“You ABSOLUTELY Can” – Ashtyn

Ashtyn didn’t believe she was capable of biking across the country… but over three thousand miles later, she’d proved herself wrong. Here are Ashtyn’s tips, encouragement, and inspiration for anyone who dreams of traveling by bicycle.

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"Divine Intervention" – Ashtyn

When I asked about miracles on her bicycle tour across the country, Ashtyn responded, “Oh gosh, there were so many!” Here are some of her favorite memories of “divine intervention,” after riding across America with her brother Justin last year. (My personal favorite? The Powerade Miracle.)

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“I Got My Confidence Back” – Ashtyn

Ashtyn never thought she could bike across the country. But at twenty two years old, she was lacking motivation and direction. A recent college graduate with no future plans and a waning confidence, Ashtyn decided to attempt the impossible. She texted her older brother, Justin, who also happened to be a Type One diabetic, and asked if he wanted to join her on a cross-country ride to raise awareness for Type One diabetes. Justin’s response? “F*#k yeah.”

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Adulting

I’ve got a resting “baby face.” I’m pushing thirty, but strangers often ask if I’m in school… and they don’t always mean college. Last spring, when high school graduation rolled around, several customers at the plant nursery asked me if I was excited to be done with high school.

“Yes,” I replied. “And I was even more excited ten years ago, when I graduated.”

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PNWA Seattle Writer's Conference 2018

I was embarassed. After all, I’d gotten everything I wanted and more: a supportive circle of new writer friends, 9 agents and editors interested in my manuscript, and a new plot-charting technique that will help me write faster, forever. To top it off, my submission in the PNWA literary contest had won me a spot among 9 Finalists in the Memoir/Nonfiction Category. But as I sat in my favorite purple dress at the Awards Banquet, my heart thumping loudly against my sternum, they announced the first, second, and third place winners in my category. And none of them were me.

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Nan's Advice for Women Bike Touring Solo

With thousands of miles under her belt, Nan has some advice to share with anyone who's hesitant to embark on a self-supported bicycle tour. Especially women. “I don’t have many mechanical skills,” writes Nan, “But, YOUTUBE!”

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Accidentally Alone - How Nan's Cross-Country Bike Tour Turned into a Solo Adventure

On her first ever cross-country bicycle tour, Nan didn’t want to go alone. So she joined forces with another bike traveler, a stranger she met on Adventure Cycling’s “Companions Wanted” page. Unfortunately, he was grazed by a car on their first day of riding together, and had to quit the trip! Nan, determined as ever, decided to pedal across the country alone. What she discovered about solo travel, and herself, surprised her.

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Fear & Love, Across America - Katie B.

“Working through fear is a personal journey, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a supportive riding partner to encourage you as well,” writes Katie B. In this interview, Katie and I discuss the challenges of her 2017 cross-country bike tour, what inspired her to try bicycle travel in the first place, and the rewards that kept her going. She also recounts her “How We Met” story with her boyfriend and touring partner, Jeff!)

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The Cycling Poet - Katie B. on Writing & Bike Touring

Katie is a teacher, a touring cyclist, and a poet. “I’ve always thought that cycling and writing are the perfect companions,” she says. “Whenever I get on my bike and start hearing the crunch of gravel, the whir of tires, the songs of birds, the dance of the wind, or the gurgle of a creek, I can’t help but hear poems in my head.”

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"The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle" - An Adorable Read

I know what you're thinking: "adorable" isn't a respectful word for someone's literary masterpiece. You can't call another writer's work "adorable” and expect to forge a lasting friendship with them. I get it. But in the same breath, it's a young adult novel. "Adorable" is part of the appeal. And author Christina Uss may well agree with me. 

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Freedom from Fear - How Cycling Reminds Susan, Every Day, That She is Powerful

In her early twenties, Susan Brewster found herself in a physically abusive relationship. It took years to free herself mentally from the fear of being hurt and used. After a long career of providing therapy and support to battered women, Susan’s found a powerful sense of herself in another activity: Bicycling. “I refuse to willingly give away my power to any other person ever again, the power over my freedom,” she writes. “My bicycles are my valued tools in that aim.”

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Business or Pleasure? My Time at the Port Townsend Writer's Conference

There were a lot of women at the Port Townsend Writer's Conference. And, there were a decent amount of young women. But I think I was the only one who showed up by bicycle.

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Bicycle Touring Solo in Morocco - Kathryn

Kathryn's most recent solo bicycle touring adventure was in Morocco. Understandably, she was nervous. She said preparing for the unknown was the hardest part: “Before I left, a seasoned solo traveler friend told me she'd never go back to Morocco alone again," admits Kathryn. “Yikes!”

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Waitlisted - A Story of Hope at the Port Townsend Writer's Conference

In a moment of bravery, I emailed Melissa Febos' speaking agent. I had to try. I explained my memoir project, my respect for Ms Febos' work, and asked if there was any way to admit one more student into her course. To my great surprise, Melissa herself responded: "I appreciate your heartfelt appeal, but the enrollment for these classes is totally out of my control."

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"Make 'em Comfortable" - Kathryn

After four years of solo international travel, Kathryn knows how to read people. She’s ridden her recumbent tricycle through more than a dozen countries, and has learned along the way that strangers are just friends she hasn’t made yet. “Everyone I see gets a smile and a wave,” she tells me. “You gotta make people comfortable, so they don’t see you as a threat. If they’re calm and happy, I’m calm and happy.”

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"They Call Me 'Brave'" - Kathryn, on Solo International Bicycle Touring

After retiring at age 57 from a lengthy career at Xerox, Kathryn backpacked the Appalachian Trail, where she earned the moniker "Bag Lady." Her trail name stuck, even when she left the hiking path and picked up a recumbent bicycle instead. Kathryn’s been cycling around the world for the last four years, and her journey is far from over. “I love a good challenge,” she says.

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Miles of Portraits... By Bicycle - Annalisa

Talented photographer, strong cyclist, and courageous explorer, Annalisa has a penchant for taking the portraits of strangers. Her photographs capture the shared humanity of Americans, in a time when we're both politically and culturally divided. To view her work is to meet someone new. And it's hard not to fall in love with the smiles, determination, and stories of the people in her photos. 

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Interviewed on Tough Girl Challenges

British podcast host Sarah Williams and I discuss my cross-country tour by bicycle, the obstacles women face on solo travels, and how fear can shape our lives.

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