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Easter weekend bike ride

Easter weekend bike ride

April is a tough month to ride in Edmonton, but I’m going to give 30 Days Of Biking another whirl.

Unfortunately right now the roads in my neighborhood look like this:

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… and the bottom of my driveway looks like this:

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…and I don’t have a winter bike yet, and studded tires won’t fit under the fenders of my Raleigh-built 3-speed lovelies. The roads inside my neighborhood will look like this until they melt. Many sidewalks are not much better, because the many houses under construction, awaiting purchase, or with snowbird owners mean long stretches of sidewalk are left unshoveled. Typically, in a city where people use brooms instead of shovels to clear their sidewalks, that would only be a nuisance, and so I’ve been considering winterizing a vintage folder or shopper to extend my cycling season. With a couple of dumps of wet heavy snow this winter, it means the terrain is pretty rough right now.

Luckily the multi-use paths in my neighborhood have been plowed by the city, and I have wonderful neighbors who shovel, so I can ride on the sidewalks for errands until the residential roads are clear. Not having studded tires will pose a problem if when the weather turns colder again, but I can use a regular bike for now. So, today I topped up the tires, oiled the chains, and took my daughter for a ride down the MUP alongside Rabbit Hill Road to the shops at the corner of 23rd Avenue. We had a particular mission in mind…

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Hot cross buns from Prairie Mill Bakery. Mission accomplished. (How lucky am I to have them in my neighborhood?)

We also crossed the road to go to the drug store. Apart from a rack hidden in a snowbank, some mud, and a couple of large puddles to roll through, the conditions were lovely, sunny and above zero. Who’s to complain?

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30 Days of Biking – Things Fall Apart

30 Days of Biking – Things Fall Apart

#30 Days of Biking has now ended. I did quite well for the first 2 weeks, but the number of days that I rode dropped significantly after that. First the chart:

Week 3

Day 15:  Sunday 4/15  Distance:  0 miles
And on the 15th day, she gardened.

Day 16:  Monday 4/16  Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute. Rainy commute, but at least my new plants got some water. ‘Cause I forgot to do that after planing them.

Day 17:  Tuesday 4/17  Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute. Seattle Survival tip #2:  Always bring your rain pants.

Day 18:  Wednesday 4/18  Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute. Sun. Bike. Good.

Day 19:  Thursday 4/19  Distance:  6 miles
Half a commute. Discovered my front tire was flat just as I was about to head home on my evening commute. Had evening events and just didn’t have time to change it, so I called for back up. As in, calling Mr. Jen and whining for a ride.

Day 20:  Friday 4/20  Distance:  0 miles
Vacation day. Took the train to Portland!

Day 21:  Saturday 4/21  Distance:  3.5 miles
Rented a family tandem bike from Clever Cycles and rode to a nearby park and coffee shop. It was hardly an extensive tour of Portland, but fun never the less.

Week 3 Total:  45.5 miles

Week 4


Day 22:  Sunday 4/22  Distance:  0 miles
Portland is exactly as bike-crazy as people say, but I was just an observer, not a participant.

Day 23:  Monday 4/23  Distance:  0 miles
Had a neighborhood greenways event in an unfamiliar neighborhood after work, so I took the bus. Oh, the irony.

Day 24:  Tuesday 4/24  Distance:  0 miles
Took the bus to work. Eventually fixed the flat tire, with the help of a kind co-worker. Then discovered that the back tire had a scary-looking bulge in it. By this point, I’d had enough, so I took the bus home.

Day 25:  Wednesday 4/25  Distance: 12 miles
Regular commute. Took the city bike to work. Getting caught in the rain doesn’t take away from the fun of riding after so many days away.

Day 26:  Thursday 4/26  Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute. City bike!

Day 27:  Friday  4/27  Distance:  0 miles
Telecommuted. Good lunch time plans, but they didn’t involve my bike.

Day 28:  Saturday 4/28  Distance:  5 miles
Took my son to tee ball via the Piccolo. It was a fun trip, but my shifter broke on the way home. This has just not been my month.

Day 29:  Sunday 4/29  Distance:  0 miles
Errands by car, including fetching and fixing bikes.

Day 30:  Monday 4/30  Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute. And the month ends with a tail wind!

Week 4 Total:  41 miles

Monthly total:  218 miles

Sometimes schedules, life and mechanical problems keep me off my bike. I miss a few days every month for one reason or another, but this was unusual to have so many issues in a two month period. In retrospect, I’m surprised, but not disappointed. When I decided to participate in 30 Days of biking, I decided to document how I use bikes for transportation & fun, but not to make a special effort. That meant no rides around the block to meet an arbitrary standard*. Are there any lessons? Well, sometimes you need to be flexible. It really helps to have back up transportation options – being able to take the bus home or get a ride with someone else can make difficult days go much more smoothly. Even if every trip can’t be made by bike, far more trips can be than I ever imagined a couple of years ago.   Finally, though I need to get better at changing flat tires, I hope I don’t have the occasion to do so very often.

*See? That was a guiding principle, not laziness. Honestly.

30 Days of Biking: Week 2

30 Days of Biking: Week 2

Week 2:

Day 8:  Sunday 4/8   Distance:  0.25 miles
Wanted to take Spencer’s bike to a trail for some independent riding, but couldn’t get both bikes on the car rack at the same time*. Sadly, there’s no route to get there that is safe enough for a 6 year old. Rode up and down the block instead.

Day 9:  Monday 4/9  Distance: 12 miles
Regular commute. When the weather’s this nice, my commute is one of the best parts of my day.

Day 10:  Tuesday 4/10  Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute.  Had a happy ride home, chatting with a co-worker and fellow neighborhood greenways fan.

Day 11:  Wednesday 4/11  Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute.  The tiny new leaves give the trees a delicate and lacy air.

Day 12:  Thursday 4/12  Distance:  12 miles

Regular commute.  Riding a bike to work makes it easy to stop and visit with a friend. And admire her new bike!
Day 13:  Friday 4/13  Distance:  16 miles
Worked from home, but doing errands mid-day was a perfect excuse for get on my bike.
Day 14:  Saturday 4/14  Distance:  12 miles
Had a day full of kid activities, but doing it by bike makes me happy too.
Total distance:  76.25 miles

*I think I’ve figured out how to fix this. If it works, I’ll post it.

30 Days of Biking

30 Days of Biking

30 Days of Biking is an internet game, where you ride your bike every day for a month and blog, tweet or post on facebook about your rides. Since I ride a bike almost every day, I thought it would be fun to track what I really do. I don’t expect to collect any impressive totals for distance, cargo-carrying capacity or much else. However, I thought it would be kind of interesting to see how riding a bike does (or does not) fit into my life. I tweet it everyday, but will just post a weekly summary here, because writing every day is just too much work.

Week 1:

Day 1: Sunday 4/1/12    Distance:  0.5 miles
Rode up & down the closed street to start teaching Spencer to ride on-street.

Day 2: Monday 4/2/12   Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute on a beautifully sunny day. 14 cyclists waiting for the Ballard Locks to open as a big gravel barge came through.

Day 3: Tuesday 4/3/12 Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute. Caught in the rain twice, once while the sun was shining at the same time. Great rainbow.

Day 4: Wednesday 4/4/12  Distance:  2 miles
Took the bus to work, but only so that I could pick up the road bike from it’s tuneup on my way home.

Day 5: Thursday 4/5/12 Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute. Road bikes are fun too.

Day 6:  Friday 4/6/12  Distance:  12 miles
Regular commute. Yes, it’s fun to go fast.

Day 7:  Saturday 4/7/12 Distance:  5 miles
Took the mama bike to tee ball & a coffee date. Phinney ridge is very steep, but a lovely day for a ride.

Weekly total:  55.5 miles

I Fail At #30DaysOfBiking (Week 1)

I Fail At #30DaysOfBiking (Week 1)

I signed up for this cool thing that some nice people in Minnesota are organizing. The idea is that you ride your bicycle every day for 30 days, starting September 1st, and tweet about it using the #30DaysOfBiking hashtag, or blog about it, or otherwise discuss online. Doesn’t that sound like terrific fun? And a nifty way to force yourself to bike that extra little bit, and blog that extra little bit? And don’t you want to have spoke cards like theirs, and just generally be part of the awesomeness?

On Day 1, I tried out my coblogger Angel’s new-to-her mixte Ella, while our boys had a playdate:

(Yes, this is another amazing Kijiji find. Angel knows how to score the good stuff. Full post to follow.)

This was my first time ever on a mixte, and my first time on a bike with dropped bars since about junior high and my crush on Duran Duran. So may I say, wow, it feels very different to ride leaning far forward and resting more on your pelvis and less on your tush. The bike itself is swift and light and shifts effortlessly between the gears. The step-through on the mixte frame isn’t as low as I would prefer for carrying a load on the back, so I would use one for recreational rides, or commuting if I didn’t have too much stuff to bring with me. I definitely want to borrow this bike for a longer ride (mine was under 5 minutes) and get a better feel for it.

For Day 2, I went on a twilight ride around the block with my 7-year-old daughter. I rode Mary Poppins, with the addition of some Knog lights I had purchased recently. A white 4-LED Skink went on Mary’s basket, and I was surprised by how bright it actually was. For rides on brightly-lit streets it made a passable substitute for a proper headlight:

I also attached a 2-LED Beetle to the rear rack, and a 1-LED Frog for under the seat on Audrey’s bike (you can see it in her photo above). The bendy silicone straps made them really easy to put on and take off, they hardly wiggled at all during the ride, and they were visible from a fair distance.

We got to see this lovely sunset view across the soccer field, and some rabbits that my phone camera was unable to show you:

On the morning of Day 3, Audrey rode her bicycle to and from her newly-opened elementary school. I got to pull her little brother in a wagon, since he can’t keep up on his bike yet. I want a bakfiets, please.

I’m impressed with how much use the bicycle racks are getting, despite an atrociously-worded we-discourage-you-bringing-such-items-to-school-and-can-take-no-responsibility-if-they-get-stolen paragraph in the school handbook:

I got to admire the bikes of friends at a picnic in Hawrelak Park during the afternoon of Day 4. (I live far enough away that riding to the picnic with my kids in tow was not an option, sadly.)

However, non-cycling daytime plans with friends, a cold and a migraine and rainy weather, and the needs of my family and new 4-month-old puppy took precedence over solo bike rides on days 3-5. Lame sauce! Clearly I am going to need to be very proactive about scheduling in some solo riding time or getting hubby to watch my little guy (he’s too big for most bike child seats) so I can ride with my little girl to her school in the mornings… or get myself that bakfiets so I can ride with both kids.

Despite my apparent slackerness, I am intending to get back on the horse and keep trying to ride daily. I hope my persistance will pay off!

Day 6 update: after supper tonight I took Audrey for a 45 minute ride around our neighborhood, on the Violet-plus-trailer-bike setup we used on the suburban Critical Lass ride. We swung past the community garden and the new elementary schools, then turned and headed south to explore the roads where houses have been built in the past couple of years (I love the way the exteriors of the duplexes recall the area around Dalhousie University in the south end of Halifax). We stopped and took some photos by a little park with a pretty pond just as the wind started to pick up (brr, it is starting to REALLY feel autumnal). As we rode home we were rewarded with amazing pinks and violets in the sunset.