I’ll never forget the first time I rolled away from a campsite in the golden wash of a new day with everything on a pedal-powered, rolling home away from home. It was comforting and freeing at the same time. All smiles.
I’ve had a lot of good bike karma in the past; bikes have been given to me from friends and friends of friends, I’ve been taught riding skills for free from experts, I’ve learned how to build and repair bikes through my own sheer stubbornness, and gotten help from friends and great places like Neighborhood Bike Works.
It was time to pay back the bike karma.
The reality: The stats show that men cyclists outnumber the females, but that the female ridership is growing rapidly. However, when it comes to bikepacking - which involves a lot of gear and previous experience - I found myself in a small minority of women that were equipped to take on the adventure.
The Women’s Bikepacking Series - Philadelphia Edition was born.
What: A three-part series to take female - identifying persons from 0 - bikepacking, if they wished. Anyone welcome, you didn’t even need a bike to show up to the first session. Some people didn’t.
Session 1: Introduction
The first of the three-part series was designed to be an Intro to Bikepacking. This session started with a basic introduction of bike touring and bikepacking (and the difference between the two), moved onto story-telling by a woman who had bike toured across the States and Canada after college (what is that magical goo for your butt anyway?), and continued to a primer on the elements one should consider when picking a bike. We showcased two bikes: one road bike that was about to tour Japan, and one mountain bike that was about to tour the Continental Divide. It finished with an outdoor screening of Comes with Baggage, a video documentary of bikepacking presented by Blackburn. Snack and laughs abounded; connections were made.
Session 2: Nut n Bolts Gear Talk
Let’s face it, figuring out how to strap a bunch of bags on your bike comes down “this metal thingy needs to attach to my bike somehow, and I’m not sure if I have the right kind of thingy to make it work.” A newbie needs someone to show her how to connect the dots.
A smaller crew showed up this time, but many women communicated with me one-on-one to figure out the details. We met on some forgotten stone steps just off the beaten path in Philadelphia; appropriate foreshadowing for adventure.
We looked at Craigslist ads, showed each other pictures of handlebar rolls, discussed the potential for helmets made out of hoagies, and in general, started making a bikepacking trip a reality.
Session X : The In-between Time
I spent a lot of time talking to women one-on-one over every method available (text message, email, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to work out the details. Everyone’s bike is different; there is rarely a one-solution fits all.
The other really important piece is that most people don’t have ALL the gear needed to bikepack. Lending of gear abounded. I made a detailed pack list and threw it up on Google Drive for all to contribute. People who had extra gear listed it on the spreadsheet, and others in need claimed it. In the end, everyone got what they needed.
Check out the next blog installment for the BEACHPACKIN' trip re-cap.