There are so many bikes to ride, and so many trails to explore; we can only hope that there are enough days ahead of us, to experience them all.
In an effort to get a head start on this year’s cycling season, and do a small bit of good in the world, I pledged to ride my bike every day in the month of April, with #30DaysOfBiking.
“There’s no minimum distance – down a hill and around your garage count just like a 20-mile commute or a 350-mile charity ride. If you miss a day, no worries. Just keep riding and don’t give up! It’s all for giggles, or as serious as you want it to be. What matters is that we’re all in this tougher. And yet, spin class counts!” (#30DaysOfBiking website)
To cap off the month of April, I’ll work backwards through the month, taking you along on this journey in the saddle. It involved 7 different bikes; some of the bikes I own, some were borrowed in a pinch, and a couple I called ahead and rented, while traveling to St. Charles, MO for work.
This pattern shouldn’t surprise anyone who has been reading “Accidental Wanderlust” for any length of time. I find adventure wherever I travel, and I’m not one to head back to the hotel at the end of the work day. . . I like to explore. When I can’t bring my bike with me, I find other alternatives, to keep myself on the trail.
My 30 days of riding coincided with discovering that I’m a ‘Questioner,’ according to Gretchen Rubin’s personality framework, explored in her book, The Four Tendencies. I suppose this isn’t really a discovery about myself, but more like a confirmation. I’m a former Philosophy graduate student, who cut her teeth on the debate team, and writing investigative journalism for the school newspaper.
As a Questioner, I want there to be good reasons for everything I do, every obligation I meet, and commitment I keep. I may question the rational behind a request, but give me good reason, and I’ll be on board. When it comes to #30DaysOfBiking, there are so many good reasons to get out there: improved health, socialization, a chance to explore new places, finding hidden sources of motivation . . .
There is also a fundraising component, for those who want to participate. With the aim of raising $30,000, #30DaysOfBiking has partnered with World Bicycle Relief (see link below). Make the pledge, and students in rural Africa will have access to bikes, with the funds raised.
There’s a chance Rubin would say that I lean slightly toward being an ‘Upholder’ who keeps all manner of commitments – to others and to myself! But I need good reason. . . I need to be convinced. There are times, however, when the most compelling reason to do something is simply because you said you would. There’s some intrinsic value in keeping commitments. #BecauseISaidIWould – A Promise Made. A Promise Kept.
So, I suppose now it’s May 1st, and the 30-day bike challenge is technically over – I wonder where I’ll ride my today . . .
Day 30 – Done.
It’s time to remember that there are trails to hike, yoga stretches to indulge in, Zumba songs to ‘shake it’ to, and of course many more miles of road, trail, and bike path to spin down, on two wheels. I haven’t bought my last pair of hiking shoes, my yoga mat has a lot of life left in it, and there’s new choreography to learn. I’m up for the challenge!
Yet the n+1 rule has me in its grip. The perfect # of bikes for anyone to own = one more than they currently do. But I’m also a bit of a Minimalist . . . so I’m happy to share / borrow bikes!
Day 29 – Inverted.
As a Photographer, there’s a lot of art hanging on my walls, and in my apartment, that includes the bikes themselves.
Day 28 – oops. (No photo; I was too busy running errands by bike.)
Day 27 – City.
There are small pockets of any city that you might never see, except by bike. Zipping through (or circumventing) town by car blurs the details, and exploring on foot just takes a lot of time. Around 5 or 6 years ago I bought the Trek pictured below, and it has seen more miles than I’d ever imagined it would. Rides like Year of Yay, with Yay Bikes! and TNR (Tuesday Night Ride) have taken me to otherwise overlooked areas of town. Below is the quiet nighttime parking lot of Dodge Park’s Rec. Center, where the surrounding Franklinton community comes together.
Day 26 – Dreamy.
The Soioto Mile is quiet and dreamy, on a late April day, at sunset. Major renovations were made to the waterfront several years ago, which brought the city to life, in a way that it did not experience prior to the improvements. I look forward to the summer festival season, in the parks that run along the river.
Day 25 – Choices.
Day 24 – Yes!
I’m still discovering new Little Free Libraries in and around Columbus, OH. Street access to this one was cut off by construction, to install the new brick street, but there is an elementary school baseball field just beyond the fence. An opening in the fence provides young learners with access to a world of reading. I’d worry that kids have been depositing their textbooks in the library, but the gem pictured here has a publication date of 1989.
That’s when I was a freshman in high school. . . since this text appears to be written about an 8th grade reading level, I’m sure there’s a lot that I could stand to learn by reviewing its pages.
Day 23 -No!
There are some days it’s just best to stay off the bike, and its up to the individual rider to decide when those are. The day after back-to-back 45 mile rides was a good one for me to sit out.
Day 22 – Campy.
This is the look of a tent camper, nearing the end of her second day of 45 miles in the saddle. The sun is shining, and the riding company is good. The legs are tired, but if the route were flat, with a tail wind, I could ride all day! I caution against taking selfies while riding – you wouldn’t want to drop your phone!
Day 21 – Surprise!
This is the look of a cyclist who is 40 miles into a ride that started at home, startled by hearing her name called from the sidewalk. Photo credit goes to a friend who’d passed the group of 12 or so cyclists a few miles back, recognized the bright red hair falling out of the back of the helmet, and pulled over to snap a photo!
Day 20 – Insurance.
See my remark about dropping phones, above.
Day 19 – Home
My shortest ride of the month was from my front door, across the parking lot, and to the entrance of my apartment complex. It had seemed an exceptionally busy week, despite being home for the duration.
Day 18 – Fitness.
Day 17 – Amish.
Mid-month I had the pleasure of driving through Amish Country, to a small town called Killbuck, OH. The Amish community is large there, and so paths in the area are multi-use, with specialized instructions for walkers, riders, and buggy drivers. The two-way traffic on each side of the path might have taken a little getting used to, but who are we kidding?
It was a rain / snow mix sort of day, in mid-April. I had the path almost entirely to myself, for a quick 6 mile out an back on the path. I passed one walker on the way out, and one buggy on the trip back. Dressed in layers, I was well bundled up, as any experienced cyclist knows is key. My top layer offered protection from wind and rain, while base layers kept me just warm enough. The rules demanded “No indecent conduct,” so I kept all of my layers on!
Day 16 – Wellness.
Day 15 – Raindrops.
It’s hard to start riding your bike in the rain, and may cyclists just won’t do it. They will tell you that if the rain starts after the ride does, even if it is strongly predicted, they will deal with it. But to put the jacket and helmet on, and climb aboard the bike when it is already raining. . . that can be a challenge. Perhaps not in temperatures in the 80s, or on the island of Maui, but Ohio in April tends to be rather chilly.
The beauty of riding in these conditions is that doing so generates heat. If you can get past the first couple of miles, there’s a good chance you’ll begin feeling your fingers again, and it’s really not all that bad. A few more miles in, it actually begins to be fun! Raindrops dance off of your cheeks and nose. Your lungs are working, your muscles are loosened up, and you start to feel a little like a badass! Safety is a concern, and roads can be slick, but if there are a few knobs on your tires, it’s not much of a problem. Drivers don’t like to be out in this stuff, so you often have the roads to yourself!
Day 14 – Village.
Sometimes ot takes a village! This is clearly not my image; and it’s not my bike. A friend wanted to test out my Marrakesh, so I hopped on his bike for the first 1/2 of our ride. It’s funny how bodies are built so differently. I’m 5’3″ and ride a 52″ frame; my friend and fellow cyclist is 5’7″ and needs the same. I’m not sure if he fell in love, convinced it’s the bike for him, but it was a pretty smooth ride, and can accommodate loads of bags, water bottles, and other gear. There were no bags on his bike, so I improvised.
Day 13 – Imagination. (in downtown Columbus)
Day 12 – Sunset.
The view from the saddle, at sunset, can be breathtaking. Many of my rides are in the evening – I am decidedly not a morning person, and I work the 9-5 shift, so the evening presents a prime opportunity for riding longer distances. The beauty of a sunset somehow continues to startle and amaze me, after having experienced so many of them.
Work took me to St. Charles, MO in April; I rented a bike each night I was there, and headed out on the Katy Trail (blog post coming soon!). One night I turned left from the bike shop. This night I turned right, and found myself riding off into the sunset. I had to be mindful that by the time you realize the sun is setting, it seems to accelerate at an unexpectedly rapid pace. That meant I had to turn around before I really wanted to, to ensure there would be enough light to see by. My bike had a kickstand and a water bottle holder, but no front or rear lights. Before I turned back, I paused for a few minutes.
Many photographers appreciate and share images of sunsets over open water, mountain vistas, and sandy deserts. The quality of the light is just as vibrant, and the softening of the mood just as apparent, when the sun sets over industrial parks, city skylines, and construction sites. I appreciate them all.
Day 11 – Ok. (in St. Charles, MO)
Day 10 – Here.
In this case, ‘here’ is just around the corner from my apartment, as I made a rather late night loop around the neighborhood, just to ‘check a box’ by getting my ride in. I was reminded how much I love coffee, and the syrupy pancakes that I use to sweeten the deal.
Day 9 – Purple.
You see orange. You see blue and green. Keep looking!
Day 8 – Sunshine.
There’s nothing like a daffodil bloom to make you hopeful that spring is really here. It’s often a tease, however, and there’s very little certainty that the weather has made a real turn. But part of the reason to get out for #30DaysOfBiking is to get riders beyond that uncertainty. Just a few days of early spring riding can make the transition into longer charity rides a bit easier. Riding 30 days in April (or 29. . . or 28. . . ) is a real surge in the right direction. I have some cycling friends who ride all winter, some commuting year round.
I’m not there yet; the 6 – 7 hour drive from Columbus to St. Charles would have made for one hell of a bike commute anyway.
Day 7 – Stretch.
Day 6 – Snow.
Yep – snow. Remember, we’re moving backwards in time. I’m told that the year my sister was born (1972) there was snow in Chicago on April 10th, so I don’t count on sunny skies and warm temperatures this early in the month. The changing of the seasons is something I cherish, and hope I’ll always have the opportunity to experience. I wouldn’t turn town a beach house in southern California, if the were being handed out along with a big pile of cash, but I’d want a condo in New York and maybe a lodge in Denver to go along with it!
Day 5 – Token.
Getting on the bike at 11:58 pm counts!
Day 4 – Cbus.
I blog a lot about new experiences in Columbus, and around central Ohio. The spirit of “Accidental Wanderlust” is as much about exploring the city I live in as it is about finding adventure in whatever city my work schedule puts me in. I don’t have a lot of control over which locations I get to visit, but much of my time is mine once I’m there. I’ve accepted the challenge to explore, and that spirit isn’t something you can turn off, just because you’re home for the week.
If you’ve read this far into this week’s post, I hope you will also poke around the rest of the site, to read any posts you may have missed along the way. If you are new to “Accidental Wanderlust,” welcome! I hope you enjoy the fine places I visit, and perhaps fall in love with Columbus, Ohio just a little bit.
Day 3 – Break. (in the rain)
Day 2 – Morning.
When I awoke to snow on the ground, I never imagined that on Day 3 I’d be riding in a tank top, under bright skies, during a break in the spring rain. Instead, I thought I might just be riding in snow flurries, frozen rain and high winds all month long. “In like a lion, out like a lamb,” kept running through my head. But that proverb is supposed to describe March! That should have been behind us – where was my lamb?
I’d known the night before that snow was a possibility, then I’d heard it striking my window on and off through the night. I was reluctant to open my eyes, and resisted swinging my legs over the side of the bed, and onto the cold floor. But when I peeked between the blinds, and saw what was likely to be our last fresh snow cover of the season, I knew I had to get out into it. I had to photograph it, and gliding around the neighborhood early, before the school busses were out and the roads were muddy, was ideal. I was not disappointed.
Day 1 – Defiance.
Defiance? What a way to start off!
I had willingly taken on the #30DaysOfBiking Challenge. This is my 5th year participating, and it feels like something of a tradition now. Part of the fun of the Challenge is not knowing where it will take you, or what you will find. On this April 1st ride, the image below is what I found – one small piece of graffiti, spray painted over the city’s many attempts to cover up the work of previous street artists (vandals?).
Maybe it’s not defiance at all, but persistence.
Join me on my next adventure!