Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 Rewind


2021 will be remembered as the year of forward momentum. With vaccines we were able to venture further afield, visit relatives, and travel a bit - however awkward - for much needed time away.

In January I accepted employment in the women's cycling apparel industry. Working from home is comforting, allows flexibility, and with a yearly company allowance (and provided gifts) I've explored various saddles and shorts/skorts/capris/tights. My favorite saddle, the Butterfly Ti Gel is a keeper on my mountain bike, while the Coolweather Tights - hands down - are my go-to bottoms for spring and fall. This deep dive into the retail world was unforeseen and whether it will be fulfilling long-term still remains a mystery.

I continued my creative projects in early 2021, with a purple tote bag, plus designing a spreadsheet to track bicycle stats.  

On the bicycle front, another Dahon - a sprightly aluminum Eco 3 beauty - is a fine addition to my collection, bumping the total back to six. I still prefer the Boardwalk's relaxed geometry for longer miles, so the freshman Eco 3 may be reserved for light duty rides.

It's also the year I fully embraced the Rivendell Clem-entine, finally setup to my liking. We went on multiple adventures, overnights and one fine Long Island exploration.

I continue to challenge myself each year with something new. It became necessary as summer gave way to autumn, and with busy early mornings, for after work rides to be in the dark. It's been a slow progression, from sunset rides to gradually leaving at 6 pm in complete darkness for an hour's jaunt. It hasn't been easy to stay motivated - indeed icy paths I naturally avoid - but a destination, and the addition of pogies have helped. "Commuting" has never felt so foreign!

I experimented with overnight camping on my Dahon Boardwalk. I am investigating solutions to carry more of the weight on the handle post. Traveling by folder continues to give me immense pleasure.

For several years, as my riding style has changed, I've experimented with bike setups to improve comfort, whether that's changing handle bars, racks, saddles, tires, lights, or saddle bags. I rode lots of trails in 2021 and foresee improvements for comfort on the flat bar Trek...immediate need is a curved, handle bar with more rise for increased comfort.

One of the best things about 2021 was not bicycle-related, per se, but has a profound affect on riding comfort! I started a daily yoga practice, which increased my flexibility, strength, and balance. My worrying back pain eventually disappeared. As it turns out I sleep better too, plus bike rides are more pleasurable with stronger core and shoulders. Yoga is for me!

In spite of anxiety over travel, my husband and I went on three bike overnights: to visit a friend, to test camping on the Dahon Boardwalk, and a 3 ferry ride on Lake Champlain. We also visited Kingdom Trails in northeastern Vermont, and bike toured on Long Island for a wonderful weeklong beach holiday, in addition to visiting family. With our eldest son recenlty moving to Colorado, I expect future western travel!

With personal 2021 challenges (working from home and early weekday mornings to help family), it's quite a surprise that my yearly bike mileage topped 3400 miles! Adding a new stat to my spreadsheet, I also discovered I rode my bike 254 days. Embracing night time and winter rides was key.

Like many people, we're navigating the pandemic landscape, eeking a little travel if comfort allows. Learning to live within a small sphere - albeit isolating at times - is what continues to provide peace. And, of course, never underestimate the power of a bike ride!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

What is a Cycling Lifestyle?

Do you ride occasionally or is riding bikes an integral part of your life?

The cycling lifestyle as opposed to recreation cycling are two very different mindsets. As reported over the past two years, recreation cycling has hit an all time high during the pandemic, but I'm not sure it has increased cycling lifestyle participants. CLR Effect's recent blog post Hobby of a Lifetime touched on how others might perceive a mountain biker with scratched and bloody legs, which got me thinking about my cycling lifestyle traits and what sets many of us apart from a recreation cyclist.

Below are personal qualities that friends and family members fail to understand about me:

  • Preferring to ride instead of driving
  • Riding for errands because it's one more opportunity to ride and provides motivation
  • Choose vacation destination that are great for cycling
  • Often have more than one bike, primarily because if one requires maintenance than a bike is still available for riding
  • Are always thinking about improvements to their bikes
  • Frequently check weather forecasts
  • Riding more during the pandemic because it's therapy
  • When injured, one still tries to ride if at all possible
  • If you can't ride for more than two days, it's torture
  • Will ride in the darkness if that's the only available time to ride
  • Continually challenge myself with cycling: riding through the winter, have coffee outside, try different mountain bike trails

Do you recognize any of these cycling lifestyle characteristics? Do you have any more items to add to the list?

As a side note, I'm seeing our 19 year old son developing many of the above qualities since the start of the pandemic, so perhaps there will be one more person adopting the cycling lifestyle. I'm biased of course, but it seems like the perfect way to cope with loneliness brought on by the current health crisis.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

MoGee Muffs - a Pogie for Beginners?

Trying MoGee Muffs on my winter commuter bike.

I hadn't given a thought to using pogies before - those chunky-looking mitts attached to handle bars, seemingly made for brutal winter weather - until an Adventuring Cycling newsletter appeared in my inbox with a link to an article Geared Up: Falling for Autumn. One of the reviewed items were MoGee Muffsa brand of inexpensive pogies. With arthritis creeping into my hands and several numb fingers, the timing was fortuitous. Last winter - my first with studded tires - I primarily used insulated mittens, which worked out reasonably well, though I couldn't stop for long at 10F. 

The mitts are designed for upright - or slightly curved handle bars as is my case - with a drawstring enclosure to cinch however you want, and easily removed once at your destination. There is ample space to insert bare or lightly gloved hands, but be able to grasp thumb shifter and brake levers. After several rides of 1-2 hours in 20-40F, so far, I'm impressed at how warm my hands are!  It's interesting that even with some air allowed past the closure, allowing cables to freely move, the mitts still provide incredible warmth. I'm looking forward to toasty hands as we sink further into winter.

Our son used the MoGee Muffs for days before he "let me" have them back. Guess who's getting a pair for Christmas?

The only unnecessary feature, in my opinion, are the four exterior pockets. Mitts are interchangeable, right and left - pockets designed for cell phones or goodies. I prefer to store my phone in my jacket pocket to protect it from the elements and from cold potentially draining the battery. I have storage options with panniers. I considered removing the pockets altogether, but since they're unobtrusive and the logo is fairly small, I'll leave them as is for now. 

From my experience, it's easier to extract hands versus inserting, which requires minimal wiggling as I reposition hands back onto the bar. I ride mostly rail trails at this time of year, so I have little use for hand signals and interactions with traffic. I have yet to test fast extraction if there's an emergency, like if you are falling and want to catch yourself, so that aspect has yet to be reviewed. As a one size fits all mitt, my average sized hands are fine. If you have large hands, you might have trouble. 

For instant warmth, especially if you suffer from aching, cold hands, these affordable bar mitts might be the answer. Unless, of course, you have battery heated motorcycle gloves like my neighbor!

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Coffeeneuring 2021 - Seventh Cup at Ethan Allen Park

Well past colorful autumn foliage, it was time to think...sticks will do!


Planted shrubs, but of course I couldn't pluck what little leaves remained. The added a smidgen of crimson against an otherwise drab landscape.

So nice to enjoy a picnic table.

I brought guard dog this time - kind of forgot about him!

The grand finale: 2021's Coffeeneuring quilt!

Art for art's sake

I was lucky to fit in six of seven outings on weekends. The first coffeeneuring was enjoyed under a full moon and while I planned to finish the challenge during the lunar eclipse - wouldn't that have been cool! - the weather failed to cooperate. I've learned though my mini art displays theme that it's worth adding a little pizzazz into my coffee-without-walls excursions. I'm a creative soul at heart, so thanks Mary (queen coffeeneur) for the idea and approval. This concludes my 9th year of coffeeneuring, and I realized this was the first year I drank only tea, so I'm officially a Tea-neur! 

The Place: Ethan Allen Park
Date: Sunday, November 21
Drink: Barry's Black Tea
Observation: A warm 45F day
Total Miles: 10

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Coffeeneuring 2021 - Sixth Cup at Lone Sailor Park

The Zen of pebble designs - as mesmerizing but not as risky as stacking dominoes!

Stones were the only art that would hold up against the strong November gusts - commonplace this time of year.

There is still foliage, mostly yellow and gold.

My leopard print thermos is a delight for my eyes and cozy warm against hands.

The sprouting maples were tenacious and vivid color against a monochrome windy waterfront.

This photo makes me happy because it displays moody clouds, picturesque Spirit of Ethan Allen tour boat, Rock Point peninsula, planted grasses bending in the breeze, and an awesome lake view surrounding my bicycle..

A steel sculpture that captivates me because of it's construction. The art is a rusting reminder of old mooring buoys once bobbing in the lake from Burlington's lumber and oil days.

Pedaling beneath the golden Linden trees.

Art for art's sake

Lone Sailor Park is tucked away on a manmade peninsula, with plaques commemorating Lake Champlain naval battles, and honoring Vermont veterans on the former site of the naval reserve center. A larger than life sculpture of a sailor stands prominently, gazing at the lake. I often take selfies with the sailor and post on Instagram. The park is very private and often overlooked - a boon for locals seeking solitude. I avoided goofy selfies this time, preferring to concentrate on location, views, and of course, coffeeneuring! The land was somewhat sheltered from the strong wind - a perfect spot to enjoy a cup of tea and arrange pebbles to my heart's content.

The Place: Lone Sailor Park, also visited in 2017
Date: Saturday, November 13
Drink: Chai Tea
Observation: A blustery November day
Total Miles: 15

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Coffeeneuring 2021 - Fifth Cup at Rossetti Natural Area Beach

A heart made with leaves - my son's idea - embracing a Powell's Books mug.

Still autumn color, though waning, from the local lookout. My son and I gravitated to this spot when we mountain bike on local trails then reconvened on the beach for tea.

Oaks and beech trees provide a colorful beach backdrop.

Even a cell phone camera paints me in a new light (ha, had to say that!). Such fun selfies. :)

Love the sand divots.

My mountain bike loving son, always game for a bike ride. It was his idea to visit this spot.

My son's art contribution.

Gazing west - oh, the Adirondacks so clear on the horizon!

Art for art's sake

I'm surprised that November's weekend weather has provided ample opportunity for coffeeneuring! On the heels of solitary sipping and big miles on the Dahon, the next day I grabbed my mountain bike for more local exploration and relaxing on a quiet beach. For the second time I've noticed that the lighting on this north-facing beach lends itself to stellar selfies and an interesting vantage of the Colchester Causeway and New York's Adirondacks. And I always welcome our 19 year old's attendance - twice, so far  - who embraces coffeeneuring, especially when mom brings an extra mug.

The Place: Rosetti Natural Area Beach
Date: Sunday, November 7
Drink: Chai Tea
Observation: Another perfect day!
Total Miles: 10

Monday, November 15, 2021

Coffeeneuring 2021 - Fourth Cup at Blanchard Beach

A QCBC bandana makes a perfect table cloth.
Sunshine filled my soul.


Park and admire.

Watching the ducks on the sandbar.

Still lots of autumn color!

Wear flannel; ride wherever.

Art for art's sake

Blanchard Beach and the Earth Clock is attractive year-round for it's sweeping lake views and sandy beach. Burlington recently added several more benches for park goers, but I prefer to sit on the  concrete blocks for better views and easier coffeeneuring set up. Without autumn leaves for my art installation, I tore sprigs from a bountiful cherry tree for a colorful arrangement. My husband met up with me later and we continued on for a longer loop homeward. I hadn't ridden the Eco 3 in a while and my back was sore in the evening, but a yoga workout eventually cured the discomfort!

The Place: Blanchard Beach
Date: Saturday, November 6
Drink: Chai Tea
Observation: A perfect 50F November day
Total Miles: 30

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Coffeeneuring 2021 - Third Cup at Lakeview Cemetery

Collecting gorgeous maple leaves.

Is the maple insignia on the mug appropriate or what!

A beautiful cemetery overlooking Lake Champlain.

The crew investigating my coffee set up.

Art for art's sake

I was thankful for a break in weather to get out with family, enjoy peak foliage along the lakeshore, and eventually complete a loop together before heading home in light rain.

Lakeview Cemetery feels like a park, with its narrow winding roads beneath lovely oaks, maples, and hydrangea trees (among others) currently shaped like umbrellas with maroonish-colored blossoms. The grounds are, in my opinion, the loveliest resting place in Burlington. One end borders the Greenway Path and overlooks the lake. Some people come for the sunsets and/or it's great spot to watch fireworks. I also came here in 2018.

I sat a respectful distance from the gravestones, collected the most colorful maple leaves, then placed my, coincidentally, maple-emblemed mug in the center. Our youngest son joined me to share a thermos of strong ginger tea.

The Place: Lakeview Cemetery
Date: Saturday, October 30
Drink: Ginger Tea
Observation: This is it, peak fall foliage! I made the tea way too strong for my liking. Note to self: one tea bag is plenty.
Total Miles: 13

Monday, November 8, 2021

Making Sense of Riding Statistics


In late October, I caught up with logging 2021's bicycle mileage into the spreadsheet and noted some interesting trends compared with the previous year. 

Because riding was so erratic in 2020 of course I rode most days for sanity, with no clear pattern as to which days of the week I preferred. 

2021 was a different story! I secured employment in January and even though I work from home, daily rides were still  necessary, and I got out most days after work. The 2021 chart reflects those post work "commutes". 
2021 through end of October

Higher mileage on weekends is also a sign of normalcy. I relish the sun and stay outside as long as possible, especially this autumn. With a less than stimulating job and busy early mornings, I live for night rides and enjoy weekend daylight - the chart proves it!

2021 through the end
of October.

With 3142 total miles in 2020, I'm on track to meet, if not surpass, last years mileage.

I learned to ride on snow covered paths during winter 2020/2021, a big change from low mileage January- February 2020. Rocking studded tires means I ride most winter days.

Even with 2020's hiccups, I've made riding a bicycle a priority. It has helped me adapt, both physically and mentally, to life's challenges. Long live this simple, beautiful machine!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Coffeeneuring 2021 - Second Cup at the Local Overlook

Guard dog and stellar leaves continue to make me smile during coffeeneuring.

A clear day provides views across Lake Champlin to the northern Adirondacks.

Art for art's sake

Taking advantage of weekend sunshine, I set out on my mountain bike and headed to nearby trails that lead to a special promontory, a place I visited also in 2021. A clear view, the clouds nearly kissing the distant Adirondacks, I noticed the color has not quite peaked in our region. I hung out for 20 minutes, investigating the spotty lichen covering the rock, then descended down a different route and pedaled home. I was looking forward to a bike date with my husband!

The Place: Colchester Overlook
Date: Saturday, October 23
Drink: Ginger Lemon Tea
Observation: The autumn color wasn't as pronounced as I had expected.
Total Miles: 5