Finding Your Reason to Ride

Finding Your Reason to Ride

by Karen Miltner

If you are reading this blog, I’m going to assume you love to travel by bike, and if you haven’t done so already, you would like to. Training for a WomanTours trip is a great goal to set for yourself, and the reason that so many of us involved with the company make the time to cycle. 

But I was curious to know what motivates WomanTours guests and friends to cycle the rest of the year, when they aren’t necessarily getting ready for a trip  with us. Do they set goals for themselves, or is there something else that drives them to get on the bike? I posed the question to two WomanTours guests and a fellow WomanTours staffer whom I thought carried interesting cycling goals for themselves. I am sharing their stories –in their own words --- as well as my own. 

I would love to hear from others as well. Drop me a line here. 

My Story: Getting to know my home county  

In 2015 I took a job with my county’s tourism office. At that point I had only lived in Ontario County a handful of years. I decided to get better acquainted with my newly adopted home turf by pedaling all of its public streets and roads.  

I’ve never been much for counting miles or noting elevation gain. But what does give me great satisfaction is looking at the fold-out road map and journal where I’ve been tracking my progress and knowing things like…

  • Suburban street names like Moraine Point, Esker Rise and Glacier Hill in the suburban town of Victor point to the area’s geologic history, formed millions of years ago by receding glaciers.
  • The Farmington 1816 Quaker Meeting House on County Road 8  is where Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony and other famous abolitionists and suffragists lectured.  
  • If you want the feel of Adirondacks wilderness, there’s nothing like the steep, luscious and thickly forested climbs on Liddiard Road in Naples, or Canadice Hill Road in Canadice, or Ganyard Hill Road in Bristol
  • While Riesling grapes may be our region’s most prestigious wine varietal, nothing smells more delicious than ripe Concord grapes on a September day.  
  • The prize for most original mailbox goes to a home on Cedar Swamp Road in Phelps, whose inhabitants have repurposed an old microwave oven. 

I never would have learned so much about this place I call home had I not set this challenge for myself. Now that I’ve biked all of Ontario County, I have a new goal: To ride 62 miles in each of New York State’s 62 counties. Planning these rides is almost as much fun as doing them.

I live in Geneva, NY and recently joined the WomanTours team as a tour specialist. 

Amy’s story: The sheer challenge made the idea impossible to resist 

For two months I’ve been training for a ride I likely won’t do. The ride is an 81-mile Gran Fondo event, ending with a 15-mile climb to the Santa Fe Ski Basin at an elevation above 10,000 feet. Knowing the ski basin road well, I couldn’t imagine climbing it after already having ridden 66 miles. The sheer challenge made the idea impossible to resist.

When a family scheduling conflict arose and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the ride, I continued to train, just in case. My training plan for a hard ride was simple: ride the hard stuff. Not once in a while or just when I was feeling strong; but every time out, include a climb up something seriously steep.

Having engaged in this training-for-a-ride-I-don’t-intend-to-do for several weeks, as of today I’ve realized a puzzling consequence. I like training harder than I need to. “Like” may not be the right word. I love it. This morning I woke up with an insatiable urge to ride something extremely hard. Fortunately, I found it, not far outside my door.

Which has left me with the question of where I will be, come Sunday morning in June….with my family, or on one of my many favorite mountains?

Amy lives in Santa Fe, NM. She amazes fellow WomanTours guests with her effortless cycling prowess and athleticism.  

 Carolyn shows off her cookie.

Carolyn’s Story: 3,000 miles a year and counting 

Biking for me as an elementary age child was my ticket to freedom; I biked to the library, to little league games, to the store for my Mom, and to pretend that I was Cowgirl Sweet on my handsome horse.  (This was because it bugged me that all the radio shows were about cowboys and the only “girl” was someone awed by the Cisco Kid.)  

When my sister Mariann was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I started biking the MS bike tours and got totally hooked on longer distance biking.  WomanTours added to my biking commitment and endurance for longer rides and seeing new places.  

Biking buddies also helped expand my horizons - like Karen Miltner offering to ride around all 11 of the Finger Lakes together. My goal of 3,000 miles/year was met in 2008 and has been met for 10 years with last year’s total of 3,716.8 my biggest number. Hubby Tom knows my affection for chocolate chip cookies, hence the large cookie and my big smile

The WomanTours epic tours are wonderful - Around Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, The Erie Canal from Buffalo to Albany, The Underground Railroad norther segment - Cincinnati to Niagara-on-the Lake. The Blue Ridge Parkway,  I have met so many wonderful women on these tours.

Carolyn lives in Rochester, NY and is consistently one of the top fund-raisers (and cheerleaders) for Bike MS in Western NY. No wonder she aces 3k miles a year.  

 Annette's month of cycling poster

Annette from Rochester, NY: It’s all about the picture

I’m really low key about my riding. I love to ride as much as possible, but if a week or two or a month goes by, especially in the winter when the weather is crappy, and I don’t ride, I tell myself, just chill, the bike is always going to be there, and when the weather’s nice, I’ll get on it. 

Once the weather gets nice I start my season by doing this 30 days of biking in April. It’s a national challenge. I make it fun for myself by riding every day and making a picture. I post that picture every day on my Instagram account, and then at the end of the month, I have this cool record of it, and I make a poster of it. 

Whenever I’m riding I have my phone with me or a real camera. Part of the fun of riding to me is going to a cool place and making a cool picture, whether it’s related to my bike or not. I love riding around and looking for pictures. 

After April, I just want to ride whenever I can. I ride every weekend. In a perfect world I would ride to work every day, but I like to sleep too much. But I always have a bike here (at the WomanTours office) so I can ride home. 

To me it’s all about making it an adventure. Even if it’s a route I’ve done a million times, I might go at a different time of day to see how the light changes, because I’m such a visual person. 

If it’s not fun, why do it?

Annette works at WomanTours making beautiful photos and videos and keeping our bicycle fleet in top-drawer condition. 

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