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Posts tagged ‘snow’

cycling, interrupted

The month of March feels kind of like a vinyl record with a scratch in it; there is still a lot of music, but there are skips, repeats, and the tracks don’t always play as they should.  For now, I am starting at the present, and moving backwards – in pieces.

Our son Mason came home from school for a brief weekend visit, as we had missed him over his Spring Break.  We got to catch up, get back on our bikes after too many days absence, and do a little leisurely riding in the incredibly balmy temps that have been setting records across the country.  Mason had spent his break with a team of students from his university; they travelled to the islands of Trinidad & Tobago to work on a Habitat for Humanity Global Village project –  mixing concrete, shoveling sand and helping lay the foundation for a family’s new home.  There was a cement workers’ strike on the islands, so they really had their work cut out for themselves – mixing everything by hand with shovels and a lot of muscle.

He had some wonderful stories (best listened to while we were out on our bikes), made some new friends, got some running in (lol), and I loved that he took some time from his busy schedule to do some giving back.  (Photos from my son’s camera).

 foot race challenge

Habitat for Humanity Global Village, Trinidad & Tobago … the cement mixing

While Mason was off getting dirty and building houses, the rest of us headed to the mountains for our annual week of skiing in Colorado.  It was a well-needed break for all of us.  The snow was wonderful, the skiing fantastic, and like in years past, it was hard to come back home – I always tend to leave a part of myself in the snow and mountains, and someday may be staying for good.  My plan is to post a gallery of snow-mountain-ski pics of this place I love, my second home, later this week.  But for now I’m just including a few of the bike-y ones (and a snowy one … because it’s been so warm everywhere else).

I love the active mountain culture in Steamboat, and especially that they are so bicycle friendly – they are an LAB Gold Level community.  Skiers on bikes, bikes loaded with everything from groceries to snowboards to dogs and kids.  Weather, altitude, snow-covered roads are never a deterrent.  One of these days my dream is to have a little house along the Yampa River, riding on the Core Trail into town for breakfast or lunch, and loading my skis on my Xtracycle for a trip to the slopes.  Oh, perfect life.

And then there was all of the tornado and Red Cross stuff that I had left off with.  Sigh.  I am relieved to report that the damage was not as massive in scope as last April – which is still little consolation to the people who have lost their homes – and we are all grateful that no lives were lost.  Our local Red Cross chapter joined with folks from Chattanooga and Knoxville, and the relief efforts went very well, as you can read in detail here.  (Photo credit for these two shots from my volunteer friend, Sandy; my camera stayed at home).

But very sadly, in the midst of all of the disaster response, our chapter suffered another major blow; due to continuing reorganization and personell changes, we now no longer have a Disaster Services Director in our chapter.  My friend, mentor, and “boss”, Michele – a 10 year Red Cross veteran – is no longer with the organization.   This change in addition to the other personell cuts made earlier in the month, I can’t help but think that the writing is on the wall, so to speak.  It appears our small local chapter has effectively been dismantled at this point, and I am greatly saddened … I honestly don’t know what my own volunteer future will be.

Most frustrating, no one from the upper echelons seems to be providing any communication/direction to the volunteer base.  It reminds me of sitting in an airplane on a runway with no pilot … are they going to cancel our flight?  Are they going to send another pilot?  Or do they just expect one of the passengers to take the controls?  Like I said, it’s just incredibly frustrating – which made my decision to leave for some skiing during Spring Break a little easier.

I am back to my bike, my silly routine.  I am sorry to have not been able to finish the Utilitaire games, but I take my hat off to The Old Guy and my other friends who finished successfully – I applaud you all.  And I thank MG for the dreaming up the whole idea, for I had great fun participating for the weeks that I was able to – which, for me, is what it was all about anyway.  It made me re-think variety in destination riding, and I look forward to incorporating the goals into my riding routine.

Hopefully the remainder of March will be a little more normal, a little less interrupted, no big scratches.  We’ll see.

the snow excuse

 

there is nothing... NOTHING... better than this - sun, fresh snow, high mountains, my skis and first tracks though the trees

To the people who have known me best over the course of my life, they know with little doubt where my first love lies – on the snow, on skis, in the mountains.  As much as I am passionate about cycling, and as much as it has become such a big part of my life, there is nothing I love more than being on skis on a cold sunny day on top of a big mountain.  Nothing.  Period.  (Apologies to my beloved bicycles.)

A little background  … my father decided put me on skis when I was a pre-schooler, and I still have fond memories of first lessons in the mountains of Colorado and New Mexico before I was even able to read.  My dad became a National Ski Patrolman in the midwest where I grew up, which enabled us to ski virtually every day during winter.   I grew up racing and eventually became a ski instructor.   I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to ski in the summer for several years, when I shipped off to summer race-training camps on the high mountain glaciers each June.

 

with "my boys" at 10,000 ft - Storm Peak, Steamboat Springs

Skiing was a huge part of my life, of my family’s life … and despite ending up living in the snowless Southeast and raising my own family, the passion continues with my own boys, who have become incredible skiers in their own right – learning to ski in North Carolina, and skiing each year in the Rockies.   They have become skilled enough to ski everything on the mountain – from the trees to the double-black diamond chutes.

 

Ross shows how it's done ...

 

Mason heads down Storm Peak

powder day ... you can't really tell, but he's grinning ear to ear :)

powder day ... you can't really tell, but he's grinning ear to ear 🙂

So what does any of this have to do with biking?  Well for me, it appears that this crazy obsession/diversion of the trip to the mountains has managed to derail #330daysofbiking.  Since I managed not to get in a single day of cycling while out West, it appears I will be two days short of meeting my goal by April 1.  Rats.  But I just couldn’t help myself – the lure of the snow and the mountains was just too irresistible to do anything other than ski.  It’s my only excuse.

Despite this “failure” – and it is disappointing, because I was so close – I think it was good to have the interruption for sake of perspective.  Maybe it was good to get off the bike for a few days and revisit another passion with the people I love.

Someday I hope that we will be living in a place where I can set another (silly) goal – one that would look something like #100daysofskiing-and-#300daysofbiking.   Load the ski equipment onto the Xtracycle and pedal to the mountain for a day on the slopes.   (Although I might have to add in a #30daysofcupcakes and #100daysofknitting just to round things out 😉 ).

For now, I have a renewed enthusiasm to be on my bike again, and the quest continues to finish #330daysofbiking one way or another.  Since I can only blame my weakness for snow for the lack of cycling in recent days, I’m leaving a few last pictures from the mountains.  Sigh.

 

the snowy day tree

the USSA Junior National Freestyle Championships were being held on the mountain while we were there - these kids were unbelievable; our future Olympians

the art of spotting (and not landing on your head)

I had to restrain myself from buying a pair ... but I seriously thought these would look SO hot while riding my bike

the iconic symbol of Steamboat Springs ... the old barn on a snowy day

... and as the sun sets over the mountains

 

 

the continuing tale …

 

waking up to snow ... #330daysofbiking Day 287

 

I figured it was about time for an update on the #330daysofbiking tally.  The official numbers as of today: have ridden 287 of the past 317 days.

And I am happy to report that my legs haven’t fallen off.  Yet. 😉

While I never really find it a problem to be motivated to keep riding and ticking off the days for this #330daysofbiking business, I will admit that my daily mileage has taken a bit of a nose-dive lately.   It’s been more commuting trips and riding close to home over the past week or so, rather than some nice long road rides.  I will blame it in part on some crappy weather (cold and rainy), and in part on yarn.  Yes, yarn.

I’ve suffered from a recent bout of knititis, and when it’s rainy and grey outside, I find that I’d rather be inside with some alpaca-merino “comfort yarn” and a cup of tea by the fire than outside with frozen fingers and a wet camera on my bike.  It’s just how I am.

 

a case of knititis

But this is not to say that there hasn’t been some nice riding lately – because we have had a few beautiful days.  And when the sun pops out and the skies turn blue, not even a tempting skein of pink yarn can keep me inside.

 

obviously a no-knitting day

a great, big, bicycle-filled world

 

 

 

detours

 

sled 🙂

The snow stuck around longer than most people expected, thanks to some nice cold temps.  It was some amazingly beautiful riding – cold, sunny, snow on the ground.  The kind of weather that stirs my blood.  Too often, I find that I want to spend the entire day outside messing around – on my bike, with the camera and a coffee stop or two.  And then the responsibilities of real life throw a detour sign in the road, and I find it unavoidable to have to park the bike and get on with it.

 

contemplating snow tires... ?

The past week was one of those detours – even though I was riding every day, the daily focus was on “the other stuff”. The mundane things like appointments and errands that had been put off a little too long.  Projects at home that needed attention, trips that required me to use a car.  Sigh.

 

brightness

I’ve had a few days this week where the riding was barely more than a 15 minute spin up the road, but I’ve come to really appreciate that benefit, that reward, of #330daysofbiking over the months.  Taking the time, no matter how brief it may be, to get outside and pedal around away from the other necessary things – a detour in itself – is the great equalizer, the balance to the mundane.

 

she always makes me smile

slushy

As I write this today, the snow has almost all disappeared.  And I miss it.  I still have a sizable to-do list of non-cycling things to detour me during the next few weeks, but I’m always glad for the daily reward of #330daysofbiking.  The official count as of today:  have ridden 270 of the past 299 days, 66 days remain.

 

creekside

I always keep him waiting ... yes I do 😉

 

the difference a week can make ... 14 January

... and then today, same road, same bike

 

 

 


sun and snow

 

#330daysofbiking, Day 260

In my book, there is nothing, nothing, more beautiful than being outside on a cold, sunny day with snow on the ground.  I think it is my idea of heaven.

I felt like I was riding in CO today … temps in the 20’s, the warmth of the sun, hills and fields covered in snow, brilliant blue sky and the beautiful blue snow shadows.  I know that this little wonderland can’t – won’t – last much longer, but I am loving every moment and can barely make myself head back inside at the end of the day.

Day 260 – definitely on my top 10 list of #330daysofbiking.

come ride with me …

Confession: videographer I am not, but today while riding with my little Lumix, I accidentally switched the mode dial to the video capture mode … and decided, hey –  this might not be a bad idea?  So here is a chance for you to ride along with me – for a few minutes, anyway.  One of these days I will re-attempt with a real video camera, but for now, at least you will get the idea (and get to see a few barns flying by)  😉

You may not believe me, but it really was a perfect day to be out on a bike.  There was still virtually no traffic due to the recent snow-panic, yet the roads had started to clear and were easily ridable.  The landscape was quiet and beautiful with snow, the temperatures were comfortably moderate in the mid-30’s, and I loved having the hushed roads all to myself.

 

not quite clear yet

clear sailing (riding)

 

As the salt trucks had been slowly making their way through the county, I decided to ride my old mountain-turned-commuter bike, in case things were really messy.  For the most part, however, I was surprised at how well things had cleared up.  Yet this hasn’t stopped the schools from declaring yet another Snow Day for tomorrow…

I have to confess that I will hate to see it all melt away.  I could get very used to this nice combination of cross-country skiing and cycling each day.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll get at least another day or two before it all vanishes.

The old barns (& bicycle pics) are here to stay, though.  Oh well.

 

(another) barn & bike

old snowy barn

 

 

snowmageddon 2011

 

eight and a half inches on the ground!

Well, it’s official … it actually snowed!  Snow Day fulfilled.  And basically the entire eastern end of the state of Tennessee (as well as north Georgia and Alabama) is paralyzed by the storm.

And, for the record, we are loving every minute!

The roads are mostly impassable at this point.  We just don’t have enough snow removal and salt spreading equipment to adequately clear the roads in a timely manner.  And with temperatures expected to remain at freezing or below, it could be a few days before conditions improve.

 

about as good as it gets; TDOT came by and plowed, but only a sparse handful of people were out driving

where are the porch steps?

So we spent the day playing, and skiing and sledding and generally messing around in the snow.  Biking proved to be a little too impossible without studded tires and too much ice on the roads.  So we hauled out our “vintage” cross-country skis, and Mark managed to use the tractor make a pretty decent ski track out in the field and back to the woods.

 

skiing on the tractor track

snowgoat

snowdog

snowkid (on the vintage skis)

 

I apologize for the absence of bicycles today … but hopefully tomorrow will bring a little change to that.  I suspect we are going to have a very interesting week ahead.  🙂

 

snowflower

snowfence