To Serve With Love

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Sunday Service

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.”

Me and a pup. We were exhanging hair tips.

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.

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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.

I get to take glamour photos with bikes too. #perks

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.

Sunday Service

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.

Glad Ridings

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It’s one of my favorite pics of all time.. Kermit on a bike. Note the basket!

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.

There should be no rain in a virtual bike ride. Seriously!

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.

HollyBerryBike is far better than a camel.

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.

Singing praises for the wonder of a simple ride!

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.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for riding!

Great is My Thankfulness

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Gratitude for all that was, is and will be.

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.

Birdie on the bars.

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. 😊

Frightful Few Weeks

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Not my skeletons but still a fightful few weeks!

Are they still on the lam? The local polic posted a photo of a white subaru and video of what appears to be some sort of pyrotechnics and then days and days of fire and smoke and evacuations. 18,000 acres burned. All because someone thought fireworks in a forest would be what? Fun? Stupid is and stupid does. I haven’t been on my bike since Monday, October 17th because the air quality numbers have been high enough to make me think I should brush up on my driving skills. At school students are inside for recess for four day. It has been yet another unprecedented week of chaos.

Smoking in restaurants was banned first in California in the 90s, but this isn’t smoking per se, it’s a forest fire. Firefighters worked tirelessly on the Nakia Creek fire which is near my school district. I live about 12 miles south and west, but it’s a fire…therefore the high winds and lack of rain means that lots of families were evacuated and the reverse 9-1-1 call made to many people I know. You may have seen news of the incident on the news but what you don’t see unless you too have been through it are the dire effects of all the smoke. It’s in my eyes, lungs and it feels gritty and gross. If I ever thought I could be a firefighter this week has eliminated that possibility.

Usually in the Green but several days of bad air makes you appreciate all the good air.

Two Mondays ago I commuted 11.6 miles in the morning but my husband picked me up because air quality was getting worse by the minute. Moving the needle of normal air quality from green to yellow to orange and red and before you know it you couldn’t see ahead much more than 3 feet. I commuted again on Friday, the 21st.

October 21st we finally had the first drops of rain.

Once the rain came it stayed and I’m happy it’s back even though I do complain about it. I admit that I prefer misty-moisty to burning embers, smoke, cinders and ash. However, somehow between the fires and mist I caught a cold. Not Covid, which is what everyone says now. “I got sick, but not Covid-sick.” I tested myself multiple times and I was negative for Covid but a cold caught me and regaled me with a sore throat, cough, massive headache and general malaise. I wish I could tell you that I stayed home, but I did not. I know, I know! Have I learned nothing? I know better but the educational system does not look kindly on taking time for oneself. It didn’t before the pandemic and it doesn’t now. I masked at school and took my DayQuil and pushed on through. Sometimes that’s the only option even when you know better.

Can’t have a rainbow without the rain.

What does this all mean? In the bike confessional, it means it has been two weeks since I’ve commuted my regular commute. Insert blood curdling scream here. I’d completed about 15 miles total which is disturbing and makes me long for the regular routine. I do this from time to time. I want a break from the routine, the grind, the day-today, but it’s never quite the break I want. I was thinking more along the lines of a vacation to a Greek island.

‘Tis the season of skeletons and pumpkins, monsters and ghouls however to me the scariest thing is not being able to ride my bike and be out there enjoying the scenery and breathing the clean air into my lungs and being happy to be alive. Here’s to health and happy trails and solid rain gear.

Keep riding dear readers and take care of yourself. Thanks for reading my blog. If you found some value in it please give it a Like and have a great day!

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

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