Posts from the ‘family’ Category
The days follow a pattern – a pleasant pattern. Cycling, paddling, taking pictures, conversations, laughter, rest. Watching the sun go down. And come up again. The summer is passing so quickly, sometimes I feel like I can’t quite get it all in.
Riding into town on Thursday, a trip on the Greenway. It’s always heartening, inspiring, to see others on bikes – and their willingness and enthusiasm to stop and strike up a conversation. (And yes – their agreeing to let me take their photos :). When we’re not boxed up in cars, I believe we’re much more inclined to interact, to converse. It makes us more approachable, more a part of the community. Stopping to talk with two other cyclists (and one of the Greenway police officers) and talking about the merits of the Greenway for getting across town, observing the increase in ride-share around town, and just enjoying the simple pleasure of having a “commons” – a place to walk, to ride, to just stop and sit.
The heat continues, and the evening continues to be one of the nicest times to get out. A time to stow the camera in the Xtracycle and just take a leisurely spin on roads close to home. Enjoying the “golden hour”, the hum of the cicadas.
Lazy Saturday mornings spent exploring the river by kayak. Flat grey skies, calm still water – like glass. Different than cycling, yet oddly similar, moving through the landscape. A lesson in patience this morning – spending close to an hour slowly approaching a Little Green Heron, who graciously let me get incredibly close.
Ending the weekend riding with “my boys”. Another summer day, another ride. The sun comes up and goes down. It passes so quickly. I feel like I can’t quite get it all in.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart …
“After The Storm” ~ Mumford & Sons
Some days there is not much to say, or show. There are days when it is work to find a picture, find words. And then there are days when the pictures are simply given. Like a gift. And today was one of those days.
Sometimes while riding, the sky and the landscape is so expansive, so prodigious, I cannot help feeling like some tiny speck, like a bit of dust, lost in the middle of it all. And I look up…
It’s overwhelming. I can never capture the sensation (words, photos or otherwise) – it’s a feeling of just, well … incredible smallness (?). It defies reproduction; photos cannot capture it. The limitless sky, the clouds, the horizon, the winding line of the road … and a very tiny speck of me (us) on our bikes.
At the end of the day, the gift was being there. Under the sky, against the horizon. With grace in our hearts. The smallest specks.
There is a long list of things that comes to mind when thinking of summer: popsicles, baseball games, watermelon, swimming pools, the beach, bicycles. Probably not Siberia – or riding a bicycle through Siberia – but it’s about all I can think about, read about, through these infernal days of heat and humidity.
The heat is sweltering here; a recent article claims we’re in the midst of the hottest six months in recorded history. Another reminder – along with the mess in the Gulf – from Mother Nature: ride and walk more, drive less? I’d like to think so, but also admit that it’s a difficult task in this kind of weather. And you have to be willing to arrive everywhere dripping with sweat and looking like hell; no room for a shred of vanity, that’s for sure. But hey, as Stephen Markley penned – “We didn’t need a world with a functioning climate anyway.”
Back to Siberia … Rob Lilwall’s book, Cycling Home From Siberia, is beautiful, remarkable, inspiring, and the perfect summer read in the midst of a heat wave. What began as a preposterous undertaking to begin with – his plan to spend one year cycling from a far-eastern city in Siberia, in winter, all the way home to England – turned into an epic 3-year/3-continent/30,000-mile cycling odyssey. It is filled with fascinating detail, humor, and yes – the expected drama and dire circumstances you might expect. But it is written in an amazingly unpretentious and even very spiritual voice. It is a beautiful story – on so many levels.
It’s a story that is filled with human (versus super-human) moments; his “humanness” and honesty draws you in, while the adventures keep you turning pages. And ok – the guy rode over 30,000 miles, so there is a fair amount of super-human in there as well, for you feats-of-incredibleness junkies. But with chapter titles ranging from “Over Mordor” (ch.1 – yes, in reference to Tolkien’s gloom-filled world), to “The budgerigar and the naked weatherman” (ch. 11) and ” ‘I’ve had enough of this stupid bike ride’ “ (ch. 36) … it is entertaining, often funny, sometimes sad, sometimes frightening, yet always so very real. A better description appears on the back cover:
A gripping story of endurance and adventure, this is also a spiritual journey, providing poignant insight into life on the road in some of the world’s toughest corners.
Get your hands on a copy and read it. Period. That’s all I’m going to say.
A final note to my kind friends and those of you who commented on my last post: your insight has been most valuable to me, and I greatly appreciate your taking time to share your thoughts – and even more for listening to me and reading. It has really helped me, and has made a difference.
#330daysofbiking update: today I have ridden 110 of the past 117 days …. 248 days remain. And so it goes. (As I wish for a blast of arctic air to blow over from Siberia).
Clouds and rumbles of thunder today. Watched the brutal climbing of todays stage of the Tour, which was enough to make my legs ache just sitting there. Other lazy Sunday stuff … but got out for a nice road ride in the afternoon with Mark and Mason.
Mark heads out of town again, and both Mason and Dillon are scheduled to work a lot this week, so it will be more solo riding for me. At least I can keep up with myself.
It will probably be a lot of landscap-y things in the next few days, so thought I’d get some real biking pics in from today’s ride …
It has been a rather crazy couple of days — at least more eventful than 1879, in any case.
I know this is a biking blog, and I really do try to keep these posts about biking stuff … so forgive me if I lose the thread a bit with this one. There are bikes involved, I promise, but this is going to end up being a picture story. Bike stuff and non-bike stuff, I will forewarn you. (Hey – I am not making anyone read this, so I don’t want to hear any complaining… 😉 ).
Day 101 – Began the day with some bike commuting; a swim, some errands, and a stop at the bookstore for a new NYT crossword book (my brain needs more exercise than my arms and legs, trust me) and a glass of pomegranate green tea. Ahhh…
In the evening, we headed to Chattanooga ….
The Mosaic was a pretty cool place – music, original art, and … a bike.
Day 102. Headed to nearby Dayton, TN, home of one of the most infamous publicity stunts/evolution-creation circuses of the 20th century – the Scopes “Monkey” Trial. (I write this, hanging my head in, well … embarrassment). Also the site of the above sidewalk timeline (lol), evidence that plenty of goofy stuff apparently has happened – and not happened – in Dayton.
Each year on the anniversary of the trial, Bryan College and people of Dayton put on a big re-enactment of the whole show-down – which just happened to be taking place this weekend. Gah! Our only reason for going to Dayton today was for a stop at their local music shop – Grant was looking to buy a new bass guitar, and had found one here. The music store sits directly across the street from the courthouse where the whole Monkey Trial anniversary party was happening. It was, er, … interesting.
Grant got his guitar and we headed back home – The Band had another show tonight in Cleveland, and Mark and I were heading over to one of the local vineyards for some blueberry gathering. It’s been a bumper crop this year; I’ve never seen the bushes so full. We picked about 13 pounds of delicious berries; just perfect for my favorite No-Bake Blueberry Pie (archives).
Came home (again), tired, but Mark and I decided to head out on the bikes for a dinner date … pizza and salad at our favorite little local spot. Nice way to end the day, riding home just as darkness settled – lights and plenty of Blinkies.
(For now, anyway… 😉 )
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? 😀
Five o’clock (pm) and the mercury is reading 97’F. In the shade. Good grief.
It was warm this morning, but I figured if we got out early enough, we could beat the worst of it. The boys and I were in the mood for a road ride, so Mason, Dillon and I headed out for a long-ish (~40 mi) road ride. We drank plenty beforehand, and took extra bottles along. Not so bad as we headed out. Boys were feeling pretty peppy (and maybe a bit competitive?), and decided they wanted to do the climb on Mahan Gap – a several mile long slog, with a 10% grade in the half-mile near the top. I’ll do it in the cooler weather, but knowing my heat-tolerance limits, I decided to take the alternate less “climb-y” route, and meet them on the other side.
As the sun rose higher, the mercury started climbing. Too quickly. The boys and I re-connected after their climb and stopped to refill water bottles, and take a few minutes in the shade and debating the route we would take back home. Opted for the slightly longer, but gently rolling route, figuring we’d take it nice and easy in the intensifying heat.
Made it home, cooled off … and later headed into town (by car) on a few errands and a trip to the bike shop. Just miserable to be out there, regardless. Mason and I ended up with headaches, despite all efforts to rehydrate, etc. We’ve all had enough heat for one day.
Thinking that while the temperatures are so stifling, we’ll need to come up with alternate strategies for longer rides … much, much earlier, or even into the evening with lights. Or hauling the bikes up to northern Canada…. 😉 Or just sitting inside the dark, cool house, watching the Tour and imagining we are actually out riding (LOL).
Just don’t even say it. I am feeling like Angela from The Office without anyone having to make any comments … gaaahhhh!
Kids were here at the house, hanging out today … along with a kitten. I had the camera. I couldn’t help myself. Please don’t hate me.
Mark left this afternoon for a business trip — to France! Although I know it is going to be short, and full of business stuff, and likely not much fun … still, of all of the months to be in France – during Le Tour de France! There was some kidding around during dinner last night about him secretly going over to ride in a stage or two, and someone made the comment, “no – more likely going over to be one of the crazy half-naked guys who run alongside the riders in the Alps.” ROFL!
Today’s ride (after all of the kitten cuteness overdosage) was a geocaching-by-bike adventure with the boys, Matt, and Tim. Neither Matt nor Tim had ever done any geocaching, so this was their introduction to the “sport” and their first find. We had hidden a cache just up the road a few years back, and it has had a lot of “finders” over the years. Every time we pass by the site while riding, we’d often talked about stopping to check the log, but never managed to stop. Tonight we decided to head over and make sure everything was intact – and let Matt and Tim have a go at finding their first cache using our GPS. Success!
We rode over to a second cache in the area (one that we had never attempted to find), and spent the better part of an hour hunting for it – without success. We’ll have to check with the cache owner and see what’s up, maybe try again?
All in all, a fun way to do some geocaching and riding … everything is more fun – by bike!
Happy Independence Day :D. (You knew there would be a lot of photos for this one, didn’t you…?)
On Saturday (Day 88), we decided to head into Chattanooga for the big bash in Coolidge park. Packed picnic paraphernalia up in the Xtracycles, and Mason and I rode the Riverwalk into downtown. A couple of the boys had gone into the city earlier in the day, and Ross was going to be coming from work later in the afternoon with Mark, so it ended up being just Mason and I doing the riding. And hauling all of the “stuff”. 😉 We had a great ride along the river, amazingly uncrowded for a Saturday.
We all met up at Coolidge Park for a great picnic, concert and fireworks. Our friend Sarah was playing with the Chattanooga Symphony in the park, which was a real treat for us, and her husband Jeff came over and joined us on the lawn while she was playing. Good times, good food and conversation, plenty of silliness … and just great to be all together on a wonderful summer evening in the park.
Day 89: Sunday was a relaxing day at home. A little swimming, a little biking, dinner out with boys and girlfriends, fireworks all over the nearby farms and neighborhoods (yes, it’s legal in TN). Mark and I had a nice ride together in the early evening, passing church picnics and people having BBQ’s. Came home to sit out on the back porch, watching fireworks, listening to music. The boys had a game of Koob going out on the lawn. Good times. 😀 Coolidge Park was a lot of fun, but today it was just nice to be away from the crowds, hanging out with the boys and friends. Perfect summer.