Over the years I’ve been blessed to visit other cities and towns and explore with locals on bikes. When we ride bikes in other places and meet local cyclists, we learn about the lives and traditions, the political issues and creative celebrations of other biking folk. It’s a cultural exchange that educates us about the state of biking, plus it puts a big smile on your face and renews your sense of adventure.
A week before my recent two-week book promotion trip with stops in five cities in California and Washington State, I still had no plan for where to stay at the last stop, Bellingham. Luckily, while I was in California, I heard from David O’Connor, who invited me to visit Bellingham’s Kulshan Cycles, where he works as a mechanic. I asked for a recommendation for where to stay (my friend and seasoned bike traveler Ulrike assured me that this is a tried and true way to politely fish for an invitation). To my delight, David offered me a place to sleep in his art studio/ bike shop/ guest house. How could anything be more perfect? After two days of standing indoors at a trade show in Seattle, I was ecstatic to arrive in Bellingham and find that my hosts had arranged a nighttime welcome ride around Bellingham’s gorgeous waterfront paths and trails with several stops for refreshment – and my accommodations were a cozy bicycle- and art-infused cabin. I whooped for joy as we rode – because it is at times like this when I feel like I am with “my people” and that cycling does create community.
With this in mind, I encourage you to get out there on your bike this summer – or any time of year – and explore a new place. Meet other cyclists and ask them for recommendations for where to ride, where to stay and what to eat. I’ll bet you end up with new bike friends and a great story.
Amy Walker is a cofounder of Momentum Magazine and the editor of On Bicycles – 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life.