by Sharon Flesher
Norte! folks know bikes are awesome for getting kids and their books to school, as well as getting books to kids in their neighborhoods via the library’s book bike. But bike and book action isn’t limited to the younger set. Some lucky literary ladies have long combined reading with cycling, and I’m not talking about pedaling around town while listening to an audiobook. (Has anyone tried that? Let us know in the comments if it’s a good idea.)
For the members of my book group, cycling to meetings (or walking, when it’s very close) is as natural as discussing our recent read while enjoying excellent food, adult beverages and conversation. Some of us first met many years ago while walking (or biking) our kids to elementary school, and we use active transportation for getting to work and activities. One of our members is a cycling overachiever who has spent the summer biking to Alaska with her husband. We’re confident she kept up with her reading on the trip!
Because most of our members have unpredictable schedules due to work and families, we don’t have a set meeting time. This summer, some of us used the weekly Wednesday night TC RIDES to catch up on our reading progress and brainstorm future activities. From that, the idea evolved to take the Norte! bike train to our August meeting.
So on August 26, we met at F&M Park and got off the Norte! train by the tracks at the Filling Station to grab some pizza and beer while discussing Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. How perfect! One of many great things about Traverse City is that you don’t need to join a book group to enjoy books by bike. The Woodmere branch of the Traverse Area District Library sits at the intersection of the TART and Boardman Lake trails. The library has excellent bike parking by the main door, and cyclists who only want to return a book can pedal to the drive-up box. The library also sponsors book groups, including one that meets at the Filling Station. Also, several Little Free Libraries are located on or near in-town bike routes.
Purchasing a book is just as easy by bike. Traverse City has four independent bookstores downtown within steps of the Front Street bike lane and another used bookstore at the Grand Traverse Commons. And if you want to meet an author, the National Writers Series brings prominent writers to the City Opera House throughout the year.
Aspiring writers can even take classes through the Series’ Front Street Writers workshops, located across the street from the bike lane. I can’t leave you without a book recommendation. My favorite book about biking is actually about walking. The gifted Rebecca Solnit, in her insightful Wanderlust: A History of Walking, probes the significance of self-powered locomotion in our journey as a species, as well as obstacles historical and modern that have impacted our ability to traverse the world on our own two legs. Substitute two wheels for two legs and the book is as relevant to cyclists as it is to pedestrians. Bike to the library and check it out!
A Norte! Story is a blog series highlighting N!YC riders/volunteers/supporters. Norte! is dedicated to building a more bike-friendly Traverse City by inspiring its youth through bicycles. If you like Sharon’s story and want to support more of the same, please consider a small donation HERE and help us grow the next generation of active, happy and engaged young leaders in Traverse City.