In my city we average 42 inches of rain per year, which is four inches above the U.S. average. Spain gets like 25 inches of rain annually, so clearly spring has been a soggy mess on the plains and dales and mountains and everywhere in my area. There’s a fatique that comes with that much rain. A hopelessness that it will never be sunny again or that you may never, ever see the blue sky unless you leave and go to another city perhaps in Spain.
Today marks the last day of my Spring Break. My expectations for this vacation are always extremely low. Some people can rally and book a trip someplace like Las Vegas or Los Angeles or Paris, but I don’t like week long trips to places overseas. I’ve been to L.A. and Vegas doesn’t interest me and I mean a week is not long enough. I like to set up camp and get to know a place. But more than that, but most importantly I don’t have the energy. Summer is around the corner and experience has taught me that it’s better to rest and. find my life again.
Monday we took our sailboat to the boat yard for some work. I wasn’t going to join my husband onboard because there was rain in the forecast and my friends, the only thing worse that being on a bike in the pouring rain is being on a sailboat under the same conditions. But the skies, while menacing didn’t rain. They glowered and grayed and clouded and scowled but then there was a break and I saw some blue and I found myself forgiving the great Northwest rain gods for their moods.
We even saw seals. I do not know much about smelt but the numbers are high this year (or so said everyone upon learning that we saw seals) and for the first time the seals are abundant on the Columbia River. It was amazing to behold.
What I assumed would be a terrible weather day turned out spectacular. The seals and the break in the rain and seeing the sky was like finding a hundred dollar bill. It reminded me that even with all the prognostications and apps that in-between the storms and gloom there is such beauty. Now it might not happen again for another 40 days but I took photos and video to record the moment.
That’s at the heart of any vacation too. You leave or vacate your life and routine and go do something, somewhere else and come back refreshed and ready to take on the next thing in the routine. Back in January I was contemplating a trip to Nice, France. Ticket prices were good and I was starting to consider an itinerary, and yet, I knew that it wouldn’t work. Realistically I knew I’d feel like I do during most spring breaks, exhausted, enervated and weary.
But I know that on the other side of those clouds there’s a blue sky trying to break through. I know that as I move into the downhill portion of the school year I’ll think of those seals out there on the river doing their thing and barking at the boats and I’ll know I saw them and for a moment I forgot about everything else and that was wild abandon.
Happy Easter to you if you celebrate and happy, dry trails ahead. Although I think for me that will be in July.
We had Monday off for Presidents Day and so Tuesday felt like Monday and it was the beginning of the work week so I take off on my morning commute and I’m about 2 miles from my house near the church with the substantial parking lot. As I crossed the busy intersection it sounds like a small train is behind me and of course I have a flat. I stop at the church which is weirdly THE PLACE where my last two flats have been and I call my husband who thankfully comes to my rescue to deliver me to school to still be early. He also trasports my bike to the shop to have the flat fixed and get the liners to help with this in the future.
It was a construction staple that took us down. I hate those things. How can something so small be so hideous and flatten an otherwise perfect morning? This is why people don’t ride or want to ride. They hate flats and they are terrified they will be helpless by the side of the road in a church parking lot waiting for help. Plus it’s a staple and those are supposed to bind, to keep things together and yet the irony is that it punctured my beautiful nubby tires and pierced the tube so much that it will need to be replaced. I have had so many flats over the years and it’s always the same story. Some little thing topples the plan. I’ve fixed some but mostly I prefer a mechanic to do it becuase they are fast and far more adept at it.
I should have taken the side road I chide myself. I wanted to but I thought since the roads were a tad icy that maybe I should stay on the main drag and this is the thanks I get. By the time my husband gets to me I am as deflated as my tire but I’m also feeling like the day is doomed.
By the time you are 2 miles into a ride, you’re IN! The cold air is bracing and yet you are out there doing it and feeling all the feels and I’m listening to a new book and all is well with my soul as the spiritual hymn says.
I see our little red electric mini turn into the parking lot and we load my bike on the rack. We are quiet on the drive just thinking about what needs to get done and still sort of waking up and considering more coffee but don’t want to take the time to stop. How do I not have protective tire liners and how can such a small staple kill my tire? I’ll get to school still early enough that no one would know my drama. I’m pondering the list of things I need to do to pump up my morning, but all in all, the tire is what’s on my mind. The tire and the concept behind a spare because this is my second tire incident in the new year.
About two weeks ago a colleague of mine and I were heading north to Olympia, Washington, the State capitol to testify and meet with legislators about some House and Senate bills. It’s called Legislative Day and it’s such a great experience. This is the second time I’ve participated. It’s invogorating to meet with representitives and senators about what concerns you and how you want them to vote on bills.
But on the car ride we both had a first time experience with car tires. CARS! She was driving and it sounded like a train was behind us. The freeway does run parallel to the tracks but the sound was deafening. It was as if the train was tailgating us. Do you have a flat? What does a flat on a car even sound like I remember thinking. The thumping, rock tumbler, gravel grating was a roar I’ve never heard before. I am old and I have never experienced a car flat. I don’t know anything about car tires except that they use the Schrader valve (same as some bikes).
I checked the passenger side mirror and no, it was not a flat on that side of the vehicle. It was the driver side.
Now, we’re both librarians and we know things but this is not an area of expertise for either of us. We’re bookish women, who are teachers and feminists and we do it ourselves but we don’t know how. We could get a YouTube video, but there’s the whol jack thing, right? Where does that even go? We’ve never been here before so maybe we do need some assistance. She checks on the spare and I head into the quickie mart to see if someone could talk us through it. Just before I open the doors there’s a woman putting oil in her engine and we catch eachother’s eye.
Hey, would you be willing to help a couple of library women learn how to change a car tire. Sure she says as if it’s really is all an adventure. I’d love to! Wow, I think, we’ve hit the lottery! Her name is Candace and she drives a truck and she helps us with the jack which frankly looks like it couldn’t lift a 4th grader let alone a 5000 pound SUV.
Typically cyclists don’t have a spare tire in the same way you do on a car. Just sitting back there in the boot waiting for it’s occasion of glory. The moment the understudy in the theater of transportation comes onstage to take its turn. Having a patch kit, or a spare tube or CO2 or a packable, yet highly rated pump to save the day isn’t even close, really.
NASCAR called and they want us for a pit crew. Candace did most of the work but we helped by giving her some great new book titles to read. I marveled at how fast and efficient the process was versus changing a bike tire. Put side by side I wonder which would take longer and I still think changing, patching or in any way dealing with a bike tire takes more time.
You can triple check your tires (either bike or car) and you can always have patch kits and all the accoutrement for dealing with flats but they still happen and they require time to change and adjust. Like the spare on the car felt weird and wobbly to the driver. But the spare is temporary until a new proper tire can be installed.
Then of course that all leads me to thinking about Prince Harry and being a spare king (recent royal memoir) riding along never knowing when your moment to come out of the boot and into the spotlight will come. You can’t overthink stuff like that though because otherwise you’ll never get on the road of life and ride. I guess the lesson is to keep learning and growing and recognize that staples and screws are part of the path we’re all on and it’s good to have people in the pit ready to help us out and get us back on the road.
Thank YOU dear readers for being out there and sharing in my somewhat off the beaten track adventures. I love your Likes and it’s nice to know that out there someone gets me.
The sky looks like Milk of Magnesia and I’m not impressed with the forecast for the day. Not raining does not mean sun. There isn’t rain today but I did experience a brief misting. There is snow in the forecast for Wednesday, but for now it’s just dull.
I won’t say how stunned I am about how quickly this month is passing. I won’t drone on about the fickleness of the weather. I won’t invoke the various frustrations I’m having with the morning temperatures which hover in the high 20s and only climb to the mid 30s. I’ll reject the notion that spring is in the air, because it’s not. The gardening shops are putting out the pansies and it’s all I can do to resist the urge to buy them to brighten up the yard, but the fact is that there’s still frost on the roads and rooftops in the morning and I’m going to stay firm in my commitment to waiting. I’m here to announce that I’m trying to keep a steady cadence in life and I’m overjoyed that Monday is a holiday.
Holly Berry, my newest bike, is simply lovely and I enjoy taking her on rides she hasn’t been on yet. Today we went to the waterfront and looked at how the Milk of Magnesia sky met the gunmetal gray of the Columbia River and I enjoyed looking at her candy apple red frame against the backdrop of winter dull. She’s gleeful in a sea of dullness.
Last week I decided to ride in spite of the weather. I didn’t care if it was icy, I was going to give it a go and commute anyway. We had a late start on Tuesday because there was a bit of a dusting of snow at higher elevations but since school started 2 hours later I figured it would be okay. I’m glad I did so at least I have a sense of what it looks like when I ride in those conditions but I don’t know if I would do that again. Probably I would but I hopped up onto the sidewalk at several points on my commute since the bike paths were icy.
Why do you do it? People ask me that all the time. They cite various issues, like safety and time and of course the unpredictable weather. I guess I do it because it’s beautiful to see how nature works and behold with my own eyes how spectacular it all is. That and bragging rights! There are things about commuting that people often say seem dull. I don’t really get that because I can’t fathom commuting by car. While it is a challenge some days to get in gear and ride, I’d much prefer that to the alternative. I get to witness the sunrise and sunset and the birds and the blooming of everything. It’s like having a front row seat to a performance and sometimes it’s beyond awesome.
Winter is long and cold and sometimes it feels like it will never be over. I often remind myself in a commute that the seasons will change and to settle in and enjoy the moment I’m in. It’s not easy but when you breathe in that cold air and open your eyes wide you can see that it’s pretty special to just be in it all.
Wherever you are in the world and with whatever the season, I hope you’re doing well and enjoying the ride.
Thanks for reading! Get out there and ride your bike
On this MLK National Day of Service I want to share something. One of Dr. King’s lesser known speeches called The Drum Major Instinct in one in which he talks about how “anybody can be great because anybody can serve.” It’s one of my favorites because it’s about greatness and yet how ultimately we find that quality when we help others.
In this speech, Dr King says,
“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”
Back in 2021, on MLK Day I wanted to do something. I wanted to get my hands dirty and dig into something that was akin to going to church, but not church exactly. I wanted to worship with like-minded people and help out in some small way. All my other days are spoken for and Sunday was often treated like prep work for Monday, so I wanted to change that and in the process do some good. I wanted to serve something, somehow, somewhere. I heard the call and I had been hearing it for sometime, but I dismissed it because I figured I was already doing what I could. I worked hard and I did extra things at school so I was covered.
But was I? Something was missing. I felt like I wanted to be doing more of something else but I wasn’t sure what that meant. A friend of mine volunteered for Make A Wish Foundation but that was a long time ago and that wasn’t quite the right fit. Then another friend said I should just donate money to a cause or buy more stuff for school. Again, great but like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, that wasn’t the right fit.
As is often the way I start sentences, I was out riding my bike and I saw a shop. It said BIKE SHOP and it was in the Burgerville Headquarters on Main Street. I was on the other side of the street, checked my rear view and swerved over and went inside. What is this? How is this here and I didn’t know? I walked around and found a hat, and some spoke reflectors and then at the counter they had a sign up sheet for volunteers.
Why, yes, this is it! On this day, or weekend, in 2021 I started to volunteer at a nonprofit called Bike Clark County. On the first day, I knew this was it. This was my place. Bike Clark County is my Sunday Service and when I ride my bike 3 miles to the shop every Sunday the church bells chime at the Catholic Church and roll in and get ready to do my thing. My heart always expands when I hear the bells. Something opens up inside my heart and I feel like I’m complete. There’s Paul, Ryan, Benjamin and Eisa. We are the Sunday crew. Sometimes Ed comes in and he volunteers by working on bikes whereas I’m usually arranging and rearranging and talking with customers. I help with displays and sorting and greeting one and all. Sometimes I put air in tires, sometimes I share my commuting opinions, sometimes I decorate, I greet pups and people alike. I get to go through the donated items and see what we can rescue from the landfill. I love it when Ryan gives me bike bits to organize. I love it all. The time goes by in the blink of an eye and we say our good-byes until next Sunday.
Volunteering means that you “freely offer to do something” and let’s be honest, I’m not completing college applications or trying to prove anything. I heard the call for help and I am happy I answered it and thrilled that I’m starting my third year. I look forward to a time when I can fix someone’s flat quickly and confidently. I am greedy for a time when I can find things with the swiftness and ease of finding a book in the library. I can’t wait to have a suggestion that people go, “Yeah, that!” But it’s also okay if I just do what I’m doing because it’s helping them.
A commitment to volunteering is not easy. When you’re volunteering you have to consider that you’re giving up time doing one thing to do another. I wasn’t sure if I could keep it up because maybe the work week would be too much and I’d want time to rest on Sunday or maybe they wouldn’t like me (naw, that’s not it), or maybe I just wouldn’t be good at it. Almost instantly I started to do their social media posts on Instagram and Facebook. I would like to do more mechanical things, but right now I’m happy to be there and happy to serve in my tiny way.
Plus, it’s bikes and people and occasionally dogs and it’s always amazing! Volunteering intentionally like this is newish to me. What is your experience? I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading my blog post. If you found some value to it, please give it a like and then get out there and ride.
The best part of my day usually involves a bike ride. It’s the gift I give myself. It’s the chunk of time combined with moment after moment where I feel my heart beating and my legs pumping and I take in the beauty of nature and I think wow, I love doing this. I feel like my universe expands exponentially, and I know in my bones that whatever the problem du jour or the angstyness of fill-in-the-blank, it is all going to be okay because the cadence of life is just that, the revolutions of pedals, the ups and the downs and the movement of riding.
That’s even the case on Boxing Day when after two days of Zwifting indoors because the freezing temps forced me inside. It has been in the low 20s and today we are experiencing a heatwave in the 40s. My weather app (y’know Dark Sky was purchased by Apple) says that rain is coming and the radar is showing light to moderate waves of precipation for the next hour (or more). Right after coffee and some breakfast, I suited up in my rain gear (Thanks, Showers Pass) and layers of merino to see if I can get in a ride. It was not raining when I took off, but I put on my rain pants because things can change.
Glorious! I saw people out walking and running. Some were out with their kids or pets. I didn’t see any other cyclists but still people were out. We waved and said our hellos and kept going, enjoying the warmer air and feeling good.
There are still some patches of ice, but nothing treacherous or dangerous. The rain will likely wash it all away. The pools of water did make me wish I’d selected my rainboots over my waterproof(ish) shoes. The plan when I was getting ready, was a quick spin. I was thinking 30-40 minutes. However, I couldn’t stop. My brakes are fine and everything was working on my machine. I just couldn’t stop. It felt wonderful to just pedal on and on. I didn’t have a book or podcast playing in my ears. It was amazing to be a part of nature unfolding. I turned left here and right there and then let myself be lured by some mysterious decorations ahead and I got some pics of my bike with some holiday yard decorations and I kept going paying no mind to where.
This bike, I call her Holly Berry, (she has an Instagram account called @hollyberrybike) is new. I’m still figuring out how cadence and radar works but I did dial in some details with the level of assist I want and how to reset trip distance and riding time, so that’s progress. I also experimented with her grippy tires. I am able to fully stop in slushy road spots and thanks to that belt drive she looks pristine even after a splashing about in puddles. We logged 16 miles today and looked good doing it. Holly more than me.
Glad ridings indeed! 16 miles just riding about. No destination in mind. Nothing planned. Not even a grocery stop. Just riding.
When I pulled into the driveway after about an hour and a half, I was pleased. My shoes were soaked and my socks were sponges but still I was giddy. What a great ride! According to the weather app, we should have about two inches of rain today. I’m glad I seized the moment and got in a great ride.
Often my rides are purpose oriented. Getting to work or doing errands are a part of the ride. Getting in a ride just to ride is magic. I strongly recommend it.
I believe in gratitude all year long, but it’s nice that on Thanksgiving we all have the opportunity to take time out to take stock and count our blessings and acknowledge our appreciation. I remember the hymm from vacation bible school back when I was a youngster. “Count your blessings one by one and you’ll be surprised by what the Lord has done.” Religious or not, the general consensus of any belief or religion is to focus on the blessings and not the problems. There’s a hymm Great Is Thy Faithfulness, which was one of my dad’s favorite hymms. There’s a line, “Morning by morning new mercies I see…” and over time I have adapted the lines, Great is my thankfulness! Great is my thankfulness! Morning by morning new blessings I see.”
Every day I am grateful to get up and ride. As I get older and hear from friends and family about various aches, pains and afflictions, I am happy that I can get out of bed and get myself dressed and ready to ride on. I’m joyous about it.
I’m grateful I have such wonderful memories of my family. In the face of losing my dad in 2019 I can say unequivically that he has left me with such a catalog of memories and they are all funny, or silly and almost always put a smile on my face even if a moment later I’m thinking about how much I miss him and suddenly I’m bawling, but I’m grateful for the 57 years we had together. I’m always greedy for more, however, I’m coming to terms with the reality that grieving is as much a part of life as breathing. There’s a reason the Greeks have the comedy/tragedy faces side by side.
There’s gratitude in the routines because the beauty of the mundane is not something to take lightly. Look up synonyms for the word “mundane” and you’ll see banal, day-to-day, everyday, humdrum and normal! When things are just as they are, that’s not bad. I mean if you want some sort of change in your life, that’s something else entirely, but I’m talking about the day-to-day tasks. Normal. No flats, no weird squeaks or clinks, no fires or atmospheric systems to keep me from riding, no drama, just pedal onwards. That’s sort of a metaphor. I love those moments of balance on a bike when I realize I’ve learned how to balance and my cadence is perfect and I feel like the star ballerina with the New York City Ballet. Normal is good.
This will sound cheesy, but I’m grateful for you right now reading this blog post. I love blogging and making videos and putting it out there. I struggle with wanting to do more but feeling too exhausted to do more but then someone Likes a post or makes a comment and I’m thrilled. I appreciate that there’s someone out there spending a moment with me.
I’m grateful for the journey. I’m grateful to get out there and ride! The ride anywhere at any time, always focuses my attention on what’s most important. The present.
Thank you for reading. I wish your a good day doing whatever and eating whatever. Thanks for being here. I am grateful. 😊
Red is a great color for a bike or a car or a cape. I have wanted a red bike since I was grew out of my red tricycle. I’ve pined over red mixtes (Soma Buena Vista) and road bikes (Salsa Warbird) and even mountain bikes (I did have a Gary Fisher Tasajara) but what they possessed in color they lacked in other ways, or that’s what I tell myself. Hi, I’m Bike Goddess and I have an addiction to bikes. Thanks for being here.
When Bryan at the eBikeStore informed me in an email that the bike of my dreams might be available for a test ride, I bit. See if you can answer the questions:
George Clooney, Madonna, Donatella Versace and Sir Richard Branson all have homes on Lake _________. (Como)
When excited, a favorite greeting is a “High __________.” (Five)
Ferrari’s are often this color: __________. (Red)
When I got my first electric bike it was winter of 2015 and the bike was a Faraday Cortland with a belt drive. It had the 3 B’s. Belt drive. Beauty. Blissful. The third B I use to refer to the sounds a bike makes while you’re riding. I want my ride to be steath and I don’t want to hear the machine of the bike regardless of electric or not. The Como got a 4 out of 5 on the Bliss scale of noise. The battery is the quietest ever however there’s a sound the chain makes that’s a bit on the loud end when you’re coasting. My Cortland was my favorite and still holds a place in my heart. It’s baby blue with hints of opalescence so the color alone is iconic and difficult to name.
Why a belt drive? I took a belt drive bike for a test ride years ago but I let myself be swayed by popular opinion at the time and price. Popular opinion from the bike mechanics was that it was a fad and I should wait and see. The bike was expensive and just wanted to see what it was like. I was extremely impressed but I’d wait. Belt drives are stealth and maintence free. Imagine never dealing with chain grease or chain issues at all. I mean at all.
Lulu, the Cortland, has over 6,500 miles and she’s the only belt drive bike I’ve ever owned. She was my dream ride. Super cute and perfect for my 20 miles a day commute. I dolled her up with a few accessories and we got along famously for quite sometime. However the range of 22 miles round trip proved difficult for a few things just outside the range like riding into Portland and back. Two levels of boost such as boost and a little more boost was fine in 2015. She’s sublime and everything I wanted until I needed just a little more.
Isn’t that the way it goes. My second ebike is the one I ride now which is a Specialize Como 5 Turbo. I did call her Ella (Greek for come) but recently she’s become more of a Perri, as in Perry Como because it’s such a great name and when I had her in the bike shop for some annoying crooning and creaking, Perry became the obvious name choice. She has over 14,000 miles which means she’s taken the lead over any of my miles and my Kona mixte comes in at 13,000 as an analog bike. Both of these bikes fit me like designer jeans or like they were made especially for me. I can ride and ride and ride either bike without worry. All the adages come true with these two bikes. I can go the distance and wear whatever I want, kitted up or not, these bikes are my steelmates.
The desire for a belt drive nags at me however. And the color. I don’t mind the midnight blue but I live in the Northwest and everything from November to May is midnight blue. I want color. I commute to and from work and most errands and generally I do everything and go everywhere on my bikes. Don’t I deserve it? Yeah, but do you really need it? Ugh! Life in my head is like the Devil and the Angel and I’d like to evict both of them.
Very soon I will test ride the new Como 5 in red with a belt drive. There’s a possibility that this bike can also be outfitted with a large basket in front that is frame mounted which is another feature from the Cortland that I adored. This will pose a big problem for me because I will want. I will pine. I will long for it. I will feel all the feels and I’ll need it like I need air. I will feel all the longings of all my days summed up in one object and I’ll be out of my right mind and become obsessed with having the thing I don’t really need but I want.
The answer to the questions above are: Como. Five and red. This is a review from Ebike Review and even though it’s the Como 3, you’ll get the basic idea. I don’t 100% love the look and the deep step through but I could see myself appreciating it in a few more years too.
Will this one have it all? The truth is I could be content with Perry Como as she is. There are many features I’ve dialed in on my 2019 Como. You know how it is. You fiddle and toy and tinker until it fits the way you want and does what you want it to do. I have the basket situation arranged so I use a Timbuk2 messenger bag to stash all my capes and clothes and accoutrement so basically the new Como will have to knock my cleats off. I wonder if it will.
Thanks for reading my musings on bikes and accessories. It is a bit of an addiction, but a good one. At least that’s what I tell myself. Right? What are your bike obsessions? Anything that’s a deal breaker?