bicycle Times does the gear thing but keeps it real with actual rubber-on-road testing instead of high-touch photo spreads. This upstart publication from the makers of longtime mountain bike mag Dirt Rag also delivers news and features on the bicycling lifestyle." Who are we to argue? After all, Dirt Rag has been keeping it real for over twenty years, and Bicycle Times continues in that tradition.
Treat yourself to a gift and subscribe to Bicycle Times today, and you won’t miss a word of our refreshing, insightful take on your everyday cycling adventure.Tweet
World Carfree Network is a clearinghouse of information from around the world on how to revitalize our towns and cities and create a sustainable future. The organization also offers resources for architects, planners, teachers/professors, students, decision-makers and engaged citizens.
On www.worldcarfree.net you will find links to the organization’s various projects including World Carfree Day which takes place around the world every September 22nd. You’ll also find a link to Carbusters magazine, a quarterly produced by an international editorial team in Prague, Czech Republic. It is a 32-page print magazine critiquing our society’s car culture and exploring positive alternatives.
World Carfree Network also provides a library of Freesources—articles, books and other resources—to be viewed online or downloaded as RTF files. Included are some classic works for the anti-car campaigners and activists. Check out www.worldcarfree.net for more information.Tweet
"The Copenhagen Wheel transforms ordinary bicycles quickly into hybrid e-bikes that also function as mobile sensing units. The Copenhagen Wheel allows you to capture the energy dissipated while cycling and braking and save it for when you need a bit of a boost. It also maps pollution levels, traffic congestion, and road conditions in real-time." That’s according to the Copenhagen Wheel website, which also notes that: The Copenhagen Wheel will be unveiled on December 15 at the COP15 United Nations Climate Conference."
The website goes on to say: "Controlled through your smart phone, the Copenhagen Wheel becomes a natural extension of your everyday life. You can use your phone to unlock andlock your bike, change gears and select how much the motor assists you. As you cycle, the wheel’s sensing unit is also capturing your effort level and information about your surroundings, including road conditions, carbon monoxide, NOx, noise, ambient temperature and relative humidity. Access this data through your phone or the web and use it to plan healthier bike routes, to achieve your exercise goals or to meet up with friends on the go. You can also share your data with friends, or with your city – anonymously if you wish–thereby contributing to a fine-grained database of environmental information from which we can all benefit."
Learn more about the Copenhagen Wheel at this link.Tweet