Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Musician's 4,000-Mile Bicycle Concert Tour

Today I journeyed to Polk County to catch the final Cleveland Indians game at Chain of Lakes Park in Winter Haven, then bike a little on an old route down Scenic Route 17 along the north-south Lake Wales ridge.

After catching the action at the ol' ballyard, I drove to a parking lot in nearby Dundee by a Winn-Dixie supermarket. In the corner of my eye I saw a bicyclist on the sidewalk in front of the Dundee Library, which rents space in the shopping center.

Rachel VanSlyke was on Day 4 of an amazing 4,000-mile bicycle journey from Davie, Fla. outside Fort Lauderdale to Montreal. She's a 25-year-old singer who cut a CD last year in LA called so I begin and was, thus, on the so I begin bicycle tour, with about 30 singing stops along the way. Rachel says her singing style is comparable to Sheryl Crow, kind of a hybrid of rock, folk, country.

It's amazing that Rcahel is pedaling because only a month ago a drunk driver struck her while she was bicycling outside Fort Lauderdale. She suffered a concussion because she wasn't wearing a bicycle helmet. And her Peugot bicycle was wrecked. I told her to never hop on her new bicycle -- a nice Jamis touring machine -- ever without a helmet. I think she learned that lesson. Most of her wounds have healed and she's back in action.

Check out her web site at

She was at the Dundee Library because that's where her boyfriend sent a pair of pannier bags. She already sent home two boxes worth of stuff and was trying to light up the load in her trailer-cart by shifting some gear to the pannier bags. But she had difficulty fixing a flat, so I stopped by to lend a hand and find out about her odyssey.

The assistant librarian at the Dundee library got such a kick out of Rachel that she just had to get a photo of her and her rig.

I thought I'd bike about 10 to 12 miles with Rachel on US 27. In the Dundee stretch on US 27, we have to be careful because there's no shoulder with a big road-widening project going on.

After we got by the construction zone, we had a pretty good shoulder to bike on.

That's a long line of gear. Rachel's guitar is wrapped in plastic and tucked deep inside the load on the trailer-cart.

Rachel is using her mat to tell folks that her 30 CDs she's hauling are for sale.

There's the official tour sign -- plus with a loaf of bread.

Good luck Rachel! I biked twice across the country solo, so I know what it's like to be on the road between towns and cycling miles and miles every day. It's all about keeping the faith and letting the days unfold naturally and going with the flow. Rachel's says her next performance will be in Gainesville.

1 comment:

GhostRider said...

Hellooo, Rachel! She's quite a looker!

I love hearing stories like this, and I find it very inspiring that someone is doing a tour of this nature. Gotta dig on the footwear, too. Toeclips and flip-flops is an "interesting" combination, to say the least. Very cool that you ran into her!

Rachel, if you're reading this, I wish you the best of luck on your tour...