Attitude of Gratitude

Featured

What a great 25 mile ride! I didn’t stop for much. No commute, just a nearly perfect 25 mile jaunt around. About 3 miles into my loop this tree stopped me. A tree right had fallen across the path. I went around. Thanksgiving Day, weather permitting I like to go for a pre-feasting ride because it’s often quiet and there’s sights and smells and sounds to take in. I never plan it, I go and see where the mood takes me.

I am thankful for the time to reflect on life. In my mind, I roll in and out of memories of this holiday in the past and how happy it makes me to recall my grandparents, parents and cousins. It’s not what is was. Every year seems more and more removed from those ol’ days and that’s okay. I’m still thankful for the memories and they make me who I am. I’m thankful for another day. Another mile.

The fact of the matter is that there are always trees and brush and obstacles in our path. We have to be thankful for the obstacles too because they help us think and problem solve and consider options. You can’t have one without the other.

Thanks for being out there. Thanks for reading and riding and living life.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Bike Goddess

Ghosting

Aside

Finding some hope.

Rumors of ghosting my readers are false. As terms go it seems that “ghosting” is new. In the essence of full disclosure, ghosting means is to abruptly cut off contact with someone without giving that person any warning or explanation for doing so. I didn’t mean to fall into the well of silence. However the way I understand it, ghosting also means there’s another step. Even when the person being ghosted reaches out to re-initiate contact or gain closure, they’re met with silence. I hope that is not the case readers, so let me assure you that I am still here and all is well. As I was drifting off to sleep last night I starting feeling ever hopeful again. I thought of the beautiful Emily Dickinson poem which is often cited as a quote, but it’s actually a poem:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)

BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

All that to say that each day I gain the tiniest bit more hopeful. Like taking a deep breath and feeling like I will rise. It has been a challenging time to be an educator. The demands at work have been like a headwind in my soul. Each day more daunting that the last and I wish I wasn’t such a pond of exhaustion at the end of my work day. 

I wish I could eek out a sentence of two in the evening instead of spending another hour or more getting lessons, the school news or whatever ready for the next day. Yet, it’s not only that part. As an on-the-side blogger I am always trying to figure out when to write and how much and how personal and on and on. There’s always a siege of self doubt and second guessing about my writing. While I have been writing in the last several week it has been negative and I don’t want that out there. It’s easier to be hopeful and optimistic when you’re rested, fed and feeling satisfied with yourself.

I wish I could plan and execute my ideas and not be so ready to excuse my lack of writing with the aforementioned exhaustion and criticism.

I wish I was the type of person that didn’t need to be perfectish at work and could somehow hold back enough of the essence of moi to spend on what I want to do later in the day, week, month. 

I wish I could shift into a personal gear that would allow me to be more me for myself than for others. 

Wishes become realities when you do the work and figure out how to make the time and track stand in your own lane waiting for the light to turn and you take off, ready to fly.

Now Albert Einstein had a good quote about that, “Learn from yesterday, live for today.” I don’t want to ghost you, or myself. I want to be present and start hearing that little bird again and I make my way through another Gale.

How are you doing? Tell me in the comments.

Racing A Roadie

Featured

Roadie Dude

I wish I was a primo athlete who cared about racing with others, but the fact of the matter is that even if I cared (which I sort of do) I am not that type of cyclist. I learned that fact early. Last week on my regular commute to school I was in my zone listening to a book and a roadie came up on my left and started to pass me. Now keep in mind that I ride 11.2 miles to work and about 12 miles back home in the afternoon with a rambunctious day of working with middle school students in between so I’m pretty much tuckered out by dinner time. Being a teacher means you are active. Maybe some have some time to sit, but I rarely do. Teaching is a workout!

Back to the roadie who dared to pass me. He was in full roadie regalia and I saw him off to my left as I was scanning the streets and taking in the sparkling sunshine. He said, “I decided I probably shouldn’t be pacing off you. So I’ll just pass.” Suit yourself, I thought.

I turned my audiobook off and decided to engage. I launched into conversation, keeping pace with him side by side. He’s likely in his mid to late 40s and he used to race. I’ve never met a roadie who didn’t claim that they used to race. I usually say that I prefer touring to racing, but again there’s very rarely a follow up question about what sort of touring I have done. He says, “I’ve always thought of eBikes as cheating but I can see and hear that you’re working.” Good thing my glasses are tinted because I was rolling my eyes! I was carrying the conversation, so yeah, I was talking and keeping his pace of 19-22 mph in first level of assist on my Specialized Como Turbo eBike. I’m pretty sure I could have kept pace with the electric juice anyway, but I might not have stayed with him for 5 miles. Maybe. But maybe he couldn’t have either.

I was having a blast. But consider this if you will. I am not an athlete. I don’t claim to be athletic or even sporty. I am lucky to keep my weight in check and ride a bike. I have bike commuted for over 20 years. I am average height and weight and I work at eating my salads and not overdoing it on anything. I think even if hired a trainer and worked on speed and climbing and time trials I’d still only manage to be a roadie who could crank it out at 12-15 mph. I don’t have speedy legs. I don’t care about being fast. I do care about getting on my bike everyday and riding my rides and my routes and being in my bike-ish element. End of story. Also, I ride an eBike for commuting, errands and whatever else I want to do but that doesn’t mean I ONLY ride eBikes. I love all my bikes and I ride non-ebikes as much if not more than eBikes. Also it’s assist, not a freakin’ motorcycle or a mo-ped or a scooter. Good grief, people are weird about eBikes and honestly I think it’s bizarre and narrow-minded. Is a carbon fiber frame cheating? Is electric shifting somehow cheating? What about people who drive less than 5 miles? Should we shame them? I mean why didn’t they walk the mile to the store instead of drive? I digress!

He’s a fair-weather cyclist who likes to put in some miles before he goes to work and even though he raced when he was younger it’s hard to get in the miles now. He has had a few different brands of bikes and one of his favorite bikes was a Specialized he had in the 90s. He asked some questions about types of eBikes and he said he was interested in trying it out because clearly you could as I demonstrated get a good workout with one. Plus it could replace a car. I was pleased to hear him say something supportive.

As we got to the part of the conversation that was more, “Well, it was nice talking with you…” I told him to ride like he would normally and I’d pace him. Now whether he was showing off or not, I don’t know, but I paced him at 24.4 for about a mile and then he decided to make a left turn and we waved good-bye.

We like our categories, containers and levels don’t we? I wish we weren’t like that. Bikes are bikes and you should take care of them so they can take care of you. Bikes are transportation and exercise and touring and racing and cargo movers and carts and anything else you need them to be. If you see a person with a certain type of bike you assume things about them. I’ve see more than my fair share of roadies who didn’t look like roadies and I know I don’t look like much of a biker but let’s not let that get in the way of us riding our bikes. Just ride your bike!

Whatever your ride, enjoy it and don’t let anyone give you a flat tire of attitude about how, where, how far or what you ride. Just be you. Get out there and ride your bike and throw a wave along the way because that’s always encouraging.

Take care out there! How do you feel about other riders or bike or interacting with riders you meet on the way?

Thanks for reading.

Bike Goddess

Are We There Yet?

Featured

Remember when…

The classic line uttered by so many of us. We were kids and wanted to get there so we didn’t have to share the backseat or snacks or play stupid car games. As an only child I had none of those issues. I loved having reign over the backseat and sprawling out with my books, workbooks and assorted distractions. But I do recall watching the signs along the way to signal we were getting close to being there.

Truth told, last summer was a different story completely. We were really alone. A few weeks ago I was out there riding my bike and a group of riders heading to one of the local Pedalpalooza rides asked me to join in. Now these are amazing rides with themes like Goth Bike Ride and Dead Baby Prom and Disco Ride plus so many more. I want to ride them all. But there’s something that tugs at me and says, “Nope, not for you. Not yet.” I waved them on and thought, I can’t. Thanks, but I’m not there yet. You might be there, but I am not there. Yet.

Where? You know. There. There is the place where you can be on a bike ride with others and not be consumed with doubt about their health or Covid-19 variants. There is trusting them to tell the truth about being vaccinated. There is not feeling compelled to ask for their vaccination card. There is when you can laugh freely at a joke without wondering about the germs scattered and if you just back up a bit to be safe.

I’m not there. I’m a small group person and the small group is part of a bubble that I do know and trust without question.

Lighthouses are socially distanced. Photo from a recent trip to the Puget Sound.

I know others who aren’t either so I take solace in the fact that I’m not alone in being cautious about being with others. Plus at this point I’m totally enjoying getting lost in my own thoughts or getting lost on a new route. My alone-time will continue.

There is the place and time before it all caved in. Before we all went into our respective caves and stayed apart. Many people have endured more than I can comprehend. If the mask and a vaccine is the least I can do to help others, then sign me up. I was talking with a man who lost his job because of the pandemic. My glass in half full. I’m grateful I have my job. I’m thankful my family and friend are well. I’m grateful for the couple of trips I was able to take this summer. It’s all good in my book.

In Chicago people were masked on the street and inside businesses. However, in the Puget Sound area when I went into a little beach shack on Boston Harbor I saw only two others who were masked and the majority were not. That Includes the cashiers. I couldn’t take it. I was extremely uncomfortable at the sight. I had to get out of there. It’s an anxiety that I’m not familiar with until now. I wanted to exclaim, “You might be there, but I am not there yet, so stop staring. I am a card carrying recipient of the vaccine and I am going to continue to wear a $%&! mask. Deal with it.”

The reality is that I may not be there for quite awhile. I miss the community of riders chatting it up and swapping stories, but not enough to risk my health and the health of others.

Are we there yet? The classic question is part of being a kid and learning how to annoy your parents with such skill that you ask the question often enough that you ultimately get the response, “NO! And stop asking!”

Riding with a friend.

Whether you are there or not is not the point of this blog post. It’s merely to suggest that we respect each other enough to say, “I’m there for you when you feel like riding together again.”

That’s sweet.

Random sunset on the Puget Sound at Boston Harbor.

Thanks for reading my blog. You have no idea how motivating it is when someone clicks that STAR and LIKES a post. It makes me what to vault through the air like Simone Biles. Thanks for being here and there and supporting this little blog. You have yourself a great day and get out there and ride your bike.

Ride on!
Bike Goddess

BrompTuesday

Aside

Have Brompton, can go anywhere!

How many miles does it take for you to know you have the right bike? I was thinking about that today when I took the adorable Brompton out for a ride. I always figured she’d be *just* the travel bike, but that’s silly because she’s such a wonder of engineering and she rides like a goat eats grass. She’s efficient and sturdy and she can go places other bikes can’t. I have hit the mark where my Brompton, (I call her Katniss) has 200 miles and I’m thrilled I have this marvel of a bike.

It took less than 200 miles to discover her talents. Today she seemed to be calling to me to take her on a trail not too far from my home. It’s wooded and rife with nooks and crannies that are fun to explore. It follows a creek and there are a few bridges to cross and it’s enchanting because there are grasslands and glens and city neighborhoods all around you.

Grasslands and glens abound on the Burnt Bridge Trail.

With its low center of gravity I feel nimble and quick on my Brompton, like Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance on wheels. I didn’t think I’d go on the trail today. I was riding around and then I went down a hill and knew I was close to the trail so I meandered about like I was looking for my glasses in the dark and found an entrance I’ve never used before. A little more and a bit more still and then I was on the trail and I kept going. The bike felt amazing. The ride felt solid and commanding. Note that I ditched both the saddle it came with and the Brooks Cambium for a Specialized saddle and all is well in the nether regions. I say this because saddles always need a few more miles of testing than bike frames require. Sometimes you have to try a few to find the right fit for your tushie. Here’s a link to the one I really like right now. The picture makes it look rather wide yet notice it on my bike. I love this one and have put this saddle on three bikes.

This is the right saddle for some BUT, not for me. I’ve had it for years but still my bum doesn’t love it.

Recently I had the rear rack added plus bigger wheels on the rack for when I take her into a store. At 200 miles I feel like my Bromptie is ready for anything. I do have a few bikes in my life because I love bikes and cycling. I don’t want to limit the Brompton to travel only so I was riding and wondering about commuting to work with my Brompton. People do it. I don’t know about that yet because I haven’t tried it. I hear people travel the world with their Bromptons and while I can’t do that quite yet I can say that she’s capable of any trips, even if it’s to the store or work.

New rack and wheels on the rack.

I’m happy to have a Brompton in the fleet and I’d tell anyone who’s thinking of getting one to do so. They are spectacular machines that deliver a great ride.

Katniss Everbike with a view.

Thanks for reading and following my blog. My bikes and I appreciate it. Have you ever tried a foldy bike? What did you think of it? If you have any questions please post them in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. I’m new but I’m loving the Brompton ways.

The 411 on The 606

Aside

Welcome, indeed!

If you’re looking for urban perfection then follow the trail to the 606. It’s an oasis for cyclists, runners, walkers, dogs, cats, birds, you get the gist. When I got my introduction, I thought, “Is this heaven?” The response, “It’s Chicago!”

My affinity for Chi-town, the Windy City, Second City, started at birth. My mother’s side of the family hails from Chicago. When we would visit nearly every other weekend I loved the tuk, tuk, tuk of the L, and I adored how when I stayed with my grandparents, we’d walk everywhere. Mostly to get bubble-gum ice cream outside the Sears Robuck. My Yiayia (Greek for grandmother) would hold my hand and we walk slow and steady so I could drink in the sights and sounds.

This post isn’t about the Memory Trail though, it’s about the 606, a.k.a. The Bloomingdale Trail. If you use Trail Link I’ve linked the map. At 2.7 miles you might think, “Meh, what’s the big deal?” Yes, it’s short in length but long in personality, character, art, landscape and history. It’s elevated too. Read that bit again. It’s elevated. Like heaven.

The eyes have it all and this ingenius art installation called Bird Watching by #JennyKendler from 2018 is stupendous. There are 100 photographs of birds’ eyes watching and each bird is named on a placard labeling the installation. I spent about 20 minutes studying it all and watching families interact with it. Pure joy!

I’m glowing!

As I was riding I couldn’t help but think that this trail is one of my new happy places. I’ve uncovered a secret. My cousin’s hubby told me about it and while he’s not a cyclist, he is a train guy. He’s an expert on all things rail and when he first told me about it I started to research it on Trail Link and then I wondered how I would ride to the trail. This is often a challenge when you hear about a possible trail and you’re lost when it comes to navigating easily to the trail.

Cool mural on the way to the trail.

It’s easy enough to get to if you’re staying/visiting/living in the Lakeview East area. I had some directions from him which I checked with the Maps App and Google Maps and it worked out pretty well. There were a few busy stretches but I don’t recall a street that didn’t have a bike lane. There’s a small portion on Cortland that could use some paving but all in all I arrived in under 20 minutes and then spent a few hours exploring the the 606.

14 feet wide with plenty of room to stop or pass.

It’s on Chicago’s northwest side and it’s built on an old rail line, hence the elevated bit. It sits about 20 feet above four of the city’s neighborhoods: Humbolt Park, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Bucktown. You get a distinct feeling that you are one with the world as you traverse effortlessly atop the city as if you are a rare bird trying to decide where to build a nest.

You can easily use ramps to get down into the neighborhood for a closer look at murals you can see from the 606.

On your left a mural and on your right an art installment then oh is that another mural and wait a statue and on and on for nearly 3 miles. The perfectly paved trail is 14 feet wide so there’s plenty of room for everyone. It wasn’t crowded and I had plenty of room even whilst people were walking with double strollers, big dogs, little dogs and inline skaters.

A feast for all the senses.

I regretted every picture I didn’t take, so I tried to take many pictures, but it’s hard to capture it all. There was a point when I was riding and these exquisite blossoms were waving at me and I felt like I was being caressed even visually massaged by the color orange. My senses were like fireworks on the 4th of July.

Orange you glad you’re learning about the 606?
I neglected to bring my handlebar mount but I did manage to get a little video of the trail. The flowers.

Chicago has an impressive trail system. According to Trail Link there are more than 200 miles of on-street protected, buffered and shared bike lanes. The 19-mile Lakefront Trail is possibly the most well known, and the 606 is worth exploring. Chicago is a great place for cyclists. Why is it called the 606? That’s the first three numbers of the zip code and the areas it goes through. The 606 is just one more reason to love Chicago. The 606 is worth riding again and again and in different seasons. Oh, there’s an idea! Yes, dear reader, I will return to the 606 and next time I write about it I’ll include more video.

Katniss Everbike (mentioned in the previous post) did a great job. #mybrompton

Can a trail be inspiring? Can a trail infuse you with enthusiasm? I think so. The 606 is inspiring. Well done, Chicago!

How about you? What trails have stayed in your memory. Share a trail you love. Thanks for reading. Get out there and ride your bike!

Bike Goddess

It’s A Bromptime!

Aside

They look like clown bikes if you ask me. Honestly they do. How can they possibly even BE bikes that you could actually ride for more than a few miles! Bromptons are like a praying mantis with wheels or a pterodactyl that mated with a pennyfarthing. Yet, they are the most elegant, feisty and dynamic wee bike machines I’ve ever had the privilege of riding. They’re truly a marvel.

It started as a conversation with my husband who has a Brompton he bought a few years back. I thought I’d see if he’d let me borrow his for a trip to Chicago. Poor Bromptosaurus (as we named it) was just folded up in the garage and I thought I could coax him into letting me borrow his for the trip. But my plan backfired when he decided he’d like to get back into riding it.

We went to the bike shop to check on a used carrying case for the Bromptosauras and ended up buying a bike for me. Yeah, it all happened so fast and color played a big part in the whole story. We tinkered with the case and getting his bike inside properly and there was this used red one that I took for a test ride and one thing led to another and suddenly I was taking a test ride on an orange beauty that reminded me of Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games because the orange flame lacquer was shining bright and it felt like I was on a chariot with flames coming off the rear wheels. I have a very healthy imagination. Find me and #KatnissEverbike adventures on Instagram. Next thing I know, Clever Cycles has my credit card and I’m considering accessories and of course bike bags.

Katniss has a straight handlebar and all she needed was a dynamo light system and then Brompto and Katniss could be canoodling Brompties and the whole household could be happy.

New Bike Day with Katniss Everbike: June 6, 2021

Size matters when it comes to traveling with a bike. On a Brompton, it’s three folds and a pedal and with origami engineering it feels compact and creative. Such an engineering genius. Since new bike day Katniss and I have been to Chicago by train and then back home via plane and then I got a “special bag” from Ikea called Dimpa that’s a solid investment at $5 for traveling with your Brompton via car so we went on a short road trip with our bikes in the boot.

My S6L in flame lacquer.
The Dimpa bag from Ikea is $4.99 and an easy way to pack up a Brompton for a road trip.

I’m enjoying a new lease on life with a bike that acts like a Yorkshire Terrier. It’s small, compact and ready to go, go, go. All bikes come with energy, and the Brompton seems to have an unbridled energy that begs you to get into places you might not go with a regular bike. You can take your bike inside a store or restaurant with you. With 6 gears you’d think you were on a short leash, but quite frankly I feel free and ready to ride off into any sunset, anywhere.

This is the kickstand fold. The sculpture is called The Kiss.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You can rent a whole lot of a bikes for what it costs to buy a Brompton. Yes, but… I have and I’m sort of done with that drama. Also, I’ve done that for more than a decade. This gives me more freedom to get out into the world and explore and travel.

I happened to meet a bike mechanic at the Specialized Store on Halstad in Chicago who used to work at Brompton. He said he loved Bromptons and he especially loved the people who rode them. “They’re cool people,” he added. I might have beamed a bit when he said that. I sure feel cool when I’m riding. They have a BMX sort of vibe. People do look at you a bit but and sometimes they ask questions about how Brompties ride. When you’re fluent in bike all that matters is that you’re enjoying the ride and experiencing the place where you’re riding. That’s all part of the adventure.

Bromptosaurus and Katniss in Chicago.

Do you travel with your bike? Tell me about it in the comments.

Until next time, get out there and ride your bike.

Stay safe,

Bike Goddess

Chicago near Buckingham Fountain