Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Contagiousness of a Bicycle

If there's one thing most people know about me it's that I like bikes.  Biking, cycling, riding, cruising, road, mountain, townies..pretty much anything and everything related to bikes.  It's hard not to know this because I talk about it all the time.  My house is filled with bicycle decor and a pretty significant amount of my time on most Summer weekends is spent on one of my two wheeled friends.

Why do I love it?  I think that's best demonstrated by putting you on your own saddle, strapping a helmet on your head and pushing you off down the road so you can feel the wind in your hair, smell the fresh air and experience the sense of flight for yourself.  :)

But for one thing I think that bicycles are works of art.  They are truly beautiful human powered machines.  The sleekness of how one aerodynamic tube curves into another, the colors artfully displayed to go with it and the powerfully stiff and fast geometry of the wheels and tires, the way when you sit on a perfectly fit bike it feels like the most natural position your body is meant to be in.  I could go on..

I hope just by reading this I've enlightened or sparked some sense of excitement and curiosity in you, perhaps fueled by a deeply tucked away childhood memory.  Cycling does, in my mind, excite that dormant youthfulness that we tend to lose as we grow older.

If there is one happy side effect of my obsession it has been the people that I've recruited with my contagious love of cycling.  I think the count is up to 6 or 7 people that have taken to adopting a bike under my watch.  Not that I'm taking 100% of the credit but if I am even the catalyst or activity encourager I'm grateful for the chance to be even that.

This past weekend was my latest recruit.  I was visiting a long time friend who just moved to San Francisco.  (Meet Lisa! ..and her new friend Margot!).  She had been wanting to get a bike and escape the dull bus ride to work.  While I was in town naturally the conversation about bikes came up (it just does when you're with me) and we decided one afternoon to just go have a look.  We visited Huckleberry Bikes a fashionable local shop in San Fran and a after a couple hours, a few test rides and many questions Lisa had herself a new bike(Margot).  She was fully equipped and happy!  She even rode it home and nearly beat me in my Uber.  So happy to see the big smile on her face as she rode up!

Lisa's happy with her new purchase!

Perhaps the greatest reward was getting to wave her goodbye on her first bike commute to work.  Knowing that she was going to get a few miles of that bliss every day for as long as she can stand it, is the best joy I could have hoped to have a role in imparting on my short visit.  

Lisa leaving on her first commute to work by bike!
This week I decided to commute the 15 miles to and from work in her honor..and I can say it will probably become a more frequent habit this Summer with the extra daylight.  

For love of the bike.

All this talk..I'm not sure why I'm still sitting here..time to go ride!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Forks Over Knives, Feet Over Pedals

A crisp, bright morning; so fresh and bright that you can’t help but take a big breath in, outstretch your arms and greet the morning with a gusto that you don’t normally have when the alarm goes off at 6am on a weekday.  

This is why I live for the weekends.  This is why I ride.

This past weekend I chose to live for the weekend in Hudson Valley NY for a 56 mile destination ride.  The Farm to Fork Fondo.  A beautiful marriage of my appreciation for food from the ground and the blissful challenge of conquering miles and miles of rolling hills and beautiful scenery on two wheels.

The Farm to Fork Fondo is held in a handful of locations in New England.  It’s an organized ride where all the rest stops are at local farms who hand prepare special treats for you to enjoy using their crops’ ingredients.  This one was held at a Pennings Farm and cidery in Warwick, NY.

The scenery was breath taking.  Parts reminded me of Arkansas and the early morning 30 mile rides I used to take by myself every Saturday where I’d get out of town, come home exhausted and then shuffle up to the farmers market with my roommate for some fresh finds.  Only this ride combined the two into one. Brilliant! 

At the start, off we went in a pack of 500, boosted along by the prospect of sticking with the pack and using the energy and draft of the group to get over those first jutting and challenging hills.  But after a while somehow the pack always spreads out and often times you find yourself completely isolated on the quiet farm land roads.  

The first 15 miles were a quick 15.6 mph pace.  I realized right away I didn't lube my bike fully (rookie mistake).  That would hurt me and my pace in the long run.   The first stop was a small shaded farm on a hillside down a quiet dirt road.  They were boisterous and excited, handing out apple and strawberry turnovers, claiming they were “so fresh they could talk back to you”.   

 On down the road another 15 miles, pace dropping a bit, we stopped at an apple farm.  They served straight up apples and peanut butter, apple cakes and crumbles.  I am told they were delicious but I couldn’t stomach the desserty stuff, I stuck to the fresh apples & PB.  Amazing!

Just a quick 5 miles later we stopped at a creamery. So glad they weren't serving milk and ice cream on a hot day.  They were serving pizza and crackers with a fresh block of cheese that looked like a butternut squash.  

Another 8-10 miles, one big climb up Mt. Eve and arrived at a winery.  They had mini quiches and samples of local alcoholic cider.  The best part was a little girl handing out rags that were soaked in ice water..ahhhh..

The last and final stop was a local market and garden center serving apple cider doughnuts and strawberry rhubarb pie.   James enjoyed it J

The last and final stop was about 7-8 miles from the end (SO NOT THE 5 MILES they advertised when we were leaving the rest stop)  I was exhausted, bonking, ready to be done, getting hangry.   Once I crossed the line I immediately was happy again.  I got my cowbell medal and slowly carried my bike up the hill and headed straight for celebratory fresh cider and a plate full of goodies. 

The long drive home had me nodding off and on.  A long day in the sun and a nice glass of cider will do that to you.   But I will finish by saying this:  I do have a renewed appreciation for the simple yet challenging life of farmers.  We don’t often think of where our food comes from, but when you put smiling faces to it and taste the creations they produce (especially when they are well earned creations) it’s really hard to venture too far from the local produce aisle..though I still do J.    
Till we meet again – story time is over.