Sunday, January 25, 2015

Laughing all the way

We have a great new mountain bike trail in Northfield. The Sechler Park River Bottoms Trail was built by members of the Cannon River Offroad Cycling & Trails (CROCT) club a few months ago and runs along the Cannon River. I've had the chance to ride it with Owen a couple of times and had great fun.

We had a fresh layer of snow last week and I was itching to get out and ride my Beargrease on the trail again. Owen wasn't free to ride and since I'm a beginner when it comes to mountain biking I didn't want to ride alone - I think it's safer to ride with a buddy plus it's more fun! - so I contacted Griff Wigley (friend and blogger at Mountain Bike Geezer) to see if he was free to ride with me. Griff was free so we set a time to meet.

It was sunny and about 28 degrees when we headed out on the Sechler Park trail last Thursday afternoon. The trail was snow covered but fairly well packed by other mountain and fat bikes that had been out not he trail before us. We set off on the main trail then, just as I'd hoped, Griff led me off the main trail to explore some sections of the trail I hadn't ridden before - sections known as The Spine and The Velodrome.

Well, riding those more technical sections of the trail certainly was a challenge! I managed to fall off my bike a few times and had to put a foot down to catch myself from falling over many times. I found it a bit scary to try the new-to-me parts of the trail but Griff patiently talked me through new things and demonstrated how to ride each section before I gave it a go. Though the ride was a challenge, it was also great fun and I found myself laughing pretty much all the way (even when I was falling down or getting up after my falls).
Here I am right after a fall. I decided to make a snow angel while I was there.
Photo by Griff Wigley
Griff took some pictures of me riding (and falling) and also put together a video clip of me attempting different parts of the trail. He also blogged about our ride on his Mountain Bike Geezer blog and on the CROCT blog.

Click on the link to view Griff's video of me riding my fatbike -

You can also view the video, see more pics and read what Griff had to say about our ride at the links below.

Click HERE to read the Mountain Bike Geezer post

Click HERE to read Griff's post on CROCT

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Feature in Piper Flyer

I found a surprise in my mail today - a big envelope containing two copies of Piper Flyer magazine featuring a story I wrote right there on the magazine's cover and in the center spread. I had seen a PDF of the story already and found the story online but there's something extra special about seeing a story you wrote in actual print. It was so much fun to see the story title on the cover then open the magazine to the center and find my story there. Wowza! Now that's exciting!
Here's the cover and center spread - click to view the PDF of the story
The story Airshow Entertainer: Lowell White's Vagabond - A Piper Vagabond Finds Its Way Home is about an airplane that is based near my home here in Minnesota. I first saw the airplane when it landed here at SkyHarbor one day last summer - it's absolutely beautiful! I heard the plane had a cool history and was winning awards and I knew I just had to talk to the owner, Vaughn, and write something about his little airplane. I interviewed Vaughn with plans to do a quick QandA feature on the plane on a website. Yet I knew the plane's story deserved to reach a larger audience and be told more fully than a QandA so I contacted Piper Flyer magazine to see if they would be interested in a story. They were! And they said to go ahead and write it as a feature story to boot!

I sent the story to the editor in August. By the end of September, I discovered the story would run yet this year so I got busy gathering photos to accompany the story. A few days later I discovered the story would be in the November issue. I was pretty excited things were moving quickly and even more excited when a few weeks ago Heather, the magazine's editor, sent me a PDF of the story so I could get a sneak peek before my print copies arrived.

When I looked at the PDF, I was amazed to see my story and the accompanying pictures covered eight pages of the magazine. Wow! Then a fellow Short Wing Piper owner, Curt, contacted me to congratulate me on the story (he had just received his magazine in the mail). He sent me a picture of the magazine's cover - that's when I realized my story was on the magazine's cover. I knew I was writing a feature story but did not realize my story would be THE feature story. That really made my day!
The story got a nice callout in the table of contents, too!
I feel so lucky I had the opportunity to write about the Lowell White Vagabond and wish to give special thanks to Vaughn Lovley for letting me write about his plane and for patiently answering dozens of questions about the Vagabond's history and restoration. Thanks, too, to photographer David Schober who let Piper Flyer use two of his gorgeous pictures of the Vagaond in flight to accompany the story. I also want to mention that I had a super experience working with Piper Flyer for the first time and found it a pleasure to work with Jen, the publisher and Heather, the magazine's editor.

Click HERE to read Airshow Entertainer: Lowell White's Vagabond on Piper Flyer's website

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Biking in the Fall

I've been off the bike for a few weeks (largely due to being pretty down and out with a cold for three weeks) but got out my Salsa Vaya this morning and headed out for a short ride on both gravel and tar roads near my home.

It was a lovely day. The fall colors are a little past peak around my home but still quite lovely. I stopped several times on my ride to take pictures of the pretty trees. I did this because I wanted to capture all of the beauty of nature - and because I am pretty out of shape and figured that taking pictures was a good cover for the fact that I actually felt the need to stop a few times and rest.

I'm glad I'm feeling well enough to be back out on my bike and am looking forward to getting out some more in the days to come.

Get out and enjoy the beauty of the fall season!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Habit of Writing

I have not been in the habit of writing for quite some time but a couple of weeks ago I created a writing schedule to help me get back in the habit. I drew it out on a big piece of paper - it shows my work hours (I work four mornings a week as an educational assistant with special-ed preschool children) as well as my evening commitments. After work and my evening things, I don't have a ton of time left for writing but I managed to block out three to four afternoons per week to write. The schedule needs to be pretty fluid as I didn't allocate any time to do things like eat, do laundry or exercise. Those tasks of daily living can sure take up a lot of time but my hope is that I still keep my afternoons more or less free for writing.
So far, I've managed to stick to my writing schedule pretty well. I used to have the tendency to go back to sleep after getting the kids on the bus in the mornings. I need sleep, of course, but my morning job is helping me switch my schedule so I go to sleep earlier instead of sleeping away the mornings. With my new schedule,  I get Ryan up at 6:20 (Owen wakes Rose at 5:45) and get the kids to the bus by 6:55. Since I'm already up and at 'em, I take the dog, Rocket, for a 15 minute walk then I shower and get ready for work. I'm at work by 8:30 four mornings a week and done by 11:45. After work it's lunch and then I have time to write for a bit before the kids get home from school. I really like that the morning work schedule allows me time to write in the afternoon - my favorite time to write!

I found a great blog post at Write to Done titled How to Create the Habit of Writing. The post was written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and has ten tips on making writing a part of your routine. I found the post helpful and though I would share it with you!

Click on the image below to read How to Create the Habit of Writing or click HERE.