Posted by: localmotive2011 | January 18, 2012

Gear Review

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Our much anticipated gear review has finally arrived! If you are actively planning a tour, or just thinking about “one day,” check out this review to get your own wheels turning. Selecting gear for a large tour can be overwhelming, so just start out by gathering as much information as possible. We agonized over our decisions, but with a lot of research and conversations with others we were able to find excellent gear that fit our needs and desires. In the end, selecting good quality gear paid off because we had very few problems along the way. Sources of good information include blogs, bike catalogs, online reviews, and your local bike shop. If you are hoping to accomplish your tour on a small budget, we recommend talking to your local shop to see if you can work out a special deal. If you buy your bike at full price, shops may agree to give you a discounted rate on accessories (panniers, racks, etc.). Of course, riding for a cause may increase your chances of getting the local shop excited about your trip and on board with a discount. In addition, if you have any questions about our journey, or the gear we used, please feel free to email us at localmotive2011@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading and happy trails!

-Katie, Kerstin, and Lauren

Bikes

Katie: Surly Longhaul Trucker 

This bike is one of the most popular touring bikes available due to its solid components. It has a steel frame and all necessary braze-ons for attaching racks. The tires are of exceptional quality and mine were still in moderate condition after the conclusion of the trip. The bar end shifters were easy to use. In addition, my chain and cassette lasted the duration of the trip, though they started to skip a bit after about 3,500 miles.

I recommend switching out the seat for a model with more cushioning- if you keep the original seat you will have saddle sores within twenty miles. In addition, the wires used in shifting tend to stretch out overtime, throwing off the shifting. Thus, it is important to learn how to adjust the shifting before starting your tour- a fairly simple process. Also, because my bike was of a smaller size, it had smaller wheels (26 in) vs. the 700 c wheels most common in touring and road bikes. When riding with a group, I would recommend that all members have the same size wheels in order to be more in sync initially.

Lauren: Bianchi Axis

The Bianchi Axis is specifically a cyclocross bike, but I was able to convert it easily into more of a touring style bike. To do so, I replaced the carbon-fiber fork with a Surly steel fork in order to take the weight of a loaded front rack. This simple switch has allowed me to convert my bike to and from an aerodynamic road bike to a reliable touring vehicle.

My favorite feature on my bicycle is a feature that is adaptable to many bikes, which is the second set of brakes on the tops of the handle bars. These brakes are ideal for city riding or for posture relief while riding long distances.

The Axis was extremely light-weight and reliable. Despite only having two chain-rings on the front cassette, which was a bit challenging on hills at first, the shifting was smooth without any cable stretching for the entire trip.

Kerstin: KHS TR-101 

This is a steel frame bike designed to be loaded for touring. Even though KHS isn’t as much on the radar for touring, this proved to be a solid bike. The brakes and shifting were flawless throughout the trip. The chain definitely stretched out by about 2,500 miles, but I’m not sure how much that had to do with my riding style versus the quality of the chain. The tires also did not make it the whole way- I replaced the front at about 2,500 and the back at about 3,500 miles. The fenders that came with it worked fine, although a bit flimsy. The seat was great, I would suggest leaving it. The rear rack that came attached was solid. I really liked the bar-end shifters and the wide range of gears.

Panniers

Each of us had four panniers- two of the Pacific Outdoor Equipment and two of the Deuters listed below. Each was about 1120 cubic inches, which worked great for our purposes. We were able to carry our clothing, sleeping bags, shared tent, cookware, and food for about a day or two comfortably.
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Katie: I liked that these were waterproof and had two big pockets inside. Easy to attach to the bike. Moderately expensive.

Lauren: The waterproof feature was nice, however that does not keep your belongings from getting damp. Extremely durable with convenient pockets inside. The color and reflective patches were also beneficial.

Kerstin: I liked that these were waterproof- I never felt like I had to worry about my belongings in these. I also appreciated the adjustable straps, which we often ended up lengthening to carry around as a shoulder bag when we spent time in a town.

Deuter Rack Pack Uni

Katie: I wish these had been waterproof, but otherwise loved the simple design. They had a nice zip pocket on the top that made the storage of small items easy and accessible. Easy to attach to the bike. Low price.

Lauren: These provided ample space and convenient outside pockets, however the non-waterproof fabric required an additional purchase of dry sacks. Small holes appeared in the bottoms after extended use and the color was not optimal.

Kerstin: With plastic bags or dry sacks, these were great. The little pocket on top and on the side were great to keep things like chapstick or chain lube in. These are also not as flashy as other panniers, which was nice.

Mavic Zoya Cycling Shoes

Katie: These shoes combined function with style. They were very comfortable while riding and the recessed cleats allowed us to travel on foot easily as well. You can adjust the position of the cleat on the bottom to avoid numb feet and hurt knees. Highly recommended.
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Kerstin: These shoes were perfect for long days on the bike and walking around town in between. The soles were stiff enough to provide support while cycling, but flexible enough for walking. I loved the velcro straps that help secure the laces down.
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Katie: We used the pocket rocket about 2-3 times per week to cook hot meals. I loved how small the stove was and how easy it is to use- you just have to turn a switch rather than pumping fuel (as with the also popular MSR Whisperlite stove). A major downside, however, are the disposable canisters required to use the stove. They are difficult to recycle and I would have preferred having one refillable canister.

Kerstin: This was perfect for our purposes. It’s easier to use and super lightweight. The disposable canisters are a negative, but I believe we only used 2 during the entire 3-month trip.

Pump:

Topeak has some great pumps!

Tent: Marmot Limelite 3 Person

Katie: This tent was wonderful. It provided just enough room to sleep three women comfortably and we were able to fit all of our panniers in the vestibules. On nights that there was not a cloud in the sky we could take off the rain-fly to let the breeze in while escaping from mosquitoes.

Kerstin: I love this tent. It was super easy to put up and take down. It was tight for three women width-wise, so I would not recommend it for anyone wanting a couple inches to themselves. Lengthwise it was perfect- we always had space to store valuables, water, and a book at our feet. The two doors were wonderful for better access, as were the two relatively spacious vestibules where we kept our panniers at night. This tent was very weather-proof, except the included footprint often allowed some dampness through the tent floor. The only major downside is the very bright (though gorgeous!) orange color, which made stealth camping a bit more difficult.

Water bladders:

For long hot summer days when two water bottles just isn’t going to cut it. Usually you can fill up on water at gas stations and church faucets, but there were definitely some stretches during our trip where water sources were few and far-between. We took two of these bladders.

Clothing/person

One jersey, one wicking tank-top, one wicking short-sleeve, one cotton t-shirt, one long-sleeve spandex top, one fleece, rain gear, spandex leggings, two pairs of bike shorts, atheletic shorts, reflective vest, 1 pair wool socks, 3 pair cotton socks, warm hat, cycling gloves, fleece gloves, flip flops

Tail lights

We used tail lights while riding early in the morning and at dusk. This will greatly improve your visibility to drivers and should be a part of your gear for any bike tour! Paired with a reflective vest you will be equipped to hit the road. We used lights from Planet Bike, which were easy to clip onto our panniers and had a long battery life.

Posted by: localmotive2011 | September 27, 2011

Check out our latest article on the Bicycle Touring Pro Site!

Click here to read the article.   We’ll be posting additional reflections and gear reviews soon, so stay posted!

 

 

Posted by: localmotive2011 | August 30, 2011

We made the news!

After arriving in Astoria, OR and saying goodbye to Kerstin, Lauren and Katie headed to Portland, OR to spend time with a college friend. While enjoying a delicious meal from one of Portland’s many street vendors, they were interviewed concerning their views on urban agriculture by a writer for the Boulder, CO Daily Camera. The news clip and article discuss how Portland is a model for other cities looking to develop local food systems.

Thank you again for all of your support throughout this trip, we’ll be posting more soon.

Posted by: localmotive2011 | August 19, 2011

More pictures from Astoria

Here are a few last pictures from Astoria. Photo credits to David Martin.

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Posted by: localmotive2011 | August 17, 2011

Mission Atlantic to Pacific, complete.

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Trail News

We spent our last night in Eugene with Jillian and Kyle, some college friends of Kerstin’s brother. Little did we know that they had completed their own cross-country bike trip for their honeymoon a few years ago. We’re impressed that they completed their tour on a tandem bike, on which only one person could steer and brake! It was so much fun to swap stories and to see that life after college goes on.

Soon after leaving Eugene, we saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time in the town of Neskowin, OR.  We must have been quite a sight for the other beach-goers as we ran to the ocean. Words cannot explain the excitement we felt when we put our feet in the cold waters for the first time.

On the trail, we often lose track of the days of the week, and it just so happened that we hit the beach towns on the weekend. All of the campgrounds were filled, but we found luck with Rick and Rosa, who offered us their lawn area to camp. Thank you for your hospitality!

Outside of the town of Manzanita, we visited R-evolution Gardens. This organic farm was established by Ginger and Brian. You would never know that the property, filled with rows of vegetables, sustainably designed buildings, and berry bushes, had been a forest merely four years ago. The energy of the farm was palpable and we greatly enjoyed spending the night and the next morning there. Ginger provides a wonderful example of what small farms can accomplish, given the resources available. A constant flow of WWOOFers of all levels of experience also helps make sure the farm runs smoothly. We joined two WWOOFers in weeding, transplanting lettuce, and watering. R-evolution provides produce for a 50-member CSA during the growing seasons. In addition, Ginger was the catalyst for two nearby farmers’ markets.

The day before the finish, after leaving R-evolution Gardens, we made a stop in Manzanita. While at a coffee shop, we spoke with with a local couple, who kindly invited us to share dinner with them. We had a great time with Deedee and Ed at their family beach house, which had been a family construction project in the 1970s. Thank you for a wonderful meal and good conversation!

The Finish:

On August 16, 2011 the Localmotive Bike Tour rolled into Astoria, OR. This marks the endpoint of the TransAmerica Trail!

We were greeted by Kerstin’s parents at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. It’s hard to believe that we won’t be biking tomorrow, or the next day, or the next…

Soon the trio will split up as Kerstin goes to California to start a new job at Woolman-Sierra Friends School, Katie makes her way to Punta Arenas, Chile, and Lauren goes back to Dickinson College for her junior year. We’re already thinking about our reunion trip, biking somewhere else!

Upcoming News:

  • We will be donating some money back Bicycle Touring Pro, the fund that supports new bicycle tourers, and also helped us to finance our own journey.
  • We will also be donating some funds to one of the organizations that we worked with along our tour. Our goal is that the money will be used so that young people can become involved with local farming. More information to come.
  • To help future tourers, we will be writing some reviews of the gear we used, such as our bikes, panniers, tent…

Stay posted for some more pictures and final reflections from each of us.

Thank you again to everyone who helped to make this trip possible. We could not have done it without you.

Loca-love,

Kerstin, Katie, and Lauren.

Posted by: localmotive2011 | August 11, 2011

Are we there yet?

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After leaving Montana, we climbed Lolo Pass and made our way into Idaho. The state greeted us with beautiful riverside rides and scenic mountains in the distance. We spent several days traveling through the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, which felt largely like any other place in America. For example, we happened to stop in Kooskia on Kooskia Days, the town’s annual summer celebration. The festivities centered around live music at the park as well as various food vendors and stands. It was also nice to soak in the river in town after a long hot day.

One particularly memorable piece of Idaho was Hells Canyon, which has certainly earned it’s name. While biking down the zigzagging road into the canyon, we were shocked to encounter a black bear! Luckily, he was more afraid of us than we were of him and he promptly retreated to the woods. We camped that night at the base of the canyon, alongside a beautiful resevoir. The next day, we woke up early to beat the infamous heat of the canyon, but were delayed by a series of flat tires. This was also the morning that we crossed into Oregon midway through the canyon. However, Oregon didn’t feel like Oregon until we climbed out of Hells Canyon.

By the time we reached the town of Mt.Vernon, the desert had given way to fields, rivers and mountains. In Mt. Vernon, we were pleased to find the  Bike Inn run by a local family. The Inn is comprised of a guest house and outdoor hang-out spaces. We were once again impressed and thrilled by the generosity of other cyclists and the members of those communities that the trail passes through.

Another memorable stay was in the town of O’Neil, where we stayed in the only house in O’Neil. There, we stayed with our first couchsurfing.org host, Greg Garretson. Greg is a local climber and artist who welcomed us into his home and shared lots of good stories and information of the area. He also had the cutest dog, Ruby. Here is Greg’s blog.

A few nights later, we found ourselves in Paradise, Paradise Campgrounds that is! There we met the camp host, Larry. After telling us about a very special tree, the Trinity Tree, in the campground, he reimbursed our camping fee and passed on some magic fire starting material for our future campfires. It was very nice to speak with Larry and we hope to come across more campgrounds like Paradise in the future.

Leaving this beautiful river-side campground, we approached McKenzie Pass, one of the best rides we’ve found on the trail. As we ventured up this gradual incline, we passed through thick forests of pine trees and eventually encountered a surprising site. The last few miles to the summit were bordered by tall igneous rock formations from ancient lava flows. The twenty-two mile decent on the other-side of the pass was a much appreciated reward.

Eugene, Oregon was another great stop. Largely, because we got to stay with the Heart and Spoon Community. This spot was similar to the Dickinson College Tree House, in that it is an intentional community composed of a variety of environmentally and socially conscious people. We especially enjoyed spending time playing with Magnolia and Ash, the cutest kids you could ever come across. It is inspiring to see that others outside of the collegiate environment choose to live communally. We’ve also enjoyed the facilities for bikers in Eugene, including bike lanes on all major roads and bike racks.

Finally, Megan Kemple, the coordinator of Farm to School programs in Oregon. She took the time to meet with us and talk about her past, current and future projects for the program. About four low-income schools in Eugene have partnerships with nearby farms where kids can be involved in harvesting and food production. This organization is truly inspiring and we hope that similar programs will thrive across the U.S.

In just four days, we will be reaching our endpoint in Astoria, Oregon. Wish us luck!

Posted by: localmotive2011 | July 28, 2011

Finally in Montana!

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After leaving Lander, we headed north to Grand Tetons National Park. We had one of our most beautiful rides, surrounded by the mountains, pine trees, and rushing rivers. Family friends, Jeff and Kathy of Jackson, took us out to a marina restaurant where we enjoyed trading stories of bicycle touring and environmental projects. Kathy has ridden the Northern Tier tour (Seattle, WA to Bar Harbor, ME) and extensively in the southern U.S. Thanks again for meeting up with us!

We spent the night in a hiker/biker campsite and then headed on to Yellowstone National Park. The tourist season is in full swing, which meant lots of RVs and loaded cars were constantly passing us on the narrow shoulder. For the first time on our trip, we were no longer the only travelers. We saw some neat wildlife, including moose, elk, and bison. We learned from Kathy that the best way to avoid getting gored by bison is to ride alongside a vehicle (making sure to tell the driver that the average bike speed is about 10mph). One sign commonly found in the park told us that bison can run up to 30mph and for those who think they can outrun the bison, that is three times faster than a person can run!

Our second night in the park, we met Andy, Gary, and Nick from upstate New York. They came to share our campfire and swap biking stories. We’ve since seen many more touring cyclists, including many who are touring the Pacific Northwest.

Soon after we faced one of the most challenging rides in a while, which took us over two passes on our way to Jackson, MT. Luckily we had the promise of soaking in hot springs at the end of the day.

One morning, the company  Lightfoot bicycles caught our eye, as they had a recumbent bicycle (a more reclined frame than traditional bikes) sitting out by the road. We test rode a few of their bikes, including a  two-wheel recumbent, trike, and cargo carrying model. They also gave us a tour of the shop, where we witnessed the frame-building processes. Their mission to build reasonably priced and practical vehicles that are outside of the mainstream is inspiring.

We finally made it to our much anticipated destination, Missoula, Montana! This city is the home of the Adventure Cycling Association, the creators of the TransAm maps that we are following. We were fortunate enough to find a place to stay on WarmShowers.org, and  Brent and Bruce put us up for a few days in a beautiful home right outside of downtown Missoula. It turned out that several of our trail friends had also been welcomed into this house. We enjoyed falling asleep and waking up to the jazz music played by the house members and sharing meals together outside. One night, a friend from college, Duncan, and his younger sister Molly, joined us for dinner. We had a great dinner of pasta (with local vegetables from Turner Farms) and enjoyed hearing about Duncan’s trail work through the Montana Conservation Corps.

News update

We found Turner Farms via Localharvest.org, a wonderful web resource for finding farms, CSAs, and markets anywhere in the U.S. Erin Turner gave us a full tour of their 4 acre farm, which is right on the edge of Missoula. She explained that the surrounding farmland is being infringed upon by housing developers, causing controversy in the community.  Due to the current economy, however, little development has actually occurred in the last few years. The farm started because the three Turner boys wanted to earn money for a bunk bed, and soon realized how profitable selling fresh vegetables could be. On their land, the Turners raise hogs, chickens, pumpkins, and a variety of other vegetables. This year they have a twelve-member CSA (community supported agriculture) program; the members pick up a bag of fresh produce every Wednesday afternoon. We helped put the bags together for the CSA while visiting the farm.

Posted by: localmotive2011 | July 18, 2011

Forever Wild, Wyoming!

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Camp News

The Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland just wrote an article about us on their website, check it out!

News from the Road

After leaving our wonderful stay with Mona and Bill in Pueblo, CO we met up with Katie’s dad, Jack, who rode with us for a few days. We experienced cold and rainy weather upon our arrival to the mountains, which was a  nice break from the heat of Kansas. Due to this weather we also holed up in our first hotel room since Virginia (fluffy pillows and warm showers were a welcome change of pace). We watched recaps of stages from the Tour de France while getting tips and advice about drafting and race tactics from Jack (we decided it might not be a good idea to change our shoes while riding,  the way the pros do). The next day we headed up and over Hoosier Pass, the highest point on the TransAmerica Trail. It was rewarding to coast downhill into Breckenridge after reaching the top.

In Breckenridge we met up with two college friends, Drew and Perrin, who drove over from Boulder. We all shared a room in the Fireside Inn, a wonderful hostel with a large cozy common space and a fantastic breakfast. It was great to catch up and wander around the ski town. After our departure from our visitors we continued travelling on our own for the first time in nearly two weeks.

Soon we crossed the border into Wyoming, which looks a lot like Kansas without the trees and farm fields. It seems like most of the state is open range-land, which is bordered by snow-capped peaks. We’ve also faced many obstacles, such as cows blocking the road, rattlesnakes cuddling up to tents, and clouds of swarming mosquitoes.

In Jeffrey City, where we encountered the worst mosquitoes, we also met Keith and Al from Illinois. These two cyclists just retired from the John Deere Co. and are also enjoying their cross-country adventure. They noted, as others have along the trail, that there seem to be two major groups of people on the TransAm: Recent college graduates and retirees. We discussed that in American society there are few times that people can get an extensive amount of time off from the rat race. Why is it that people between the ages of 25 and 65 are expected to buckle down, earn money, and advance their careers at the expense of exploration? Why is it that travellers are seen as unconventional and uncommitted when extensive travel allows for greater self-reflection and cultural awareness? 

July 17th marked a very important day on our journey, Katie turned 22!  Upon our arrival to Lander, WY we celebrated with a night out to pizza, hot showers, and the final chapter of the Harry Potter films.  It was certainly a night to remember. Also, Lander happens to be the home base of instructors for NOLS (The National Outdoor Leadership School), so we fit right in with our sunburns and mosquito-bitten legs. From here, we are looking forward to what has been described as one of the most scenic rides in the U.S., between Dubois and Yellowstone National Park.

Peanut butter jar count: only 20 (because Katie insisted on 4 peanut butter free days).

Posted by: localmotive2011 | July 10, 2011

Rocky Mountain High, Colorado!

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Camp News

We were sitting at a pizza joint in LaCrosse, KS enjoying the 4th of July, when we were approached by Clara and Ginger. It didn’t take them long to figure out that that the 3 bikers sitting at the table were the same girls they had been in contact with for several months. Clara and Ginger eagerly showed us their troop´s Silver Award project, which had been to renovate their meeting room.

The next morning we met several of the troops from Alexander and together we visited a couple local farms. Richard owns several thousand acres on which he grows corn, wheat, and milo (a type of sorghum). He showed us his machinery, and the size of the machines explained how he can manage so much land on his own. We were really interested to hear how he and others follow best management practices in terms of land and water conservation. Richard was sure to give both the pros and cons of chemical usage. For example, when his father farmed, it was common to use aerial spraying to apply pesticides on crops. Now, with genetically modified crops that carry the pesticide within their cell structure, the use of aerial application is not as common, reducing excess chemical usage. Although he uses chemicals on his crops, which are largely grown for livestock feed, Richard was interested in buying organic food and reducing his meat consumption. He indicated that to produce food on such a large scale, it would be nearly impossible not to use some chemical inputs. We really appreciate the time he took to show us around his farm and his work with conservation. Richard’s cousin, Justin, also showed us his alfalfa fields and spoke with us about being one of the younger farmers in the area. We learned about how hard it is to enter the farming industry without coming from a farming family, as the land, knowledge, and equipment necessary can be prohibitively expensive and difficult to acquire. Thank you also to Tess for a wonderful lunch that gave us the energy to bike for the rest of the afternoon! And thank you to Clara, Ginger, and Anne for putting everything together and welcoming us into the Girl Scout community.

Friends on the Road

“We’ve been following you for three days!” This greeting would alarm most people, but coming from a fellow biker we weren’t too suprised. Dean from Virginia and Emil from Sweden had been following our progress in the trail’s various log books for a few days, and had finally caught up. This was just the beginning of our week long journey together across the plains of Kansas. Along the way we shared many stories, introduced Emil to new American “foods” (poptarts, twinkies, twizzlers), and completed our first of three century rides in 100 degree  heat. We’ve had so much fun together and we are so grateful to have shared their company. Kansas wouldn’t be Kansas without them. Best of luck guys on your way to San Franscisco. Give us a call if you decide to ride to Oregon…

The last few days we have also been lucky enough to stay with Gillian in  Ordway, CO and Mona and Bill in Pueblo, CO. Our map indicated that we should “ask for Gillian” when we reached Ordway, but we had barely rolled into town when we were directed to her farm from a local in a pickup truck. Gillian welcomed us into her home, and her generosity was a refreshing reminder of the trust that people can have in each other. It was inspiring to hear of her adventures at sea and around the world, which eventually landed her in Ordway. In Pueblo, family friends opened their doors and let us stay for two nights. Thank you so much Mona and Bill for showing us Bingo Burger (a delicious burger joint that serves local meat and produce), and for sharing your stories and home. We were suprised and inspired to learn that Bill was one of 4,000 riders who completed the TransAmerica Trail during its inaugural year in 1976. It was neat to compare our experiences so far, as the trail has changed little throughout its existance.

Colorado marks our halfway point on the trail and we look forward to seeing what the West has to offer. We are anticipating more sunrises and sunsets, friendly people, open roads,and experiencing foods from this region of the country.

… Peanut butter jar count:

17

Posted by: localmotive2011 | June 29, 2011

Rolling into Kansas

 

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Weekly Update

Following our time at Camp Cedar, we took a rest day in Carbondale, IL. Renee (“River”), one of the camp counselors, put us in contact with her friend Alex who cooked us a delicious dinner and put us up for the night. We had a wonderful time talking with Alex and his bandmates and even got to hear some live music. 

The next morning we had breakfast at The Longbranch Cafe in town where we met several people who are involved and/or interested in the local foods movement. Anthony, the father of 3 young girls, was excited to hear about our trip. It is unfortunate that we could not meet them, but it is clear that his own passion will inspire them be involved in this environmental movement. We also met several people who work on the nearby Dayempur Farm, a center for sustainable agriculture and community building.  The farm is moving forward in many exciting ways, including the initiation of a farm to school lunch program.

We also enjoyed spending a few days with Steven, a 17 year old from Texas, who is riding cross-country. You can check out his blog here: http://bikingocean2ocean.blogspot.com/. It was great to meet up with you Steven, travel safely!

On another note, we’ve finally made it to Kansas and we’re enjoying the flat terrain (there’s not even an elevation profile on our map this week!). Soon we plan to complete our first 100-miler of the trip.

Camp News

We travelled to Camp Wakonda, outside of Ash Grove, Missouri this week where we worked with an engaging group of boys and girls. We were impressed by the camp community that the leadership has fostered there. After playing the “Chain Game” and discussing the agricultural history of the US, we broke into small groups to talk about our individual experiences with food. The participants told us all about their school lunches (Greasy food and a lack of fresh vegetables seems to be a trend), their family farms and gardens, and their ideas for improving access to fresh local food.  One participant recommended that schools coordinate with local farmers to obtain fresh fruits and veggies. The particpants were especially interested in the logistics of our bike trip and we hope that they might follow their own big dreams someday! A special thanks to Matt (“Otter”) and “Mama Yoda”, who welcomed us with open arms into camp.

Some Thoughts on Food on the Road

Our whole journey thus far we have been working with youth to raise their awareness of the foods they are eating, where it is coming from, and national food issues. However, although we find ourselves discussing the merits of of fresh produce and minimally processed foods, these options can be difficult to find along the trail.  The TransAmerica Trail is intended to show cyclists small town America, and we have discovered  that many towns  lack access to larger grocery stores and/or fresh local food. So far, we’ve had to buy most of our food at gas stations and convenience stores which has limited our diet to peanut butter (we’re now approximately on jar 12 within less than 5 weeks!), highly processed bread, and trail mix. In other towns, Wal-Mart is the only place selling fresh vegetables and fruits. This is disconcerting as we would normally like to support local providers and not large corporations.

Although this diet is considered relatively healthy on the trail (as compared to other cyclists we’ve met), and we are trying sustain our energy by eating higher calorie diets, we are also trying to be conscious of the ingredients in the food we consume. High fructose corn syrup, preservatives we cannot pronounce, and hydrogenated oils seem unavoidable.

Because of these limitations, we are more concerned than ever about the access of communities to healthier food options. It comes as no surprise that our country has high rates of diet-related  diseases and obesity. Our experience on the trail has certainly inspired us more to inspires work harder to bring greater food awareness to more people.

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