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Photo by Adam Coppola
Sights and Sounds with Willie Weir. This could get you ready for that fall bike tour ...
Dream. Pedal. Travel. Repeat! Willie Weir has been blogging with Adventure Cycling since 2009 under the category of "Sights and Sounds." Over 200 posts later, we think it's time for a look back at ten of Willie's personal favorites.
He pedaled from San Diego to Seattle via the Pacific Coast route when he was twelve—from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada via the Sierra Cascades route when he was thirteen—and now, at age fourteen, he just finished another big one ...
An informal survey found that "best bakeries" and "best brew pubs" rise to the top of prime destinations for the urban cyclist. When I visited Minneapolis, I discovered another wonderful category that could keep you entertained for a very long time...murals.
What happens when you share the joy of cycling? This!
Sounds! While we were pedaling together, Zeke was able to display one of his many talents ... telling truly horrible, groan-worthy jokes. Listen to one in his "bad jokes arsenal."
Imagine that your city or town could organize an event that closed down large portions of your streets to vehicular traffic and opened them up for people to ride their bikes or walk. Imagine that an incredible 30 percent of the citizens participated. Now imagine that event happening every Sunday of the year (plus holidays), year after year after year.
In Myanmar, we watched hundreds of workers with brooms, metal pans, and rakes work on a road: hot, dusty, back-breaking work for meager wages...
It was a journey of less than half a mile, but it took over two years to get there. Tiva, our reluctant traveler, finally took her first ride in a bike trailer.
I love coasting down a long mountain pass on a smooth, silky road as much as anyone ... but I have to say my traveler's heart is unpaved.
One of my fondest memories of bicycle travel came on a humble farm in Cuba. It is hard to believe it has been over 15 years that we were invited to stay with Armandito and his family.
I love seeing the world on the seat of a bicycle, as much as I enjoy seeing it from the seat of a bicycle.
Ask anyone who knows me well, and they'd tell you I have a sweet tooth ... Well, a whole mouth full of sweet teeth. Pedaling a bicycle long distances has allowed me to consume way more sugar than I should have, without it showing to a great degree on my person, so far.
Sunsets are one of the great pleasures of life and travel. And just as food tastes better on a bike trip, sunsets are that much more beautiful after you've spent the day pedaling a bike.
In my next life I'm coming back as a linguist. I will be fluent in a dozen languages. My command of these languages will be so complete, that I'll be confused as a local on every continent. Each night before falling asleep, I'll decide which language I'll dream in. But in this life I have come to terms with being a language klutz.
The Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis is only 2100 feet long. Yet it took me over an hour to pedal my way from one end to the other. The bridge used to carry trains over this span of the Mississippi. Today (especially when the sun is out) it carries throngs of locals and visitors.
The bicycle is the perfect vehicle to take it all in. All of your senses are available to soak in the epic views, the blossoms of spring, the bird calls, the local ice cream. I've had moments on bicycle journeys where the beauty of my surroundings is so overwhelming I've had to literally slam on my brakes to stop and process it all before moving on.
Our tent and gear were soaked, so we decided to splurge on a room in a beach town resort. The temperature kept dropping, and wave after wave of rain swept in from the coast. This was supposed to be our "vacation" after many miles of pedaling — sand, sun, a good book, and a cold beverage.
Over the years I've had plenty of memorable holiday meals. Many of them involve turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and gravy. I remember one dinner from my youth, where there was a table of pies. How can you choose between a dozen different pies? But there is one holiday meal that tops them all.
Our legs were weary from battling the mountains of Colombia and our bodies were filthy from the clouds of dust from passing trucks. It seemed that every local we met talked about a seaside town where everyone loved to vacation. We couldn't wait to get there.
In your bike travels, what is the oddest critter or creature that has hitched a ride on your bike or in your panniers? My bike has transported all sorts of caterpillars, butterflies, amphibians, and insects for dozens, if not hundreds of miles.
Exploring cities throughout the world is just getting better and better. With a swipe of a credit card, you can have access to a bike in New York City, Minneapolis, Montreal, and hundreds of other cities throughout the world.
During my week-long exploration of Minneapolis by bike, I was hosted by a different Warm Showers host each night. I arrived at Natalie's place late in the evening after a flight from Seattle. Natalie and her housemates are all bicycle enthusiasts, so they immediately took out a map and gave me suggestions of places to see in Minneapolis — restaurants, diners, trails, murals, and interesting neighborhoods. I think I managed to visit them all within week. One of the joys of staying with Warm Showers hosts, is the chance to hear stories from fellow bike travelers.
I recently had the priviledge of spending a week in Minneapolis pedaling their network of bicycle paths and trails. With a network of over 85 miles of off-street bike paths and 90 miles of on-street bikeways, there's plenty of pedaling to do. Fortunately, Minneapolis has plenty of "bicycle fueling stations" that most citizens refer to as bakeries and diners. I asked several local cyclists to name their favorites. One diner was on everyone's list ...