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Showing posts from 2012

The To-Do List

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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.
Seriously?
I was looking forward to a night of work?
Oh boy.

So…

Snow Biking!

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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 bikeBut boy is it fun!Snow is slippery and you can skid a lotThis results in a lot of laughingAnd some happy screamingAnd a few near fallsI'm better at controlling a bike through skids than I thought I wasBut look forward to getting even betterIt's easier to ride in the ruts where a car has already drivenPedals 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 suppose…

Snow - Funner on a Fatbike!

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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…

More Fat-Bike Fun

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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…

A Ride on Global Fat-Bike Day

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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 large…

Grin and Bear it

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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, to…

At last! A two Fatbike Family!

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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 so…

A Beargrease Rocket Run

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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 c…

Beargrease Report - or - No Road? No Problem!

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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 m…

A Song to Sing!

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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…

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 Tou…

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 scho…

A Fatbike in my Future

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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…

A Week at Lago del Bosco

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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 Ital…

Ten in a Row!

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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 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…

Mountain Biking 101

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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. Jo…

Happy Birthday Ryan!

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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 tha…

Bike MS: For Grandma

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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 r…