Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter 4.0

Mixte Snow Ride
In the final weeks of 2012 my thoughts were full of everything that's happened over the past year and my dominant emotion was depletion. Two days ago I finally finished making a bicycle frame, and the experience took its toll: Getting so completely absorbed in something at which I am so completely mediocre led me to question my sanity. This train of thought then spread from framebuilding to cycling itself. My progress on the bike has not been impressive by any standard, making it both funny and ridiculous that I am so utterly into it. I also could not help but question what would happen if and when I finally move beyond the constant struggle to both understand the bicycle and master riding it. Will it no longer be absorbing? Will the excitement and wonder eventually fade?

In the midst of all this brooding, it began to snow. It snowed and snowed all through the night, and the next morning I ventured outside. On a Sunday the plowing had been minimal. Side streets crunched with hard-packed snow. Grassy lots offered vast, undisturbed snowscapes. Modest city parks turned into enchanted forests. I wandered around by bike through the preternaturally white landscape. As my face began to tingle from the frost, my head cleared. Slip-sliding my way through the at once familiar and unfamiliar streets, everything began to make sense. I abandoned my attempts to take stock and draw conclusions. I stopped thinking about the past year and started looking forward to the year ahead. This is my fourth winter cycling, and yet everything feels utterly new, utterly exciting.

Happy New Year, everyone. Thank you, as always, for reading.

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In keeping with the New Year's Eve cocktail tradition, I offer you: 

The First Snow Ride
Ethereal gin
St Germain liqueur
Lindt white chocolate
eggwhite
ice

In a cocktail shaker, mix 2 parts gin and 1 part St. Germaine over ice. Pour (hold the ice) into a cold cocktail glass. Whip 1 eggwhite until super-frothy. Finely shred white chocolate and sprinkle the flakes into the froth. Add mixture to the drink's surface. Serve and enjoy the ride!

31 comments:

  1. I've been enjoying reading your blog over the course of this year and watching your evolving philosophy on riding, and it made me more aware of my own thoughts on it.
    I also love your year-end cocktails. Have a wonderful new year!

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  2. Thank you for sharing your wonder and enthusiasm with us... I love reading along. Happy New Year!

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  3. Thanks for sharing, you are not alone. As for bikes, I've been smitten for the last 30 years but have only ridden exclusively for the last ten. They are not my job, however, just my joy. While my biking brings joy, my job keeps me brooding simply because it's my passion and after 30 years of it, too, I've still so far to go, so much to learn....ah, life! I raise my glass. Cheers!

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  4. With winter, everything old is new again. I love riding in the snow, and find that old familiar haunts become much more exciting. Short runs to the shops or to work or whatever take on a new life when you are blasting as fast as possible through the white dusty stuff. Glad you are still at it.

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  5. Happy New Year, Velouria. Thank you, as always, for writing. Thank you for a year of pleasure, thoughtfulness, new ideas, excitement, occasional frustration, and a lot of damn good writing.
    ~ David

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  6. Don't let Strava, Rapha and racing performance draw you into the "Dark Side" of life. Ride for enjoyment and ride for life. You are an amazing, incredible individual.

    Happy New Year,

    Rod

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    Replies
    1. Could not agree more. I've never enjoyed cycling more since I took the computer off my bike and rode for fun first, fitness second. *And* I've become a wiser, stronger rider.

      Happy new year to all!

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  7. Velouria,
    Many thanks to you for your wonderful writings. I wish you and your husband a happy and prosperous new year.
    Sincerely, Don C.

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  8. Have a happy new year! And if you tire of the snow, feel free to send it down this way. ;)

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  9. From Baguio City, Philippines, thank you for your excellent pieces. They make me appreciate bicycling more. More power. -Resty

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  10. Your blog gives a lot of pleasure to a lot of readers. Thank you from another cyclist.

    I would like to second 'photodreamer' Rod in his encouragement to ride for enjoyment, pleasure and not be too competitive, even with yourself. That is the way to enjoy a lifetime in cycling. And while I am sure a thirty-something doesn't want to hear it, from someone with twice those years, remember, ultimately we all have to adjust our physical activities within new limits. But there is plenty of joy left to relish. Have Happy New year all year long.

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    1. I'm entering my fourth year of cycling and I've enjoyed your blogs immensely. They have been informative and inspirational. As a 65-year old cyclist, I've adjusted, turned down group rides and done my own thing. Cycling has not gotten old for me so far. It is a source of adventure and fun.

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  11. Here's to riding for fun and good after ride drinks in 2013. Can't say I can look equably at chocolate sprinkles on my post-ride potation, but each to hiserher own.

    What are your (pl: y'all's) bike and riding hopes for 2013? Me: adding a coastie gearie road bike to my stable (RIv Ram); adding 3" tires to my Fargo (if and when Knards and competition become available, and if they fit between the stays -- I think they will); doing longer distances (on he coaster/gearie); riding slower so that I can ride longer.

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  12. Happy New Year to you! I am in my second year of 10-mile bike commuting and very much enjoy following your evolving cycling personality along my own growing skills. E.g. this has been my first winter of snow cycling, something I would never have dreamt of a few years back. But hey, why did nobody tell me how much fun it is! Spike studded tires rock.

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  13. Happy New Year! You are such a huge inspiration to us all and everyone doubts their ability now and then, just do whatever makes you happy.
    PS: Send some of your snow over here too please? It would make a change from all the rain!

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  14. Mastery and progress suggest domination, and I'm finding for me that's not the most helpful way to look at most things (and is often an illusion or delusion of some form or another.) Despite healthy fluctuations, I suspect bicycles will keep your artistry and curiosity engaged for at least a few more weeks. I will enjoy reading your reports of these adventures. Happy New Year!

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  15. I knew you'd like St. Germain!!!

    Cheers!!!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for introducing it :)
      A bit too sweet for me beyond special occasions, but delicious and interesting; perfect for New Year.

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    2. @Velouria curious, what is your favorite drink?

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    3. a martini made with 1 part Hendrick's gin, 1 part Noilly Prat vermouth, and 3 vinegar-free olives

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  16. Re competition, Strava, Rapha contests... It's not for me, but I don't think there is anything wrong with it either. There are people who genuinely enjoy this paradigm, who derive fulfillment from viewing their everyday riding as inherently competitive, at least with themselves. Plus people love contests. Look at the Festive 500 and even the whole "coffeeneuring" thing; those who are into it are having lots of fun. Me, I am very comfortable having no idea what my exact annual milage is. I'm the kind of person who'll miss the time cutoff at a brevet just to get some shots of the fog. But to each their own.

    For me, "progress" is being able to do what I want on the bike. Like riding long distances without getting tired. Like drinking water from the bottle without stopping. Like feeling comfortable on dirt roads. Like riding up steep hills in order to enjoy the view or visit new places. I am not competing with anyone, even with myself, and I am not trying to dominate anything. I just want to be free of constraints.

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    1. "For me, "progress" is being able to do what I want on the bike... I just want to be free of constraints."

      THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS so much THIS!

      Happy new year, Velouria! May you always have a tailwind.

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  17. Happy New Year!

    Don't judge yourself on how good you are at framebuilding. The point is, you've been building a frame, and it has taught you about bike design. Plus, it seems to be satisfying your curiosity. There's nothing wrong with that.

    As long as cycling doesn't grow old for you, you'll be fine. After four decades, I still have epiphanies and discoveries, however small. Four years is just a beginning. (I'm talking about cycling, not holding political offices!)

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  18. Thank you so much for all your blog posts! I have thoroughly enjoyed being out there with you. My new Pashley is the love of my life as I ride into the 5th year of being car free and bicycle happy! You inspire me with every post. ALthough I won't be trying frame building. :)

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    1. I have not ridden a Pashley Princess for some time now, but will test ride one again soon. It will be interesting to see what I think of it after all this time. I do remember how excellent it was as a winter bike, just super-stable and well balanced. I am glad to know you're enjoying yours; my husband loves his Roadster as well.

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  19. "I abandoned my attempts to take stock and draw conclusions. I stopped thinking about the past year and started looking forward to the year ahead." Well said. Thank you.

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  20. Thank you for letting me live so many bike experiences vicariously this past year. I’ve often scratched my head seeing your interest go through so many niches. Perhaps it is because you live in a great biking location and get exposed to an eclectic symphony of bikes. It has been very enjoyable to see your approach and acclamation. I wish you the best in 2013 and can’t wait to see what’s in store next.

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  21. A happy new year to you from Iowa, where the wind is strong, the roads are gravel, and the hills below average.
    Thank you for what you do here, and for continuing to inspire all of us to celebrate and explore the fantastic world of cycling. I'm looking forward getting a good look at that new frame of yours.
    Have a safe and joy-filled New Year.

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  22. Velouria, you have engaged cycling in its most elemental and ethereal forms, fired your curiosity with no limits, winningly met your fears and rose worthily to your aspirations, sharing all with a bonny lilt and an infectious enthusiasm, gladdening our hearts in a way that no frame builder with all his/her artisanal skill could. And no, we're not putting you on a pedestal- because it is you who have lifted us up. Jim Duncan

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  23. Well said, Mr Duncan.

    You inspire me, dear girl. I posted my favourite cocktail of the season on spokenscene in keeping with your lovely tradition.

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