Monday, October 5, 2015

Postpartum Peeps

Hello there!

It's been a long time since I've checked in here. SO much has changed since my January post. A few seasons, to begin with. Also: our family. And my address! Let's catch up, shall we?

Babies! 
Over the summer, I gave birth to boy/girl twins! We are all doing so well and they are now about three months old. I had a Caesarean section with them, and while recovering from the surgery itself wasn't terrible, I am finding recovering from a twin pregnancy in my upper 30s to be pretty incredible. I have been assured that some of this is due to hormonal changes that are sustained while nursing, but gracious. I feel like a little, old arthritic lady more often than not these days! The weight has largely come off though, my energy levels are stabilizing, and the babies sleep pretty well, so those are three great things going for all of us. The kiddos are absolutely darling and I am completely smitten! I remain really excited to introduce them to bicycling, which I plan to do in the spring when they have better head control! I am looking at Burley trailers as a possible Christmas present.


Location, location, location! 
As if doubling our family isn't enough (haha. sigh.), we also moved over the summer. We bid adieu to our little house and purchased a new, larger family home a couple of miles west of the first one. From a biking perspective, this is good, bad, and neutral. The good news is that we're in a neighborhood with more gridlike streets, which opens up cycling routes for me and for the kiddos when they are old enough to ride independently. We're also part of a more complete community, so we have things to ride to within a 1-2 mile radius of our new home, like the Y, library, shops, restaurants, church, etc. So I am really excited about incorporating bicycling to those places into my life, and until I can ride with them (or independently) more easily, I like that these places are also within walking distance of our new home. The bad news is that I've added 2.5 miles to my work commute, which, given how slowly I ride and the busy-ness of part of the route, means I probably won't ride my bike to work much, if ever. When I was 6 miles from work, it took me a solid 50 minutes to get there or home. I imagine adding another 2.5 miles to that would add another 20 minutes to the commute, and while I'd be willing to try it more readily if it was just me at the hubby, for the foreseeable future, there are two small people to feed and take care of the morning, and I can't fairly leave that to my husband, nor do I really want to plan to be up for the day at 5:30am, which I'd need to do to get riding early enough to get to work at a decent hour, only to hit issues at the other end, where I'd either have to leave work early to get home in time to release our nanny or plan to pay her for extra time. All in all, it just doesn't make sense right now. I'm a little bummed, but the other reasons we chose this neighborhood ultimately trump bike commuting to work, which I think I would only have done regularly if we'd shortened my work commute to 3 miles or less, and that radius around my office didn't offer much that made sense for us at this point in our lives. In neutral news, I'm the exact same distance to and from my local multi-use trail, so hey!
Source


Plans.
So that's where we are. I find myself feeling physically ready to ride again, but with that we're finally in a place to work on our home on the weekends. So I may not be able to ride a whole lot this fall after all -- if I do, I will definitely be writing about it, though, so it may be worth checking in once in a while. I will try to post more regularly again once I have figured out how to fit bicycling back into my drastically updated life!


x

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I Miss My Bicycle.

Hi all! I am just popping in quickly to share how much I miss riding! Spring has sprung in St. Louis, and things are starting to bloom, both inside and outside. With twins on the way this summer, we're also furiously house-hunting, but also preparing for the very real possibility that we might bring them home to our (a little too little) house for a while, and that's okay, too.


The temps are climbing, and there are more sunny days these days, and I am so ready to get on the bicycle again! I am also measuring about ten weeks ahead of schedule, so I'm not going to be riding any time soon. Still, when I am walking or running errands by car, I see people riding, and I'm so happy for them!

I mentioned here that we almost moved a year ago to a more bikeable area. As we're considering where to move now, I still consider bikeability. I would still love a place that facilitates biking to work, but we're also looking at areas that will allow me and the kids (The Hubs is not a big cycling enthusiast) to bike to neat places in the neighborhood. My vision of cycling with kids has, with twins, morphed from whether to get a Yepp-style seat to planning to get a trailer instead.

The home we had under contract last year was in a part of St. Louis County called University City. It's a very walkable neighborhood, but we were looking at purchasing knowing we'd likely consider private school if we had children. And tuition for two is a little daunting! We're focusing more now on Webster Groves, Kirkwood, and possibly parts of Olivette (Olivette offers access to the Centennial Greenway, which would be like a bike highway into downtown Clayton for work, shops, restaurants, and coffee; Webster and Kirkwood offer charming and complete downtown areas of their own, but retain some of the difficulties I currently experience riding from our house to Clayton for work). Webster and Kirkwood offer access to Grant's Trail, too, which offers access to Grant's Farm with no car-park charge, which is appealing with littles on the way!
Centennial Greenway Ribbon Cutting - Source
Kirkwood, Missouri, Independence Day - Source
Downtown Webster Groves, Missouri - Source
It's been a very hot market in these areas, though, and we haven't found a home that sings to both of us just yet. We'll keep our eyes open and we'll buy when we find the right one.

All is otherwise well, and for the record, I miss running, too! But it's all worth it, and it's all temporary, and soon enough, I will be able to share my enthusiasm for seeing the world on two wheels with tiny new humans, which is pretty exciting! I am sure some of my love of cycling comes from my dad's love of cycling. He used to take long rides with me on the back of the bike in a yellow plastic seat...at least, until I figured out how to untie my shoes and drop them along the road every few minutes.



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pregnant Pause.

Hi all! 

I have not abandoned you! Alas, I have also not been riding at all for the past few months and have no plans to ride in the next several, so I wanted to tell you that this blog will likely be mostly dormant for a little while longer. I am expecting, and while that is no bar to riding for many mamas to be, it makes sense in my case, so I'm taking a bit of a break from the two-wheeled life (at least in practice). 

For far better bike-mama inspiration, I can provide links: 
(Sadly, the one I most wanted to link to has been taken down by its host. I miss the Simply Bike Blog!)

Tips for Cycling While Pregnant from People For Bikes

A firsthand account of one woman's experience Cycling While Pregnant

My friend Melissa, who I actually met through and directly as a result of said aforementioned now-defunct blog, has posted a number of things about riding while pregnant and with her kiddo. I find her really inspirational, because we live in the same town, and she rides for transport far more than I do.

So where does this leave us? Here's where I am these days, philophically and physically.

1. The Pregnancy. I'm due in the summer, and expecting twins. My pregnancy started high risk, with weight restrictions (no lifting 40-pound Fleur) and other physical restrictions through much of the first trimester. And, because it's two kiddos, my body is changing pretty quickly. As a result, while I totally support cycling while pregnant for most mamas, in my case, I have decided to take an extended break.

2. The Plan. That said, I do look forward to cycling after pregnancy for fun and fitness and for a bit of transportation, though I don't imagine I'll do that a whole lot with the babies until they are big enough to ride in a trailer. So I'm tentatively hoping to bike a bit for fun on my own by this coming autumn, and hopefully introduce the kiddos to the bike in Spring 2016.

3. The Current Philosophy. I remain frustrated with my cycling options in the county, which keeps me from riding more than I would. My cycling philosophy is (generally) as follows: you can ride on a multi-use path, or you can ride on the street. Either way, you must behave as traffic for the appropriate path. That means no hugging the right, and being visible and predictable so that you and motorists can behave in a way that is safe and a lot more enjoyable. Given my druthers (I'm a slow-bike person, after all), this means I prefer side streets and multi-use paths to arterials, neither of which are generally options I can count on to reach many destinations from my home in the county. About a year ago, we considered moving to a more urban setting, and while that didn't work out, we are still considering relocating, and bikeability to either work, recreation, or worship destinations is important to me, so location is definitely something we're weighing as we look for our next home.

I hope to post here periodically if I come across something to share, but until then, in (temporary) loving memory of both coffee and riding... until we meet again.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bike Tour of Historic Bellefontaine Cemetery 10-18-2014

Hey there, hi there, ho there!

About a week ago, I went on a lovely tour of Bellefontaine Cemetery in North St. Louis, hosted by the amazing Harold Karabell. Bellefontaine is the non-denominational cemetery right next door to Calvary Cemetery, which we toured with Harold & Friends last June (and which I posted about here, in July).

This was a similarly-neat tour. I will confess, I am not in the least bit Catholic in my religious beliefs or practices, but I love high church imagery as an art form, and found the headstones and mausoleums of Calvary a bit more impressive. Still and yet, there were some gorgeous parts of Bellefontaine, and the history of the people buried within its gates (like Calvary) is pretty impressive. We saw the grave sites of the Burroughs Family (including William S.), the Lemp and Busch family mausoleums, and even toured the Wainwright (of the famous downtown government building) mausoleum, which was so ornate and still and lovely (the photo below of the ironwork window looking out on the cemetery is from inside the Wainwright mausoleum).











Harold's tours are just amazing things. The man is a two-wheeled encyclopedia of knowledge, and is such a treasure to the bike and local community. I have attended three of his tours this summer and fall, and I really enjoyed them all. The link to the Calvary tour is at the top of this post, and you can read about the tour of the historic Carondelet neighborhood here. I missed several, too (silly calendar), but look forward to connecting with my bike friends on future tours next year (the tour season is winding down, along with Daylight Savings Time).

Things may quiet down a bit on the blog (as if they could get much quieter) through the winter, but I'll continue to post interesting things as they come up, and I may try bike-commuting more earnestly next year. This year was a bit of a bust for that. I attribute a fair amount of it to increased "bike-lash" which is a natural growing pain communities feel as cycling becomes more visible (and often, more inconvenient to drivers) - it's a byproduct of more folks getting on their bicycles and of clashes over what should happen to our existing infrastructure, a debate about which I fear I'm growing weary, and don't want to represent when I'm alone on my bicycle very often. I'm not as excited about that, and I have been riding and writing less as a result. But it is what it is and that's where I am right now. I will see how I feel after things thaw and the sun stops setting so early next spring.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bike Kirkwood & Grant's Trail Photo-Tour


On Saturday morning, I got up bright and early and rode my bicycle to Keysor Elementary for the Bicycle Tour of Kirkwood. This was an event planned and sponsored by Trailnet, and was part of a larger project which seeks to (a) educate school children and parents about safe riding (and encourage more of it) and (b) share information about Complete Streets efforts in Kirkwood. While I don't have any small people of my own, I wanted to support the effort and energy and be part of the group. So I rode to the school and had a complimentary banana while I waited for our first ride.




The original plan had been to do a five-mile ride, but there were so many little-little kids (some still on trikes) and a lack of available police enforcement meant that streets were not closed for the event. So instead, we did two rides: a one-miler and a 2.5-miler. Both were very slow and steady so everyone could participate. They were fun! I moseyed through streets I was less familiar with and had a nice chat with the Trailnet staff who were coordinating the event and leading the rides. I found that after the ride, though, I wanted to ride more, so I rode with a couple of volunteers toward Grant's Trail and separated from them to continue on to the trail as they headed home for the day.

I decided to use the opportunity to put some miles on the bike while there's daylight for it, and to finally take more photos of the trail. Since I ride Kirkwood to Mehlville and back again, most of the trail photos are from the trip toward Mehlville, and then I tried to get some more detailed shots and signage pics on the way back. I should have had more to eat, though (I'd had a couple granola bars and the banana, as well as several bottles of water) -- by the time I was slogging up Sappington Road to Big Bend, my legs were toast and I was starving. I hadn't really planned to ride nearly thirty miles that day, and hadn't eaten for it. Duly noted. I should plan to stick some granola bars in my bike bag just because. I had the biggest meal after I got home!

For me, the trail never disappoints. It can get busy around Grant's Farm, and certain entrance points with larger parking lots, but because I mosey (generally 10-13 mph), I just don't find it that hard to negotiate the other users on the trail. I can see where, if your goal is to get your miles in and barrel through at 20mph, you'd have issues, but (a) that's not the right place for it, and (b) it's against the rules to go too fast, so...

Anyhoo, largely without comment, here's the photo-tour of Grant's Trail.


There's a playground near the Kirkwood Trailhead.

















Restrooms and a waterfountain - these were operational on 9-27, but not 12-1, FYI.










Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.
The trail smelled alternatively damp (green) and sort of rotten (brown), and, as you can see from the photos, was stuck in between the lingering flowers of summer and the first color changes of fall. It was warm - mid-80s - and I suspect we'll get scant color on most of the trees this year as some trees are already going brown and dropping leaves in a clatter whenever the wind blows. Still, I so enjoy that this trail passes businesses, woods, bridges, highways, and horses, and is all within miles of my home. Because of it's proximity (and resulting accessibility), it's probably my favorite. Perhaps another time I can photo-tour Creve Coeur Lake, but I find that trail much busier and more dangerous to do without directing full attention to errant pedestrians and folks renting bikes (who may or may not know how to use them). 

Daylight Savings Time ends in just over a month (November 2). There are just a few perfect riding days left. I hope you (and I hope I) can make the most of them. 

Cheers and happy riding!
x




































Monday, September 22, 2014

#BBFF Date - The Forest Park Balloon Glow & Fireworks

My riding has been really sporadic this summer and fall, hence the (also) sporadic posts. However, I had a great ride on Friday night that I wanted to share with you, as well as some upcoming rides that should be a lot of fun, and some great bike links.

The Balloon Glow
On Friday, St. Louis held its annual Balloon Glow in Forest Park. I met up with several of my #bbff (that's "best bike friends forever" because bike friendships are fantastic things) at a coffee shop several blocks south of the park, and we rode over to the park together, avoiding all of the parking issues inherent in such a popular event. Bonus: unlike taking public transit (my other preferred method of travel to and from busy events or places with tricky parking), our bikes could go anywhere, so we could take them right to where we wanted to picnic, lock them together, then pack up the picnic and walk around and take photos of the race. (Trust me, ten bikes locked together in haphazard fashion will neither be lifted nor rolled away by anyone without a helicopter.)

Photo by M. Staublin
Photo by M. Llorian


Photo by M. Staublin 
When the ambient light is FIRE, you glow red, too. Photo by M. Llorian

After nibbling on our pot-luck picnic and exploring the Balloon Glow, we hopped back on the bikes and rode over to one of the cyclists' apartments in a high-rise in the Central West End, just East of the park. From there, we took in three amazing views from the apartment rooftop: (1) Fireworks post-glow; (2) great view of downtown at night; and (3) terrible motorist traffic on Kingshighway that we didn't have to deal with at all thanks to two-wheeled transportation. (We rode into the park on Macklind and out of the park through the Central West End into the Grove.)






It was a fantastic evening! I always love my #BBFF Dates.

Bike Events & Bike Links
Here are some fabulous upcoming bike events and links you should know about:

In Praise of the Upright Bike by Brent Toderian
As you know, I have an upright bike (Fleur), a ten-speed (The Radish), and a mountain bike (Julek). I vastly prefer rides on the 3-speed upright to the other two bicycles, so this article speaks to my style of riding (and my beloved "slow bike" movement).

Close to home: on September 27, 2014 at 8:30 am, Trailnet is hosting the Bike-Walk Kirkwood Education and Tour. You can register at the link; $5 for adults and $3 for children under the age of ten years. This tour will highlight the work Trailnet is doing to make Kirkwood more bikeable and walkable (I live just a few miles from Kirkwood, and often ride there).

Cycling Savvy is offering their Truth & Techniques classes in October and early November - these will probably be the last classes of the year (due to light and weather problems that generally come at the end of the year). The classroom session will be October 8 or October 26, followed by a "train your bike" session on October 11 or November 1, and a "road tour" to implement the new techniques on October 11 or November 2, 2014. You can register here. Cost is $30 per session, or $75 if you register for all three sessions ($15 discount). This is a great way to improve your comfort riding on streets. The earlier sessions will be based in the city; the later ones in Clayton and along the city/county border if either geographical area is more appealing. I recommend them highly!

This is a family-friendly ride through one of the City's largest and most historic cemeteries. It is the companion to June's Calvary Cemetery Tour and should be fabulous. I'm really excited to see the cemetery with the fall colors, too. This event is free. 

Finally, it's time for the Fourth Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge! I found out about the challenge too late last year to "win" but tried a couple rides and really liked it. It can be a fun way to challenge the places to and ways in which you ride. I'm planning to participate this year! Here are the rules:
  • Goal: Seven coffee shops in seven weeks (10-4 to 11-16-2014)
    (As in, ride your bike to a coffee shop, have a hot beverage, ride home)
  • Subject to limited exceptions, only weekend trips count (see main link for details)
  • Max of one coffee shop per day (two per weekend)
  • Take a photo of the coffee stop, and log your miles and the address of your destination as proof of the ride
  • The point isn't coffee, or even hot. It's about a nice ride to a nice place to relax and enjoy the moment. Cocoa, tea, or a smoothie are all legit drinks.
  • You cannot combine the coffeeneur ride with a major event ride, but you can combine it with errands (eg, to the grocery store, cleaners, gym, or going to another destination as part of a transportation ride, etc). 
  • You must visit seven different locations, though they can be the same chain (multiple Starbucks or Bread Cos, if you will). You can also do a "coffee shop without walls" wherein you pack your coffee, ride to a campsite or other scenic spot, and enjoy your beverage there. It's about exploring.
  • Deadline for submission: midnight 11-24-14 to gersemalina (at) gmail (dot) com. Send all proof in a single email (word, etc), not seven separate emails.
  • If you win, and pay $4 (competing is free, the prize is not), you get a coffeeneuring patch to display proudly. This is awesome.
  • Americans may use Columbus holiday as one of your rides per the "Tara" rule; Canadians may use Canadian Thanksgiving as an extra day.
  • If you are on vacation, you may coffeeneur any two days of the week, but only two days of the week.
  • If you want to use one trip to buy beans instead of drinking a coffeeneur-approved beverage, that's cool. 
  • You may ride on Veterans Day instead of a weekend day, unless you are an actual veteran, in which case you rock and get a bonus coffeeneur day in recognition of your service. Go you!
  • If you want to share your escapades on social media:
    Twitter: #coffeeneuring
    Flickr: Coffeeneur group
    Facebook: Coffeeneur Group
    Share your blog posts on any platform.