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Indian summer-winter?

 

self-footrait ūüėČ

It is winter. ¬†And not really. ¬†We’ve had a stretch of crazy warm days, with the thermometer reaching into the upper 60’s F. ¬†It’s the stuff of riding in shorts, in short sleeves, of walking outside barefoot. ¬†A ride past my neighbor’s field and the song of (too-)early Spring Peepers. ¬† Vanishing memories of the snow of recent days past.

January?!

The warm weather makes me restless. ¬† Feelings of wanderlust, longing for variation in the routine … metamorphosis, transformation. ¬†Not exactly sure why.

Maybe in a few days it will snow, and I will return to normal (whatever that is)?

 

uphill on January 30 .... yes, in shorts

summing up January (aka ... shortening my camera's lifespan)

Freeloader transplant

 

evening glamour shot

Thanks to my awesome friend Rick and the great people at Xtracycle, I am now sporting a brand spanking new set of Freeloaders on Tenzing, my Xtracycle. ¬†(In Xtracycle-speak for anyone not familiar, the Freeloaders are the rear ¬†sling-type “bags” on the rear rack.)

The “transplant” was a breeze, and I am really impressed with the new and improved design features. ¬†Topping my list of favorite improvements:

  • heavy-duty coated fabric, making the interior pocket quite waterproof
  • easy on and off – thanks to clips on the tabs (see below)
  • small weep-hole for drainage at the bottom of the sling
  • end gussets in the heavy-duty coated fabric, rather than mesh
  • sleek profile, uncluttered design

 

removing the old, installing the new … and the bare bones
can really feel a difference in the new coated fabric vs. the old fabric – very substantial and durable
really, really like the new clip attachment vs. the old sewn down tabs; can now remove the Freeloaders without having to remove the rack rails – very quick swap
transplant complete!

There are two small features of the old Freeloaders that I will miss. ¬†The old version had a small mesh zipper pocket on the face of the inner compartment. ¬†I really liked this little pocket for stashing small things I wanted to keep visible, and it was a perfect size for a spare tube. ¬†The other change is more cosmetic – rather than the red reflective patches on the back end flaps, the clip tabs have woven reflective stripes … not sure if this will make much difference with visibility/luminosity, but I’d be curious to do a night-time comparison.

 

the little pocket I will miss (old version)

When all is said and done, the improvements in the new Freeloaders make these another design triumph for Xtracycle, hands down. ¬†The fabric and the clip attachment system can’t be beat. ¬†Functionally, I expect them to perform even better than the old, especially with the improved water-resistance and interior weephole. ¬†And the cleaner, sleeker look/aesthetic is beautiful. ¬†Well done, gentlemen!! ¬†(And thanks again, Rick!) ¬†ūüôā

I’ve spent the past two days “testing” them out – a grocery run, and hauling camera gear out among the Holsteins. ¬†Same amazing functionality, beautiful new look … I am a very happy hauler, but I’ll let you be the judge. ¬†ūüėČ

 

yesterday's grocery run

... and on the old bridge today

... and looking for Holsteins (#330daysofbiking Day 274)

rain commute out-takes

 

rain

When you’re going to end up jumping into a pool anyway, does it really matter?

One of the big gaping holes in my blog, I think, is … well, the rest of it. ¬†The not-so-pretty stuff, the traffic, the rides around town that don’t take place on the pleasantness of the greenway, but rather, tailing exhaust pipes and edging away from distracted minivan moms texting on cell phones.

 

view of traffic from the handlebars, in the rain {-P

I rarely take pictures while on the commuting rides, largely because it’s tricky business, not-so-safe, and I typically don’t carry my DSLR along. ¬†It’s not the kind of shooting where I can take time to stop, compose the shot. ¬†When I manage to capture anything, it’s typically blind shots from the hip with my point-and-shoot. ¬†And on days like today, rain on the lens and blindly shooting … well, not a pretty picture.

 

blind shot from the hip

like I said ... my arm (and a truck)

I had a couple errands to run, and since it was a better day to be swimming than cycling, I wanted to head to the pool. ¬†The weather was pretty high on the crappy scale – upper 30’s, rainy, gloomy – and probably a blessing in disguise. ¬†I ended up having the pool largely to myself.

 

going from wet to wetter at the Y

pool to myself

Had a great swim, got out and dried off …. just to go back out in the rain. {-P

So, although I may try to tip the scales and balance the biking photos with some real-life-on-a-bike shots, don’t hold your breath. ¬†I think I am obviously more suited to old barns and quiet rural roads. ¬†ūüėČ

 

blindly shooting wet legs heading home

 

detours

 

sled ūüôā

The snow stuck around longer than most people expected, thanks to some nice cold temps.  It was some amazingly beautiful riding Рcold, sunny, snow on the ground.  The kind of weather that stirs my blood.  Too often, I find that I want to spend the entire day outside messing around Рon my bike, with the camera and a coffee stop or two.  And then the responsibilities of real life throw a detour sign in the road, and I find it unavoidable to have to park the bike and get on with it.

 

contemplating snow tires... ?

The past week was one of those detours – even though I was riding every day, the daily focus was on “the other stuff”. The mundane things like appointments and errands that had been put off a little too long. ¬†Projects at home that needed attention, trips that required me to use a car. ¬†Sigh.

 

brightness

I’ve had a few days this week where the riding was barely more than a 15 minute spin up the road, but I’ve come to really appreciate that benefit, that reward, of #330daysofbiking over the months. ¬†Taking the time, no matter how brief it may be, to get outside and pedal around away from the other necessary things – a detour in itself – is the great equalizer, the balance to the mundane.

 

she always makes me smile

slushy

As I write this today, the snow has almost all disappeared. ¬†And I miss it. ¬†I still have a sizable to-do list of non-cycling things to detour me during the next few weeks, but I’m always glad for the daily reward of #330daysofbiking. ¬†The official count as of today: ¬†have ridden 270 of the past 299 days, 66 days remain.

 

creekside

I always keep him waiting ... yes I do ūüėČ

 

the difference a week can make ... 14 January

... and then today, same road, same bike

 

 

 


sun and snow

 

#330daysofbiking, Day 260

In my book, there is nothing, nothing, more beautiful than being outside on a cold, sunny day with snow on the ground.  I think it is my idea of heaven.

I felt like I was riding in CO today … temps in the 20’s, the warmth of the sun, hills and fields covered in snow, brilliant blue sky and the beautiful blue snow shadows. ¬†I know that this little wonderland can’t – won’t – last much longer, but I am loving every moment and can barely make myself head back inside at the end of the day.

Day 260 – definitely on my top 10 list of #330daysofbiking.

come ride with me …

Confession: videographer I am not, but today while riding with my little Lumix, I accidentally switched the mode dial to the video capture mode … and decided, hey – ¬†this might not be a bad idea? ¬†So here is a chance for you to ride along with me – for a few minutes, anyway. ¬†One of these days I will re-attempt with a real video camera, but for now, at least you will get the idea (and get to see a few barns flying by) ¬†ūüėČ

You may not believe me, but it really was a perfect day to be out on a bike. ¬†There was still virtually no traffic due to the recent snow-panic, yet the roads had started to clear and were easily ridable. ¬†The landscape was quiet and beautiful with snow, the temperatures were comfortably moderate in the mid-30’s, and I loved having the hushed roads all to myself.

 

not quite clear yet

clear sailing (riding)

 

As the salt trucks had been slowly making their way through the county, I decided to ride my old mountain-turned-commuter bike, in case things were really messy. ¬†For the most part, however, I was surprised at how well things had cleared up. ¬†Yet this hasn’t stopped the schools from declaring yet another Snow Day for tomorrow…

I have to confess that I will hate to see it all melt away. ¬†I could get very used to this nice combination of cross-country skiing and cycling each day. ¬†I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll get at least another day or two before it all vanishes.

The old barns (& bicycle pics) are here to stay, though.  Oh well.

 

(another) barn & bike

old snowy barn

 

 

snowmageddon 2011

 

eight and a half inches on the ground!

Well, it’s official … it actually snowed! ¬†Snow Day fulfilled. ¬†And basically the entire eastern end of the state of Tennessee (as well as north Georgia and Alabama) is paralyzed by the storm.

And, for the record, we are loving every minute!

The roads are mostly impassable at this point. ¬†We just don’t have enough snow removal and salt spreading equipment to adequately clear the roads in a timely manner. ¬†And with temperatures expected to remain at freezing or below, it could be a few days before conditions improve.

 

about as good as it gets; TDOT came by and plowed, but only a sparse handful of people were out driving

where are the porch steps?

So we spent the day playing, and skiing and sledding and generally messing around in the snow. ¬†Biking proved to be a little too impossible without studded tires and too much ice on the roads. ¬†So we hauled out our “vintage” cross-country skis, and Mark managed to use the tractor make a pretty decent ski track out in the field and back to the woods.

 

skiing on the tractor track

snowgoat

snowdog

snowkid (on the vintage skis)

 

I apologize for the absence of bicycles today … but hopefully tomorrow will bring a little change to that. ¬†I suspect we are going to have a very interesting week ahead. ¬†ūüôā

 

snowflower

snowfence

preparatory measures

grocery run (#330daysofbiking Day 255)

 

Tomorrow has been declared an official Snow Day Рschool has been cancelled, the store shelves are being ravaged of all bread, milk, lunchmeat, canned soup and peanut butter.  And yes, not a single flake of snow has yet to fall from the sky.

The local news is full of advice on “emergency preparedness” and weather alerts of impending doom ¬†(i.e., 2-5 inches of snowfall possible). ¬†Oh brother.

It just happened that I needed to make a normal grocery run today. ¬†So much for timing. ¬†We did manage to get our “emergency rations” (lol), and had a very nice ride – despite a few sidelong glances from the weather-panic-stricken.

Mostly, I am oh-so-curious to see if the snow forecast pans out…. ¬†I hope it does; my X-country skis have been begging to be pulled out of the attic, and I wouldn’t mind a repeat of snowbiking. ūüôā ¬†Keep your fingers crossed!

heading home, fully stocked

we like to wear silly hats

trying to imagine the landscape with some snow (???)

I'm not the only Nutcase around here ...

#330daysofbiking continues

a spot of color on the winter landscape … Mason

 

I’ve been enjoying spending the recent days riding with “my boys”. ¬†Some days it requires a little coercion – when the weather is cold and grey, or when they’ve been up until 4 am watching movies and playing video games with the usual suspects (i.e., Matt, Tim and Boaz).

We actually had a day or two when the temps were unseasonably warm Рinto the mid-sixties, and warm enough to ride in shorts.  Now the forecast is back to normal winter stuff, including the likelihood of some snow in the next few days.

boy talk

boyz on bikes

bare trees, bare legs

 

I always find it kind of ironic that I don’t see more people cycling here during winter. ¬† I’m not sure what keeps them off of their bikes? ¬†Our temperatures are really pretty moderate, most of the time above 30’F during the day. ¬†Add a skull cap, some gloves and layers of clothing, and I really like riding during this time of year. ¬†(And I love that I don’t arrive everywhere a dripping ball of sweat). ¬† The landscape is so … muted, peaceful. ¬†Shades of dun and buff, silhouettes of tree limbs, and beautiful low light.

Even the boys admit that once they get out there, it’s always worth it.

typical winter

 

As of today, the official #330daysofbiking count stands as follows:  have ridden 253 of the past 283 days, 84 days remain.

In a few days, the boys will all head back to school … meanwhile, I am loving every minute of our being able to ride together.

thanks for your patience with my goofy ways, Mason - and for always managing to make me laugh

souvenir ūüôā

 

 

day 1 and already behind…

 

buried (alive)

2010 has come and gone, and I wish all of my friends a coming year filled with happiness, good health, smooth pavement, and contentment and civility with passing motorists. ¬†And so much more. ¬†ūüôā

Took some time “off” (really, c’mon – the stuff I do in no way resembles “work”) to spend with friends and family, and do the annual Christmastime visiting. ¬†Think: the classic holiday movie Christmas Vacation. ¬†And this is my only excuse for behind so behind in posting.

The 7-state untold-number-of-miles roadtrip began with a few days in Chicago, my hometown, the place of my birth, my roots. ¬†There is nothing as wonderful to me as Christmastime in Chicago – the cold and snow, the wind, the lights of the city, the food. ¬†Oh, the food… !

 

bike delivery and messengers on the streets of Chicago

Downtown, I really only saw a small handful of cyclists (compared to what I had seen back in August).  Mostly messengers and bicycle delivery guys, the ones whose jobs made it necessary to be riding in the cold, snow, and slush.

My favorite bike encounter of the trip was Jack’s Bicycle Puppet Show. ¬†Jack parked his puppet-theater-on-wheels along the holiday shopper-filled corridor of State Street, and for a small donation you would be treated to some music and the adventures of Puppet Cat. ¬†Awesome.

 

Jack's Puppet Show Theatercycle ~ State Street, Chicago

We left Chicago and headed for rural Pennsylvania, to spend Christmas with Mark’s clan. ¬†My father-in-law was kind enough to dig an old 3-speed Huffy out of the depths of his garage so that I could do some pedaling while we were there. ¬†(I suspect they all knew I needed some kind of outlet to get me out of the house for a couple hours each day…)

There was a lot of snow (18+ inches?), and with the small rural back roads virtually empty of traffic and the occasional passing Amish buggy, the snow-riding was a blast! ¬†Three speeds of happiness in the snowy and slippery landscape. ¬†I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas gift.

 

happiness in a borrowed bike - the trusty Huffy 3-speed in the snow (Pennsylvania)

a little slipping and sliding up the hill

a "trip computer" from another era ... or from the local Amish (?)

out in the open

kind of like getting a bike for Christmas

snowy happiness on an old Huffy

And so, to my friends (who are all more on top of things than I am – with full-blown statistics of miles ridden, events conquered, goals met and goals to be set) … thanks for putting up with my continued mindless ramblings, my lack of substantial contributions and goal-setting, and my silliness and lameness in general. ¬†Maybe 2011 will bring a change. ¬†But likely not. ¬†Anyway, thanks for inviting me to the party, and wish you all the best for the next 365 days on the bike.

(And now … to sneak in a non-bike photo – because that’s the way I do things here.)

 

... kind of like the inner peace & serenity you find while on a bike (only trees can't pedal; I know)