My profession is library. I’m a middle school librarian and I get to read amazing books. Today I finished To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer. There are many beautiful revelations in this novel and one favorite is the quote about finding something in life than “animates your soul.” It’s all along the same lines as “Follw your bliss” or “happy place” and yet it delves deeper.
March 7th we had what I hope was our last flake of snow until next winter. Temperatures seem to be leveling out and while I know there is rain on the way I’m happy to see a change in the seasons.
Riding my bike is my happy place. Bike rides are my bliss. Being in the saddle and challenging myself daily “animates my soul” to borrow that phrase with appropriate attribution. Every week I have a goal of 75 miles and the last two weeks I went over 100 miles each week. Last night I was looking at my Strava stats and saw this minus 13 miles.
I was close to 100 for the week and a 1,000 for the year to date. Just 10 miles would accomplish both. I put my book down for an hour and went for a ride on a stunning Spring day and let the clear skies and emerging season wash over me. Then there’s that moment when you’re senses catch up with your brain and remind you that this is it. This is you soul getting filled up with all that’s wondrous and beautiful about surviving the winter. The buds are starting to burst, the days are getting longer and the wheels on the bike go round. Adding up the miles to the next 1,000.
Wherever you are in the world I hope the weather is mild and you have an opportunity to get out there and ride.
That’s black ice. Ask me how I know. It took me and my 3 inch fat tires down. What a spectacle! The bike went to the right and I was dropped to the sides of my knees. My legs were in an “M” and I couldn’t get up. First car to stop was an SUV and the nice man came over to see if I was okay, plus he grabbed the polka dot water bottle that was freed from its cage. My feet couldn’t get any traction so I did a strange modern dance interpretation and crawled, clawed to a patch of pavement and then back up to the snow. As the kind man drove past his wife waved. Of course, I should mention that the family was from my school so the whole thing was witnessed by a 7th grader, his little sister, mom and dad, and will likely be told a few more times and embellished a bit. I carefully walked up to the car window and talked with the student for a moment. “You’ve seen me take quite a fall… and get right back up again.” I heard myself saying because cussing profusely is uncouth in front of the kids.
I sat like a cartoon character on the sidelines of the parking lot and cursed myself for taking this route to the store. I never do, but I was looking for a USPS box to drop off a package and I forgot that the North side of the lot gets zero sunlight so the shade had created an ice skating rink. That explains why that car was going so slow. It had nothing to do with being nice to the biker. I didn’t find a USPS box and I didn’t bother stopping for groceries. I wanted to leave the scene and get home.
The fact of the matter is that I got cocky. We’ve had more than the normal allotment of snow and my fatty bike and I have been enjoying the conditions. It’s exhilerating to plow through the terrain and hear the sounds of the snow moving under the tires. Breath billows puff, puff, puffing like a stream engine out of my lungs. There’s hardly a car in sight because in the Northwest everything stops for snow. We aren’t equipped to deal with it. Schools close and business open later because the snow usually means there’s black ice. That’s how it works. There’s usually rain first and that provides a deadly coating of ice but because it’s the color of the roads it is undetected until you’re sliding. Then the snow falls and it’s pretty and you forget all about that deadly layer. Plus it takes awhle for it to melt. It looks clear, but it might not be. Usually you can tell, but there are times where it could go either way and look like it’s a layer of packed snow but parts have given way to black ice underneath. It’s a tough call.
Last Tuesday we had our first snowstorm which really doesn’t look like much but at higher elevations means six or more inches. The snow was the perfect consistency and I got out early and biked 5 miles. I didn’t even feel that cold. Gorgeous! My tires didn’t slip once and I made tracks all over my neighborhood and the nearby cemetary. No wind, just a great ride. The second storm came through on Friday and again seemed like nothing much until the morning when the white blanket (more like an Ikea comforter) left several inches. I went out for a ride each time and got more and more confident riding in, on and around the snow. “I wonder if people go pro doing this kind of riding.” I remember thinking. Do people look for this skill on LinkedIn? That’s just how cocky I was feeling.
Life is not like that for me. I can’t even feign that sort of confidence without the gods taking me down a notch or ten. The thing to respect about a fall on a bike is just how out of control it feels. In a fraction of a second you go from the mountain tops to gravel bits. I felt these gigantic tires swing to the right as if I was in Dancing With the Stars and my partner flung me too far, let go and I ended up kissing a wall with little birdies circling my head. I felt muscles contract and loosen as waves of gravity took over. A fall on a bike is momentous and humbling. Especially when it’s you and only you.
I’ll do some Zwifting today and pretend I’m in Greece in July sweating it out.
Whatever your weather, I hope you take it nice and easy and enjoy some ride time. I’ll be back in the saddle and behind the bars but inside for a day or two.
My mom and I met earler today and shopped a bit. I think this bike is too expensive. Plus, you can’t even ride it. Save your money and buy the real thing. It was a chilly ride but then the sky cleared and it felt like heaven to be outside without being pummeled by rain.
It’s a busy time of the year. With all the holiday happenings I forgot all about the movie Strava sends out with your stats for the year. As I mentioned in my last post I hit 5K miles for 2018 and I have been doing my daily rides and I noted the milestone a few weeks ago without the Stravanimation of my stats for the year. I contemplated buying a new bike but I didn’t. I settled for pizza and a glass of wine.
Tonight I was checking email and I saw something from Strava. I even got emotional in a happy way. I’m thrilled for myself. 2018 was a great year behind the bars of my bike. I had scores of great adventures in amazing places like Santorini, Paros and Athens, plus a very cool bike ride in San Diego and I also had a great time doing my ordinary day to day commutes bike rides. Pleased that I can do them. Grateful that it has been a momentous year for me. Looking forward to more.
Being on my bike and riding here and there and anywhere I can is tonic for life. If I’m feeling down a bike ride sets a new mood. If I’m happy then a bike ride makes me joyful and exuberant as a puppy. It’s always the axis on which my world rotates.
Thanks Strava for showing me what I can do.
I hope to get a few more days of riding in before 2019 but in the meantime I like my Stravanimation.
Some cyclists do miles and miles more, some less, but this is me and my first Strava 5000. When I say that I mean that it’s the first time I’ve seen the quantitative results of riding nearly every day. I had a good week and even though there was some rainfall I managed to get out in the weather and get 165 miles for the week. I hoped I’d hit the 5K mark, but I wasn’t going to push it. Really. I was going to do my normal riding routine and if it worked out, then okay, if not, there’s next week. What I usually have going for me if the fact that I tend to ride every day.
I learned a few years ago that sometimes weather complicates matters. You can’t control anything. I was going to keep doing my riding thing and maybe, just maybe I’d see 5000 miles for 2018. When I hit 4000, I immediately started thinking about 5000. It was like something in my brain switched into competitor mode and I was going to show myself that I could do it. I stuck to my routine and even with three days off, I was going to ride. Thanksgiving Day, I rode Zwift for about a dozen miles, but all in all, I stuck to my normal schedule of cycling. I don’t think we drove our car 5K this year, but I rode my bike.
How does it feel? It feels amazing, like summiting the Tetons or seeing Mt. Hood on a clear day. Or like that moment when a plane takes off and you feel uplifted. Take-off. It feels like I accomplished something special and unique. The only competitor in this game is me. I did my best and kept the goals realistic. Last year I did 3200 miles and this year I upped it by 100, but then I started to see that if I went a little farther, a little longer, I could do more. I’m the tortoise and I bike slow and steady and I won the race against myself. It’s a new personal best.
There are athletes on Strava and I don’t think of myself as an athlete. I bike for myself and the environment and I put one pedal in front of the other every day and with five weeks left in the year I hit a milestone. There will be more miles, but right now, today, there’s 5001 and some of those miles were in faraway places. I pedaled each one. There’s that saying about there’s no such thing as luck. It’s just opportunity meeting preparation. I think for me it’s a spoke of good luck. Tomorrow is another day and my usual 20 and that’s what moves me forward. How about you?
It’s no secret how much I love to ride my bike. Some days I think about just riding from sunrise to sunset, however, there’s the whole job situation. It’s Autumn where I live and it has been the most spectacular weather ever. The leaves have been turning kalidescopic colors and the sun glistens and gleams and keeps on shining so I’ve been doped up on delightment every day. I was remided of the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. If you remember the Hare is about speed and running the race full throttle with “lightnng” speed. The Tortoise, however, just keeps a steady pace and ends up winning the race.
The moral of the story is have a fleet of bikes to make you a better competitor.
The truth of the matter is that I’ve always been Tortoise. I wish I was the speedy Hare. I envy other Hare types, but I’m not. If only I was fast enough to take a nap and then speed by the peloton in Mark Cavendish fashion and win, win, win in the end. The fact of the matter is that I’m all Tortoise. Regardless of how much I train or the amount of carbon fiber in my bike frame, I don’t know speeds of 18-22 MPH. I enjoy a good sprint, but I’m not going to kill myself and I’m never going to pass a biker on the other side of the road and neglect my bikey responsibilities of waving. I’m a slow and steady 12-16 MPH. The moral of the story is have a fleet of bikes that you want to ride so you’ll keep riding no matter the season. You don’t even need a fleet, really. Just one or two that always make you happy enough to ride, rain or shine.
Slow and steady is winning too. Plus the scenery never disappoints.
Nothing like a ride through leaves. Even the thrill of a roller coaster ride doesn’t compare. A bike ride through the carpets and canopies of fall. It’s my favorite time of the year. I love how the conifers seem to let the deciduous trees upstage them. The brazen colors look like lights in a dark forest. Riding in the morning it’s as if the sun and the trees are companions in light. Riding through the celebration and feeling happy to be alive!
Even through I’m on my daily commute the view from the handlebars beg for attention. I stopped and took the picture of Mt. Hood off in the distance. The play of car and street lights add to the scene. A private moment with the universe is noted.
There’s a pumkin on my commute too. A man dotes over his giant pumpkin all summer and then it gets weighed. It’s part of my fall commute as well.
Maybe this week, I’ll meet the farmer and get the secrets behind growing this massive gourd.
Have a great week.
Get out there and ride and be careful!
September was a blur of activity. My daily mileage was good but something was different. My school schedule has changed drastically. Now school starts a full hour later than it did last year and the subsequent 20 years of my career. I used to leave the house at 6am but now it’s 7ish. There’s traffic like I’ve never seen in all the years I’ve commuted to school by bike. Now there are four cars at the four way stop and there are trucks and motorcycles everywhere. Deliveries are being made and FedX or UPS trucks are everywhere, or that’s how it feels. The road is not my own every morning. I’ve tried four different routes to determine which one has the least amount of traffic. But where cars are few, school buses are in my lane. Yes, school buses in the bike lanes! I figure by the time I get to the end of October I won’t be as outraged by it all. Maybe by then I will have it figured out. I really should live in Copenhagen or Amsterdam.
The last day of the month and I wanted to go out for a moutain bike ride and catch some falling leaves. The air was heavy with fog and some drizzle but then it cleared up and I was shedding some layers. Another month of riding full speed ahead. Because despite the schedule changes and traffic, my bike rides are my zen. Plain and simple, it’s my bliss.
Get out there and ride! You’ll love it, but be safe!