Thursday, April 5, 2018

What's Up, Flats?

A rag for wiping grease, a pen for making an X over hole to be patched,
and trusty red toolbox to keep all my tools organized.

I am proud to announce that I set a personal record for getting the most flats in one week - 3, all in the rear tire! (Insert eye rolling.) And so far, the streak continues with number 4 during the second week...

In all seriousness, it's been an unlucky rash of incidents, attributed - I think - to debris strewn bike lanes, paths, and streets. Couple that with wetness and tires retain enough grit to eventually puncture the tube. There's a local contingent of regular commuters who've asked the street department to sweep the streets earlier than the typical mid-April so I suspect I'm not the only one with this unfortunate problem!

The first three flats were fairly easy fixes: I hoist the bike onto our bike stand, then pull out enough tube, without removing the tire, and inflate until I locate the leak. Then it's simple to patch, leave overnight (because I can) and install and re-inflate for the morning commute. I always make sure to inspect the tire for anyting sharp still emebedded in the rubber. After 3 patches, I replace the tube, which of course is more difficult, more so because on this bike I need to slightly spread the rear triangle to fit onto the axle, easier with a partner. However, I can accomplish it myself, aided by groaning and swearing, to get the axle seated into place.

Beer run, stored in the pannier while I clip my purse onto the handlebars. I stopped to redistribute
gear and admire the ocean-like waves on the lake.

And now that I'm fearful of getting another flat, the slightest squishy feeling on these already cushiony Kenda tires makes me wonder if I'll make it home. But lately, it's been good and you bet I'm avoiding the filthy bike lanes, edging into the traffic lane. On top of that, with only a rear rack to carry gear, I'm storing my lock on the handlebars and sometimes my purse, to evenly distribute the weight over both wheels.

I'm looking forward to clean streets and riding the Peugeot beauty very soon!

Have you ever encountered bad luck with flat tires?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Errandonnee 2018 - A Reluctant Finish

A collage of work commute photos during the 2018 Errandonnee, including a few night time rides.
As mentioned previously, I've had difficulty finding motivation for completing and documenting errands. Part of me feels this challenge is for riders who need a jump-start to doing most errands by bike - something that comes naturally to me. I've written about that process a few years ago.  By far, the most frustrating aspect is deciding which errands fit particular categories, and this often affects my enjoyment. After completing a couple rides at lunch, just to tick off one more errand, I decided to quit thinking about the challenge and just ride because, as the author notes, if it isn't fun, stop the challenge. (Coffeeneuring Challenge is more my style.) And I suppose it also didn't help that I had 3 flat tires in one week - a record I hope to never repeat!

On the bright side, I donated several items and cleaned out my closet, which wouldn't have happened as efficiently, if I wasn't looking for a couple more errands to fill a variety of errandonneering categories. And down to the wire, a stellar Saturday was all I needed to finish off the remaining errands plus spend 2-3 quality hours with our youngest son, doing all kinds of crazy exploratory miles.

Errands 7-12, 43 miles

March 26 (photo above)
Category: Work or Volunteering, commute to work
Observation: Flat number 1 of 3 occurred at my workplace. I couldn't pump the tube enough to limp home so I put my bike on the bus. Good thing I know the bus schedule!

March 28 
Category: Personal Care, riding along the waterfront for peaceful views
Observation: Flat number 2 of 3 occurred, just after I took this photo. I walked 1.5 miles and fortunately caught a bus so my husband didn't have to rescue me.

I love the smell of hyacinths.
March 30
Category: You carried WHAT on your bike?, buying flowers for myself
Observation: It's been a long time since someone's given me flowers...and sometimes you have to buy your own! Flat number 3 occurred on my return from work, close to home, but the flowers arrived safely. Time to ditch the problematic tube!

First ride of the day includes visiting family members who we also meet up with later at camp. 
March 31
Category: Personal Care, riding in blessed sunshine

Observation: The afternoon was the best yet for weather, 50+ degrees.

Clockwise: our son and I getting drinks (his is the black dirt jumping bicycle), my red Trek on the deck at camp, exploring Ethan Allen Tower, our son and his monkey business at camp. What an afternoon!
March 31
Category: Social Call, riding with our youngest son and meeting up with family members at lakeside camp.
Observation: Out of the wind on the deck, it felt like summertime lounging - I was in a t-shirt!

At left: donating bicycle gifts (bracelet, picture frame, spoke bobbles, mechanical wheelie thing) to Old Spokes Home to benefit their bicycle programs. Above: leaving with items acquired from gift card dollars.
March 31
Category: Wildcard, donating bike kitsch and spending remaining gift card money
Observation: I picked up tire levers, lubricant, patch kit, and smaller cargo net - perfect size for my folder's rear rack.

Challenge complete - 71 Cumulative Miles, 9 categories

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Errandonnee 2018 - Fits and Starts

Errandonnee-mobile: a Trek Antelope 830.
Cycling eases me over life's bumps. With inevitable care of an aging parent, I've been rather distracted lately, but for some normalcy in my own life, which means riding and walking, I'm trying to complete as many errands as possible. I've done many errands on foot but for purposes of accounting, I'm sticking to bike-related trips. Let's Go, Errandonnee!

Errands 1-6, 28 Total Miles 

March 20 (photo above)
Category: Peaceful Everyday Actions, donation to Goodwill
Observation: I don't know why it took me so long to drop off a bag of clothes. I'm inspired to keep on cleaning out my closets.

March 20 (photo above)
Category: Arts & Entertainment, Picking up puzzles for my mom at Goodwill
Observation: I found what I was looking for, with an added bonus of running into an old coworker and catching up.

An authentic Dutch seat cover.
March 21 
Category: Work or Volunteering, bike commuting to work
Observation: It was fun to try out my new, silly, seat cover that a friend gave to me. 

My mom at home.
March 21
Category: Non-store Errand, visiting my mom in ER (she's fine!)
Observation: I left work for the 4.5 mile dash to the hospital. For obvious reasons, I don't have a picture for this visit.

March 25
Category: Store, buying bleach
Observation: One gallon was too heavy so I opted for a half gallon.

The Bagel Cafe. A snow hump prevents many users locking bikes to the rack.
There's a dozen bagels in the paper bag.
March 25
Category: Store, getting bagels for the family
Observation: I left home early and saw the sun rise! That hasn't happened in a long time.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Ideas for 2018 and beyond

On the agenda for 2018 are some new goals, revisiting one from 2017, and thoughts in general about travel.

Bike NYC
In May, I have plans that involve the Dahon folder, a train ride, and time with our eldest son visiting New York City highlights. Travel is lined up and accommodations are secured so whatever the weather, the trip will happen in some shape or form. It was a delightful surprise that our son wanted to join me so I know this adventure will be extra special!

Experiences are Key
For many years now, I thrive on the journey versus counting miles and/or setting unreasonable goals. I am waylaid by flowers growing in fields, wineries, coffee shops, garage sales, hikes/walks, unique bicycle shops, Vermont microbreweries, spending time beside water sources, anything in Canada, and/or with friends. I still love to camp and prefer that mode when alone but because I have the means I am open to staying indoors when companions require more comfort. With limited vacation days per year I like the guarantee of either indoor shelter (especially if I must ride all day in the rain) and/or remaining flexible with plans/goals. It's all about maximizing vacations and weekends!

A Week with my Husband
Speaking of experiences, my husband and I are setting aside a week's vacation for a bike ride, which will likely be in September due to allowing his broken wrist to properly heal and gain strength, but we are hopeful to spend a week riding somewhere. Current ideas are the remote region of northeastern Vermont/Canada and revisiting the GAP. He has a different mindset regarding miles so I may have to bring wine for evening wine-downs!

Bike and Hike
Bike overnights are a must in 2018 and I'm also craving another bike-hike adventure much like the past Lake Elmore trip. It's a great way to stretch the legs and enjoy solitude.

Finish Riding Colchester's Roads
I want to finish riding all of Colchester's public roads. I will start earlier this year and to keep interest I may include short hikes, visits to farm stands, or heck, maybe Colchester has their own microbrewery!

The above ideas will keep me busy for 2018. Future travel ideas could be classes at bike mechanic's school - there's one in Oregon and Colorado - which would allow exploration while learning. I like the idea of combining themes with cycling. And for the first time ever, I don't have any major bicycle renovations planned beyond routine maintenance - at least that I can foresee!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sunset Ride!

As an addendum to my previous post, I pedaled the long way home for more pristine, pre-storm lake views.

Totally worth it! I racked up 16 miles for the day and remembered to vote on my way home.