Category Archives: winter

Welcoming Winter

Blogging about family and transportation cycling in Huntington, West Virginia was all about the hills. In Buffalo, NY it may be all about the snow.


When we moved in August 2013 we left our only vehicle behind. We adopted a fairly spirited attitude about living in a larger city. Buffalo had better transport options and some of us were excited to explore them. For instance, the children got a kick out of calling for a taxi on a particularly crazy try to return from Tifft Nature Preserve (10miles south) after bike-bus-waking to get there with a child who was still recovering from a neuromuscular disorder (I’ve made worse decisions). Taxis were pretty cool, and expensive. And. That’s our only taxi tale.

Public transit was a luxury. Someone else drove through piles of snow and slick intersection but I was loving rental cars. A perfect sized, new vehicle for each task that needed done. A snappy fuel efficient compact for a solo shopping trip or the minivan for a run to Boston to pick up our oversized bike that would help us keep cycling through those famed winter. I wasn’t put off by some inconveniences of not owning a personal vehicle when there were so many community, financial, environmental, and adventurous benefits to be had. But we didn’t all love rocking a “car free” lifestyle.

It wasn’t a secret that Brent, my husband, really wanted to own something again. He wanted to know that when he needed a car there was something reliable sitting in his drive way, not down the street in the car-share spot. He didn’t enjoy asking me to make reservations for vehicles or needing to watch the clock to return it on time. He wasn’t fond of not having the choice when sometimes he was tired after a 10mile round trip bike commute on a long and weather weary day. And I got it. But I let my concern over the financial aspects of car ownership and the exhilaration of an active transportation lifestyle wedge between us. These, amongst others, were huge concerns of Brent’s.

It’s a pretty middle class life to have dollars to wiggle around in the budget. We could have dropped cash on an older sedan but we opted for a newer minivan. One with seats for all seven (we have been hosting exchange students) of our bottoms and a warranty. The thing is we bought the van after all the snow melted in May 2014.

From the first flake in November 2013 till we hung up our woolens the next summer, we endured, and on most days, enjoyed the most incredible winter ever. It wasn’t so much the snow, where a surprise six fresh inches on a Monday morning wouldn’t even call for a school delay, as it was the deepest most painful freezing temperatures that made it memorable. I was trying to think of a word that could describe degrees lower than sub-freezing. The fluid in our ears would ice over. The marrow in our bones would seize up. Exposed flesh burned with the winds. There must be a word for that kind of cold.

However, thanks to good clothing, a new bakfiets with weather canopy (we spoiled ourselves, it has an electric assist!), and the determination to keep on, we walked, bused, accepted a few rides to work, and biked all the relentless winter season.

When it was all over, and I had a hard time believing it was, I missed it. I missed feeling that alive. The challenges and subsequent feeling of success drove my obsession and thrill with winter cycling. I no longer had hills to measure the inclines on and then calculate the weight I ferried up like in West Virginia. I didn’t have the feeling of being my own hero any longer. I missed that feeling.

So when I sat my fanny on my bike, and had it all bundled up with child sized cargo, and took the slow snow covered side streets, I was proud of me.

There aren’t a lot of photos from last winter as I wasn’t foolish enough to take my gloves off. But the few I have are some of the highlights. The “worst” of it will forever be a memory.

With all this, I welcome winter once again.



Sunny Sunshiny Day

20130103-141958.jpgDid you resolve something for 2013? I can’t handle the disappointment, so I don’t bother. I certainly have things I intend to do, but I just say to myself, “self, just do it.” And myself either does or it doesn’t and either way it’s ok. If I sit and think about it for much time at all, I typically talk myself out of whatever it was.

Well, today, after wrestling with the alarm clock post holiday break, I fell blissfully back to sleep on the couch. The children were tardy, as I predicted, but not for a lack of genuine effort. The clothes were laid out, the lunches packed, the waffle batter was made. There are only so many bodies I can put clothes on and force feed and scrub teeth. At some point, they have to get themselves out the door. After all this, Brent drove them to school, as planned, being as it was so cold, we were running so late, and just because like most mornings lately, our bike mojo is low. It’s ok. I am ok with it. You can be too.

20130103-142008.jpgThen with the sun shining in, I said to myself, “self, let’s go ride our bike.” So we did. Oliver and I bundled in layers for the mid 20s/low 30s day. We grabbed things to drop off at The Wild Ramp, Bottle & Wedge, Kidz Biz Consignment, and Rachel’s house. I had just fed the boy some ice cream, because, why not? Then I promised him a stop at Tropical Moon while we were out. Because, why not? We were going on a bike ride! Then, that’s just what we did. All that. The drop offs, the fro-yo, the riding.

It was wonderful. The sun was all sunny. The day was all bright.


20130103-142030.jpgYes, there was the overlooking of extra socks and shoes for the toddler who is learning about bladder control. Especially when he’s sleeping. Totally nailed the idea of using a toilet on our 275mile drive this week, but couldn’t handle a 40minute nap on the bike. However, we were able to test out the new rain pants, and they do stay dry, just not in the way the manufacture intended. He was also a champ about not wearing mittens. He used his pockets. Smart thinking tike. There were keys and toys in the pockets.


So now we are home for a short spell, passing time with some coconut curry for me and a little Netflix and raisins for him. Then we are going to drive up to retrieve the other three children. My legs are spent. Seven slow miles and I feel like I ran a marathon, not that I have any idea what running a marathon feels like, but my legs are jello.

Now, if I could only make up places to go every day. Oh, and people to go places with. That’s always a delight too. Sunshine and friends. Perfect bike weather.

Kidical Mass Jingle Bell Ride Wrap Up


There was so much energy in the air and on the streets of the South Side neighborhood last night. We left our house with an hour of daylight left planning to meet up with a handful of friends who said they’d ride with us for a Jingle Bells & Holiday Lights Kidical Mass. The RSVP numbers were in the mid teens, with another dozen maybes, yet, I didn’t expect them all to show up. I was bouncing out of my saddle when I pulled into the park. I saw several folks unloading bikes, pumping tires, adjusting helmets in the parking lot. As I approached the fountain, the numbers multiplied. Dozens of cyclists not only made an appearance, they decorated their bikes! One middle schooler was elfishly dressed, with gift wrapped saddle and helmet. There was tinsel. Bows. Lights. Bells. Ribbon. Hats. Presents. Ho ho ho pants. The whole tri-state was represented, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia residents.





(photo credit: Dennis Blevins)

I wasn’t able to get a photo of everyone before the ride, and I wished I could have. It was their creativity, their presence that made last night so wonderful. So much joy. Brent did capture a lot of video, please take a look. He got up very early to put this together for you.

Kidical Mass December 2012 from Brent Patterson on Vimeo.

Our group of 42 stretched a block. I’d be at a stop sign in the front and see Brent at the tail, just crossing an intersection. The traffic was light, so while we didn’t roll a group through stop signs, it was often possible for large portions of us to cross or turn together. It is important to teach the children where the signs and lights are, how to read them, and what is an appropriate and safe action. Several parents helped us turn right onto a four lane, then left at the next light onto a side street. Keeping the children to our right side as much as possible and behind the lead rider (moi) and in front of the sweep (Brent). When crossing back to the park we had to be a bit more aggressive by corking the crosswalk so everyone could return safely.


Another factor I wasn’t planning, but played very well for my jingle, were the bumpy brick streets. It was akin to mogul skiing. The brick was sometimes bumpy, but the dips and mounds were amusing. My bells rung gayly.

(photo credit: Dennis Blevins)
(Photo credit: Dennis Blevins)

Holiday music would have pushed the ride up to the top notch. As it was, it was fantastic, but a little holly jolly holiday tuneage would have made it twinkle. Then again, no one would have been able to hear me give directions and check in with the children about cold toeses and runny noses.

ACE riders! (photo credit: Dennis Blevins)

The weather was amazing, and I do think that much of the success of the ride was because of the uncontrollable. We saw 50Fs during the day and they began to dip with sunset. I’d say it was still upper 40s when we arrived with a smidgen of light left and only lower 40s or high 30s when we embarked for home. The roads were dry, all the snow and ice from Friday nights Critical Mass having melted away. The winds dissipated and we rolled merrily along.

Every ride around the world has their own take on a Kidical Mass to meet the needs of their community. If you are inspired to plan your own Kidical Mass ride, and you have my full encouragement, please check out these links.

iPhone panoramic view A of our Gino’s Pizza, post ride, dinner group. We filled the house!
iPhone panoramic feature. One point of view of the dinner group. A group of ACE members joined us for the ride, sans children, which made their appearance even more special. I love that everyone felt comfortable and welcome to join us.
We parked in the lot at Ginos Pizza after the ride, where more than half the riders joined us for dinner! I forgot to flip my Kidical Mass sign down for the ride (and press!) but did so for this photo (taken through the shop window).
Musical bikes. Avery (6yo) rode with Oliver and I for the ride and with Brent for the to and from home portion. We packed extra everything. Good thing too, as Avery dunked his gloved hands into the icy fountain at the park.
Oliver (3yo), bundled up in the PeanutShell on the Yuba. He insisted on the scarf, which doubled as a hand muff, as he wouldn’t wear his gloves. The windbreaker jacket, tied on backward around the seat, covered his pajama pants, which were a base layer under his daytime pants which he removed earlier. We choose our battles.

For more takes on this Jingle Bell ride, check out the gallery and article in the Herald Dispatch today.

Homemade Yakkay Helmet Cover


As part of an effort to be more of a content creator and less of a consumer, I have been trying to produce (not reproduce). Production has come in the form of increased blogging, more regular Kidical Mass event organizing, baking, hosting friends for warm meals, making of art, and this new wintery cover for my Yakkay helmet.

Laying it all out. I followed the seams in the original cover and tried to make it as fitted as possible. The flat rim of the hard shell is ideal for covers, as there is a straight lip.

The cover idea was inspired by a link Full Hands sent me a few months back. I agreed whole heartily that this cover was cycle-chic, but at $65, I felt it was also frivolous to purchase. $12 in fabric and elastic, and about 45minutes of fumbling about with pins, scissors and my machine resulted in a novice cover, but one I am holiday happy about.

Assembled with pins and reversed to check fit. A lot of seam allowance given.
Attaching the elastic wasn’t difficult, as I didn’t do it properly! Marni at Rebourne Clothing sent me a good video tutorial after I hacked it, but I didn’t go back to fix it (probably should.) Marni is also a super Haley Triking mom of three in Philly!
Finished helmet cover installed on shell. The plan was to leave it this way, but I felt I should try to hide my hideous elastic job, that kept flipping down, and maybe add a bit more holiday flair with a fluffy white trim.
Sewing the double folded trim, and the elastic was tough, but my machine and I muscled through it. There are many things I would do differently next time. Should there be a next time, I will document and write up a proper tutorial.

Critical Mass December Edition Wrap Up


Cold. Check. Dark. Check. Snow. Check. Wind. Oh yes.

Seems fall wandered out and winter blasted its way in. Brent joined 4 other gentlemen on a six-eight mile (who’s counting?) course for December Critical Mass last night. Low 30s, possibly upper 20s(F), grueling, finger numbing winds slowed the pack as they worked their way to Central City, but helped them sail back to Huntington on the return trip. Brent says it was slick, black icy and due to the dark and snow, they missed several pot holes, yet, all survived. I think he was actually bragging on his adventure, just a little. Feels good to get out there.


Brent humored me by taking my decked out Yuba. What’s a snowy ride without tinsel and bells on the first day of winter?


See you on January 18, 2013 for the January Edition, or maybe tomorrow December 23 for Kidical Mass. It’s forecasted to be mid 40s and clear. We meet at five, when there is just enough light left, but the house holiday lights are visible.

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