Christmas came early!

I woke up to the sound a plow clearing the road and found my world transformed by dazzling, glittering snow. Last night, I hoped that this would be the case so I went to bed early so that I could have extra snow-playtime before work this morning. Thank you to everyone who sent snow-wishes my way, they finally came true! I can’t believe it, snow is actually real!!!!

I am gonna head out now, magic awaits!

 

Stop that squeak!

It can be overwhelming. There is so much about bike repair and bike maintenance that I don’t know yet and I find myself constantly playing catch up, trying to learn what I need to know to keep my bikes in good condition.

Sometimes, I look at one of my bikes and think,

“I have no clue how this thing actually works, what am I even doing riding it anywhere?”

I guess learning it all doesn’t happen overnight. The good thing is I am making progress, albeit slower progress than my bikes surely hope for.

Last week, my mountain bike started squeaking with every pedal stroke. I figured the chain needed a good cleaning, so that day when I got home from work I scrubbed everything down. In the morning, I applied a fresh layer of lube and called it good.

It wasn’t good. The squeaking continued. Is there anything worse then riding a madly squeaking bike?

This time when I got home, I looked at each moving part to determine what could possibly be causing my ears such pain. The culprit turned out to be the innocent looking guide pulley.

Yesterday I got out my set of Allen keys and confidently loosened the bolt which held the pulley in place. (Guide pulleys can sense fear so my use of the term “confidently” is a cover-up of my actual emotional state.)

Since I was already tinkering around with the derailleur, I took the other pulley out as well.cleaning bike pulleys

After cleaning each part, I lubed the pulleys and tightened them back into their respective places. And for bonus points I figured out why I have been having trouble with my rear brakes; one of the pads was up too high and was brushing the tire.

I felt like a champ. I had diagnosed the problem and solved it.

Did the process take a few hours?
Yes.

Was I laughably clumsy the entire time?
Yes.

Did I put the chain around the pulleys incorrectly the first couple of tries?
Yes.

But everything is back in place and working fine. And best of all, I did it all by myself.

The Waving Issue

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Look! My best picture of a deer yet! You can almost see the deer in this one.

This morning I was busy at work cooking breakfast and minding my own business, when a short man barged into the kitchen, past the swinging doors that are clearly marked, “Employees Only”. Startled, I turned toward him as he said in a loud voice that echoed through the kitchen,

“I waved to you yesterday when you were biking but you didn’t wave back!”

I smiled. If I collected a penny every time someone came up to me and said this, I would probably be able to use my winnings to buy a candy bar at a convenience store. However, this is the first time anyone has ever stormed the kitchen to tell me.

I would love to be the friendly cyclist who waves to everyone who waves to me, but it really is quite the daunting task. I would have to stare deeply past the windshield of every passing vehicle to monitor whether the driver was waving or not. And cars go by so fast! Also, I must admit, though I try to remain aware of cars to stay safe, my focus while biking is elsewhere.

I am riding past funny animals and beautiful trees and flowing rivers and puffy clouds and corn fields, which I find more interesting to look at then cars driving down a road. People who are outside, working on their lawns are much easier to smile and wave to then people in a speeding car.

But I have a solution for the customer who came back into the kitchen to tease me this morning.

“Ride a bike and I promise I will wave to you every time I see you on the road.”

Pre-winter Doldrums

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 Have you ever wanted a weather vane that is actually a spiky-haired minion, flying a fighter jet?

Yesterday, I started innocently chatting with my coworker about her weekend. It was a nice conversation until she dropped this bomb,

“Apparently, they are saying that we won’t get any snow before mid-January.”

A wave of complete and absolute dread swept over me.

I was unsettled, not only by what she had said, but at my strong emotional reaction to the rumored delay in snowfall. Retreating back into the kitchen, I mulled over my response. Why had a simple weather prediction/rumor hit me so hard?

This is what I realized.

Biking year-round has been fun for me so far because I have, for the most part, embraced each season as it comes. But in the past few weeks, I have let that attitude slide. I began to desire winter to return so fiercely that I lost sight of enjoying the current weather.

The truth is, that I have allowed my biking to get stale and I have been blaming my lack of motivation on the lack of snow. I guess I planned to sit by and twiddle my thumbs until snow swept in like a knight in shining amour and transformed my world into a glistening, magical adventure-land ready to be explored.

I love winter. Ever since the beginning of spring, in the back of my mind, I have been dreaming and planning what I would do when snow made its triumphant return. Honestly, I have been hoping for a winter identical to last winter.

But winter marches to the beat of its own drum. It will come when it comes. And I need to remember that each winter is unique-chances are we won’t get the same amount of snowfall that we experienced last year.

So I am gonna stop obsessing over signs of snow in the 10-day forecast, comparing this year’s weather to last year’s and moping over the non-existent snow.

To put my new resolve into action, I left the house this morning a few hours before sunrise.

I biked up into a state forest and rode on uninhabited dirt roads. Flanked on either side by silent trees, with my headlight to guide me, I followed the road as it wound its way through the sleeping forest.

I stopped a few times just to enjoy the complete and utter stillness.

Quietly, I sang to myself. I tried singing some Christmas carols, but they didn’t seem to fit as my bike and I plunged through the mud, so I ended up singing How Great Thou Art instead.

Slowly, light began to filter through the leafless branches of the trees and the sky turned from black to blue. It was time to loop around and head home, I needed to be back so that I could babysit at nine.

On the way back, I found some potholes, filled with water and frozen over. They were too tempting to resist and I rode through them, crunching through the ice happily.

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If we’ll need a good washing anyway, might as well get as muddy as possible.

 

DSC01954My bike and I returned home, completely and utterly filthy. It may premature to say this, but I think this ride has cured me of my pre-winter doldrums.

Am I still eagerly anticipating snowflakes?
You bet!
But I am not going to sit around any longer waiting anxiously for their arrival. The time for adventures is now.

Ten things that make my commute awesome.

Note: Not all of these pictures were taken today.

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The distance. Ten miles to work is perfect for me.

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Wide shoulders

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A forest trail that is great for escaping the road for a bit.

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The many animals I see, both wild and domestic.

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This pond is beautiful and constantly changing with the seasons.

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The wind sock which gives me a visual of what the wind is actually up to.

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The giant white dog that chases me.

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Biking down this hill.

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Fence Fail Farm. This place is a constant source of entertainment.

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The port-a-potty business that decorates with seasonal characters.

What would Mary ride?

Tonight, my big sis and I played the role of Mary in a community nativity. It was a lot of fun, but I must admit, it has been a long day. And for part of that day I was wearing a baby belly and walking around on tiny sandals. My back is not very happy right now. (To all the moms out there I have new respect for you!)

After getting home from work I only had a bit of time to take care of my dogs, shower and scurry back out the door. As I was pulling out of my yard, something on my bike just didn’t feel right.

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I do love my studded tires, but one pair is enough in this house!

 

A flat tire? Really? Now of all times?

Of course, I don’t have spare tubes to fit the huge tires of my MTB (sheepish grin) so I had to repair the flat as fast as I could (new record-13 minutes). It might not have been the best quality job but as of now the tire is still at full pressure.

I made it up to where the nativity was being held, without being much later than the other cast members. The animals were brought in and I wondered…

…if Mary had a choice would she have rode a donkey or a bike to Bethlehem?

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After all, the account in Luke never mentions the mode of transportation, it just states that Joseph and Mary “went up” from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

If I were in Mary’s shoes, I might pick the donkey, I don’t think they get flats.

Where’s the snow?

Before going to bed last night, I checked the weather forecast.

The prediction:
Snow!

When I woke up this morning the first thing I did was look out the window to see if a layer of the magical stuff was already covering the ground. But all I saw was fallen leaves and dying grass.

I checked the weather again and found out that snow would soon be on its way. To get me in the Christmas spirit, I turned on Handel’s Messiah and cleaned my kitchen.

Although not as exciting as the falling of snow, two items that I ordered on Cyber Monday arrived; a pair of Craft Storm Tights and winter boots from Baffin. I was so nervous unpacking them and trying them on, what if I didn’t like them or they didn’t fit right?

I tried on the pants first and halleluiah, not only was the size right but they feel really comfortable. Hopefully it will get cold enough for me to try them out on my bike soon. I think they will prove to be quite an upgrade from wearing layers of pants underneath rain pants like I did last winter! I love how fitted they are through the leg, I won’t have to worry about them tangling with the bike’s gears.

The boots fit nicely as well and seem really well insulated, I can’t wait to see how they hold up in sub zero weather.

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These guys are ready to tackle some serious weather, if we ever get any…

 

Noon came and went: still no snow. By midafternoon I gave up on waiting for the snow and went out for a short ride.

Now it is evening and none of the forecasted snow has decided to make an appearance in real life. I am sad. It’s December, I want snow!

But I guess half of the excitement of winter is that you never know what will happen. Maybe there is a snowstorm out there that is just about to pounce.