Biking while pregnant as a surrogate made me feel like a superhero.
Before I get started, do you know what I'm talking about? When you look at rooms to rent on AirBnB, you've got a pretty exhaustive set of amenities you can filter by. You can choose to see only 1-bedroom places, with a pool, who provide shampoo...but the possibility of the host offering a bike (or bikes) for guests is strangely not one of them.
Milwaukee has a strong bike culture and decent-to-amazing infrastructure. And it has those unfailingly nice mid-western people. And it has GOOD beer. Unfortunately, Milwaukee also has a governor who has cut spending on every kind of transportation except highways...
Bikabout donates 25% of its revenue each year to support local non-profits that advocate for better biking. And while that may sound altruistic, we want to be explicit about the fact that our motives are entirely selfish. We're trying to remake North America the way we'd rather it be. Let us explain.
With National Bike Month (May) right around the corner, now is the perfect time for curious lodging to make the leap into the bike tourism community. Its all about the experience these days and nothing simultaneously gives the gift of elation, independence, efficient sightseeing and adventure like the bike does. Here are 5 tips on how you can provide guests with a biking experience of a lifetime.
Voted “Best Used Book Store” 5 years in a row, Blue Bicycle Books was taken over by a former employee and his wife in 2007, and continues to delight readers on King Street 8 years later. The store opened in 1995 as Boomer’s Books, and has always offered knowledgable staff, a comfortable atmosphere, and a friendly shop cat to pet. Online book sellers don’t have shop cats.
Bikabout.com has curated this list of museums because they roll out the red carpet for people biking, they are located along a scenic and comfortable route or they're just cultural landmarks not to be missed via two wheels or otherwise. Locations include Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, New York, San Francisco and Vancouver.
Arriving in Vancouver and hopping onto a bike when you're used to places like Boston, your first thought is "this is what DONE looks like." Done arguing, done advocating, done waiting, done building... Vancouver looks and feels like a photoshopped "After" picture if you're a bike advocate. The water on all sides, the mountains tumbling over each other on every horizon, and those incredible bike paths everywhere... swoon.
Portland is constantly touted as a livable city in the transportation advocacy world, and I finally made the pilgrimage to the Rose City for a Net Impact conference in 2011. Experiencing the city in a mere 3 days was a tease, and I knew I had to come back with my husband and daughter to fully explore it by bike. Then in 2013, with plane tickets purchased, a family vacation to Portland was happening and it was serendipitous that I would find a book that would forever influence my vacation planning and ultimately lead to the creation of Bikabout.
Hop in the Saddle - BUY THIS BOOK TODAY!
Getting an issue of Momentum Magazine is an event in the Ramey household. I squeal when I see it in the mailbox and immediately have to find a quiet corner so I can flip through it. The editorials, photography, and even the advertisements are inspiring for all riding levels. If you don't have a subscription, get one, you won't regret it.
It was while reading the magazine that I discovered the book, Hop in the Saddle, a Guide to Portland's Craft Beer Scene, by Bike. My jaw dropped in reading the description because it was like someone wrote the book just for Kyle and I. I immediately bought the book, made lodging reservations (Tiny Airbnb house in North, Kennedy School and Jupiter Hotel), reserved a bakfiets and city bike rental at Clever Cycles, and we were set. When we arrived, it was like we had a personal tour guide with Hop in the Saddle. With the turn by turn directions, beautifully designed maps, fun descriptions of the destinations, and other resources, I barely had to take out a phone to plan anything the entire trip. We just biked wherever the three lovely authors told us to go and my husband got to drink some of the best beer in America, our daughter had fun at the playgrounds and parks, and I got my fill of the bike porn.
Because we had such an amazing time on that trip and it was so easy, I wanted other people to experience that type of vacation in great biking cities, which is why I credit Hop in the Saddle and Portland as the inspiration behind Bikabout. Please buy this book and support the ingenuity of the three ladies who put it together.
Why is it so magical to visit Portland by bike?
Portland and the whole state of Oregon do the most to seduce bike tourists, and it shows. In the city, you have a network of scenic bicycle paths, neighborhood greenways, and on-road bike lanes, and every major destination is signed for way-finding. Along the signed bicycle routes are unique, local restaurants, coffee shops, retail stores, and it seems you can't bike a mile without passing a high grade brewery, craft beer bar, wine room or cocktail watering hole. Even the bike corrals are well designed and plentiful allowing for last minute pull overs when a rest stop is spotted.
Anybody who has ever browsed the Airbnb inventory for Portland knows that there are more properties than any other city and many of them look like they could be in a design magazine. The city breathes creativity and it shows in this community of hosts.
There is also a nice selection of hotels and inns that offer bike friendly lodging like McMenamin’s Kennedy School and the Crystal, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Rose, Hotel Vintage, Riverplace and Ace Hotel. All but the two McMenamins provide complimentary bikes for guests, but McMenamin’s makes up for it with their unbelievable “club med for hipsters” amenities.
Bike Rentals & Shops
Amtrak’s Cascade line has the closest thing to roll-on service for a long distance train in America and connects you to both Seattle and Vancouver. You have to remove your bags and panniers and the baggage car takes it and hangs it in vertical racks. Make sure to pay the $5 bike fee in advance to confirm your space.
Portland’s buses all have bike racks and the light rail is outfitted with vertical hanging racks.
Travel Oregon is the machine behind all the fantastic bike tourism and their site has a wealth of resources for traveling around the state by bike.
Places to Visit by Bike
Out of every city we have biked, Minneapolis is by far the best biking city in the U.S. Between the "bicycle interstate highways" that get you where you need to go, water at every turn, the most bike racks per capita and normal folk riding bikes, this city provides a social, stress free and scenic city biking experience.
I am seriously biased when it comes to Madison WI because I was born in the Emerald City, also known as "X square miles surrounded by reality." This city is jam packed with everything a Midwestern girl could want: laid back ladies, farm-to-table food, theatrical thunderstorms, tasty beer, a decent Big 10 athletic department and most importantly, the lakes.