Riding to Eagles and Beatles

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The weather was perfect for a bike ride. Yay, April. So off I went on Little Nellie to DC. As I passed beneath the Morningside eagle nest I spotted a white head sticking up from the nest. I couldn’t tell if it was an eagle or an opportunistic osprey but it gave me an idea for a destination: the National Arboretum and its bald eagle nest.

I took the Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River. The climb away from the river passes the enormous new MGM casino complex. It’s a whole lot of ugly, but you can eat at posh restaurants and see a show and throw away your hard earned dollars there. Go get ’em. I’ll pass.

At the top of the hill, I took a sidewalk (because MDOT hasn’t figured out how to accommodate bicyclist for beans in this area) to Oxon Hill Farm and descended back to the river. You see this climb and descent is required because MDOT couldn’t figure out how to add a trail along the river as there has been in Virginia for over 45 years.

The descent was a little scary because my left hand is messed up from getting jammed in flood debris on my hike yesterday. I think a small piece of wood may be lodged in my left middle finger. So braking is rather difficult.

I rode through Anacostia and made my way to Anacostia Park where there was a big festival. I ran into Nelle and Ursula from WABA. They were busy getting set up for the event.  At an adjacent booth I talked with Carlos (I think that’s his name) who used to work in my local bike shop. He immediately recognized Little Nellie and asked how many miles she had on her (17,500+). Carlos did good work.

After being social for a few minutes I went back into introverted rider bliss mode along the Anacostia River.  Puffy clouds and blue skies were reflected in its calm waters. I crossed over the river on the Benning Road overpass and took busy Benning northeast. Not a lot of fun but it got the job done. No way I would ride this street on a weekday. Two more busy, bike-hostile roads (17th Street and Blandensburg Road) and I was into the Arboretum. I walked by bike past a road block allowing only pedestrians to enter. Alas, further up the road a more restrictive sign appeared. No entry. Period. So I turned around.

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You can check out the bald eagle nest on dceaglecam.org.  There are two very cute eaglets in the nest right now. They seem to be thriving for all I know.

After my eagle fail,  I headed across town to the new REI store where a free beer event was to be held later in the day.  I arrived way too early so instead of drinking beer I went gawked at all the merchandise. It’s a outdoorsy wet dream. Kayaks and bikes and clothing, oh my.

The store is in the renovated Uline Arena, the site of the first Beatles concert in the US. (The place was called the Washington Sports Arena back in 1964.) The store gives a nod to this history (and other events that happened there) by putting replicas of concert posters on the concrete support posts in the store. The Beatles concert occurred a few days before their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show that I watched in my jammies. (I found it utterly incomprehensible. I had three older brothers who, like every other kid in the country, became big fans. As, eventually, did I.)

After being overwhelmed with retail madness I headed home. The traffic on the streets and the trails was quite heavy. Tourists were stopping without warning on their bike share bikes. A couple of Lance Mamilots tried to impress the word with their speedy and agile bike riding on the narrow Mount Vernon Trail. The annoyances were minor.

I made it home to watch the end of the baseball game and to re-lube my chain. Yesterday I removed the clipless pedals from Big Nellie. Today I remove the matching cleats from my biking shoes. I am an old school toe clip dude. Sue me.

Postscript: the piece of wood in my finger popped out while doing dishes tonight. All in one piece. That’s never happened to me before. It looked like a dark brown rice kernel. Ewww

Errandonnees No. 10 and 11 – Blossoms and Mouthwash

Hey, I run out of clever titles sometimes. Shoot me.

My first errand of the day was for a near peak viewing of the fabled DC cherry blossoms. I had already made two attempts to have the blossoms soothe my soul but was disappointed by the lackluster bloomage. Yesterday, I was in Old Town Alexandria and parked under a cherry tree in full bloom. Then I saw this beauty in Rosslyn near work.

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So I had to go back to the Tidal Basin for another look. Today was a different story. Far more of the trees were in bloom than I expected. It was quite a show. Little Nellie stopped for a photo with some blossoms and the Jefferson Memorial.

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After this I rode to Hains Point for more blossom goodness.

Errand No. 10

Category: Wild Card

Miles; 6

Observation: I was in a good mood when I left work. On the way to the Tidal Basin I passed a friend who had a scowl on her face. We were once close but haven’t talked in over a year. I wondered if the scowl was meant for me. What a drag. Then I spent a half hour among the blossoms. Good mood restored.

My second errand of the day was a top at the drug store for some mouthwash. Pretty lame but it’s only 1/8th of a mile off route from my ride home. That is unless you forget to take a picture and have to double back.

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Errand No. 11

Category: A store.

Miles: 1/2

Observation: This is Rite Aid’s busiest pharmacy because so many old people live in my neighborhood. We get a discount because we buy more drugs than most junkies. Asthma and glaucoma do have their upside after all.

Errandonnee No. 6: Little Nellie Robs a Bank

On the way home, I diverted a bit to try out my new, no-fee, bank anywhere debit card. It didn’t work at this magic money machine. Boo. So I used my Suntrust Card. I have no idea who the dude in the picture is.

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Category: Personal Business

Miles: 1/2

Observation: I remember when ATMs were a new thing. Now I rarely use them. You gotta have some cash to go to the ballgame. And I am going next Friday. It had better not rain.

Errandonnee No. 4 – Humpday Headwinds

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So Little Nellie and I rode to work again. Big surprise, no?

We rode into a strong headwind the entire way. The winds got even worse north of the airport. Maybe it was the psychological effect of seeing white caps on the river. At least I won the battle of the TRUMP, the Teddy Roosevelt Uber Mulch Pit.

There is a pretty nice bike parking room in my office building. I park Little Nellie on the floor but soon the spring peepers will be here to steal my floor space. Little Nellie will go up on one of the 18 hanging racks we have.

My hard ride to work will be rewarded with a stop at the WABA happy hour tonight in Del Ray. One should never pass up a beer and a tailwind.

Category: Work

Miles: 29 1/2

Observation: Headwinds make you think about nothing but the task at hand. They may be physically exhausting but they bring on a sort of riding meditation: this is the present moment and the present moment sucks.

 

 

Errandonnee No. 3: Mulching to Work

I chose Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist with little wheels, to ride to work. Everything was going along just fine until we hit the mulch pit of death near Teddy Roosevelt Island. Wee wheels won’t work here. So I dismounted. And took a picture.

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Category: Work

Miles: 29 1/2 (round trip). So I’ve already hit the Errandonnee limit.

Observation: Spring bike commuters are starting to appear. They were generally well behaved today. This evening will almost certainly bring out the Lance Mamilots, who ride like asshats only to demonstrate their frail male egos and small man parts.

 

Milestone No. 3: Little Nellie Hits 17

I rode to work and went to the baseball game last night. On the way home I managed to avoid running across (quite literally) a homeless person splayed across the access path to the Case Bridge trail.  Somewhere just shy of the Olympic drunk slalom that is Old Town on a Saturday night, Little Nellie’s odometer turned 17,000 miles.

The next milestone will be in a week to ten days. I’ve been working on it for 25 years. Stay tuned.

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Beer Truck Wake

Earlier this year I rode to work on a day with rain and coastal flooding. The Mount Vernon Trail was under several inches of water in spots. The flooding was so extensive that the only alternatives were to turn around or ride through. I rode through. The water came over the tops of my GoreTex boots and soaked my feet. My wool socks kept my feet warm enough but they started to go numb during the last mile on the ride to work.

It has been raining here for several days. As I rode across the Dyke Marsh bridge, where I often take sunrise pictures, I could see the river had risen to almost even with the bridge decking. On the north side of the bridge I could see water on both sides of the trail. Unlike earlier this year, I was riding Little Nellie, my Bike Friday with little wheels.

No guts, no glory. I rode on. I slowed down to keep my front wheel from kicking up the water but it was fruitless. The water was so deep that it soaked my feet. I couldn’t go around it either. The flooding extended well beyond the trail. There were occasional breaks in the water but the sloshing went on for about a quarter mile. Little Nellie is immersible. Who knew?

In Old Town the base of King Street was underwater. Normally when this happens, police block it off. I assumed the water wasn’t that deep. Wrong.

Ooogah! Ooogah! All dive!

A beer truck pulled out of an alley and entered the depths. Fortunately it was going slowly but its wake came up almost to Little Nellie’s axles.

After a few more feet of this, I dropped some ballast and surfaced.

By now my feet were soaking wet, but at least this day the water was not ice cold.

And to think I was going to telecommute today.

 

Errands and Bunnies

I don’t feel good. I think the emergence of pollen has caused major bodily malfunction. I will feel fine in a week. Until then I will be moving around in a daze and my tummy will hurt.

All of which is no excuse to skip running errands on my bike.

I began the day driving to the bike store (not a qualifying errand) to pick up The Mule after its 40,000 mile maintenance. It feels like a new bike. The wheels and pedals turn freely. The brakes make it stop. Bring The Mule home gave me a happy face. Thanks to the folks at Spokes Etc. in Belle Haven, my local bike shop, for taking care of my baby.

Once I got home and put all the bags and doodads back on The Mule, I took off on Little Nellie to buy some drugs. I bought some awesome windowpane and som25234599180_7aca9ab239_me truly righteous weed from my local dealer named Cosmo.

Actually, that’s a lie. I rode Little Nellie 1 1/2 miles to the Rite Aid to buy my asthma medicine. So much for my exciting life. Lungs gotta breathe. I nearly had a heart attack when the pharmacist charged me $200. All last year, inexplicably, the same medicine had been free. I honestly don’t mind paying but the inconsistency adds yet another layer to my bewilderment with the health care and health insurance industries in this country.

After riding 25235709060_4e25063c91_mhome, I changed into my hiking boots and rode Little Nellie to Spokes for some TLC. I was expecting to walk home, but Chris, the mechanic at Spokes had other ideas. Little Nellie’s rear shifting sucks. It has sucked for a couple of years. I replaced the cable and housing a few months ago to no avail. So I was all set to buy a new derailleur and shifters. Chris said that my derailleur worked fine but my shifter was toast. He looked up shifters on their on-line catalogue and could only find expensive Shimano Dura-Ace shifters to work with my 9 speed cassette. Then he found a part that cost $10 that might solve the problem. We agreed that I would swing by on my way home from work and they’d swap the part out.

Instead of hiking home I rode. I was not feeling well at all. My belly feels like its going to explode and my head felt like I was stoned. I made the ride home in o24912322314_c12863a9d5_mne piece.

Then I took a two hour nap.

I woke up just before nightfall. Mrs. Rootchopper and I drove into DC to check out the giant inflatable bunny rabbits in Yards Park. All I can say is artists sure have strange minds. Judging from the smiles of all the people milling about I’d say we could use some more of this whimsicality in our lives. Here are some bunny pictures.

Errandonnee Control Card Entries

Errand No. 2

Category: Personal Care

Miles: 3

Observation: Why is health care such a confusing mess in this country?

Errand No.3

Category: Bike Shop

Miles: 8 1/2

Observation: I am so grateful to have a good bike shop (Spokes Etc.) near my home, There are many more (Papillon, Bicycle Space, Wheel Nuts, CityBikes to name a few) within a 20 mile radius). If you want to have nice things like a good local bike shop, you need to give them your patronage.

 

 

 

 

Errandonnee No. 1: Little Nellie Goes to the Cleaners

The Errandonnee 2016 starts today. The idea behind this friendly contest is to ride 12 errands in 12 days. There are rules because, well, there are always rules.  I worked from home so I missed out on a coffee run (which qualifies in the social run category) and a bike commute (which qualifies in the very clever ride to work category).

At about 3 pm, I started feeling not so hot, but I still wanted to do an errand, so I went to get my dry cleaning. It would be more convenient to have my dry cleaning done at the shop in the building where I work, but the people who run my local shop are nice folks and I want to support them.

The ride was 2 1/2 mile round trip. It was cold and a bit breezy. Apparently, the turn signals on many cars in my neighborhood don’t work. This was annoying but I decided not to let the drivers kill me anyway. I did not die. By the time I got home, I felt almost like I wanted to die. My tummy and my head hurt.

I think I’ll curl up with a good book, have a beer, and hope Mr. Sandman does his thing.

Control Card  Entry No. 1

Category: Store (might qualify in a couple of others)

Distance: 2 1/2 miles

Errand: Pick up the dry cleaning. (It was only a pair of slacks so I folded them carefully and put them in my pannier for transport.)

Observation: Riding while sick is not a lot of fun. But neither is driving a car. So you might as well ride.

Picture: Little Nellie at the Dry Cleaners  with a Pannier (sounds like the game Clue).

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Snow Fever

It really has only been winter here in DC for about five days. The rest of the time the weather has been rather warm. So it was a nice surprise to see snow falling outside my window. Still in my jammies, I curled up with a book and felt the winter vibe. Of course, it was in the 30s outside and the ground was warm so the snow melted on contact. Still, it was pretty.

After reading for a while, I hooked  my TV up to the new HDTV cable service. All I can say is that the enhanced picture convinces me that old football players are hurtin’ in the looks department.

My chore done, I put on some riding clothes and headed out into the snow. I didn’t have anywhere to go but I did want to check out the shifting on Little Nellie. It has been sloppy for a couple of years now and getting worse. Last weekend I cleaned the bejesus out of the chain and the derailleur wheels. A few weeks ago, I replaced the cable and housing that lead to the rear derailleur.  Replacing the housing is important because the routing of the cables on a Bike Friday goes down under the bottom bracket then up to the derailleur. This creates a trap like the one under your sink. Gunk gets in there and causes the cable to stick which causes the shifting to be messy.

I was going to take the bike to a local mechanic that I think highly of but he is away for a couple of weeks. So, I decided to check out the situation myself. I found that the shifter cable and the brake cable crisscrossed twice. This means that the shifting could interfered with when I used the rear brakes. So I undid the brake cable and moved it.

Off I went into the snow. Weee. Actually, Weeeeeeetttttt! The snow was melting on contact. My feet were soon soaked with ice cold water. I made it about 8 miles before heading for home. The shifting seemed to work just fine.

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Riding in the Snow with Lobster Glove in Mouth

Now where are those jammies and my book?