Posts tagged ‘#30daysofbiking’
#30daysofbiking … riding each day for the past thirty days, the entire month of April. Is there really a finish, or a completion – or is it just the continuation of a routine? To me it is collection of snapshots – memories of moments on a bike each day, not unlike all of the other days throughout the year. I don’t keep statistics (distance, hours, speed, etc.); I prefer to keep the images as reminders of things seen along the way, because these are ultimately the only things meaningful to me.
I posted a 10-frame gallery containing one snapshot for each of the thirty days of riding, condensed into the classic snapshot format of the “Fauxlaroid” Some images you may recognize from prior posts; the collection of originals are in my Flickr set.
Tomorrow begins the next thirty days … and beyond. Cheers.
It’s been a while since we’ve done much mountain biking, but today we decided it was a good day for a change of pace from the road. We dusted off the knobby-tired bikes and headed down to the Enterprise South Nature Park in Chattanooga to explore some of the mountain bike trails.
But first, a little history…
In the early 1940’s the Army Corps of Engineers built the original facilities for the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant. The plant was originally built to support World War II military efforts, and operated as a TNT manufacturing facility through 1977 – producing up to 30 million pounds of TNT per month during peak production years in the 1960’s.
Within the past decade, the state of Tennessee and Hamilton County turned the site into a combination of industrial property and the 2800-acre Enterprise South Nature Park, which opened to the public in 2010. The Park is adjacent to the recently opened state-of-the-art Volkswagon manufacturing facility. Along with bringing several thousand jobs to the area, the VW plant has achieved the world’s first LEED-Platinum green building certification for an automotive plant, making them a great environmentally responsible partner for the public access parklands.
Within the 2800-acre Nature Park is an extensive multi-use trail system – from pedestrian hiking paths, to both paved bike routes and single-track mountain biking trails – in a wide range of difficulty levels. There are also plans to include equestrian trails into the mix.
One of the more fascinating things to see as you ride the trails are the collection of abandoned munitions “bunkers”, big caverns with concrete walls with huge steel doors, many of them built into hillsides. I think there are close to 100 of them, some locked and sealed, but we came across at least one that was open. A little creepy, in an interesting way. Mark’s theory is that most of the trail system evolved from the bunker access roads and pathways. Definitely possible.
We rode two of the intermediate/advanced mountain biking loops – the TNT Trail and the Log-Rhythm Trail – and Mark had some fun playing on the bridge course. The trails are wonderfully maintained, and even “enhanced” in places. There are a couple of log and bridge courses, along with a number of fun (engineered) “whoop-y” sections of the hillside trail (I am sure that is a technical mountain biking term). Enough rocks and climbing to make you work, and some great descents. Yeah, fun. And a nice reminder that mountain biking uses a very different skill set of increased agility, weight-shift and balance than road biking. Actually, it often reminds me of skiing, especially through the tighter turns in the trees.
We are definitely going to do this again… And if you are in the area, it is definitely a place worth visiting – biking, hiking or however you choose to explore.
Riding home, I stopped to poke around the local ball field up the road. Little League season is in full swing this time of year, but the park was empty and quiet when I arrived – an hour or so before the after-school practices would begin. One of these nights, I’m going to go to watch a game. It’s always entertaining to watch the really little kids play – cute, earnest, and usually with a sprinkling of comedy.
I let the Xtracycle steal second base… and I am wishing my beloved a very happy fifty-second birthday today, and many more wonderful miles ahead!
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.
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? 😀
Success! Day 30. What a great project this has been … so amazing, so much fun riding and getting to be part of the conversation with the cycling “twitterati” (as coined by a twitter pal). 😀
Today’s ride – solo road ride in the late afternoon. Much better feeling than yesterday, for whatever reason. Relaxing, connected, peaceful. As it should be. Rode on a very quiet road not far from home, which crosses a beautiful creek running through a field. No cows, just the trickling water – and me and my bike.
I feel like I should have something more profound to say about the whole experience, because it has meant a great deal to me. All I have are a few random thoughts that were running through my mind today…
- It wasn’t hard. Really.
- Ride … regardless. Even when – especially when – you might not feel like it. The days that surprised me the most were the days I may not have normally gone out “just to ride”: the bad weather days, the tired days, the too-busy days, the days when I ran out of time or daylight. I’m glad I found a way to get out – there was always an unexpected reward.
- It’s not about the distance, or speed, or incredible skill on two wheels. Even if it only means riding around the block or up the street and back (or, as someone joked – to the end of the driveway and back) – just ride. You will be glad you did.
- Mix it up. I loved taking a variety of rides – from the long-distance road rides to the simple commuter trips, or the quick spin on the greenway or up the road. A change in perspective can be a good thing – for anyone on a bike.
- Love your bicycle; it’s an amazing friend to have.
So where to go from here? Lots of chatter about continuing … and I think I’m up for it. Maybe not the daily posting, but definitely the daily riding. Or as close to it as I can get. Thinking #330daysofbiking ………….
Last word – I am so grateful to the many friends – twitter, ShutterCal, and “real-life” – who encouraged me (and put up with) all of this daily nonsense, who read the blog entries, commented, tweeted, and allowed me to share my (one-too-many) random pictures … you are awesome! And most of all – grateful to the tweeps (@patiomensch, @rycera, @nicycle) who started the whole #30daysofbiking rolling – you guys ROCK!
It was a truly beautiful day, weather-wise, but my heart and mind were just not in the ride today. Even though it felt good to pedal, I felt so distracted – thinking of countless things around home that needed to be taken care of, schedules, tennis, upcoming graduation, moving boys back home from college … It’s all piling up and about to converge in a few days of craziness, and I just can’t clear my mind.
I took a few photos today along the way, but found it kind of revealing when I got home and sorted through them – none of the “keepers” included my bike. Perhaps it speaks for the feeling of detachment I had today? Dunno.