Exploring New Territory

Sarah Ripplinger IconSarah Ripplinger portrait by Terry Sunderland

There’s an element of excitement when traveling abroad, or even when taking a new route to work or the grocery store. This experience is particularly special when you are the navigator and primary engine of your voyage. At the end of the day, though, the enjoyment factor of any given trip often depends on what you use to get there.

My excursion to Richmond, Virginia, for the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (February 26-28, 2010) involved a tour around the historic city with some veteran local cyclists. I felt the bumps in the cobblestone streets, the gusts of wind coming off the James River and enjoyed the camaraderie of traveling with a group of like-minded individuals. Similar to our travel story writers, I was exploring a distant land, learning about the local culture and tackling the challenges of the landscape.

That adventure involved a harrowing introduction to a classic 1985 road bike that would have been perfect for someone five inches taller than me – which gave me a deeper appreciation for how much what you ride affects how you feel. In comparison, my most recent adventure with an electric-assist bike was a breeze.

I have several hills to contend with on my trip home. Riding an e-bike, however, I no longer opt to cool my heels on the bus after hoisting my bike onto the front rack, but zip up the longest series of hills on my route with a little help from the electric-assist. Similar to our e-bike riders in this issue’s subculture story, I am testing the waters of one of the newest arrivals in the North American commuter cycling scene. And if China and the Netherlands are any indication of things to come, there are likely to be many more cyclists venturing into e-cycling territory in the future.

In many ways similar to Richmond, VA, urban cycling is starting to get a foothold in Detroit, MI (city feature). Both places have plenty of road space for bicycles – as a result of the removal of some large industrial complexes and decreased or stable population numbers – which has left a lot of room to incorporate bicycle infrastructure. Many barriers will need to be overcome before these cities reach the ranks of “bicycle-friendly,” but the future of cycling in both locations looks bright.

Happy spring cycling,

Sarah Ripplinger

Editor, momentum magazine


Originally published in the May/ June 2010 issue of Momentum Magazine and on momentummag.com.

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