Fat, Pretentious Bicyclist

Thursday, June 25, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

How I became a fat, pretentious cyclist…and why you shouldn’t hate me.

I know you hate me. You yell things out your window at me. You wait until you get up right behind me and lay on your horn. Thankfully, so far, I have yet to have anything thrown at me but I know the more miles I put on, the more likely I’ll be hit with a projectile. Probably you are mumbling to yourself about how my padded bike shorts make my legs look like sausages in casings. To you, I’m just another fat, pretentious bike f*ck. But let me tell you how I came to be this way.

I got my Trek Navigator 300 bike sometime between 2001 and 2003. I’m sure I have the paperwork somewhere. It was around $400. And with that, I got a helmet because safety is important and I don’t want a closed-head injury. That’s all I had. I didn’t ride very often at all. I didn’t especially even like to ride. I wore shorts and a t-shirt.

Time marches on. I aged, like one does. I had a tragic skateboarding injury. That led to pursuing other kinds of exercise. I have a Y membership and swim. I occasionally stand up paddleboard. And last summer, I dragged out the old bike. To my surprise, I liked biking better this time around. I’m biking in the neighborhoods of my childhood. It’s generally peaceful and relaxing. And as I am on a diet and trying again to lose weight, it should theoretically be helping that. But as I’ve put on the miles, I’ve had to add some things to my bike. Believe me, I don’t like adding all of the accoutrements as every bit takes more time and makes the activity less of a childhood pick-up-and-go free feeling. The more hassle, the less I want to do the activity. That’s why I don’t paddleboard as much as I’d like.

The first addition was SPF rated shirts. I don’t want to prematurely age. To that I added gloves to keep the sun off my hands, and a neck gaiter, because I don’t want a wrinkly neck. Simple changes.

Then I added a rear-view mirror for my handlebar. As I am riding local roads, I want to know what’s coming up behind me. I also started using hand signals – even though I almost NEVER see motor vehicles using them during my travels. I want people in cars to know my plans. I also added a bike bell (cute and kitty-themed), mostly for when I’m on linear park as I don’t want to come up on a blind curve and be hit or hit someone.

Now, although I am putting in some good miles, I am fat and on a low-carb, low-calorie diet so I don’t have a lot of extra ooomph to make me go fast. I am a slow rider. I am also rather uncoordinated. For those of you on a low-carb diet, you’ll know that one needs to drink a lot of water. I could get my little water bottle OUT of the cage while riding, but do not have the coordination to put it BACK. And when I would try, I’d drop it in the road and have to circle back around, get off my bike, put it in the cage, get back on and start up again. So this year, I bought an Osprey hydration pack, one of the little backpacks with a water bladder that you wear and drink through a tube. And you know what? If I keep hydrated on my ride, I don’t wind up with a blinding headache all afternoon. But this addition I fear has pushed me from looking like a fat middle aged woman on a bike to a fat pretentious cyclist.

The final step in the process happened last Monday. It was hot. In fact, the last week of rides were all rather hot. And you know what happens when you put on so many miles and it’s extra hot? You are required to take a few days off biking, avoid sitting, and start looking for padded bike shorts. This itself is a challenge. Bike shorts are not made for fat people. And if you get a size that actually you can wear, it’s not pretty. I warn others to avert their eyes lest they turn to stone.

I believe my final step will be getting a flashing head and tail light. When I see other bikers with them, you can really see them coming and it might make it just a little easier to be seen. And with that, my transformation will be complete. Born out of both the need for safety – especially with people in large vehicles who hate me for simply biking – and for my own comfort.

I did not add these items to belong to some elitist club of bikeholes. I’m just trying to get a little exercise on my lunch hour. I try to represent the bicycling world in a positive way. If the sidewalks are clear of pedestrians, I hop on there because I don’t want to be in your way either. If there are people on the sidewalk, I ride in the bike lane or on the extreme side of the road. I use my hand signals. I probably see you before you even notice me. I double and triple check for traffic before I enter intersections and while I am going through. So far this summer (since the end of May), I’ve put on 265 miles. Last year I hit just over 600 May – October. I average 12 mph and normally ride an average of 15.5 miles, all on my lunch hour. I’m not worthy of your hate.

Misc. Updates

In 2020, I decided that I would take up painting with acrylics. Thought it could work a different part of my brain. I have started my first painting, which is based on a photograph I took of a sunrise at the shelter. It’s not quite done yet, but it is coming closer.

If you know you will be sending international mail over the next year (say, you write holiday greeting cards on behalf of the homeless cats in the Humane Society shelter, and those cats have an international following), you’ll want to note that some postal rates including international stamps go up in price on January 26. First class forever stamps are unaffected. It’s only 5 cents a stamp, and I’m happy to support USPS. February is International Correspondence Writing Month – InCoWriMo. So hopefully friends and family will receive some snail mail. I’m not committing to a letter every day, but hopefully those with whom I regularly send letters will receive one during the month.

So far, we’ve had a little bit of snow in November, December, and January but lots of more reasonable temperatures in between. I know a lot of people don’t like the freeze/thaw cycle, but I find it nice to have snow and cold and then have it all go away. I can’t personally do much to change the weather anyhow, so I might as well enjoy it when I can. I am not quite counting down the days until spring, but I am looking forward to the day the sun rises before 8:00am.

February Update

Friday, February 3, 2017 0 No tags Permalink

February Update

After sporadic posting altogether, and only postcards in months, it is time for a February Update. One of my goals is to post two times a week in February, so you should be seeing a few update posts not related to postcards in addition to the regular postcard posts.

Now that we are past Groundhog Day, we have 45 days until the official start of spring. We have not seen much sun lately, and February is supposed to be a bit colder than average. The starlings at the shelter did return to the nest earlier in the week, which is a good sign. We have one robin sticking around, but I saw him in December so I am thinking he just lives here year-round. Still, I have heard the male chickadees singing their spring song a few times. I am still hoping I can be out on the paddle board April 1, but that may be a bit early.

2016 Summer Reads Week 9

2016 Summer Reads Week 9 Update

The past few days have been hot, hot, hot! I finished the second book in the series fo Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, Hollow City. It was just as good as the first. And, on thinking on it, I’ve determined that the writing and the way the tale unfolds sort of reminds me of the My Father’s Dragon books by Ruth Stiles Gannett. I will be getting the third in the series, but probably won’t start it until after summer.

hollowcity

I’ve been working on another project as well.

iSUP

You may remember that I did an ill-fated land paddling thing summer of 2014. This new project is safer, if you don’t count drowning. I am wearing a life vest and a leash, and sticking to the shallows. I looked back on my notes from the land-attempt and found this “First, the balance thing. Try standing on one foot for more than sixty seconds. You might not enjoy it. Your foot might hurt. And your knee. And your shin. And your calf. At first, I could only do ten minutes and it was agony.” Um, yeah. Same thing on the water, although my first attempt was 15 minutes and involved suddenly sitting down on the lake bottom twice (I was only in up to my knees, so it was no big deal). Last time around I was getting better by the fourth time I did it. Loving it by the 11th. And unfortunately the whole thing finished up on #13.

Anyhow, I am reaching out and grabbing a firm hold on summer. Hope you are, too.

Summer Reads 2016 list:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith

Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story by Dan Harris.

Like Summer Reads? More here:

2016 Week Eight Update

2016 Week Five Update

2016 Week Four Update

2016 Week One Update

2015 Summer Reads Introduction

2014 Summer Reads Introduction

Garden Update Spring 2016

Thursday, June 2, 2016 0 No tags Permalink

Garden Update Spring 2016

May31a

Thought it was well time for a garden update spring 2016. Things have been growing quickly! I planted radish, carrot, beet, lettuce and arugula seeds on May 6. Planted all the flowers on May 21, and the cemeteries and vegetables on May 25:

May25a

We had our first squash blossoms and the start of peppers on May 29:

May29

And by May 31, things were really starting to look good. It’s been a fantastic year for hostas for some reason.

May31

 

The Siberian Irises are in bloom, and the salvia looks great.

May31b

 

We had our first white globe radish out of the garden over the weekend and should be able to start pulling them regularly this week, along with the arugula. I did some supplemental lettuce planting, and added more beet seeds where they all didn’t come up. We have the start of tiny tomatoes and a good four peppers coming. It’s been hotter than normal, with lots of sun. I’ve been watering every night.

May25
This is the best time of year to live in Michigan. Everything is fresh and growing.

 

 

December Updates

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 0 No tags Permalink

Misc. December Updates

xmasheads
Here we are, at year-end, and I haven’t done a good job of posting anything other than postcards. Today’s a good day for Misc. December Updates. First, it’s been unseasonably warm this year. Freakishly warm. 60 degrees on Thanksgiving. Bob and I took two walks downtown that day, and had a wonderful dinner with all our family at Mom’s house. That’s the Elizabeth Building above. It was built in 1912 and named for the builder’s wife, according to this. For as long as I remember, The Hair Shed has decorated this window with their wigs. I’ve always found it fascinating.

xmaslights

It’s supposed to be warm this week, too. How warm? According to Accuweather:

weather

 

We’ve had some amazing sunrises:

sunrise

And fantastic sunsets, too:

sunset

Bob installed my cat weathervane on the new shelter pole barn. Don’t you love it? I do!

Last night, the winter solstice came at 11:49pm. We are celebrating the first day of the return to the light tonight, with taco soup, cheddar jalapeno bread and a steamed pudding. I’ll be sure to take a photo of the pudding if it turns out. I’m posting regularly on Instagram if you want to see what I’m doing on a regular basis. I’m sitting on a ton of new postcards for the new year. Wishing you and yours much joy in the year ahead.

Misc. Monday

moon

Wooooo dog, this post has it all. It’s been months since I’ve done a general, non-postcard update. So here it is, the fruits of the summer.

tomatillos

Our veggie garden did great this year. I made two batches of salsa verde (tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeno).

tomatos

In addition to tomatoes for eating, I made a batch of sauce and cooked down two batches of tomato paste (boil and peel tomatoes, puree, cook down, put in pan in 350 degree oven and bake until paste).

cabbage

And I made a batch of sauerkraut. We got a fair amount of radishes. Three heads of cabbage. Lots of tomatoes. A few carrots. Good lettuce and arugula. Next year we’re planting more green beans and more peppers. This year we also got a compost barrel (and inside bucket) and we’re composting our kitchen waste. Right now I also have a batch of hard cider cooking. It’s exciting!

crochetblanket

I’ve been crocheting up a storm. I made a mint lap blanket for a friend. Then I made this lap blanket with a ruffled edge. LOVE the ruffled edge. The yarn is Simply Soft Paints Yarn in Rose Garden.

crochetscarf

I loved the yarn so much (and overbought), so I made a scarf and sent it to a friend who needed a scarf. Now I’m working on another scarf for another friend.

I’ve been reading, too. Just finished Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (very good) and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (excellent). Here’s how I turned out with the Summer Reads 2015:

 

What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas

The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell

American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

The Wishing Thread: A Novel by Lisa Van Allen

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews

All but two done, but I made up with two others. Not bad.

I’m getting ready to start sewing again. I have to make my Halloween costume for Howl-O-Ween at the shelter. And I have a new pattern to make a dress. Just need to pick up the fabric and I’m ready to go.

How about you? Can you believe summer is over and we’re well into autumn already?

Battle Creek Central High School

Thursday, May 21, 2015 0 No tags Permalink

bchighschool

This lovely vintage postcard, postmarked September 17, 1917, was sent to me by my fantastic cousin Angie. It features what is now Battle Creek Central High School. Our little community has many school districts – Lakeview, Pennfield, Harper Creek and Battle Creek Central. I went to Lakeview.

bchighschoolback

Written in pencil, it’s a little hard to read (and no punctuation). Here’s what I can make out:

Dear Sister, 
Am in Battle Creek in a furnished room with one of my boarders have been here since Monday she goes to Chicago next Thursday and I am giving out to Ruth LaPrints in the country for a short visit – she found this and she would send auto after me Friday. We are going to Camp Custer today and to Marshall County Fair tomorrow. Oh I am having a fine time but will have to find a job soon am so glad you could go to Lulas. With love Margaret – will write a letter soon.

It’s an interesting message for sure! Camp Custer was built in 1917 for military training during World War I. I believe Bob’s grandfather has photos of Camp Custer being built. It became a much bigger deal in World War II. The wiki is here, if you are interested. And the fair in Marshall…well, the Calhoun County Fair is Michigan’s oldest continuing operating fair!

The school on this card, the current Battle Creek Central High School, was built on Van Buren Street in 1909. They greatly expanded onto the building a few years back. Here is the Google Street View now:

BCCHS

Thank you Angie, for sending this great card!

More Battle Creek here:

Maple Street

Downtown Battle Creek pt. 2

Downtown Battle Creek pt. 1

Post Tavern

Monday, May 18, 2015 0 No tags Permalink

posttavernfront

My amazing cousin Angie sent me this card, featuring the Post Tavern in Battle Creek. Postmarked June 5, 1914 using a green 1 cent Washington stamp. It was mailed to Miss Mabel Shrestall in Tipton Iowa. I’ve scanned the back, for your viewing pleasure.

posttavernback

The original Post Taven was opened in 1901, a six-story hotel with 135 rooms. The ten-story addition was built in 1913, near when John thought it was the swellest hotel he ever was in.The oldest part of the tavern and the bridge across the street were torn down in 1960. I snagged this screenshot from Google News:

posttavernarticle
None of the original Post Tavern exists now. Angie, thank you so much for this awesome postcard!

More Battle Creek here:

Battle Creek Sanitarium

Hart Hotel

Sandstone Motel