Welcoming Winter at the Hains Point 100

Women and bicycles have been very, very good to me. And I wanted to get out of the house and see some of my #bikedc friends. As luck would have it WABA was putting on its annual Hains Point 100 ride to benefit its Women & Bicycles program. What a remarkable coincidence.

The event involves riding the 3 1/3rd mile loop in East Potomac Park, known locally as Hains Point, mostly because the loop goes down to Hains Point and back.

Welcome home, Crystal

Welcome home, Crystal

I arrived about 15 minutes after the start and as I drove into the park there were about 100 cyclists streaming down Buckeye Drive. I parked the car, extracted Little Nellie from the trunk and joined the masses. Or, more truthfully, watched as the masses swarmed around me a speeds I could not match.

I rode with Aaron Hansen for a lap or so. We were passed by swarms of cyclists that included Chris Mamone, Ed Felkner and Mary Gersima on their tandem, Dave Salovesh and Jean DeStefano on their tandem, Ricky Albores, Katie Bolton, and Ted Nigrelli. Aaron dropped out and I soon found myself riding with Kathy Lewis for several laps. We managed to meet up with Crystal Bae who was riding a Bikeshare bike. Crystal and her husband Adam left DC for Santa Barbara about 1 1/2 years ago. They rode their bikes to California. It was great seeing her. I had hopes of seeing Alex Baca, another #bikedc expat in California, but, alas, she was a no show.

No wonder Kid O doesn't want to be seen in public with her dad.

No wonder Kid O doesn’t want to be seen in public with her dad.

I stopped after 20 miles to make a donation to WABA. This led to a whole bunch of chit chat with Mike Ross and Lisa Eaker and their daughter (who is lovely but who’s name completely slips my mind.) And Ricky. And Dave and Jean. And on and on and on. I even spotted a young Cannon (Jeremy) lingering about.

I decided to call it a day and head back to my car. During this last mile or so of riding I could feel a nerve or tendon or some other structure in my calf flexing like a guitar string and sending little shocks into my numb foot. I do believe I have found the culprit of my foot woes. Tomorrow I go to the acupuncturist. If that doesn’t work, a rolfing I will go.

On the drive out of the park I ran into (not literally) Justin Antos. With Justin, Ed, Mary, Mike, Lisa, Jeremy, and Michael it was a bit of a 50 States Ride reunion.

Here are some pix from today’s event.

Numbers and Cupcakes, Too

Today marks the bike commute with the least amount of daylight. As someone who is vitamin D deficient, I say, “Enough already.”  I could do without the cold weather too, but, alas, that promises to get worse before it gets better. Curious to find out how the other half lives, I checked the temperature in Buenos Aires at noon today. 93 degrees (Feels like 104). Suffer, Argentina.

I rode to Friday Coffee Club talking to myself the entire way. I am a chatty person. The folks with the white coats didn’t catch me. At Swings House of Caffeine, there was a decent sized crowd. Felkerino brought cupcakes and @BobbiShaftoe bought Christmas cookies. I do believe there is a conspiracy afoot to undo all my good eating habits of late. For the record, I had one cupcake.

Bob “Don’t Call Me Rachel” Cannon was disappointed that I was not wearing the earrings I won at the WABA Christmas party. For the record, I am not an earring kind of guy.

@arlingtonrider brought Mac with her. Mac has been bike commuting for two months and is very enthusiastic. She fit right in with the hapless gang of two wheeled loonies.

On the way to work I checked the odometer on Little Nellie.

Little Nellie Turns 14

I never, ever thought I’d ride this bike so much.

Yesterday, I weighed 203 at the doctor’s office. I suspect a vast right wing conspiracy. So I weighed myself nekkid at work. 200!  Mendoza line.  Basically my trick is to avoid eating crap. Seems to be working. The last time I was under 200 pounds my son was an infant. He now towers over me.

I can’t say I was looking forward to the ride home. I was tired. My back was achy. Once I got on the bike though it all worked out. It was such a lovely ride. The monuments were all lit up. The view never gets old. The car traffic was light so I didn’t have to fight the headlights all the way home.

Reboot the Foot

I had my annual physical with my new primary care doctor. I am very glad I switched to him. He is an excellent listener and gave me a thorough looking over. The good news is I:

  • Have normal blood pressure
  • A resting pulse of 52
  • A normal EKG
  • Normal lung function (which is pretty great considering I am asthmatic)
  • Do not have diabetes
  • Do not have Lyme disease
  • Do not have an enlarged prostate
  • Have normal reflexes
  • Weigh about 32 pounds less than this time last year
  • Am still a tad over 6 feet tall
  • Have awesome levels of good cholesterol
  • Do not have a hernia

The bad news is:

  • My cholesterol level is 240 (not particularly alarming, but worth keeping an eye on)
  • I still have numbness in my right foot
  • I have horrible balance
  • I was unable to blindly touch my finger to my nose on the first try. (Doctor told me only half joking that a field sobriety test would be bad news)
  • I am seriously deficient in vitamin D
  • I am mildly depressed

The only real surprise was the vitamin D thing for which he prescribed a supplement of 2000 mg per day. I think a trip south would fix both the vitamin D and the depression things.

We discussed my discomfort with the neurologist I saw. He didn’t know the doctor but said that he wouldn’t object if I canceled all the tests scheduled for tomorrow and next week and get a new neurologist once my new medical insurance kicks in. So I canceled the MRI and the EMGs.  (I am still going to the sports acupuncturist on Monday.)

Last night I woke up in the middle of the night. I watched a couple of short videos on Rolfing. It looks interesting. It’s a slow, systematic massage from your toes to your head. It might not do my numb foot any good but could make my back happy. So I am thinking of giving it a go.

After the physical, I headed to work, sort of. Today was the office holiday luncheon. After about an hour and half we walked over Key Bridge to Georgetown and ate at Il Canale. We had four kinds of pizza and two kinds of pasta topped off with a canoli for dessert. Everything I ate was out of this world. I normally eat a light lunch but I made a big exception today. I was in serious food coma afterwards.

Tomorrow is going to be a cold bike commute. Good thing it’s Friday because I could use Friday Coffee Club.

Bring Me Light

We are in the trough. The next two weeks have the least amount of daylight, then, like a overweight cargo plane, we take off ever so gradually toward springtime. Of course, the coldest days of winter remain but they are small price to pay for deliverance from the dark.

The morning dawned shrouded in fog. This always means an interesting river view. Today was no exception. The spike of the fog bank looming above the far river bank looked as if a madman had taken over, his hair pointed skyward.

Sunrise, Fogbank and Bike

Despite the 40+ degree temperature the boardwalks on the trail were treacherously coated with a thin rime layer. In old town, Nancy “Two Sheds” Duley came rolling my way, Normally she awakens me from my commuting reverie but this day the tables were turned.

“Hi,Nancy”

“Watch out for the ice on the boardwalks!”

When  I came to the beaver boardwalk, the one north of Old Town where a beaver builds and re-builds a dam, I saw a cyclist recovering from a crash. I glided, hands off my brakes, past him. I could see the right leg of his tights were torn. I asked if he was okay and he nodded. On I rode. A few minutes later he passed me. Even crash victims ride faster than me.

The boardwalk under the TR bridge seemed ice free by the time I made it there. I took my time to avoid an unpleasant surprise.

I learned through Twitter that Nancy had in fact been involved in a four-bike pile up on the beaver boardwalk. She was pretty composed for someone who had such a nasty ride.

During the day, my numb foot had me contemplating alternatives to the creepy neurosurgeon. Ultrarunnergirl gave me the name of a sports acupuncturist so I decided to schedule a treatment. He didn’t sound very optimistic but I figure I only have a few bucks to lose. Ultrarunnergirl says he cured her persistent plantar fasciitis with one treatment. I am not one who buys into alternative medicine. I even don’t like chiropractors, but the prospect of back surgery will have me trying just about anything. If acupuncture doesn’t work, I’ll try massage or rolfing or golfing or, maybe, bowling. Back surgery is very risky, even with the best of surgeons, and months of post surgical misery is not something I hope to repeat.

The ride home tonight was about as good as it gets for December. I had a nice gentle tailwind and the ice was gone from the trail. Even the headlights and ninjas didn’t bother me.  Pretty soon, they’ll be a memory.

My Right Foot 2

My right foot is stiil numb so I went to a neurologist today to, I thought, get an EMG exam. Instead I was given a duplicate exam that my primary car doctor gave me. And it wasn’t nearly as thorough. he neurologist suspects that spinal stenosis (basically an old back) is the cause of my numbness. So I have an EMG test on Friday, an MRI Friday evening, and an EMG next Tuesday.

I brought my May 2014 MRI with me but he didn’t look at it. He read my pain doctor’s notes instead. I thought this was weird. MRIs are expensive. I am half hoping that my insurance turns this down.

Once we get through all the tests I’ll see what the neurologist has to say.

There’s one complicating factor: the neurologist gave me the creeps. He had an intern examine me then didn’t read her notes. He spent a good deal of time talking about how the practice of neurology has gone to hell in a hand basket, complaining that he was, in effect, a dinosaur. I mentioned the neurologist who operated on my back 20 years ago and he started reminiscing about him. This went on for 20 minutes during which he thanked me for seeing him 3 or 4 times. This made me think that something might be wrong with him. The thought has crossed my mind that he may have the early stages of dementia.

I almost gave up and called for a referal to another neurologist but instead I decided to get all the tests done. I already know that I won’t have anything to do with this man operating on me. I just have very little confidence in him. I switch to a new insurance company in 2 weeks so I can will just jump to another doctor then if I have to.

Good thing this is happening around the holidays. Work is somewhat calm. I’m a little upset by all this. Maybe I should watch one of those AMRS videos with the whispering lady. They are creepy.

It would be weird if the whisper lady was related to my neurologist.

I Won!

I went to the WABA Holiday party tonight. It was quite a good time. It was good to see Alan and Jeff and Jeff and Sam and Steve and Katie and Megan and Dave and Jean and Michelle and Nelle and Colin and Greg and Eric and Ryan and Matilde and almost certainly half a dozen other people whose names escape me at this moment. The Wit beer at Smith Public Trust was tasty as was the grilled cheese sammich with avocado.

Best part of all, I one a prize in the raffle! Woot!!

What do you think? Do I go for the ear piercing or give them away?

(Note: Photo by Ryan.)

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Take a Walk VDOT

It’s been a stressful week. I only rode to work twice as a result of little sleep. I reached out to a couple of friends and they gave me interesting advice about my stress. One friend, a single woman, whose father abandoned her family when she was growing up, told me to look out for number one. The other, a father with family issues that boggle the mind, told me that I need to put things in perspective, chill, and work the problem. As it turned out the problem worked itself and I was blissfully relieved of stress at 4 pm on Friday. Even my boss telling me that a project that I had worked on for months had all but crashed and burned didn’t phase me. I rode home with a smile on my face and a mild tailwind that felt like a gale.

Today was devoted to Christmas shopping. I ordered a few things online, then headed out to Potomac Yard to battle the crowds. I used my bikey knowledge of the roads to bypass most of the traffic. The parking lot was packed. I parked far from the store, walked in, and it was EMPTY. A sales clerk helped me pick out the stuff I was looking for and I was done in 10 minutes. I was all ready for some PTSD, but I left in a state of bewilderment.

I arrived home with time on my hands. The idea of riding for riding’s sake didn’t float my boat. What to do? I called Gold’s Gym to cancel my son’s idle membership. They said, “You have to come in and sign a cancellation form.” Really. You want to hassle me when I already told you I’m not doing business with you any more? Turning an annoyance into a plus, I put on my hiking shoes and headed out to Gold’s 1 1/2 miles away. I did okay for about a mile until I came to an intersection that was recently re-striped by VDOT. There were no crosswalks at all. Fail.

I ran across the street with another walker and his dog.

When I got to US 1 I pushed the idiot walk button and waited. I stopped counting the cars at 100 as they flew past me. And that was only in one direction.

Gold’s is at the back of a parking lot with no separate pedestrian access. If you want to walk at Gold’s you have to do it on a treadmill. Is this a great country or what?

After cancelling the membership, I retraced my steps. Rather than deal with the crosswalkless intersection I stayed on the far side of the street and walked a quarter mile to the nearest crosswalk.  Just before I reached the crosswalk I came upon this:

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Are you kidding me? The switchbox for the traffic light was plopped directly in the sidewalk. Look closely and you’ll see that the post for the traffic light is also anchored in the sidewalk. VDOT fail.

Incidentally, this is about 50 yards from where my wife was run over by an SUV back in 2011. You’d think they’d get their act together. You’d think wrong.