Cyclists to Know: @bobbinnsprocket
The discovery feature of Instagram has introduced me to inspiring people, brands, and endless cycling culture. A few months ago I clicked on an image of a small bike on a pleasing dirt path because I wanted to be there on my bike. The trail turned out to be in Connecticut, as did the poster, @bobbinnsprocket. I followed.
From the Airline State Park Trail, to East Haddam Land Trust, to Deep River, Bobbinsprocket was not only logging tons of miles, but also laying out a virtual tour de Connecticut through towns and trails I am completely unfamiliar with. Her feed, in short, is awesome.
I wanted to know more about the photographer behind the feed so I reached out to interview her for the first installment of True Cyclery’s, “cyclists to know” segment. Kudos to her for participating! I turned my emailed questions, and her answers, into a pseudo transcript for ease of reading, her name is Amy I learned, not Bobbinnsprocket:
Me: Amy, your Instagram feed inspires me to ride. What inspires you?
Amy: The wind on my face, the sights and smells, feeling like I’m flying, the endorphin rush. Staying young at heart. I love being outdoors. My bikes are my psychiatrists. I know we’ve heard a lot of people say how when they have a bad day, after they take a ride they feel better. It’s so true! We (my husband and me) had a really bad year. It was probably the roughest year of my life. If it weren’t for being able to get out and ride, even just to run an errand, and have that moment of escape, I’m not sure how I would have managed. It’s funny, though, sometimes it’s hard to make myself get out the door and go. Even though I know that as soon as I clip in and get rolling I’ll find myself smiling and forgetting all my troubles. During those times I inevitably find myself on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook, and seeing all the pictures of other people’s rides and feeling like I’m being left out of the fun! So I hope that the photos I take on my rides encourage others to get on their bikes and go have fun too.
Me: Some of your pictures look to be taken during traditional road rides, but many more are of gorgeous off road rides. Do you have a preferred riding style? If so, what makes it special?
Amy: I think I just love being on my bikes. Some days I crave the pavement. The smoothness and speed. Even the struggle of dealing with traffic. I love a good group ride, be it a club or bike shop ride. I especially love night rides. Within the last year or so I discovered rail trails, and built up a bike that was supposed to be specifically for that. But soon found that it was equally suited to road. Which led me to want to ride multi-surface routes. After moving to CT I discovered that I live near a lot of hiking trails. One day while out riding down some newly discovered dirt road I found a trailhead. So I figured, why not? If I have to walk the bike some, no big deal. So I rode/hiked the trail back out to another dirt road. And a love for rides involving pavement, dirt road, hiking trail began! So I’m not sure I have a “preferred” style. I’m just constantly discovering new ways to love cycling.
Me: How do you determine your route, are you a pre-course plotter or do you head out and see where the day takes you?
Amy: I often times just head out and see where I end up. And am thankful for GPS to find my way back home! After moving to CT there were several touristy places I wanted to go see. For those I charted out a route beforehand. Usually if there is a destination in particular that I want to end up at I’ll consult Google maps (and maybe check directions along the way) but for just getting out and riding, I’ll wing it.
Me: Many of your rides take place in an area of Connecticut that are unfamiliar to me! Do you record your routes online so interested parties can retrace your paths?
Amy: I do! Also, as a way for ME to retrace my paths. 😄 You can find me on Strava.
Me: Do your rides include coffee stops? If so, are there any you can recommend?
Me: If you were tasked with creating (or relaying one you have already done) the ultimate, “get to know how great riding in Connecticut is” loop, what would it be and why?
Amy: Ah. A tough one. I’ve only lived here for four months, so there’s still a lot to explore, even in just my neighborhood. It seems as though CT is quite varied in its landscapes and topography. I really want to create a loop that incorporates the forests and small rivers like the Salmon River, then ride toward the coast to check out towns like Mystic and end up at a lighthouse. It would also be neat to have a ride that starts in a proper city, downtown, and heads out into the suburbs, then countryside and forests. Just watch civilization fade away as the ride progresses.
Me: Where else have you ridden, and how does the riding in Connecticut stack up?
Amy: When I took up cycling again as a adult I was living in Northeast Tennessee. A town called Johnson City, in the corner where TN, VA and NC all come together. It’s part of the southern Appalachian Mountains, and quite hilly with lots of open fields, valleys, “hollers” with little streams. There is some serious climbing to be had out there. Connecticut surprised me. I had thought that moving out of the mountains meant that I would lose my climbing legs. Boy was I wrong! In TN, for the most part, roads were laid in the valleys and carved through hills. Still plenty of big hills to climb, but also a good mix of long flats. In CT, at least around where I live, it looks as though the pavement was just laid down over whatever the terrain happened to be. It’s a constant up and down. I can go out for a 20 mile ride and have about double the elevation gain that I would have on any of my typical 20 mile routes in TN. And I’m constantly amazed by how beautiful it is here. So there’s a LOT more stopping for pictures.
Me: Whether it’s a saddle bag or a handlebar bag, you often ride with storage options. Which bags have you found work the best and what do you bring with you on a typical ride?
Amy: For a typical ride I like to make sure I have all the necessary tools and things to be able to make roadside repairs. So a bicycle multi tool, spare tube, tire levers, shop rag, pocket knife, and both bikes have a frame pump. I also always carry a granola bar or two and I keep a stash of Fireballs. I like to keep those things in a saddle bag. On my Nishiki I have a Dill Pickle small saddle bag, which is great! It holds all my tools with room to spare. On my Bianchi I have a saddle bag that I made specifically to fit that bike. Being a very small person and having a very small road bike, I could not find a commercially available saddle bag with enough storage that didn’t drag on my wheel. So I made one to fit. Just recently bought a Dill Pickle handlebar bag for my Bianchi, to have some extra storage since I tend to use that bike as my main commuter. I have a boxy rando bag that I made for my Nishiki. I use it when I’m out for rides with my husband. It’s great for carrying lunch, or cameras, or I sometimes use it for small grocery trips. I once stopped at a fruit stand and brought home 8lbs of peaches (I REALLY wanted a pie). Other bags that I’ve used include Swiss Army ammo bags fitted to a rear rack as a pannier. I have a set of Jandd touring panniers, a Banjo Bros. Minnehaha medium saddle bag (which was too big for me to use as a saddle bag so it became a handlebar bag) and a small barrel bag (which I also ended up using as a handlebar bag).
Me: Is there anything you’d like us to know about you?
Amy: Well, we’ve covered most of what I can think of to talk about cycling related. So aside from that, I’m a seamstress by trade, and a knitter and handspinner. I also enjoy hiking and kayaking (flat water) and hope to build my own wooden kayak in the near future. I live with 7 rescue cats and one husband and I’m terrible at cooking. ☺️
Me: Finally, when the time is right, can True Cyclery plan a trip to your neck of the woods for a Bobbinnsprocket guided tour?
Amy: Absolutely! That would be fun!
Thanks to Amy for taking the time to share her thoughts, as you can see she is just as awesome as her Instagram feed. If you are interested in coming along when we ride in Amy’s section of the state, let us know! In the mean time, give Bobbinnsprocket a follow, and stay tuned for our next installment of Riders to Know.