Sitting in with Sam and Stephanie
Ever wanted to see how far you could ride your bike? Ever done an errand by bike? Ever wondered how much you could carry on two-wheels? Or maybe even thought about living off your bike?
Bicycle touring might be for you if you followed that or a similar line of thought. But the tought of carrying everything you’d need or want for a trip can be a bit daunting. After all, if you’ve never done it before, how do you know how to do it?
We sat down recently with Sam and Stephanie House to talk bike touring. If you’ve been around the shop or some of our events, you’ve seen Sam and/or Stephanie riding, turning a wrench, helping out, and basically being enthusastic riders ready to share their passion for bikes and riding with anyone who would listen. As we found out, they’ve taken their own love of riding to the next level!
So, touring aside for the moment, what sort of riders are you?
Stephanie: Avid. Sam remembers the first day when he actually got a bicycle to roll more than 200 yards on his own. He was seven years old, quite the late bloomer, riding his brother’s Hiawatha 20”, and from that day forward every day was centered around making a two-wheeled human power machine roll down ether the trail or the road.
I, on the other hand, discovered the art of finding what it takes to ride a bike on my own and practiced rolling down the driveway time and again without any instruction. Finally, after many falls I mastered what it takes to navigate a two-wheeled machine. Years later we met because I needed a bike to ride the Aids Ride from Austin to Dallas. Sam had an extra bike and promised to help me learn to ride this newfangled, multi speed wonder. Well, that started us riding together and, whether we’re racing mountain bikes, hammering out a time trial for a trialthalon, or rolling out multiple day bike tours (which is our favorite) we haven’t stopped riding since.
How did the touring thing come about?
Sam: Well, I had enjoyed quite a few tours in the past years so I invited Steph to join me on a weekend overnighter to Perdanales State Park. We loaded up our Salsa Fargo and Casseroll and rode from our house in Travis Country all the way out to the state park—40 miles one way total. The entire ride was magical. Traditionally, we’d be hammering out the 40 miles looking at our heart rate monitors and computers worrying about max heart rate and average speed. Prior to this ride and for quite a few years Stephanie trained hard for her triathlons and would drag me along and make me hurt severely for many a hard mile.
However, this ride was a lot different. We rode together and enjoyed the scenery, got to talk about life and really enjoy each other’s company—what a change! Then, we got to do our next best thing together: camp! The next morning Stephanie found out what it’s like to wake up in this world with only you, your bike, and the gear you’re carrying. Needless to say she was hooked much to my delight.
And that’s what brought us to the realization that we needed to commit to this lifestyle. Throw off our traditional mindset of hammering out every mile, worrying about heart rate, performance, and average speed. There’s more to life than making a bike go fast, now we totally understood that it’s time to make a bike go far—and more importantly have fun, enjoy each other’s company, and revel in the adventure. That’s when Scott Linville (Bicycle Sport Shop employee and guru of all things bike) said “Y’all need to get some Co-Motions, they are the best touring machines on the planet.” We knew not to question the guru so we sold a car and bought two amazing, wonderful Co-Motion Americanos—and we haven’t been the same since.
What was your big Colorado adventure like? How many days did you ride and what was the route?
Sam: Our Colorado adventure was the best two weeks if our lives. It opened us up to adventure in so many different and exciting ways. We rode for 14 days straight without a rest day. Every morning we woke up, we were excited about the day’s unknowns and couldn’t imagine not pedaling to somewhere to experience it all.
We started in Littleton, CO and started our journey going through the Pike Forest. The experience of riding through CO with fully loaded bikes, 4 bags each, was amazing. We received so much support from other cyclists who would pass us on their road bikes, and people in their cars giving us encouragement as we pedaled through the mountains of the state. Our journey took us through Woodland Park and then west as we pedaled by the Eleven Mile State Park. We made our way to Buena Vista where we met two fantastic people who offered up an awesome room for us to bed down in for the night. We are friends to this day—Bob and Marilyn you guys are awesome!
We then headed north to Twin Lakes where we rested to prepare for our first large pass–Independence. We summited Independence with such a sense of accomplishment and the overwhelming feeling of being alive. From there we descended into Aspen and enjoyed an easier ride into Carbondale. We then headed south once again to summit the steepest pass of the entire trip–McClure. We rolled into McClure confident thinking that since we topped Independence nothing could be that difficult. Low and behold we experienced three of the steepest miles of the entire trip! However, our Americano’s 10-speed Shimano XTR enabled us to prevail and we topped that sucker out without a stop. For those of you in Austin, think Jester times three—on a fully-loaded bike! After a quick break at the summit, we rode into Paonia to visit with some friends on the amazing Holy Terror farm. After some really awesome food, cold beers, and great company (thanks Alison and Jason!!) we were dropped off in Carbondale to continue our journey into Glenwood Springs. The final days of the trip we traversed the I70 corridor back into Littleton which was quite an amazing ride.
What did you ride?
How much gear did you carry?
Sam: At first, too much. We mailed home nearly 18 pounds of extra stuff on our third day when we rolled into Woodland Park! Afterwards, we each carried roughly 35 pounds each, including camping gear, rain gear, and cold weather gear.
What was the one thing you couldn’t live without?
Sam: Chamois butter and a positive attitude.
Ok, that’s two things. What advice you’d give someone looking to give bicycle touring a try?
Stephanie: First of all, go do it. Don’t hesitate, don’t make excuses, just get on that bike and ride. Our Co-Motions are amazing machines and they get better with every mile. But most likely you can tour on the bike you have. Don’t over complicate things. Go by the Bicycle Sport Shop, talk with the knowledgeable staff to get set up and then roll on out. Be flexible with the weather and your route—be sure to plan, but don’t let the plan ruin your trip!
Thanks for letting us sit in and for sharing your experience with us! Here’s to many more happy, care free miles for you both!