Thursday, November 21, 2013

Getting Organized - Memoir Collection

Bit by bit, I'm getting my new office organized. It's a slow process but I'm making progress. Tonight I got my memoir collection on the shelves organized by author. I know I have more books floating around the house to fit in here and I still have space for them. That is good.

I'm thinking I will put my writing books on the bottom shelf of my bookshelf. I expect the bookshelf will be full very soon. 

Memoir collection - or most of it. I'm sure there's more floating around the house.
Also in progress is bookshelf organization in the rest of the house. Our fiction, science fiction and non-fiction, poetry and drama collections are going on shelves in the upstairs hallway. The aviation and religion books are going on shelves downstairs.

There are books on other shelves in the house, too, that feel like they need their own space: horse books, Border Terrier books, James Herriot books, Harry Potter books, the Guardians of Ga'hoole collection, Laura Ingalls Wilder books, favorite books from my childhood, picture books, children's books and more!  In other words, we have a lot of books. I hope we can find them all a space and know where to find them later.

I'm not yet sure where my Jane Austen collection is going to fit. I have all of Austen's books that she is well known for plus Sandition, an unfinished novel started by Austen that her family published after her death (I admit, I have yet to read it!). About half of my Austen books, however, are non-fiction (biographies and the like) and new fiction written with Austen's characters like Mr. Darcy in them. My collection is small, but I like it!

I think this is a good time to state that, in my humble opinion, the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice is the best EVER. All six hours of it. It's well worth watching! And Colin Firth is the best Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy EVER. Thank you very much.

Here's a lovely image of Colin Firth as Darcy to end this post and the day. 

Good night and Sweet Dreams (of Darcy, if you are lucky)

Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy in BBC's Pride and Prejudice.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Smile yourself Happy

There's a saying I've heard, I don't know where it originated, it's something like "you can't buy happiness...but you can buy chocolate and that's pretty close!"

I like that saying. And I like chocolate. And I've been feeling the need for some happiness lately. So today I walked into one of my favorite shops in Northfield, The Measuring Cup. It's a kitchen store full of fun gadgets and kitchen essentials like pots and pans. They also carry BT McElrath chocolates like my favorite Salty Dog and another I like, Super Red. And, I discovered today, The Measuring Cup carries the cutest little appetizer tongs with little "hands" to grab whatever little treat you are serving.

I saw those little tongs and smiled. And, well, I bought two of them because they are just so cute and very useful, too!

Buying the chocolate and the tongs didn't exactly buy me happiness. But the thought of eating my chocolate and just looking at the cute little tongs sure made me smile. And the actual act of smiling, I've read, can actually make a person feel happy.

I'm thinking the actual act of eating my chocolate will make me smile, too.

You know, I'm feeling pretty happy right now. Take a moment to smile - really smile -  and feel happy, too.


Monday, November 18, 2013

A New Space

We've been doing a lot around our house lately. We replaced a terribly worn out carpet in our living room. We had our friend, Michael, do some painting for us upstairs because, well, if we had to do it all the painting would not get done in a timely manner (case in point, the upstairs hallway Michael painted for us in a day was a project that I intended to start, oh, seven years ago and never got around to). With all the painting, we've been sorting and cleaning and donating things that we no longer use. It's a good feeling to get things out of here - but it's also kind of disruptive and unsettling.

We've reorganized three rooms and our upstairs hallway in the last month. Well, I can't say that we're totally reorganized quite yet, but we're getting there!

Rose's room was first. Her once pink and purple walls with floral border are now a lovely turquoise. She moved out her little girl looking things and now has a room that looks like a high school student sleeps in it instead of a grade schooler.

Ryan had been sleeping in a small bedroom that was his nursery when he was a baby. The room was cute with yellow walls and a blue sky with stars border - but hardly fitting for our 11 year old who likes reptiles and bugs. We also wanted to move Ryan into a bigger bed and wanted to get rid of some things he no longer used. So, we loaded up Ryan's bed and brought it over to my brother's house. My nephew, Liam, now has a bunk bed and toy storage unit and is one happy four-year-old!

As for Ryan's room with the yellow walls - we painted the walls the same color as my office. And my office? We painted those walls a nice shade of blue that Ryan liked. And, yep, we switched rooms.

My former office is now Ryan's bedroom.
And Ryan's old room? It's now my new office.

I am a bit out of sorts sitting here in my new office. It's mostly empty. It feels weird in here. There's no pictures on the walls. No books on the shelves. I figured out where I want my desk (in a corner, at an angle, facing the door) but am not sure if I like my bookshelf where it is. I need to move one of my file cabinets into my closet but am not sure where the other one will fit. I still have tons of sorting to do to make sure I don't move clutter in to my new space. I think what that means is a lot of my office stuff is going to sit in the hallway for awhile so I can move things in a bit at a time.

I'm not super duper good at big transitions. I liked my old office. It was cluttered but comfortable. Now I have a new space and don't quite know what to do with it. I am not sure where to put things. I'm worried the sun will fade my books. I worried I won't be able to see my computer screen when the sun shines through the window. And yet I'm worried there won't be enough light when the sun goes down.  And, well, I could go. Suffice it to say, I can worry pretty well sometimes :-)

So, I remind myself, I will figure out where things go and how they will work in time. Worry isn't going to help me figure anything out or stop the sun from doing what the sun does.

Maybe it's the lack of control over the sun and everything else that got me to the point I'm at right now - I'm sitting in my office at my desk and I'm organizing something much more manageable than an empty office space and the thoughts in my too-full-of-thoughts head -- words.

I'm writing.

And it feels good.

Almost empty new office space. Much to do to figure out my new space but the important things are here -  my desk and my dog.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

First Tracks

We got a couple of inches of snow in the night. And while I'm certainly not ready for snow with things like coats and gloves and snow boots for the kids, I managed to forget how unprepared I am for the season when I saw the sun shining on the snow this morning. Sunshine on fresh snow makes for an absolutely beautiful morning!

And, even though I had to get going and start my work day, the beautiful snowy morning kept begging me to grab my fatbike, Bear, and go for a ride.

So I did.

It was a short ride, less than a mile. And I was quickly reminded of how much work it is to pedal through fresh snow. I feel totally out of shape and I'm tired now (and running behind schedule). But, boy, it sure was worth it to get out and make the first fatbike snow tracks of the season.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Another 30 Days - on my own this time

The last three years, the month of September has brought a bonus round of 30 Days of Biking to all who want to participate and ride their bikes every day.

This year, I didn't hear anything about the bonus round in the days leading up to September so I messaged 30 Days co-founder, Patrick, to ask him if it was happening this year. He replied saying there was no official September round this year but I was welcome to do it on my own.

So I did.

I got out on my bike every day except for two - I was sick in bed one day and totally forgot the other. But, other than those two days, I was out riding. I took part in a couple of organized rides with my family, the Jesse James Bike Tour and the Saint Paul Classic. Other than those rides, I mostly rode my fatbike around the neighborhood

I usually keep track of my rides and make big milage goals for 30 Days of Biking. I didn't do that this time around. In fact, I hardly tracked my rides at all.

Instead of thinking about distances and calories burned and all that, this time, I just got out on my bike and had some fun.

Here's sort of a recap of what happened during this 30 Days of Biking

  • Lots of the time the kids rode with me
  • We often practiced making our bikes move forward by swinging our legs instead of pedaling (this is fun)
  • Many of my rides were in the dark with my bike light on
  • Some of my riding was on our grass taxiway
  • Most rides were really, really slow
  • Almost all of my rides were on my fatbike, Bear.
  • I think (can't remember for sure) I had good weather for each ride
  • I used my bike instead of the car to get around the neighborhood several times
  • I enjoyed every single ride

During official rounds of 30 Days of Biking, we share our progress through social media. Typically I "tweet" my rides and see that others are riding, too. There's a sense of community in knowing I am riding along with the "community of joyful cyclists" during my 30 Days. I kind of missed that sense of community this time.

But, perhaps because of the lack of community, or maybe just because, this 30 Days, more than any other, I learned that cruising around on my bike for no particular reason is one of the best things about bicycling. My daily rides became a time to just slow down, unwind and forget about work, chores, meetings, problems, bills, homework supervision, house cleaning and whattomakefordinner.

So I'm glad I ventured out on my own this time and did another (28)30 Days of Biking.

I'm looking forward to riding later on today when the kids get home from school. Those after school rides with the kids are the best part of my day!

Ryan riding ahead of my on the trails at Murphy Hanrehan

Rose and Owen riding the beginner mountain bike track at Murphy Hanrehan Park

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Thought you should know...

Owen will be a little embarrassed that I am writing this blog entry about him. But, well, he's taking a nap and won't know I am doing this until it's too late to stop me so here I go...

I just thought you should know that Owen rode the Jesse James Bike Tour's century ride today. That's 100 miles of bicycling in a whole lotta heat. Owen's been wanting to do a century ride for a long time now. He's been talking about ever since we started riding about four years ago. But, honestly, I think he's been wanting to do this for years longer. Maybe even decades. Owen last rode a century ride about 4 decades ago (he probably doesn't want me to tell you that) when he was in his late teens. I believe he did five century rides back then.

We've talked about doing a century together but I knew that a century wasn't in the cards for me this year. So, we decided I would take the kids on the 10 mile Jesse James Bike Tour route today and Owen would find some people to ride with to do the century. He has an awesome new Trek Domane now and I know he's been extra pumped to take his new bike on a long ride. And, even though the kids and I would have loved to ride with him today, we knew it was way more important that Owen get his chance to ride fast and far without us.

So early this morning Owen met up with two other guys he knows, Patrick and Neil, and set off with the intention of riding 100 miles. Shortly after they started out, another guy they met along the way, Keith, joined them. Together, the four of them rode 102 miles and averaged about 16 miles per hour.

Rose, Ryan and I decided to drive over to the middle school to see if we could find Owen to cheer him on as he finished his ride. On the way, we saw one of the riders pull over and start walking his bike. He looked kind of stiff and was almost limping so we stopped and asked if he needed a ride. He said yes so we put his bike in the van and started back to the middle school. Guess what? Stopping to help out Larry (he's from Colorado and was the nicest guy ever) meant that the timing worked out so we saw Owen and his buddies pedaling along just a half block away. So we rolled down our windows, yelled, honked the horn and waved at Owen and his friends to cheer them on.

We made it to the middle school about five minutes before Owen rolled in and dropped off  Larry and his bike. Shortly thereafter Owen rolled in very tired but obviously happy that he had finished his 100 mile ride. His first century ride in 40 years!

Congratulations, Owen. We knew you could do it. We are proud of you!

(l to r)  Patrick, Neil, Owen and Keith just after finishing the Jesse James Bike Tour Century Ride.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A View from Above

This morning we flew our Piper Pacer to a fly-in breakfast in Shell Lake, Wisconsin. We like attending these fly-in events but haven't been to many in the last few years. Breakfasts are typically on a Saturday or Sunday morning and our weekends have gotten busier and busier as the kids have gotten older. But flying to Shell Lake is an annual tradition for us - and this morning the weather was absolutely perfect - so off we went.

This morning, much of the ground below us was covered in fog making for some magical views of the world below.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Brother and I Bought a 1947 Dodge

My younger brother, Joel, and I bought a 1947 Dodge Club Coupe on August 17, 2013.

What? Why?Huh? I didn't know you liked cars, Myrna! 

I can't exactly answer articulate WHY we bought the Dodge. But it has a lot to do with family. This old Dodge has been in the family for 64 years, since it was almost new. Our Great Uncle Elmer bought the Dodge in 1949. Our Grandpa Howard bought the Dodge from Uncle Elmer when the car was about 10 years old. Not long after our Grandpa passed away, our Uncle Marvin got the Dodge. Marvin owned it for about 19 years. The time came where he wanted to sell it.  And, well, Joel and I just couldn’t bear to see the car leave the family. And I think we both envisioned cruising around town together in an old Dodge and maybe going to some car shows together. 

In addition to the family connection, yes, I actually do like cars. I'm not exactly a car lover, I guess, but I like them for sure and do enjoy mechanical things (I'm a pilot, after all). Restoration interests me and I like old things, too. I will willingly to go car shows and stare under hoods (though not for long, I will admit). I kind of sort of can talk cars with car people.

I also think that I like cars because my Dad and brothers like cars. And, well, I like my Dad and my brothers (and Mom, too, of course!) And I know I can always find something to talk about with my Dad if we start talking cars. 

Over the years I've written a bunch of stories about cars. Some have been published, like Brake Stands (a story about burning rubber -- and talking to Dad), others are in various stages of completeness. And, with the purchase and restoration of this old Dodge, I know I'll be writing many more. 

With a long-term writing project in mind, and a desire to keep track of our restoration progress (or lack thereof!), I just started the The 1947 Dodge Blog. Hop on over and follow our 1947 Dodge Blog if you feel so inclined.

Monday, August 26, 2013

642 Things to Write About

There are days that don't go according to plan. Days that get awkwardly goofed up. Today has been one of those days. Until just moments ago when Rose, my daughter, came up to my office and told me that there was a package that arrived in the mail for me. She made a comment that it was addressed to "Myrna Mibus, Writer & Pilot."

That's just plain strange, I thought. I wonder what kind of thing I got in the mail? And who would send a package to "Myrna Mibus, Writer & Pilot"?

I found the package on the kitchen table. It was about the size of a book. I opened it and inside I found a package wrapped in blue paper with a golden ribbon around it and a small card attached. I opened the card before the package. And I cried. I do that sometimes.

Here is what the little card said:

I saw this book and thought of you (even though I doubt you have any shortage of ideas to write about). :) Thought you might enjoy it anyway
From: Cassi

I unwrapped the paper to find the book 642 Things to Write About. It's one of those books with wonderful writing prompts and space to write inside. And the book was exactly what I needed to get in the mail today. Because today has just been "off" and, yes, I've been in a bit of a writing slump and actually have needing a little boost with my writing.

Here's the extra cool thing. Cassi is a friend I met through 30 Days of Biking in 2010 yet we've never met in person. I don't recall exactly how we started "talking" via email but right away I felt a special connection to Cassi. In her last email to me, written about a month ago, she mentioned she wanted to send me something. I wrote her back, finally, last week with my address and, I will admit, a bit of a vent about feeling frustrated with work and life - though no mention about feeling out of sorts with my writing. And somehow, be it God or the Universe or whomever or whatever, somehow everything lined up perfectly so Cassi knew to send me this book and card and they arrived on this very day when I needed it in the worst way.

All for now. It's time for me to open my new book and write something!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Vacation State Picture of the Day - July 18, 2013

My family recently returned home from a huge vacation to Saratoga Springs, NY with a quick visit to New York City adding in. Our plan was to fly our little Pacer to Saratoga Springs for our 11th Short Wing Piper Club convention. I wrote about the start of our trip in a recent post, The Airplane Notebook. In that post I mentioned we had taken off for NY in our Pacer but were waiting out the weather in Rushford, MN.

Guess what? The weather never got better so we flew the Pacer back home and decided to drive to New York. It took us 22 hours to drive to Saratoga Springs - that's a whole lot of driving! After the convention we drove to Yonkers, NY where we left our car with Short Wing friends, Andy and Gloria, then took the train to NYC. We spent a day and a half in NYC then it was train back to car and car back to home. We drove the return trip without stopping to sleep at a hotel. I don't think we'll do that again though, I will admit, it was nice to get back home earlier than we had planned.

Our trip to NewYork was exceptional! On the way to Saratoga Springs we stopped at Niagara Falls. In Saratoga Springs we saw so many interesting things there from museums to shops to some of the famous Saratoga springs to a fabulous 4th of July celebration. We would all love to go back to Saratoga Springs - it is such a fabulous town! In New York City we saw an off-Broadway show, Peter and the Starcatcher, ate great food, took the Staten Island Ferry past the Statue of Liberty and went to the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

We all loved our trip and are so fortunate that we were able to travel across the country and see so much of the U.S. But you know what? We saw a lot of sights and had many new experiences as we traveled across the country - but in doing so, we all realized how much we like our own state of Minnesota, and how nice we have it here at our own home.

So, to showcase how lovely it is right here at our home, here are two Vacation State pictures for the day. These are pictures of one of my gardens. Enjoy - and remember to spend some time each day in a Vacation State of Mind!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lago del Bosco - parte due

Yesterday I went on a one day road trip to Hackensack, MN, with my daughter, Rose, my mom, Char, and my son, Ryan.  Why so much driving in one day? Because we dropped off Rose at Lago del Bosco - Concordia Language Villages Italian Language Camp - where she will spend two weeks immersed in Italian language and cultural activities.

Rose attended Italian camp for one week last summer and had a great experience. Last year was Rose's first ever summer camp experience - and I was a bit worried about her. I wrote about my worries and Rose's experience in my blog last year (Concordia Language Villages even posted the blog on the Lago del Bosco Village Pages!) You can read that blog if you click HERE:

This year, dropping Rose off at camp was a much less worrisome experience because she had such a great time last year and we knew what to expect. Things that were overwhelming last year were much easier to deal with. We knew where to park and unload Rose's gear. We understood the process of going through "customs" and had an idea of where things were. We even recognized one of Rose's counselors from last year, Letizia!

Last year we found Rose's cabin and Rose struggled to figure out which bunk to pick and wanted help making her bed. This year when we found Rose's cabin she confidently walked in, looked around, said "this is my bunk" and put her things on the bed. She didn't want help unpacking or making her bed like she did last year. She didn't need any help getting checked in, figuring out where to go or what to say (she remembers enough Italian from last year that she could manage understanding the counselors and is quick enough to figure out what she does not understand right away). The only thing she wanted help with is finding her can of bug spray in her suitcase. Then she was pretty much ready for us all to go and get on with her camp experience. So we left Rose in the art building to make her "targhetta"(her name tag - this year Rose's camp name is "Lia"), took a picture or two and said our good-byes. Then Mom, Ryan and I headed back to the car and the long drive home and left Rose at camp.

Rose, aka "Lia," in Cabin Puglia at Lago del Bosco
It's such a good feeling to know my daughter is growing up, getting more confident with new situations and can handle life on her own. But, you know what? It's still hard to leave Rose at camp because I'll miss my kid. She's so much fun to be around! But then I remember that part of the reason that Rose is such fun kid is because she's had opportunities to get off on her own to learn and grow at places like Lago del Bosco. So I'll miss Rose these next two weeks. But I'm okay with that because at the end of camp I'll head back up north and pick up an even more wonderful Rose.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Airplane Notebook

With our trip to the Short Wing Piper Club convention in Saratoga Springs, New York right on the horizon, I realized it was past time for me to write down hotel reservation information and the like. I set off in search of a nice little notebook to write things in and discovered what I call The Airplane Notebook. It's a smallish, spiral bound, blue notebook with lined pages. The cover has a cut out with a little silver airplane in the window. I picked it up in about 2005 to use as a travel journal for our SWPC trip to Vancouver, Washington.

I haven't taken The Airplane Notebook on every trip to the SWPC Convention but it has gone with us to most of them. It's also traveled with us on other trips, too, like a flying trip to Custer, South Dakota one October, as well as a trip I took via commercial airline back to Washington State to write about Stewart Systems, a environmentally friendly airplane paint system.

The Airplane Notebook turned out to be more of a place to jot notes about our trips than it turned out to be a journal. That's okay. I ended up finding the pages of the book a little small for writing. But they are perfect for taking notes about hotel reservations, for jotting down flight times and for writing about people we have met along the way.

A lot of the notes in my Airplane Notebook have to do with the weather but there are other bits that remind me of our flying adventures and the fun, and challenges, we've had along the way.

Here's a note from our 2006 trip to the SWPC Convention in Kingston, Ontario, Canada: "We are in Sault Saint Marie, Canada. Arrived yesterday. Waiting now to go to the airport. Woke to 600 OVA (overcast) so need the skies to life before we go."

And one from our trip home from Vancouver, Washington, in 2005: "We are on the ground in Gillette, WY waiting out scuddy weather. I flew the first leg from Bozeman. Rose and Ryan were both crabby." Rose was six years old that year. Ryan was three. Our trip to and from Vancouver, WA involved 30+ hours in our little airplane.

In 2008, the convention was at Telemark Resort in Cable, Wisconsin. We were in the resort's restaurant waiting for breakfast, watching airplanes arrive from the window when I wrote, "A Pacer arrived about a half hour ago. We're hungry." Guess who arrived in that Pacer? Turns out the pilot and co-pilot are distant relatives of mine that I'd never met before which resulted in this note, "I went for a walk with my newly-found relative, Betty."

I picked up the notebook this year thinking it was too full and I wouldn't have room to write my trip notes in it this year. I was happy to discover there's enough blank pages that I can use it again this year. Already I have written in my hotel confirmation number for our place in Saratoga Springs. I've taped in hotel reservations for New York City (we plan to go there for a couple of days) and notes from an email from our friend, Karl, about where to eat while in NYC.

At this moment, we're waiting out the weather in a little airport FBO in Rushford, Minnesota. Will we end up flying all the way to Saratoga Springs or decide to fly our Pacer back home? If we fly back home will we decide to drive all the way to Saratoga Springs so we can get to the convention? Hard to say. But no matter what happens, I'm sure I'll be able to look at my Airplane Notebook next year and see the notes I wrote about the trip along the way.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Vacation State Picture of the day - 6/25/13

We're gearing up to go on our annual vacation to the Short Wing Piper Club convention. There's always a lot to do before heading out of town and this year we're feeling a little more behind than usual.    The Pacer's annual just got signed off tonight. Owen and I both have to get current in the plane before we head out on our big trip with the family to Saratoga Springs, NY. We have to pack, of course. We have to deliver Rocket the dog to the kennel, George Lucas the Guinea Pig to my parents' house and Zelda the Leopard Gecko to the reptile sitter. Owen's been busy with work and I have been, too. So we're all kind of running around doing our best to get ready to go and feeling more than a bit frazzled.

Well, that's all the more reason to look for some Vacation State of Mind moments in our days!

I snapped this shot of Ryan a couple of days ago because I realized that I was in a perfect Vacation State right at home.

Here are the perfect little snippets of that morning:

  • I had breakfast on our deck with my son, Ryan (Rose, my daughter, is on a mission trip so I have the fun of some alone time with Ryan while she is gone)
  • My dog, Rocket, was curled up at my feet
  • The temperature was perfect
  • My coffee was good
  • I had wonderfully fresh fruit for breakfast and good Greek yogurt
  • Ryan and I were relaxed and enjoying some nice Mom-Son conversation
  • Here I was in Minnesota in late June and the grass, I noticed, was as green as I would expect it to be in Ireland
  • Green grass is beautiful
  • We live on a grass airstrip (it's the wide expanse of grass beyond way behind Ryan) and one of our neighbors took off flying in his Cessna 182 so we had the treat of some airplane noise (a lovely noise when you are into aviation and live on an airstrip)

These are things that a person experiences on actual vacations, I realized. I mean, people would PAY to sit out and have breakfast on a deck and watch a little airplane take off right behind you and here it's happening in my back yard! These are things that when experienced one at a time are a real treat yet, when I get too caught up in my list of things to do, could easily go unappreciated. Fortunately on that morning I was able to take in the special moments and things surrounding me and realize that, yes, life is good even when I'm not in some exotic location on a fancy vacation.

Life is good right on my deck at home.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Big Hill

I went out and bought a gravel bike a week and a half ago - a really cool Salsa Vaya 2 - and now I have it in my head that I can do a 50 or even a 100 mile gravel race/ride. Seems reasonable, I tell myself. All I have to do is get out and ride gravel, tackle lots and lots of gravel hills and build up my endurance and milage bit by bit.

So today I planned to go on a gravel ride of some length, maybe 10 miles. Turned out that lawn mowing,  helping my 11 year old son drive the lawn tractor, gardening, and sending my almost 14 year old daughter off on a week-long youth mission trip filled up most of my day. By 8:30 I realized it was a short ride or no ride so I decided to go. I didn't even change out of my gardening clothes. I just put on my helmet, gloves and bicycling shoes, grabbed a water bottle and headed out on Zippy (that's my Vaya's name) for a short spin.

I thought I would just go down the flattish gravel by my house and call it a day but I decided I would ride what I call "The Big Hill" for the first time ever on Zippy, turn around, ride The Bill Hill again and head back home. I've never ridden The Big Hill out and back on any bike without having to stop to rest or get off to push. But I did tonight.

Yay! I rode The Big Hill!

The Big Hill - looking south
But, it's funny how the brain works, or at least my brain, because by the time I got home I was frustrated because I was tired and hot and felt very, very, slow. My ride was short, a mere 3.3 miles. My average speed was only 10.4 mph. I started looking at numbers and started comparing myself to the fast guys and gals and got myself all feeling bad, feeling like I can't do a 50 mile, let alone a 100 mile gravel ride when, really, as long as I keep working at it, I probably can.

It's kind of like my "big hill" in life is comparing myself to people and psyching myself out of starting something before I even start. Like I'm just sitting at the bottom of a hill on my bike and decide to stay there and never start pedaling. Or maybe it's more like I start to compare myself when I'm pedaling up a hill then quit and start coasting backwards. Yeah, that would be a mess - coasting backwards down a steep hill. Crash! Boom! Ouch!

So I have work to do - some wonderful personal development work and some ride my bike so I can go on a 50 mile gravel ride work. 

Something tells me the riding the bike part will be the easier of the two :-)
The Big Hill - looking north. The longer climb.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Funnest Bike Ride Ever!

Here I am riding Bear following Ben in the RBNC. Photo ©Marty Larson

Last night I went on a super fun bike ride. I think it's safe to say it was my best bike ride ever. And by best bike ride I don't mean that I went a ton of miles, set a speed record or did anything that would be considered extraordinary among "good" bicyclists. By best I mean I laughed and smiled more than any other bike ride I've been on. By best I mean funnest. And I know funnest is not a real word but I don't really care because "funnest bike ride ever" seems to be the best way to sum up my ride last night.

What did I do on this funnest bike ride ever? Well Owen and I loaded up our fat bikes (Owen's Mukluk  2 and my Beargrease named Bear) and drove on down to Milltown Cycles in Faribault and joined in on a Tuesday Night Ride. Milltown has these rides on most Tuesdays. Sometimes they ride gravel. Sometimes roads. Sometimes they ride mountain and fat bikes in River Bend Nature Center (awesome place). Last night was a River Bend night. And boy am I glad I decided to go!

We had a good sized group of eleven riders (three women!) of various riding abilities from a guy who bought a mountain bike a week ago to people who do exceptionally well in bike races. On a lot of group rides "various riding abilities" means trouble - riders with less experience (slowish like me) get left behind or aren't even welcome to join in on a ride with fast riders - but not on this ride!

Here the experienced riders helped the newer riders. Faster riders would wait for the slower ones to catch up. No one was left behind. There were opportunities for the faster gals and guys to do some more difficult trails while others stuck to the easier trails but we always regrouped. And we always felt like a group and not like some riders were "better" than others even though they were indeed more skilled.

We started out riding a single track trail (that's a narrow trail) that was kind of difficult. I was totally unprepared and in a high gear and found myself going up a steep hill and came to a standstill and had to push my bike up the hill. That was a somewhat un-fun moment because my stopping meant the guys behind me had to stop (sorry guys!) but they were good-natured about it. The single track was challenging. We even rode through a stream with rocks and stuff (my feet got wet because I had to walk through it). Honestly, had I known we would be riding relatively difficult trails I might have stayed home but once we started there was really no turning back. And once we got going I really started to have fun!
Milltown's Tuesday Night Ride in the RBNC. Photo © Marty Larson
After the single track stretch we rode some double track (wide enough so you can ride side by side), some grass trails and even some paved trails before heading back to double and single track trails.
We rode around for about an hour and I was feeling pretty comfortable. I discovered that if I talk to the people while I'm riding I kind of forget that the trails are kind of difficult and I'm getting tired. I also discovered that the best thing to do on downhills is to laugh out loud and scream. Why? Because it's really fun to laugh out loud and scream when you're riding downhill (and it's a little bit scary so screaming made me feel better).

Along the ride one of the riders asked me if I am going to ride the Almanzo, a 100 mile gravel race on my new gravel bike (I bought a Vaya 2 from Milltown last week. More on that another time)  Let me say this, it felt so good that this guy, Ben, who raced the Tour Divide (that's a mountain bike race from Canada to Mexico. Ben did really, really, well, by the way) takes me seriously enough to ask me if I'm considering a 100 mile gravel ride. That's really cool!

I admitted to Ben that the thing that holds me back the most from riding the Almanzo is fear. There's the fear that I'll just completely not make it 100 miles but the bigger fear is that I will get a flat tire and find myself stuck not knowing how to fix it. The other Ben on our ride (the Ben who introduced me to fat bike riding and is also Milltown's owner) overheard me talking to Ben and said something like, "Myrna, you've got four bikes now and it's about time you got comfortable changing tires."  He's right, of course. I need to learn more about taking care of my bikes. I've been avoiding it in part because I just feel so overwhelmed with life and taking care of everyone and everything else that I'd much rather have someone else take care of my bikes. I mean, do I have to take care of everything?! It feels like it sometimes. And I just don't feel like I have enough leftover energy to learn something new. But I guess it's time I switch gears and learn.

Case in point - guess who had a flat tire about 15 minutes later? Me. Doh! I picked up a tiny thorn in my big fat tire and got a flat. Thankfully we were close to a road so could pull out of the woods and change the tire on gravel (fewer mosquitos than in the woods and more room). Thankfully Ben had a spare fat tube (uh, I wasn't exactly prepared and didn't have a spare. Neither did Owen. Double Doh!). And thankfully Ben was kind enough to talk me through how to change a tire and did most of the change himself (he will be getting a six-pack of beer from me as a thank you) and we were back on the trails in short order.
Coolest Picture Ever taken by Marty Larson on the Funnest Bike Ride Ever
The flat tire was an un-fun moment in this funnest ride ever - but no one complained about waiting while Ben changed my flat, or told me I was stupid for forgetting a tube, or made me feel bad (I can feel bad without any help, thank you very much) about not really knowing how to change my tire. It was getting late so we headed back towards Milltown. The flat was soon forgotten and soon I was smiling and laughing again.

Did I mention I rode through mud, some puddles and a couple more streams? And did I mention that I screamed a lot and laughed a ton? And that I could pedal up all but two of the big hills? And that by the end of the ride I was splattered with mud? And that we were out riding for about two hours and went 10 miles or so? And that this ride (even with a flat tire) was the funnest bike ride ever?

Yep. It was. It really was the funnest bike ride ever. And a lot of the reason it was fun was because fun people were on the ride. Thanks to all of the fun people who made me feel so welcome on Milltown's Tuesday Night Ride last night.

And thanks again, Ben, for changing my tire.

See the cool pictures in this post? They were taken by Marty Larson, a nice guy and darn good cyclist who is also the manager at Tandem Bagels (a bike-themed bagel shop!) in Northfield. Go there sometime and eat their food. You will be happy you did. You will be really happy if you eat a snickerdoodle cookie like I did today. It was yummy.

Coincidence? I don't think so! - Just today I discovered a post on the Salsa Cycles website that hit home with me and had some great advice. Click HERE to read Hey Ladies: First Steps to Confidence

Monday, June 17, 2013

Even a Slow Start is a Start

Way back in January I set a biking milage goal for the year - 1,407 miles. Why the odd number? Well, my friend from high school, Kate, wanted to keep bicycling this year so decided to set a goal for herself to bike enough miles to equal riding from her current home town of Poulsbo, Washington to our childhood home town of Richfield, Minnesota. I saw her post her goal on Facebook and made a comment. Kate encouraged me to do the same challenge - except I would "bike" from Richfield to Poulsbo so we could virtually meet somewhere about half way.

Well the year has gotten off to a slow start for me. I rode my fat bike through the winter but fat bike miles are slow to add up, especially fat bike miles on the icy snow! I got in a good number of miles during April for 30 Days of Biking. And then it snowed. And rained. And rained. And rained. And I really didn't get out on my bike much. So here I am almost to mid-June with only 241 miles logged and am virtually just over the Minnesota border into South Dakota whereas Kate has logged about 450 miles at is virtually in Montana. Kate is making decent progress but I have had a pretty slow start on our bike mileage challenge. But you know what? Even a slow start is a start!

Here's our map showing our progress on our virtual bike ride across the country. Kate's points on the map are green. She's starting in Washington and "riding" east. My points are blue. I'm starting in Minnesota and "riding" west. 
Kate, by the way, is no stranger to biking a lot of miles. Back in 2006 she, her husband, Ron, and their daughter, Elizabeth who was then just six years old, biked 4,401 miles in 102 days on a triplet bike (that's a three person bike). You can read about their incredible biking journey from Jacksonville, Florida to Poulsbo, Washington at "You Can Do Anything."

Such a ride doesn't seem possible to me at this point in my life. But, then again, riding even 5 miles in one day didn't seem possible to me when I first started bicycling less than four years ago. Now, however,  I can get on my bike and ride 20, 30 or 50 miles in a day without much trouble and five miles is pretty easy (most of the time).

Do you have a goal that seems impossible? Well, get out there and give it a go! Worried you can't reach your goal? Start anyway. My theory is even if you start on your way to a goal and don't quite make it it's better than not starting at all!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vacation State - Look Up

Look Up - beautiful balloons in my back yard

It's been three months since I wrote about my Vacation State of Mind project - a project in which I decided I would pretend I was on vacation for at least a moment each day and look at the things around me as though I'm a visitor instead of a person anxious to go somewhere else.

I meant to post pictures and updates of my Vacation State project several times but, well, I haven't. But I am posting something now!

Here's something that has put me in a Vacation State of Mind many, many times since I started my project - I can always get a Vacation State moment when I Look Up.
Look Up at the ceiling of the Pantages Theatre in Minnapolis

Let me explain...
I spent a January Term in England back in 1996 and one of the things I remember most about that trip was something a tour guide said. I was on a group tour of Oxford. As we were walking around Oxford our tour guide said that one thing we should remember to do as we walked through Oxford is to look up. When you look up, he said, you see all sorts of great things in the architecture of the buildings. You might notice paintings on a ceiling. Gargoyles looking at you from above. All sorts of cool things that you would not have noticed if you kept looking at the things at eye level.

Look Up really hit home for me while walking through one of the buildings. I looked up and saw a bust of author J.R.R. Tolkien. Our tour guide mentioned Tolkien studied at and later was a professor at Oxford and I realized that I was standing right where Tolkien may have walked. The realization gave me the chills and is one of my favorite memories of my month-long trip to England.

Since then, I've made a point to look up and see what wonderful things I can discover in building architecture. I haven't found any busts of Tolkien but I have discovered amazing details in buildings - dates and names above doors, gothic creatures carved of marble, fancy filigree trim at the top of buildings - wherever I travel now. It's pretty easy for me to imagine I'm on vacation to some exotic location when I look up and see wonderful architectural details on old buildings.

But what about when I'm not in a great town with historical buildings?  When I'm in a town where the architecture is new like my home town of Richfield? I find that if I take a moment to look up I see the sky, the clouds, maybe the sun shining through trees and those views also remind me that wonderful vacation like moments can be had right at home.

Take a moment to enjoy a Vacation State of Mind - Look up!
Sculpture Garden at Anderson Center in Red Wing, MN
Double Rainbow - another Vacation State wonder in my own back yard

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Signs of Spring

We've had such wet weather lately that I haven't been out on the bike much. Last Sunday was gloomy again so I decided I was going to ride my Beargrease in the rain because my need to move exceeded my desire to stay dry. I had a few changes to make to my bike before the ride (Switching out a stem, putting ergo handle grips on and adding a front fender). That all took some time and by the time I was done the rain had stopped. Bonus!

Bear and I headed out on tar to a short, somewhat hilly gravel loop near home. With my lack of serious riding I am out of shape so was glad I had my iPhone along as it have me a perfect excuse to stop and take pictures (and rest) along the way.

I had a great ride, albeit short with a few stops. But really, isn't the ride more about stopping and enjoying the scenery than going fast sometimes? Actually, I think going slow is under appreciated when it comes to biking. When it comes to life. So slow I went. And often I stopped to take pictures to remind me that spring is on the way.

Friday, May 17, 2013

On Not Checking Email

In late April my family and I headed to Florida to attend a wedding and to get some time away from the  long, long, winter we were having in Minnesota. We all needed a break from school, work and weather. And I was told by my family that I needed to take a break from checking email, especially my work email.

I gather most people can step away from their computers during vacation. But the thought of not checking email for not just a day but five days just boggled my mind. It didn't seem possible. It didn't seem like a smart thing to do because, you know, someone might NEED to reach me. Someone might have a problem that only I could solve. Something on the website I maintain might break. Something might go wrong...

But my husband, Owen, reminded me that people go on vacation all the time and don't check email. That it's actually okay, even healthy, to step away from work once in awhile. And, Owen gently mentioned, I had been in such a stressed out state over work that it would be better for the family if I stepped away from my email for a few days and just relaxed.

"I'm not that stressed out, am I?" I asked Owen.
If Owen was an eye rolling type of person, he would have rolled his eyes. Instead he said, "Yes" followed by a list of examples of how stressed I've been.

I will spare you the details. It was a long list.

So I set up an "out of office" message on my work email and arranged for other people to keep an eye on the website I maintain while I was gone.

Guess what? I did it. I didn't check my email one time on vacation. In fact, I didn't check it until the day after I got home.

And guess what else? Everyone survived. Nothing broke. The world did not end. And I learned that I can really step away from my email, from work, and it's okay. In fact, my email break wasn't just okay it was great - great for me and for my family.

With the knowledge that, yes, I can survive without checking email constantly,  I got home from vacation I started something new - I set some boundaries around my email.

Now instead of checking email at all hours I check my work email once a day, maybe twice. I am working to set office hours and making progress in telling myself, "I'll deal with that when I'm in my office."

I still get worried that someone HAS to reach me, that the website I maintain is falling apart and someone will be upset with me for not replying right away. But, oh well. I guess I'll deal with that when I'm back in my office :-)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Moving Forward

Wowza! This round of 30 Days of Biking has been a tough one. Here in Minnesota we've had crazy weather instead of a normal spring. A half hour ago when I was sneaking in a ride for Day 17 it was raining. Right now it's sleeting. I've heard another 6 inches or so of snow is on the way.

I'm wondering how people are fairing who are doing 30 Days of Biking for their very first time. I'm guessing some people are frustrated with the weather, not to mention frustrated with the challenge of riding every single day for 30 days, and maybe want to quit.

I've been there. Oh believe me, I've been there. This round of 30 Days of Biking is my 7th. I've been doing this challenge since the very first one in April of 2010. I'm no athlete or super biker. I'm a middle-aged mom of two. Finding time and energy to ride my bike every day for 30 Days of Biking is a struggle. It feels impossible sometimes. And this round, with the crazy weather we've been having, has been extraordinarily tough. But I keep riding away because along the way I learned something that may come in handy for others who are struggling and may want to quit.

I've learned that thinking about riding every day, especially thinking about riding in the cold/rain/snow/sleet, is my worst enemy. I start to psych myself out when I starting thinking about having to get out to ride when it's yucky, about having to put on my biking gear, about breaking away from the stuff going on at home or work to get out for even a quick ride.

Sometimes I get as far as opening the garage door and am about to push my bike out into the rain but I still want to quit. Suddenly I have work to do. A book to read. Chocolate to eat. Laundry to fold. Anything sounds better than riding my bike in the rain! And I almost push my bike back inside.

But I don't. And this is why - I've discovered that the moment I swing my leg over my bike and start moving forward I'm home free. It's at that moment, the moment I move forward, that I realize I have completed my day of 30 Days of Biking. There's no distance minimum to the challenge so I could decide to quit biking right then and there. But I never do. Once I'm all kitted up and moving forward it just seems silly to stop, so I keep on biking. And it feels so good!

Tonight, for instance, I decided to just bike up my block and back and call it a night. But he moment I moved forward I didn't just feel a great accomplishment for completing Day 17, I felt the day's troubles melt away as I rode my bike. And, instead of stopping after riding my self-imposed minimum quarter mile, I just kept riding. In the rain. Up and down my block. Two times. Three. Then four. About a mile.

So if you're doing the 30 Days of Biking challenge for the first time or you've done it before - just do your best to keep on going. Get your gear on, swing your let over your bike, and start moving forward! You're already over halfway there!

Wet weather? I don't have rain gear but my winter parka works well enough at keeping me dryish. My rear fender is a great help, too.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Read and Write. Write and Read.

Last Saturday morning I met Joy Riggs and Christine Lienke, two of my best writing friends, and headed out for a mini road trip to Zumbrota, Minnesota.

Why drive to Zumbrota, a city of just over 3,000 tucked between the farm fields of southeastern Minnesota? Well, it's a great little town with nice shops and a great arts community. I love small towns and Zumbrota is well worth a visit. But our main draw for the day was a talk on writing - Writing from The Middle of Nowhere given by Michael Perry.

I first learned of Michael Perry when I read his book Population 485. I think that was back in 2003 or so. I've since kept an eye on him and have heard him speak on writing and read from his books a couple of times. He's down to earth and funny. He's smart yet not the kind of person who tries to make you feel less than when he talks to you. He, with his plaid shirts and jeans and humble manner, reminds me of my relatives, the hard-working farmers on both sides of my family. I like what Perry has to say and how he says it so when I heard that Perry was going to give a talk at Crossings in Carnegie, a wonderful arts center in Zumbrota, I signed up.

I've been needing a little writing pep talk of sorts. Perry's talk was inspirational and full of great information about the writing life. The biggest thing I got from the talk, though, is something I know but something I haven't been doing. A writer, said Perry, has to read and has to write. A lot.

I've gotten so caught up in working all the time that I feel like it's wrong somehow to sit still and lose myself in a book.

But it's not. As a writer, I need to read. Perry brought this up again and again in his talk. Writers must read and write. Write and read.

So I started reading The War Horse by Michael Morpurgo. It's a book I've wanted to read for about a year now but haven't because I kept telling myself I had more important things to do. Oh, and it's a horse story so I probably have been avoiding it because I know it's going to make me cry. A lot. Horse stories do that to me.

And this morning, instead of checking work emails to start the day, instead of writing website content or getting caught up in my computer, I read a couple more chapters of my book.

And now I'm writing.

Read and Write. Write and Read.

A good way to start the week.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Vacation State of Mind

I love to travel.  I love the adventure of going somewhere new, of finding fun little places for a cup of tea or perfect pastry. I enjoy meeting new people and exploring areas that are off the beaten path. Traveling gives me a chance to see the world and how other people live and come back home with a fresh perspective.

I'm hardly lacking when it comes to travel adventures. I get the chance to go on a big trip to our Short Wing Piper Club convention each year (like our trip to Utah last summer) and have gone many, many other places and have been on amazing adventures. But the silly thing is I have this tendency to compare myself with people who get to travel more than I do. And when I compare I start thinking that I don't get to go anywhere. And that's a total lie.

I've realized a few things lately:

  • I've gone more places and seen more things than most people
  • I am so lucky and truly blessed to have had so many great opportunities to travel!
  • I have a great wanderlust and will always be seeking out ways to go on another adventure

I've also realized that I often lose sight of how good life is right now because I get so engrossed in how good I think life will be if only I could be in England, say, or Grenada riding bikes with my friend Darryl of Loving the Bike.

In other words - I get stuck living in the future instead of the now

So I've decided that I'm going to start pretending I'm on vacation for at least a moment every day - I'm calling this my Vacation State of Mind Adventure. Or Vacation State Project. Or Vacation State Adventures. Or something like that. I'm on vacation right now so can't bother my mind with such minute details.

My plan is to get into a Vacation State of Mind each day and look at the things around me as though I'm a visitor instead of a person who is anxious to go somewhere else. Sometimes I'll take a picture and post it. Other times I'll note these Vacation State of Mind moments on Facebook, my blog or in my journal. At times I'll share my moments with my family and sometimes I'll just keep them to myself.

I'm not going to stop dreaming of my next vacation. I'm going to keep putting my change in my Italy Box and keep planning for that trip to Italy my family is going to take. But while I'm dreaming and planning and saving I'm going to remember to be happy where I'm at right now.

To note my first Vacation State I took a picture of the beautiful frosty morning that greeted me and my kids as we walked to the bus. We saw the frosty trees around us and said, "Wow! Think of how cool this would look to people who have never seen winter in Minnesota." Then we thought about how lucky we are to live in Minnesota and see the frosty morning ourselves. And we smiled :-)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tea Kettle Cleaning

I’m at a writing retreat with two of my writing friends, Joy and Chris. Soon after settled in our retreat space, the lovely Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota, Chris and Joy got right to work on their projects. If we had a retreat leader (we don’t, this is a self-led retreat), the leader would say that Chris and Joy are ideal retreat goers - hardworking, industrious, focused. If said teacher handed out grades Chris and Joy would get an A.
Anderson Center picture compliments of The Anderson Center,

I, on the other hand, would only get a B. But the B wouldn’t be for my writing. It would be for Tea Kettle Cleaning.

Because this is what happened to me when I settled into my room to write last night. I looked over three essays I started a while back and concluded that they are not worth editing or even looking at ever again. But then I realized that I haven’t written anything other than blog entries and content for a website project in about six months, so it made sense that writing seemed impossible, that I would think my stories were not worth working on.

So I went down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Because I write best when I have a cup of tea. Hopeful that the cup of tea and new setting would inspire me, I brought my notebook and pen down to the kitchen. Maybe, I thought, since my essays were too bad to edit, I could at least start writing something new. 

But then I noticed that the tea kettle was terribly tarnished and dirty. So I took out the baking soda and a started cleaning the outside of the kettle. Sadly, even after considerable effort, it didn’t clean up to a nice shine - that’s why I only get a B in tea kettle cleaning - it is, however, much shinier than it was before. 

It’s possible that cleaning the tea kettle was simply my way of avoiding the hard work of writing. I would say that was true if I would have continued cleaning the house (I will admit I had to stop myself from dusting the radiator and arranging the spice cupboard). But it’s more likely that the act of cleaning the tea kettle was what I needed to get my physical self settled enough so I could engage my brain and write.

Because write I did. I wrote longhand until well past eleven in the evening. I got up and wrote more this morning. I even edited a bit of one of my too-bad-to-bother-with essays. They’ve totally taken on a new form and I’m a bit overwhelmed at where they are taking me. And now I’m kind of worried and am asking myself questions like, “Will you ever be able to finish anything, Myrna?” and “Why can’t you focus?” and, well, other not very helpful things.

Hmmm, maybe it’s time for me to clean the tea kettle a bit more and make it all shiny, try to get an A in Tea Kettle Cleaning this time.

Or maybe I just need to write through the worry and see what happens.

Here I go...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Find a Door

My fat bike rides as of late have been slow and frustrating. For awhile we didn't have much snow at all. Then we had some rain and ice, followed by some good snow. But with the ice underneath the new snow was slippery making for one really big wipe out and several rides where my big fat tires just slipped around.

My last two rides have gone kind of like this: push bike through snow, get on, pedal, slip around, tip over, get up, push, get on, pedal, slip around, maybe not tip over this time, pedal, tip, get on, pedal, slip, pedal, tip...and so on.

I was getting kind of scared of getting hurt and really, really frustrated because I wasn't having much fun with my fat bike. On top of that, I'd gotten to the point where I just figured I'm a bad rider. But I was also thinking that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't terrible and I was dealing with some less than ideal snow conditions.

So I figured I'd better talk to Ben, my local bike shop owner guy from Milltown Cycles, just to make sure I wasn't as bad of a rider as I was feeling I was. Or at least to get some encouragement.

As luck would have it, Ben walked into the coffee shop this morning where I also happened to be, so I grabbed him and asked, "Is it the snow or is it me?" My question was cryptic but Ben understood what I was asking. He commiserated with me at the poor snow conditions and confirmed that, yes, the snow is slick underneath.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Whew, I thought, I guess I'm not terrible at fat biking after all. Okay, I'm not anywhere close to good at fat biking but not being terrible is all I'm really after right now.

Then Ben said, "if you keep running into a wall, find a door." Or something like that. Maybe he said, "find a door to go through." The point is, I got Ben's point which was, hey, Myrna, if you're not having fun riding where you're riding because the conditions are poor, find another place to ride so you can start having fun again.

Ben mentioned one way I could "find a door" and have some fun - many of the mountain bike trails have great riding conditions right now and I could ride them. That wasn't going to help me out today, though, as hitting mountain bike trails means hauling my bike some distance and I won't be able to make that happen for at least several days. At least I have something to look forward to, I thought.

But tonight I found another door! The snowplow plowed our grass runway this afternoon creating perfect snow for riding - about 3 inches of well packed snow atop a layer of grass - and Owen and I headed out for a quick ride with no slipping or tipping. The snow was crunchy and made fun noises as we rode through it. I even rode through some deeper snow following snowmobile tracks and managed well.

And as a fog settled in and the moon shone bright, we pedaled our way through the door to fun fat biking again.

Thanks, Ben :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Slow ride

We have about six inches of fresh snow on the ground at last! Trouble is, it's very slippery to ride in. I got out yesterday with the intent of riding through the new fluffy stuff and quickly realized that wasn't going to work well so I got out on the road instead and rode in tire tracks.

Today I decided to get out on my snowshoes and create a fat bike track in my back yard. I tromped around the yard a few times to pack things down a bit then grabbed Bear and tried out my new track.

Uh, it didn't work very well. I spent a lot of time jumping off my bike and pushing my way around the back yard. What biking I managed to do was slow biking to say the least. I worked my way around my back yard track and checked Map My Ride on my iPhone to see how far I'd gone. What? Only .19 miles? Geez. I kept at it until I logged a half mile. That half mile was probably the toughest half mile I've ever spent on a bike.

I'm assuming my slow speed and difficulty getting around are due to:

  • the conditions - slippery, deep snow
  • tire pressure - maybe I could have let some air out for better traction
  • physical condition - I've been under the weather and not feeling that strong and...
  • I'm just not that great of a biker

Oh well. I'll keep on fat biking anyway. I'm not going to get any better sitting on my butt in front of the TV.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Snow Fort!

The kids have the day off from school. At our very late breakfast we brainstormed on what to do on their day off. Go to the mall, watch movies and play Minecraft were high on the list. And while we considered each idea we did something far better - we went outside and played in the snow.

Early stages of snow fort building. Even Rocket is helping out.
The kids decided to build a snow fort. We found three plastic storage boxes to use as snow block forms and the kids headed outside with great plans for their fort. Owen is working from home today so he and I headed out for a quick fat bike ride in the slushy snow. By the time we got back the kids had a good start on their fort. Then I joined in and helped Ryan with snow block production while Rose kept working on building. We worked outside for almost two hours before heading in for a late lunch.

The snow fort is getting bigger!
Getting outside in the fresh air and snow has been a great cure to the stir crazies and a great way to get creative learn some stuff, too. The snow fort building process got us talking about architecture, building materials, assembly lines, and estimating for materials. But mostly the snow fort building process got us all outside having some fun together.

The kids headed back outside to work on their fort. Owen just came up to my office to tell me that Ryan came inside with this message, "the snow fort building is going too slow without Mom."

So I guess it's time to head back outside and have some fun.
Catch you later. There's a snow fort to build!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fresh Snow - Ice Below

We had a nice dusting of beautiful snow last night and at a balmy 10 degrees F this morning (compared to the 1degree we had last night) I couldn't wait to get out and ride my Salsa Beargrease, Bear.

I took Rocket, my dog, with me for just over a 2 mile ride/run. He loves it when I take him out biking. We've figured out how to work together so he runs far enough away to stay out of my way and he's responsive enough that he comes when I whistle when he gets too far. The only frustration is I have to take off my glove in order to give him a treat when he comes when called. Oh well, I want to give him positive reinforcement so it's worth having my hand get cold for a few seconds.
The fresh snow was so nice to bike on today. We had just a dusting of light fluffy stuff. And guess what? There's ice hiding underneath some of that white fluffy stuff! I discovered there were slippery patches within moments of setting out on my ride so I should have been more careful. But then I biked over this nice white spot at a pretty good clip (imagine that, me going too fast!), realized I was on ice more suitable for ice skating than fat biking, and I was down in an instant.

Apparently I am skilled at falling over well. I've really only fallen over on a bike once (that was a clipless pedal incident on my road bike. Doh!) so it's not like I have a lot of practice in falling well. But so far I've managing to just fall over and not break my fall or brace myself by, say, sticking my arm out to try to stop myself. That's good! I mean, it's not good that I fell over but it's good that I manage to fall over and not get hurt. Well, my knee hurts a little but it appears that it came in contact with my bike and not the ice. Good news is that on the rest of my ride I avoided ice for the most part and when I found I was on it I was able to ride through the skids. Yay me!
Yee Haw! Slippery ice.
Bear did not land where he is. I set him there on my return so I could take a picture of where I fell. 

Anyway, so I'm a bit sore. Oh well. Even with a fall and a blustery wind I had a great ride. My dog is happy to get a 2 mile run. I'm happy to get some exercise and fresh air plus I'm logging bike miles in January which is just cool all by itself! And my miles all count towards a bike milage challenge I'm doing with a friend of mine who lives in Washington state. More on that later!

Enjoy the day!