Category Archives: trip meter

Thoughts from August 2011

**Pulled open my draft folder and found some interesting writings. This one is from August 2011. Many of the thoughts still stand.**


Bike Triumphant

We celebrated surpassing our van miles with our bikes yesterday. In approximately two months, we have ridden more miles on our bikes to more locations with more members of our family than we have driven. I like to disclaim my mileage on the vehicle with, 400 of those were to Columbus and back to take my grandma home, and to do a little bike shopping. Yet, that’s part of this “real life” experience. Sometimes you need to get out of town and sometimes the best (economical and convenient) way to do that is with a car you already own. Grandma could have gone home on the Greyhound, in the same manor she arrived, but I just didn’t want to send her off that way.

We have had other challenges here in Huntington, WV, when it comes to getting somewhere without a vehicle. I was unsuccessful in finding a way to the local airport, the art museum, Lavalette and Kenova, WV. There was a trip to Charleston that Brent needed to make. We have used carpooling, when the driver is going our way anyhow and sometimes we have driven, because after all, we have a car to drive. Yet, it remains my preference to find ways to get to and fro without the Honda Odyssey. I enjoy the process of solving the problem and I relish the accomplishment once I have seen that it can be done. The savings is motivating and my legs are also looking stronger.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 44.9 Bused: 0 Drove: 10.2 This week
58.4 577.2 12.6 574 Since August 14, 2011

Plans for Huntington’s Cycling Future

This week I made a call to the folks at the PATH about their intentions with a specific portion of their map that effects our route to school. I was disappointed to learn that the portion of Norway we prefer to use for convenience, but loath because of safety issues, will only be receiving Share the Road signs and there are no plans for improving the quality of the roads, sidewalks or installing bikes lanes.I offered them my assistance in anyway I could, including any help I might be with writing for the West Virginia Safe Routes to School Grant.

I expressed my interest in improving the routes to schools for many locations in Cabell county, as I believe “what’s good for the goose”…and “it sometimes takes a village”, as well as “be the change you want to see”. We have many friends here who have said they are unable to get their children to school (Geneva Kent, Hite Saunders, Spring Hill, Beverly Hills Middle) by any other means than to drive or have them bussed by the school board because of the very traffic they have to participate in to portage their family or the lack of alternate protected sidewalks and bike lanes.

A Simple Six as Leadership

I am learning a great deal about the power of the bicycle as I embed myself deeper into this lifestyle. I am still learning. Many others have blazed the way of advocacy before me. Up to this point I have avoided a lot of outspoken behavior that bares a strong message in favor of cycling here in Huntington. At least I feel that I have done a decent job of only relaying our experiences without a lot of complaint and finger wagging. I recognize that cars are not the enemy. I have tried to keep my questions and concerns about bike safety to forums that have members who might share my sentiments or have a solution to offer (PATH, Create Huntington, Critical Mass Huntington). Many of the blog posts I have made were in an effort to describe how we have biked as a family in our town and as a way to illustrate the positive in Huntington, despite it’s reputation in the national news.

All the while I have wanted things to improve and I have wanted someone to share it all with. Our transition to going car-lite has been gradual and I don’t expect or ask anyone to give up their cars. I may ask my friends why they haven’t considered biking, but I won’t tell them they should run out and buy a bike and join me, although I would love it. I will tell you all about our experiences and explain to you how we are doing it and why it’s such fun. I will even tell you all the negative experiences and difficulties we have had with our bikes. I enjoy talking about it, but I do wish there were other families here embracing it. I look forward to seeing the PATH completed and the community more receptive and accommodating. I am excited to see the changes as they occur here in our little Appalachian city. I am happy to be a part of them, no matter how insignificant.

Then there is the self doubt and the fear. While I know I am very passionate and obsessive about what our family is doing now, if you knew me before, I wasn’t passionate about much of anything. I certainly had interests and I discussed my process of understanding the food culture, cloth diapering, aftermarket economies, preschool art, raising children, and my belief system with my friends, but I could have shrugged any of them off at anytime. I wavered in my convictions of what I loved. I didn’t know who I am and I was adopting the interests of the media and my peers. This isn’t to say I was jumping on board every passing ship, but I valued what others were doing and when I found a particularly frugal method that was also “socially acceptable” I would consider it and then possible join the crew. As I grow I am also peeling off some layers of my image. As I root myself in my existence I am strengthening my resolve. I am standing for something.

There have been some difficult conversations in my home lately. Most them involve my sensibilities and my husband’s convictions. We are constantly standing worlds apart on many things that he holds true (topics like FDR’s second bill of rights) and I toss about like salt. Yet, just because I don’t take to heart his values and beliefs doesn’t mean we don’t have a middle ground and attempt to find the others point of view. I see where he is coming from, but it’s not something I accept for me, at this time, and it’s OK. Most of the time it’s better than OK, it’s wonderful. I used to worry that we would grow apart as he builds his career and I wondered pointlessly (I know there is a purpose) through child rearing longing to finish my masters degree and to build my own interests that seemingly get push aside for colds, spelling tests and chess club. Our differences are opportunities for learning and growing together. I use this as an illustration of how my point of view may vary from many in my circles and yet we still have good relationships.

It is my hope that my passion for seeing Huntington, WV as a strong bicycling community, one that builds a foundation on small local businesses and community relationships is shared by my peers and the citizenship of our town.


Trip Meter: May 26

Miles Walked: 3.5 Biked: 64.6 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 6.8 This week
138.1 2272.1 1176.6 3691.8 294 Since August 14, 2011

Walking miles! London and I needed to return to a relationship of balance this week, as were edgy with each other all of the time. I told her one evening that I was going for a jog and invited her along. She surprised me with accepting the offer. We jogged a block, walked a few, jogged a block, walked a few and so forth. I think we covered about three miles. My body hated me the next several days. My shins hurt, my biceps hurt. I have this idea that doing things that inflict pain can remind you that you are alive and that inorder to remain so, you must be uncomfortable at times.

It was one of the largest disspointments when I realized that health is not given to you with life, you must constantly tend to it. There are no pills or genetic remodifications. We are humans, and we require more attention and maintenance than any other aspect of our lives.  Before this realization, I thought naively, that my body was impermeable to so many things, because I had always had a lifestyle that was active in a way it wasn’t dreaded work, nor was it noticeable.

Decades later and nearly a year into tracking my physical activities, I realize what a sloth I have become. I don’t even walk, one of the most simple human behaviors. Walking around a grocery store, once every couple of weeks was about all I have been doing.

During the winter months when I was babysitting, not getting anytime on the bike and sending Brent for errands, I was beginning to blend in with the kitchen. Not only were my muscles losing strength, but I was feeling the fat grow. I knew it was happening too, and now that I have pulled out the summer wardrobe, my clothes confirm it all. This isn’t a statement of being overweight, just one of being inactive. Even if I were overweight, it would still be a statement of health.

The scale doesn’t determine your fitness levels. I am coughing after a moderate ride because my lungs are clearing the cobwebs. My heart rate doesn’t recover quickly. My arms were hurting after a 3mile casual walk/jog?!

Worse than this, I don’t see myself ever taking up exercise for health. I have tried many many times in my life and I usually do it to drop the baby weight, then convince myself that when my clothes fit I can quit. Again, I am fooled into thinking that weight is equivalent to health.

When I began bicycling for transportation I felt I had found my golden fitness ticket, after the initial pain subsided. I could pick up my children from school, break a sweat, burn buckets of calories, build strength and endurance, without feeling like I was exercising. I convinced myself I was saving money, which is a huge motivator for me (maybe not a healthy one), and I was doing something purposeful with my time. Somehow the purpose of school pickup held more value than the purpose of avoiding heart disease, but it did and continues to do so.

So we walked.

We also rode our bikes. Not far, and not often, but it got the job done.

Since I was baby sitting Baby L. the last two days of school this week, the children claimed they wanted extra time with his mom, who happens to be or has been their teacher, so the took rides with her each day. Brent also happened to be going up to the school both days, so he biked.

Our longest stretch of not driving is about to come to an end. We haven’t been in the van since March, maybe? I know we haven’t put gas in it since then.

Thursday I plan to spend a full day running errands on my way to and from Charleston to meet up with a blog reader and friend of a friend. Sarah helped me organize our aborted trip to Morgantown this spring, and they are headed down, so we are choosing to head over. It was a great opportunity to tend to many things I can’t do in town and I am very much looking forward to meeting Sarah and her family.

After this jaunt, we leave for a very long road trip (via car and bike), which I will certainly fill you all in on, soon.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 89.3 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 1.7 This week
134.6 2207.5 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

Trip Meter: May 19

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 89.3 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 1.7 This week
134.6 2207.5 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

When I looked at our individual bike miles on Endomondo, for the National Bike Challenge, we accumulated more than 150 miles on our bikes this week. Since out Trip Meter does not include individual miles, but directional miles, we had 89.3 (Endomondo calculated 95miles, the discrepancy is probably in my charting). This is the largest sum of miles in a week to date.

I don’t feel like I went anywhere. It was all in school commutes, grocery store, playdates, Critical Mass, and Cyclo Femme. Without leaving town we burned through the equivalent of a quarter tank of gas on our bicycles. Given it was slow, little stops, it would likely have eaten 1/3 to 1/2 of a tank. Feels pretty good to know our short segments add up in many different ways.

The 1.7 miles in the carpool column were the children getting a ride home from school one afternoon where the littles and I had the pleasure of playing with baby L. again.

Excited to see where next week takes us.

Miles Walked: .5 Biked: 54.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 0 This week
134.6 2123.2 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

Trip Meter: May 12

Miles Walked: .5 Biked: 54.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 0 This week
134.6 2123.2 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

I was on track to reaching nealy 75 family bike miles this week, but after Wednesday’s fall, things slowed down. Brent did pick up, which only adds a couple extra miles to his commute. I did drop off, so a few miles there, but didn’t go out much afterward, preferring to garden and bake in the kitchen.

Not much gets done around the house when you spend so much time around town during the day. Having a busy first half of the week left me hungry for some home time and wary of how other families can be “on the go” all of the time. Our children are not involved in any extracurriculars right now. They are members of scout troops but London has elected not to participate. Elliot’s meetings have been held at the camp location, too far away to consider for a school night, even if we drove. Running around after school doesn’t give us time for a family meal, free play or preparing for the next day, things we need to do in order to have balance. We may do it occasionally, but to do it night after night, is exhausting. We simply choose not to participate in many community activities.

If we have had an especially busy week, we find we don’t do anything on Saturday either, and sometimes Sunday. Yesterday Brent took the four children and the neighbor’s son downtown for a cash mobbing of our new fro-yo establishment. They were gone 55 minutes. I know b/c I thought I was going to have a few hours to myself. Nope.

Today we have a Cyclo Femme ride scheduled for 4:30. We won’t go anywhere or do much else. We often have the neighbor children over, putter about the house, dig in the dirt out back or dream big. The children spend a lot of time in imaginative play or reading, and we do have considerable electronic media time. I took a few hours yesterday and called my aunt and dad. Neither of whom I had spoken to in many months (dad) or years (aunt).

How do you spent your unstructured time?

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 48.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 17 This week
134.1 2073.7 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

Trip Meter: May 5

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 48.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 17 This week
134.1 2073.7 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

With Saturday’s commencement ceremonies came the end of my full time babysitting gig. It’s likely I will help out my friends when they need me, and I do hope they ask, but I am a bit relieved (and a bit sad) to be sending baby L home to spend time with his parents. They really missed him so much and their situation has change significantly, where one or the other can now care for him full time.

With the end of his care also came the end of our carpool. The children and Brent rode their bikes to school this morning. This is great timing. Wednesday is the first National Bike to School Day. Are you participating?

With biking to school in the morning, and then the little boys and I biking for pick up, we should see some increase in our bike miles. We always hover around 50 a week. Perhaps we will be reaching into 75? Or if I get in a mobile and productive groove, perhaps the littles and I will venture forth during the day, much like Family Ride, and we could see 100 family bike miles each week! We are competing in the National Bike Challenge (we have a wager with team Lemke!). Care to join us there too? It’s all in good fun.

Miles Walked: 1.5 Biked: 49.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 17 This week
134.1 2025.2 1176.6 3691.8 270.2 Since August 14, 2011


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