Dear friends … Heading out for a few days. My in-laws, and Tim from The Band, are here to keep Grant and the critters company and hold down the fort. Mark and I are taking off for a well-deserved trip together – to Italy, with bicycles. Yeah, I’m pretty giddy! The agenda is to bike from Florence to Rome, roughly along the Tuscan Coast. Figuring on filling my water bottles up with olive oil along the way. 😉 Ok, maybe gelato instead.
So, you can be assured there will be plenty of biking photos, and definitely a change of scenery from the same-old, same-old of rural TN. Hope to be back to post around October 5th, and hope you will check back then.
In the meantime, the #330daysofbiking count: as of today, have ridden 162 of the past 176 days with 191 days remaining. Cheers!
I first met David several weeks ago while riding on the Greenway. We had a discussion about the upcoming expansion plans for the Greenway and cycling in our little town of Cleveland, TN. I ran into him again this week, on his bike, and we had a few minutes to continue the conversation…
It always inspires and encourages me when I meet other like-minded cyclists – people using bike for transportation as well as recreation. People like David who are excited to participate in a less car-centric lifestyle, who support and advocate changes that will make our community more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
Like many of us, David’s love of cycling began in during his childhood. He told me about growing up in Virginia, riding his bicycle around a local Pepsi plant and realizing how amazing it was – being able to get around everywhere and anywhere his legs could pedal him. His love of cycling continued, and over the years he has participated in Chattanooga’s 3-State 3-Mountain Century numerous times, as well as other biking events, and now shares his love of cycling with his family.
Sometime in during the past few years, David decided he wanted to ride more. So he “re-commited to riding every other day” – commuting to work, to appointments, making some shopping trips with a trailer. He discovered that his commute from home to office via the Greenway was actually often faster by bike than by car.
“There is really no downside,” he told me. “I can get most places fast enough, and feel better about it.”
As we both eagerly await the upcoming expansion of the local Greenway, it was interesting to reflect upon the change in public perception over the project.
“I know there were more than a few people who were initially opposed to the idea (of constructing the Greenway), thinking it would be a waste of money,” he reflected. “And those same people have been quite surprised by the amazing number of people they now see taking advantage of it; walkers, joggers, cyclists…”
“A lot of people will say how they would like things to be ‘like they used to be’,” he commented, reflecting on small-town life when people would walk into town, to the store, etc. “What they don’t realize is that adopting policies that will help people walk (and ride) more, and drive less, can bring that back – the sense of community, the interaction.”
And I couldn’t agree more.
Ride on, David! Thanks for the inspiration. Let’s keep this conversation rolling.
Confession: I don’t always manage my time as well as I could. And I’m guessing I’m probably not alone in this, but it often weighs on me.
Since I don’t have a “real job”, I am incredibly skilled at spending a very large chunk of my day riding around, playing with my camera, and being sucked into the black hole of Frankentime (NYT ~ “What time feels like when you realize that (much) of your life is spent working with and around a computer and the Internet.”) And while I sincerely cherish my cyber-pals (Twitter, ShutterCal, Flickr, bloggers) and know that the biking, swimming and physical activity is good for my mind and body, I still found myself feeling that I needed a plan. A goal to introduce more diversity in my routine, more productivity, more creativity, more ….. ?
At this point, The Plan is pretty simple. My goal is to spend at least one hour each day engaging in an activity in each of these “categories”:
- Work — the daily household maintenance, and then some. Of course it’s the stuff like laundry, housekeeping, and yardwork, but on the days when I’m not involved in the usual stuff, I want to try and tackle the odd jobs that I tend to avoid – like the cluttered drawer in the kitchen, the top shelf of the fridge, the disorganized cabinet in the laundry room. Basically, the “yucky-but-necessary” category (and to prevent me from ever being a guest on Hoarders. Lol.)
- Play — The fun stuff (where I currently spend a disproportionate amount of time, but hope to change – at least a little). The biking, the swimming, the walking, the running, the paddling, and yes – the camera. The physical activity part; my daily “recess”. 😉 I suppose there will be some kind of overlap when I get to make a grocery run on the Xtracycle (work and play?), but I’m not to too concerned about bending rules. (Did I actually say “rules”?!)
- Think — Kind of like the “play” part, but for my brain. I’ve recently read some conflicting reports over the benefits/lack of benefits of engaging in “mentally stimulating activities” as we age. Regardless, I will always love to read books, to write in a journal, to play with crossword puzzles, play “brain” games with my family (even though I have officially resigned myself to never winning a game of Scrabble among this bunch). It may or may not keep me sharper as the years go by, but it’s much more fulfilling entertainment than, say, watching television. So it’s part of my plan. (Take that, Journal of Neurology…!)
- Create — Even though I consider photography one of my biggest creative outlets, I have a special fascination with handcrafts – knitting, sewing, rug-making, etc. I love artforms that require my hands (and more than just pushing the shutter button), and the women I consider my dearest friends and most amazing artists I know are those who I’ve met through fiber arts – and you know who you are, LP and ML! In recent months, I’ve often put these projects on the “back burner” – and I have missed them, and need to make them at least a small part of each day.
- Reflect — I’m not sure this is the appropriate tag, but it’s as close as I could come for now. This is the time to just stop and appreciate. To look around and acknowledge the the people in my life, the ones I love. It might be a time to just listen. It might be time to meditate. It might be an act of service, an hour to volunteer. It’s a little loosely defined at this point, but it’s as important – if not more so – than the rest.
So that’s my plan. So far, I think it’s going to work pretty well. Wish me luck! 🙂
It’s all a matter of perspective, sometimes. How often do we heard someone say, “Don’t get bogged down in the small stuff, the little details – remember the big picture.” Good advice in many circumstances, yet sometimes the beauty is in the detail, the small stuff.
I love the perspective that riding a bike gives me. The wide open space, the big picture, the chance to open my mind and let go. But at the same time, I also love the distraction of the small details – the fact that the flowers on the side of the road are defined to my eye, down to the petals, and not just a blur of yellow (or blue or red). I can notice the grashopper crossing the road, avoid the wooly caterpillar slinking along the shoulder. I like being absorbed in the detail, the small stuff … even when the big picture surrounds me.
Sometimes you can’t fully appreciate the big picture without first seeing the little ones.
A few of the random pictures from the recent days of #330daysofbiking. (And I am on a mission to try and stay on top of things from here on, not letting this stuff pile up into one big post. Apologies.)
The weather has been pretty spectacular; dry and not so hot. Lovely and cool in the mornings and evening. Fall is around the corner, and the prospect of autumn riding stirs my heart.
The official count: As of today, have ridden 147 of the past 160 days. Sometimes nice long road rides, sometimes just a grocery haul or errand run. On my own, or with “my boys” or friends, it is the daily elixir – it is happiness in motion.
Note: Returning Dillon to school, had some time to check out more amazing architecture on the Berry campus. This is part of the Winshape Retreat located within the Berry property. Story behind it: college founder Martha Berry traveled to France and upon return, decided to build a dairy farm resembling the architecture of Normandy. It was part of the college’s Ag pgm for over 75 years. Eventually, the Cathy family (Chick-fil-A chain) was given the opportunity take it over when the dairy operation changed location, and they converted it into a retreat for church & marriage encounters, a youth summer camp, as well as corporate gatherings, etc. They also offer a variety of scholarship opportunities and special residence halls for Berry students up in this area, known as Berry’s “Mountain Campus” … several miles removed from the main academic center. The students living at the Mountain Campus have the option of taking a shuttle bus (humorously referred to as the “chicken wagon”) to classes, or cycling/walking on the Viking Trail – which is a great paved path between the two locations. It was a beautiful ride (below).
After 3 weeks at school, lots of kids decided to make a last trip home over the long Labor Day weekend. Dillon had several things to take care back here, “stuff” to re-deposit, other stuff he’d forgotten to bring, so Tim and I headed down to Berry College to pick him up and bring him home. We took our bikes down and took some time in the afternoon to ride around the campus and explore parts of the seemingly endless grounds before heading home.
A little bit about Berry … A small, private Liberal Arts college located in NW Georgia. With over 26,000 acres, it is the largest contiguous college campus in the world. Parts of it are designated Wildlife Refuge, there are approximately 70 miles of biking and hiking trails, a gazillion deer, beautiful old and new architecture, and close to 2,000 students. The nature of the campus also provides a wonderful arena for research opportunties – from biodiversity and conservation, to water quality and agri-studies.
One of the most interesting aspects of college life at Berry is their on-campus Work Experience program. Nearly every student participates in some type of paid, “meaningful work experience”; Dillon’s job is with the campus’ environmental “Green Team”, which connects with his studies in chemistry and environmental science. There are also several on-campus Student Operated Enterprises, conceived and impemented by students – my favorite being the newly formed Viking CycleWorks, a small facility offering bicycle repair services and basic parts/supplies. Their slogan: “You break it, we fix it”.
It’s a perfect college campus for biking – from the quiet campus roads to the amazing trail network. Although most of the academic and student-life buildings are centrally located, it is spread out enough that cycling is the perfect and preferred means for getting around. We kind of ran out of time – riding around the main campus, and visiting the Mountain Campus – but I look forward to another visit to check out more the trail system.
Enjoy the long weekend – get outside on your bikes! 😀
(More images on my Flickr set).
halcyon |ˈhalsēən|, adjective — denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.
Last weekend when we were taking Mason back to APSU in Clarksville, we made a quick stop in Nashville to visit a fantastic used bike store – Halcyon Bike Shop. Mason had visited the shop last spring with one of his cycling/physics friends, and was convinced I would love the place. And I did.
There is so much beauty in the endeavor of recycling, rehabbing, re-using bicycles and old bicycle parts. Everyone wins. Beautiful new (old) bikes are born. Affordable transportation is created from discards. Landfills are spared. Pink bikes get to go to college.
The growing number of “bike kitchens” and used bike shops also often offer places where people can volunteer time to work on bikes, and learn basic mechanical skills. Many of them, like Halcyon – through their Bike Workshop – help educate and provide transportation for underprivileged youth in the communities they serve. Everyone wins.
We saw some really divine machines at Halcyon; it was hard to leave without one. Mostly, there was a great informal vibe to the place – friendly and creative. I think a single sentence on their website describes them best:
Come to the shop and say hello, we are very nice and want to be friends.