Sometimes, when I’m boarding Caltrain on my way to work day, I see the Amtrak train on the other side of the platform and I’m tempted to hop aboard. How far could I go? Where would it take me? Other times, especially on a Sunday afternoon, when I’m deep in the backroads on my road bike I wonder: if I didn’t turn back to go home, where could I be by sunset? Santa Cruz? San Francisco? Where could I go from there?
Yesterday I started an adventure that’s a marriage of these two escape fantasies. I hopped on Caltrain this morning as I would on any Friday morning, but today I brought my touring bike and gear for a week and today my husband joined me. In San Jose we boxed our bikes and boarded the Amtrak Coast Starlight for a slow roll to Santa Barbara where we will start a five day bike journey to San Diego.
We aren’t doing it alone, though. We’re joining a group of people equally passionate about bicycling on the Surf ‘n Turf bike tour hosted by the California Bike Coalition. We will be not be roughing it: a van will carry all our luggage and we’ll be staying in hotels, not sleeping on the ground. We’ll even dine on the Queen Mary with local bike advocates in Long Beach. If you’re nearby, join us!
For all the fun we’ll be having, the Surf ‘n Turf also a fundraiser for the California Bike Coalition, fondly called CalBike. For those not familiar: CalBike complements and supports the work of the local bicycle coalitions that are its member organization like mine, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. CalBike focuses on state-wide initiatives, like working with state legistration to get key pro-bicycling bills passed like the 3 foot law, which finally passed last year on its third try, and after two vetoes from governor Jerry Brown.
This year’s wins includes allowing bike racks on buses that hold three bikes instead of two, and legislation that makes it much easier for cities to install protected bike lanes. Also known as cycle tracks, protected bike lanes have curbs, planters or flexible posts separating the bikes from car traffic. That means that the pop-up cycle tracks my friends created for an open street event in Mountain View are one step closer to becoming a reality.
Last November I spoke at the coalition’s California by Bike Summit in Oakland. I spoke about how I came to write this blog and the impact its had on me and my readers, which fit well into its theme of “Mainstreaming the Bike In California.” I got a clearer idea of the breadth of CalBike’s mission and partnerships in government, in industry and in the non-profit world. Friends were made, relationships were forged. And now, I’m can let you in on a secret: I’ve been asked to join the California Bike Coalition’s Board of Directors and I have accepted.
In addition to working toward its legislative and other initiatives, I’m also keenly interested in promoting bicycling at the state level through bike tourism. We have a beautiful state, with scenic rural routes that run along our rocky coast, through bucolic vineyards, orchards or towering redwoods, across panoramic deserts and deep into challenging mountainous terrain. Whatever you want in a scenic ride, you’ll find it here.
I also see new opportunities in urban bike tourism opened up by the great strides our cities have made to make bicycling more comfortable for a broader range of people. I know how much fun Dick and I have had on our bike getaways to San Francisco, Sacramento, Berkeley, Tiburon and Long Beach. Cities look completely different from the seat of a bike. Bikes are the perfect speed: you cover more ground than walking and the sights don’t fly by like they do in a car. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who’d appreciate this more active style of travel.
To take on these initiatives and meet this goals, CalBike needs support. As I mentioned, Surf ‘n Turf is a fundraiser. Dick and I will pay the full cost of our participation; we are not asking you to help defray the cost our trip. We have, however, set up a fundraising page for people who want to donate to show their support for the California Bicycle Coalition and its programs, and to congratulate me as its newest board member.
What’s your idea of the perfect bicycle-oriented vacation? Have you taken it yet? If not, why not?