Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Rewind

The Minuteman Bikeway, barely snow-free in January.
2018 was a year of discovering new trails and spending time with family - sometimes both aligned to create magical moments.

It all started in January...
After a long hiatus off the bike, a winter thaw coincided with a company party in Boston, which opened up a wonderful opportunity to revisit the Minuteman Trail.

The winter bike.
February was bittersweet, losing my gracious, endearing mother-in-law, yet I witnessed how her children came together to honor her long life. I also began commuting to work again, discovering that linking dry neighborhood streets and back roads in lieu of snowy/icy bike paths opened up possibilities.

March and April dumped the most winter snow, yet I persevered through a rash of unexpected flat tires, completed the Errandonnee, spruced up a rusty Peugeot frame, and thought about what I'd hoped to accomplish in 2018.

Sinking my toes into Coney Island sand.

May, by far, satisfied my wanderlust, plus opened up new experiences by traveling with our eldest son on Amtrak to New York City. We spent 5 whole glorious days riding, exploring, eating, and realized we were great traveling companions!

My husband on the Nashua River Rail Trail.

In June I sold a beloved, but little used Miyata 610 touring bike, then looked ahead at how the Dahon could fit my current lifestyle. Attending a wedding also provided an opportunity to explore two new-to-us New Hampshire rail trails.

Ferries on Lake Champlain open up riding loops between Vermont and New York.

July, August, and September - July and August particularly - were the hottest months ever recorded in Burlington so I spent lots of time in the water, and joined an open water swim club - albeit too late to improve much - but it's a sport I aim to continue in 2019. However, I also spent time with my husband in Canada along with my annual pilgrimage with Adele exploring Canadian back roads. I also shared a beloved 3-ferry loop ride, twice, yet with two different friends completing the loop in opposite directions to keep the route fresh.

Revisiting the Lachine Canal.

October and November were filled with Coffeeneuring rides and I discovered the antidote to keeping the challenge fresh this year: using a thermos for impromptu rides and quiet, contemplative resting spots. It was also a refreshing change to coincidentally open the challenge along Montreal's Lachine Canal. My family and I also tried out our first e-bike: a Rad Mini.

A crisp, clear winter afternoon on the Colchester Causeway.

Winter weather came early this year, but switching to the winter bike means I continue to commute when I'm confident with road conditions. In addition, I'm learning to push my limits, with occasional pleasure rides that are surprisingly punctuated with sublime, spectacular views.

I failed to complete even one official bike overnight in 2018 (outside of simple but fulfilling forays at our nearby camp) and have given up on the challenge of riding all of Colchester's public roads. Spending meaningful time with my mom has filled the gaps on weekends, and I stayed close to home, rounding out any "free time" with our children and my husband. I immensely enjoyed and lived vicariously through Rootchopper's frequent blog posts as he crossed the country by bicycle. As I age, I'm increasingly thankful for the role that bicycles play in my life, whether for solace, commuting, or exploring - bikes take me where I need to go.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Why I Ride

Testing my winter boots by venturing on a long ride to visit the Colchester Causeway during a sunny and
windless 23 degree afternoon.

Cycling is my chosen speed to move through the world.
At 10 m.p.h. I notice flowers, animals, and caterpillars. I notice ice sculptures, snow sculptures, sometimes melting, dripping, and morphing.

Because I have bike toured and camped extensively in my 20's and 30's, I'm comfortable traveling on my own. I much prefer a partner - my favorite companion is my husband - but I am confident planning solo cycling and hiking adventures. Sometimes, simplicity is key to following your own dreams, and traveling alone is worthwhile and necessary.

The ice formations were spectacular. I danced around icy patches before turning back due to treacherous surfaces.

Solitude and Contemplation
Like many riders who feel the need for two wheeled ramblings, rhythmically spinning is a journey to understand our place in the world, to work out life problems, and clarify our soul.

I brought a thermos of hot ginger tea to keep myself warm. I found a perfectly flat marble slab (of which the entire
causeway is constructed) for a brief break. 

I love riding because I dislike driving.
I often rode my bike to high school, which set the groundwork as a bike commuter. And later, I sold my first car so I could afford to move into the "big city", another example of the lack of importance that driving had meant to me. I'm thankful to have a spouse who enjoys driving, because an automobile is necessary for many Vermont journeys. If anything, more than ever, I rely on my bicycle for transportation, and in recent years, when weather permits, even throughout the winter.

The Green Mountains were cloaked in a fresh layer of snow.

Cycling has also become a creative outlet.
As a youngster, I loved to draw. As a teenager, I quilted (and occasionally still do) and sewed clothes in to my late 20's. I still dabble on the sewing machine, mainly repairing clothes, and of course for creating cycling accessories. I like to upcycle pannier parts, decorate handlebars, re-purpose bags for tool pouches, handle bar bags, or sew and design useful pouches and accessories from scratch. It gives me great satisfaction to solve baggage problems by breathing life into old equipment.

A serene moment before turning back.

Riding a bike is who I am. And will always be.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Photography & Legacy in a Digital Landscape

Digital imagery: left is phone capture, right is taken with my camera.
At a dinner time discussion with our teenage sons, I brought up the topic of digital photography and storage in the ever changing world of technology. And as background: my husband and I have recently been handed an overwhelming treasure of family photos at a time when we are beginning to downsize our belongings for an eventual move into an easier living situation. And as an added weight, I have always chronicled our life's journey, which has included outdoor adventures and the growth of our children.

For many years I have embraced digital photography for it's merits: to capture and keep the best images then store them on a CD while printing a few for the album. Of course, technology advances and soon - if not already - that system is obsolete. Instead of transferring to the latest, greatest storage system, and revamping, worrying, etc. I thought I'd revisit my role as photographer, from the view point of our children who will eventually become the heirs of family "photographs".

As it turns out - as I expected - children of the digital age could care less about stacks of family albums. They take lots of photos for instant sharing then keep their images on Google Photos or transfer the best to Google Drive - our eldest son claims Drive has lots of free online storage while keeping photo resolution intact. I am concerned and skeptical of online storage, yet also realize continually printing photos for their legacy is a moot point.

After condensing the last two years of photos from my laptop - the keepers that I would upload to Google Drive - I realized that it's the human connection, ie. photos of loved ones, that are worth keeping for the long haul. I snap a lot of photos, especially to illustrate topics for Anniebikes, but sadly I've decided they're not worth holding onto well in to the future.

Lately, I've been using my phone more to record blogging images because I also use Instagram (annie.bikes) though the quality suffers a bit when transferring the same images to my blog, but only because my digital camera currently has better quality. I still like the physicality of my camera (touching buttons, the sound of the lens opening) plus it's much easier for timed shots, and for processing through software, though I suspect in the future I will eventually resort to solely using a phone camera.

Reconciling the past and present through a legacy of photographs, images, ephemera - heck even furniture - is a difficult journey for any family. And when you throw in technology advancements and the younger generation that has only grown up since it's evolution, it's reasonable to expect the tech savvy youngsters may have a different take on what's important to keep going forward.

I have accepted that my husband and I will need to make some difficult decisions in the future when we move, not the least of which is what to to do with three feet width of photo albums on our bookshelf.
*Lately, I've had a high instance of spam. If you comment as Anonymous I may inadvertently delete your comment. I'm considering changing the settings to only accept people who comment with a Google address.