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Posts tagged ‘bicycle commuting’

a commute with a (different) view

the old Hardwick Woolen Mill

One of the more interesting benefits of becoming involved with our local American Red Cross chapter has been the change of scenery from my cycling commute point of view.  Riding to the chapter office a couple of times a month has been a chance to leave the old barns, the fields of cows, and ride into the old industrial part of town on largely deserted old streets.  The view is gritty, tough, battered and even decaying and crumbling in places – but (and it might sound crazy) I’ve enjoyed the departure from green fields.

 

I’ve taken my camera along on a couple of past trips, but never managed to stop and explore for one reason or another – running late to a meeting, getting rained on, running out of daylight, or (recently) not wanting to stop in the sweltering heat.

Today things were in my favor to linger and look around.  The building I have always been most fascinated with is the old Hardwick Woolen Mill.

back in the day ... the old Hardwick Woolen Mill (postcard)

today ... the old Hardwick Woolen Mill, not so postcard-ish

Built in 1890, it had once been used to process wool produced from local farms – “the entire process of cleaning, drying, weaving, cutting, and sewing was performed at the Mill”, according to information on The Old Woolen Mill website.  Although there has been a vision to revitalize the old building and convert it into a combination of retail, commercial and residential space, it’s been a struggle.  To date, there has been only minimal development – most of the property continues to crumble and deteriorate, sadly.  To some extent, I suppose it mirrors the economy…

I’d like to think that someday it might be vibrant again … meanwhile, I can’t help but enjoy the patchwork of the broken windows and other old things left behind.

patchwork of old broken windows; Hardwick Woolen Mill

Boiler Company door on the Hardwick Woolen Mill building

the very great people at the Red Cross let me bring my bike inside while I work 🙂

rain delirium

 

practicing for living somewhere like … Portland?

 

I have some “nice” fall color biking photos from days prior … but today, while I was riding in the rain, I was thinking about friends in Portland and the Pacific Northwest.  (And yes, also snowbound Minneapolis, @bikerly, @blueallez, and @myrnacgmibus).   In my mind, cities like Portland, Seattle, and Amsterdam are my idea of cycling nirvana.  And Minneapolis.   I see the videos, the pictures, read about the bicycle culture, the rideshare, the cupcakes (big incentive), and converse with a few friends who live there in the midst of it.  I am fairly convinced that I belong there.

And then I ride on a cold, grey and damp day and wonder if I really would have what it takes?  I can easily do a few days here and there in crappy weather, but am I really cut out for months on end of this kind of kind of stuff?   I dunno.  The cupcakes I could definitely do on a daily basis.  The rain riding, well … ?

For now, I ride in it … just to practice.  And to pre-qualify.  😉

#330daysofbiking Day 209 ~ in the rain

 

iFauxlaroid selfportrait

mountain(s), bike(s)

Steamboat Springs ... a great way to get to the slopes

Had annual wonderful week’s vacation in Steamboat Springs, CO, last week.  It tends to be the week that “gets me through” the rest of the year.  I love the snow, the mountains, the skiing … the whole atmosphere and “vibe” of town.

I guess my love affair with Steamboat stems from my history with the place.  Back when I was probably 9 or 10 years old, our family would head to Steamboat in the summer to visit friends who owned a fantastic cabin in Route National Forrest.  I remember sleeping in the cabin loft with my sister and my friends, Karen and Kirsten – shrieking at the bats that would fly about the eaves on summer evenings.  Also memories of my “Aunt Pat” waking us up every morning to the sound of the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun. Hiking up to mountain lakes for some trout fishing, horseback riding, the July 4th rodeo, visiting F.M. Light’s in town … all part of those wonderful memories of the “cowboy” mountain town of Steamboat Springs.

My parents began taking us on winter ski vacations in Steamboat back in the 1970’s – after skiing at various places throughout the west, from CO to NM.  I loved staying on the mountain at the Scandinavian Lodge, skiing right out our door onto the slopes.  Although we had skied at many Colorado resorts – Aspen, Vail, Winter Park… – Steamboat somehow became our favorite place, and the place we kept returning to.  Famous for their high altitude “Champagne Powder” along with maintaining their small-town atmosphere, it always seemed to be more laid-back and genuine than the developing glitz of places like Aspen.

Mark and I began taking our own boys to the mountain about 6 years ago.  Despite the fact that the boys don’t have the opportunity to ski as often as I did when I was younger, they’ve become very skilled and competent skiers – able to tackle every black diamond run on the mountain, along with a few of the double-black diamond chutes.  We’ve made a lot of wonderful memories skiing together, playing in the powder, finding our favorite outfitters and eateries in town.  As Mark recently commented, I think we both wish that we’d started the tradition years earlier.  And although we’ve seen the town changing, and some aspects have become rather uber-wealthy resort-ish, the town still manages to maintain a sense of charm that other resort areas are missing … at least in my opinion.

Dillon - Storm Peak, 2010

Dillon - cutting it up on Storm Peak

Although skiing remains at the top of my list of reasons to visit Steamboat, I have always been impressed by the great bike culture around town – whether summer or winter.  We’ve seen a great Xtracycle conversion with a PVC tube used for hauling skis, lots of committed cyclists riding through the worst of weather and road conditions, lots of people going about their daily routine in town – by bicycle.  One of my favorite sights in town one day this year, was this dad with his mini-pedalers and the family dog, riding down the main street.  Sweet! 😀

Dad, two tots and the dog - by bike; awesome!

never too young to start 🙂

Macs and bicycles ... a perfect combo!

macs and bikes - the perfect combo!

I really want a leopard-print saddle ... downtown "date bike"

Upon getting back home, the current issue of LAB’s (League of American Bicyclists) 2010 Bicycle Friendly America was in the mailbox.  I was happy to read that Steamboat had achieved Silver status as a Bicycle Friendly City (I believe they moved up from Bronze within this past year?).  According to the article:

The community boasts a 4 percent bicycling mode share; an ever growing network of on-road and off-road bicycling facilities – including 266 miles of natural-surface trails … The Open Space and Trails Master Plan includes over 25 miles of new bicycle routes and lanes to the city. More cyclists than ever are commuting and using their bicycles for errands around town.  The local political bodies responded by ramping-up their support for bicycling in the form of budget allocations and Community Development Code provisions for bicycle facilities and transportation systems, instead of thinking of it as a marginal or luxury issue for a special sub-group.

Last year we rented some bicycles and rode along the Yampa River bike path … a beautiful multi-use path that links several communities and provides a great way to get to and from the heart of downtown.  We’ve seen more and more people hauling skis by bike up to the base area of the mountain, as well bikes parked outside the grocery stores and restaurants around town.  It’s inspiring – and often amazing, given the weather and road conditions we’ve seen some of them out riding in.  Hat’s off!

So … vacation is over, and spring is well on its way.  Although the sight of blooming daffodils is lovely, I somehow still would rather see sparkling snow on a sunny mountain.  Just me.  😉

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