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!