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