Ho Ho Ho!!!

Cold temperatures kept Nellie and I from adventuring much this month.  I’ve risked driving a car (maybe more than I should) and only taken her out for short errands.  That changed this weekend!

Each year Knoxville, TN closes a course around Market Square for about an hour and a half to allow about 1,000 riders on bikes, trikes, tandems, and unicycles to hit the streets for a highly-unregulated, wildly-festive parade.  Billed as “a fun, free bike parade through downtown, 4th & Gill and Old North Knoxville”, riders are encouraged to get creative with lights, costumes and decorations. The route is about 5 miles long and takes about an hour to ride (read “very slow pace” here). All streets are completely closed for the event. Hot cocoa and treats are available thanks to Mast General Store and Three Rivers Market.

Festive bike ridimg

Tuesday, M posed the idea to deck out bikes with “Christmas Clutter” and join the festivities at the 10th Annual Tour de Lights in Knoxville, TN.  (I am staying with an outdoorsy family for a couple of weeks.)

Wednesday, K and I  shopped for the necessary tinsel and twinkle (K drove). We started at Goodwill for costumes, hit Big Lots, picked up M from school, and then finished out at Everything’s $1. Fortified with tater tots and frosty beverages, we spent the evening decking the halls bikes.  Three reindeer and Santa. Nellie wore a sleigh costume for the evening.

Friday, we loaded the bikes and navigated to a public garage. We arrived a bit ruffled, but had a glorious time! Lots of carols, lots of lights, and even more “Merry Christmas”es from the poor schmucks caught by closed streets and forced to watch. A cone-shaped Santa with flapping arms towering over a tandem definitely deserved a prize for best decorations. While we didn’t stick around for judging, I’m pretty sure we were in the running for “Best Group Theme”. Other than a herd of Christmas pigs (the size of the herd was impressive), I didn’t see a group who compared.  However, the event was NOT a race or competition… it was simple, glorious, festive silliness.

After the ride we did another 3 mile out-and-back for a bite at Mellow Mushroom and pass through UT’s campus. After a long week, the kids sacked out in the car within a few minutes. Fun memories to entertain me on another sleepless night!

I bet M hopes that K will be available for some kind of pre-Christmas merriment next year. I’m looking forward to my next biking adventure. It turns out that bike-people are my kind of people: a long suspected correlation. Will I see any of you there next year?

 

Rail Trail is Officially Open

Putnam County, TN was excited to celebrate the official opening of the Tennessee Central Heritage Rail Trail with the expected ribbon cutting ceremony. A lot of individuals and organizations worked together for eleven years to make this trail a possibility.

I won’t list them, but will include a link for an article that covers trail rules.

Rail Trail Opening Ceremony
Rail Trail Opening Ceremony

I attended the grand opening at 2:45 on a weekday afternoon. I was the only tricycle rider there, but two sets of tandems attended and more than a handful of bikes. The suits and politicians arrived via passenger train cars (which I thought was a nice touch).

The trail connects Algood to the Cookeville Depot on the West Side.  There are many access points to the trail and it is no coincidence that I bought a house within 1/2 mile of one of the access points! I’ve used the trail for over a month, but it is official open now. In the last couple of weeks I have seen much more use of the trail. At times it could even be called “crowded”!

A sort of odd version of a map of the trail is published online.  But, access points dump you out on Washington Avenue, near TTU, at some of the major employers, within a mile of Cookeville High School, Cinderella Park, etc. I hope to see bike racks popping up at businesses near these trail access points!

Trike In, Trash Out

The first week of the month is always a whirl wind. It seems like all of the organizations I belong to have their meetings in the first 10 days of every month. I also have some unique items on my social calendar. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Community Tai Chi at the Park: My doctors encourage me to meditate and find ways to exercise. Sometimes it takes all of my will to peel myself up to be outside for a few minutes. Sometimes wriggling into a sports bra uses up a day’s worth of energy. But, this morning I peeled myself off the bed (after a pretty miserable night and morning) and joined several people at a community park for Tai Chi. It was my first experience with this practice and I have to admit that I like it more than the yoga classes I have attended. It might be that the instructor (Ajan Nikki) is an awesome woman that I have a lot of respect for. Yeah, it might be that.

Trike In, Trash Out at Cummins Falls: A group of friends and I have been planning to go on a hike after (their) work. Sadly, most trails close around the time we could get to them. So, I’ve asked for special permission to use a trail after it closes with the promise to carry trash back out with us. This seems like a win all around. My friends and I are pretty big into the outdoors and serving our community. The trail we are cleaning is extremely popular, but with popularity comes trash, unfortunately. I used to always take a mesh bag and carry out a load of trash whenever I hiked (especially in caves). I’ve gotten out of the habit over the last couple of years, but there is no time like the present to start again. I honestly think people litter more in places where they already see trash. By cleaning things up a bit, hopefully we will deter further pollution. [I plan to add a brief update and post-clean-up photo here].

8K After Dark Race in the Park: “I used to run.” I tend to say that phrase a lot and have been saying it for almost a decade now. I ran in middle school. I ran in high school. I ran in college and my early 20’s. Since I stopped, I’ve tried to start several times. I’ve ran or participated in a smattering of community races–with friends or to support causes that I particularly care about. This weekend I am going to walk and jog in a community race. I’ll try my best. It will be humiliating. But that is okay… I want to shirt. I want to fully ingrain myself in this community and I am told this is the race that represents the running community best. If I’m going to run one, this is the one. Who knows, this  might just be the race that I use as a benchmark next year if I decide to run a bit and train up. [I planned to add a photo post-race, but I was not able to make it. I washed out and spent the evening and next day at home being boring.]

After the race I’ve been invited to cool off at a grown-up pool party. My ability to drop in there depends on how long it takes me to finish the race, but I am excited to meet a few new people there. [Although I appreciated the invitation and was very excited to meet new people, I also washed out of this event. Sometimes insomnia really sucks folks.]

Hair today, gone tomorrow: I cut my hair. It was beautiful and long, but I like to change things up. I lost about 8 inches. It is still longish, but not enough to be a defining feature. I already regret the cut: it took so long to grow out. Ugh. It is just hair. It will grow. It is definitely lighter and curlier now!

 

**I broke my first spoke. Cookeville Bicycle fixed me up with immediate service. They have heavy gauged spokes on order for me. They also added some protection to my front tire to help prevent future flats.**

 

Meeting the Neighbors

It has taken me some time to update due to my health and my move. As tempting as it is to try to go back and fill in the missing sections, I have decided to just press on and try to go forward.

IMG954117 1 (1)

I did want to point out that Nellie is a good way to meet the neighbors.

I wanted to do a full update on the trunk design (and that may come later), but for now just know that the trunk is on and I am now able to make purposeful trips. One such trip is for groceries.

Nellie at the bike rack on the corner of our local IGA. Bumper and trunk visible.This photo was taken from a recent grocery run. I over-bought and had to bungie the trunk lid down and ride with bags dangling from both handlebars. Luckily, this store is less than 2 miles from my front door. I love being able to shop at an IGA for as much as possible, but often find myself supplementing produce and international foods at Kroger and specialty stores. Those bigger stores are able to offer a better selection, but I find that IGAs have better prices on the items that they do carry. Follow THIS LINK to find an IGA near you.

This evening I checked out a small park in the community. I thought a Tai Chi group met there, but I wasn’t able to find them. Alas, I guess I will have to find another way to meet some people and find my zen.

I’ll head to the farmer’s market next weekend to see how much variety is there and give a full report.

Trike Build Team

This blog is largely brought to you by the men and women (mostly men) who built my trike. Thank you all!

IMG_4614 IMG_4615 IMG_4613

Mark Dement (MOAB owner and master builder)
Mr. Dement, AKA Mark's Dad (electrician)
Mike Lepley (logistics, troubleshooting, sounding board, co-conspirator) 
Xavier Solís (MOAB manager and master researcher) 
Alec from eBike (master of all things lithium ion battery & light kits)
Engineer Brian (custom trunk rack designer - his plans appear above)

Good things come…

Did I mention that I struggle with patience? Today, Mark (owner of MOAB Bikes) called with a Trike update. The following news will go forth as evidence in perpetuity that good better things come to those who wait have patience:

The good news: The lights work! The lights work! Mark (and several others I suspect) spent waaaaay too many to be profitable hours wiring and splicing  so that not only will my bright lights run directly off the main battery (only one thing for my scattered seizure/insomnia-brain to remember to charge), but I will be able to turn the taillights on and off using a foot switch. The foot switch was not my idea, but a great feature added by Mark to provide more ease of use (i.e. better than I asked for).

The other good news:  I can pick the trike up tomorrow (after 11:00 so I can give Mark a huge hug and take my photo with him). I especially wanted it Friday because I am invited to attend TEDx Nashville this weekend. Can you think of a venue better than TEDx to break in alternative transportation? It is going to be 75° and I get to roll around downtown Nashville in my brand new Trike!

The bad news: On one hand, the trunk will not be ready when I pick the bike up tomorrow, BUT…

The awesome news: …that is because while Mark was laying out the trunk design, an engineer one of MOAB’s customers happened to take an interest in his project. Mark explained my car-free lifestyle change due to a nasty mix of epilepsy and insomnia along with some of the snags that we’ve hit along the way. This stranger had some cool ideas about how to build a better, lighter trunk and volunteered to build a custom trunk for my trike for FREE! Mark is convinced that this turn of events is going to create a custom trike that is BETTER than what I asked for. People can be awesome. I hope our paths will cross out there someday so that I can thank you in person!

I will post a list of people involved in this project HERE.

Patience

I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end. ~Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

I have many admirable qualities, right? We all do. However, patience does not top my list. Those words choke me as I approach a car-free (or at least very limited use) time in my life. I expect an adjustment period that includes late arrivals, missed appointments, general frustration, and possibly a teensy-tiny bit of personal growth in the area of patience.

But, at least part of my wait is over: ALL THE PARTS ARE IN!

Since February I have called MOAB weekly for updates about the Trike build. We patiently waited from parts from five suppliers and ignored the big tricycle box in the store until everything arrived.  Apparently “everything” was delivered Saturday with no warning. Mark has been out this week. My Trike awaits his return so the build can begin!

I asked Xavier to update me with some “crazy” pics while they are putting it together. When I get them, I’ll update you. Until then….. patience.