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head tube clock

We watch things come and go … and come back again.  “Vintage” and “retro” are everywhere – from fashion trends to digital photo apps and beyond. My son now wears glasses a la Buddy Holly, and despite his iPodery, he’s been collecting old vinyl records and plays them on a turntable.  Myself, I’m smitten with the lo-fi grainy look of photos from plastic toy film cameras, and have always loved vintage bikes.

And so, when I spotted this Stem Captain analog headset clock in the bike shop, I knew this was a toy I had to have.  While digital trip computers and hi-tech toys may be the order of the day for “serious” bikes, I felt that this was just the right accessory for Elisabetta.

 

she's not vintage ...

 

#330daysofbarns (and cows)

 

#330daysofbiking, Day 239 ~ city bike in the country

 

One of my twitter friends recently mentioned (jokingly, I am sure) that there had been a conspicuous absence of old barns in my recent posts.  So, for @dauphin87 and anyone else who isn’t bored to tears of rural landscapes, old barns and Holsteins … this one is for you.

#330daysofbiking update:  have ridden 240 of the past 263 days … 90 days to go.

 

as for old barns ... this is still one of my favorites (Bigsby Creek Road)

today's bikes and barns (White Oak Valley) ...

... and today's Holstein

windchill factor

happy haulidays!

 

tis the season for festive Xtracycles ~ #330daysofbiking, day 236

It’s that time of year again … festive lights, festive bikes, winter riding, wishlists, and all of the riding that goes along with the holiday agenda – from the baking to the shopping to the shipping.  And there is no other bike that can get it all done-with-fun like an Xtracycle.

There has been a lot of chatter in recent months about the growing selection of cargo bikes on the market.  And kind of like the great Pillsbury Bake-Off, the cargo bike discussion seems to be taking on elements of a “Hauls(bury)Bike-Off”.  From Xtracycles to bucket bikes to bakfeits to beer-on-tap bikes, it’s a great discussion to be having … for in my opinion, any bicycle that enables someone to substitute bike for car is a wonderful thing – and nothing does that better than a cargo bike.

However, if we ever get down to casting votes, I cast mine without hesitation for Xtracycle.  If I could only own one bike, it would be my Xtracycle.  No question, no debate.  It is my favorite bike above all others, and the one I could not do without.   And as I’ve looked at and contemplated some of the other contenders, I’ve been able to reach a few conclusions about why Xtracycle rules the cargo bike contest….

  • No other cargo bike can accomodate irregularly-shaped loads as easily as an Xtracycle. You want to haul a Christmas tree,  a kayak, a weed-eater, a vacuum cleaner or another bicycle?  On an Xtracycle, it’s a piece of cake.  We’ve hauled them all; easy to load in a variety of ways, easy to secure, easy to ride with.  Even for a silly old lady like myself.
  • I like the fact that my cargo sits behind me.  Other cargo bike enthusiasts might like that Christmas tree or preschooler directly in front of them, but I like to have an unobstructed and distraction-less view of what’s ahead, thanks.
  • You won’t out-grow an Xtraycle.  While kid-hauling bikes like the Taga or the Feetz might be a fun way to carry your pre-schoolers, I can’t help think this is a short-lived use of a pricey bike.  Kids grow – quickly.  Why not carry your pre-cyclists on a PeaPod (or two) on the back of an Xtracycle for that short period of time?  In the end, you’ll continue to love and use an Xtracycle for countless things, rather than being stuck with a limited-use stroller-bike after a few short years.
  • If I need to take my Xtracycle somewhere else (out of state, or beyond timely riding distance) I can carry my Xtracycle on my vehicle.  Using an extended rail on our Thule roof rack, we’ve transported our Xtracycles out of state for vacations and other weekend cycling trips.  I can’t see putting a Madsen or a Bakfeit or a Feetz on top of my car nearly as easily, if at all.
  • Affordability.  The ability to convert an existing bike (from road to commuter to mountain or whatever you might already own) to an Xtracycle requires minimal investment when compared to buying an entire dedicated cargo bike.  And of course, if you’ve got some spare cash, the Xtracycle Radish or Big Dummy are beautiful, quality builds and very competitively priced – and the folks at Xtracycle are among the friendliest, most generous and helpful bike people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. (And they’re not paying me to say this. 😉
  • But the biggest reason of all to own an Xtracycle … it is beautiful bike  just to ride.  Even when I don’t have to haul anything, I love being out on my X.  It’s a beautiful ride – on the back roads or in traffic, in town or on the bike path.  I don’t have to make a conscious decision when I head out – like, “do I need to take the big bucket bike, or utility trailer today?”   I ride my Xtracycle like other folks ride a road bike or a commuter – and if I get a phone call along the way telling me we’re out of orange juice at home, I always have the easy ability to stop and pick some up.  I just can’t imagine that I would ever do the same amount of non-cargo everyday riding on bucket bike or bakfeit.

If I were Santa, I would bring everyone an Xtracycle … But in the meantime, I’ve combed through my pile of Xtracycle photos from the past few years to give you idea of the fun that you,  too, could be having on the best cargo bike EVER. Put one on your wish-list … because you never know what Santa has in his bag 😉

Happy Haulidays* and Happy Pedaling!

(*Thanks to my friend Rick for letting me borrow his clever homonym (haulidays) :-D)

easy-peasy on an Xtracycle ... haul your Christmas tree

... do your holiday gift shopping

... haul your other bike to the shop

... or haul your favorite bike shop guy 🙂

haul a little white snowman ...

... or a little white dog

haul a boat to the river this way ...

... or haul it this way

haul your groceries ...

... or your garden

take your friends on a bikepicnic ...

... or go on a bikamping trip

or just take a beautlful ride on a beautiful bike: Xtracycle

 

CELEBRATION!!!

 

from "the Olin files"

 

Yesterday, something compelled me to ride along the river – the Hiwassee River, up the road from our house.  I can’t begin to count how many times I have crossed this bridge and have been reminded by the TDEC warning sign of the mercury contamination in this beautiful body of water.   Or how many times I have watched (with disbelief) the people fishing, despite the warnings.  Yesterday was no different.  It always bothers me … and I’m sure you might be tired of me posting about it by now.

Last week, I attended a public hearing at our local Chamber of Commerce regarding a $41 million bond proposal for Olin Corporation through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  My friend Suzanne Wisdom from Oceana, along with several concerned residents (including myself) made comment for the record – if Olin was to receive this funding, it should be imperative that they commit to converting their plant to mercury-free technology.

 

at the public hearing ... Cleveland/Bradley Industrial Development Board representative (left) and Suzanne Wisdom from Oceana (right)

The Chamber’s Industrial Development Board kindly told us that environmental issues did not factor into the issuance (or non-issuance) of this type of bond.   Of course.  But, as always, all we could continue to do was to speak out for the record.

Earlier today I received a phone-call from Suzanne … and it left me speechless.   As of mid-day today, here is an excerpt from the official Press Release from Oceana:

Olin Corporation’s Two Dinosaur Mercury Plants Will End Mercury Use and Releases

in Tennessee and Georgia

Oceana Celebrates Olin’s Response to Community and Customer Demands

The Olin Corporation announced today it will convert its mercury-based chlor-alkali manufacturing plant in Charleston, TN to modern, mercury free technology and eliminate mercury from its plant operation in Augusta, GA.   Oceana has been pushing for these actions since 2005. Olin’s plant in Tennessee is the largest remaining mercury-based chlorine plant of the four plants in the U.S. that had refused to make the switch to safer, more efficient technology.

In response, Oceana offers the following statement from Senior Campaign Director Jacqueline Savitz:

“This toxic, unnecessary practice was putting communities’ health at risk, and contaminating fish that could end up on dinner plates far from the plants themselves.   Olin’s Tennessee plant was the largest and released the most pollutants of the remaining mercury-based chlorine plants.   This shift will mean less mercury in the Hiwassee River, as well as in Charleston and the state of Tennessee,” added Savitz.

Olin’s announcement shows that even a large facility can shift to mercury-free technology in the time frame described in pending Senate legislation, which would require plants to shift  to mercury-free production by 2015. Olin will easily meet that timeframe, committing to shift to cleaner production technology by 2012 in Charleston, TN.  For that decision, we applaud them.

Finally, we are grateful that the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will help to make the Tennessee conversion possible.

Oceana Tennessee Field Organizer Suzanne Wisdom, who has worked long and hard to exert community pressure on Olin to switch, offers the following reaction:

“I am excited to hear that Olin’s plant will ‘Go Mercury Free,’ just as Oceana and thousands of Tennessee residents have urged them to do.  I’m especially happy for the wonderful community of people who live near the plant. They have been the heart of this campaign and I know they are celebrating today,” said Wisdom.

And from the AP/Bloomberg this afternoon: “Olin plant will eliminate mercury in $160M upgrade”.

What can I possibly say????  Cause for celebration?  Are you kidding?! ABSOLUTELY!

Most of all, I cannot begin to express my heartfelt gratitude to Suzanne Wisdom from Oceana – who has worked tirelessly for so many years on this issue … who has been an inspiration and provided much-needed encouragement and support to the concerned citizens throughout our community … and who I feel most privileged to consider my friend.  Suzanne, you are my heroine!  It’s definitely time to celebrate!!!  😀

Dear Suzanne ... thank you for opening my eyes, for putting up with my rants, and for your never-ending supply of optimism

 

 

 

winter river ride

on the bridge, Hiwassee River inlet

 

I ventured out a little further today … the sun was shining, and after the low of 14’F, by afternoon we were back up around 40’F.  I just couldn’t help myself.

#330daysofbiking Day 232 of 254.

near "Stump Lake"

the road ahead

100 days to go

 

#330daysofbiking day 230 ... brrrrrrrrrrrr

 

I don’t know why, but today felt like a pretty big day for me.  Day 230 of the #330daysofbiking project … 100 days to go.    Unless, of course, I decide to go for #33,000daysofbiking, or something along those lines.  (Totally kidding!  Probably.) 😉

Sadly, the milestone was not marked with a very epic ride, but it was good to be out there, regardless.  (I tend to get a little punchy when I’m stuck inside, as evidenced by today’s ShutterCal entry. Lol.)

It was a cold one outside – low around 16’F, and the high only a degree or two above freezing.  The pond had ice on it.  Elisabetta came out of the garage and saw her shadow, which I believe means we will have 6 more weeks of winter.   Bicycle folklore, you know.

 

she saw her shadow ... 6 more weeks of winter?

today's ShutterCal: "I'm an apple person" (obviously being stuck inside makes me a little goofy(er) )

#330daysofbiking nearly derailed

don't worry - I was very careful...

 

I am an impatient person.  I don’t like waiting, and I am – admittedly – pretty headstrong and don’t always take direction well, especially when it conflicts with my own “agenda”.

So, of course, I end up paying a little extra for my recent adventure in stupidity.

Despite the fact I have virtually no pain, a re-check and re-xray at the orthopedist last week revealed (through a small bright white spot on the film) that I may have actually made a small “chip” in the kneecap, and that the remaining swelling is from some fluid in the prepatellar bursa (on the kneecap).  Normally they could drain/aspirate the fluid, but because the abrasion is not healed, they didn’t want to risk possible infection.  The verdict:  “you need to lay off the cycling, the repetitive motion in the joint, for a bit.”

What?!

So, I am now taking some anti-inflammatories, trying to scale back a bit on activity.  The compromise is keeping the riding to a minimum for about 2 weeks … basically no more than about 5-10 minutes a day.  Which barely gets me out of my driveway.  Sigh.  But hopefully this will take care of things, and get rid of the pesky swelling/inflammation.

#330daysofbiking has not been completely de-railed … but will be taking a knock in mileage and biking pictures for another week or so.

To date: have ridden 229 of the past 251 days; 117 days remaining.  And so it goes. {-P

riding up the drive to the mailbox (sigh)

#330daysofbiking Day 228 ~ barely up the road ... via Xtracycle