To Dulles with Randos

Mike is a randonneur, a cyclist who rides appalling long distances on cans of Coke. Mike is loquacious. Mike is to talk as a hungry fat man is to chips and queso. Mike also likes airplanes, the bigger the better. And for some reason, Mike is hell bent on cycling me to death.

Mike invited me to join him and some other cyclists of the randoneuring persuasion for a ride out to the Air and Space museum at Dulles airport.

The weather was perfect: 70 degrees, light winds, puffy white clouds on a background of blue, blue sky. Mike and his wife Lisa left their home in Tacoma Park in DC (pretty much at the northernmost corner of the city). They were riding a DaVinci tandem.  This particular tandem has an interesting feature: the stoker (rider in the back) pedals completely independently of the captain (the rider doing the steering in the front). Ed and Mary were riding their gray Co-Motion tandem with synchronized pedalling. Lane was riding a single bike, blue and of indeterminant ethnicity and vintage. It had a little plastic spaceman zip tied to one of its seat stays and a little plastic rocket facing aft, zip tied to the rear fender. He’s either a Bill Lee fan or works in the aerospace industry.

Now one thing I should mention about these five folks is that they ride everywhere and NEVER get tired!  Mike knows every back road from Charlottes to Canajoharie. They also ride fast even when they aren’t trying.

Since I am not similarly indefatigable and expeditious, I left my house in Mount Vernon VA about 30 minutes before they headed out. I spent the first hour or so dodging runners on the Mount Vernon trail. They were out in great abundance because the weather was perfect for running and their fall marathons are only a few weeks away. After a while I started thinking of them as moving bollards.

At National Airport I hung a left and followed Four Mile Run to Shirlington where I picked up the W&OD trail. I had planned to meet the randos at the intersection of the Custis trail and the W&OD in eastern Arlington County. The randos had stopped for coffee in Arlington. Caffeine is to randos as the blood of virgins is to vampires.

In short order they appeared and stopped to allow Lisa the first of her 453 wardrobe changes. Leg warmers, arm warmers, long fingered gloves, and jacket went on and off throughout the day, more often than not while we were moving.

Once we were underway I could tell we’d be riding fast, because my speedometer had 17, then 18, then 19 displayed. These are numbers that I, the 12-mile-per-hour commuter, makes rare use of. Not that I was having trouble keeping up. The Mule was cruising along and I was not breathing hard at all. It probably didn’t hurt that I was often in the slipstream of a tandem or two.

Up the W&OD we went to Vienna VA where we stopped at Cafe Amore for rando blood. I was disappointed that Dean Martin was not singing “When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, “ when we rolled in. After a wardrobe change, we were back on the bikes. After about five miles of trail, Mike took us off the trail and onto the roads of Reston. The first quarter mile was a bit of a shock, being that we had to climb a rather steep hill, but the remainder of the ride through McMansion heaven was on rolling roads with little traffic. Here I learned that you don’t want to be in front of a tandem on the crest of a hill. They go downhill like Big Nellie with a fairing. Voom.

After a few wrong turns (Mike knows the roads but sometimes doesn’t speak their language), we found ourselves blasting down narrow bike paths between neighborhoods. How Mile knew about these trails of certain death is beyond me. We managed to survive and inexplicably popped out a couple of miles east of the museum where we stopped at a strip mall for food and blood.

I tried a Slim Jim type food-type product. I don’t think it is coincidental that the diameter of said Slim Jim is about the same as the diameter of my carotid artery – at least before I ate it that is.

While we were dining on the sidewalk of strip mall, we heard a roar. We had thought we were too late for the arrival of the enormous new Airbus Stratohippo, a two decker jumbo jet. Alas, by the time we spotted it, it had already flown behind some trees. All we could see was it’s tail fin passing by above the tree tops like a shark fin in the water. I could almost hear the cello from Jaws as it went by.

A few minutes later we were parking our bikes for free next to the museum. It costs $15 to park a car there but the museum is free, so biking is the way to go. Lisa watched the bikes as we took ten minutes (which is how randos say “half an hour”) in the museum. There are planes and spacecraft galore in this place. The big ones are a Concorde SST, a retired space shuttle, and a big, sleek, stealthy, black Blackhawk spy plane. There are scores of others parked and hanging from the rafters willy nilly throughout the place.

Mike and the Blackhawk
Mike and the Blackhawk

After getting our fix of aerospace and aviation stuff, we mounted our bikes for the ride back. The first five miles were another Mikeroads fest. I swear the locals don’t know these roads like Mike does.) If not for the sun casting an easterly shadow in front of me, I would not have had a clue as to what direction we were riding. We eventually rejoined the W&OD and headed for Reston Town Center. There most of us bought gelatto, but Ed went for espresso. He will henceforth be known as Vlad the Imbiber.

Back on the trail we headed east. I started to lag, no doubt the result of toxic gelatto. The others were riding at 20 miles per hour while Lisa made origami bicycles on the back of the DaVinci. I noticed that several times during the ride, she would sit up, stop pedalling and adjust her hair. The tandem never slowed as Mike compensated with more pedal power. Sheesh.

Every so often, Ed and Mary would let free the reins and the Co-Motion would zoom ahead like one of the cruise missiles at the museum.

The four randos kindly let me catch up east of Vienna. In Falls Church they left the trail for the streets. I stayed on the W&OD and made my way through a charity 3K fun run. Once in to Arlington the two-legged bollards dissipated so that I could enjoy the gradual downhill all the way to US 1 near the river. I doubled back at US 1 and rode through the streets of Alexandria to avoid riding on the Mount Vernon Trail for a few miles. I rejoined the trail south of Old Town and found my butt to be rather sore. The discomfort was soon forgotten when I noticed that I was going 0 miles per hour. Somehow the motion sensor on my bike computer had gone kaput. Argh!

Aside from that little technical glitch, I was pretty darn happy with the day’s events. A good 76-mile ride in good weather with good folks to a good museum is always a good thing. Thanks to Mike for thinking this ride up and to the rest of the randos for humoring me and The Mule.

Some more pix of the ride are over here.

Advertisements

Let’s Ride Two: Dead Man Biking

Backroads 2013

After Saturday’s grueling (but fun) 50 States Ride, I woke up at 5 a. m., just rarin’ to go. Not. My legs felt like lead but I managed to get myself downstairs and planted my face in a bowl of Cheerios. Feeling my oats, I plunked Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent, on the bike rack on the back of my car and headed off to DC.

The plan was to do the Backroads Metric Century in the northern Shenandoah Valley with Kristen. I volunteered to pick up Kristen’s friend Elizabeth (@ymax) in DC on my way to Berryville. I arrived at her place at 6 on the dot.

The drive took about 90 minutes, including a good 10 minutes waiting in the long line to park. We were somewhat concerned that it would be hard to find Kristen who had already transported Elizabeth’s bike. Just before pulling into our parking space we spotted Kristen and her husband standing a few feet away. We took this to be a good omen.

We lingered for just a moment at the start. A recumbent trike rider offered to sell me a lightly used fairing for Big Nellie. I just might take him up on the offer.

And we’re off, me on a recumbent, Kristen on her hybrid, and Elizabeth on her carbon fiber road bike. In addition to having a rocket ship for a bike, Elizabeth is the perfect body type for hilly cycling: thin, fit, and small. Once she warmed up, she was gone!

Kristin, as it turns out, is a mom on a mission and a hill climbing machine. Her technique is to ride down hills in a tuck and then power up the next rise. I spun my ass off on Big Nellie but there was no power at all in my legs. This was going to be a long day.

We rode more or less together for the first leg of our journey, through farmers’ fields with views of the fog rising from the crops with the Blue Ridge to the east. The first rest stop was at an old mill. It was a food fest. The highlight was the baked potatoes with salt and butter. There was also a trio of musicians including banjo and harp for our musical enjoyment. As much as we wanted to stay, we had play to do.

On the road to the next stop, I found myself lagging behind my posse. Along comes Jeff  who I saw at the start of the 50 States. Jeff has a talent for sneaking up on me. He once spotted me in a crowd in the rain on Bike DC. Jeff crashed on the 50 States Ride and hurt his right arm which he said was quite painful. Even one armed, Jeff can bury me on a bike. He was gone in short order.

Up, up, up. Pedal, pedal, pedal. Into a headwind.

The next rest stop came at the top of a hill at around 11 a.m.. We had expected to see Kristen’s husband and kids, but he was out boozing again. Just kidding. There was a little interspousal miscommunication.

After a few minutes we were spinning back down the way we came with the wind at our backs. Fields of hay and corn and soy, cows and sheep and alpacas and horses, stone walls and white fences. Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River.

The course is entirely on backroads. Duh. We crossed a couple of busy highways but never rode along them. I learned after the ride that there is about 10 percent more climbing on this ride than on the 50 States. It felt like it.

Many miles and hills later we came to our next stop at the town of White Post, so cleverly named after the white post at the center of town where two roads meet. (It would suck if they replaced the post with a big trash can.) While munching some tomato and mayo sammiches, Kristen spotted an amazing sight. About a month ago on the 2013 Hoppy 100 ride, our band of merry beer hounds helped a guy get medical help after he crashed his bike in the rain on a bridge in DC. He was a bloody mess and was clearly going into shock. So it was pleasant surprise to see him in one piece out on his first bike ride since the crash. Except from a couple of gnarly looking fingernails, he looked quite well. While talking to him, Mike, a regular at Friday Coffee Club appeared. Mike was doing the full century so he was soon off on a mileage quest of his own.

After chatting we headed out under threatening skies. Thankfully, the rain stayed away but we rode the next ten miles under cloudy skies. More hills made my legs achy, but spin we must. I could feel my quadriceps spasming from time to time. How it would suck if they seized up, but, at the last rest stop after eating some mango gelato, it was Kristen who  started having leg cramps. Fortunately they went away with some stretching.

As we were leaving somebody said that there was a 16 percent incline in the last few miles. I couldn’t recall one and I was right. The last big hill was 6 percent and plenty long but nothing we couldn’t handle. A few times on this ride we rode passed roadies in Lycra doing the walk of shame, waddling up the steep hills in their cleated bike shoes. The three of us are proud to report that we rode every single blessed uphill without dismounting.

At the finish there was food and hugs all around. Despite the dead legs, I had a great time.

50 States Postscript: When I got home, I changed the flat on The Mule. The tire must have had 20 small cuts in the casing. Time for a fresh tire. I could use some fresh legs too.

Thanks to Kristen for getting me to sign up. It was great to ride with Elizabeth too. You may see her around these parts on a bike. She’ll be that little black dot receding into the distance in front of you.

Here are a few pix of our Backroads adventure.

Let’s Ride Two: Fifty States and a Monsoon

Prelude

Last year, the 50 States Ride and the Backroads Century were scheduled for Saturday and Sunday on the same weekend. Being a biker of very little brain I signed up for both and survived to tell about them.

During the 65-mile 50 States Ride, Liza (@ramblingrider) dropped out in Tacoma Park thereby missing out of the joys of Alaska, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, and Connecticut Avenues. She swore she’d ride the whole thing this year, so I agreed to ride along with her. Unlike last year, Lisa did not sign up for Backroads this year. Kristen (@Bobbishaftoe), however, did and asked if I’d ride it with her. Not recalling the ride to be particularly difficult (and proving that I have long term memory issues) I agreed to join her for the metric (65 mile) version.

Fifty States in a Monsoon

After a rude 5:30 wake up, I drove to DC and parked my car about 1 mile uphill from the start of the ride in Adams Morgan. The course is hilly and the forecast called for rain so I was riding The Mule my best bike for both conditions. The forecast called for a long, soaking rain in the mid to late afternoon.  I rode down to the start and there were all kinds of people I knew:  First, I ran into Mike with whom I used to work. Then I talked with Ryan Sigworth (@ryansigworth) who was a volunteer at the check in desk. Ted (@MrTinDC) and Jean (@jerdling) took off early. We saw Kate (there’s always one Kate) (@girlonabikedc) sneak away into the pack of early departers, too. Jeff, who has ridden with me on a dozen rides over the years, stopped by to say hello. Kevin (@bicyclebug), Lisa, new dad Justin (@jantos), Dave (@darsal), Kirstin (@ultrarunnergirl) and Tom (@ultrarunnerhubz – okay, I made that up) gathered together and started en mess at the back of the crowd. As we pulled away, Felkerino (@dailyrandonneur) and MG (@gypsybug) appeared, disguised as husband and wife bike rider. As usual, they planned to skip a few states in favor of coffee shops.

The start of the course was very different this year. Instead of spiralling around the streets of downtown hitting one stop light after another we picked off a few states then headed east and then south to Capitol Hill. Somewhere along the way Felkerino, MG, Kirstin, and Tom headed off course for espresso. Near Union Station the rest of us missed the unsigned Delaware Avenue. Being dedicated to the task and anal retentives, we circled back for the entirety of Delaware’s magnificent 100 yards of pavement. What a thrill.

The course took us across Capitol Hill and down Independence Avenue where Justin and Dave stopped to help a rider whose rear rack had fallen off and was dragging behind his bike on the pavement. Next we cruised over to Hains Point, a favorite flat ride along the Potomac River. One year not long ago, the course passed by a massive construction project in what is now called Near Southeast DC. Seeing the beautiful Nationals Park at the same location was an indication of how DC is changing for the better. Riding past the Navy Yard a few blocks later was a reminder of another sort.

Once over the Anacostia River, we rode over a whole bunch of tree roots into Anacostia Park where we hit the aptly named Anacostia rest stop. Here we rejoined the espresso club and watched Kate ride away. I think she was on a mission from God.

We launched anew into the hills of Anacostia. Pedal, pedal. Huff and puff. Last year I rode most of the ride with Laurie, a loquacious course marshall. It was nice to fall in with her once again as  we rode into the wind up the first hill up Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.  We were rewarded with a tailwind and much funny chatter from Laurie and her entourage as we climbed up Stanton Road and Alabama Avenue. In short order we picked off Texas and were zooming down Massachusetts Avenue at great speed. Most of the riders were trying to stay in the narrow bike lane but I said PSHAW (which is my wont) and got in the main right lane and let ‘er rip. Big fun.

Soon we were back across the Anacostia River and at the mid-ride lunch stop at Eastern Market where Kate was waiting with her gorgeous bike Kermit.  I snarfed a chicken burrito and chatted with Kate and Alex (@alexbaca) who was communicating her ass off for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association.

After lunch we did another loop on east Capitol Hill then headed north where abundant hills awaited us. Pedal, pedal, huff, and puff. Damn this city is hilly. Riding up Hawaii wasn’t exactly Haleakala but it sure felt like it.

The ride took us into a bunch of spirals to pick off Colorado, Iowa, and other states of hilly repute. We then reached the third rest stop at the home of Mike (@rattlingfender) and the other Lisa (Eaker), to whom he claims to be married. Mike shouted my arrival (ROOTCHOPPER!!!) causing me great embarrassment and ego inflation. The awesome Rachel (@rachelcannon) from WABA was staffing the rest stop. We made tentative plans to do a ride in October.

We, now rejoined by the espresso crowd, spent way too much time hanging out and were rewarded with the first raindrops of the day shortly after heading out. Along Alaska Avenue the rain began to fall. We entered Rock Creek Park and stopped to don rain gear causing the rain to stop for about 15 minutes.

Along Rock Creek, the espresso gang peeled off for the after party (SLACKERS! This will go on their Permanent records – a little randonneuring pun there).  Kevin zoomed on ahead of us and Lisa and I rode as a duo as the skies opened. Nothing like a monsoon, hills, and traffic for a fun day out on the bike.

We passed Kevin at the last rest stop enjoying some rest in the rain. We were now focussed on getting out of this rain. Down we rode to Arizona Avenue with cars all about. I am hereby recommending that we kick Arizona out of the union. At the base of a long hill, we turned onto a side street and started the steep, bumpy assault on Mount AU. Curse you, gravity.

Rejoined by Kevin, we rode a few more hills in the rain and the traffic. Kevin and I took the sidewalk to avoid a road closure. Lisa decided to be a good citizen cyclist and took a detour. Not knowing what happened to her, Kevin and I waited in the rain next to a police station for 10 or 15 minutes before concluding that Lisa was not dead.

Ten soggy minutes later we were done, and celebrating at Mellow Mushroom, site of the post ride party. There were Rachel, Kate, Felkerino, MG, Dave, and many other soggy cyclists. We had ourselves some pizza and hoisted (can you say “hoist” when it’s a plastic cup?) us some beer, still crazy after all these years.

After the party I went to get on the Mule and it’s rear tire was flat. I pumped it up the best I could and rode a mile uphill to the car, hearing the squish of my flattening rear tire all the way.

Despite the rain and hills and the flat tire,  I  had a great time. I’ve done this ride six times over the last decade. It’s always a great social experience. If it wasn’t for this ride, I wouldn’t know most of the #bikedc people I know. I wouldn’t have seen first hand how all areas of the city have blossomed. The people of DC, especially in Anacostia, never fail to cheer you on and make sure you stay on course. If you haven’t done this ride, DO IT.

Lastly, a tip of my skivvy 22-year old rain hat in thanks to Ryan, Alex, Mike and Lisa, Rachel, and all the other volunteers who made this ride happen. You are awesome.

My pictures are here. Lisa’s blog is over there. Kirstin’s is down yonder. And MG’s blog post is up this way.

Post Traumatic Weekend Syndrome

As many of my readers know, I did two hilly metric centuries this weekend. Since my accounts and a few pictures are long and I am still pooped, I will blog about them in the days to come. For today I present what it’s like to commute on two legs of lead: not exactly expeditious! 

I left home a few minutes early to be sure to arrive at work in time for an 8:30 commitment. About a mile from home I rode up a short steep hill on my way to the Mount Vernon Trail.  Dang! My legs were dead meat. Undaunted, I continued on flat Alexandria Avenue. I spotted some kids waiting for a school bus. Their heads were dropping as they drowsily ignored each other and mourned the end of the weekend. On my recumbent I have a nice view of the sky. Just before I passed the kids, a big bald eagle came soaring right over the tops of the trees toward us. Not one of them saw it. Then, another bald eagle came right behind the first. The kids missed that one too. Kind of hard to get inspired for the start of the week if you don’t look up now and then, no?

The ride into work featured a nice cold headwind. Lovely. The Hoppy Runner seemed not to mind as he had the wind at his back. Nancy “Two Sheds” Duley waved hello and yelled “Enjoy the wind!”  as she cruised by on her way south.

As I cleared the 14th Street bridge a passing rider commented on my weekend riding.  How the heck he knew I rode both rides is beyond me.

The rest of the ride north was uneventful except for the hill up to Rosslyn. It seemed much steeper today. A block from work I admired a black Maserati as it waited at a traffic light in front of me. If I owned a Maserati I don’t think I’d drive it in rush hour traffic.

The ride home featured a welcome tailwind. I could tell I was still a little out of it when I passed a jogger pushing one of those fancy baby carriages. I could see a bike approaching from ahead of us. Normally, I’d just accelerate but today when I called on my legs to push they said, “Not today”. Thankfully, the approaching rider was alert and I managed to veer out of his way. My apologies if you read this.

I have a short climb to get up to Washington Street at the beltway. My legs were convinced we were on Alpe D’Huez. At the top, I started to turn left to cross an intersection. I saw a runner coming from that direction. My eyes fixated on him. Instead of stopping, I glided a bit. Just as the runner reached the curb cut on my side of the intersection, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something big. I hit my brakes and stopped just before hitting a light pole. My legs aren’t the only things that are tired.

I managed to get home from there in one piece. As I crossed the Dyke Marsh boardwalk, I huge Great Blue Heron flew from right to left in front of me, coming to a soft landing in the water to my left.

Even tired and sore, my bike commute is still pretty damned nice.

Tomorrow, part one of Let’s Ride Two.

Bike Crash Aftermath

Bike Crash Aftermath by Rootchopper
Bike Crash Aftermath, a photo by Rootchopper on Flickr.

There are a few spots along the Mount Vernon Trail that are poorly designed and difficult to navigate safely. One is the “S” curve near the general aviation terminal at National Airport. According to this sign, a cyclist was seriously hurt in a head on collision here last weekend. If you saw the collision, call the number. Having a witness can help with insurance claims.

Easy Does It

Last week I did a good bit of mileage on my bike. On Sunday, I rode 60 miles at the Southern Maryland Century at Indian Head Maryland. Then I did my usual 150+ miles of bike commuting during the week. That’s over 210 miles in six days for those of you with dyscalculia.

The weather this weekend was spectacular, very reminiscent of early fall in New England and upstate New York where I spent most of the first half of my life. Time to knock out some long rides. Or not.

Next weekend I have two rides scheduled: the 50 States Ride and the Backroads Century. The 50 States Ride is a little over 60 miles entirely within the confines of Washington DC. It may be 60 something miles on the odometer but it feels much more like 100. It’s quite hilly and there are scores of stops and starts as riders wend their way through the city. The next morning I will awaken around 5 a.m. and drive to Berryville Virginia (after a short diversion into DC to pick up a passenger). There  I will ride a metric century, another 60 plus miles, over beautiful country roads. I did these rides back-to-back last year so I know what I am in for. Two-wheeled bliss.

As usual, I plan on riding all five days to work this week which should total about 150 miles before Saturday. So riding straight through next weekend would mean that I’d have way over 400 miles of cycling without a break. That’s a recipe for a really lousy experience next weekend at best and overuse injuries at worst.

Many years ago I was a distance runner. At one point I got up to 70 miles per week, even doing 84 miles in a week once.  With that much running it was inevitable that I was going to get hurt. And I did. My longest mileage for a year was 3,000 miles which comes out to fewer than 60 miles per week.  Once I realized that I was averaging 60 miles per week, it occurred to me that I should just lower my weekly mileage to 60 miles and take one day off per week. And two weeks off per year. I saw no drop off in my running performance at all.  And my legs were much happier. During this time, I also tried to find out how many days in a row I could run a minimum of five miles. I don’t recall how many days I did but it wasn’t many before my body told me to stop.

I’ve carried these running lessons over to my bike riding. If I notice that I’ve ridden ten days in a row, I take a day off, even if the weather is nice. So that’s what I did yesterday.   Even though the weather was perfect.

Today I did a 33 1/2 mile ride on flat terrain. I deliberately took it easy.  It was very tempting to go out and ride 60, 70, 80 or more miles.

That’s for next weekend.

New Bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail

After many weeks, the National Park Service finally finished replacing three bridges on the Mount Vernon Trail today. All three are located just south of the Dyke Marsh bridge and north of Northdown Road. The workers did a nice job and trail users will be happy that they no longer have to deal with two detours.

Radar Love

Bike tourists love maps. They pour over them before their trips and imagine lovely country roads with barns and cows and Mail Pouch tobacco signs. They don’t give much thought to steep hills and dogs while doing this because it’s all about imaging the perfect tour. On my 2003 tour from Indiana to DC, I carried an absurd number of maps, most of which I mailed home after a few days.

Bike commuters are radar junkies. Today, the forecast was for afternoon storms. If you’re going to slog through puddles and mud, you ought to be riding a mule. So, The Mule got the call. The morning ride was enjoyable with a nice tailwind and warm temperatures.

At noon, I checked the radar. I kept checking it throughout the afternoon. I was stuck in a meeting in my boss’s office but he has a nice few to the north and west. The skies looked pretty ominous. From 3:30 on I kept refreshing the radar on my computer. I wasn’t getting a whole lot of work done, so I packed up my bags at 4:30, a little earlier than usual, and headed out. My last radar check showed that the heavy rain was a couple miles west and north.

I didn’t factor in the delay in posting the radar. I hit the street with a reflective vest and my head and tail lights shining. The rain had just begun. I managed to catch a red light and the rain intensified while I waited. By the time I turned onto the Mount Vernon Trail for the ride to the southeast, it was pouring. The raindrops were big and long. They caught the light of my headlight and looked like silvery fish. I was riding through bait.

Within a mile I was completely soaked. Once you’re wet, you’re wet. You might as well keep riding, that way you’ll at least stay warm.

It was raining so hard that I was actually getting a drink from the water pouring down my face as a I rode. It was a nice bonus, but the nicer bonus was the strong tailwind pushing me down the trail. In fact the only downside to riding in the downpour was the stinging in my eyes. It’s a good idea to wear a cycling cap in rainstorms to keep the water out of your eyes. My cap was back home. One of these days I’ll get around to buying few more.

Riding blind in a down pour isn’t all that dangerous when you know the path ahead. I’ve ridden the Mount Vernon Trail a couple thousand times at least so I wasn’t about to veer off the pavement.

Under the 14th Street bridge, their are three huge downspouts that carry the rain from the roadway above straight down onto the trail. (Proving once again that trail users get no respect.) There was so much water gushing down that the flow of water looked like waterfalls.

As usual, there were several people under the bridge waiting out the storm. Judging from the radar they were in for a long wait.

About 100 yards south of the bridge, the rainfall slowed. The farther south I went, the lighter the rain. In fact, it didn’t pick up again until I was about 1/2 mile from home.

I pulled in to my yard soaked to the bone. My saddle and pants and shoes were all making squishing sounds. Rather than feeling miserable I was chuffed. Sometime after your tenth birthday, you lose track of the fact that playing in the rain is a lot of fun.

No rain tomorrow. My liquid refreshment will be a jumbo coffee at Swings near the White House.

Kelly on the Run

Kelly on the Run by Rootchopper
Kelly on the Run, a photo by Rootchopper on Flickr.

There I was riding Big Nellie, about half way to work, enjoying a tailwind. I ride past a runner as I do dozens of times every week. As I went past, I heard the runner say, “Hi, John.”

I must be famous! Again.

I slowed down and waited for the runner to catch up. It was Kelly who works in my office. (So much for that fame thing.)

Kelly recently did her first bike commute. (Tres awesome, Kelly.) Today, she was running the ten miles to work to get ready for her first half marathon.

It was pretty muggy out and she was working hard. As a former marathoner, I can say that she had the form and the pace down pat.

She later told me that she has been having difficulty running beyond 8 miles. This is pretty typical of distance running. You hit these barriers that seem impregnable, then, all of a sudden, they aren’t there any more. I hit barriers at one mile, three miles, five miles, seven miles, 12 miles, and 20 miles. I never did solve the 23-mile wall where a bear jumps your back and claws your thighs.

Kelly hit a wall of her own at about 9 miles, about a mile from work. The last mile includes the climb up to Rosslyn, so I am sure it wasn’t much fun. Hell, it wasn’t a whole lot of fun for me. I haven’t been sleeping well the last couple of nights and my legs are sore. I am pretty sure that the pace I set during Sunday’s metric century was a tad too brisk.

The ride home had no surprised other than unseasonable 3Hs – heat, humidity and headwinds. Not that I am complaining. Give me this weather any day over the cold winds of March.

Big Nellie Turns 34

Big Nellie Turns 34 by Rootchopper
Big Nellie Turns 34, a photo by Rootchopper on Flickr.

For the first couple if miles on the way to work this morning, I was distracted by a rattling front fender. I stopped to fix it and took off again. After 3 more miles. I realized that I had just missed another milestone. 34,000 miles on the odometer.

I left for work about 30 minutes earlier than usual so I was pretty groggy. Yesterday’s 60 mile ride took some bounce out of my legs so I was also sloggy. Groggy and sloggy is no way to start a work week. Add a headwind and you’re looking at a sloooowww ride.

A guy from Friday Coffee Club (I forgot his name cuz I was groggy) blew by me without breaking a sweat. Coming off the second flyover bridge at National Airport, I started to pass a wedgie rider (wedgie’s are what bent people call regular bikes). I got around him and there was a bike coming right at me. Good thing it was Justin from Friday Coffee Club. Although maybe not, since his new baby lets him have only about 2 hours of continuous sleep each night.

After a very busy day at work, I headed for home into another headwind. (Was it uphill both ways too?) I was a bit worried about the massive traffic heading to the Redskins home opener but then I remembered, I’m on a trail not one of the highways headed to the stadium. HA. HA.

I gloated the rest of the way home. Near the stone bridge on the parkway I saw a truck on the side of the road. It appeared to have a giant piece of sheet metal sticking out the back. The sheet metal was actually the top of the truck which was just a tad too tall for the bridge underpass. This happens two or three times per year. Yet another tragedy of distracted driving.