Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Surprisingly Speechless

A tiny notebook and nifty wrapping paper.

When I leave work it's my practice to ride the sidewalk along an access road then hang a right, remaining on sidewalk, where the road merges with a four lane highway. One block later, I escape the noisy congestion and turn into neighborhoods for quieter riding.

It was at this junction, traffic was inching along, where I met up with another cyclist moving in the same direction, she riding in the road, her steady cadence belying the fact that her bike had studded tires, humming on dry pavement. We both were in a rhythm, in tandem motion, two cyclists moving faster than vehicles.

But for whatever reason, I failed to greet this bike goddess.

A simple "hello" would have been appropriate. In the past I've gone out of my way to be friendly, sometimes as a personal mission so I was surprised at my reticence. I chastised myself. I had passed up an opportunity to recognize a fellow commuter, which bothered me. And the more I pondered, spinning wheels through neighborhoods, the real reason began to haunt me. I could not put the blame on the fact that I was bundled up against the cold or needing downtime from a hectic workday. Those are lame excuses anyway. No, my reaction stemmed from the fact that this woman was a year round commuter. I'd seen her many times, braving the snow, riding past me as I was stuck in slow traffic behind the wheel of a car.

It's not often that I'm speechless, but that's what I believe happened: me a part time commuter beside a grand biker belle. The next time we meet—and I believe we will—I will be ready with a smile and kind words.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Burlington Streets Challenge

The City of Burlington mailed a bike map to me. I haven't decided whether I will use this for documentation
 or reference.This side of map only shows Burlington's northern sector. Red lines indicate pedestrian/bike trails.

My personal quest this year is to ride all of Burlington's 95 miles of public roads. It will be a relativity easy goal, I realize, for someone who loves to bike commute, but nonetheless it's a project with an objective and will inspire me to seek out neighborhoods I haven't ridden in a long time. I anticipate riding with our children, with diversions for coffee or ice cream treats, using destinations as mini incentives, and stumbling upon garage sales.

Much like simple bike overnights, having a mission provides incentive to explore and document on a map. Should I color code each day's route, estimate daily mileage, or list street names, as I complete a section? Inevitably I will blog about the adventure, though at present I'm not sure what type of format that will be. I am as excited to tally and scribble down each day's ride as I am to ride and discover what particular neighborhoods hold for flower gardens, interesting porches, homes for sale, or whatever things I might discover. There are possibilities that have yet to reveal themselves, which adds to the overall enticement.

I am tempted to broadcast this challenge to the Burlington cycling community. If I find this quest appealing, there must be other like-minded cyclists who would enjoy this mission.

I give thanks and appreciation to GE at Endless Velo Love. Without her inspiration, I would never have come up with the idea. Read about GE's goal to ride all her city streets.

Have you ever done something like this?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Errandonnee 2015 - Rock Those Errands!

Pink and purple yoga mats are bungeed to my rear rack.
The Errandonnee challenge was a fun ride this year, thanks to lucky March weather and MG's inclusive rules. I was able to do normal errands, which fit into available categories. The only difficulty lay in searching for an arts or entertainment venue. Fortunately, my husband had signed up to volunteer at a curling fundraiser, and being somewhat interested myself, I made a point to stop by and enjoy a delightful hour, marveling at a hockey rink transformed into four curling lanes. Eight teams playing at once was certainly worth the visit!

Errandonnee Scorecard
March 11
Category: Personal Care, YMCA yoga class
Observation: Sivananda yoga is tough on my back.
Miles: 2
March 11
Category: Work or Volunteering, I rode to work (all week too, woohoo!)
Observation: Puddles galore, snow is melting fast. 
Miles: 10

Yoga and grocery shopping in one evening, plus arriving home after dark.
 I attribute the nice weather to such a feat.
March 11
Category: Store, I bought ginger goodies for a friend's birthday
Observation: I rode home in the dark - a milestone! 
Miles: 2

A TD banking we will go, a TD banking we will go, high ho the derrio...
Actually, my boys and I rode to the bank, but I forgot to take a photo.
I returned another day to capture this image.
March 14
Category: Personal Business, Opening bank accounts for our children
Observation: It was the first time this year that my boys and I rode together.
Miles: 2

After banking we rode to the bike shop. That's my son with the GoPro.
He films himself ride over jumps, rumbling over ice - oy vey! 
March 14
Category: Wild Card, local bike shop
Observation: It's easy to spend money on bike goodies. I purchase a helmet, seat, and front fender for our boys.
Miles: 2

I often support this local franchise.
March 14
Category: Wild Card, pet store, hay for our bunny and guinea pigs.
Observation: I felt sorry for 4 gerbils; each was housed in a separate tank.
Miles: 1

What a great event to watch - Go curlers!
March 14
Category: Arts and Entertainment, watched a curling tournament at Cairns Arena.
Observation: Participants hooted and hollered, obviously having fun in the fundraiser event.
Miles: 5

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The New Commute is Surprisingly Tranformative

For years I treated my 22 mile round trip commute like a mini-bike tour. I wore tights or Lycra shorts, used traditional panniers, toted first aid kit, a tool bag stuffed with a variety of pertinent supplies (every tourer should lug a box of extra screws, bolts, and washers), full water bottles, reflective clothing and/or vest, plus stiff soled bike shoes. In short, had I desired to skip work altogether while en route and hit the road for a multi-day adventure—and believe me I had fantasies of doing just that—I was well equipped, right down to bicycle choice (Miyata 610 and Trek 830 were both tested touring machines). Plus, a credit card is assurance, supplementing other goodies a cyclist might need for an impromptu adventure

You get the picture.

Enter the shorter commute.
When I switched jobs in January, and once winter loosened it's deep freeze and roads cleared, I looked forward to riding the Ross, my preferred companion. I anticipated my five mile one-way ride would include discovering possible route variations. Indeed, after my first week back in a commuting routine, stitching bike paths to neighborhoods; that's proven to be true. The funny thing is, regardless of route, all are exactly 30 minutes each way.

Both routes have their advantages and disadvantages. Which way should I go? 
Riding five miles means priorities have changed.
But what I didn't expect—and thus a wonderful surprise and breakthrough—(at least for me) came later: pedaling a shorter distance has completely changed my view on what's appropriate commuting attire and gear. Or more to the point, what's possible to live with and without. I've discovered a myriad of changes that are more suited to the way I now ride. I left traditional panniers in storage, opting instead to use an upcycled floral sling bag and messenger bag. I bring less tools. I could ride in jeans if I cared to, however black tights are still my preference—sometimes double layers in chilly temperatures. I don't obsess about undergarments either; whatever works is fine in my book. I wear appropriate clothing for the weather: stylish quilted coat, hat, headband, a pretty scarf, purple windproof mittens, warm hiking shoes with thick socks—my everyday wear. but I don't worry if my hands or feet are slightly chilled, because within a half hour, I will have arrived at work or home.

Has an altered ride distance ever affected your gear choices and your outlook on commuting?

Several warm days melted most of our snow, leaving wet paths that eventually froze into treacherous surfaces.
I walked this section atop the snowbanks with one arm bracing my bike beside me upon the ice,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Errandonnee 2015 - The Start of Something Good

Delivering/donating 5 lbs. of books to our library.
A break in our deep freeze coincided with longer daylight, which provided just what I needed to practice riding to work, complete some errands, and eventually begin a new commute. Seven days has turned the seasons around, and though there will be a few snowstorms lingering throughout March, if feels like we're finally over the hump.

I'm pleased that Errandonnee requirements and categories have broadened so almost any trip I set out on should fill a niche. And, my nemesis has gone away - old category: riding in the dark. Good riddance.

Let's get crackin' and ride!

Errandonnee Scorecard
March 7
Category: You Carried What on Your Bike?, library to donate 5 lbs. of books
Observation: I haven't visited the library in month. 
Miles: 2

Snow is receding on possible route to my new workplace.
March 7
Category: Non-Store Errand, Explore viable route to work
Observation: Pleased there is less snow on the bike path than I would've guessed.
Miles: 6

Groceries to feed hungry teenagers in our home.
March 7
Category: Store, City Market, groceries
Observation: a good place to chit-chat with cycling acquaintences.
Miles: 2

I love when I can buy a skirt, dress shoes, tights, and two pair of earrings for 19.00.
March 8
Category: Personal Care, Goodwill, for more dress clothes
Observation: There is a bike rack conveniently near front entrance.
Miles: 8

Workplace bike rack is buried in snow. For the time being I'm locking my bike to the post beneath the blue awning.
March 9
Category: Work or Volunteering, Commuting to Work
Observation: With snow melt I will need to wipe down my bike after every ride
Miles: 10