Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 30 of 30 days - Success!

That's it, I did it- I rode every single day in April. To be honest I'm amazed at my own will power and capacity for following through on a challenge. This marks the first time in my life I've ever actually succeeded at something like this and yes, I'm shocked...and pretty proud of myself too!

We took a left out of the driveway today, which is only the second time we've ever done so. Because the first hill wasn't punishing enough, we decided to cycle around the cemetery, which is on a hillside. In this picture (above) I'm recovering from the torture and having one of those "why the hell am I doing this again?" moments...short lived of course.

Tonight as we were climbing our last hill, my gears suddenly came to a grinding halt and then released again, causing my leg to slam down with full force on my ankle in a rather awkward angle. It wasn't too bad at the time so I just kept going, but as the ride continued it started to really hurt. I must have been overcompensating with my other leg, which in turn made that knee hurt. I was very relieved to get home and had a few moments of doubt in my ability to do so, but I had no options. Walking my bike is not a pleasant or easy experience, especially with a sore ankle and tibia. As Kyle pointed out, it really couldn't have happened on a better day.

I still thoroughly enjoyed this ride, the last of 30 days of biking. I feel a little sentimental about this month, it was special, it took me from a person who rides a bike, to a bicyclist. It gave me a passion that was not there before, it gave me support and community, it gave back so much for every ounce of effort I pushed into it. Most of all, this month has given me a solid foundation for the journey ahead of me, something to build on and move forward with. Thank you all for joining me, I have such a long journey ahead of me. I honestly couldn't do it without everyone that contributes here, the cycling community rocks!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 29 of 30 days of biking - All good things must come to an end

With the end of the 30 days of biking staring me in my face, I'm fully aware of how much I'm going to miss this experience. Of course there is nothing to stop me from riding daily regardless of challenges, personal or otherwise, but the 30 days of biking brought some excellent support people into my life and provided me with a perfect introduction into daily riding. Sure, I'd been riding for a few months by the time April rolled around, but nothing prior to this had cemented my new life quite like this challenge has done.

Today for our ride we visited the local grocery store and picked up a little picnic of pre-made sandwiches, veggie chips and a few oranges. I also picked up some probiotics and natural thyroid support supplement that I had wanted to try. We then cycled on to the park where we planned to find a shady bench and enjoy our lunch. I'm glad we took plenty of water because it was pretty hot out and I had to keep stopping for sips along the way.

We cycled just barely under 6 miles today and although it had some tough spots (on small hills), it was a superior ride. Our sandwiches were surprisingly delicious, it was very relaxing and we made a little diversion through the wetlands trail on the way home.

I added a new sign to the back of my bicycle this morning, it's subtle but hopefully people get the message.

Tonight the weather still remains warm, we're going to light a fire in our new pit and have a BBQ. Tomorrow we're hoping the weather stays nice and we can ride to the bike shop so the Yuba can get it's first tuneup, it would be the longest ride we've done, so hopefully its not as windy and rainy as is predicted.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 28 of 30 days of biking - Jack's Birthday Party

I took this picture at about 9 am this morning, of the yard AFTER we had spent a few hours mowing, sweeping, raking and generally cleaning...all in preparation for Jack's Birthday Party (actually Kyle's too!). I mention the time, because as I write this, I am literally sitting down and relaxing for the first time all day.

Our little boy had an amazing day, he played and laughed, he ran and squealed, he ate a huge slice of sugary cake! Luckily Kyle remembered to buy a candle and the little guy even blew it out on his own!

I've always thought Birthdays were also a celebration for Mothers, and I too had a lovely day, surrounded by great people and wonderful children. Jack got the best gifts, the kind of things Kyle and I would have picked out ourselves, like buckets, yard tools, bubbles, baseballs, bats and books!

Our bike ride after the party was pretty short, but we we're tired and ready to put our feet up, so I'm happy we got a quick 2 miles in before retiring for the night.

I am so happy that I am working towards a goal for a better lifestyle and healthier future for Jack and I. For sometime now I have stressed about him turning 2, it was a deadline I'd set for myself last summer, that by this day I would be working towards getting healthier- it felt good to be on the journey already.

A short blog post tonight, but it's time to rest up for a good ride tomorrow!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 27 of 30 days of biking - another victorious day

Another victorious day has come to a close and as challenges that might bore the more advanced rider still delight me, today's ride with a little off road adventure felt amazing. We thought we'd better get a ride in before dusk fell and as neither of us actually felt like riding, we left the house rather begrudgingly. As generally happens, once out on the road with the warm sun and crisp air we woke up and felt energized.

This picture above really captures the essence of the rural side of Walla Walla, big skies and beautiful sunsets. The cement square in the foreground is an access point for the irrigation that runs under the ground, you can hear the water rushing through. They are all covered with random pallets or pieces of wire and the whole thing doesn't seem very safe to me, but I assume no small children fall down them on a regular basis.

This little Quail sung us a beautiful song as we sat and watched him, we also saw a dear little Warbler in the wetlands that was more than happy to sing his little heart out, I'm sure the females of the species were their desired audience, but we enjoyed it!

You may remember I mentioned finding a little dirt trail a few days ago, we headed back there today and attempted to ride it. I was determinedly riding until I came across this little wooden bridge, and thought I'd just walk over it and the next little bridge because I wasn't in the mood for an unexpected swim.

There were a lot of Curly and Weeping Willows all around this area and Kyle saw some wild strawberries.

The ground was so soggy that we sunk into it, remember yesterday we had lake sized puddles! I was really working to cycle through this part and actually made it all the way without stopping. It's not a very long trail at all, but still a lovely little escape and sanctuary for wildlife.

Another overly wide road and sidewalk, I wish we had been here when a huge Dodge Truck decided to blast by us within an arms reach, they had aftermarket exhaust (very loud) and raced by us at about twice the legal speed limit, scaring and angering us.

I think we will find ourselves revisiting this beautiful area, it was so incredibly peaceful! I'd like to go looking for frogs and tadpoles, and explore a little. I'm sure Jack would love to get off the bike and poke around, although water scares me with speedy little toddlers, so I'll probably take his harness with me. Overall another beautiful addition to the 30 days of biking!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 26 of 30 days of biking - biggest puddle ever!

It's a little hard to see him in there, but today my darling passenger required a little extra layer between him and the elements. The weather protector has really made a huge difference to our journey, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it through this month without it, I can relax and ride knowing he's snug and dry back there, even if I'm getting soaked. The rain fell in buckets today, non stop for hours and hours, which made for some interesting obstacles along the way.

I was incredibly lucky in my timing and left during a dry spell, as I took a quick short ride (so as not to tempt fate) I stayed dry the entire time. The wind however was tremendous and obviously never managed to be at my back.

Jack finally took the nap he'd been fighting off for hours, as Kyle is off work during the middle of the week it threw our schedules off. Jack had been far too happy having Daddy home to bother with silly old nap time.

I still haven't set in stone any specific challenges for the month of May. The only goal I had previously for this month was to be able to ride the distance to Farmers Market for opening week, I have achieved that distance a few times now, but I think we will still head that way on opening weekend anyway- just to follow through.

I'm pondering a few ideas for personal challenges for May, but as I still have a few days to toss it around, I think I will do just that. If anyone has any ideas feel free to offer them.

There is one thing I am quite certain of, and that is that I'm not going to be writing here daily in May! I think blogging daily is far more of a challenge than actually riding daily, which must be a good sign!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 25 of 30 days of biking - I didn't know my speedometer went up to 13 mph

There looked to be a sizable storm front moving in tonight. So I went for a solo ride, and to be honest I wasn't really in the mood for distance, but seeing as Jack was safe at home with Dad, I decided to take advantage of my solo ride and go for speed.

Now lets remember, when I talk about speed it means anything over 7 mph! But where my averages are usually around 5mph on hills, tonight they were around 7. My top speed was 13 mph on the flat and that's pretty good for me. The weight difference was really noticeable and I felt pretty light! I built up quite the sweat and felt like super woman when I finally pulled in the driveway. One other thing I noticed tonight was that my knee pain came back a little, then I remembered I had adjusted my saddle after Kyle rode my bike and had forgotten to adjust the tape that I use as a guide- therefore my saddle was back in its lower position- amazing what 3/4" difference can make!

I went a new route and found this cool windmill and a nice little dirt trail that follows a small creek, I think I will go back there with Kyle and Jack on our next ride and venture down the trail.

It's hard to see, but there is a tiny little bicycle at the bottom of the windmill.

I wrote a small post for Momentum Magazine this week, I'm pretty excited to have something on their website, so I thought I'd share the link with my readers here:

I know these "30 days of biking" posts can seem a little repetitive, but I have dedicated myself to writing and riding daily this month, and I intend to see it through with 100% success . With only 5 days left I find myself a little sad that April is coming to a close, but also excited that I get to start a new chapter in this amazing journey.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 24 of 30 days of biking - Building momentum on a slow ride

Day 24 of 30 and a short ride turned out a little longer than we expected, just under 5 miles. Nothing for so many people, but for me, it's slowly building in distance that makes me feel accomplished, and tonight I feel very accomplished. Knee pain is at an all time low, hills are getting a little easier and recovery time doesn't leave me feeling 100% drained of energy.

We enjoyed more magnificent weather today, warm breezes and clear skies. I haven't checked milage, but I think tonight may be our longest mid-week ride, and I sense it's becoming habitual for both Kyle and I at this point. I also sense it's going to be a really good year for all of us, we look forward to these rides together as the highlight of our days.

Considering the next part of my journey, I find myself drawn to the idea of riding first thing in the morning and then again in the evenings with Kyle. I think the more you ride, the more you realize the power of the can change you, change your family, change your community and really where does it end? When people see me they might not see these changes, I still don't look anything like what one imagines a cyclist to look like, but I can feel like I'm gaining momentum now, slowly.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 23 of 30 days of biking - we've come so far

With a departure shot like this, it had to be a good ride! My crazy husband was ready to go ride as soon as he got home from work today, we got out on the driveway, took this picture and then he say's "want to trade bikes tonight?" I considered it and thought it would be a nice change, why we adjust the saddles and set off. Over the last few months many people have suggested I take Kyle's bike out to give myself a little change of pace and to be honest I was a little apprehensive about the idea. What if I liked Kyle's bike more then mine? What if it was so much easier I no longer wanted to ride the Yuba Mundo? Oh I should have done it a long time ago! I was so uncomfortable, so awkward and out of balance that I only made it a about a mile before I was begging for my Mundo back...and kyle? Well, he wanted to keep it. Now obviously this is nothing against Kyle's bike, its more that my Mundo is so incredibly smooth, comfortable and chilled.

So it's official- we need to add another bike to the fleet. We're hoping a little later in the year we will get a third bike- something similar to my Mundo but not necessarily as beefy. These relaxed-ride bikes just suit our lifestyle a little better and honestly, whats not to love about my big orange bike?

The ride today was pretty short, just over 3 miles.  I could have rode for longer but Kyle suspects there may be something amiss with his bike, so we headed home. I was glad we had the sun canopy for Jack today, because we almost hit the 90's and even at around 6pm it was still very hot.  It really got me thinking about the struggles this year still has planned for me, like when summer really rolls around and we start getting high temperatures everyday.  Right now, outside, we are having the most brilliant display of lightening and the rain is warm, a perfect end to a really nice day.

How bikes can save us

Biking And Health
Created by: Healthcare Management Degree

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 22 of 30 days of biking - and a short video of yesterday's ride

When I signed up for the 30 days of biking I thought it would help me to ride more, I anticipated I'd ride maybe 20 out of 30 days, I never expected to ride every single day. As we approach the end of the month, I now know for sure that I won't miss a day. It's getting to be just life, I get up, I eat, I change diapers, I shower (if I'm lucky) and I ride my bike. Just part of life and that's exactly what I'd hoped for.

The boy and I headed out towards the end of day, it had been a busy one and we'd done lots of yard work so energy was lagging.

We planted all of our spinach seedlings today and some giant sunflowers, which are one of my favorites. These are our raised bed boxes, they are recycled crates from the wind turbines, extremely well made from non treated wood.  Behind Kyle you can see our new compost box and to the left you can see the stake for our sugar snap peas, we planted them last week and they are doing great.

Okay, now back to tonight's ride...What can I say? It was lovely, of course! Jack and I rode solo, which wasn't as fun as a family ride, but Kyle still needed to fix his flat and was exhausted from digging a new veggie bed we're working on.

Jack literally chatted the entire ride, non-stop jibber jabbering; pointing out flowers, buckets, dogs, birds and saying "hello" to everyone we pass...he loves it!

A long shadow, courtesy of the setting sun and below, the same onion field I took a picture of last month, now with much taller Walla Walla Sweets.

It is hard to believe there are only 8 more days in this month. It's also hard to believe I was worried about this challenge, as I was painting myself into another corner. I'm so glad that cycling is becoming normal to me now.

Here's a short video we took yesterday on our way home from the races. I did a rough edit, but due to the nature of our unsteady camera, it's a little jumpy. This trail is beautiful, it cuts through a little wetland area that has been reserved. I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 21 of 30 days of biking - Bicycle races and cargo bikes

We had such a massively wonderful day, almost too much to write down at 9:30pm- but this is my first opportunity.  This morning we rode to downtown Walla Walla (just under 9 miles!) We went to meet a fellow cargo biker that found us through the blog and who lives in Tri-Cities, he had driven over for the day to enjoy the bicycle races being held downtown.

It was pretty hot and just a beautiful day, we used the sun shade with the additional sun block so Jack's arms didn't get scorched. We made good time and the ride, although a challenge, was far easier than last time. I can't tell you how accomplished that made me feel! 

This is Jack's reaction to seeing all the bicycles whiz by like a swarm of bees the first time! I had never seen bicycle racing up close before and was amazed at the hum all the bikes made and the gust of air that hit us as they passed.

In the picture above Jack is watching the scene in the picture to the right >  his face is pretty hilarious!
I think he was amazed by the cycling in one place, all the bikes and tons of people. He soon got into the action, yelling "go, go, go" as the racers flew by.

We called our visiting cargo bike friend, Ian and he met us a short time later, for a cold drink and a chocolate muffin to fuel the ride home. Ian was super cool and we were really happy to meet him. It was thoroughly refreshing to meet another cargo cyclist, and our group of bikes got lots of glances amid the sea of carbon-fiber frames and skinny tires. Whilst we were sitting there we got to meet Luke, another cargo-cyclist whom I had yet to meet in person. Unfortunately Jack was getting close to nap time and not very patient, but we did manage to take some time to kick tires and admire our bicycles.

Above is Ian's chilled ride- a Rans, Crank Forward design bike with an Xtracyle. This bike looked so chilled and relaxed. I asked Ian why he kept his bike computer back towards the rear of the bike, he said it was so he stopped paying attention to how slow he was riding and just enjoyed the ride; I thought that was clever advice for many of us! Below we see Luke's bike, it's a Kona Ute, and obviously a very beautiful bike too. It was great to meet some fellow cargo cyclist's today, I felt really uplifted by them- thanks guys!

We cycled home with a very tired boy, he feel asleep halfway home, so we decided to take the scenic route through the wetlands bike trail. The ride home is always so much easier as it's a slow down hill all the way home.  The sun was blazing and we hadn't brought any sunblock with us, I was glad Jack was pretty well shaded under his canopy. We were less than a mile from home when Kyle got a flat tire, we had taken the pump, but it needed to be repaired, so Kyle walked home. I rode on ahead with the sleeping child, I had just him tucked in bed as Kyle walked through the front door.

Here's a picture of downtown- lots of bikes today. And a few more of the races:

Overall- another awesome day, courtesy of the bicycle!