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.

Follow bike.clark.county on Instagram or Facebook.

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. 😊

Seeing Red

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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.

Gosh, I still miss Tessa, my Gary Fisher! She was sassy!

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)

Faraday Cortland and first eLove!

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.

Front frame mount rack.

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.

This was after I first got the Como. Original saddle and using the rack for panniers. I changed out the saddle and still a perfect commuter in 2022 with outstanding range. #ebikeanywhere

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.

My Kona Mixte is such a sweetie. Best analog bike ever!
Basket situation on my 2019 Como 5. Not a frame mount, yet perfectly adequate.

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?

Have a great day and get out there and ride!

Bike Goddess

Paddle Over Peddle

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We cyclists work out the lower half of the body with every revolution. Whether we go fast or mosey our way to and from work or wherever, we are working out our legs, calves, thighs and gluts. We ride the waves of the pavement like a surfer amidst the swells. Our arms, biceps, shoulders and back hold us in place but they don’t get half the workout that our southern regions do.

Kayak time.

Even professional cyclists have massively muscular legs with well defined calves and quads while their arms look like linguine. I’m not a professional but I do love it when I notice my leg muscles. I mean I can’t see ‘em but sometimes you flex and suddenly you’re like, “Whoa, those are my legs and dang, there’s some new definition there.”

In the waning days of summer as the start of a new school year looms I’ve been longing for the water. My guy sails and he’s very good at it. I love the feel of sailing but I admit that within a short time of being on board, I’m ready for a nap. The lulling action is like being rocked into the lands of Wynken, Blynken and Nod. Also, I’m here to admit to you dear readers that sailing is an all day event and unlike biking you’re at the mercy of the currents and wind and factors that on a bike you can usually change by going left or right and trying a different route. I’m not the sailor my guy is nor is he the biker I am.

Not my dog in the water, but that’s our sailboat.

We’ve been trying for over a week to go out for a sail, but there hasn’t been enough wind to scoot a napkin across a table let alone fill sails. We have a kayak and the ducks and geese in the marina have been terrible tenants. There was evidence of their derelict behaivor and partying so we decided to remind them that it belongs to us. Within an hour we had it all cleaned up and ready for action.

Geese what? They quite literally did #2 on our kayak cover.

After a deep cleaning and super scrub we successfully exfoiliated all the moss and algae and unidentified green goo from the underside and I went out for a paddle. Not a typo, I paddled a kayak. A paddle over peddle means that a muscle group heretofore unused got a bit a of a workout. It was a gorgeous dead calm day in the marina which means I had a great time paddling about like I was on an Olympic Paddle Team. It was glorious and I stayed out there for over an hour.

I’m not a seasoned kayaker, but I’m not a novice either. Here’s how it usually goes. I go out and then the next day my arms scream for relief and I don’t go out again for 4 years. I was thinking about that as I paddled around. Don’t overdo it in such a way that you never want to do it again.

Despite the fact that the opening to the Columbia beckoned to me like a siren I opted for the safety of the marina. I have no idea what the currents are like and IF my triceps could handle it.

I could stop and start and turn around pretty easily and I was feeling good. I was musing about taking a kayak trip of the whole Columbia, but of course, that’s the lustiness of adventure speaking. I paddled around and felt like a teenager who got their driver’s license. I didn’t know I could record kayaking as a Strava activity or else I’d have proper evidence. Next time.

What about that other muscle group known as the upper body? I’m happy to report that the next day my triceps were fine. Okay, a little stiff but if anything I feel ready to go again. I’m not as sore as I thought I would be. That must mean that I yell and wave my arms at offending car traffic enough to keep those muscles toned.

What’s the attraction? Why kayak instead of a bike ride? Some cyclists run. I’m not a runner. However with all these activities you are communing with nature and enjoying the world around you in a different way and seeing life from another perspective. I’m always up for that kind of adventure.

I rarely choose anything over a bike ride, but sometimes you gotta get out there are try something else. Paddle over peddle? Sure, it’s every bit as fun. What about you? Ever been kayaking? What did you think?

Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate it and I hope you enjoy the rest of the month. Stay safe and take care.

Kayak Goddess. Nah, just kidding. It doesn’t have the same ring. Until next time, get out there and ride. Or paddle.

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

The 4-1-1 on 3-1-1

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If it was raining would you know if someone threw water in your face? I ask because last week while riding home from school a kid in the backseat of a car emptied his water bottle in my face and then threw the bottle at me.

Not being one to litter, I stopped and got the bottle and I was so confused by the whole incident I didn’t get a license plate but I did get a good look at the kid and the white Scion hatchback so even though I couldn’t “catch” them to throw the liter bottle back in the car and say, “Hey, dingdongheads you dropped this!” I did manage to think it over well enough to compose a decent blog post.

Over time I have been extremely lucky and had very few encounters like this out on the road. As the rain got a bit heavier and I thought about the times I’ve yelled back at a driver I can say it’s enough to count on one hand.

This sitch was different because there was someone else driving and the kid in the backseat seemed to be gleeful about his actions. I heard him laugh as if he heard a hilarious joke.

After retrieving the bottle I thought I saw them on the opposite side of the road but my glasses were dotted with drops and the din of rain and traffic noise made it hard to tell what was going on. Plus, there are lots of white cars out there.

Once I got home I was telling my husband and he said I should report it. Uh, how do you do that? It’s nonemergency and so do you call 911 or is there another number.

It’s 3-1-1 and there’s a dispatch operator who took down the details I report and asked me a few clarifying questions and then an officer called me to go over the the incident.

Bear in mind that I ride this route every single weekday. Monday through Friday, if I’ve ridden my bike to school I’m very likely riding this East-West stretch home. It’s wedged between a high school and a middle school and in a dozen or more years I’ve never had something hurled at me. Drivers along this segment are accustomed to the bike lane which is what makes this whole event all that much more startling.

“Would you recognize the kid if you saw him again?” Inquired the officer.

“Yes, I defintely could recognize him. He had reddish hair, no mask so I could see his face. He was 15-16 years old.” I replied.

“Yes, that’s consistent with other reports. Were you injured?” He wondered.

“No. The bottle missed me but it was certainly aimed at me. He emptied the water in close proximity to me and seemed like I was being splashed with extra water. It was as if I hit a branch on a tree that was heavy with water on its leaves. But I wasn’t near a tree. Then I saw the bottle and heard his laughing.” I explained.

“Hmm. Do you want to file a report in such a way that you have a case number?”

“No. I want you to know in the event that it happens again.” I continued.

“There have been other reports of a kid in a white hatchback who throws stuff at people walking or riding their bikes. We think he’s being picked up at school. That’s my beat, so I know.” The officer elaborated.

“Really?! Wow! I ride this all the time and this is a first, but I’ll keep an eye out.” I declared.

“Yes, and you have my number so if anything comes up don’t hesitate to let me know.”

After I hung up I felt like it was a small win for bikers. I also loved hearing the word “beat” in the conversation and I thought maybe he had one of those notebooks you jot down notes in like all the cop shows.

The next day, Friday, I took off like normal but when I got to the spot where the bottle was thrown I stopped for a moment to see if I got the cross street correct. Yes, it was 144th. Okay, good. Behold in front of me was the hatchback.

1 Adam 12

I took a few pics of it and called the officer and gave him a license plate. This is consistent with the other part of the story in which I heard the deliquents again on the other side of the street. I just couldn’t see since they probably passed as I was passing on the other side. They didn’t have school on Friday, but my school did, so I was out and about gathering evidence, I mean riding to school.

Overall, this was an interesting experience. The 4-1-1 on calling 3-1-1 is that you should do it. What’s the worst that can happen? You take a little bit of time to report an incident which could lead to helping out the next person. It’s important to the safety of others if you or someone else is harmed or threatened.

Be safe out there! Don’t let the dingdong heads keep you from enjoying the ride. As I mentioned before this incident was rare but it rattled me until I got it on the record and now I feel like I did my civic duty and maybe helped someone in the future. There’s strength in numbers and my dear readers and fellow bikers, we have to stick together.

Watch your 6 o’clock and get out there and ride.

-BG