New Biking Buddies

DSC00885I got to bike with my big sis today! We started out the day by jumping on our bikes and heading out on a short ride, ending up at our church. My sister makes me smile all of the time anyway, but getting to go on a bike ride with her was extra-special fun. We chatted, found an adorable foal and raced down some hills.

After church I hauled my dogs up to my parent’s house. They are starting to get really excited every time I pull out the trailer-they can’t wait to hop in. By the time I got up to my parent’s house my brother, sister-in-law and their four precious little ones were already there. One of the nephews came over to me and asked, “Can I ride in your trailer?”

So after lunch, I became the entertainment for my nephews and little niece (one of my nieces is a little young for trailer rides), pulling them up and down the road. They were so delighted to get strapped into the little green trailer and were very intrigued by the netting that straps down to cover the opening. I could only take two at a time, so my brother waited with the other child and they waved at us each time we went past.

After many loops up and down the road, it was time for them to go home. One of my nephews who is almost four asked me to carry him to the car.

“Thanks for riding with me.” I said. “Should we do it again sometime?”

“Auntie, I always want to be biking with you.” He replied simply and sincerely.

And that is when my heart melted and I turned into a pile of mush. It was a good day all-around.

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A day on my bike.

DSC00855My day was free of commitments and in a wondrous twist of magic, the weather turned out perfect. I simply had to go for a nice, long, meandering bike ride. My destination was chosen, a state park that I had never visited before, but I brought a paper map with me so I could go down roads at whim and still end up at the park.

I have only ever biked in my immediate local area, so the majority of the routes that I take, I know rather well. But today I was able to bike many miles of road that I have never seen before. It became a proper adventure.

As a Christian, I can’t help but see the beauty of the world as an extension of the glory of God. Today I saw His handiwork everywhere and it made me gasp in delight. Forests stretching as far as I could see, hawks soaring through the air, deer bounding through corn fields, the gurgle of happy streams, lazy cows chewing stalks of grass; so many lovely things! Is there a better way to explore the world than on a bicycle? If there is, please don’t tell me, I refuse to change my mind anyway!

Eventually, I arrived at the state park and found out it has only one attraction. But what a wonderful thing it is; a roaring waterfall of decent size and strength. (I have been to Niagara and Horseshoe Falls, they have spoiled me, I suppose.) I ate lunch by the waterfall, made friends with a toad, hid my bike so I could walk down a wooded trail and then packed up to head home.DSC00871DSC00860

There was a headwind to deal with on the way back but I was in no rush so I took my time. But after an hour I was hot and my body was starting to feel the strain of biking all day. I made an executive decision – it was time for an ice cream break. Mint chocolate chip in a waffle cone was just what I needed to boost my energy and cool me down. The power of ice cream got me home in no time.

My, how the world has changed!

Once upon a time, a long time ago there was winter. On my commute home today I attempted to recreate some of the pictures I took while biking when the world was cold and snowy. It was an off-the-cuff idea and I was relying on my memory, so it would be more accurate to say that I took pictures in the same general areas -the angles turned out all wrong!
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Just a little perk of biking…

DSC00791The local police set up a roadside speedometer a few houses down from where I live. It shows the speed of passing cars and flashes if that speed is over 30 mph. Since I bike past the sign every day and walk my dogs down the street, I have been able to observe the reactions of motorists to the speedometer.

As the cars come around the corner and see their current speed displayed, the most common reaction is gentle pressure on the brakes until the car is moving at or under the speed limit. Of course, there are some drivers who either don’t see the sign or are feeling brazen; they continue to speed down the road unflinchingly. My personal favorite are the drivers who see their speed and instantly stomp on the brakes until they are going way below the legal speed. It is my firm belief that these individuals think that a police officer is hiding in the shrubbery, waiting to pop out and hand them a ticket.

But all these motorists, regardless of their behavior when they notice the speedometer, have one thing in common. They are all speeding to various degrees before they come to the sign. Clearly, many of them aren’t speeding on purpose, their reaction to the speedometer is proof of that. It is just that speeding in a car is so easy. I have (occasionally) driven a car in the past and it shocked me every time how simple it was to go over the speed limit without even realizing it. Cars want to go fast, they are made to go fast, but in many situations they should not go fast.

I was thinking about it on the way home from work today. Just for fun, I decided to add three sprints to my route. For a few minutes each time, I pounded on those pedals as hard and as fast as ever I could. Going at my top speed down the road-it feels great. And that is the freedom of traveling everywhere by bike. My speed is not determined by road signs, laws or police officers. In most cases my fastest speed is legal and safe. I set my own pace, whether it be slower than a jogger running up a hill or faster than an Amish racehorse.

Some people think I am a little odd for choosing a mode of transportation that is slower and less convenient for getting around. It is true, they can zip around the countryside at speeds I could never dream of reaching.

But biking does have lots of great perks and one, little, maybe rather trivial perk, is that I have the freedom to choose my own speed. I can race down the road as fast as I can just for fun and it is exhilarating. It doesn’t get me killed or fined.  Although…in the event that I ever was caught speeding down a hill, well, I would probably brag about the resulting ticket until the day I died.

Oh, I should probably tell you my own reaction while biking past the speedometer. Well, I think it might not be calibrated correctly for bicycles because yesterday it said I was going ninety. I didn’t slow down.

July is here!

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The world has come a long way in three months!

It is July  and I am excited. June was a pretty busy month for me but I think the next few weeks will be a bit more relaxed. For the past three months I have been able to get in over 600 miles each months, and honestly? I have never felt better in my life. I never been more active, more strong or felt more energized. Some days I don’t think my feet ever touch the ground.

This month, I hope to break new ground. I really want to get at least 700 miles in. We shall see how it all turns out though!

To start the month of July out on a good, but not too ambitious note I put in 30 miles. Thunderstorms were predicted for most of the day but I managed to squeeze the miles in during  fairly dry parts of the day.

I discovered a new awesome hill during my ride. Steep and twisting, just what I need to practice my climbing and descending skills on. It boasts a smooth surface and to top it all off, there are no intersections or driveways anywhere near it, so I can really fly downhill without having to worry.  Even though I used the brakes liberally while descending today, I was still able to max out at 39 mph. It is a wonderful slope.

I was hurrying homeward because the skies seemed ready to burst at any minute, when I heard a man yell loudly,

“Denver, NO!”

I looked to my right just in time to see a dog sprinting after me. I love dogs. I have always loved dogs. But last summer a neighbor’s dog savagely bit my leg while I was biking out of the driveway. I have been bitten by dogs before (the by-product of being a small child and loving animals but not necessarily having the understanding of how to properly approach them) but never has a dog hated me. This dog, for some reason, despised me and three days later broke free from its chain to aggressively attack me. I had bruises and bite marks all over my legs but the pain wasn’t what shook me. What made me quake in fear was the utter evil in this dog’s eyes. He wanted to destroy me and he probably could have if he didn’t like dog treats so much. Sometimes obesity in dogs is a very, very good thing.

But do you know what was a very, very bad thing? The dog chasing me today looked strikingly similar to the vicious neighbor dog although he was a much more athletic version. In my mind, I wasn’t overly concerned, I knew that as long as I kept up a steady cadence I could outdistance him, but my body decided to betray me. My legs started shaking uncontrollably to the point that I accidently unclipped both my feet and suddenly I was scrambling to find the pedals. In horror, I looked behind to see the younger, faster version of last summer’s worst nightmare rapidly closing the gap.

Add to this the soundtrack of a man desperately screaming, “NO! NO! DENVER! NO!” My limbs were clumsy, shaky and felt like they were moving in slow motion, but blessedly I clipped back in and was able to speed up a small rise just in time, leaving the dog behind me. Then I coasted down a hill and noticed that my legs were still shaking like twigs in a hurricane. So I decided the best thing to do was to put those silly, traitorous legs to work.

I sped all the way back to town.