Go west, eventually

Photography and writing
Patience Melton,
Route Feminent's first sponsored rider.

"Do you have to be an artist

to do this kind of thing?"

Jim joked after I answered what I went to college for. I had just met Jim, a worker on a shiitake mushroom farm.  I was helping him inoculate logs with mushroom spores. The previous night I slept on a treehouse platform, waking to the sounds of logs being cut to just the right size for stacking. The last bike tourer he knew was also an artist. I laughed and told him no you don't have to be, then thought to myself it's not a requirement... but it's definitely a connected world. 

As a teen I studied art with some rad ladies. The kind of pals that dumpster dove and obsessed over weird Holiday socks. Abbey, Kelsie, Mia, and Leny. In spring of 2011 I drove a few hours to meet them at Rainbow River springs in central Florida. When I arrived at the campsite, the tent was already a-glow from dangling Christmas lights that led from a picnic table with a cooler filled with vegan goods. The lights led all the way to a pole with bikes, one for each of us. At dusk we all piled into my shitty red jeep then drove to a huge field, hopped a fence and navigated through cow patties to watch the stars on a blanket. In the morning we set off on the borrowed bikes. Ridding down long open roads, waving as we passed cows from the night before. The road was all ours. Me and the gang of rad art lasses.

It was my first time camping, and my first experience being so free on a bike. 

In New York City I met up with my old friend Kelsie. She embraced my sweaty bod the second I rolled up. My heart was racing not only from the fast paced city biking with panniers, also because I was so stoked to see her! I spent a few days of sharing her bed and inhaling beautiful vegan meals. We fell asleep every night watching Top Chef and reminiscing about being Art Teens. Only recently had she graduated from VCU studying painting. Her two current roommates held similar degrees. Bikes lined the narrow Brooklyn apartment hallway. Before I left we roamed around an abandoned psych ward surrounded by wild flowers. 

It wasn't uncommon to stay in places with local art on the walls and bikes in the halls. Before NYC, I stayed in Baltimore in a place lined up by a friend from college. The guest room was just off a whole floor split into gallery space and artist studios.

Seemingly I was hopping from art community to art community. Asheville, Richmond, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and the mecca: Brooklyn, NY. It's not unbelievable that every one of those houses had bikes lining walls. 

I've noticed that people who are making art think differently. To be an artist is to solve problems creatively. Bike touring is just that, an answer to a problem. How do I get from point A to B in the most bad-ass way? How can I gain the most life experience, impact the earth the least, and save a few bucks? Bike touring.

Patience Melton

Patience is a talented photographer and storyteller, whose story above shares her experience of being hit with that desire to leave your life behind for a new experience. In spring of 2016 she left from Tennessee to meander across the country again by bike, the loose goal being to end up in the west. This is Patience's first entry from that adventure, and Patience is Route Feminent's first sponsored rider. Be sure to blow up her instagram and tumblr.

We have a growing number of essays written for and paid by our Route Feminent project: a fundraiser to help support adventures for women and non-binary cyclists. You can help this project pay for and share more stories by purchasing a rad, little sticker pack in our store.

Other Route Feminent Contributions