When I first took up bicycle touring, my first ride was from Kansas City, MO to Lawrence, KS for my boss’ birthday party. One of my coworkers offered me a ride. He said, “If you carpooled you wouldn’t have the environmental impact of driving.”

I said, “But there’s the adventure factor…” I ride because I see more, I be more, I don’t have to agree no more, to be part of the gas-sucking, freeway waiting, traffic cursing Iraq war. I ride pretty much everywhere I go. I don’t do a lot of group rides because by the time I ride to the ride, ride the ride, then ride home, I’ve spent about four hours. I just don’t have that much free time on a regular basis. The one group ride I do is the Explore the Urban Core ride that meets Saturdays at 3:00 at YJ’s at 18th and Wyandotte in KCMO. We are a group of urban cyclists that prefer to ride in our regular clothes and use either utilitarian bicycles for commuting or fixed gear bicycles for going fast.  Our group ride is not so much about riding bicycles as it is about finding adventures and fun things to do that involve bicycles.

I try to participate in Bike to Work Week each year and I’m working on recruiting a team for the year-round Car-Free Commuter Challenge. I do most of my rides with my touring partner, Brian Gallmeyer. I have found a way to combine my work trips with vacation time. Since I am a leader in the mental health consumer movement and the demand for my motivational speaking has been growing, we have ridden our bicycles to many different work conferences. These pages show highlights for each of our trips. Click on each short description for a full page with links for each trip.

Poem “Why I Ride My Bike to Work:”

“By riding my bike to work I plan to change the world.
I declare freedom from the petroleum mongering machine.
There’s no war in Iraq fought for my gas.
I live on a human scale, and I transport my own ass….”

-Corinna West, from the book Human Hand Wordworks

  • June 2009: Kansas City to Wichita – 95 miles one day despite 2 broken spokes, a flat, a missing bolt, and a tornado
  • October-November 2009: Kansas City to Omaha – 5 days there and 2 1/2 back – bicycle trips last exactly as much time as you have.
  • February 2010: Kansas City to Jefferson City – Bicycle pedestrian advocacy day for Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation. First winter trip. Stayed warm and got lots of media publicity. First trip linking arts performances.
  • March 2010: Kansas City to Topeka – Mental health advocacy day with the Kansas Consumer Advisory Council
  • June 2010: Kansas City to Wichita – Kansas Recovery Conference
  • August 2010: Kansas City to Wichita – Al Henning memorial ride to Consumer Advisory Council quarterly meeting
  • October 2010: Junction City to Kansas City – ride home from the Kansas Consumer Advisory Council meeting in Rock Springs, KS
  • November/Dec 2010: Memphis to Kansas City – We discovered that the Ozark Mountains are really mountains and not just hills. We rode 80 miles on route 160, 20 miles north of the Arkansas border, and saw only one grocery store and no large corporate presence at all.

Poem, “I Ride to Live”

I ride to survive, to ride is my drive,
It’s the freedom that helped me become –
This challenging, connected, and caring woman.
This way I found I knew, I grew wings and flew through things.
This ride of my life, this bike just my size
And none of my fuel from the 100, 000 Iraqis who died.
It’s my own heart and lungs that brung me here today,
The way I pump legs not unleaded as I slide through my day.
I found stress relief, I found homeless guys to believe.
This adventure on the streets, this city I’ve learned to greet,
While reducing four of the top five reasons my creator and I could meet.
I could die from riding my bicycle.
More likely to die from not riding.
I live simply so others can simply live,
And the total joy of my muscle pulling all the peace I’ve got to give

-Corinna West, from the CD This What Happens

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