Excerpt: ‘Travel on Two Wheels’ by Jeff Commissaris

Jeff Commissaris is an author, musician and world traveler who has ridden his touring bike all over the world. He sent us this excerpt from his book “Travel on Two Wheels” documenting his adventures through the United States and Europe.

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I handed the officer my passport, where he took it back to the police car for computer examination. A few minutes later, the officers came back and they told me that I could not ride on the highway anymore and I had to take a detour. I would have not ridden on the road if it had not been the only choice available and the one that the nice Swedish couple had recommended to me. From head to toe, I was drenched with a thick rain.

“Where are you riding to?,” one of them asked.

“Paris,” I told him.

“Paris?!”

They pointed me to a trail just off the highway that seemed to just run around in circles. “You can ride there,” they told me. “This might take you to Paris.”

They handed me back my passport after making it clear that I couldn’t ride on this particular road anymore and drove off. An hour later, I realized that the trail was definitely not going to take me to Paris and I was more or less riding around in circles. Also, the weather situation showed no signs of turning for the better, still. The highway seemed like the only way to get there, but it wasn’t an option anymore.

I took shelter in an abandoned barn for a few minutes. There was a huge hole in the top of the roof, and all around me the skies were grey, lighting streaked in the distance.

An hour or so later, the sun finally decided to peak out fromt eh clouds a bit. I started riding through the farmland into the city area. The small villages in northern France were like ghost towns; I rode past empty parks and houses stood still with often times no trace of life whatsoever. It was like time was at a stand still. One could only assume that the people were indoors spending time with their families on this dreary Sunday day.

I stopped at a boulangeries (French pastry shop) and got some bread. I started talking to the store owner and he told me that he was also a lawyer but had opened the store so that he could “create jobs for his family.” After buying a few pieces of bread, he added a few extras and said,” These are for you my friend. I wish you safe travels and welcome to France!”

It wasn’t too long until I ran into a German guy who was bicycle touring for a week through the French country side. He was taking a week vacation off his job to fullfill his dream of cycling France. He was upbeat, and he spoke English well—much better than my lack of German. I made an executive decision and decided to purchase a train ticket to make it to Parist and bypass some of the bad weather.

So the German guy and I rode about five miles into the central area of Donkurque together, passing by parks and businesses that the locals would call “home.” That’s one of the great things about cycle touring—you can meet up with another bicyclist and immediately make a connection based on the simple passion of biking. We both enjoyed our ride together, and after the ride he headed off towards the direction of the campsite he was staying at that night.

I opted for the five-star stay underneath a bridge along the river. I woke up around nine o’ clock, bought some local food and was well on my way to Paris.

To read more, pick up a copy of Commissaris’ book, “Travel on Two Wheels” for only $6.99, and you can read more of his adventures on his blog.

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Indoor training for people who don’t really ‘train’

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So maybe riding around in the winter doesn’t appeal to you, or you find yourself with a limited amount of time each day to ride or you want to put in some focused training to gear up for a big ride in addition to an outdoor training regimen. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided that getting on the trainer is a good idea. I can sympathize.

Here I’ve outlined some things that help me get on the trainer, maybe they’ll help you too.

Click through to see our tips.


Interview: Veronica O. Davis of Black Women Bike D.C.

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At the Women’s Cycling Forum that was part of the National Bike Summit last March, many of us were introduced to a founder of a movement that is helping to fill a crucial gap in cycling: Veronica O. Davis of Black Women Bike. Davis and two friends started the group as a local organization in Washington, D.C., and are building the foundation to take it to the national level. Davis’ efforts are a natural outgrowth of her professional life in civil engineering, which she believes involves “using transportation as a tool to positively affect people’s lives.”

Read our interview here.


Adventure Cycling invites you to submit entries to Bicycle Travel Video Contest

To celebrate the beauty and spirit of bicycle travel, the Adventure Cycling Association invites you to submit your best bicycle-touring videos to the second annual Bicycle Travel Video Contest on Vimeo. Submissions are welcome from now through June 30.

See the categories and learn how to enter here.


Cold weather cycling tips: Keep your pants on

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In this installment of our cold weather riding series I’ll be moving up the body to talk about keeping one’s legs warm and comfortable as the mercury falls. The legs are an often-overlooked aspect of cool weather cycling considering they are our primary source of power. Keeping your knees warm is paramount to preventing unnecessary wear and tear of the joint, while keeping your muscles warm will help to prevent strains and pulled muscles, as well as torn ligaments. Sure, you can allow your legs to be chilly without your entire body feeling terribly cold, but it is far from a good idea.

Learn how to keep your legs warm here.


‘Hell on Wheels: Life With Mutant Bicycles’

Since bicycles began, people have been modifying them, improving them or just making them more interesting. After all, the “safety bicycle” we know of today was quite an oddity when it first took to the streets.

In its December 27, 1948 issue, Life Magazine featured a collection of curious contraptions built by the Chicago chapter of the National Bicycle Dealers’ Association. See the gallery here.

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Via Cadenced.


BaileyWorks builds custom bags from old jerseys

If you’re like me, you probably have a pile of old bike jerseys in your closet that you don’t know what to do with. Some don’t fit, some are ugly, some just smell…

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Anyway, BaileyWorks had a customer ask about building around one of his old jerseys and it came out so well that they’re offering the service to everyone. They even used the jersey’s back pockets as exterior pockets on the bag!

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Here’s one they did with Independent Fabrication.

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Get in touch and see if they can build a bag for you! Want to sew your own? They even offer sewing classes in their Newmarket, New Hampshire, workshop.


Cold weather cycling tips: Keeping your feet happy

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In this installment of winter riding and how to enjoy it, or at least survive, I’m focusing on the all-important toes and feet. Keeping this area of the body warm and dry when the temperature drops below freezing can be a struggle. With the proper footwear though, a trail ride or commute to work can be as easy as slipping on a pair of socks.

As with any cold weather riding gear, the layers used should first block the wind, then provide warmth, while managing perspiration. The climate you live in will dictate the footwear and layers used, but here in the north a full range of options is beneficial for the fall and winter months and the huge weather changes experienced from day to day, or even from morning to night. Where you ride is also a factor, but I use the same footwear for both commuting and mountain biking.

Read our tips for keeping your piggies warm and dry…


‘Going AWOL’ – Part 4

What began as a spontaneous idea soon became a trip into the unknown. A grand journey of trusting your given abilities, both physically and mentally. The final Episode ties the knot around the adventure and most important: The story of Erik and Recep riding the shit out of their bikes to Istanbul.

See all the episodes of “Going AWOL” here. 


Cold weather cycling tips: It’s all in your head

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When the temperature drops and daylight wanes, many riders confine themselves to an indoor trainer or hang up their bikes altogether for the winter months. True, winter riding presents unique challenges, but it also reaps great rewards. Aside from the physical benefits of riding all year long, winter riding opens up a world of opportunities for adventure, fun, and natural beauty.

Read our tips for getting your mind ready for some winter fun…


Dale Stetina expected to leave hospital today

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US Bicycling Hall of Fame and former Olympic cyclists Dale Stetina is expected to leave the hospital Monday, four months after nearly losing his life in a crash during a ride in August.

Stetina was riding in Colorado when an SUV pulled out in front of the group he was riding with. While no riders struck the vehicle, Stetina was critically injured when he crashed while avoiding it. Having spent the past months in Craig Hospital in Eaglewood, Colo., his daughter posted on a blog this week that he is expected to soon fly to Omaha, Neb., to begin rehabilitation at QLI, a post-hospital facility that specializes in brain and spinal cord injury rehab.

“Dad compares it to being at the Olympic Training Center down in Colorado Springs training for the big event – being independent at home,” his daughter Kate wrote.

If Stetina’s name sounds familiar, it should. His son Peter is a professional cyclist and his brother Wayne is also a former Olympic cyclist and the current vice president of Shimano USA.

Follow along with his progress on his Twitter feed.

Get well soon, Dale.


‘The Quiet Season’

We received this wonderful contribution today from filmmaker Brandon Neubert. Here he describes it in his own words:

My mother is an amazing woman. Because some back problems, she never found the athletic freedom she wanted until she discovered mankind’s greatest machine: The Bicycle. The Bicycle is the epitome of freedom in her life. One day I received a letter from her, describing her experiences out on her bicycle during the magical time of autumn. It touched me very much. I saved it for two years cherishing it and having the desire to share her same experience with others through film. I was finally able to make that dream a reality. She is the voice behind both the narration and the music, and is our showcased cyclist. Like her, I too love this time of year. I call it “The Quiet Season”. I hope this message touches you the same way it touched me. This video is dedicated to her.


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