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11.2 gallon challenge

November 4 - 11.2 gallons ... the last till 2010.

On November 4, I filled my little car up with 11.2 gallons of gas – with the intention that it is the last time I put gas in the car until the new year, 2010.  It was a good plan.

And then I got sick.  Not the dreaded H1N1 or other flu, but an upper respiratory virus that really knocked me off my feet for a few days.  Barely left the house, barely left the sofa, and when I finally decided that a doctor’s visit was in order I went by car.  Oh well.  Still, I think I am well on-track to complete the challenge without much of a problem …

Feeling better, and this week I’ve been back on the bike.  Haircut, grocery runs, a trip to the pool, a nice road ride, and today spent running errands around town.  All by bike, and feeling considerably back to normal, health-wise.  The weather has been picture perfect for cycling, and it’s good to be outside again.  Thanksgiving is around the corner, with boys coming home from college and my inlaws coming in from Pennsylvania.  Thankful for so much … including bicycles and the health/well-being and legs to be riding.

bike station


About two years ago, while listening to a podcast by the girls at More Hip Than Hippie, I heard a wonderful idea presented by a woman in Chico, CA.  To make her street and neighborhood a little more bicycle friendly, she had set up a “bike station” in her front yard – kind of an aid station for cyclists – stocked with a patch kit, a few tools, a pump and a small bench where you could take a break.  I knew it was something we had to do here at home.

So this is our bike station – with a very big thanks to my husband, Mark, who put it all together.  We had retrieved the old bench from our pond (believe it or not) when we had first moved here, and he recently sandblasted and repainted it.  He just finished building the wonderful new cedar stash-box hanging on the tree.  It is stocked with a small rechargeable air compressor (cabled to the box, so hopefully it won’t disappear), and a small collection of tools.

bike station box

the bike station box - with cycling "emergency" supplies

I’d plan to add a few additional supplies to the box, including a patch kit and/or spare tube, a set of tire levers, a rag, and possibly a small notebook.  When the weather is warm, I’d even consider putting a small insulated jug of cool water out there on the weekends.  What do you think?  Any other suggestions?

I plan to make a couple of flyers to drop off at our local bike shops, to help let people know it’s out here, and available for their use.

Mostly, I hope that it might turn into a friendly rest stop for some of our local cyclists.  We’re always glad to see them out on our road, and I hope they will come to know us as a bicycle-friendly to stop and visit.  Who knows – maybe some of them will decide to make their own bike stations around town?

Where can you find us?  Just ride on out Eureka Road (State Rte. 306) in Bradley County, about 1.5 miles north of Rte. 60.  Our geographic coordinates are N 35 ° 15′ 24.4″, W 84 ° 52′ 26.7″ … I’ll make it a little adventure for you!  Until I figure out something clever for a sign, just look for the bench. 🙂

Can you find our bike station?

bicycle soup


We’re having one of those beautiful weeks of fall weather – cool, crisp, sunny and vibrant.  Today’s Monday routine: catch up on the never-ending back-log of laundry, ship a package off to Mason at college, do a little grocery shopping, and try to find something to sooth a sore throat that has taken hold of me since yesterday.  The cooler temps always make me crave a bowl of soup.  So when the laundry was all outside catching the breeze, my bicycle and I headed off to the store.

This “Bicycle” Broccoli-Cheddar Chowder is a family favorite that I concocted many years ago, and the perfect simple supper for fall and winter.  I added “Bicycle” to the name, because you should ride your bike to the market to get the ingredients – and hopefully you won’t feel too guilty about the dose of comfort-food after a nice long ride!

One thing to note: this recipe makes enough soup to feed a small town, so you may want to consider halving it to get a quantity more suited for 4 people.  I always make plenty, and the boys around here manage to never let the leftovers go to waste.

"Bicycle" Broccoli-Chedder Chowder

Bicycle” Broccoli-Cheddar Chowder

(tastes extra delicious after a long ride on a cold day!)

3/4 C onion, finely chopped

1/2 C carrot, grated

1 stalk of celery, finely chopped

butter or oil (scant, to saute vegetables)

6 C vegetable broth (may substitute chicken broth, as desired)

1 tsp salt

3 C potatoes, small dice (I prefer small redskinned “new potatoes”, leaving skins on, but you can substitute other peeled potatoes)

3 C broccoli, lightly steamed and coarsely chopped (can substitute frozen chopped broccoli)

1/2 C butter

3/4 C flour

5 C milk

2 C good cheddar cheese, shredded

Sautee onion, carrot and celery in small amt. of butter or oil, until onion is translucent.  Set aside.  In large heavy covered stockpot, heat vegetable broth and potatoes, and bring to a slow boil. Stir in onion/celery/carrots and cook over medium heat until potatoes just become tender.  Stir in chopped broccoli and let simmer on low.

Meanwhile, in separate large saucepan, melt the 1/2 C butter and add, stirring, the 3/4 C flour.  Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes, until bubbly and golden.  To this, stir in milk and bring to almost boiling, stirring continually until smooth and thickened.  Turn head to low, add shredded cheese, and continue to stir over low heat until cheese is melted and incorporated.

Carefully pour the cheese mixture into the large stockpot (with broccoli & vegetables), stirring to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer, uncovered, over low/medium heat until soup reaches desired consistency (it will continue to thicken).

Serve with a simple tossed salad, and crusty bread. (After a long bike ride!)  Enjoy!

10-12 servings