Thursday, March 26, 2015

Burlington Streets Challenge

The City of Burlington mailed a bike map to me. I haven't decided whether I will use this for documentation
 or reference.This side of map only shows Burlington's northern sector. Red lines indicate pedestrian/bike trails.

My personal quest this year is to ride all of Burlington's 95 miles of public roads. It will be a relatively easy goal, I realize, for someone who loves to bike commute, but nonetheless it's a project with an objective and will inspire me to seek out neighborhoods I haven't ridden in a long time. I anticipate riding with our children, with diversions for coffee or ice cream treats, using destinations as mini incentives, and stumbling upon garage sales.

Much like simple bike overnights, having a mission provides the impetus to explore and document on a map. Should I color code each day's route, estimate daily mileage, or list street names, as I complete a section? Inevitably I will blog about the adventure, though at present I'm not sure what type of format that will be. I am as excited to tally and scribble down each day's ride as I am to ride and discover what particular neighborhoods hold for flower gardens, interesting porches, homes for sale, or whatever things I might discover. There are possibilities that have yet to reveal themselves, which adds to the overall enticement.

I am tempted to broadcast this challenge to the Burlington cycling community. If I find this quest appealing, there must be other like-minded cyclists who would enjoy this mission.

I give thanks and appreciation to GE at Endless Velo Love. Without her inspiration, I would never have come up with the idea. Read about GE's goal to ride all her city streets.

Have you ever done something like this?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Errandonnee 2015 - Rock Those Errands!

Pink and purple yoga mats are bungeed to my rear rack.
The Errandonnee challenge was a fun ride this year, thanks to lucky March weather and MG's inclusive rules. I was able to do normal errands, which fit into available categories. The only difficulty lay in searching for an arts or entertainment venue. Fortunately, my husband had signed up to volunteer at a curling fundraiser, and being somewhat interested myself, I made a point to stop by and enjoy a delightful hour, marveling at a hockey rink transformed into four curling lanes. Eight teams playing at once was certainly worth the visit!

Errandonnee Scorecard
March 11
Category: Personal Care, YMCA yoga class
Observation: Sivananda yoga is tough on my back.
Miles: 2
March 11
Category: Work or Volunteering, I rode to work (all week too, woohoo!)
Observation: Puddles galore, snow is melting fast. 
Miles: 10

Yoga and grocery shopping in one evening, plus arriving home after dark.
 I attribute the nice weather to such a feat.
March 11
Category: Store, I bought ginger goodies for a friend's birthday
Observation: I rode home in the dark - a milestone! 
Miles: 2

A TD banking we will go, a TD banking we will go, high ho the derrio...
Actually, my boys and I rode to the bank, but I forgot to take a photo.
I returned another day to capture this image.
March 14
Category: Personal Business, Opening bank accounts for our children
Observation: It was the first time this year that my boys and I rode together.
Miles: 2

After banking we rode to the bike shop. That's my son with the GoPro.
He films himself ride over jumps, rumbling over ice - oy vey! 
March 14
Category: Wild Card, local bike shop
Observation: It's easy to spend money on bike goodies. I purchase a helmet, seat, and front fender for our boys.
Miles: 2

I often support this local franchise.
March 14
Category: Wild Card, pet store, hay for our bunny and guinea pigs.
Observation: I felt sorry for 4 gerbils; each was housed in a separate tank.
Miles: 1

What a great event to watch - Go curlers!
March 14
Category: Arts and Entertainment, watched a curling tournament at Cairns Arena.
Observation: Participants hooted and hollered, obviously having fun in the fundraiser event.
Miles: 5

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The New Commute is Surprisingly Tranformative

For years I treated my 22 mile round trip commute like a mini-bike tour. I wore tights or Lycra shorts, used traditional panniers, toted first aid kit, a tool bag stuffed with a variety of pertinent supplies (every tourer should lug a box of extra screws, bolts, and washers), full water bottles, reflective clothing and/or vest, plus stiff soled bike shoes. In short, had I desired to skip work altogether while en route and hit the road for a multi-day adventure—and believe me I had fantasies of doing just that—I was well equipped, right down to bicycle choice (Miyata 610 and Trek 830 were both tested touring machines). Plus, a credit card is assurance, supplementing other goodies a cyclist might need for an impromptu adventure

You get the picture.

Enter the shorter commute.
When I switched jobs in January, and once winter loosened it's deep freeze and roads cleared, I looked forward to riding the Ross, my preferred companion. I anticipated my five mile one-way ride would include discovering possible route variations. Indeed, after my first week back in a commuting routine, stitching bike paths to neighborhoods; that's proven to be true. The funny thing is, regardless of route, all are exactly 30 minutes each way.

Both routes have their advantages and disadvantages. Which way should I go? 
Riding five miles means priorities have changed.
But what I didn't expect—and thus a wonderful surprise and breakthrough—(at least for me) came later: pedaling a shorter distance has completely changed my view on what's appropriate commuting attire and gear. Or more to the point, what's possible to live with and without. I've discovered a myriad of changes that are more suited to the way I now ride. I left traditional panniers in storage, opting instead to use an upcycled floral sling bag and messenger bag. I bring less tools. I could ride in jeans if I cared to, however black tights are still my preference—sometimes double layers in chilly temperatures. I don't obsess about undergarments either; whatever works is fine in my book. I wear appropriate clothing for the weather: stylish quilted coat, hat, headband, a pretty scarf, purple windproof mittens, warm hiking shoes with thick socks—my everyday wear. but I don't worry if my hands or feet are slightly chilled, because within a half hour, I will have arrived at work or home.

Has an altered ride distance ever affected your gear choices and your outlook on commuting?

Several warm days melted most of our snow, leaving wet paths that eventually froze into treacherous surfaces.
I walked this section atop the snowbanks with one arm bracing my bike beside me upon the ice,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Errandonnee 2015 - The Start of Something Good

Delivering/donating 5 lbs. of books to our library.
A break in our deep freeze coincided with longer daylight, which provided just what I needed to practice riding to work, complete some errands, and eventually begin a new commute. Seven days has turned the seasons around, and though there will be a few snowstorms lingering throughout March, if feels like we're finally over the hump.

I'm pleased that Errandonnee requirements and categories have broadened so almost any trip I set out on should fill a niche. And, my nemesis has gone away - old category: riding in the dark. Good riddance.

Let's get crackin' and ride!

Errandonnee Scorecard
March 7
Category: You Carried What on Your Bike?, library to donate 5 lbs. of books
Observation: I haven't visited the library in month. 
Miles: 2

Snow is receding on possible route to my new workplace.
March 7
Category: Non-Store Errand, Explore viable route to work
Observation: Pleased there is less snow on the bike path than I would've guessed.
Miles: 6

Groceries to feed hungry teenagers in our home.
March 7
Category: Store, City Market, groceries
Observation: a good place to chit-chat with cycling acquaintences.
Miles: 2

I love when I can buy a skirt, dress shoes, tights, and two pair of earrings for 19.00.
March 8
Category: Personal Care, Goodwill, for more dress clothes
Observation: There is a bike rack conveniently near front entrance.
Miles: 8

Workplace bike rack is buried in snow. For the time being I'm locking my bike to the post beneath the blue awning.
March 9
Category: Work or Volunteering, Commuting to Work
Observation: With snow melt I will need to wipe down my bike after every ride
Miles: 10

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Rivendell's Clementine - Now We're Talking!

All picture credits: Rivendell on Tumblr
A Rivendell to please loop-frame lovers: the Clementine. It will be available in black, blue, and orange.

If there was ever a Rivendell to please me, this would be it. 700.00 frame (if you pre-order) with overall pricing at approximately 1400.00. Complete with classic Riv braze-ons and lugs.

If the barebones frame excites me, can you imagine my response when Rivendell releases the Clementine in late 2015? Not that I've pre-ordered...but it's the closest bike in speck, with quality componentry, and potential to be the ultimate touring machine of my dreams. The Clementine is everything my Ross isn't.
Update: in April 2016, I ordered the "Clementine" now called a "Clem-L". As of July 2016, I am awaiting the "Clementine's" arrival. First order of business: adding fenders and racks so I can do an autumn bike overnight.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Chris's Kindness Yields New Pedals

Compare the sizes: Wellgo greenies versus Tioga Surefoot sent by Chris.

Reader Chris, from Ohio, graciously sent me a pair of Tioga Surefoot pedals. No charge. Just because. He knew how much I loved an older pair of similar pedals, which I failed to repair. As Chris point's out in his note, included inside the box "the Ross will be happy".

Inspired by Chris's gift and upcoming spring-like weather next week, I dismantled my Ross's toe clips, placing each set of screws, washers and nuts in separate piles. As the photo suggests, I've cobbled together a mishmash of tiny parts, replacing as needed. In a perfect scenario, I'd use matching Allen bolts and lock nuts, but toe clips by nature are finicky, quirky accessories. For that matter, the Ross has an unmatched black, plastic toe clip set. But amazingly, despite various screw lengths and widths, each nut is the same size. Thankfully, one wrench loosened all four screw sets.

Thanks to Chris, I now have wider pedals again that will accept toe clips. Not that the greenies were unusable—indeed they sufficed for four years, even accommodating size 11 boots on a recent outing—but it's wonderful and welcome to step onto a more stable platform again. Thank you, Chris.

Up for grabs: All metal Wellgo green pedals. They are lightweight and accept toe clips.

And so, to honor Chris's philosophy of giving, I offer the green pedals to anyone who wants them.They spin well and have lots of life left. They'd be perfect on a fixie or childrens' bicycle. Just say the word and I'll pop them in the mail, posted from Vermont, no charge*.

*This could be the start of something good.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vote for Our Children as Two Wheeled Winter Commuters

This is what winter bicycle commuting looks like here in the Burlington, Vermont region. If you are on Facebook, weigh in with your vote (Like) in our local election to pick the best amateur photo. I'm partial to the image of our son—kid with backpack doing a flying kickstart—but the choice is up to you. Photo with most Likes takes home 200.00 worth of winter riding gear.

Local Motion's Winter Bicycle Commuter Photo Contest

Feel free to share this contest on your own network/blog/etc. Let's cast the net wide and support winter bike riders.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Giddy - When Eight Wheels Inspires Two

Winter riding attire: down parka, scarf, ear flap hat, and hand warmers inside mittens.
With an injured quad strengthened by afternoon ski adventures, yoga sessions, and lap swims, I took a leap of faith and returned to roller skating after a 25 year hiatus. Wobbly and unsure, feeling stiff, it took a half hour of gentle strides and commiserating with my younger brother, my roller skating companion, before my spirits began to lift. 

I started gliding across the floor. Disco ball lights splattered colored dots everywhere. Years melted away. 80's rock tunes set the mood as I dallied in dance moves, shuffles, nostalgic and revived. I can already imagine more good times at the roller rink, though of course, tempered by an older body. I will no longer be able to "shoot the duck" I suspect, or limbo, but when a sport that I once relished has been offered up to me like a gift, and I have a sibling who's willing to go along, what could be better?

It was inspiring!

Paths are still snow covered and bumpy, but still navigable at slow speed.
Excitement carried over into the following day. With temperatures in the 20s F and ample sunshine, I had a sudden impulse to get on my bike.

My feet stayed toasty warm.
Within 15 minutes, I was dressed, and extracting my bicycle from it's winter quarters. Unfortunately, my chain was stuck between freewheel and frame, an unwelcome casualty due to storage. No amount of back pedaling helped. Frustrated, and unwilling to locate a wrench (rear wheel lacks quick release) I unearthed a screwdriver from my tool pouch, but couldn't pry the chain loose. My husband came to the rescue, sensing my lack of patience and urgency, and performed some mechanical miracle and soon I was on my way.

I set off, dressed for warmth, knowing that I would be pedaling slowly, exploring paths and neighborhoods, my mission to assess a navigable route to work. I also carried a backpack full of swim gear, planning to stop at the YMCA on my way home.

Bike paths were hard packed snow, endlessly roughened, but my 2" wide tires absorbed the shock and made the going manageable. However, there were long stretches of clear asphalt too - more than I would've suspected.

I love discovering local trails.
I located a workable route to my new office until more favorable conditions allow dalliances into a city park and interesting neighborhoods. However, as I looped towards downtown, I discovered an alternative route, suitable to winter's hang-tight attitude. Even better, a local's path that cuts through woods, sure to be a fun rip once the snow melts.

As I explored, clad in parka, jeans, toting a back pack, I pondered how much I'd come full circle, back to the simplicity of commuting. Who needs panniers or tights? Certainly not in the winter. For me, warmth trumps all.