Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring is Coming! Time for Changes and Plans

I woke up this morning and was absolutely elated to find the thermometer showing over 50 degrees in the darkness before dawn. 58! I had bare skin exposed for the first time since.... well, for a long time. It was glorious.

Life has been pretty same-old-same-old until just recently. Did my lack of posts give it away? There just isn't much to write about when life is happening smoothly. Now, there seems to be a bunch of stuff to talk about, and it's all exciting.

Firstly- I got a bus route!! I've been serving as a substitute driver on a regular but unofficial route. That means we are driving these two kids around until they no longer need service- indefinitely. They could disappear tomorrow, or we could finish out the year with them. It looked as if we'd finish the year with them, and not only that, but the one boy started summer vacation long after my district was out on holiday- so yay for more pay!

But, I'm happy to say that I am now going to be a driver with an official route- which means the uncertainty of tomorrow is gone (you know, as much as it can be). I'll go from driving that white Suburban to the wonderfulness that is a yellow and black school bus, complete with flashing lights and emergency exits and everything. It's a mini-bus, but that's ok. I will gleefully throw on those hazard flashers at every railroad crossing to hold up traffic and check for trains.

The office staff is already talking about adding more kids to that route, now that a driver with a CDL will have it. The previous driver is one of only 2 remaining who do not hold regular CDL licenses- which means that if their little buses break and all we have are big spares, we have to find another driver to substitute as well. If the office folks want to add students, they'll just upgrade me to a big bus now that they can. See, there are additional perks to employing me besides my awesomeness.

The new route begins on Wednesday, which also happens to be the Vernal Equinox, or first day of spring, when the length of day and night are equal. How appropriate!

The second awesome thing is that I'm officially planning my first bicycle tour!

We had originally thought of doing it during Thanksgiving break, but decided against it. We tossed the possibility of spring break around, but we (my mom and I) agree that would be rushing things. Now it will definitely happen sometime this summer. Scheduling will depend heavily on the work schedules of participants.

The plan is to ride from my house to my dad's house, pretty much. It is roughly 120 miles from Longmont to Colorado Springs, so 2 days is a reasonable expectation, maybe 3. I am the only one who rides regularly, although my husband also commutes to work when he can't get a ride. The other people accompanying me on this trip is my mom, my dad, and my twin sister. And my husband Jamie of course!

Rather than find a dog-sitter, I plan to tow them along just as if it was my dream cross-country tour. Grunt has done very well- we've had a second trip, this time for a rushed picnic dinner at the dog park. I plan to get him used to the trailer with more trips, but rides fine, if a bit noisily.

We also plan on acquiring a tandem bicycle sometime between now and then. I started coveting a tandem shortly before my birthday. I very nearly had one then. How awesome would it be to ride a Schwinn Twinn with my twin on our birthday? Alas, it did not happen, but I brought up the tandem to my mom, who seems to have immediately fallen in love with the idea just like I had- we could use one on our tour! It is now a done deal- I will be getting a tandem at some point, I just don't have it yet.

So far, I'm just trying to think of supplies that we'll need (sunscreen!!!), and I'm figuring out a route. By "figuring out a route" I mean I told google I wanted directions from point A to B and told it to go by bike. Now I am walking the little street view man along the blue line, and taking notes. I'll peek at each road it wants us the travel on and check for a bike lane, a sidewalk, a wide shoulder. I'll divert from roads that might be unsafe. I'm also marking hills that I can see- Mom is concerned about hills (understandably!) due to her fitness level and leg strength. With Zoomie's gearing, I would be worried about hills too, but I also know that you'd be surprised at what you can actually pedal up.
Oh, and of course, I must do the onerous chore (horrors!) of taking my puppies on bike rides to someplace nice- like Petsmart or the dog park, or for a picnic. I'm sure I can manage.   :)
I wonder if I should put some weights in the trailer and start carting it back and forth to work with me?

Speaking of work again, Daylight Savings has robbed me of my glorious sunrises! How rude. I'm back to pedaling along in the dark lit up like a Christmas tree. Well, a small pathetic tree. Really I only have my front Maglite flashlight, the rear Bell Radian, and 2 dim NiteIze spoke lights. I expect the NiteIze to only have a 1-year commuting lifespan, the way they are slowly dying. Slowly, I can see the sun starting to grace the world with light a teeny bit earlier each day, and it makes me happy.

I got new tires! Zoomie had a blowout as a result of the cheap stock tires being unable to hold my DIY winter studs. The rubber started tearing, so I uninstalled the studs. It was only a matter of time before the tears opened larger. Sure enough, one morning I started pedaling off and felt a bumping, and heard a rub in the fender. My two layers of inner tube lining saved me from ruining the thorn-resistant tube. I rode Chainless to work that morning.
That afternoon, I found a guy in Boulder selling Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires- nearly new, and for half the usual price ($70 for both, and that's usually what I find a single tire listed online for, IF you can find them in stock)! These are reputed to be the best winter tires on the market, according to just about everyone in the bike forums. The guy was awesome enough to agree to accept a check from me dated for the next day when I got paid. I decided it was fate, and I spent that day between school bus routes taking a bus to Boulder and back and installing the new tires.
Thank you Keith!!!! I rode Zoomie back to work for my afternoon run.
The tires were indeed practically new, with the little nubbies still on in most places (he'd said they had 12 miles on them). One tire was missing 7 studs (out of 240!), the other was perfect. YAY!!

There, I think that's everything you missed. I have pictures, but I've misplaced my camera. I assure you I'll post them soon- I have some gorgeous scenery to share, more snow, and of course that magnificent tire failure had to be captured in imagery.

Happy Friday!!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the pictures of your schwalbe winter tires. Studded bicycle tires are unheard of down here in central Texas. You know, a little ice on the roads and the whole city practically shuts down. Glad to see you posting again...