Sunday, October 27, 2013

First solo ride on a two wheeler

First proud moments on her very first new bike.
Our little girl is growing up. This afternoon our nearly 20 month-old was hanging out with me in the bike barn. She took an interest in big sister's old Nutcase helmet, so I sized it up to her and put it on. Before I knew it, together we were assembling a brand new Strider bike that I had bought a while back to have on hand for her when she seemed ready to try a balance bike. That day was today.

I intentionally didn't want to push her into trying the bike. As it turns out, that wasn't my choice to make. When she realized the little red bike was her size and that it was meant for her, there was no holding her back. All I had to do was to help her get a leg over the seat, and she immediately started toddling the Strider down to the street.

I anticipated her interest would last only a minute or two. However, her initial excitement grew into enjoyment, even after a couple of slow-motion falls and a helmet change to her more familiar, lighter standard model. I ended up following her up and down the street for about half an hour.

Smiles and happy chatter.
The Strider is a very light weight, well-designed little bike.
It's amazing how instinctively a balance bike seems to mesh with even very young kids. She's not quite 20 months old, but instantly grasped how the bike worked, with her skills and confidence improving every minute spent on the bike. I know she is a while away from feet-up balancing and cruising. Yet, I'm certain she'll be a balance bike master by next summer, and will likely be on a pedal bike by this time next year. The only limitation will be whether I can find a pedal bike small enough for her to straddle.

Earlier in the day, we rode to the start of a local 5k. The Big Dummy and Julie's Breezer were the natural choices for transport, but we needed to bring our BOB stroller along with us, so I attached the BOB to the rear of the Dummy and pulled it as a trailer. The arrangement worked well, and drew a fair amount of attention as a pedal-powered road train.

Incidentally, today marks my 307th consecutive day of riding a bike. Most days, my rides have not been anything out of the ordinary. The vast majority of my biking days have included riding for utilitarian transportation purposes, a few have featured purely recreational rides, and nearly all have had some element of dog exercising via bike. I had stayed healthy nearly the entire duration of my streak thus far, which I credited with consistent riding. However, a bit more than a week ago I caught a cold that has yet to completely subside, so I suppose the bike/health correlation hypothesis is imperfect. Still, I don't plan to miss being on a bike every day, at least until I hit number 365.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Visit from Gypsy Nick and a Global Lael

Ready to embark on the Kokopelli Trail.
I've once again been lax on upkeep of this blog. However, a recent visit from world-cruising friends has spurred me to action. Nicholas and Lael returned from exotic locales to the U.S. at the beginning of the month, and paid us a visit. They have both toured extensively in many places; in my opinion something well worthy of envy, especially from my captive suburban vantage point. Therefore, whenever they hit our town, it's great to catch up with them and benefit from the glow of their journeys.

By the way, those of you interested in tales of distance and daring aboard two-wheels, would do well to pick up the latest copy of Bicycle Times, Number 25, in which Nicholas has a featured story about his travels from Alaska to New Mexico on his purple Pugsley last year.
Yes, that's Nick's story featured on the cover of Bicycle Times.
If you happen to encounter this traveling duo, a tasty dividend may be the reward of hosting them for a night or two. Fresh from a trip to Ukraine, Nick and Lael whipped up a traditional Ukrainian meal, complete with handmade varenyky. Delicious and fun. Big Sis really enjoyed helping them seal potato-based filling into dough pockets. At the end, they made a bolshoi verenyk (correct singular form?) out of the last chunk of dough.

A special treat of Ukrainian chocolate.
My humble bike barn served as R&R facility for their bikes, as the two travelers refitted their steeds for the journey ahead. An unused Salsa Anything cage of mine was pressed into service to replace Nick's cracked equivalent. They left me with a few worn parts that they replaced with new. Their old parts will assuredly find service on one project or another around here.
Nick's Raleigh XXIX+G partway through refurbishment. My 1967 Velosolex 3800 languishes in the background.

A little more than a year ago, I donated a set of NOS Suntour XC Comp shifters to Lael's nascent mountain bike. As of now, they've logged multiple thousands of miles on her Raleigh XXIX and appear to be ready for more.
Once Lael and Nicholas had at least partially caught up on some sleep and had gotten their bikes mostly in order, they were ready for the next leg of their adventures. Watching them pack up, it is readily apparent that they are seasoned and efficient in what they choose to bring and how they carry their gear.
Hard to believe that Nick's bike is loaded with all he needs for daily life, in addition to several bottles of Ukrainian vodka and other gifts for down the road.

Lael's bike has the look of a well-honed machine suited for whatever lies ahead.

As they rode away, Scout looked up as if to ask why we weren't going with them.
As an addendum, Nicholas helped me to hook up with a new-to-me micro four-thirds format Panasonic DMC-G3 camera body coupled with his own well-traveled Olympus 14-42 lens. As is evident on his blog, he has become quite an accomplished photographer in the past couple of years, and with this equipment, I hope to make improvements to my own skills.

Thanks for the leg up, Nick! Happy travels to you and Lael, and we look forward to your next visit.
Panasonic DMC-G3 as shot by my low-resolution phone camera.

Friday, October 4, 2013

First snow

No, this is actually not snow. We went camping at Great Sand Dunes National Park last weekend, just ahead of the government shutdown.
We awoke to a smattering of snow this morning, the first of the season. Snow is not unanticipated this time of year, but it always requires a bit of adjustment. On my way to the office, I checked out a Denver B-cycle bike for a somewhat chilly but pleasant ride. The snow had all but stopped by the time I got to my office. The great thing is that Denver B-cycle will remain open all winter this year, so I'll have many more snowy commutes capped off with a B-cycle ride.

No, this is not a fatbike, but a B-cycle has quite acceptable snow riding capability.