Thursday, October 31, 2013

2013 Halloween Bike Ride

 42F, cloudy and breezy

Halloween bike rides are gaining popularity around the country. Because it's not a race it's inclusive, appealing to all ages, most especially families. Combining fun or ghoulish costumes with cycling is like a big party. Burlington's Halloween Bike Ride started about 5 years ago, with this year's event drawing 300 people.

No time to dilly dally; it was pretty chilly, yet it started late, as always. I was delighted to see a slew of volunteers gathered for a meeting. These are the folks that guard intersections, making it safer for all riders.

Some attendees go all out, decorating bicycles too.

This is the only time of year we can legally ride on  pedestrian-only Church Street. Someone chuckled at the sandwich boards specifying " Walk Your Bikes". The Halloween ride is sanctioned by the city, led by police car.

New this year: stenciled markings on the route. I immediately noticed the "Shared Streets Not Scared Streets" symbol—a cat on wheels.

The ride zig zagged all over the city this time, north end, downtown, and south end neighborhoods—over three miles.

It was also a nice way to observe decorated houses and yards.

We hoot and holler, ring bells. Someone had Halloween themed music blasting from a player hidden within their milk crate. People came outside to watch.

The parade ends at Maglianero for food and festivities.

There is temporary bike parking. Suspend your bike seat from horizontal piping.

My friend, Adele and I, pre-ride. Photo credit: Adele's husband.

Photo credit: Litterwithastorytotell
Yours truly in houndstooth jacket, spider atop helmet, and black wig. It's a quasi-costume, but I didn't want to show up without some sort of Halloween attire. Nearly everyone dresses up, which is what makes this a fun ride.

Photo credit: Litterwithastorytotell

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2013 Foliage Challenge - Photo #10

This row of maple trees is my gauge for when it's peak foliage. No two trees ever turn the exact same shade of color, but rather, it's a progression. This stand transforms slowly, flourishing golden then orange, then the leaves eventually fall into a lovely carpet. As I coast by, I bask in their glory, marveling, just because I can.

Join me in this Celebration of Fall. I'll post your foliage photo(s) in this series.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Peugeot UO 14 - Making it Mine

After the initial shakedown ride and problems encountered, the Peugeot is back on the road. A local shop replaced the broken spoke and miles later, it is holding it's own. With their suggestion, I was able to swap the brake levers myself without difficulty. The things I learn when making mistakes...

The more I ride the Peugeot the more I appreciate the upright handlebars. Between the extremely comfortable grips and efficient brake levers, it's a good set up for errand rides. I will need to address the pulsing and squealing in rear brakes. Everyone can hear me coming!

I also don't mind downtube shifters because, frankly, I rarely shift. And in fact, I remain in the low range on the flats and while cruising Burlington's hills. I think the lightweight frame and cushiony tires make this a zippy bicycle all by itself. The Peugeot would be a good candidate for 1x6 gears. However, I'm not inclined to spend money altering chainrings that are currently adequate.

I have the rack adjusted so it's one inch above the tire.
I installed a Wald basket. I think the sizing may be too large, but returning it would be cost prohibitive so I will try it out for a while. I've made two or three adjustments—mainly replacing provided nuts with lock nuts, plus tightening screws a bit more. So far, so good.

Enjoying foliage rides on the Peugeot.
Our son hopped on my bike after we arrive at our camp.
He wanted to try out my new grips.
As an aside, isn't any bike that you care about, continually a work in progress? Often a once loved bike might now need—20 years later—alteration to make it comfortable again. So be it.

After a few miles on the Peugeot, the new racer style seat felt like a rock. I reconsidered the gel seat that came with the bike. The only problem was the lycra cover had long since disintegrated. I won't provide an in depth tutorial on my creative process—there is plenty of information on the Internet—but initially I tried replacing the fabric. I was after a professional look, except re-stapling the synthetic material to tough plastic failed miserably. As a backup I created a seat cover. It came out snug, but has—so far—held up well.

Oo la la! This cage oozes style.
I liked the existing bottle cage, but a unique gift from a friend was too lovely to relegate to our parts box. The Portland Design Works Bird Cage is stylish and practical. Need I say more?

Last ride in sandals.
At some point I will transfer the bell and mirror from the Ross—once I'm convinced I won't be riding the girly bike anymore—and I imagine, over the long haul, the Peugeot will need fenders. And clearly, the basket must have straps to contain belongings and purchases. Also, the basket tends to swing around and nick the frame. But, I have plans brewing in my head for stylish solutions to both problems. I've saved used tubes; bought a titanium needle for sewing machine (as suggested by Bicitoro plus her awesome tutorials), more leopard print fabric, and a desire to create. I'm going to have fun!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

2013 Foliage Challenge - Photo #9

Portland Orgeon
My friend, Patty's, getting into the spirit of autumnal tree spotting. Love those pinks!

"I was biking to the grocery store, mindlessly enjoying the sunshine on a lovely afternoon when this beauty stopped me in my tracks and made me go back to take a photo. Vivid, striking, what a treat!" -Patty

Join me in this Celebration of Fall. I'll post your foliage photo(s) in this series.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

2013 Foliage Challenge - Photo #8

I present to you...(imagine a drum roll)...Rantwick's King Tree. He admits it was a lackluster year in London, Ontario. The weather gods weren't aligned. But, despite the outcome, I can see why he pedals by this tree every year with his tongue hanging out, anticipating the right day to take a photo. The canopy is broad. (Imagine raking the leaves when this baby lets loose!)

Rantwick's been a good sport. He's put up with personal and public ribbing from me. (Doesn't he invite this though?) In heartfelt gratitude, I thank you, Rantwick, for putting up with my chiding, for your contribution, and for starting this tree spotting thing in the first place. It's all good.

The leaves are falling here in Vermont, but that means prime season is heading south. Don't forget to pass some foliage goodness my way.

Join me in this Celebration of Fall. I'll post your foliage photo(s) in this series.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Do You Even Own a Car?"

The words were like music to my ears, spoken by another mom as she wheeled her bicycle into the rack beside mine. I'm ashamed to say I didn't recognize her, but she obviously observed I'd often ridden with my son to his elementary school and now we both showed up at the middle school open house—again by bike.

Do you even own a car?

I couldn't lie, yet was nonetheless embarrassed. "Yes, and would you believe we have two cars?"

We went our separate ways, but her words stuck with me.

It's taken a long time to reconcile why we still own two automobiles. It's not something I'm proud of, so in my attempt to explore alternatives, I joined Carshare Vermont, enticed by the free introductory membership. My thinking was we would find the service could suit our needs and eventually get rid of one car. 6 months later, the Carshare option remains untested. It's inconvenient to schlep across the university campus to locate the nearest loaner vehicle, especially when we own the two sitting in our driveway. The cost of having that second vehicle is primarily gas and insurance—at least that's what I tell myself. But, of course there are the hidden costs: registration, inspection, maintenance, etc. I suspect total expenses of second-car ownership is slightly more than paid membership in Carshare.

To our credit, rarely are both automobiles on the road at the same time—rather, it's more likely one car is driven (the Honda gets 35 MPG) and half-time at that. Both are equipped with bike racks. So, why do we still have these two beastly things? Unfortunately, my husband and I work several miles from home—in opposite directions no less—plus my workplace is not on a bus line for winter commutes. (I won't ride a bike when it's dark at 5 p.m.) And, there is no guarantee that I can snag a Carshare vehicle when I truly need it.

"It's not about the number of vehicles we own," my husband said, trying to put it in perspective for me, "It's about how many miles we drive."

In the end he's right, and the more I ponder our transportation situation, it's an answer I can live with. We aren't tempted to drive more, like some folks are, because there are two vehicles available. We both pedal to work and often walk to do errands. My husband mixes riding a commuter bus to his job, 25 miles away with car/bike commutes. We insist that our children find alternatives to asking for the mom and dad taxi. One son makes two bus connections to get to high school, while our youngest boy rides his bike or takes a bus when he schleps his cello.

I've accepted our situation and no longer feel guilty. We are doing our part, helping the environment, making healthy car-free choices, and passing important lessons onto our children. If acquaintances think we don't own a car, it must mean we are doing something right!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tempting, So Tempting...

I've mentioned it before. I get to this point and should turn left down a dirt road that leads to my workplace. Should and need are at odds though, in my mind. My thoughts are still on vacation, yearning for freedom and enticed by autumnal glory. I have wheels that could propel me forever onward should I prefer to keep on rolling, up and over the next ridge.

I'm so teased by this time of year. The colors. Oh, the colors!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Coffeeneuring - Third Cup

Third Cup - Monday, October 21 - In a Treehouse
The evening before my third coffeeneuring attempt I pedaled to Oakledge Park, to scope out the ledges and beach for a scenic and flat spot to enjoy another Coffee Shop Without Walls. Wind blasted off the lake. Clearly, if the wind kept up, I would not be sipping coffee on the shoreline like last week.

The treehouse is to the right a few yards away. Look for the metal supports.
As I rode inland, following paved trails, I spied the treehouse. Perfect! And with a boulder nearby where I could safely brew my drink...  So. weather patterns being what they are, I woke to 39 F, with treetops still bending. I waited until noon when the day warmed, then rode to the park with a basket full of supplies. This time I even remembered the water.

It was still too windy to light the stove atop the rock so I retreated to a protected area on the ground.

A view of the treehouse (through the zoom lens) as seen from my temporary kitchen.
I crouched under one of many grandaddy oaks in the park. The canopies are sprawling and spectacular. There is also one gigantic specimen; it dates to the 1700s.

I let the coffee steep for five minutes, add cream, then prepare to wander through the treehouse. Sip. Ah, I rather like this half-caf brew: part Cafe Bustelo, part Fair Trade DCF Espresso. Dark and strong—just the way I like it.

Forever Young Treehouses is an organization that plans to build a treehouse in every state. Burlington's was constructed about ten years ago.

It's wheelchair accessible. I also like the long Z-shaped walkway.

I stand at a bend and sip my coffee, admiring the view. I cannot rush whenever I visit. It's contemplative. Mesmerizing.

The approach is otherworldy: a network of branches, very hobbit-like. It's like wandering through a woodland canopy.

The thriving, humongous oak tree—the main feature—has ample room to grow. I smile. Every time I visit, I marvel at the engineering: the metal roof, the understated green steel supports. The construction is solid—not like the rickety backyard kind. 

I understand why weddings take place here. It's truly a special place.

Total mileage: 8 miles.

First CupSecond CupFourth Cup,  Fifth CupSixth CupSeventh Cup

For rules or to join this event, visit Third Annual Chasing Mailboxes Coffeeneuring Challenge.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Peak Foliage in Fog

Those are not leaves on the ground, but more of that reddish-colored grass.
 Dew covers the landscape.

Adding mystery.

 Intense smell of damp leaves, worms, and—unfortunately—too many dead frogs on the asphalt.

 Overhead, geese honk.

 Tractors hum as manure is spread and hay rolls fill the fields.

Lounging cows.

 Wagons are left as-is to resume hay collection duty, whenever.

A few trees are nearly bare.

However, considering fall rains have held off, it's like paradise. Pedal on.