Tuesday, 19 August 2014


Guest Post by Elizabeth a good friend and fellow crafter

I decided to title this post "Inspiration" because I am totally inspired by Elizabeth's resourcefulness to plan, train, prepare and execute a solo bike ride and camping trip in Southwestern Ontario. I hope you enjoy reading her adventure as much as I did.

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I was flattered when Beth asked me to write a guest post on her blog. “Motivation” isn’t exactly my middle name, so I was surprised she would ask me to write about it. “Wander through life picking the daisies” is more my style.  

Beth’s quest to spend August thinking about motivation certainly got me thinking about why we do what we do. Most people have really big projects, like work and family, and sometimes smaller projects, like cycling or crafting. I think middle-sized projects include preparation to achieve goals such as developing fitness for big rides or races and learning new skills for crafting.

This summer I decided to set a Big Goal for myself. I decided to do a self-supported three-day solo bike tour. I had worked with Coach Paul Cooney from LTD Performance Cycling over a period of several months to improve my fitness. I think I’m almost as strong as I was in my twenties and I’m now in my fifties. Having a coach who is very responsive to questions and comments provides a lot of support and motivation to improve. I also prepared my bike, dusted off some old panniers and camping equipment and made sure I knew how to do some basic bike repairs. Both my husband and son like working on bikes, so I don’t usually have to do much of that. A review of a few fundamentals set my mind at ease. 

Loading up for a solo ride requires a balancing act, packing everything I might need for camping yet keeping the weight low for riding. I made multiple lists and did a few trial runs before my Big Ride. This is my bike packed with all my gear weighing in at about 55 pounds. 
Travelling alone on my bike was even more fun than I thought it would be. The first day I left home and rode into a strong headwind across the Holland Marsh and through scenic farmland full of happy lounging cows around New Tecumseh to Earl Rowe Provincial Park which is 60 km from home.
Just as I arrived, it began to drizzle then became quite cool. Setting up camp took about ten minutes and cooking my simple dinner took only a little bit longer. Usually when we camp, we marvel at how long it takes to do everything, but with my simple setup, I had a lot of free time. 
You might think with so much free time, I would turn my attention to the knitting I had bothered to pack. A single sock on DPNs is pretty light and compact and I had thought it would be a good way to pass some time. I had been working on it a few days earlier but had set it aside, unhappy with the way it was turning out. For those of you who are in the know, the stitches I had picked up along the heel flap were uneven which made the sock look messy. It's difficult to feel "motivated" and keep working on messy looking socks. Luckily I had also packed my Kobo so I spent the evening happily tucked in my little tent reading.

There are no worries with bears when camping in southern Ontario, but I was still worried my food might be raided by raccoons or skunks so a nice couple at the next campsite graciously agreed to store my food in their truck. Thank goodness I kept coffee in my panniers because after a long cold rainy night I got up early and then waited… and waited… and waited for my gracious neighbours to wake up. 

I read my Kobo, packed my gear and drank copious amounts of coffee for FOUR hours, resolutely ignoring the horrible mess also known as my sock project.
When I finally got to my food, I munched a quick breakfast, finished loading my bike and headed to Alliston where I bought more food and a warm vest. I then headed south to Albion Hills Conservation Area. It was another windy day and the clouds were dark and threatening. 

I arrived at Albion Hills in time for a nice lunch and managed to set up camp just before the rain started. This is where the "wheels came off" so to speak. I was well-prepared for solo biking and camping BUT I wasn't prepared for Albion Hills in the RAIN. 

The wide-open campsites are a little creepy, very CReEpY actually, especially with the guy from three sites down who had been drinking steadily all afternoon then wandered down to scrounge wood from the bush behind my tent for his campfire. Lack of bush shelter also made the sites windy, so sitting outside was quite cold, even with long tights, wool ski base layer, a T-shirt, long-sleeved bike jersey, fleece vest, windbreaker and my buff fashioned into a toque. Sitting inside my tent was warm enough but a bit cramped and scary with the drunken "scrounger-man" stumbling around outside. 

I could have warmed up by going for a walk, which wouldn't have been restful or particularly sensible in cold rainy weather. Then the young bucks down the way started chopping at overhead branches at their campsite with large knives and axes. I had finished all the books on my Kobo and still could not bring myself to knit the sock. By suppertime when I realized it was going to rain all night, I decided to bail and called my kids who came to the rescue. In that hour while waiting for a ride, the other two campsites got into a boom box volume competition. I think I made the right decision as it was not going to be a restful night at Albion Hills.

The next day feeling like I still had some unfinished business involving road riding, I headed out for a quiet ride in the hills of King Township. I was booking it on an easy downhill on 16th Sideroad when I startled a Great Blue Heron. It took off from the ditch and flew in front of me through a tunnel of tree branches over the road. If I hadn't braked, I'm sure I would have plastered myself up the backside of a fairly upset bird. It was exciting in a much more satisfying way than dealing with crazy campers in bad weather at Albion Hills.

So that’s my story of my self-supported three-day solo bike trip. You might wonder what it has to do with motivation. 

Well, I would say it takes a lot of Motivation to accomplish a Big Goal (First Solo Bike Ride done) yet it only takes an annoying little problem to become unmotivated (Messy Sock not done yet). I would also say Very Big Problems certainly can Motivate Me to Move On.
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Thanks so much Elizabeth for your contribution to my Blog. I'm truly inspired by your story and can't help but wonder what you will think of next. Keep on knitting, quilting, biking and "wandering through life picking the daisies".

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  1. Great story and a motivating adventure. I was a bit worried when I read that Warren was offering technical assistance - but it seems that went ok!

    1. I love that our husbands encourage and support each other and continue to cheer us on with our forays into fitness.

    2. I am looking forward to the day they take up crafts. Maybe that's why the go to the Alleghenies every August. It can't be for the riding. They always complain about it afterwards.

    3. Two Engineers sitting crafting and enjoying a couple beers ... sounds like I'm about to tell a joke although I'm sure stranger things have happened.

  2. How much is a copious amount of coffee?

    1. "British English: copious A copious amount of something is a large amount of it." Elizabeth didn't provide an exact # of cups but she had 4 hrs to make coffee which was admittedly slow going with her camping gear so was sufficiently caffeinated for her ride that day.