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Posts from the ‘around town’ Category

utilitaire 4.12

Per Utilitaire 12 rules 5 and 6, today’s ride will get logged as a second entry for “any store that is not the grocery store”.  I rode to Target.  Barely.  This cold has gotten the best of me over the past few days, and my sinuses feel like they are filled with cement.  My teeth hurt.  But I needed a few small things – laundry detergent, juice and a couple of cards to send to my boys –  and this is a short round trip (8 mi).

My observation for the day: our local school-bus driver could stand a refresher course on the 3-foot passing rule.

utilitaire 3.12

Today’s Utilitaire 12 destination: our local public library.  I almost didn’t make it out today; I am battling an annoying upper respiratory bug, which makes me want to just sit around with a box of tissue and lots of hot tea (along with an ample dose of decongestants).  I figured a new book might help, and the library would be a quiet and relaxing destination, so I decided to ride Elisabetta for a relaxing kind of ride.  Fortunately, it was a really beautiful day – and all the more incentive for wanting to get out of the house.

I am not a frequent visitor of our local library, I am sad to say.  I’ve found the book selection to be lacking, and have been frustrated with attempts with inter-library loaning.  Within the past few years, the library has undergone extensive renovations – and the physical facility changes are very nice.   I looked for a couple of books (which they didn’t have, of course), thumbed through a few other volumes, and took a look around at all of  the new rooms.   There is even a cozy coffee/sandwich shop, Lasater’s, that has opened on the main floor of the library.  With the proximity to the local University, it appears to be a popular and well-frequented addition.   Thumbs up for the coffee, too.  Even though I left bookless, I enjoyed the trip.

I rode on the Greenway to and from town – always a nice ride on a sunny day, lots of people out walking and jogging.  I don’t keep an odometer on Elisabetta, so I am only guessing on today’s paltry mileage – 16-ish?  It was just enough for the way I am feeling today … Hoping this passes soon.

library coffee shop

feeling bleh...

utilitaire 2.12

We didn’t get rained on.  Of course.  Because we brought rain gear.

Number 2 in the Utilitaire Winter Cycling games … and I’m having a hard time deciding how to log this one, but will settle on #6: Any Store That Is Not A Grocery Store.  Basically a run around town, from hardware store to bike shop (yes, again) to coffee, to groceries to cupcakes (!).  Mileage: 21-ish.  Rain: none.

It began with a trip to the hardware store, because we needed some new axe handles.   We do a lot of chopping around here, you know.  Well, maybe not me as in we … but still.  Can’t have those ax heads flying off the handle.

hardware store

needing handles

mission accomplished

Then we got to head over the bike shop because I had forgotten a thing or two when I was there the other day.  It was exciting.  We got to witness a really amazing explosion … (Charles, my bike guy has a great sense of humor with these things; he made the video).

From the bike shop, we stopped and met  Grant for coffee.  He was killing some time before heading to work, and we were just … killing some time.  And trying to test our fate with the rain gods.

We hopped on the Greenway and stopped for some groceries, and then headed over to Chattanooga Cupcakes for some desert for later on.   And while I doubt that I burned enough calories to even eat the sprinkles off of one of these things, I just cannot resist …

Greenway

groceries

groceries

cupcakes

CUPCAKES!!!

We got home just as the first drops of rain arrived.  Perfect timing.

When I thought about today’s ride, I often wonder what the bird’s-eye view of our route looks like.  We wind our way on less-traffic’d roads, hopping on the Greenway whenever it works out, and taking what sometimes feels like a rather circuitous route.  I know I could go on Google Maps or Map My Ride and officially map this thing out in an accurate way, but I decided to just doodle it.  Obviously not really to scale or accurate, but close enough.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t look as chaotic as I thought it might.

So two of twelve completed, ten remain.  Bikes: 2.  Rain: 0.

not in any way accurate or to scale

bicycle games

I love creativity and fun – especially when it involves bicycles.  From #30daysofbiking to #cyclingcaptuesday, I have always enjoyed the fun of bicycle games, the conversations they start, and the enthusiasm they kindle.  And when the bicycle games get more people, new people, out riding their bikes more of the time, it’s even better.

My Flickr/blogger/Twitter friend and radonneur extraordinaire, Mary G,  who has an excellent cycling blog, Chasing Mailboxes, cooked up a grand idea for some winter cycling fun.  She is calling it the Utilitaire 12, and you can read all about it here and here.  My own heads-up for this project first came from another great cycling blogger/friend, the “Old Guy” (and don’t let that moniker fool you – this guy can out-ride most 20-somethings) – and he’s already a few steps ahead of some of us on the Utilitaire challenge.   Of course.

I won’t try to repeat all of the guidelines to the challenge which you can read for yourselves, but basically it involves making at least 12 destination trips by bike over the course of the next six weeks.  There is a very do-able minimum mileage for each trip, and you can’t simply make the same trip over and over (like go to the grocery store 12 times).  I think this is what I love about it most – it’s going to make me mix-up my destinations, maybe bike to a place or an event that I might not normally bike to, head to a variety of locations for different reasons.   Go to a concert, attend a meeting, cycle to breakfast … and lots more (with a little wiggle room for a substitution if you need it).    You can only officially log two trips per week, spreading the project out for some consistency, and you have to photo-document part of the journey.  Cool beans, eh?  Good for everyone, good for cycling advocacy – and I hope everyone will give it a go.

Today I got to log my first trip for my control card – a trip into town to the bike shop.  Also stopped for coffee and to my optometrist to fetch some new contacts, but my project destination was the shop.

I love my bike shop – it’s kind of like a really great coffee shop, only with bikey stuff rather than caffeine.  It’s got a certain “ambiance” – camaraderie, color, and conversation.   And I had a great conversation with my bike shop guys, Charles and Andrew, had them looking over the Utilitaire project in the shop.  We enthusiastically decided that this would be a fantastic advocacy tool for local cycling in our little town, and it looks like plans are into work to make a modified community event sponsored by the shop.  How great is that?!

Meanwhile, got my errands done on what began as a foggy-soup morning but turned into an incredibly beautiful day – still no sign of winter, cycling in a tee shirt.  Checking off one on the control card.  Hope you will join in the bicycle game fun.  😀

foggy morning

(un)remarkable

Even on a trip to the store, biking there always erases the “un” from unremarkable.

It’s been a rather dismal week, weather-wise – rain, thunderstorms, hail and and even a brief showing of snow.  All of which make me want to hole up inside with books, knitting, tea and a fire, rather than riding around looking at cows.  My (brief) trips out were basically camera-less this week;  I just wanted to get where I needed to go and be done with it.

Today the sun appeared – which is a good thing, because I had run out of milk and orange juice, having put off riding to the store during the past few days.  So we set off on a quick trip to the store, along with a couple of errands. It was nice to be out on together on dry roads with the sun shining.  Unremarkable (minus the “un”).

under mud-struction

paving the way for the Greenway extension

This post probably won’t mean much to anyone but a few of my local friends – Jenn, Jeff, Sarah, et al.  But it’s kind of a big deal for me.  We’re getting closer to seeing the completion of a big extension of our local Greenway/walking/bike path.  Once finished, it is going to be a more convenient way for me to get into and around town, avoiding some of the most congested roadways.  The current section under construction is at least a mile or two closer to me (on the north), and I really look forward to avoiding some traffic-hassle in getting to points south, including downtown.

long stretches through Tinsley Park, currently a mud bath

Over the weekend, we ran into Jeff and he mentioned that we all need to take an “inaugural ride” once the new section is completed (yay!).  I am looking forward to the day, although the current state of muck-ness through Tinsley Park appears to be a long way from being in rideable shape, even with some knobby tires.  Hopefully things will dry out, and they can re-grade at the very least … maybe drop some gravel?  I’m not sure if there is a plan to pave this section?

 Mostly, I’m just waiting for the thing to be somewhat contiguous; I’ve never quite understood the method to their expansion plans – very piecemeal and disjointed.  There are short sections on the north end that have been completed and paved for several years, but never connected to the rest of the path, making them virtually useless.  The same thing occurred on the south end at one point.  But I suspect it has something to do with obtaining right-of-ways or permits or funding.

Anyway, it’s exciting stuff – seeing the bridge completed and the heavy equipment in use … I really do look forward to the maiden voyage from north to south.

almost at the point of joining the existing path

the far north end (completed) ... and more rain on the way

rainy

It’s been strange weather.  Very warm, pretty windy.  Fronts coming through.  Rain.  It’s like the weather can’t commit to becoming winter-like.  Sigh.

Days have been filled with errands, commuting, and not much else.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that the weather will return to cold and crisp and sunny over the next few days.  Also hoping there will be some Thanksgiving break rides with my boys, home for the holidays.

Meanwhile, wishing everyone a peaceful time with friends and family – and a very happy Thanksgiving.

rain puddles & threatening clouds

foggy mornings

a window of "nice"

hat

#CyclingCapTuesday ... before the rains came

the road home

late light

There are moments on my bike where I wish I could magically bring along a non-cyclist, put them in my pocket or carry them along somehow – just so they could experience the incredible feeling and the beauty of traveling home quietly by bike.

It is a glorious time of year to be on a bicycle.  I love coming home in the late afternoon light with the trees glowing and the long golden shadows, there is a chill in the air, and I have that wonderful tired-but-fulfilled feeling that comes from a beautiful day spent riding from here to there.  I know that a warm bowl of soup is waiting for me in my warm kitchen.  Maybe some spiced tea and a good book later.  I wish there were a way to share the feeling with someone who’s never experienced it.

Why would you want to travel any other way?

time again for gloves and my PINK! visibility jacket 😉

six months

a family recovers

I suppose I should begin with a statement along the lines of, “the views and opinions expressed in this post are mine alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of , well …  anybody else – organization, agency or otherwise”.

Today marks six months since our community was devastated by the April 27th tornados.  I was invited to attend a community gathering to celebrate one family’s perseverance and hard work on their journey to recovery, as they moved into their new home – built on the very site where they had lost everything six months ago.  The rebuilding was a collaborative effort – from the weeks and months of sweat and toil by the homeowners, coupled with help from several local agencies, the long term recovery committee, and the generosity of numerous local contractors and suppliers who provided manpower and materials.  I applaud them all, and I am so happy that this family has been able to rebuild and remain in the place they know as home.    It exemplifies the good that can be accomplished by a community pulling together, and the strength of a family who never gave up hope.

But as the minutes passed, and the state and local political dignitaries arrived, along with their carloads of security detail, the media, etc.,  I couldn’t help feeling a little uncomfortable.  I know it is “the way of things”, but I personally dislike the whole ribbon-cutting-for-political-photo-ops routine, the talking-head political speech-izing for exposure…  the pat-myself-on-the-back “yes, I knew I had to get on the waiting jet to fly home from my duties in the legislature to see what I could do, blah, blah, blah.”  (Yes, one of them really said that.)

political photo-op field day, all cameras on the politicians as one of the homeowners (red-haired woman in background) stands aside and watches

And as wonderful as it was to see so much rebuilding in this hard-hit neighborhood, there are still many families who are still struggling to recover – houses right across the street that have no roof, people fighting with insurance providers, homes that have been left damaged and even abandoned.  Several neighbors (in less fortunate states of rebuilding) were watching all of the hoopla of politicians and the media from across the street – and I couldn’t help wonder how they were feeling?

still struggling... across the street

a neighborhood coming back - gradually

across the street

I was happy that the homeowner was given the chance to say a few words, but at the end of the day it felt a like political showcase.  And, in my opinion, Mr. Legislator, the press-worthy heros – or at least the ones I would rather celebrate and hear speak on this day – are the first responders, firefighters and emergency response workers (standing quietly in the background today) who were pulling people from the wreckage of their homes in the dark;  the families who ran to help their neighbors and offered them shelter;  the local businessmen who donated tens of thousands of dollars in relief supplies;  the local community agencies and the long term recovery team who continue to work with struggling families.  While I know that politics played a part somewhere in the disaster response equation, it is the reaction, action and perseverance of the local citizens and community that has accomplished the most good.

heros ... in the background

the politics of ribbon cutting

I confess I left with mixed feelings.  Happiness for the family returning home, grateful to the countless community heros who are still hard at work, troubled by the sight of neighbors who continue struggling to recover and rebuild – and sadly, some disdain for the politicians who grabbed this opportunity for press coverage.  Just my opinion.

There were some drawings from neighborhood school children that were clipped to a clothesline in the background of all of the ceremonial stuff … and they spoke to me.  I’m not even sure if any of the politicians noticed them?  When the words “hope” and “joy” are clouds above a piece of heavy equipment moving debris, when the sky is streaked with ink black and crimson, when the sun is bright yellow above a family cat that survived the storm – these are the voices of recovery I hear, and the ones I will never forget.

Hope and Joy

 

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pedalweather

There are those days when the weather is so perfectly glorious – crisp and sunny, vibrant blue skies, leaves just beginning to turn color.  A day that simply demands that you ride a bicycle, or take a walk, or sit on a park bench and surround yourself in the beauty.  A day that begs you to spend hours outside.  Pedalweather.   Today was one of those days.

Just pictures.  Your turn to get outside and enjoy it all. 😀