Long Weekend Wonders

Nothing like an extra day of weekending. In my neck of the woods, I had sun and clear skies. I had to apply sunscreen for my ride. First time in a while!  I had time for a ride or three. It was enough to get me excited about summer riding. My commute got the weekend off. My other bikes got a little time to play. Time to ride with no real plan is the best way to relax. Drinking in the scenery, the sun and feeling the topography under my tires. There’s nothing like it.

 

The wonders of riding a bike don’t have to be limited to long weekends. Tomorrow I’m back to my commute and I have a taste for summer on my bike.

Get out there and ride!
Happy trails,

Bike Goddess

Sun-sational Day for a Ride

IMG_0616You know that Mae West quote, “When I’m good I’m very good but when I’m bad, I’m better.” With a few little tweaks to the wording, that’s how I feel about the weather in the Pacific Northwest. When it’s bad it’s wretched and unfair and you want to fist pump the heavens and tell the weather gods to cut it out. But when it’s good you feel like you’ve been cured from something akin to the plague or Dengue fever and you can hear the Hallelujah chorus. It’s as if the gods finally have a quorum and voted in favor of you so the sun shines and all the world smiles. You think this is it, the weather will never be that bad ahhhggainn— wait, was that a rain drop. What? No, not again. You shuffle through your bag and put on the dreaded rain pants.

Even though the morning started out cold and foggy, by the time I got to work it was sunny.

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Today I saw blue skies and for a period this morning there wasn’t a cloud to be seen. It was a weather miracle. Another front is moving through and as I write I can hear the wind’s take-no-prisoners attitude. The neighbors’ wind chime sounds like a toddler got ahold of them and it beating those bells into submission. I’m remembering that a few short hours ago I was enjoying 66 degrees and a light breeze. I’m recalling that I took a 16 mile detour to get home for the primary purpose of staying out in the sun a bit longer. I worked up a bit of a sweat. There’s that other Mae West quote, “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.” Some things are more worthwhile for having been difficult. Some days surviving a bike commute despite the elements is worth it. Some days however you just want to enjoy the ride without the struggle against all the elements of nature. You want to see the powder blue skies and feel the sun.

It was  glorious day to ride and I’m greedy for more. Until then. I’ll enjoy my pictures. Of the sun-sational day.

Here’s to warmer temps, blue skies and the sun.

 

How’s the spring weather in your part of the world?

Stay safe and get out there and ride.

Thanks for reading.

Bike Goddess

 

 

 

Braking for Spring

Last Monday we packed up our car and headed to the coast. We’re only about 90 minutes away from the coastal town of Astoria. It’s named for American investor John Jacob Astor. It’s a small, gritty town that has a great Riverwalk and some amazing sights and sounds.

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View from the Lighthouse boat called The Columbia.

Spring break is a time to put on the brakes and take some time out and maybe even away. I don’t always get out of town. Spring break has a way of sneaking up on me every year and I neglect to make plans. This year I started early and I knew we could do something by either heading North to Seattle or South to the coast. My husband enjoys everything near or on the water, and I just wanted a change of scenery. Astoria became our destination. We started our stay with a bike ride along the Riverwalk.

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Max in his basket on my bike. View of Astoria-Megler Bridge built in 1966.

The Riverwalk is about 5 miles total and hugs the banks of the Columbia River. It’s spectacular and was the highlight of the trip for me. I could have gone back and forth a million times and seen something new each time. Between the creaking docks and the choking sounds of the seal lions it was rich and entertaining.

Here’s the amazing thing about the Riverwalk—It was a Burlington Northern Railroad and built back in the 1890s when Astoria was a real industrial town, and railroads are only built on flat land, and the only flat land in Astoria hugs is right along the mighty Columbia River. I love Rails-to-Trails stories but this one is even better since the placement of the railroad helped preserve the Riverwalk for today’s use. Bonus!

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A fitting picture on the Riverwalk.
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The end of the road. Bike ready to head back.

I’m grateful we had Monday because Tuesday was reserved for exploring Fort Stevens and Fort Canby and then Wednesday we visited the Maritime Museum and Fort Clatsop. Plus the weather decided to have a temper tantrum and wind and rain made bike riding dangerous.

I consider spring break a time to put on the brakes and relax. My Riverwalk bike ride is added to my list of happy places. Such a lovely few hours to remind me that I live in one of the most exquisite parts of the world. Another view of the same might river came on Thursday when I took my Kona for a spin.

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Go down, down, down the hill and through the Safeway parking lot to the Riverwalk.
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Different section of the river.
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Clouds in the river. 

Seeing the Columbia from Astoria as it spills into the Pacific Ocean gave me a renewed appreciation for something I see everyday and take for granted.

Maybe that’s why we all need to put the brakes on our day to day routines and look around at the beauty all around.

Happy trails.

Be safe our there!
Bike Goddess

 

 

 

 

Belle Days

Remember that post… about the new bike? In the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity of putting a few miles on the new bike, 125 to be exact. My spring break was a stay-cation and my goal each day was to ride at least 15 miles. The week was mostly about Belle, the Trek Stache 5.  The weather was agreeable enough to warrant a roadie day too, but ideally, I wanted to take Belle off road and see how she handles in different terrain. Did I mention I couldn’t have ordered better weather? A few days were in the mid and high 70s.

I had a blast riding the Stache around town and introducing her to all the spots that are made for a fatty. I rode in dirt, sand, and gravel: loose and packed, through potholes of all sizes and in grass. I also tried hay, bark dust and a few puddles. This bike is more fun than I ever expected. I’m head over wheels about how she moves on a path. I’ll ride to the summit of a mountain and shout:  I. Love. This. Bike!

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She enjoys every terrain type and veers off road like a puppy sniffing a path. I find myself looking for challenging terrain just to see how she handles. When people describe a bike as agile, I always get a picture of a bike dancing like Gene Kelly in my mind. This bike is limber, nimble and ready for anything ahead.

Here’s a little video of one day :

There’s this long stretch of road at about :47 which I rarely use on any bike. On this bike, I only notice how well the bike handles and how I’ve missed being on the road. The bike makes you feel topnotch on any topography. At 1:47, I decided to dive into some gravel and roam around a construction area. Ridiculously fun! I let the bike propel through holes and even the slightest pedal action had me secure in whatever lay ahead. Cut me a slice of awesome because it was fun, fun, fun!

Want to know how train tracks feel? Like absolutely nothing! The bike makes me feel like I am a kid again. I thought the tires might be too much for just riding around. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Three-inch tires are amazing. First, you don’t have to worry about anything. It reminds me of the joke, “Where does a 500 pound (fill in the blank) sit? Anywhere it wants. A bike like this will go anywhere and climb anything. It has one speed: go!

Spring break was a teaser. I ready for summer and more time riding Belle.

Hope you’re having fun and riding the day away.

Happy trails.

BG

 

 

Lighter Side of Life

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I’m not sure why people talk about as if we could change it tomorrow. We’ve had this whole time change, Daylight Savings Time, thing since 1918 and it really would take an act of Congress to change it. Regardless of whether Ben Franklin came up with it as a joke or not, it’s here. Frankly, I like it. It reminds me of everything that’s good and wonderful about waking up after the long nap of winter. Sure, we lose an hour of sleep, but we gain light and that means more time to ride my bike. It means I can dawdle a bit on that ride home. I won’t be chasing sunset.

We inch our way closer to long, hot summer days of riding. Oh, wait… that’s right. The hot, hot summer. Ugh! My favorite month for bike riding is October. That’s the best month in the Northwest since it’s a wonderful balance of cold mornings and warm afternoons. The leaves are changing and the intense rays of the summer sun are waning. However, we have to go through the dog days of summer to get to October. As Robert Frost says, “The best way out is through.”

The greatest thing about summer is getting out early and riding the day away. If the weather report says it’s going to hit 90º then I head home early before getting caught out there in the danger time. I like that I can travel with my phone and a CO2  cartridge. I can travel light and not pack for a commute but for pleasure. It’s liberating!

Running any and all errands by bike is another bonus of the summer months. I don’t even think twice about it. Need something at the store, I’m on my bike faster than a fireman  and doing whatever needs to get done.

The challenge during the summer months is that my work routine is different. I’m not commuting to and from work everyday, and I have to make a point of figuring out my routes and joining group rides to push myself. A challenge I gladly accept.

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I ride all the time, but there are months in the great Northwest that are more conducive to riding than others. What about you? Do you have a favorite month of the year for riding your bike? Tell me about it.

Have a great week out there!

Be safe, be seen.

Enjoy the light!

Bike Goddess

Getting in Gear

Last year I joined Strava. I like tracking my rides because the data is illuminating. I had been using MapMyRide, but it seemed like most of my friends were on Strava and they loved it. Peer pressure took over. All the cool kids were using Strava and I wanted to be one of them. I tried the free account for a few months and then went Premium at the tail end of 2014.

Why bother? Two reasons: motivation and data. In 2015, I started the year with ride #1 and ended with ride #303. The data says I completed more than 303 rides, but that’s what I named them. There were rides that were not numbered, but that’s fine. You can choose your own system. I decided to start 2016 the same way; ride #1 was today.

Also, when you see how many miles you ride every week, month and year, you see your progress as a rider. Essentially, you compete against yourself. Either app (and I’m sure there are others) provide features that keep you riding. You can determine your weekly mileage goals or annual totals. Plus there’s a community of riders out there who have your back. I love it when another rider gives me kudos on a ride.  Also, I enjoy seeing their routes. I wish I knew more about all its intricacies and I’d love to have a manual to explore some of the features, but most of what I’ve learned in the last year has been by experimenting or looking up stuff online. For example, the graphic above is an annual summary provided by another app or extension I found here, and it uses the Strava data.

My goals for 2016 are to keep riding and recording my rides. I’m not sure about my total mileage yet. I’m setting the bar for 4000 miles. My Kona Roundabout gets the most use use since it’s my commuter bike. I have Luna, a Cannonade Synapse road bike which is a fair weather bike. No fenders, just speed. There’s the Trek Portland and it was my commuter up until 2012. I don’t ride the Trek much and I’m considering selling, but it’s a good backup bike.

I love bikes and I love riding. Your gear can be your kit, clothing, shoes, your bike, bags and tools but one tool in particular that allows you to quantify your riding. I use Strava for everything, even walking my dog Max. It’s a new year and it might be time to explore a tool to help you track your rides.

Strava is not paying me to sell you on the idea although this post does sound like a pitch. I was dubious about making the move from MapMyRide to Strava and now I can’t imagine a simple ride without Strava. When I travel I try to rent a bike or use a city’s bike share and tracking my rides is becoming a sort of keepsake for me. It’s a great way to share your
adventures and remember your routes.

Thanks for reading. Have a great day and get out there and ride!