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New Morning Routines

by Going Slowly


I started researching road bikes long before we came home, inspired by the idea of taking daily rides on bicycles that weighed about a fifth what our loaded touring rigs do. I ordered the first parts for our build almost three months ago, and we finished assembling them last weekend. I've been feeling overwhelmed by the number of projects we have going on simultaneously lately—it is so rewarding to see one of them to completion!

Tara and I work as a team in just about everything we do. At the moment, many of the goals we are working towards necessitate an early start to the day. Irritatingly, neither of us is particularly adept in getting up at the crack of dawn (in spite of the fact that we're always glad once we have). So, we've invented a role which we use to support one another in this difficult task. I'm not entirely sure when we came up with it, but we call this job the Enforcer.

The sole responsibility of the Enforcer is to ensure we get up when the alarm goes off. This entails, in a general sense, being granted the right to harass the other in the wee hours of the morning, which, for some reason, helps! Tara was the enforcer today, and she managed to roll me out of bed at 6AM, eager to embark on our inaugural morning bicycle ride.

We set off around 7AM, camera in tow, grinning ear to ear, feeling like super-heroes on our sub 19lb bikes. Almost immediately we began to notice things we hadn't when traveling by car or motorcycle. Hey, I've never seen those flowers before! Gosh it feels good to be outside, exercising. The sky is so pretty! Wow, I never noticed it, but the driveway is not as flat as it looks.

Tyler on His New Road Bike


These past few months have been an experiment in how to live sane, healthy, peaceful lives, post-bike trip. It has been an emotional few months; there have been many times when we've felt lost and out of control of our lives, adrift in a sea of upheaval and uncertainty.

Tyler & Road Bikes

Vowing to be proactive about our happiness, we've been paying close attention to what works and what doesn't. For example, I know that I feel out of wack if we neglect our journal. This space we've created makes it feel like our lives have a cohesive story, and the process of putting "pen to paper" has been needfully cathartic in dealing with our varied emotions about being home.

I've learned (for the thousandth time) that I need some structure, or my days will slip right on by without my noticing. We've started meditating daily, and we're attending a yoga class twice a week (I used to be so much more flexible!). All of this has helped our well-being tremendously.

Tara Drinking Water

This morning, as we glide effortlessly along smooth pavement, chain in the big ring, I feel alive and free and grateful. Legs pumping, lungs pumping, I breath in the cool, morning air and think I need this, adding it to our list of things that keep us balanced and happy. I need this time together outside, before the world wakes up, to re-connect, to breathe deeply, to get centered for the day. I need this to make my life work.

Tara Riding Her New Road Bike

Pretty soon, the stress melts away. Now Tyler and I are basking in golden morning sunshine, while noticing the swaying corn, the grazing cows, and the flocks of geese in V-formation heading south, harbingers of cooler days to come. From our bicycle seats, we can hear little insects singing a chirping song, and admire a patch of black-eyed susans, gracing the grassy roadside ditch. How have I not noticed these things before?

Morning Minnesota Cow Old Barn & Farming Signs Brooks Saddle

And then we start counting our blessings. Following the lead of a little girl who knows how to start her day off right, we thank our bodies for being healthy, for carrying us through this world. We think of our families, and the shelter we have to live in, and how lucky we are to be together. Soon, we've generated a wealth of positive energy to carry us through the day.

Us (Shadow of Us on our Road Bikes)

Pulling into the driveway, legs and arms just starting to feel the ache of use, we smile, excited to embark on another morning ride tomorrow. Invigorated, we start our day. Tyler brews decaf coffee in our Mokka pot, while I prepare almond french toast and bacon. We perform our morning ritual to the sound of our new favorite artist, Zoe Keating.

When breakfast is through, we open our laptops—the work day has begun.

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What's with the extra stem spacers on the fork? Also noticed no bar type, looking for the uber light bikes or just couldn't wait to ride them?
Posted by Dustin on September 26th, 2011 at 4:35 PM
The weirdo spacer thing is one half of a Nashbar adjustable stem (I didn't have enough spacers, but we did have two of those laying around). As for the bar tape, we hadn't put any on because we were still working on the fit (moving the hoods etc). Still haven't actually--I really need to pick up some spacers and bar tape :p
Posted by Tyler on September 26th, 2011 at 5:29 PM
Wow, thanks so much for Zoe Keating! Now I have to go get some of her great music. It always amazes me how serendipitous finding stuff on the web is. But to your credits some of the things you have sent me to are really great (2cycle2gether, Vermont, Mongolia, etc). Thanks again;) al
Posted by Allen Thoma on September 27th, 2011 at 12:46 PM
Hi Al! We're so happy that you're enjoying Zoe's work. Isn't she incredible? I find her music to be incredibly stirring and sometimes even bone-chilling, in a good way. We enjoy spreading the word about our favorite people and places-- glad you like them too! :-)
Posted by Tara on October 18th, 2011 at 9:56 AM
TED is a home page on my browser, but somehow I missed Zoe Keating. Thanks so much for sharing. I think I could watch and listen to her for hours. I love the live music layering style , I see it quite a bit nowadays, not sure what it's called, though. Andrew Bird and Howie Day are two other artists known for it.
Posted by Ana on December 14th, 2011 at 1:13 PM
So glad you like her, Ana! We actually do listen to her for hours. :-)
Posted by Tara on December 14th, 2011 at 4:40 PM