True Confessions

I’m not riding my bike today.

I want to want to.  I really do.  But it is 13 degrees with a wind chill of -1.

I want to enjoy riding in the cold.  I want to embrace biking in all seasons.

I thought that having the appropriate gear for winter would make biking just as awesome as the rest of the year.  But to be honest… I don’t enjoy it.  I don’t mind into the mid to low 30s.

It’s not necessarily fun, but I don’t really mind it and most days I feel like I warm up after awhile.

But when it’s below 32 it’s just not fun.  I can’t breathe and my chest hurts and I then I get a cramp in my side because I can’t get a deep breath and my nose runs like a faucet and my glasses fog up and I alternate which fingers I can’t feel even inside my gloves and when I get into the garage at my building and hop off my bike I feel like I’m walking on bricks because I can’t feel my feet.

Even despite all of that I was planning to bike today because I need it mentally.  I figured having to go in for a meeting to discuss funeral plans would put biking in the cold in perspective.  But then Homie told me that it’s too cold for him to ride.  He rode last week when his sweat froze to his collar and thought it was awesome, so if he says it’s too cold to bike it’s too cold.

However, I am insanely pumped for snow this week!!!   I don’t think I will take my bike out because my bike is a city bike.  It’s more of an asphalt in the tropics type ride, but I’ve got snow boots and pants ready to go for a walk.  And possibly I could be convinced to take my bike out maybe.

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Who Am I and What Am I Doing With This Blog?

(I wrote briefly about this a while ago)  I used to blog on another WordPress site.  I actually had what I would consider to be a pretty large number of followers considering I just wrote about the random everyday type of things that occurred.
But life became a series of extremely painful events.  Some of those events were mine and some weren’t.
Some of what I needed to get off my chest was too raw to share with people who knew me IRL.  Some of it was too personal.  Some of it brought me pain, but the events weren’t mine to share.  And so I couldn’t say any of it.
I couldn’t write.  Until I reached the point where I couldn’t not write either.
My solution was a new blog where no one knows my name.
I’ve been posting on this one sporadically for a little over two years now.
I don’t know what I write about.  I find myself torn because I want to be anonymous, I want to be able to write and work through the events of the past few years.  I also want to document what’s happening in my life and be able to be open and include pictures or references to things around me.
I’ll admit that I’m scared.  I’m scared that someone I know or work with will stumble across my blog and they’ll recognize my picture or something and then they will know things about me that I would never tell them.  That I would never trust them enough to say.    And then where would that leave me?
As I was trying to pick up the broken pieces of my life I realized that I had become a one-dimensional person.  I only had one goal for my life, and everything revolved around that single goal.  When that derailed it left me with nothing.  So I decided to make a list of characteristics that would describe the type of person I wanted to be.  Then I worked that list into a list of goals for 2015.  I had planned to write regularly about my progress on those goals.
But one goal drowned out the others, biking!  And now I’ve been writing a fair amount about biking.  I love it.  It’s the best.  It’s one of my favorite parts of my life hands down.  I want to be able to share pictures of my bikes, and myself with my bikes, and Homie and I biking, and places that I go.
I don’t know how that fits into the original purpose of this blog though.  I actually wanted to bike to help work through some of the same issues that prompted me to start this blog.  But now that the two have merged, I don’t know where I’m going with this.

Over Thinking Everything

I’m officially freaking out about how to ride my bike in this weather.   Admittedly, by “this weather” I mean cool crisp mornings in the 40s.  I know.  I’m a wimp.  I won’t even make excuses.

I didn’t ride my bike at all last week.  That was actually because I only went in to the office 3 days, two of them I had my laptop, and one I had to drive because I dropped my sister off at the airport.  But I felt a tiny smidge of relief that I had reasons not to bike because I hate to be cold.

My new bike isn’t ready for commuting yet and my old one doesn’t have a rack so I have been riding all summer with a backpack that has one torn shoulder strap.

Between my pondering about lifestyle choices and a horrible commute thanks to Metro I found myself determined to take the steps I need to keep commuting by bike.

I decided at a minimum I need to buy a jacket, gloves, and panniers.  I don’t have to figure out snow or ice just yet.  I just need to have the proper clothing to be comfortable in 40 degrees and move on from there.  I told myself by Sunday evening I needed to have purchased those three items, no excuses.

But here’s the thing… I have no idea what I’m doing.  I do, but I’m torn between wanting to get exactly what I really want and picking out the perfect thing and not wanting to spend a ton of money on any one item.  Because it’s too warm for heavy winter gear, but if I actually am awesome and keep riding then I’ll also need some true winter gear as well.  I don’t want to blow our budget now on fall/spring gear.

I decided just to get basic all-purpose panniers for my bike.  But I couldn’t pull the trigger because they are not exactly what I want.  I decided to move on to buying a jacket.  Then I realized I have no clue, absolutely no clue what to buy.  I knew that I needed something that would be appropriate for around 30-50 degrees and that allowed movement.

I did a little research and thought I had found a few possible options.  But then I came across something about hard-shell versus soft-shell and I realized I don’t even know what that means!!!

I’m sure I’m completely over-thinking this, but I feel dumb for spending money on something when I’m clearly way out of my element here.  And I feel dumb for being so out of my element buying clothing appropriate for an activity that I used to spend hours doing.

I would be more comfortable going out and haggling to purchase a car right now than buying clothes for biking.  I know enough about cars, I know enough to know what I don’t know, and I know where to go for answers for the things I don’t know.  That would be less stressful than trying to set myself up for continuing to bike through this winter.

I feel like an idiot.  I didn’t even begin to look at gloves.  I’m positive I’m over thinking all of this, but I’m also worried about the things I don’t know that I don’t know.

Coffeeneuring Trip 1 – Weekend Two

We did our first Coffeeneuring 2015 trip.  Homie and I both needed library books and I wanted to take my new bike out for a test ride so we made a quick trip to the library then rode our books home, dropped them off and headed to Old Town for a coffeeneuring date.

Our theme for Coffeeneuring 2015 is “local places”.  There are so many local shops and businesses that I have never ventured into around here.  I decided this is the perfect excuse to explore a number of these places.

This is actually the first time I have ever biked down to Old Town.  I don’t know why.  I think in my head I thought it would be too crowded.  Sometimes I find the bike ride to Gravelly Point to be slightly less than enjoyable because I spend the ride focusing on the logistics of navigating people and passing rather than the scenery.  I assumed it would be even worse down by Old Town.  Not at all.  There were so many beautiful spots where I could have pulled over and had the view completely to myself.  I encountered fewer than five pedestrians and only a handful of other bikers.

We made a stop at Wheel Nuts bike shop on our way into Old Town.  They quickly adjusted my brake pads and trued the rear wheel on my new bike.

The Details

Locations:

  1. Lavender Moon Cupcakery 116 S Royal St. Alexandria, VA
  2. Starbucks, Alexandria, VA
  3. Alexandria City Hall & Market Square 301 King St. Alexandria VA 

Drinks:

Just plain coffee to go with our cupcakes.

Bike-friendliness:

As a whole yes, although there aren’t really places to lock up your bike and the sidewalks in many places are too narrow to lock them to a street sign.  There was room in front of Lavender Moon Cupcakery to lean them up against the front of the building while we went in, but at Starbucks we had to lock them together in an alley.  

Mileage:

Our total mileage including our trip to the library on our way to coffee and cupcakes was about 13 miles.

After Wheel Nuts we headed to Lavender Moon Cupcakery.

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IMG_4267Is this not the cutest place?  I want to spend the afternoon here munching cupcakes with a book.

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Beautiful Cupcakes!

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Center – Peanut Butter Cupcakes!

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Right Half – Hummingbird Cupcakes

I got the peanut butter cupcake (middle picture) and Homie got the hummingbird (bottom picture on the right with the walnut).

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It was actually kind of chilly in the shade so we picked a sunny spot to enjoy our coffee and cupcakes.

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Unfortunately, I put the cupcake box into Homie’s panniers and somehow managed to tip the cupcakes over so they weren’t nearly as beautiful as they were when we got them.

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I totally jacked the cupcakes carrying them in the panniers.

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Overall it was a successful trip.  It was an awesome date on a beautiful day!

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Being Satisfied With Your Best

Last week I only rode my bike to the shuttle bus that runs between the metro station closest to where I live and the metro station closest to where I work on Monday and Tuesday instead of biking the whole way to work.

I had a pretty significant back injury 5 years ago that wasn’t treated until 4 years ago and resulted in finally having surgery 3 years ago.  The recovery from the surgery was a year-long process and it has only been since about March of this year that I have felt “good’ or “normal” all the time.

I’ve been carrying my clothes, lunch, purse, U-lock, and coffee in my backpack every day to and from work.  I had started noticing some pain in my back and I was worried about it, but choosing to ignore it.  When I took the week off at the beginning of September my back pain disappeared and I felt great.  I realized it must be the weight from my backpack every day.

Over the last few weeks the pain has increased enough that I’ve been paying attention on a daily basis.  So last week I opted to only ride 3.5-4 miles to the shuttle instead of biking the whole way.  I spent all day Monday and Tuesday morning beating myself up over it.  I was so discouraged and disappointed in myself for taking the bus instead of riding.

And then I read this: http://camillestyles.com/wellness/living-kindly/when-to-stop-apologizing/   It was exactly what I needed to hear.  Especially this

let’s move away from apologizing when we’re out there trying our hardest and focus more on what you accomplished.

I may not have biked the whole way to work, but last year at this time I didn’t bike to work at all and I had just started exercising regularly.  I only rode occasionally.  Two years ago I was only able to exercise in very controlled circumstances.  Three years ago I was still under very strict restrictions of movement which included no bending or twisting my torso at all for three months, no lifting more than 5 pounds, Vicodin every four hours, and Valium on top of that if needed.

I biked to the bus, worked all day, took the bus part way home, biked the rest, cooked dinner and did it all over again the next day.

The article reminded me that I’m allowed to be okay with doing my best, even if my best isn’t quite what I would like it to be.  It’s okay to be glad that I biked 3.5 miles each way instead of nothing.  It’s okay to be satisfied with doing what I can.

A New Addition

I started writing a status update on my current projects.  That got me thinking and even though I had come to the decision not to buy another bike right now I decided to check into what a brand new bike would cost for comparisons sake.

As I looked I found myself  disappointed because no one (that I could find or that wouldn’t be worth more than my car) is manufacturing a bike that is similar to my current bike, just new.

I was disappointed because I love my bike. So much. Too much.  I just want my current bike to be my fast bike.  I don’t really want to load it down with accessories for commuting/trips.

  
I fully recognize that there is something outrageous about not wanting to “load down” a 44 pound steel frame bike.  I get that.  But it feels fast to me.

I didn’t realize how ridiculously heavy my bike is until this summer.  A friend was working on it for me and he referred to my bike as “a tank” and mentioned that were I to get into a collision with a SmartCar my bike would win.

Since I haven’t been able to find a used bike for a reasonable price I decided I would just move forward with making some changes to my current bike to make it more suitable for commuting.

As I was pondering where I am in all my current endeavors, I decided just to take a look at what a new bike might cost.  When I found myself less than thrilled at what’s on the market I decided to take another peek at Craigslist in case there were any new posts that I might be interested in.

And then I saw it…

   
   
I knew we had to be friends and this bike needed to come be a part of my family. 

I’m so excited to work on it and get it decked out.  Homie and I have been tossing around the idea of doing a long ride Columbus Day weekend so I’m hoping I can get everything tweaked to ride this one. 

For now it’s in the living room where it belongs. 

   
 

Dear DC,

I love you. 

I was waffling on whether or not I wanted to go to a remembrance ceremony on Friday.  I opted not to, but decided to mark the day on my own by going on a bike ride before I rode to work.  

I decided just to bask in the beauty of this city and take pictures as I went.