It’s Iconic – DC Bike Ride

Today was the first DC Bike Ride. This closed streets ride is the successor to Bike DC, an event I did several times in the past. They changed the name because Bike DC had a weather hex on it. The ruse did not work.

The course meanders through the erstwhile swampy bits of DC before heading over toward the Pentagon on the HOV lanes on I 395.  The ride costs about 50 bucks for 17 miles so if you were looking for a bargain, this wasn’t it. But it was an opportunity to show people in this area that you support bicycling in DC, even if it means pruney hands.

With temperatures in the 50s and a steady light rain, 8,000 folks gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue. I spotted the #bikeMVT contingent consisting of Linel, Amber, Ed, and Reba. We were later joined by Sam and her mom, Joanne.

Cathy Plume stopped by. Sam, Cathy, and I participated in the protest that completed the installation of u-turn barriers on the Pennsylvania cycletrack last summer.

An announcer came on to give us useful information about all the iconic things we would see on the iconic streets in this iconic city. Somebody shut this guy’s iconic piehole, please!

Soon the announcements were over and the 14 mph group waddle to the starting line. One waddler fell over and his shoe stayed stuck to his pedal. It looked embarrassing and utterly pathetic.

Off we rode. At a brisk 10 mph. We rode into Southwest wear we could see iconic rain. We rode with great enthusiasm (which made up for our lack of speed). Over to Foggy Bottom which seemed aptly named. We made our way to the iconic Whitehurst Freeway. The route seemed to fold back on itself. It also seemed to avoid National Park Service roads, simplifying the clearances needed to put on the ride.

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Iconic Rain and Crane

We turned around at the Key Bridge and retraced our route until we crossed the Mall at 14th Street. Just past D Street we could see a minor problem. The early wave of riders were on hold as the last wave of riders cleared the ramp to Maine Ave.

Continuing on 14th,  we rode across the iconic Potomac River, near the site of the iconic Air Florida crash. Onward past the iconic Pentagon until we did an iconic U-turn and headed back to DC. On the way, I spotted Nelle (now there’s an icon!) from WABA waving like a maniac. Or perhaps she was pointing out an iconic jersey barrier. I also saw Ultrarunnergirl who fortunately seemed not to be water soluble. Ultrarunnergirl was finishing being best bike buddy of the Big Bike Weekend. I saw her on Bike to Work Day riding south on the Mount Vernon Trail. She rode to Huntington, probably 12 miles past her office, to escort her friend Yolanda on Yolanda’s first bike commute. After the ride, I chatted with them. Yes, she also rode with Yolanda during today’s ride.

We continued on, finally riding around 14 mph. Wheee. Then we turned on to Pennsylvania Avenue. Kathy Lewis waved us in to the finish line.

I rode to the after party which had no signage for bike parking. Erp.

There I hung out with Chris, who volunteered like a maniac all weekend. I met Chris on the first Cider Ride in 2013. I talked to a whole bunch of people, the decided to head back to my car which I had parked at Gravelly Point in Virginia.

WABA walked off with $38,000 from this event. And raised tons of awareness about Vision Zero. Not bad for a truly crummy day of weather.

All things considered DC Bike Ride seemed to be a smashing success. Perhaps next year it will even be iconic.

I stashed a whole bunch of Flickr pix here.

Thanks to the staff people at WABA and the volunteers for all the work you did on this event. Also, thanks to the EMTs and police that stood out in the rain to get us through the event safely.

 

 

DC Tour de Fat – 2016

After yesterday’s long, but successful slog, I slept well. I woke up feeling nearly human. No hacking cough, no headache, clear lungs. If I ever see Alexander Fleming I am going to give that dude a bone crushing hug.

Today was the annual Tour de Fat in DC. This event is a bicycle themed party put on by New Belgium Brewing. All proceeds from beer sales go to local bike charities, like WABA. WABA’s event team runs the show, New Belgium handles the beer and eccentric performances. Last year’s event was a spectacular success. The crowd was huge and the sun shined down. This year nearly every forecast I saw called for rain, winds, and cold. All day. They lied.

I drove in the rain to L’Enfant Plaza and rode Little Nellie to Yards Park, the site of the event. When I got ther

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WABA People Getting Caffeinated

e I became aware that the 10 am family ride had been canceled for safety reasons. I parked my bike and went to a nearby coffee shop where I saw a bunch of WABA people (see photo on right), including Nelle (again? though curiously not in photo on right), hanging out. After about an hour, I trucked back to the venue where I was instructed in how to pull draft beer. (Kinda had this party down about 40 years ago, but I was rusty.)

The two beer tents, the specialty beer booth, and the beer bike vendors were all moved into one set of tents. At around noon people began to show up. As it turned out, my beer was most popular. It was

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Deputized Beer People

called Heavy Melon. I pulled beer after beer after beer. I kept seeing friends of mine but they couldn’t see me in the shadow of the tent. Also, I had my back to the customers about half the time. I only spotted one person I know, Chris, who ironically I rarely recognize while out on a bike.

After 2  1/2 hours of dishing suds, I ha
d a chance to enjoy the festivities. I ran into Brian. While we were talking, a friend of Katie L’s walked past. I yelled “Lyndsey” two times. She didn’t react at all. Okay, come to a party and be antisocial. Seconds later I remembered her name is Lauren.

Doh!

How ironic that it was Katie L. herself who told me to get my fusiform gyrus checked out. I gotta get on that.

Over the course of the event, I saw or had discussions with over a dozen friends: Kathy, Katie L. and her friend Mike, Lauren, Dave and Jean, Katie B. (whom I haven’t seen in ages) and her brother Michael and boyfriend John, Darren,  Jeff (but not Sam), Ricky (who is back on his bike after being hit by a car a couple of months ago), and a bunch of WABA people (Greg, Katie H., Nelle, Michelle, and Colin).

I had a great time but my energy level wasn’t really back up to full power yet so I left a little early. The ride back to L’Enfant was a tad grungy but uneventful.

Thanks so much to the hard work of the folks who put this on, to the volunteers, to the performers, and the people who showed up despite the forecast.

Very special thanks to Michelle Cleveland, WABA’s event director, who worked her tail off and stressed out mightily over the weather. You done good. Again. As always.

Bike to Work Day 2016

I did not feel very good when I woke up but I decided to ride to work anyway. It was Bike to Work Day, after all. Slowly.

I poked along, coughing fits one mile, calm breathing the next. I rolled into the Alexandria Pir Stop at City Hall Plaza in Old Town. I saw Reba, Ed #1, and Kathy chatting and took their picture. Jonathan was reading off raffle winners. And Reba won something, something

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Ed, Reba, and Kathy

Monaco. Holy cow! Then we heard him repeat the prize:  one night at the Hotel Monaco in Old Town. So Reba’s dreams of being a Bond girl went up in smoke. Truth be told, it’s a pretty darn nice prize.

Onward to Rosslyn. I was a bit surprised that the bike commuter traffic was so normal. Then at the north end of Old Town, I convoy of women on bikes, suspiciously without panniers or backpacks made a turn across my path. I followed them. In the course of a short conversation with one of the riders, I learned it was a tour group of ten women, aged 50 and above, who started riding in St. Augustine, Florida. They were taking a couple of rest days to see the DC sights before continuing on: destination Bar Harbor, Maine. They were traveling with a company called Women Tours.

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Bike Train to Maine

Soon they left me behind and I continued northward. On one of the flyover bridges at National Airport an on coming cyclists caught my eye. Short blazing red hair and distinctive panniers with a pattern on them and pronounced handles sticking straight up. It was Ultrarunnergirl, who never seems to come to Virginia on her bike. I started waving like and idiot and she went to give me a high five but, me having absolutely no cool, didn’t even make a decent attempt.

Fail.

On I rode to Rosslyn as the volume of bike commuters picked up (i.e. blew by me). Two Lance Mamilots came roaring down the trail swerving among the bike commuters, many of whom may have been first timers. My only words to the Lances is that you are self absorb asses and it’s riders like you that put off people who want to ride to work safely.

I somehow made it up the Rosslyn hill into the Rosslyn pit stop. There I ran I

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Nelle

nto WABA‘s Nelle (she’s the awesome Deputy Director) and ever jovial Dana who gave me my BTWD shirt. I won a water bottle then grabbed another from a couple of other tables. One was from Bruce Deming who specializes in personal injury cases involving bicyclists. I talked about two cases involving contributory negligence, one that allowed the victim to make a claim, the other (a fatality) that left the victim’s survivors with nothing but memories.

I had three cups of Java Shack coffee, the first coffee I had had since Sunday. They made me feel euphoric. I rode the sidewalk to the office and in my hyper attentive state avoided being hit by a red light runner at 19th and Lynn. I yelled at him to no avail.

The bike room at work had 2 bikes when I arrived. Lame. Two co-workers came in a few minutes later, but didn’t sign up for Bike to Work Day. Seriously. If free and convenient is not enough, I don’t know what is.

At 11 am the coffee wore off and I powered down like the robot on Lost in Space. Thud. Another cup had little effect. Lunch revived me somewhat and, after work, I headed to NE DC to pick up my packet for Sunday’s DC Bike Ride. I met Ed #1 again. He gets around. Then Nelle, again. We’ve run into each other four times in the last two weeks. People are starting to talk. (“Nelle, who is that creepy old dude?” People can be mean.)

I ran into Charmaine who I haven’t seen since our North Carolina bike adventure two years ago. We sat and chatted for over a half hour allowing me to recover from the 18 or so miles I had already ridden.

I also briefly ran into Ed #2, and Ted and Jean, who are Friday Coffee Clubbers.

I had a token for a free beer but nobody wanted it, even a stranger I approached. All my beer drinking #bikedc friends were probably at BTWD happy hours.

I left at 6:30 headed for home, deliberately going so slow I was annoying myself. I made it home after 8 pm through dozens of clouds of midges. I was covered with the darn things.

Tomorrow I get up and work the East Beer booth at the Tour de Fat event. Unfortunately the weather forecast calls for rain. I will do my best to present a cheery face. Instead of riding to the event, I’ll be driving to my wife’s office a mile away and ride from there.

Super big thanks to all the people who got up early and worked on behalf of #bikedc. You done good. Special thanks to Nelle who put in a monster day, working two events.

 

 

 

 

 

Bike to Work Week: 0-4

I feel completely pathetic. I thought for sure I’d feel up to riding to work today. Last night at 4 I felt great. So great in fact that I went to the Tour de Fat Volunteers Party. I hung out with a bunch of friends and drank a few beers, staying with the lowest alcohol ones on the menu.

When I got home I watched the end of the Nats game (We win!) and went to bed. I felt totally fine.

I woke up feeling like I had regressed a day. So I worked from home, spending half the day on the deck with my assistant who I found hiding in the deck umbrella:

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At 5 I rode Little Nellie to the hardware and drug stores. Seed for the birds and a rinse gizmo for my sinuses. The ride there was a bit of a slog. The ride home was nearly normal, until I got to the slight up-slope on my front long and my legs said “Nope. Not gonna happen.” I’ll have to keep this in mind for my ascent of Mt. Rosslyn in the morning.

I don’t care what I feel like tomorrow. I will ride to work. After work I’ll ride to pick up my packet for Sunday’s DCBikeRide. On Saturday I am volunteering at the Tour de Fat event. The weather forecast calls for cold rain all day. My only concession to the rain will be that I’ll drive to someplace near DC and bike to the event from there. Same goes for Sunday.

 

 

 

 

My Brain’s Infected, I Swear

I had difficulty sleeping last night. The antibiotics are taking their time to kick in. Coughing and blowing my nose was the rule of the wee morning hours. Finally I got out of bed, if only to give Mrs. Rootchopper some peace. I ended up in my comfy chair and was soon fast asleep for four hours.

Feeling okay, I asked to be allowed to work from home. Then I made breakfast. Cereal. Man, this tastes funny.  These meds are messing with my sense of taste. Needing calories, I ate the whole thing. A few hours later, I checked the milk. Ten days past its sell date and sour.

Later in the day I exchanged emails with my friend Katie, who is a pretty strict vegan. We are both volunteering for Tour de Fat on Saturday. It’s an outdoor fundraiser for local bike advocacy groups.The forecast is calling for cold rain. I told Katie to wear wool.

The infection has done spread to my brain, Augustus. I swear.

 

 

Day 3 -Sleep, Drugs Repeat

Since I nearly died (or didn’t as the case may be), I have been taking sick days from work. So far just Monday and Tuesday. I briefly considered working from home today. Then, after taking my meds, I sat down in my comfy chair and fell asleep until noon. I woke up with a “where am I” feeling. Groggy.

I am currently taking  a cocktail of medications. Prescription strength doses of Advil for pain, Advair for my asthma, Flonase for my sinuses, Zithromax for the infection, albuterol to quiet my airways.

I am coughing a lot and, for the first time in a week, mucus is coming up (sorry, gross!). Unlike last week, it’s dark, a telltale sign of infection. I am hoping to be well enough to get on my bike tomorrow and ride to work but my rule is if I am too sick to ride, I am too sick to be in the office. Taking two sick days in a row is extremely rare and messes with my pride.

The ER doctor and the EMTs both remarked on my cardiovascular condition. I imagine most overweight 60 year olds with a lung infection on top of asthma are a real mess. My vitals signs, despite my obvious physical distress were normal. (“We have a boring patient in bay 13.”) Actually, they are normal for an average bloke; both my blood pressure and my pulse were on the high side for me. (My dad was a physician. He did my pre-grad school physical one year. He took my pulse three times. Each time he got 48. I had to explain to him that running does that.)

So athletic friends it’s a good idea to tell you doctor that you bike or run or hike a whole bunch.

On second thought, I probably carried this infection for quiet a while and my strong heart and lungs compensated for it. Sunday night they raised the white flag and I went down for a nine count.

I never lost consciousness. The pain never went anywhere near my heart. In fact, the pain has all but disappeared now.

So I am going to curl up with a soft pillow and a snuggie and “enjoy” my sick day. And if you think for one minute that I am not riding on Bike to Work Day, you’re nuts. Gonna get it done.

My apologies to my kids overseas for posting ER pictures on social media and freaking them out. Now you know a little bit of what it’s like to be a parent.

My extreme thanks to all those of you who have sent me good wishes on social media. For those of you who have my phone number, please don’t call. I need to sleep.

And to all of you, get out there and ride. It’s Bike to Work Week!

 

Anytime

“I could go at anytime. There’s nothing safe about this life.” (Neil Finn, Anytime).

After yesterday’s sight seeing ride, I spent about two hours on the deck in the sun. Then I went to a concert at the Birchmere. Sweet Honey in the Rock was very entertaining. Four vocalists and an ASL singer with a bassist in the background. I say ASL singer because she was an integral part of the performance. At one point she signed a duet with a vocalist. It was really fascinating and a blast to watch. There seemed to be several deaf people in the audience and lots of deaf clapping at the end of songs.

We arrived home at 10. As I readied for bed I felt kind of worn out from being in the sun and the concert. I went to bed and couldn’t get comfortable. At about 1 am, I had a sharp pain in my upper right chest when I rolled over. For 15 minutes I waited, breathed as calmly as I could, and hoped it would go away. No luck.

I have had bronchitis – by my own diagnosis – for weeks and when I started to cough the dagger pain in my chest got much worse. Since I couldn’t sleep, I got out of bed and did the Sunday crossword .When I stood up afterwards, the pain came back. I googled “heart attack symptoms.” I didn’t seem to be having one but there are always tales of heart attacks that defy the norms. I recalled how a former co-worker of mine ignored his chest pain and flew to a conference. He deplaned to transfer at an airport in North Carolina. He didn’t make the connecting flight.

I took three baby aspirin, waited another 20 minutes, then went back to bed. Then the daggers came back in waves as I tried to lie down. My mind raced. I have so many things on tap for the next three weeks! This can’t be happening! The google search said, “Don’t drive to the ER. Call 911. That will get you immediate care and let you skip the screening at the ER desk.”

This last dagger caused me to yelp. Mrs. Rootchopper immediately awoke (how she slept through the earlier bits I’ll never know). Rolled over and called 911. I dressed and went downstairs. As I was putting on my sandals, the EMTs arrived in 2 – 3 minutes. It pays to live a half mile from the fire station.

Once in the ambulance I was poked and cuffed and scanned. My brain started recalling the near panic attack I had the only other time I rode in an ambulance. I felt like the world was spinning out of control.

“Everything is in the balance of a moment I can’t control.” (Neil Finn, Anytime).

I felt like crying, then I took a couple of deep breaths and calmed down. This is the best place in the world for me at this moment. Just go with it. For the rest of the ride I was joking with the crew.

At theIMG_0031 ER (Inova Mount Vernon Hospital) I was given a second EKG (the EMTs gave me one on the way). I had blood drawn. The news was that I had no sign of a heart attack or pneumonia. In fact my cardio vascular signs were pretty darn good. My white blood cell level was elevated and it was obvious that I was breathing and talking softly. The diagnosis was that one of my coughing fits caused an internal injury and that my bronchitis, as long lasting as it has been, was probably caused by an infection. I was hooked up to a nebulizer which made my lungs feel great. Then sent home with only minor lingering discomfort.
I took three Advils for breakfast and fell sound asleep at 7 am. Four hours later I woke up and got out of bed without the daggers. I ate some antibiotics and some healthful donuts.

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So began Bike to Work Week with a DNS (did not start) on my dance card. At least I missed out on the near-record low temperatures and biting headwind.

“Fear is so contagious, but I’m not afraid to laugh.” (Neil Finn, Anytime).