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#330daysofbiking Day 73: day of girl

bike, skirt, pink pedicure

Day of much “girliness”.  Swam in the early morning, went to the dentist for a teeth cleaning, and then rode errands and pampered my feet and toes with a pedicure.  Pink.  🙂

Some days I really love just riding around in a skirt and “girl clothes”.  A slower pace, for sure, and there is a certain skill involved  – the right skirt, the ability to keep it from blowing around too much – but I love the feeling of a skirt swishing against my legs as I pedal, and arriving places looking more feminine than, well … athletic?  I know the two can go hand in hand, but typical bike apparel – shorts, tights, etc. – just doesn’t have the quite same feeling, especially when I’m running around town on errands. And as one of my twitter friends said, “we work hard for these legs, sometimes it’s nice to show them off in a dress (skirt).”  LOL.

Came home and took some photos of some little white butterflies that have been hanging around the flowers off of our front porch.  Good grief.  Next thing you know, I’ll be posting rainbows, unicorns and My Pretty Ponies ….. (time to take the skirt off.)

flowers and butterflies ... oh brother 😛

#330daysofbiking Day 72: heat and thunder

circular

Weather continues to be hot and stifling.  Heat index peaked today at about 100’F.  Basically miserable.

Today I played catch-up at home, after the past few days of fun and games on the river and elsewhere.  Took a very quick errand ride in the late morning – which convinced me that I didn’t want to be on the bike again until it cooled off, hopefully by evening.  As the pattern goes, the heat builds and builds throughout the day, culminating in big thunderstorms complete with wind and torrential rains.  So it was again this afternoon, lingering into dusk.  Right now it feels like some Amazonian rainforest out there – steam rising from the pond, the ground, the pavement.  I gave it up for the day; the errand ride will have to do.

grapevine tendrils in the rain

@330daysofbiking Day 71: river & ride

the end of the day

The ride came at the end … again.  Another solo road ride, post-late-afternoon-thunderstorms.  The roads were damp, steam rising from the heated pavement.  Fields are lush and green.  The air was just starting to cool, no winds.  Lovely.

wheels

Spent the day on the river with the boys and friends, paddling the upper Hiwassee.  It was the perfect hot day to spend on the cool river – the water is amazingly chill, coming down from the mountains.  It was great to be on the river on a Monday; we had it basically to ourselves, very few others out on the water.  A few fly fishermen, one or two other paddlers, our group. Nice.

Plenty of silliness … getting stuck on rocks, navigating the rapids backwards more than once, paddle-splash wars, sailor hats, the landing at “goose-poop island”. LOL.  Plenty of sun till the very end, when the late-afternoon storms started to pop up.  Mexican food for dinner, and then some music by the boys. Good times.

A few pictures from the day … ahh, summer.

something out of Gilligan's Island??

Leslie ... complete confidence

Matt & Grant ... amazingly NOT backwards

the beautiful upper Hiwassee River

#330daysofbiking Days 69 & 70: pedal, paddle, pedal…

beautiful endless stretch of road ... riding with Dillon

Summer days.  Sometimes they are so fun-filled and action-packed it feels like we are moving 90-mph in our 35-mph lives … And so I missed posting yesterday, and will have to make this post a double-feature. LOL.

Dillon

Had a great ride with Dillon on Saturday.  It was hot; mid-90’s, very humid.   I took it easy out there, drinking plenty, taking my sweet time – as always.  At this point, all of the boys can really out-ride/out-pace/out-climb me … but they are still nice enough to ride with me, waiting for me to slog my way up the hills.  We always have fun – they never fail to make me laugh over something.   The day’s fun was getting squirted with his water bottle while I was trying to get a photo … which just happened to feel quite  wonderful in the heat.

you cannot tell, but I was being squirted by a water bottle while trying to shoot this...

Today, Mark and I started the day with a quick trip to the river.  Finally had the new boat out for a paddle – and it was fantastic! I think this is going to be the perfect boat for me; stable, light, and great deck/storage for easy access to everything from my water bottle to my camera.  I think I am also going to be able to haul it  easily by bike very soon – getting a small scupper-hole cart/set of wheels, and plan to tow behind the Xtracycle.

very happy with the new boat - can you tell?! 🙂

met another couple out paddling - with their cute pup, Chavelle, on board (please tell me that I don't have to start bringing the goats along?!)

Came home, and Mark headed off to the airport for another week of out-of-town business.  After dinner, I headed out for a solo evening ride.  It was a peaceful and beautiful ending to a weekend of small adventures, fun.

When I thought about what I wanted to write tonight as I was riding, it kind of occurred to me – what do all of these things mean?  The pedaling, the paddling, the pictures … very likely, a whole lot of nothing to anyone else – but so much to me.

I had a conversation with a friend recently – talking about how “to live”.  About all of the time we spend maintaining our lives (jobs, school, family, home, daily “stuff”), versus how much time we are actually living … Is there really a difference, or is it just the same thing?  I’m not entirely sure, and even though there cannot really be one without the other, I believe there is a difference.  I like to think that my boys, my family, won’t look back and remember how many times I washed their dirty socks, or how well I dressed or mowed the lawn … but that they will remember the times we rode together, or skied together, or paddled together, or laughed together, or had our goofy adventures together.  To me, these are the times we are living; aware of each other, enjoying each other, being with each other.

It is a good thing – to live. It is even better to be living.

So pedal (or paddle) on……….

tonight's ride ... the road home

glory

#330daysofbiking Day 68: chivalry

at the pool

Decided to take advantage of the rainless morning; rode to the pool for a swim, ran a few errands, stopped for a few groceries on the way home.  And in the afternoon it rained.  Hah!

I suppose this will sound sexist, but I really believe that a lot of drivers are more courteous to me – as a woman on a bike – than they typically are to most males.  The route to the pool is one of my least-fun rides, traffic-wise – an interstate crossing, entrances to two major shopping centers, a four-lane commercial-zone slog.  Lots of trucks.  But I have to say I am grateful to all of the people who give me 3 feet (or often more) in passing, or slow down and wait until they can safely do so.  Not everyone is always alert and courteous, but mostly I have remarkably few problems.

When I rode up to the bike rack at the Y, someone stopped me to tell me they had seen me riding before, and had passed me on my way over today.  He said he had noticed me as I was stopped at one of the intersections, and went on to say something like, “Well, so many of the people on bicycles around here pay no attention to the lights; you seem to know what you’re doing out there, and that’s good”.  I didn’t (and won’t) comment on how accurate or inaccurate he might be about other cyclists, but I thought it was a significant thing to hear from a driver – as if he was saying, “If you behave like traffic, I will treat you like traffic.” Maybe the “female factor” played into it as well – or not?  Chivalry is not dead?  Either way, I think it is an important statement of our responsibility to ride lawfully and courteously as well.

(And if that doesn’t work, try wearing a skirt….!  ;-))

groceries ... someday, maybe they'll give me a bike rack

#330daysofbiking Day 67: rain and the river

crossing the inlet

crossing the inlet

It was a beautiful morning … and I should have taken better advantage of it.  The day started out picture-perfect – sun was shining, temperatures were not so warm.  Expected the rest of the day to be more of the same, so I spent the morning catching up with a few things at home, figuring I would have all afternoon to ride.  My mistake. I guess timing is everything (that, and not bothering to look at weather forecasts).

Shortly after noon, dark clouds began rolling in and the rains came.  Thunderstorms, winds, and even a few pieces of hail.  In between showers, the heat and humidity were smothering.  Kind of wanted to kick myself for waiting. Finally got out in the evening and headed towards the Hiwassee River, just up the road.  Reached the bridge and inlets just as the sun was beginning to drop, spreading its last rays over the water.  Sounds of frogs along the banks, several herons overhead.  It was beautiful.  Maybe my timing wasn’t so bad, after all?

#330daysofbiking Day 66: peas and the perfect storm

world-of-wheels

On a day filled with rain and thunderstorms, I think there is no nicer place to be than inside your favorite bike shop.  Friendly conversation, camaraderie, beautiful machines …

Finally got in to pick up my road bike, which had been in the shop having a front derailleur-ectomy – or transplant, actually.  A few weeks ago while out riding,  I managed to have the perfect storm of mechanical failure.   (Please forgive me here, if I don’t use proper bike lingo/terminology – I don’t know this stuff).  I was down-shifting, and my shifter cable broke … which caused my chain to make a sloppy transition, splaying one of the links … which, in turn, caught on the front derailleur and totally bent it out of shape.  Charles, my most-awesome bike guy/mechanic, tried valiantly to repair it – but in the end, it needed to be replaced.

So today’s ride was a quick spin on my newly repaired-and-good-as-new bike … basically up the road and back. Oh well.  Ross and I had talked about trying to take an evening ride, but thunderstorms and winds are rolling through and I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Since there are no nice riding pics today – you shall get some peas.  LOL.  And an easy(-peasy) summer recipe.

Right now, the garden is full of lettuce and peas.  Late yesterday I finally crossed the pea-picking off of my to-do list, and came in with several bowls of sweet green peas along with a few bags full of lettuce.  Tonight’s #projectdinner was a very easy Japanese Mame Gohen (rice with green peas), some roasted mixed mushrooms, and ginger-dressed garden lettuce.  Light, perfect for summer … and basically no effort; throw it in a pot/rice cooker and let it take care of itself.

Mame Gohan

Mame Gohan — Cooked Rice with Green Peas

  • 1 C Sushi rice
  • 1-1/2 C green peas, shelled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs sake
  • 1/2 tsp Katsuodashi – or 4-5cm piece of Konbu (dried sea kelp)
  • 1-1/2 C water

Rinse the rice and place into a rice cooker.  Add sake, salt, water and Katsuodashi (or Konbu).  Place peas on top – don’t mix.  Turn on the rice cooker, and when finished, turn into a bowl and toss the peas with the rice.  Serves 4 as a side dish.

truthfully, when they're young and fresh out of the garden, I love to eat them raw-in-the-pod the best!

#330daysofbiking Day 65: rhythm

the rhythm of the stroke

Before I was a cyclist, I was a swimmer.  Not competitive or anything so “serious”, just a devoted lap swimmer.  I love the water, and I find swimming to be very relaxing – especially given my level of (non)-exertion.  I have almost perfected a technique for napping while swimming, if that gives you any idea …

I still get in the pool once or twice a week throughout the year, and more often in the summer when I can swim outside – which is what I love the most.  For several years there were a group of us who would swim together on summer mornings.  We jokingly called ourselves the Aqua Geezers. (Well, maybe not so jokingly. ;-))

During the summer, the early mornings are reserved for lap swimmers.  This morning, I was the only one in the water (much to my delight, and probably not so much to the lifeguard who had to stay on duty).  Early in the season, in the cool morning air, it takes a little effort to jump into the cold water … but once I’m in, like when I’m on my bike, all reluctance disappears.

the rhythm of the needles

The repetition of the strokes, the breathing, had me thinking about rhythm – and a compelling passage in one of my knitting books.  In Sally Melville’s book, The Knitting Experience: The Knit Stitch she talks about these “feel good” activities that put us into our right brain mode – the beauty of the physical rhythm, the meditative state.  She writes,

The right brain is the place where new ideas form, where entities that don’t belong come together, where intuition rules, where time has no meaning… We need to get out of the dominant, full-of-rules left brain and into the more innovative, solution-advancing right brain. And we get into the right brain by engaging in activities that are

  • physically repetitive,
  • intellectually undemanding,
  • visually stimulating.

Which, for me, perfectly explains why so many of us love the rhythm of cycling – or swimming, or knitting, or running, or any one of these activities that makes us “feel good”, give us some clarity, peace of mind.  Foster creativity. Induce that state of contentment.

So today began with swimming, a little knitting during the afternoon, and ended with an evening road ride on the Xtracycle.  The end of the day was as lovely as the beginning.  Engaging the right side of my brain through the swim strokes, the click of the needles, the pedalling, the breathing.   All of these things … the beautiful rhythm of the day.

the rhythm of the pedals

cow-of-the-day (no rhythm connection; I just couldn't resist throwing her in here - LOL)

#330daysofbiking Day 64: back to crazyland

(I will let you come up with a caption for this one)

This was exactly the expression on my face upon seeing how much laundry had piled up over my weekend away. 😉  I should have kept on riding…

One of those Mondays … more than enough to do around the house, youngest son Grant starting his “job” (volunteering) as a junior instructor at the local tennis camp, groceries to get, vegetables to be picked.  And, of course, a few goats in need of haircuts and manicures.  I am very proficient at coming up with lists of things that need to be done – and much less proficient at actually getting the stuff done.  Today was no exception.

Today’s ride was a quick trip to the jeweler’s for some new watch batteries and a repair.  My road bike has been in the shop (front derailleur “surgery”), and is ready to be picked up, but I just couldn’t get there today; food and clean clothes had to come first.   Got a few things done, at least – including the brief ride.  Like the Xtracycle motto – the “everyday adventures” always manage to sustain me, make my day complete and purposeful.  Happier, calmer; a little less crazyland.

Looking at my to-do list, still feeling a little bit like Hershey, the goat, tho … 😉

#330daysofbiking Days 61, 62 & 63: bikamping!

arriving

Day 61: Left on Friday for a 3-day bike camping trip, this time heading toward the Tennessee River and Harrison Bay – and a few points beyond. (Full set of photos on my Flickr page.)

the (approximate) route

The weather forecast was a little sketchy; scattered showers throughout the weekend.  We decided to camp at Harrison Bay State Park, roughly 27 miles from home – figuring that if it did start raining, we wouldn’t be stuck slogging through bad weather for hours on end.

Fortunately, the weather cooperated and we had a dry ride all the way to the park.  Quiet roads, nice scenery, especially when we approached the river.  Managed to get a campsite along one of the inlets, and had our gear set up and stashed away under a tarp before the rain started.  We headed over to the park’s marina to get some lunch, and while we were there, it started pouring.

Spent the afternoon dodging intermittent showers … had  a  swim, some leisurely time reading in the hammock, a little more riding around within the park.  After dinner we found a nice spot with a swing across from the marina – lovely views of the water, the boats, waterfowl, people fishing.  More rain finally sent us into the tent for the rest of the evening – reading by camplight, and sleep.

Day 61 - relaxing spot across from the marina

campsite

Day 62: approximate route - Harrison Bay to Chattanooga Riverwalk

Day 62: Woke up to mist over the water, grey skies.  Beautiful in its own way.  By late morning, the sky began to clear and we decided to make our way down to the Chattanooga Riverwalk/Riverpark.

Parts of this ride were lovely, and other parts were pretty nasty – especially the 6-lane commercial stretch of Hwy 58 as we approached the Riverpark.  Blech.  The weather was really hot, and the humidity was smothering after all of the rain.   Despite the heat, riding along the river offered some great views.

Just as we arrived at the Riverwalk, it started to rain – again.  Fortunately just a quick shower.  We followed the Riverwalk toward downtown Chattanooga, and stopped for a great lunch – alfresco – at The Boathouse along the river.  Sat and enjoyed the shaded canopy and the breeze coming off of the river, lingering over our late lunch for as long as we could.  Finally decided to start heading back.

Returned to the campground for a late afternoon swim.  The weather had finally decided to clear up, and the evening was lovely.  We had a campfire and stayed out under the stars ’till nearly midnight.

along the Tennessee River

heron on the rocks (TN Riverwalk)

Day 63: Woke again to grey skies and the threat of rain.  Packed up early and decided to head out for home.  Passed through a few very light showers along the way, but nothing terrible.  Humidity was pretty ridiculous, though.

Although it was nice to get home, cool off, clean up … I still wish it wasn’t over.  I love these bike adventures, no matter how brief.  Even in somewhat familiar territory, going by bike always manges to offer a new perspective – new things to see, roads to ride on.   Rain and all, it was wonderful.  Just makes me want to take a bigger adventure.  One of these days……

packed up, heading home

guess who? 😀