Friday Commute

001Happy International Winter Bike to Work Day to everyone! To celebrate this unique holiday, I decided to bike to work! Incidentally, I also logged the lowest average temperature combined from my trips to and from work today at -7.5F.

My new headlight didn’t die on the way to work, which is really thoughtful of it. My chain was not so gentle with me however. Yesterday I gave my bike a decent cleaning and re-lubed my chain (I have been lubing my chain twice a week during the winter) and I guess I did not do something right because it kept starting to slip while I was biking which was downright annoying. I had to stop a few times to reposition it, but thankfully I still made it to work on time.

On the way home it worked fine.

Because it is International Winter Bike to Work Day I thought I would share my top winter biking tip with all of you.

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This is the sidewalk in front of my house. Those snow banks are actually taller than me.

Don’t lick your lips.
The saltiness you taste is not from the aftermath of your last meal or even from your own sweat. It is from the salt and chemicals of the road flying onto your face. Lick at your own risk!

To work (10 miles)
3:30 am to 4:55 am

Weather
-14F, 16 Northeast wind

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava, head band
Torso: thermal shirt, soft shell jacket, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves with liners
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: My legs got a little cold by the end, but with it being International Bike to Work Day and all, I didn’t mind.

From work (10 miles)
3:25 pm to 4:45 pm

Weather
-1F, 7 mph West wind

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: thermal shirt, soft shell jacket, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Cool beans (but I stayed warm).

Ice Skating

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Generations of kids sitting on the bench and digging their skates into the wood does some damage!

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But it did make a great place to hang my skates while I was taking my boots off.

My childhood home was down the street from the local ice skating rink and many happy afternoons were spent speeding on the ice with family and friends. When I was twelve my family moved to a different town and I have only been back to the rink a handful of times since then. I don’t think I have skated at all in the past three years.

But on Sunday I found my old ice skates and today was too beautiful to waste so I headed down to the rink. Benefit #709 of living in a small town: I got the rink all to myself. (Aside from a pigeon that eyed me from the rafters.) Plus the ice was pristine, no one had been on the ice since it had last been Zamboni-ed.

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An empty rink.

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A not-quite-so-empty rink.

Thankfully, skating is like biking in the sense that once you learn the skill you don’t forget it. I was particularly pleased to discover that I could still skate backward without falling on my head.

I skated until my feet became uncomfortable from being cooped up within the confines of figure skates and then I headed home. On the ride back I stopped at an intersection while I waited for a snowplow to go by. Both guys in the snowplow smiled and waved at me. I am guessing they have passed me before on one of my travels!

Two Important Announcements

First, I am feeling better which is not due to drinking tea, because I will never drink tea, ever. (Those TEO people from the TEA are always on my case though, check out the comments I got on yesterday’s post.)

Second, Anthony, from The Quest for a Better Me nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. As the title of his blog suggests, Anthony is on a quest to better himself and writing up wonderful posts along the way. I am sure he would appreciate all the encouragement and support he can get on his journey, so check out the link above. Many thanks, Anthony, for the nomination!

There are some rules I am supposed to follow…versatile

  • Show the award on your blog
  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Share 7 facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 blogs
  • Link your nominees’ blogs, and let them know

Here are seven things about me…
1. I was born into a homeschooling  family of nine. My dad, mom, five brothers and sister are all quirky, lovely people.
2. I adore Pixar movies, my favorite would probably be “Up”.
3. My favorite TV show is “Chopped” on the Food Network but since I don’t have a TV or high-speed internet I don’t watch as obsessively as I would like too.
4. Cumin=best spice in existence. I secretly add cumin to every recipe I can, after taking the time to sniff it appreciatively.
5. I love the mental challenge of memorizing. As a teenager I memorized eight books of the Bible. Yup, I had a wild youth, how can you tell?
6. I am left-handed which makes me awesome. (Four out the nine people in my family are, actually.) If you are right-handed, you might still be awesome, you just have to prove it first.
7. My two dogs, Panzy and Shammah, never fail to make me smile.

Now for the best part, I get to give a shout out to some fellow bloggers. I really enjoy every blog that I visit regularly, here are fifteen of them.

My nominees are…

A Few Spokes Short of a Wheel
Rootchopper is amazing; he fights leg pain, bikes across ice without studded tires and braves snakes to stay on his bike year round.

Reading, Running, Cycling
An awesome lady, training hard for triathlons.

martin is cycling 365days
Martin made a goal to bike every day in 2015. Forty-one days down and he is still going strong.

Adolescentia
Shane is a thoughtful, artistic person and I am always interested in seeing what he is up to on his blog.

Aimee’s Adventures & Travels
Aimee lives in Alaska and just finished her first year of year round bike commuting!

Distractor-Dums
Maxine is biking everywhere she can around Scotland and shares great pictures of her journeys. Her posts always make me smile.

The Deluded Cyclist
This guy is pushing himself to the limits to see just how fast he can go on a bike. It is very inspiring to read about his perseverance.

SheSpoke
Suzi always shares wonderful posts about her life and biking.

Cyclerist
A man who believes life can be lived without a car, he and his family have been living using bikes as their main form of transportation for over seven years.

Kel
A lady living car free in the state of Washington and taking breathtaking pictures along the way.

Cooking when you don’t know how to cook
Though she claims she can’t cook, this lady is popping out great meals left and right. A New Year’s resolution gone right!

Joshhan
Josh is a fellow bike commuter and I used to really like his posts. But he has a fatbike now and I am just a tad jealous.

Hopping the Badger
I enjoy reading about people getting off the road and into the mud with their bikes. With all the pictures on this blog, I feel like I have been on a bike ride across the countryside.

Bike and Brain
Thoughtful, sincere posts relating to cycling and mental wellness. Always interesting to peruse.

BikesAreFun
It’s simple, Mike has fun on his bikes because bikes are fun. If you want to see a video of his adorable border collie enjoying a bike ride you should head to his blog right now.

Upper Body Update (week 10)

I have officially joined the ranks of sickos. Yay for stomach bugs! There goes my plans for babysitting for the day…

I didn’t eat much at work yesterday and when I got home I put up my commuting post, walked to church for worship practice and then didn’t get back until 7:30 pm. I was starving! But eating didn’t make my stomach feel better and it wasn’t long before I made a trip to the bathroom. I went to bed soon after and had to make several more emergency bathroom visits during the night.

Now I am really, really, really, hungry, but I can tell my stomach hasn’t calmed down enough to accept food yet.

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Monday Commute

013Thanks to Jean and TuckamoreDew , I found out about International Winter Bike to Work Day. I am now a little snowflake in a world of snow and it feels great!

First day using the Urban 700. My Urban 550 headlight has a beautiful, wide, even beam but the 700 outclassed it a bit. It spread the light out smoothly over the road with no discernible focus points. But what I really cared about was battery life and so far, so good!

Today work was really slow so I got out early. One of our suppliers pulled in just as I was leaving and the two guys had never seen me in all my snow gear or my winter-ready bike (because it hides in the shed while I am working). They were quite surprised to find out that studded tires are available for bikes. It is always fun to have conversations about winter biking with interested people. It is an odd feeling though, I have seen one of these guys twice a week, for over two years but all of a sudden he was looking at me with a respect he had never shown before.

Isn’t it strange how finding out one fact about someone can completely change your view of them? That is one reason judging people isn’t smart. I don’t know everything about anyone’s life, I don’t know all their struggles, pain, courage or love. Conversely, when people judge me, what difference does it make? They don’t know who I really am on the inside, they only judge by what they see.

But God knows every part of me, all my beauty and my ugliness, and He loves me. That is awesome.

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Amish horse and buggy tracks.

I felt bold on the way home today, I kept my tires at a high pressure and took the right lane, making cars pass me. Usually, I deflate my tires a bit and bike on the snowy shoulder but the skies were clear and my lights were flashing so I knew I would be safe.

To work (10 miles)
3:40 am to 4:45 am

Weather
6F, 10 Northeast wind, light snow

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Nice.

From work (10 miles)
2:50 pm to 3:55 pm

Weather
9F, 10 mph Northeast wind

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: two pairs knit gloves
Legs: thermal pants, yoga pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Pulled balaclava down under my chin when my face got too warm.

Saturday Commute

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Graveyard in winter.

One of my coworkers was complaining about her car today, so I suggested she use a bike instead. She instantly protested, “That’s just for you, only you bike in winter.” But I had a great comeback. I had noticed earlier in the day that one of the newspapers on the stand had a front page picture of a guy biking through the snow.

She was completely speechless when I showed her man on his bike, riding through the snow. It was then that I realized that she really, truly thought that I was actually the only winter cyclist. (AH!) Maybe I should print out pictures of people biking in snow to show to when questioned about my winter biking activities. “Yup, I bike in the winter just like all of these people.”

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My little Urban family, with the newcomer below my 550.

Guess who came in the mail today? My little light’s big brother. I opened the package to find a Urban 700 inside, which is a newer model than my Urban 550. Cool beans.

I may have been disappointed with my headlight’s performance in the cold, but at least there was stellar customer sevice behind the glitch. I could not be more impressed with how Light & Motion dealt with my battery issue.

Now I will have to find out how the 700 does in the subzero, it is predicted that next week will give me a few opportunities.

To work (10 miles)
3:30 am to 4:40 am

Weather
16F, 6 mph Northeast wind

I wore
Head: headband
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: I feel like as winter progresses my body is getting better and better at staying at an ideal temperature no matter what I wear. This was great.

From work (10 miles)
3:20 pm to 5:00 pm

Weather
13F, 10 mph Northeast wind, light snow

I wore
Head: headband, ski goggles
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: knit gloves
Legs: thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: My lower face got cold from the snow/wind combo, but not cold enough to actually stop and put a scarf on.

 

Friday Commute

commute 008I brought along my cheap Wal-Mart headlight with me this morning in case my headlight died which it did but I was so close to work that I didn’t bother to stop and mount the Wal-Mart light.

Good news though, I contacted Light & Motion on Monday night and they shipped a new light out for me on Tuesday and it should be here any day now. They are letting me keep my old light as well, which is awesome.

The commute started out with clear roads, light snow, good visibility and high psi in my tires. But my journey did not stay so tranquil for long. The snow was soon falling so thickly that right after cars passed me they would seem to disappear in a cloud of snow. I will never understand why a small but significant percentage of drivers refuse to turn on their lights except when they turn on automatically at night. Just because you are in a car doesn’t mean people can see you.commute 011

I hold no such misconceptions, I always assume that cars do not see me and I try to remember to behave accordingly. I lowered my tire pressure so that I could ride at the very edge of the shoulder. Gotta love my tires, when the pressure is low they stick to the road even when the nastiest, brown-est snow comes their way. However, the increased traction means I have to work extra hard in the saddle, so I am currently a tired little bunny.

commute 012To work (10 miles)
3:25 am to 4:35 am

Weather
-12F, 15 Southeast wind, light snow

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava, head band
Torso: thermal shirt, soft shell, jacket, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves with liners
Legs: two pairs of yoga pants, thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Really good.

From work (10 miles)
3:05 pm to 4:35 pm

Weather
22F, 13 mph West wind, heavy snow

I wore
Head: ski goggles, balaclava
Torso: thermal shirt, rain jacket
Hands: winter gloves
Legs: thermal pants, rain pants
Feet: socks, boots
Comments: Got pretty warm, but it wasn’t too bad.

The Tide is Turning


Photo credit: revwarheart from morguefile.com

Yesterday in my post I mentioned that my family and friends were strongly opposed to the idea of me continuing to bike through the winter.

But the truth is I had made my mind up before they voiced their disapproval. During the summer I had been dropping hints that winter biking might be in my future, but I think that everyone was fairly optimistic that I would come around before winter arrived.

One late August day I was driving with my dad when I decided that the right moment had come. I told him that I was going to bike through the winter. It was frightening for me to voice my plan out loud because at that point I knew I needed to be 100% committed to it.

And 100% committed to defending my plan in the debates that were sure to follow.

Then I asked him if he would help me get my bike ready for winter and to my surprise he agreed. I didn’t know if he would or not, considering the fact that he wasn’t totally on board with my winter transportation scheme.

But now? He is totally on board with my winter transportation scheme. This week, he told me that a guy a his work had said that he needed to buy his crazy daughter a car and my dad apparently bragged on the fact that I didn’t need a car.

I live in a small community and word travels fast. Several people have come up to me and it has been obvious that my dad told them about my biking adventures. He has definitely moved from the “winter biking is dangerous” camp to the “winter biking is cool” camp.

As the winter has progressed, everyone (including me) has realized winter biking is not a one way ticket to injury. The tide is turning and my friends and family are becoming supportive as I share the joy of plowing through snow. I give them props though, even when they were opposing my winter biking plan, I still felt like they were supportive of me as a person.

I have to admit that having their support (or at least neutrality) on the subject feels great. I respect the opinions of my family and friends; so blatantly going against their wishes and advice was rough.  Now that they are slowly getting behind me, I feel even better pursuing a car-free lifestyle.

But they should be prepared, the next step in my master plan is getting them out biking with me!

“Love + Love = Fear” ?

DSCN0027[1]Some equations make sense. Others, like the title of this post simply do not add up. But the above equation was true in my life until the middle of November 2014.

I love winter.
I love biking.

But to combine those two factors seemed crazy, dangerous and scary. Biking in the winter? In snow? Over ice? What about snowplows? Visibility? Falling? Unplowed shoulders? Out of control drivers? I faced all the possible scenarios in my mind and they were frightening.

My friends and family were not helpful in calming my fears. I don’t blame them, they just wanted me to buy a car which they seemed to believe was some sort of magical safety device.

Death by snowplow was a common prediction.
“We will be reading the obituaries”, was a common joke.
“I trust you, but I don’t trust the drivers on the road”, was a common argument.
“I won’t be able to sleep thinking about you on the road at night”, was a common plea.

I never let any of them know that their words were petrifying me. It was game face on. On the outside I was cool, collected and ready to conquer whatever winter threw at me. The reality was quite different. I actually got better health coverage in preparation for whatever winter would bring. I worried about my gear, my tires, my ability. I was scared stiff.

Until I started biking in snow. To my utter surprise and delight, I found it fun, a ton of fun actually. Every  scenario I had conjured in my mind started being replaced by reality.  Winter biking was much easier, simpler and more achievable  than I ever dreamed it would be.  Then I rode through the first heavy snowfall of the winter and I felt safe. Protected. That ride I learned that God with me in my winter biking adventures and after that any remaining fear was gone. The past few weeks I have continued to have a blast in the snow. I keep finding out more ways to enjoy the winter.

I have always loved winter, but this is my favorite winter ever. I used to claim that I loved biking, but that pales to the attachment I feel to this humble mode of transportation now.

My equation was flawed.

Upper Body Update (week 9)

This week I started the one hundred pushup program and my shoulders are super sore! I nearly doubled the amount of pushups I did last week and maintained my planking time.

This coming week I am supposed to do 215 pushups spread out over 3 workouts. But last week, Busy Cyclist, reminded me that what I was doing was working so maybe I should just stick with that instead of following a strict program. (And he also gave me some great ideas for switching up my pushup routine.)

I am one of those people that once my mind gets dead set on something, I will make it happen no matter what. I can say I am determined to do something but it isn’t until that moment that I firmly choose in my mind that there are no other options that I become laser-focused.

I was about to set my laser-focus on accomplishing one hundred pushups in 7 weeks, but the wisdom from Busy Cyclist shook me awake. Yes, my eventual goal is to be able to do 100 consecutive pushups, but I don’t think pushing myself to accomplish that goal in 7 weeks is a good fit for me.

I have seen a huge improvement in upper body strength in the past month, but that came through consistently doing pushups and planks at my own pace. I may use the program to guide me somewhat but I do want to be kind to my body and let it take all the time it needs to be strong enough to reach my goal.

I am going to focus on planking this week and give my shoulders a bit of a break, they deserve it!

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