By Meredith “Pokey” Sheeran
When Rob Blanda, co-founder of BikePacking.us, added me as a blogger for the group (probably to keep me from pestering him on Facebook with my ride ideas and gear finds) I was thrilled, honored, and confused. Other than my obsession with all things bicycle (road/mountain/tour/bikepack), I am in no way more qualified than any recreational cycling enthusiast to write this blog. I’m not a competitive racer or endurance athlete. I exercise, but despise the gym, and therefore am fit but sadly it’s not outwardly apparent. I have a full-time (plus) job, a home to maintain, a trophy (ha, ha Scott) husband, and two badly behaved pets (one of whom you will hear plenty about in my diatribes). I have many dear friends that I try to spend time with, preferably outdoors, or just keep in contact with; so just a normal person. What you will get in the Bikepacking.us Pedal Talk blog is a regular gal’s thoughts and insights on cycling, gear, routes/trails, and whatever I’ve taken a fancy to on a particular day, or moment. Definitely no Lance Armstrong-like intimidation here.
My intent is to post “articles”, however if I don’t have time I may just post a link to an interesting gear find or trail that I’ve noted. By posting here, my comments and articles will also show up on the Bikepacking.us Facebook page (FB), and on the “home” screen for all the FB “likers”, as if shared by an administrator. That way you all can’t ignore me anymore; as currently my comments are buried in “posts by others”. I have a passive-aggressive relationship with FB.
This task caters to my love of organizing in general and lists in particular. It will also curtail the amount of email “word vomit” my friends need to endure when my need to write boils over. I have created a catalogue of items researched, experiences gained, and knowledge to be shared so get ready to read (on an infrequent, when-I-have-time, kind of basis)!
So a bit about my cycling background. I’ve always loved cycling from my first hand-me-down blue Schwinn with a banana seat, to the road bike I saved up for and bought at the long-ago defunct Best, to the mountain bike I commuted on in college until stolen, to my current hybrid riding on folding bikes (I travel for work, a lot) and my beloved used Moots mountain bike. Wow, that was a really long run-on sentence! I took approximately a four-year hiatus from cycling when my college MTB got heisted until my boyfriend (now hubby) and I purchased a couple of Trek hybrids to take on vacations. Cycling was creeping back into my life.
My first organized ride was the One Helluva Ride [the Ann Arbor Bike and Tour Society’s (AATBS) signature event] on my Trek. OHR takes place in July and occasionally one of the routes, usually the century, actually goes through Hell, MI (yep, it exists people), depending on the shape the Michigan winter (and MDOT) have left the road in. I did a 35ish mile route plus the 15 mile fun ride so I could go around Portage Lake. I was super proud of myself for completing my ride, but sad that I didn’t get to go to Hell (bet you’ve never hear that before) and vowed that I’d get faster and gain more endurance for that goal.
A few months later I was working in Minneapolis and happened to be staying over the weekend at the Sheraton on the Midtown Greenway. For those not familiar, the Greenway is basically a bicycle super highway just South of downtown Minneapolis that was built on the remnants of a sunken railroad corridor no longer under use. The Midtown Greenway helps to connect over 120 miles of on and off road bicycle facilities; part of the reason why Minneapolis has been named one of the best Bike Cities in the country, and sometimes #1, by Bicycling magazine. But I digress… Anyway, I rented a hybrid bike from The Freewheel Midtown Bike Center (conveniently located on the Greeenway) and rode all over the city and along the Mississippi River every night and weekend day I was there. From then on, I was hooked.
I attempted bike rental in other cities that I traveled to but many did not have close to the cycling infrastructure that Minneapolis does. Therefore, renting was often expensive, inconvenient, or impossible. That’s when I started to think of folding bikes and discovered there is an entire sub-culture of folders used by commuters, travelers, and folks who don’t like leaving their bike locked up on the street. I first found a used Bike Friday Pocket Rocket (performance oriented; takes about 20 minutes to fold and unfold – time, and number of forehead smacks with pedal wrench, greatly reduced due to addition of quick release pedals) and later a Brompton (folds in about 30 seconds, not as fast and sporty as the Bike Friday but damned efficient).
Hello, my name is Meredith and I am a bike-aholic.
The morale of the story is that I started to ride, a lot. I love to talk and write about all aspects of cycling and though I’m no expert I hope that my passion for cycling and resulting research will provide folks with some education and enjoyment.
P.S. As you may have noticed, I adore parentheses (J).