As I’ve mentioned, there was a lot of biking this time in Helsinki. The last two days were too cold for biking without gloves, and I did not have any biking gloves with me. But that’s the beauty of having your bike – when I could bike, I did.
I can’t even start to describe how everything in Helsinki as suited for bikers. The house has bike storage, where bikes can be stored not only standing, but also elevated.
Boris asked me to call him on facetime when the plane touches the ground so that he will get ready to go to the railway station. I am so happy that I have my internet with me for no extra cost! Yes, my Sprint plan is not cheap, but with my amount of travels, it’s great that I never have to think about it. The moment the plane lands, I can start using my phone.
I have not been here since May, and I forgot that I have a Helsinki transportation app on my iPhone. I could buy my ticket on the way from the baggage claim to the train, and hop on the first train that has arrived. It’s a minor delay, but it shows how we all are creatures of habit. I forgot the way I did it once but remembered how I did it for many years.
When we met at the Central Train Station, he took me to Robert’sCoffee for a cappuccino with a cinnamon bun. It has become symbolic for me – the first meal on the Finnish soil has to be a Finnish cinnamon bun 🙂
It’s the 50s here, compare to our upper 70s, but the fall colors are beautiful!
And I finally got a bike! We talked for a long time of me having my own bike in Helsinki so that I won’t have to rent each time. Boris was always saying that this goes not provide any economic advantage, but the difference is in time not wasted, and I believe it’s worth it.
Most of the stores were closed on Sunday afternoon, and I didn’t like the bikes we saw (they didn’t fit my small body :)), but this morning we finally got what I needed!
When Boris was in town, I finally talked him into getting a new bike. Actually, I wanted really badly to give him a new bike for his birthday, which was in June. I already had two bike-related gifts for him, but this didn’t feel enough for me. Fortunately for me, the gear-switching mechanism on his old bike finally broke, and I told him that I do not like to listen to this noise when we are biking together.
He said he wanted a bike as traditional, as possible. Thank goodness, they do not manufacture bikes with foot brakes anymore; otherwise, he would get one! I’ve ruled out the more expensive models, and we ended up with this one, also pretty traditional.
While we were in Mike’s Bike Shop, a salesperson asked me whether I wanted a matching bike for women. And I am not going to lie – I was already looking at one of those!
The one which was on display was hopelessly pink, but the salesperson said, that there is a variety of colors, including (he said, looking at me) my favorite color! The bike also had a basket in front. Two years ago I rejected the idea of having a bike with the basket, but now I knew for sure that there are situations when I need exactly this! The advantage of having a wired basket as a part of the bike is that you do not need to unbuckle it each time you leave your bike at the bike rack. You just pull the actual basket out and go around shopping.
We took a time out till Sunday. And then on Sunday, we were busy, and the weather was not great. And I was not sure whether I want it. Then I got sick. And then the day he was leaving, I finally made my decision – I want a second bike.
We went to the shop, and it turned out that my favorite color has to be ordered, so I still had to wait for several days. It was only last Friday that I finally took my new bike home. Look at it! Isn’t it gorgeous?!
The days are getting shorter, which means that by the end of next week I won’t be able to bike before work, also most likely I won’t be able to use our new outdoor gym in the morning – I do not like biking in the dark and wandering around in the dark :).
On Thursday, I was working from home, which allowed me to go to the casual bike ride with the Palatine bike club, and it was the last time this season. I can’t make it to Mike’s Bike shop by 6-30 if I am not working from home. And next week the rides will start 15 minutes earlier, and in another two weeks, they will be starting at 6 PM. But I was so glad I went. Also, that was the first time I took Boris there. I was hoping he will love riding with the group, for the same reason I do – it’s much safer, especially if you have vision issues. So he went with us, and he liked it. Even more, than I thought :). We also stopped at Dairy Queen at the end of the ride for some ice-cream, which added to the right impression, I guess.
But still, working from home these days feels more stressful than in the office, and I thought that I didn’t have time for anything. By now (Saturday night) I feel much better, but I need to figure out how to be not such a slave of schedule.
Unlike all normal people, I didn’t learn to bike when I was a child. Taking off the training wheels didn’t work with me, and my mom didn’t consider this skill a priority. Later, some of my friends made attempts to teach me, and I remember at least two of those. Both ended up with no success, and I was pronounced unfit for biking. I was of the same opinion on this subject; you might not believe me, but I was sure that there are two things I will never learn: to ride a bike and to take pictures. Go figure :).
When we’ve moved to the US, Boris taught all my children how to ride a bike (actually, Anna might have mastered it while still in Russia, but I can’t remember now). And then he started to teach me :). I was so afraid to start this process one more time that he suggested I use Anna’s 12-inch bike first, and I did.
Twenty years later, I can’t imagine my life without biking. In fact, during my after-surgery period, biking was the thing I’ve missed most. Since I am a very social person, I joined the Palatine Bike Club and started to participate in various bike rides in the community.
Although the Palatine Bike Club has been active for a while, until recently, Palatine was not the most bike-friendly community. Things started to change in the last couple of years, and although we are still far from Madison, WI in terms of being bike-friendly, what we have now (bike lanes, bike racks) is a huge improvement. Although I am keeping telling everybody, what we should be more like Madison 🙂
On Saturday morning we had a first Palatine Community bike ride, with the Mayor and Village officials present. Although it was extremely hot, there was no question for me, whether to show up or not. Taking the weather into account, the participation was great. The police (both the cars and bikers) were escorting our cavalcade through the whole ride and would hold the traffic when we were crossing the Northwest Highway. It was a real community event, with many people participating for the first time.
This biking season had started late and is unfolding slowly due to the extreme weather conditions (maybe we should consider it to be “normal” now, but I still hold hope it’s an “extreme”). I love going on casual rides with Bike Palatine Club because I am “geographically challenged” and otherwise won’t dream of going on a ride to explore new places by myself. Riding with a group makes me feel secure, and also it always feels so good to hear people greeting you by name, isn’t it?
Last Thursday it was the first time since the casual rides started this season when 1) the weather was good 2)I didn’t have anything else doing on on Thursday evening 3) I could leave work s little bit earlier. All these activities: getting on the right train, getting home, getting changed, munching on something, and getting to Mike’s bike shop by 6-30 are carefully timed, not a minute to spare.
With the ride itself, plus getting there and getting back home it’s 1 hour and 40 minutes of joy, and I was so glad I was able to make it!