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a brief history of me and bikes – part 2

July 6, 2011

solstice… one of my favourite times of year. It’s usually a rather calm and contemplative time behind the excitement of season that is about to unfold. Solstice, and the days leading up to it were rather unusual this year. My body was in knots from a stressful end to the school year and my immediate trip south for a course. Luckily there was some excitement in there too for on summer solstice 2011 I met my new bike.

my sweetpea

I did indeed opt to go with Natalie’s beautiful bike made to my size specifications with a few other tweaks – bars as prescribed by my fitter, half and half pedals as desired by me, and sram rather than shimano components because sram hoods fit my hands better.

The most difficult part for me to decide on? The paint colour! For weeks I toiled over the possibilities and just couldn’t decide. Finally I decided that I really liked the green of my sister’s old find and went with what I thought was the closest – limetime pearl.

the bike:)

I was a bit worried about how the colour would look in person but it was wasted energy. I think it’s beautiful and it seems many other cyclists out there do to. I’ve received compliments throughout Portland, Seattle and Vancouver as well as remarks about how much it looks likes a Schwinn Varsity. I saw a couple when I was sans camera and I have to agree.

cycling part of the historic Columbia River Highway

I’ve spent the past two weeks exploring new terrain and getting to know my solstice bike…

riding on Sauvie Island

approaching the tunnels

… and on the last day of our trip I finished making a cozy for her lock. I mean I have a cozy for my apple, so of course I need some of that cuteness to carry along with my bike, right?

yep, my bike lock has it's very own cozy.

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a brief history of me and bikes

July 4, 2011

My relationship with bikes started a long time ago. My childhood tricycle collection was the envy of all our neighbourhood friends long after we’d taken to bicycling. That may explain why my transition to 2 wheels came sort of late but it was done without training wheels.

In Junior High I finally got a “real” bike for my birthday (a black and pink Norco bush pilot ladies) and started making the 8.5 km uphill ride to school because it was so much more fun than riding the bus. There were also some pretty good dirt bike trails my guys friends and I used to ride on the other side of the tracks. By high school my Norco was too small but it took until university before I upgraded to my most used bike thus far – my Specialized Rockhopper A1 Comp FS.

It was the first bike I paid for myself and I bought it from the LBS where a high school friend worked. My parents couldn’t understand how I could part with $1500 for a bike or what the appeal of clipless pedals was but I’m so glad I followed M’s advice and bought the best bike I could afford. It has stood the test of time and has taken me beyond commuting to cycle camping, mountain bike racing, and more recently road riding with slick tires.


I should mention that I had a brief stint with another bike too – a Dahon folding bike that I mentioned here. It was good for it’s initial purpose (bike/bus commuting from the suburbs) but is utterly useless now that we live at the top of a hill.

Back in February I really started to get itchy about finding another bike. You see the Dahon had shown me how quickly and easily I could really move on pavement and my rockhopper just wasn’t up to the task. It was built for dirt after all. In addition to speed I was also looking for a more comfortable ride and an excuse to leave my knobbies on the rockhopper. Thus began my renewed search.

I scoped out bike shop after bike shop but I kept hearing the same thing… pick the bike you like and we’ll make it fit. That approach had been used to make the rockhopper suit me better as my body changed but with comfort in one place came annoying things like twitchy handling and aches and pains in new places. There was no way I was going to go that route again. I also knew that I wanted a mixte and the option to haul stuff. The choices are slim and not at all tailored to short in the arm/long in the leg me.

Just as I was about to give up my quest for yet another year I came across this: the Sweetpea JJ Fantastic. I was at my in-laws place and there was no getting me off their computer that night. I looked at the fully custom options and while the 3 year waiting list was a bit much I was seriously considering taking the leap. This woman understood just what I was looking for. Then I learned that the mixte Sweetpea A-Line was customizable and advertised the dual ability to haul stuff and haul ass. Plus my favourite cut of skirt had the same name. Could this be true?

Before I’d even spoken with Natalie, I’d found a Serotta bike fitter in the city and had my appointment. That was easily some of the best $250 I’ve ever spent. New bike or not, the tips and tricks my fitter gave me were the best cycle coaching I’d ever received. That, and after the appointment I was also equipped with new knowledge of what kind of bike geometry to look for. Sweet!

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Bikey, bikey

June 28, 2011

School is now over and my focus has shifted. This summer I’m all about cycling! Not that I won’t be doing prep or the usual hiking and climbing, but cycling is at the top of my list.

Back in my university days I loved to ride and even after breaking my wrist, it was hard to keep me off the trails. Back then, mountain biking was the only thing for me and I even raced for a season. It was such an adrenaline rush and so Much FUN!

As I got more serious about cycling I started thinking about getting a road bike so I could train more. I had such a hard time finding anything that would fit and then a whole bunch of other things changed. I moved around, was introduced to new sports and re-introduced to backpacking, climbing and hockey 5 nights per week. And I started breaking bones…

Mountain biking was still part of my regular routine (albeit at a lighter pace) until 6 years ago when my crunched up wrist stopped being able to handle my aggressive position on the mountain bike. It was a painful number of years before I could even handle a couple of km’s of riding. Thankfully those days are over and for the past 2 summers and this spring I’ve been steadily increasing my riding. I’ve also had some help to make my trusty old mountain bike fit better and equipped it with slicks.

It’s been so much fun to be able to get away from school stuff and ride with new friends nearly every week. Bring on summer!

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time. to. enjoy. life.

March 25, 2011

There’s been a lot to reflect on over these past few weeks but getting outside, spending time with Kevin and making progress on some of my projects has been so satisfying.

Kevin and I have spent our weekends together and sharing activities ranging from creating a Nanaimo Bar facsimile that’s free of eggs and dairy to living outside on the beach to bike shopping. Oh, and so many heartfelt conversations too. It’s been such good medicine for my soul!

Here are a few of the highlights in picture form.

doll homework

our attempt at dairy and gluten free Nanaimo Bars

First camping trip of the season.  'Twas beautiful!

Bunnies on the run!

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coming up for air

March 7, 2011

Finally… I can breathe again!

This, my first year of teaching has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride thus far. Wow, I never knew it was possible for so much drama or to work so hard and yet still feel like I can’t win.

Right now I’m in the midst of a change that includes me giving up many of the duties I had held since the fall. Before I started down this path I recognized that the life of a Waldorf class teacher wasn’t likely to mesh with my ideals of balance and sustainability. Somehow I thought it would be different for me but this year at least, that has not proven to be true.

After months of trying to make things work and struggling to get mentoring I found myself out of energy and short on nerves – far from an ideal situation for the children or for me.

After taking a week to recollect and recenter I returned to school today, donned an apron and began my new routine. Now instead of stressing about parent communication and lesson plans I get to sit back a bit, observe, and put more focus on handwork. It also means I get some time for myself and can look into getting involved with more community events – both for the school and the community at large.

Fresh air never smelled so good!

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finding my rhythm

September 18, 2010

School is well underway now. Two weeks in and I’m finally starting to feel like I can handle this. I was so incredibly tired the first week and I couldn’t believe how wild my class was. It’s amazing what the excitement of being back at school and the addition of a few energetic souls can do to a class. I’m sure having a new teacher also added to the craziness. In any case, we’re finding ourselves and I’m learning to balance my incredible work load with some time for fun and exploration.

In the days before school began I was busy readying the room and worrying about being able to meet the class. Now two weeks later I find I know what I need to do and can be delighted by the simplest of surprises: a child who tested my patience all day waving madly when we crossed paths in town or the light unconscious humming of a song we learned earlier in the morning. It’s been two weeks and I can honestly say there is only one other time where I still enjoyed the job this far in. Yes!

Yesterday evening and today have found Kevin and I out enjoying the beach and then when I settled into work this afternoon birthday verses somehow streamed their way through me and onto the page. It’s so nice when that flow just happens without the pressure of a deadline. In any case I thought it might be nice for me to share some of the verses. Note that I did not go into the depth that some teachers do – crafting a verse with an anapest, iambic, trochee or dactyl foot to meet the temperament of the child. I am thankful for the wisdom a colleague offered – that it’s more important to create something that speaks to me about the child and meets him or her. That, and that a bit of rhyme can go a long way.

Here goes:

1. Far off the jagged shore
On the high open seas,
The greatest of creatures
Kindly watches o’er me.

In struggles and triumphs
I know to be me
And trust in my kind heart
That beats with the sea.

2. Bright-eyed and wakeful
I greet the light
That shines on me
With all its might
Reminding me before the night
That I must do what’s true and right.

3. Steadfast I stand
Like a tree on the land.
What my heart knows is true,
Like the sun, does shine through.

4. Lightly on my nimble feet,
Through the rocks and twigs I sneak,
Until I find my home at last
Among the trees and wild grass.

5. Not fearing vengeful pain or wrath
My feet stick firmly to the path;
From mountains high to valleys deep,
My spirit roams spreading love and peace.

And now we’re off for a night of music playing with friends while the song funky town plays to remind us of why we chose to live here. Oh how I’m loving this new life today!

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sweet summer

August 29, 2010

This summer has been amazing… almost dreamlike really. We’ve been welcomed by a wonderfully warm and generous community, visited with family and friends on repeat occasions, explored outside and gotten rid of STUFF. Sweeeet!

Today I even took out my camera for the first time in a while. It got me thinking that back when I modified my case at Christmas I had expected that this would be a summer of hiking. I was soooo wrong. Today we went hiking for the FIRST time since I started school back in September. Don’t get me wrong, I like my hiking and backpacking but we’ve just had so much more to do this summer.

tall, tall trees

Earlier this week I became inspired to do some decluttering. We both knew we had way too much stuff in our old 3 bed, 3 bath, 1600+ sf home but when we moved into our current little place (which is a much more modest 520 sf, rather than the 650 sf we first thought) it was immediately obvious that we had WAY too much stuff. The great weather meant that we were more inclined to go out and enjoy it rather than unpack and that was starting to drag me down. Then I went to visit with friends and on two occasions was met with simple, tidy, clutter free homes. I was sold and the very next day started the purge. It lasted a day and a half and in a few hours is likely to resume again.

tall stand the trees... and the rock.

So far we have a living room, dining area, hallway, hallway closet, bedroom and a bathroom that are in good shape. The spare room is a bit of a gong show being that it’s an office for each of us and our storage room. The kitchen is going to take a lot of work because it simply is too small for all the things we use and I’m not willing to part with heirloom stuff that got used everyday before we moved. We’re making progress though and we’ve probably taken care of the most important things – heavy boxes of old books, excess clothes and surplus furniture. It feels so great!

ah... sunshine and bird-like views!