Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Inspirational Rider: My Mom

In a recent conversation with my family, I learned that my mom has joined the bike commuting community. She has been a recreational rider for years, and now she is riding to her weekly Bible study group at church and to the library. (She's an avid reader.) This has added up to her biking 450 miles in 2014!!

My parents church is about a mile from their house. She takes residential side streets that have a low speed limit and little car traffic. She also bikes on up to the local library a few more miles north with books in-tow in a back pack. She enjoys the short commute and gets some exercise. She also is a trend-setter within her church group, demonstrating to others just how easy and fun it can be! I asked her why she does it, and she said that she likes the exercise, it's close and it's better for the environment. I can't argue with those reasons.

This is big news, as my parents live in a car-friendly suburb of Grandville, Michigan outside of Grand Rapids. Grand Rapids has recently made some pretty big strides in becoming bike-friendly, which is something worth noting. Michigan was home to the auto-industry for the 20th century, and the state and local communities were quick to develop the roads to support the state's largest industry.

Growing up, like many families, we drove everywhere. To church, school, movies, the mall, sports games. Many of these places were within a 15 minute drive (or less), but riding bikes was not a realistic, safe option for a family with kids in tow.

We were lucky because part of the Kent Trails was located about two miles from our house along an old abandoned rail line. This provided our family great recreational riding opportunities. We loved riding to a local ice cream shop at one of the of the trail. As a teenager, I enjoyed the experience of long, solo rides. My parents continue to use the trail as a part of their exercise routine. As my brother and I left the house, my mom rediscovered her love of biking. She and my dad got new bikes, and soon thereafter began riding in neighborhoods and along shorter trails in the community.

My mom's decision to bike to get around town is new and has been recent. Hearing her story has been inspirational. Biking 450 miles is pretty awesome, especially since she's not training for any races! She knows that I've been getting around by bike since 2006, and she may have initially drawn some inspiration from me. Now, though, I see her decision to try something new and to be comfortable with doing something different as continued motivation for me. On days when I need a little extra push when I'm riding to work, I think of my mom.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

BITU Celebrates 4 years

Wow. That's right. Biking in the Upstate is celebrating 4 years this month. Last year was the first time that this blogiversary was ever celebrated, and I briefly looked back on the successes that have happened. This year I decided to continue the tradition since it's this blog's birthday and its close to the end of the year. Let's take a look back over 2014.

2014 Biggest Upstate Bike News Story:  The Doodle Line Bike Trail Plan completed. The cities of Easley and Pickens worked together over the last couple of years to put together a plan for a trail that would connect the communities by the old "Doodle" railroad line. This is quite possibly the biggest news to his the Upstate since the inception of the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Recent news indicates that this trail may be completed during summer 2015!

2014 Most Visited Blog Post:  Christmas Gift Review: Bontrager AW3 Hard Case Tire. Last Christmas I got a new hard case tire, and was pretty stoked. Hard case tires are great for biking in areas with a lot of road debris. The tires are designed to reduce the frequency of flats, and I can attest to that. They are a bit more pricey then regular tires...but they are so worth it. This post got picked up by Bontrager on Twitter, and I got a lot people interested. It got 306 pageviews, leading this post to my 7th most visited post of all time.

2014 Blog Post with the Most Comments:  The Good, The Bad and The Reality of Clipless Pedals. Several of you had some encouraging things to share with me as I explained my opinions on clipless pedals. I appreciate your encouragement, feedback and the discussion. After six more months of riding, I'm still feeling the same:  I love 'em for the weekend rides, but they aren't as convenient for commuting. I have learned that maybe what I really need is two bikes. One for long rides on the weekend, and other with the gear for commuting. Hey Santa, if you're reading this, take note. (One can dream, right?)

2014 Author's Favorite:  Top Southeast Mountain Biking Trails: Checking Out Tsali Recreation Area. This was a close choice between several different posts, but I really enjoyed the vacation that went along with checking out one of the best mountain biking parks in the southeast. And the pictures in this post are just beautiful! If the idea of a get-a-way weekend in the mountains is something you're thinking about, check out this post. Along with the trails, there are campgrounds, whitewater rafting, great bbq and a smoky mountain train ride near-by.

The fourth year of this blog's life was a fun one to write. I look forward to seeing what the fifth year in 2015 brings!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Rolling Bike Summit Round Up

Last month I participated in the first ever South Carolina Bike Summit. The Palmetto Cycling Coalition took an innovative approach by taking the Summit across the state to Greenville, Spartanburg, Columbia, Aiken, Blufton/Hilton Head and Charleston. Taking an opportunity to get to Spartanburg, was nice to see a part of the Upstate that I'm less familiar with. I met some new people, including a member of the PCC Board of Directors.

At the Summit, I had a chance to talk about some of the great bike-related things that have been progressing at Clemson University. The Bicycle Friendly University Program was the speaking topic, as there are several colleges near Spartanburg including Wofford College and Converse College. Clemson University has been designated a "BFU" at the Bronze Level. The program, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclist, is a way to help colleges implement bicycle-related improvements on campus. The improvements can be things like better bike racks or more bike lanes, safety campaigns or education outreach programs. The program rewards college campuses across the country with recognizing those who focus on making improvements.

Speaking at the Summit in Spartanburg

I talked about the BFU application process, and how it brought departments and offices across the University together. The 70+ question application was free to complete, but took quite a bit of research and effort to complete. Becoming a BFU is not a given, and a college has to have a proven track record. Clemson University was honored to recieve the designation on our first try at the application.

The Palmetto Cycling Coalition tracked the support, stories and events of the Rolling Bike Summit on Twitter and Instragram. Check out the hashtag #scbikesummit to review the great ways the biking community came together across the state. Thanks to the PCC for putting on the event, all the local hosts and those that came out to make the Summit a success!