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Happy New Year! New Bike; Your Emerging Soul Workshop; Back in the Woods; Prezzies; Withlacoochee Bike Trail; Mt. Cook or Detroit?

Gosh, it’s been a busy Christmas season. I had intended to get a blog out last week, but my feeble mind was occupied with more pressing demands. I blinked my eyes and two weeks shot past in a blur, for several good reasons. First, let me wish everyone a Happy New Year. 2016 is just starting, and I’m already behind the power curve.

My Christmas present to myself was a new bike. I’ve had my old Tommaso Aggraziato for about 6 years, and when MLB got her new bike recently, I got a severe case of “bike envy”. All of a sudden she was passing me (“blowing past me” is an appropriate descriptor) on hill climbs, causing me great angst. A miser at heart, I reluctantly ordered a new road bike and received it in a very large box, perfectly wrapped to prevent damage and 95% built-up. 20 minutes later and I was out on the street testing it, and it has exceeded all my expectations. Unfortunately, I have spent more time on the new bike than I had intended due to a foot injury (plantar fasciitis) that has brought my running to a stop until it heals. Bike workouts are low impact and great exercise, but they take much longer to complete than a 3-5 mile run.

One of the neat things about this bike was a hand-written note from Jon the “Wrench” who assembled and tested the bike before shipping. This is my second Tommaso, both ordered on-line, and their customer service was terrific, as good as my Local Bike Shop, Village Cycles, where Suzanne and I have gotten three bikes in the past. (The only reason I ordered this one on-line was because it is not available locally, and I could not afford a bike with Dura-Ace components from a major bike manufacturer.) Believe me, this was much more exciting than getting a new car!

Suzanne has been absorbed with creating an exciting new workshop, Your Emerging Soul, that she will premier here in The Villages in late February and early March before we take it on the road. Here we see her with index cards (yes, authors and speakers still use paper at times) planning out the workshop. Both events are filling up fast; you can get more information by clicking here (

The Florida Trail Association arranged for me to get a woodsy fix recently on a trail maintenance work party. As my fashionable “hunter orange” tee-shirt reads, “Trails don’t build themselves.” On a nice warm, sunny day, 20 volunteers got to lop overhanging branches and vines, run trail mowers and generally get sweaty and dirty while improving sections of trails in the Hog Island Recreation Area of Withlacoochee State Park. 

Christmas found us having breakfast and opening presents with Suzanne’s Lovely Mom Ruthie, with Santa’s Helper Rudy tearing wrapping paper off the boxes while Cute Canine Elf Gretchen watched in wonder. Of course they got special treats and chew toys, in particular “high value” Himalayan Dog Chews from Beth and Mike Pasakarnis. 

Suzanne got me a new bike outfit (called a “kit”) of helmet, jersey, shorts and gloves to match my new bike. If this gear doesn’t make me faster, nothing will. By the way, those who have lived in the Orient will appreciate the nonsense word nuckily – Japanese and Chinese designers and manufacturers often make up nonsense English words for logos, giving English-speakers many opportunities for fun and laughter. (This particular nonsense word does not refer to the wearer as a Knucklehead, in spite of MLB’s insistence that is an appropriate appellation.)

Santa brought Suzanne some very cool clothes; here we see her modeling a stylish poncho and hoping for cooler weather than the 80s we’ve had for the past few weeks.

Christmas dinner was enjoyed with Suzanne’s brother Brent and His Lovely Wife Cheryl at their home here in The Villages. Not only did we enjoy a fabulous repast, but Rudy and Gretchen got to play with their Dachshund cousin, Wadsey, and a friend’s Westy, Spencer.

Today we drove to Inverness, FL, for our first bike ride of 2016. The Withlacoochee Trail is a 46 mile long “rails-to-trail” here in Central Florida that was converted from a railroad line between Dunellon and Owensboro, and is now a multi-use trail for bikes, runners, skaters and walkers. It’s never very crowded, and road crossings are few and far between. The trail runs past small towns, ranches and farms, with a bike shop and several eateries just off the trail.  Early risers will often see deer and sometimes a bear; we saw several wild turkeys during our late morning 30-mile ride.

My Lovely Bride and I will be taking a vacation (“holiday” for you Anglophiles) to an undisclosed location, dependent on being allowed into a mountainous country far, far away. More will follow on this topic if I can find a way to post this blog via my iPad, which could be a challenge on more than one level. The planning for this escapade has been ongoing for several months, and a potential glitch came up the other night, but I think I have it solved. Time will tell. We might wind up in Detroit instead…


  • Anonymous
    Posted January 3, 2016 at 9:03 pm

    Happy New Year to you two and the dogs! Enjoy your time in the mountains, Brad

  • Unknown
    Posted January 4, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Happy New Year! Wishing you a speedy recovery with your foot injury.


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