A note from a farmer

I recently received the following email from my CSA farmer, Sarahlee Lawrence, who was attending the Slow Food international conference in Italy. It was such a beautiful email filled with fascinating information, I asked her if I could share it on the blog, and she graciously agreed!

Dear Friends of Rainshadow,

Tall and I have been at an incredible event in Italy called Terre Madre and Salone del Gusto.  This is an international conference of Slow Food with 2000 farmers from 120 countries plus many chefs, educators, and food activists.  We were delegates for the United States and our work was to share with others from around the world to find our common ground, but to also share in similar troubles and solutions.  For more information please visit: http://www.slowfood.com/ Please check out some pictures on the Rainshadow Organics Facebook page.

Copyright: Sarahlee Lawrence

We are now on a small diverse farm in the foothills of the Italian Alps with a farmer who visited our farm three years ago.  Today Tall put new shoes on one of their horses, and I weeded, spread compost, harvested for CSA, and planted garlic.  Its all very familiar.  I now find myself reflecting on the past week at the conference…

To get a feel for it, you have to imagine the biggest farmer’s market in four olympic stadiums with thousands of people selling and tasting all kinds of meats, and oils, and spices, and breads, and nuts, and fruits, and liquors, and cheeses, and salts, and candies, and gelatos, and coffees, and fish, and vegetables….  People from every continent, and so many countries, the features in their faces so true to their places.  Its hot and its loud and it tastes good.

At the same time there are talks going on in big conference halls… translated into many languages, everyone wearing headphones.  The issues are many…  food security, seed saving, GMO, food waste, networking, soil degredation
, small farmer support, urban farming, land grabbing, global empowerment of rural populations and youth education around local food.  People like Carlo Patrini, the founder of Slow Food, spoke with Alice Waters and Vandana Shiva as well as the U.N. Ambasador of Agriculture.  The United Nations has decided that 2014 will be the international year of family agriculture…  to officially assess its role in feeding the growing world.  Genetic modification continues to be a horror in places like India, where 270,000 cotton farmers have committed suicide due to debt to Monsanto. Vandana Shiva responds with Gardens of Hope for widows and orphans.  On a lighter note, in Australia, the government supports the Kitchen Garden Foundation to bring school garden education to 10% of the public schools in the country.

Slow Food stands for the good, clean, fair, food for all: foods that change the world.  As we approach the brink of life as we know it on this earth, Carlo Patrini says that it will be the old people, the women, the indiginous, and the farmers, who will show us the way back.  Tall and I reflect on how we help you all in Central Oregon, with our commitment to farming and the stewardship of our land.

We continue to be commited to heriloom and heritage varieties of vegetables and animals.  We save our seeds and breed our own.  We tend to our bees and our native desert habitat as an important element of our farm.  We continue to feed 75 families and are shooting for 100 next year.  We have launched our first year-round, full-diet  CSA  where 10 brave families have committed to eating local food through the winter, including meats, fresh flour, winter greens from the greenhouse as well as stored roots from the cellar.  We support COIC and the Central Oregon Buy Fresh Buy Local Campaign and Locavore in the building of a food hub where we, and our fellow farmers, can reach more people with good, local, organic, foods.  We are incredibly  inspired and brainstorming about how to better manage our farm and our relationship with all of you.

As we talked to farmers from around the world, the same joys, needs, and struggles resound.  No matter if you are from Venezuela or India or Australia or Italy, proccessed foods push for the plate through unrelenting media campaigns and the loss of food culture.  Fewer and fewer people know how to cook or have time to.  No one knows what is seasonal or how to put food by for winter.  Every farmer wants families to commit to the farm, to try to eat locally and seasonally.  I want all of you who commit to Rainshadow to know that your willingness to take the adventure, with your kids, is saving the world one bite at a time.  You are my rocket  fuel to become a better farmer and to provide more diverse and better food for our community every day of the year.

Monsanto: It’s what’s for dinner

If you follow me on Facebook, you know how shocked and disappointed I am that California’s Prop 37 didn’t pass. Though I haven’t lived in California since I was a child, I feel that their ballot decisions often affect their neighbors to the north, here in Oregon. I thought a measure like Prop 37 passing would start some momentum going for the labeling of GMOs. Sadly, it looks like we are in the exact same place.

The tactics used by these corporations to defeat 37 are unbelievable. They were deliberately misleading, deceitful and of course, counted on good old scare tactics to get a NO out of the CA voters. My personal favorite is all the mailers they sent out, leading people to believe that green organizations, democratic groups and the police were against Prop 37, when in fact, the distributors of these mailers had no association with environmental advocates, democratic organizations or the police.

Why are we not being given the right to know what we are eating? To me, this is a simple case of a multi-billion dollar corporation dictating American policy. We don’t get a say, apparently, even though this affects our basic human needs. It is NOT okay that we aren’t allowed to know what is in our food.

And while we’re at it, I cannot help but ponder the consequences of allowing a corporation to patent seeds and control the sale, production and distribution of those seeds. Seeds are not a product, an invention or a commodity. It’s one thing to sell and/or share the seeds made by good old Mother Nature and gathered by farmers and gardeners – but to alter them in a lab and then patent it? We can’t control the spread of seeds, GM seeds included (which is great for Monsanto – more lawsuits!). What happens when our native seeds are slowly replaced by GM seeds? Does Monsanto get to take control of all food production in our future?

There are three sacred gifts we, as living organisms of the planet earth have been given: water, seeds and air. Three things that should be freely available to all human beings. Yet, the first two have already been commodified by corporations. Is air next? How far are we going to let capitalism go?

All is not hopeless, however. Do some research on GMOs and try to avoid them at the supermarket. If you aren’t sure – don’t buy it! Let your dollars speak for you. Keep writing to your representatives, demanding truth in labeling. Do your best to support local farmers who are protecting our land and food supply. CSAs are sprouting up everywhere and there are so many options available! And keep going to farmer’s markets! Check out Local Harvest to find resources in your area.

How do you feel about the defeat of Prop 37?

Pedalin’: October 2012

Lots has changed around here that has seriously affected my efforts at bicycle commuting. I’m continuing to struggle with health issues and illness, for one thing. For another, I took on a second job at a different school that is about 6 miles away on a rural highway – not one I want to bicycle on after dark. As such, I’m driving 12 miles a day, Monday through Thursday – not an option, I’m sorry to say!

A sad attempt at a timer photo.

So for these posts, I’ll continue to keep a tally of how much I bicycle to my primary job, just as I have in the past. I’m considering keeping a tally of my driving mileage, as well, but for now, I’ll stick to the basics:

15 days on the bike

6 days driving the car

You can now follow me on Dailymile.com, to see my totals. It’s a super fun way to keep track of your own bicycle commuting, as well! (Or running or walking or whatever.)

As for Madeleine, I removed her second basket, after having yet another flat tire two weeks ago. I kept looking at the back tire as I rode and it was bulging from the weight of the two baskets…and me. Taking off one basket wasn’t that much weight to lose, but I can already feel a difference. Now I’ll have to take a lightweight, canvas bag to work with me for my extra stuff and just tie it to the back with a bungee – much lighter. She rides a lot easier, now, which I appreciate, especially on these windy fall days.

All in all, it was a great month for any kind of commuting. This is my favorite time of year. The leaves are so dazzling and everything outside is stunningly beautiful. This is what I got to look at:

Pedalin’ Profiles: Ellie Efforts

I was so excited when I got an email from an Eco Etsy Teammate, Ellie Efforts about her bicycling adventures. And it turns out, she’s here in Oregon, as well, which I never realized! I’m so pleased to share her bicycle commuting story here – a real inspiration!

When my amazing husband & I married in 1999 I moved from Eugene, Oregon, where bicycle commuting is common & bikes rule, to rural Douglas County in SW Oregon where big pickups and log trucks dominate the roads and commuting is 10-30 miles round-trip depending on the size of the town you need. My husband & I are woodworkers and the hands behind Earnest Efforts natural woodworking. We work from home and my commute consists of walking about 500 feet from the house to the Sawdust Cathedral (our woodshop) and my daily exercise is a 40 minute hike around our property through woods & along streams with Myrtle Jo Efforts, our precious canine friend. My 25 lb. mountain bike, I’m hardly kidding, was getting dusty and looking very lonely until I had a brilliant idea.

My Pa loves to surf, bicycle, fly-fish and camp and he has all the toys that go with these adventures. So, when his birthday came around this spring my brother & I gave him the ultimate birthday gift – a bicycle trip around Crater Lake and a weekend of camping in Southern Oregon. The Crater Lake Rim ride is a 35 mile ride, which is a moderate one day trip, but I hadn’t been on my bike in such a long time I was worried that I would be the one left in the dust and my ego was cringing at the thought. Our Etsy shop & wholesale accounts send us to the post office twice a week on yoga class days and one day a week as the only errand. My mind was made up – time to start riding and saving fossil fuels one day a week.

The nearest post office is 10.8 miles round trip on the black top, so in May I aired up the tires, strapped the packages to my bike and started riding to the post every Monday. There are some hills, blind curves and a very narrow shoulder, but otherwise it is a perfect morning ride. That moment of freedom when my feet hit the pedals and I feel like I’m flying puts a smile on my face and in my soul. With the fresh air in my face and the speed I don’t get when hiking; I feel connected to the Earth and released all in the same moment. Along with yoga classes and a regular work out program the cycling is getting easier with every ride. Better yet, the drivers in our rural community were seeing me on the road, giving me a wide berth and waving as they passed. I was planting the seed of bicycle awareness in the minds of these drivers.

Our family weekend at Crater Lake in August was brilliant and I had the time of my life. The ride was difficult at times, but the moments were incredible. The trip stirred in me that fire that has kept me coming back to my bike. On Friday nights I bike 10 miles with my Mom, who discovered her love of cycling when she decided to join us on the Crater Lake ride. Her hip had been bothering her on her walks, but cycling has eliminated this and she now rides 10-18 miles a day a few times a week. My dear girlfriend, Dot, is an avid cyclist and bikes the 10 miles to yoga a couple times a week. I joined her in September and had the privilege of riding with one of her sons to his school then off on the 45 minute ride into yoga, 90 minutes of yoga and 45 minute ride back to Dot’s house. At the end of the ride I’m starving and delirious about life for the rest of the day.

I know I’ve already said a lot but all I really needed to say is if you have a bicycle, dust it off, get out your helmet, and put your feet to the pedals. There is nothing else like it in the world. Whether you hop on your bike for a quick trip to the store for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or you commute to work 10 miles there is nothing else like bicycling. Freedom, air, and living in the moment. That’s what bicycling is for me…living in the moment.

Thank you, Ellie! If any of you have a bicycle commuting story you would like to share, please contact me at five5seed@gmail.com.

Pedalin’: September 2012

It was a rough summer for bicycle commuting, between the tires, the trips and the heat. As I mentioned before, I felt like my alternative commuting activism has waned a bit. Then throw in my health issues and you’ve got a perfect recipe for someone who wasn’t all that psyched to get back into the routine of bicycle commuting when I returned to work. September’s totals:

8 days on the bike

5 days driving the car

In preparation for this new school year, I bought a second basket for the bike (third if you count the handlebar basket) so I could have more storage options. However, I’ve been struggling ever since.

I don’t think my cheap, but lovely bicycle was made very well. She never held her balance particularly well even right out of the box, sans baskets. Once I added the front and rear basket, she became a little less stable and far more so when the baskets were full. Madeleine has taken a lot of spills this year – a whole lot. I’ve literally had to reshape the handlebar basket at least three times post tip-over. With this third basket, she really cannot stand on her own any longer unless she is leaning against something – which is okay. But frustrating.

On my way to work this morning.

As I’ve been riding to work, I’ve felt that the bike is a lot slower and feels super heavy. Could the addition of just one extra basket have added that much extra weight? I’m not sure. Though my heavy lunchbox probably isn’t helping matters, either. Further, I wonder if all the violent falls she has had have bent her frame out of whack. I don’t know. I could take her in to have her looked at, but I’m at the point now where I don’t see it as a wise investment. She was so cheap (no offense, Madeleine!) that it would make more financial sense to buy a new Madeleine than have the old one fixed.

But that’s not my plan. I’m thinking of where I’m going and what I want to do for the future. Gas prices are insane. I never thought we’d still be at the $4/gallon mark after summer. So it’s time to do some brainstorming and start making wiser investments in my alternative commuting. A better quality cruiser is high on my list (don’t tell M!). And I sure would love a strong cargo bike, but man, the price is prohibitive. I’m even considering a motorized scooter for getting around town when I need a break from pedaling. And I still dream of having a trike…just for fun. I wouldn’t have any more issues with the bike tipping over!

Right now, there really are no options, as far as finances go. But I’m trying to prepare myself for when I do have the money. Until then, I’ll be trudging along on poor, overworked, overloaded Madeleine.

Pedalin’: August 2012

This has been a bit of a rough month for my bicycle commuting. I started out the month a long way from my bikes – in Portland, where I was staying with my brother in order to attend a graduate seminar in Newberg, Oregon. I kept track of the mileage – the trip to and from Portland, and commuting from Portland to Newberg every day for a week – and I managed to rack up 525 miles in one week. It was a necessary evil – I didn’t have a lot of other options available – but it was really discouraging for someone who prides herself on driving less than 1,500 miles per year. In one week, I managed to hit a third of that limit.

When I got home, I picked up my new bicycle wheels, which turned out to be $110, not $90. Still not so bad, but it discouraged me a bit, especially because I could not get a yellow wheel for Madeleine. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I feel genuinely sad not to have both her yellow wheels spinning around town.

Madeleine – minus one yellow wheel

Anyway, the other obstacle that plagued me was the weather. August is the hottest month in Central Oregon and this one was no exception, with temperatures hovering at or near 100 degrees F. Guess how much I wanted to go riding in that? (Honestly, I prefer winter temperatures and rain rather than blazing hot sun.)

There was something about that roadtrip that really knocked the activist wind out of me. Every time I needed to run errands and it was almost 100 degrees outside, I’d say to myself, “Well, I just blew through 525 miles of driving, so might as well add another 8 to the list.” I felt lazy and discouraged and opted to use the car 75% of the time – which is a lot for me.

But, on the bright side, we are entering the two best months for biking in Central Oregon – September and October. The weather is usually perfect, especially in the afternoons, for bicycle travel. In two days, I start up again at my other job and am ready to take Madeleine back out on the road for another year of commuting to work on two wheels! Tally ho!

Pedalin’: July 2012

It was a tough month in my garage. You would think someone with two bicycles would always be able to get around, right? Even if one (like my mountain bike with its bent rim) was temporarily out of commission? What are the chances that BOTH bikes would go down at once? I don’t have the answer to that, but that’s exactly what happened!

My temporarily amputated mountain bike.

I hopped on Madeleine one day and found it was super hard to pedal. I thought it was the wind, but when I had gone two blocks pedaling my heart out, I stopped to feel the tires. Sure enough, the rear tire was super low. I pedaled back, pumped it up and went on my way. However, I had this nagging feeling that the tube had a leak and that I’d have to replace it soon. Sure enough, two days later, the tire was almost flat.

Now there’s absolutely no way for me to write about what happened without admitting to you all that even after two years of bicycle commuting, I really have no idea how to take care of my bikes. I’ve never changed a flat before, or done anything beyond lubing the chain. My friend and my brother always took care of all my bicycle maintenance needs.

Trying to be an independent bicycle commuter, I finally realized that it was time to try it on my own. So I went to the store and bought the first tubes I saw. I figured anything 26″ around would work for my 26″ wheels. Well, that’s about all I knew about my bike and here comes the embarrassing part: I didn’t know that wheels came in a large variation of widths. I figured they were pretty standard. So when I got home with my 26″x1.35″ tube, I realized that they would not fit. (Thankfully, I was clued into this before I opened the tube and wasn’t able to return it.)

So guess what? All the information you need to know is stamped on the tires! Duh! I knew the PSI recommendation was there, just like on car tires, but I didn’t know that the tire will tell you exactly what size it is! So I went back to the store and the only 26″x2.125″ tubes they had came with a presta valve. Embarrassing confession #2: I had no idea what a presta valve was and bought it without thinking twice. Only to find that my pump does not work with presta valves! Grrr!

Anyway, I got online and had to search high and low to find a good video on You Tube about changing a rear tire. (You wouldn’t believe how many feature front tire changes with quick release wheels, even though 60% of flats occur on the rear wheel. Plus, I do not have quick release wheels. Of course.) And then…I made my way into the garage, toolbox in hand, gulped a bit and got down to it.

I cannot tell you how proud I was of myself for just getting the darn tire off in the first place! I had a little trouble getting the tube in just right and getting the tire itself back into the rim. Whew, that’s tough! Thankfully, my friend was nearby and was able to help me lift the bike to get the wheel back in place. I wouldn’t have been able to do that on my own.

Now, you can turn the bike upside-down, of course, but I’ve read that this can cause misalignment/damage to the handlebars. However, the next day, when I realized I’d forgotten to put the washer of the presta valve on the OUTSIDE of the rim, I knew I had to take the wheel off again and my only option was to turn the bike upside-down. Also not easy, being as heavy as Madeleine is (no offense, girl!), and being as I had to remove the mirror, first. But…again, I did it, and a lot faster the second time around!

So now I can change a tire all by myself! I’m quite proud and wish I had taken pictures! The only downside is that I wish I had taken more time to ask questions and figure out this valve stuff. I wanted it yesterday, since I use Madeleine all the time, and I was limited by what my store offered, but I should’ve gone to the other end of town to see if the other shop had anything else. So now I know the difference between schrader and presta valves, which is great, but I’m not so sure I made the best decision here. I had to buy a $20 pump with both schrader and presta fittings so I can pump up Madeleine who is now a “tire hybrid” – one schrader, one presta. The point is, though, that it would’ve been easier and cheaper to just keep looking for a tube with a scrader valve! Darnit. Live and learn. Or bike and learn.

My poor Madeleine!

And just when I thought all was well…I took Madeleine out for our first ride after fixing her tire and felt that familiar drag in the rear wheel. I gave it a spin and sure enough – it was bent! I couldn’t believe it. Two bent rear rims in two months.  What are the odds?

I sucked it up and took the wheels to the local bike shop and was told that it would probably not be worth it to try to fix the rims – that they would always drag a little, and with all the riding I do, I don’t need anything that will slow me down! So I ordered two new wheels ($90, including labor, not so bad). There’s only one problem – you can’t get yellow rims without paying a small fortune. So Madeleine is going to have one plain rim and one yellow one. I’m ridiculously disappointed by this. I absolutely LOVE her yellow rims. I’m hoping it’s possible to find a way to paint them, but I’m not sure I’ll realistically have the time or motivation to do it before the school year starts up. And once work starts, I doubt I’ll want to mess with it until summer!

Two sad little bent rims.

So, Bicycle Gods: I’ve had enough! Go pick on someone else for a while! :)

How are your summer bicycle adventures going?

Starbucks Flash Mob: The Follow Up

I am so excited about how many people got on board with the social media flash mob this weekend. I think in this day and age, it is inexcusable for any business not to be doing the absolute best they can to model social and environmental responsibility. Unfortunately, it often seems like the opposite is true, when so many major brand names are debuting “on-the-go” versions of their staple products multiplying unnecessary plastic waste.

When it comes to disposable cups, many people take issue with the unsustainable consumption of paper products and the toll it takes on our planet’s lungs (the trees). As important as this is, it’s not even my main concern – my worry is the waste. Where will all this trash go? Did you know that the average American office worker goes through 500 disposable cups in the course of a year*? It’s really long past time to start taking responsibility for the waste we create and demanding l0w- or zero-waste options from our local businesses and from large corporations.

Hence, this week’s Starbucks Flash Mob!

To clear up confusion, yes, some Starbucks shops have mugs at the shop for in-store customers. Their website says: “Customers enjoying their beverage in-store can also request that it be served in a ceramic mug where available.” I take issue with two things in that statement. First, we shouldn’t have to ask. How many people are going to assume this is available when these cups may or may not be visible (I have never seen any at my local Starbucks)? Further, will customers even remember to ask? Most fast-food joints ask “For here or to go?” Why can’t Starbucks baristas ask the same thing and encourage in-store customers to use a mug? Secondly, there is no good reason why this option shouldn’t be available in all Starbucks. If the argument is that they don’t have the washing facilities on site, then (in my opinion) they shouldn’t have leased that space in the first place. I understand there are many Starbucks kiosks around and that’s another story, but for all full-fledged shops, they should have mugs available and the ability to clean them. It is a restaurant, after all.

As for the flash mob, here are some of the comments I found on the Starbucks & Starbucks Canada Facebook pages:

…..Hey Starbucks; getting your baristas to offer your coffee in a “for-here” mug first would truly go far to ‘inspire and nurture the human spirit’ and help decrease waste. Canadians love drinking coffee from a fabulous ceramic mug!

…..hey Starbucks :D les verres et les tasses réutilisables ( = en céramique ou en verre) c’est bien mieux pour apprécier un bon café à l’intérieur ou sur la terrasse de vos établissements! Faites que vos baristas proposent TOUJOURS cette option! Prendre soin de la terre, c’est pas seulement une journée par année, mais bien 24/7, avec chaque client!

…..How about reusable cups for in-store use?! I’d enjoy my coffee sipping experience much more if it were from a ceramic mug! any steps to reduce waste would send a great message to starbucks doubters…

However, it’s important to keep it going this week. Here’s what you can do:

::Visit the Starbucks Facebook pages again and “like” other people’s comments and/or comment on what they said. I’ve noticed that the Starbucks moderators have answered comments regarding the rumors about their lack of support of our troops in the past 24 hours, but have said nothing to anyone who has posted about reusable cups. Hmmm. We need them to take notice and realize that this is important, too.

::Check out the #Starbuckslesswaste page on Twitter and retweet your little heart out! Keep the message moving.

::Give them a ring and let them know what you think. 1-800-STARBUCKS (1-800-782-7282)

::Email Starbucks here.

::Post your thoughts at mystarbucksidea.com. Click here for their social responsibility page. You do have to create a Starbucks account in order to post, but if you already have one, it’ll be even easier!

::And the most effective thing you can do, for all you die-hard greenies like myself – write them an actual letter. I know, this one is harder. It takes precious time and energy. But nothing makes an impact like a real, actual, tangible letter that they can hold in their hands. One may mean nothing, but even a dozen might make them take notice. You can write to them at: Starbucks Coffee Company, P.O. Box 3717, Seattle, WA 98124-8878.

Please keep the message rolling this week. We’ll wrap up on Friday.

Thank you all so much for your participation!

*Source: Earth 911

Flash Mob: Starbucks

I go to Starbucks almost every week. Not because I particularly love their products or their brand, but because it’s a nice shop in a central location where I can get comfortable and enjoy time with my friends who come and knit with me on Sunday mornings.

I almost always (except those darn forgetful days) bring my own cup and order a tall shaken green iced tea, my favorite drink (unless you count the green tea frappucino, a delightful indulgence). And while sipping my tea, sans disposable straw, I always look around and see that everyone else in the shop is drinking from a disposable cup.

The question is: Why? Why don’t the baristas ask, “For here or to go?” like many other restaurants? Why aren’t in-store customers given nice ceramic mugs or glass cups to drink from? Why do we have to bring our own cups if we are going to stay in the store and want to avoid disposables?

In this day and age, this shouldn’t even be an issue. I have thought of it for a while now, but after seeing this post at My Plastic-Free Life and this one at EcoYogini, I realized it was time to stop thinking about it and start doing something.

My first step was writing a letter to Starbucks about their disposable cups. Why, I asked, aren’t in-store customers offered reusable cups? Why are disposable cups the default? I was pleasantly surprised to find this response a day later:

Hello Y.L.,

Thank you for letting us know about the waste in the store. Hearing feedback straight from our customers is invaluable. I will be forwarding your comments on to the appropriate department here, as well as the management of the store to make sure that the appropriate actions are taken to address this issue.

Thanks again for letting us know and giving us the opportunity to improve something in our stores.


Nick D

customer service

Then I got on Twitter and wrote them again, encouraging them to please offer reusable cups to all in-store customers. And that’s when it occurred to me: F L A S H   M O B. I think it can be intimidating for people to see a link to a customer service contact page and think about how to compose a letter to a company. And then it just doesn’t get done. BUT – it sure is easy to drop in to a Facebook fan page or Twitter page and leave a quick note. Something like, “Hey, please offer your in-store customers reusable cups instead of defaulting to disposables!” See. Super easy, right?

So please join me this week and let’s flash mob Starbucks! Drop a quick note to them on Twitter (hashtag #starbuckslesswaste) and on Facebook and tell them what you’d like to see. (For you Canadians, the FB page is Starbucks Canada and the Twitter page is @StarbucksCanada.) Be kind and respectful and supportive and show them that their commitment to greener business practices will bring in a whole slew of loyal customers who want to see businesses take waste reduction seriously.

Ready, set, GO!

Pedalin’: June 2012

A little late this month, but here I am! As I mentioned last month, the last day of the school year was June 8th, which means I don’t have much to report on the work commute. But for those few days, I don’t think I missed a single one. It was a little cold and rainy and very windy (yeah, we don’t get summer until July around here) but I was determined to ride!

A week after that, I broke out the mountain bike and trailer. I needed to go shopping and believe it or not, in the whole year that I’ve had my trailer, I’ve never taken it to the store! I was always too scared that a child or teenager might think it was funny to try to get into the trailer, and of course, it would break under that kind of weight. I decided it was ridiculous to have such an awesome bicycle commuting tool and to be too scared to take it to stores, so I asked a friend to come with me, and together, we pedaled up the very steep hill to the grocery store.

I shamelessly made my friend take the trailer! Copyright: Five Seed

Unfortunately, a mountain bike malfunction did follow this trip, I’m sorry to say. The trailer was a little overloaded, and it bottomed out a few times, scraping the paint off the bottom. No big deal, though – would’ve happened over time, anyway, and I don’t want to be too precious about something that’s intended to be used as a little workhorse!

The worst part came later. About a week after the trip, I wanted to go riding again, and wheeled out the mountain bike only to find it seriously dragging with every revolution of the rear tire. At first, I thought the brakes were too tight, but then realized that couldn’t be the problem when the wheel only felt “stuck” in one spot. It had to be the rim. So between my friend and brother, it was discovered that a spoke had come off and the rim of the wheel had bent, causing the drag. Not the best time of year for this to happen, since I use the trailer a lot in summer! So I’m hoping to find a rim on Craigslist. But no luck so far and I may have to resort to buying a new one.

In any case, the weather has been pleasant enough for lots of nice bicycle rides. I think I’ve only taken my car out twice in the past five weeks. It’s not very hot yet, and just a little breezy.

Have you all been taking advantage of these gorgeous summer days for a little evening bike ride?

By the way, what do you think of the new blog design? Still a work in progress, but getting there!