Termites and Crazy Eights

I’m crazy.

Many years ago termites descended upon Casa Rootchopper. We called in the bug people who did their bug thing and the termites made a hasty and persistent retreat (knocking hopefully termite-free wood). Termites pretty much own the southern U. S. so we have beaucoup company with our little winged friends.

We signed a contract for annual inspections which includes treatments if necessary. At 11 this morning the termite killer called and said they’d be at the house between 1 and 5.  Now I had planned to go for a bike ride this afternoon. (Big surprise.) I wanted to be home to let the inspector in to check the basement. What to do?

As luck would have it our neighborhood is essentially two loops, one about 0.75 miles in length, the other about 0.40 miles long. I decided that, after running a 3-mile errand on Little Nellie, that I’d ride another 27 miles on this figure 8 course.

At the end of each loop, I would look at my house to see if the Inspector Termite was at my house. Around and around and around. I am pretty sure the rest of the neighborhood thinks I’m a few spokes shy of a wheel but I kept on keeping on. I did 23 laps at somewhere between 12 and 18 miles per hour. I rarely glided. I spun my pedals as efficiently as possible making sure to put out a steady level of effort.

You must have been bored, they all said. Nope. I focused on my feet contacting the pedals, my ankles flexing, my knees bending, my quads contracting and releasing. Om. Just like on my bike tour. Without forty pounds of gear.

Focusing on my pedaling kept my mind off the fact that my toes were not in happy land on this barely 50 degree day.

Cars went by. Leaves fell. Leaf blowers blew. Lawn mowers mowed. Dog walkers walked. Suburbia suburbaned. And they went by like sticks in a stream. And I pedaled.

And when I hit 30 miles, I quit. An hour later the termite dude showed up. He found a few teeny tiny carpet beetles, but no sign of termites.

BUT WAIT. THAT’S NOT ALL!

After he left, I turned on my computer and saw that registration is now open for the Hains Point 100. It’s a mostly social event in which a few deranged souls ride 100 miles in 3.3 mile laps in East Potomac Park on December 17. Sounds like Crazy Os to me.

The event is for a good cause, the Washington Area Bicyclists Association’s Women and Bicycles Program. I am told that the percentage of DC-area bike commuters who are female has risen from 24 to over 40 percent. Build it and they will come.

If you are in DC, you should go to Hains Point and join in the festivities. You don’t have to ride 100 miles. There is a raffle and there’s food (did somebody say “pie”) and nice people to talk to. Just show up and say “Hey, Katie” and you’ll have at least ten new friends.

So follow the link and sign up. You don’t have to be a WABA member to ride. Just make a donation of whatever amount floats your boat.

It’s crazy.

 

 

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Okay, No More Triple Headers

I am wiped and whipped.

When I left for the gym on Little Nellie it was 55 degrees. There was a strong wind but that didn’t stop me from turning the four-mile route into an eight-mile meander. The gym was crowded, this being a federal holiday. Even with twice the usual number of people, I didn’t have to wait for a machine. This is not a good thing. I tend to go too fast when I can hop from one torture device to another.

I finished in a little over an hour. It takes a lot less time when I skip the leg machines. Skipping the leg machines also means I don’t wake up at 2 am with nerve pain shooting through my knees and thighs.

Who needs leg machines when you have a faithful steed like Little Nellie.

(By the way, the weight routine is making me feel much more stable when riding. My back can take the bumps without complaint. It isn’t making me faster or better at hills. Just more comfortable.)

I walked outside and discovered the temperature had dropped about ten degrees and the winds had increased noticeably.

As Dave Stoller once said, “Mon Dieu!”

So I rode into the wind like an idiot. I headed for a hardware store in Old Town Alexandria in the hopes of buying a box of chemical hand warmers. (I put them in my shoes on days like today.) They only had individual packs so I said “Mon Dieu” and rode on. After reaching the north end of Old Town, I reversed course and headed home. I stopped at my local hardware store, Village Hardware, which had ten-packs. (Is it any wonder that Village Hardware was voted the number 1 hardware store in Virginia?)

I arrived home with 21 miles on my odometer and cold toes.

After an inventive lunch of tuna salad and baked beans (I know. Sounds gross. Wasn’t half bad though.) I got the genius idea to mow the lawn (and bag all the leaves and clippings). By the time the chore was done, I was done. Tired. and thanks to still lower temperatures I was frozen. Mon Dieu.

And so my exciting Friday night will feature ibuprofen, comfy socks, and a book.

Tomorrow I promised my body I’ll rest. The weatherman is cooperating. Record low temperatures are expected.

Side note: Today is the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth. Is it any wonder that I feel old right now?

 

Raw Thoughts

  • I had pancakes and bacon for breakfast today. It reminded me of a great Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.  When you think about it, pancakes and bacon are pretty barbaric. Let’s see, I’ll mix some flour with cow squeezings then drop in an chicken egg embryo. Swirl it all around and throw it on a skillet. Then I’ll fry thin strips of pork belly and have that on the side. Eww.Image result for calvin and hobbes milk
  • Sometimes it’s best not to think too much about these things. I once had eye surgery while I was awake. Wanna hear about it? First, the surgeon sticks a needle in your eye….What? Okay, I’ll stop.
  • For lunch I had a tuna fish sandwich. When you open up a can of tuna, it’s like a mystery substance. It doesn’t look like it could possibly be part of an actual animal. Just in case somebody might happen to identify it, we mix it up with mayo (more chicken embryos) and some random bits of veggies. We’d probably eat a lot less tuna if there was a tuna eye in the can. Ewww.
  • I have no idea what made me think of these things. I blame the weather. The temperature dropped over 20 degrees last night. I went out for a bike ride to beat the approaching rain. I lost the race. It rained for the last seven miles of a 23-mile zig-zag ride through Fort Hunt, Virginia. I was pretty comfortable except for my toes. They were cold and wet. After over 50 years of bicycling, I still have no cure for cold wet toes.
  • I saw my friend Nancy. She was out walking with Mr. Nancy. It was before the rain started. They were wearing shorts. Climactic optimists. Nancy was wearing one of those knit skating caps with a ball on top. She’s ambiclimactic.
  • I saw a family watching a tree being removed from their backyard. It was a majestic old tree. It must have been 100 years old. I’ll bet it was magnificent. When I rode by it was nothing more than a thick 30-foot wood pole. Maybe they needed space for a new addition to their house. I’ll bet the addition isn’t half as awesome as the tree was. These people are barbarians.
  • Cold, wet weather is described as raw. Our brains can’t handle raw weather. We forget about it. Then it’s here and we are surprised. In the northeast, they don’t have autumn; they have raw. There are few things more miserable than watching a football game in the raw. Maybe that’s where the RAW RAW RAW cheer came from. (Sorry. Stole that from Firesign Theater.)
  • How raw is it? It’s so raw that I didn’t go out to buy a box of toe warmers for the days ahead. Tomorrow will be rawer. Is rawer a word? Go outside and say rawer three times real fast. The folks in the white coats will come and get you soon. You should probably go inside now.
  • The saddest part of raw is the leaves. They are all coming down. Our next door neighbors have a gigantic maple tree in their front yard. It always puts on a great show. Show’s over. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Well, it felt like I was busy…

After breakfast, I made a to-do list for the day.

I rode 13 miles to the Lincoln Memorial. I was going to ride to the gym which is only four miles away but the weatherman said it would start raining about 1 pm and I wanted to get a warm dry ride in.

Of course, it didn’t rain. So I rode back to the gym. Because of new nerve problems in my legs, I decided to lay off the leg machines. Instead of doing two circuits on all the machines, I did three circuits on the upper body and core machines. This was probably not a good idea. For a start, my right foot went numb after I used the first machine (a shoulder raise gizmo).

I stuck with my plan. I arrived a little before 11 am. The people in the weight room were all business. There was no chatter, no sitting around. So I made it out of there by 1 pm without having to wait at all.

My upper body was a tad annoyed with me. I could hear my biceps saying “You are such an asshole” all the way home on Little Nellie.

Gym and bike ride done!

Next came lunch. Then a clock reset-a-thon. I have four bike computers, three different kinds. So I had to find out how to do the deed without obliterating other settings. After about 1/2 hour I succeeded. In the process, I saw that my computers have over 112,000 miles on them. Whoa.

Reset the bike computers. Done!

Next up were the clocks in the cars. Done!

Then I took a picture of a foundation wall crack in the back of the house and emailed it to a contractor who knows about such things. He emailed me back to tell me to keep and eye on the cracks. They are probably caused by the marine clay soil under the house drying out from the summer with very little rain. I am taking his advice because I can do nothing like a champ.

Deal with foundation cracks. Done!

Laundry was next. Done!

Bill paying. Done!

Check book balancing. Done!

I meditated for 30 minutes. Done!

The only things I haven’t done are shredding (our file cabinet is bursting at the seams) and read my Fredrik Backman book.

So what do you do when you retire? All the crap that you cram into the evenings.

Still, it didn’t feel like I accomplished much.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

 

Cider and Elbow

I usually have a tough time thinking of gift ideas. Every so often a good gift idea pops into my head but more often than not, my gift ideas are duds. Sometimes unintentionally. I bought Mrs. Rootchopper a certificate for a massage at her favorite massage place. It closed a month later. I bought her a gift certificate to an ice cream parlor. It closed within months.

Last spring I was put to the test. Her birthday, retirement, and Mothers Day fell within one month of each other. Somewhere in there I bought her tickets to see Elbow at the 9:30 Club in DC. (Elbow is a band from Manchester, England. Like my man Neil Finn, they’re much bigger in the UK than here.) We’d seen Elbow two or three times before. They seem to fit the 9:30 like a glove. The concert was last night.

As luck would have it, WABA’s Cider Ride was held during the day. So I got up and drove to the start at daybreak. Having helped put the cue sheets together Thursday evening, I kept one for myself. (It was an extra or so my conspirator told me.) This meant I could leave before the official 8:30 start time.

Off I went. Having done this course twice before and being absolute shit at cue sheet reading, I made numerous wrong turns. (I blame the folks in Maryland and their utterly confusing trials.)

Little Nellie and I had quite a good time cruising under the fall foliage along the Anacostia River and through and beyond the USDA farmland north of the Beltway. There were pits stops with donuts and cider at one and pie and hot cocoa at another. In keeping with my recent dietary restraint I refrained from hoovering all the foods.

The ride concluded with a cruise down the east bank of the Anacostia, into the Hill East and Capitol Hill neighborhoods, and back to the start along the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

Most rides have after parties. Usually they are duds, but WABA seems to have a special talent for these things. Riders gathered at the Dew Drop Inn. There was a great disturbance in the Force. I saw somehow managed not to see a single Katie. I did, however, talk with two Graces and two Rachels. There was also Kathy, Steve, Tara, Michael B., Jeff, Sam, Tyler, Ted, Adam, Greg, Ursula, Kristin, and undoubtedly others whose names escape me.

It took forever to get out of there because I kept bumping into someone I knew.  I arrived home in time to clean up, grab a bite, and drive right back into the city for the concert. We had to wait about 30 minutes in the rain to get in but once we did we had a blast. The 9:30 is a small venue and Elbow owns it. They had the crowd signing their songs all night. At one point they had the men in the audience sing 9. All in one note. Then the women sung 30. Somehow it came out in harmony! How the hell did that happen? Very cool.

In one strange moment, someone in front of me stuck their cell phone in their back pocket, facing outward. It glowed through the fabric as if their right butt cheek was radioactive. (I swear I was sober. My mind just works in strange ways.)

When we arrived home I could barely stand. I had spent 3 1/2 hours standing on concrete after riding 53 miles. My legs were a wreck. I took some ibuprofen and slept for 9 hours. I got my money’s worth out of my Saturday.

The return to standard time saved my Sunday which included reading newspapers from the last two days, finishing a book, taking a nap, and doing a gentle 22 mile recovery ride.

Tomorrow is another day at the gym. This time I’ll skip the leg machines. The  weight lifting is causing nerve entrapment in my legs causing sharp pain at night and numbness during the day. I think it’s time to start up my physical therapy exercises again.

Age is all in your head, except for the part that the legs go first.

Big thanks to the folks at WABA and the volunteers who made the Cider Ride a big success.

 

Weights and Lights

No matter what I do, lifting weights makes me want to throw up. I have no idea why. A few hours later I feel great but immediately afterward I feel like calling Ralph on the porcelain phone.

I rode eight miles to the gym which is four miles from my house. The shortest path between two points may be a straight line, but Archimedes never rode a bike in the fall in Mount Vernon.

I did two rounds on the equipment. I am being very careful. I choose a weight that I can raise and lower slowly for 10 to 12 repetitions. So far, so good. I also found out what the mystery workout station is for. This station has no weights. It turns out you are supposed to drape your upper body over a padded bar, then raise your upper body upward. And repeat. Sure thing. Not in my lifetime. They probably use this “exercise” at Gitmo.

There is one station where you hang by your forearms then raise and lower your knees to your chest. Sweet mother of god. My tummy hurts when I do this.

I rode home, had a late lunch, then hit the road again. This time I rode to the Crystal City bike light giveaway, sponsored by the Crystal City Business Improvement District. I was a bit early. I picked up a few lights then hung out to see if I knew anybody who showed up. Of course, I couldn’t remember the name of the first person. She’s Chris. I’ve met her a few times before. My brain, once again, just locked up. The next person to show up was Chris. This Chris rode his folding cargo bike. He’s an old Friday Coffee Clubber.

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He Chris
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Mr. Blinky Light
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Did you say free?

The next person I met was a reader of this blog. He looked familiar. We chatted for about ten minutes. When he told me his name was Ken I knew I knew him, but couldn’t remember when or where we met. It turns out Ken rode some of the final miles with me (and Big Ed) at the tail end of my Pittsburgh to DC tour in 2015.

After about an hour, I headed home to get ready for tonight’s final game of the World Series. It’s been one for the ages.

 

 

 

 

Make It Stop – Another Monster Month

With the last 776 miles of my tour and another 500 miles of riding around home, October waved the white flag. 1,226 miles. And I’m not the least bit tired. I do need to get away from my immediate environs or I will start to get bored.

For the year I’ve ridden 8,754 miles. That’s about 600 miles more than I rode all of last year. And I have two months left. If I average 21 miles a day, I could get to 10,000.

Dang.

Fall in Mount Vernon

After an early morning recon ride in the car with Mrs. Rootchopper, I went back on my bike to take some pictures of the local fall foliage. Fort Hunt Park has several maples that put on a show for about a week every autumn.

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And with the river, the foliage, and the angled sunlight, the Mount Vernon trail is simply beautiful.

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There are a few more on Flickr.

Weighty Things

My plan was to get up early to go to the gym and life weights. The Astros and the Dodgers had other things in mind. Game 5 of the World Series was supposed to be a tidy pitchers’ duel. Instead it was a slug fest. Houston won 13 – 12 in 10 long innings. I pretty sure there were at least four standing 8 counts. You could almost hear the players saying, “Yeah, Well…TAKE THAT!” as they exchanged home runs. Big fun.

Long story short, I woke up a tad later than planned. As it turned out, this was not entirely a bad thing because temperatures dropped about 20 degrees from yesterday. And it was windy. Fall has arrived and, boy, does it feel great.

I managed to make the four-mile ride to the gym into eight miles. I let the breeze push me down the Mount Vernon Trail before turning back. Then I had to face it. The dreaded weight room. I know, I know. Weight bearing exercise is good for you. It especially good for people like me who do little more than non-weight-bearing exercise and who have ripened a bit.

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The Chamber of Pain

I did one circuit through the machines, mostly to figure out how to set them up. It was pretty funny that one some machines I wasn’t sure which way to face, toward or away from the machine. And there was one work station without any weights at all that had no instructions. I had no idea what the heck to do with that.

After my first go round, I did another circuit. I made sure to use less weight than I might normally and to move the weight very slowly. I hope I don’t ache tomorrow. Even with low weight, I had the same result I usually have from weight lifting: I felt like throwing up when I was done.

The good news is my ribs didn’t hurt. The bad news is my left tricep is messed up. It wasn’t the weights. My father had rotator cuff problems beginning at about my age. Thanks Dad.

After the weights, I went for what I planned to be a 22-mile ride. One thing led to another and I found myself riding The Mule all over the place: across the Potomac on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, up Oxon Hill past the casino, back down to the river at Oxon Hill Farm, back up the hill to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. I took MLK to Howard Road. Then I got on the Anacostia River Trail. I rode a few miles north then crossed the river and came south all the way to the soccer stadium being built at Buzzards Point.

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Swift Progress on the Soccer Pitch

Then I made my way to The Wharf where I rested in a swing and took in the sights on a perfect fall day.

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Swings on a Pier

The ride home on the Mount Vernon Trail was a breeze.

When I arrived a package greeted me.

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The package also included a book (Britt Maire Was Here by Fredrik Backman) and another CD, Little Fictions by Elbow (I am going to their DC concert on Saturday).

 

The Mule Abides – Again

After ragging about the mechanical delays in getting The Mule back on the road, I thought it would be a good idea to take it for a ride and see if the darn thing works.

Yup.

I rode to Arlington by way of Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood. The weather was splendid. The Mule and I get along about as well as bike and rider possibly can. All the shifts were true. All the braking was bueno. (I had severely toed-in my brake pads. They were silent, but they were rather lame in the stopping department. Now I have stoppage.)

I even gave the granny gear a good work out by riding up South Walter Reed Drive, a steep hill that never, ever ends. I took a couple of big gulps of water before I started up the darned thing. Bad idea. Nearly saw that water again near the top. For the last 50 yards all I could think of was “Who’s idea was this?” It would have been wise to take a couple of hits of albuterol but clearly my brain function was not at optimal levels. Near the top I was hurting so bad that I didn’t even notice any pain in my ribs.

(Ribs update: the exterior bruise is gone but the area is still sore to the touch. At least I can roll over in bed without pain waking me up. I think I will begin doing my back and physical therapy exercises again tomorrow – oh, how I hate them. They are yoga-ish. Also, Monday I have a date with the weight machines at the gym.)

The rest of the ride felt a little off. I had moved the saddle forward just a touch because I noticed that I was riding on the nose of the saddle during my tour. I addition to stretching the leather on the saddle, I was compressing a nerve in my perimeum causing sharp stabbing pains after about 30 miles. This doesn’t float your boat when your riding 80 miles in a day, believe me.

Today I rode 32 miles and had no pains but now my lower right back isn’t happy. My working theory is that moving the saddle forward resulted in a slight up-tilt causing my back to bow a bit. So I adjusted the nose down one click on the saddle adjustment mechanism.

I did notice one thing that was off about the bike. The stem (the piece that connects the handlebars to the bike) is on crooked. I probably knocked it off line when The Mule and I took a tumble in La Belle, Florida. It’s pointing about 5-10 degrees left of center. This is easy to fix, except that I need to loosen the stem but and the stem bolt is rusty. Won’t budge. I sprayed it with some oil. Maybe it will free up.

Long story short, the bike is in pretty great shape. No additional work is needed. I might take Rando Mike up on his offer to install a generator hub/light system on The Mule. He’ll do the work. I pay for the parts. And buy the beer.

This could get expensive.