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?

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!

Taking Back the Roads

Today, I saw this post about pedestrian safety on the Urban Country Bicycle blog. It talks about how the Toronto media often portrays the pedestrian victims of automobile-related accidents as the responsible party, rather than the driver (or both). Thankfully, I don’t think Deschutes County (where I live) is particularly prone to that stance. Our last major bicycle-automobile death was a major piece of news and there was no question in the media’s mind that it was the fault of the driver, who was texting when he struck the young boy.

Copyright: Five Seed

It does bring to mind the many, many times I have almost been hit by vehicles – and only twice was it my fault. Oddly, cell phones rarely seem to be the cause, though. I can remember a day a few months ago when I was cycling across an intersection, watching the man in the pickup truck to my right, who was waiting for me to pass so he could proceed. I saw something in his eyes change and knew he was going to gun it, even though I was just a few feet away, and sure enough, he did. He saw his mistake immediately, and we both came to abrupt stops. He only looked slightly chagrined, however, for attempting to avoid having to wait the five seconds it would have taken me to pass as he waved me on. But there it is: NO cell phone involved and the man was looking at me the whole time. He was just in the usual hurry.

Another incident occurred downtown when I was crossing the street on foot, sans bicycle. A minivan came hurtling toward me and I remember thinking it was some kind of joke or something, and why weren’t they stopping and…then I realized it wasn’t a joke and I sprinted out of the way, hightailing it for the sidewalk. I heard the driver call out to me. It was a woman who profusely apologized and explained that she hadn’t seen me in the glare of the sunlight off her windshield. Again, no cell phone involved.

So as it turns out, reflective jackets, flags, bells and the other safety equipment I often use don’t necessarily help. Being out in daylight (as opposed to nighttime) doesn’t necessarily help. And the drivers don’t have to be on their cell phones at all. This all makes for a pretty daunting picture. Are we cyclists and pedestrians just throwing ourselves into an ocean of vehicle predators and hoping for the best?

If all our safety precautions don’t necessarily protect us from near-misses or accidents, then what can we do? I came upon this video (below) a few months ago and was so completely blown away by it. It’s a quick, 6-minute documentary on the development of the bicycle paths in the Netherlands. I almost feel like crying when I watch – it is my ultimate fantasy to have such a sophisticated bicycling system in my own city and to have car-free city centers. And why shouldn’t we? What is it about America that makes it so car-centric? What about the rest of us, who choose to travel differently? And how many would also make that choice if they felt it was safer?

This video boils down the car vs. bicycle problem into a simple equation: Unsafe streets for pedestrians + economic crisis + energy crisis + public outcry = CHANGE. We have the first three of those across the US. All we have to do is add the fourth and final component – the public outcry, something I don’t see much of.

I have toyed with this idea for years now – how to get involved with the community to instigate change and educate people. I’ve had a million ideas ranging from starting a bicycle gang (in actuality, a group of bicycle commuters who meet and support one another) to volunteering to host educational meetings/classes at schools and community groups (which, surprisingly, people have been less than enthusiastic about). But I haven’t pushed through, I haven’t followed through, I have yet to really do anything. Maybe now is the time….

What would your first plan of action be?

Pedalin’: May 2012

I can hardly believe that June is here and there is only one more week of work before summer break begins! These last two months have literally whooshed past me at the speed of light.

Madeleine and I have been in bicycle commuting heaven (for this most part) lately. My totals for the month of May*:

16 days on the bike

5 days driving the car

These are the exact same numbers as last month, somehow! I honestly don’t remember why I drove my car those first few days of the month. I drove it yesterday because I needed to bring in large stage props for a play my students are putting on next week. On a slightly breezy day with temps in the high 70′s, you can imagine how much I would have rather been bicycling! If only!

Copyright: Five Seed

I was blessed with lovely weather this past month. May can be pretty frigid around here, but this month, it was mostly mild and sometimes downright hot. I did get caught in two downpours and despite my rain poncho, I got soaked. But mostly, it was glorious outside.

I did have a couple slight bumps in the road, though. In late April, my hand-me-down iPod broke. Not a big deal, I know, but I am obsessed with listening to audio books during my commute to work. After weeks of research and pro/con lists, I finally bought a Sony MP3 player and I love it. I’m enjoying The Gilly Salt Sisters each day on my way to work.

My second bump was more literal. Two days ago, while looking up at the tree branches as I rode (typical behavior for me), I rolled over freshly laid tar in the road – so fresh it was still in its liquid state. It left two fat stripes of tar on each tire, which promptly gathered a mess of stones and gravel and my subsequent rides have had an interesting Southern Californian freeway feel. Tha-thum, tha-thum, tha-thum. My co-worker, an avid bicyclist, advised me to wait it out – that the tar would eventually wear away, for the most part. But I’m pretty annoyed with myself for not paying closer attention to the road!

I won’t have much to report next month, as far as work commutes go. I have only five commutes left until September! It actually makes me a little sad! However, I will continue to ride to the post office for my Five Seed customers and will be using my bicycle to pick up my CSA share, starting next week. And who knows – maybe I’ll actually get around to starting my bicycle gang this summer!

*These totals only reflect my workday commutes. I don’t count weekends in these tallies. During the winter, I tend to average between 50/50 and 40/60 with the bike and car, respectively, for errands and other non-work-related commutes. In the summer and early fall, I tend to do almost all my errands on the bicycle.

Pedalin’: April 2012

When I sat down to write this post, I looked at the previous two and realized that I had been using the title “Wheelin’.” Seems slightly more appropriate to use “Pedalin’”!

My totals for the month of April*:

16 days on the bike

5 days driving the car

April, while beautiful, was a tough month. The winds were almost as strong as in March. At one point, I almost fell off my bike during my ride when a big gust hit me from the left. Seriously. Another day, I happened to look out the window at work and saw my bicycle up-ended again. Worried that the basket would come off like before, I ran out to grab it.

Copyright: Five Seed

The rain, however, was the biggest challenge for me. I don’t really like riding in the rain, mostly because it can get cold and I hate having the rain hit me hard in the face while I ride. It rained so often here last month that I honestly felt like I was living in Portland! Those 5 days in the car were almost all because I just didn’t want to deal with getting wet. But…for the most part, I braved it, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. One day, I forgot my rain gear and was SOAKED by the time I got home. You can bet that I never left the house again without my windbreaker, water-proof pants and rain poncho.

Copyright: Five Seed

The BEST part about riding in April, however, is something that is worth all the discomfort of the wind and rain – and then some. The budding trees and bulbs made every single day magical. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous everything was. The pink and white trees. The tulips and hyacinths and irises and daffodils. Absolute glory. Even watching the buds cascade down from the trees during a gray-skied wind storm was beautiful in ways I can’t describe. It was like riding through a fairy land.

Copyright: Five Seed

I always try to stay as present as possible during these changing times – April and October. The beauty of the flowers or the changing leaves is so fleeting that I try to soak in every second while I can. I take pictures, pause to watch the way branches sway in the breeze, stop to smell the buds. On one beautiful Sunday, I was walking with a friend, commenting on the trees when she said, “I just love to stop and listen to them.” I thought she was talking about the wind or something, but when we paused to listen, I heard something much louder: Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. My little gardener’s heart did a backflip to see the tree completely crawling with bees!

Copyright: Five Seed

My bicycle got a little baptism, of sorts, as well. I gave her her first bath last weekend. After all that rain and mud, she needed it! And while scrubbing her down, I realized I hated her name. (Some of you may remember that when I first got her, I named her Claire, simply because the word Clairmont is written on her frame. Yeah, original, I know!) Her new name is Madeleine. Let’s see if that one sticks! Seems to suit her more, I think.

No, I don’t ride it with the yellow bungee tied up like that, LOL! I loop that over the side basket to keep my stuff in place. Copyright: Five Seed

So, despite the rain, it has been a wonderful month of bicycle commuting!

*These totals only reflect my workday commutes. I don’t count weekends in these tallies. During the winter, I tend to average between 50/50 and 40/60 with the bike and car, respectively. In the summer and early fall, I tend to do almost all my errands on the bicycle.

Pedalin’ Profiles: The Trike Lady

I’ve done some bicycle interviews in the past and wanted to make this a regular feature of this blog. I was thrilled when I connected with Stepheny Smith on Facebook. Stepheny posted about her tricycle (something I have wanted for years now) and I’ve been extremely inspired by her story. Check it out!

Copyright: Stepheny Smith

Tell me a little about yourself.

I’m a 38 year old mother of 3 teens.  I enjoy art and I design and handcraft my own jewelry line, Jewels of Eden. I have a rare kidney condition called Loin Pain Hematuria Syndrome which causes me extreme kidney pain (for more info click here).   I’ve recently adopted a new lifestyle to help me control my pain in a more natural way that is highly effective, based on the book The Pain Cure by Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD.

Copyright: Stepheny Smith

When did you start to bicycle/tricycle commute and why?

In early January of this year, my boyfriend made my life-long dream come true by purchasing me my adult tricycle.  I had wanted one for recreation purposes from the time I was 5, but my desire to use it for transportation purposes started when I moved to Florida almost 2 years ago.  I had sold my car before I moved because driving caused me additional kidney/back pain, and I even though I tried to drive as little as possible, as long as you own a car, people expect you to use it.  After moving here I walked most places, and took the bus to places that were a bit further away.   Soon I realized that even though I found riding the bus a pleasant experience, it was very time consuming.  Soon my thoughts turned to “If only I had a trike, I could carry things in the basket, and go just about anywhere I need to go on my schedule”.  So in October of last year I started “training” on an old stationary bike that my neighbors had set out with a “free” sign on it.  I practiced at the highest resistance level, and now my trike seems like a breeze!   

Copyright: Stepheny Smith

Tell me about your trike! :)

My trike is made by Miami Sun.  It’s just a basic trike with a rear basket and a nice huge saddle type seat for my comfort.

Copyright: Stepheny Smith

What do you love about trike commuting?

I love getting to see nature, and experience it.  If I ride through a shaded area, I feel the coolness.  If I ride past a yard with a lot of flowers, I take a deep breath and soak up the beautiful scents.  I also love that I’m getting exercise and light therapy, two important components of the “new lifestyle” that helps me deal with my chronic pain.   Both the physical exercise and exposure to the sun raises my serotonin levels, which is vital to the brain properly handling pain signals.

Copyright: Stepheny Smith

What do you hate about trike commuting?

People who don’t use their turn signals or run stop signs.  It’s one thing to do something that will cause a fender bender in cars, but if you don’t stop at that stop sign when I’m expecting you to, that could mean my death.  Not cool, drivers, not cool.

Copyright: Stepheny Smith

What advice would you give to someone wanting to try pedal-powered commuting?

Review your state laws regarding cycling.  I actually recommend this for ANYONE driving any vehicle on the roads.  I’ve learned alot about the rights of bicycles on the roads and sidewalks.

What kind of tricks have you learned to make your commute easier, more pleasant and safe?

For fun I added a pet carrier on the front to take along my chihuahua when I’m going to pet friendly places.  For safety I’ve purchased a helmet, my mother made a bright orange safety-type vest, I have a bright orange flag, a mirror, and a bell.  I feel a lot safer because I feel like I’m visible to all drivers and the mirror helps me take a quick check if I suspect someone is coming up behind me.  The bell is surprisingly loud and really grasps people’s attention. 

Copyright: Stepheny Smith

What do you think about bike/trike commuting in car-centric America?

I think we need more of it!  I think that drivers of motorized vehicles need to be more aware and prepared for sharing the roads.  It’s a healthy alternative for both ourselves and our planet!

Copyright: Daylina Miller

Thanks, Stepheny! Happy trails! :)

You can follow Stepheny’s tricycle adventures on Facebook and check out her jewelry fan page here. Read more about Stepheny here.

Pedalin’: March 2012

It is ironic that I recently posted on the BP oil spill anniversary and how much it inspired me to become a bicycle commuter. And yet, as you will see, I have hardly been on my bike at all this month. I do have some legitimate excuses, including a stint in jury duty that required me to drive to work straight from the courthouse. And the weather… All I can say is that T.S. Eliot got it all wrong. March is the cruelest month, not April! Every year, we have the most wicked weather in March – snow, rain, hail and winds that literally move your trash bins from one neighborhood to another in one afternoon. The truth is, I hate bicycling in March, and I always have, even before I was a bicycle commuter and rode exclusively for fitness.

In fact, it’s snowing right now, as I write this on March 31st. What the heck?

But enough with the whining. Time for the stats. It was a short work month for me, with spring break, so here are the (disappointing) numbers:

3 days on the bike

9 days driving the car

Boo! Well, there’s always next month.

Copyright: Five Seed

Being as I had an entire week off to focus on Five Seed, you may have noticed that I blogged a little fanatically. It was so great to catch up and get some time to actually do some writing! Just in case you missed anything this month, check out:

::How BP Affected Me, Parts 1, 2 & 3

::Revisiting the Naked Face Challenge

::Resolve to Love: Claiming Your Inner Beauty

::Taking Yourself Seriously

::The word cloud contest!

As for business, I’m extremely excited with the progress I’ve made in the studio this week. Yes, this week. I thought it would take a month or more, but I was ready for change and I have met about 75% of my goals in the redesign plan. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to call it “finished” – it’ll always be a reflection of my changing needs and ideas. But I will have completed the majority of my design goals within a week or so and can’t wait to show you!

And the best part? I’ve completed all my quarterly goals!!! This has been a struggle for me – setting goals and not meeting them. The reason I don’t complete them is almost always because I’m afraid. Sure enough, on March 29th, I realized that it was the very last business day of the quarter and I still had not completed one item on the list – something I’d been afraid to do. Determined to stare the fear down and meet that goal, I got in the car (I had a long way to go so biking wouldn’t have been an option) and DID IT! Now that’s taking myself seriously!