They’re Everywhere!

I was chatting with Yi in the change room at the YMCA, and she was asking me about my trip. A lady nearby got in on the conversation, and asked where I had ridden.

Then she told me how she rode her bike from London to China when she was young!

How amazing is that? And how many more people like her are out there?

Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to speak more, but I think I will start stalking her to find out more about her amazing trip and life. I’m slightly in awe.

She is older than I am, and my guess is that she did this bike ride in the 70’s. She mentioned that as her and her cycling companion(s) got closer to China, that’s when they opened up the Chinese border to tourists. I’m just going to come out and say it – I have no idea what year that was in.

That got me thinking how different her ride must have been from mine. Just in the bike alone, she could not have had as many gears as I did, nor would her gear/packs have been as lightweight, compact, and durable as mine. She must have faced language barriers, a lack of bicycle repair shops, limited food choices, and tons of unpaved roads. She was probably also one of the first women to do such a trek (although I did recently hear about a woman who cycled a huge distance in the 19th century, but I can’t remember ANY of the details. I may have dreamed this).

My new goal is to: 1) find this lady at the YMCA and get her story, and 2) research fellow female nomads who broke down barriers and made it possible for me to solo cycle across Canada. Of course, I’ve already met Evelyn Hannon (Journey Woman), but I would like to go even further and find the un-sung heroines of bike riding!

If you know of any (male or female cyclists, or female travellers in general), please do let me know. I don’t yet know what I will do with the information, but I love meeting awesome people. Who doesn’t love meeting awesome people?

 

Training… Again.

A friend of a friend recently contacted me. She knew about my bike trip and is planning one of her own, and wanted some help with training. In February, she will ride 120km in one day between two villages in China (where her family grew up).

Of course! Just because I did a terrible job of training myself, doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

Right?

This girl, Yi, doesn’t own a bicycle right now, so nice as it would be to ride outside, I decided to start us off with a spinning class and my YMCA (downtown Toronto). Yi and I met and did the spinning class, which was a blast. I had forgotten how much fun it was to ride bikes, even if this was inside.

This was also my first time on a bicycle since coming back from my trip (I know, it’s shameful), and I was happy to note that I hadn’t completely lost my bike riding muscles. I found the class much easier than it was back in the spring.

Yi and I also went over some squats, lunges, push-ups and sit ups. I want her to strengthen her legs both with cycling and supplementary exercises, as well as strengthen her back and core, to prepare for the long hours in the saddle. I recommended cycling (hard) for about 1 hour and also doing a set of squats, lunges, push-ups and sit ups, 3 times per week (with a day of rest in between each training day) for the first 2 weeks. After that, I suggested adding a long ride (about 2+ hours of hard riding) one weekend day to her routine. I also recommended that she gently/lightly stretch on her rest days.

We will stay in contact as she trains, and hopefully I will be able to provide her with more feedback and tips as she gets closer to the date. Ideally, her rides will become longer and faster right up until the last week before she leaves for China, when I will suggest gentler (shorter) rides to rest her legs before the big day.

This sounds good. Right? If you’ve got any suggestions, please do let me know. Preparing for things was never my forte.