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.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I Dreamed about Bicycles...

I dreamed about bicycles last night. I suppose that's no big surprise given that yesterday was the start of another round of 30 Days of Biking and I attended a Giant for Women bike maintenance workshop last night. Still, it was kind of odd to wake up and realize that I dreamed about the new road bikes for 2011 instead of, say, something scary or family related or something scary and family related. But I dreamed about bikes and fixing flat tires and about riding with my kids - and that's a pretty good dream and a fine way to start the day.

As I mentioned, 30 Days of Biking started yesterday. Some of you may remember that I committed to ride my bike every day last April and that this 30 Days of Biking thing was started by two guys who decided to challenge people to ride their bikes Every. Friggin. Day. for 30 Days. Well, the challenge really took off and about 500 people from all over the world took part. I had a blast doing the challenge and met a lot of cool people along the way. Other riders had as much fun as I did so the guys who started it all, Patrick and Zachariah, decided to launch 30 Days of Biking Part 2 for the month of September.

Rose and I after our first ride for 30 Days of Biking

Excited to do it again I signed up right away but guess what? Owen signed up and so did Rose and Ryan - our whole family will be doing 30 Days of Biking! I know I can do it, having ridden every day in April. I'm pretty sure Owen will manage to get out on his bike every day but I'm honestly am not sure if Rose and Ryan (they are only 11 and 8 years old, respectively) will actually ride their bikes every day. I mean, I still have to remind Ryan to change his underwear and riding every day is a big commitment. Will the Mibus Family really ride our bikes every day? I guess we will find out.

My favorite bike shop, Valley Bike and Ski, is having a Giant for Women event. It started yesterday with a maintenance workshop. Today women can go in and check out the 2011 line up of Giant Bikes for Women and/or go on a casual group ride.

I attended the maintenance workshop last night and am really glad I went. The workshop was taught by a woman named Jackie and was attended by about 15 women. Jackie reviewed with us the parts of a bike, showed us how to "pre-flight" our bikes (okay, my aviation language is coming through - she called it a pre-ride check or something but I think of it as a pre-flight), how to change a flat and more. She was knowledgeable, a good instructor and fun. I came out of the evening excited to see so many other women bicyclists and full of information I didn't know before. For instance, I didn't know most of the parts of my bike. Yes, I knew what a top tube was, the fork, the saddle, but now I know about cassettes, bottom brackets and more. Now if my bike is making a funny noise I won't have to go in the shop and say my bike's thingy-a-bob is making a funny noise or the gizmo is creaking.

Well, today is a day filled with school activities for the kids. Rose was on the school bus at 7 a.m. and is now at an orientation for middle school. Yep, she's starting 6th grade and she's so excited. She started soccer practice this week as well, she's never played but is doing very well and having a lot of fun. Later tonight we all head to town for Ryan's open house where we get to meet his 3rd grade teacher and drop off his school supplies.

It will be a full day. But somewhere along the way we'll fit in a quick bike ride for Day 2 of our 30 Days of Biking! And maybe, just maybe, I'll sneak down to Valley and check out some of the new 2011 bikes for women. ;)

I can dream, can't I? The 2011 Giant Avail Advance 2.
Composite frame. A couple of steps up from the bike I have now.