I Need a Victory

This is the one year anniversary of me starting up my blog again. I’ve gone one year, posting every day. Actually, according to WordPress, I’ve published 369 posts. It was leap year… I know I published two in one day on one occasion… I wonder what the other extras are?

My first post was on the Monk Parakeets that live in a power yard near my house.

My goal was to go a year publishing every day and now I’ve done it. I think, going forward, I’m going to relax a little and be willing to skip a day if I don’t have anything. I want to go for quality, rather than quantity I want to write more and photograph less. I want to try different things, write out a few more ideas and push it more.

Any comments, opinions, or suggestions would be appreciated.

Pack Straps

My bike with an experimental bag I tried out. The panniers work a lot better.

I carry a notebook (at least one) around with me always, along with a quiver of fountain pens, ready to record any fleeting thoughts that creep into my thick skull, on the off chance one might prove useful someday. Things… things have been tough lately and last Friday I wrote down, “I need a victory.” Then I followed this observation with a short list of attainable goals I’ve been working toward. I perused the list, crossed a few off, then circled the item “Ride my Bike to/from work.”

First, I scribbled through the “to.” I have come across a possibly insurmountable obstacle to riding my bike to work – there is no place to take a shower. I’m working on that, but it will take time, politics, and a budget from somewhere. However, there is no reason I can’t ride home after work.

I have been working on a route to/from my work for a long time now, and have it figured out. The route is important because my goal does not include me being killed and ground beneath the wheels of unstoppable traffic. However, I have found a route made up of paved bicycle trails, wide sidewalks, empty residential streets, quiet alleys (I have to be careful there – cars can back out unexpectedly) and parking lots.

One weekend a while back I did some extra work and was rewarded with a gift card. Looking around, I found a surprisingly inexpensive set of panniers from Wal-Mart and bought the things. They are cheaply made, but well designed and they fit on the rack on my old crappy bombing-around-town bike. I can haul any work I need, plus stuff extra clothes in them.

On Saturday, I decided to test my route. Loading up the panniers with a dummy cargo, I rode from home all the way to my workplace, about 5.2 miles, along my chosen low-danger route. I looped around the parking lot and rode back home. No problema. So I knew I could make the distance.

Candy agreed to drive me to work on Monday morning, with my bike in the back of the car. I set it in the rack (there are about a dozen other folks riding bikes – a pitifully small number) and carried the panniers to my desk. At the end of the day I changed clothes, clipped the panniers back on the bike, and headed out.

My bike needs some adjusting and lubrication, I need to work on the pannier mounting (my heels clip the bags every now and then), and I look like a complete ridiculous idiot… but otherwise I really enjoyed the ride. The bicycling itself is the easiest part – the difficult thing is the logistics of it – what to take, what to pack, getting this here, making sure that is there…. Everything is too complicated.

Once I was on the bike and moving, it felt like freedom.

My goal now is to ride home at least twice a week. On the days I can’t do that I might get up a little early and ride for forty five minutes around the neighborhood at dawn – that would be nice. I can go to the store too, those panniers will work well for groceries.

Sounds like a plan. Sounds like a little victory.

28 responses to “I Need a Victory

  1. Congrats on the year of posts! That’s quite an accomplishent! I feel your pain with the organizational aspect of riding your bike to work. I feel like it is an organizational pain just to go for a bike ride – bike shoes, right clothes, helmet, lock in case you want to stop, water, phone in case you have a problem, sunscreen, etc. Oh my, I’m tired already!

    • Thanks!

      It is true that little difficulties can kill off our best intentions. I’m working on simplification and organization for that reason… but it’s tough to teach this old dog new tricks.

  2. Congrats on the year of postings and also on the finding a safe way to ride. I remember when I worked in Richardson it was a zoo at rush hour. Like most of Dallas et al. (the burbs). Best wishes for your upcoming rides and looking forward to your future posts 🙂

    • Dallas was chosen the worst city in the nation for bicycling… but Richardson has done a lot of good work in improving the riding experience around here (bike lanes, trails, education).

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. I improved my health a whole lot riding to work. My present commute is 11 mi one way. If you can leave a change of clothes, and a bike pump at your office/desk that will lighten your commute some. I don’t have a shower at work, so I leave some baby wipes in the bathroom for pirate showers. There’s a whole lotta blogging and forums on biking to work. I’d suggest bikeforums.net first.

    Also on days where you “don’t have stuff” — have you tried getting two full pages of messy freewriting down? Any mental baggage and bitching and whining counts. It’s a useful technique to “clear the throat” as it were for your writers voice. People that use it find it surprisingly effective at helping them spontaneously find topics they forgot to write on.

    • Thanks for the comment!

      It is so hot here I can’t imagine working after a bike ride and not being able to shower off – but I’ll work on it.

      I am always writing in my free time (or even when I’m not). I fill notebooks with freewriting and such. I particularly find clustering to be a good tool for generating useful ideas.

  4. Bill, a few years ago I decided to use my bike for all short errands. To ride it to Starbucks, to the grocery store (both of which are easy walking distance if I were in England but in Texas heat and without pleasant scenery–not to mention a stretch of busy traffic–I rarely do that). I rode to the post office to check my po box. I only logged about 350 or so miles doing that, but it made me feel great. Like you say, it feels like freedom. When I get my bike repaired, I may do it again.

    I’d like to see your quiver of fountain pens and what you like to use the different ones for. I have a different color of ink in each of mine. I’d also be interested if you decided to do WWW Wednesday from time to time. I love seeing what my friends are reading, especially when their tastes are different from mine. I discover a lot of books that way.

    • I’m going to try to use my bike for errands – though I don’t run that many. Not too long ago I rode down to the Vietnamese market and bought baguettes – rode home with them sticking up out of the top of my backpack. I felt very European.

      I have way too many fountain pens – mostly vintage. The four in my “main rotation” right now are – A Sheaffer PFM with turquoise ink (general writing) a Lamy 2000 with maroon ink (for editing) and two Parker “51” pens – a medium nib with blue ink (general writing) and a fine nib with black for notes (it’s the smoothest fine nib pen I’ve ever used).

  5. No small feat blogging daily for a year. A well earned victory, no matter how you look at it. Your writing and photos have been very entertaining. But as a word person I must admit I’ve greatly enjoyed the blogs that had a photo that you created characters or stories around. Made me think of Out of Africa where Karen entertains her guests by having them make up the first sentence and then proceeds to weave incredible stories. Look forward to reading your future endeavors.

    • Thank you!

      I enjoyed that and might write a story with a couple of the characters. It’s a good technique – though I’ve found it has to be the right photograph for it to work.

  6. congrats on making it one year. I myself made one year this month as well. My goal has been one post a week but I dont think I made that haha!

  7. I’ve only been with you a half year but I must say its been fun kind of getting to know you again through this blog. I actually kind of get bummed when I get several days behind.

    I too enjoy the photography. If you don’t have anything, continue to throw a photo or 2 up.

  8. Good to see you’re riding your bike. Yes it’s hard to write a blog every day. i’ve been trying to do it too. It takes a lot of time, and I still don’t believe it’s real writing. I’ve enjoyed your blog from time to time, Bill, So thanks and keep it going.

  9. I know what you mean about the desire to change the focus a bit after one year of a daily blog. I’m still working mine out. Thanks for liking today’s post. Here’s to your “quiver of fountain pens” – love that. Cheers!

  10. A year of daily posts! That is really impressive. I am doing the Project 366 for photographs – there are some days when I just can’t take a pic (sounds lame but it happens…) and there are those days when I take a pic but take forever to post it…Congratulations on a full year of posts… 🙂

  11. It’s fantastic idea to place your goals out to the universe. Riding your bike twice a week from work is a great idea. It’s a fantastic way to get fit as well. I wish i lived 5.2 miles away from work. I enjoy your blog and congrats on obtaining your goal

  12. Congratulations on one year of blogging! I’ve just got started and it’s good to see people who’ve “made it” to that goal. Keep it going!

  13. Pingback: My Commute Home from Work | Bill Chance

  14. Pingback: Upping My Bicycle Commuting Game – Part 1, Overview | Bill Chance

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