Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The To-Do List

My to-do list is long. Lots of the things, like going to band and orchestra concerts to watch my kids, are fun things to do. But other things on my multiple to-do lists are not so fun - like plugging away at a work project that's already running behind then there's laundry, making dinner and so on. And with Christmas around the corner the to-do list is even longer than normal and it's not possible to get everything done - but I try to get everything, and then some, done anyway.

As a result of all of my "to-dos" I'm carrying stress around with me like an overloaded backpack.
I haven't been feeling well.
I've been running myself into the ground.
And my family has noticed.

Tonight my husband, Owen, took the kids out to do some Christmas shopping. I was looking forward to a night at home so I could get some work done. Baking. Christmas cards. Work. Dishes. More work.

Work, work and more work.
I was looking forward to a night of work?
Oh boy.

Something is out of balance, I realized. But I felt like I had no choice. I HAD to work hard to get everything done on my to-do list for the evening. And as I hurried to get dinner and start the dishes and plan out my evening my son, Ryan, started writing something on a piece of paper.

"I have a list for you, Mom," he said when he was done.
That list changed my plans for the evening.
And this is good.
Because I needed to make some positive changes but wasn't making them happen on my own.

Sometimes positive inspiration comes from a list written by a ten-year-old boy who loves you very much and knows what you need more than anything...

What was on the list?
It's a checklist that says:


Read 30 min.

After this you may do phone and dishes and work but cannot before done
(signed with a smily face)

I will admit, I looked at the list and thought "No way! Read for a whole 30 minutes? That's too long and I won't be getting any of my work done if I sit and read. And meditate? Okay maybe I can meditate for a few minutes but how about if I count that as rest so I can check two things off at once? Or what if I read while I eat dinner so I can do two things at once? And...and..."

In the end I followed orders and I did everything on my to-do list - one thing at a time.
And I feel a lot better now.

Smart kid, that Ryan.

Thanks, buddy :)
Love, Mom

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Snow Biking!

As of this moment we have about a foot of fresh snow on the ground. It's been falling since daybreak and still coming down. With great excitement I got on my biking clothes after lunch and headed out on Bear to ride in some deep snow on the still unplowed streets of my neighborhood. Owen joined me on his Mukluk. We rode for about 30 minutes and probably went 2 miles. We laughed a lot, got a good workout and had a blast!
Here's what I learned on my ride today:
  • Deep snow is hard to ride in, even on a fat bike
  • But boy is it fun!
  • Snow is slippery and you can skid a lot
  • This results in a lot of laughing
  • And some happy screaming
  • And a few near falls
  • I'm better at controlling a bike through skids than I thought I was
  • But look forward to getting even better
  • It's easier to ride in the ruts where a car has already driven
  • Pedals quickly get packed with snow making your boots slip even though the pedals have those little pins (12 per side on the VP Vice Trail Pedals I have) that are supposed to keep your shoes from slipping
  • It makes sense to carry some sort of tool to knock the packed snow out of your pedals
  • Wearing wraparound bicycling glasses may keep the snow out of your eyes but soon they are so wet from falling snow you can't see out of them anyway
  • Mid-calf, warm socks may keep your feet warm but don't help your upper calves, especially when you have zippers up the back legs of your fleece-lined pants
  • Zippers get really cold on your legs when it's 30 degrees F 
  • Leg gaiters may be a smart investment
  • And certainly some tall, warm socks so my feet and legs stay warm
  • Clothes get kinda wet when it's snowing
  • So a water resistant, warmer jacket is on my wish list
  • A toilet brush (clean, of course) is a good tool for cleaning snow out of your tires after your ride
  • People who see you riding smile, wave or stare - and sometimes all three - when they see you riding your fatbike in the snow

And most of all...

Riding in the snow on my Salsa Beargrease is really fun!!
I know, I know...I keep saying that - so much so that you might not even believe me. But it's true.

Oh, I've had a couple of moments when I've gotten a little tired or frustrated and I can't yet hop my bike over a curb (Ben from Milltown gave me a lesson on how to do this on a group ride last Tuesday - I have a ways to go before I can jump up a curb let alone pop a wheelie with much success) but overall I really do have fun when I'm out riding Bear. Riding Bear makes me feel a bit like a clown on one of those silly clown bikes you see in a parade. It makes me smile. And laugh. It makes other people smile and laugh. Riding Bear makes me feel kind of  adventurous. Makes me want to ride off the road and through a field even though I know I'm going to end up pushing my bike or even fall over.

Owen is having fun, too. And together we're getting out there on our fat bikes - even when it's snowing. More like especially when it's snowing! - and we're getting a lot of exercise, spending time together and, yes, having lots of fun!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Snow - Funner on a Fatbike!

It snowed! Not much but enough to get out on my Salsa Beargrease this morning and go for a ride with my hubby, Owen, and his Mukluk 2. First ride in the snow on my Bear!! It was fun!!
Fatbike + Snow = Fun
I've ridden in the snow before on my hybrid, an old Specialized Crossroads. Riding that in the snow is fun but riding a fat bike in the snow is funner! (yeah, I know, funner isn't a "real" word but riding a fat bike in the snow will make even an English major will do crazy things like use "funner" in a sentence)

My ride was fairly short, about a half hour. It was partly sunny and pretty warm at 27 degrees. I rode through grassy snow and on the snow-covered gravel and on two-track in a little hideaway near my home. And I rode through some slushy stuff and over some ice.

I didn't have to worry about losing traction or being all that careful on my morning ride. I just rode. Bear just plows through everything. I even rode with some speed when I hurried back to the house to get a multi-tool for Owen. Thankfully we weren't far from home when Owen's rear tire shifted and jammed against his Mukluk's frame. Note to self (and to Owen, ahem...) carry a multi-tool. Always. And Owen, you owe me a latte. Just saying.
First snow. Not much but enough to count!
I'm thinking I'll hit Owen up for that latte this afternoon when we're at the Winter Bike Expo at  Freewheel Midtown. Looks like the event is going to be a lot of fun. Lots of fat bikes, vendors, seminars, a fatbike race - lots of cool things to see and do.

I'll write more later. It's time to get a move on!

Monday, December 3, 2012

More Fat-Bike Fun

Owen and I had so much fun riding River Bend Nature Center on Saturday (Global Fat-Bike Day) that we decided to hit the River Bend trails again on Sunday.

It was about 50 degrees Sunday afternoon and we rode for just over an hour with no set route planned - we just set out and started riding the trails. There's something like miles of trails in the nature center,  some with great big hills! So big that we had to push our bikes up a couple of them. Pushing a bike is another kind of exercise, I guess, and since exercising is part of the point of getting out on our bikes in the first place pushing the bikes was all part of the fun. Well, maybe pushing my bike wasn't fun but it was all part of the outdoor, nature ride experience and that was fun!

I was a little sore after the ride and my knee and right ankle are a bit sore still today. For the most part, though, my wrist is doing well (I changed out my handlebar - see below) and I'm feeling pretty strong. Plus it was so worth it to get outside yesterday. The scenery in River Bend is gorgeous, Owen was good company and it was great to get some sun and fresh air.
Owen having fun on his Mukluk 2

Owen and I are hoping to head out on a group ride with Milltown on Tuesday night. We'll be riding in the dark and with other people - another sort of fat bike fun.

In Beargrease Report and in At Last! A Two Fatbike Family I wrote about how I've adjusted my Beargrease to fit me better.

Here's the latest Equipment Update:

Back at Milltown Cycles after our Saturday River Bend ride, Ben put my new saddle on my Beargrease, a WTB Leisure She. I've been riding the shop's demo model for a week now and decided it was the right saddle for me. So far, so good!
Bear sporting his new saddle, the WTB Leisure She, and the Metro 420 bicycle light on the Bend 2 handlebar

I've also been riding now with Salsa's Bend 2 17 degree bar instead of the Pro Moto 2 11 degree handlebar my bike came with. The more bent handlebar is making a world of difference for me in the comfort department. My right wrist often gets sore when I ride but I'm not having much trouble with soreness now. I think the 17 degree Bend 2 will do well. If not, I'll switch it out for the 23 degree Bend 2.

Since I plan to ride in the evenings, I needed a light for my bike and/or helmet. Curtis at Milltown directed me to a Metro 420 bicycle light from Cygolite. Owen has one on his bike, too. I mounted mine on the handlebars and I will get a helmet mount later if I decide to go that route. I haven't tried mine yet but Owen used his when we went through a long tunnel on Saturday and it lit our path well. 

All for now! 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Ride on Global Fat-Bike Day

Today is Global Fat-Bike Day! There are fat bike rides all over, including a group ride in Minneapolis that is likely still taking place - they planned to ride about 50 miles in the Minnesota River Bottoms starting at noon today. I nearly drove to the cities for that one but our family schedule today is awfully busy so Owen and I opted to ride some great trails in River Bend Nature Center in Faribault, MN, instead.

We started the morning at Milltown, the shop where we purchased our fat bikes. There we got some info from Ben, the shop's owner, about where to ride and Ben adjusted my shift levers a bit (still tweaking to get them in the just-right position) A couple of guys came in to pick up a Surly fatbike that was in the shop and one of the guys told me he'd read my Beargrease Report - No Roads? No Problem! blog. Wow! He said he liked it, too. That sure made me feel good.

It's fun to note that my Beargrease Report blog post has had over 1,250 hits so far! That's largely because Milltown and Salsa mentioned the blog on their Facebook pages - and now other fat bike sites and pages have picked it up as well, including who mentioned my blog on their "Weekly Dose of Fat"post on 11/23/12.

My blog post mentioned on - Thanks!!

After chatting with Ben, with some of the guys from the Cannon Valley Velo Club who stopped into the shop, and with Milltown's other patrons, Owen and I got on our bikes and headed to River Bend to ride.
Lovely scenery  - yeah, I mean the Beargrease as well as the bridges and river :)

It was overcast this morning, but fairly warm at about 40 degrees. It was the kind of morning that could keep a person indoors because it was gloomy - but it was pretty much perfect weather for a bike ride.

This morning's ride was our first time out on actual biking/hiking trails with our fat bikes and we sure had fun! Both Owen and I are pretty new to riding mountain bike trails - I've been out on trails three times total, Owen's been out on trails once. But the big fat tires on our bikes have us feeling pretty comfortable and confident as we build our skills.
Riding Bear in River Bend Nature Center

Our bikes managed the dirt trails well, with our big tires we hardly noticed the rocks and sticks we biked over. We felt secure on the patches of loose dirt we hit. I did find my rear tire spinning a bit on some uphills. Ben said I could run my back tire's pressure a bit lower and that will help. We rode for about an hour on some pretty standard dirt roads, tar paths and biking/hiking trails and had so much fun that we are planning to ride the trails again tomorrow.

Owen and I may have ridden today even if we didn't know about Global Fat-Bike Day - but knowing about Global Fat-Bike Day sure gave us extra motivation to get up and out of bed and on our bikes this morning. It felt great to be a part of something big - and I've got to tell you, gloomy skies sure looks a lot brighter when you're riding a fatbike :)
Happy bikers

Friday, November 23, 2012

Grin and Bear it

One thing about Minnesota weather is sure - it's always changing! Yesterday morning, Thanksgiving Day, it was 65 degrees and sunny. By evening the winds were gusting to 30 knots (about 40 mph) and it started to snow. This morning dawned somewhat overcast with snow flurries but by afternoon it was sunny and 25 degrees Fahrenheit with not enough snow on the ground to count.
Biking in shorts and a light jacket on Thanksgiving Day morning in Minnesota
You can't get bored with the weather around here, that's for sure. Warm and sunny one day and cold and snowy the next. One of the main reasons Owen and I bought our Salsa fatbikes (Owen has a Mukluk 2, I have a Beargrease that I call "Bear") is so we could bike all year 'round, even in the cold and snow, and stay healthy. We feel much better when we're biking - healthier and happier overall. So yesterday when it was nice and sunny and warm we biked. And today when it was cold and blustery we got out and biked, too.

I will say I do prefer biking in shorts like I did yesterday - Owen and I had a great gravel road ride with some off road trails thrown in - but riding in cold weather like we did today is, well, let's just call it invigorating.
Yesterday - 65 degrees F
Today - 25 degrees F. We're smiling despite the cold :)
Today's ride was on gravel but with some hills. Hard hills. And winds whipping at us from the west. Cold winds. And, even with layers and warmish clothes (long sleeved layer, jersey, jacket, balaclava, shorts, long socks, lined tights, winter gloves) I was kinda cold. I started to feel kind of sorry for myself out there, even with Owen to keep me company and pedal alongside me. But there I was out a ways from home and my only choice was to keep pedaling - so I did.

You know, I think I have a mantra for bicycling now - Grin and Bear it" as in, I might as well smile (or grimace?) and just keep pedaling my fatbike, Bear.

Because even though my ride today was a bit chilly and I had some frustration dealing with the hills, I'm still glad I got out and rode my fatbike  - I now have that nice feeling you get after having a good workout along with that "I'm from Minnesota and cold weather isn't going to stop me" sense of pride. On top of that  I feel rather fit right now sitting her in my office in my spandex bike shorts that were too small for me a few months ago and knee high bike socks. And a little stiff - but I'm going to focus on the fit feeling instead of the stiff feeling right now. Because I'm from Minnesota and pretty hardy and all that. Yep. And I rode my bike in 25 degree temps today. Yep. And I'll probably do it tomorrow, too. Because as long as I smile and keep pedaling I'll do just fine.
Lots of gravel and hills that don't look very hilly in pictures but sure look big when you're on a bike

Sunday, November 18, 2012

At last! A two Fatbike Family!

Today - after ordering our fat bikes in early September and waiting, mostly patiently, with great anticipation - Owen and I got to ride our fatbikes together for the first time!

Owen's Mukluk 2 was in at Milltown when I picked up my Beargrease last Wednesday but he wanted to switch out the handlebar for one with more of a bend. Curtis had to order the handlebar so Owen had to wait to ride until the bar came in. So I got my fatbike on Wednesday and Owen had to wait for his. By Friday Owen's bike was ready but we couldn't pick it up until Saturday. We picked it up late Saturday but it was too late to get out on a ride.

Finally today, after a busy morning at church and raking leaves this afternoon, Owen and I hopped on our fatbikes and headed out for a ride.

What fun! We rode our grass taxiway (we live on an airport with a grass runway) with the kids and Rocket the dog running along with us. Then Rose, Ryan and Rocket stopped at the house and Owen and I kept going. We rode some gravel, I showed Owen that, yes, the fatbikes will go through plowed fields (though it's hard!) and we rode through a hilly grass field near our house. There were some ATV tracks through the grass so we had a bit of a path but, nonetheless, the grass was long.

We rode about 45 minutes and, if my iPhone distance app was working correctly, probably went 4 miles at an average speed of 5 mph. The bikes worked well. We got a workout and we had a great time :-)

Can't wait to go again!

Owen and his Mukluk 2 and me and Bear

Equipment update for me and Bear:

  • With the small frame finding frame bags is a challenge but I found a nice little Revelate bag at Milltown that works well to carry my iPhone and a few other things. I think it's called the Mountain Feedbag. I used it today and like it.
  • I will likely add a Revelate seat bag later (I'm hoping to get it for Christmas!)
  • I may end up making a frame bag since I don't think there's one on the market that will fit my Beargrease's XS frame
  • I'm almost positive I'll switch out the WTB Devo women's saddle for another WTB women's demo saddle. I'm sitting on the Deva okay, my sits bones are, anyway, but I'm as comfortable as I'd like to be in, uh, other places
  • Also the standard 11 degree handlebar is feeling too straight for me. I'm having too much trouble with my right wrist especially and to avoid hurting I'm more resting on top of the bar now instead of gripping it
  • I may need a different stem so I have a more comfortable reach. Not sure on that yet but I seem to be stretching out more when I ride than I thought I would. That might be related to the way I'm gripping the bar right now, though, because of my wrist pain.
  • Now that I found both sets of shift levers, I'm going to adjust them so they are easier to see and reach. They are tucked back too far away from me on the handle bar

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Beargrease Rocket Run

My dog, Rocket, was stir crazy this morning. He was getting to the point of being naughty. Pulling things out of trash cans. Stealing socks from the laundry. He needed a walk big time. But I wanted to ride my new Beargrease fat bike, Bear.

I had only a half hour window of time and couldn't do both. It was looking like Rocket was going to get his walk but I wasn't going to get a chance to ride.

Or maybe not.

Why not do both at the same time? Ride the bike and walk, more like run, the dog.
Imagine this is a picture of me riding my Beargrease with Rocket running alongside me and the bike. Since I couldn't take a picture of myself riding Bear and running Rocket, this picture of Rocket standing next to Bear's front wheel will have to do. That's my glove at the bottom of the picture, by the way. It's black and turquoise just like my bike.

I've never taken the dog for a run from a bike. I can't say it worked perfectly. Rocket was a little puzzled as to why he couldn't stop a lot and sniff things. And my ride was full of starts and stops.

But I got to ride and Rocket got to run.

And now we're both tired.

And all of the socks in the laundry are safe.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beargrease Report - or - No Road? No Problem!

Just last night I picked up my new Salsa Beargrease, a "fatbike," from Milltown Cycles. The bikes are brand new from Salsa and arrived at Milltown yesterday - I'm one of the first people to get one!

I'm a total non-professional in the bike world but have done a little ride report on my new Beargrease. It's not technical and all that. It's just my impressions of riding the Beargrease.  If you want to jump right to that report please scroll down. If you like a little backstory, keep reading :) If you want a more technical review, uh, google it. Or click HERE.
Big Tires! Here's some tech specs from Salsa: Tires are 45N Husker Du 26 x 4.0", 120tpi Folding and the rims are Surly Holy Rolling Darryls. In short the tires and rims are BIG and COOL!

I've wanted a fat bike ever since I first rode one over a year ago when I test rode a Mukluk and couldn't stop smiling because it was so much fun! Then Owen got a chance to ride a Mukluk 2 on trails a few months ago at a Salsa demo day and loved it - and that's where I saw the Beargrease and fell in bike-love. So Owen and I ordered fat bikes in early September and have been excitedly waiting to get our bikes since.

The Beargrease is marketed as "the ultimate snow and soft conditions racing machine." I'm not a racing sort of person. I'm more of an ordinary person who likes to eat chocolate and ride bikes (sometimes at the same time) so why would I buy a "racing machine" when a Mukluk 2 or 3 would have been just fine?

Here's why:
  • I'm short and, though strong, kind of a small person overall
  • The Beargrease weighs about 28 pounds, about 5 pounds less than a Mukluk 2
  • Less weight means an easier time for me maneuvering the bike and, likely, keeping up with Owen and the rest of the guys (I don't know any women with fat bikes yet but will probably struggle to keep up with them, too, because I'm more of a I'm slow but I get there sort of rider - but I have fun so I don't care!)
  • The Beargrease is absolutely gorgeous and just happens to be black and turquoise (turqouise is my favorite color - and if you're going to spend a ton of time with a bike you might as well love the color)
Did I mention the Beargrease is my favorite color? Yep. And it even matches my garden bench!

On Tuesday Ben from Milltown called to say my bike would be in on Wednesday. Yay! Owen and I got over to the shop as soon as we could after work last night and Curtis, one of Milltown main guys, helped me get it ready to go.

We made a few adjustments to the stock Beargrease:
  • I had Curtis cut an inch off the end of the handlebars so my hands would rest on the bars in more ergonomic position.
  • We put flat pedals on the bike - nice aluminum VP Vice Trail Pedals (the bikes come without pedals). The flat pedal instead of clipless pedal choice was based on the fact that I'll be riding this bike in snow boots and you can't really put cleats on snowboots. Well, I suppose you can but I'm not going to
  • We switched out the WTB Pure V saddle for a women's specific demo saddle for me to try out, the WTB Deva. 
  • We switched out the black top cap for a turquoise blue one with an owl on it - just because 
I've wanted one of these Salsa top caps ever since I first saw one - it has an owl on it! and it's turquoise!

I was going to add a bottle cage but the XS Beargrease is so small that it will be a challenge to carry a bottle on it. So I picked up a Camelbak instead and will carry my water on my back - a great benefit in the winter as body heat will keep the water from freezing.
Note the small space for a bottle on my XS Beargrease frame. A side opening bottle cage would fit but I opted not to get one for now. Note also the nice finish and the very clean bike chain (it won't be this clean ever again!)

Enough of details - what's it like to ride this wonderful bike? Well, last night it was dark when I picked up the bike. I rode it across the street to my van and that was fun. Then, when I got it home, I found a little headlamp thing in my son's room and strapped it on my head so I could see and rode the bike around my yard, over my landscape rocks, through pea gravel and through the leaf pile. It rode well! It was fun! I smiled a lot!

But today I got to really ride Bear (I think that's my new bike's name - Bear). It was an absolutely perfect day to ride, about 45 degrees and sunny, winds about 9 mph out of the west.

I got on my bike and headed out on the grass and - believe it or not - couldn't figure out how to shift. Did this new bike have some kind of special one lever shifters? I wondered. No, but for some goofy reason I couldn't see them/feel them/find them so could only manage to shift up into the big rings in front and back. Doh!

And now that you are laughing at me and my incompetence remember I told you I wasn't a racing sort of a rider, more like a chocolate eating sort of rider. Though I'm totally embarrassed I couldn't find the darn small shift levers - in my defense, the second set of levers are tucked back quite a ways and are, at first, kind of hard to find. And I have short fingers so it's a bit of a stretch to reach them. I will adjust them so they are easier to reach, if I can. If not, I'll manage.

Even though I could have skipped telling you this bit and saved myself from embarrassment I told you about not shifting anyway because the point I want to make is this:

Even with riding in one gear the whole time the Beargrease rode wonderfully!!!

Here's where I rode:
  • on grass
  • through a plowed field
  • through really long grass
  • on flat, hard packed gravel
  • on tar
  • downhill on gravel
  • uphill on gravel
  • on dirt two-track trails
  • in ditches
  • on loose gravel
  • through woodchips in my garden
Unlike riding on my road bike or my hybrid where I'm limited by terrain, on Bear I can go anywhere. No road? No problem! No trail? No problem! Plowed field? No problem! Snow? Yep, I can't wait to get some snow and discover that the Beargrease has no problem handling that, too!
Nice place to stop

How it Rides - The Beargrease is light and easy to maneuver. It was extremely stable going down gravel hills that are a challenge on my old Specialized Crossroads hybrid fitted with gravel tires. Bear was darn fast on downhills, easy to pedal on flats, and reasonably easy on uphills. On one of the hills I rode I have to I have to shift into my easiest gear on my Crossroads in order to get up it but on Bear I managed to do it fine in a middling gear with no downshifting (and I couldn't have downshifted if I wanted to because I'm brilliant with those shifters, you know). I live in the country and am surrounded by farm fields so I decided to ride through one. I wouldn't call it easy riding and it would have been better had I been able to shift but still, I rode through plowed dirt, stuff that's even hard to walk through, and managed well. On tar on my way home it was almost too easy to ride. It was as though he was begging me to take it off the road and get into some fun terrain. So I did.

As for comfort - the bike is extremely comfortable. I really didn't feel bumps when I went over them. The XS frame size is the right size for me. The reach feels about right. The saddle I tried worked fine though I may switch it out for a different WTB women's saddle that I've tried and like. I may end up switching out the standard handlebar (I think it has an 11 degree bend) for one with a 17 degree bend because my right wrist got a little sore (I've struggled with this wrist when biking for years) and more of a bend might help that. Another option might be some different handlebar grips to dissipate the pressure on my wrist.

So there you have it. My very non-technical review of the Salsa Beargrease.
In short - it's awesome!!
One of my favorite places to ride - not easily found on a road bike. Perfect for my Bear! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Song to Sing!

Late yesterday my son, Ryan, said something that prompted me to think of a song - and despite having a sore jaw from having had a root canal a few hours previous, I started to sing. It hurt a little to move my mouth, but not so much that I couldn't get a few lines out.

"Mom," Ryan said, "you always have a song to sing."

I chuckled at that. "Yes, I guess I do." I said. And then I started to sing another song, but this time the song was the solo I sang when I was playing Sister Robert Anne in Meshuggah Nuns - "I'll Find a Song to Sing."

That song has a lot of meaning to me. Because learning to play a feisty nun with a song to sing (as well a couple of duets, several group numbers and and many, many lines that had to be delivered in a Brooklyn accent), was a wonderful experience for me. A life changing experience, really.

I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to push my comfort zone and play a nun with a song to sing! But I couldn't have done the show, let alone the solo, without the help of a bunch of people. And I want to thank them.

So here I go:

First to Julianna Skluzacek of The Merlin Players - thanks for casting me in the show as Sister Robert Anne. You had confidence I could do this part which gave me confidence to do it. Thank you! What a wonderful journey this has been. I'm already looking forward to our next adventure!

To my "Sisters" Lisa, Alane and Cynthia, to Craig who played Howard and to Hilary, our purser on our magical musical cruise  - Thanks for the fun. For telling me I'm funny and pretty. For all of the compliments and encouragement. For humoring me as I did my flower dance. And for the hugs. I like hugs. And more! Lots and lots more - but, gee, this is long enough already so I've got to stop somewhere!
Sister Amnesia (Cynthia), Sister Robert Anne (me), Sister Hubert (Alane), Reverend Mother (Lisa)
Our Purser, Crystal Clare Waters (Hilary) and Howard (Craig) Photo ©Ed Brown

To everyone behind the scenes -  Thank for the music, the music direction, the costumes, the sound, the lights, the lovely set, for having all of our props in the right place and all the help between scenes. And a special shout out to our pianist Doug who covered for me one night when I forgot a few lines of my solo...thanks to Doug and a little bit of luck I got through it okay.

Long before the show started Shari Setchell (brilliant Bodywork & Movement Therapist, dancer, choreographer, actress, singer and lots more) was getting me ready to play my part - she encouraged me to try out, helped me with my voice, with believing that I have something to say and sing. And once rehearsals began she helped me keep moving freely in body, voice and mind. Thanks, Shari!

Even before Shari there's been my friend Joy who has listened to me as I've talked about not feeling confident enough to play a big part in a play. Actually, she's listened to me talk about way more than just that - I talk a lot and Joy is a great listener and friend! And Joy would tell me I could do it. That I should try out. That I'm funny, even. She also tells me that I have things to write - and blogging again is a step in that direction :)
Gotta see Sister Robert Anne's purple shoes! Here's Sister Robert Anne, Sister Hubert and Sister Amnesia
just "potchkying around" and singing "The Potchky Polka" Photo ©Ed Brown

Once I got cast in the show I realized I was going to need some serious help with the music - and I had great help from two voice teachers.

Thanks to Chris Kallman who assured me I could sing (seems like there's a pattern here of not thinking I can sing) and worked with me on learning my harmony parts in one of my songs and learning my notes on several others. (It's fun to note that Chris is also a playwright and director who cast me as a nun, Sister Roma,  in a Northfield Arts Guild show a couple of years ago - Donata's Gift).

And thanks to Katie McMahon who helped me figure out how to sing Sister Robert Anne's solo. That song was tough! But with Katie's help I figured out how to differentiate between about a dozen musical styles in one song including a bit of jazz and blues, rock and roll, and opera with a little Ethel Merman and Elvis thrown in. (Katie, by the way, was the lead vocalist of Riverdance - her Celtic Christmas show is coming up soon. Get your tickets!)
Sister Robert Anne - singing "I'll Find a Song to Sing" Photo ©Ed Brown

Without a doubt, though, I couldn't have been in the show at all if it wasn't for the encouragement and support or my family - Thanks to Owen for doing a lot of extra work while I was at rehearsals and performances. And to Rose and Ryan for being extra great kids and putting up with me being gone so much. And for giving me things to smile about each day. And for giving me the best hugs. And for your your patience and love.
My kids, Rose and Ryan, and I - this picture was taken after the opening night performance of Meshuggah Nuns.

And for giving me reasons to find not just one but many songs to sing.

And now, in the words of Sister Robert Anne...

"So I'll say so long, But don't get me wrong. I'll be coming back strong. Baby, I've got a song, I'll find a song to sing. I'll find a song to sing. Amen!"

Friday, October 5, 2012

Biking by Moonlight - 30 Days of Biking Round 6

September brought, along with gorgeous weather all month, another round of 30 Days of Biking. I've done every round of 30 Days of Biking since it started in April 2010 but really wasn't sure about doing the fall "bonus round" this time. I'm in a musical so I'm in rehearsals four evenings a week plus I'm tackling a huge project for work -  finding time to ride my bike every day, I knew, would be nearly impossible.

But I decided to take on the challenge anyway. And I finished it. And I'm glad I stuck with it.

It wasn't easy. Well, 30 Days of Biking never is easy - it's a challenge, after all - but this time I struggled more than before with just finding the time to get on my bike.

Most of my rides were short, a mile or so around the neighborhood, a quick hop with the kids after school before I headed to rehearsal. On weekends I would get a longer ride in with Owen, 20 miles or more and we did one epic ride - 63 miles for the Jesse James Bike Tour.

But many of the rides were done after dark - I'd get home from rehearsal at about 10 p.m. and realize I hadn't ridden my bike. More than once I thought I'd just quit the challenge and skip riding. But instead I'd turn on the house lights to light up the street as much as possible, grab my bike, turn my bike lights on - and head out for a quick after dark ride.

I found that riding at night is kind of fun. It's quiet and peaceful and, well, dark. Yet I found that with my bike light I could see well enough to ride on the street by my house and on some rides I had the added help of the moonlight.

These moonlit rides ended up being some of my favorite rides for this 30 Days of Biking. So it felt right, in a way, to find myself last Sunday, the last day of 30 Days of Biking, once again at the end of the day realizing I hadn't ridden.

It was already 10 p.m. The kids were in bed. The neighborhood was quiet. And I headed out in the dark and rode my bike.

Just me and my bike and the moon shining down on us.
A nice way to end a busy day.
A perfect way to close this 30 Days of Biking.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Meshuggah Monday

It's Monday and normally I'd be getting ready to head off to Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra rehearsal tonight but I won't be doing that for a few months. Why? Well, I did something sort of crazy, I auditioned for a Merlin Players theater production and I got a part. I'll be playing Sister Robert Anne in a Nunsense musical directed by Julianna Skluzacek - Meshuggah Nuns.

Meshuggah, by the way, is a Yiddish word meaning crazy. Huh? Yiddish words in a musical about nuns? Well, yes - because the Nunsense Sisters are on a "Faith of all Nations" cruise where they were to see Fiddler on the Roof but the cast, save the man who plays Tevye, all get sick.  So the Sisters and Tevye put on a musical review complete with Fiddler on the Roof type songs. Sounds crazy? Yeah - but most of all it sounds fun!

We started rehearsals two weeks ago then, thankfully, had last week off which was a great relief because last week was the craziest week of the year - the first week of school for my kids AND the Defeat of Jesse James Days celebration in our town of Northfield.

Defeat Days is one of the largest outdoor celebrations in Minnesota and brings thousands of people to town. The multi-day celebration commemorates the brave citizens of Northfield who put a stop to the James-Younger gang when they tried to rob the First National Bank of Northfield on September 7, 1876. Defeat Days is a wild time with lots of activities like bank raid re-enactments, a carnival, car show, parade, art shows and the Jesse James Bike Tour, among many other things.

Our family went to the carnival, visited the food stands on Bridge Square several times, took in the musical Jessie Jane Jamboree VI (written by local playwright Brendon Etter, the musical is a fundraiser for the Northfield Arts Guild), went to the parade, watched the duck race after the parade (our duck didn't win) and the Riverfront Arts Festival.

Oh, and Owen and I rode the 63 mile route of the Jesse James Bike Tour on Saturday. It was our fourth time riding the JJBT. The weather, save for the rather strong winds, was pretty much perfect and Saturday's ride now ranks as my second longest bike ride to date.

When I give myself a moment to relax from my crazy schedule and remember my first JJBT, the 30 mile route in 2009, I realize I've come a long way with my bicycling.

Actually, when I give myself a moment to relax I remember a lot of good things - like playing seven concerts with the Minnesota Mandolin Orchestra this past spring and summer, bike rides with my family, our family trip to Utah, our funny little dog, Rocket, who likes to eat pencils and magnets, and happy times with family and friends.

I've got a ton of things to do in the next hour and 45 minutes before I run off to a Meshuggah Nuns rehearsal. I need to ride my bike for my sixth round of 30 Days of Biking. I need to make dinner and actually sit down long enough to eat it. I really should get the goofy dog out for a walk. And I've got to make sure the kids have their homework under control.

But first, so I don't have too much of a Meshuggah Monday that turns into a crazy week and an out of control sort of month, I'm going to sit here and take a few minutes to relax and think about all the goodness in my life. I guess you could call it meditating - I hear it's good for you :)  And since I'm not that great at relaxing or meditating but am far more comfortable doing things. All. The. Time. Like riding my bike, mowing the lawn and  cutting down things with my chain saw,  I'm going to tell myself that I'm doing "Preventative Maintenance" - Preventative Maintenance to take care of Myrna so she doesn't go all Meshuggah. Yeah. I like that.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Fatbike in my Future

A year ago I had the fun of test riding a Salsa Mukluk "fatbike" at Milltown Cycles with Milltown's owner, Ben. Boy was that fun. I blogged about that ride in what has turned out to be my most-viewed blog to date, "Can't Stop Smiling -  Riding the Salsa Mukluk."

Fatbikes, often referred to as "snow bikes," pretty much stroll along over snow. And curbs. And rocks. And sand. And just about everything that's in your path. They are just so much fun to ride. I've been wanting one since that first ride a year ago. Owen, too, had a chance to ride a Mukluk last fall and enjoyed it. He, my normally stoic and serious husband, even smiled and laughed while riding the Mukluk. Now that's something! (Check out a blog entry by Bobby from Salsa titled Fatbikes? Or Funbikes? that talks about how much fun it is to ride a fatbike and how they are for way more than just riding in the snow).

A few weeks ago, Owen had the chance to test ride Salsa's new Mukluk 2 at Salsa's demo day here in Minnesota. Owen has never been on mountain bike trails but hit the trails with the Mukluk 2 and had a blast. I didn't get to demo a fatbike, there wasn't a small-framed fatbike available when I was there, so I test rode an El Mariachi 29er instead and also had a blast. The bike I really wanted to test ride, though, was the new Beargrease. The Beargrease is kind of like a lightweight Mukluk but even better - it's stunning in black and turquoise (turquoise is my favorite color!).
Mukluk 2 and Beargrease - photos courtesy of

Owen and I left the demo night even more excited about riding than ever before. My normally road bike focused husband was pumped about riding trails - I never thought that would happen. But a ride on a Mukluk, which makes riding mountain bike trails quite manageable, got Owen thinking he'd like to ride trails some more. And it got him thinking that he'd really like a Mukluk.

We're faced with a short road biking season here in Minnesota. Owen and I both love riding bikes and feel so much healthier when we're out pedaling away. Owen, who struggles with asthma, especially in the winter, has also noticed that when he's been riding  he can breathe just fine both on the bike and after the rides. Getting fatbikes, we reasoned, would extend our riding season and help us feel fit and healthy all year long. Oh, plus we get along really well when we're riding bikes together. So it only makes sense to ride bikes a lot now, doesn't it?

So, we did the only sensible thing we could do (okay, maybe it wasn't sensible but who cares?), we ordered two fatbikes from Milltown yesterday. Owen's getting a Mukluk 2 and I'm getting a Beargrease. I've already named my bike "Bear." The bikes should be here in a few weeks.

I can't wait for the fatbiking/funbiking to begin!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Week at Lago del Bosco

Less than a week ago I dropped my daughter, Rose, off at Lago del Bosco, an Italian immersion camp offered through Concordia Language Villages. Rose has been wanting to go to Italian camp for well over a year. She wanted to go so badly that she saved $400 over the last year to help defray the cost. But as we got closer and closer to the time for her to leave for camp Rose got more and more nervous about what her experience would be like, worried that she wouldn't make any friends.

And, as a mother who has never sent a daughter off to camp all by herself before, I got more nervous and worried, too.

Despite our nerves and worries we drove Rose up to camp last Monday. Everyone was friendly - and everyone was speaking Italian! (language immersion is part of the camp experience). It was a bit overwhelming for all of us yet the counselors are great at sign language and we managed to figure out where to go and what to do. Rose had to check in, go through "customs", pick an Italian name for the week (Rosalinda) and exchange her money for "Euros." She met her counselors and settled into her cabin and made her "targhetta" (name tag). Then, after assurance from Rose and her counselors that she would be just fine, we hugged Rose one more time, left her at camp and headed home.

This week with Rose gone at camp was kind of tough for me. I worried. Was she homesick? Was she making friends? In addition to my worries I was struck with how much I'm used to having Rose at home. How much I talk to her about what is going on. How much I like having her around because she's a fun and interesting person. How much I simply like my daughter.

Today was the last day of camp so we flew the Pacer up to Longville, MN, to get Rose then jumped into the airport courtesy car and drove about 10 miles west to Lago del Bosco. To Rose.

And guess what? My worries that Rose would be lonely were unfounded.

Rose had a wonderful time! She learned tons of Italian. And she wasn't lonely - instead she made friends and plans to keep in contact with several of them. And ever since we've picked her up she's been vibrant and happy and bubbling with excitement about her week at Lago del Bosco. She's been singing songs and talking about the fun she had. And she's already talking about how she wants to go back next year for two weeks instead of just one. And how maybe Ryan can go to Italian camp, too.
Rose (on the far left) with her counselors and some of her new Lago del Bosco friends

It's amazing how sending a kid to camp can change things. How I changed in that I had to learn to temper my worries. How I had to let go and trust that no matter how Rose was doing her camp experience was going to be valuable and part of preparing Rose to someday get out and soar on her own.

And it's amazing how camp changed Rose....Less than a week ago I dropped off my thirteen-year-old daughter at camp. Today I picked up a more grown-up, more outgoing version of her. A wonderful young woman. My daughter, Rose.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ten in a Row!

Ever since we bought our Piper Pacer, a classic tube and fabric four-passenger airplane, our family has loaded it up each summer and flown off to the annual Short Wing Piper Club convention. This airplane type-club convention has taken us all over the country - as far west as Vancouver, WA, as far east as Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and many points in between. We’ve attended every convention since 2003 - this year marks our tenth in a row!
When we tell people we have a plane and fly it across the country they usually think we fly fast and get places quickly. They also often have this idea that our plane is big and expensive. In reality my Pacer is about the size of a VW Bug and a person can buy one for far less than they would spend on a full-sized SUV (I call our plane our SUV - ShortWing Utility Vehicle). And though we do average around 124 miles per hour we only fly about four to five hours per day so getting places still takes a long time.
It's kind of squishy in the back seat of the Pacer
For example, our trip to Vancouver, WA  back in 2005 took us four days to get there and four days to get home. Ryan was three that year. Rose was six. It was a long, long trip. Looking back I’m not sure just how we managed that trip - but we did.
This year the convention was across the country and over the mountains in Ogden, Utah. With Ryan a ten-year-old and Rose almost 13 this two day trip was relatively easy. And this year our convention vacation was one of our best!
A handful of the 30 planes that were at the convention - our plane, "Miss Angela" is in the foreground.

About 135 people attended the convention this year and about 30 planes - the numbers were somewhat low, probably because of the price of AvGas and the fact that pilots had to fly through the mountains to get there. The convention itself started on Monday, June 23rd  with a Meet and Greet event at the airport. Tuesday we had a day trip to the Golden Spike Historic Site. Forums were Wednesday morning followed by a luncheon and business meeting. Rose and I attended the forum on Dutch oven cooking taught by the hotel chef and our family skipped the luncheon and meeting this year and instead went to see the movie Brave. Thursday was the flying or driving poker run - but our family took the train to Salt Lake City to see the Mormon Tabernacle and hear a grand organ recital. The convention wrapped up with a banquet on Thursday night with awards for the nicest airplanes. And Friday morning everyone headed home - but instead of heading right home we extended our vacation through the weekend by adding on a post-convention trip to Moab, Utah.
I plan to write more about some of the highlights of our trip (“skydiving” in a wind tunnel at iFly in Ogden, mountain biking, golfing and petroglyph hunting in Moab) but for now I will leave you with some flight statistics and recap. Owen’s a numbers kind of guy so he always figures out our milage, fuel burn and the like.
Here are the flight statistics:
1,963 nautical miles round trip (equal to about 2,257 statute miles)
22.7 hours spent flying in the Pacer
11.6 hours flown by me
11.1 hours flown by Owen
100 mph average ground speed (our average is more like 124 mph - we had major headwinds on this trip)
$5.67 average price per gallon of 100 LL AvGas.
Here’s a recap of our flight activity:
On Saturday the 23rd we flew from our home at Webster, MN (1MN8) to Chamberlain, SD (9V9) for fuel then to Hot Springs, SD (HSR). We met Jim and Betty Younggren of Hallock, MN (HCO) and their Pacer in Hot Springs. After landing we were invited into a hangar owned by some of the locals (who have Minnesota connections and are known for welding exhaust systems for RV airplanes) for lunch. The woman serving up lunch was named Myrna. What are the chances of that? Two women named Myrna in one hangar. Go figure.
On Sunday the 24th we flew from Hot Springs to Rawlings, WY (RWL) for fuel where we met up with two other planes heading to the Short Wing Piper Club convention (Sid and Sue Brain in their TriPacer and Jim Butler with Tom Brent in Jim’s Ercoupe. Others landed there that day and the following and the FBO gave all Short Wingers a discount on fuel!) After a short break for food for us and fuel for the plane we headed on to Ogden, UT (OGD). The flight from Rawlings to Ogden was hot and bumpy and not very fun. But we flew through a beautiful mountain pass and were especially happy to be greeted by fellow Short Wingers Garrett Bourcier and his grandpa, Kent O’Kelly, when we landed.
Just out of the pass and flying over Ogden into the Ogden airport.
On Friday, June 29th we departed Ogden for a 2.5 hour flight to Canyonlands Airport (CNY), the airport that serves Moab, Utah.
On Monday, July 2nd we departed Canyonlands for Rawlings, WY and saw lots of smoke from the wildfires en route. After a short break we flew on to Hot Springs, SD for our overnight stop and a visit to the Mammoth Site museum.
On Tuesday, July 3rd we departed Hot Springs for home and stopped in Pipestone, MN (PQN) for food and fuel. Pipestone has a fabulous little airport with friendly people, inexpensive fuel ($5.34/gallon) and a courtesy car! After lunch we loaded up the Pacer for our last flight, just 1.3 hours to home!
It’s interesting to note that even though temperatures were in the 100s while we were in Utah the heat index was far higher when we landed in Minnesota. One source I checked stated a heat index of 111 degrees when we landed at home. The temperature at Moab, Utah at the same time? Just 99 degrees with a heat index of 94!

That's all for now. It's still hotter than blazes here and it's time for me to sit in front of a fan and cool down a bit.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Art of Friendship

Last summer I spent some time in Forest City, Iowa doing some research for a travel story I hoped to write. In the process I discovered that the owner of the local B&B, The Elderberry Inn, is a distant cousin of mine. Through my new-found friendship with Carolyn, the B&B owner/distant cousin, I found out that she and five other women gather twice a month to paint on porcelain and have been doing so for 30 some years.

"There might be a story there," Carolyn said.

And she was right.

At first I thought I simply had a story about six women who painted together, six women who were keeping the nearly lost art of porcelain painting alive. But upon meeting the ladies - Janice, Marian, Florence, Carolyn, Delores and Marj - I knew there was something extra special about this group of painters. In fact, this group of ladies was so full of life and laughter, kindness and fun that I decided that I had to make another trip to Forest City to do more research for the story

I didn't have to do more research. Not really. I mostly wanted to hang out with this fun group of "girls," as they call themselves (they range in age from 63 to 93) because they were so positive and wonderful to be around. Because I wanted to get another glimpse at what makes them so special.

Sometimes a story becomes so much more than I thought it was going to be. This was that kind of story. Though meeting the ladies, through watching them paint and seeing them interact with each other, I learned so much about friendship, about kindness, about life. And I realized that I wasn't simply writing a story about people who paint, the story I needed to tell was that of six friends who have friendship down to an art. 

The Art of Friendship was published in the May issue of Womeninc. Magazine. It was, without a doubt, one of my favorite stories to research and write. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mountain Biking 101

Wednesday evening (June 13th) Ryan and I had the fun of joining fellow Cannon Valley Velo Club member, Griff Wigley (aka Mountain Bike Geezer) to learn a little about mountain biking.

My mountain biking experience is almost nonexistent - I rode some trails last fall with Ben Witt of Milltown Cycles when I test rode a Salsa Mukluk. To say that I had fun is an understatement! Since then I've hit some gravel and dirt paths on my hybrid with my daughter, Rose, but I haven't had a chance to actually ride any mountain bike trails since my outing on the Mukluk. My opportunities have been limited, for one, but the other problem has been my lack of a mountain bike. 

But then Griff arranged for a beginner's mountain bike for CVVC members and friends at Salem Hills Mountain Bike Trails at Harmon Park in Inver Grove Heights - I decided that I HAD to go. So I called up my younger brother, Joel, who has an old Specialized HardRock to see if I could use it for the beginner's ride. Joel said "Sure!" so I brought the bike to Milltown for a tune up and got it ready to go.

My son, Ryan, said he wanted to try mountain biking, too, so we loaded up the van and headed to Salem Hills last night. I was super excited to join in on last night's ride. I was also kind of nervous  - so I was totally okay with the fact that just Ryan and I were Griff's students for the night.
We're ready to go! Ryan said he probably blinked right when Griff snapped the picture. Photo courtesy Griff Wigley

First Griff did a little skills assessment with me and Ryan to see how well we handled our bikes. (Griff, by the way, has been trained to help newbies like me and Ryan. Along with Sue Welch he will be coaching high schoolers in the newly formed Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Team). Even the skill exercises he put us through were fun! Then Griff gave us a little briefing on where we were going to ride and some tips on how to ride the trail and we headed out.

We had a blast! Ryan and I laughed and screamed and talked and laughed and screamed some more (okay, maybe I did most of the screaming) as we rode the trails. Between whoops and hollers and during breaks to catch our breath Griff shared his knowledge of mountain biking with us. I learned a lot - but mostly I had fun!

Ryan fell down a few times (he didn't get hurt, unless you count a scrape or two as hurt) and though I didn't fall at the end of the evening I totally lost energy going up a hill and slipped off my saddle and onto my top tube (slight bruise but otherwise okay). Though we only rode about four miles (two .7 mile loops on one trail and two trips around another 1.3 mile trail) we were totally exhausted at the end of the evening - but other than being tired we were both in fine form.
Here's Ryan post fall. I'm up the hill and laughing - with Ryan, not at Ryan :) Photo courtesy Griff Wigley
I honestly can't wait to try mountain biking again. I had so much fun and it was a great way to work on improving my bike handling skills. Ryan is raring to go, too - and we'd both love to have Rose and Owen join us and they say they are willing...

So we're all ready to go - the question is.... is Griff?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happy Birthday Ryan!

Yesterday my son, Ryan, had a birthday. Ryan's been on this planet, a part of my world, for ten years now. And my life is so much better because he is here. With his kindness, intuition and frequent reminders to unplug and relax, Ryan reminds that life is good. That time spent with family and friends is far more important than time spent checking Facebook on my iPhone. That life is about people, positive connections, reading books and talking about dreams way more than it's about things.

I fail at unplugging, at living in the moment, on a daily basis. I get stressed easily. I try to check email during dinner. I am easily distracted and discouraged. But I'm making progress. And a lot of my progress in this department is because of a little guy who is not so little anymore - My son. Ryan.

One one hand he's a boy so grown up that he takes my phone out of my hands and covers me up with a quilt and tells me to take a nap. And on the other hand he's still little enough that he crawls into bed with me in the morning to snuggle and, miraculously, fits next to my body as perfectly as when he was a baby.
How is it that one person - a ten-year-old - can be so old and wise and young and innocent at the same time? 
I don't know. I just know this...Ryan, Ry-Guy, Little Bud, Boo, I'm a better person because of you. 
Love, Mom.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Bike MS: For Grandma

I went on a very important bike ride on Saturday - Owen and I biked the Bike MS: Twin Cities Ride to raise money to help people living with Multiple Sclerosis. This ride was extra important to me because I rode in memory of my Grandma, Edith Anderson, and in honor of my Aunt Elaine.

Most of my memories of my Grandma are of her in a wheelchair in a nursing home. Why? Because my Grandma was diagnosed with MS when she was in her late 50s. She spent fourteen years in a nursing home and MS took her life when she was only 73. My Aunt Elaine is now living with the disease and MS is making life a challenge for my Aunt, my Uncle and my cousins and their families.

I don't often say that I hate things but I'll say this - I hate MS. I hate what it does to people. What it did to my Grandma. What it takes away from families. I don't want to see this disease continue. I don't want to see families suffer as their loved ones struggle with this disease. And that's why I decided to ride on Saturday - because I wanted to raise money to help stop MS and, until a cure is found, to help people who are living with the disease.
Grandma Edith and Grandpa Howard Anderson taken long before MS entered their lives. Their wedding picture - August 30, 1936.
So on Saturday Owen and I rode the 52 mile route made up of miles of rolling hills along country roads and part of the lovely Gateway Trail. We rode as part of a team Team OS led by our captain, Eric Fellows, a friend of mine from high school who I hadn't seen in about 25 years! It was great fun to ride with a team but the greatest thing of all is that our little team of five - Owen, Eric, Matt, Val and I raised $2,605.00!!

It was a new bicycling experience for me, pedaling mile after mile and knowing that I was riding for my Grandma and Aunt Elaine. I found myself tearing up a couple of times on the ride, and not because the hills were too big or the ride was too long! No, I found myself crying because of the memories of my Grandma. Because my Aunt is living with MS today. Because I hate this disease. And because I felt that by fundraising and pedaling away the miles I was able to do a little something to help beat MS and help those living with the disease.
Owen and I after biking the Bike MS: Twin Cities Ride on May 12, 2012
Thanks to all of you who sponsored me and Owen and Team OS on this ride. Thanks for making donations to help fight MS.

Oh, and guess what? If you haven't made a donation I'm sure to do the ride again next year so you can sponsor me next year.

Or, if you feel so inclined, you can still make a donation for this years's ride up through June 1st :)

Just follow this link: