February Bikabout

I expected to wake up sore and tired after yesterday’s combo of long bike ride, weight lifting, and physical therapy. Nope. I felt fine. So after breakfast I dropped off the car at a mechanic and walked two miles back home. I still felt fine so I filled up my tank with calories galore and headed out on the Cross Check. I wore shorts and a t-shirt because it’s February. And the temperature was already in the mid-60s at 10 a.m.

Crazy.

I rode bike trails 23 miles to Bethesda where I checked out Modern Market, a shop for which I have three gift cards. The place looked pretty good but my tummy was still holding the calories from back home so I headed back home the way I came.

The ride from Bethesda to Georgetown is a gentle downhill. This pretty much negated the effect of the stiff headwind. Once back to the river I had to fight the wind for about 12 miles. I I would have complained but it was well over 70 degrees.

I tacked on a few miles in the neighborhoods near home for an even 50 miles. The 98.5 miles over the last two days is by far the most I’ve ridden since the end of my bike tour in Florida back in October. Take that blood clots!

Oh, and, speaking of my medical misadventures, I just received a call from my endocrinologist. The lab tests say that the adenoma on my adrenal gland is innocuous. That’s one medical specialist I don’t have to see again.

And the foam roller arrived so that I can do my physical therapy exercises properly at home. The therapy is for rehabbing my shoulder but lying on this foam roller makes my back feel amazing.

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The Potomac River at the Kennedy Center with Theodore Roosevelt Island on the right.
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A depressing sign on the Capital Crescent Trail near the Potomac River.
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In the center rear of this picture was once a building with a tunnel through which the Georgetown Branch Trail passed.
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Dyke Marsh on the Mount Vernon Trail.
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It’s Wednesday so I had to wear my WABA socks. These legs haven’t seen sunlight in months.

 

 

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Winter Weather or Not

Nine years ago today, a 32-year-old bike commuting friend of mine posted these words on my Facebook page:

“I just could not feel my body in the cold. So I damaged it without noticing it!”

What a difference nine years makes! Today was almost summer-like in DC. I saw a roadside sign that indicated it was 78F degrees at 3:30.

Of course, I saw this sign while out on my bike.

I didn’t get started until just before midday. I had spent the morning eating diner food and going to the library with Mrs. Rootchopper.  With my belly and brain satisfied, I was off on my Cross Check for a jaunt up the Anacostia River.

I began my ride on the Mount Vernon Trail. I crossed the Potomac River on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail. Once in Maryland, I made the long slog up to Oxon Hill Road. The climb goes right past a massive MGM casino. The ginormous electronic sign indicated that Cher was performing there this month. I don’t gamble and I don’t Cher so let’s just say the whole casino thing is lost on me. I think the complex looks like the Imperial Star Destroyer from Star Wars. I prefer Mos Eisley bars to casinos.

Having reached Oxon Hill Road I made my way to Oxon Hill Farm and proceeded to ride right back down the hill to the river. Somebody’s got some explaining to do.

The Oxon Cove Trail winds its way to a enclave of public buildings including a police training facility, a city bus maintenance yard, some Smithsonian greenhouses and a vocational training complex. After perusing all these fine public sector facilities, I rode right back up the hill to Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.

MLK Jr. Ave is not exactly where it’s at. I think maybe it’s were it might have been at about 80 years ago. It’s actually kind of depressing. My ride north took me past the grounds of St. Elizabeth’s nervous hospital. The complex is being taken over by the Department of Homeland Security which probably says something snarky about DHS.

The ride through Congress Heights and Anacostia was interesting. Drivers in this part of DC use the freestyle method of motoring. Random u-turns, lane changes, horn honking are the rule. I waved a thank you to a driver for not cutting me off and he laid on his horn. De nada, dude.

Suffice it to say, my rather precarious medical condition made me apprehensive for this part of the ride. I was happy to see the Anacostia River Trail which runs rather appropriately along the Anacostia River. And so, like a Yogi Berra malapropism, I took it. North. The scenery was still the grays and browns of winter but the temperature told me it was late spring.

I rolled along the trail past the garbage consolidation facility (helps with the sinuses don’t you know), past the Aquatic Gardens (the flower show happens much later in the year), through assorted fields, both natural and athletic, and around a cement plant to Bladensburg. As I crossed over the Anacostia, I passed about five priests (or, more likely, seminarians as they all looked pretty young). We waved at each other. I said “Mea Culpa” three times for good measure. (I was a altar boy who had to learn the Latin Mass and the English Mass, a biographical fact that dates the crap out of me. )

I am kidding about the Mea Culpas, by the way.

Once across the river I consulted the Google for advice on how to ride home without retracing my steps. I rode up the river until the trail split into the Northeast and Northwest Branch Trails. I took the latter and spotted a cupcake shop, a landmark from the Cider Ride last November. I didn’t stop. (I know, what a fool.) But I did find a trail that would take me back toward DC.

After a few miles I bailed on the trail It would have taken me to Queens Chapel Road which I am familiar with. Basically, it’s a bicycle death trap. So I started riding neighborhood streets and following the sun. I found myself back in DC riding a straight street to the west. In these parts “straight” almost always translates into “hilly”. As I slogged up one long hill, I passed an old man doddering around his front yard. He looked at me and remarked, “Better you than me.”

I love it when I’m mocked.

Soon I was in familiar territory. Monroe Street leads to 8th Street which leads to the Metropolitan Branch Trail. How nice of someone to put a trail with very few cross streets right in the middle of a city. The trail took me back southward and after a wiggle and waggle I was on a cycletrack that took me right past the incomparably boring Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I rode past a scrum of photographers at a courthouse. They were waiting to take a picture of a Trump associate who was being charged with treason or money laundering or some such offense. (I can’t keep it all straight, to be honest.)

Soon thereafter I was riding along the National Mall pretending I was in the Olympic tourist dodge event. I was pretty proud that I didn’t hit a single one.

After the podium ceremony, I rode around the tidal basin and over the 14th Street Bridge to the Mount Vernon Trail. The 12-mile ride from the bridge to my house was interrupted by a stop at the gym, because nothing improves a 48 1/2 mile bike ride quite like lifting weights.

Fug.

I arrived home exhausted but still had some physical therapy exercises to do. I am doing these because my left shoulder is on the blink.

Despite trying really hard, I did not damage my body. I guess you need cold weather to do that.

 

 

Swinging Back the Joy

One of my favorite things about bicycling in DC is the weekly get together called Friday Coffee Club. Bike commuters would congregate Swings Coffee Roasters at 17th and G Streets NW, across from the Old Executive Office Building, to vent about their workweek, dream of weekend bike adventures, and ponder the magnificence of coffee and fritters. Many friendships were made. Remarkably, even by me.

Then tragedy struck. The building that housed our coffee house was renovated down to the studs. Swings closed. Panic! The coffee club relocated across town near K and 4th Streets NW at A Baked Joint. Despite its fine coffee and yummy breakfast sandwiches, A Baked Joint lacked the three most important things about coffee clubs: location, location, location. (Admit it, you thought I was going to say fritters, fritters, fritters, didn’t you?) Many of the original club participants, including me, stopped going.

This week Swings re-opened. Felkerino, one of the founding members, put out the call via social media. And the old gang re-assembled.  Ricky, true to form, arrived first. Mary and Brian, two of the other founding members, were there as were many unfounding folks. Kristen gets bonus points for making a special telework-day trip to the gathering to represent the K (Kristin, Katie, Kate, etc.) sisters. Bob (Don’t Call Me Rachel) Cannon bemoaned the absence of Rachel (Don’t Call Me Bob) Cannon. This brought to mind how truly amazing it is how much they look alike.

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This was the crowd when I showed up at about 7:50. It nearly doubled in size before work called people away.

Unfortunately, Swings does not yet have fritters for sale. (Oh, the humanity!) Andrea and I improvised by buying over-sized chocolate chip cookies. We touched our cookies together in a celebratory toast of sorts.

The place looks almost exactly as before the renovation. Why mess with a good thing, right? It was actually warm enough to sit outside but the outdoor furniture is not yet in place. So we gathered indoors and conversation flowed around the tall tables. There were so many people that I didn’t get a chance to talk to half of them. Even so, I learned about federal budget injustices and self-administering injections of blood thinner and notice-and-comment proceedings and bike swaps and optimal application of man-made snow, among other things.

After the gang dispersed to make their fortunes in the land of the paper pushers, I rode back to the retirement home. I stopped at the gym and lifted some weights. After that I swung by the local bike shop to have the chain on my Cross Check evaluated for wear. It’s only my second chain on this bike. I thought it would be a good idea to check it since the odometer crossed 8,000 miles on the way home.

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It was a fitting coda to a joyful morning.

 

 

 

Cue the Gene Autry Music

It was 50 degrees out. The sun was (however briefly) shining. There was just one thing to do.

I went out and I rode my damned bike. And, after a few miles adjusting to three weeks off a conventional bike, I settled right in. I stayed on level–ish ground. My windpipe felt a little raw but my lungs didn’t max out and my heart stayed out of the red zone.

Tomorrow will be another warm day. I might try a few hills and, maybe even, go to the gym.

The only downside to the ride was a bit of lightheadedness. This has nothing to do with the ride; it’s a side effect of the medication that I am on. I need to be vigilant lest I glide off into a roadside ditch or take a dip in the Potomac.

When I walked in the house Mrs. Rootchopper was humming the song that was running through my head.

 

Feeling a bit chuffed, I decided to stop procrastinating about setting up a WiFi mesh network in my house. Our house isn’t big but the router is located in a corner of the family room and barely reaches the upper two floors. Following @darsal’s example I bought Google WiFi. The hardest part was finding hook up points for the nodes in my 1960s house. I had to empty a book case to get to an outlet for one node and pick a suboptimal place for a second node because the best spot was next to a wall activated switch. Then I had to connect the printer to the new network. It all took about an hour and works just as advertised. Ta Da.

Okay, so two things went very right today. I have decided to settle in with a book and some tea lest I tempt the fates.

I could point out that it’s been 22 days since my last embolism (a bit like going to lung confession), but it’s better to focus on the fact that spring training starts in 34 days.

 

I Should Have Practiced More

Retirement is hard. I’m having trouble getting into the flow. Take today, for example. I completely forgot that it’s Friday. On Friday’s I get up really early and ride to Friday Coffee Club. I slept until 7:45. Then I made a pot of coffee, sat down to a bowl of cereal, and read the paper. Mrs. Rootchopper walked into the kitchen and said, “No Friday Coffee Club?”

Fail.

In my defense, it is that time of year when the low humidity and cool temperatures make for perfect sleeping. In the aftermath of the bike tour and with my rib still healing, my body just wants rest. So I am feeding the beast.

Each day, though, I have a plan to do one or two specific things. On Tuesday it was volunteer at WABA in the evening. Don’t tell Greg but we didn’t get a damned thing done once Kristin cracked open the tequila. Anyway, since the WABA office is 16 miles from home, volunteering also means a pretty decent bike ride. (On the way home I encountered several people headed to the High Heel Race in Dupont Circle. I didn’t want to say anything but I think some of these women were, um, not. Women, that is. A couple could play wide out for pro football teams. And they could go a little lighter on the make up and sequins. Just saying.)

Today, after waiting for the temperature to rise, I rode the Cross Check to the Lincoln Memorial. Just because. And it was super nice out. And the trees are turning. Like this one across the river from the Memorial.

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On the way home I pulled over to record another odometer milestone.

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Not bad.

I’ll put the Cross Check away for a few weeks and give my other bikes some attention.

Once I got home, I mowed the lawn. Mowing the lawn feels like you are accomplishing something even when you really aren’t.

Then I went inside and did something I’ve been meaning to do since I got home. During my bike tour to Key West, hurricane Maria made landfall on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Two of my BikeDC friends (who, incidentally, don’t know each other) are from Puerto Rico. They each spent many anxious days not knowing the fate of their families. (From what I can tell, all are accounted for and out of immediate danger.) A week or so later, I started riding in southern Florida. Even a month after hurricane Irma made landfall in the Keys, the devastation was obvious. I simply cannot imagine what the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are like. So today I made a donation to the American Red Cross. You can too. Here’s the site.

http://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/disaster-relief/hurricane-relief/hurricane-maria-relief-information#Domestic-Response

 

 

Goodbye in the Sky

It would hard to come up with a nicer day to ride a bike than today. So off I went aboard the Cross Check for Chevy Chase. Not the comedian but the neighborhood on the top side of DC.

Just before leaving I put a message on social media about my plans and Ricky responded. He said he’d meet me at the trestle.

Riding the Mount Vernon Trail on a nice weekend day is an exercise in patience. When I wasn’t dawdling behind some tourists I was going uncharacteristically fast, thanks to a day completely off the bike. My lower back/hip issue was still in evidence but it clearly wasn’t slowing me down.

I stopped just north of Old Town Alexandria when I saw a big snowy egret right next to the trail. I hope you like the picture because I nearly was run over by a half dozen cyclists while I took it.

Snowy Egret

I rode along the river on the Virginia side until the 14th Street bridge then switched to the DC side. I slalomed through the crowds all the way to Water Street in Georgetown. Water runs upstream to the Capital Crescent Trail and so I flowed. I wore my bell out passing trail users of all types of humanity.

The Capital Crescent connects to the Georgetown Branch Trail in downtown Bethesda. The GBT is scheduled to be shut down on Tuesday for 4 – 5 years as a light rail line is constructed along the right of way.

I rolled onto the trestle and Ricky was there talking with some other cyclists. I posed for pictures among the tree tops and high above the creek.

Then we rode off to Ryan’s house to take care of his cat. And drink some of his beer.

Ryan has a pretty terrific man cave. Basically it’s a bike mechanic shop. I want one.

After the beer, we rolled back to the GBT and went our separate ways. I headed down into Rock Creek Park and headed for home.  Road work has a section of Beach Drive, the main drag through the park, closed. Ryan told me to take a right at the detour and a left onto Ross Dr. I missed the turn onto Ross and ended up climbing a big hill on Military Road. I knew I had screwed up but there was no easy way to fix what I done broke so I kept spinning. It was a long way up but the road back down was a breeze, literally and figuratively.

The rest of the ride was the usual cruise along the river. With puffy white clouds above. And a steady breeze from the south.

As I rode south of the airport I noticed some trees beginning to change to red and yellow.

I may not have the trestle to ride to but fall days offer plenty of terrific riding in the weeks ahead.

A Nudge into the Calming Rain

This day had to come. Rain. All day. While working, I just resigned myself to getting wet as I rode to the office. (Trust me, biking to work around DC in the rain is infinitely preferable to driving.)

No office, no ride? No way.

Still I needed motivation. A bike commuting friend posted a picture from her ride to work on Instagram. It was of the tree-lined paved path along the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial. For all the dreariness, it made me miss playing in the rain.I could see her in my mind’s eye, plodding along with little effort, enjoying every splash. I envied her.

On when the rain gear and out I went.  From inside the rain looked like it was falling hard, but once I was outside it somehow seemed less daunting, inviting even.

I took the Cross Check to see if the gears were working properly, (They were. Yay!)

Long ago, I identified routes around my neck of the suburbs that required very few left turns and no highway crossings. I took one today. The streets were virtually empty. I made my way to Fort Hunt Park which has a 1 1/4 mile circuit. I rode around and around and around paying no mind to speed or effort, just letting the rain wet my face as I listened to the sound of the water passing through my fenders. I must have done about 10 laps. If not for my odometer I’d never know.

I finished on some more suburban roads. Passing houses under construction, devoid of work crews on this soggy day.

That’s okay everyone. Stay inside. I like it out here alone.

A tip of the helmet to my friend for the photographic nudge.

The Butterfly in My Old Hood

My co-workers wanted to get me a retirement present. Of course, they know about my bicycling habit so they decided to feed my addiction. Kelly sat right outside my office. I convinced her to try bike commuting. Her schedule didn’t allow her to do it much but she was persistent. She even braved flooding on one of her commutes.

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We’re having fun, right Kelly? The waters receded. She survived.

Chip, Kelly’s husband, bought her a new bike for Christmas. About three weeks before I retired she asked me where to get her bike worked on. Knowing where she lives I recommended two places, Spokes Etc. in Alexandria where I bought The Mule, and Papillon Cycles in Arlington. When I lived in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, Papillon was the closest shop.

About 17 years ago The stem (the part the handlebars attach to) on The Mule kept coming loose. I had it tightened over and over again and still it came loose. So I called Papillon and explained my conundrum to Bailey, the owner. Bailey didn’t know what else he could do to help me but he referred me to Paul, a mechanic who at the time worked at CityBikes in DC. (Paul now works for Bicycle Space.) Paul fixed the problem in five minutes with a very thin washer. So because Bailey was so helpful, The Mule lives.

(Side note: the people of BikeDC are super lucky to have so many good bike shops. There are many more than the ones in this post.)

Kelly wasn’t really looking for a place to get her bike repaired. She was looking for a shop that I liked where she could buy me a gift certificate on behalf of my co-workers.

For the last few weeks the shifting on my Cross Check has been messed up. I’ve tried to fix it. And my local Spokes shop tried to fix it. It worked fine in the mechanic’s stand at the bike shop but didn’t work well at all on the road.

I was going to have Spokes replace the shifter cable and the housing (the black plastic casing through which the cable runs). On a whim I decided to take it Papillon to use my gift certificate.

John, the mechanic, greeted me and we put the bike up on a stand. He loosened the housing and examined the cable. It looked like it was brand new. He moved it back and forth through the housing. It moved freely. Next, he examined the teeth on the cassette (the gears in back) and the alignment of the derailler with the cassette. All looked good. Then he ran the chain through the gears. Once, twice, three times. We could barely hear the chain clattering a bit in the one offending gear. He released tension on the chain by dialing the barrel adjuster about 1/4 turn. Then he shifted it over and over again. No clattering.

I took it out for a test ride. I tried and tried to get the chain to skip. In every gear. It shifted properly up and down.

Happy face.

Mission accomplished.

Thanks to John, to sneaky Kelly, and my co-workers.

 

Death March Day 2

After yesterday’s shenanigans, I took to the roads to ride the Reston Century, an event that I have never done before. Once again the weather could not have been better. And the ride started with about 30 miles of relatively flat, traffic-free roads that were free of potholes and debris. As expected my legs were dead but this forgiving start gave them new life.

Until we turned onto Woodburn Road outside of Leesville VA. The Reston Bicycling Club has a witty sign maker. They posted a road warning side (black text inside a yellow diamond) that said “Trending Higher.” I cracked up. Then I died. The road trended higher forever. Constant effort. Control your breathing. Stay loose on the handlebars. Wish you had brought a bike with granny gears rather than the one missing its second easiest gear. Ugh.

I made it and within a minute of soft pedaling my heart and respiratory rates came down from the red zone.  More hills followed. Pretty farms. McMansions in the woods. Puffy clouds overhead. Gentle breezes. La di da. You’d never know my legs were toast.

The decision point came at 42 miles, wimp out and ride back to the start for a 60+ mile day or go for broke and ride the full 100 miles. Being a bear of very little brain, I went for it.

I knew where we were heading. The hilly area north west of Leesburg has several quaint colonial mill towns. Mill towns need fast moving water. Water moves fastest at the bottom of hills. Are you seeing where I am going with this?

We followed Hillsboro Road to Hillsboro, the first of the colonial era towns. Then afetr a brief and somewhat scary tenth of a mile on VA 9, a death trap for all travelers, we turned onto Mountain Road. I was expecting to die from climbing but instead Mountain Road turned out to be a road with a view of the mountain to the west.

We rode eastward. Good for us, no? Well, no. We descended at high speed into Taylorstown, one of those mill towns. What goes down must go up and damned if we didn’t. It was a truly brutal climb. I had nothing in my legs. People were walking. I refused. At one point I was going 3 mile per hour. My knees were on fire. My respiratory rate was waaay too high. I looked at the ground in front of me and persisted. Had I been able to get to it, I should have taken a hit of albuterol because nothing adds to the fun quite like asthma.

I made it to the top and recovered again within a minute. A very fit woman with long wavy gray hair was waiting for some walking friendsby the side of the road. She said “That’s the last hard one.”

Then we descended into Stumptown. Fast. I hit 42 miles per hour and I could easily have pushed it higher. For some silly reason I didn’t want to die so I feathered my brakes. The climb out of Stumptown made me curse my birth. As my mamma would say, Jesus Mary and Joseph. (I was thinking more along the lines of “Fuck me!”)

The gray haired woman was waiting near the top. “I thought you said there weren’t any more?” “Sorry. I forgot about this one.” Lady, I will go to my grave remembering “this one.”

On we road. My legs were burnt toast. Somehow they continued to push the pedals. Perhaps it was the knowledge that the last 20 miles of this ordeal were on the W&OD Trail, which is downhill for most of the way.

I stopped at the last rest stop. Ate some junk including a snow cone (shaved ice with sugary juice poured on it). We were right next to the trail but did we go on it? Noooo. First we had to do two more hills. Knowing these were the last two made them much easier. And truth be told, they were not in the same category of difficulty as earlier ones.

Finally. we hit  the trail. With fresh legs I can easily cruise the trail from here at 20 miles per hour. Today, I had to settle for 16. For ten miles. Then my legs basically started calling me vulgar names and refused to propel me. I threatened them with no post-ride pasta and they quit their protest. It was a pathetic slog to the finish though. Even the walkers from the hills of death passed me.

I think I may have been the lanterne rouge. (The last finisher.) I got my t-shirt. And sat down to eat some pasta and salad. People started folding up the chairs and tables in the outdoor space we were in. Fortunately, my mouth still function. I snarfed my food and began to leave. I met Steve O and Erin. I recognized Steve O because we was wearing a Nats cycling cap. I’ve met Erin twice before. She lives less than a mile from my house. And my brain could not make the connection. It was the second facial recognition failure of the day. At a rest stop, I parked my bike and a cyclists said hello, gave me his name, shook my hand, and told me how much he enjoys the blog. I know we’ve met before. But my fusiform gyrus locked up once again. Sorry.

I deliberately did not use my phone to Instagram pictures of the ride. I treated this as work and I wanted to be focused on the task. Also, you can’t take pictures when your lungs and knees are working beyond their rated capacity.

Late in the ride I took a few pictures with my point and shoot camera. In Waterford, one of the colonial era mill towns, the road way had been milled. (Remarkably this was one of the only bad road surfaces for the entire ride. Many of the country roads we were on had recently been paved.) When I hit the bump at the end of the milling my camera bounced out on the road. A minivan came up behind me. I motioned for the driver to veer to the left and she drove so that her tires missed the camera. It’s supposed to be shock proof. And, thankfully, it is!

I have finished my weekend of torture.

Torture postscript: My family and I went out to dinner. During after dinner conversation, I had a massive muscle cramp in my right hamstring. I was splayed out in a booth going “Ow. Ow. Ow.” After about five minutes of pain (and laughter), I started sipping water and breathing rhythmically and the muscle relaxed.

 

 

 

Death March Tune Up

Back in my marathoning days I didn’t consider myself in shape enough for a 26-mile race until I had run 21 miles comfortably. The first time was usually brutal. But the second and third times were almost easy. Somehow the stress from that one brutal effort re-set my body for the task ahead. (In every marathon I ever ran an invisible bear jumped on my back at around mile 23. Preparation can only get you so far.)

With my bike tour less than three weeks off, I decided to push my body this weekend. Today’s ride was designed by my friend Colin. He rides in suburban and rural Montgomery County Maryland and examines GIS data on places to ride. He concocted today’s 48 mile ride that included secondary roads, neighborhood streets, gravel roads. single track (dirt paths that are only a foot or two wide) through grassy fields, and nasty, rocky, tree-rooted, hill single track in the woods.

After a stop at Dunkin Donuts for proper ride fuel, we headed out on suburban roads. Colin, Ian, Kevin, Austin and I were met there by Jeff. Traffic was light and the pavement was smooth. Not a problem. The roads became more rural. Colin pointed us to a grassy field. Off we went. The grass was so high I could barely see the single track that wound through it.

Whenever the single track went into woods, we’d be surrounded by green and covered in shade. But trees have roots (I ought to know) and paths have rocks. Never having done this sort of riding before I exhausted by grip and my forearm muscles trying to control my Cross Check. An additional problem was the fact that the second to easiest gear on my bike wasn’t working. It turns out this was the perfect gear for much of the riding we were doing. The lowest gear often caused my rear wheel to spin. The next available low gear was too hard to mash on the steep rises.

I persevered and thought I did a pretty decent job. Riding on single track is much more tiring than road riding. Even when you are gliding you are expending energy dodging bumps and negotiating dips and turns.

At one point we followed a trail along the side of a lake. It was truly beautiful. I thought I was doing great. I encountered a three tree roots in a row and didn’t have the momentum to get over them. I fell over sideways. The undergrowth and a well placed large tree limb cushioned my fall. Only my pride was hurt. A few minutes later Jeff fell.

Colin made an executive decision to re-route us, or perhaps I should say re-root us. As we bombed along the path seemed to get hillier and rockier and have more and more tree roots. I am pretty sure that much of this had to do with the fact that I was worn out. I spent an embarrassing amount of time walking because I simply couldn’t power my way up steep short climbs with a bumpy surface.

I was actually worried that my saddle might break. It kept making popping noises because I was not unweighting my butt when I went over the bumps.

The last few miles were on paved streets and this felt incredibly easy. We had to do a minor repair on Jeff’s gears which were partially disabled during his fall. Colin reached down and bent something and voila the gears worked again.

Our pre-final destination during the ride was a brew pub in Gaithersburg. We got there and saw the sign on the door that said it was closed for renovations. What a sad sight to see six grown men cry.

We recovered our composure and found a Tex Mex restaurant with a patio. My god the beer tasted good. And the salt and oil on the chips was heaven.

The last 2 1/2 miles back to the start were uneventful. When I got off my bike, I felt like I had ridden 80 miles.

I really envied the mountain bikers we encountered on the single track sections of this ride. As tired as I was, I was having a ton of fun, but their bikes with wide tires, wide handlebars and big gear ranges would have made it much more enjoyable still.

When I finished I looked at my Instagram feed. I saw a picture of my friend Emilia who had just ridden over 60 miles to Harpers Ferry WV along the C&O canal towpath. She was all cleaned up and wearing a sundress and smiling. I cracked up. I looked like I’d been dragged through the woods. Which I suppose I had been.

Tomorrow I will ride the Reston Century or as much of it as my body will tolerate.

I made a Flickr album of the ride.