Young Faces in Old Spaces: Pioneering the Bicycle Ride Tour

When The Filson was approached by a community member about hosting a tour of older homes owned by younger people, the thought of a bicycle tour was intriguing. In order to accurately plan this tour, two Filson staff members set out to test the feasibility of participants biking from house to house.  Jamie Evans and Jordan Sangmeister used different types of bikes and had varying levels of biking experience, but their goal was to ensure that the bike ride would be possible for any tour participant who was interested in riding their bike.  This is their story.

Q: Why did you decide to design a tour encouraging participants to ride their bikes?

JS: This tour is similar to our annual House Tour however it focuses on finding a younger audience and going green.  We are visiting younger people’s homes, getting exercise, and enjoying the summertime in Louisville.  Organizing a bike tour gave us the opportunity to work with groups such as Bicycling for Louisville who donated bike racks at locations that did not offer bike parking.

JE: I was really excited when this topic came up because I’m interested in the movement to make Louisville a more bicycle-friendly town. The Filson is also looking for ways to engage with members of the community who are outside of our membership demographic, and a tour like this is a great way to reach them on their level through activities that they are interested in.

Q: How far did you ride?  Did that distance take about as much time as you thought it would?

JS: The ride was about 17 miles and took us around 4 hours including brief pauses at each of the homes.

JE: Though we didn’t go into any of the homes, we tried to take as much time at our stops as the average participant would who was touring to give us an accurate estimate of the time needed for this event. About halfway through, we called Judy to let her know where we are and also to say that the number of homes on the tour was ideal; if we added more, those that chose to bike to their destinations wouldn’t be able to see every home.

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced while biking?

JS: While riding in the heat it was vital to have lots of water on hand.  We went though some busy intersections and knowing the rules of the road and wearing a helmet were important for safety.

JE: I wasn’t prepared very well for this ride. I forgot my water bottle, I didn’t have any additional food in my bag, and I also didn’t have a great way to store my directions while we were riding. We also missed a turn on the route because neither Jordan nor I were familiar with the neighborhood (the route we took used alleyways to connect us to different streets), so we ended up having to walk our bikes up the hill on Lexington Road.

Q: Do you have any advice for bike riding tour participants of this tour?

JS: Bring lots of water and know how to work your gears on hills on the east part of town.

JE: Be prepared and dress appropriately for this event. You’re going to be hot and tired, so know your limits. Now I know that I need to pack a little snack for halfway through. Also, obey all traffic laws. Let’s do our part to help Louisville be bicycle-friendly. For a refresher on Louisville’s bicycle laws, click here.

Q: What type of bicycles did you ride for this event?

JS: I rode a Huffy cruiser from the 80’s.  It was quite a challenging ride with that equipment.

JE: I rode a Giant commuter bike. For what it's worth, I mainly rode in the lower gears (2nd ring, gears 2-4).

Q: What is your biking background?

JS: When I ride it’s usually only for a few miles to downtown or through Central Park.  It’s been several years since I rode a bike for this distance.  I only have cruiser bikes so I think that says a lot about my biking style.  Water was my lifeline on this trip.  I drank my entire CamelBak (3L) of water!

JE: I’m a very casual cyclist. I generally cycle in my neighborhood and sometimes venture farther if I’m with my husband (a much better cyclist). I also bike in Cherokee and Seneca parks. One day, I’d like to commute solely by bicycle.


Jamie Evans

Jamie Evans is the Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator at The Filson Historical Society. When she isn't working on publications for The Filson, you can find her behind her sewing machine or out on the roads training for her next big race.

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