Bike Season Opener

This weekend consisted of a so-so day, and a great day. Saturday was rainy and chilly. We had an appointment early-ish, and the boys behaved horribly. It ruined everyone’s mood and led to several conversations afterwards.

Later that day we hung out on our street for a street festival for Earth Day. Unfortunately it was rainy. Damn you, Earth!

Anyway, we were at a booth planting some basil, like one does, and one of the women from the local CSA commented, “What polite boys you have!” I almost choked. It was such a stark contrast to just a few hours before when they were everything but polite. Ahhh, parenthood.

We wrote things we’re thankful for on this “gratitude tree.” Julian said, “My school.” Arthur said, “Ice cream and chocolate.” Priorities.

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We spent the afternoon with popcorn and a movie (Star Wars Episode IV) and then went on a quick walk to a BBQ restaurant around the corner, where we stuffed our faces with way too much food.

Today, we slept in. As in, Arthur and I. At 7:30am, the time we’ve deemed acceptable to be woken up on weekends (weekdays it’s 7am), the boys crawled into our bed, and Arthur went right back to sleep for another two hours. This makes me hopeful for the future when at least one of my children might be happy to sleep in, and the other one will be happy to solve complicated math problems or work on the Rubik’s Cube (looking at you, Julian).

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After a breakfast of waffles and more waffles, we hit the road. Our first family bike ride of the season!

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We rode over the Brooklyn Bridge and stopped for a beer in Battery Park. Exhibit A:

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This right here means it’s a good day. Bikes, beer, children who are always hungry, many rounds of Uno, and my lovely, somewhat goofy husband.

We let the boys play for a long time at Nelson Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City. It’s such an awesome playground. Jeff went go to get us sandwiches, and we ate in peace and read the paper while the boys played.

Then we rode up the Westside and over to Washington Square Park.

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Then over to the East Village, coffee break, and more playtime.

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Then we were tired and headed home. I’m so happy that spring has finally sprung, even though it’s not warm yet. The city is glorious with all the tulips and cherry blossoms, and riding around on our bikes makes my heart so happy.

An Adventure (incl. Math)

So, I could start off by telling you about how miserable I was on Friday with a temperature of 101.7 with Arthur begging me to pleeeeaaaase just sit up and look at him play with this one thing. Julian came home from soccer on Friday evening, crashed on the couch and was asleep by 6:30pm. Fever for him too, of course. I could tell you how we cancelled plans with old friends, then felt better, had brunch with other friends and a generally enjoyable weekend but then The Gods of Never-Ending Sickness decided we’d had too much fun, so they blessed me with a horrendous case of pink eye in both eyes. Because seriously this shit never ends. Here is fever-Jules.

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But instead of talking endlessly about my misery, I’d rather talk about the lovely day I had today.

Julian is on spring break this week, and Arthur still has his usual three days a week in school schedule, so I have a few days with just my eldest this week. I was determined to not let my throbbing eyeballs ruin the fun. Also: sunglasses at all times.

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Yesterday was spent with errands, such as dropping Arthur off, shopping, doctor for throbbing eyeballs, and bringing our bike into the shop for its annual spring check up. But also: a lovely stoop lunch in the sun.

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Today was just perfect. We dropped Arthur off at the Botanic Gardens for a field trip, so I knew he was going to have a good day, too. Then Julian and I headed off into Manhattan for yet another doctor’s appointment. Julian is in charge now of getting us places, meaning I tell him our destination, and he figures out the subway connections we need to make. That already makes for a perfect day in his book.

After my appointment, we walked to our next stop: The Museum of Mathematics. I’d read somewhere about it, and I had a feeling my math obsessed kid would love it. And the museum did not disappoint! We probably spent two hours there, exploring shapes and forms and colors and numbers. It was amazing. I can highly recommend!

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Then I took my boy to lunch.

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On our commute back to Brooklyn to pick Arthur up from school, I told Julian to wake me up at Franklin Avenue, and that almost worked – except some guy started screaming at Atlantic Avenue and interrupted my slumber. But it’s totally awesome that I can now put my almost 6 year old in charge. Yes, this guy. At least I got to rest my eyeballs for a few minutes.

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Then we went to pick up our favorite almost four year old nut job, Arthur. There was ice cream and lots of playtime at the playground, and tonight was the first time this year that I threw my kids in the tub because they were filthy from too much outdoor play. That means it was a good day.

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Now I shall continue to lie on my couch with a warm cloth casually draped over my offensively red eyeballs.

Central Park & Coney Island

Somehow, after a week of feeling sick, we were blessed with exactly what I needed: a lovely, warm, sunny NYC weekend. In February. I think every winter we get one or two of these days, just to tell us, “Don’t give up! Spring is coming.”

On Saturday we took the train up to Central Park. As always, for the boys “it’s not the destination, it’s the ride.”

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The boys got to ride their scooters, and we spent the day wandering around the park and trying to run into as few people as possible.

We stopped at a playground for a long time and hung out by the boat pond over sandwiches, beers, and rounds of Spot It. Also, my boys are natural “fake” smilers. (Arthur looks like he has a side tooth of some sort, but he just has a mouth full of goldfish.)

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Oh, Jeff Bridges was there, too.

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The boys played and climbed. Helmets came in handy.

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We looked for ice cream, but it was impossible to find in February. Someone didn’t get the memo. So we had Shake Shack milk shakes, and some of us passed out on the ride home.

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On Sunday the fun continued. It was another spring-like day, so we headed to our favorite place on earth: Coney Island. We started off with a couple of beers on the boardwalk and chatted with the a couple of local guys. Oldies were playing from the stereo, one of the guys was singing along loudly, and everyone was just so happy to be there. It was one of my favorite parts of a really perfect day. Also, these guys.

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Then we wandered around the boardwalk and took the boys to a magic show. They were kind of unfazed throughout the show, but afterwards wouldn’t stop performing little magic tricks for us. Except, when one of the magicians performed a trick, he wrote the word “special” on one of the cards in the deck. So naturally, Arthur kept saying things like, “Do you want to see another special? I have a good special for you!”

Here is a sequence of events where I did a magic trick for the boys, Julian broke into tears because he couldn’t figure it out, I tickled him happy, and then we walked together, after I’d revealed my “secret” to him. This is so Julian. He just needed to know. He can’t stand it when he can’t figure stuff out on his own. It drives him crazy.

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Of course, there were hot dogs.

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We spent a lot of time on the beach. Jeff took a bunch of wonderful pictures that captured our day together.

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Day what of 13?

Who cares. Jeff is coming home Saturday night. I don’t know how people do things on their own. Actually, correction: I know how to do things well on my own. But I miss my husband’s company! I don’t really miss the help around the house, but I miss his face at the breakfast table in the mornings and telling each other stories about our days at night. I miss him rubbing my feet while watching a silly show on TV, and most of all I miss hearing my boys’ excitement when he walks through the door each night.

Overall it’s been a good two weeks. I really can’t complain much, except about the fact that I have not slept well for ONE SINGLE NIGHT. I don’t know what it is, but each night there is a new drama. Arthur falls out of his bed (never happens), Julian has a bad dream (never happens), Arthur comes to me to apply cream on his eczema and because “mama, can I cuddle” (happens all the damn time).

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We’ve had a visit from Uncle Brian, but the boys were so out of control and over-the-top excited to see their Uncle that it was actually kind of stressful. I totally burned my arm while trying to bake pizza for everyone.

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I was harassed by a stranger for letting my kids run down the sidewalk, and he informed me that I must “not care about my kids at all.” So…I don’t even know where to start. These guys! They are pretending to be trains.

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They use The Force on each other:

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Oh! Yes! That’s my children wearing NO JACKETS outside! Amazing, right? I guess it’s finally spring. That is to say, I am super excited. And also either over-dressed or under-dressed.

This morning I took Julian to school on the bike. It was actually kind of chilly, and when we had almost arrived at our destination, Julian informed me that he was no longer cold. He was frozen. Whatever, kid. Winter jackets are gone until next year.

Arthur and I went for a ride…

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…and played at the playground.

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Everyone commented on how cute my little daughter looks. I think it was the scarf that I let him borrow, because usually he can get away with his hair and leggings just fine.

Then we went for bagels and chicken noodle soup at the diner. Just me and Arthur. We sat next to each other in a booth and talked about his upcoming birthday. Holy 3!

After school we ran errands, which also included this most important of errands:

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The one really good thing that happened in Jeff’s absence is that I have been reading, reading, reading. At night I can’t wait to sit down with my book. And that’s partly because I really like my book, but also because I am done watching House of Cards and Game of Thrones hasn’t started yet…

Bike season has begun!

This week reminded me of all the good things: iced coffee on a park bench in the sun. Watching my boys speed away on their bikes.

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Sitting on our stoop with the paper while the boys “shoot” innocent passersby.

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And now … the best of all! Our first bike ride of the season.

Last year our first ride was in April. This year, since the winter was so mild and spring seems to have come early (fingers crossed!), we took our bikes out of storage earlier than usual. We had big plans…a ride into Manhattan, a day of exploring and playing. Except…my bike didn’t seem to appreciate being unused for a few months, and none of the gears were working. We took it into a shop around the corner from our storage in the Navy Yard, and they had to keep it there for the weekend to get fixed. We were so bummed. Then the mechanic came outside and offered to loan us a bike for the day. So yay! Off we were.

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Instead of a big ride into the city we decided to stay in Brooklyn and rode into Red Hook instead. We had lunch at our favorite place, Brooklyn Crab (photo by Julian).

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We played by the water…

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…and then the boys fell asleep on the bikes as we rode home.

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The rest of the weekend was kind of underwhelming. Jeff worked mostly and was stressed. I cleaned and straightened up and rearranged and tried to bring spring into our home with some new plants and flowers.

The small glimpse I got yesterday into the spring and summer that’s ahead of us made me so happy. The feeling I have when we’re on our bikes, Jeff and I together, with our happy kids on the back, singing along to the songs from the speaker – it’s truly my favorite.

It’s so easy to get stuck in every day stress things. Like shopping and carrying stuff and whining kids and tired legs and the constant begging for snacks/food (are everyone else’s kids constantly asking to be fed?!), the CONSTANT lightsaber fights that are really getting on my nerves (I keep hiding the lightsabers, but they just fight with anything else they can get their hands on. Today we were making colorful noodle necklaces, and naturally the red, blue and green noodles turned into lightsabers in a matter of seconds. Gahhh, Star Wars. Gahhh, boys.) Anyway, I digress. On the bike, because that is what I wanted to talk about…when we’re on the bike, I feel none of that. Never. I don’t think about what’s next or who needs what or where we should be or need to go or what we need to do – none of that. Everything I need is on those bikes, we’re exactly where we should be, the wind in my face, music playing, children happy, my husband/best friend by my side.

I guess what I’m saying is that I like spring and summer so much better than winter.

We needed this.

We all needed a good day. Sunshine, water fun, good friends, a picnic. We had just that. image The kids ran around all morning drinking sprinkler water (Arthur), dumping water on brother’s head (Julian) and putting pretend “banana peanut butter apple” on his friend Mae (Julian). Also, dandelions: image image Julian picked a couple of dandelions for me for “Mother’s Day.” It kind of made up for the actual Mother’s DayAlmost. 

I took the boys home in their swim suits, bellies out and all, and we caught lots of smiles. They were a reminder that summer is around the corner. imageimage I arrived at the park with a numb face (thanks, dentist), after yet another meltdown and a dozen broken eggs (thanks, Arthur) and shed some guilt-tears talking to my friend about yet another time I had lost my patience – but the morning made us forget.

The smell of sweat and sunscreen and peanut butter on my boys. I want to bottle it up and open that bottle in 20 to 40 years. Or as needed.

Biking FTW

When we’re out riding bikes with the kids, we get so many comments and looks, 99% of them positive. Of course there is the random kid who is offended because he shouldn’t be walking in the bike lane and says, “Yeah, that’s safe.” The truth is, it actually is safe. Our boys hurt themselves way less when sitting on a bike than while, say, walking. Because they can’t physically walk. They run. And then they trip. And fall. And so it goes. Anyway, back to biking.

Most people will say really sweet things and inquire about our bikes. Julian will tell them, “It’s a Dutch bike!” We have a little speaker with our favorite songs; we’re always well equipped with snacks and stop frequently to play or have coffee or munch on Graham crackers.

Yesterday we rode around Brooklyn…over to Jane’s Carousel and into Williamsburg.

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My favorite part about this whole bike riding thing? It’s actually a completely non-draining activity for us. Relaxing, in fact. Today we rode 25 miles. We started in Brooklyn, rode over the Brooklyn Bridge, over to the West Side, up to Central Park, around the park and up to the Harlem Meer, further up to 127th Street and back down on the West Side and back over the bridge and home. We left at 10:30am and returned at 7pm. We had sandwiches in the park, looked at boats and horses, and played a lot.

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We see so much. They boys are always entertained and seriously never complain, although today towards the end everyone was tired. But during the day, when they are tired, they nap. And I just love riding through our city. We see neighborhoods we normally might not explore, and each trip can take an adventurous turn. We can go anywhere.

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Anyway, my point is this: I woke up feeling crappy today. I had been awake for almost 3 hours in the night because of Arthur’s cold and Julian’s bad dream and my inability to fall back asleep. I have a cold myself. I woke up and felt like someone had hit me over the head. So I had two options: I could have been lazy today and let the boys play and hang around the house and probably get on each others’ nerves before long. Or I could suck it up and get on my bike and enjoy the day. I felt much better outside than I know I would have on my couch. Lazy days are amazing. It’s awesome to stay on the couch and watch movies and read a good book and drink tea. But once you have little kids and a small apartment, that is pretty much not an option.

So we enjoyed our day together.

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Anniversary Weekend

It’s been kind of a not so great week on many fronts for many reasons, but the weekend more than made up for it.

Saturday was Jeff’s and my anniversary (4 years! And 7 years since our first date). We celebrated with an excellent bike ride to Coney Island. We made it down there in about an hour and 15 minutes, all the while listening to a song mix that included the kids’ favorites from Uptown Funk to Yellow Submarine and All About That Bass. It was so fun and such a gorgeous ride down Ocean Parkway. Look here! We made it.

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We immediately celebrated our arrival (and anniversary) with a beer.

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Then we took the boys down to the beach. They ran towards the water and basically never looked back.

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As time went on they shed some clothes and got dirty. Those are the moments we will never forget. Happiness all around; so pure and so contagious.

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Then we had a picnic on the boardwalk, and afterwards we hit the rides. It was the first time Arthur was old enough to go on them, and he was so excited. He wanted to ride them all.

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He was never once scared or tried to jump off a ride (which, if you know Arthur, is a totally realistic expectation). Julian, at this point, is a total pro and directed us towards his favorite rides. He also got to ride the Wonder Wheel with Papa.

After rides, this:

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Once we decided it was time to ride home, both boys fell asleep immediately and slept for a good 45 minutes on the bike. While we listened to music and enjoyed the sunshine.

We stopped at Lakeside in Prospect Park for some refreshments and kisses. It was a perfect, perfect day.

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On Sunday we took it easy. We just rode around Redhook, spent some time by the water and on a playground.

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Oh, and we spent around 2 1/2 hours at our favorite restaurant, the Brooklyn Crab. We ate shrimp and had beers and corn dogs and crab sandwiches. We let the boys play in the sand, played shuffle board and corn hole and lazied around in the sun.

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Then we rode to Fairway and had coffees while Arthur napped. And then we sat around some more.

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Seven years ago when Jeff took me to dinner at Morandi and we shared cannoli in Tompkins Square Park, I could have never dreamed up this life we live now. And even four years ago, when we got married and Julian was kicking around in my belly, I still couldn’t have predicted this.

Today I feel like the luckiest.

Spring weekend – finally

After months and months of snow, wind, and waiting for better times, it has finally arrived: spring. And with that: bike rides and ice cream.

We spent all weekend on our bikes. On Saturday we rode over the Brooklyn Bridge, covered Battery Park, Washington Square, the West and East Villages, and rode back home over the Manhattan Bridge. The boys were squealing with delight and also shivering from the gusty winds. But nothing some ice cream can’t cure…

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We saw helicopters, boats, firetrucks, and subways; squirrels, music in the park including a grand piano; we had sandwiches and coffee in the sun, played on playgrounds and were all around happy.

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Arthur napped on the bike while Julian played…

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These guys.

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Saturday night we had our dear friends over for pizza…

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…and lots of wine. The boys were so excited and acted like they don’t get out much, when in fact they had been out all day. It was a wonderful, late night full of good food and better company and lots of laughs.

Sunday, round two. A tour of Brooklyn. We rode a good 20 miles all over our lovely borough: Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Brownsville, Midwood, Prospect Park. We stopped at various playgrounds along the way. We saw the oldest farm house in New York, the Wyckoff House (built in 1652), and had lunch at the picnic tables next to the old farm. It was another perfect (and tiring) day. We all got some sun.

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We ended the day with a cold beer and a couple of power naps at Lakeside in Prospect Park. Yes, Jeff and I took turns sleeping in the sun. It was delightful.

There is nothing that I could possibly say that can adequately express how ridiculously happy bike riding makes us. We see so much, we’re outside, we get some exercise in, and we’re all together in the city that we love. It’s the best. Thanks, spring, for finally showing up. We adore you.

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Easter, suburban style

We spent Easter in Delaware with Jeff’s parents. It was a good Easter. The boys were happy, everyone was healthy, and we ate ourselves sick with candy. Thanks, easter bunny. We met the bunny, hunted for eggs, and pet some goats.

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Julian and Arthur loved having two dogs to play with. They took them for walks and chased them around the yard. Arthur spent a good amount of time barking at them and climbing in and out through the doggy door. Alright, you animal, we get it.

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One of my favorite parts of the weekend was Friday night: Jeff and I got to go on a date. The first date since….January? It was lovely.

My other favorite part was that Arthur didn’t love sleeping in a strange crib, so every morning when he would wake up way too early, I would sneak into the boys’ room and snatch Arthur out of his crib and lie in the empty bed next to Julian’s bed with him. He would drape himself around me like a heating blanket, with his hair in my face, and go right back to sleep. One morning, after we had woken up and Julian had gone downstairs to hang with Grammy, Arthur and I stayed in bed for another half hour. Cuddling, tickling, smooching. Every time I asked Arthur if he wanted to get up, he said no. So we cuddled some more. It was one of my favorite moments ever.

The boys loved running around outside. We loved sitting around in the sun with a cold beer in our hands. Also: eating lots of mini chocolate eggs.

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On Sunday, at the cousins’ house in New Jersey, Julian fell in love with a little bike with training wheels and rode it around the block a million times. Arthur fell in love with this car and his new hairdo:

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As Jeff and I were strolling around the lovely suburban neighborhood, I asked him if we were doing it all wrong. Look at this lovely suburban green grass and how happy our kid is riding that bike. Jeff reminded me that we are doing exactly the same thing. Julian gets to ride his bike every day. We just have more people around and less grass. And coffee shops on the way for coffee and treats. And a breathtaking view from the Promenade.

When we returned to Brooklyn on Sunday, it felt so good to be home. It’s always good to see how other people do things; it gives us a different perspective. But we know that until further notice, city life is the life for us.

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So we got our bikes out of storage and took them for a quick spin. We have been waiting for this moment for so long. Finally! Spring is here.

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