Paddle Over Peddle

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We cyclists work out the lower half of the body with every revolution. Whether we go fast or mosey our way to and from work or wherever, we are working out our legs, calves, thighs and gluts. We ride the waves of the pavement like a surfer amidst the swells. Our arms, biceps, shoulders and back hold us in place but they don’t get half the workout that our southern regions do.

Kayak time.

Even professional cyclists have massively muscular legs with well defined calves and quads while their arms look like linguine. I’m not a professional but I do love it when I notice my leg muscles. I mean I can’t see ‘em but sometimes you flex and suddenly you’re like, “Whoa, those are my legs and dang, there’s some new definition there.”

In the waning days of summer as the start of a new school year looms I’ve been longing for the water. My guy sails and he’s very good at it. I love the feel of sailing but I admit that within a short time of being on board, I’m ready for a nap. The lulling action is like being rocked into the lands of Wynken, Blynken and Nod. Also, I’m here to admit to you dear readers that sailing is an all day event and unlike biking you’re at the mercy of the currents and wind and factors that on a bike you can usually change by going left or right and trying a different route. I’m not the sailor my guy is nor is he the biker I am.

Not my dog in the water, but that’s our sailboat.

We’ve been trying for over a week to go out for a sail, but there hasn’t been enough wind to scoot a napkin across a table let alone fill sails. We have a kayak and the ducks and geese in the marina have been terrible tenants. There was evidence of their derelict behaivor and partying so we decided to remind them that it belongs to us. Within an hour we had it all cleaned up and ready for action.

Geese what? They quite literally did #2 on our kayak cover.

After a deep cleaning and super scrub we successfully exfoiliated all the moss and algae and unidentified green goo from the underside and I went out for a paddle. Not a typo, I paddled a kayak. A paddle over peddle means that a muscle group heretofore unused got a bit a of a workout. It was a gorgeous dead calm day in the marina which means I had a great time paddling about like I was on an Olympic Paddle Team. It was glorious and I stayed out there for over an hour.

I’m not a seasoned kayaker, but I’m not a novice either. Here’s how it usually goes. I go out and then the next day my arms scream for relief and I don’t go out again for 4 years. I was thinking about that as I paddled around. Don’t overdo it in such a way that you never want to do it again.

Despite the fact that the opening to the Columbia beckoned to me like a siren I opted for the safety of the marina. I have no idea what the currents are like and IF my triceps could handle it.

I could stop and start and turn around pretty easily and I was feeling good. I was musing about taking a kayak trip of the whole Columbia, but of course, that’s the lustiness of adventure speaking. I paddled around and felt like a teenager who got their driver’s license. I didn’t know I could record kayaking as a Strava activity or else I’d have proper evidence. Next time.

What about that other muscle group known as the upper body? I’m happy to report that the next day my triceps were fine. Okay, a little stiff but if anything I feel ready to go again. I’m not as sore as I thought I would be. That must mean that I yell and wave my arms at offending car traffic enough to keep those muscles toned.

What’s the attraction? Why kayak instead of a bike ride? Some cyclists run. I’m not a runner. However with all these activities you are communing with nature and enjoying the world around you in a different way and seeing life from another perspective. I’m always up for that kind of adventure.

I rarely choose anything over a bike ride, but sometimes you gotta get out there are try something else. Paddle over peddle? Sure, it’s every bit as fun. What about you? Ever been kayaking? What did you think?

Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate it and I hope you enjoy the rest of the month. Stay safe and take care.

Kayak Goddess. Nah, just kidding. It doesn’t have the same ring. Until next time, get out there and ride. Or paddle.

Bike Goddess

The Bike Goddess Boutique Garage

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The Bike Goddess Boutique Garage

One of the tasks that’s been on my to-do since April was the garage. I know what you’re thinking. It’s a garage, who cares? Let me tell you. I do. I never fully appreciated my garage until I didn’t have one. For a period of time we lived in a condo. It was not a great situation for the bikes. I thought I could downsize until it came to the bikes and the bike related accoutrement. I can’t. I like my stuff and I use my stuff. Once we moved back into a house with a two car garage I wanted one side devoted totally to bikes. Thank goodness my husband was on the same page. I’m sure you can understand that as a Bike Goddess I need space for research and development.

For my birthday my husband agreed to help me by adding some shelving and peg boards. I followed all the classic suggestions offered by The Home Edit and KonMari Rules and took the kit and caboodle out of the space and sorted it all. I was thorough and did a deep edit of anything that wasn’t getting used over the last few years. Since I had been considering this refresh for some time I had a hunch about some of the stuff that was going to be moved onwards. I organized like items together. I also wanted to organize for my commutes. What are musts for my day-to-day bike commutes. I considered what happens coming in and out of the garage every day and what specific essentials I needed to have close to my rig. Additionally, I wanted a work bench area, a spot for tools plus a place to showcase things I’ve collected over the years. I’m obsessed with bike bags and I wanted to display them. Yes, it’s a garage however there’s nothing that says it can’t be fun and creative too.

One area for bags and items I need access to daily.
Rain gear, bike stand and pump plus gloves and such for my commute.

Julia Child used peg board for small spaces and specifically for organizing her kitchen pots. Her husband was behind that idea so I thought I’d follow suit. I recycled peg board from the cupboards already in the garage and after a few refresher lessons from my guy on how to use the drill, I drilled the holes and put up the peg board to spotlight the gear I use every day.

The bag wall.

If it didn’t spark joy then I moved it on in its “cycle” of life. The bag wall is one of my favorite things about the garage freshen. I love that I can see all the gorgeous bags and even though I don’t use them every day I know when I need a big waterproof roll top bag I have one, uh, four ready to serve.

How do you park multiple bikes? That’s the big question. We’ve struggled with how to park the bikes but ultimately I let the space speak to me. I noticed that our homemade bike rack looked a lot like the studs on the wall. So why not rest a tire against those when needed? I dismantled the rack my husband built (he used cabinet screws, so hello? That took all day!) and lined up the bikes. It’s given us more room in the garage and overall each bike is easier to valet.

Stash, stow and store the other items in bags and old bike baskets.

What about the other stuff? Whatever the sport there’s always gear. I have two long shelves for odds and ends that get intermittent use. This was the big addition to the space.

The big before. We’re measuring and cutting two boards to fit the space allowing for more accessible storage.

It doesn’t seem like much, but two long boards have extended the space in a way that exceeded my expectations. I used old shopping bags plus some older model bike baskets to stash, store and stow other like items. We needed room for some bike travel cases and the bike rack for the car as well, so those items are on the floor with the two long shelves above. All in all it works better than I imagined. Yes, these are things I dream about. You do you and I’ll do me. I love to organize and I’ve been like this since I was a youngster, so my 10 year old self was super stoked about the whole thing.

The garage already had some built in storage so I deep cleaned it all and added baskets I already had to organize more gear. I did not go out and purchase much for this refresh. Most of it was sorting and classifying and choosing what stays and what moves on. I figured it I haven’t used it in the last two years then I wasn’t going to use it going forward.

How much did it cost?

  • Shelves and brackets $150
  • Paint -$0 : Used what we had. I painted the bare edges of the shelves mostly to seal against the elements and because my guy said I had to.
  • Time -Most of the labor was done in a day. I’m still organizing and fine tuning out how I want things.
  • Baskets– 4/$60 total at Cost Plus World Market. Not pictured but they are great for gloves and hats and leg warmers or other gear that might be needed. I did search for some cheaper options but I also have several already in the space and I like that they’re not all the same.
  • $3 for the small storage bin I scored at someone’s garage sale (gotta love the irony) for the teeny tiny stuff like cleats and valve caps. I was going to buy a new one, but this works great so why not reuse it?
Teeny tiny storage.

Using the phrase Marie Kondo uses, the whole space sparks joy now. Want a bike valve? Oh, I know exactly where that is. Need an Allen tool? Yep, I know where those are. How about tubes? I have an inventory.

Organizing the garage has had a liberating effect on me. I know where the gear I need is and I can get my hands on it immediately and that sparks joy!

How about you? Do you organize your bike gear? What are some things you do to make the gear you use all the time more accessible? Is there anything else you’d like to know about the bike “boutique” garage? Share in the comments.

Thanks for taking some time to read my blog. I appreciate it.

Here’s a small gallery of pics. Do you have a favorite? Have a marvelous day!

Bike Goddess

Le Tour de Imagination

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I’ve been watching Le Tour de France this summer. I’m always in awe of how fast, how far and just how this race comes together. Think about it. Twenty-three days and multiple countries on flats and in mountains and always right alongside rabid fans. It’s a spectacle that captivates my imagination. I stopped watching in 2017 because I was traveling in July. Then Paul Sherwin of the Phil Ligget/Paul Sherwin team of commentators for the Tour died in 2018 and I couldn’t listen. I missed their collaborative banter. They were such a great team of commentators whose “suitcase of knowledge” about the sport made me feel like I should sit up and take notes. It wasn’t the same without Paul. But this year with Bob Roll riding shotgun with Phil Liggett plus Chris Horner and Christian Vande Velde in the studio it’s been amazing. Watching these young riders primed and ready to attack is entertaing and fun once again. I’m not one for watching any other sport so take this all with a swig of your favorite sports beverage.

I’ve been entertained to such a level that I’ve taken my 2012 Trek Portland road bike (probably more of a touring rig) out for a spin on more than one occasion in the last several days.

Must be special if I’m putting on the cleats.

As a commuter I forgot what a road bike feels like. It’s a different sort of riding experience when you clip in and go. I’m amazed at how swift and agile the machine feels. Shifting is instantaneous and your heart pumps with a pace that makes you feel alive and ready to race and pace with anyone around. I immediately saw a rider in front of me and went full tilt to catch ‘em like a retriever eyeing a bird. Of course the guy was in his 70s and on a tricycle with a basket, but still, in my mind he was Chris Froome.

The 2006 Trek Portland is more of a touring rig, but still, she can move.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not a racer but gosh it seems like such an exciting life. The bikes are exquisite and I love that the traffic is all in service to the riders. The cars are ready to serve each rider whatever they need; water, air, food, energy bar, a new bike, now that’s perfect.

My husband has stepped up to the challenge of watching with me too. “What’s the Green jersey?” He asks. “But the dots are mountains?”

It’s fun to realize what I know about TdF standings as if I’m a child who knows all the names of the dinosaurs. “He doesn’t have the legs today,” I’ll observe or when I explain how the riders need to cool down after a ride.

“I’m only watching this because of YOU.” My husband observes daily but it’s genuinely fun because the arena is the world. I mean how amazing is it to hear all the languages and see the sights and scenery. I especially love when the rider crosses the finish line and punches the air with the herd of helpers gathering around with water and congradulatory pats and shoulder squeezes.

I understand why people speak in sports metaphores when I watch the Tour. Life is full of stages and some are mountain stages when others are flat and steady but all in all you get up, get dressed and go out there to see if you have the legs. You see what you can do. Some days you’re in the peloton just keeping pace, helping your mates and other days you’re on the podium.

Keeping pace.

Thanks for reading. Have yourself a Yellow Jersey sort of day.

Get out there and ride. Stay safe.

Bike Goddess

Piano Moving

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From 2019 trip to Thessaloniki, Greece.

It’s a simple question that could be answered simply. How was your year? The year refers to my school year which typically starts at the end of August and ends in mid-June. Of course it could be answered with words like busy, hectic, demanding, difficult, arduous, tough, exhausting, and even Herculean. I’m coming up on three weeks of summer break so far.

Readers, thanks for being here. I’m happy to be here too and I’m working on catching my breath after a school year that can best be described as riding a tandem alone on a gravel road with a 12% grade.

A little bit about myself. When I’m not Bike Goddess here on the blog and out on my bike, I’m a teacher. I’m a teacher-librarian which means I moved out of the classroom to be a school librarian over 25 years ago. I got another Master’s degree and became a teacher-librarian or what many call a Library Media Specialist. In some states you are required to have a degree in library science, media or learning resources. I enjoyed being a classroom teacher and I’m glad that I was able to move into library media early in my career. That is the perfect fit for my skills, interests and passions and I love it. Yes, I’m hooked on reading and I love working with tech and research so together all these skills mean that every single year is different. People often think “You must get tired doing the same thing year after year,” and that’s never been my experience. Very little is the same year to year and the last two years have been formidable.

Working hard on cleaning the plates at a restaurant in Thessaloniki.

I always have grand ideas about summer break. If it were up to me and me alone, I’d be in the Greek Islands on a bike roaming about from beach to beach eating dolmathes and sardinis and Greek feta with some Αλφα beer but Covid and travel uncertainties and the general malaise of pandemic and politics have grounded me. At the three week mark I usually start to let go of bits of the previous school year. I’m still on track with that. It’s the point where I’m processing the year and my subconscious have formed a sort of story for me to explain how I feel.

Maybe you’ve seen the posts about how teachers aren’t doing well. Maybe you’ve even read about how there are massive shortages in staffing and substitutes. Perhaps you’ve seen additional posts about how teachers can’t focus on their own mental health because of the constant barrage of attacks on what they’re teaching and how. It’s hard to explain how it’s different than a “normal” year since we haven’t been operating normally for quite some time.

Recovery is real and educators are in recovery mode now. While I don’t speak for all educators I can tell you that we’re all hemming and hawing about the state of affairs. When you try to be positive there’s some naysayer ready to meet your glee with doom. July has always been the month where I feel myself loosen up a bit like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. It’s the threshold month when I start to recognize myself in the mirror and feel a tiny spring in my step again. That means that the focus, like when you’re getting your vision tested, becomes clearer and clearer with each passing day. It’s when I can see for myself who I am again and I start to smile and laugh with less restraint. It’s when my pace becomes steady and I settle into a cadence that feels restorative.

Couldn’t find a picture of a grand piano so you get another bike in Greece photo.

My subconscious revealed to me in a dream about moving a grand piano what my year was like. In my dream another colleague told me to move a grand piano to an auditorium several miles from my school. In the dream the colleague said to “just get it done” and his tone was hostile and aggressive. I said it wasn’t really my job to do that. They’d have to hire a moving company or get the school district to make the move. “Not happening,” he said. “It’s you!” In the dream I resisted until I didn’t. I caved into the pressure or expectations to move the piano. Next scene, with a group of several students we moved the piano on its tiny little wheels over the streets and down a hill amidst traffic to the auditorium. None of us alone had the strength of Theseus . We worked together. Hmmmm. Very interesting Sigmund.

I woke up thinking about both the absurdity and truth in the dream. It was another intensely challenging year in which I felt that there was nothing I could do to make things right. I overcompensated with certain tasks which left me bereft in my own life with things I missed doing, like writing and resting. The year was as hard as moving a grand piano across town.

We all have our pianos don’t we? I don’t know what your piano is but I do know that if we don’t rest and if we don’t take care of ourselves the weight is unbearable.

Thanks for hanging out with my blog today. I appreciate it.

Have a great day and get out there and ride your bike.

Be safe.

Bike Goddess

The 4-1-1 on 3-1-1

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If it was raining would you know if someone threw water in your face? I ask because last week while riding home from school a kid in the backseat of a car emptied his water bottle in my face and then threw the bottle at me.

Not being one to litter, I stopped and got the bottle and I was so confused by the whole incident I didn’t get a license plate but I did get a good look at the kid and the white Scion hatchback so even though I couldn’t “catch” them to throw the liter bottle back in the car and say, “Hey, dingdongheads you dropped this!” I did manage to think it over well enough to compose a decent blog post.

Over time I have been extremely lucky and had very few encounters like this out on the road. As the rain got a bit heavier and I thought about the times I’ve yelled back at a driver I can say it’s enough to count on one hand.

This sitch was different because there was someone else driving and the kid in the backseat seemed to be gleeful about his actions. I heard him laugh as if he heard a hilarious joke.

After retrieving the bottle I thought I saw them on the opposite side of the road but my glasses were dotted with drops and the din of rain and traffic noise made it hard to tell what was going on. Plus, there are lots of white cars out there.

Once I got home I was telling my husband and he said I should report it. Uh, how do you do that? It’s nonemergency and so do you call 911 or is there another number.

It’s 3-1-1 and there’s a dispatch operator who took down the details I report and asked me a few clarifying questions and then an officer called me to go over the the incident.

Bear in mind that I ride this route every single weekday. Monday through Friday, if I’ve ridden my bike to school I’m very likely riding this East-West stretch home. It’s wedged between a high school and a middle school and in a dozen or more years I’ve never had something hurled at me. Drivers along this segment are accustomed to the bike lane which is what makes this whole event all that much more startling.

“Would you recognize the kid if you saw him again?” Inquired the officer.

“Yes, I defintely could recognize him. He had reddish hair, no mask so I could see his face. He was 15-16 years old.” I replied.

“Yes, that’s consistent with other reports. Were you injured?” He wondered.

“No. The bottle missed me but it was certainly aimed at me. He emptied the water in close proximity to me and seemed like I was being splashed with extra water. It was as if I hit a branch on a tree that was heavy with water on its leaves. But I wasn’t near a tree. Then I saw the bottle and heard his laughing.” I explained.

“Hmm. Do you want to file a report in such a way that you have a case number?”

“No. I want you to know in the event that it happens again.” I continued.

“There have been other reports of a kid in a white hatchback who throws stuff at people walking or riding their bikes. We think he’s being picked up at school. That’s my beat, so I know.” The officer elaborated.

“Really?! Wow! I ride this all the time and this is a first, but I’ll keep an eye out.” I declared.

“Yes, and you have my number so if anything comes up don’t hesitate to let me know.”

After I hung up I felt like it was a small win for bikers. I also loved hearing the word “beat” in the conversation and I thought maybe he had one of those notebooks you jot down notes in like all the cop shows.

The next day, Friday, I took off like normal but when I got to the spot where the bottle was thrown I stopped for a moment to see if I got the cross street correct. Yes, it was 144th. Okay, good. Behold in front of me was the hatchback.

1 Adam 12

I took a few pics of it and called the officer and gave him a license plate. This is consistent with the other part of the story in which I heard the deliquents again on the other side of the street. I just couldn’t see since they probably passed as I was passing on the other side. They didn’t have school on Friday, but my school did, so I was out and about gathering evidence, I mean riding to school.

Overall, this was an interesting experience. The 4-1-1 on calling 3-1-1 is that you should do it. What’s the worst that can happen? You take a little bit of time to report an incident which could lead to helping out the next person. It’s important to the safety of others if you or someone else is harmed or threatened.

Be safe out there! Don’t let the dingdong heads keep you from enjoying the ride. As I mentioned before this incident was rare but it rattled me until I got it on the record and now I feel like I did my civic duty and maybe helped someone in the future. There’s strength in numbers and my dear readers and fellow bikers, we have to stick together.

Watch your 6 o’clock and get out there and ride.

-BG

Snow Much MORE Fun on a Bike

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Trek Stache 5 in her natural element: SNOW!

Woke up to snow and a late start at school. Then within an hour or less it became a full closure. This day brought to me by Mother Nature and I decided to go ride. I went out early and the neighborhood was quiet and chill. Literally! I watched a bunch of videos from this cool creative person on YouTube called AkubraBromptonGirl and that gave me the motivation I needed to make a video about my romp in the powder.

It was in the forecast but it was “frozen mix” not a full on blizzard! Anyway, it’s fun and I realized how much fun it was to just get out there and ride plus make a video about it.

April SNOW showers. Enjoy!

How’d I do? Is this video okay? I haven’t done one in a long time. They take so much more time than writing, but I do enjoy getting in there and making them. Would you like another about the awesome rain pants from @Showerspass?

Thanks to #Akubra for inspiring me to dive in and try.

Have a great day and get out there and ride!

Best,

Bike Goddess

Oh Sunny Day!

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Sellwood Bridge, Portland, Oregon

Spring Break is almost always a rainy mess where I live. I know I complain too much about the gray days but I admit that I love where I live and I can’t imagine life anywhere else. Spring Break usually means a week of Zwift rides. Today was the exeptional exception and I had a great 40-mile bike ride out to the Sellwood Bridge and back again.

As is often the case the day started out cold but the sun was up and at ‘em so I began to entertain the idea of a long ride while we were out to breakfast. I spent some time on Tuesday cleaning my bike fore and aft since there was encrusted bits of winter clinging to everything. Like a homeowner who knows exactly what stair creaks in the house, I knew my bike was overdue for some lube and general cleaning.

Shiny and bright.

I spent an hour or more deep cleaning and despite the fact that the rear derailer is still a bit greasier than it should be my bike looks brand new. Of course I went for a ride to show off and got caught in the rain. That was Tuesday and I only went 12 miles, but still, I was feeling exultant about my work. Also I’m only too happy to put on my new rain pants. I have to blog about my new Showers Pass Transit rain pants. They are the best ever! I mean they are a game changer!

After breakfast, an indulgence on trio of French toast, I decided to try for Sellwood. The reason this is a big deal is because I’ve only ridden out there a few times and it’s usually during the summer when the days are especially long and I can usually find someone to ride with me. On this occasion I just thought I’d go it alone. No big carved in marble plans, but the opportunity to try.

The first big news is that a land bridge that’s been under construction for the last several months reopened and it’s my direct route to the I-5 Bridge. What a primo upgrade! I mean it’s amazing to traverse this route now. The areas that were gutted and rutted are made smooth. Truly an Hallelujah sort of moment for me.

The Vancouver Land Bridge got a new surface. It’s bliss!

I did a couple of errands and then decided to go for it. By this time it was getting warmer and I was regretting wearing my puffy coat but it’s Portland and I could probably ride naked and no one would notice. I went through the Columbia Slough which was the perfect viewing deck for both Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood.

Columbia Slough (slew) with Mt. Hood in the distance.

Like many things I haven’t done in awhile I was trying to remember how I wanted to get into downtown Portland. There are many routes but which one did I want to use? I almost always take the Broadway Bridge but I wasn’t certain if I wanted to go that way. There are several homeless encampments and friends have said that some areas should be avoided. But as long as I don’t get a flat I’m good, so I figured I’d forge ahead and if my Spidey sense kicks in somewhere along the way then I’ll go another direction. I have nowhere to be today except in the moment with my Sunny Day.

Along the Springwater Trail.

Everything was perfect. I mean picture perfect. I rode and rode and rode some more. I thought about how seamless the routes and trails and roads connect and I felt thankful to live here and to have been here since the beginning of the bike boom. While I often listen to a book or music I didn’t do any of that today. I listened to the air, watched the birds and squirrels. I felt warmth of the sun and watched the light sparkle like glitter on the river. I heard the wheels on pavement and the hum of my perfectly lubed rear cassette and I felt like this has been the moment I was waiting for over the last two years. It felt ever so slightly normal. I went from Vancouver to downtown Portland and then over the Sellwood Bridge and then took the descent into Oaks Bottom and rode along the Springwater Trail and then over the Tilikum Bridge and back into the city and home again. Three hours and 15 minutes to do 40.97 miles.

Unless you’re worried that I’m living in some sort of Bike-topia, there was an incident with a car wherein the driver cut in front of me in pursuit of a parking space. The driver’s window was down so I yelled at her that that was a dangerous move. She sheepishly apologised and I yelled, “Well, that’s not good enough.” I could have used some stronger language, but she did seem sorry.

Tons of greenboxing in Portland. Yes, that’s my riding bunny.

Out to Sellwood is one of my favorite routes because it takes me along the Willamette Riviera (River) and it brings back scores of great memories of my adventures when I was a youngster in high school exploring the city. Back when I was just discovering how much I loved bicycling everywhere. There was nothing like the current network of paths but there are still some spots that remind me how far the city has come. How far I’ve come as well.

Path along the Willamette River.

This was the ride I didn’t know I needed. One of those great rides that remind you that you’re gonna be okay. That life is heartbreaking and yet you can still get on a bike and find a path and move forward. That’s a good day in the saddle.

The Tilikum Crossing Bridge open to the streetcar, bikes and peds.
The view from Fort Vancouver on my way home.

I didn’t go to Hawaii or someplace else for Spring Break. It’s not that I didn’t want to but I’m not ready for that sort of tourist travel yet. I was in Chicago recently not by choice but because my Uncle Harry passed away. I have more to say about that but this was the post that needed to be written today. It’s harder and harder to find our happy. Everything seems hard and it’s not like a bike where we can just shift and make something less difficult. I have two more days of Spring Break, then the weekend and then back to school. Today I had such a brilliant, beautiful ride that it was better than Hawaii.

Not better than Greece, but not much is.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I appreciate it! What’s a ride that makes you happy? Tell me in the comments.

Now go on. Get out there and ride.

Bike Goddess