Tag Archives: bikes

What I’m into: One-third life crisis edition

Maybe I’m having a 1/3 life crisis? Or maybe it’s just August and as with every fresh school year, I’m craving some new-ness and a chance to prove I’ve still got some youth left in me. Thankfully, one of my college roomies spent the weekend in Des Moines and rescued me from adulthood for a wee bit!

Musical Magic 

It’s not that I’m a music festival junkie but the fact that I didn’t even really even contemplate getting tickets to 80/35 or Hinterland this year bummed me out. I tried to bring the kids to the Beaverdale Bluegrass Fest and they melted down after like 15 minutes.

Then Joe and I both saw that Nathaniel Rateliff is playing GARP at Codfish Hollow next month and he managed to snag us a pair of tickets (and overnight babysitting!!!) for the show so we can camp there. Yes! I’ve heard the atmosphere is totally magical.

Bicycle love 

I’ve been hardcore mooning over a cargo e-bike, but those ladies are expensive. I was scheming how to pay for a new model (we did not win the #tourdmparks $1K). We wandered down to Ichi Bike on my day off on Friday and one of the older model Yuba Spicy Curry dream bikes I’ve been crushing on for well over two years was there, loaded with the accessories I needed.

It was a moment of serendipity and she will be home with us soon. I’m going to hold on to my Subaru for the time being, but it’s my goal to go down to one car after I survive the winter.

Sweet kicks 

Totally late to this party, but can we talk about Dansko sandals? Backcountry Outfitters was having their sale and  I swung by because they always stock quality shoes and I needed an alternative to the croc ballet flats I keep wearing to walk Wilbur and then forgetting to take off.

These Danskos are ridiculously comfortable (podiatrist approved!) and my kind of cute. Plus, now that I know they’re a B Corporation (meets social and environmental responsibility standards) I am a total convert. I snagged mine end-of-season clearance, too. Is my grandma showing here?

Oh, and two random things I wrote elsewhere lately:
Be Blue Ribbon-Worthy in the Workplace for LIFT Iowa
Raising a Feminist Son for Des Moines Moms Blog

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Filed under What I'm into

Just get on the bike

The night before I was about to make good on my pledge to do a day of RAGBRAI, I was a ball of nerves. I love to ride my bike around town but in all honesty, I’m not a super confident cyclist. I still have a lot (everything!) to learn about how my bike works, and I get nervous taking my hands off the handlebars to signal. I wear gym shoes instead of clip-ins. The extent of my “training” this summer has been a few rides from our neighborhood through downtown, commuting  a mile (uphill both ways) to work, and one women’s cycling night with the Collective last week to get a porkchop and beer.  But damnit, I wanted to go a little bit more than I was scared to go.


This winter when we learned Leon, Iowa would be a RAGBRAI overnight town, I vowed this would be my year to finally cross a day of riding off my bucket list.


RAGBRAI week is endless logistics for our family, because for the past few years Joe’s been working and riding different portions. It can get to be a headache, but Joe would be able to drop me off in Creston early in the morning and then pick me up in Leon pretty easily. The Cash farm where Joe’s family holds its reunions is just a few miles down gravel roads from there, and it would be an easy spot to camp and for Joe to hang with the kids while I was on my ride. Plus, after a long day pedaling country highways, this is the kind of sunset you dream about:

For me, a RAGBRAI day was a symbolic finish line in being the mom of a tiny baby. Eileen turns one in October, but I decided that I’d like to be done nursing  by late July. The ride was going to be a chance to challenge myself and celebrate the strength of my body. (Despite not training, the fact that I’d experienced unmedicated childbirth just nine months before makes any endurance activity seem possible.) My body still felt foreign to me after my second child and I know that setting goals and logging miles is a way for me to get comfortable in my own skin again. And, sweetly, the kiddos made a literal finish line at the farm entrance.


What surprised me the most was that once I got over the fact that I was setting out on the longest ride of my life, the SOCIAL aspect of RAGBRAI really freaked me out. I had originally thought my sister-in-law would ride with me, but that didn’t work out. I know a lot of people who would be riding, but the idea of being the 11th wheel or dragging down people who would be faster than me was mortifying. I’d much rather travel at my own pace and be in my own head than worry about small talk and someone else’s timetable. (Hardcore ENFP vibes. At least I know myself!) I actually kind of like the feeling of being alone in a big crowd, especially moving along toward the same goal. In ways, RAGBRAI kind of reminded me of walking the Camino through the tiny towns in northern Spain.


Tuesday morning, we got up before dawn and loaded up my bike and drove to Creston. I lucked out with not-too-hot late July weather, no trouble with my bike or body and truly enjoyed the roller coaster hills and a little bit of solitude. A highlight was randomly meeting up with Kerri, one of Joe’s INHF co-workers, in Mt. Ayr and eating pie with her crew and listening to Damon Dotson under a tree in the town square.


I averaged about 10 miles an hour, including stops, but waited until the end to crack open a beer, because as a solo newbie, that felt like the best approach for me.


Kerri and I are working with a group on putting together an October women’s ride that benefiting the Des Moines Bicycle Collective women’s programs, so if anything that I just wrote resonated with you — I’d love for you to participate! It will be October 1 and go from Des Moines to Ankeny and back , with activities that empower female cyclists of all abilities. If you’re interested and scared because a) you don’t know a ton about bikes b) you don’t get in many miles or c) you can’t find a friend to ride with you, it boils down to this: Just get on the bike! You’ll be glad you did.




Filed under Iowa adventures, Travel

Pedal the Prairie

We packed up bikes and seats and a trailer and spent the morning at the Neal Smith Natural Wildlife Refuge “Pedal the Prairie,” a free spring bike ride and grand opening celebration for the Prairie Parkway Bike Trail.


It was a 10-mile round trip between the Prairie City trailhead (where we started) and the Prairie Learning Center, with rolling hills that I’m proud to say I tackled without walking the trailer. Don’t try Joe’s crazy bike selfie at home, kids. (They closed off the road to cars for this event.)


Yep, that’s a strider bike bungeed inside the Burley.


At registration, each rider got a cute bag with “seed bombs” to throw along the route, which featured a newly paved and expanded refuge entry road with four-foot bike lanes on each side.


We saw the Bison herd on the horizon, and took in the fresh air. There were people of all ages and abilities riding and everyone just seemed so happy to be out! The event featured a free lunch and  a few fun activities set up behind the Prairie Learning Center, too.

Today will be one of those days I always carry in my heart from this stage of our little family’s life — one of those sweet mini adventures that prove we didn’t just change diapers and fret over feeding schedules when our kids were tiny people.


I can’t believe last summer was our first time to the Refuge. (Their Concert on the Prairie fundraiser is coming up again in a few weeks.) I have to thank Brianna Patrick, the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge visitor service staff and volunteers — and the weather! — for such a lovely morning. Check out more of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge upcoming events on Facebook.

Pedal the Prairie was part of a really fun bike month for me. I went to a lot more events than I thought I would (even won this great purple bike bag/backpack from a women’s bike maintenance event at Rasmussen Bike Shop!) and am excited to take on a day of RAGBRAI (not pulling a trailer) this summer.

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Filed under Family Fun, Iowa adventures

Mini cycle-venture

Sometime in the frozen depth of winter, Joe and I agreed to report and write a story together where we’d spend a day cycling one of Iowa’s trails. Sounds like fun!

Then the reality of my burgeoning belly and the tiny window of time between the thaw and the article being due set in and we scrambled to find a semi-decent weekend to explore the Wabash Trace. (Emmett hung out with his grandparents in Council Bluffs while we biked, which was a total bonus!)

We made it last weekend — about 35 miles of the 63 mile trail –which isn’t exactly a day of RAGBRAI (per my 30 before 30 goal list), but was as substantial a ride I’ll likely get for the next year or so!





I’ll link to the article when it’s finished, but I’m having trouble even putting a word on the page after reading the beauty that is Tim Paluch’s  essay/story on fatherhood for dsm. Another tear-jerker.


Filed under Iowa adventures, Side projects

Midwest family adventure: Columbia, MO

A few weeks ago I had this daydream: A fall weekend in Columbia, MO – the crunchy college town that still possesses a piece of my heart.


image via painted post

We’d load up the bikes and hit the trail right away to do the 30-mile round trip to the blufftop winery overlooking the Missouri River. Then we’d get up the next morning and explore the Mizzou campus before heading to the Roots N Blues N BBQ music festival. Then we’d drive another two hours to meet one of my very best friend’s babies and hang until dinner time. Back in DSM late Sunday night. Crazy? Maybe. I started to think of it as a kind of parenting triathlon – a test of endurance.

Thankfully, the forecast for the weekend was gorgeous. But as anyone who’s spent more than 20 minutes with a toddler knows, their emotions are harder to predict than the weather in the Midwest. One minute, E can be happily flipping through a book and then you offer him a banana and the kid flips out.

Ultimately, the weekend turned out to be a lot of fun (despite a few scattered meltdowns), and I’m glad we pushed ourselves to make a little mini adventure happen. Here’s how it went down.


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Filed under music, Travel

We ride

Tackling the Tuesday night taco ride to Cumming is too tricky with a 10-month old, but we didn’t want to miss out on all of the fun on a gorgeous Earth Day. So we packed up the Burley and started peddling for pizza.


Orlondo’s is the first stop for a lot of the cyclists who plan to ride the Great Western Trail out to the Cumming Tap for Sam Auen’s famous tacos. (Of course you can now pop over to Tacopocalypse any time over lunch, but I think they taste best when they’re a reward for a good workout and after your lungs have been filled with fresh, evening air.) There was already quite a crowd by the time we got out there at about 6, but the slices weren’t ready until just before we had to leave.


Helmet-clad trio! E was the only baby at the bar.


I had to head back to work for an event, so we rode up the gravel shortcut that pops out in the neighborhood south of Grand Avenue with lots of amazing architecture and a steeeeep hill. I’m kind of obsessed with this little house.

20140422_184027Even though it basically has train tracks running through the front yard, it backs up to Waterworks and is wedged between two horse stables. The light was hitting it just right and I had a daydream about raising llamas there for something that helped distract me from the climb.

It felt great to get out on a week night and do something fun/athletic. Our evenings lately have mostly been dinnertime, bathtime, baby-crying-instead-of-sleeping time.

Did you spend any part of Earth Day outside?


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Filed under I love Des Moines

3 ways to break up with winter

Winter, we are all so over you.

Dance it out. Even if the warmth in the room is coming from the heat generated not by the sun but rather by dozens of flailing arms and shakin’ booties, it’s better than huddling under a duvet for the bajillionth night in a row, right?

Joe and I went downtown on Saturday night for the MAIDS set/dance party. I wore winter-appropriate boots and snuck a pair of cute shoes in my bag to slip on once we got to the venue. It was so much fun! We even got snapped by Juice, and we asked the babysitter to stay an hour later because I wasn’t done dancing. They’re playing in Iowa City tonight!

I really want to get up the courage to check out one of the Des Moines contra dances that happen down the street from us on a regular basis. (Contra dancing is like square dancing, with a bluegrassy band and caller. We did it at my cousin’s wedding this fall in Portland and it was a hoot.) Looks like the next one isn’t until May, so I’m going to have to find a few other non-clubbin’ places to bust a move between now and then.  Maybe a Zumba class?

Go out for Mexican. The countdown to patio season is on! Until then, spice it up with a trip out to eat at a Mexican restaurant where they channel the color and flavor of the home country. We haven’t gone out for Mexican in forever, but one of my favorite spots is El Aguila Real in Beaverdale. It’s not sunny inside, but the booths are all carved with vibrant designs. Go ahead and order a margarita to warm you from the inside out, too.

Buy a bike. No matter what the groundhog says, the first sign of spring is actually the Bike World Warehouse sale which starts tomorrow. It’s where I found my sweet Terry Prism a couple of years back. Joe just worked his magic (something with its derailleur? I don’t actually know.) and gave me a new gear system so I can shift on the handlebars this summer. Watch out, RAGBRAI! My goal is to do at least a day of this awesome, short northern route. (Have you heard about the new BACooN ride?)


Joe’s tool bench makes me happy.

Or, if you really want to be ambitious, buy a house! My SIL just listed their great Union Park place in hopes to move to our side of town. It’s super close to trails and the East Village and has a great patio backyard. Plus, the price is right for a first-time buyer, especially!


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Filed under I love Des Moines, What I'm into

Freelance fun, city love and a bike sale

I still get really nervous when a freelance piece I’ve written goes out into the world, but I was truly delighted by how my Register profile of Gong Fu Tea turned out:


The design really made the story pop. I’m not going to lie, “research” for this story was fun. (Remember the tea date Joe and I took the other week?)

If you’re free tomorrow afternoon, consider checking out the “Connect. Create. Collaborate.” event the Des Moines MPO is hosting (3 p.m., 420 Watson Powell, Jr., Way, Suite 200). I had a meeting conflict, but really wanted to go because Lee Fisher, who came to speak at TEDxDesMoines this summer, will be presenting. He’ll also be at Drake for a “Sustainability in Urban Environments” Conference keynote.


Lastly, the Bike World Warehouse Sale starts Saturday morning! That’s where I fell in love with and purchased my sweet little red Terry Prism last year. If you go, bring a checkbook or cash and they might be willing to haggle a little on the price. No promises, but you might get a deal.


They have super great deals, especially if you’re planning to do RAGBRAI this summer. The 2013 route looks like the best EVER.

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Filed under I love Des Moines