One Last Time – I Hope

I worked from home today. When Mrs. Rootchopper arrived home from work (yes, she’s one of the few federal employees who had to go to the office), she got stuck trying to drive into the neighbor’s driveway where she parks her car.

She got out a shovel. I got out the wovel and we went at it. The snow, only about three or four inches, was wet and heavy, unlike our previous snowfalls which were mostly powder. When I was a kid we called this good packing snow. Great for making snowmen and snowballs. Not so good if you have to shovel it.

But we did. For an hour we slogged away. It’s really quite a good work out as long as you are careful not to wreck your back. Next time we have a snow fall all of my readers are invited to the Rootchopper Institute to join in the fun.

On the whole I’d rather be snowshowing in this stuff. I hope to do some of that tomorrow evening after work.


Allez! Allez! Errandonnee!

For most bicyclists, winter is endured. Sure some of us adapt to the cold and the slippery conditions; others hibernate waiting for the first sign of spring. It seems silly to say this today because as I type this it’s snowing pretty hard here in the DMV. No worries because the first sign of spring is here. Today is the first day of the 2015 Errandonnee.

It’s pretty simple. Over the next 12 days, run 12 errands on your bike. Document them. And send the list in to Mary, Queen of Errands. If you complete the Errandonnee, you can get an Errandonee patch to proudly display.

I’m not much of a patch person, but the idea of the Errandonee is in my wheel house. I run errands on my bike all the time. So here are a few I will likely do:

Ride to work (twice)

Go to the bank

Ride to get lunch or coffee with friends (twice)

I have to come up with seven more. This may not be so easy since I have already used up a couple of errands (drug store, hardware store) in the last few days. I will figure something out.

The point is that now you have a little excuse to get out there on your bike. To ease out of winter and into spring.

Allez! Allez!

If We Ever Get Out of Here, Thought of Giving It All Away…


I rode in the basement again. It is getting to the point that I read faster while riding than I do sitting still. I was hoping to ride in tomorrow but the Mount Vernon Trail remains icy and treacherous. I know this because I could see bike commuters riding slow and tentative this morning.

Tomorrow it is supposed to be pretty warm, in the 40s all day. It is also supposed to rain all day. In the wee hours of Thursday morning the rain is supposed to turn to snow for the better part of 15 hours. Accumulations are expected to reach as high as 8 inches. What joy.

It’s a really good thing that I don’t drink….much.

Thursday night my daughter is scheduled to fly into BWI so she can renew her driver’s license and go to the dentist. Fingers are crossed.

I hope you’re having fun.

Well, at Least I’m Not in Boston

T. S. Eliot didn’t live in Boston but he kind of nailed it when he wrote: April is the cruelest month. It takes at least a week into April before any semblance of spring arrives. You can tell it is spring because the snow starts to melt and all the frozen dog poo thaws out.

So you can see why I moved to DC. Except in DC March is the cruelest month. We began March this year with one of my favorite meterological events, an ice storm. Here’s the front of my car. 16499432758_0e1c089b69_zThe rest of the car looked like a Honda Popsicle.  As you might imagine, biking to work was out of the question. Just getting back to the house after retrieving the newspaper this morning would have made Shackleton bust his buttons.

So I drove. The temperatures rose well into the 40s for most of the day. This is what Arlo Guthrie calls “tanning weather in the Berkshires.”

I drove home looking for signs of ice and snow on the Mount Vernon Trail. Sure enough there were enough stretches of nasty stuff that I decided to drive tomorrow. I want to that the National Park Service for its stellar job of promoting cross country skiing in the region by not plowing the trail. The two people who skied on the trail last week must be badass Nords.

Speaking of Nords, Mrs. Rootchopper and I went to see Le Vent du Nord on Saturday night. This is a four-piece folk band from Quebec. They sing in French and sound a bit like the Chieftans by way of Paris. They played in a small venue in Germantown MD. We sat about ten feet from the edge of the stage. I had low expectations since my high school French is now hopelessly lapsed and I can’t understand most of the lyrics to the songs. It didn’t matter. The performance was one of the very best musical events I’ve ever seen. The fiddle player sat directly in front of us. He sang, played awesome fiddle, and kept a frenetic beat with his feet. I swear the man “ran” 10 miles during the two-hour show.  The band also features a hurdy gurdy. I’d never seen or heard one before. Long story short, I can’t wait until they come back.

The forecast for the DC area calls for some subfreezing temperatures and rain, snow or sleet off and on through Thursday. Looks like the Honda is going to get some more use.

February by the Numbers

I thought February was going to be a big bust but it turned into a halfway decent month. I rode to work eight times, the same as January. All my commutes were done in the first half of the month on The Mule because the National Park Servcie steadfastlt refuses to plow or treat the Mount Vernon Trail. Their policy is that it is also for use by cross country skiers. This is bogus because cross country skiers rarely use it and it becomes unski-able once the snowpack turns to ice or starts to melt.

The most eventful thing that happened was my fall on the 10th. Also I was sick twice this month so I have excuses. (Lame.)

Oh well. I also did a 48 1/2 mile ride on Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent. Other than that there was were a couple of long hike/walks including yesterday’s in Arlington Cemetery. And an interesting evening of Thai massage and Reiki.

The total for the month was 439 1/2 miles. 247 was from commuting. 99 miles were done on Big Nellie indoors.

For the year I stand at 812 miles with 16 bike commutes. Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist, has barely been used. Only 18 miles in a single weekend ride so far. The Mule is doing the lion’s share of work, covering 572 1/2 miles so far. Big Nellie is taking up the slack with 131.5 outdoor miles in addition to the 99 miles in my basement.

After the March 1 ice storm and Monday’s doctor’s appointment, I hope to up the mileage a bit. March offers the Pi ride. (On 3.14 there are two rides for pie. This is math humor. I intend to eat some apple pie for a friend who is on a retreat that does not allow pie. Oh the humanity!)  The Vasa ride is on 3/15 and I will do my usual 31 miles. I have never done the long ride, prefering to do the more social and less hilly medium length ride. (I will do neither ride if it is icy.)

On to spring!

Lili Mai

I began the day with yoga, physical therapy, and pain meditation. Pain meditation is when you try to meditate and all the body parts that you hit with the lacrosse ball and the football (a substitute for a foam roller) were busy screaming at you.

It was in the 20s outside. Too cold for a bike ride (at least for me anyway) so I decided to lace up my hiking boots and head to Great Falls for a hike. Along the way, it occured to me that hiking in mud was not likely to be a whole lot of fun. I have been meaning to go to Arlington Cemetery for a while now (say, 25 years) so I decided to check it out. My first few visits resulted in discovering the graves of several famous people by sheer seredipity so I decided to follow the same strategy.

I began with a visit to the grave of JFK and Mrs. Kennedy and their two babies. On the walk away from these graves I happened upon Bobby’s and Teddy’s graves which are much more modest.

I hiked up the hill and in short order came upon the graves of Abner Doubleday, the apocryphal creator of baseball, and Stephen Vincent Benet, the author of John Brown’s Body, a book length historical poem of the Civil War. Except it was not that Stephen Vincent Benet because the author died in the 1940s.

I trucked around in a great counterclockwise circle hoping to find more famous names but failed miserably. As long as I was away from the perimeter of the cemetery, the only sound I could hear was the sound of my breath and the occassional jet ascending from National Airport. I walked past thousands and thousands of graves. They serve as a reminded  sacrifices made by people over 250+ years. They also remind me of the repeated failure of humankind to live in peace with one another.

On the way out of the cemetery, I decided to check out the Women in the Military Memorial. I had heard that my kindergarten teacher, Lili Mai Kelly, was listed on the register. I went inside and checked out the exhibits for a while then turned to the register. Thankfully, it was computerized. I didn’t know her maiden name so I was hoping she was listed under Kelly. And after a few searches, I found her. Totally cool. (Sorry about the blurry picture.) She taught me and at least five of my six siblings. Over the years she became one of my mother’s closest friends. It seems she was in our house every week when I was growing up.

She signed up for the Navy WAVES in her mid-thirties to free up a man for overseas duty. She was stationed in New York City where by chance she met a serviceman while riding horses in Central Park. They married and had two kids who served as babysitters for my family for many years.

Many years later, we named our daughter Lily in her honor. (I had no idea of the spelling of her name until today.)


The Trifecta of Pain Post Mortem

A couple of days ago I was somewhat concerned that Thai massage, followed by snow shoveling, and a physical therapy session, all withing the space of 17 hours would wreck my body. As it turned out, I made it through the Trifecta of Pain with flying colors.

The Thai massage (with a bit of Reiki at the end), although painful at times, was a very soothing experience. I don’t normally pamper myself like this, but I am glad I gave this a go.

This morning we had three or so inches of wet snow. I pulled out the wovel and went at it. Each time I use this gizmo I am amazed. Snow shoveling is one of the most stressful things you can put your back and heart. Woveling is a piece of cake. It is actually not much harder than mowing the lawn. And it makes quick work of the snow.

Later in the morning I went to my physical therapy appointment. We worked on my balance. To my surprise, after some awkwardness, I did most of the exercises without losing my balance. I don’t know if this gets me anywhere with my numb foot but it helped my ego quiet a bit. The PT folks were curious to hear about the Thai massage. I mentioned the pain I had with my quadriceps and IT band and that became the focus of the session. We used a foam roller to massage both areas. This was incredibly painful, much, much more so than during the massage. Then we tried using a lacrosse ball to work out the tightness in my IT band. This was not as bad.

And so the Trifecta of Pain is over. It was not nearly as painful as I had expected.