On a Roll with Katherine Widing
Name: Katherine Widing
Location: Spokane, WA
Born in Melbourne, Australia. Lived in USA since 1985, with short sojourns in France and the Netherlands. Freelance writer and author of four books on international bicycle touring. Volunteer on Spokane Summer Parkways committee. Addicted to bicycling, travel and chocolate.
Who or what made a difference in your life that got you on a bike?
Being an Australian, I’m from a place where most kids ride bikes, so it was natural for me to want to ride a bike as soon as I could, to ride to school, hang out with my friends, do errands, ride to the beach. Thanks to my patient father, who ran behind my bike and held the saddle to give me confidence while I found my balance, I learned to ride a bike. One day he didn’t tell me he’d let go and off I went at 5 years old, and I have never stopped pedaling.
Tell me about your bike(s) and accessories.
How many pages do I have for this answer?
I have three “steeds” in my Spokane stable aka garage: an old Bianchi mixte, a Trek hybrid, and a Bike Friday (folding bike with 20″ wheels that fits in a suitcase). My newest bike, bike #4, is a result of getting annoyed with the hassles airlines have created for cyclists travelling with bikes. I recently took a Dahon Espresso (26″ wheel folding bike) to Europe, and it now lives there with friends waiting there for me (at $150-$200 each way for a bike on the plane, the pain of packing a bike and the worry of damage in transit –after 2 round trips the bike is paid for!!!). And I will always have a bike in Europe 🙂
My bikes are my primary mode of transport, both at home and abroad. ALL my bikes have rear racks and I have assorted panniers. For travelling/touring, my favorites are my Ortlieb waterproof back rollers. I have a pannier fetish, and my bike could don a different pannier for every day of the week. For commuting/shopping etc., I have a variety of panniers collected over the years from a Dutch briefcase to a Jandd grocery bag pannier. I love my handy rear trunk bag for day rides, and find that for touring my Ortlieb waterproof handlebar bag is essential. All my bikes have a computer, fenders, bell and lights. My latest purchase is a map case that attaches to the handlebars, indispensible for bicycle touring.
What type(s) of riding do you do? How often, what destinations, and how far?
I ride every day from short rides to do errands to a longer recreational ride on the Centennial Trail, the Fish Lake Trail, or further afield in the Palouse, Seattle or the San Juan Islands.I love joining the Belles and Baskets and FBC for fun, social rides.
For longer touring adventures I have cycled in Australia, California, Utah, Hawaii, and Europe, my favorite European countries being the Netherlands, France and Luxembourg. My trips can be anywhere from a week to 2 months – distances varying from 25 to 70 miles a day.
What’s the most common question you get asked when you bike somewhere?
“Are you alone?” I do so much self-supported solo touring in Europe that people I meet en route expect me to have a cycling companion. Often people are surprised to find me as a woman cycling alone.
What do you usually wear when you ride?
I always wear padded bike shorts and gloves. I have all the appropriate gear such as tights, leg warmers, and jerseys for long distance rides. However for riding around town, I often ride in whatever I have on, and add my helmet and a highly visible bright vest or jacket. I love my Burley rain jacket and Craft windstopper pants for chilly, rainy days!
What things do you wish were different about your bike and gear or women’s clothing or both that would make it easier to bike and look good, if this is something you give any thought to?
I am not very fashion conscious, but I do look out for tops, t-shirts, and jerseys with fun designs from polka dots to stripes in bright colors for maximum visibility. My next purchase will be one of Bike Style’s cute Nuu-Muus in one of the fabulous colorful patterns. If there is one thing I wish someone would invent for cyclists, it would be mini windshield wipers for glasses, so I could see in the rain!
What does Spokane need to make it an even better place for women to ride their bikes?
More bike lanes and drivers who are more attentive to cyclists on the road. More bike racks in strategic locations. I wish the city could afford to re-pave and smooth out the cracked, potholed and lumpy road surfaces. I ride up and down Adams and Jefferson on South Hill at least once a day, and I always feel like I’m in training for the Paris-Roubaix (one of the toughest European road races that takes place in northern France on cobblestones and unpaved roads!).
What’s your proudest biking accomplishment?
Getting back on my bike several months after being hit by a “casino tour” bus, and severely injured.
What one word describes the way you feel most often when you ride?
What question didn’t I ask that you really want to answer?
What is my global cycling vision?
Obviously to see more people out riding bikes, but especially as an everyday mode of transport. People should see cycling as a way of life—to shop, commute, run errands, visit friends, go out to dinner and recreation. We should take a lesson from the Dutch where cycling is the norm!
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Posts in our 30 Days of Biking Blogging Inspiration & How-to Series for Sept. 2011 30 Days of Biking
- 30 Days of Bike Commuting: You Can Do It!
- Why We Ride/Resolve to Ride–A Blogspedition
- Preparing to Commute by Bike: Get the Worry out of the Way
- Buying a Bike for Commuting: Some Questions and a Blogspedition
- How to Bike Commute: Getting the Gear Together
- Bike Commuting 101: Carrying Stuff
- On a Roll with Wilma Flanagan
- 30 Days of Biking: Week One Report
- Ride with your Community: SpokeFest Rocks!
- There and Back Again: How to Pick your Bike Commute Route
- Intro to Bike Commuting: Route Selection Part 2
- More Bike Commuting Route Selection Tips: Part 3
- Thinking Like a Driver vs. Thinking Like a Bicyclist
- Biking as Downtime and other Musings on Overproductivity
- 30 Days of Biking: Week Two Report
- On a Roll with Katherine Widing
- I Shouldn’t Assume
- Falling Down on Your Bike. It Happens. To Grown-Ups.
- Pretty Handy, Gloves. The Blogspedition Assumes You’ll Get ‘Em.
- What to Wear for Your Bike Commute? Clothes.
- How to Get a Dropped Bike Chain Back On, Grease-Free
- 30 Days of Biking: Week Three!
- It’s All in the Attitude
- Things I Now Do on My Bike Without Having to Think About It
- Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Risk and Trust
- More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Friendliness and Openness
- Even More Mental Essentials for Bike Commuting: Tolerance, Humor, and Persistence
- Bicycling Rites of Passage, Spokane Style
- Dear Reader, I Chicked Him
- 30 Days of Biking: Final Report!
- Have someone to suggest for a profile? How about you? Suggest a name here or send an email to info AT bikestylespokane.com
- Have you biked overseas or gone on long tours? What was it like?
Books by Katherine
- Bicycle Touring Holland: With Excursions Into Neighboring Belgium And Germany (2005)
- Bicycle Touring Holland Publisher: Van der Plas Publications / Cycle Publishing (2005)
- Lonely Planet Cycling France (Lonely Planet Cycling Guides) (2001)