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.

The Weight Loss Restaurant

A few days ago I was cooking breakfast at work when my boss came in and started chatting with me.

“You are getting skinny! I wish I had a picture of when you first started working here, you look completely different!” She exclaimed.

“Yeah, my life has changed a lot since then.” I answered.

Then she teased me. “But I wouldn’t want it getting out, a cook who loses weight is bad advertising for our business!”

We had a good laugh together.

Of course, the truth is that working in the restaurant has nothing to do with my weight loss. But the location of the restaurant has everything to do with it.

It is ten miles from where I live. Three and a half years ago, I started working at this small, family owned restaurant and commuting on my bike part of the time.

A ten mile commute really was the perfect distance. Short enough so that it was completely doable but long enough to be a commitment. It forced me into a decision-was I going embrace biking or be annoyed by the time it took out of my schedule?

For awhile, I  was frustrated that biking back and forth to work cut two hours out of my day. As I pedaled homeward, I would think about all the productive things I could be doing if I had sped home in a car.

But as I biked more and more frequently to work, my mindset underwent a shift. I realized that biking, in itself, was productive. I began enjoying my rides back and forth to work immensely and my bike and I became close friends. My motto became,

“It is impossible to waste time on a bike.”

But not only did the frequent bike rides change my mindset, they also started changing my body. I don’t have a scale at my house, but every time I had the opportunity to step on one, I was shocked by the steadily decreasing number. For the first time in my life I was losing weight without changing my eating habits.

The more miles I rode on my bike, the more miles I wanted to ride on my bike. Not for exercise, not for transportation but for the sheer joy of pedaling down the road, for the adventures. And the more active I became, the more weight I lost.

Since I started working at this restaurant in June 2012, I have lost 75 pounds.

Making friends with a bike has changed my life!

 

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On a hike with my family in the spring of 2012

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On a hike with my family this summer