Black ice and bikes

I recently did a guest interview for Simply Bike’s “Biking While Pregnant” series — you can read it here.

People often express surprise at the weather conditions we bike in, which include some pretty extreme temps (hot and cold),  rain, wind, and snow.  For us (though much less so for me, at the moment), these conditions are just part of using a bicycle for transportation.

As a general rule, there are two conditions in which we don’t bike: ice on the road and lightning storms.  Late Friday afternoon, freezing rain coated area roads just in time for rush hour.  After a failed attempt to fit his bike in a coworker’s car, followed by narrowly missing a bus, Matthew decided to chance the icy streets rather than wait 20-30 minutes for the next bus.

He made it to within a few blocks of our apartment and then went down on some black ice on a side street.  Fortunately, he escaped with just a few bruises and aches.  (His bike is also fine.)  After making it to the sidewalk (he said the street was so slippery he could barely stand up!), he opted to walk the remaining blocks.

The next day, when I suggested biking to an afternoon apartment appointment, he was understandably hesitant.  With the roads still icy in the morning, I reluctantly agreed to the car.  When the time came, I walked outside and proclaimed, “We totally could have biked.”

Our destination was less than two miles away, the kind of trip that can really almost be reached by bicycle as fast as by car, and we had fifteen minutes, so we headed to the basement for the bikes, quickly donned cold weather riding gear, and pedaled down the road.

As it turned out, the apartment was a total flop.  I would have been really annoyed if we had driven, but the bike ride turned it into a nice afternoon outing — so glad we reassessed road conditions, and that Matthew was willing to get back in the [bike] saddle.

2011 Year End Review — The First Half

Pregnancy, international travel, major surgery, and a new baby, all superimposed on the usual topics of biking, food, and gardening.  Here’s a look back at 2011.

Already increasing my carbon footprint
I mean that in a very loving and motherly way, of course :)  The big changes won’t come for another six months or so . . . .

Little did I know exactly how big those changes would be.

Seed starting: Make a functional, affordable heat box
I’ve used this one with great success and reliability for four sets of plants now.  We set our thermostat pretty low in the winter, so the heat box helps keep the seeds cozy.

Mama-to-be’s reading list
Your Best Birth, by Rikki Lake and Abby Epstein, was the first book I read post finding out that I was pregnant, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.  Even if you are not pregnant, have no plans to become pregnant, and can’t see any way this subject applies to you, I encourage you to read it . . .

Turns out, no amount of reading can prepare you for life with a baby.

Good sauerkraut — make your own
Yesterday, I wrote about my hunt for good sauerkraut and how we ultimately decided to make our own.  Fortunately, making sauerkraut is quite simple.

O-oooh, we’re halfway theeere

21 weeks

Brine your beans
While I was happy enough with my bean-cooking method (quick soak or an overnight soak, drain and rinse, boil for about an hour), we recently discovered a new method that yields delicious, lightly salted cooked beans, reminiscent of the canned variety in a good way.

Biking with babies
The idea that a young infant could not be safely transported by bicycle, when we give no thought to putting them in cars, seemed quite ludicrous to me, but I couldn’t find much information on safe options.

There’s no place like home
All of the sudden, I look significantly more pregnant.  So what changed?  Turns out I’m having twins — my regular baby, plus an Italian food baby.

Traveling while pregnant

In London, I could count on relatively easy restroom access when out-and-about by ducking into a Starbucks or McDonalds.  I became accustomed to walking in, quickly scoping out the place and the most likely restroom location, and making my way there, and back out, without making it too obvious that I wasn’t a paying customer.  Italy was trickier on the restroom front.

Eating for two — A vegetarian pregnancy
Not having to scramble to make dietary changes when I found out I was pregnant was one nice aspect of having a well-established healthy diet, though I was a little worried for the few weeks where pasta and rice noodles made up the bulk of my diet.

Cycling Savvy Instructor!
Despite the heat and my “delicate condition” ;) , I made it through the Cycling Savvy Instructor training this past weekend!  In fact, I didn’t just make it, I had a great time.

Biking with baby — Part II
Comments such as, “If you and your husband want to go for a bike ride, leave your baby with a sitter,”  reveal general ignorance about using a bicycle for transportation. What if we want to go to an event in the park WITH the baby?  What if I need to pick something up at the grocery store?  Am I confined to only using my car for these short, easily bikeable trips for the first 12 months unless I leave baby behind?

Rolling toward the finish

Biking to lunch at 37 weeks

Two wheeled report

Well, the sad truth on the bicycling front is that, until this morning, I hadn’t been on my bike in two weeks!  Fortunately, I remedied that today with a nice leisurely ride to run a couple of errands, including picking up the last few items on the “home birth supply list.”

I covered about 4 miles total, and set out as early as possible to beat the heat.  It felt great to be riding.  The only problem is that my eyes were bigger than my milk crate:

I managed to cram it all in, with a little help from my handlebar bag.

What’s missing in this picture?  If you guessed “feet,” you’re right!  Despite their extra large size, due to swelling, my belly still manages to completely obscure my feet.

I hope to get in a bit more bike time this weekend, but I’m not exactly sure how things will shape up.  Like last weekend, we have a number of plans that involve the car.  Plans = fun.  Driving car to events = not so fun.  Bike = fun 🙂

Rolling toward the finish

Biking to lunch at 37 weeks

I hit the 37 week mark on Friday and breathed a huge sigh of relief.  From here on out, I am within the window for a home birth 🙂  Despite general increasing discomfort for me, the more time baby spends growing inside, the better, but it’s nice to know that if baby decided to come today, we could go ahead as planned with the birth at home.  (If I had gone into labor prior to 37 weeks, that would have been automatic cause to head to the hospital.)

I spent a good portion of Friday and Saturday doing some serious nesting, though, as with the kitchen, my cleaning efforts on the apartment as a whole seem to degrade quickly.  Oh well.  In general, things are pretty well set for baby’s arrival.

On Sunday, I helped Matthew as he showcased our garden in the Sustainable Backyard Tour.  He did an amazing job, giving inspiring tours to the more than 50 people who visited our garden over the course of the afternoon.  More on the garden to come later.

Cycling Savvy Instructor!

Despite the heat and my “delicate condition” 😉 , I made it through the Cycling Savvy Instructor training this past weekend!  In fact, I didn’t just make it, I had a great time.

Home stretch

Like the Cycling Savvy training itself, the instructor training was accessible for people of various fitness levels.  We covered over 14 miles on Sunday, but we did so over a 6-hour period consisting of easy-pace group riding, lots of breaks (in the shade) for instruction and “chalk talk,” plus a few individual exercises.  You don’t have to be fast to be a confident, courteous, savvy cyclist!

While portions of this route seem intimidating upon first glance, even for the seasoned road cyclist, Cycling Savvy provides the skills, information, and confidence necessary to navigate the features, breaking them down into manageable chunks for cyclists of every level.

Matthew doing "chalk talk" with my belly in the background

While it will be at least a few months before I am doing any instructing, there are Cycling Savvy classes available NOW in St. Louis.  Visit the Cycling Savvy St. Louis page to find out more about the classes THIS Thursday and Saturday, which still have room for a few more students.  The class provides the real world skills (and first hand experience) to help you drive your bicycle on the road, while interacting effectively, confidently, and safely with other road users.

Cycling Savvy Instructor graduates, plus our trainers, Keri and Mighk


Photos in this post courtesy of Keri Caffrey and Karen Karabell