Another Surly Month

October is done and another 819 miles are behind me. Of course, I am right where I started so the universe remains as nonsensical as ever. I rode to work 15 times this month. I rode Little Nellie once for 21 miles while on a business trip. Otherwise it was all Deets, my Surly Cross Check.

I finally rode the Seagull Century and did the Great Pumpkin Ride for the umpteenth time.

Poor Deets is starting to wear down. He clearly needs a new chain and cassette. I’ll keep riding him until I get through Saturday’s Cider Ride. Then it’s off to the bike shop for some TLC.

For the year, I have logged 148 bike commutes for 4,300 miles. I have also done weekend rides and an 832 mile bike tour which bring my year to date total to 6,975 miles. So, with any kind of luck, I’ll break 7,000 miles tomorrow on the way home from work. Somehow Deets has managed to become my favorite bike. I have ridden it for 2,654 miles, nearly 600 more than The Mule, my old Specialized Sequoia.

October has also seen several deer sightings on my rides home. Tonight there was a young buck with a rather feeble looking set of antlers standing right next to the Mount Vernon Trail at the turnoff to go around the Slaters Lane apartments north of Old Town. We looked at each other. I don’t know who was more surprised. As I came even with him, he bolted into the woods along the river.

 

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Weekend Wrap Up

I spent my weekend going to sporting events. Of course, I rode my bike to them because cars are bad and the weather was exceptionally good.

Frogs Win – At Long Last

Before our son went to high school at the Maret School, Mrs. Rootchopper and I vowed never to let him play football. This was long before concussions were such a big concern. We changed our minds because the new football coach was the antithesis of raging lunatic coaches. Soft-spoken Mike Engelberg told us before freshman year began, “I will never yell at your son.” He kept his word. (He whined a hell of a lot, though.) He didn’t so much coach football as he taught it.

For years under Mike, Maret came oh so close to winning its conference. In my son’s senior year, the team nearly pulled it off but lost in a monsoon to Flint Hill School in overtime. That was 7 years ago. On Saturday, I rode to St. Albans School (Maret is so small it does not have its own field) on the grounds of the National Cathedral to watch the undefeated Maret Frogs play Flint Hill. Maret led 14-7 at half time then stepped on the gas and left Flint Hill in the dust, winning 43-14. The Washington Post called it “a thumping.” I swore I could hear Al Michels in my head.

So congratulations to Coach Engelberg and his Maret Frogs. It’s been a long time coming. It was a great way to spend a splendid fall afternoon too.

Trail Sightings

Some sightings on the Mount Vernon Trail are inspiring. Others not so much. On my ride to Maret, I spotted a huge bald eagle in the branches above the Belle Haven nest. Maybe its feathers were fluffed up but it looked bigger than any other eagle I’ve seen this year.

As I approached the Dyke Marsh bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail this morning, I saw an ambulance and fire truck pull off the adjacent parkway and park. At the middle of the bridge there was a cluster of people. As I rode by, I could see at their feet a man, probably in his 60s or 70s, lying on the bridge deck on his side. He had a hat on his head and his head was turned to one side. He appeared to be unconscious. Given the abundance of help already there, I rode on. I hope he is okay but I am not optimistic.

About a mile later I was passed by an approaching runner. It was Running Mom, one of the regular people I see on my commute. This morning she was not pushing her son in his stroller. (He’s over a year old. How she runs so fast pushing him, I’ll never know.) We don’t wave to each other. Usually one or both gives and awkward smile. That’s what we did today. I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t running in the marathon.

Security Nonsense

I got a dose of stupid security theater today. I rode to the 14th Street Bridge. I rode up the grassy slope so I could stand on the guardrail of the closed I-395 and watch the runners at the 19 mile mark as they headed into Virginia. Except today, two police officers told me I couldn’t stand there. Closed to spectators. “You have to leave.” I said, “I’ve been coming here for over 20 years, what are you talking about?” No use. So I left.

I rode to the 14th Street Bridge trail that goes across the Potomac River to the Jefferson Memorial in DC. A group of spectators were standing on the ramp shaking their heads. They told me the trail was closed. So I rode up onto the bridge and spotted the police officer. He was standing on the trail as hundreds of cars rushed by on the roadway a few feet to his left. “Trail is closed.” “Why?” “I don’t decide these things. It’s closed.” He told me the nearest bridge that was open was Key Bridge two miles away.

I understand the Tsarnaev Brothers. I understand terrorism. But there is really only about 100 feet of the bridge that poses a security concern. Why not ban people from standing on that part of the bridge? And if you are going to ban pedestrians and bikes, why allow cars and trucks? And if you are going to have police stationed to close these places why not have them just provide actual security (like bag checks) to the spectators instead?

I unloaded on the cop. We’ve come to this? There are probably a half million people lining the marathon course and you pick these two isolated spots to shut down. Really?

I back tracked two miles to Crystal City. There were Marines and the occasional police officer but nobody was checking bags or barring people from standing on the side of the road. I saw one bomb sniffing dog. Once. In about two and a half hours.

Porous security isn’t security. It’s security theater. It makes nervous people feel better. It pisses everybody else off. If you live in DC, you really get tired of this nonsense.

Spectating

I parked myself at the 20.9 and 22.8 mile mark on Crystal Drive.The runners were headed south on the opposite side of the road toward the 21 mile banner. Then they turned a corner and disappeared from view before heading north on Crystal Drive on my side of the road.

It was getting quite warm. In marathon running, 65 degrees is warm. It was already in the 70s. A misting machine was turned on at the corner. Many runners were cramping up. It did not look like much fun, to be honest.

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Misting Machine
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Cramping – Are We Having Fun Yet?

I had planned to cheer on my friend Heather and twitter peep Teresa. Teresa posted a picture of her clothing and a selfie at the 9 mile mark. Red shirt. White baseball cap with blonde hair. Camelback. Purple running shoes. So I knew what to look for. Strangely enough I saw three people running at a similar pace to her planned pace wearing the same thing. What are the odds? So I may have seen or or not. If not, there are three women wondering who the heck was that guy yelling “Teresa!”?

Heather is a petite Chinese woman. Unlike Teresa who I only know from her pictures on line, I’be known Heather for 20 or 30 years. I spotted her on the far side of Crystal Drive headed south. I yelled and she turned and waved. Then about 10 minutes later she came running down the edge of the road in full view. I took her picture. With pain all around her, she was smiling. She apologized for being sweaty and gave me a hug then continued on.

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Heather in Purple in the Bike Lane

After that, I rode home. In a t-shirt and shorts. On the 30th of October. I am writing this on the deck. It is 80 degrees. Good thing the race ended when it did.

 

 

Getting MY Ass to the Doctor

Well, today’s the day for my colonoscopy. It’s a routine test. I have no symptoms to indicate anything is wrong, but you never know. Fingers crossed. Knock on wood.

Just to let you in on the fun, here is what’s went down this week.

Monday to Wednesday: My diet was restricted in preparation for the big event. I could not eat peas, corn, nuts, popcorn and other small foods that might not be fully digested by my stomach and small intestine. So I changed my diet for a few days. Pizza for lunch! (My advice is to add jalapeno peppers to the do not eat list. You’ll thank me for this.)

Wednesday: No solid food today. Just clear liquids. Breakfast was a can of Sprite. Through the rest of the day I drank four cups of coffee, a jumbo Gatorade, an Arnold Palmer (may he rest in peace), a Mountain Dew, and lots of water. I had chicken broth for dinner. (And, yes, I still biked to work.)

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The stuff

Wednesday evening: I began drinking what my mom called “the stuff.” This is a liquid laxative that flushes your system out. Years ago this meant drinking two gallons of really nasty tasting fluid. Now the stuff is a six ounce bottle of clear laxative topped off with 10 ounces of water. This is followed by two pints of water. I cheated. I had two cans of broth and some water left over from my bike bottle.

 

Based on my experience, there is no telling when the laxative will start flushing you out. So you would be wise to do this at home. This time it was about an hour after I drank the stuff. Basically, your stomach starts feeling like Vesuvius, then you hightail it to the WC where you sudden are doing a rather good imitation of the launch rockets on a Saturn 5.

This continues at random intervals for the next two and a half hours.  With each “launch” the flow is clearer. This is good.

It did not hurt. At all.

Thursday morning: At 8 am I take my second dose of the stuff. Drink two pints of water. We have liftoff!!! After three trips to the Kennedy Space WC, I have achieved clarity. Mission accomplished.

My next task was to avoid any thought of food. Chocolate chip cookies. Pizza. Tater tots. Beer. Burritos. Ice cream. I have  a three-hour wait until I go to the hospital. I take a nap a and dream of all the foods.

Thursday afternoon: Mrs. Rootchopper drives me to the hospital. I already paid by phone and gave the hospital my medical information but I still go through check in and registration because hospital redundancy makes the military look like amateurs.

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Yellow Sticky Sox

I walk to the prep room. Mrs. Rootchopper is sent to a waiting room. I put on the standard hospital gown, open in the back, of course. And some yellow sticky socks. Then I climb on a hospital bed. I am covered in warm blankets. I am given a binkie. (No, I just made that up. But it was super comfy under the blankets.) My prep nurse reviews my medical info because redundancy. Another nurse starts an IV for fluids. The fluids are cold, but that’s just the contrast with my body temperature.

 

The prep nurse sees my pulse is 44 to 46. “Do you work out?” I love when they ask this. I’m a bike commuter! The nurse anesthesiologist appears. I tell him I’m a barfer. He starts me on an anti0nausea drug. He says the anesthetic is pretty short acting but I won’t feel anything during the procedure. I am also given something to raise my heart rate. This is just in case the anesthetic causes my heart rate to drop unexpectedly. It gives him room for error.

Another tech nurse comes in. He positions me for the procedure. I move to the right edge of the bed. Then I roll onto my left side. My knees come up near my chest. My feet and shins are cushioned by warm towels. The doctor will, um, see you now.

Then the doctor shows up. All set? Let’s do it. The anesthesiologist starts the anesthetic. It’s 2:00 pm.

I wake up. Another nurse is there. She tells me it’s over. I look at the clock. 2:15. I felt absolutely nothing. I am lying on the same bed that I started on. On my back. Under warm blankets. The nurse starts asking me how I am doing. My mouth is incredibly dry. She brings me some ice water. Ahhhh! She confirms that my prep was done properly and that the doctor had no problems doing the exam.

The doctor bursts in. Stinking of gin. No, I made that up.

The doctor comes by. He has pictures from the procedure. He found two polyps. In different parts of my colon. He says they both look benign but they are being sent to pathology for confirmation. I’ll know more in a week. The doctor is unconcerned. I think he will keep me on the three-year screening cycle because of the polyps and my family history.

Mrs. Rootchopper comes in. The nurse gives her my post-op instructions and she signs the release form because I am still legally not allowed to do so since I am still groggy from the anesthesia.

I feel fine. Drink some more ice water. I stand to get dressed and stagger back against the bed. I start putting on my underpants backwards. Then I start doing the same with my sweatshirt. Mrs. Rootchopper gets a laugh out of it. Okay, I’m gonna chill for the rest of the day.

A volunteer comes and gives me a wheel chair ride to the car that Mrs. Rootchopper has pulled up to the hospital door. In five minutes I am home eating a light meal.

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Post Op Comfort Food

That’s it. Easy peasy. I should be fine to ride to work in the morning. Rachel “Don’t Call Me Bob” Cannon has offered to buy me a cookie at Friday Coffee Club. I just might take her up on that.

I was going to include pictures from the procedure but that might gross you out. They are of the inside of the colon. The irregularities are obvious which is why this screening is so useful to doctors. I think the pictures are really cool, but I know some people find this sort of thing off-putting. (I used to like looking at my father’s medical journals. My colonoscopy pictures are pretty boring by comparison.)

I encourage you to talk to your doctor, especially if you have an immediate family history (mother, father, syblings) of colon cancer. Or if you have any abnormal symptoms that might involve your colon.

 

 

 

Biking a Marathon: The Two-Wheeled Spectator

Last week my friend Katie Bolton asked me to talk to her about strategies for watching the up coming Marine Corps Marathon. Her article hit the interwebs over the weekend:

I met Katie through Friday Coffee Club. She is an unassuming soul who is infinitely more talented, likable, and bright than she’ll ever know. She is between careers and blogs about the travails of finding the sweet spot in the work/life world, a topic that seems to consume so many of my young friends in DC.

I used to run. A lot. One year I ran 3,000 miles. My marathon best is 3:04:29, good for 24th place at the Heritage Trail Marathon in Troy, NY. No brag. Just fact.

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Then I hurt my left knee playing volleyball. Sad face.

I miss running, especially on days when it is just a little too cool for bike riding. That’s prime long distance running weather.

You might think that runners don’t appreciate the cheers from the crowd in a marathon. You’d be wrong. The energy boost that the crowd gives is potent. I’ll never forget the boost I got from the crowds in Newport RI during the final run through downtown in the Ocean State Marathon. (Too bad they weren’t around when I hit the wall three miles later!)

Of course, a great way to cheer your friendly marathoner on is to ride a bike to various spots along the course. In DC you don’t even need a bike. You can use the bike sharing system. Any bike will do.

I know a few people runing Marine Corps so I’ll ride up to DC to cheer them on. if there is a marathon in your neck of the woods, check it out. Make some noise. The runners will definitely appreciate it.

Blowin’ in the Wind

Bob Dylan is getting a Nobel. He wrote the theme song to the 2016 Great Pumpkin Ride. It’s called Blowin’ in the Wind.

We had a nice Indian summer this week. Temperatures were in the 80s during the day. Then a front came through and autumn was back. In force.

The ride continued nonetheless. Apparently the 20 -30 mile per hour winds and the 40 mile per hour gusts turned some people off. I signed up for this ride when Ultrarunnergirl asked me about it. She planned to ride with another friend. She ended up spending the day at a vineyard not far away. Can’t say I blame her.

I met up with some other friends, Paul, Amy, and Jody, at the start. We were going to ride the 48 mile route. Slowly. We left a little after the official 9:30 start.

Adding to the fun was the fact that I have a sore throat and a pretty nasty cold. I was shivering when we started and my energy levels were very low. I ate an energy bar left over from my June bike tour.

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The wind seemed to be mostly at our backs for the first 15 miles, with the occasional crosswind to nearly blow us off the road. We mostly had protection from trees. One cool aspect of this was the fact that leaves were falling like rain. Every so often they’d dance in the air pocket in front of my body. As if to tip their caps to the end of warm weather.

The scenery could not have been better. It took my mind off the random blast. Jody led the way for the start. Paul and Amy rode together. I played shutterbug.

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This was Amy’s first long ride. The conditions not being ideal, we decided to stop and give her a chance to chop off 10 miles of the route. Amy didn’t take the bait. We rode on to the first rest stop. It was at a church. Warm apple cider. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread. Even Paul’s favorite: pumpkin whoopie pies.

I said hello to Dave and Jean who were riding the 60+ mile route. They had been contending with lots of headwinds.

Leaving the rest stop, we encountered open farm land. No trees to protect us. And we were getting blasted. Not surprisingly this broke our group of four up. I was just plugging along keeping my heart rate where it likes to be kept. I ended up being way out in front. Probably has something to do with riding 6,500 miles already this year.

I stopped at the top of a hill. Riders struggled with the headwind as they climbed. Then came Jody. And we waited. After many minutes, Paul and Amy arrived. Dang. We may be old, but we are slow.

I told Amy the next rest stop at Old Bust Head brewery was four miles away. Jody corrected me and said it was six. “Amy, I rounded up.”

And away we rode. More pretty country stuff. Leaves. Farms. Dessicated corn stalks. A pony being trained.

The brewery was a welcome retreat. I had two pints. The bubbles felt good on my throat.

We set out for the last ten or so miles back to the start. I became separated from the three. I fell in with an old guy. (As Jody later pointed out, “We’re all old!”) He told me he had only recently started biking again. He said he was old and fat. He didn’t look it.We played leap frog.He actually rode faster than me on the flats but the hills were really challenging for him. He walked a few, huffing and puffing, but never gave up.

For most of the time I was riding I was in my usual meditative trance. When I rode past a turn early in the ride, Jody had to yell at me to get me back on course. Be one with the cue sheet.

I zoned out for the last few uphill miles. I have no idea how fast I was going. The scenery, the hills, the wind. As Robbie Robertson once said, “The wind just sort of took me there.”

At the end of the ride, I watched as the after party closed up shop. I waited and watched old guy finish. Then Jody. Then some others. Where were Paul and Amy. Worry began to set in. They finally arrived having been escorted by the police. Amy was la lanterne rouge. But she finished.

I rode to my car. I was the last car in the vast horse show grounds.

I drove off. Into the wind.

Here are some pix on my Flickr page.

Random Thoughts

It’s been a while since I did a list of the things that the monkeys in my brain are saying. So here goes:

  • The official end of summer happens when your baseball team plays its last game. Spring begins on opening day.
  • Somebody, somewhere makes diapers for dogs. Unless my co-worker is putting me on. Which is possible. Then again, they make poop catchers for horses.
  • Greyhounds are modern day velociraptors. Seriously. Would I lie about such a thing?
  • I grew up with a golden retriever. He’d run away from home and come to my grade school. Then he’d bark at the window of my classroom. So, in front of my whole class, I’d have to go and try to catch him by the collar and take him home. When I think back on it, it’s incredible that he could find me. Dog noses are amazing.
  • A man crashed the bathroom line at the ballgame the other night. I told him that the line starts back yonder. He insisted that he was in front of me the entire time. With a straight face. I should have peed on him.
  • When I work from home, I either get tons done or nothing. The day after the final payoff game in DC was not my best day. It may have something to do with getting home at 2:30.
  • It blows my mind how crappy the DC area subway has become. It was the envy of the nation for most of the 1980s and 1990s. People would literally ooh and aah when the went into the stations. Now they just cringe.
  • I really like Steven Wright’s line: “Everything is walking distance if you have enough time.”
  • I grew up in the frozen north. My father used to get rid of his cars when the warranty expired. Usually every 3 years. He never had rust on his cars either.
  • My record for mileage on a car is 163,000, a 1991 Honda Accord station wagon. I might still own it except the seats made my back ache. One of the cars we own now is a 2004 Honda Accord sedan. It has over 150,000 miles on it. It’s kind of beat up (mostly from my daughter’s experiential driver training) but the seats are comfy and it runs like new. I think it’s going for the record. I took it to the mechanic earlier this week.
  • The mechanic just called. the car is ready. He gave me 2,587.82 reasons to ride my bike.
  • I have never understood people who run or bike with headphones on. I need my hearing to stay safe. Equally as important, I ride my bike to calm my mind, not to add to the day’s info overload.
  • It is truly weird to be known to some people only by my Internet name, Rootchopper. By day, a mild manner government economist (who drops f-bombs at the office computer system on an hourly basis), by night, a bike rider who magically maintains the serenity of the universe by riding 12 miles per hour.
  • Sorry, that last bullet point was a tad woo woo.
  • For most of my adult life I have been doing exercises to strengthen core, abdominal muscles. Whoever said this was a good idea was an ignorant fool. I can do crunches until the cows come home and I  still have back spasm episodes once or twice a year. Lately I have discovered that my back spasms have more to do with weak oblique muscles (on the side of my torso) and tight hamstrings. So when my back starts acting up I just do some side dips or side planks and some hamstring stretches. Your mileage may vary.
  • Over the last 13 months I traveled to seven countries. I have no idea what to do for an encore.
  • I am also maxing out event rides in the DC area this fall. Next year I plan on doing as many rail trail rides as possible or a fall tour, either to Bar Harbor or to Key West. Cold rain or hurricanes. Pick your poison.
  • I unfriended someone yesterday on Facebook. She hadn’t followed me for over a year. Not a comment. Not a “like”. We haven’t done anything together in ages. I will be interested to find out how long it takes before she even realizes that  Elvis has left the FB building.
  • Unfriending sounds mean. I think it’s a brilliantly passive aggressive marketing strategy.  What kind of person would do such a thing to a friend? Um, me.
  • The only place I know where friendship is a one-way street is Providence, Rhode Island.

From Arte Johnson to Tater Tots in 39 Miles

Those of you old enough to know who Arte Johnson is know that he made famous a couple of bits of schtick. One was a lecherous old man who mumbles and grunts at Ruth Buzzi’s old lady in a hairnet until she whacks him with her purse. The other was of a man on child’s tricycle riding until he falls over sideways.

I pulled Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent, out for the first time in over two months. I planned on looking at colorful leaves and the upright seating position on this bike is just the thing I needed for maximum enjoyment. Sadly, peak foliage around her is at least a week away. (This is great news for those of us who will be riding the Great Pumpkin Ride in Warrenton VA next week, however.) Of course, if I wanted to see foliage, I should have gotten out of bed and driven to the Blue Ridge. But I slept in.

Big Nellie is my only bike with clipless pedals, the kind that attached to the bottom of your shoe. I anticipated that this might be a problem and I wasn’t disappointed. After dodging 4,397 runners, walkers, cyclists, and escaped convicts on the Mount Vernon Trail, I made my way down Union Street in Old Town Alexandria. I had made it half way through the tourist zone near King Street when I came upon a Mazda stopped in front of me at a stop sign. I rolled slowly up to it. It didn’t move. Nobody was in its way. It just didn’t move.

As I came up to its bumper I realized I was going to have to stop. I went to unclip and nothing happened. My left foot wouldn’t release. So I veered to the right of the car as I frantically twisted my foot to no avail. I lost my forward momentum and started falling to the left. I reached out to brace myself on the Mazda’s back left fender. Then it moved and I completed my Arte Johnson and landed on my side on the pavement.

My recumbent seat is only a couple of feet off the ground to begin with. Breaking my fall by contacting the Mazda made the normally uneventful fall even less so. Yet I was still lying on my side in the middle of the street with this ginormous bike attached to me.

A Latina pedestrian came over to help. She was saying something in frantic, accented English but I couldn’t understand her. During the fall, my left foot unclipped but my right foot stayed attached. As she was speaking, I was twisting my right foot and hoping it would release so I could get my body out of the street.

The driver and the passengers in popped out of the car in a panic. ARE YOU OKAY? No, I have a really bruised ego! An my foot is stuck!

A cyclists with gray hair flowing out from under his helmet appeared. Her grabbed my right arm to pull me up. No. Please. I am fine. I just feel like a complete dweeb lying in the street with this chaise lounge attached to my right foot.

Finally, my right foot released and I stood up. Latina smiled. Gray hair bike rider looked relieved. Mazda people got back in car free from the fear that they had somehow contributed to the clumsiest cycling accident of the month. (As I write this four hours later, only my left knee feels any pain. Mostly from getting whacked by the bike’s top tube as I twisted my right leg to free it.)

Well, if any of the people who were there are reading this, thanks for your concern.

I continued riding up the trail of a million weekend warriors until I reached Teddy

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Roosevelt Island. I ride by TR Island every day on my way to work, but the last time I set foot on it was at least 20 years ago.

 

I locked the bike and went for a calming walk on its dirt trails. The island is an oasis of green in the Potomac River only a few hundred yards from the Sunday brunchers on the riverfront in Georgetown. It would be an incredibly relaxing place but the noise from airplanes flying into National Airport and the cars rumbling across the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge ruined the ambiance.

Teddy Trail

Before leaving I did an Interwebs search for pizza. I was hungry. There’s an Italian place right next to the Custis Trail about 2 miles away. It’s called The Italian Place. Damned clever if you ask me. So I rode up the long hill out to Rosslyn then up some more until the universe decided I had had enough. After a half mile down hill run, I came to the place. They should change its name to The Place with the Incredibly Long Line. I was took a number. 87. Then I heard them call “47!” I walked out.

I continued on the trail up/down/up/down/up/down etc. Until I came to a flat stretch. Lance Mamilot came riding past from the other direction. He blew a snot rocket to his right. Then just as I reached him he blew one to his left. What an asshole! I got a misty spray of his nasal excretions on my left leg. Ewwww!

At the W&OD Trail I headed back toward home. Nineteen miles down, only 17 miles to go. I decided to leave the trail at US 1 and work my way through the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. I stopped at Del Ray Pizzeria. I was going to get t

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hat pizza after all. Sadly, they don’t serve individual slices. This was almost as upsetting as the snot rocket and the Arte Johnson. I had a cheese steak instead.  It was humongous. I looked great but did not live up to its visual wonderfulness. It was probably a good cheese steak as cheese steaks go, but I am not much of a cheese steak person. Nick Hornby once remarked that there are well written books that are poorly read. Perhaps this was a good cheese steak that was poorly tasted.

In any case, the cheese steak came with tater tots. Tater tots cure everything. I’ll bet that if Arte Johnson ate tater tots, he’d have stayed upright.

 

 

 

Doing All the Things

What a beautiful Saturday. I could have gone for a hike but I had things to do. Eight things to be exact.

Thing 1

I rode my bike to the government center down the street and I voted. I could vote early because I will be out of town on election day. The only down side to voting early is that other voters don’t get to see me bike to the polls. Oh well, at least I got a new sticker.

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I bike and I vote

Thing 2

Next up, I rode to the drug store to score some drugs. Okay, it was asthma medicine which isn’t all that exciting until I don’t have it when I need it.

Thing 3

I rode the Mount Vernon Trail to the farmer’s market it Old Town Alexandria. The place was packed. There were apples. LOTS of apples. I didn’t buy any. I was just people watching. There were people. LOTS of people. I didn’t know any.

Thing 4

Next up was a Thai massage. After all the biking I’ve been doing, it was time to cash in the gift card that Mrs. Rootchopper gave me on my birthday in August. It was for a one-hour session including a foot bath. I’d never had a foot bath like this before. The therapist kneaded my feet. I laughed through the whole thing except when it hurt. I have tender puppies. So it hurt quite a lot. When it was over, it felt pretty awesome. If you are a runner, you should have a soaking foot massage.

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Thai massage place in Old Town

Then the message happened. Dang are my muscles tight. After 20 minutes, I asked to extend my message for an extra 30 minutes. This was going to take some time. My massage therapist was Dau. She did a great job. Some of it hurt but I told her to keep working on the sore parts anyway. It differed from the other Thai massage I had last year. For one thing, I was on a massage table instead of on a cushion on the floor. This gave Dau a different angle on manipulating my body. Another difference is that, although my legs were tight, I did not have numbness in my right leg. Last time the therapist had to limit the work on my thighs.

When it was over I walked out feeling totally relaxed. My thighs were so relaxed. I had no idea how tight they were. And my back felt like new.

I am not a massage kind of guy. I usually feel like I have better things to do with my time. This was different. It was definitely worth the time and money.

Thing 5

Mrs. Rootchopper does the grocery shopping after her Saturday morning Pilates class. I forgot to tell her that we needed coffee and raisins. So I swung by the grocery store to get some. They fit nicely in my Carradice saddle bag.

Thing 6

After I got home, I mowed the lawn. During summer our back lawn grows much faster than the front. In autumn, the front grows faster. Either way, it’s much easier to mow the lawn when it’s not 95 degrees outside.

Thing 7

I read the paper. Two hours later I woke up. This is primo napping weather. Resistance is futile.

Thing 8

I bought tickets for my daughter to fly home for Thanksgiving. Free. Boy am I glad Southwest flies into National Airport.

 

Closing Day

When I went to sleep Wednesday night, my intention was to spend Thursday at work then ride home and watch the Nationals play the Dodgers in the deciding game of their baseball playoff series. Having watched scores of games both at the ballpark and on television (not to mention listening to a few on the radio), I was totally psyched that this would be a ballgame for the ages.

So, during the morning, I bought a ticket. I headed to the ballpark on Deets and prepared for a long night. The game started just after 8 pm, an hour after the normal starting time, to accommodate a national television broadcast. This meant that the game would probably not be over in time for fans to take the subway home. The subway system steadfastly refused to extend its hours. So fans had to improvise. The hashtag #natsride and account @natsride sprung up over the last few days to facilitate carpooling. Many others chose to bike to the game, like me.

Prior to the game I ate dinner after which I ran into Kevin from the bike tour. Later in the evening, he offered to get me some World Series tickets which was incredibly thoughtful. We were sitting in opposite sides of the ballpark so we parted ways. Soon after reaching my seat in the left field grandstand, Klarence and Lauren walked down the aisle to my left. They had come to try and get a ball during batting practice. Klarence and I had a long talk, probably our last one for quite a while as our social paths rarely cross anymore. Hugs happened. Then they went off to keep score in their perch in the seats high above the Nats on deck circle.

Normally, when I go to a baseball game alone, my introversion melts away and I strike up a mini-friendship with the folks sitting nearby. It’s a very conversational vibe. Last night was different. Fans were on their feet for most of the game, cheering and waving red towels. The atmosphere was more like a football or hockey game.

The Nationals’ ace was on the mound. The Dodgers eventually got to him and some relievers for four runs. The crowd stilled. Then the Nats scored a run. Woot! Then a Nats pinch hitter hit a two run homer. Pandemonium!

Since this a win or else situation, the managers used every trick in the book and played nearly everyone they had. At 11:30 the scoreboard announced that the last train was leaving the nearby subway station in a few minutes. The crowd booed! Loudly! (Good luck getting support for fare increases, Metro.)  The game dragged on. Finally, in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Nationals sent up the best hitter in baseball to face the best left handed pitcher in a generation. Our man popped up. Down to their last pinch hitter, the Nationals sent a rookie to the plate. It would have been so cool if he got a hit. Alas, he struck out lamely and the Dodgers won. After over 4 1/2 hours, the longest 9-inning post season game in baseball history.

What a strange feeling it is to go from sensing a euphoric victory to suffering a buzz killing defeat. The crowd went silent. In the distance, you could hear the Dodgers celebrating on the infield. Fans, wiped out from emotion and the late hour, began their long slog home at 12:30 in the morning.

The bike valet was stuffed with bikes. Some were locked to the top of a ten foot high chain link fence that contains the bike racks. Many were simply leaning against other bikes. I was lucky to get out in a reasonable amount of time. After greeting Kevin again, I thought of waiting to say goodbye to my other friends at the game but it was already close to 1 am so I rode off into the dark.

Most of the crowd stayed until the final out. The traffic outside the ballpark was insane. Traffic signals were ignored. Traffic control officers seemed to be completely overwhelmed. Riding a bike under these conditions is like being a running back going off tackle. You just look for the gaps and ride to daylight. Or in this case, headlight.

The ride home along the Mount Vernon Trail featured a steady tailwind. I was groggy but I have ridden this trail so many times that I was nearly confirming that I can ride home in my sleep. Another cyclist followed me all the way to Old Town, about nine miles from the ballpark.

Then I was on my own. The only sign of life I saw was two lights next to the trail. A fox? Raccoon? Opossum?

I pulled into my yard at 2:30.

What better way to soothe the disappointment of a season ending loss than to ride 16 miles under the stars in a crisp autumn breeze.

Only 171 days until opening day.

 

The Cold, The Deer and The BMW

Dang it was cold this morning. On with the tights. On with the long sleeve shirts. On with the wool socks. On with the vest. On with the lobster gloves.

I am such a weather wimp. It was in the high 40s but I was prepping for 40 below. And I was still cold for the first five miles.

Once I warmed up, I began to notice what an absolutely awesome fall day it was. The sun reflecting off the Potomac.A great blue heron perched on a log waiting to strike a fish amid the hydrilla. A passenger jet taking off over the Mount Vernon Trail at unusually low altitude. The Washington Monument. Not half bad.

My re-set odometer and over did it. It was a half mile farther to work. Oops.

The ride home was pretty sweet. 60s. Sunny skies. A puffy white cloud here and there. It still felt cold but I think it was all in my head.

South of the beltway I admired the beginning of fall colors. Then a deer darted in front of me. A young fawn. Just as I was about to pass behind her, a second deer bounded across my path. She wasn’t all that big either but it was a good thing I kept my head up otherwise I’d have been clobbered.

Emerging from the trail onto Northbound Road, I spotted a BMW making its way toward me with the intent of turning onto the George Washington Memorial Parkway to my right, the driver’s left. Instead of coming down the right lane, the driver took the left lane, my lane. Quelle le fuck?

I wagged my finger at the idjit behind the wheel.

For the last two miles nothing tried to run me over.

You have to be thankful for the little things.