Anne Calhoun, Romance Author

Sharp. Sexy. Romantic.

30 Day Challenge – Day 10: Accessories, Part the Second

Yoga: check. Biking: check (school and back, yoga and back).

I’m starting to loathe the yoga. That’s all. Just an observation. Loathe is a strong word, but applicable. Let’s talk about pretty things instead!

One of the best parts of Caz Nicklin’s book is the attention to detail regarding accessories. I bought a basket (so charming! so French!) but the item I’ve used the most is the Electra saddlebag/tote.

It's a saddlebag! No, it's a tote!

It’s a saddlebag! No, it’s a tote!

The straps tuck away in side pockets. It’s actually quite cute, and not too big when I carry it. Those straps on the front are meant for carrying a coat or sweater, but I tuck my yoga mat into them, tighten them down, and ride to class. Easy peasy!

Handy hooks attach the bag to the rack.

Handy hooks attach the bag to the rack.

Lots of storage.

Lots of storage.

I’ve got a 13″ MacBook Air, an iPad, phone, notebook, and a book in there. I wouldn’t recommend using this bag to transport a larger computer, though.

The whole setup.

The whole setup.

My friend who picked up the bike for me loved the details and effort that went into the design. I’ve definitely used the bike more because I can run errands on it without having to use a backpack. They’re hot in the best of weather, and I don’t like carrying weight on my shoulders.

Do you have any accessories you absolutely love? My birthday’s coming up, so I’m making a list! :)


30 Day Challenge: Day 9 – A Trip Down Memory Lane

Yoga: check. Biking: check.

Another adorable moment on the bike ride to school this morning, one I wouldn’t have seen from the car. We rode past a teenage couple sitting in on a blanket in the driveway. She wore a hoodie and shorts, and had her phone in her hand. He wore shorts, and the rest of him was under a Jeep with an open hood. Tools — wrenches, sockets, that sort of thing — were scattered on the blanket between them. It was a sweet blast from the past, because I’ve been that girl, with Mr. C, except this was back in the Middle Ages, so I had a book. He and his brother were really into cars. Mustangs. At one time Mr. C owned four of these:

 

Four is three too many, but who am I to judge?

Four is three too many, but who am I to judge?

All bought as junk, all rebuilt, except for the “winter driver” Pace Car, which had a V8 in it, and an unreliable exhaust system. I learned to drive a stick in that car, in a snow storm. (It made sense at the time) He also owned a Mustang SVO. 84, I think, or maybe 84 1/2. That matters. Anyway, it looked like this:

This one's an '86. They all looked alike to me.

This one’s an ’86. They all looked alike to me.

I married the boy I used to hand tools to, and just last week – 25 years into the whole “five cars is too many/no, five cars is just right” debate, we were talking about the pace of our lives, and whether or not we could realistically slow it down. Biking does that for me. I add ten minutes to routes I would normally drive, and arrive a little more alert to my surroundings, and appreciative for the occasional slow trip down memory lane.

 


30 Day Challenge: Day…mumble mumble

Yoga: check. Biking: check. First failed day: check.

After that rousing “you just keep going” speech in my last post, I hit the wall. The wall was built by the 6 ten-year-old boys we had over for our son’s birthday sleepover. They went to bed at 1 and were up at 7 to play zombie apocalypse, a complicated game involving a go-pro camera, nerf guns, and a series of forts constructed in our basement. I felt like I was living the zombie apocalypse. By the time we fed them all waffles and got them and most of their gear home, the last thing I wanted to do was go to yoga. I put my pajamas back on and spent the rest of the day in bed, reading.

Today, however, was a different story. I was happy to get back on Persie and ride to yoga. I had a rough morning (very first world problems, broke my tablet’s screen by dropping it on a tile floor) but riding to yoga in the sunshine boosted my spirits measurably. Maybe that’s the real lesson from this challenge, in getting back into the routine when life happens.

Or maybe I’m just a slacker. In that case you’ll want to read a well-written meditation on a lifetime of biking. Thanks to commenter JCM for the link. I hope I’m still pedaling away in my 50s, too.


30 Day Challenge – Day 8: What I’ve Learned So Far

Yoga: check. Biking: check (but only one trip. I’m slacking!)

It was a nice day for biking, with cloudy skies and a bit of a breeze. I felt a little unsteady on the bike on my way to class, perhaps because all I’d eaten was an apple, and perhaps because I was wearing sandals. I vaguely remember being told not to bike in open toe shoes because you could rip a toenail off (ewwwww, gross), but more to the point, it’s hard to stay confident on the bike if your feet aren’t secure in your shoes. I ran out of steam about half way into hot yoga today, spent a couple of poses playing corpse. Afterwards, I treated myself to a chai tea misto and a scone. Sometimes staying in the room is enough for the day.

There’s the initial excitement for a challenge, but that fades and then there’s the daily slog. Writing a book follows a similar pattern (with a few exceptions that are sheer bliss writing projects, joy from beginning to end). You just keep going, words on the page, minutes on the mat, butt on the bike seat. Initial enthusiasm isn’t enough to get you through. I don’t even think there’s a digging deep moment, where you find some reserve of energy. You just don’t quit, and find a moment-by-moment discovery of energy, surprisingly lacking in swelling violin music or a great catchphrase like winning one for the Gipper. You stay in the room.

Lesson learned: an apple isn’t sufficient sustenance to power one through 90 minutes in a hot yoga room;  wear shoes, not sandals; and stay in the room.

 


30 Day Challenge: Day 7 (Week 1 By The Numbers)

Yoga: Check. Biking: Check. I biked the boy to school today, but that was the extent of my two-wheeled excursions.

# of yoga classes taken: 7 (5 bikram, 1 yin, 1 flow)

Total hours in yoga: 8.5

Total hours in yoga the previous week: 1.5

Total hours on Persie: 6 (approximate)

Total hours on any bike the previous week: 0

# of falls off Persie: 1, bruising right shoulder, left calf, and my pride

# of pounds lost: 0

I started this challenge thinking if I add, you know, a dozen hours of exercise to my schedule, I’d lose a little weight. I haven’t. I’ve gained something more important: I kind of feel like a badass. I fell off my bike, into the TRASH, no less. Make that a total badass. Week two starts tomorrow. Bring it, baby.

Did you take on a challenge that made you feel more confident? I’d love to hear about it!


30 Day Challenge, Day 6: In Which Anne Wipes Out

You know how you get on your bike to take your kid to school and ride down the driveway and turn onto the sidewalk, but your husband has put the garbage out so the cans are in the way and you swerve, lose control, and ride straight into the cans and knock them over, then fall over into the spilled bags of kitchen garbage and dog crap collected from the back yard?

Yeah. Gonna be one of those days.

Ouch

Ouch

 

I haven’t even looked at my leg, where I feel a spectacular bruise forming.

Persie is fine. Mr. C asked about her, too. Good man. My shoulder hurts like a mother, though. Yin yoga today. And maybe some cookies until my hands stop shaking.

Keep me company, folks. Got any good wipeout stories?

ETA: the bruise that formed on my calf:

Other ouch.

Other ouch.


30 Day Challenge: Day 5 – Accessories (part the first)

Yoga: check. Biking: check (school and back, where I learned I can no longer tell the boy I love him in front of any other human being; yoga and back; school to the coffee shop and home again). Now on to the fun stuff: accessories!

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a woman with a new hobby must be in want of new gear. Or something to that effect. One of the things Caz Nicklin’s book did was open my eyes to delightful, updated bike accessories. We don’t have to ride around in spandex (or the most up to date sweat-wicking fabric), hunched over speed bikes, toting things in messenger bags or backpacks. When I bought Persie, I also bought a saddlebag and a basket. Turns out, spending that extra $100 took the bike from a pretty toy to a useful mode of transportation.

Basket!

Basket!

This isn’t the most stylish basket Electra sells, but it’s weatherproof and easily snaps off and on. In the picture it holds the leather jacket I wore to take the boy to school, which was too hot for the ride home. For a quick ride I line it with a felted bag I knitted five years ago and never used until now, toss in my phone, a book, and keys. The handle means it doubles as a shopping basket, so I can bring home French bread or groceries like a Parisienne, yo. I’ve got my eye on a liner. Design matters.

In other news, my legs have stopped screaming in pain every time I so much as twitch, so maybe my body is over the shock? Yesterday I drove for the first time in three days, and it was a bit strange to not pedal up the hill out of my subdivision. I felt disconnected from the world around me, something I’m sure I’ll appreciate when it’s 40 degrees and raining, but it was still worth noticing. I read somewhere that our brains are meant to process the world at a walking pace; Persie can move faster than that, but really, she and I are happiest trundling along, seeing the moon rise. This morning on the way to school the boy and I saw an American Goldfinch taking a bath in the sprinkler run-off, something I would have missed from inside my behemoth of a car. Colorful birds seen from colorful bikes makes for a good start to the morning.

Tomorrow: the saddlebag!


30 Day Challenge – Day 4

Yoga: check. Biking: check. School and back, coffee shop and back, yoga and back, school and back.

My hamstrings are no longer speaking to me, and I had to ice my knee yesterday. The yoga class today was basically a yin class in a heated room, so we held the poses for a couple of minutes, and they were all good and stretchy for tight muscles and ligaments. This morning I woke up still physically tired from more exercise in a short period of time than I’ve had in…I can’t remember how long. Somehow 45 minutes of the elliptical 4 days a week and one hot yoga class a week doesn’t match up to what probably amounts to over an hour of biking and at least an hour of yoga a day. I’m not sure why. Different muscles? Hills? I’m old and crunchy?

On the plus side, however, I’m significantly calmer. Again, I’m not sure why, if it’s the intense yoga practice, more exercise in general which quiets the hamster wheel of my brain, or if I’m just flat out too tired to get anxious. I’m riding along heavily traveled streets in which traffic moves at 45 MPH, at least, so listening to music while I ride is out of the question; maybe I’m just more alert in general. Less zoned out and in my head. I’m spending less time online because two+ hours on the bike and in yoga is two+ hours I’m not in front of my computer. A dear friend got a cancer diagnosis earlier in the week, which got me thinking about priorities, always a good thing to examine every so often.

Whatever the cause, and it’s probably a combination of all these things, the first four days of this challenge have surprised me. I expected the yoga to ease some common computer/desk job aches and pains. I didn’t expect to notice the sky over my subdivision, or the supermoon. Right now I’m about to head out to the local astronomy club’s monthly gathering. The moon is just past full, Pleiades meteor shower peaks tonight, and the skies are finally clear. I started the morning biking under the stars, and I’ll end it star-gazing. The in between was pretty good, too. Let’s hope my hamstrings are happier tomorrow.


30 Day Challenge – Day 3 “What Was I Thinking?”

Yoga: check. Biking: triple check (coffee shop and back, yoga studio and back, school and back).

In the last seventy-two hours I’ve taken four hours of hot yoga when I normally take maybe one class a week. I’m sore. Really sore. On the plus side, the tendinitis in my left arm is gone, and my right hand is significantly better. I can’t say the same for my hamstrings. Mr C managed to knee me in the back of the leg last night. I know this only because rather than saying “ouch” I howled with pain. The yoga instructors assure me the “tenderness” will subside, and I’ll start feeling “better and better”. I’ll take their word for it, and perhaps add a few minutes with a heating pad to my reading tonight.

I biked to the coffee shop this morning with the pale white super moon setting in the west. One of our vacations this summer was to a “star party”, which is basically a gathering of telescope/astronomy-loving mostly dudes taking advantage of summer weather and dark skies to set up together and do some epic star-gazing. We had a blast. Seeing the moon this morning reminded me to get out the binoculars and take a closer look tonight. I hope you have a few minutes to do the same!


Thirty Day Challenge – Day Two

Yoga: check. Biking: check.

The days are getting shorter. I biked to class this morning on silent streets in cloudy pre-dawn lit most vividly by a rabbit’s white tail flashing down into the trees and brush crowded at the bottom of the ravine. I mentally added a headlight and maybe a reflective jacket to my growing list of necessary accessories.

I can’t remember the last time I took hot yoga class two days in a row. I’m sore, and my left knee already feels a bit strained; unless I ‘m completely inactive, that knee always finds a way to remind me that I’m not twenty. Bikram says you can mess with the gods, but not with your knees. In class I ignored the teacher’s exhortations to push PUSH PUSH! beyond my edge. Today I looked through the sweat running into my eyes at the edge from a careful distance back.

I’ve started watching the weather like a farmer, or a sailor, but after hot yoga, a steady rain can’t soak me any more thoroughly. The fenders keep the muddy street water from spattering my back, and the rain rinsed me clean. I squelched through the door to fresh scratch waffles, and the rather delightful knowledge I don’t have to go anywhere else today under my own power. Naomi Novik’s Blood of Tyrants will provide enough energy and excitement for a rainy Sunday afternoon.