Monday, February 12, 2018

Fat Biking, Because I Can

I took advantage of another Fat Bike Demo Day at Catamount Family Center. This time around our two boys and I rolled on snowy trails - a pleasant and fun way to spend an hour in the great Vermont outdoors!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Bike Blog Love - 6th Edition

There's talk in the bike blogging world that our numbers are dwindling. It may be true. We've all seen blogs fold because, well, life changes. Others are dormant, their authors have jumped onto less intensive platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook for instant connection and rarely update their blog. A few bike blogs remain though, so folks still enjoy the lengthy process of scribbling, er typing their thoughts. I've cut back on frequency, but tell a tale when the mood strikes. I suppose we get our communication in whatever dose works for us.

"The times, they are a changing."

When I set out to choose a new collection of blogs to celebrate, I realized that I'd fallen in a rut myself, and hadn't sought out any new blogs in the past year to vary my reading. This time I intentionally made new connections through blog links or mentions in online forums. I'm sharing several current standbys and some new-to-me blogs. On that note, I've also looked further abroad - across the pond - for some refreshing, new content.

Bikes For The Rest Of Us

This blog speaks to me. It's not a chronicle of biking life, but a resource of utilitarian bicycles. If a new transportation bike hits the market, and is worth mentioning, the author crafts a very useful rundown, complete with photos and other pertinent information.

bikelovejones

Bikelovejones has been around for a long time though I'm a fairly new convert. I identify with her bike aesthetic: riding 1980's mountain bikes for transportation. Once a racer and bike mechanic, Beth is a musician and refurbishes bicycles for a refugee resettlement program. Fatigued with Crohn's disease, Beth has good and bad days. but she strives for the bright side, appreciating the healing power of a bike ride.

CLR Effect

Formally the Claremont Cyclist, I've reconnected with this blogger from California. His photography and writing is often poetic. He also loves bicycle history.


Town Mouse

Town Mouse has been a staple on my side bar for sometime. She is a humorous writer, loves gardening, and gets over her head in bicycle advocacy, residing in Scotland. She is the first to admit she is a fumble fingers bike mechanic, putting off maintenance until the last minute.

Tootlepedal's Blog

Also Scottish, Tom is an avid cyclist, outdoor lover and photographer. He is a born storyteller, enchanting readers with his unique perspective on walks and bike rides. Wildlife flocks to his bird feeders.

coastrider

An east coast Scotland fat bike rider who creates nice videos.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Winter Commutes - I'm Back!

Overlook Park has bike repair tools
Snow piles at Overlook Park, South Burlington.
A weekend road ride in 45F fueled the hunger for getting back into riding to work. Bike paths still needed to dry out, but pavement was fine, which fired me up to look at alternate, navigable routes.

Lake Champlain view from Overlook Park
Lake Champlain vista, Overlook Park, South Burlington.
My normal route encompasses two bike paths, but thinking outside the box to include neighborhoods and quiet streets could still make for a pleasant ride. After reconnaissance by foot and bus, I formed a workable plan.

what I carry on bike commutes
Staying organized is key. to getting back into  winter commuting, especially with the extra clothing required to stay warm.
I've ridden two days so far this week, a brisk 10F ride and today in 15-35F, linking one path (walking a few short icy spots) and mostly on road. It will take me a while to get back in the groove. I forgot to wear earrings one day and I can't locate my normal cable lock, though a purple chain lock is adequate for my relatively safe workplace outdoor parking.

I know I've come full circle when I arrive home, smiling, and unpack my pannier onto our entryway. floor, and begin the process of putting away my belongings.

After six weeks without bike commuting, I'm thrilled to be back on two wheels. And only time will tell - either that or the furry guy emerging from his burrow tomorrow - as to how often rides happen.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A Gift: Riding the Minuteman Bikeway in January

Signage on Minuteman Bikeway
A warm mid 40s break in weather coincided with a trip to Boston - it was a lucky weekend! Arriving early afternoon on Saturday and learning the Minuteman Bikeway might be clear enough to ride, my husband and I headed directly to a parking area near the trail.

Lexington portion of Minuteman Bikeway
Walkers and cyclists were coming out of hibernation - but not too many yet, considering the Minuteman is one of the busiest paths in the east - to make for clear sailing along the wet path.

Restroom and benches on Minuteman Bikeway
Restroom stop at the Lexington visitors center.
I opted to bring my folding bike for easy storage inside our vehicle. My husband removed his front wheel which enabled both bikes to avoid slushy, salted spray on the back rack. And, considering our city accommodation, it was a good decision for safety - storing the bikes without transfer to a hotel storeroom.

Dirt path next to Minuteman Bikeway
It had been 15 years since our first visit to the trail, so the sights rekindled our love for this amazing 10 mile linear park that spans Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford. There were numerous side footpaths, a winding trail already tracked by a bicycle, and lots of marshland.

Snow flanks the Minuteman Bikeway in January
We spied a group of 20 wild turkeys in the woods behind someone's house.

Bedford, end of Minuteman Bikeway
At the Bedford Depot, official northern end of the Minuteman Bikeway, we were set to turn around, but after inspecting signs and my husband talking with another Bridgestone owner, we continued onward to investigate a dirt connector trail that leads to Concord.

Minuteman Bikeway logo
Minuteman Bikeway signs.

Reformatory Branch Trail to Concord
The 4-mile Reformatory Branch Rail Trail, unfortunately, was still snowed in, though there were fat tire tracks and foot prints. We turned around, opting for a quick side spin on a quiet road then bolting back to our car, as the time was growing short to get to a function in Boston.

Nashua River Trail under snow
Nashua River Trail
On our drive northward the following morning, we found what sounded like an interesting trail near Nashua, New Hampshire, called the Nashua River Trail.* It too, was still packed with snow - too slippery to walk on. However, a system of walking trails, Nashua Conservancy Land, provided ample space to explore on foot. Nashua River Trail - we'll be back!

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*Trail Link is an excellent resource to locate trails near specific regions.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Evolution of Accepting a Winter Without Riding

Groomed ski trails in Finland.
Photo credit: Timo Newtom-Sym on Wikimedia, and converted to black and white by anniebikes.

This Phase Cannot Last
Between cycling for the last time on the solstice, sitting and visiting relatives over the holidays, and frequent precipitation, I figured the snowfall was too good to be true. It wouldn't last. The 2016 winter had prolonged dry spells where, sporadically, I rode on dry pavement for errands or round trip to work once a week, just enough to get my cycling fix.

Frustration & Denial
Then just before the new year, a 7-10 day deep freeze descended upon New England. Below zero and snow fell! It was too cold to go outside. I was stir crazy from lack of exercise, though yoga helped loosen stiff joints and protect my sanity. A gym membership is lost on me. I want to be out doors. I sat near the window, reading, watching movies, trying to absorb daylight. It was the first time in a long time that I considered buying an indoor bicycle trainer. Instead I gazed outside.

My heart hurt when my husband removed my son's and my bicycle from the garage to open up space for our vehicle.

Acceptance
Once the terrible weather spell passed, frequent precipitation is the new normal. I have resigned myself to leaving the car at home during the work week and despite my dislike of the bus, I've re-calibrated my mindset, using the bus as link to more exercise. I walked the 4.5 miles one way home and fell once and nearly slipped numerous times due to icy paths (not to mention arriving home late), so the bus allows me to shortcut the miles but still get exercise walking on plowed and salted sidewalks - as much as I need for sanity.

The transition feels complete. I've shoveled driveways, embraced the beautiful powder snow, and adopted a new elderly neighbor's driveway as my new project because, sadly, another older gentleman who we've helped for many years, had recently passed away.

This past weekend I brought out my cross country skis for two days of local skiing: through backyards and shushing in an unplowed cemetery beneath tall evergreens heavy with snow, plus a lovely sunset ski with my husband along the waterfront path. Ice is forming on the shoreline. Surprisingly, I kept warm in single digit temperatures, donning a down parka, wearing winter weight bicycle tights, and the warm mitts I'd purchased last year for cold weather riding. The irony, of course, was that cycling garments were also great for skiing, on the same waterfront path that's my favorite place to ride.

When we returned to the car after dark, I looked up and smiled at a sky full of stars. The transition was complete. I'd come full circle, from angst, frustration, to acceptance. Though cycling is never far from my mind, I've decided to embrace winter while it's here, in whatever mode of personal transport gives me peace of mind.