Normally, I make a big deal about taking a picture of my bike odometer when it crosses another 1,000 mile threshold. I kind of dropped the ball this week. My mind was elsewhere. The two rides to work this week have been excellent therapy (as they always are). So here it is, 44 miles after the fact.
My recent post about Lorena and our mutual friend Florencia has received far more readership than any previous post on this blog. Normally, this blog is about my bicycle escapades and is read by a modest audience in a handful of countries in any given week. In three days, the Lorena story has been accessed by hundreds of people in over 25 countries on six continents (come on, Antarctica, we’re waiting for you!) around the world. What a testimony to the power of love and friendship.
Most of the readers, I am sure, don’t know me from Adam. (Romania? Nepal? Malaysia?) They came here from seeing a link on Florencia’s Facebook page or from her cross-posting the link to the We Love Lore Memorial Facebook page. My hats off to the geeks who figured out this Internet thing. As my late father would say: you done good.
Over the last several days I have gotten to know more about Lorena through the testimonials on the Memorial page. My previous post simply did not do her justice. She was a force of nature. An indomitable spirit. And deeply beloved by so, so many people.
I am grateful to be able to spread the word through this crummy little blog of mine. Most importantly, many of these readers made a donation to Lorena’s memorial fund. Many, many thanks to you all. For those who might still want to contribute, here is the link again:
Finally, when I wrote the first post, I tried to think of an song that would honor Lorena’s memory. I hope this one does it. For Lorena, She Goes On.
It’s been a depressing weekend. The weather has been amazing so I decided to spend my Sunday going for a hike and clearing my head.. I headed over to Great Falls Park in Maryland. (Note: if you drive to Great Falls Park in MD there is not much parking. Parking in the No Parking area along MacArthur Boulevard will cost you $60 if you get a ticket. I know. I got one today.)
I took a map and improvised a route. The Berma Road to the Overlook Trail to the towpath and the River Trail. At the far end of the River Trail, I turned around taking the towpath back to the Gold Mine Spur to the Gold Mine Trail to the Anglers Spur and back along the Berma Road. 5 miles plus. I took a wrong turn and it cost me the $60 parking ticket.
This route was much smoother than the other trails in the park. It was mostly a walk in the woods. I would have prefered more solitude but most park users are pretty respectful, whiny little kids notwithstanding.
I really enjoyed the River Trail, smooth and flat with excellent views of the river. The Gold Mine was mostly smoooth and somewhat hilly, but it passes through dense woods. I twice heard large animals moving about unseen off the trail. At one point, I came upon three deer eating. They weren’t at all bothered by me until my camera made an annoying sound. Then they bolted.
Back in the car, I drove home, turning on the radio for the first pitch of the Nationals last regular season game. It turned out to be the first no hitter I’ve seen. I think the boys are ready for the playoffs. Some more pix on my Flickr page.
Before Friday night’s baseball game began, I checked my Facebook page on my phone. I noticed that my friend Florencia had replaced her profile picture with a shot of her and her friend Lorena. The picture was taken at Flor’s birthday picnic a few weeks ago in Meridian Hill Park. Flor is sitting on her knees holding a small glass vase of white roses that I gave her. Lorena is sitting behind her to her side with an arm around her shoulder. The best of friends marking yet another special occasion together.
Lorena and Florencia have been friends for a long time. They are both from Argentinia and they both came to the US to work as au pairs over 15 years ago. They shared the adventure of living in a new land and growing through young adulthood. Florencia’s Facebook page has literally dozens of pictures of Lorena and Florencia through the years. Lorena’s face always stands out, strinkingly beautful with an ever-present radiant smile.
Despite the fact that we both have been to several of the same social gatherings, I barely know Lorena. We always seem to be on the opposite side of the room or the picnic blanket. I know this much about her. She is someone Florencia loves to the bone. My sense is she is Flor’s older sister, confidant, mentor, protector, cherished friend. It has always been my intent to talk to her but for whatever reason it just never happens.
As I left the birthday picnic and rolled up my blanket, I looked over at Lorena and realized that once again I had not had the chance to talk with her. “Next time for sure,” I thought.
There will be no next time.
On Thursday night, Lorena Gimenez, loving mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend, died. She was struck by a Fairfax Connector bus as she was walking home from the Huntington Metro station.
She is the fifth person, all women, of my acquaintance who has been hit by a motor vehicle in the last 2 1/2 years in the DC area.
I am no stranger to sudden death of people before their time. It never gets easier. The shock is always there. Every time I’ve spontaneously said “Oh, no. It can’t be.”
Yet it can.
My condolences to Lorena’s husband and daughter and to her parents, sister, and friends.
Lorena’s friends are asking for donations to help defray the cost of her memorial service. The costs will likely be substantial since they include flying her parents and sister up from Argentina. If you would like to help, please make a donation at the link below. Any amount would help.
Rest in peace, Lore.
To my friend, Florencia. Whatever you need, whenever you need it. Just contact me.
Friday means only one thing: Friday Coffee Club. Unfortunately, late September means DARK. I left before 7 am with my Light and Motion Stella light strapped to my helmet. This is my fourth season using the Stella. It seems to work just as well as when I bought it too. Light and Motion makes good stuff.
Since I was going to the night game at Nationals Park, I rode The Mule which has conventional pedals. This way I didn’t have to wear shoes with cleats. It was my first commute on The Mule in at least three months. It felt totally weird soon I was dialed in.
The ride in was uneventful. Your usual beautiful spin along the Potomac River. Over the river on the 14th Street Bridge, through the tourists at the Washington Monument, up the 15th Street cycletrack, and across the Pennsylvania Avenue plaza in front of the White House.
The tables outside Swings were packed with #bikeDc folks, including to my delight Elizabeth who rode the 50 States Ride with me this year. It’s always great to see new people at Friday Coffee Club.
Ellizabeth at the near head of the table presides over Friday Coffee Club
Ed, Mary, and I had made a date to attend the night game at Nationals Park. I paid Ed for my ticket and rode off to work resplendent in my Anthony Rendon Number 6 Nats shirt.
At 5 I was out of work like a rocket. This would likely be my last game of the year. I rode along the river to the 14th Street bridge, through East Potomac Park, over the Case Bridge to L’Enfant Promenade, then wound my way to I street and its smooth pavement and clearly marked bike lanes. Signs directed me straight to the bike valet at the ballpark. What a great idea.
I ate what passed for dinner and took my seat. Ed and Mary arrived a bit late. They were delayed because they needed to get their gear ready to drive to the Seagull Century on the Eastern Shore of Maryland before dawn on Saturday.
The game was a romp for the visiting team but we had a good time hanging out and talking baseball and bikes. At about 11, game over (Marlins 15, Nats 7) I hopped on The Mule for the ride home. The air was dry and calm with temperatures in the mid 60s. Once I cleared the area near the ballpark, the roads were all but empty. I calmly rode the 18 or 19 miles home. Best bike commute ever!
I walked in the house at 12:38, 18 hours after I left.
I’ve signed up for the Backroads Century three or four times before this year. I have always ended up riding the metric century, 100 kilometers or 62 miles, instead of the 100-mile version. Kirstin, aka Ultrarunnergirl, persuaded me to ride the 100 miles this year. So we did.
Backroads is the annual big event of the Potomac Pedalers riding club. The ride starts and stops in Berryville Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley. To say that this area is pretty is to do it a gross disservice. Numerous times during the ride my jaw dropped open at the beauty of the hills and farms (I am a sucker for a field filled with big rolls of hay). The terrain is also damned near perfect. The hills, at least for most of the ride, are perfect for hill hopping, speeding down one hill and using the momentum to ride up the next. The narrow roads curve around farms and through corn fields and, well words don’t do them justice.
The weather was damned near perfect. I wore arm wamers and a vest for the first 25 miles, then put them away for the rest of the day. Temperatures rose throughout the day. Just as they seemed to get oppressive, the skies opened up for a two-minute cool down at mile 95. The weather gods could not have timed it better.
I’d never ridden most of the first 50 miles which wind their way north from Berryville into Jefferson County West Virginia in the eastern panhandle. The ride was hilly but I had fresh legs so they didn’t bother me in the least. Kirstin wore the teeth off her granny gear spinning like a fiend. Once, much later in the ride, in a burst of insanity she actually got out of the saddle and attacked a hill. For a few brief moments she was flying. Lordy!
For much of the time we rode separately, but I’d soft pedal or wait at a turn on the top of the hill to bring us back together. She had a light on the front of her bike which helped me pick her out among the long line of cyclists.
On the way to the first rest stop at mile 25, we were past by Rudi, a Friday Coffee Clubber. Rudi broke his femur earlier in the year so it was great to see him zipping along. He had a huge smile as he greeted me in passing. Joy. Next came Lawyer Mike, another Friday Coffee Clubber, resplendent in his Dartmouth kit. Lawyer Mike was all business, all sweat and determination. Not messin’ ’round, dude.
We rode back to the start to finish the first half. Kirstin went to her car to get her lunch; I went to mine to get new batteries for my camera. We reconvened at the rest stop across the street where we ran into Elizabeth, fresh off her rookie triumph in the 50 States Ride. She somehow had ridden the same 50 miles as us but we never saw her on the road.
After lunch Kirstin and I went back out for another 50, this time south of Berryville. We had both ridden this course before in previous years. I recalled it as hillier than the first 50 and I was right. The hills and the increasing temperature made for more determined work but we were up to the task at hand. Bigger hills meant less hill hopping and more grinding it out.
The second half has three rest stops. One had potatos boiled in salty water. Another had tomato and cucumber sammiches. Ride? Do I have to?
We were plodding along, feeling pretty confident of completing the ride despite the now uncomfortable heat. I spotted a sprinkler on the side of the road and then heard a popping sound all along the road. Enormous raindrops were falling from the only cloud in the sky. Big sloppy drops going splat on the road. What a perfect cool down! I was comfortably wet as I rode under a leavy canopy across the road when the road began an upbrupt ride. It was the steepest, hardest hill of the day. Riders up the road struggled. Been here, done this, got this. No problemo. I waited for Kirstin at the top. When you have infinite cardiovascular capacity, you smile as you crest the hilly beast!
Our reward was a fast glide down to the Shenandoah for a brief riverside cruise. Every down has its up and we climbed away headed for the finish. Once clear of the hill a tailwind pushed us home. My guess is that we rode our fastest miles of the day from mile 96 to mile 98.
We finished after 90 percent of the riders had left. Kirstin somehow found some chips and quac. I found my ride t-shirt and all was right with the world.
If you are thinking about doing this ride, I’d recommend it with one reservation. The people of Clark County,Virginia clearly do not welcome this event. They scowl at you. They drive agressively past you well within the legally required three feet. The sheriff all but declared war on cyclists rolling through stop signs. (Yes, it’s illegal but he could just as easily have directed traffic to allow participants’ safe passage.) It’s surprising to me that they don’t raise a banner in town that says “Cyclist go home!” The contrast with the people in Jefferson County, West Virginia was obvious. They waved and seemed genuinely happy to see us out on the road.
Congratulations to Ultrarunnergirl for completing her first century.
Here are some pix I took.
I recently found out that there is a ride for kids coming up. It goes from Jones Point Park, over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, down a spiral ramp, around a cove, over an unpaved trail along the river to National Harbor. This is fun for an adult. It will be a gas for a kid. So if you have a kid and a bike, check out the Kidical Mass Alexandria ride to National Harbor.
If you think “My kid can’t do that” consider this. My son did 13 miles of Bike DC in the rain when he was 10. He also did the Tour du Port, 20 miles on the streets of Baltimore at the same age. He had only a one-speed bike but he didn’t care. He was so proud of himself. He had a blast. Give your kid a chance to have a blast and do the Kidical Mass ride from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, September 28.
Check it out here.