Just because Little Nellie had little wheels doesn’t mean she can’t go far.
Just because Little Nellie had little wheels doesn’t mean she can’t go far.
A few weeks ago I, and 3 co-workers, had tickets to see the Red Sox play the Nationals in an exhibition game at Nationals Park in DC. It was raining. I worked from home. I rode to the game. On the way I was hit by an SUV. A few minutes afterwards I learned the game had been cancelled. So I rode home.
Today we tried again. I rode to work in the rain. It rained all day. When I left the office, it was still raining. This game was a regular season game and it was likely to be played if at all possible. The forecast called for rain, 50F temperatures, and a wind from the east – directly at our seats which were exposed to the rain.
The bike valet at the ball park was empty when I got there. The two valets were channeling the Maytag repairman.
I locked Little Nellie up and headed into the park. I drank a beer and looked down on the drenched playing field. Fewer things are as sad as a wet infield tarp under dreary skies.
I made my way around the park, stopping for french fries. One advantage of being in an empty ball park is the fries are hot. Perfect. Next up was an Italian sausage (not half bad as these things go) and a second beer. I strolled around the ballpark chatting with the employees and emailing my co-workers. They had delayed their departure from the office. Then, in a fit of optimism, they drove to the game but didn’t leave the car. They stalked the ballpark like thieves casing a bank.
Fans started filling the concourses. Most of them seemed to have driven down from Baltimore. Apparent bus loads of kids included. I turned to one of the ushers and said, “It looks like we’re going to get this game in.” Then she said, “I don’t think so.” She pointed to the big screen overlooking center field.
I rode home in the dark. It didn’t rain a drop.
The game is rescheduled for June 8.
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.
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
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.
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.
After this I rode to Hains Point for more blossom goodness.
Errand No. 10
Category: Wild Card
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.
Errand No. 11
Category: A store.
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.
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.
Category: Personal Business
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 some 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 home, 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 one 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
Observation: Why is health care such a confusing mess in this country?
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.
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Christian | Runner | Hiker | Outdoor enthusiast | Psalms 37:4
by Evelina Di Lauro
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