Bike, Walk, and Wheel Week is one of my favorite Columbia events, the time when our community celebrates what my husband and I try to do year round. We have attempted to build our daily lives around minimizing car use.
I’ve spent decades walking regularly, both for transportation and recreation. But lately I’ve been focusing on building up my cycling stamina with a specific goal in mind. I want to be able to accompany my spouse occasionally on his weekly rides to the Big Bur Oak in McBaine, where he takes a series of photos to document changes in the tree over seasons and years. The photos from this passion project of his can be seen at bigburoak.com.
Though I firmly believe ambling aimlessly with enjoyment of the moment is a fine use of time, I want to focus on a few books about folks who have a set purpose to their non-motorized travels.
“On Freedom Road, Bicycle Explorations and Reckonings on the Underground Railroad” is David Goodrich’s account of his ride with two friends — one of whom was a woman in her seventies — exploring the routes enslaved people used in their quests for freedom. It’s a mix of American history and travel memoir. As Goodrich explains, traveling by bike rather than car gives one a better feel for the pace and distances experienced by freedom seekers, as well as the challenges posed by various landscapes.
In 2017, Sara Dykman set out on a solo bicycle adventure along a different kind of route. In “Bicycling With Butterflies” she shares scenes from her nine-month journey following the migration paths of monarch butterflies, covering more than 10,000 miles and traveling through three countries. Though her method of minimal-planning travel would provoke anxiety for many, it worked for her. This book isn’t just an account of a bike trip, it’s an education on the importance of monarchs for healthy ecosystems.
In “Revolutions, How Women Changed the World on Two Wheels,” Hannah Ross says she hopes to encourage more women and girls to embrace the freedom offered on bicycles by sharing stories of those who came before. She begins with the early days of cycling in the 1890s, when female riders often endured scorn and harassment. There were decades of women using bikes to gain and advocate for freedom and equality — something that’s been underreported. Ross continues to the 21st century, spotlighting women who ride competitively and campaign for equal pay.
Similar to David Goodrich, Neil King, Jr. wanted to experience history and American culture at a pace that enabled a fuller appreciation than is possible with automotive travel. After the life-altering experience of recovering from cancer, he decided to walk from his home in Washington, D.C. to New York City, hoping to “…dip into the deep pockets of our American memory, to pause with families rooted in place over centuries.” He chronicles this journey in “American Ramble.”
For more titles on the theme of “Bike, Walk, and Wheel,” see our catalog list. During the latter half of May we will also have a table display on the second floor of the Columbia Public Library with related materials available for checkout.
Bike, Walk & Wheel Week logo used with permission from Local Motion.