[EDITOR'S NOTE: Bike Friday owners Eugenia Hart and her husband Peter rode their Bike Fridays from Minnesota to the East Coast.]
By Eugenia Hart
Having already completed the western half of a transcontinental bike ride from Washington to the Wisconsin border, I wanted to figure some way to finish the quest. With my 70th birthday rapidly approaching, my husband got an announcement of his 50th high school reunion to be held in Connecticut. We decided that riding our bikes out there was the perfect way to accomplish both objectives in one shot and really have something to remember.Â It may not say much for the value of his public education, but it may win him a prize for the most unusual way of getting to the reunion.
We packed up the Bike Fridays and flew from our home in Arizona to Minnesota where our daughter and grandchild live. After a week of enjoying being grandparents, we committed to the trip by taking the suitcases to the Post Office and mailing them to our ultimate destination in Connecticut.
With the cases on their way, we left Minnesota and headed into Wisconsin in what was mostly the most direct route across each state/province to the Atlantic Ocean. We did take the ferry across Lake Michigan which was an enjoyable experience even though it consumed most of the day … only rode 7 miles that day.
Our travels took us across Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario (Canada), New York, and Massachusetts to the Atlantic ocean. Having relatives north of Boston, we figured if time allowed, we would go see them. Well, we discovered that we were well ahead of schedule and easily made it to the east coast. We ultimately reached the ocean at Plum Island, north of Boston where I was able to dip my tire into the Atlantic Ocean, completing my cross country (self contained) bicycle trip with weeks to spare before my birthday.
There was still the matter of the reunion, so we still had to make it to Connecticut. Considering that we had had nothing but clear skies and tailwind since we left Minnesota, the rolling hills of Massachusetts and Connecticut were a bit of a grind. Nothing you couldn’t do with the gearing range we had, but they just keep coming and kind of wear you out. We made it easily in three and a half days, which left us plenty of time to get ready for the reunion.
We utilized a wide range of options for our nightly stays. There was always the credit card for a hotel, but we especially enjoyed the Warmshowers stays. Having hosted bikers for many years before when we were in Fargo (northern tier route) and since we have moved to Arizona, it was kind of interesting to see how kind people can be to what many people see as “strangers.” We may well be strange, but we seem to have a common interest in the bike and sharing our stories of the road.
Other overnights were utilized with another organization we belong to for people over 50 years of age. Much like Warmshowers, people take you into their homes and you have a much better experience than another lonely night in the motel. We did manage to camp one night but not sure it made carrying the necessary gear a wise decision.
We had overpacked our clothing needs because we were in a transitional period of the year. It was warm, but well could have been cold; it was dry, but well could have just poured down on us. One thing is for sure, we were happy after we stopped at the Post Office and mailed some of the things on forward. We figured if things changed, we could always find a thrift or department store to acquire what we might need and discard it afterward.
We have fond memories of our trip and the wonderful experience it was. So many people were just in awe of what we did, but we told them: anyone can do it…. It isn’t a race, you just do what you can. The best part was that we had fun doing it!
6 comments January 2, 2014
For anyone who has ever been frustrated changing a flat tire, this video might change your perspective.
Add comment December 13, 2013
As folks all around the world make the commitment to change their lifestyle, we’ve found more and more people turning to Bike Friday to offer solutions.
We’ve had the ability to build Bike Fridays with heavy rider upgrades to 280 pounds, but we still found individuals yearning for change whom we had to turn away. No more.
The Diamond Tourist is an upgraded fully custom version of our long time popular New World Tourist.
It comes with a mountain bike style flat handlebar and 24-speed twist shifter, but can be customized to fit your desires.
In addition to using our original Bike Friday diamond frame design, the fork and rear end are built for heavier loads. We’ve added upgraded rims and tires to complete the package.
There are 20 color choices available, as well as frame sizes from 48 cm to 60 cm.
The Diamond Tourist starts at $1,398.
Add comment December 4, 2013
Dear tikit owners:
A little more than a year has passed since we asked you to stop riding your Bike Friday tikits because of safety issues with our stems. I’m proud to say that we have satisfied the requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Commission official recall, and it has been lifted.
By no means does this mean we are walking away from our responsibility to see that each and every Bike Friday tikit on the road has a safe stem.
Searching through our records, we found and replaced 2,147 stems out of a possible 4,000; that is more than 50 percent. The CPSC tells us that a typical recall results in 10-15 percent compliance. We still want to make it 100 percent.
If, by chance, we’ve somehow missed you, which is a possibility given how massive a challenge this has been, please contact us immediately.
We also ask that you check with anyone you know who owns a tikit to confirm they have had their stem replaced. We even suggest you ask anyone you happen to encounter with a tikit, just to make sure.
As you know, each tikit stem we have replaced takes an hour of work in our production line and is performed by one of three individuals with the skills here to do that. Contrary to some rumors, we have done all the replacement work here at our factory in Eugene.
The challenge was to keep our company in business, so we can provide support for our bicycles well into the future. We’ve managed to succeed.
As a small business owner, I know we couldn’t have survived this without the amazing support of our customers. So many of you were gracious enough to allow others to move ahead of you in line since they rely on their tikits for every day use. We thank you again your help, and for sticking with us.
Best in cycling,
Add comment October 21, 2013
EDITOR’S NOTE: Bike Friday owners Pamela and Nateon Ajello captured the adventure of a lifetime to India on film, and created an amazing short feature.
By Nateon Ajello
When we made the decision to tour 1,300 miles across India, Nepal and Bhutan, we knew we need a bike that was tough and could handle the varying terrain.
We also knew we needed a folding bike, because chances were we would not be able to cover all of that distance in our one month off without having to hop on a few trains or buses. So the search began.
We looked at all types of bikes, from tiny 16-inch wheeled Bromptons, to big 26-inch folding mountain bikes. We had never owned folding bikes, so it was all new territory. The bike needed to be able to hold a lot of weight, ride on dirt roads, have a sturdy steel frame, and fit into a suitcase for travel.
We had done a few previous tours and tried all other options besides packing a folding bike. We had tried buying bikes when we got to our destination, renting them when we got there, or bringing our bikes from home in boxes on the plane.
All of these options ended up being a pain in the neck for some reason or another, whether it was because you would spend three days of your vacation when you arrived somewhere looking for a bike, or the price of shipping a bike on an airplane ($200 dollars each bike each way for International travel!)
After all of our research we discovered that a company had thought this through already called Bike Friday.<br><br>
They design very sturdy folding bikes, specifically for bike touring in countries that need to be accessed by plane, with all of the things we needed in mind.Â <br><br>
We tried all kinds of folding bikes out for our tour, and in the end they felt wimpy and cheap compared to the Bike Friday. Bike Friday felt like a real bike, just folding bike proportions.
So we got them, and they held up like champs for 1,300 miles, on all kinds of roads, being crushed on top of Nepalese buses and under Indian train seats.
EDITOR’S NOTE:Â Please watch their short film here.Â It is an amazing 26-minute film, well worth your while.
Add comment October 16, 2013
Add comment October 14, 2013
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is part of an on-going series on the individuals who make Bike Friday what it is: A collection of unique cycling enthusiasts spreading the word in interesting manners.]
Everyone has a story, but if you wander around the Bike Friday Factory you might be amazed at some of the tales of life that can be told.
Take one of the guys on the production team, Willie Hatfield.
When Willie starts talking about his life, it moves along as a somewhat typical story.
So, you might ask, how did he come to create something so amazing as the 8-foot- tall human pedal powered Dinosaur in the photo above?
He grew up primarily in the Midwest. Went to study engineering at the University of Michigan.
Then, well, like most people, his story takes on a life of its own.
At Michigan, Willie studied Naval Architecture. That eventually drew him to New Orleans, where he worked for defense contractor working on ship concepts.
That job and life isn’t what Willie had envisioned for himself. So, he hopped on his bicycle, and spent the next three years touring the US, basically circling the country.
One day his travels took him through Arcadia, California, where he saw a post for the Kinetic Grand Championship.
Well, it’s a race of Kinetic Sculptures. Their website says:
“Kinetic Sculptures are all-terrain human-powered art sculptures that are engineered to race over road, water, mud and sand. Kinetic sculptures are amazing works of art; many are animated with moving parts like blinking eyes, opening mouths, heads that move side to side and up and down.
“Kinetic Sculptures are usually made from what some people consider junk. But one manâ€™s junk is another racerâ€™s raw material. Each Kinetic Sculpture is a work of art and each racing team has its own theme.”
It piqued Willie’s curiosity.
“It is a combination of art and engineering, and that sounded neat,” Willie says. “I thought about it, and realized that I would need access to a full-time shop. So I just kept it in the back of my head.”
Fast forward four years later, when Willie focused on Oregon as a place to find a job in the bicycle industry.
He came to Bike Friday, and got hired.
“One day Julia [Findon] was talking about daVinci Days in Corvallis,” Willie says, “and I had an immediate flashback to that day four years earlier.”
You could say Willie dug up a fossil of an idea.
He went to work on his project for daVinci Days almost immediately.
More than 1,000 manhours of labor later, he was the toast of the da Vinci Daysâ€™ Graand Kinetic Challenge.
“No matter what it is that I’m working on, I try to offer a fresh approach to it,” Willie says. “That makes it more challenging and interesting for me.”
Willie entered his creation in the da Vinci Daysâ€™ Graand Kinetic Challenge.
The 8-foot-tall tyrannosaurus rex skeleton is made up of bones from recycled steel bike frames and buoyant foam. The wheels are attached to the legs and tail. It cost about $200 in materials.
While he didn’t win any of the major prizes at the event, he’s proud to say he won almost all the favorite awards.
“I was fans’ favorite, volunteers’ favorite and the racers’ favorite,” Willie says, “I won all the favorites, and that was neat.”
And Greg Alpert, safety judge and emcee of the event, told the Corvallis Gazette-Times newspaper,Â â€œIâ€™ve been watching this race since the mid-1980s and participating, and Iâ€™ve never seen anything like this vehicle. This is really cool, very unique.â€
So if you get a chance to stop by the Factory someday and take a tour, make sure to ask who the Dinosaur guy is.
Add comment September 30, 2013
As soon as I saw the first announcement for a Bike Friday Silk I knew I had to have one.
I have been a fan of folding bikes for awhile because I tend to travel a lot, but was getting rather fed up with the seemingly inevitable layer of grease that seemed to cover me, my clothes and every available surface following each dismantling and reassembly of the bike.
A belt drive and internal hub? This was the solution and I put my order in almost immediately justifying it as a special birthday present to myself.
Now, I live in Tasmania, which is just about at the end of the civilized world. My Silk was produced in Oregon, the other side of the worldâ€™s biggest ocean. And I decided to take it on its inaugural tour to Europe.
So, before I even turned a wheel in anger, the bike had travelled two thirds the way around the globe. Nonetheless, the logistics worked; the bike arrived in Tasmania in time for my birthday in May. I assembled it, admired it (and had others admire it), tried it out on a few short rides, then packed it up for transport to Europe.
I arrived in England in mid-June and managed to squeeze in a few rain-free days during which I could try the bike out in touring mode.
I accidentally put us both through a very long day in the saddle (140km) cycling around London and we both seemed to cope.
Then I cycled half way across the metropolis, which was an interesting experience. London is emerging as a very bicycle-friendly city (despite the weather) and there are now vast networks of cycle lanes, bike tracks and bicycle super highways. However, the signage is yet to catch up with the rest of the infrastructure. So I found myself directionally-challenged on several occasions. Then it was time to pack the bike up again for a short flight to Milan to begin the European phase of the operation.
Firstly, my wife Dianne and I were taking part in an organized tour from Bolzano in the Dolomite mountains in the North of Italy to Venice on the Adriatic coast â€“ mostly flat or downhill, a good warm up.
Everyone but me was on full-sized bikes supplied by the organizing company, and there were many raised eyebrows over my use of a small wheeled bike.
One of the guides was particularly skeptical of the ability of the Silk until he took it for a spin and he returned a convert.
The bike completed phase one flawlessly and coped with stretches of dirt road, cobbles as well as the heat and humidity. I found the Silk to be comfortable for long days in the saddle, but Iâ€™d not yet tried it fully loaded and going uphill.
Having reached Venice, the tour ended. Then I turned around and retraced my route back into the mountains.
The North of Italy is crossed by some amazing bike tracks (pistes cyclables) and it is possible to ride from Verona to the Austrian border (and beyond) almost exclusively on dedicated, beautifully constructed and signposted bicycle paths.
These paths are incredibly well used by day trippers, families, commuters, pelotons and long-distance tourers.
I followed the Adige River cycle path, which is part of the Via Claudia Augusta a long-distance path across the Alps to Germany.
The scenery is spectacular as the glacial valley narrows toward the mountains and every outcrop seems to sport a castle or monastery. The valley floor is heavily cultivated with vineyards in the South and apple orchards in the North.
At Bolzano, the path turns West from the spectacular Dolomites towards the Alps.
I cycled past the entrance to the infamous Stelvio Pass with its 48 hairpin bends in favour of the much more accessible Reschenpass that goes from Italy to Austria. I only stayed half an hour in Austria as the route immediately took me down a series of hairpins into the Inn valley and the Swiss border â€“ three countries in less than an hour â€“ this must be Europe!
Once in Switzerland I followed the impressive network of Swiss National Cycle Routes that use dedicated bicycle paths, minor roads and gravel tracks.
I started by following Route Number 6 that heads up the Inn valley almost as far as St. Moritz before taking a sharp right turn up into the high mountains at the Albulapass.
I envisioned cycling gently up a scenic valley for a few days but the route planners had other ideas. In an attempt to avoid the main roads they often took the route high onto the sides of the valleys sometimes on rough dirt tracks more suited to mountain bikes and frustratingly these steep sections always seemed to come late in the afternoon after a long day in the saddle. Then it was time to tackle my first serious mountain pass and the gateway to the Alps proper.
The Albulapass started with a sign indicating a 625-metre elevation change over the next 9 km and commenced with a series of hairpin bends that I shared with other cyclists as well as with a large number of people on high-performance motorcycles and drivers of expensive sports cars.
The climb began at 1600m and I felt a bit breathless as I plodded up the pass pausing at each hairpin to let my heart rate retreat from the danger zone and cursing the 5 kg of camping gear that I was carrying,Â which I was destined never to use.
The air got cooler and crisper as I approached the summit only to find the road blocked by a herd of cows that seemed impervious to the honking of horns and multi-lingual encouragement of motorists. It took a local cyclist to ride into the herd, swatting the cows out of the way to clear the road and allow me to reach the summit and a high altitude cup of coffee.
I am glad I didnâ€™t have anything stronger at the top of the pass because the descent was hair-raising. Although the ascent had been a hard 9 km uphill slog, through some bending of the laws of physics the downhill section on the other side was 49km of hairpins, suicidal drop-offs and gorges on a busy road. I elected to use the excellent Swiss railway system for the last 20km section to avoid heavy traffic and a series of tunnels.
Now I was in the true Alps with snow-capped peaks and picture-postcard mountain villages on every side and the constant soundtrack of the ringing of cow bells.
I took a day off in Chur to give my legs a rest but elected to go hiking instead, which only made them even more sore, so I arrived at the base-camp for the Oberalpass in serious need of a rest.
Feeling like a cheat, I once again took a train over the pass then holed up in a hotel for the rest of the day so that I could prepare myself for the frightening Furkapass which followed the next day. This one climbed 890 metres in 13 km and consisted of two series of hairpins linked by a high alpine climb up the side of the treeless valley. At the summit there were spectacular views back down the valley I had just ascended then an awesome view of the massive series of hairpins that would take me down into the Rhone valley, past the fast-receding Rhone Glacier.
Once in the Rhone Valley it was a straightforward but very scenic weekâ€™s riding down Route No. 1 to reach Lac Leman and Geneva where my daughter lives.
I had amazing luck with the weather it was mostly hot and at times humid with thunderstorms most evenings, but there was only one day where it rained by day â€“ and I sat that one out. The bike probably performed better than I did; I could have used another gear or two on the climbs, but then again I could have carried less redundant camping gear which would have had the same effect!
I suffered no punctures (thank you Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires!) and few adjustments were needed en route (other than the brakes after several massive descents). After a very hard 1000+km the belt now needs tightening, the gears have run out of adjustment and the wheels probably need some attention but otherwise my Silk has been as trouble free as I hoped â€“ and no grease!
6 comments September 30, 2013
The most recent issue of Bicycle Times magazine has a review of the Bike Friday Tandem Traveler XL by Trina Haynes, a staff member and mother who wanted to test a tandem to ride with her 11-year-old daughter, Darby.
Here are some excerpts from the review. Pick up a copy at your bike store:
Editorial Review of Tandem Traveler XL by Trina Haynes
“[My daughter] Darby and I rode the Traveler XL mostly on mixed-surface rail-trails and city bike paths. Right out of the gate, the bike was super-easy to manage. I didn’t have much experience riding a tandem, and Darby had none, but we were able to get up to speed easily and manuever well without incident. The 20″ wheels combined with the low-slung frame made for a super-low stand-over height, which was totally user-friendly. In fact, my six-year-old son — he has to learn forward a little, but is still able to pedal and experience the awesomeness that is tandem riding.
“Stability is the key component here. Because the bike is so long and low, the center of gravity is also very low, making the Tandem XL handle easily, even with us newbies piloting.
“The 24-speed drivetrain offered more than enough gears to get over short hills and long climbs alike. Darby and I consistently made it up grades that surprised us and could hit some really good speeds going downhill and on flats.”
Add comment September 25, 2013