Errands to Run

 

horses

These horses were running away from me, not because I was scary but because they are doing the running version of the Errandonnee this year. They have errands to run!

The Errandonnee has begun!

 

Yesterday, I ran my first errand-bringing up a jello salad to my church for a funeral dinner that is being held today. Since the salad was in a large bowl, I used my bike trailer to give it a safe and gentle ride.jello salad

My bike likes going to church. While all the cars have to stay out on the parking lot and endure the rain and snow, my bike gets the VIB(Very Important Bicycle) spot. I ride my bike right up to the entrance and lean it against the building where it stays nice and dry no matter the weather out.bike at church

Then today I rode back and forth to work. I also rode back and forth to work yesterday, but I couldn’t take any pictures because the shutter on my camera refused to budge. So now I am using my old camera which has an annoying scratch on the lens. I apologize for the weird blur on all the photos, I will work out a solution as soon as I can, or else I will go bonkers from having to deal with the blurriness.

I had a beautiful ride in to work, the sky was bursting with glittery stars and the moon was a stunning orange crescent. The temperature was close to zero and the crisp cold air felt wonderful.

Throughout the day the temperature rose until it reached 26 degrees for the ride home. The sun was out and shining brightly and there was a gentle breeze.

If the weather forecast is to be trusted we are going to have a warm week. Tonight I am going to take the studded tires off my mountain bike and put on a pair of smoother, hybrid-ish tires. My bike and I should be flying tomorrow!ice

Errand 1
Deliver Salad to Church
Category: Non-Store Errand
Distance: 2 Miles
Big bowls of food may not fit in my panniers, but a bike trailer is up to the task.

Errand 2
Commuting
Category: Work
Distance: 20 Miles
Cold, clear night skies are the best!

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Where did Febuary go?

sap buckets

I saw the first tapped trees today. So either spring is here or the maple producers are as confused as the rest of us.

“Leap Day”, despite being such a rare day and all, did not turn out to be very exciting. In fact, it seemed like any other Monday and even worse. My workday dragged on and on, and without even realizing it I had become a grump. The wind was out in full force and I knew it would be fighting me all the way home so I had already come to the conclusion that it would be a miserable ride.

Finally my shift was over and I walked out the door with aching legs and a tired body. Usually I can’t wait to hop on my bike and pedal home, but yesterday I really did not feel up to the task. But I told myself that I could go as slow as I needed to and eventually I would make it through the howling winds.

But as I started down the road I slowly began to realize…
I was not tired.
My legs had stopped aching.
The wind had died down.
And it was a beautiful day.

For the first time in several hours I could feel a genuine smile spread across my face. Sometimes I forget how reinvigorating a bike ride can be!

And now a new month has arrived and I haven’t the slightest clue how it will play out. It could be cold and snowy or unseasonably mild like the rest of the winter has been. I have high hopes for a few more nice snowstorms but either way I am excited, I can’t believe spring is just around the corner.ice footprints

I reached 1,100 miles for the year today and I am aiming to have as many adventures on my bike this month as I can, I would love to get 700 miles in by the end of March.

One of the best things about biking in March is the Errandonnee! It begins this Friday and I am hoping I can pull off the required 12 errands in 12 days. It will be fun reading about everyone’s errand adventures, whether they bike, run or do both.

 

The Lowest Temperature Ever Recorded

snow covered railroad tracksLike many (perhaps all?) cyclists I am obsessed with the weather and I scrutinize the forecast at least several times a day. It is how I always begin and often end my day.

This morning was no different. When the alarm started ringing at 3:22, I rolled out of bed and dragged myself over to my laptop to see what type of weather I would be dealing with on my commute.

Sometimes when I check the weather I am thrilled by what I see, other times I am disappointed and occasionally what I see makes me quake in my boots. But this morning was the first time that the weather report made me laugh.

Still half-asleep, I had glanced at the temperature that my local weather station was reporting.

-9999.0

Yikes, that is kinda cold! I decided I should either put on all of the clothes that exist in the world before venturing outside, or refresh the webpage. While I was refreshing the page a few times, the weather station apparently experienced a heat wave and began reporting 16F. Sixteen degrees is downright balmy after that type of cold! So either my town set a record for the lowest temperature ever or there was a slight glitch in the system. Personally, I think we set a record.

After that interesting start to the morning, I had a funny feeling about how the rest of the day would be. But it was a great day. It snowed during my ride to work, great big fluffy flakes-my favorite, and then it was brilliantly sunny on the way home, making the new snow sparkle like diamonds.

 

When the Snow Smiles Back

ice walls with bikeSnow makes me smile all the time. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day it would smile back.

On my commuting route there is a stretch of flat road that follows the river. For some reason or another, the majority of the exciting experiences I have while commuting happen on this section of road. (Personally, I think it is because the river is magical.)

Monday afternoon I was biking calmly toward home, wrapped up in my own little world when I came to this stretch of road.

Suddenly, I realized that today I was not the only one hanging out of the shoulder of the road.

There were hundreds of smiley faces inhabiting the asphalt. Salt from the plow trucks combined with the weather conditions had created an entire community of smiling snow patches.DSC02465

DSC02464DSC02466Not every face was a perfect representative of the classic smiley face, but the vast majority had an uncanny likeness.

I couldn’t contain my own smile for the next mile of my commute. How could I? There were little faces peering up and grinning right at me!

The next time someone asks me why I bike through the winter, I will just tell them,

“If I didn’t bike, I would miss out on the smiley faces!”

Winter came back!

DSC02454After a few weeks of mild, spring-like weather, winter has returned with a vengeance. When I got up this morning, the weather station was reporting -6. I rushed around the house getting everything ready to venture out into the cold.

Reinstall bar mitts.
Mount two headlights on the handlebars.
(They run out of charge quickly in the cold.)
Put on a bunch of clothes.

It was a bit of a hectic start to the day, but once I was out on the road surrounded by the peaceful darkness of early morning, time slowed down again. It was a great ride and I stayed warm the whole way, even bordering on too warm.

On the way home, I was trying to hurry and get home at a decent time, but a strong wind prevented me from going at a fast pace. It was frustrating but once I gave up the idea that I was in a rush, the ride became much more enjoyable.

I even listened to my bike when it told me to use a trail. My bike has the best ideas. The trail was great fun to ride, filled with bumpy ice patches and crunchy snow.DSC02459

At the end of the trail, a miniature pinscher charged me, barking furiously, as if I was an alien sent to earth for the sole purpose of abducting his human. Thankfully, his owner was able to convince him that I was not a threat, and my bike and I made it safely back home…

…to our spaceship.

A Tiny Treasure in the Snow

new snowLast night when I checked the weather before going to bed 1-3 inches of snow was predicted.

When I started biking to work there was a touch of snow covering the side streets in town. But then winter went wild and suddenly I was in the middle of an all-out snowstorm. The temperature was close to freezing so the snowflakes were gigantic and heavy. Just beautiful.

Visibility was very low, but at this time in the morning no one is on the roads, so it really isn’t a problem as long as I am careful. I wasn’t all alone out the storm, however, I startled a group of three deer and they scrambled across the road in front of me.

Their hooves slid on the slippery pavement, leaving behind odd slashes in the snow. I guess bikes and cars are not the only ones to need studs on the road in winter.

Throughout my ride, I kept my ears tuned to listen for a snowplow. I figured one would come by and clear the rapidly increasing layer of heavy snow. But a snowplow never came and the closer I got to the restaurant, the deeper the snow became and the slower I trudged along. But I made it to work in the nick of time, albeit rather sweaty.

The storm was long gone by the time I rode home, but it had left behind over a foot of snow. The sun was shining on a landscape that had been entirely reinvented. Everywhere I looked, I could see sparkling, perfect snow. This route, that I have ridden hundreds of times in the past few years, felt like a new road that I had just started exploring.

The only problem with the road is that the snowplows had done their work and it was completely and utterly clear of snow. And the short trails that I can normally take on the way home were completely impassable on my bike because of the deep snow. It is no good to just look at pretty, new snow-snow is meant to be played in!birdbox in snow

So I stopped at a trail and pranced around in the snow for a bit, exploring the woods. In the middle of my wanderings, I found a tiny treasure in the snow. Amidst dead, prickly vines and brown fruit I discovered a single red fruit (I don’t have the slightest idea what kind of fruit or berry it is) peeking out in the sunlight. It was just a small blob of color in a sea of snow, but it made me smile.red blob

Bicycle Time Travel

trail ridingThis weekend was bright and sunny, a weird contrast to the severe storm the East coast experienced. It was also cold; Saturday and Sunday morning both began with subzero temperatures.

I was a bit unnerved by the fact that the last time we had subzero weather my freehub decided to give out on me. Doug from Four Season Cycling had assured me that nothing was wrong with the freehub, it just needed new, more suitable grease. With guidance from my dad and this video, I had flushed the old grease out and regreased the hub, hoping that my problem was solved.

Everything ran smoothly on my commute Saturday morning  with the temperature at -4. When I woke up Sunday morning it was -9 outside. Usually I just ride straight to church, which is just a mile up the road, but I wanted to test my bike out to make sure everything was working properly. So I left my house before sunrise to ride in the coldest temperatures possible. I didn’t do this to have fun, I was on a serious ride to test out my bicycle, I don’t think I even cracked a smile…

…Well, until I found a trail to ride through the woods.

The bike worked perfectly in the cold which made the trail even more fun to ride. Once I was back on the road, I saw an Amish buggy turning onto the same country lane that led to my church. Without hesitation, I turned onto the road behind it, but as I was doing so, I saw another Amish buggy turning behind me.

The next few seconds were comical as Amish folks seemed to pop up in every direction.

There were buggies coming from the right.
And the left.
There were groups of Amish ladies walking on the road dressed in black capes.
And also groups of boys and girls.

I found myself smack dab in the middle of the Amish community as they made their way to a family’s home for church!

For a few minutes, I felt like I had been transported back in time to early colonial America. Then we (meaning the procession of Amish folks and a lone cyclist) came to the farmhouse where the service was quite obviously being held.

The barnyard was full of Amish men who bustling about, talking and getting their horses situated. Well, they had been bustling about, but when they saw me, everything slowed to a halt.

With a bright colored jacket and blinking red lights, I supposed I stood out from the somber, dark tones of their community.

Suddenly, I felt like I was intruding on something very private. I did the only thing I could do, I waved awkwardly and gave a faint, “Hello”. Several of the men gave a jolly wave in return, which smoothed things over a bit, although I did see an elderly man with gray whiskers and twinkling eyes looking at me and laughing quite heartily.

My Pastor laughed quite loudly as well when I recounted my tale. I guess some test rides aren’t destined to be serious.

church

This church is the prettiest one in town, which explains why I took pictures of it during sunrise and not my own church….