March Right Outta Here

March is over. FINALLY!

It wasn’t a very productive month for cycling, mostly for family-related reasons. Also, I wimped out when I thought that the Mount Vernon Trail would be too slippery for safe riding.

I rode 434 miles, 312 on Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent. The remaining 122 were on Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist. I have yet to ride The Mule this year.  The Mule is tanned, rested and ready.

I only did 15 rides this month. Ten were commutes (8 on Big Nellie and 2 on Little Nellie). The remaining rides ranged from a short 2 ½ mile trip to the hardware store and a 56 ½ mile to the bagel store (in Bethesda).  We could really use a decent bagel store in Mount Vernon. Of course, even with a bagel store, we wouldn’t have a railroad trestle above an urban canyon to hang out on while we ate, but you can’t have everything.

The big highlight of the month was the Vasa ride on Saint Patrick’s Day. (Did you know that Saint Patrick drove all the snakes out of Stockholm?) I did most of that ride with Lisa, who has become a regular ride partner these days.

Big Nellie reached a milestone late in the month, hitting 32,000 miles on the odometer. Little Nellie will probably never catch her two siblings who are slugging it out to reach 33,000 miles this year.  I expect to hit 10,000 miles on Little Nellie later this spring so that’s not half bad.

My mileage for the year is 1515, or 505 miles per month. April will be another month of intermittent commuting. I have a bunch of lacrosse games to attend and a school musical. (My daughter is a busy second-semester senior in high school.)

The highlight of April will almost certainly come this week when the cherry blossoms finally bloom. And there is no better way to see them than on a bike.

Advertisements

A Sure Sign of Spring

After a week off the bike, I was dying to get outside on a warm-ish spring day. So I headed to DC to check out the cherry blossoms. I figured with the nice weather I’d probably run into some of my new bike buddies. Six miles from home, Ted and Jean came rolling by. Jean didn’t spot me and kept riding but Ted turned around and we talked for several minutes, as Jean faded into the distance.

After our chat, I rolled northward through hoards of tourists in Old Town Alexandria. On bike touristy days, the Mount Vernon Trail is usually a nightmare of clueless out-of-towners riding painfully slowly, stopping in the middle of the trail or doing button hooks. Today was not so bad. I made it to DC on Little Nellie in about an hour.

At Gravelley Point I spotted the first sign of spring: a bike tourist on her way up the coast. The Mount Vernon Trail is part of US Bicycle Route 1, the Eastcoast Greenway and Adventure Cycling’s Atlantic Coast and Potomac Highlands routes. Bike tourists are always interesting to talk with and Courtney was no exception. She’s on her way from Charleston SC to Maine where she will begin a J-O-B. (How we hate that word!)  Good lick Courtney. Great talking with you.

Courtney the Bike Tourist - Take Me With You!!!!!
Courtney the Bike Tourist – Take Me With You!!!!!

While talking with Courtney I looked across the Potomac River and I could see that the cherry blossoms were not yet in bloom. I rode to DC anyway to check out the scene. The city was SWARMING with tourists!!!!  In addition to people wandering around the Tidal Basin in a vain search for a white bloom, there were mobs of people wanding the National Mall where the annual kite festival was going on. The crowds were no doubt made bigger by the fact that March Madness is residing at the Verizon Center just a few blocks north of the mall. It amazes me that people actually drive their cars to the mall on a day like today. I followed a car with Louisiana plates for the better part of a mile along the mall. Dude, dump the car. It’s useless!

After dodging my 1,233rd tourist, I got in line with a Segway tour and made an escape on 14th Street. Once over the bridge, I was treated to a tailwind on the Mount Vernon Trail. I saw a woman on a bike with her handlebar basket over flowing with flowers. It’s Easter weekend or she’s got a hot date. Or maybe she’s biking to a wake. Who knows.

Not far from where I saw them earlier, I came upon Ted and Jean again. We stopped and chatted across the Parkway from the Belle Haven bald eagle nest. As we did, Ted spotted a red tailed hawk in a nearby tree. The bird took to the wing and gave us a nice show. Jean showed off her new bike, a red Specialized beauty. Bike envy!!!

Shortly after seeing Ted and Jean I left the Mount Vernon Trail and headed up the Park Terrace hill. A man wearing bunny ears was posing for a photo with his kids in their front yard. He asked me if I was going to make it to the top of the hill and I said I was (I wasn’t even out of breath). I don’t think he realized how silly he looked with the ears on his head.

I stopped at Sherwood Hall Gourmet to pick up a Gary’s Lunchbox, my favorite sammich. After lunch, I changed the rear tube on Little Nellie. My rear tube has had a slow leak for over a month. I pulled the tube out, inflated it, and tried to find the leak. No dice. I spent 15 minutes listening and running my hand over the tube. I gave up and put a new tube in. I suspect the old one has a leaky valve.

Another sign of spring is yardwork. I spent 2 hours after lunch pulling purple weeds out of my gardens beds and my lawn.  Even with annoying yard work, spring is way better than winter.

Some more pix of the day’s events here.

Bulldogs, Windmills, and Cranes

After less than a day at home to catch our breath, Lily and I, joined this time by Gin, headed by car to Indianapolis to visit Butler University. The drive is long but not very stressful. We left just before sunset and ended up driving I-68 through the mountains. There was still plenty of snow on the ground and an occassional light snow fall as we drove. A couple of times we drove through snow devils, swirls of snow that engulfed the car for a few seconds.

We crashed at a hotel in Morgantown WV. Then as we left I suggested breakfast at Shoney’s, saying that since we were in West Virginia we had to be within a mile of one. And sure enough, we were.

We drove I70 west from Little Washington PA to Indianapolis. The first 100 miles we were driving parallel to the route I took across Ohio in 2003 and 2005 on a couple of bike tours. Just seeing the names of Belmont, Bethesda, Quaker City, Cambridge, Zanesville and Newark brought back all kinds of memories.

After checking into a hotel on the outskirts of Indy and finding nowhere to eat nearby we drove downtown and were all really excited to see plenty of places to eat. We ate at a Rock Bottom Brewery then called it a night.

Thursday, we took a tour of Butler University, a rare mediun sized school, located in a neighborhood of upscale and architecturally diverse homes.  In retrospect, the school and the neighborhood reminded me of Boston College.

We drove from Butler to the Broad Ripple neighborhood which has several quaint restaurants. We ate at a pub (they had the English football league standings on a tote board near the front door). The vittles were fine.

I didn’t expect much from Indianapolis, but I came away thinking that I could actually enjoy living there. They have a huge bike commuter station in the heart of downtown. There’s also a cycle track that we happened upon that is really top rate. And Butler apparently has its own bike share operation. And did I mention that bike commuters get to ride on a pool table? Yeah, I could handle riding to work in Indy.

Butler Bike Share

After lunch we headed north to the booming metropolis of North Judson. In its day, it was a railroad town. Its day is no more. We went there to visit my in-laws who live on a farm of sorts outside of town. I say “of sorts” because there are no crops or livestock.  It’s a house on a big ole piece of sandy land. It takes 4 days to cut the grass.

My mother in law took us to a nature preserve nearby where we were to see some sand hill cranes. There is a running joke in our family that sand hill cranes don’t exists because every time we’ve been taken to see them, there are none to be found. This time was different. There were a few hundred cranes off in the distance in a field. We saw them fly and walk about looking like extras from Jurassic Park.

We went out to dinner at a restaurant in a town called Toto, after which the Oz dog was named. The next morinng we we check out the birds that my in-laws have in their yard. The trick apparently is to use a dozen feeders with different feed in each one.  After hanging out we left at noon, driving straight through to home. It took about 13 hours door to door. Not a lot of fun. I did learn that eating Chex Mix when you are dead tired will boost your blood sugar enough to keep you from driving into a ditch. Vanilla Oreos are not nearly as effective because after an initial blood sugar boost, you get an insulin crash.  Then you have to eat more cookies, soon becoming a cookieholic.

I don’t know if my daughter will be a Bulldog or a Tiger next fall, but at least she had the chance this week to kick the tires of two universities that had the good sense of accepting her.

You can check out some pix of our adventure here.

A Quick Trip to San Antonio

My daughter Lily and I headed to San Antonio this weekend. The primary purpose of the trip was to attend Trinity University’s accepted student’s day. We stayed for a couple more days to enjoy the warm weather. (More on that in a bit.)

We flew down out of National Airport on Air Tran. We had a connecting flight through Atlanta so we hoped for no delays. Air Tran was recently bought by Southwest. My hope is that Southwest assimilates Air Tran soon. The terminal at National had all the ambiance of the Back Bay bus depot in Boston in the 1970s.  Totally disorganized and overcrowded.

Both Air Tran planes had absolutely no leg room.  I’d have gladly paid an extra $20 per ticket not to have my knees smashed for 4 or 5 hours or having my back kicked by the brat sitting in the row behind me. Our return flight on basically the same aircraft on Southwest had plenty of leg room. The large man sitting next to me from Atlanta to San Antonio was a regular Southwest flyer who had inadvertently booked himself of our Air Tran flight. He flew curled up in a ball. He was pissed.

Once in San Antonio we took a cab to the Drury Plaza Hotel on the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. San Antonio has an astounding number of large hotels. Restaurants and watering holes line the sides of the Riverwalk, which is packed with people. We arrived at the hotel a little after 11 CDT. And crashed.

Up early in the morning, we ate a big complimentary breakfast at the hotel and taxied to Trinity to partake in a daylong event. We took a walking tour of campus, attended information sessions, met with faculty members from four departments, and took a demonstration version of a freshman humanities seminar. The whole event was very well organized and well worth the trip.

Every college (and we’ve probably seen 3 dozen in the last 5 years) has its pluses and minuses. And its oddities such as Trinity’s outdoor flight of stairs that is about two stories tall. They call it cardiac hill. Maybe it’s difficult in the heat of the summer, but it doesn’t hold a candle to any part of Lehigh’s campus or to College Hill in Providence which once held the X Games street luge competition.

To be fair, Trinity has a lot going for it. Most of the kids we interacted with are serious and articulate. The dorms are pretty darned nice. The folks from the Education program could not have been more impressive. And the Humanities seminar was not for the faint of brain.

After our day of higher education, we cabbed back to the hotel. The Drury Plaza is in a converted bank building. The lobby is a couple of stories tall with a beautiful large stained glass window and wall art from the depression that knocked me out.  Some of the old bank vaults are on display in the basement. We stayed on the fifth floor which looked a bit like it could have been used in the old 1950s Superman show. Our room was plenty big enough.

We spent the night on the Riverwalk, taking in the obligatory boat tour and ending the night with surprisingly good gelatto.

We had Sunday to ourselves so we walked over to the Alamo. The modern downtown has been build up around the shrine. From watching movies of the famous siege, you’d think it was a big fort but it’s actually quite tiny. A few years ago on a business trip to Dallas, I toured Dealey Plaza. I had the same impression. Not everything is big in Texas. (After visiting Dealey Plaza, I wondered how the heck anybody could say that it was impossible for one man to have carried out the assassination. It looks much, much bigger on film.)

After the Alamo, we hoofed it south out of downtown. I tried to convince Lily to use bike share but she wanted nothing to do with it. In fact, I only saw a couple of bike share bikes in use during our three day stay. This strikes me as odd since San Antonio looks pool-table flat to me.  After almost I mile we arrived at Rosario’s, a local Tex Mex eatery. The tables and chairs look like they were bought from a diner in the 1960s, but don’t judge this book by its cover. The food was out of this world. We had chicken tortilla soup,chicken fajitas, and fish tacos. Also, because one of our cabbies gave us a coupon, we also had a little appetizer that was two soft flour tortillas with cheese, beans, and a dab of salsa on top. Suffice it to say we waddled back to downtown with full bellies and smiles on our faces.

It was colder than we expected during our stay with strong winds and  temperatures barely making it into the 60s by late afternoon. We opted to crash in the hotel room at night and watched The Descendants, One Day, and The Fighter on TV.  Good movies all.

On Monday we slept in. We spent an hour at the modest San Fernando Cathedral. The remains of some of the Alamo’s defenders are interred in one of the Cathedral’s chapels.  We admired 13 small ornate sculptures hung from the perimeters on the inside of the Cathedral.  These are used for a ritual called the Stations of the Cross, which I remember from my altar boy days. A statue of the crucified Jesus in Mary’s arm was situated near a wall. The statue was painted or stained in some way, but the color had been worn off where the faithful had laid their hands on Jesus.

I always feel a bit uncomfortable touring Catholic churches such as this when there are people scattered among the pews praying.  We didn’t linger.

After leaving the cathedral we headed back to Rosario’s for lunch. We had had a bland Italian meal on the Riverwalk on Sunday night and decided the mile walk away from the tourist traps was well worth it. This time I had Lisa’s Special which included cheese enchiladas and chicken fajitas. Lily tried the Enchiladas Mexicanas. Lily and I agreed that her meal was okay, but paled in comparison to the other dishes we had tried. Lily’s food would have been a stand out dish at just about any other Mexican restaurant I’ve been to.  After only two trips, we had become Tex Mex food snobs!

We walked back to our hotel and waited for a cab. Our taxi to the airport took 15 minutes. Our flight home on Southwest was a direct one into BWI. Every seat on the plane was filled. We left late and arrived early. As we landed, we could see snow on the ground. It was near freezing outside. San Antonio didn’t seem cold anymore.

Pix of the trip can be found on my Flickr page.

Overrated

It’s the first day of spring, or so I am told.  On went the shorts, then the wind pants, the base layer, the holey sweater, the wind breaker, the thick wool socks, the overboots, the watch cap, the buff, the glove liners and the mittens. Not exactly tanning weather.

I haven’t ridden to work in a few days. Sunday’s ride aboard Little Nellie strained my lower back and my left knee. I am starting to worry that my left knee may be crying out for medical intervention. I hurt it playing volleyball over 25 years ago and have managed to avoid the knife. Let’s hope this is only the strain of a hilly ride at the end of a 190-mile week.

All bundled up, I hopped on Big Nellie and headed out. I had my headlight on but only for a couple of miles. Soon I can put it in the bottom of my panniers for 6 months.

The Mount Vernon Trail was deserted. I think people are staying inside to protest the cold weather. I plodded along with my knee yelling at me. “Oh, shut up, I’m going to get another 60,000 miles out of you.”

A bald eagle, all puffed up, stood guard over the Belle Haven nest. I crossed the creek bridge near Porto Vecchio and saw something make a splash in the water below. I wonder if it’s a jumping fish or a snapping turtle. It happens whenever the water is at a certain level.

The ride in was uneventful. As the sun rose, I could feel its warmth on the right side of my body. Bring it on.

After 8 hours of working for the man, I headed back the way I came. I passed Bob (Don’t Call Me Rachel) Cannon and he gave me the peace sign. I gave him one back but it looked like a “How!” with my mittens on.

Later a tall brunette woman jogged past and gave me a wave and a big smile. I think she was on a bike the other day and did the same thing. She probably has the hots for all middle aged men dressed like a hobo riding a lawn chair. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Later a cyclists rode passed me and said “Hi, John.” I have no idea who it was. I was in my trance. Pedal, pedal, Om.

People seemed awfully cheery tonight. The evening temperature was a touch above 50 degrees. I actually unzipped my jacket to cool off.  I was riding into a headwind the whole way home. Planes should have been taking off in my direction but they were going the opposite way. I must have imagined the headwind.  After Gravelly Point , a biggish passenger jet, probably an Airbus of some sort, took from the secondary runway right over the trail and the parkway. Dang,

As I made my way south of Old Town, I spotted a big osprey in a tree next to the river. He was facing away from the river, toward the trail. He looked like he had just swallowed something that didn’t agree with him. Do ospreys eat Tums?

After that profound thought, I faded into another trance and om’ed my way home. It was still light out when I arrived.

And so passed the first day of Spring. It supposed to be 90 in San Antonio on Saturday. I’ll be there with my daughter. Enough of this nonsense. Let’s get some heat!

Springtime in Sweden

Today was the first event of my 2013 riding calendar. Each year the Washington Area Bicycling Association and the Swedish Embassy get together to hold the Vasa ride.  In Sweden, them crazy Swedes hold a really long cross country skiing event called the Vasaloppet. Thousands of Swedes, nearly crippled by cabin fever, go skiing for hours and hours. Somehow, like chocolate and peanut butter, WABA and the HofS decided to merge the Vasaloppet concept with bicycling and, voila (sorry, don’t know any Swedish), a ride was born.

The Vasa event is held in March, because Swedes don’t give a damn about cold weather. This helps keep the number of participants in the Vasa ride down. Still we had several hundred folks doing one of the 3 rides. There’s the full Vasa of 59 miles. Then there’s the Halv Vasa of 31 miles, and finally there’s the Kort Vasa of 16 miles. (Swedes ain’t so hot at fractions apparently, but we at the Rootchopper Institute of Anal Retentive Arithmetic are a forgiving lot.)

At the end of the ride, the HofS gives riders hot blueberry soup. It’s actually pretty tasty, buy I wouldn’t want to drink it every day.

The infamous Friday Coffee Club came out in great numbers, a few even brought along their significant others. You can tell it’s true love when your partner will ride 30 or 60 miles in the cold for a cup of blue soup and your company.

Temperatures were around 40 degrees and winds were light. At 8 a.m. a gaggle of FCCers took off with the Full Vasa riders. Our group included Mary and Ed on their amazing Co-Motion tandem, Ryan, Aaron, Will, Shawn, and Lisa. Leslie, another FCCer, was riding as a ride marshall. Thanks for volunteering, Leslie.

Lisa is now the official riding buddy of this blog. We’ve done five or six rides together in the past year and she hasn’t cussed me out once yet. (She shows remarkable restraint.)  The last official riding buddy of this blog was run over by a pick up truck, so, Lisa, watch your back. Although I didn’t see them during the ride, Shawn and Will were also in the Full Vasa pack as we headed out.

The ride went out the Capital Crescent Trail, crossed over to MacArthur Boulevard and headed to Potomac Maryland. At Potomac Village we stopped to chat with Megan and Katie, two WABA people who were giving out drinks and maintaining good cheer despite standing in the cold all morning.

At this point, Lisa and I made the executive decision to turn around while the rest of the group forged on. Their plan was to do a 3 Kort Vasa, the full ride less a portion in Rock Creek Park.  Lisa and I had fun riding back despite feeling a  bit chilly.

Back at the HofS, we met up with Dave, another FCCer who had ridden the Kort ride with Jean, his wife. Jean did the ride despite disintegrating riding slacks, a recent purchase gone sadly wrong. I am sure she will get her money back.

While at the HofC we met up with Rachel and Kate, FCC regulars, and their partner in cycling crime, Katie Ann. Other FCCers we met up with at the HofS included Crystal, John and Kate, and Justin and his wife, whose name escapes me. (This has been a problem of late. I mixed up Kevin with Ben, another FCCer, at the start. I may have to up my coffee consumption.)

The Rootchopper Institute would like to thank the House of Sweden and WABA for putting on this event. I’d list all the names of the WABA peeps who got up super early to pull this shindig off, buy I’d miss a few names (see previous paragraph). Special thanks go to Alex, who managed to take pix with an SLR, tweet on her phone, and use a megaphone in the same morning.  Her stirring pre-ride safety speech was beyond compare. And also to Megan who was standing in the cold at the Potomac Village rest stop with Katie despite having run a half marathon yesterday and getting only 3 hours of sleep.

As usual, the only thing that could have made this a better ride was warm sunshine and more FCCers. These folks are a joy to ride with.

Mary, Ed, Lisa, and I took pictures. You can check them out here, here, here, and here. WABA’s pix are here.

Big Nellie Turns 32,000

I hadn’t planned on riding at all today but the weather was so nice, I couldn’t help myself. I took Big Nellie, my Tour East recumbent, down to Mount Vernon with a quick loop around Fort Hunt Park. In my travels I got a good bead on the Fort Hunt bald eagle nest. It’s easily the biggest one around.

On the way back home, I stopped to take a picture.

Big Nellie Turns 32

Big Nellie finally made it. Now she’s only 400 or so miles behind The Mule, my Specialized Sequoia.

Friday on My MInd

Can you say “It’s Friday” and not smile? I can’t.

I headed out in the dark aboard Big Nellie. I made the Park Terrace descent at high speed and crossed the Parkway without having to stop for the second day in a row. I hit the Mount Vernon Trail at 17 miles per hour with a smile on my face.

I was hoping to see bald eagles, because they tend to be out and about at sunrise.  I was rewarded for my early departure with two eagles. The first was perched on a branch above the Belle Haven nest.  I am pretty sure it was a male, because he looked very big. The second was on the wing near Daingerfield Island between Old Town and National Airport.  This is an unusual place to see eagles so it was an extra bonus. Riding a recumbent is advantageous in this regard, because of the heads-up riding position.

Just before the second bald eagle, I had a Nancy Duley siting. Normally we pass on Union Street, but my early departure moved today’s passing to the beaver marsh north of Slaters Lane. She later said that I made her think she was late.  I like to mess with people’s minds. I saw French Braid Rider, one of my regulars, well north of our normal passing point. She had a concerned look on her face. I’ll bet she thought she was late too.

A light tailwind made the ride honest, but workaday, which is appropriate because it is a work day after all.  I came off the second fly over bridge at the airport with an impressive head of steam, maxing out at 25 miles per hour. I passed the airport fence where it juts out into the trail and there was a small executive jet right above me. It was coming in for a landing on the secondary runway. It’s creepy how they seem to appear out of nowhere.

After I passed under the flight path to the main runway, a 737 landed. A few seconds later a black duck flew from the river into the plane’s air wake. He went haywire, looking as if he had hit an invisible wall. It was like something out of a cartoon. He somehow gathered himself midair, turned, and hightailed it back to the river where the air was calm.

On the way to Friday Coffee Club, I nearly clipped the concrete base of a wrought iron fence at 15th and Constitution. I had to rein in Big Nellie. Whoa, Nellie. I met up with famous local blogger, bike commuter, and curmudgeon Brian in front of the White House. We chatted until we tied up our steeds outside Swings Coffee Saloon.

Friday Coffee Club was crowded, mostly with people I don’t know.  Even so, I had lively conversations with seven or eight people. When warm weather comes, we will definitely have to  move the group outside.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rootchopper/8561386658/in/photostream

(Please note that WordPress refused to embed the photo of the Friday Coffee Club, even when I used html. What lovely software.)

After FCC, I rode past the wooden elks at the Kennedy Center and across the TR Bridge to Rosslyn. The trip up Lynn Street through the Rosslyn Circle of Death was a challenge. At the I-66 off ramp, a white SUV trying to make a right turn on red blocked my access to the crosswalk.  I yelled to get the driver’s attention since she was looking away from me to see if she could turn. She didn’t hear me. So then I really hollered.  She looked at me from her perch behind the wheel with derision as I rolled in front of her grill. I yelled “Get out of the crosswalk” to her and she honked at me. I’m just trying to keep you from putting me in the ER or the grave, you incompetent, scofflaw dipstick.

A block later I watched as two cars coming down Lee Highway ran the red light on Lynn Street to get onto the I-66 ramp. Don’t mind the rest of us. Getting to the office one minute quicker is far more important than anybody else’s lives.

Another block later at 19th Street, a shuttle with a U.S. Forest Service decal on the side, pulled into the crosswalk on red.  I yelled at the driver who was looking the other way. He couldn’t hear me. Rather than take a chance that he would execute his turn while I was in the crosswalk in front of him,  I stopped. Instead of turning, he waited for the green light. Better safe than roadkill. Still four dangerous driving incidents in a quarter mile is ridiculous.

Once I reached the far side of 19th Street, I encountered the Vamoose bus crowd. Arlington lets intercity bus operators to use the corner of Lynn and 19th as a bus terminal. The Vamoose employee had his back to me when he waved the soon-to-be passengers across the sidewalk in front of me. I duck walked through the crowd. Yabba dabba do.

When I got to the parking garage, I knelt and kissed the ground. I cheated Rosslyn once more.

I rode home into a headwind. I won. No one tried to run me over. I won again.

Tomorrow I rest. Sunday I ride for soup. It’s a Swedish thing.

Blow Me Down

Har. The wind she was a blowin’, My timbers were shivering. Big Nellie was squawking. We rode to work anyway.

I could tell the headwind was bad when I rode down the Park Terrace hill and could barely make 30 miles per hour. I mean, cars were gaining on me!  It was humiliating.  I timed my arrival at the GW Parkway crossing perfectly and made it to the Mount Vernon Trail without slowing. (Technically this is illegal, but it’s definitely safer than waiting around for a speeding car to run me over.)

The ride in had little wildlife other than Nancy Duley who appeared on Union Street in Old Town.  More than half the time I encounter her is in a two block section of Union Street. I am begining to think she is tracjing me with GPS or something.

I fought the wind and the wind won. I fought the wind and the wind won.

Across from the Washington Monument a bald eagle cruised over my head.  It was positively ‘merican, I tell you.

I was hoping for a tailwind on the way home. I got a swirling, whirling vortex instead. Just getting out of Rosslyn took serious skill.  I’d get hit head on with a gust, then from the side, then the rear. I was worried I’d get yanked into the path of a car. The taxis blocking the bike lane didn’t help at all. I yelled at one as I passed just to make sure he saw me.

The first few miles on the Mount Vernon Trail went by fast, except for the brif slowdown to get through a gaggle of lethargic geese. I rang my bell and one goose just wasn’t interested in getting out of the way. Then it turned and flapped its wings once and waddled out of the way. I wonder if it was an expectant momma goose. 

The rest of the ride was ride of the mill. A few geese here and there. A mallard or two.

Normally, I use this blog to vent my spleen about jerks on the trail or on the street, but other than the taxis in Rosslyn, today was jerk free. In fact, more than half of the people passing me this morning said “hello”. 

Two young women separately riding upright bikes gave me big smiles as they passed me from the front. They must have been taken my raw sex appeal and innate charm.  Or, possibly, they thought I looked exceptionally stupid dressed like a hobo, riding a faired recumbent that was being blown all over the trail. 

 

Tailwinds and Beavers

We were sucked in by the warm weather over the weekend. Suddenly, it’s cold again. The holey sweater was put back into service this morning. Light winds made the ride in reasonably pleasant. I can’t get enough of the daylight.  I barely use my headlight any more.

I was a little worried that the bridges on the Mount Vernon Trail might be icy, but this turned out to be no problem. I picked Big Nellie under the assumption that it would be a dry day. No eagles or ospreys. I rode by a pair of Canada geese that were waddling next to the trail in Belle Haven Park. One of the geese was facing the trail. As I approached, he opened his mouth soundlessly. Then he flapped his wings. It looked like he was yawning and stretching. Get this goose some coffee, stat!

Bike commuters seem to be a generally good mood these days. When they pass me (they almost always pass me, not the other way around), they give a greeting with their warning.  Top of the morning to you, too.

When I arrived at the office, I pulled out my phone and saw that I had a message. Friend of the blog, Friday Coffee Clubber, and fellow resident of Hybla Valley, Reba, had sent me a movie. It was of three beavers (or, possibly, muskrats) swimming in the swampy water next to the boardwalk north of Slaters Lane. There was a momma, a poppa, and a baby. Reba did quite a nice job of tracking their movement as the swam in a channel near the trailside beaver dam. 

My twits were bitching about the wind in the evening. I didn’t mind at all. It was pushing me all the way down the trail. I can tell when the wind is particularly strong when it grabs my fairing and I accelerate. Sail biking.

I left work at 5:30 and stopped at the pharmacy on the way home and still arrived before dark. I love daylight savings time.

Today was my 40th bike commute of the year.  Doesn’t seem possible.