Adventures of Mitey Miss

Stories of the world, a girl, and her bicycle

  • Ulrike Rodrigues

    Mitey Miss (Ulrike Rodrigues)

Top Ten travel fears and excuses – the home edition

Posted by UR on March 15, 2011

Mitey Miss goes crazy with an accordian

Not travelling can make you crazy. Accordian crazy.

Last weekend at the Seattle Bike Expo I shared my Top Ten Fears and Excuses for travelling independently. This morning I caught myself counting my Top Ten Fears and Excuses for not travelling:

  1. I’m too old, slow and stupid to start my next career. I’m studying to be a content and technical writer and I’m really excited about using my degree in cognitive psychology to work in IT useability. But there’s so many smart little sprouts out there. Do I stand a chance?
  2. I won’t find a job and will “end up in the gutter”. This is my war-survivor mother Ursula‘s fears, but still.
  3. People will think I’m a crazy cat/log/accordian lady. It’s an emerging phenomenon – just ask the other single  lady writers out there.
  4. I’ll have to get up too early in the morning. Because I’ll need to learn how to select and pull on pantyhose. In the dark. Yeccch.
  5. I’ll hole up in my apartment and become too isolated. Funny, isolation never seems to be a problem when I’m pedalling solo in a warm, foreign country.
  6. I don’t know how to wear “civilian” clothes. Ironing? Dry-clean? Heels? What?
  7. I won’t get enough vacation time
  8. I won’t make enough money (for vacation time).
  9. I’ll feel stuck in Vancouver. Vancouver is like an attractive and charming spouse – no one can understand why you would want to leave.
  10. I’ll continue to make the mistake of dating men much younger than myself. Er, this is a whole other discussion best reserved for a whole other post…

I’ve previously referred to this as Post-Vacation-Stress-Syndrome. How strange that I experience it after just two nights away in another country. Sigh.


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Adventure Lite: books and music

Posted by UR on March 14, 2011

Mitey Miss suggestions from An Introduction to Adventure Lite

Thanks for coming in out of the rain and sharing the world of Adventure Lite with me this past weekend at Seattle Bike Expo! Thank you Peter Verbrugge and the rest of the amazing, 14,000-strong membership of the Cascade Bicycle Club for inviting and hosting me. And a special thanks to the brave and curious bike riders who joined me and asked questions at the Raleigh Stage.

Reassuring truths to reduce your travel fears and excuses:

  1. That could happen at home
  2. We all share the same basic needs
  3. You have a Home tribe and a Travel tribe
  4. It’s okay to ask for help
  5. It’s just a bike
  6. It’s adventure LITE!

Suggested Mitey Miss posts:

Adventure Lite photos (Flickr):

Books and music:

Mitey Miss recommends Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway

by Susan Jeffers

Mitey Miss recommends It's Not About The Bike

by Lance Armstrong

Mitey Miss recommends A Journey of One's Own

by Thalia Zepatos

Deee-Lite's Infinity Within

"Run Away" by Deee-Lite

Guajiro Natural

"Amanece El Nuevo Ano" by Polo Montanez


"El Jaguar" by Strunz and Farah

Raha Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

"Mann Ki Lagan" by Raha Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

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Where are all the older Miteymiss stories and photos?

Posted by UR on November 7, 2010

Gosh, there have been some changes. (for whom I write the Mitey Miss column) changed their web site and all my links broke. So now I’m re-populating this site with all the original older stories.

In the meantime, go to and you’ll find what you’re looking for with the Search bar.

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What I know for sure

Posted by UR on November 6, 2010

Can we share an Oprah moment?

San Juan islands signs in Washington

Now that I'm back from my trip, there are a few things I know for sure

I ask because a hefty issue of O Magazine kept me company on a recent bike trip in September and one of its topics kept bouncing around in my head.

Someone once asked Oprah, “What do you know for sure?” Oprah thought the question was such a good one, she made it a regular feature.

Now that I’m back from my tour of the Pacific Northwest’s islands by folding bike, bus, ferry, train and automobile; I can tell you there are a few things I know for sure.

Bicycles are precious

Elsewhere in the world, you can toss a bicycle into a bus, train or ox cart without much fuss or cost. But here in North America, Greyhound considers a bike so precious that they require it be boxed, labelled and charged passage. While my own fare added up to about $30 at the ticket counter my bagged, folded bicycle commanded $33.

The whole idea of travelling with a folder was to avoid this backwards-thinking ridiculousness. I was choked and told my driver so. “You shouldn’ta told them it was a bicycle,” he countered. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why ride a bicycle? For abuse and tea

Posted by UR on July 6, 2010

A typical cyclist muses on a typical day

“You cyclists,” spat a driver as I caught up to his beat-up hatchback at a red light, “You ride around like you own the streets, you break all the rules, you bang on my car – “

“But that’s not me,” I huffed, “I’m not like that–”

“It doesn’t matter,” he roared as he furiously rolled up his window, you cyclists are all the same!

Sometimes when someone like him sees someone like me on a bike, he sees all cyclists and I become a typical cyclist.

For example, when I savor a steak, arrive at a gala or call myself lazy, a non-cyclist will look at me incredulously.

“You eat meat? But I thought you were vegetarian! Why? Well, you’re a cyclist – you know – the environment and all that.” “You rode a bike here? But you look so – dressed up! Usually bikers wear those loud yellow rain jackets!” “You? Lazy and out of shape?! But you ride your bike every day! You’re an athlete!”

Apparently, because I ride a bike, I am a superbly-conditioned, badly-dressed, soy-sucking environmentalist. Don’t you hate when people generalize? Read the rest of this entry »

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A Biased Bike Travel Packing List

Posted by UR on July 1, 2010

A gal’s guide to packing panniers for a cycling trip

Cycling Playa La Ventana (south of La Paz) in Baja Mexico

People fuss over bike travelers and how brave, adventurous and fit they are. But really, a bike traveler is just someone who wonders, “What if I rode my bike somewhere else…?” and does.

If you get around by bike at home, why not take it with you the next time you go “somewhere else?” It’s easy: pack your bike, pack some stuff, start pedaling and ta-da! You’re an Adventure Cyclist!

I credit my first foreign bike adventure – a winter getaway to Mexico’s Yucatan – to the fact that I’m too stubborn to break my daily cycling habit; too lazy to haul a heavy knapsack on and off buses; and too curious to just sit on a resort bar stool.

I aim for destinations that are warm, flat and mildly touristy. Why? Lighter gear, fewer hills and more places to enjoy a cheap, chilled, sociable beer at the end of the day.

Novice bike travelers agonize for months over what to bring on a trip, so I’ll share my own highly-biased, female-friendly, low-tech cyclist’s packing list. You may notice the absence of a cell phone, GPS and laptop, and the presence of mini-pads, brassieres and hair ties.

Did I mention the list is biased? Use it as a starting point, and share your comments, questions and travel tips. Read the rest of this entry »

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“What modern convenience could you not live without?”

Posted by UR on June 23, 2009

[Global Q&A, The Epoch Times, May 13, 2009]

Khadim Hussain, 37, Driver
Islamabad, Pakistan

“If I really think about it, I realize there is nothing I cannot do without. I think once a person sets their mind to it, it is possible to do withut any of the modern conveniences. I think even if I had to walk hundreds of miles to get somewhere, I could do it if I just set my mind to it.”

John Naccarato, 43, Artist
Ottawa, Canada

“Espresso Maker, to get up in the morning and have that kind of persistent buzz to get me through the daily grind.”

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Burning love and loss and paper

Posted by UR on May 13, 2007

It’s strange, how long it can take for paper to burn.

About two years ago, my housemate Annie found a shoebox down in the basement when she was packing up to move out. She gingerly  passed it to me, knowing I would know what to do with it. It said “Shimano” on the outside, and a quick peek at the French writing inside confirmed my nauseous suspicions: it belonged to P.H.

Long after he meticuously made his bed, emptied his desk, and killed himself with a laundry hose and the tailpipe of a running car, I discovered that my boyfriend had uncharacteristically left something undone.  He’d forgotten a shoebox of love letters.

I successfully ignored and even forgot about that box until today. I stepped into the basement to put some camping gear away. I turned around and the Shimano box caught my eye. I stared back at it and finally took it into my hands. It was heavy – packed full of lined paper letters written girlishly. I opened a letter dated 1998.
Nicole, writing from Quebec. Nicole and P.H. were together for two years, and had been separated for two years when P.H. and I became involved. I knew he was still in love with her, but it was clear that beyond being “just friends” Nicole was no longer in love with him.

She could speak French and on the RCMP’s insistance, she was the one to call Pierre-Henri’s parents in France to tell them the bad news.
They asked her to look after “the arrangements” and she interpreted that to mean that she could move all his possessions into her apartment. Over that time, I learned how much pain one human can obliviously inflict on another.

” I met P.H. for lunch not too long before he died,” Nicole told me one time. “We got to chatting about him and you and you know what he said? ‘I don’t see this relationship lasting.'”

I carried the shoebox upstairs to the fireplace. At 2pm on this Sunday afternoon, I decided to build a fire. I pulled a few sheets of yellow foolscap out of the box and rolled them into paper balls. I lined the grate with the paper balls, then laid some wispy twigs over top. I carefully turned the box upside down over the twigs, and left the bottom of the box on top, to hold it all together.

I imagined that once I lit the balls and once the twigs had caught, the box of letters would burn like a log. At first, flames nibbled at the box’s edges, and thick grey smoke reached up the flue. But the flames diminished as the outer pages became charred. A poke revealed that every letter underneath ~ and the words and heart drawings that they contained ~ remained intact.

It must have taken me forty-five minutes to continuously turn the pile of papers so every letter was illegibly burned. It gave me time to think.

P.H. loved Nicole, and I was in love with P.H. Four years later, I’m finally learning that loving someone ~ and being in love with them ~ are very different things. Being “in love” actually has very little to do with love. It’s more about one-sided dreams and expectations.
And “love” ~ it’s either there or it’s not… you can’t force it.

Four years later I think I can finally say my grieving is done. I can accept that though the person I was in love with decided to end his life, he was not in love with me. I can say that I know how it feels to be in love under the ugliest of circumstances. And I can feel compassion for those who fall in love naiively, wishfully, one- sidedly ~ including myself.

It’s not the stuff of greeting cards ~ but that’s just paper, isn’t it?

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Post-Vacation Stress Syndrome

Posted by UR on January 10, 2004

Home looks frumpy and I am not impressed
A traveller’s dilemma upon returning from Baja, Mexico

So now I’m suspended between these two worlds that I’ve created for myself hesitant ~ no, the hesitancy is more severe than that ~ negligent to shallow-wade from one to the other. It’s a Saturday. Yes, I’m still in bed, still pajama-ed, still sipping coffee and still (as my boss Dave puts it) suffering Post-Vacation-Stress-Syndrome.

The panniers are unloaded and the laundry done, certainly, but the bags’ contents of beach sand remain un-shaken-out. The bike waits, cramped, in its travel bag, the maps and booklets remain sealed in Ziplock bags, and I remain wrapped in sensory memories not willing to be pre-emptied by the current sensory facts of a messy bedroom, a dusty house, unwashed dishes, piled up garbage, and ~ outside ~ a type of low-level illuminated environment us Vancouverites mistakenly call “daylight”.

A large part of it has to do with decisions. On my first day back, Dave asked me to review a two-page document that he’d be sending a client. It discussed rates, fees, services…standard proposal jargon. I stared at it a moment, peered up at him and blinked.

“Er, NO salt on the rim?” He forgave himself his error, and said something about it being too soon.

My decisions up to a couple of days ago included: how many slices of Bimbo tostados to spread my peanut butter-and-jam on; how much sun block 30 I should spread on my shoulders at 9:30 in the morning; whether I should keep my tires hard for pavement or let out some air for dirt; how many kilometers I should travel that day, and do I have enough water and toilet paper to carry me through another deserted, Sea-of-Cortez beach, or should I pull into a hot-shower campsite stocked with curious RV’rs offering cold beer in the evening and hot coffee in the morning?

Will I dream another night of soaring through the stratosphere like an outward-bound comet, or do I dream of a life where I am stuck with these difficult decisions everyday?

Back in my room, my house, my job, my life (did I ever leave these behind or did they follow me silently on the East Cape Road, mutely waiting for a moment’s hesitancy) I must also make decisions albeit more philosophical:

Do I dissolve back into what is speedy and routine, or do I pinch-myself-remember daily that I do not forget how long and luscious a day can be? Do I knuckle the sleep and sand out of my eyes, brush my teeth, change into civilian clothes and face the chores and Lego-block tasks of everyday life, or do I stay in bed, immersed, in vitro, unproductive?

It would be self-defeating to say, “Back to the chores, you have no choice,” because this has been (“has been”) my choice. I am committed to it like a faithful lover and I know this room, this house, this job, this life is what I have chosen for myself.

I do not regret it , but at the moment the lover looks frumpy. I am not impressed.


Bank. Mailbox. Groceries.
Put away laundry, restock camping supplies, unpack bike.
Clean up room, take out garbage, do some dishes.
Think less about sand, sun and angels.
Think less about love and loss, more about movement, adventure, progression, wisdom, warmth, gifts, empathy, worthiness.

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Chocolate Butterflies

Posted by UR on January 5, 2004

In Christmas of 2002, my boyfriend P.H. opened a small package sent from his family in France and sighed. His mother had sent him ~ as she always did ~ a bag of les papillotes, traditional chocolates.

As he untwisted the shiny, ribbony foil of the wrapper, he had told me how the name played on the word for paper le papier and butterfly le papillon. We unwrapped a few chocolates together and let the colourful foil squares flutter to the floor.

The next year, I opened a small package from his mother. It came with a note that, half in English, half in French, bid me the best for the new year. She trusted that P.H. had told me about les papillotes and hoped I would enjoy these.

I imagined her in the little store where they sell the papillotes, placing a gold bag of chocolate butterflies into her basket as she alway does. She slips the chocolates into a small box, wraps it up in brown paper and string, addresses it, and ~ because this year her son chose to kill himself and she cannot bear not to send it to Canada ~ she mails the package to me, with all the love she can muster.

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