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happy one year to simply bike!

June 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Simply Bike
Simply Bike is one year old this week! Happy blog birthday!

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!

Green no.1

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.

Happy One Year!

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.

Camping Breakfast Day Two

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.

Trail ride home

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).

Cycling Chicago in November

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.

Family Portrait 2010

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.

Spring Time Flowers

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.

Cycling at 31 weeks
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!

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Dee permalink
    June 14, 2011 06:35

    Happy blog birthday! I really enjoy your blog, especially the beautiful pictures! Good luck getting through your last month!!!

  2. steve permalink
    June 14, 2011 06:54

    Happy Birthday Simply Bike!
    This blog rocks!

  3. June 14, 2011 07:22

    congratulations on your blogiversary! I dont often comment but I love reasing your bikey adventures!

  4. Donna permalink
    June 14, 2011 07:25

    Congrats on one year of blogging and commuter biking! I love reading about your biking adventures and can’t wait to see where year number 2 takes you.

  5. June 14, 2011 07:28

    Happy blogging anniversary! And thank you for sharing, I love reading your blog(s)!

  6. Melissa @ HerGreenLife permalink
    June 14, 2011 08:33

    Congrats on one year of Simply Bike — I’ve certainly enjoyed reading thus far, and it’s fun to share a pregnancy journey with another cycling mama!

  7. June 14, 2011 09:41

    Happy first year blog anniversary! I think I started reading sometime around last fall so it was fun to read your recap. Life can seem to go by so quickly until we stop and think about all the things that actually happened during any period of time. Even day-to-day things, which may seem inconsequential when they happen, look different within the larger context. Looking forward to “year two with three” of Simply Bike!

  8. June 14, 2011 11:35

    What an amazing year! I am so glad your blog is around. It has been a delight to read about your cycling adventures. Happy Birthday, blog!

  9. June 14, 2011 11:57

    happy bloggiversary. i’m so glad you started writing of your adventures otherwise i would have never meet you! cannot wait to see the new adventures to come for simply bike when baby arrives.

  10. June 14, 2011 12:15

    happy anniversary! may there be many more bike adventures especially with your little on in tow!


  11. June 14, 2011 12:22

    Happy 1-year! So much has happened. I love the recap :)

  12. Andreea permalink
    June 14, 2011 14:11

    Happy blog birthday dear S.! Keep writing your adventures on Simply Bike! I love cycle through your blog ♥♥♥


  13. June 14, 2011 16:47

    Happy anniversary! What a year it’s been. I’m glad you’ve taken us along for the “ride.” (Get it? RIDE? Har, har.) But seriously – you’ve created a lovely space here. I look forward to your posts and all the posts to come.

  14. June 14, 2011 17:31

    This was a fun 1 yr recap. Love all your bike transitions and new bikes. Fun to see how you’ve fixed them up to be usable to you. I’m more of the “buy new and ride now” type than fixing up an adorable vintage bike. But someday, I DEFINITELY want to get a beautiful, bright vintage. Happy 1 yr!

  15. imogen permalink
    June 14, 2011 20:04

    Congratulations on one year! I have been reading your blog for the past year and still think it is such an insightful and interesting read every day

  16. June 14, 2011 20:24

    Happy one-year to Simply Bike! I love your blog and I can’t wait to see what unfolds for you in the next year.

  17. June 14, 2011 21:47

    HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY S & SIMPLY BIKE!!! I followed you over from academichic, and adore this blog. I’ve told you before, your enthusiasm, style, and photos inspired me to blog about my life with my cruiser. THANKS FOR ALL YOU DO ALWAYS – it’s been a fun ride you’ve taken us on! Can’t wait for the next part of the journey!

  18. Janni permalink
    June 15, 2011 11:45

    Tatsächlich erst EIN Jahr?! Es kommt mir viel länger vor, dass ich jeden Tag begierig nachschaue, was es Neues gibt! Der neugierige tägliche Blick “über den grossen Teich” ist immer sehr spannend und oft aufschlussreich – das Lesen macht immer sehr viel Spass.
    Leider wird es ja im zweiten Blog-Jahr wohl nichts über die Teilnahme am RAGBRAI zu lesen geben, aber die naheliegenden Gründe hierfür sind ja noch viel schöner als das Radrennen. Ich wünsche Dir auch für das zweite Jahr des Blog viel Erfolg und Kraft und Ruhe als junge Mutter, um uns weiterhin an Deinem Leben mit dem Fahrrad teilhaben zu lassen. Du schaffst das!!

  19. June 15, 2011 13:33

    S, happy 1st year blog anniversary to Simply Bike. I enjoy reading everyday and so adore your blog. Thanks for all the biking tips and inspiration, which make all our rides more colorful.

  20. June 15, 2011 18:11

    Gosh, what a lovely post! So nice to recap the year all in one place and take note of the changes that have happened. Congrats on one year! I followed you here from academichic, and I adore this blog and the way I feel I have got to ‘know’ you better. (What foreign language/s do you lecture in?) Cannot wait to meet your little one next month! I don’t know if you’re familiar with the expression “clucky” in America, but I am a very clucky person! Babies rule! :D

  21. June 15, 2011 21:19

    Happy Birthday! I can’t believe this blog is only 1. It’s been a great year!

  22. June 16, 2011 12:11

    Happy blogiversary! I’m off to vote for you now!

  23. June 17, 2011 01:21

    WOW – time really flies!

    From the very beginning, Simply Bike has been a beautiful, joyous and helpful place and it keeps getting better and better. Happy blog birthday and many more!! :)

  24. June 19, 2011 20:45

    I love your second paragraph on April! I’m moving to the Southwest in less than two weeks (!) and many of my friends and colleges here in Chicago seem a bit worried for me about what the decidedly smaller city will offer in terms of entertainment and activities. But, I’ve lived in lots of different places, some more cosmopolitan and big city than others–central Ohio, the North Country of New York State, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania–and I have always thought that its how I live and with whom I live my life that are the important factors, not necessarily where. Thanks for reminding me of this on the eve of my move!

  25. distractedgourmet permalink
    June 20, 2011 17:36

    This is such a lovely recap of your year, really nice to have it all to read, and probably quite an interesting experience for you to look back over the year as well!

  26. June 20, 2011 23:11

    I just voted! Congrats on a year! What a fun 12-months to have chronicled!

  27. Demelza permalink
    June 21, 2011 05:42

    I haven’t visited any blogs for a while but chanced upon your year in review and went back and read your posts about learning to love (or maybe not quite love but accept) your small town setting. This struck such a chord with me having moved a couple of years ago from the UKs second largest, incredibly ethnically diverse, busy city to a much smaller town. Many of my friends in the city think I have made the move to a peaceful idyll but I’ve found the transition very hard, and have spent a lot of time feeling miserable and that I’ve made a huge mistake bringing me and my partner here. Your observation that it’s not where you live but how you live, and not the place but the people is spot on, and in the last year I have tried to get involved with my community, meet like-minded people, and explore the activiites and events available here, which are certainly different, but can be just as good as anything on offer in the big city – I’ve also come to realise how blessed I am to live in good health, comfort and with the person I love, and that the wider location is secondary to that. Thanks for writing about these feelings – and all good wishes for your exciting months ahead.

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