Tag Archives: winter

How Many Bikes Do I Need?

Over the past few years I’ve been continuously reducing the number of things I own.  This is a process I refer to as “decrappification”, borrowing a phrase from the computing world.  Basically, I am trying to simplify my life and that includes decluttering my house.

So, of course, something comes along to upset my plans.  That something is a renewed interest in cycling this past summer.  I got the two bikes I owned out of storage, tuned and cleaned them, and I’ve been slightly less than obsessed with riding since.  One bike is a 1990 Univega Nuovo Sport 10 speed road bike, which is great for riding on pavement.  The other is a 1992 L. L. Bean Approach (non-suspension) mountain bike with all-purpose tires, which is suited for riding on gravel and dirt roads in my neighborhood.

I’m riding my Approach indoors on a trainer now that it’s gotten colder as winter approaches, but that’s not the same as being outside.  My Univega, having skinny road slick tires, is clearly not suited for winter riding when there is snow and ice on the roads.  I don’t want to subject my Approach to road salt and grime.  That’s why I bought a pair of used Mongoose Spectra full suspension mountain bikes a couple days ago, for the princely sum of $50.00.

One has a frozen front fork but a good rear cassette.  The other is just the opposite.  Both have cable and twist shifter issues.  All four tire tubes won’t hold air.  Here’s the thing: between them I can make one good, essentially $25.00 winter beater bike for riding after it starts snowing.  If it gets salty and dirty, so what?  (I have no idea yet what I’ll do with the leftovers, but I’m sure something will come to me.)

Oh, and did I mention I’ve got my eye on a Kent/GMC Denali aluminum frame, flat bar road bike?

Not bad for just $50!


I took a lunchtime walk yesterday on the Kennebec River Rail Trail, as I usually do during the workweek.  The day was moderately sunny, although it had begun rather cloudy and certainly cold-a chilly 6 degrees Fahrenheit at my house.  It was around 30 degrees at noon.

I started out bundled up with my heavy winter coat, knit cap, and wool mittens.  I usually shoot for a 30 minute walk.  By the time I was five minutes in I had to remove my cap because I was heating up.  By the time I reached the half way mark, I had also removed my mittens, and shortly thereafter I had unzipped my coat.  I actually had worked up a light sweat by the time I got back.

Here’s the thing:  I had prepared myself for my noon walk based upon expectations I formed at 6:30 in the morning regarding the temperature.  What I should have done was check my smartphone for updated weather information prior to my walk,  instead of relying on outdated expectations.  As it turns out this principle applies to a lot of things in life: make decisions based upon reality not preconceptions.

A hand holding a thermometer in front of some icicles.

Baby, it’s cold outside! Or, is it?

He Who Has Two Coats

He answered them, “The person who has two coats must share with the one who doesn’t have any, and the person who has food must do the same.”  Luke 3:11

Last Sunday a gentleman showed up at my church before our early service, seeking assistance. I understand that he was without a coat and gloves, even though the temperature was in the mid-teens. While we didn’t have any cash on hand to give him as he asked, he was given one of our Agape Bags and invited to stay a while. Apparently he did stay for a little while but chose to leave before the service.

When I was told of this, the first thing I thought of was that I still have a couple jackets that I don’t need. In fact I haven’t worn them for a long time. One is a ski jacket and one is a light spring jacket. I took them out of the closet, hit them with some Febreeze, and dropped them off at church last night. The intent, which you probably already figured out, is to have them available as “emergency” coats if this situation arises again.

I wish I had thought of this earlier.  It’s truly unfortunate that this gentleman left without a warm jacket in this climate, at this time of the year.  Part of my simplification process has been to donate excess clothing to charity. But now I see a more immediately useful way to redistribute my excess, even if after the fact.

Worry is a Big Waste of Energy

I hardly ever dream, or if I do, I don’t remember the dreams upon waking so the net effect is the same as not dreaming. The past couple nights have been unusual for me on the dream front, however. I have awakened last night and the night before from a dream. The same dream, actually, which is also kind of strange for me.

In this dream, I was worried about my water pipes freezing. If you don’t know, I live in Maine and at the moment winter is in full effect. Anyway, back to the dream: I am in my kitchen and I suddenly hear my pipes breaking. They sounded like someone setting off firecrackers. I knew what it was and I rushed over to my kitchen sink and looked in the basin.

The whole bottom of the sink basin was gone, and below was a very deep pit. There were jagged ends of copper water pipes and the PVC drain line protruding over the pit, dripping water. Seeing this I lost my sense of worry, because if the pipes were dripping water they were not frozen. I somehow knew that the missing pipe sections contained the frozen bits. All I had to do now was solder and glue new copper and plastic sections in, which I am perfectly capable of doing, and all would be well.

If I had to theorize, I’d say that this dream means that I have been subconsciously worried about my pipes freezing, which has happened in years past. I’d also speculate that I was telling myself to not worry, because I know how to deal with the problem should it arise. Basically, I was worrying needlessly. By eliminating worry and focusing on knowledge and solutions, we can effectively simplify our emotional lives.

As for the pit under the sink, honestly, I haven’t a clue!

Blizzards and Ice Dams and Snow Drifts, Oh My!

Decrappification is not about having less stuff.  It is about perspective.  Let me tell you a story.

The past few weeks have been quite challenging up here in Maine.  Between blizzards, subzero temperatures, and ice dams I can’t say I’m enjoying winter too much lately.  Recently I had one day where my main door to the house froze shut and the secondary door was drifted in.  So I had to crawl out a bedroom window and wade through the drifts to open the main door from the outside.  Then it wouldn’t stay shut.  So I worked on that until I got it to close properly.

As I got ready to drive off to work an hour and a half later, I found that my parking brake on my truck was frozen.  After rocking the truck back and forth an inch or so each way the brake finally let go.  I admit that I was so discouraged that I just wanted to sit there and cry that morning.  It felt like everything was going wrong, and the whole of creation was conspiring against me.

That mood stayed with me until well into the evening, when my dear friend called me.  She is dealing with a second occurrence of breast cancer.  I should have been cheering her up and being supportive.  The fact of the matter is, she consoled me and got me out of my funk. My problems with the house were nothing compared to hers, but she was the one doing the cheering up, because she has a great and caring personality!

Like I said: perspective.

Snow covered Ranger pickup.

My Ranger is in there somewhere!