Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Big Picture

With April being the official 30-days of riding month, I was excited to get started with a ride - regardless of how short - every day this month. Things got off to a nice start, but then quickly went awry. A few days into April, I came down with what I believed to be a cold. Each day, however, I found myself getting slightly sicker and more tired. By about the fifth day of my presumed cold, I was in bed, trying to figure out who had put such a horrible hex on me.
One of the early days of 30 days of riding this year
And so, my 30 days of riding was only a few days in when I had to call the mission off. Being unable to functionally walk more than a few feet, my body was in no shape to pedal anywhere. I hoped it was only a few day setback, but I soon discovered that this flu was not going away quickly. Days quickly turned into a week and then even extended beyond; and then, as if to make matters worse, a family emergency arose, necessitating a trip to Georgia for the better part of a week. Before I knew it, here we are nearly at the end of April.

For some reason, a story from a few years ago popped into my head when I thought about the goal of 30 days of riding this year and the obstacles that sometimes present themselves.

When I went back to college eight years ago, I knew I wanted to major in art, but I had no idea what I wanted to do within the vast possibilities of that broad subject matter. Like any major, there were basics that had to be taken before advanced coursework was chosen, so I tried to figure out what made sense as I plodded my way through the stuff that had to be done, regardless of my final decision.

One of these early classes was a drawing class. Having never really drawn (other than more of what I'd term doodling as a child), I had more anxiety about this class than I can possibly convey. Tears were a part of every single class. I would shake uncontrollably most days because I couldn't get over my fear of knowing that I had no clue what I was doing, and I was terrified by the reality that I was surrounded by people nearly half my age who had been drawing their entire lives and were quite proficient at it. I often wondered what I was doing in this class at all and had many days and weeks that I considered dropping out entirely.

There was a part of me though that was interested in drawing. Much as I feared the subject, it was something I wanted to conquer. I knew I only had to pass one drawing class, but the thought of getting through weekly assignments and class drawings seemed insurmountable at the time.

I can recall one particular day during which I was having a supreme meltdown. The professor had been so concerned that she pulled me out into the hall to have a chat.  Her words to me were, "You're not going to get through this class crying for 5 hours a week." Of course I knew that, but I couldn't figure out how to make it stop - the anxiety, the fear, the self-doubt - it was all wreaking havoc internally and the only release seemed to be in the form of tears.

As if having the teacher pull me out of class wasn't mortifying enough, she then returned with me to my drawing table to see what it was that was causing me so much grief. Our subject matter was set up in the middle of the room and the students sat in a square around it, each drawing the subject from different angles. I had attempted to start the drawing, but I felt as though I just didn't know where to go. I was overwhelmed. As much as the instructor would tell all of us to simply draw what we see, I believed I couldn't see enough to really put anything on paper.

As the professor and I sat chatting, attempting to work through my problems, she finally said to me, "It's not that you don't see enough, you actually see too much. Stop focusing on all the small details and intricacies and look at the whole; the big angles. You see all of it just fine - too well, really - but you're obsessing about details that are unimportant for a quick sketch."

Somehow it seemed to help that another person believed I could get through the class and that this person understood that I could actually see what I believed I couldn't. I ended up excelling in the course, and by the end my drawings were being used as examples of what to do. Quite the turn around for someone who believed she couldn't draw. If I'm honest though, even to this day, I have moments when I regress and struggle to strip things down to their most basic form. I still want to be sure to incorporate every little detail and can get lost in those details instead of focusing on the bigger picture. Sometimes this is a strength, but for other occasions it can be a severe detriment.

This personality quirk is easily relatable to many situations in life. I can find myself lost in the mire and then don't see the possibilities over the long haul; or vice versa when I find myself wanting to achieve some sort of large goal but then fail to plan or work up to bigger events over time, rather than just going out and completing it. I realize that just because I wasn't able to complete the 30 days of riding challenge, it doesn't mean that there cannot be other goals along the way, nor that I couldn't do 30 days of riding some other month.

Sometimes, I just have to remind myself that I have to look at the big picture and not focus on the little details that are easy to get caught up in if I'm not careful. Are you biking the 30-days of riding challenge? How have things gone for you? Have you found obstacles along the way or have you been able to push through thus far?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Traffic and Sound: Is reliance on hearing too heavy?

A couple of years ago, I was riding up a neighborhood street that happens to be a designated bicycle route in town. It has a bike lane that runs parallel to parked cars which can always be a bit precarious, but the street itself feels fairly narrow while riding and with cars driving by and parked to either side of the bike lane it can be more than a little unnerving while traveling through.
Normally when riding this street, cars are parked the entire way up the road. On the day of this photo, car parking was minimal, but it's easy to get a sense of how it feels traveling by a line of parked cars.
As I pedaled down the road, listening for cars coming from behind and trying to look through the rear glass of parked cars for people who may be preparing to exit their vehicle, I was shaken when the person in the car parked directly to my right suddenly swung the driver's side door open without warning. The window on the driver's side of the vehicle had been open, but I probably wasn't making enough noise for the individual to realize I was directly next to her.

Fortunately, as I had experienced similar circumstances in the past, my ninja (okay perhaps not very ninja) like reflexes caused me to veer out into the main lane to avoid getting struck by the door. By chance, there were no vehicles in the lane at that moment, for which I was thankful. The woman who had tossed her door open didn't even realize that she nearly missed throwing me from my bike and potentially injuring me.

At the time, I was very upset because I couldn't understand why she hadn't looked in her side view mirror before exiting the vehicle (at minimum), but I also had grown used to this habit of drivers, so at least I had enough awareness to narrowly avoid the situation.

In this instance, I didn't really think much about the circumstances, but was just annoyed and a bit angered by the situation. Since this incident though, I've experienced a number of both similar and dissimilar situations that have caused me to wonder if hearing is the sense many depend on the most in slow-moving traffic situations.
Just as one small example, a few months ago, I was traveling another city road that is also designated a bike route. This one has sharrows rather than a bike lane, but it is fairly well traveled by bicycles so I believe most people have some sense of awareness on this patch of roadway. In addition, motorized traffic speeds are slower, so generally (with the exception of perpendicular parked cars backing out without looking on occasion) I don't run into many problems.
Offices were not yet open when this photo was taken early one morning, but generally speaking there is a great deal of both motorized and pedestrian traffic in this area.
On this day, I was coming to a crosswalk just as a pedestrian was approaching the corner. I was well aware that I had enough time to get through the intersection prior to the individual stepping foot onto the street, but since he had his head down and was absorbed in whatever happenings were taking place on his phone, I knew I had better stop. As I sat waiting for him to cross the street, he suddenly looked up, startled to see someone. "I didn't even hear you," he said, as he passed in front of me.

Again, I didn't give it much thought at the time. After all, traffic is supposed to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, but the more I thought on the insignificant moment in time, I came to wonder if we humans are relying a bit too much on our sense of sound and not enough on visual and other information?

So many similar happenings have taken place over the years. A person is exiting a vehicle and opening the trunk of her car, only to be startled by my wheels spinning by a second later because she didn't bother to glance up; An individual sits with windows down in his car, looking to his left while waiting to make a right turn, but never looks to his right to notice that I'm sitting in the bike lane, waiting to cross the street. When he starts to make his turn and realizes I'm there, it's as though he's spotting an anomaly and generally responds with displaced anger.

While riding on well-traveled local roads, I have to wonder if humans are relying too much on one sense and not using a variety of these in order to make decisions. A simple turn of the neck or glance in a mirror could potentially save someone from injury, yet it almost seems as though the responsibility for safety falls to those on a bike. Which is not to say that every person on a bicycle is completely aware at all times either, but rather that since a bicycle makes little sound and most people seem to be listening for motorized traffic whether on foot or driving, the onus seems to frequently fall on people riding to remain aware of everything taking place around him/her.

When I was learning to drive as a teenager, my mother always referred to this idea as "defensive driving;" basically, having the awareness and ability to react to any situation or potential situation in traffic. It requires the use of multiple senses (and at times it feels even the use of sixth sense is needed). Because we don't always know what a person will do in a given situation, we prepare mentally to maneuver around a problem before it even happens, so that if/when it happens, we make the appropriate adjustments.

If many people are relying so heavily on the sense of sound, are we really behaving in a manner consistent with the idea of defensive driving (or walking, biking)?

Whether exiting a motorized vehicle or traveling on foot, a number of people seem to rely on their sense of sound above others. Perhaps this is a broad generalization, but in my experience to date, it seems to hold true in a number of instances. As soon as I started paying attention to the reasons behind these moments, I started to wonder if it truly is about hearing and sound being too heavily relied upon in traffic situations.

What do you think? Are our ears doing more of the work when on city streets and roadways? Have distractions lowered awareness when out in traffic (such as cell phones, iPods, etc), thus distracting our sense of sound to a greater degree? Is it a combination of factors, including the ever-increasing traffic on many streets? Feel free to share your experiences and what you believe to be contributing factors to close calls on streets.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

On EVL

I have gone a bit quiet here for reason... perhaps not good reason, but reason nonetheless. Winter and early spring tend to be a bit muted for me anyway when it comes to bikey matters, but I think I'm just processing through some things and it's made me more introspective and less likely to sit down and type out internal happenings or general observations. It's also the time of year I inevitably ponder not writing here anymore. I'm sure that day will come at some point and actually stick, but for now, I think it's more likely frustrations with trying to figure out where I'm going and what it is that I'm doing. So, please bear with me if there are long stretches of time during which I seem to disappear. My silence is often not for lack of things to write, but simply for lack of desire to sit and think and attempt to make coherent thoughts of the rats nest that is my mind.

Part of my frustration this time of year is knowing what is to come. There is little that is surprising or new. The weather in late March through early May is very predictably unpredictable. It may snow a ton and melt quickly or it may be sunny and slightly cool, dependent on the day, but the one thing I can count on is that this unpredictability is in truth a pattern. If it wasn't unpredictable it would be odd, but knowing the pattern sets off a mental routine that has developed over the last many years. I know exactly what I will get in the coming weeks.

First, the shadows start to shift. Locations that have spent months entirely in shade are suddenly greeted by the glow of the sun once again. The bergs of ice that never seemed to melt now have a much more difficult time sticking. Weeds begin to pop up in the yard. They start small and seem like just a few but in fact multiple like rabbits in seemingly a matter of hours. They begin to overtake everything until one day I realize that the yard is more weed than anything else. The flowers (other than the tulips which seem not to care what the weather says) will still not have bloomed - because somehow they know that more snow is on the way. I always believe I'll be able to plant the vegetable garden early and inevitably, as is always predicted by forecasters, it won't happen until mid-May. Everyone will act surprised to have snow the first week of May, but we all know it's coming as it happens every year.
A recent spring snow storm downed a lot of trees and branches... this one just happened to be directly in my path.
In March, I convince myself that I will start bike training early. There will be a few nice days and abundant, clear roads, so I will think it's the perfect time to get serious about riding. This thought will be followed by a day or two of snow that may or may not melt quickly and will delay the start of training a bit longer. Before I'm even aware, it will be the middle of May and I'll realize that the truly warm days are a short bit of the year. I will tell myself that waiting for perfect weather is not an option and remind myself not to do this routine again the following year - and yet it will follow in the same pattern.
They don't appear very large, but the front limb is about 16in/40cm in diameter.
Despite this entirely self-imposed springtime slump, I do still manage to get out and do so with success on a fairly consistent basis. I may not be training in a manner I generally expect of myself this time of year, but it's fantastic to be outside regardless.

This morning I even had an unexpected Cross ride as I dismounted and carried my bike over the decent-sized tree limbs above that ended up in my path after having dodged a close slip-and-fall on some recently removed roadway. A call was made later to be sure the city was aware these trees were blocking the path of cyclists and pedestrians alike. I had a horrible image of someone coming tearing through this area in the dark and not spotting the limbs until it was too late.

What has undoubtedly aided my 2016 mental dysfunction has been spending a good chunk of time forming a small business that ended up in a complete mess. I've had difficulty pulling out of my funk, and the disappointment with the realization that it was not cost effective to attempt the business. It just felt like a harsh blow - particularly as I had calculated the costs prior to beginning but was unaware of some added components that made the reality of the business truly an impossibility. After investing monetarily and emotionally in all of it, letting go has been challenging.

Now, re-centering and refocusing on where I am headed is taking some time. I've not only lost focus in life, but here on the blog as well. I don't know where I want to take things and I find myself debating which things are worth time and which simply are not. I don't mind experimenting (I usually enjoy it, truthfully), but I think I've lost confidence and motivation in many areas of life. Oh, I will recover and will feel more like myself soon enough I have no doubt, but in the interim, I'm finding it difficult to focus.

I would think that there aren't readers from the days when this blog was titled Almost, at Times, the Fool. That was a long, long time ago, but the title came from The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock. I've always felt an unexplainable draw to Eliot's work and this particular piece is one that always makes me reflect and ponder life. A little snippet:

...And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—         
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare        
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,         
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; ...

Until I get my act together, I will do my best to post, but I would suspect that for at least a time writing will be intermittent at best. I have to find me again, as well as figure out what it is that I truly want to emotionally and physically invest in moving forward.

I'll be around though...so feel free to email me any time or send a message on Twitter. I'm also not entirely disappearing so I don't mean for this to sound like a goodbye. I just need to figure some things out and hopefully find focus. If something catches my eye, I'm sure you'll hear about it here. In the meantime, if anyone has a topic for which you'd like to write a guest post, I'd be happy to look into that as a possibility. Just drop me a note and we can chat. I'd love to still hear what's going on in others biking lives, and it would be a great way to continue to share, I think.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Memories and Beausage

If it hasn't been made apparent from reading here yet, my Rivendell Sam Hillborne has been my go-to bike for some time now. It's the bike that has managed to survive my seemingly constant-revolving set of bicycles. There is something about this bike that has kept me attached. Whether that is the ease of use, familiarity, or some other yet-to-be-personally-acknowledged component to the bike, I'm not always certain.
I think the view from beneath the Hillborne may be better than what I get to see riding it.
In reality, I believe the initial investment was the motivation to continue to toil over getting this bike to work. No one wants to spend what feels like a small fortune, only to sell it off and start again. Goodness knows it's happened with even costlier bicycles in the fold though.

Today, even if I wanted to sell the Hillborne I would be quite reluctant to do so as it is no longer made in a size that would fit my height and proportions. I acknowledge that even Riv's former smallest size is still a bit large for me, but somehow over the years, we - the bike and I - have come to understand each other and rarely (unless taking it on a truly extended trip) do I take issue with it.

Over the last several months, I have not ridden this bike as much as I have in the past. It's had some issues that needed to be resolved and although certainly still rideable, I found myself choosing other bikes over this one. I told myself that over winter we would dismantle and reassemble the Hillborne in order to get all the minor issues resolved (plus, it was in desperate need of a thorough cleaning), but it always seemed to take a back seat, at least until one warmer weekend recently.

Having the bike dismantled brought back memories of putting it together for the first time (well, watching Sam and doing my best to offer assistance as needed). I remembered how excited I was to get this bike, having believed it was something we could never really afford to buy. It was an expenditure that I felt guilty about for years afterward, but knowing how much use has come from this bike, it's reached a point today that the cost seems a trivial detail -- which is not to diminish the amount spent by any means, but rather that I've just come to accept that the bike has earned its keep.
As the frame was hanging from our bike stand in its (mostly) disassembled state I ran my fingers over the paint. I have complained for some time about the ridiculously easy-to-chip paint, but as I stood moving my hands over the frame, I knew that each of the little pits of missing paint had a story. I joked at one point that simply breathing too hard near the frame would remove paint (which was only a very slight exaggeration), but I know where and how almost every one of the blemishes occurred.

I couldn't help but smile remembering summer bike valet duty a few years back and having another valet crew member knock the Hillborne over (accidentally, of course), resulting in what I refer to as twin chips on the frame. I recall Sam being livid about the incident, as well as my attempts to reassure him that everything would be fine. It was not the first chip on the frame, and it would not be the last. I wasn't pleased about having my bike knocked over, particularly as I was still highly protective of it, but I knew it wasn't the end of the world.
Then there was the time I tipped the bike over all on my own. I was attempting to side step the rear tire when instead I kicked it, sending the bike into a rocking fit. As I attempted to catch it from falling, I missed entirely and watched in slow motion as the bars escaped my grasp and the bike went to the ground. It was a strangely soft landing, catching on the same foot that had set the whole act in motion, but still resulted in a paint chip on the rear of the frame.
There are many other tales that illustrate the minor imperfections that exist today on the bike. Although the instances tore me up inside initially, it's easier today to view these as our story together - the tales that created our relationship. It is just a bike after all, and it could easily have been about any other; but there are moments together, pockets of time, that I share uniquely with this bicycle. The occasions are not necessarily about this specific bicycle, yet they are intertwined with it.
Close up, the damage is apparent, but from a distance the frame still appears shiny and new - at least when it's clean (a comparison that could be made to myself, no doubt). There is cable rub on the top tube that simply doesn't erase with a cleaning any longer, and spots where the formerly used fenders rubbed indentations on the interior side of the chainstays, just to name a couple flaws that have developed over the years.

Because I haven't shared a similar duration of time with other bikes I ride, we don't have the same quantity of stories - but we're getting there. The VO Campeur and I, for instance, find our relationship to be more than just passing ships in the night, having spent (hard as it is to believe) a year riding together now. That bike is starting to show its own small signs of beausage and we share stories like this one of getting caught in an onslaught of hail too. In time, I have no doubt that I'll have a very similar attachment to the Campeur.

As often as bikes seem to leave my grasp, I freely admit that I am decidedly more content to have those that stick around. There's a level of comfort that develops over time and through use that isn't quite the same on a new ride. Oh, I do love the invigoration and discovery of a new bike, but it's a different feeling to one of familiarity.

I know that there will likely always be trade-outs and additions taking place over the years with the bicycle herd, but to find a bike that just works - even when it isn't perfect on paper - is something special, and having the opportunity to share the scars and marks of the roads traveled makes for a beautiful history together.
The Hillborne is put back together now, cleaned up - for the most part - sporting some new parts and pieces that were worn from use. Other bits remain from its former iteration as well, exposing snippets of our travels and time together, badges of sorts that illustrate this machine has been loved and used, but never unappreciated. The paint imperfections could disappear with a fairly easy trip to a paint shop, but we haven't reached that point in our relationship quite yet. Those chips are telling our story and I'm not ready to let go of the visual reminders of our adventures together.

Do you prefer to leave imperfections from wear on your bicycle, or do you clean/paint/resolve them right away? What stories have you shared with your favorite bicycle? Do they keep you attached to the bike itself, or do you think the stories would be there regardless of the specific bicycle?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Commute by Bicycle? [Hysterical laughter]

Busy week here for our household and out-of-town (well, country actually) family en route, but I just had to link this video below. I have viewed it multiple times over the last couple of weeks and it always seems to get under my skin. I'm trying to pinpoint exactly why. Is it the creepy-fakey acting? Maybe. More than likely though, I think it's that I'm disturbed that the idea of commuting by bicycle is so laughable to these folks... and it's not even a car commercial. Perhaps it goes back to my thought from a prior post that there should be a bicycle commuting campaign to help the mass population understand that riding a bike to work is not laughable.

Maybe it's not as bad as it seems to me. I just don't like that an already highly accepted idea is being reinforced, but perhaps no one is reading into it that much? Your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Climb

Over the weekend, Sam and I participated with a team as part of a stair climbing event. The rules were simple: In one hour, climb the 50-something flights of stairs (in the tallest building in the region) as many times as possible. Although we were part of a team, our results would be individual. Our team, comprised of a group of several friends and a couple of new acquaintances, did an amazing job (with the exception of myself). Among our group, we had a 3rd and 6th place overall finisher, and a 3rd, 6th, and 8th place finishing spot for the females as well.
I had known this event was coming for several months. As I recall, we signed up back in late November or early December when I was somehow convinced that it would be a good idea for me to do this event. Truly, I think the team wanted Sam, and I knew the way to get him on board was to sign myself up, whether I was capable or not. I have definitely had time to train, but the problem has been that as soon as I seemed to be getting some relief from one injury, I'd fall victim to yet another and it continued to slow me down.

Never once did I actually climb a set of stairs in preparation for this event. It's not something I'm proud of, but in some ways, it may have helped me mentally because I had no idea what I was in for on event day. I did crank up the incline on the treadmill, used the elliptical at the gym, and when weather permitted, rode my bike. However, none of these were proper preparation for this type of event, as I quickly became aware of what I was in for at about the 5th flight of stairs.

On my way up, I knew I would be slow. We'll leave out the fact that I carry more weight than probably any other climber. But even excluding that fact, not only had I not trained on stairs, but I have multiple injuries that keep me from any sort of speedy pace with this type of event.

We had been instructed at the start to move to the outside wall if faster climbers were approaching. Having people pass in this manner felt a bit awkward to me; so instead, I would speed up to get to the next landing, and wait as a climber (or climbers) passed. Then, I'd carry on.

Reaching the top of the climb on the first pass, I had asked someone for the time. When I realized how long it had taken me to get up the first try, I knew I had no chance of getting to the top a second round within the time permitted. Still, I rode the elevator to the bottom with other participants, and started up again.

No matter, I thought. I can always get on the elevator at some point along the way and come back down. I couldn't see a reason to not keep going until time was up. What I hadn't realized in that moment is that getting on the elevator at any level wasn't a possibility, and that in order to get out I'd either be climbing to the top, or would need to walk back down the stairs to the main floor, the latter of which wasn't a possibility because another group would be starting a single-ascent challenge as we were wrapping up.

As I climbed, I continued to stop at each landing to allow faster people to get by with ease. When people were no longer coming up from behind, I realized time must be up. A bit of disappointment set in. I started to contemplate my decision to continuously stop to allow others to pass me and realized that had I not done so, I likely would've made the second trip in the allotted amount of time.

Still, I continued to move upward. It gave me time to think, and what choice did I really have anyway? Speed hasn't ever been my strong suit, but never was that more obvious to me than in this challenge as climbers continued to lap me (repeatedly). I have always been able to endure distance, but time is the factor that inevitably gets me. Had I been given unlimited -or even significantly more- time, I would've continued to climb the stairs and probably would have completed several more rounds. But, that was not a possibility on this day.

It would be easy to say that I just shouldn't or won't participate in timed events, but I think there is a benefit to doing these sorts of challenges - even knowing that I may very well be last.

First, it is still a marker of achievement, even if it is comparably much slower to others. Just because someone is slow, it doesn't mean s/he cannot get better, nor that s/he shouldn't attempt new endeavors. We all start somewhere and when the only place to go is up for improvement, it's actually a bit more motivating - at least to me - to keep pushing forward.

It is also an excellent reminder that I have my own strengths. I am not the fastest, nor even fast, but I have the ability to keep going. My endurance (and stubbornness, at times) can be a valuable tool. It may not get me to the finish line first, but I know that I can complete what I start - given that I'm in the right state of mind.

Additionally, I know how to pace myself. Several individuals passed me who looked ready to collapse (In fact, one of our own teammates had to get oxygen at the end of the climb from pushing a little too hard), and others were grunting and groaning in pain as they struggled to get up one last time. I was breathing hard too, but oddly, despite all of my injuries, the only thing hurting was one of my pre-event injured feet. I know that for me, as long as I keep moving, I can get to any point I desire.

This event was a good winter time challenge for me, and a nice break from the significant amount of upper body training I've done over the last few months. It's also a good reminder as we move into cycling season that there is always work to be done, no matter where a person starts. I don't know what bicycle adventures are in store this year, but I know my strengths and the areas that always need work. Even more importantly, I am slowly becoming aware that it's okay that we each have different abilities. It makes the world an interesting place to live - and even to compete in.

My point, more so than any other, is not one in which I'm trying to make myself feel better for being slow (it's never fun to be the slow one), but rather that I have come to accept that people are different. Pulling on each others' strengths, rather than making each other feel bad, seems to bring out the best in all. No one made me feel guilty or as though I wasn't pulling my weight during or after the climb. When my teammates (and even strangers) passed me up the stairs, I tried each time to take a moment to encourage them because they were each doing the best they could.

Part of being on a team means that we take the good with the bad. We must accept that not everyone may have trained as rigorously or that someone may be injured or ill on event day. In the case of this challenge, it was of no consequence if we all stayed together and my turtle-like speed wouldn't affect anyone else's outcome, but it was great to see others I know doing well and it was good motivation to continue to work toward healing.

Have you done any challenges that took you out of your comfort zone? Did it push you to do other events outside of those you previously thought possible, or did you find it better to stick with the things you enjoy or do well?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Faux Spring

It's 71 (F) degrees outside! I couldn't help but be giddy as I had glanced at the weather briefly and decided to announce this finding to no one. It's February, and it's in the 70s. Crazy. And that it is: crazy. February is typically our second snowiest and often one of the coldest months of the year, and yet it's pretty much been sunshine and lollipops.

I'm trying not to get too excited about it because I know our fickle weather patterns and am well aware that we are in for less-than-ideal conditions as winter moves into spring. In fact, March is usually the snowiest month, so I have no delusions that winter is over for us locally. However, it has been a welcomed break from the cold, I must say.

With the warmer temperatures, those constantly-in-shade winter spots are nearly all melted, making it a lot easier to get around on two wheels again. Sam and I even traveled by bike in the dark (something I generally avoid when it's cold and there's potential for unseen ice) to a destination a few nights ago. I couldn't help but think it felt more like summer was on its way than the reality that we still sit in the midst of our snowy and cold season.

I've even paid more attention to structures and their shadows - and where those shadows are in relation to other objects. It's interesting to watch as we rotate our way back to spring and summer, but ultimately I understand that the position of the sun is attempting to lull me into a false sense of spring as well.

No matter. I'm enjoying riding to destinations and enjoying the sun and warmth for as long as possible. I have found myself appreciating the ability to pedal with ease and less mental (and sometimes physical) stress and strain too. I am grateful for the winter break. Even if it isn't leading directly into springtime weather, I know we're heading in the right direction.