April 30, 2010 Posted by Caitlin Hollister

Seriously

My final blog comes just as I organize my school's spring bike program.  I spent yesterday afternoon visiting 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade classroom to announce our May classes, signing up 90 students to play on bikes.  They are "super psyched" and so am I.  I've never been too excited about bike gear and I still need reminders on what's what on my frame (seat tube? seat stay?)...I feel much more confident riding with kids, focusing on helmets, chains, tires, and brakes.  Once all that technical stuff is taken care of, it's all about fun.  Games and sprints and showing off and crusing down hills.  Words like performance, endurance, components, and spandex never come up with third graders.

Thanks to TREK, I don't need to worry much about my bike's hardware.  My 520 has carried me through 3 long bike tours and is ready for another trip through Washington state this summer.  So I focus on serious fun, watching my students experience the power of two wheels.  Reading the posts of RJ, Roxy, Amy, and Mary, I'm reminded of so many thrills that come from cycling - whether racing or commuting, cruising or climbing...There's still a whole world of cycling to explore and I just might find myself a mountain bike someday. 

April 9, 2010 Posted by Caitlin Hollister

Big City Riding

Manhattan Bridge Verazano Br  
 

A perfect Easter weekend in NYC, starting with our bikes on the Fung Wah bus, Chinatown Boston to Chinatown NYC.  In a busy city, I was delighted to meander slowly through the masses, glad to see so many people out enjoying the sun.  We stayed with our good friends Micaela and Nathan who cooked delicious meals for us and shared some lovely walks through Brooklyn.  My last time cycling in NYC was May 07, for the Five Boro Bike Tour.  No better way to see the city - but don't skimp on locks.  Lots of good bike signs and extensive lanes made our travels smooth.  Even spotted an HBO film shoot in Prospect Park - like true tourists, we stopped to gawk.  After the torrential rains of March, April is looking good for cycling.  

February 8, 2010 Posted by Caitlin Hollister

Love story

As Valentine's day approaches, I sit down to write my favorite bike love story, the one I've been waiting months to post.  

August 20, 2008

David and I ride out to Farm Pond, 20 miles of perfect road riding from our city home to our favorite summer swimming spot.  It's a sweltering afternoon and we're talking constantly about our new dog, Mocha, on route from her rescuers to meet us in just a few days.  David notices my front tire is low and puts in some air before we leave.  I pack my swim suit and snacks and we take off.

When we arrive, David urges me to run ahead to the water while he locks the bikes.  "You should swim across the pond today," he says, knowing how I wish for more swimming in the city.  Up and over the hill, I hurry to the beach.  He joins me a few minutes later and we linger in the pond.  On a hot day, the water's refreshment never lasts more than a mile once we start cycling home.  Finally we dry off and head back to our bikes, only to discover that my front wheel is now fully flat.  (Here David likes to mention that I only noticed the flat once I had wheeled the bike several yards away and then rested it against a scenic port-a-potty).  Undeterred by this set-back, David pulls out our tools and says cheerfully, "This'll be good practice for you."  Ok, here we go.  Lever out, the tire comes easily and I start to feel for a pesky staple or glass shard inside.  

What do I find?

A ring.

My ring...I recognize it, a simple silver ring with a green stone that I haven't worn in a while and how did it make it's way into my tire?  And now David's on his knee, still dripping wet from the pond and he's asking me to marry him and I'm saying yes, how did you?  where was?  have you been planning?  when?  giddy, giddy, giddy, and so surprised.  The whole ride home, we tell ourselves to stay sharp, my mind buzzing and my heart aflutter.

A week later, my sister added a perfect line to the story..."Now, whenever you have a flat tire and you're cursing your luck or late for work or stuck without a tube, you'll have this wonderful memory to override any frustrations."  And indeed, this past summer when we were 6 months married and had 10 flats between us in a two-week tour of Colorado, I knew each slow leak and every puncture was just a sweet reminder of my creative, endearing love who has kept me riding proud and giddy through many flats, never letting a little gravel deflate our adventures.  

January 18, 2010 Posted by Caitlin Hollister

Finding fashion for saddle and ski

As I peer out the window this morning, it's raining on top of last night's sleet and I see my neighbors struggle to move piles of wet snow off the sidewalk.  I know I'll be out there soon to join them, sad that this isn't real snow.  It's the worst weather for biking, but could be perfect for x-c skiing...And what's the connection between the two?  Fashion.  I've discovered that my cold-weather cycling clothes are ideal for skiing...lycra tights that don't get in the way of spokes or ski poles, shirts with back pockets for allen keys or an extra pair of ski gloves, snacks, and chapstick.  The thin Bontrager skull cap that fits right under my helmet is also ideal for keeping my ears warm during ski season and my wind shell keeps me just warm enough without over-heating.  

Why such delight over my cycle/ski attire?  For years, what I wore on bike and ski could hardly be called "fashion."  I complained endlessly about women's bike shorts that cinch in at the waist, making even the super-fit among us look ridiculous and making the rest of us feel like we've grown a new belly that can't hide under equally snug bike jerseys.  Finally, Bontrager designed yoga-style waistlines without any silly drawstrings.  Who needs to tie their spandex any tighter?  Yet most of my athletic gear comes with ties and zippers and thin lines of elastic that bunch up in only unflattering ways.  

If I'm going to venture out in this slush, I can at least look good as I trudge through the snow or push my bike up the icy hills.  I love the winter but I'm a total wimp in the cold.  Thanks to my new stash of Bontrager styles, I have no excuse to stay indoors.  Roxy and Amy wrote some inspiring lists of 2010 resolutions.  I join them here with my resolve to venture out EVERY day, even when motivation is low and the weather discouraging.  Computer off, boots on, out we go.

December 28, 2009 Posted by Caitlin Hollister

Flashing back again

I love cycling too much to use my blog space whining about cars...and yet this is a story I'm compelled to tell.  Much as I adore our national parks, they are not always welcoming of cyclists.  In July, 2008, we were thrilled to arrive at Glacier National Park just days after the snow-covered road opened for the season, ready to pedal up and over the Going to the Sun road.  I feared the road would be terribly steep, with cars whizzing by and white-knuckle, hairpin turns on the descent.  We knew we had to be off the road by 11 a.m. (no bikes between 11 and 4) so we started the day at 5:30 a.m., fighting gusts of wind and awed by the dramatic views of clouds, lakes, and wildflowers.  The summit was chilly and the downhill stretches were tricky, but it was undoubtedly a proud day to cycle along such a storied road.  

So I thought were were in the clear at 10:30 when we hit the flats and stopped to warm up at the Lake McDonald Lodge.  Sat by the fire to warm my toes, relieved to have made the journey strong and safe.  Just after 11, the four of us cycled on toward the park's exit when an officer pulled us over for a lecture on rules, warning us to stay off the road til 4 pm unless we could find a ride.  Not usually a rule-breaker, I bit my tongue.  Why were we causing a safety issue when our lane was clear and most of the traffic was heading in the opposite direction, into the park?  Why did the park require each cyclist to pay the same entrance fee per vehicle as a 6-passenger mini-vany?  Why did cars get the road at prime time in the middle of the day -- couldn't the park require visitors to ride shuttles instead to minimize the traffic?  Flustered and fuming, we paced along the shoulder of the road and started looking for potential rides (surprisingly, hitch-hiking is legal in the parks).

Our luck soon arrived in the form of a small pick-up filled with kayaks.  Jon hoped to get one of us in the truck, and maybe a few of the panniers.  Driver: "No, we'll get you all in."  Soon they had ropes out and we were hoisting up the bikes - 2 on the roof of the cab, 2 strapped over the kayaks, with our bags stuffed in between.  The four of us piled in and within minutes, we'd cleared the park boundary, safely back in legal cycling territory.  

It gets better.  David casually mentioned our interest in finding a water park along our route.  The kayak guys told us, "You're going to pass Montana's biggest water slide today."  By 3:30, we were tubing through Big Sky Water Park.  Big Sky was just 1/4 mile off our map so we would have never found it had it not been for our hitch-hiking adventure.  I'd still like to see some bike lanes on Going to the Sun road, but on that day, I was pretty content with out little detour.

December 22, 2009 Posted by Caitlin Hollister

Bike Tour flashback

Blairmore, Alberta, July 2, 2008

7:52 p.m. Sitting in the campground's hot tub, watching the storm clouds roll in after a 75 mile day.  

7:56 p.m. Food inventory: Peanut Butter crackers and Mentos.  

8:01 p.m. David on the phone to the local pizza shop "We'd like the 2 for 1 pizza special and a 2-liter bottle of root beer.  Can you deliver that to campsite #15 at Lost Lemon Campground?"

8:17 p.m. Rain starts pouring in sheets.  David, Mandy, Jon, and I huddle under the megamid.

8:32 p.m. Pizza arrives tentside.  We feast and fuel up...Glacier NP awaits.  

PizzaLostLemon
   

December 19, 2009 Posted by Caitlin Hollister

Snowy Solstice

So it's been below 20 degrees here for much of the week and the snow should start falling in just a few hours...I love these cozy, winter days with holiday lights on, cookies in the oven as we look forward to some skiing.  But my bike hasn't been out for a week or two and I have yet to try a spinning class or a trainer (living on the 3rd floor, I'm a little wary of making our neighbors listen to me pedal indoors).  Roxy and RJ's posts about training certainly have inspired me to think differently about my winter plan.  My usual routine is to walk and run and walk some more, play with our dog, go to yoga classes, ski when there's snow, and wait for bike season to come around again.  This year, I've joined a gym and I'm eager to vary my exercise options.  Zumba, anyone?

Perhaps one day there will be a velodrome in Boston to give cyclists a winter escape...

December 3, 2009 Posted by Caitlin Hollister

Fitting in the ride

When I called my husband yesterday at 3:30 in the afternoon, he was just cleaning up after a mountain bike ride between classes.  "Rode alone today.  Everyone's too busy to hit the trails."  It's become our frequent lament - trying to find folks eager to ride, to run, to hike, to ski during the busy days of school and work and kids and errands.  In recent years, I've been unwilling to give up my recreational time to do laundry or correct papers.  Sure, I have plenty of things to do, but my responsibilities (no kids, one dog, small condo in the city) are few all things considered.   While going to the gym can seem like a chore, my rides and other outdoor adventures are truly at the top of my list when I think of how I want to spend my time.  Ideally, I can combine the other list topper - spending time with my friends and family - with recreation.  But sadly, activities like walking through the Arboretum, riding 15 miles out of town, and hiking a new trail are the first things to drop off the to-do list.

If we love adventure, why do we only let ourselves embark after we've "accomplished" enough work and chores to earn a ride?  Instead, we can design our days around what gives us the most joy - running a few miles with our dog, or riding an hour on quiet roads.  During this month of precious daylight hours, I relish my afternoon walks with Mocha through the woods, knowing that my emails and lesson plans can wait til the darker evening.  

It's not always an easy system.  I feel pangs of guilt - Am I doing enough for my third graders?  Should I be helping my neighbors more with our porch repairs?  But the regret I'd feel if I didn't ride, didn't run, didn't hike, would be so much greater.  

As winter begins, I urge you all to make small adventures drive your days.  What are you doing this weekend?  Holiday shopping?  Cleaning the house?  Nothing that can't be done after 5 when the sun sets.  Get outside, get together, and get moving.  

November 15, 2009 Posted by Caitlin Hollister

A new generation of cyclists

3 pm, November 12.  Twenty third graders burst out of our concrete school building to find a fleet of TREK bikes and helmets awaiting them from Boston Bikes.Bostonbikesgroup

For the next hour and a half, they pedal around a baseball field.  Some don't even pedal - they scoot along with their feet and start to balance.  For these four kids, it's their first day on bikes.

Continue reading "A new generation of cyclists" »

November 8, 2009 Posted by Caitlin Hollister

More nice people

Amy's post inspired me to tell one of my favorite cycling stories.   In August, 2008, I set off from home one early morning for a 100+ mile ride up to Brattleboro, VT for the wedding of my dear friends Abby and Laura.  I was inspired to do my first solo century, carrying my party clothes rolled up in my panniers next to a few spare tubes and a pump.  I google mapped the directions, clicking the "By Walking" option to find a quiet, rural route out of the city and into the gorgeous small towns of southern NH and VT.  But just 15 miles from home, still in the urban belt, I felt the unmistakable jolt of a rear flat.  I found a small grassy patch of lawn and spread out my gear, carefully changing the tube and pumping it up, ready to get back on the road.

Continue reading "More nice people" »

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