Saturday, January 16, 2016

Motivation and Personal Growth - A Forward Journey

In November and early December's mild weather, it was easy to get outdoors for pleasure rides. My goal was to be aware and present, enjoying my good fortune.

I discovered things like new signage, explaining the importance of the river's estuary and it's ecological connection to Lake Champlain.

Or a unique bike rack in a neighboring Colchester park.

Sometimes my observations were subtle, turning down a familiar path. I loved the colorful leaf carpet juxtaposed against the grey, leafless trees. Autumn remembered.

And who knew that the waterfront skate park wouldn't open until December—we've been watching it's construction all year—but in only 3 days had already attracted hordes of users, aged 4-70?

The leaders in the Santa Run. I later learned there were 2000 participants. 
I marveled at my luck one morning as I began a granny gear spin up a hill toward home. It's not every day that I encounter Santas running down the street. I had to laugh, not once, but twice because I scooted across the road through a gap in their ranks only to be stopped three blocks later by the same red-suited contingent.

A foot wide clear lane is just enough width to lend comfort. It helps that
South Burlington plows their bike paths.
A few days after Christmas, snowstorms dropped several inches of white stuff. Plow trucks lumbered by our home, scraping and salting slippery streets, the vehicle's back up sirens alerting the neighborhood to their presence. I stopped commuting by bike and began riding the bus or driving to the office.

But the interesting and often unknown fact about a Vermont winter: it lacks moisture. Of course, a certain amount of precipitation causes snowfall, but with prolonged dry spells, evaporation begins and surfaces dry up. Once I cleared the cold and darkness hurdle (using a good light and wearing appropriate winter outerwear), dry roads and bike paths meant I could consider commuting again. And so, I donned down coat, balaclava, and winter boots and pedaled, sporadically, to work in January.

Lucky me that our son out grew his winter footwear! 
I know that I won't become a full fledged winter commuter—I refuse to buy studded tires or a fat tire bike—but if the conditions are just right, I won't pass up the opportunity to ride to the office. I'm still a slave to the weather station, obsessively following the forecast to the point of vacillating whether to ride or drive minutes before heading out the door, which effectively rules out the bus as a viable option. Only if nasty weather settles in for prolonged periods can I plan out extra time to walk to the bus stop. However, the bus is back up security should an unexpected storm blow in. I am lucky to have transportation options.

My new balaclava won't win any fashion awards, but it's brilliant design, which includes
ample neck length and multiple adjustments, keeps me warm in variable temperatures.
Over 20 years ago, my husband broke his hip while riding his bike on black ice. Since then there's been an unwritten rule that neither of us would ever take that chance again. But since returning to Vermont, I've grown to respect his decision while diverging down my own path. I crave riding bicycles more so now that I'm unable to run through the colder months. I must have goals, and if that means trying to ride more throughout the winter, then so be it. I am cautious and have my limits, however, so if path conditions become treacherous en route, I'm prepared to push my bicycle homeward.

We are all on our own bicycle journey...


  1. I so admire those of you who live up north and manage to eek out days to ride throughout the winter. I like the balance you've struck between safety, comfort, and meeting your goals. I live in Memphis where winters are very mild. My cut-off for comfort is 20-degrees, which I'm sure is laughably warm by your standards! Fortunately, there are very few days when we get that cold, so riding through the winter isn't really very hard for me.

    For me the challenge is rain. It rains in Memphis a lot. We get significantly more inches of rain, on somewhat fewer days per year, than Seattle. Rain at about 35-degrees is especially hard to ride in. But, I'm grateful for the ability to ride and enjoy the challenge, so I suit up and head out on most days.

    1. The funny thing is at my old job - a 20 mile round-trip on narrow roads with lots of traffic - I could only withstand temps. to 25 if I used foot-warmers. This new commute of 10 miles round-trip is a whole new ball game. I can withstand quite a lot because of the short distance.


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