Posts from the ‘#30daysofbiking’ Category
#30daysofbiking … riding each day for the past thirty days, the entire month of April. Is there really a finish, or a completion – or is it just the continuation of a routine? To me it is collection of snapshots – memories of moments on a bike each day, not unlike all of the other days throughout the year. I don’t keep statistics (distance, hours, speed, etc.); I prefer to keep the images as reminders of things seen along the way, because these are ultimately the only things meaningful to me.
I posted a 10-frame gallery containing one snapshot for each of the thirty days of riding, condensed into the classic snapshot format of the “Fauxlaroid” Some images you may recognize from prior posts; the collection of originals are in my Flickr set.
Tomorrow begins the next thirty days … and beyond. Cheers.
Clusters of daisies along the side of the road brush gently against my shin as a ride by; it feels like a sign, or even a benediction. The pastures are full of flowers – yellow buttercups, blue cornflowers, fuchsia clover. Field crops are greening in rows, the air is scented with freshly mown hay and honeysuckle. Swifts and swallows spiral in the air around the eaves of old barns. My mind is quiet, calm, even meditative as I listen to the soft whrrr of my wheels against the gentle curve of the road. I give thanks for the solitude, for the peacefulness of slow travel on my bicycle. The daisies have blessed me.
There are some days where all you have to do is look up, and you know you are in for it.
I remind myself that the rain is a good thing, washing the pollen from the air, making spring things grow bright and beautiful – even as I stand beneath a storefront awning, trying to wait out another thunderstorm before riding home. Oh well.
Yesterday I had to be out in it; today I really didn’t need to be anywhere, but despite the rainy forecast, I wanted to take a quick ride to a nearby field I had passed yesterday. Red clover and wildflowers were out in abundance, my time was my own, and I wanted to play with my camera. But before I was even a mile down the road, the rain began to fall again.
No fields of red clover today … only a few dandelions in my yard. I’ll have to wait out the rain once again. Sigh.
It’s been a while since we’ve done much mountain biking, but today we decided it was a good day for a change of pace from the road. We dusted off the knobby-tired bikes and headed down to the Enterprise South Nature Park in Chattanooga to explore some of the mountain bike trails.
But first, a little history…
In the early 1940’s the Army Corps of Engineers built the original facilities for the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant. The plant was originally built to support World War II military efforts, and operated as a TNT manufacturing facility through 1977 – producing up to 30 million pounds of TNT per month during peak production years in the 1960’s.
Within the past decade, the state of Tennessee and Hamilton County turned the site into a combination of industrial property and the 2800-acre Enterprise South Nature Park, which opened to the public in 2010. The Park is adjacent to the recently opened state-of-the-art Volkswagon manufacturing facility. Along with bringing several thousand jobs to the area, the VW plant has achieved the world’s first LEED-Platinum green building certification for an automotive plant, making them a great environmentally responsible partner for the public access parklands.
Within the 2800-acre Nature Park is an extensive multi-use trail system – from pedestrian hiking paths, to both paved bike routes and single-track mountain biking trails – in a wide range of difficulty levels. There are also plans to include equestrian trails into the mix.
One of the more fascinating things to see as you ride the trails are the collection of abandoned munitions “bunkers”, big caverns with concrete walls with huge steel doors, many of them built into hillsides. I think there are close to 100 of them, some locked and sealed, but we came across at least one that was open. A little creepy, in an interesting way. Mark’s theory is that most of the trail system evolved from the bunker access roads and pathways. Definitely possible.
We rode two of the intermediate/advanced mountain biking loops – the TNT Trail and the Log-Rhythm Trail – and Mark had some fun playing on the bridge course. The trails are wonderfully maintained, and even “enhanced” in places. There are a couple of log and bridge courses, along with a number of fun (engineered) “whoop-y” sections of the hillside trail (I am sure that is a technical mountain biking term). Enough rocks and climbing to make you work, and some great descents. Yeah, fun. And a nice reminder that mountain biking uses a very different skill set of increased agility, weight-shift and balance than road biking. Actually, it often reminds me of skiing, especially through the tighter turns in the trees.
We are definitely going to do this again… And if you are in the area, it is definitely a place worth visiting – biking, hiking or however you choose to explore.
Riding home, I stopped to poke around the local ball field up the road. Little League season is in full swing this time of year, but the park was empty and quiet when I arrived – an hour or so before the after-school practices would begin. One of these nights, I’m going to go to watch a game. It’s always entertaining to watch the really little kids play – cute, earnest, and usually with a sprinkling of comedy.
I let the Xtracycle steal second base… and I am wishing my beloved a very happy fifty-second birthday today, and many more wonderful miles ahead!
Some cyclists are fleet like rabbits, some quick or clever like foxes … as for me, I am more like a turtle. Usually getting waylaid on the side of the road with my camera, and having to be prodded to get moving. Eventually I manage to get where I am going.
Yesterday we decided to explore some new territory. I’ve had a local route book on my shelf for almost a year now – (Chattanooga area) Bicycling Routes by Elle Colquitt. It’s filled with nice maps, cue sheets, and route descriptions for some interesting-looking rides in the Chattanooga area and into north Georgia. I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t made as much as much use of it as I should. I tend to be a creature of habit, and end up riding my favorite roads more often than exploring new ones. Like I said, I am a turtle.
While many of the routes would (realistically) necessitate driving to some not-so-nearby starting point, one of the routes begins almost out my front door. It’s called “Chasing Down the Rabbit and the Fox”, named for Rabbit Valley Road and Black Fox Road.
I am guessing that nearly half of the photos on this blog come from points along Rabbit Valley Road and White Oak Valley; they are the roads we tend to ride a lot. They are beautiful and bicycle friendly. I have established friendships with many cows along the way. But a good portion of the Black Fox Road side of the loop was new and un-ridden territory for us … so we decided to give it a go. And I am glad we did.
I would describe the route as very easy – a great leisurely Sunday ride for us turtle-types. Mostly gently rolling, good pavement, low traffic. The hillier parts are ones we are already familiar with, on the White Oak Valley side. One very short “whoop-y” little climb, but otherwise easy on the legs and lovely to the eye. We ran across several other small groups of cyclists along the way, which makes me believe it is a pretty popular route. And while I took some photos, I was focussed on taking in the new scenery and enjoying the ride. So much so that I didn’t pay enough attention to regularly sipping from my water bottles, and ended up with a post-ride sun/dehydration headache. Dumbness.
The first of April brings another #30daysofbiking to the table. I applaud several of my friends who are making a go of it again – Myrna, BlueAllez (aka FritterMan), and DIsabled Cyclist. While I really enjoyed my past experiences with both #30daysofbiking, and my subsequent #330daysofbiking, I have debated about committing to another. I may, I may not. We’ll see. At this point, I am not officially putting my name on the list, but may try and keep a Flickr set – one photo from each day. If I make it through to the end, I may write a post. Maybe.
Meanwhile, a tip of my cycling cap to my friends – and I wish you all many happy miles and adventures. For me, silly business as usual … and a few scenes from yesterday.
(Can you spy the cyclist?)
I thank all of you who took time leave a comment (entry) for the YMX jersey; I wish I could send everyone a jersey. But the winner, by random draw, happens to be Myrna from MN – and Myrna, I am also a big fan of Bridget Jones. 😉
I was thinking about other women cyclists, and have gotten to know Myrna over the past year or so from twitter and comments on this blog. This just seemed like the perfect opportunity to profile another strong and capable “girl on a bike” – and at my request, she was kind enough to send me her bike-ography and a couple of cycling photos … which I want to share with you.
Congrats, Myrna! (And thanks for this “guest post”!)
Cassi asked me to share a bit about myself…I’m Myrna the very lucky and super happy winner of the YMX sleeveless jersey. In addition to being a happy jersey winner, I’m a freelance writer and mom of two who lives in the country about a half hour south of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’m also a private pilot, a gardener (well, I have a lot of flowers and a lot of weeds), a quilter who hasn’t had time to quilt and a person who loves to bake.
I’m also a fledgling bicyclist. Sure, like most people I rode as a kid – I even went on a long distance bike trip from Minnesota to Michigan with my youth group when I was about 15 – but I really only started riding with any regularity two years ago.
What happened two years ago to get me bicycling? Well, my friend, an avid bicyclist, had a mechanical and his bike pedal broke when he was going uphill – fast. He crashed. His helmet probably saved his life. At that point I had a bike that I rode sometimes but I didn’t have a helmet. My kids had bikes and helmets but they didn’t want to wear them. I figured if I should get a helmet and thought if I wore one it might help my kids wear their helmets, too.
So I went to the local bike shop to buy a helmet and I saw a flyer for a charity ride, the Jesse James Bike Tour. For some reason I decided I could manage to ride the 25 mile route even though the ride was just a month away.
Long story short, I rode the 25 mile route on my Specialized Crossroads bike with my husband. It was fun and we decided we liked bicycling enough that it would be worth getting road bikes. The next spring, March 2010, I bought us each a road bike. Yay! I planned to do a lot of biking but signing up for the first 30 Days of Biking challenge is what really got me going!
Thirty Days of Biking got me riding my bike each day, which was great fun even with the challenges. Through reading the tweets and blog entries of the many participants I learned that all sorts of people have fun with bikes and that the bicycling community is very diverse and full of neat people. I also learned the most important thing about bicycling, for me, anyway…Bicycling is not about going far or going fast – it’s about having fun along the way.
But best of all, I got to “meet” so many cool people through 30 Days of Biking – like Cassi here at shebicycles.com and Darryl from lovingthebike.com – these two people inspired me to keep bicycling more than anyone else I met along the way.
So here I am just two years after deciding to buying a helmet and deciding to do a 25 mile charity ride – where I am now? My husband and two children, Rose is 12 and Ryan is 9, are very much into bicycling. Adding bicycling to our lives has prompted us to become active year-round and has brought us closer together as a family.
I’m doing the same charity ride, the Jesse James Bike Tour, again in one week and plan to ride the 60 mile route this time. I’m a member of two bike clubs, ride both of my bikes regularly – my old Specialized Crossroads and a Giant Avail – and want to own more bikes (I’m thinking a mountain bike and a fat bike for the snow are in my future)! I’m also doing 30 Days of Biking again for the fourth time.
Bicycling has changed my life. I suppose that sounds sort of silly but it’s true!
Well, Mark is back home from France … and I am thanking him for these beautiful photos (and wishing I could have been there). Not the bicycles of Le Tour, but incredibly beautiful just the same. For my wonderful and silly friends who have said they like my photos, I am thinking I will officially hand over all of the photo gear to Mark and let him take over. He had my Lumix point-and-shoot on his trip, and came back with some of the most incredible shots … castles, bicycles, narrow French cobblestone streets, coastlines and azure water. He has “the eye”; I give up. 😉
He also kind of saved my butt for this post, photo-wise. We received a day of rain today – very much needed after all of the recent heat. I managed to swim in the morning before everything started, and snuck in a quick ride in the evening after some thunderstorms moved through. It was late and overcast; nice for riding, but not so great for photos with only my iPhone along.
My only big news for the day involves some numbers. Since April 1st (the start of #30daysofbiking), I have officially ridden a bicycle on 94 of the past 100 days. Whew. And no, I have no idea of the mileage – I have no interest in keeping track. For me, this is about getting out on my bike, or a bike, as close to every day as I possibly can. Sometimes I miss a day or two (oh, say … when kids develop appendicitis, that kind of thing). And sometimes (like tonight) my rides are barely more than a few miles up the road and back. Sometimes it is the road bike, sometimes the Xtracycle. But for me it’s all about the challenge (and delight) of pedaling each day, no matter what the destination, the distance, or the type of ride.
So now, I officially have 265 days remaining until March 31 – the one year marker from the beginning of #30daysofbiking – and I will do everything possible to ride 236 more days between now and then, to reach my #330daysofbiking goal. Three hundred and thirty days out of three hundred and sixty-five. Sometimes it feels like a big number, and other times not so big. Mostly, I have such wonderful recollections of the beautiful rides, the fun times with my family, the flowers, the cows. Even the rain.
And grateful to the friends who are following along with me … hang in there with me, ok? 😀
Crazy time of year. Endless stream of end-of-school-year events and activities, family visiting from out of town… all things I enjoy and cherish, but sometimes I just wish they didn’t have to happen all at once.
I squeezed in a very brief road ride on Sunday (officially Day 32 – no pics), as the rains were moving out and before heading to the airport to pick up visiting relatives. No riding on Monday and Tuesday; spent time with family, headed to the tennis courts for last matches of the season, and attended Jazz Band concert at the HS. It felt kind of strange to be off of the bike for those two days … but there are some things that just can’t be missed.
Earlier today, we said our goodbyes to departing family, and friends Jeff and Sarah came out to the house in the afternoon. Jeff just got a wonderful new bicycle – a Salsa Casseroll. I had been anxious to see it – a stunning bike, down to every small detail – and I was anxious to get back on my own bike. So we headed out for a nice road ride together; relaxing, fun, laughter. Such great company, a beautiful day, a wonderful ride.
It may sound selfish, but it felt great to get out and have some time to do something for myself – even for just an hour or two. Almost like re-fueling for the week ahead. I love being there for my boys, and with my family, and I wouldn’t miss these milestone moments for anything – but a little dose of open space, a little breathing room, a little fresh air can really restore some inner balance.