Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ups and Downs

Day two of biking: This morning's ride-in was smoother than yesterdays, and on the whole rather uneventful. The morning is still quite cool here, and the streets are fairly quiet at 7am. Most of the ride is through residential neighborhoods, and it's only every few blocks that you run into any real traffic.

This evening's ride home was a bit more notable. It was my first solo ride, and it rained. I was more prepared this time and had rain jacket with me but even covered I still got considerably wet! There were drips and puddles, splashes from passing cars, and low hanging branches to whap me in the face! The more rain there is, the lower the tree branches fall, and the sidewalks here are a mess-- very jagged and uneven. It was very much like running an obstacle course complete with hurtles! Over! Under! Around! Stop! Go go go!

There was also a road closure-- complete with fire trucks and police officers, that required a rerouting that took me into the uncharted lands of Brooklyn!

However. With all the wet and mud and sweat and humidity, it was still a great ride home.

On the last leg of the journey, I paused for one of the traffic lights. There were several cars that passed me, a couple that pulled up next to me, and then a large city bus that drove by-- just making the light that I was waiting on. As the bus passed, the driver looked me in the face, honked the big bus horn twice, and then solidly, strongly, gave me a salute.

I was too stunned to really reply-- I may have managed a smile, but inside I was overcome. Did he know why I was biking home in the rain? Was he saluting me for my greener efforts? This total stranger Mr. Bus Man? I have no idea what he was really thinking, but I choose to think that in an ever so brief moment of time someone else got it. And we got it together.

It was a proud, albeit silly, moment for me, but one I will take with me if I hesitate and think it's too cold, or too early, or too grey, or too physical to get up and get on that bike. So far, so good. And so good, is great.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Day Part II

Just an update on my Biker Commute Day One. I have had two small set backs.

First: As I was riding in this morning I hit one of Cleveland's many uneven sidewalks (which usually would be fine albeit ever so slightly uncomfortable..!) I had a travel mug full of hot freshly brewed coffee riding snuggly tucked away in my bike bag's cup carrier, and when I hit the bump the cup (and coffee) went flying out and crashed onto the sidewalk. Not only did the coffee spill everywhere, but the plastic to-go mug broke all to pieces.

Second: Random off the radar thunderstorm! It wasn't supposed to rain today. It wasn't on the forecast at all. This morning it was perfect and cloud free. And here I sit, listening to the thunder roll overhead. Luckily for me, on my very first day of being a bicycling commuter, I will not have to face the elements. My husband has volunteered to come and get me.

We will try this adventure again tomorrow!!

New Day!

So the Madsen contest is officially over, and I officially did not win a new bucket bike. However, my efforts to be greener continue and today was a huge day for me!!

As many of you know, I have talked and talked and talked about riding my bike to work for over a year now. Biking to work was even one of the incentives of buying a house closer to my office! But there has always been an excuse, and it just seemed like such a huge change that I was never willing to actually get up early and take the leap.

But biking continued to be something I talked about -- all the time!

The weather has been so nice here in Cleveland this summer that every day that I didn't ride seemed like a huge waste. With the Madsen contest coming to a close, I just knew it was time.

This morning started a new schedule for me at work, and with that I thought a new mode of transportation as well. I loaded up my bike bag, strapped on my helmet, rolled up my jeans, and off I went!

I recently read a quote that said something like, "You have the power for change, but do you have the courage?" That's pretty big for me. It's easy to take on the small things, and easy to talk about the bigger ones, but for me, it does take actual courage to step out and do something different.

A big thank you goes out to my husband who road with me on the maiden voyage to keep me company.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pretty is...

...seeing these picturesque flowers through your window every day.

Summer Lovin

Cleveland has had a remarkably cool summer this year so far. (Knock on wood!) I was chilly on July 4th, and have come to ridiculously dread the "high of 85" that the weather girl gives me on occasional mornings, only to live it and remember that even 85 is not so bad.

I waited a long time to plant any summer gardens as it was just so cool I was afraid of a late frost. It wasn't until late May that anything finally made it into the soil.

This year, I am back to growing tomatoes. However, I veered from last years Big Boys and instead planted something called a Supernova. The big difference is that they are already blooming and starting to fruit, however the fruit doesn't look incredibly healthy. My neighbor told me that it is ill advised to plant tomatoes in the same place every year (even though family members of mine do) so we will just wait it out and see what happens.

My major focus this summer is a spiraling cluster of cucumber crops that we planted in a homemade cucumber box! Fed with lots and lots of yummy compost, the cucumbers look and act out of control! I had no idea they would grow so big and climb right up and out of their box. Right now they are covered in yellow blooms and I've seen bees buzzing around trying to help me out. I hope to have little fruits soon!

I do have two concerns when it comes to the cucumbers. 1. My neighbor said hers once got eaten by tiny hard-to-see bugs. (I am now out there every day looking for invisible intruders.) There are bugs out there, but the leaves don't look damaged and the plants continue to grow. 2. Just in the last few days some of the leaves are turning yellow, and some of the blossoms are wilting. I am not sure if it's too much water, too many plants (over crowding) or just the natural state of cucumber life.My emotions swing back and forth between being very concerned, and really ok with the plants living and dying the way nature intended.

I will research it all and get back to you as these are clearly very important topics!

No News is Bad News

For those of you who know me, this statement can be applied to a couple of different aspects of my life. Tonight, it is in regards to the Madsen Cycles.

Yesterday they announced the top 20 web/blogs that had given them the most hits. They then randomly chose one from those 20 to win a bike. (I didn't quite make the 20 list!) Then today, they gathered together ALL of the websites that had participated, and then randomly picked a winner from that batch. They have not officially posted it yet, but seeing as I have not been contacted, I don't think it was me!!

I am saddened. I feel like my former eight year old self who desperately wanted the giant neon green scooter that the elementary school was raffling away. I truly, with all my heart, believed that if I wanted it badly enough I would win- without even buying raffle tickets. And I would stand, dreamily outside the office window gazing into the handle bars of the green scooter, just willing it to be mine. (FYI-- I didn't win the scooter.) That being said, this was not quite the same experience as my adult self did participate, and so did you!

Thank you to all my friends and family-- including all the facebook friends, who clicked to help me compete! It was a wonderful dream.

Stayed tuned next week as I attempt to ride not a Maden Cycle, but my own cycle, off to work.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mad for Madsen

If you are here to support the Contest Cause-- click the image of the bike to the right to be directed to the Madsen website and get your tally in on my behalf. If you are here just visiting, click the picture of the bike anyway and then come back!!

The contest winner is announced tomorrow, and I am dreaming of daily commutes on my baby blue steed of steel. Oh yes, my friends, this crush is serious.