26 December 2013

Le Fin

It's the end of the year and the end of 365 days on a bike (well, almost). Going through my photos of the past year brought back so many amazing memories: bike dates, bike parties, family rides, work rides, rides with family members, rides to events. An entire year of memories on a bike.

Winter melts into spring...

Spring warms into summer...

Summer cools into fall...

And fall returns to winter...

And with that, comes the end of Life's a Bear. Thanks for joining me for the past six years. I've met some lovely women and men through this blog. I will miss following them regularly, but I hope to keep in touch through other social media channels. Thanks for reading!

20 December 2013

The Final Benefit of Biking: Motivation

There are far more than 12 benefits of biking. And many of them are so closely related that it's hard to separate them (health and environment, economics and community, biking mom means biking family). The 12 that I posted are specific to me, but I have a feeling that many people experience these benefits as well.

A year ago, I decided that I was going to try to ride my bike (nearly) everyday. I created a hashtag for it (#everydayonabike) and wrote about it here. By doing so, I put the intention out in the world and felt accountable. (To whom? I'm not sure. Maybe just to myself.) It was just the kind of motivation I needed to take this type of a challenge on.

And let me be the first to tell you: It was sometimes (often) a challenge. Riding my bike means that I have to get up earlier and be more prepared. It means that I spend more time commuting than I would otherwise. It means that sometimes I would show up to a meeting sweating profusely or wiping snot from my nose thanks to a cold ride. Some days I just don't feel like riding. But more often than not, I rode anyway - even if it meant having a prolonged pep talk with myself.

Here's the thing: I never, ever regretted biking once I was on the bike. I never wished I had driven instead. I have to remember that sometimes - getting started is often the hardest part.

There were also days when I couldn't wait to get on the bike. When riding was such a joy that I couldn't stop myself from smiling.

One year is a long time to keep up with something. Although I have started giving myself a little more slack about not riding, I've kept at this whole everyday on a bike adventure. Mostly I'm proud of myself for not losing motivation.

The message here is, if I can do it, anyone can do it. I'm not a hard-core cyclist. I don't have all of the latest gear and gadgets. I'm not fast. That's your motivation: Don't let schedules or kids (take them along for the ride!) or fear get in your way of biking more. Sometimes the hardest part is starting.

Thanks for joining me in this adventure!

19 December 2013

The 12 Benefits of Biking: Interactions

I rarely smile at other drivers while in my car. Sure, if I know someone, I wave and smile. Otherwise, I'm ambivalent or cursing under my breath, depending on other drivers.

When I'm on my bike, I often get smiles and/or waves from other people sharing the road - other parents riding, people walking and sometimes people driving. Today, when I rode up to the chain grocery store to buy gift cards for the kids' teachers, a woman smiled and said hello to me. Had I driven and walked into the store, I doubt that we would have shared a look, much less a smile. I've had conversations about my bike, about my bike trailer, about my coat, about riding, about all sorts of random things with people because I ride my bike. And because I work from home and don't interact with many people throughout the day, I value being able to share a little with people. And if it's because I ride my bike, all the better.

I can't write about interactions without mentioning my social media interactions that have occurred because of #everydayonabike. I now follow many people who are just like me - not serious bikers, but like to commute. It's been great to "meet" people through Instagram and the blog who share a passion for biking.

The 12 Benefits of Biking: Apparel

Over the past year, my wardrobe has shifted. Not necessarily on purpose or quickly. It's been a slow transition. Certain clothes and shoes work better on the bike and since I don't have a chain guard, I have to be mindful about what I wear. The tenth benefit of riding a bike is the challenge of finding apparel that will work with the bike (and be somewhat stylish at the same time).

Pants // The biggest change has been my conversion to skinny jeans. They're great because they're cute, comfortable and never, ever get stuck in between links. My current favorite: Old Navy Rockstar jeans. They're inexpensive, fit pretty true to size and come in all sorts of colors. My only complaint is that they are a bit on the short side. But, if I wear boots, it's not an issue. And in the spring/summer, the ankle-length is perfect.

Shoes // I know some women who bike in heels. And more power to them. I'm no good at it. I'm also pretty bad at riding with shoes with slippery soles. Flats aren't my best friend, but when I ride to meetings, I usually have to suck it up. In August, I bought a pair of Frye Veronica boots specifically for winter riding. They are super durable and keep my feet warm if I'm wearing wool socks. I'm still looking for the perfect summer riding sandal. I'm also in the market for some basic black boots.

Seen here, ski parka, Po Campo bag and Frye Veronica boots. (There are some skinny jeans hiding there too). Not on a bike, but clearly this wardrobe has impacted my non-riding days too.
Outerwear // Riding in cool weather can be a challenge because I inevitably heat up while riding. Layers are always good. But so are scarves. I've found that scarves are just about as important while riding in the cold as are mittens. I'm a big fan of my Goodwill-purchased jean jacket in the spring and summer. If it's only mildly cold, I'll wear an old wool coat that I've had for years (great because it covers my butt - an important consideration when choosing outerwear, I've learned). If it's really cold (any temp under 25 or so), I wear my big ski parka. It usually ends up being too hot. I always have my Smartwool gloves handy and they usually do the trick. Unless it's really cold. Then I'll wear some great homemade felted mittens.

If I remember correctly, I rode in 15 degree weather on this day.
I pulled out the parka, the big mittens and a scarf for that ride!

Accessories // This year I finally invested in a bike rack. At some point, I'd love to get some panniers or a basket for it. But for now, I use it mostly for my Po Campo Trunk Bag. This is one of the coolest bike bags around. It's designed to strap onto a bike rack and has reflexive strips that face traffic. Brilliant. It's also pretty great for lugging gloves and hats and snacks for kids! I'm still wearing the helmet I bought in college. Not very pretty, but it does the trick. I asked for a new helmet for Christmas. Fingers crossed!

17 December 2013

The 12 Benefits of Biking: Bike Dates

Remember that Biking Mom Means Biking Kids? Big benefit. Huge. This post will focus on the ninth benefit of biking: Biking Wife Means Biking Husband. Well, sometimes. But always for bike dates.

Nate and I made a resolution to go on at least one date per month. And for the first eight or nine months of the year, we rode our bikes to all of our dates. We've slacked on dates in the final three months of the year, but I'd say our bike dates were pretty successful. We enjoyed dates at some of our favorite restaurants, like Potager and Parallel Seventeen and Tables and Solera. And we checked out new places, like Fruition. We rode nearly eight miles to enjoy a birthday dinner for a friend (our longest bike date). And we rode to fundraisers for our kids schools. It turns out that there are A LOT of really fantastic local restaurants within a 5-mile radius of our house.

Image source.

I rode to bike dates with girlfriends (mostly to places like Neighbors, the Elm, and once to the Populist) and we embarked on several family bike dates. Tomorrow night, a few girlfriends and I are going to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to bike to a new place. Didn't I just write about community? I'm glad to have some friends who are willing to bike along with me!

Bike dates: I highly recommend them.