Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Quality Thinking Time on a Snow-lit Path

The homestretch: shifting down to climb the bridge, noticing a plane in the distance.

I've been making riding through a Vermont winter work, once again. Mild weather has helped. Working from home has forced me to get outside at lunchtime, and often again after 5 pm. The darkness is/can be a hindrance, or an opportunity, depending upon your point of view. I love cross-country skiing, also, but without enough local snow, alternatives are walking and riding.

There is much to like about riding on plowed, salt-free, snow-packed rail trails. The surface is generally firm. Interaction with cars is non-existent; studded bike tires lend traction; and the few hardy souls who venture out in the dark are groups of runners and the occasional dog walker. I have the trail mostly to myself!

Senses are heightened. Since my trail is near Lake Champlain, I listen to the rhythm of waves, ducks squawking, or the distant rumble of airplanes slowing on their decent into Burlington. Snow absorbs voices; I see the bobbing lights on pedestrians long before their conversation - a momentary blip - as I roll on by, my tires crunching in the darkness. I search for the moon on a clear night, reflections on the lake, and snow-covered ice forming in bays. I enjoy the white-lighted peace symbol perched high in someone's tree or the dark lump of squirrel nests standing out on naked trees. If I'm lucky, wild creatures appear, often it seems, in threes: an opossum, fox, and raccoon, on one evening, or a fox, raccoon and housecat on another. One time an animal bolted erratically - perhaps a rabbit - ricocheting off my front wheel then continuing across the path.

I let my thoughts wander. I think about upcoming vacations - something that seems doable again, months in advance. I smile in the darkness as I rumble over the arching bridge, marking the homestretch. I think you'll be all right, 2023.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Ideas for 2023

2023 should hold more opportunities for travel, this time with my husband. In his retirement, he has the time to plan our adventures plus fulfill his own wanderlust.

  • I'm a creative soul. Come winter I design and create something, often inspired by a cycling need. 2023's project is a large, lightweight tote bag to hold my Dahon Boardwalk. I want a bag primarily for train journeys, with the ability fold/roll it when done, stowing it, perhaps, behind the seatpost. I've heard the inexpensive IKEA Dimpa bags work well, but question their longevity. I'd rather come up with a customized design.
  • Finish equipping the Bassi Rachel for touring. My new step through queen needs fenders and a front rack. Ultimately, I want the Jack the Bike Rack - initially a Kickstarter project - soon to be available to the public. This rack would provide versatility and ideally I want to avoid a permanent front rack. For a temporary setup though, I could likely fit an older Blackburn lowrider or purchase another simple but effective Sunlite small rack. I have a few options at the very least to distribute weight on Miss Rachel for springtime tours.
  • Touring ideas include a loop connecting the Cross Vermont Trail and soon to be complete Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, doable from home! It's an opportunity to ride dirt roads, pavement, and a gravel railbed, crossing the width of Vermont twice. We can see this loop becoming popular in the years to come. Also on the agenda is touring the Erie Canal Trail, hopefully early enough to avoid crowds, and later in the year, attending the Philly Bike Expo via Amtrak and my Dahon Boardwalk.