Thursday, March 31, 2011

Green Pedals

Okay, so I didn't need to buy new pedals for my girly bike. I was browsing eBay, looking for a front bike rack when these green pedals spoke to me. They were beautifully green, lightweight, and NOT plastic, which is what I had been riding on...the price didn't hurt either - 5.00! So here they are without the toe clips, so you can see why I was smitten.

They match the green on the handlebars and the Ross logo.

(More on the bell in a later post.)

I'd be lost without toeclips. Since the pedals are one-sided (they are a bit convex on the reverse side) it's easier to flip the pedal backward using the spike on a metal pedal, then slide your foot into the clip/strap setup. While you can do it, I always encounter difficulty slipping my feet into the clips on plastic pedals. It's not a smooth transition and I was delighted to get rid of those tacky plastic things.

The new pedals add a subtle style to the bike - maybe only noticeable to me - but were well worth my time and investment.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Goes Around, Comes Around

It's wonderful to see the resurgence of old and classic bikes being used today. From cobwebbed Schwinns to the reliable and beautiful olive green Raleigh Grand Prix, older bicycles are making a comeback (We have one of those Raleighs in our family). Steel frames morphing into mixtes, single speeds, and spruced up with fenders and racks for commuting. I guess there is room for the carbon fibers of this world and for the retro too. Maybe this cartoon says it all...

Photo credit: Mark Markovitch, Bike Portland
My mother-in-law's 1970s Schwinn Suburban 5 speed is tucked away in a shed, gathering dust, and ridden only once a year. It's brown with matching fenders with a spring seat. I'm keeping my eye on that one... (like I need another bike!).
Raleigh Grand Prix

Schwinn Suburban

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Snow Sculptures

30* F, sunny, brisk northwest wind

The sound of honking geese filled the air as I pedaled southward along the waterfront. I muscled through hard-crusted snow covered areas, and had to push the bike when I lost my balance or the going got too tricky, but the sunshine made up for any inconvenience.

The time clock looked especially stark against the blocky ice on Lake Champlain.

I looped back home on the South Burlington bike path to photograph the unique snow formations. Because it was several days before the plows cleared the two feet of snow from the last storm, the pathway was lined with packed bocks of chunky snow. As the days warmed and the walls melted, we were left with some random and unusual sculptures.

I thought this one looked like a dolphin's head.
A snowy Stonehenge.
Not sure what this one is, but it's precarious. It may not last another day.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Shoes

I'd searched for a while for a replacement for my rugged winter/walking/bike commuting shoe. Here is what I came up with. It's a sturdy all around good Vibram-soled shoe, warm enough for brisk winter walking and spring errands on a bike. They sport rubber toes for long-lasting wear against plastic toe clips. Because of my large shoe size I often find bargains. This was no exception - all this for 30.00.

Monday, March 21, 2011


I pedaled with my son to his school this morning, locked up his bike, and rode to the coffee shop for a two chapter session with my latest Maisie Dobbs mystery book. By the time I'd finished there was light snow dancing around my bike. I guess we will not escape the latest weather. I feel sorry for my flower bulbs which grew with abandon in the past two days of sunshine.

"The affected region will experience 3-5 inches of snow, with 10-15 mph winds gusting upwards of 25 mph, the Weather Service said."

And just when I was beginning to get in riding shape...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring is Here

It's a great day for a smile.

Despite some remaining snowbanks the birds are chirping, and the glorious sun is shining - it must be 50+ degrees this morning. I went on a short pedal around downtown, dodging pothole craters and puddles. The drivers seemed in a sunny mood too as they waited for me to maneuver around obstacles before safely passing. A bit of patience on their part goes a long way - they may be getting used to more cyclists on the road.

For me it's still a stilted time to ride. I long for when Burlington's waterfront rail trail is clear of snow and ice - it may be mid April this year. I like to pedal and think, clear my mind, and only look out for the oncoming cyclist which a dedicated trail provides. For now I am content to be able to be on a bike and look forward to riding to work soon.

It's a great day for a skirt.

You know Spring has arrived when a neighbor and I amble around our yards and look for bulbs peeking through the soil or monitor their progress. After the ride this morning I enjoyed a few minutes more of warmth and stepped around our remaining front yard snow banks. Our children's sled is emerging and spring bulbs are coming into view. I witnessed two chipmunks chasing each other and disappear under a gap in our garage door (?).

It's great day to be on a bike.

It's a great day to be a flower.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Citrasolv for Grease Disolve

photo credit:

I can't stand a dirty bike. I've become more fastidious with my bicycles than I used to because, invariably, I hoist bikes on and off our car racks more times than I care to admit (think rearranging 3 bikes because of children's and adult frame differences). It helps to keep your hands grease-free if you are then piling the kids and stuff into the car.

My husband supplied me with Pedros degreaser until I discovered a cheaper (half the cost) alternative and readily available supply of Citrasolv, an awesome orange smelling natural product. It works wonders on rims and spokes and that grime that collects on our gas stove. You won't have to wait for the bike shop to open either; this product is available at the grocery store.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gotta Love this Biking(?) Weather

I find it quite humorous that last year I started bike commuting to work on March 9th. Today I stayed home because I can't safely drive to work. The two foot dump of snow last Monday turned my employer's dirt driveway and access road (1 mile in length) into a god-awful bowling alley of a lane that one could ricochet off if you weren't careful. Mind you, top that off with warming temperatures and rain forecast for later today and tomorrow (the road is currently flooding) - and no where for the water to run...I guess I''ll be home for a while.

The top five snowstorms on record in Burlington:

33.1 inches, Jan. 2-3, 2010

29.8 inches, Dec. 25-28, 1969

25.7 inches, Feb. 14-15, 2007

24.7 inches, Jan. 13-14, 1934.

25.3 inches. March 6-7, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Happiness is so many things to so many people - from getting married, to having children, helping at a local charity, or traveling for the rest of your life. Before having our children, my favorite activities were a mix of cycling, hiking, skiing, writing, and enjoying friendships all within the context of outdoorsy Portland, Oregon - with my husband always at my side. It was a time of self exploration and taking my body to physical limits that I thought I could never accomplish - yet I did - and found satisfaction in the process.

I no longer have regrets that we moved back home. It was a difficult transition and continued to be for many years as I lived in the shadow of  my western memories while trying to adjust to a life in Vermont with two children. My husband continues to be a rock in my life as I strive for a new meaning of "happiness".

"Happiness is not a station you arrive at,
but a manner of traveling."

Margaret Lee Runbeck from
Time for Each Other

With the onset of the most spectacular winter in 40 years - with time for reflection (thinking time on my cross country skis works wonders!) - I've realized that snippets of happiness remain. There are new discoveries and comforting old loves. I'm learning to refocus my priorities and stitch them, much like the quilts that I construct, back into my life.
  • Exercise: bicycling, skiing, walking, swimming (in that order)
  • Planning bike tours with just my husband
  • Creating things with my hands (sewing, knitting)
  • Writing gives me pleasure
  • Reading gives me education and ideas
  • Enjoying our children - the hugs, the smiles, the growing (all difficult things are just phases)
  • A job where I can learn and be appreciated
  • Renewing friendships
  • I love little furry creatures - think gerbils and rabbits

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Skirts on Bikes

Brown is cotton; lime is rayon; blue/purple is wool with a liner;
 red/brown is cotton. 
Last fall I purchased a handful of inexpensive skirts. Here is my current collection along with a black lycra skort (not pictured). I have black, grey, and brown tights which coordinate well with these colors. In warmer weather I wear skirts over shorts. These aren't for the long rides to work or on a tour, but for the cruise around town on errands on my girly bike. I love wearing some color and the style is flattering on my long torso. Even my husband, who isn't often flush with praise, has complimented me on my attire.

I haven't always loved skirts. I attribute this recent phenomena to never having raised a girl to be able to dress up and preen  (I have two gnarly boys - think computer geek and sports nut who always leave the toilet seat up), to having a middle age work crisis (I'm retraining at a local college), to needing some color in my life. For years I've envied those little preschool and elementary girls who wear tights under darling dresses - I'm long past the coloring and nap stage, but certainly old enough to wear what I want. I believe it also stems from loving the upright bike style with the step through frame, which you can ride with everyday clothing. And if you stretch that thinking a bit further, shouldn't we all be able to get on a bike and ride to the store, clothes be damned? All of these reasons sent me scrambling to add these cute skirts to my wardrobe.

Here are some other musings and advice on skirts:
Bike in a Skirt?
The Diva's Guide to Biking
How to Wear a Skirt on a Bike