Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Making directions easier on tour

Ride with GPS praise

I recently returned from spending a few days traveling with the Atlantic Coast tour group.  I joined them in New Hope, PA and left them after they crossed into New York state. They are an inspiring bunch of women who have been riding up the coast since April and will end in less than two weeks in Bar Harbor, ME.  That's a long time to be on a bike and we are always trying to make it a better experience for our guests.

Michelle in the office is now including the ride route links for the  Ride With GPS app on most of our tours as of this season.  While on the Atlantic Coast, I was chatting with guest Virginia Sorrow who mentioned how great the links have worked for her after downloading them to her smartphone. She learned how to use the app from fellow guest Pat Spiegelberg. They and many others on the tour are now doing the same.  Most of the women on this epic tour are using either a Garmin or their smartphones in addition to the cue sheets to keep them on the route.  Virginia sent Michelle this great letter explaining how it works:


While I am thinking about it, I want to tell you how much I love Ride with GPS!!

I do not have a Garmin, and I do not have GPS in my car so this is my first experience.  When I got your first email, I thought "don't have a Garmin, too late to learn now", but I saved the email.  My roommate on the first night in Florida, Pat Spiegelberg, explained to me that I could download the Ride with GPS app and use it with my iPhone (or any smartphone).  She helped me get started, and I am a fan (also love that it is tracking my statistics).  Almost everyone who is now using Ride with GPS is using it with a phone, not a Garmin, so in the future please let people know that a Garmin is not necessary.

I now have my phone mounted on my handlebar, but I can also hear it from my jersey pocket.  When the cue sheet says turn, and the phone says turn, and I can see the road sign, I am absolutely sure I am going the correct way.  I don't think I have been off course by more than 100 feet the whole trip.  It is also great to be able to look at the map when needed to find ways around detours, changes in roads, etc. - so much easier than Adventure Cycling maps.

The printed cue sheets are still absolutely essential, but the GPS is a great addition.  Please keep doing this.  It would be wonderful for both long and short tours.

Thanks again,


Thank you Virginia for this great feedback. We encourage other women who are planning to travel with us to download the app and try it out, it's great and you can store your own favorite rides too.
Virginia Sorrow rides in Pennsylvania on the Atlantic Coast Tour with her cellphone mounted to her handlebars.  She uses the app Ride With GPS to give her directions from WomanTours route links.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Finding Belva Lockwood

I love history, photography and riding my bike.  When I get to combine all three into one experience, it is nirvana. I rode the length of the Erie Canal across New York state in 2013 while working at my former job as a photojournalist here in Rochester.  I loved that the riding was generally flat  and largely off road with all sorts of history to be found along the way.  The trail is populated by canal towns that sprung to life in the 19th century, some that continue to thrive to this day, others ghosts of their former lives, but all providing a hint of what was. In all, it's a fascinating trip on crushed stone,  flat grassy single track and yes, pavement, across the Empire State from Buffalo to Albany.

Since making that trip, I have wanted WomanTours to offer this trip to our guests. Sometimes, you get what you wish for.   I have been entrusted to organize and scout this new tour for WomanTours to be added to next years schedule.  As the newest employee, this will be my first time taking on such an important assignment.  It is no small task, but I am working under the guidance of everyone here in the office who between them have years of experience planning new tours.

I began my hands on work yesterday scouting Lockport, NY, the home of the historic Flight of Five locks built to move boats up and down the Niagara Escarpment, a true engineering feat in 1824. This is where we plan on beginning our tour. While stopping at the Niagara County Historical Society, I happened upon a school tour where the kids were learning about former Lockport resident Belva Lockwood, who twice ran for president of the United States in 1884 and 1888. Belva Lockwood, who was she, I thought. Was I ever taught about this woman in school? (Perhaps my 58 year old brain just can't remember) I was instantly curious and did some Google searching to find this amazing woman and her history.

Born near Lockport, she married at 18 and was widowed with a young daughter three years later. Realizing she would need to support herself, she attended school for three years so that she would be able to teach. She taught at the Lockport Union School for several years before moving on to attend law school and become a lawyer in Washington, D.C. Her story is a great one and well worth reading. As icing on the cake, in her 50's, she became a bicyclist.  

 Here are a couple of links with good info :

I have a long way to go and a lot work to do to finish planning this tour that will start in Lockport and end in New York's capital city of Albany, but now I can take thoughts of Belva Lockwood with me as I ride.


Lockport's Flight of Five locks from above
Belva Lockwood

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The hills are alive...

With the sound of my heavy breathing as I ascend a hill in my daily ride as part of the pledge. I am riding my bike every day in the month of April as part of this national biking pledge.  I knew if I made the pledge public and shared a photo every day to the @womantours Instagram account, that I would stick with it and begin the cycling season stronger this year.

I am on day twenty today, and I have to say that I am feeling stronger and am enjoying the routine of making time for my ride everyday. I am including at least a small hill in every ride to help with my climbing abilities, always a weak point in my riding.  I am concentrating on gearing down early in the hill and maintaining an even comfortable cadence while I remain seated.  On longer hills, I sing songs in my head to keep a good rhythm and distract my brain from thinking negative thoughts. A favorite is and oldie but goodie, the early 1960's anthem "500 Miles" popularized by Peter, Paul and Mary.

I am happy to report that I am feeling stronger and more confident as I enter the third week of cycling.  I have never had the body of a classic climber, small and svelte. I now carry the weight of a middle-aged woman who enjoys food, so my gains this month are truly heartening.

I know that many of our guests fret over hills on our tours.  While the van is always nearby to give a lift, the feeling of cresting a tough hill on your own power can be very exhilarating. So all of you who might be wary of taking a hillier tour,  just know that with some training, those tours can be within reach and just as enjoyable as the flatter ones. Happy riding ladies, I hope to see many of you on tour this year.


Monday, April 11, 2016

There's a new blogger in town

Since our president Jackie Marchand is a very busy woman with alot of travel in her future, I will be an additional poster to the WomanTours blog. I have been working at WomanTours since last August doing social media updates, still photography, video and the upkeep and assigning of the rental bike fleet.

It's a job tailor made for me after twenty-six years as a photojournalist and self described bike geek. I hope to be posting often with musings from the world of WomanTours and cycling in general.  If any of you have bike or photography questions, please send them my way - annette@womantours and I will happily respond.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Angel Fund Winners

We are pleased to announce the winners of our Angel Fund. A committee of eight of us reviewed the 139 entries based on need. The decision was more difficult than any of us could have imagined. There were stories of illness, accidents, death and grief, but also stories of recovery, growth and rebirth.

We wish we could afford to have given free trips to everyone who entered. However, we were forced to narrow it down to only four. Congratulations to the following women who will be going to our Island Hopper: Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard June 10-14, 2016 for free!
Betsy R., Durango, CO
Debbie W., Alliance, OH
Joy G., Birmingham, AL
Linda E., Superior, CO

Please don't despair if you entered and weren't chosen. We will be offering more opportunities like this one again in the future. We wish everyone a happy and healthy new year!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Apply for a Free Tour

We're looking for women who may have suffered a loss, overcome an obstacle, or are in desperate need of a respite, and who would not otherwise be able to afford one of our tours.

We will give away up to 4 free trips to our Island Hopper tour in Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard June 10-14, 2016 to the most deserving women.

We are fortunate to have an angel who has made a substantial donation to help us keep "doing what we do." We know how rejuvenating our bicycle tours can be, so we are paying it forward.

Tell us why you or someone you know deserves one of our free tours by Christmas, and we'll announce the winners on New Year's Eve. Start your 2016 right. Good luck!