One more post about bikes

I’ll get back to writing about farming soon, I promise!  Just a little update on the biking scene because the Alleycat Acres fundraising ride was last weekend.

Thanks to all your generous donations, I raised $350 to contribute to the cause.  Alleycat Acres was aiming for $6K and I think they beat $10K but I’m still waiting to find out the grand total.  Thank you again for your contributions and for designing my outfit!  It was pretty damn awesome!  Click the pic below to see my set of pictures on Flickr:

Click the pic for the flickr set

I had fun putting the costume together.  The top vote-getters from contributers were pink tutu and “vegetable theme,” so I did those plus handlebar streamers and bright blue arm warmers.   The specific ideas for the vegetable theme both came from friends’ suggestions: one was fleece carrot legwarmers that Sara Covich (pictured above) helped me sew up the week before the ride.  The other was a snackable veggie necklace made out of carrots, radishes, and jalapeño peppers strung on dental floss around my neck!  I took bites out of  the carrots while I was riding, and a couple brave souls nibbled a jalapeño at different points during the day.

It was a gorgeous day for the ride.  It is just starting to really feel like spring around here, and everybody was excited and energized by the weather as we started out in the morning.  The lake loop is a popular ride for all kinds of cyclists, so I got plenty of stares and smiles from riders who were not part of our group as I rolled around in my ridiculous getup.  It was great because when people asked me what the deal was, I was able to explain about the ride and the farm.

There were over 100 riders participating so I got to meet some great new people.  Alleycat Acres really did it right: they had several rest stops organized for us with food and water; they fed us chili and cornbread and beer after the ride; they had support cars with bike racks and tools around the route for those of us who needed mechanical support 🙂  I am excited to see Alleycat run with it this season – they are a dedicated group of organizers and they inspire a lot of volunteer effort.  I think they will be able to make a big positive impact!

The ride itself was a great challenge.  I’m pretty pleased that this winter I’ve been getting into such good biking shape via my commute to work and riding to after-work activities and doing some longer rides on the weekends.  But it turns out that a big event like this is needed to make me really push myself.   In fact I did two big (for me) bike rides 6 days apart.  Sunday Feb 27 was a 33-mile ***hills*** ride on Bainbridge.  Then the 60-mile Lake Washington loop Alleycat ride was on Saturday March 4.  During both of those rides, I hit a point where I felt like I legitimately couldn’t do it.  I really, really, really wanted to stop — I was exhausted and/or in pain and it just wasn’t fun right then.  This feeling generally comes from hills, although on Bainbridge the weather also played a role.  I know that if I had been out for a ride by myself at these times, I wouldn’t have pushed myself this hard.  I would have let myself wimp out before hitting that level of intensity.  But when you’re with a group on an organized ride, an element of peer pressure comes in.  You *have* to put mind over matter and just do it, keep going, finish it.  And then when you do, you feel great.  Like banging your head against a wall, right?  It feels so good when you stop?  You can only get that euphoric sense of accomplishment when you’ve had to overcome something difficult.  If it were easy, it wouldn’t be noteworthy.

I used to have a fortune-cookie fortune that I taped to my computer monitor at work: “Any accomplishment worth achieving at first seems impossible.”   I put it there because I used to routinely get anxious when given a work assignment that I didn’t immediately know how to attack.  I would get down on myself for “not being a real computer nerd” and doubt my ability to even ask questions about the assignment that wouldn’t give away my perceived lack of knowledge.  Of course I could always accomplish these tasks by doing the right research, asking the right questions, and using what I already knew about programming to learn the new pieces required for that specific task.  And then when I finished it, it would feel good!   I held onto the fortune in an attempt to remind myself of the afterward feeling when going into something new, to remind myself to approach it with confidence instead of anxiety.  Eventually it started working a bit.  And it turns out the statement is just as true for physical achievement, which is an arena in which I have always been fairly awful, but am now getting better at due to biking.

Yay bikes!  Yay self-confidence!  That’s the main point.  Next topics I plan to write about include more on canning & preserving, as well as seed-saving and who knows what else will come up as I start at the new farm in a just a few weeks.  Thanks for reading!

~ B



Sponsor my ride! Admire my attire!

If you read my last post, you know that I’m planning on riding the Alleycat Acres fundraising bike ride in March.  Since we are now just over a month away, I better get moving on the fundraising part.

So, here goes!!

I figure if you give me money, you ought to get a little something in return.  So to show that I am willing to go the extra mile to encourage donations, I am hereby open-sourcing (whoring out?) my outfit for the ride.

This means that you may vote for/suggest what I will wear! Any kind of adornment for myself or my bicycle.  This outfit will ride 60 miles around Lake Washington and potentially get its picture in all kinds of publicity for Alleycat Acres.

I will wear as many as possible of the suggested items, with priority going to the votes of the biggest contributors and the items with the highest overall vote-counts.  I may have to use my discretion due to weight of objects or propriety (I reserve the right *not* to ride in only body paint, even if that gets the most votes!)

This is a two step process:  First, you get to vote!  I have come up with a couple of options to start the voting, but I’m sure you are more creative… Please do submit your own option under “other” and I will add it to the voting list.

Step two: after you select your vote, back it up with some moola.  Tell me via the drop-down on the voting page how much your outfit suggestion is worth.  Once you submit your vote, you will see a link to a PayPal form.  Go to PayPal and use your little plastic money machine to make it happen.  If you want to pay me by cash or check instead, so much the better… drop me an email at rwarner2-at-gmail-dot-com.  I will cover the PayPal fees, so either way 100% of your donation goes straight to Alleycat Acres.

THANK YOU!!!  Let the games begin!

Start here: Voting Form

Step two: PayPal Form

Shifting gears.

Critical mass June 2010

Question:  What is to driving a car as farming is to working in a cubicle?

What mode of transportation gets you out into the open air and makes you feel connected to the world the way growing your own food does?   If by farming you create your own sustenance, what allows you to create your own propulsion?

Answer: Why, bicycling, of course.  Cycling: the use of bicycles for transport, recreation, or sport.

My bike at my farm, Fall 2010


I have newfound loves for both farming and biking.  So of course anything that purports to combine the two intrigues me.  Last winter I found out about Alleycat Acres: a brand new Seattle urban farm.   They are run by volunteers, the food they grow gets donated to food banks, and they deliver their produce by bike.  Ding ding ding!  Yes, sign me up to support you.   I volunteered for a couple work parties in the early spring but then I had to head off to Bainbridge.   I kept tabs on the group though, via their oft-updated Facebook, and it sounded like they had a great season and got a lot of press.

This winter, Alleycat is recruiting participants for a big bike ride/fundraiser.  “Ride Hard, Grow Forth.” How could I say no?  The 60-mile loop around Lake Washington will be the longest distance I’ve ever done (probably farthest to date was about 42 miles and they were much flatter).  Each participant has to raise at least 60 bucks, but I would like to come up with  a good deal more for them.  I hate asking people for money – it was a little easier back in the day when I was a cute little Girl Scout peddling cookies door to door, but not much – so I’m working on coming up with a creative idea for accumulating donations.   Get ready, the request is coming… when I start asking you all for $$money$$,  give me some money!!  It will be going to a great cause and doing the ride will also be a big achievement for me personally/physically.

My biking history is fairly unexceptional.  I must have biked some as a kid, but my first real bike here in Seattle was a Marin hybrid, complete with kickstand and cushy seat, purchased new from Recycled Cycles.  (Much of the previous sentence will be deciphered by the bike-literate as NEWBIE ALERT!)  It is awesome when I think about the fact that it really has not been long since I first tentatively rode the Marin back and forth from my home on Dexter to my work @ the software job… also on Dexter.  Read, less than 1 mile, no turns or traffic signals.

I didn’t think I would become “a cyclist.”  But lo and behold, I got hooked.  I started making bikey friends and taking bikey trips.  I got a Seattle bike map and I bought my awesome purple steel-frame road bike on Craigslist.  I learned how to do a bit of basic maintenance/repair. (Someday I will know enough to build up my own bike from parts).   These days, my car is feeling left out becuase I bike everywhere.  I ride in traffic, I ride in the rain, I ride at night – and, since it is Seattle after all, quite often I ride in all three.  Of course I do what I can to be safe (helmet, lights, obeying most traffic laws) but part of the thrill of being out there riding is that you’re out there, in the world, and you never know what’s going to happen.  I love getting familiar with new little parts of the city and figuring out efficient routes between the places I frequent.  I love the exhilarating feeling of the wind in my face and the balance of the bike beneath me.  I love the sense of accomplishment at cresting a tough hill and coasting down the other side.  I love it when that same hill doesn’t seem quite as intimidating the next time I approach it.

While I bike around, I amuse myself by observing other cyclists and categorizing the “types” (strong-jawed, clean-shaven middle-aged man in full spandex with really expensive bicycle; scruffy young helmetless hipster boy with U-Lock in back pocket, possibly smoking a cigarette while riding his fixed gear; eccentric older fellow reclining in his recumbent with an orange flag on a stick).  I enjoy it when I see someone who doesn’t fit any type (the fellow wearing khakis tucked into tall rubber boots who said “HI!” cheerily as he passed me this morning;  a lady in a skirt pulling a trailer with her two-year-old and her groceries).

Speaking of ladies, there is somewhat of an issue around cycling being a bit male-dominated, literature has been written on the subject, and it’s true I do see fewer bikers of the female variety around about town.  But there are plenty of us out there.  I watch for the women who have mastered the art of girl biker style and achieved the “simultaneously cute and burly” persona.  If you’re truly riding to get around, you need functional attire, and the bright yellow rain gear and SPD cleats tend to stand out in other environments (at the office, at a dance club).  Let’s face it, I want to look spunky and feminine while also projecting, “watch me beat your ass to the top of that hill” and “I can fix my own flat tire, thank you very much.”

In conclusion.  One attitude toward life is to look for every possible way to make life easier and more comfortable.  The opposite approach is to embrace the motto that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and continually seek out changes and challenges.  I discovered that a life of sitting in my car to sitting at a desk to sitting in my car to sitting at home in front of a TV was relatively easy, but felt scarily stagnant and disconnected.   It turns out that I feel better when I’m using my body and mind for things like farming and biking.  I didn’t discover these things immediately.  In both cases there was a lot of hesitancy, questions, a learning curve.   A point where it seemed too difficult.  But even baby steps will get you there.  Seek out what it is that makes you feel alive.

Oh, and support my ride for Alleycat Acres!  As soon as I get a “donate widget” put together I’ll post it here.  Thanks for reading!

~ B

Riding bikes often makes me feel like this