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Posts from the ‘#330daysofbiking’ Category

rabbit, fox … and turtle

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?)

adventures in solitude

The first day of September.  For some reason, it feels like such a turning point … leaving summer behind, kids back at school, the last week of swimming outside.  Awaiting the pungent crunch of leaves, diminishing daylight, cooler temperatures.  For me, a time of  Adventures in Solitude.  By bicycle.

I rode today with only my little Lumix point-and-shoot.  It makes me “work” a little harder … and I’ve just been feeling like I need to be challenged.  With the first of the month here, I feel like I’ve been slacking off over the past few months, not feeling especially creative.   And I find myself looking for some long-term personal “project” to tackle, something to inspire me, to spark some creativity, to prod me in some new (?) direction.

I confess that I am a big proponent of 365 projects.  My experiences with ShutterCal and #330daysofbiking were rewarding, challenging, and a “push” to grow, learn and expand my proficiency with my camera and on my bike.  I’ve been trying to figure out another 365 avenue to tackle; as much as I loved the photo-a-day, and the ride-a-day, I’m just not feeling an urge to repeat those.  A variation on the theme would be fine, but just not a repeat of the same.

Some of the more fascinating 365-projects I’ve come across in my search for inspiration:

  • Clouds 365 Project – a daily photo project of a single subject: clouds.  Stunning stuff.
  • Make a Book A Day – a seriously ambitious undertaking of making a hand-bound book every day.  Wow.
  • ThreeSixtyFiveBears – the creative undertaking of my (twitter) friend Meghan’s husband, Phil Barbato (artist/designer/web developer), who is drawing a bear each day on his iPhone.  Awesome.
I just haven’t figure out what to do yet … But I hope something will come to me.  Soon.  For now, it’s bicycle and camera.

Final note:  Thank you to everyone who responded to the jersey give-away; I appreciate the interest and the great rom-com suggestions for my Netflix queue.  ;-).  I will be revealing the random-drawing winner by Monday, 9/5.

365 days of field corn ... ???

the day after

 

by the river

So what do you do the day after #330daysofbiking?  C’mon … did you really think there was any other option?  😉

Two of the boys were home for a brief weekend visit, with the local Battle of the Bands being the driver.  The boys’ band The Night Shines took the win this year (YAY!) – and they have a free download of their song Forest Fire on their bandcamp site, for anyone interested).

Ross and I had a perfect day to take a great ride up to and along the river.  After all of the grey and rain of the past days, it felt so good to have the sun shining.

While I don’t intend to keep a running tally of how many days I ride over the next year or so, I may just keep a personal log of the days I don’t – which hopefully will be kept to a bare minimum.

The perfect cycling life lesson appeared in my friend Jim’s (@bikerly) blog today; it can’t be said any better than this:

 

bikes, the people I love, and a beautiful day - it doesn't get any better

 

day 330: from #30daysofbiking to #330daysofbiking

 

It began one year ago – #30daysofbiking.  And then turned into #330daysofbiking; my goal to ride 330 of 365 days.  Today I managed to cross the finish line.  Day 330.   It actually took me 367 days to reach the benchmark; I missed a few more “buffer” days for out-of-town travel than I had anticipated … but it is what it is, and close enough for me.

While I would have liked to celebrate this day with some exceptional or special ride, it was really just a day like many of the others … through the local landscape, me, my bike and a few cows.  As I was riding and thinking about this entire “project”, I realized it was the most appropriate way to reach the finish line.   Just another day, just another ride.  From the beginning, it wasn’t about epic mileage, conditioning thresholds or anything cycle-spectacular.  It was just about being out on a bike.  Every.  Every.  Day.  (Or as close to every day as was humanly possible.)

I am sure that many, if not most other people would’ve kept more detailed statistics about a project like this – and in hindsight, it may have been interesting. I basically only kept a daily log in a little Moleskine journal, with the date, a very rough route description and the bicycle I rode.  I estimate mileage to be several thousand miles, but I have no desire to try and make a more specific calculation.   Beyond this, the only other stats I can offer are:

  • I have ridden 14 different bicycles – in 4 states and one foreign country (Italy)
  • I had one significant crash
  • I wore out one pair of shoe cleats and one camera
  • number of cows and old barns seen along the way … (lost count long ago)

The best record of the experience, the emotions, and the daily adventures is probably buried in the entries of this blog over the past year.  The rides with friends and family, the rides in the rain, the rides in the snow, the rides on the sunny blue-sky days.  The several thousand photos I have accumulated, many appearing in these entries.  It’s a little too difficult to sum up.

While I wish I had something more profound or insightful to say for this final day, I can’t find the words tonight – other than, “it’s not hard – go out and ride your bicycle.”  One day a week or seven days a week.  Thirty days, or 330 days.  It’s the best gift you will ever give yourself.  All you have to do is pedal.

 

 

 

day 328: serainity

While I am more than ready to see some sun and blue skies, I have to confess that there is a certain tranquility to riding in a soft rain.  I love the smell of the damp fields, the quiet windless-ness, the mist hanging over the hills.  Once I get past my initial reluctancy to be out in it, and get warmed up and used to the damp feeling against my skin, it’s a beautiful time to ride.

 

bike, barn, cows ... as always

crossing Bigsby Creek

in a pickle(!)

 

who knew pickles could be so emphatic? ... (exclamation mark, really?)

Winding down, the last few days of #330daysofbiking, and I find myself “in a pickle”, so to speak.  Nothing to do with my bikes or cycling, but rather my camera.  While I am not exactly camera-less, my favorite camera, my best camera, my DSLR … has died.

From the symptoms and error message code, it appears the shutter has reached the end of its expected lifespan.  While only the Canon techs can tell me the exact shutter count, I anticipated that I was probably past-due for this to happen.  This camera has been a real workhorse, and while very well-loved, it has also survived an incredible amount of abuse.   In fact, I debated getting another camera body for the Italy trip at one point, as I really didn’t want to risk technical failure on that trip.  Fortunately, I’ve gotten through the past months without any problems … until now.

 

the very last shot from my beloved 7D

So, I have sent her off to the camera hospital and will hopefully have a diagnosis/prognosis by the end of the week.  Sadly, it seems that everyone is temporarily out of stock on the same camera body (by itself), if I come to the point I need to shop for a replacement.  And as much as I’m tempted to move up to a full-sensor body, there are too many features on the 7D (mostly fps) that I would have a hard time living without.   Forgive my rambling.

I guess I had just looked forward to finishing up #330daysofbiking with some really nice spring shots, with the camera that is so familiar and so comfortable to me that it’s almost like another appendage.  Yes, I get carried away with this stuff.

For now, the weather has been rather grey and dismal in recent days – a little bit like my mood.  Hopefully the sun will re-appear very soon …. Today was day 327.  Three days to go.

 

grey and dismal ... the day the camera died

Day 325: sticks ... and bike (Lumix)

 

today's tulips ... Day 327 (iPhone)

social network, social neighborhood

 

photo by Tavia McGrath

The photo above is from one of my ShutterCal friends, Tavia McGrath, from the greater Salt Lake area.  I was really moved when I saw it on her calendar – the sepia, the bikes, the old saddle and basket – and even more intrigued with her caption:

I live in a great, walkable neighborhood, but unfortunately it’s the exception rather than the rule around here. Big suburbs where you’re a slave to your car are the norm unfortunately. I feel lucky to be able to walk to the post office, the library, the grocery store, not to mention two big city parks. There are also a whole host of restaurants, coffee shops, and cool, independent stores all within walking and biking distance. It’s a great place to live!

(~Tavia McGrath)

We had a brief e-conversation about her neighborhood and the strong feelings we both have about the importance of social communities and sensible development with human-powered transport in mind.  From what she described, there are several up-and-coming neighborhoods in the Salt Lake area with the “livable community” tenets in mind – from attractive (non-cookie cutter) housing, small independent businesses, community gardens, and social events to miles of biking and pedestrian trails enabling people to take advantage of everything without depending on a car.

Sounds like a slice of heaven to me.

 

Grant on the greenway

This week has been Grant’s Spring Break, and we’ve been fortunate to have a few balmy spring-perfect days.  We spent some time riding around town – along with throngs of other folks who were out enjoying the gorgeous weather along the greenway.

And it always get me thinking about that famous movie line, “… if you build it, they will come.”  People genuinely want to walk, ride, and get out of the car when they are given the opportunity.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t rather walk to the corner store for the newspaper than have to drive, park and deal with the nearest congested StuffMart for the same thing.

In these times when far too much of our social connectivity is linked through cyberspace, from social networks to email and the rest of it, I really believe that many people crave more real social interaction.  From gathering at the coffee shop, or sitting at a sidewalk cafe table for lunch, or simply taking your kids and your dogs for a walk or ride along the greenway.

We crave a sense of neighborhood and a connection with the people within it, even at the most casual level.  While our “virtual” communities may seem limitless, and are not without merit (as I think about Tavia), they are not always as “human” as we need them to be.

I really hope that we can change this … that we start re-examining the direction of our “progress”.  That maybe moving forward will actually take us a little bit backwards –  to two wheels, two feet, and connections with real people.

 

around town

spring