Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baking Weather

Many of you know that I love to bake.

I've been planning to share some recipes on my blog and I think today is a good day for sharing one.


Because here in Minnesota we're in the middle of a big snowstorm. Events are being cancelled. The roads are too bad to drive. Plows won't be coming through our neighborhood for hours. The temperature is going below zero tonight and is expected to stay below zero or in the single digits through Tuesday. So it's a good day to do indoor activities - like baking cookies made with butter.
Lots of butter.
And cream. Yep, cream is good, too.
So, if you are stuck in this Minnesota snowstorm or just want to pretend you are, I'm going to link you to an easy recipe for Mandel Kakor - Swedish Almond Butter Cookies.
Why a recipe for Swedish cookies today?
Well, last night I attended the 35th annual Lucia Festival hosted by the Northfield Swedish Club. My husband and kids attended the event a few years ago but this was my first time. I enjoyed it immensely. The evening was casual and fun and started with a Julbord (Christmas Buffet) which we enjoyed as we listened to traditional music played by a number of talented local musicians.
Rose as a Lucia Attendant

The highlight of the night was the Luciatag, the Lucia pageant, when the lights were dimmed and two Lucias led their Tarnor (Attendants) and Stjarngossar (Star boys) out into the room. My daughter, Rose, was an attendant for the first time. I almost cried to see her holding her candle, to see all of the children walking in, to hear them singing Sancta Lucia. Okay, I did cry a bit. I do that.
After the pageant, the Lucias and their attendants delivered Julkakor (Christmas cookies) to the guests. Rose delivered a tray of cookies to our table and we finished off the evening with more music including a sing along of Svenska Julsanger (Swedish Christmas songs), a visit from a tomte (a Swedish elf) and Dans kring granen (Swedish folk dancing around the Christmas tree). 
Each family is asked to bring two dishes for the buffet and a dozen cookies. I made Shortbread Fruit Squares, a buttery shortbread cookie my Mom makes every Christmas, and Mandel Kakor. I LOVE Mandel Kakor. I had them for breakfast yesterday and for an after breakfast snack today. The recipe is easy even though the cookies require two trips to the oven and they taste oh so good!
Here's a link to the recipe:
Correction - as of 11/16/2011 the above link does not work. Try this one instead:
And for some reason, the link has changed again. As of 12/23/12 here is the link:

Mandel Kakor. Photo from Relish. Mark Boughton Photography; styling by Teresa Blackburn

Step 6 of the recipe states that during the second bake cycle you  can bake the cookies for 20 minutes if you like crispy cookies or 10 minutes for chewier cookies. I always bake 10 minutes for the chewier cookies. I think they are better that way.
It's still snowing and blowing like crazy outside. I've got a lot of writing work to do today, a bit of baking (probably plum puddings to embrace my English roots. We always have plum pudding on Christmas) and need to carve out some time to exercise. Gotta keep working out so I can eat more cookies, you know!
Happy baking - and stay warm!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Our Italy Box

Guess what? The Mibus Family is heading to Italy to do some bike touring!!! Now don't get TOO excited, we're not going any time soon. But it's good to dream so that's what we're doing. But we're not only dreaming we're doing something about our dream - we're saving money in our Italy Box.
Traveling to Italy has been on the back burner of my "to do" list for a couple of years. Art. History. Architecture. Food. Gelato. Wine. Italy is full of stuff to see and do and I love to travel. Once I started bicycling I learned that various companies coordinate bike tours in Italy which made me want to go there even more. I found a brochure on bike tours, several of which went through the Italian countryside, and looked at it with Owen and the kids. Everyone was interested but Rose got especially excited. 

One of Cassi's pictures. Thanks, Cassi, for giving me permission to use your picture for my blog!
"rooftops of Caldana and the patchwork landscape of Tuscany"
"Italy! I want to bike through Italy," she said, more excited than I'd seen her in a long time.
So she and I dreamed. But I think both of us knew that a trip to Italy was a dream that wasn't going to happen soon. Or ever. Still, it's good to dream - so we did. 
A few months later I discovered my friend, Cassi ( & @morebikes) was going to bike around Italy with her husband. And even though I knew Italy was still out of reach, it seemed a little more possible just knowing that someone I knew was going there.
One afternoon I noticed that Cassi posted a blog entry about her Italy trip. I was busy with work but Rose, looking over my shoulder, took interest in Cassi's blog. Rose read the blog entries and marveled aloud at Cassi’s pictures. From that point on Rose was hooked and wouldn't stop talking about going to Italy. And I couldn't get Italy out of my head, either. 
So Rose and I thought things trough step by step and devised a plan.
Here's what we came up with:
Our family will go to Italy once Ryan is old enough to ride a big bike all day.
Ryan will probably be ready when he's about 12. He's 9 now.
When Ryan is 12, Rose will be 15.
At that point Ryan will be in 6th grade and Rose in 9th.
Traveling to Italy with a 6th grader and a 9th grader seems pretty reasonable. 
The kids will be at an age where the can keep up and really appreciate stuff.

So, at the earliest, we can go to Italy in three years.

It could be four.
Or five.
And it's going to cost a lot of money.
So we're going to start saving our money now.
Rose and I talked about saving money. We needed a good place to put it, we figured. Something that said "Italy" when we looked at it.
We searched the house and looked in stores but couldn't find anything that was just right.
But then we found the box - a plain, white box that’s kind of tall and big enough to put tons of money inside. But it was just a plain white box and didn't say "Italy" when you looked at it.
So Rose and I came up with another plan. We'd decorate the box to make it just right.
And decorate we did. We spent an evening cutting, glueing, cutting, arranging, and gluing some more until the box was covered with images that said “Italy” to us. We cut a hole in the top to shove our money through.
Our Italy Box

And we put our first coins and a few dollar bills in it Sunday night.

Ryan and Rose putting money in our Italy Box
We'll be saving for our trip for a long, long, time.
But that's okay.
We've got time.
And a dream to keep us going.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winter Riding Fun

It's downright warm today, about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so I decided to get out on my bike and ride. I talked Rose into joining me and soon we were out on our bikes riding down our grass taxiway and out onto the runway (no planes flying today, don't worry).

Ready to go.

Our runway is plowed but there was still about an inch of snow in most places, some places up to four inches deep, but my hybrid handled the snow well enough. Rose's mountain bike was better equipped for the snow covered grass. Still, it wasn't easy to pedal through the snow. Just a few minutes into our ride we were both huffing and puffing and I started to feel the familiar burn in my thighs from pedaling. There is simply nothing better, I think, than riding a bike to get a good workout. Yet, even with the hard effort, Rose and I laughed and smiled as we pedaled. And though I slipped and nearly wiped out on a hidden ice patch, we had a blast.

My winter riding companion, Rose.
 Our taxiway is totally snow-free (Owen keeps it plowed so we can get the plane out). The runway is free of snow in places.

Rose and I rode a mile and she was ready to call it a day. I, however, decided to ride some more so I took off down the runway again. Then I rode the road, nice and flat but wet and icy in places, my rear tire kicked up water and dirt onto my back. I got near my house but wanted to keep going so I hit the gravel road and pedaled about a mile on the hard packed gravel and snow. It was easier than I expected, easier than riding the gravel without snow, actually. After 3.6 miles I called it a ride, wiped down my bike, oiled my chain, and put my bike away.

I'd like to ride more in the winter. I can't believe I'm saying that. I generally stay inside in the winter, and save for a season of cross country skiing when I was in about 7th grade, have never participated in winter sports with any regularity. Yet, I've discovered that I like getting outside to exercise and hope to add to my winter riding/walking/running gear so I can continue to do so. It's expensive, all this outside gear, and I'm exceptionally broke at the moment so I'll have to add to my kit as time goes by and do the best with what I have. That's okay. I have many more winters in my future, at least I certainly hope so!

I'm not sure how much I'll keep riding this winter, in addition to not having all the winter gear my hybrid isn't the best match for snow-covered roads. But maybe someday I'll add a fat bike to my stable - basically a bike with fat tires suited for riding in the snow. (Here's an interesting article about fat bikes) If I do, it might be a Surly Pugsley or maybe a Salsa Mukluk. Sigh. Can't afford one right now but it's good to have a dream.

Several Salsa Mukluks from Milltown Cycles in nearby Faribault.
Do yourself a favor and follow Milltown's blog. It's full of great bike news and fun stuff.

1,000 miles in 2010 Goal update:
886 miles logged. 114 to go.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Running a Bit

I've never been a runner. I take that back. I was in track in 8th grade and ran, slowly, the 400 meter and some relay races. But in the last 20 years I've probably run less than 10 miles total. My reasons for not running are many - from getting shin splints to not having running shoes or a decent running bra to simply not wanting to.

And, to be honest, I always thought runners were kind of nutty.
I mean, why would someone run on purpose?
Because running looks like a lot of work.
Sweating and all that when you could simply walk.

But I used to think bicyclists were nutty, too.
And I think of myself as a bicyclist now, or at least a hard-core aficionado.


Now that there is snow on the ground and my road bike is not set up for dashing through the snow I've been seeking alternate methods of exercise. I've been walking the dogs and while this is great, starting and stopping a lot with a 14 years old dog and a year-old pup doesn't translate to a lot of calories burned.

I started running indoors using my Wii Fit. I like it. I can watch back episodes of Glee while exercising and not feel guilty about sitting still and watching TV. I first set a 10 minute goal and now can run in place for 30 minutes. This is wonderful but, I know, not the same as actually running.

So I have decided to jog outside a little. I take my young dog, Rocket, and we head out for some exercise. We start out at a brisk walking pace and then I talk myself into running a bit. I pick out a driveway or taxiway (I live next to a grass runway) and tell myself to run to it. Sometimes I want to quit, or never break into a run to begin with, but next thing I know we've made it to my stopping point. Then we walk for awhile. And sometimes we stop if Rocket decides he needs to sniff something. Then we walk some more. And more. And run a bit. And walk. And so it goes. Even though it's been a cool 25 degrees or less here in Minnesota it's exceptionally nice outside in the sunshine. I like hearing my feet crunch through the snow and Rocket is good company. And the entire walking, walking, running, stopping, walking experience is great overall.

In fact, I just got back from from a two mile walk/run. Yes, 80% of the time I walked. Yes, the 20% I ran was very slow. But I ran. And I kind of liked it. And I think I'll do it some more.

Rocket - my walking & running companion.
Note the wide, plowed, grass taxiway we have to walk and run on. We're lucky!

1,000 miles in 2010 Goal update:
881 miles logged. 119 to go.

Friday, November 19, 2010

On Goals - or 1,000 miles in 2010

When Owen and I got our road bikes in late March we made a commitment to ride our bikes a lot. We talked about milage goals for the season and Owen threw out 1,000 miles as his goal.
“1,000 miles?” I asked him. “In one season?” That sounded like way too many miles to me. I decided on 500 miles as my goal, almost too hard to accomplish, I thought, but still reasonable and reachable
But Owen’s goal of 1,000 miles stayed in my mind.
And it’s still there.
You see, I have been thinking about goals a lot since I started riding.
This is the deal...goals and I haven’t had a good relationship. I’ve tended to look at setting goals as a way to guarantee failure. As something rigid and too out of reach.  And when I didn't meet a goal I thought about the people who said “you can’t,” and “it’s too hard for you,” and stuff like that. Because that’s what people have told me in the past.

And since I often didn't meet my goals I figured what other people said was true.
So, no surprise, I’ve been hesitant to set goals, or at least goals that anyone knows about, because I've been afraid I'd fail.
I’ve been talking to Owen a lot about goals in the last few weeks. About how people perceive me to be very goal oriented even though I don’t see myself this way. About how I actually do get out and accomplish things, even things that people tell me I can’t do - like learn how to fly airplanes.  We’ve also talked a lot about how Owen sees goals as a positive thing. About how they can be evaluated as you go and modified if need be. And, this really resonated with me, how he sees working toward a goal as more important than the goal itself. That setting goals encourages you to get out and do something you might not have done otherwise. And that getting out and doing is an accomplishment in itself. And that working towards a goal, even a goal you don’t reach, can make you a better person.
I’d never thought of goals that way before. 
I  like Owen’s point of view.
It’s a much more positive approach than the goals = failure view I’ve had.
So - back to my 500 mile bicycling goal/personal challenge....
I made it!! As of November 11th, I put 630 miles on my road bike and 220 miles on my hybrid for a total of 850 miles of riding this year. I doubt I would have done this without 30 Days of Biking through which I had to “tweet” my rides every day and be accountable to everyone else taking part in the challenge. And through tweeting about my 30 Days of Biking I gained a support system of positive people - bicyclist, runners, triathletes - people I now think of as friends.
I feel good about riding well over my 500 mile goal. Okay, I feel great about it!  But you know what? That 1,000 mile number is still out there and it’s taunting me.

So I’m going to work towards it!
My goal is to continue biking, walking or running and work towards 1,000 miles of exercise in 2010. 
I have logged 860 miles of exercise (850 miles of biking, 10 of walking & running) since late March and I’m going to keep going. 
You know what? I may not make 1,000 miles by the end of 2010 but that’s okay because I’m going to think of the goal as something flexible, as something that’s working for me not against me. And I'm going to tell myself that each mile I track, even if I don't finish all 140, is moving me towards a better, more fit, more positive, Myrna.
So here I go...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rocket the Wonder Dog

Our pup, Rocket, turned one yesterday. To look at him he appears to be a full-grown dog. He's almost as big as our other dog, Chaucer, who is 14 years old and weighs 24 pounds. He's lost most of his puppy look. He's even quieted down a lot since we got him late last January.

Rose and Rocket - January 29, 2010. Rocket's first day home. Rocket is nearly 12 weeks old and Rose is 10 1/2 years.

But even though he is physically looking like a grown up dog he still is acting very much like a puppy, or maybe I should say a teenager, as he is still very much an adolescent and full of mischief.

Yes, lots of dogs are into mischief. But Rocket is one of the most mischievous dogs I've met. Certainly the most mischievous dogs I've owned (he's my fifth).

What does he do? Well, here's a short list:

Rocket steals socks from the laundry and slobbers all over them.
He takes tissues out of the Kleenex box.
He digs in the trash cans.
He eats sticky notes.
He's been known to destroy entire rolls of toilet paper.
He eats poop.
And rolls in yucky stuff.
He eats magnets off the fridge.
He can jump onto the cupboards and table and sometimes does.
He hides under the furniture.
He digs under the furniture.
He eats the furniture.
Perhaps most surprising of all, he jumps up and pulls thumb tacks off our bulletin board, chews on the thumbtacks but never swallows them (we think).

Rocket, almost 7 months old. And Ryan, almost 8 years old. Picture taken May 30, 2010

Rocket The Wonder Dog, as we like to call him, has been a challenge, to say the least.
But he's been good for us and has been a lot of fun, too.

For instance:

I'm keeping up on my exercise because I take Rocket out for long walks.
The kids have learned that it's important that they walk him, too.
And they feed him.
And play with him.
And teach him tricks.
And sit still with him.
Rose and Ryan have figured out where Rocket's tickle spots are.
And figured out they can hug him when they are feeling sad.
And they have more compassion for our old dog who can't hear and acts senile sometimes.
Thus I'm hoping they'll have more compassion for me when I'm old and senile, too.

We all get frustrated with Rocket sometimes. Okay, I'll be honest, pretty much on a daily basis.

Rocket on his 1st Birthday - November 9, 2010

But, you know what? Every day when the kids come home from school Rocket wags his tail and pulls on his leash to run to meet the kids at the bus stop. And every day we all get a chance to scratch the little rascal and snuggle with him a bit. And even though he drives us crazy and has turned our lives upside down with his mischief we love him.

Because he's our dog.
Rocket the Wonder Dog.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mission Accomplished

I haven't blogged or biked in awhile and I've missed both. But, I've been up to my ears with a a travel story writing deadline and activities with the family and even though that's not really an excuse I'm using it :)

My story was due today and I found myself stuck needing to cut yet another 50 words to get it down to the right length. But my brain was pretty much fried and I realized I was not going to make any progress on the story unless I took a break.

So I decided to head out for a short bike ride.

At first I planned to ride my hybrid and hit the gravel roads near my home. Then I looked outside at the 60 degree weather and decided it was worth kitting up to ride my road bike if even for a short hop. After figuring out what to wear for the weather, (long sleeve jersey, bike shorts and long pants and light vest. I ended up being too warm) I aired up my tires (they were WAY below normal pressure), swung on, clipped into my pedals and headed down the road.

I headed east knowing that the wind would fight me on the way out but then push me back home. The wind can be nice that way.

I will admit, I haven't ridden my road bike in so long that I felt a little unstable at first and the first gust of wind that hit me was a big surprise. But soon I settled into the steady rhythm of pedaling and enjoyed my ride.

The hills, I am happy to say, did not kill me. Even though I just rode 5 miles, the ride was a bit of a challenge since I haven't ridden in ages and am feeling a bit out of shape. Still, it felt great to be back on my bike.

I stopped at the halfway point to catch my breath and take a picture. Yes, I always hope to take pictures as cool as the ones
@morebikes takes ( but, no, I'll never get there. I'm okay with that.

I got home, helped the kids settle a dispute that had to do with Ryan frying Owen's voltage meter (the kids have a day off of school today), made lunch and then headed to my office to do some final cuts to my story.

I just sent the story to my editor.

Mission accomplished. In more ways than one.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A lot of donuts

Another fun bit of information gathered from our The Mibus Family 30 Days of Biking Challenge has to do with donuts.

Dailymile keeps track of fun things besides milage like the number of gallons a biker saves by biking, the number of pounds lost and the number of TVs powered for the miles you bike. The most fun statistic they offer, I think, shows how many donuts a person could have eaten calorie free, essentially, because of the calories burned by riding bike. 
Again, my numbers aren’t 100% accurate here because Dailymile doesn’t figure this out per month. But, based on the information I had I did some algebra to solve for X/number of donuts (see, math really does come in handy in real life!) and came up with the whopping number of 196 donuts!
That’s a lot of donuts for one family! Best thing is we didn’t actually eat any donuts during our 30 Days of Biking. Instead, we burned a ton of calories and got in better shape. Not that the kids needed to get into shape. They are already fit. Owen is pretty fit, too, though he has noticed he’s in better shape than before (and I noticed, too).
As for me, I’m probably the least lean member of my family but I’m happy to report that a lot of my clothes are now too big.
Now I’m not a fan of shopping for clothes. Really. I’m a woman who doesn’t like shopping. Clothes shopping stresses me out. Shopping at outlet malls gives me a headache.
But I do like shopping for bicycling clothes.
And I could use a new, slightly smaller, pair of bike shorts.
And, since I started riding I’ve somehow gotten on the mailing list for that cool shop for fit women - Title Nine, that has all these real-life models in their catalog and on the website who are really fit. And I really would like a skirt I saw in the Title Nine catalog and some of their other cool fit-woman clothes. 
Yes I know I’m not as fit as the Title Nine women.
But who cares?
I’m on my way.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

58 Hours of Fun

Last time I wrote I promised I would give you the stats on our Family 30 Days of Biking Challenge. Well, I’m a little slow in getting this to you but I finally have it done!
One of the reasons for the delay is that I went to tally up our total miles and realized that we hadn’t kept up Rose’s Dailymile biking log. Rose almost always rode with either me or Owen so I recreated Rose’s rides based on our milage logs. Then I realized we didn’t have Ryan log his miles in any formal fashion at all. So, since he usually rode with Rose, I based his milage on hers. Our final numbers for the kids aren’t going to be 100% accurate but they are pretty close. 
The process of logging all of Rose’s miles was cumbersome to say the least but I’m glad I got it done. It was kind of fun, too, to look back and read some of the comments we wrote along with our entries. To remember that our little family of four set out to accomplished a goal that seemed impossible at the start. That we overcame some obstacles and frustrations. That we spent hours together as a family. That we had a lot of fun. That we did, indeed, ride our bikes every single day for 30 days. 
So, without further ado, here are the numbers. Drumroll please.....
During the 30 Days of Biking Challenge in September 2010 Rose rode 62 miles, Ryan rode 62 miles, Owen rode 195 miles and I rode 202 miles.
Total number of miles biked by The Mibus Family during 30 Days of Biking - 521!!! 

Even using a conservative average speed of 9 miles per hour, the four of us collectively spent 58 hours riding our bikes in September.
58 hours! Wow!
That’s 58 hours NOT spent sitting still in front of the TV. 
That’s 58 hours of family time that was almost entirely stress free.
That’s 58 hours of fresh air.
That’s 58 hours of exercise.
That’s 58 hours of Mibus Family Fun!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our Family's Grand Adventure

We've had perfect weather for riding here in Minnesota. It was in the 80s today which is very strange for October but also very nice. September was more tumultuous - some cold, lots of rain, flooding. But September was the month for the second 30 Days of Biking challenge of 2010 so even though the weather was not always nice, hundreds of people in Minnesota and around the world took part in the biking challenge and ventured out every day to ride their bikes.

You may remember that my whole family decided to do the 30 Days of Riding challenge. Guess what? We did it!! We actually rode our bikes every single day in September. We logged hundreds of miles (I'll tally them up at some point and share them with you) and we spent hours together riding and talking and having fun as a family. We accomplished something together that will be part of our lives forever. Something we'll never forget.

For our final day of the challenge Rose decided we should ride a bike path in New Prague, a town near our home, and then have dinner at our favorite restaurant, The Fishtail Grill. A pleasant ride followed by a celebratory dinner, I figured, would be a great way to finish 30 Days of Biking. Perfect, in fact. And I planned to take the perfect picture of our biking family to document the occasion. How wonderful we would look, I thought. We'd all be smiling because we biked for 30 days in a row. We'd be standing next to our bikes. Perhaps the sun would be setting behind us, the lovely light framing us in an ethereal glow.

Ryan enjoying chicken at our favorite restaurant - The Fishtail Grill in New Prague.

We hauled our bikes to New Prague and were all pretty excited as we set out on the path. The path followed a stream and we saw marshland, birds, a couple of ponds. Rose and I were riding ahead of Owen and Ryan. We were laughing, having fun. And then, all of a sudden, Rose lost control of her bike and crashed. Looking back, we're not sure what happened. Rose thinks she was up and out of her saddle and went to sit down, missed the seat and lost control. Whatever the cause, I watched Rose wobble back and forth, back and forth and tip over.

It's an awful feeling to see your kid lying under her bike. Totally still. Not saying a word.

But, thankfully, she moved and said, "Mom. I'm okay. I'm okay." A mantra she repeated again and again as I helped her up and hugged her. "I'm okay. I'm okay." Rose kept saying, probably trying to convince herself that she was. But it was obvious to me that she really was not.

Rose had a badly scraped knee and elbow, was scared and hurting pretty bad. And when your kid is scared and hurting even a little boo-boo is too much. You want to save them from harm. But you can't.

So you do the best you can do when accidents happen. I found band-aids in my bike bag. I cleaned Rose up as best I could. Bandaged her knee and elbow. Told her all the while that she was very brave. That she would be just fine. That things would be okay.

And they were.

We slowly rode back to our van. Rose was a little scared and sore but she was a trooper and rode back without complaint. We figured Rose would want to go home but she still wanted to go out to eat. So we did. And though we were all kind of shaken we were able to have a nice dinner. We joked a bit about Rose having her first "road rash." Told her she was tough and brave. And we took pictures of us smiling at dinner. Of Rose's elbow and knee. And after dinner we headed home.

Here we are - Smiling at Dinner

I had planned for an exciting end to 30 Days of Biking. Of pictures and yells of "We did it!" in celebration. Hmmm, sometimes things don't go according to plan.

But that's okay. Kids fall off of bikes. Grown-ups even take a tumble from time to time. I suppose we could just decide not to ride and remove the risk of falling off, of getting hurt. But if we removed all risk from our lives I don't think we'd have much fun. Sitting around doing nothing in the effort to keep our lives risk-free isn't much of a life at all.

I like the quote by Helen Keller, "Life is either a grand adventure or nothing." I like this view on life and want to live my life in such a way that I view each day, each experience, as wonderful, as an adventure to be met with gusto.

Rose's Road Rash

I think the kids will agree with me. After all, they wanted to take part in the 30 Days of Biking adventure and they set out each day to ride and meet their goal. And their list of things they want to do is full of adventures and challenges - they want to go rock climbing, fly hot air balloons and gliders, skydive, travel, ride horses, snorkel, ride bikes through Italy...their list goes on and on and on.

Hmm, maybe we have a family motto now, one that fits for 30 Days of Biking or for when we try something else that's new. One that even fits when we something more ordinary, like eating dinner as a family, walking the dog, or hanging out with friends. Life - our family's Grand Adventure.

I like that.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

After the Rain

Boy, it's been a crazy week around here. Last Wednesday I went for a bike ride on the Sakatah trail. While on the ride it started to rain. Pour, actually. It poured rain pretty much non-stop for the next 24 hours and the river in our town of Northfield, Minnesota, flooded. Big time.

To top it off, I got hit with some kind of a cold that had me in bed most of Thursday and Friday. So it was raining, the river was rising, and the city needed people to help sandbag and I was sick in bed. It's a helpless feeling to be in bed sick when you want to be out sandbagging your town. I'm sure, though, that I didn't feel nearly as helpless as some of my friends who live in Northfield who watched the river rise and ruin their homes and businesses even as they sandbagged. Even as they moved things out of their offices and homes.

A video of the flooding in Northfield (I hope this shows up)

It's now a week since the rain started. The river is going down. Clean up crews are hard at work. I'm still struggling with this cold and can't make it through the day without a nap. But through it all, somehow, I and my family have managed to jump (ok, crawl in my case) on our bikes and ride each day for 30 Days of Biking.

Here's what Rose and Ryan did for Day 23 of 30 Days of Biking

We're now on Day 29. Twenty-nine? That doesn't seem possible but it is. Today is the second to last day of the 30 Days of Biking challenge. It's also a church night which means that the kids won't get home until after dinner so we'll all have quick rides tonight, probably in the dark.

Tomorrow - the 30th day - is pretty open after the kids get home from school. We don't have a big ride planned but I'm hoping the whole family will get out and ride for at least a couple of miles. I'm hoping the weather is good so that we have a great ride for our last ride of 30 Days of Biking.

And you know what? I'm sure we will have a great ride - because one thing I've learned through a month of riding every day with my kids is that a positive attitude about riding really makes a difference. And if we decide we're going to have a good ride we will!

So here's to our final two days of 30 Days of Biking. They will be good days for sure!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Goofy, That Is.

I have so much to write about, all sorts of stories to tell about some of my rides this past week - rides that included changing a bike tire, riding in the rain, forgetting to unclip my pedals and falling off my bike and into a ravine. But every time I sit down to write I get stuck.

I don't get stuck very often.
I don't like getting stuck.

So, I'm taking all of my half finished blog posts and am saving them in a file marked "Blog." I hope I get back to them. I plan to. The writing will come together another day. But today is not the day.

Today is the day, I guess, to read a book and go to bed. I have a cold. I am tired.

Today is also the 22nd day of 30 Days of Biking.

I rode my bike today, 10 miles this afternoon on the Sakatah Trail in Faribault. Half of those miles were in the pouring rain. I got soaked but still had a nice ride. Really. Well, sort of.

It's been raining since my afternoon ride and was still raining heavily when Owen and the kids got home from church activities.  And here it is about 8:30 p.m. and Owen and the kids still need to ride their bikes so we can all complete Day 22 of 30 Days of Biking.

To be honest, I wouldn't blame Rose and Ryan if they protest loudly. If they said "no way!" to riding on this rainy day. After all, it's cold. It's pouring down rain. We're all tired. I mean, the kids are just kids and maybe it isn't fair to ask them to ride for 30 days in a row...especially when it was more my idea than theirs.

Yes, late on the evening of the 22nd day I'm staring to wonder if 30 Days of Biking for the whole family wasn't such a good idea after all...
My puppy, Rocket, has been whining so I just went to let him outside. I let him out through the garage/hangar which is attached to our house. Owen's been out in the hangar working on the airplane. The kids, I thought, were out there helping him.

But when I walked out in the hangar I discovered that Owen and the kids were taking turns riding Ryan's little bike around in circles. Owen had moved all the other bikes and stuff out of the way so there was a small area they could ride indoors and not get cold and wet.

Rose was on the bike when I walked in. "You should see Dad ride the bike," she said as she sort of rode and sort of walked the little bike around the space.

"I pushed Daddy," Ryan added. "You need to see him do it!"

Even though they had already been "riding" for some time Owen got on the bike again and Ryan showed me how he "helped" his Dad ride the bike around the hangar. Then Ryan got on, he even wore his helmet, and rode around the tiny circle with Owen helping him so Ryan wouldn't run into anything.

Even with Owen's help Ryan nearly ran over Rocket who has to be in the middle of everything. But no one got hurt. Or wet. Or cold. And we all laughed. And Owen announced, proudly, that together the three of them road a whopping .2 miles on Ryan's bike.

I can't believe they're goofy enough to ride a little bike around in circles just so we could say The Mibus Family finished Day 22 of 30 Days of Biking.

But they did.
And we are.
Goofy, that is.
All of us.

And now that we all finished Day 22 of 30 Days of Biking it's time for us to go to bed.

We need to be well-rested for Day 23.
I hear rain is in the forecast.
Lots of it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

One of the Best Bike Rides. Ever.

I hauled my bike over to the Cannon Valley Trail today to ride all by myself, something I don't do very often. The whir of my bike wheels and the ticking of my gears got me into a meditative mode as I rode the nice, flat trail. The trees formed a canopy overhead, the leaves crunched under my wheels, my pace was fast, my spirits high and I realized I was on one of the best rides of my short biking career. 
Then I started to wonder, what is a best ride? Is there such a thing as THE best ride? Like the very best that can't be topped? Or are there different kinds of "best" rides, like the fastest ride or the longest ride? Can the best ride be a whole month of rides, like I'm doing for 30 Days of Biking, rolled all together to create a best? Maybe the best ride is in an beautiful location, like Italy. Or maybe it involves riding a great race or setting a record. What makes a ride a best ride? I'm really not sure.
But then I thought back to yesterday's ride, the ride I call "The Ride in the Rain with Ryan" and I think I may have this "best" thing figured out....
My family is doing the 30 Days of Biking challenge and are still going strong. All of us -  me, my husband and our two kids, Rose and Ryan -  have ridden our bikes every day since September 1st. We don't have to go far or fast. We just need to get out there and ride. So far it's been pretty easy to fit the rides into our days but yesterday presented a few challenges.
We planned to ride before school but it was raining and the kids were tired. So we decided to ride after school and church activities figuring we'd be home around 6:45 and have plenty of time to ride together. Then we realized Rose's church activities went until 8:15. Oh. Bummer. So we changed plans and  Ryan and I headed home early to ride. Owen and Rose, we figured, could come home later and ride in the dark with bike lights so they would be safe.
With our plan in place Ryan and I headed for home.
On the drive home it started pouring rain with no sign that the rain would let up soon.
Uh oh. Now what do we do?
"We'll just have to ride in the rain," I told Ryan, trying to sound cheerful even though I wasn't too thrilled with the idea myself.
"That's okay," he said, unconcerned.
"We'll get soaked and the neighbors will think we are insane," I told him.
"That's okay because we are insane!" he replied, smiling not at all insanely. "I want to ride in the rain!"
Oh. Well. In that case I guess we'd better get to it.
By the time we got home it was not only raining but getting dark. Wanting to be safe, we devised a plan. Ryan and I decided to ride just in the driveway and we'd turn on all the garage lights and open the garage doors to let out the light as well as turn on the yard light so we could see. I hooked a bike light to the front of Ryan's bike so he could see even better.
Plan in place, we put on our helmets and sat on our bikes under the garage overhang and looked out into the rainy night. I was cold. I didn't want to get wet. I started to wonder if we should just bike in the garage. Or skip the 15th day of 30 Days of Biking completely. No one would know, I figured. I could ride twice tomorrow, I reasoned. But Ryan was raring to go. He encouraged me with a "Come on, Mom. Just ride out there and do it! You won't feel wet after awhile."
So we rode into the pouring rain. In the almost dark. Through puddles. In circles. And we laughed so loud I'm sure the neighbors DO think we're crazy. And maybe we are. Just a little.

But you know what? I don't care.
That short, cold, ride in the pouring rain with my eight-year-old son will never hit the bicycling record books as great. But guess what? It was one of the best bike rides. Ever.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ice Cream and Wooly Bears - Biking with the Kids

As of today everyone in my family has biked seven days in a row and are now almost a fourth of the way through 30 Days of Biking. So far the kids haven't complained once about riding their bikes. They seem to enjoy riding every day and I think they like being a part of something big. It may also help that we asked the kids if we should work towards some sort of family reward for biking every day for 30 days. For me, and I'm guessing for Owen, biking every day is reward enough but I figured some extra incentive might be nice for the kids.

Ryan on his little mountain bike - he rode almost 18 miles on the Tour de Cream

Rose came up with the idea to go to an indoor rock climbing place called Vertical Endeavors. I think this is a cool reward - indoor rock climbing is not something we've ever done as a family and it's unique enough to make it really special. I also think it's cool that Rose came up with an incentive that presents a challenge (rock climbing) and is also active. Hmmm, our reward for doing an active challenge is another active challenge. I like that. Much better than ice cream. Though ice cream rewards do have their place - and we often stop for ice cream on our long family rides.
Ah, the ice cream! Owen and Rose share a banana split at Alley Scoops in Elysian, MN

Like on Sunday when we went on an informal family-friendly group ride called the Tour de Cream. The ride is an annual event for a family we know which they started to encourage their kids to ride their bikes. The ride typically follows the Sakatah Bike Trail from the Dairy Queen in Faribault to Alley Scoops, an ice cream shop in Elysian. We knew our kids wouldn't be up to the whole ride so opted to start at Faribault and bike about eight miles then turn back. We then drove to Elysian for lunch and ice cream. The rest of the riders, there were eight others, went on to get lunch in Waterville and then planned on ice cream back at the DQ at the end of the ride.
At Alley Scoops after the ride. Ryan has coconut ice cream. I have a dish of bubble gum ice cream.

The ride was a good one for our family. It was pretty easy going on the way out with the wind behind us and more of a challenge on the way back to Faribault. Ryan, on his little mountain bike, was having the most trouble with the wind so we formed a double pace line of sorts to shelter him from the wind as best we could. We stopped a lot on the trip to rest but one stop was for the sole purpose of checking out a Wooly Bear caterpillar and moving him off of the trail.

It's stops like this that make riding with the kids so much fun. Rose and Ryan often show me things that I easily miss, like bugs and plants along the trail. When we ride together hey laugh, they sing, they ask questions about nature, about the amount of CO2 in things (Ryan's fascinated with CO2 lately), and point out raptors soaring overheard. Yes, sometimes they argue and a few times have cried with frustration. But as we pedal along I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have two kids who are healthy, generally good-natured and like to ride bikes to boot!

I've logged over 600 miles on my bikes this year, have improved my skills, have gotten stronger and faster. I read each issue of Bicyling magazine and spend hours on the internet reading about bicycling but sometimes I think I learn more about biking on these rides with my kids than I could learn from a whole army of bicycling experts.

My kids enjoy the moment. I get so caught up in the future sometimes, or in the past, that I forget to live right now. Rose and Ryan don't worry about things they can't control - like I do. They may get frustrated with each other but they forgive quickly. Uh, I've got work to do on that forgiveness bit. When we're biking they just pedal along and don't focus on the hill ahead of them or the miles they have left to travel. Instead, they ask things like, "Mom, can we stop and see that Wooly Bear caterpillar on the trail?"

Ryan and the Wooly Bear caterpillar he rescued from the bike trail.

And fortunately my kids have taught me enough about bicycling, about life, about being a mom, to know that the best response to that sort of question is to simply forget about bicycling for awhile and say "Yes!"

Friday, September 3, 2010

Exploring Minneapolis by Bike

Exploring the bike paths of Minneapolis and St. Paul is one of my goals for 30 Days of Biking Part 2. Why? Well,  I was up in Minneapolis with my kids a few days ago visiting the Mill City Museum (fabulous place!) and realized that even though I grew up in the first ring suburb of Richfield and live only 40 minutes south, I don't know Minneapolis very well. Plus, I've heard that Minneapolis has a fabulous trail system and know that Bicycling magazine named Minneapolis the #1 Bike Friendly City this year. So, since I committed to riding my bike every single day of September, I figured I might as well get out and explore the Twin Cities!

I suppose the best way to explore the trails is to get up to the city and ride them. Trouble is, I don't know either city very well and though I have a map of the trails I'm kind of anxious about just heading out on my own. What to do? I found a "C" group ride through the Twin Cities Bicycling Club that promised a 10 mph pace around Minneapolis and decided to join in.

The ride started at the Lake Harriet Bandshell and was very well run. Joan, our group leader, gave us all a briefing before we headed out. We had a dozen riders, all on hybrids except one woman who had a Trek Madone (sigh - lovely bike). Our co-leader, Jack, brought up the rear of the group and we set out at a nice pace north towards Lake Calhoun.
Camden Falls

I'm not sure where all we went but I know we followed the trail system around Lake Calhoun and Cedar Lake. We also followed Wirth, Victory Memorial and Webber Parkways, ended up at Camden Falls and then wound our way back to Lake Harriet.
Our group, sans Joan who took this picture, at Camden Falls

The weather was kind of tough this morning. It was only about 60 degrees, the wind was really strong at times and we had some drizzly rain. But the pace was decent and the riders all very friendly. I rode quite a bit with a gentleman named John. He's been a group leader in the past and told me about the Club, about the history of the parkways we were riding on and about some fun rides he's been on. He was great company and I'd love to ride with him again.
Our group again, this time with Joan (second from the left, front row), but not with me because I was taking the picture.

Actually, everyone I rode with was so nice and fun to talk to. We had a pleasant and social group! It's not quite accurate to say that we talked so much that I never felt tired, that the miles just flew on by - but it's pretty close to the truth. We covered 25 miles in just less than three hours. I got to see parts of Minneapolis that I've never seen before. I had a fabulous time.