Le Camping à Vélo

Over Memorial Day weekend, I went bike camping for the first time. Voici my trusty steed Seabiscuit all loaded up and ready to go!


Inside the panniers were: a lightweight one-person tent, a sleeping bag, a thermarest mat, a change of clothes (which doubled as a pillow), a couple snacks, a headlamp, travel sized toiletries and a few more camping doo dads. I also used this list on Bicycle Touring Pro to help me pack. You can also glimpse a corner of my po campo purse that I hooked onto my rear rack which carried my wallet, sunblock, lip balm, camera, phone and keys.

Luckily I was not alone on this adventure. I joined a group of 20+ bikey friends and so we had plenty of seasoned campers along on the ride who also brought essential camping gear to share. As you can imagine, we made quite an entrance wherever we rolled through!


To slice a few miles off, we took the ferry from San Francisco to Vallejo.


The rest of the ride was fairly flat and, as always on a bicycle, I got to see corners of the Bay Area I've never witnessed before in an up close and personal way.



The most beautiful part of the trip was when we arrived on the Silverado Trail which meandered through vineyards.



I decided to wear a helmet for this ride because I was carrying a heavy load and our route has a tendency to be windy with occasional gravel, so I wanted additional safety measures in case I lost my balance.


I knew it was going to be hot, but spending hours pedaling with a heavy load in 90+ degree temperatures is grueling. I would recommend a shorter ride in cooler temps for other bike camping newbies. Also, fit some extra water in your panniers. I'll do that next time.


So it was joyous and momentous when we finally reached Velo Vino, the wine tasting café owned by Clif Family. It's an excellent pitstop for bikey people. The staff was welcoming and accommodating to our large and rowdy group.


And their wines are tasty! Very refreshing on a hot, sunny afternoon.


One of the reasons I picked Seabiscuit was to have a suitable bike for touring and camping. I found I was not alone! Surly bikes were the majority in our large group. A group shot of all the Surly riders:


When we finally arrived at Bothe State Park, I set up camp ASAP before it got dark. One of my campmates noticed that my bike, tent and beer can were color-coordinated. But of course, I'm Vélo Vogue!


One of the best parts about camping is the chance to meet and spend quality time with kindred spirits. I made lots of new connections with inspiring people who are open to challenging themselves with new bike adventures, who also know that getting there is all the fun.


Thanks for the bikey memories, Napa! I'll be back soon!


For more bike camping tips, watch my friend's how-to video for beginners here.


An open letter from mother of killed cyclist Nils "Yannick" Linke

August 2010, German student, Yannick Linke, 22, was killed by a DUI, hit and run driver, Josh Calder, in San Francisco at Masonic and Turk Streets.   Two years later, July 2012, Calder plead guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter and received a reduced sentence of one year in jail and five years probation to include alcohol rehabilitation and a suspended license during the term.   

Last night was the 11th annual Ride of Silence in San Francisco and cities all over the world. For the San Francisco event Yannick's mother, Petra, wrote this open letter to the riders.  Her words resonate with poignant truth.   

Dear Silent Bikers,

Thank you for your invitation to join you. Sorry I can’t be with you. Yet I would like to share a few thoughts with you.

I am the mom of the young German student Nils Yannick Linke who got run over riding a bike by a drunk and doped driver on Friday, August 13, 2010.

A young man was killed by a driver in an old car. Kurt Vonnegut’s laconic comment would have been “so it goes”.Yes, this world is full of coincidences. But the moment a driver drinks, smokes pot, is on the phone, or speeds, the coincidence turns into purpose. The driver actively decides to run the risk to injure or kill someone.

Also, I remember the driver talking to me in court, that he would do everything to make things good. Are you here, Mr. C.? Are you trying to make good by supporting the biking community? Are you here to help make this city safer? Are you touring the bars talking to people about the effect of alcohol on driving?

Is anybody here that has hurt a person? You all should help to make the streets safer. Get engaged! 

Here is my message to the SFPD and all DA’s involved: look at Germany. According to the law, the driver is always at fault, simply because he is the stronger one. Don’t put the blame on the victims.

I am thankful that the death of my beloved son also lead to bring the dangerous stretch of Masonic into redesign and with construction to begin in 2015.

I hope the city of San Francisco will get safer and safer for everyone in the street.

Thank you to everybody that was by my side in difficult times and the court case: Michael, Dale, Helen, Molly, Aaron. My heart goes out to all the friends and relatives that have lost a loved one in a bike accident. I know how you feel. I feel the loss ever so often, all of the family does. The agony will stay. Would he have finished college? Would he have married? Would I have become a grandmother? 

Greetings from Berlin, Germany. I am thinking of you today.

Petra Linke

Yannick's family planted a cherry tree in his honor. This is the tree one year later. He lives on through the tree and in all of our memories. 


Stop the Slow Lane!

It's ok to go slow in the bike lane, but it's not ok for the FCC to slow down access to certain sites.


on the day after Bike To Work Day

I am thinking of this film by Streetfilms that gives us a real-world example of what life in the city could be like.

Groningen: The World's Cycling City from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

The film gives us all (unless we already live in Groningen), something to strive for!

Dream on and ride on!


Bike Movie Mashup

In the past couple weeks, I've attended a couple fabulous bike film festivals. As you know, my film, The Spinster, world premiered at one of them, Filmed By Bike in Portland, helmed by the talented Ayleen Crotty (give it up for women festival directors!!!). When I told people about the festival, I often got the odd reaction, "I didn't even realize that bike films were even a genre."

YES. They are. [DUH!]

Film directors throughout history and across cultures have used the bicycle as a storytelling convention. Why? Because the bicycle inspires! The bicycle inspires emotion, memories, love, independence, exhilaration and so much more.

That's why a number of inspired people like Ms. Crotty have organized bike-themed film festivals that bring together a bike-friendly community around the type of films that inspire us!

The Spinster was the first runner-up for the Audience Award at Filmed By Bike. The winner was Dust in the Chain - a bike circus film by Norbi Whitney.

But my personal favorite was the unicycle animated film from Greece - Eight Minute Deadline!

Eight-minute Deadline from ovalimage on Vimeo.

I also really loved this short film out of LA, Bicycle and a Way of Life. Not such a great title, but I enjoyed the storyline, the message and also the acting by Fernanda Rohd, who played the lead.

And then, on the heels of one bike film festival, I come back to SF and Brendt Barbur's popular Bicycle Film Festival is in full swing. I got to attend the Cinematic Shorts Program, and by far, my favorite was a very sweet and touching film without dialogue called Boy.

Click here to watch online.

And if you need a good laugh, then take seven and a half minutes out of your day to watch the crowd-pleaser, El Diablo (a short from the feature film The Last Kilometer):

EL DIABLO / short film from feature length documentary "L'ULTIMO CHILOMETRO" from Stuffilm on Vimeo.

Finally, we were all treated to this heart-warming story of a young man seeking a solo adventure, just him and is bicycle trekking across... Kyrgyzstan, the "Switzerland of Central Asia" (or is Switzerland the Kyrgyzstan of Europe?).

The Road From Karakol from Outdoor Research on Vimeo.

You can't not fall a little bit in love with the young and ambitious Kyle Dempster, his sense of humor, unshakable positive attitude and his pure enjoyment of life.

The same can be said of Brendt Barbur himself, who also has quite a story, of turning adversity into positive social movement.

Thanks again to Ayleen and Brendt for supporting bicycle film and sharing all these inspiring cinematic gems with us! Ride on!