Jacqui D, our Sunday night manager & volunteer, recently biked from Atlanta down to Tallahassee (her former home) for Bike! Bike! Southeast 2014, and shared about her experience with us.
Jacqui’s route totaled 360-400 miles and took her along the Chattahoochee River, through state and local parks, on big climbs, and even involved being lost in Fort Benning!
Check out our interview!:
Q: Can you provide a bit of info about your route to Tallahassee?
A: We chose to follow the Chattahoochee River as closely as possible for several reasons:
-It’s an incredible river that forms the western border of the state with many state and local parks for camping, most on the water.
-Having lived in Tallahassee for years and cycling within a 60 mile radius of town I strongly prefer heading into the city through Bainbridge GA because the roads are nice and the route is very direct.
-We wanted to avoid the monotony of state highways (like 27) for as long as possible opting for a longer tour, but a more diverse and less trafficked terrain.
I am going to publish a small route guide from the trip, so look for it soon at Sopo!
In total I think we travelled between 360-400 miles
Q: Have you been on any bike tour before?
A: I had been on one a week long tour on the West coast of Washington state years ago, but I’ve trained as a road racer for several years with long distance riding part of my weekly goals. I used to ride between 100-200 miles a week.
I really don’t think you need to have any experience with long distance travel to tour, it’s really about enjoying the journey and pacing yourself. But I think my experience gave me the confidence needed to commit to this particular tour.
Q: What was your favorite location or experience on your trip?
A: My favorite location was the entire stretch of route 39, especially the view from this unexpected climb heading into Georgetown.
We had been terribly lost in FT Benning due to some badly transcribed directions we took from a very kind local rider. We ended up pitching our tent (by invitation) around 10:00pm amongst a bunch of tanks on a gravel road and spent the next morning on a nightmare hike-a-bike eventually leading us nowhere. We finally got out of the base and rode some major logging roads through Alabama until we reached 39.
When we reached 39 it was as flat as a pancake, not a vehicle in sight and surrounded by swamp on both sides of the road. This stretch of wildlife preserves and marinas is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever travelled.
Q: What was something that surprised you?
A: I was surprised by the intensity of the climbs and the breadth of the river. Between Eufaula, AL and Georgetown, GA the river widens significantly and crossing it over the bridge really reminded me just how connected everything is. It is refreshing to be humbled by the power of a currant or by the formations of rocks – being on a bike all day for 6 days provides many opportunities for reflection.
Q: What would you recommend to someone considering a trip by bike?
A: I would recommend doing lots of research especially for routes, places to stay, and traffic patterns. Look online and ask around for advise and tips for touring. You don’t have to have fancy equipment or even a touring specific bike (neither of us did) to tour. Remember that a big trash bag can waterproof something just fine, so be resourceful!
Be flexible: sometimes you can’t stick to your planned route or you have to take a break. Don’t loose track of the experience.
Be prepared: have extra tools and parts, maintenance your bike and have another mechanic double check the condition of your bike. Touring can stress your bike especially your wheels, so make sure your bike is in good working order. Granny gears will save your knees!
Most importantly: have fun!
Q: Was there anything you encountered at Bike! Bike! SE 2014 that you’d like to bring back to SoPo?
A: BBSE! Was a great inspiration. I learned and shared with so many rad folks. I’d like to share some information regarding safer spaces and supportive learning environments in the shop soon. I have some handouts to share as references in the shop.