Dueling Odometers

Friday began with what is becoming a rejuvenated tradition for me: Friday Coffee Club. The ride into the city on my Cross Check was run of the mill. I was in a good mood and the ride only made it better.

About 1 mile from A Baked Joint, the interim location of the FCC, I happened to run into Andrea. Andrea and I chatted for a bit about how hard it is to get to ABJ. The streets are one way or closed off from construction or the traffic lights are numerous and interminable. Basically, it’s DC. Deal.

Andrea, however, has figured out some tricks. New York Avenue is a main drag that runs on a diagonal to the grid of lettered and numbered streets. Intersections often result in small triangles with traffic lights going every which way. When you get to a red light at one of these the trick is to take a right then a quick left, essentially going the long way around the triangle, then a right to continue on the diagonal. Not only does this save time at the first red light but it allows you to catch a few more green lights along the way.

Andrea’s real genius came when she took me down K Street. A left on 7th Street is illegal so Andrea does a Copenhagen left. She rides to the far side of the intersection and pivots her bike. And from there ABJ is but a short hop away. Watch me screw it up next week.

We had our coffee outside. We told tales of our bike touring adventures. Andrea advised me to get a silk sleeping bag liner. Genius again! Then PLINK! A sheared off screw fell on the table from above where some construction was happening. Fortunately we survived a few more insults from on high before moving on.

On the ride to work I fell in behind Lawyer Mike and Pancho. Until I met him at FCC, I’d never met a Pancho before. I can’t get over what a cool name it is. Right up there with Augustus.

The ride to work went surprisingly fast. I had figured out a few tricks of my own last week. It involves getting through the worst of the badly timed lights on the M Street cycletrack. Several of these lights last a minute so hitting them all is pretty frustrating.

In the evening I rode to Mount Pleasant, a neighborhood in the north central part of DC. The ride there was remarkably pleasant. especially given the fact that I rode through two insanely congested traffic circles. At my destination, I met a bunch of co-workers present and past for happy hour. This turned into dinner. It was a pretty darned nice evening. Unfortunately, when I got out of the restaurant a little after 10 pm, it started to rain cats and dogs. I put on my rain jacket, hopped on the Cross Check and carefully rode toward Virginia down 11th Street. I could barely see and was sure that the drivers and other street users could barely see me. I took my time.  I stopped to put on my headlight and made my way to the Pennsylvania Avenue cycletrack. Then it was on to 15th Street and past the Washington Monument. The rain started to abate.

I have no idea how long it took me to ride the 16 miles home. Once it stopped raining it was actually pretty nice. The trail was empty. It was just me and the breeze and the sound of thousands of frogs croaking and peeping in the night.

I arrived a home just after midnight.  I stayed up another couple of hours before falling asleep in an easy chair. Then I staggered to bed only to be awoken at 6 am with cramps in my feet and calves. Perhaps I should drink less wine and more water on these outings. Ya think?

During yesterday’s festivities the Cross Check managed to cross over a mileage threshold.

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In the evening, my wife, daughter, and I went out to get some dinner. Just before arriving back home, the car odometer hit a milestone of its own and easily won the odometer competition.

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I gotta get pedaling. It’s catching up to my bikes!

 

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Deets Turns Five as I Thank the Bike Gods

I was preparing to change into my riding clothes to head for home. My clothes and reading material go in one pannier, my shoes and my lock in the other. So I pick up my shoe pannier and immediately notice my lock is in the pannier.

Yep, I didn’t lock my bike this morning. I rolled it into the bike room at work, leaned it against a floor rack, and left. I have never done this before. Ever.

I went down to the bike room with a sense of dread. Deets, my Surly Cross Check, was my ride today. My newest bike. I swiped my access card and waited as the garage door rose. Slowly. So slowly.

And there it was. Right where I left it.

It would have sucked if someone had stolen it. They would have ridden it somewhere and they would have seen the odometer flip to 5,000 miles.  The bike gods were kind to me today.

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Pictures of the Year 2016

 

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Sunrise on the Mount Vernon Trail

When the sun and my work day cooperate, I stop and take in the sunset over the Potomac River. It rarely disappoints.

The Big Reveal
100,000 Miles

It took me 25 years but I managed to ride 100,000 miles since acquiring The Mule (bottom left) in 1991. In 2002 I bought Big Nellie, a Tour Easy recumbent (top left), and rode it exclusively for several years. In 2009 (or thereabouts) I bought my Bike Friday New World Tourist, a folding travel bike that I call Little Nellie (upper right). Last year I picked up Deets, a Surly Cross Check, that turns out to be a fantastic bike for commuting.

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Drink Up Cowboy (Colonoscopy Prep)

In October, amid a frenzy of bike event riding, I had a colonoscopy. It was my third. I am happy to report that there was no cancer detected. I’ll be back in 2019 for another. Drink up!

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Me in Front of Copenhagen Central Station Bike Racks

I went to Scandinavia with my wife and daughter. I didn’t ride a bike but I saw a few here and there. The cycling infrastructure is so much better than in the U.S. And the road users are all so well behaved. As my friend Finn Quinn once said: “The future is a foreign country.” We can only hope.

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Beer Tent Volunteers at Tour de Fat

I volunteered at the Tour de Fat this year. I had fun despite not being completely recovered from my not so fun trip to the ER a week earlier. We were a well behaved bunch. The only beer we imbibed were the ones the organizers comped us for our efforts on their behalf.

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Friday Coffee Club

You may never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. You certainly won’t find it here because the building where this picture was taken is being renovated. Friday Coffee Club moved across town and, but for one appearance after Thanksgiving, I had to stop going. I miss these scoundrels.

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Michelle Smiles Even When She’s Freezing (Vasa Ride)

Speaking of scoundrels, for the last several years Michelle has been running bike events at the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA). I am convinced that she is trying to kill me. It is widely rumored that she even controls the weather. I am so grateful for all the hard work Michelle (and the other folks at WABA and the volunteers) put in to make #bikedc better every year. (Michelle also has a serious interest in the Beats and Kerouac. Check out her blog.)

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Amy at Great Pumpkin Ride

It was windy and coolish, but Amy was determined to do her first long event ride. This hill during the Great Pumpkin Ride near Warreton Virginia was mighty steep but Amy (with Jody behind her) managed it without apparent difficulty. The leaves on the road were produced by powerful winds that made the day quite a work out. The rest stop after this photo was at a Old Bust Head brewery.

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Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan

This picture doesn’t do justice to how steep these dunes are. And this is only about 1/2 of the height. The remaining elevation is obscured by the angle of my shot. Later that day the road I was on went up the dunes just to the south of this one. It made for some tough climbing into a persistent headwind. It was perhaps the physically hardest day of my 11-day solo bike tour. As hard as it was on my body, the tour was a feast of rolling meditation for my mind and soul.

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What Yoopers Eat (Bike Tour)

The people who live on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the UP, are called Yoopers. They eat white fish and pasties (a kind of meat pie) and have their own candy bar. They (mostly) also talk like all the hockey players from Ontario that I roomed with during my freshman year at college. Eh?

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My Deck Buddy

I was hanging out on my deck one sunny day when I went to open my deck umbrella and found this critter. Cute.

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My Perch in Left Field

The left field grandstand was my perch for about 10 games at Nats Park this year. I became personal friends with Jason Werth. (That’s him in left field.) Okay, that’a s lie.Somewhere up there under the third light stanchion is Klarence keeping score. Hurry spring!

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Darth Paul on the Five Boro Ride

That’s Paul on the left on FDR Drive on the east side of Manhattan. It is cold. It is raining. Paul is not smiling. He had so much fun. We stopped in Astoria, Queens, to stand around and freeze our asses off. Who knew that the Brooklyn Queens Expressway would be even more fun. I have now ridden my bike across the Verrazano Narrows and the Golden Gate. Woot!

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A Section of the AT

The Appalachian Trail is nice enough to come down to I-66 which made for a couple of convenient solo day hikes.

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Veronica Help Us Save a Duckling on the MVT

I found a duckling on the Mount Vernon Trail on the way to work one morning. Mr friend Linel stopped to help and we tried to figure out what do with it. Then Veronica showed up. She took the duckling to her office then to an animal rescue place. This is a decidedly better outcome that the two animal skeletons I saw last year. Just sayin’. Thanks, Veronica.

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Night in the ER

This is me getting a nebulizer treatment in the ER. A few hours earlier I couldn’t move without experiencing a knife-like pain in my upper right chest. (I blame yoga.) The doctors were pretty confident that it wasn’t a heart attack. I had a resting pulse of 46 and my blood pressure was normal. They did some tests and took some x-rays. Then they put this on me. I was recovered enough to do Bike to Work Day, volunteer at Tour de Fat, ride DC Bike Ride, and fly to Stockholm over the next nine days. Do not try this at home. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Milestone Number 4: 100,000 Miles

Today on my ride home from work, the odometer on Deets, my Surly Cross Check hit 1,647 miles. That’s no big deal. I rode 8 more miles to home then added up all the miles from the odometers on my four bikes: 100,008 miles. I started this little project 25 years ago. I think I could use a shower beer right about now.

The Big Reveal
Clockwise from upper left: Big Nellie, Little Nellie, Deets, and The Mule 

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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Big Nellie Turns 39 – Are You Kidding Me?

A few days ago The Mule’s odometer tripped past 40,000 miles. Today, Big Nellie passed 39,000 miles. I bought Big Nellie, an Easy Racers Tour Easy recumbent, in the early 2000s. For several years I rode it exclusively, including three bike tours. Then a nerve probl25053606189_f1fb32a525_m.jpgem cropped up in my left foot. This was a Morton’s neuroma and felt like a nail going through my left foot. Once that was more or less under control, a different nerve problem cropped up in my right foot, it went numb when I rode Big Nellie. I do exercises to control this condition every other day.

Now that both problems seem to under control, I can ride Big Nellie again. Riding a recumbent may look geeky but it a blast. A passing MAMIL made a sarcastic remark to me tonight as I rode home. I didn’t say anything back. I feel sorry for him. He doesn’t know what he’s missing.

 

40,000 Miles for The Mule

I read the other day that some fitness experts say it is a bad idea to keep track or your workouts. What balderdash.

I like numbers. By keeping track of my workouts I learned a lot. I learned that after 400 miles, running shoes (at least the ones I wore back in the day) that looked like they were in good shape lost the cushioning in their midsoles. If you rotated your shoes, they’d last a lot longer. And if you felt sore and listless, there was a good chance you hadn’t taken a day off recently. Finally, I found out that for me running 60 miles a week gave me the same or better running performance as running 70 miles per week.

You can get carried away. I became obsessed with running 3,000 miles in a year. Let me tell you the last month was a bitch. But I made it in the last week of December.

When I switched to bicycling, I had to figure out what was worth keeping track of. I counted the number of commutes each year, which bike I rode, how far I rode, and any other incidental information. I was a much more intense rider in the early years. Now I really don’t care much about the stats. But every so often a big one hits and it’s cause for celebration.

The odometer on The Mule hit 40,000 miles on my ride home from work25167767542_42cc5f4bd2_m. I have had this bike since 1991 so I’ve been averaging 1,600 miles per year on it. In the beginning, I rode a Trek 1200 for a few years. I sold that and rode The Mule exclusively until the early 2000s when I bought Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent. I then started using The Mule as my back up bike. I bought Little Nellie and The Mule was ridden even less. And my Cross Check was added to the stable last summer. Somewhere along the line, I came full circle and The Mule became my go-to commuter once again. All together, not counting the Trek, I have about 96,000 miles on bikes since 1991. That’s 3,840 miles per year over 25 years.

The Mule has taken me to work hundreds of times and carried me on two bike tours. It’s slow, it’s weighs a ton, but it won’t die (knock wood). All that remains of the original bike are the frame and fork, the seat post, the cranks, and the rear rack.

So it gave me a sense of satisfaction to write 40,000 in my training diary today. I was 2 miles from work on the Mount Vernon Trail when 39,999 gave way. I had a strong tail wind.

The Mule goes to my local bike shop for some TLC. The pedals feel crunchy, oil refuses to stay on the chain, the handlebar is bent and plastic bits have broken off the brake levers (both from a crash last winter). It’ll cost some $$$ but maybe I’ll get another 40,000 miles out of this bike.

Crossing 1,000

MG over at Chasing Mailboxes recently decided to put in as surge of running to get to 1,000 miles for the year. I thought this was not such a great idea because it reminded me of my running days when I discovered what I called junk miles. Junk miles are miles you run for reasons other than fitness. I wanted to run 3,000 miles one year (I biked a whole lot less in those days). So I was running lots of 70 mile weeks. Do the math. Mostly this meant that I spent a lot of time nursing injuries. After the year was over, I discovered that 60 miles per week worked every bit as well so I dumped about 10 junk miles off the weekly running schedule.

So what does this have to do with biking? Shortly after commenting to MG about the concept of junk miles, I noticed that I had about 900 miles on the odometer of my Cross Check. Hypocrisy be damned, I went for it.

After many miles of riding flat neighborhood streets I decided to put the 100-mile challenge to better use. I started seeking out hills. I hate hills. So I tackled Oxon Hill (twice), Mason Hill near my home (twice today), Beacon Hill (once is plenty), and assorted other hills leading from the GW Parkway near the river up the hill that runs roughly parallel.

To my surprise, I actually got better. Even today when I forgot to take my asthma medicine. Of course, I had help. El Nino and climate change have conspired to bring us unseasonably warm weather with generally light winds.

After doing my hills, I headed up the Mount Vernon Trail. On Union Street in Old Town Alexandria I came upon an old friend who I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade. I could tell because he was cycling with his son who was now 13. The last time I saw the boy he was a rugrat.

As we were talking, a co-worker of mine ran past. He’s pretty fast. Every time I see a runner with good form I feel a twinge of jealousy.

After the chat I did a loop north to Four Mile Run and back to my neighborhood.

I pulled into the driveway to record this picture:

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Mission accomplished.

See you next year….