Friday, May 22, 2015

The Go Somewhere Goal

I envy my friends who live in town who can hop on their bikes and quickly pedal to the grocery store for, say, a red bell pepper needed in order to finish dinner or ride to the library to return books. I also envy my friends who commute to work via bike paths in the cities or by road in Northfield.

It seems so ideal, replacing a car trip with a bike trip and it has long been my goal to ride my bike instead of driving my van on a trip to town. The thing is, I live 7 miles from the nearest town and about 14 miles from Northfield, the town in which I work and run most of my errands. A ride to Northfield would take me about an hour and fifteen minutes. A lot of the route is on busy roads and I don't like riding them alone and don't have panniers to haul stuff and wasn't comfortable riding on gravel and....well,  I haven't managed to complete my go somewhere goal.

Until today, that is.

Today I rode my bike home from work.

True, I have to go back to town now to pick up my van so that sort of defeats the saving money on gas benefit of riding home. But I'm not going to focus on that because today I accomplished a my Go Somewhere Goal!

I packed my Salsa Vaya in my van this morning, worked my shift and changed into my bike clothes. By 12:15 I was on my bike heading for home. It took me an hour and 16 minutes. To avoid the busy roads, I took a route that mostly gravel (a good compromise as I like biking gravel). I saw two red foxes. I got tired and sweaty. My knee hurt. But I did it. Yay!

Now that I know what it takes to ride from work, I can plan to ride to work and back home again and completely replace a vehicle trip with a bike trip.  I'm not sure I'm ready for that 30 mile round trip commute quite yet. Here are my obstacles

  1. I am a little concerned about how I will, uh, smell, after riding 14 miles to work
  2. I don't have a shower at work so I can clean up
  3. I'd have to get up really early to get to work by 8:30. I'd have to leave home at 7:00 a.m.
  4. I'm scared I'll get a flat, fall off, get too tired etc. etc.
Here's how I can deal with these obstacles:

  1. I'm thinking if I leave early enough it will be cool and I won't get too sweaty. I will change into work clothes and they will not smell
  2. In place of a shower, I can always clean up in the bathroom with moist towelettes or something.
  3. Well, I can wake up at 6 and get ready, I guess. It's only 30 - 45 minutes earlier than my normal wake time.
  4. I can pick a day to bike to work that Owen is working from home so I have a backup crew to help me - just in case.
All for now. I'm going to get a whole mile latte to celebrate accomplishing Go Somewhere Goal!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Writing Space Blog Launch

Some time ago, I updated my writing website found at using WordPress. My website now has a new look, greater capabilities and a new writing-specific blog – Writing Space.
Why a new blog? Well, I’ve been blogging here at my Idyllwild blog since 2010 and, before that, was blogging on a iWeb based blog that I started in 2007. Though I started the blog largely to write about my writing life, over time I realized that my Idyllwild blog was mostly about bicycling and other fun things like flying and baking cheesecakes French macarons. That’s all great fun, of course, but I started to feel the need to create a new blog and keep it focused on writing and let my Idyllwild blog stay on the meandering path it’s already traveling on.
I’ve been somewhat quietly posting content on Writing Space for some time now but am now officially announcing the launch of my new blog! Idyllwild stays alive here as “a blog that’s mostly about Bicycling but also covers Flying, Baking and just about anything else that’s Fun!” and Writing Space will stay focused on my work as a freelance writer. Writing Space is where I’ll share updates on my writing projects and tell you about what I’m reading. I’ll tell you about other writers and their projects and I may slip in a book review or tell you about a writing event. I may also simply share some of my writing just for fun.
To kick things off, I’m going to start a Blogging from A to Z Challenge. This is a challenge that is just wrapping up and, from what I can tell, about 1,500 people officially participated in the challenge this April. I found out about the challenge several days into it so decided to do the challenge in May. So, starting tomorrow (May 1st), I’ll start blogging my way through the alphabet.
Care to join me? Information about how to blog from A to Z can be found HERE.
Please take a moment to bookmark my Writing Space blog so you can easily find it. Or, better yet, subscribe to Writing Space and receive notifications of new posts right in your email in box. To subscribe, visit and fill in your email address in the “Subscribe to Writing Space via Email” prompt in the brown footer at the bottom of any page.

See you at Writing Space - and here, of course!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Practical Piper Pacer

I'm happy to share that I've had another feature story published in Piper Flyer Magazine - The Practical Piper Pacer.

Cover and center title spread of The Practical Piper Pacer
My first Piper Flyer article,  Airshow Entertainer: Lowell White’s Vagabond – A Piper Vagabond Finds Its Way Home, was published back in November 2014. Writing for Piper Flyer was a great experience so I was thrilled when editor Heather Skumatz contacted me to see if I wanted to write an article on Piper Pacers for the magazine. For a moment  I considered passing up the assignment because my schedule at the time was super busy and the deadline just two weeks away. But the idea of writing about Pacers - that's the kind of airplane I own and know so well -  was way too tempting. So, instead of passing up the opportunity, I asked Heather if I could write the story from the first person perspective (primarily to save time) and bump out the deadline a few days. She said yes to both so I got to work.

Even though the story was a first person narrative talking about why I bought a Pacer and how my family has used the plane over the years, I still had a fair amount of research to do. I contacted several other Pacer owners to talk about why they love their planes (thank you Mark, Ohlau, Fred Mayes, Steve Pierce and Bryan Hunt for all of the information!) I read historical articles on the Pacer and why it was developed and I looked up the airplane's specifications. Then, for a sidebar piece, I talked to Univair Aircraft Corporation and Steve of Pierce Aero to find out what it takes to convert a Piper TriPacer into a Piper Pacer. After I turned the story in to Heather for her capable editing (she's really good!), I gathered pictures and wrote up photo credit and caption information. There's a lot of work beyond writing the story to get an article all wrapped up and ready to go!

But, boy, the work was well worth it when I got a copy of the magazine in my hands and saw not just my article on the cover but ELEVEN whole pages of the magazine devoted to the story (twelve if you count the picture on the title page). To top it off, Piper Flyer's Creative Director, Yee Chan, did a fabulous job with the layout and used 17 pictures with the story.

I'm absolutely thrilled with the way my story turned out and am happy to share it here with you.

Click HERE to view a PDF of The Practical Piper Pacer - this includes all of the pictures
Click HERE to view a text version of the story on the Piper Flyer website.

Here's my Piper Pacer. "Miss Angela" - PA22/20-160, N2544P
If you're an airplane person, especially a Piper person, be sure to check out membership in the Piper Flyer Association. Benefits of membership include:

  • A subscription to Piper Flyer
  • Parts locating for hard-to-find parts
  • Technical support
  • Member discounts
  • Fly-ins and annual member gathering
  • Members-only website with exclusive Piper Flyer community access
Find out more at

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A Bit of Morning Gravel

I got out on my gravel bike for a bit of gravel riding this morning. The ride, though short, was lovely. I saw three pheasants, a bunny on the run (I scared it), a dog and heard a bunch of birds singing. The gravel was wet but solid and fairly easy to ride.

I'm doing 30 Days of Biking once again (for the 6th time with a couple of bonus rounds thrown in) so getting on my bike this morning was motivated by knowing that I needed to get my ride in for the day. I usually end up riding later on in the day, sometimes I even ride in after dark, so it felt especially good to check "ride bike" of my list of things to do early in the day.

My rides for 30 Days of Biking thus far have been short ones - I let myself get all soft, squishy and out of shape over the winter and have been dealing with some medical limitations so I'm taking things slow. That said, I'll be stepping things up as the month goes on and really picking up the pace come May. You see, I've signed up for not just one but two gravel rides this year.

I signed up to ride RiotGRRRavel, a women's gravel race that I did last year, again this year because I had such fun doing it in 2014. The ride is on June 20th and in addition to the 30 mile route they offered last year they are offering a hillier 50 mile route. I'm not yet sure which route I'll be riding, probably the 30 mile route.

As for the second gravel ride/race - I am sending in my postcard entry which says that I will ride the Box of Frogs gravel ride on June 7th. This ride is 60 or 100 miles and it's quite silly that I signed up for this but after doing RiotGRRRavel I know I can ride at least 30 gravel miles so I figure I can go farther. I think. I hope.

I signed up for this ride because  I like the concept behind the ride. Instead of everyone starting all at the same time so the slow riders (like me) straggle in well after everyone else, Box of Frogs is having people "hop on when it's right for you" so that everyone finishes more or less at the same time.

The ride finishes at 2:00 p.m. - I'm guessing I'll start around 6 a.m. to finish at that time. Oh well. I may end up straggling in after everyone else anyway but I want to give it a go - so I will.