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Posts from the ‘family’ Category

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

peace of the season

merry

The packages are wrapped, the cookies are baked … boys, family, friends (and bicycles) make the season bright.  Wishing all of my friends, near and far, a Christmas abundant with peace, and surrounded with love.  Cheers!

the warm before the storm

December ... in shorts

It is December.  And we are riding in shorts.

Do you ever have those days when your responsible self says:  I really should stay at home and get (fill in the blank) done, or do this or do that… ?   And then of course you completely ignore it.  OK, well maybe you don’t.

With the holidays looming, I have a fairly lengthy to-do list – which does not exactly include spending a few hours goofing around on bikes.  Oh well.  But there is a pretty serious storm and rain event in the forecast, so we decided to take advantage of the calm before the storm.  (So if you don’t receive a Christmas card, you’ll know why).

I will also take this opportunity to thank my amazing husband for going out of his way to let me selfishly spend my time this entire weekend doing the things that amuse me (biking, photo-ing, sewing, reading, knitting, movie-watching, napping, etc.), as well as for his unending patience in letting me take his photo – repeatedly – while riding.  He’s actually trying to get somewhere, while I’m completely distracted by the lines of the road and a fence, and a field full of cows…

“Can you just go back down the hill and ride back up toward me so I can get a shot from up here?”  (Sometimes said not just once, but several times…)  Be glad you don’t have to ride with me…  😉

two moo

in the White Oak Valley

longevity road

Fifty-one ... and beyond

Today is brought to you by the number 51.  A little battered and rusty, maybe in need of some new paint, but still fully functional.  A little bit like me.  Today is my birthday – number 51.  :-0

I think the weather was a birthday gift; simply perfect.  Cool but not cold, blue skies, abundant sunshine and a nice tailwind.  I took some time for a long and peaceful ride up along the ridge and to the river.  Contemplating aging, longevity, fate, the ride ahead.

deep blue skies and the long road ahead

today's "stuff"

The fifties have been a little unsettling to me.  Not so much out of vanity, or even fitness and health … more of a wariness of fate, I guess.  This year, I am on the cusp of having out-lived both my mother and my grandmother.  I think it’s always been in the back of my mind: questioning my destiny, wondering if I would outlive them?  They each died too young; my mother from an unexpected brain aneurysm during her 51st year, and my grandmother died during childbirth, delivering my mom.   She was barely into her twenties.

my mom ... who I still miss every day

my grandmother, Irene

And while I think I lead a reasonably healthy and active lifestyle, I find myself wondering if it will really make a difference in the end or not?  Not that I intend to stop doing what I do – I love to cycle, swim, ski, walk, run, hike … they are simply a part of who I am, what I like to do, and the experience enriches my daily life.  I really rarely give the fitness/health benefit much consideration (probably because I don’t work all that hard at any of it, lol.), but I’m sure it’s better than not doing any of it.

yesterday at the pool

Are we a fitter generation?  I like to think so, but sometimes I am not entirely sure.  Obesity statistics, diabetes and heart disease statistics are alarming.  My mom was reasonably active, very slim and always maintained a very healthy weight.  Although she had been a smoker during her younger years (like many of her generation), she had given it up.  She liked to hike, cross-country ski and play golf.  She was a fabulous cook – and instilled in me an appreciation of healthy food and fine cuisine.

So while I consciously attempt to make lifestyle choices that are forward-thinking in regard to health and wellness, I know that it is no guarantee.  Several years ago, we were all shocked when I was diagnosed with a tumor in my right breast; fortunately it was completely benign – but I will confess that it scared the crap out of me.  I had no family history, no obvious risk factors.  It made me realize that despite the best prevention efforts, there are no guarantees.  You can do everything humanly possible – eat well, maintain a healthy weight, wear a helmet, ride defensively, raise your heart-rate on a regular basis – and ultimately, you just never know … it might be a log truck, it might be genetics.

For now, the road ahead looks likes a long one, a good one.  I will keep riding, wearing my helmet, and eating the good foods.  I will swim, and read, and take pictures and try to keep my brain and heart in the best condition I can manage.  I look forward to the “someday” when I can take a grandchild (no rush on this one, boys) for a ride on the back of my Xtracycle, and put him/her on her first skis up in the snowy mountains.  I am filled with the love of my family and friends – which is as good for the heart and the soul as riding a bike.  My goal, for now,  is to be able to pedal a bicycle on my 90th birthday.  And enjoy a cupcake.  I’m not so sure I’ll still be blogging about it by then – but who knows?  😉

three days ago, #CyclingCapTuesday ... when I was still fifty (oh well)

three days ago, #CyclingCapTuesday ... when I was still fifty (oh well)

among the Amish

visiting Pennsylvania

Spent last week in northwestern Pennsylvania, visiting my husband’s family.  We took our bikes, hoping for some nice riding on the rural roads with leaves turning and crisp temperatures.  Sadly, the weather did not want to cooperate.  Gusting winds, rain and temps in the 40’s (F) held little enticement for cycling …

Pennsylvania countryside near the Amish community of Atlantic

My in-laws live in a small community in rural PA; there are lots of Amish and Mennonite families in the area.  It’s an odd feeling to pedal along and approach (or be passed by) a horse and buggy.  Better than being passed by cars any day.

Toward the end of the week when the skies began to clear, we took a ride to the Conneaut Lake Park – an old amusement park that originated in the 1890’s that became a local area attraction in the mid-1900’s.  In it’s steel boom hey-day, it was a big draw to families employed by the railroad, as well as a convenient vacation getaway for people from Pittsburgh.  When my husband was growing up in the area, he and his brother and sister all had summer jobs at the Park.  Sadly, it has become one of those places largely lost to the past … although it still opens in the summer, it is barely able to survive any more.  It was kind of fascinating to walk around the largely deserted grounds, covered in falling leaves.

marshland ride-by

(can you spy my bike?)

along the boardwalk, Conneaut Lake Park

Even though we didn’t get to ride as much as we had hoped to, it was a good visit.  Nice to see family, good to feel the chill of the North, and great to have a slice (or two) of my mother in-law’s always-amazing pies.  😀

A few of the other pictures ….

my mother in-law and her famous Shoo Fly pie

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evening

Evening ride … one of the last perfect days of summer, the sound of crickets, an old barn in fading light, my bicycle, and the one I love.  I need nothing else.

swim, ride, sunflowers … (and a turtle)

riding Mason's bike (thanks, M!)

I am ready for summer to be over with.  The heat has been unbearable.  Dangerous enough for repeated “heat warnings” from the weather service.  It feels kind of ironic that it’s actually more difficult for me to be cycling in the summer than the entire rest of the year.  Lately, it’s been early morning rides – lasting only as long as the morning cool and shadows last.

And lots and lots of time spent underwater.  😉

underwater-cam

Earlier in the week I had a derailleur cable mishap, so I ended up riding Mason’s bike for a few days until I could have mine repaired.  It was kind of a nice change – I didn’t realize how super-light and responsive his bike was compared to my own.  At least it briefly made me feel fast, even though I probably wasn’t … I am truly more like the couple of box turtles that I “rescued” from the road this week.  😉

I can't help stopping and moving them off the road

There is a wonderful field of sunflowers in the neighboring county that I wanted to ride out to and photograph.  How could I not be thinking of images of the Tour and the famous sunflower-and-bicycle shots?  It’s about a 40-mile, two+ hour ride, and I’d been putting it off because of the heat – having no desire to be out that long in triple digit temperatures.  Unfortunately, I waited about a week too long; the heat is still intense, and the sunflower heads are heavy with seeds and drooping.

Dillon and I finally ventured out there, leaving early this morning.  By the time we got to the fields, I attempted a few lame-o shots … but heat index was climbing, we were both dripping in sweat, I couldn’t find the right vantage point, and neither of us felt like spending any more time in the hot sun, which was getting higher and hotter by the minute.  Oh, timing.  Maybe next year?

sunflower fields - Hamilton Co.

It's too hot out here to be messing with more photos, ok?

Next week will bring a change of scenery, a change of bikes … and some different water.  No sunflowers, and probably no turtles.  It will be a surprise.  Meanwhile, stay cool and be safe.

dog days

seeking shade

Despite the fact that I keep listening to Florence + The Machine sing “…the dog days are over, the dog days are done”, the reality of venturing out into the great outdoors is more like stepping into the blowing heat of a convection oven.  Near-record high temperatures combined with high humidity have prompted the posting of “heat warnings” throughout the region.  As daily heat indexes climb toward 110’F, there are only brief windows of opportunity to be out riding – early morning or evening.  Ugghhh.

lately, I prefer to be submerged 😉

If I could manage to swim faster, I’d probably be getting more mileage in the pool than by bicycle.  😉

The rhythm of July hums along … early morning swimming, early morning or dusk/evening rides, and retreating into air conditioning during the heat of the day to our annual “dog days” television-watching addiction: the Tour de France.

While I confess that I’m not a devoted follower of professional bicycle racing, there is so much about the Tour that simply fascinates me.  I’m probably drawn to the visual beauty more than anything else – the undulating movement of the peloton, synchronized like a school of fish.  The winding narrow roads through French villages.  The mountains, the sunflowers, the fields of lavender … and the mind-boggling speed, endurance and athleticism of the riders (which I can only hope is not drug-enhanced), as well as the fascinating tactics of the racing.   And yes – the drama of the crashes – of which there have sadly been too many of this year.   It’s impossible to watch without wanting to hop on your bicycle and ride (although not as far, or as fast … for me, anyway).

the Tour de Bradley County

Dillon has been riding with me recently – and he is ten times the cyclist that I will ever be.  He is built (and rides) like a “climber” – that stick-insect-like build; all legs, virtually no body fat, light and fast.  Up and out of the saddle, scaling hills almost effortlessly.  Quite unlike his mother.  Sigh.

I guess it’s a “parent thing”, but I enjoy just watching him ride ahead of me … and I’m glad he always waits for me to catch up.

Dillon 🙂

bicycles and fireworks

Best way ever to celebrate Independence Day … family, friends, and Xtracycles packed for a picnic, concert and fireworks along the river.  😀

Happy July fourth!

Coolidge Park & the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, Chattanooga ... at dusk

let the fireworks begin!