I’m wet and it is dark. The rain has magically leaked into my boots (I have no idea how) and it is creeping in under my hood to run down my neck. The pedals feel like concrete blocks, and my rain proof backpack is heavy and unevenly balanced with my computer, books, and notebooks. I grimly acknowledge that if my boots are wet now, they will still be wet on my ride back home (and probably for three days afterwards as they do not dry easily). Dry feet are a luxury not to be over exaggerated, especially when your commute averages a little over an hour. One way. I put my phone in the outside pocket the other day, forgetting that that pocket leaks. It got water damage and I spent all day freaking out until it magically revived itself. In the summer it is my rides home that suck. There is this open stretch of black asphalt that bakes me as I pedal home in the 105 degree heat.
Some mornings I doubt my sanity. My apartment is nice and cozy, and as I leave it at 5:30 am on my bicycle, I see quite a few people stepping into their cars. They are not wearing heavy duty rain gear. Nor do they probably check the weather religiously, wondering how comfortable they are going to be for a significant portion of their day. Their apartments are climate controlled. Their cars are climate controlled. Normal people walk around in a bubble of comfort all day, never knowing what it is like to get to work with your fingers white and numb, or to have to pre-hydrate just to make it back home.
Normal people also don’t eat what I do. When you have a two hour bike ride as a commute, which does not really count as part of your work out, you burn a lot of calories. My baseline is 2 hours of activity, so a 3-4 hour workout day is the norm. Normal people don’t get blockaded by skunks occasionally, and worry they will be late for work, or pass 2 feet away from the local coyote before the sun rises. Normal people worry about traffic. When a sunrise is particularly beautiful, I stop and try to take a picture. Sometimes the moon is so large on some of my empty roads, that I feels as if I must be in an animated racing video game. I ride my bicycle uninsured, so in its case I don’t worry about parking, license plates, or unexpected repair costs. A busted tube costs me $15. When my tires wear out in… oh another 2 years or so I’ll buy two more for $150. I don’t worry about the rising or falling price of gas.
It is amazing what peace I sometimes find on those rides back and forth, back and forth. I hate the initial leaving. For me, going on autopilot for most tasks is so easy. I’ve perfected the art of doing tasks and not really thinking about anything. I can’t bike on autopilot. I wake up, and before I go to work I have to really wake up. I have to pay attention to things. I have to put forth effort. I have to acknowledge what the world outside of my own little bubble is doing, because it actually affects me.
In my last blog post, I mentioned that sometimes years slip away from me. It is so easy to just go through the motions of life. Never really being present because you are afraid of being wet, and tired, and grumpy, and sweaty. Some mornings I hate getting out of bed and on my bike. But often times, after the first 10 minutes are through, I enjoy it. I reflect. I think. I comment to myself on how pretty the trees are, or the clouds, or how the rain has made everything green again. It makes each day distinct in my memory, as opposed to a blur. Health wise, it makes my life longer. I think mentally, biking does the same thing.
Isn’t it funny that all these modern conveniences, like cars, can make us experience less, not more? The further and further I get on this sustainable journey, the more it seems to give back to me. If you can give up your car, even for a few days a week, I would encourage you to try it. You never know what you will see, or how those hours outside and in solitude, will affect how you see the world.
This week in updates:
So we have a new program at work and it is kicking my ass. It just makes our days about 2 hours longer than usual, which really adds up. On top of that I’ve been doing roommate interviews, as I am moving soon (more on that later!). Coming back after holiday break means getting into my weight routine again, which makes me tired physically. Jesse has been on the road, so I’ve missed my little before bed talks. Something small likes that makes the day bright, and not having them makes me tired mentally. To top it all off, add in the worst time on the month which makes me emotionally unbalanced, unable to eat, and exhausted. The weekend has been busy so far too, so I’m here on Sunday with a big to do list, and not much prospect of a good night’s sleep before another week. However, I’m getting better at boxing. I attempted to make mozzarella cheese and failed, but I know why. I bought a pasta roller and pasta mat for my new place, and I am so excited I can barely stand it. I get to talk to Jesse tonight. So life is life, and I actually like the new program at work even if it is ass kicking, and I don’t think it is supposed to rain too much next week. Bike riding to work dry would be an amazing thing. Also…..
The recipe: Squash goat cheese ravioli
(Or hell yeah I can cook stuff!)
The book Poor Girl Gourmet is amazing. I changed the recipe up a bit, using 1 cup canned squash, and whatever flavorful hard cheese I could find in the discount drawer. The result, even to an untutored pasta maker like me, was amazing! Shallots are also amazing. I never used them before this. Who knew!
2-3 cups high gluten flour
1 cup canned squash
1 cup shredded hard cheese (though you could get by with half)
2 tablespoons sour cream
Thyme and pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the pasta, mix 2 cups of the flour with 4 eggs and salt. Kneed/mix. It is kind of a balancing act. If the dough is too dry add another egg. Too sticky and add more flour. Dough should cling lightly to your hands when done. Kneed 8-10 minutes to help with the texture of the final pasta. Let dough sit for 30 minutes to let the gluten relax.
While the gluten is taking a break, mix the squash and the cheese together. Add thyme and pepper to taste. Start a pot of water heating (do not boil it yet).
After pasta is done, roll out into a sheet, then cut into squares. Place a spoonful of the squash on half the squares. To seal the ravioli. Put your finger in the warm water and run it over the edge of a square. Then, put another square on top of it, and push to seal. After you have completed all the squares, let the ravioli sit for 5-10 minutes. Bring the pat of water to a boil. Chop of the shallot, and start to saute it.
Put the ravioli in the boiling water. When they are done they will float to the surface, about 5-10 minutes. Taste to confirm. Put the sour cream in a small blender with 2 tablespoons water. Blend and mix with the shallot. Drain your ravioli and combine with the shallot cream sauce. Enjoy!