Errandonnee: An Alarming Finish

With warm air and a strong tailwind, I rode to DC for my final errand. Along the way, I watched three raptors fighting above the Belle Haven eagle nest. Crazy.

It’s Friday and that means Friday Coffee Club. And it’s the season opener for the Washington Nationals. Woot!

Errand No. 12: Social – Friday Coffee Club

Destination: Swings House of Caffeine, 17th and G Streets NW

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, outdoor
Fire Alarm Coffee Club

Observation: When I got to Swings a fire alarm went off. And all the coffee people came outside. I felt like an arriving celebrity. The alarm stopped. I ordered coffee and a muffin and a second alarm went off. So out we went into the wonderfully warm weather. Again. We finally got back inside for good though.

The ride home was into that wind that was so kind to me on the way in. Both coming and going I passed the peripatetic Joe Flood who was out searching for cherry blossoms. (He found a few.) I stopped at the gym for Andrea’s secret sauce (weight training). She’s doing a 200K randonnee event tomorrow. Go girl.

And so that’s a wrap on my Errandonnee for 2018. Eagles and garage bike races and coffee with friends and physical therapy and Italian subs and gyms and stores. It was fun. Special thanks to Mary for running this crazy event again.

 

 

Advertisements

Errandonee: Peaceful Everyday Actions

Being retired, I am practically specializing in peaceful everyday actions. My intent today was to take advantage of the fact that it was actually spring like outside and the season opening away game for my team (the Washington Nationals) was postponed to tomorrow.

I rode to DC to check out the cherry blossoms. If you want to max out your peaceful experience, it is best to go at dawn when the trees are in full bloom. Alas, it was after 1 p.m. when I arrived and the blooms were well short of full.

I rode Ohio Drive to Hains Point in the lame hope of seeing the trees along the roadway showing off their snowy blossom best. No dice.

Undeterred I headed back over to Virginia where I rode the bike trails around Arlington County. On my way back home, I took the Mount Vernon Trail. In the marsh near Daingerfield Island I spotted an immense snowy egret perched in a tree like a character from a Dr. Seuss book.

He was hard to miss being at a distance and at approximate eye level. I am so spoiled that I often forget to check out the bald eagle nests further south on the trail. Today I paid deliberate attention and was rewarded with quite a sight. A large bald eagle was perched above the nest near Tulane Drive. I pulled over and just took the sight in for 15 minutes. Although I was conspicuous in my eagle gazing, none of the passing trail users stopped to see what I was looking up at. Their loss.

Image may contain: tree, sky, bird, plant and outdoor

I left the eagle to his sentry duty and rolled home. I was pretty tired, a result of the warmer, moister air and riding 98 miles in two days.

Errand No. 11:  Peaceful Everyday Action – Eagle Gazing

Destination: The Tulane Bald Eagle Nest

Observation: The cherry blossoms aren’t the only thing in bloom around here. The wildlife population is about to explode. In the last two days I’ve seen egrets, ospreys, herons, an owl, and bald eagles. And last night I heard spring peepers. Sadly, the explosion of clueless tourists is also upon us. Treat them with kindness. They’ll be gone soon enough.

My distance today was 41 miles. Bringing my total to 168.5.

Errandonnee: Bikes, Grilled Cheese, Pie, Puppy, and Owl

Well, it was a nearly nice day here in DC with temperatures in the 50s and light winds. Light rain was the only thing keeping me from celebrating. I rode 29 miles, mostly in the Fort Hunt and Woodlawn areas before finding myself at the gym. After a half hour of weight lifting, I rode home. Lunch was followed by a lame attempt at listening to a podcast. When I awoke it was time to leave for the Crystal City garage bike races.

The 11 1/2 mile ride in the rain was not unpleasant. Faint praise, I know.

Shortly after arriving at the garage, I had a grilled cheese sandwich with guacamole and jalapenos peppers. I somehow managed to refrain from ordering another. Maybe it was because of the cherry pie I had for desert.

Bob “Don’t call me Rachel” Cannon and his wife Elizabeth brought three dogs that were being put up for adoption. One was a mere puppy. I would have taken a picture but it broke the cute-o-meter on my iPhone.

Then the races began. Every time I see people racing bikes all I can think of his “You have to be insane to do this.” I stood with Laura from the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. She was checking out the scene with the intent of racing next week. Let’s just say that Laura appears to be a few spokes shy of a wheel. (Hey, pretty cool name for a blog!)

After the races I rode home. About halfway there I rode the long wooden bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail behind the Slaters Lane apartment building. As I turned a corner I saw something standing on the railing of the bridge. It was an owl looking right at me. He was over a foot tall and seemed unconcerned with my presence.

Errand No. 10: Arts and Entertainment

Destination: Crystal City, Virginia

Observation: Pie+Grilled Cheese+Owl+puppies+garage bicycle races = successful hump day

IMG_0949

This one took 23 miles to do. Total miles for the Errrandonnee so far is 127.5.

Errandonnee: Fixing My Bike and My Body

Yesterday, I tweaked the tension on the leather saddle on my Cross Check. After getting the swale out of it, I measured Little Nellie’s saddle for height and distance from the handlebars. I applied these measurements to the Cross Check saddle position. I moved it up and back about 1/2 centimeter each.

I’ve been doing physical therapy to get rid of pain in my left shoulder and upper arm. I had no appointments this week because my therapist was booked solid. Someone canceled and I took the 2:30 slot. I rode about five miles beyond the therapist just to try out the new arrangement on my Cross Check. Verdict: perfect.

Errand No. 9: Other

Destination: The Jackson Clinic in Old Town Alexandria (next to the Sport and Health fitness center)

Observation: It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly tiny adjustments to a bicycle saddle can take a bike from pain to pleasure.

IMG_0946

Errandonnee: Past the Halfway Mark

The big news today was we got a spiffy new dishwasher because the old one died. The installed turned it on and we didn’t realize it. This is going to take some getting used to.

Before that though I had time enough to get out on my bike.

Errand No. 7: Personal Care

Destination: Mount Vernon Rec Center

Observation: I can’t figure out how to dress for this weather. I wore three layers including the holey sweater and was overdressed. This could be it for my favorite cycling garment. It’s more holes than sweater now.

Image may contain: outdoor

Errand  No. 8: Personal Business

Destination: The Italian Store in Old Town Alexandria

Observation: While Mrs. RC waited for the dishwasher installer to come, I decided to grab some Italian subs for lunch. I had to lock my bike to street sign a block away (the store is the white building with the Italian flag on it). Alexandria needs more bike racks.

Image may contain: one or more people, motorcycle and outdoor

So another day, another exciting errand-running adventure. I did 22 miles during my gym/sub excursion for a total of 80 1/2 miles.

 

Errandonnee Part Deux

Yesterday I took the day off from bicycling to go to the March for Our Lives in DC. We drove and took Metro for a number of reasons and it worked out remarkably well.

Today, I got back in the saddle with an old friend, Little Nellie. Little Nellie is my Bike Friday New World Tourist. She has a hair over 19,000 miles on her. I recently put a new large chainring, cassette, rear wheel, rear tire, rear tube, and chain on her.

Errand No. 5: Non-store Errand, a test ride to make sure all the new stuff was working properly.

Destination: Around the neighborhood

Observation: I was half expecting my rear tire to explode because it was so hard to install and the wire bead was slightly bent. So I rode over a couple of potholes to stress it. To my chagrin, I found that the shifting was messed up. The chain was jumping over the big sprocket and getting jammed between the cassette and the spokes. On the opposite end of the cassette, the chain was making unpleasant noises. Be careful what you wish for; you might end up with something worse.

IMG_0942

So the first errand resulted in a second errand.

Errand No. 6: Store

Destination: Spokes Etc. At Belle View, my local bike shop

Observation: If I ever move, I will make sure I have a good local bike shop nearby. Spokes has been my go to shop for over 25 years. More often than not (like today, for instance), they do minor repairs while you wait. The Spokes mechanic (Sean, I think) figured out what was wrong within seconds. The new hub of my rear wheel is sized for an 11-speed cassette. My cassette has only nine speeds. He installed a proper spacer and tweaked things a little. In five minutes I was on the road again. Bicycles are so much more fun when they are in proper working order.

 

IMG_0943
Spokes Service Area. Note: neither mechanic is Sean. He is bashful. 

The fix was so good that I took off and rode another 16 1/2 miles for a total of  24. Total miles so far in the Errandonnee: 58 1/2

 

Errandonnnee Lift Off

The 2018 Errandonnee is underway and so am I. After cowering in fear of ice for a couple of days, I got my errandonee going with four errands in one day. I covered 34 1/2 miles in the process.

Errand No. 1: Social Call

Destination: Swings for Friday Coffee Club

Observation: I got up and left the house well before dawn, took the inland route (which takes about 10 minutes longer than the Mount Vernon Trail) to avoid ice, and rode 15 miles into a cold headwind for hot coffee and a muffin. And friends. Totally worth it. Also, Ricky brought pound cake left over from his birthday. He is so old he wears a winter hat indoors.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sitting, table and indoor

Errand No. 2: Store

Destination: REI in DC

Observations: There was a 20 percent off sale and two of my three pairs of rain pants are kaput. So I bought a second pair of Showers Pass Elite pants. Love them. Also, the store is in the building that housed the first US Beatles concert. And to think I am just 54 years and a month late. Also, thanks to Jeff Wetzel for giving me directions from Friday Coffee Club to REI. He threw in a tail wind too.

Image may contain: bicycle and outdoor

Errand No. 3: Personal Care

Destination: Mount Vernon Recreation Center

Observation: Last week, my physical therapist told me to lift less weight and to lift it sloooowly. It works better than lifting lots of weight and there’s less chance of getting hurt.

Image may contain: outdoor

Errand No. 4: Personal Business

Destination: Sherwood Hall Gourmet

Observation: This deli is about 1/2 mile from home. I could have eaten at home but their sandwiches are good and I get to support a local business. I had a Gary’s Lunchbox, chips, and a Diet Pepsi. Lunch of champions.

No automatic alt text available.

As is usually the case, the Errandonnee comes at a time when my easy errands are hard to come by. I don’t work any more, I don’t have any physical therapy or doctor’s appointments, and I am probably skipping a volunteer opportunity this week so I can attend the Crystal City garage bike races.

 

 

 

 

Dishwashers and Dings: Adulting Isn’t Worth the Worry

When I returned from my bike tour I planned every day to include reading, working out, bicycling or hiking, learning guitar, meditating, listening to a podcast or watching a movie, and doing one adult thing. I had to swap physical therapy for guitar plucking because fretting the guitar was messing up the already problematic nerves in my left arm. Lately, I have been slacking at adulting. I didn’t do the paperwork for getting Irish citizenship, for example. And I haven’t dealt with the window ding in the windshield of one of our cars. (It’s small but it’s right smack dab in the driver’s line of sight.)

My planned adult activity today was to shovel snow. Mrs. RC did a round of shoveling while I was eating breakfast. The forecast called for snow all day so I was expecting to go outside and shovel in the late afternoon. I spent the early part of the day listening to a podcast, doing my back exercises, and watching a spring training baseball game. The anticipated snow never actually accumulated, because of warmer temperatures so I decided to ride my bike in the basement.

I was about 50 minutes into my ride when I felt a wet sensation on my left ankle. I thought it was another random nerve pain from my blood thinners. Then I felt another sensation. I stopped and looked up. The basement ceiling (actually the kitchen subfloor) was dripping water. Our 21 year old dishwasher had sprung a leak.

So I turned it off. I arrayed a bunch of pails and buckets under the drips and called a plumber. Two hours later the plumber called back and said that plumbers don’t do appliances, appliance repair people do. So I called the one he recommended and washed and dried the dishes in the dishwasher.

Now it turns out that a dishwasher is only supposed to last about 10 years. So I think I will go dishwasher shopping after my physical therapy appointment tomorrow. Of course, the options are absurdly numerous. And I am the world’s most incompetent consumer. I have a hard time buying furniture and lamps and such. (We still don’t have any deck furniture six and a half years after replacing our deck.)

I keep reminding my self that these latest irritating bits of life are pretty small potatoes. In the last 2 years I’ve been hit by an SUV, hauled off to the hospital in an ambulance at 3 a.m. with chest pains, nearly run over by a dump truck, and knocked down for a standing eight count with pulmonary embolisms and a collapsed lung. I’m a slacker compared to Mrs. Rootchopper. She was run over by an SUV and had salivary cancer, both in the last five or six years.

Dishwashers and car windshield dings somehow don’t make the cut anymore as things to lose sleep over. So we’ll do the grown up thing and deal with them. Like adults.

Not My Kind of Day

I feel like bitching and moaning.

  • I went to my physical therapy appointment today. For the better part of a month I’ve been rehabbing a nerve problem in my left shoulder and arm. I’ve now gone to nine appointments. I have nearly all my range of motion back but it still hurts when the arm and shoulder bear weight or move in certain ways. Thursday is my last appointment. I think it’s time to try acupuncture again. At least I got a big foam roller that makes my back feel great out of the deal.
  • Today is the first day of the 2018 Errandonnee contest. It was cold and rainy with the possibility of ice accumulation here in the DC area. I can’t risk falling while on blood thinners so I had to forgo riding to physical therapy and lunch which would have easily knocked off two of my twelve errands. We are getting a freak snow storm tomorrow so that knocks that day out as well. And Saturday is out because I am going to a march in DC with Mrs. RC. So I am down to nine days, at most, to complete my 12 errands. I rode Big Nellie in the basement just to keep sane.

No automatic alt text available.

  • A few weeks ago I ordered a new rear wheel, hub, and chain for Little Nellie from the manufacturer, Bike Friday, in Oregon. I have been waiting weeks for this to get here. It took them a week to get around to building the wheel. Only then did they discover that they didn’t have the cassette I ordered in stock. So I had to wait for that to arrive at their shop. So it finally came today. Yay! When I opened the box and pulled out the wheel, I decided to mount a tube and tire to it and get the bike back on the road. Only then did I discover that Schrader tire valve wouldn’t fit through the hole in the wheel rim. This is a first for me in over 40 years of bike riding as an adult. They drilled the rim hole to accept narrower, presta valves which are not readily available on small (406) tubes. When I called them, they suggested I take it to a bike shop and have the hole drilled out. Really? Now I wish I had had the wheel made locally in the first place. Anyway, I told them to ship me three presta valved tubes instead. (They’ll work fine on my old front wheel which has a Schrader sized hole.)
  • My Cross Check and I are not getting along. When I got back from my bike tour on The Mule, the Cross Check didn’t feel right. I was sliding forward on my saddle. So I tilted the nose of the saddle up a couple of weeks ago. My mechanics instantly improved. Unfortunately, after a 51 mile ride, my back started to ache like mad. So I tilted it back and rode 23 miles. No back pain. Go figure. After that ride, I moved the saddle forward just a bit in the hopes of getting the better mechanics back. I’ll fiddle and diddle with it some more over the next couple of weeks. One annoying thing about this bike is that tilting the saddle is very hard to do, much harder on my Bike Friday or The Mule. I actually need a hammer to free up the metal cradle that the seat hardware sits in.
  • Some bike tourists from Arlington are riding north from Jacksonville this week. The plan is to ride all the way to DC. They are riding along the coast, generally following the East Coast Greenway. They report that riding US 17 is not a lot of fun, but they are making good progress. Unfortunately today is crummy weather in South Carolina.

Bulldogs and Bicycles on a March Sunday

Well the day began with the loss of our adopted college basketball team in the NCAA tournament. My daughter went to Butler University so we adopted the Bulldogs. The game itself is only mildly interesting to me. Watching Mrs. Rootchopper lose her mind and yell at the TV greatly adds to the fun. She was raised in Indiana so it must be in her blood.

After the game I took off on my Cross Check despite a stiff back. I am king of ailments these days, aren’t I? I had nowhere to go and a little under five hours of daylight to get there. So I went. Up river into a light wind. Temperatures were in the high 50Fs.

Of course, the Mount Vernon Trail was crowded. I am always amused when I pass under an eagle nest and I am the only one who knows to look up. I didn’t see any action at the Morningside nest but there were two adults in the Tulane nest. I could only glimpse their white heads but I’ll bet they have an egg or two to tend. Photos from the third nest in Dyke March along what is called the haul road show two adults. One of them appeared to be feeding eaglets chunks of fish.

The ride north was really pretty splendid. I stopped to check out the monuments across the river in DC.

Not half bad. Did I mention the skies were blue?

IMG_0907

I rode up to Rosslyn where I used to work and crossed the Key Bridge into Georgetown. The sidewalks were absolutely packed with people. And M Street was packed with cars. I made my way down to Water Street and took that to the Capital Crescent Trail. Cars that were turning around were clogging up the entrance. I made it past them unscathed and took my time grinding up the trail to Bethesda. I saw three massive trees that had been blown down by our recent wind storm. I’ll bet the ground shook when they landed. Along the trail I saw several cherry trees in near bloom. They were pink and just waiting to explode in white. Sorry trees, but there’s a snow storm coming.

The trail ends at Bethesda Row, a neighborhood of shops and shoppers. I checked my phone and figured out how to ride to Rock Creek Park. Until recently, you could take the unpaved Georgetown Branch Trail, but it’s closed. As it turned out I made it to the park with only one turn. I also probably climbed every hill in Chevy Chase Maryland in the process. I am pleased to report that my lungs and legs did just fine.

Most of Beach Drive, the main drag through Rock Creek Park, is closed to motor vehicles on Sundays. I plodded along riding the slight downhill back toward downtown DC. The road is actually at the base of a canyon which is a pretty darn cool thing to have smack dab in the middle of a city. Alas, road construction diverted me out of the canyon. I rode uphill on busy Military Road. And my lungs and legs didn’t complain at all. Once at the top, I turned back into the park and rode all the way back down. If I wasn’t afraid of falling and dying, I’d have opened it up on the descent. My new life motto is YODO and I am not ready to shuffle off this mortal coil just yet.

The rest of the ride through the park was uneventful and pleasant. I followed the trail past the zoo and a graveyard and the end of the C&O Canal and the Watergate complex. I made it over the Kennedy Center washboard without losing a single filing. Beach volleyball, Lincoln Memorial, polo field, softball field, cricket pitch, Tidal Basin, Jefferson Memorial. And back over to Virginia on the 14th Street bridge.

The slight tail wind aided my return home. I rolled into the driveway at sunset. 51 miles of bicycle goodness.

We might have lost the game but we won the day.