happy one year to simply bike!
I can’t believe that it’s been one year already since I decided to create this little space online to talk about my bike adventures. When I first started out, I had just returned from a year spent in Germany and was very much inspired by the bike-friendly lifestyle I had witnessed abroad. T. welcomed me home with a newly purchased mint green Electra Cruiser (seen above), which quickly became my BFF during that first summer back in the Midwest. The cruiser (‘Mojito’) was the perfect bike for a novice bike commuter like me – easy to ride, comfortable, in great condition and reliable, and beatifully green and shiny, thus making me happy every time I saw it.
But as summer dawned on, I realized that a cruiser was not the most practical choice for a commuter bike (too heavy, too slow, and with limited cargo capacity) and my love affair with vintage 3-speeds began.
And not just my love affair with vintage bikes but a love affair with cycling in general. And as these things go, the more I read about cycling and, by extension, about healthier and eco-friendlier living, the more I implemented changes in all areas of my life. With that, the blog took on a different focus with posts not only limited to cycling but sustainable living choices and ‘green’ practices as well. These days, I love what this space has become; a place for me to voice my thoughts on a variety of topics, to journal my family’s adventures, and to continue exploring ‘life on two wheels’. I love writing Simply Bike and I hope you enjoy reading it. And I’m always very thankful for all the comments and feedback, which is what makes this project such a rewarding and valuable one to me! So thank you for reading and contributing!
In true blog anniversary fashion, here is a recap of some of last year’s highlights and noteworthy posts. But be warned, this will take a while to cover so you may want to grab a snack and a latte before we begin…
In June, I started bike commuting on a regular (read: almost daily) basis and I taught myself about the basics: learning how to name the different parts of a bike so I didn’t sound like a complete novice when talking about it.
In July, I continued to teach myself about bikes and figured out how to ‘size’ a bike. I went on my first bike picnic with my husband, discovered a nearby lake I could bike to, rode my first 70 mile ride as part of RAGBRAI, and consequently conquered by long-time fear of roadbikes.
In August, I traded in my cruiser for a ‘his and hers’ set of vintage Raleighs we found on Craigslist and started learning as much as I could about owning and restoring vintage bikes. I learned, for instance, that new bike brakes will wail like a cat in distress if they’re not toed-in correctly and, with the confidence in those new brakes, I started cycling not only on dry days but on rainy days as well. The month’s highlight? T. and I celebrated one year of marriage by going on a bike date to the restaurant where we had previsouly dined on our wedding day the year before.
In September, I finally added lights to my bike as the days got shorter and darkness came sooner. The academic year started and so did my new teaching job as a lecturer in the foreign languages department. I began using my bike not just for leisurely rides around town or to the grocery store but also to get to work each day. I wrote my first post on cycling in my workclothes with some tips on picking fabrics and patterns that faired well in the still hot late-summer temperatures.
T. and I managed to squeeze in a camping trip over the Labor Day weekend in celebration of what would have been our wedding date had we not eloped the previous summer. We took our dog Indie along and it was my first time camping and canoeing with a pup in tow. Much fun was had. :) We were so encouraged by that experience that we tried to introduce Indie to cycling as well, but as my guest post on LGRAB revealed, that adventure was less of a hit. To sum it up: the dog survived but the Burley trailer did not.
I acquired my second vintage bike – a 1978 Raleigh Grand Prix roadbike – and T. and I hit the trails for more fast paced bike rides. I started to really love riding a roadbike and that feeling of speed and adrenaline. But I still continued to appreciate my slower and more relaxed rides to campus for work each day and was shocked to discover that over 50% of Americans live within five miles of their work (like me) but that only 2% get there by bike. Yikes! I wrote another post on commuting in your work clothes relating how easy that transition has been for someone like me who works so close to home.
In October, I discovered how beautiful fall is when experienced by bike. But at the same time, I started to struggle with life in the small town I found myself to be living, I started to miss life in Europe, and I attempted to feel more involved in my community by tackling some bike related issues I saw amiss. By the end of the month though, I realized that I just needed to keep calm and pedal on.
In November, I had a much better time with things. It was my birthday month and T. celebrated with me by agreeing to a birthday bike ride to my restaurant of choice despite it being dark and a freezing 27 degrees F. when we set out. He also spoiled me with homemade raspberry cheesecake and the surprise of another lovely vintage bike, my now beloved Peugeot Mixte named Bee.
Momentum Magazine featured a photo that T. snapped of us on one of our bike rides together and we were shamelessly excited to see it in print. I continued cycling although the weather turned really cold and I even managed to do some of my holiday gift shopping by bike.
Another November highlight? Attending a conference in Chicago and meeting the lovely Dottie and her husband Greg, who graciously hosted me and showed me Chicago in November from the perspective of a bike saddle. It was a great trip that I’ll always remember fondly. And besides biking in the winter (new to me), I also wrote about running in the winter (something I’d perfected a few years earlier).
In December, I pulled out my mountain bike with thicker tires for the wear and tear of cycling in the snow. Things slowed down as the semester came to an end and we took off to visit our families for the holidays. We ended the year by snapping our customary self-timer family portrait with the nuggets (our pets) on New Year’s Eve, before ringing in the new year.
In January, I safely made it through the first trimester and made it public that we were going to have a baby. My confidence grew at cycling through snow and I continued to run with my dog outdoors as well. I wrote one of my favorite posts about my grandfather, who at (now) 85 years old continues to bike and beekeep. He’s always been an inspiration to me and a role model for living life to the fullest.
In February, we continued to get more and more snow and I even had to abandon my bike on campus for a week. I wrote about running during the second trimester and took pleasure in finding articles about other cycling mamas.
In March, I had the pleasure of contributing to a Momentum Magazine feature on ‘the Bike Lifestyle’ and adding my own two cents about what makes a bike commuter. The snow started to melt and with sunnier days at hand, T. and I went on our first bike date for the season. I continued to reflect on running while pregnant, started prenatal yoga, and enjoyed short bike rides on my lunch breaks. On a less happy note, we received some startling information about my pregnancy and learned to work through the shock and fear that came with that, while on the home front, we welcomed spring and began planting our first garden.
In April, I launched the Bike Date Series and put together a composite of all my posts with information on owning a vintage bike. While I came to realize that I was done running for the rest of my pregnancy, cycling continued to feel good and I even undertook a 15 mile trail ride over the weekend with T., visiting one of the largest pedestrian bridges in the world. I continued to attend prenatal yoga and reflected on how important community is and finding those people that make a place a home.
I also grappled with the fact that I am living in a place that’s not my first choice but that constantly being miserable about it is neither productive nor healthy. After many talks with T. about this, my thoughts reached a sort of tipping point and I realized that I need to accord less importance to where I am living and more to how I am living. This shift in focus came out of many discussions we had about how we want to parent our children and what kind of attitudes and behaviors we want to model for them. Since making that switch in my thought process and writing about it here, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I’ve been able to find much more pleasure and contentedness in my everyday life.
In May, spring finally sprung and my daily commute turned into a flowery wonderland. We celebrated my first Mother’s Day with a bike date to the botanical garden and I continued to ride, slowly but surely, through the third trimester.
So what will the future of Simply Bike entail? I honestly don’t know as I stand on the verge of one huge life change… having a baby next month. But I do know that I want to continue writing here and sharing my thoughts with you for as long as that feels right. And I know that I’ll be excited to write about life as a family of three, learning to bike as a group (not just a duo), and introducing our little one to all the joys of cycling, camping, travel, and the great outdoors. So I hope that you stick with me in Year Two of Simply Bike and I look forward to more posts and more conversations as the year unfolds. ♥ S.
PS: If you like Simply Bike and have enjoyed it thus far, I’d be honored if you’d take a moment to vote for me on Circle of Mom’s Family Bike Blogs list. You don’t have to register or log in, just give me a little ‘thumbs up’ to keep me in the running. (And if you’re really generous with your time, keep clicking over and voting once a day until the end of the month!) Thank you!