Cycling Can Serve Many Purposes – Our First Ride in 2016

Spoiler Alert…this post is not “Dave Berry” comedy about cycling in the snow. In fact, this post uses cycling to “take a trip down memory lane.”

First attempt to dress warm enough
First attempt to dress warm enough

Today we rode our bikes for the first time this year and the first time together in over three months. Because of the frigid, Arctic air, the snow flurries, and the need to pump up tires on Eric’s road bike which hasn’t been ridden since we left Malaysia over a year ago, getting onto the bikes was no easy task.

Love those yellow feet!
Love those yellow feet!

First we had to dress for the weather: a pair wool socks, wool leggings, lined, wind-proof pants, two layers of wool shirts, a down coat, down mitts, a neck scarf, beanie AND and a wool hat, These layers seemed more than adequate when we were exerting energy pumping up the tires in our warm kitchen. But, a quick test ride around the block with cold air attacking our shoes and toes demanded we return home for another pair of wool socks (me) and to exchange the bike shoes for winter boots (Eric).

Second attempt to dress warmly: winter hiking boots.
Second attempt to dress warmly: winter hiking boots.

Most sane people would wonder why we even bothered cycling today. A winter walk would have provided fresh air and exercise. A short drive to a cross-country ski trail would have accomplished the same with the added enjoyment of sipping a creamy hot chocolate while nestled in a toasty, warm yurt surrounded by a deep forest of snow-capped evergreens. In other words, we could have chosen any number of beautiful, outdoor, winter activities but we chose the cold and discomfort of cycling around town. And I think we chose cycling on this bitter cold January day for one simple reason… nostalgia…

Nostalgia for life in our old home and neighborhood. It’s been five years since Eric and I have been together in our house and neighborhood. We needed this time to process memories and say “good-bye” to my favorite house before we sell it.

Nostalgia for our “cycle for retirement.” A short year ago we were three months into our journey of a lifetime and cycling in Vietnam. Life was simple and rewarding. Each day was filled with adventure, discovery, and knowledge. One year later and we’re into the trepidation and indecision of “what to do and where to live.” Our cycle tour was undeniably one of the best decisions we’ve made.But now we both feel we need sell the house and downsize before we embark upon our next adventure.

Nostalgia for our family when the house was filled with kids, chaos and fun. Because Eric was overseas when our youngest left home, our experience of being “empty-nesters” was intertwined with the thrill and challenges of living in new countries. Now I feel like we have to step back a little and both grieve the loss of the family life as we knew it and celebrate the new-found freedom in our own home.

After adding the boots Eric should have raised the seat.
After adding the boots Eric should have raised the seat.

Currently I’m sitting in my favorite, red recliner with my feet propped up. I’m sucking on a See’s Candies chocolate lollipop (a family holiday tradition for longer than I can remember). I’m watching the snow fall. I’m thinking, remembering, relaxing, wondering, being. I don’t have many answers but of one thing, I’m certain. This morning’s winter ride was one of the more important rides we’ll do this year.

Welcome 2016!

8 thoughts on “Cycling Can Serve Many Purposes – Our First Ride in 2016

  1. Bought a Specialized Sirrus and re-started riding because of your wonderful blog. I’m 53 and looking forward to training for an EU ride. Your description of Germany sounds like an ideal target….biker friendly and great beer! Thanks Penny and Eric. Cheers! Jim

    1. Jim, So happy to hear that you’re riding again! I know you’ll love Germany! I’ve been reading about a new bicycle highway they are building in Germany so there are tons of options. Be sure to try a Radler beer (Rad = bicycle in German so Radler is cycler’s beer – a little less alcohol and we saw lots of cyclists drinking it during the day like water…)

  2. Thank you for status of your retirement journey. I started following your blog after I read the article about your travels in the Wall Street Journal. I found your blog fascinating! Many of us empty nesters, (well, we are “almost” empty nesters once our youngest daughter lands that first “real” job!), dream about packing up and seeing the world. I was able to do that through your experiences and knowledge for a little while. I look forward to future updates as the two of you search out your next adventure!

    1. Lori, Thank you so much for writing! It’s fun to know that others share the dream of an adventure, and I highly encourage you to make your dream happen. You won’t regret it. And we are starting plans for the next cycle tour. I’ll keep you posted.

  3. Penny, I’ve been enjoying following your retirement adventures here for awhile. This particular post resonated with me for two reasons… First, I just finished my second mountain bike ride of this new year, here in chilly Vermont. Despite the challenges of winter biking (namely trying to keep upright, and trying to keep warm), it’s a very satisfying experiences. By the way, two words… ‘studded tires’.

    Second, my wife and I, after having closed our business last year, are struggling with the whole ‘what’s next’ issue. I’m hoping to make bike travel a part of that, although I suspect my wife may be more in the role of support crew!

    Anyway, good luck figuring out your next adventure!

    1. Bob, Thanks for writing! I need to purchase studded tires. How do you keep your feet warm? That’s the most difficult for me. Also, glad to know others struggle with “what’s next”. Just writing this post and recognizing blah feeling has spurred us on to planning our next tour.

      Having a support crew could be really helpful especially at the start and end of tours! On the flip side, I’ve seen many couples making cycle touring work with electronic assist bicycles, recumbent or tandem bikes or one person carrying all the gear so the other can feel more comfortable.

      Kind regards!
      Penny and Eric

      PS. We’d love to tour in Vermont one day!

      1. I ditch the cycling shoes for the winter, put plain old platform pedals on my bike and just wear winter hiking boots. Actually, my problem is the fingers. Just can’t seem to keep my hands warm!

        And yes, Vermont is a wonderful place to tour (as long as you don’t mind hills!).

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