Fall is glorious. It’s prime time for riding because the temperatures aren’t too hot or too cold yet. It’s that golden time of the year when it seems like every sunrise and sunset is Mother Nature’s attempt at showing off.
The skies have these marvelous mood swings and a ride that starts out sunny could end up in a ferocious storm. Every moment seems more impressive than the last.
I keep my rain gear close at hand and just go. I enjoy the seasons changing it up and skies spreading their wonder and I pedal on breathing in and out and in and out. Thrilled to ride.
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.
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.
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!
In the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach — waiting for a gift from the sea.” I think you can say the same thing about a bike ride. A day of riding a bike to the beach is its own gift. I wanted to ride to Mission Beach and as I started to plan the ride with the help of my cousin last week we noticed that we’d have to be on a road that didn’t seem bike friendly. Google Maps gave us three routes and all of them included Friars Road.
Not to be deterred, we decided we’d park at De Anza Cove and ride over to Fiesta Island. As we were loading the bikes my cousin’s neighbor came over to talk. He mentioned the Mission Bay Bike Trail. After Googling it we decided to stick with our plan of parking at De Anza Cove and follow the signs for the path. An adventure!
Wikipedia says, “In the San Diego area, the Mission Bay bike path is an easy, 3 mile one-way to 19 mile loop path along the shore of beautiful Mission Bay. Location: Mission Bay, near SeaWorld. Distance: Between 3 and 19 miles depending on the routes taken.”
I’m in! Dan was excited to put some miles on his new bike. I wanted to ride to Mission Beach. The plan was to eat lunch at Rocky’s Crown Pub. That was the only plan.
We took off. Lots of sharrows on East Mission Bay Drive. We started out early and the traffic was light. You can hear cars coming up behind you and there’s plenty of room for bikes even if some of it is parking spaces. The skies were overcast and perfect for a day of riding.
There’s a slight curve in the road as Fiesta Island Road takes you on an extension of the path and it opens up to showcase sandy sights and a warm breeze. Definitely a nice side trip. I had to stop and see the horses.
As you can see, I’m very happy with Fiesta Island. We parked our bikes and walked up a mound of sand to see a huge field of well, more sand.
This is an area where the Over-The-Line game is played. Over-the-line is a bat-and-ball sport game related to baseball and softball. News to me, but later in the day…
at Rocky’s Crown Pub I saw this photo on the wall (Danny pointed it out). Looks like a quite an event. The path turns into Pacific Highway which sounds scary, but it isn’t. There’s a traffic light and you need to stay in the lane and it becomes Ocean Beach Bike Path.
You’re parallel to the freeway and there’s was a strong headwind, but overall I was all smiles. What an amazing path! Good job, San Diego!
The path goes on and ontoward the Sunset Cliffs but we were focused on our mission. I’ll have to explore the rest next time.
The signs to Mission Beach. Everything is well marked and overall the path was clean and easy to ride. All the hairy details on the Google map we looked at were solved by this brilliant bike path and some city planners some years ago. Again, nice job!
A myriad of bridges and curves make the path interesting. Every turn is another photo opportunity. As you look left to right, each view just as exquisite as the last. I’m sure there are times during the week when it is busier, but there weren’t many people out on Wednesday morning, and it felt like a private tour.
I saw a pelican flying overhead and wanted to get a picture but knew I’d be too late. Sometimes you have to be in the moment and soak it in.
Happy to share the path with skateboards, roller blade and anyone else. It does help to have a bell to remind peds you are on the left.
My Strava map shows the route. The bike is in front of the Caravan Hotel. Perhaps the only spot on the whole path that was busy.
Sandy public beaches and people enjoying the day. The 12.7 mile ride was better than I expected. After lunch at Rocky’s Crown Pub, we decided to finish the route we started and ride it again. Since we stopped here and there for pictures the first time around, we thought a second time minus Fiesta would be the perfect way to end the day.
We were right. When something works out even better than you anticipated, there’s a sort of gleeful happiness that emanates from the knowledge that somehow the universe took care of you and all is well. It was a bike adventure extraordinaire! If you are ever in San Diego I strongly recommend this bike path.
In the waning days of summer, I know I will look at this photo and the two signs, Endless Summer Straight Ahead and know that the Mission Beach route was accomplished. (Cue Mission Impossible theme.)
Thanks for reading and following my blog. I appreciate it. What are some of your favorite routes? Post in the comments below.
Every week through every season of the year, I set a goal of biking 75 miles. In the summer I usually go over a hundred miles, but in the winter I might miss a few days because of weather. The weekly mileage goal of 75 has proven to be just right for me. Over the last three weeks I have been traveling and a week ago I started my Strava 75 with 16 miles in Athens, Greece.
If you travel you know that jet lag can hit you when you least expect it and I wasn’t sure how this week would turn out. Super high July temps mean I have to get riding by 10AM at the latest or suffer the heat. My 75 was hard earned over the past several days. The great thing about booking a bicycle tour when you’re traveling is the memory of it. All week I’ve fired up that memory of biking the Athens coast in Kalithea on an actual bike path. A smile skims my face and I think, “Yeah, I did that and it was spectacular.”
Last summer when I was in Athens I found this company, WeBikeAthens, and I took one of their tours, Historic Athens Views. I thoroughly loved it and wished I had time for more. I also had every intention of posting about it. You know how it is. You get back from vacation and swept into the fray. Which is why I’m glad I got to visit Athens again. This company is top notch: great ride leaders, good pace, super detailed tour and fun. Zeus himself would enjoy a little saddle time with these folks. You know how picky he can be. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Others agree with my assessment. I booked two rides this time; After Sunset Highlights and Athens Coastline Sight-Seaing After Sunset deserves it’s own post. For this post, I want to share some Sight-Seaing.
I showed up a little early for my Monday morning ride. Athens was hot and humid and remember it’s hours before the tragic fire breaks out. It’s one of the hottest days of the summer. Thankfully they have a bucket of resources and a cat, Diego, managing the sign in.
No one else has booked this tour for Monday morning at 10AM, which means I have my very own private tour with Chrysoula. I’m overjoyed! She very nice and I feel like we’ve been friends forever even though we’ve just met.
We get our bikes. WeBikeAthens has e-bikes. I’m a big fan of e-bikes. Some people are really weird about the e-bike movement. That’s a whole other blog post. For the purposes of this post let’s just say that e-bikes in Athens are the only way to go. When it’s 5000 degrees outside and you don’t feel like doing anything other than sitting in the sea an e-bike gives you a decent workout without epic amounts of sweat. Instead of slogging it out in a 12 miles an hour pace, you can easily hit 15 and there’s some joy in the breeze cooling you off as you go. The bikes are pedal assist so if you don’t go, the bikes don’t go. Plus there are some delightfully steep hills and some E-juice gives you the assist right when you need it.
They have other bikes in their fleet of E bikes. The ones we rode are the Wisper Stealth. Chrysoula made sure the bike fit me the way I like. She lowered the seat and I rode up and down Apostolou Pavlou in front of the shop. There’s a park across the street and the Thiseio Metro stop close by. It takes about 30 seconds to figure out how the bike functions. We packed up our water and set off.
Let’s time travel a tiny bit. Back when I was 15, my family and I lived in Athens for about six months. We lived in a city near Athens called Kallithea. This is important since this tour is going to take me on a bike path in the area of Kallithea.
We take off and and within less than a mile we’re on a bike path. It’s an oasis in the midst of a city where cars are everywhere.
I’m thrilled. With all the traffic of Athens I’m biking on an actual path I didn’t even know existed. The only way anyone would know about this hidden gem would be because they found it while riding a bike.
You’ll notice that I’m not wearing a helmet. They are not mandatory in Athens. WeBikeAthens gives you the option of wearing a helmet.
I’m expecting that this path is going to end but it doesn’t. I’m so happy I consider stopping to do a little dance, but I don’t. I keep on pedaling away.
We do stop in front of this mural and Chrysoula wants to take my picture. She’s telling me about how she has some ideas or a ride that’s purely photography. Take people to spots that are great for photographs. I love this idea and she’s happy that I enjoy being in photographs. What you don’t see in the pic is the heat. The cicadas are loud enough to sound like a jet taking off and smart people are inside enjoying shade or air conditioning or cold water.
Follow the red brick road and you’ll see a path construction changes slightly here and there, but it’s a path that goes on for about 8 miles and it takes us to the sea. Later I went to Map My Ride and found additional routes. Although some of the routes date back to 2012 I can’t find any detailed information about how Kallithea became the place where someone thought, “Let’s build a multiuse path here.” It’s brilliant and I’m thankful for it.
Chrysoula stops here and notice how the path and crosswalk line up. She’ll watch the traffic while I pass. Very sweet of her. The traffic isn’t heavy but she’s protective and cautious and that’s what you want in a tour leader.
Just like home when you see cars in your lane.
The red works well even if it is a bit faded.
The staples at the top of the photo which prevents cars from making a U-turn. I feel safe on this path. I start thinking about getting a job in Athens. Just kidding, but when there’s a pretty awesome stretch of bike-pedestrian path, you start thinking about changing your life.
We’re pedaling and talking and I’m as carefree as a puppy and then we turn into a site that has me gobsmacked. First I see a bike share type of rack and I think that the gods of Olympus have intervened on my behalf.
Chrysoula tells me that these bikes are for the SNFCC.
Stop. Red light! SNFCC sounds familiar.
I saw it on a sign at the National Library of Greece which was closed and being relocated. I was there the day before and I saw this sign.
The wheels are turning both on my bike and in my mind. I haven’t put it all together until we come back. Chrysoula asks me if I want to stop at the SNFCC first or on the way back. I opted to keep on riding and check out this cultural campus at the end.
We ride and ride a then start I start spotting the masts of sailboats and we’re at the area with lots of beaches on the Saronic Gulf. This is the Palaio Faliro.
We rode around and talked about what we’d name a boat. Remember the name of the tour is Sight-Seaing in Athens. I love the play on words. They get extra points for the pun.
At this point I can’t imagine being any happier. We’ve been having the best time and then we go up a sidewalk ramp and turn a few places and down and up and straight ahead and then… this!
If only you could smell the salt air and feel the fresh breeze. You could be a dolphin and arc up over the waves. It’s as exhilerating as a roller coaster but my feet are flat on the ground. We stop and soak it in.
Waves lap on to the pavement and you can’t imagine a more perfect moment. The blue bliss goes on as far as the eye can see.
The only thing that could make a moment more perfect would be a café freddo. You can fill in the blank with your chosen beverage, but coffee is the Greek way. Ouzo later. We stop at a restaurant on the beach of course.
Chrysoula and I have a great chat about our respective countries and their issues. “Is life getting any better for the Greeks?” I ask. When I was her age I was already in my career. I was employed in the field of my study and I had been for almost five years. Chrysoula’s degree is in Art Therapy and like many of the Greeks her age she may not be able to pay the rent. She has to work very hard at more than a few jobs to pull it all together. She said that it’s a little better, but she can’t sit back and relax. She was working with refugees and still does but she wanted a happy job for the summer. She loves working at WeBikeAthens and she’s suited to meeting and interacting with people. I’m lucky our paths crossed.
After a nice rest we start to make our way back to the office. However, remember those letters? SNFCC? We make our way back and I learn about the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. When I’m not riding my bike and writing about it, I’m a teacher-librarian at a middle school. I wanted to see the National Library because that’s what I do. The day before I had given up all hope of seeing it because with limited wifi I couldn’t find where it was being moved to and when it would be open to the public. Once again, a bike ride solved my dilemma. The SNFCC is home to the National Library and the National Opera. Case closed. There’s more to know about the SNFCC than I can write about in this post. Follow the link and learn about its design and construction and if you’re ever in Athens, you must visit it. Also the bikes are for using on the campus. There’s a park and it’s a great area to bring the family and enjoy a day at the cultural center. There are bikes at both ends of the campus.
As I was getting into the elevator I decided to video the experience. No picture can do it justice. You can’t help but think of it as a sort of modern Acropolis.
Chrysoula stood guard at the bikes while I explored. It was very nice of her to do that because it was about 7000 degress outside and I was cooling off inside.
My first impressions of the place are hard to communicate since I spend most of the time mumbling WOW and staring in wonder at everything. It’s incredible. The library is beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. I mean I have imagined something like that but the reality added another floor and some fantastic furniture. I’m in love. I didn’t want to leave but I was afraid my lovely guide is melting. I headed back down and we took off. Word that day was that it was so hot the Acropolis closed at 2PM. Also the sky was getting very hazy and there was talk of a wildfire.
On the way back our path is blocked by a taxi. Chrysoula tells the driver to move. I love her!
The driver is rolling a cigarette but finally moves out of our path.
We’re happy for any and all shade on the way back.
Diego is there to greet us.
I had such a great ride last Monday that all Monday rides from now on will pale by comparison. The memory of this ride is something I will play over and over when I get back into my commuting back and forth routine. It’s a memory I will nurture during the winter months when I’m trying to think warm thoughts in the hope that my nose won’t freeze or my gloved hands go numb.
Taking a city tour by bike is often a gamble. You may not get with a group or leader that you like. You may not like the bike or feel like the route isn’t for you. But you also don’t know if you don’t try. This is the third ride I’ve taken with WeBikeAthens and I’d take another and another if I could. The cost is 45€ or about $53. That’s a great value. I had the best time and if you enjoy biking then this is a great option for you. Everytime I travel, especially overseas, I look for bike rides. After all, 16 of my 75 miles last week were in Athens.
I hope you’re having a great summer. Take water, apply sunscreen and get out there and ride.