Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Plastic and Bicycles

Standing in line at a shop, I wait behind an older woman who just realized the coupon she was trying to use has expired. The employee behind the register, an aging woman herself, assures the customer that an exception can be made and that she can still receive the discount. The customer asks for a bag for her goods as the items have been left strewn about the checking area, and soon after vanishes from the store.

As I approach the register, the cashier rings up my items and then goes for a bag.

I don't need a bag, but thank you, I say, as the cashier turns back toward me.

Oh? she responds. I wish more people would skip a bag. We're leaving our children with a world of waste to deal with and our planet would be so much better if more people would leave the plastic alone.

It is extremely rare that I request a bag anywhere I buy items because I have reusable bags at the ready and many times it's just easier to carry an item or two without a bag. When I'm on my bike, I don't always have a reusable bag with me, but I know it's generally easier to stash items in bike bags, baskets or panniers and not have to contend with a paper or plastic bag.

Well, I'm on my bicycle, so it's easier to carry things without the bag actually, I say. To which I receive a perplexed look.

You're riding a bicycle today? she questions. It's awfully cold out.

I wonder if she's been outside on this particular day because it's quite a bit warmer than it has been in some time and the sun is shining brightly.

It's not so bad, I respond, and it's always more enjoyable to ride than to be in my car.

Well, you be sure to be safe out there. You really should be driving on days like today.

And with that, I am off, wondering how I so often end up with a lecture when I mention that I'm on a bicycle.

This is not the first time I've had this sort of interaction with a cashier or employee of a store. The prior instances usually play out similarly with an overly-excited employee who is thrilled that a customer is rejecting a bag, but when I make a comment about riding a bicycle there is a perception that I don't have the money for motorized transportation or that I'm making a foolish choice to ride a bike in what is perceived as undesirable conditions.

Anymore, it seems I've lost the will to attempt to explain or try to convince anyone that my choice to ride is no more dangerous than any other mode of transportation. Still, I continue to be perplexed by the number of people who view a plastic bag as dangerous to our future, but cannot make the same correlation to constantly driving every place we go.

It's not that I think plastic bags are wonderful, nor that we shouldn't reduce our dependence on them, but couldn't the same comparisons be made to riding a bicycle instead of driving? There are alternatives to plastic, throw-away bags, just as there are choices in transportation.

I cannot help but believe that a piece of our inability to make the same associations with personal vehicles is partly due to the attention plastic bags have received over the last few decades. We have been told time and again through commercials and videos like the one above that we are ruining our world with our incessant use of plastic bags.

Today, nearly everyone I know has reusable bags that they bring to the grocery store with them, which was definitely not the case 1-2 decades ago. Even people who aren't necessarily highly environmentally aware are often bringing usable bags for shopping purposes. The message, I believe, has simply sunk into our subconscious to the point that many now feel guilty when we don't have a reusable bag to use - and I suppose that was really the point, right? To get the attention of the population, to get us to understand that we are doing something that can potentially destroy our home and our children's future.

But what if the same were done with bicycles? The commercial above is one that I vividly recall to this day, over 20 years after it originally aired. Partly because it was shown quite regularly, but also because the debate of plastic versus paper bags really did feel like an end-of-the-world type of decision, so many people easily identified and giggled along with this advertisement.

What if instead of an ad for Honda this was a commercial that ended with the customer riding off on a bicycle?  What if we saw commercials with people riding bikes to get to and from work, to school, to baseball practice, or music lessons on a regular basis? What if riding a bicycle wasn't only viewed as a sport, but was instead shown to the masses as a way to save our environment or help endangered animals? What if there was suddenly a surcharge for driving a car instead of choosing to ride a bicycle; or if instead of car commercials or ads for Doritos during the Super Bowl we were shown images of how great it is to be outside, getting to destinations under our own power?

I suppose at this point, it's just a thought, a dream, really, but it does make me pause for a moment and ask some questions.  What if riding a bicycle were viewed as a regular, every day means of transportation by more people? How would our world be different? If only the message could sink in to our collective subconscious the way the use of disposable bags have over the years, maybe we'd see more people on bikes and fewer in cars.

If you were in charge, what would you do to change the way the majority view people on bicycles? Would you use radio, television, or online advertising, or some other means to get your message out? Do you think if more people regularly saw people on bicycles in advertisements that it would change the collective viewpoint?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Riding Through Winter (or Not)

We here in the E.V.L. household have already grown tired of snow. I realize we are undoubtedly in for more of it, and that compared to other parts of the US, we've had a snow-fortunate season, but I think locally we have become spoiled by our reality that generally the snow falls and then melts relatively quickly (at least on the north sides of roads that see sun more regularly).
Large snow piles abound this time of year... more frequently than I'd like to see in bike lanes too.
It is the time of year when we begin to wonder if we need fat bikes (we do not) and studded tires (we may) and sometimes spiral into dizzying thoughts believing that snow will be a part of our lives forever. At times, it is also the point in a year when we begin looking to warmer, drier states, wondering if we don't belong somewhere else. As Sam has stated many times over, "I don't know if I can imagine growing old with this year after year."

But, many people do just that, so I think we need to put on our big kid pants and figure out ways to survive and hopefully actually enjoy what is a decent chunk of the year.

To date, the way I get through winter is generally figuring out subsections of the cold season and splitting it up in my mind to make it to spring. For example, I tell myself that if we make it to January, it will be the new year and then it is almost February, which means spring is just around the corner.

The problem is, this doesn't always work. We have years when snow comes in early October and years that it doesn't leave until mid-May (It has snowed on Mother's Day, for instance). For the math challenged (like myself) that means we have 7-8 months of potential snow and more importantly for my purposes, ice to contend with on the roads.
Look at that icy sheet forming on the road... if only snow would just immediately melt and dry. 
When I finally wrap my head around the fact that I will have to deal with icy roads, I start to realize just how cold it is outside. After several years of experimentation with clothing, I have finally figured out appropriate layers to wear during the cold. Wool is my friend, while cotton (if it gets wet) is not. some man-made materials can work, but finding the right options seems to challenge me a bit more. More than anything, finding the right weight of layers can be challenging and varies depending on my own exertion and the temperature outside. I came to the conclusion long ago however that layers are the best way to go.

There's also a part of me that doesn't want to have the corrosion that comes from riding through snow on a bike that isn't immediately cleaned up upon return. Late in every year I always ponder the idea of picking up a very inexpensive mountain or wider-tire-capable bike on Craigslist, eBay or other related site just to beat up through the winter-like months, but have yet to actually do so. I'd prefer either a single speed or internally geared option as my trials with a derailleur in snow have been challenging - and disc brakes would be my preference as well. As someone who is rather klutzy, giving myself any added boost in confidence is beneficial when the elements are against me and my natural tendency to trip, slip, or fall.

Still, the hardest hurdle to overcome is a mental one.

It isn't that I don't or haven't ridden in the snow or the cold, so I can't use it as an excuse. However, finding the will to want to go out initially into 5F/-15C degree or colder weather is a bit more challenging. It's cold, and it doesn't matter how many layers I have on, there is some part of me still exposed to the briskness. Once I get moving, I do get a groove and realize it isn't bad at all, and generally temperatures do warm a bit, but that initial jump to force myself out the door seems to be the biggest obstacle.

Some people I know use early spring cycling events to motivate them to continue to ride through the winter, some choose only to ride indoors on a trainer and walk to destinations rather than ride, and still others find the challenge of getting out at all in the cold intolerable and choose simply to train or commute only when the seasons or intermittent days in winter are warmer. While I understand the reasons behind all the choices, I don't personally like the idea of giving up riding for several months of the year.

All in all, I really do think that it's entirely possible to keep riding through the snowy seasons, but I'd like to find a way to do so more frequently.

How do you get through winter months? Do you enjoy them and the challenges that can be presented, or have you found a way to mentally appreciate what the cold brings? Do you change bikes through winter or continue to ride the same bike? What sort of tips would you offer to others that have worked for you to keep riding when the weather isn't necessarily as cooperative as a person on a bike might prefer?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

As the Wheels Turn

Over the last year, I have had the opportunity to get to know a young woman. She is intelligent, funny, happy, and still believes that she has an opportunity to change the world. She's in the process of applying to grad school with plans to do things that I cannot even begin to comprehend -- all for the betterment of humanity.

For purposes of this post, I'm simply going to refer to her as "L."

When I see L, I am reminded of who I once hoped I would be. I see in her the good possible in all of humanity and she makes me believe that maybe there is hope for the future. I look at her and see an outgoing, lovable human who stands up for what is right, voices her opinion when it is needed and isn't afraid to go against the majority when the occasion calls for it.

L is all I hoped I would be but never actually became.

I was once a lot like L, concerned and extremely involved with politics (I wanted to be a political speech writer at one point), believing that my career choice could make a difference to others, hoping that if I could get others excited about a particular cause our combined voices would be able to make change actually happen. Somewhere along the way though, I lost that L-drive.

Maybe it's age or time or the harsh realities when one realizes that it is often far more difficult to make true and lasting difference in the world. Maybe I've become hardened over the years. Maybe personal gain or wants became more important than humanitarian issues. I honestly don't know where or why it changed, but it did.

As a millennial, L does not remember a time without a connection to the internet nor has she lacked a cell phone at the ready. Her first year of life was the same year I began my first year of college (the first round anyway). It was also the same year I traded in my word processor for an actual computer (which cost a small fortune and was horribly slow by today's standards). I held on to that computer for 10 years, at which point I met Sam who was highly disturbed that I was attempting to use this beast of a machine to get online. It took 15-20 minutes to connect to the internet (no lie), and often somewhere in the process it would disconnect from the phone line, but I was patient enough to wait and didn't have the funds to purchase something new so I made it work.

Technology that may have begun in generation x-ers' youth has become something entirely different to the next generation. It has morphed, become more usable for the masses, and connected people easily across countries and continents. In 1985, I may have had a Commodore 64 (that my father picked up second hand at a yard sale) and a joystick for electronic games, but today we can send tweets instantly to anyone and email any time day or night.

I have no doubt that many of those born under the millennial designation don't identify with some things of my youth or the comments I find myself making, just as I didn't understand some of the occurrences and oddities of my baby boomer parent's generation. I suppose it's simply the marching of time.

For me, there are days when I miss having a landline, a house phone. Yes, people still have these, but even my 93 year old neighbor gave me her cell phone number and email address when we exchanged contact information in case of emergency. Ninety-three year old neighbor... a woman who grew up listening to radio, not watching a television with a handful of channels or viewing Hulu or Netflix online as many do today.

I don't dislike technology and I don't mean to sound like a stodgy old fogey (a phrase my father would've used), but I sometimes wonder where technology is taking our world. Modern technology has brought a lot of good, but sometimes I wonder where it ends? Do we begin to create humans who cannot function or do anything for him/herself, or does the technology create a better human - one that can take causes globally more easily?

My friend L is a bright young woman. I see her use what is at her disposal as a tool for sharing information and viewpoints. She seems to recognize that there is a benefit to being in the world and paying attention to her surroundings, but still using technology to her advantage. In fact, even as I have been typing this she was informed (via an update through Chrome, as she shared with me) that she was accepted to her top choice grad program.

When I go about my days though, I can't help but wonder if everyone has this same discernment as L. As I watch people in crosswalks staring at their phones, texting or typing away, oblivious to their surroundings, view motorists doing the same while in motion, or watch families at a meal in a restaurant not communicating with each other, but instead keeping eyes glued to their phones, I can't help but recognize that not everything is positive that comes from our ability to be constantly connected.

What is interesting to me in all of this is that bicycles have survived across generations. They may not have been used in the same ways, but everyone from my aging neighbor to my friend L has had experiences with a bicycle. For some, the bicycle has been a symbol of freedom and choice, for others it represented fun or fond memories. The individual may have used a bicycle to travel across the country or perhaps to meet up with a friend or to get to a corner grocer.

Bicycles have changed over time, but not drastically so. My neighbor doesn't see my bicycles and ask me what they are or request a lesson on how to use them because they are the same basic machines she has known her entire life. No one today would see a bicycle from 1900 and wonder what it is; a bicycle is easily identified and usable, regardless of its year of manufacture. There are differences, but the fundamentals are similar enough to permit use.
My younger brother riding his first mountain bike
When I think about my own youth, a bicycle was often a connection or bridge between my parents and myself. It was a time to be together and to be outside. My mother may have had no clue how to fix a flat tire on her bike, but she would still get out on the roads, towing my younger brother behind her while I pumped my legs in an attempt to keep up. Soon, my brother would pedal his own bike too and the two of us would travel local roads together. These times would leave us with tales all our own that we still share memories of today.

Maybe the bicycle has the power to bridge generations, and maybe technology won't be the ruin of humanity. Perhaps. Like my friend L, there may well be more individuals than sometimes seems obvious who appreciate simplicity, and are able to use technology appropriately and usefully without becoming the fulfillment of Idiocracy. Maybe our world is just doing what it does -- growing, changing, evolving. I don't know that I can ever recover my youthful hope of making a difference in the world, but I am glad to see that it does still exist in others. I hold on to faith that the world's changes are for the betterment of people and not to our detriment, and I hope that my (and your) lifetime is always full of joy and the ability to create memories on a bicycle.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Loo Chronicles

A quick thank you to those who have checked in on me. All is well, but we are trying to wrap up a couple of our last big house projects so that hopefully this year isn't as painful as last year was with renovations. I haven't disappeared, but need some time to get through these projects that are always more time consuming than we initially think they will be. Our home is honestly not that large, but the detail that has gone into many areas has been something that has sucked the life (and days) out of us.

Our latest renovation is the bathroom. It is the only bathroom in the house and we had to completely tear it apart in order to get it into reasonable shape. We've lived with it half deconstructed for the last year, so it was time to just take a deep breath and realize at some point we would be living without a loo. One day just recently we kept tearing it apart and before we knew it, all that was left were the walls (and even those weren't in fantastic shape).

I don't know that I have ever completely had the appreciation I have today for indoor plumbing. I have often taken for granted having a warm shower and facilities to use on a whim. Other than my homeless days so many years ago, I have never gone without having access at any point during the day to a bathroom. I realize that Americans tend to bathe far more frequently than some other places around the globe, but even setting that aside, the lack of a toilet is a bit disconcerting.

Even when camping, I don't believe that I have ever slept in a location that did not, at minimum, have some sort of portable toilet. As a child, when we'd go camping we had facilities inside the camper, and as I started to camp in tents on my own a little later on in life, I'd always choose locations that had some type of facilities within a reasonable walking distance of the camp spot.

We had considered renting a porta-potty for this current project, but the cost and necessary pre-planning for delivery was not necessarily to our liking. Additionally, we struggled with where exactly to plant this big contraption that would be both convenient for us, but not have passers-by using it on a whim (I had visions of needing use early in the morning and walking in on some unsuspecting individual). Ultimately, we ended up with a camping device that is both inexpensive and ingenious. As for showers, thankfully our gym has several stalls and they are open 24 hours, so we're getting through. Things could be far worse, certainly.
*Image found here
This entire project has had me thinking more about touring on a bike though. I have a far more accurate picture, I believe, of using the side of the road more than I thought I likely would need to on a trip of any length. It's those seemingly little things that I tend to leave out of my mental planning process.

More than likely, there would be establishments with usable facilities over the course of a trip, but there are also a lot of lonely roads with very little available. In a motorized vehicle, 50mi/80km may not seem like the end of the world, but when pedaling that same distance, it is highly unlikely that I'd be able to "just hold it" until I arrived at a destination.

These are just the little things that pop into my mind as we lay tile, paint, and work at getting back to a functional bathroom. I am a little amazed that this thought never occurred to me prior to this renovation. Have you made plans for something and forgot to plan for or think about an important aspect of your original idea? Would love to know how you managed or how you adapted along the way.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

With only a short amount of 2015 remaining, I've been reflecting on this year just as many do during this time. While I'm not generally a new year goal setter, I do like to take inventory of what has been accomplished in the previous twelve months and to think about possibilities for the coming year. And, yes, that is pretty much what a goal consists of (evaluating the past and setting intentions for the future), but I always hesitate to officially call them goals. Instead, I'll simply call these some thoughts on 2015 for me personally, and I hope you'll take a moment to share your own reflections on this year and/or your hopes and goals for 2016.
As I look back, I have realized that riding a bike has not been much of a priority this year. Well, I should rephrase that a bit because that statement creates a reality that isn't quite accurate. I have wanted to ride more than I have, but there have been reasons that have kept me from doing so. Among the reasons were lengthy home renovations, injuries, and a whole mess with bikes that actually started back in 2013.

The good that has come from all of it is that these unwanted hiccups caused me to do far less road riding and a lot more transportation riding. My Garmin has been pretty much tucked away in a drawer for a good majority of the year, and in many ways it has been a freeing experience. The part of me that likes to know how many miles are on a particular bike is frustrated by this reality, but it's amazing how much mental stress is removed when there isn't a small device in front of me telling me to move faster or to go farther.  I have been able to go back to enjoying riding a bike and I hope that - if or when the Garmin returns - I find balance in all things and keep the mental freedom that was renewed this year.

I've realized just how much I missed riding for pleasure or transportation rather than looking to accomplish some type of time, distance, or climbing goal over this past year. Although I'd prefer to have both physical goals and the joy of simple rides to get to a destination, I have appreciated the break that has allowed me to recognize that my path strayed a bit farther than I wanted, and I hope that 2016 brings healing to both emotional and physical wounds from chaos that I, at least partially, created (unwittingly) for myself.

Injuries have been a big part of 2015 as well. The year started with overuse/fatigue from renovations and then continued as I dealt with long standing injuries that have been ignored for far too long. I have a long way to go in many respects, but I feel good knowing that I've at least taken steps to get on a better path and there is hope and actual healing taking place.

As I grow older (whether I like it or not), I understand that the seemingly small injuries have a way of becoming bigger problems when they are ignored. I also accept that there may likely be limitations to what I can ever physically accomplish (I'll thank faulty genetics for some of that and my own stupidity for others), but it doesn't mean that I cannot work towards accomplishing more and feeling better.

In a household where bicycles have a tendency to come and go, this has been a year of plentiful change for both of us. In fact, there isn't much (frame-wise anyway) that remains from 2014. I have tried to view it as a restructuring year. Like any struggling team in the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL these seasons are needed to grow and become stronger. While I desperately want to have a settled "team" that just works, I understand that for me there is some necessity for trial and error to find that right group of players to help me be my best. What my best is may morph a bit over time as well and I want to have a team that's ready and able for my capabilities at any given moment.

I have great appreciation for the Rivendell Sam Hillborne that has been my steady, true companion over the last several years. As crazy and frantic as some of the bike changes have seemed (and been), it's good to know that there is one that I can depend on no matter what happens. The VO Campeur is also becoming a much-relied-upon friend, and although I can barely pick it up because of the hefty weight with bags, racks, and such, I have found this 2015 addition to have quickly become a reliable and often first-choice ride. Tweaks happen along the way, but overall I am happy and believe this one will stay on board as time moves along.

One of the things I have liked least about this year is that I have allowed all of the above to take a toll on my physical body. As some already know, kickboxing has been a big part of my life for the last four years, but I understand that this sport is an activity that may have to be sidelined if my body continues to rebel. I have appreciated the strength it has brought, but my body has begun to tell me that this may not be the best activity for me moving forward. In combination with having less ability to ride long distances in 2015, I have reworking and rebuilding to do with both my physicality and capacity in the coming year.

In short, for 2016, I hope to physically feel better, be able to ride bikes much more, find stability and function in my bike fold, and to find balance between working hard and enjoying simple rides without (much) purpose.

I've also enjoyed being able to share thoughts that pass - or sometimes get stuck - in my mind.

We've chatted about whether or not expensive bicycles are always quality machines.

There was a personal theory that marriage and bicycles might have some similarities.

I shared a bit about discovering a bicycle again in adulthood and the peace it brought.

Participating in Chasing Mailboxes' Erandonnee event, and starting but not quite finishing up the Coffeeneuring challenge made the list this year.

Riding my sixth Venus de Miles I made a vow that it was my last after too many bad runs at this ride.

I made my first blog demo video, which was odd, but kind of fun - and I was reminded that hearing one's own voice recorded is an odd experience.

I shared some of my favorite set ups for bags and baskets too.

I got to share (at least from an observational point) the Leadville Trail 100 MTB with Sam for the second year in a row... and since I'm on the topic of Sam, he also shared his first time experience with a time trial (and I got to experience the joy of riding a bike in a severe downpour and hail).

Plus, there were so many more moments that made me laugh, smile, cry, ponder and dream.

I really don't know what is in store in 2016. As spring approaches, I tend to start making lofty plans for things that may or may not be attainable, but the winter has already been cold (even though much of the country has experienced unseasonably warm temperatures) and icy, so ideas are popping up before winter has even had an opportunity to settle in.

There is a bit of surprise that comes over me each time I make it through another year with this blog. There are days, sometimes even weeks, during which I wonder why I continue to type out thoughts. More than anything, I appreciate the virtual connections that have been made with others (and the connections to locals who I may not have known or known as well otherwise) and I know it keeps me coming back. I enjoy that there is a large enough readership to often get answers to my questions and/or responses/opposing opinions to my (at times, I'll admit, inane) thoughts, yet it's small enough to feel as though I get to know - at least in a small way - people from around the country and sometimes the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to have a space to share thoughts and experiences, and even more thankful to have people willing to offer their own opinions and know-how.

As we roll into 2016, I hope the new year brings you health, happiness and an abundance of enjoyable rides - in whatever manner you choose. Happy New Year to you and yours, and thank you for continuing to be a part of the E.V.L. circle... and don't forget to share your happenings in 2015 and your goals for the coming year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

In the past, I have written here about my general mode of operation during the holiday season. I don't have the best history with Christmas (or Thanksgiving for that matter), having tried many a year over to not fall into depression, and rarely succeeding. There's a history behind it all, but it's something that I seem to fight every time this season comes 'round again.

This year has been different, however. At first I thought it was the distraction of having projects to work on, until I realized that this has been true the last several years as well. What I finally concluded is that it's been my own build up to the holiday, or rather the lack thereof this year.
Virtual holiday cookies... they are far less calorie dense in this form. :)
Normally, I feel my emotions heighten leading up to the big day. I am not exactly certain why I experience this intensification, but I always have some sort of expectation for the day, while this year I have not. I don't expect gifts or things, but rather a day that it just is not - and I have no one to blame for that but myself.

We put up a tree and decorated, donated to organizations in need, and even made baked goods to distribute to friends. The biggest difference has been in my own head though: I have no expectation for the season or the day this year. It's almost as though I've viewed it as any other day, and I think it's been highly beneficial.

I'm actually disturbed by how easy it has been to keep stress away and remain sane this season. This is not to boast by any means, but more to express my own surprise with this realization that I don't have to let the season take control of my state of being. Peaceful is the word I'd use to describe my mental state, which is absolutely fantastic.

Whether you are enjoying a bit of stress, or relaxing without care, I hope you find happiness in the holiday and the season. If you revel in large amounts of family or prefer to celebrate on a much smaller scale, may you find your own joy however you choose to spend your day.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bicycle Tourist Memory

Sometimes, in the middle of a thought or conversation, I have a random flashback to some point in my youth. These moments sometimes catch me off guard and I find myself trying to determine if a past experience actually took place or if it's something that was created in my often overly active imagination. Several days ago, I had one of these moments with enough detail to know it was not an imagined memory.

I have had a lot of thoughts on touring over this past year. Trying to determine how far I would be willing to travel alone, what sorts of items I would pack for such an adventure and whether or not I could realistic travel with a dog (or two) in tow. As I was having a round of these thoughts, I had a flashback and suddenly recalled an incident while driving through California's desert with my parents.

We were, as my recollections have it, headed to visit my grandparents who were staying in their second home in Arizona. As we drove through the desert miles on little traveled back roads, a man on a bicycle suddenly appeared in the distance. At first he appeared to be a walking, watery-image, but soon the mirage was easily identifiable. His pace was slow, he looked tired in my estimation, and - the part of which I have the most clarity - had a dog trotting slowly at his side.

Now, I have always been a lover of animals, so the dog was my primary concern in the moment. While I don't have a direct quote in my memory banks, I know my comment was something of expressing concern for the dog having to run while his partner got to ride. I also recall comments from the adults in the car relaying the likelihood of the rider being homeless and looking for a better life.

To my innocent, youthful mind, this made sense. He was dirty (though probably not as dirty as my memories want me to believe), had several bags attached to his bike which I presumed held the contents of his life and (hopefully) a food and water dish for his four-legged companion. I can recall his very slow but steady pace and felt bad that someone was in such a situation to have to ride a bike to get to what I assumed would be a better place for him and his dog.

Had I the knowledge currently in my reserves at that moment, I probably would have realized that this pedaler was more likely a bicycle tourist, simply passing through the area to wherever his journey was taking him and just happened to have his dog with him. The dog was probably using this time to stretch his legs in a location with little motorized traffic.
*Image found here
Amazingly to some, people do participate in bicycle touring with their dog(s), and for some the dogs are not the most petite of luggage. There are companies that make special dog trailers for those who wish to travel with their four-legged friends too, and while most of these chariots are not the least expensive items, it's a true testament to those of us who don't want to leave our family members behind on longer excursions.

Sometimes I think that I am trying to invent something that hasn't been done, looking for solutions that I am certain don't exist. When a bit of research is completed and/or, such as in this instance, a memory jumps out at me, I realize that there are many who have blazed the trail and likely made the path much easier than I'd believed.

Locally, we received about a foot of snow over the last 24 hours and it makes me long for extended trips on a bicycle. I try to use these points in the year to plan for future excursions which can help satiate that desire, and plotting out - even a short version of - a bicycle adventure can be beneficial.

During the last year I have been unable to pedal the miles I had wanted primarily due to injury, but I remain hopeful that the winter months bring healing, and certainly spring is always full of promise and renewal. Until then, I ride when I am able, look for different methods of riding on ice, through severe cold, and managing snow, all while looking forward to what is on the horizon.