Recently, Marc Cohen, KEEN Field Service Rep for the Rockies, had the opportunity to connect with Join the Cycle – a group of three ladies pedaling across the country by bike to inspire others to use their bikes as a means of transportation.
They had just crossed the Continental Divide after many weeks on the road which had them passing through rugged but beautiful lands throughout California, Arizona, New Mexico and now Colorado.
Marc caught up with them in Denver for a cup of Joe and some reflection on their experiences.
- Hannah Hamilton, 24, Gluten-Free Baker from Montpellier, VT
- Casey Depasquale, 26, Decorative Painter from Minneapolis, MN
- Melissa Thompson, 34, GIS mapping specialist from Laramie, WY
KEEN – So tell me about Join the Cycle
JTC – Join the cycle is the organization of us three ladies pedaling across the country on bicycles to inspire people to use their own bicycle as transportation. The cause is primarily environmental–we want more Americans to consider the ways they can cut fossil fuel consumption in their everyday activities. In addition, biking for transportation is a great way to get exercise while saving money on gas and parking. Rather than riding to raise money, we want people to take direct action and commit to cycling more, driving less, and spreading the bike love!
KEEN – As I understand it, one of you had never even worn spandex prior to the journey’s start in L.A. With limited experiences like this on a bike, what was it that inspired you to take on such an epic endeavor?
Hannah – Casey and I started daydreaming about cycling across the country over two years ago. We decided from the start that if we actually made it happen, we wanted to take advantage of the exposure a trip like this gets. The environmental aspect came naturally for both of us. It’s such a hip topic at the moment but many individuals are overlooking a lot of wasted energy in their lives. Bicycles are also so empowering–almost anyone can use one, they don’t cost a lot, and they celebrate the capabilities of two legs!
KEEN – And is it true that the three of you had never gotten together as a team before L.A.?
Hannah – Casey and I studied fine art together in college, and later worked on some large artistic projects together. We realized that we’re a pretty good team, so when we decided to make time to do this project, we jumped right into organizing. Melissa found us through a call to riders that we posted online, and began planning with us over the phone and internet. We didn’t actually meet Melissa until we all convened in Los Angeles to start the trip!
KEEN – About how far are you travelling each day and what kind of gear are you utilizing?
JTC – We average 50-60 miles a day, which for cross-country cyclists isn’t very much. There are a lot of factors that affect our speed; the fact that we’re new to touring and didn’t know our legs’ limit, the weight of our bikes, and our planned visits to lots of cities. We’re not racing and we’re not trying to break any personal records. This trip is about traveling by bike and meeting people.
We all have different bikes, a Surly Longhaul Trucker, a Cannondale T700, and an old Bianchi Volpe that’s had a lot of customization! We’re completely self-sustained, no sag-wagons allowed! So we carry our gear in front and rear panniers, which are made by Axiom for the most part. We have two camping tents, a tiny camping stove and cooking equipment, lots of camelback water reservoirs for those days where we don’t see any civilization, food for our huge appetites, a Mac laptop that we just can’t live without, and some other boring stuff like clothes and toothbrushes. The weight of carrying our gear on the bikes makes a big difference. On one hand, we’re a lot slower and have a lot more surface area to create drag, on the other hand the gear absorbs a lot of shock!
We’ve received a lot of great gear from gracious sponsors as well. Planet Bike sent us lights, fenders and a bike computer which have all been great. New Belgium Brewing gave us some cycling clothes. Sibley Bike Depot, a non-profit community bike organization Casey volunteers at gave us a huge discount so that we could order gear and tools. And of course, we LOVE our KEEN Cycling Shoes!