Aldan-Pierce completes Italy Bike & Barge Tour


Marian Aldan-Pierce, standing third left, poses with other participants in last month’s Woman’s Tour’ Italy Bike & Barge Tour. (Contributed Photo)

Biking enthusiast Marian Aldan-Pierce joined over 20 women from four countries in completing Woman’s Tour’ Italy Bike & Barge Tour last month.

“The Tour is leisure biking with like-minded women and a local expert, stopping at historical towns for tours, enjoying the sights, sounds, and taste of where we are at the moment. I was the lone traveler from Saipan. Our tour consisted of 20 women from all over the U.S., Panama, three from Canada. We slept on the barge at night and biked during the day,” Aldan-Pierce said.

The tour, which started last Sept. 29 and ended last Oct. 6 brought Aldan-Pierce and company to Giudecca Island in Venice, Lido, Chioggia, Ferrara, and Mantua with each bike ride having a distance of between 18 and 32 miles.

“I was in awe of all the churches we visited—beautiful, very ornate, and lovingly cared for. I swear all Italians bike, young kids, teenagers, working men/women, Italians in their 70s/80s—in full biking gear. Truly amazing and awe inspiring,” the DFS Saipan president said.

“The tour featured a lot of bridges and riverside biking, so preparation was not hard. As long as one is able to bike at least five miles without stopping, it is totally doable. I am acrophobic (fear of heights) and we had to cross a bridge that was quite high and long. That was tough, but the women on the tour were very supportive and some walked with me rather than get on their bikes,” she added

After conquering Italy Bike & Barge, Aldan-Pierce will get ready for her next journey—the France Bike ‘N Barge in September and will take participants from Avignon to Aigues-Mortes. The Marianas Visitors Authority board chair also hopes to join a bike tour in Germany.

“High on my bucket list is the 62 miles of paved bike path in Germany which opened in 2015. The Radschnellweg (fast bike path) RS1 runs between the cities of Duisburg and Hamm, passing through eight other cities along the way,” Aldan-Pierce said.

Passion and advocacy
At 63 and despite being one of the oldest bikers on Saipan, there’s no stopping Aldan-Pierce from biking, as she wanted to inspire people, especially women in her age range, to explore and be active.

“There is so much to discover outside our little island and it’s really okay to go out and explore on your own. How old you are should not hold you back. I met a 73-year-old woman in the Italy tour and she did a 58-day tour when she turned 69 and a 54-day tour when she turned 70. Her biking group in California rides 3x per week, about 50-60 miles/day. We do that in three weeks! She is quite an inspiration,” said Aldan-Pierce, whose passion for biking started through a dare and she’s thankful she accepted the challenge.

“It started on a dare by Dr. Norma Ada about six years ago …a dare to do the Hell of the Marianas. So we did. P4 (Power of 4) was our team name and it consisted of me, Esther Ada, Juanita Fajardo and Sheryl Camacho. We’ve been biking ever since. While the other ladies have two or more HOMs under their belts, I did only one. Since then, we have successfully encouraged more DFS women to start biking. I have had three surgeries on my knees. Biking has low to no impact on knees, so it’s the perfect, almost a painless exercise for me,” she said.

Her biking group does both road and MTB, but prefers the former. She also wishes Saipan roads are free from loose dogs and bike lanes will be followed for the safety of all.

”We are very leery of trail biking due to the fact that there are no orthopedic doctors on island. We usually start at the Smiling Cove Marina and head north of Marpi or south beyond the airport. Our biggest challenge are the loose boonie dogs. They are a nuisance and a danger to bikers and runners. While we appreciate the need to protect one’s home, we need to do this within the boundaries of our properties, not beyond that,” she said.

“Another growing challenge are the tourists driving rental cars. They need to be educated on our laws and to be very cognizant of the fact that there are bikers, runners, and walkers on the road daily. They have to pay attention while driving, especially in Marpi very early in the mornings and all weekend. With the growing number of bikers we have locally, we should insist that all new roads have dedicated bike lanes. We should lobby to have the bike lane restored on Beach Road and where there’s none, have one built. With the help of the Legislature several years ago, we had the 3-feet law enacted,” the MVA chair added.

Biker themselves should also be responsible when on the road.

“My pet peeves are bikers without helmets on the main roads, those who ride without lights (front and rear), and those riding against traffic. Bikes are treated as vehicles on the road, so all bikers must ride with traffic, not against it, and must obey all traffic rules, like stopping at intersections when the light turns red,” Aldan-Pierce said.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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