Posts tagged ‘bike commute’
Lucy is proving to be a perfect commuter bike for me – functional, comfortable, versatile. And appropriately red enough for my trips into the Red Cross office (I swear this never even crossed my mind when I was choosing her paint color).
On a national level, the Red Cross is making preparations for the possible landfall of Isaac. It’s fascinating to see the process unfold, the planning, the deployment of material and human resources – and the ways that numerous local Chapters contribute to the response. While I have chosen not to be available for deployment at this time due to some personal scheduling conflicts, I continue to stay busy locally with our DAT team and working with new volunteers – work that I enjoy very much.
The continuing reorganizational changes surrounding our local Chapter can be frustrating at times. While many of the changes to our service model make sense, and should ultimately provide more efficient delivery, the plan for implementation (internally) has not always been so well thought out – and this can be very difficult for a workforce of volunteers.
At the end of the day, I often have to step back and ask myself: are we helping to the people who need our assistance? The answer, thankfully, is yes. Ultimately, this is all that really matters – whether it involves responding to house and apartment fires here at home, or providing relief to our clients after a hurricane. At the end of the day, I know we have helped.
I get on my bike and ride home, thankful for the chance to unwind and mentally re-evaluate the day to the soothing rhythm of my pedals strokes … and hope that storms, near and far, change course.
There are some days where all you have to do is look up, and you know you are in for it.
I remind myself that the rain is a good thing, washing the pollen from the air, making spring things grow bright and beautiful – even as I stand beneath a storefront awning, trying to wait out another thunderstorm before riding home. Oh well.
Yesterday I had to be out in it; today I really didn’t need to be anywhere, but despite the rainy forecast, I wanted to take a quick ride to a nearby field I had passed yesterday. Red clover and wildflowers were out in abundance, my time was my own, and I wanted to play with my camera. But before I was even a mile down the road, the rain began to fall again.
No fields of red clover today … only a few dandelions in my yard. I’ll have to wait out the rain once again. Sigh.
Riding across the Riverside Drive glass bridge in Chattanooga always gives me an imaginary sense of victory(?) over cars. I love standing on that bridge with my bike and looking down at the cars driving underneath; I am looming over them for a change (even it it’s only in my mind…).
Today’s destination was number 12 on the Utilitaire control card: to get my hair cut. My once-a-month-or-so trip to Chattanooga to visit my stylist, Chris, at Hair-A-Go-Go gives me a chance to ride into the city on the Riverwalk.
I will confess, I have to drive (shame on me!) to the northern terminus of the Riverwalk from home; but living about 40+ mi outisde of the city, an 80-mile round trip would be a big stretch for a reasonable commuter distance for me. Sorry. This way, anyway, I cut a little off of my driving distance, and get to ride the “scenic route” into downtown, and have some time to enjoy the destination. I think the approximate distance from the north end of the path to the Bluff View Art District downtown is about 8 miles one way, so the round trip makes for a relaxing and comfortable ride which I almost always make on Elisabetta.
Got my haircut, stopped into the downtown art supply store for a new pen, and then lingered around Coolidge Park for a little while enjoying the incredible sunshine and the balmy temperatures. I think we reached the mid-70’s. Lots and lots of people were out, walking, biking, sitting on benches on the Walnut Street Bridge, enjoying picnics in the park.
Before heading back, I stopped to treat myself at Rembrand’s Coffee House in the Art District. I was in the mood for one of their blackberry Italian Cream Sodas … it was heavenly, especially on the warm day. I am not exactly sure what makes it “Italian” (because I don’t remember ever seeing anything like this in Italy), but it is basically blackberry syrup, soda water, and some cream – yes, real cream – over ice. Not something to indulge in on a regular basis, but for an occasional treat, I shall have no guilt over it(!).
My hair is back to it’s short and trimmed state, my journal enjoyed the sun and the park (if not my attempts with the new pen), and I am still imagining the sweetness of blackberries and cream. A few scenes from the day … and a big thank you to the very kind new friends who have visited these pages from today’s Freshly Pressed; it was an unexpected surprise, and I am quite bowled over by the kind words and responses. Many thanks.
playing with new pens
Chattanooga has a thriving hipster population … Riverwalk
Scenic City bridges … Coolidge Park
Another day in town of trip-chaining by bike. Stop for coffee, pop into the bike shop, visit our local history museum, drop by the library (and more coffee), hit the grocery store for dinner-to-go, and home again; a bit of a list, and I again apologize for a rather lengthy post. Despite multiple destinations, I will log today’s Utilitaire checkpoint as #9 – museum visit.
In the section of town known as Five Points, we have a very nice regional history museum – the Museum Center at Five Points (and I am sorry to say that the above photo is not the museum, just an old building on the Five Points Corner ). The museum is one of those places I don’t make time to visit often enough, so I am grateful for the Utilitaire challenge and the reminder to make the visit. In addition to the permanent collection of local history and artifacts, the current temporary exhibit features an impressive collection of vintage and modern quilts. As much as I loved viewing the quilts, I was really more interested in taking some time to explore the permanent collection more thoroughly than I have had time to in the past. I learned a few things – including (according to the docent I spoke with) the fact that the industry responsible for “growing” and placing our little town on the TN map was kitchen stove manufacturing. Not only was there a Hardwick Woolen Mill, but also a Hardwick Stove Company, among others.
Since my time was my own today, I was able to read, look and explore a little more. Other things that caught my eye (in addition to the quilts, of course) were a vintage camera and an old grocery bike, along with a interesting collection of daily household items.
Coming to the museum in late March will be a new photograph exhibit that I am definitely looking forward to – a collection of black and white photographs from Knoxville photographer Don Dudenbostel on aspects of Appalachian culture that are fading from existence. From roadside culture to moonshine distilleries to snake handling (yeah, snake handling) … this should be exceptional. I’ve admired some of his other work (x-ray imaging) in the Bluff View Art District in Chattanooga, and it is pretty incredible.
As I was leaving the museum, I discovered I had just missed seeing my friend Jenn, who is an education director for the museum and had been there for a meeting. Sorry Jenn. But I definitely need to ask her for a favor — any chance we can get the museum facilities people to install a bike rack?? (hint, hint) 😉
I left the museum and stopped at the library where I ran into one of my “other” sons, Tim, who had finished his college classes for the day and spotted me parking my bike. We had a cup of coffee and did some catching up in the library coffee shop before he headed off. With all of the boys at schools here, there and everywhere, I don’t get to see these guys as often as I used to – and I was so touched that he was kind enough to take some time to re-connect. My boys have the most amazing friends.
library bike rack
Winding through neighborhoods, with spring colors reminding me of the some of the quilts from earlier in the day. On to the grocery store for a assorted salads for a simple supper, and then home. A very good day.
pansies, reminding me of quilts …
You know you’re battling a decent headwind when you have to pedal going downhill. Such was the case for the day’s Utilitaire ride (which actually took place yesterday, but I was to lazy to post last night).
The destination was to be #1: Work. And while I am not technically employed by the Red Cross, my volunteer “job” with them is about as close as I get to having to go “to work”. Heading out today I knew there was rain in the forecast, so as most cyclists know, the best insurance against having it actually rain is to pack rain gear. I also decided to just leave the “real” camera at home, as I didn’t want to mess with waterproofing measures (and I apologize in advance for another series of iPhonography in this post, as well my lengthiness today … hit the delete button if you wish.)
I battled a nasty headwind all the way in. Gusty, brutal and not so much fun. Decided to stop for coffee and catch up on a little bit of reading before hitting the office.
From coffee stop to the office, the scenery is always fascinating to me. I like riding through the old industrial district, passing by the old Hardwick Woolen Mill. Last month, a fire destroyed the Cleveland Chair Company. The reports have pointed to arson. Demolition of the remnants of the building(s) have turned the scene into a huge and textured pile of ruins. (And at this point I was hitting myself for not bringing along my other camera).
riding by the ruins of the Cleveland Chair Co. and the old Hardwick Woolen Mill
I spent the rest of the day at the office, scrubbing disaster response case files – making sure the paperwork is in order and that all of the information has been correctly entered into the computer system. While I was at the office, I got some very sad and troubling news that had been announced the day before. Restructuring and funding cuts from both the American Red Cross and United Way are eliminating key positions in our Chapter. Our tiny paid staff has now been reduced to two. Two.
The Bradley County Emergency Aid (funded by United Way, closely connected with our Red Cross Chapter work) has been cut, along with the women who have worked so tirelessly helping people in crisis in our community. Just as troubling, we are losing our ARC Volunteer Coordinator – the amazing woman who schedules our disaster team rotations, recruits and arranges for training of our volunteers, and holds our volunteer staff together at the seams. It’s shocking, troubling, and I can’t even begin to envision what the future holds for our local Chapter. It is difficult enough to recruit capable, willing and trained volunteers to fill all of the positions – from teaching CPR/First Air/AED to fundraising to disaster response – but if they expecting the volunteer coordination duties to be taken over by our stretched-too-thin volunteer staff, I can’t even begin to imagine what is to come. I think it spells disaster, ironically.
Needless to say, it was a tough afternoon in the office. It’s difficult to see anyone lose their job, even harder when it happens to friends and people I have so much respect for.
Left the office and headed back into town in fading light. Decided to hook up with my son (on his way home from tennis practice) and my husband (on his way home from work) for a quick bite to eat. No sooner did we sit down, I receive a weather-alert text on my phone: hail-producing severe thunderstorm warning. Yay. Storms were already spawning hail, lightning and even a tornado warning directly west of us, and the fun was now heading our way.
So, do I attempt to beat the storms and head home as planned on my bike, or do I give up the night riding and toss the bike in the back of my husband’s car and hitch a ride home? I had my rain gear. I had insurance. I decided to ride.
Now a quick word about night riding. I won’t go into a full-blown review of bicycular (I like to make up words) lighting – we have a boxful of various lights in our household, but I will tell you a little bit about the lights that work very well for me.
On my helmet, I use a Light & Motion Vis 360, which I absolutely love. As the name says, visible from all sides – front, rear, sides. Spotlight in the front (with amber sidelights), and blinking rear light (also with amber sidelights). On and off the helmet in a snap, long light life, USB rechargeable.
On my bike, I use a Niterider MiNewt 600 Cordless (which replaces an older corded MiNewt Mini that is still in our stash), along with a couple of PB SuperFlash Blinkies on my seatpost and messenger bag. The MiNewt 600 is a big improvement on the corded Mini; although a little heavier, it is brighter, cordless, easier to mount on and off of the bike, also USB rechargeable.
My own philosophy on night riding is kind of two-fold:
- In town, among streetlights, storefronts, traffic, it’s imperative to be seen. Lots of lights front and rear, top and bottom, and my high-vis yellow jacket with reflective striping do a good job making me visible.
- Outside of town, when I hit the rural two-lane backroads, sparsely populated with no streetlights, and effectively pitch-black under a cloudy sky with no moonlight, it’s not only a matter of being seen, but being able to see. I find that the two-light system works best for me here – my headlamp to a point further in the forward distance, and my bike-mounted light giving me a bright pool just ahead to better see pavement conditions and road debris.
nightriding: in town and on pitch-black rural roads
Needless to say, the ride home was exhilarating. The winds that were my foe on the way into town in the morning had now become my friend as a tailwind. It was like flying home, without much effort. Record time, I think. Outside of town I flushed a couple of deer in the roadside woods – fortunately not onto the road in front of me. The sky would momentarily light up with lighting in distant clouds, and the thunder would rumble a few moments later. It was an exciting adventure. But I arrived home before even a drop of rain fell.
Perfect timing; it’s what happens when you pack insurance. 😉
After giving myself a few days off – no biking, swimming or much of anything else – I got back out today, thankfully feeling more like myself. I rarely get sick, or injured, and typically try to push through it if I can. But taking a few days to rest and lay back was a good thing, I think; I feel so much better than I did on Friday.
It was raining all morning, but the clouds began to break up shortly after noon, so I decided to make a grocery run – #5 on my Ultilitaire control card. Two bags of groceries, a gallon of milk, a quiet ride through dripping trees, cows in damp fields, and the smell of springtime in the air. Zig-zagging a route on back roads and out of traffic, feeling my legs again after several days off of the pedals. Mileage guestimate: 7 miles. Daffodils emerging: gazillions.
yin & yang storm clouds
back roads home
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.
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.
So I had to make a quick bike run to Target today. I arrive, go to lock up my bike at the rack, and spot this lovely little arachnid along the building next to my bike. It looked suspiciously distinctive, and upon closer (but not too close) look … yep, a black widow. (And yes, she was fully alive and well.)
Now it’s not that I have any big case of arachnophobia; I happen to think spiders are kind of cool – as long as they are not crawling on me. But this one, being a little package of poison – I swear she was eyeing my bike and thinking how nice and cozy it might be to sneak into my panner while I was in the store. It looked like a mighty nice home, rather camouflaged, nice and dark, an easy place to hole up … and wait.
Yes. I’m an idiot. And my mind runs in ridiculous directions. Never the less, I moved my bike to the other side of the building. Just in case.