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.
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.
the day after
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:
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.
in a pickle(!)
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.
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.
back to the bike
The week has gone from cold-ish and grey requiring jackets and gloves, to warm and sunny with flip-flops and sleeveless shirts. Such is March. And it has been back on the bike with, well, perhaps some renewed enthusiasm – although I still have snow on the brain.
The big excitement of the week:
- having Dillon home for spring break and getting to ride with him (although he is much too fast for me these days)
- seeing the publication of several of my photos, including the cover photo, for VBT‘s 2011 Italy Bike/Walking Vacations catalog (and yes, with permission and compensation – thank you, Chaipel)
- coconut cupcakes 😀 #FTW!
For #330daysofbiking, I have reached Day 316. Two weeks (?!) to go ….
the snow excuse
To the people who have known me best over the course of my life, they know with little doubt where my first love lies – on the snow, on skis, in the mountains. As much as I am passionate about cycling, and as much as it has become such a big part of my life, there is nothing I love more than being on skis on a cold sunny day on top of a big mountain. Nothing. Period. (Apologies to my beloved bicycles.)
A little background … my father decided put me on skis when I was a pre-schooler, and I still have fond memories of first lessons in the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico before I was even able to read. My dad became a National Ski Patrolman in the midwest where I grew up, which enabled us to ski virtually every day during winter. I grew up racing and eventually became a ski instructor. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to ski in the summer for several years, when I shipped off to summer race-training camps on the high mountain glaciers each June.
Skiing was a huge part of my life, of my family’s life … and despite ending up living in the snowless Southeast and raising my own family, the passion continues with my own boys, who have become incredible skiers in their own right – learning to ski in North Carolina, and skiing each year in the Rockies. They have become skilled enough to ski everything on the mountain – from the trees to the double-black diamond chutes.
So what does any of this have to do with biking? Well for me, it appears that this crazy obsession/diversion of the trip to the mountains has managed to derail #330daysofbiking. Since I managed not to get in a single day of cycling while out West, it appears I will be two days short of meeting my goal by April 1. Rats. But I just couldn’t help myself – the lure of the snow and the mountains was just too irresistible to do anything other than ski. It’s my only excuse.
Despite this “failure” – and it is disappointing, because I was so close – I think it was good to have the interruption for sake of perspective. Maybe it was good to get off the bike for a few days and revisit another passion with the people I love.
Someday I hope that we will be living in a place where I can set another (silly) goal – one that would look something like #100daysofskiing-and-#300daysofbiking. Load the ski equipment onto the Xtracycle and pedal to the mountain for a day on the slopes. (Although I might have to add in a #30daysofcupcakes and #100daysofknitting just to round things out 😉 ).
For now, I have a renewed enthusiasm to be on my bike again, and the quest continues to finish #330daysofbiking one way or another. Since I can only blame my weakness for snow for the lack of cycling in recent days, I’m leaving a few last pictures from the mountains. Sigh.
We’ve had some crazy weather. From warm, sunny and balmy to torrential wind and rain. And a couple of tornados in the area, unfortunately. Timing is everything – getting out before the bad stuff takes over. Riding in some rain is one thing, riding through destructive wind and hail is another … and definitely not for me.
On Monday I decided to head out early in the morning for my ride – mostly because I had to make a trip into Chattanooga, and I knew the rain was coming. It was grey, gloomy and windy and I road less than 3 miles before turning around and heading in. The wind gusts were nuts.
Later in the day, on my return trip from Chattanooga, I made what I expected to be a quick stop at the shopping mall. While I was inside, the worst of the storm hit. Hearing some frightening reports from a few salespeople in side, I decided to just hang out inside until the whole mess blew over. When I finally decided to leave, I was pretty shocked to see the damage – several big light poles had toppled, a couple of glass doors had been shattered by wind gusts.
One of the toppled light poles landed on top of four parked cars and did considerable damage. Fortunately, not on top of mine. Recent news reports have stated that there were 2 tornado touch-downs in the greater Chattanooga area, and while I don’t think the mall was officially hit, it may have been close.
Since then, the weather has been stunning – sunny and warm, still a little gusty but nothing like Monday. While I’m enjoying the balmy days, I must confess that I am giddy over the prospect of being in snow again and doing some skiing in the mountains for a few days . 🙂
So until I return, here are a few less-snowy pics from recent days of springtime.
And for the record, today marks Day 307 of #330daysofbiking, 28 days remain.