I finally gave it a go. I rode a bicycle to my new job. It’s been a struggle to come up with a commute plan. I show up, grab a set of vehicle keys, and then I’m in the field all day providing medical appointment rides. If I have a late ride sometimes the office is locked when I finish up. If I have an early start I can’t even get in the main building to use a restroom. There is no secure place to lock up anything but a beater bike.
However, there is a place to stash my folded up Brompton. This seems like a good use for my folder. At least for the non-snowy times of the year.
It felt great getting to work under my own power again. I felt a wee bit of freedom return to my daily routine. 😎
Another night and morning with light snow. It added up to another couple of inches. It was warm enough it was partially melting as it was piling up. I decided to spend the day being productive. I worked on our household budget and started our taxes. I had planned to get out for a ride as well. Then the day got away from me. As it was getting late in the day I decided not to take the time to get dressed up for a short ride and just get out for a quick walk around the neighborhood.
One mile uphill, a loop through the woods, and back down the hill. It had been cloudy and snowing for a day and a half. Part way through the walk the sun started to peek out of the clouds. What a wonderful feeling with the cool air, fresh snow, and the warm March sun.
The short walk really help clear my head and lift my spirits.
I’m glad I made the effort to get outside.
I hope you got out this weekend and had a Happy Easter.
Our current weather cycle of almost Spring, followed by Winter….and repeat, continues. The snow from a winter storm earlier in the week was gone by yesterday. The city had the street cleaners out sweeping up a winter’s worth of sand. It was looking more like Spring again. Today we woke to another 2 inches of wet snow. Flurries continued to fall all day long.
The temperature rose to barely above the freezing mark. The wind was that bone chilling damp wind coming off the Big Lake. And the snow flakes were as wet as rain. Not much to draw one outside. Regardless I knew any ride was better than staying cooped up inside. I finally got motivated late in the day to get out for a short ride.
I had a realization today. When the weather is like this, damp windy cold, I tend to choose a route with a good amount of climbing. Climbing keeps me warm. So that’s what I did today as well. Only 14 miles, but I climbed over 1300 feet total during the ride. Here’s my route today: //ridewithgps.com/trips/8286132/embed
During a normal winter I would still be running studded tires. I took them off a few weeks ago when we started warming up faster than other years. Today was a bit sketchy without the studs. Not to the point that it was scary. It required more attention to my speed, stopping distances and taking corners. The temp dropped to freezing during my ride. Between that and the fresh sand on the roads I didn’t take the downhills at my regular speed. I definitely didn’t want to do any panic stops while descending. The wet roads with sand combined with a bike that has disc brakes that tend to lock up in conditions like this made it a day not to push my luck.
As always. Once I got home I was glad I got out for a ride despite the less than ideal conditions.
I’ve grown very fond of the Big Lake they call Lake Superior since moving to this area in 2001. It became a constant friend during 14 years of commuting to my previous job. I got to see it daily in all it’s moods during all four seasons. I saw it from a great vantage point. From the hillsides of Duluth overlooking the lake as I rode Skyline Parkway. I don’t always see it everyday now. Although I can technically see it on the horizon five miles to the east from my front porch. My house is perched about 200 feet in elevation higher than the lake itself. Today I was feeling the need to see it up close. So I did a 20 mile round trip up the shore of Lake Superior, through town out to Kitchi Gammi Park on the eastern end of town.
My route today: //ridewithgps.com/trips/8219561/embed
It’s an awe inspiring view I never get tired of.
Yeah, it still looks like winter. Our snow did melt early last week. A winter storm on Wednesday dropped as much as a foot of snow in some places and replaced quite a bit of the melted snow. At my house, which is closer to Lake Superior than in the above picture, we only received about an inch of snow. With today’s sunshine it was all melted by early afternoon today at my house. I took a ride up over the hill away from Lake Superior and it looked like winter never left. My route: //ridewithgps.com/trips/8205692/embed
So I’m still a bit bummed I haven’t figured out a way to to lock up my bike at my new workplace. There isn’t much I miss about my previous job, except for some of the people. But I do miss my daily bicycle commute. The only solution I’m coming up with is to go back to using a beater bike I wouldn’t worry about if it did get stolen. Up until now I’ve been using mass transit or getting a ride from my wife when our schedules match. I also love walking. I’ve walked the three miles home several times. As the weather has warmed and the sidewalks are no longer icy that option has opened up. A three mile walk on a warm Spring day is as relaxing as a bike ride home.
So here’s the positive part. Without my daily commute I find I have loads of energy to expend on a leisurely weekend ride. Heading out on a windy 37degreeF day on a hilly route and never getting tired is fantastic. In the past, a 40 hour work week and 10 commutes would make a cold, windy, and hilly weekend ride feel like a slog. It wasn’t today. It was very enjoyable.
An anonymous reader of this blog and my previous blog has does something very nice for me. This reader did this through my Local Bike Shop. I believe this happened over a month ago. I only found out about it yesterday from the shop owner when I stopped by the shop. I wanted to acknowledge this person and let them know how moved I was by their act of kindness. Writing a blog doesn’t always have the greatest feedback to help make a person aware if they are touching other people or not. As an introvert, I always saw my blogs as my way of doing bicycling advocacy. It’s very difficult for me to reach people in person, or lobby public officials or attend community meetings. So I do my advocacy on my blog by using it to set an example of what the possibilities are for cycling in a city like Duluth, or anywhere they may live. Often I never know if I’ve reached anyone.
An anonymous gift is one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. It makes all my efforts worthwhile. Thank you!
Today was the grand opening of our second locally owned food co-op. We’ve been members for nearly all 14 years we’ve lived here. The original store is a 6 mile bike ride. This new store is less than a mile. They announced this location two years ago. Construction started a year late. It’s been a long wait for this opening. With a vegan and a Celiac in the household we buy a lot of our food from the co-op. Notice the carrot shaped bike racks just to the right of the front entrance. I’ll be using that often. The store is called Whole Foods Co-op but has no connection to Whole Foods Market. This one started 46 years ago.
Winter storm update. The storm for us next to Lake Superior stayed rain most of the day while away from the lake it snowed all day. By 3 this afternoon it finally switched over to wet snow. We had 2-3 inches of rain overnight. If that had been snow it would have been more than a foot deep.
Our new Co-op and a winter storm. It doesn’t get much more exciting in Doug’s world.
Wow, records high temps this past Saturday and now a Winter Storm. We can never say winters over here until Late April.
I like where we live. I grew up in the big metro areas of Pittsburgh and Chicago. I spent most of my adult life in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St Paul until we moved to Duluth, Minnesota 14 years ago.
Don’t get me wrong I love big cities and I love Pittsburgh, Chicago and the Twin Cities. I just didn’t want to live my day to day life in all that congestion anymore. I don’t see myself as a country person either. Duluth seems to have the right mix for me. I can live in a metro area with a population of about 100,000 (when combined with Superior, Wisconsin) with all a city that size has to offer. And I can easily access the country. I can leave my house in the city and within 3 or 4 miles be out in the country. Country being defined as dispersed housing, no small lots or developments. I can even find more remote areas by traveling as little as 10 or 12 miles. Remote being defined as 20 or more miles between services like convenience stores.
Today I went up over the hill and fairly quickly was out in the country. It’s amazing how easy it is to find low traffic roads this close to a city. Living in Chicago this would not be possible. You may have to load up a bike on a car and drive for 2 hours to come even close to this. I really need this kind of access to quiet areas closer to nature for my own happiness. Duluth offers that for me.
This person had every maple tree on their property tapped for syrup. It’s at least a month early this year.
Today my city commuter bike doubled as a country bike.
One week ago today I was riding my Pugsley in the snow. Today there was little sign of winter and temperatures were 30 degrees above normal. It was 62degF at my house today. This was the unusual March view of Lake Superior and the Duluth Shipping Canal:
Here’s a more typical view of the Shipping Canal and Lake Superior (from the hillside) in March. This is from March 16, 2007:
There should be ice. The ice will stay as late as Memorial Day some years. It’s a weird year for weather. Although I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my ride in the sun today. But I do feel like I’m being cheated out of a month’s worth of fatbiking.
Another unusual sight is my winter commuting bike in mid-March with no studded tires on it. I took them off this morning. The earliest I’ve taken off my studded tires since moving to Duluth in 2001.
My route today: //ridewithgps.com/trips/8126290/embed I rode out onto the sand spit. The temperature was only 49degF out there. A thirteen degree temperature change on a 20 mile ride. It required adding and removing layers as I went.
When I got back from my ride today I noticed my neighbor working on his bike in his garage across the street. He was a three season commuter when I moved into the neighborhood. Thanks to my bad influence he’s pushed into four season’s riding his bike to work. He rides a nice Surly Long Haul Trucker. I didn’t know this until today, but he bought a second set of wheels so he could easily move back and forth between studded tires and summer tires. He just swaps out wheels. Not a bad idea in the shoulder season like we’re having now. He had switched the wheels sets out yesterday and was having shifting problems. I suggested to him it was his chain and the cassette on the swapped out wheel not cooperating. He doesn’t clean his drivetrain often enough. I helped him swap out the cassettes so he would be using the same one on the swapped out wheelset. I think it’s still easier to move the cassettes then have one wheelset and change the tires every time the weather changes.