Sunshine, Wind and Flowers

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Everything is bursting to life around here. Birds are building nests and laying eggs, new flowers popping up in every yard, the grass is a brilliant hue of green and the trees are beginning to bud. The world seems frantically alive with sounds, smells and vibrant colors.

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Other than a light rain this morning we have had eleven solid days of sunshine. My weird cyclist tan lines are coming out of hiding and starting to provoke comments once again.

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Squint and you’ll miss it…the beginning of the wonderful glove tan line.

But probably the most bizarre thing about having so many sunny, dry days in a row is that I haven’t washed my bike in forever! After getting into a steady routine of cleaning my winter bike every single day, the lack of maintenance currently needed is rather off putting. I carry my bike up the stairs after a good ride and stare in surprise as I realize that once again, she is completely clean.

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It has been so dry that Smoky the Bear is out in full force to warn of forest fires.

The wind has been active lately but I have stumbled upon a routine for my rides that makes the wind enjoyable rather than oppressive. I used to ride a lot of loops on my days off, but this spring I have found out and back routes to be even better.

I check the wind direction and then choose a road that will take me directly into its path. After riding into the wind as far as time and/or interest allow, I turn around and head home. It is an intoxicating feeling to have the wind suddenly at my back. The air seems to go still and there is a voice in my head that says, “GO!”

I have realized something about myself. It is easy for me to be motivated to ride my bike. But it is much harder to be motivated to ride my bike fast. I often slow down whenever the going gets rough to give my legs and lungs a break.

But with a tailwind?

I don’t know exactly why, but I can often push past the point of discomfort. I think my brain gets so excited with how fast my bike is going with the help of the wind that it forgets to complain. So I go as hard as I can and it is incredible. I have never been the thrill-seeker type so bombing down hills on my bike gives me a rare glimpse into the world of the adrenaline rush.

My brother and I rode together yesterday (we leave for Colorado in less than a month so we have been trying to ride as much as possible lately)  and it was the best fun to feel the wind’s power together. We came back home feeling like epic beasts.

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All the little things add up…

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What even is this day?

My ride this morning began under a clear, black sky that was bursting with twinkling stars. I stared up at the perfect sky as much as I dared (which isn’t much-I have been cautious ever since I punctured one of my tires while trying to combine stargazing and cycling).

Then during the last mile of my commute I noticed one of the greatest things ever…the eastern sky was not completely black, there was just a faint breath of color to silhouette barns, houses and trees. To me, this is a huge and noteworthy event. For around nine months out of the year, I ride to work under a black, night sky but now-now I get to see a bit of sunrise just before arriving at the restaurant. I am ridiculously excited!

The day continued its wonderfulness and I stepped out of work at 3:00pm to a bright sun, clear blue sky, gentle winds and a temperature of sixty degrees. It is one of those days when everything in the world seems delighted to be alive.

As I was crossing a bridge, I was busy humming to myself and watching pudgy little woodchucks scurry around in the new green grass. I felt a spider’s web brush my arms but I was too focused elsewhere to pay much attention. A few minutes later, I glanced at my bike computer only to burst out laughing.

From the tips of my fingers to the crook of my elbows, dozens upon dozens of silky strands connected my arms together. Good thing I am not a fly, or I would not have made it out alive!

I took a few minutes to stop at a park and just listen to all the cheerful little creatures enjoying the sunny day. I spotted a little chipmunk coming out of his hole and when he saw me he froze for a few minutes. Then he decided he was not scared of me anymore and his fear turned into rage. He turned toward me, guarding his home and chirped fiercely until I stepped away.

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And now I am home and I have thrown open all my windows. A fresh breeze is blowing through the house and I can hear the birds singing. It is a good day.

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Eeyore Brain

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Today has turned out to be a very dreary spring day, complete with dark, foreboding clouds and steady rain. My ride to work was nice however, mostly because I had a friendly tailwind encouraging me for the entire ten miles.

As my workday came to a close I started dreading the journey back home. The more I thought about it, the more reasons I came up with to feel dismal and rather quickly I developed a full-blown case of Eeyore Brain. I had become dramatically pessimistic about everything: the dark day, the cold rain, the energy sucking headwind, my stiff quads…I just felt so tired.

While I was gingerly pulling on my damp cycling clothes, I decided that my ride home was going to be awful and that I would simply have to grin and bear it.

The first few minutes of pedaling down the road fulfilled my prediction of doom. I don’t know why but my quads became very sore while at work today and my legs simply did not want to move once I got on my bike. Combining that with the gloomy weather, the only thing that kept me moving down the road was the force of habit. I settled in for a slow, plodding ride home.

But my little bike had some tricks up its sleeve. It wasn’t long before it started nudging me,

“Hey, this wind isn’t that strong, we can go faster than this.”
“Your legs aren’t stiff as you think they are, you drama queen.”
“Look! Puddles!”

When people tell me it is nasty weather out and that I shouldn’t dare to ride my bike, I usually tell them that, “The weather outside always looks worse from the inside.” It is a statement I have found to be true. No matter how awful a day seems to be, once I am outside, riding my bike, any weather becomes at least somewhat enjoyable.

But today my Eeyore brain refused my acknowledge this truth. Thankfully, my bike was willing to step up the plate and remind me.

From then on I enjoyed the gentle rain and softly blowing wind. The air was filled with the joy of spring. Before I knew it, my bike and I had made it home.

Choosing the Wrong Bike

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The weather is cold and the beautiful snow has returned.

On Sunday we got a light cover of snow overnight and into the morning. Instead of melting off during the day, the snow stuck around as all proper snow should do.

When I woke up Monday morning, I noticed that another thin layer of snow had fallen overnight. It wasn’t enough to cover the road so I foolishly decided that it was alright to use my road bike to commute to work.

Four miles down the road, I finally realized that I that made the wrong choice. The farther north I went, the thicker the layer of snow on the pavement became and the sky was adding to that amount very rapidly indeed.

I love riding in snowstorms and over the past two years I have become confident in handling my bike in snow but I have always used my mountain bike with wide, studded, knobby tires. Now I found myself in a snowstorm on a road bike with two very skinny, very smooth tires. Yikes.

What if I hit a patch of ice, would I smash into the ground without any warning?

I started singing a song that always gives me perspective when I am feeling afraid while riding.

Being a cyclist, I change the words slightly. I sing the chorus like this,

I don’t ever, ever, ever
Bike alone
You are with me, for me
Always holding on.

It is amazing how focusing on God and His love can drive away my fear. I began to see the reality of my situation: yes, I was not on a proper winter bike, but with the wide shoulders and desolate roads the only thing to worry about was falling over and with the amount of clothing I was wearing it probably wouldn’t be that bad…hopefully. And I knew that if the snow became too deep for me to handle I could always ask my coworker to pick me up.

As I continued to bike along, it hit me. This might be the very last snowstorm I get to ride through until next winter. I became a bit emotional. Though I enjoy every season, winter is undeniably the greatest of them all, snow makes the world a wonderful, magical place and I am going to miss that magic.

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So yes, I went from being scared about riding in the snow to being emotional about the end of winter within a few minutes. It is probably a good thing that I have never claimed to be a completely rational human.

I made it to work completely fine. There was no sliding, no slipping, no scary moments. My bike, on the other hand, was a complete mess. The poor thing was practically crying,

“Look what you have done to me!”

After I got home from work, I gave it exactly what it deserved: a very thorough cleaning.

Although everything turned out alright in the end, I won’t be taking my road bike on any more snowy adventures…my mountain bike is clearly angry about missing out.

 

 

 

Getting Pranked By My Bike

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A sure sign of spring, the sheep are escaping out of their pens at Fence Fail Farm

 

Ahh….good ‘ole April Fool’s Day. I am not much of a prankster but this is the one day of the year that I try my hand at tricking people. The apex of my achievements in pranksterdom was when I made homemade bagels for my family. Special cheddar cheese and chive bagels. They looked rather yummy, if I do say so myself, but I had secretly poured so much salt into the dough that they were entirely inedible.

At work, I also try to come up with a few harmless and creative pranks each April Fool’s Day. I have been lucky so far, each year my work schedule has allowed me to set up the pranks on March 31st, but actually be off work on the 1st. For three years I have been pranking my coworkers without ever being pranked myself.

This year, however, the tables had turned. I went into work this morning knowing that I was about to receive payback for my devious deeds. Sure enough, my coworkers had sneakily sealed up some of the squeeze bottles, replaced a few of the raw eggs with hard-boiled ones and put objects in the commercial toaster so that when I turned it on, the objects came clanging merrily out. It kept me awake this morning!

But I must say, my bike pulled the most absurd prank of all.

I bought a new computer for my bike (the old one kept glitching) and last night, I assembled it all together and got everything properly configured.

This morning as I started biking through town in the light, warm rain, I noticed that the speedometer was showing double the speed I usually travel at. I was going 30 mph through town, just like a car! By the time I got to work my max speed during the ride was 64 mph and according to the display, I had gone 20 miles. Oh dear. I decided that I must have put in the wrong tire size when I was setting the computer up the night before…

It wasn’t until an hour before my shift would end that my brain finally woke up and I realized that I had forgotten to do something very important when I took the old computer off. I felt extremely silly but after making a small adjustment to my front wheel, the computer worked just fine for the ride home.

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If it takes you less than nine hours to figure out what is wrong with this wheel, you are heaps smarter than me 😀