The Ditty Bops' Big Adventure

Musical duo gets lost on bike tour

By Chris Azzopardi

It doesn't matter that Amanda Barrett and Abby DeWald of The Ditty Bops indulged in one vanilla-mint and three peanut butter-chocolate-soycream smoothies at a Salt Lake City, Utah, pit-stop.

"Ah! It was even better than it looked," Amanda says about the peanut butter concoction. Although scrumptious, the girls didn't suck 'em down in one day, Amanda says, laughing.

But the girls of The Ditty Bops could've easily chugged all four smoothies in one sitting and they would've burned off the calories within days as they toured the country on their Surly road bikes, riding for six hours a day.

"We do tend to eat a lot," Amanda says as she sits alongside the edge of a stream in Colorado with Abby, her partner of seven years. "When we get to a town for a little while we have a couple of days off. It's usually our binge time when we stock up on calories. You can't really eat enough when you're on your bike."

As they break from pedaling, The Ditty Bops will perform at an eclectic mix of venues: theaters, clubs, farms and bike shops.

"You get a more attentive audience when you don't play a club," she says.

Abby and Amanda, who met at a California playground eight years ago and don't label themselves as gay or straight, have also played Christian colleges. Amanda says, "Gay folks will be coming out of the woodworks, [saying] like, 'I saw you on Logo.'"

The Ditty Bops' current tour supports their new release "Moon Over the Freeway," which echoes the duo's signature live sound.

"We had been touring for a year and a half with a lot of the songs and picking out what arrangements we liked with the band and we went in (to the recording studio) and did it like that," she says.

In between concert stops, the Bops also make a little time for themselves. Hence, the deliberate booking of Colorado venues.

"We decided to book it 'cause this is a resort town," Amanda says, laughing. Earlier in the day, before basking in the sun near the stream, Amanda and Abby pampered themselves at a natural hot spring, where they bathed in a 102-degree mineral water spa.

"(There's) a lot of exertion, exhilaration and emotions," Amanda says about their trip. "All the 'E' things."

To their dismay, there wasn't a mud bath, but Amanda's been there, done that.

She laughs, "I've rolled around in the mud before."

Of course, the trip doesn't come minus flat tires (Amanda had three on the first day) and misguided detours. Not long into their trek, The Ditty Bops missed a Nevada highway sign and made the wrong turn.

"We ended up doing a 20-mile detour," Amanda says. "It was supposed to be a nice, easy 60-mile day, and it turned into an 83-mile day."

With this being the Bops' first time on a long-distance biking expedition, they made certain preparations, like lugging around spare tires in their tour van, which carries their equipment and serves as their refuge should they encounter a twister, or another natural disaster.

Riding on bikes, though, is less stuffy than a van and allows the girls to explore the country, Amanda says. "Seeing a town by car and by bike is very different. I really appreciate a lot of the cities, even ones that I thought I didn't like, I've seen a lot of the better sides of them."

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