Ode to Ruth

Two years ago I started Bikeable Jo.  Throughout this whole experiment, I have begun to understand that this isn’t really about the bike. While I love sharing stories about journeys, clever tips for staying dry in the cold, and those moments of total inspiration on two wheels — it’s more.

My bike has been a part of each story – she has witnessed transitions and allowed me the space to stop (while going) and think. She’s made sure I arrive safely and whisked me away when it’s required.

She’s my waymaker. I don’t write for her – I write because of her. And because of that – I can’t help but use this space to honour an influential woman in my life.

This week, I lost my grandma. My strong Norwegian hardworking invincible Grandma Ruth.

I have memories of husking corn when we were kids, her kindly holding half a dozen kittens by the fur around their necks, making the most amazing pies, ice skating in the cornfield when the river flooded and froze, and pushing back all the kitchen furniture and dancing to the nutcracker in our underwear. She seemed to find the balance between tough love with absolute compassion and service for others.

To honour her, I wanted to share some photos from one of our bike trips.  As a kid, we would spend a great deal of time at their farm in Iowa. With 20 cousins together, the world was our oyster. I’m not really sure how everyone seemed to have a bike – but I do remember my wee knees hurting because the bike was so uncomfortable to ride.  It took me 25 years to get back on the bike and actually enjoy it. Complaining just didn’t seem to get anywhere in the Holtan house.


I can feel my knees hurting just looking at this.

I can feel my knees hurting just looking at this.


This is the field where we often played softball against the second cousins. If you hit the ball into the corn field, it was an automatic homerun.


Grandma was great for her group t-shirts and long table spreads of food.


Thank you for these wonderful moments, Grandma.  I hope you are enjoying rømmegrøt (with extra butter and sugar) and lefse (also with extra butter and sugar) with Grandpa alongside all the kittens that left the farm before you.

We will miss you x



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