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" www.shebicycles.com
"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 (www.shebicycles.com & @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 (www.shebicycles.com) 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.