Lifting a Fog

For several hours after yesterday’s tentative 20-mile ride I felt fantastic, the best I’ve felt since the roof caved in three weeks ago. Temperatures this morning were in the 60s. I know a sign from the bike gods when I see one. It was time to push things a bit further.

I rode from my house to the Lincoln Memorial and back. For most of the 30-mile ride, I was cruising on flat ground. I felt fine. My lungs and heart felt completely normal. Normal is awesome.

So was the fog. The warm air caused the ice on the Potomac River to create amazing spooky clouds. The southerly breeze pushed the fog up against bridges and buildings. I stopped at the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial. I could only see a few feet in front of me.

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Mount Vernon Trail heading north out of Belle Haven Park
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The Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument

At the Virginia side of the Memorial Bridge, visibility was nearly zero. I could barely see past my front wheel. I stopped and the wind blew a gap in the fog bank.

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Heading toward Arlington Cemetery on the Memorial Bridge

The ride home was into a steady head wind. If anything would test my heart and lungs. this surely would. After about two miles, I settled into a steady, calm breathing pattern. Dang.

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Fishing in the fog under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Jones Point Park

At 26 1/2 miles I decided to try climbing a bill. The Park Terrace Drive hill is well known to local commuters. I can easily break 30 miles per hour riding down it. Riding up it I am lucky to maintain 5 miles per hour. So It was pretty gratifying to see 4.9 on my speedometer only for a moment as I reached the top. It took a few seconds longer than normal for my heart rate to come back down but, having not ridden a hill in over three weeks, I was pretty darned pleased with how it went.

Sitting at home an hour or so later, I feel even better than yesterday. You might say I feel as if a fog has lifted.

 

 

 

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Some Mondays Ain’t Half Bad

I was zonked all day Sunday. No energy at all. I was a sloth. Today I woke up and jumped on Little Nellie for the ride to work. My legs had pop for the first time in weeks. Off we went into dense fog. We stopped at Dyke Marsh where I take my pictures of the sunset over the river. Today, not so much.

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There’s a river out there. I just know it.

The ride to work was terrific. The temperature was about 50 degrees and I was underdressed and the fog was condensing on everything I had on. Except for the fact that I couldn’t see through the condensation on my glasses I didn’t much care.

Opposite the Washington Monument I looked east to see what my kids called The Pencil. Um, it wasn’t there. Mostly nothing was.

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I swear the fog had gotten even denser.

I heard some noise out on the river. Voices. Loud voices. Then from the left I saw them. The crew teams were out practicing. The eights. Coaches were on small motor boats shouting instructions. Coxswains were yelling whatever it is they yell. One after another they emerged then plunged back into the pea soup. It reminded me of the dense fog off Newport RI where I once taught. All that was missing was the ominous outline of The Breakers and the lonesome fog horn in the distance.

On the way home I passed an old friend just before I hit the TRUMP (Teddy Roosevelt Uber Mulch Pit). We disengaged a couple of years ago. There have been some awkward failed attempts to reboot. As she rolled past she scowled. Was it at me? No matter. Life goes on.

And so did I. I crossed over the river to take in the famous cherry blossoms which reached peak bloom on Saturday. I had already tried twice to take in the show but both times only a few blooms could be seen. I had few hopes for today but was pleasantly surprised by how many blossoms survived the cold snap last week. In years past the blooms were just other worldly. This year they were merely excellent. No complaints from this blossom lover. I walked Little Nellie around the Tidal Basin. Everyone, including me, was smiling.

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After a 3-mile spin down to Hains Point and back to view more cherry trees, I headed for home. The 10 -15 mile per hour headwind didn’t phase me in the least. The air was warm and the trail was mostly empty.

As Monday’s go, this one could not be beat.

Winter Moments

Many years ago I taught at a college in Newport Rhode Island. The academic building was located on the cliff walk next to the famous summer “cottage” of the Vanderbilts known as The Breakers. Many times I would arrive just after sunrise and the entire school and all the mansions would be completely socked in by fog. A fog horn moaned in the distance.

This morning as I rolled out of my driveway I had a flashback to my Newport days. I can’t remember it ever being so foggy here in DC. I could not make out the main road that is only 50 yards from my driveway. I stopped to take a picture.

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The pickup truck is parked at the corner. The illuminated street light is on the opposite side of the main road.

I forged onward totally paranoid that the car drivers would not be able to see me. To add to the peril, the fog condensed on my glasses making it even more difficult for me to see. Fortunately, they were being careful and my route for the most part is on quiet side streets.

I figured by the time I reached the river the fog would have lifted. I figured wrong. Readers of this blog will know that I take sunrise pictures from a bump out in the wooden bridge that carries the Mount Vernon Trail over Dyke Marsh. Here’s today’s sunrise.

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Dang.

The ride to work along the trail was safe but spooky. The regulars were out. The hoppy runner. The mom pushing what must now be a 1 1/2 year old in a jogging stroller. If she keeps this up, she’ll be She Hulk in a few years.

I looked to see if there were bald eagles in the tree at the Belle Haven nest. I couldn’t see the tree.

Once I made it through Old Town the fog began to lift, only to be replaced by a persistent, annoying headwind. It was the kind of headwind that made me check my brakes to see if they were sticking against the rim. I stopped briefly to report the scofflaw parker blocking the bike lane at 420 N. Union Street. Again. (Apparently last night’s call didn’t result in a ticket. We should all be treated with such forbearance by the police.)

I was really looking forward to the ride home because the temperature was in the high 50s. That’s pretty sweet for January in DC. Then I rolled out of the garage and was treated to a nice surprise. Sunlight. It was still light out. Are you kidding me? Yes!

And it stayed light out for 15 minutes.

Bike commuting in winter does have its moments.

Buzzing Amid the Gloom

Last night I took my daughter out to the new District Taco in Old Town Alexandria. This place seems to be very popular with the #bikedc crowd. Unfortunately they do not yet sell cervezas at this location. I really wanted to try their fish tacos because my #bikedc friends rave about them. Sadly, they do not sell fish tacos on Mondays. I’ll just have to go back.

The day after the acupuncture session I was surprised to find that the pain in my right triceps is still gone and my range of motion is normal. Pretty darn  good if you ask me.

I rode Little Nellie to work. When I started a misty rain was just ending. It was well before dawn. Not exactly the kind of weather to lift my mood. I only saw two people on the Mount Vernon Trail. One was someone I have seen before, maybe even at Friday Coffee Club. I’ll have to get his name because after passing me he seemed to fall into the same pace as mine. As it usually does, the ride did my head a world of good. Throughout the ride I tried to just let my mind drift instead of thrashing through the details of life. This is a challenge because if I succeeded at such an early hour, I’d fall asleep. Once I reached the Intersection of Doom I had to get my head back into the game lest I be run over by the motorized mayhem.

When I got to work, my right foot felt normal. After a few hours it reverted to something between numbness and buzzing. I still have a few days to go before passing judgment on the efficacy of my treatment yesterday but at least there is change.

The ride gome was a fogfest. For the first mile on the Mount Vernon Trail, I could barely see ten feet in front of me with the fog and headlights. It seemed like I was alone on the trail then suddenly NINJAS!  An elderly (okay, wait, they were probably my age) couple was walking side by side. I hit my brakes and swerved for the grass. I stopped short of the grass and only a couple of feet behind them.

“WHOA! I can’t see you.” Brakes squealing.

I swerved around them thankful not to be in a heap of bike and bodies. The rest of the ride home was in solitude. It was pretty freaking  nice for late December.

South of the Beltway I was cruising along when I saw something surreal ahead. It was the most intense headlight I have ever seen on a bike. I am pretty sure it was a bike light or maybe I was having a near death experience.

I arrived home with singed retinas. I am looking forward to the 60 degree weather forecasted for tomorrow. I can live without the forecasted thunderstorms. Christmas Eve in DC.

April Fog Day

I really didn’t want to go back to work today, but I have to admit that riding nearly the entire way in pea soup fog made the transition from a week off much easier.

There’s a little dip in Collingwood Road about 1/4 mile from my house. The fog had settled in so thickly that I could barely make out the road ahead.  I had some blinky lights on front and back. My executive decision to remove my helmet mounted headlight seemed a bit premature.

I also decided to wear shorts because the forecast called for warm afternoon temperatures. Of course, the fact that it was only 45 when I left the house made for an invigorating ride, particularly when descending the Park Terrace hill at 30 miles per hour.

There wasn’t much to see along the river. The sun was doing its best to burn off the fog bank but the fog was winning the battle.

Fog is water vapor. When it hits your skin it turns to water. Did I wear my waterproof jacket? Of course not. That would have made sense.  I’d already made two bone-headed decisions. I was on a roll. Three for three.

I looked down and noticed that my wool arm warmers were covered in droplets of water. It looked like tinsel.

Rolling along the Mount Vernon Trail I spotted a form running toward me. It was Hoppy Runner, one of my regulars who runs with a pronounced hop on one leg. Later, in Old Town Nancy Duley appeared from the cloud. Two miles further on French Braid Girl made her appearance.

There was no hope of seeing whether the cherry blossoms were blooming. Hell, I couldn’t see the other side of the river. The Washington Monument was a shadow. I expected that the fog would lift but about an hour into the ride the river was socked in. I took a picture of the Kennedy Center. I swear it was there the last time I rode to work.

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If you look really hard, you may see the Kennedy Center. Really.

When I got to work there was a strange new bike in the rack. It had an electric assist motor. I think we are going to see more and more of these in the years ahead.

By midday the temperature had reached 66. The ride home was looking pretty sweet. Unfortunately, the wind picked up by the end of the day. It was coming from the west north west which meant I would have a tailwind for most of the ride.

On Saturday, I put new brake pads on the rear of Little Nellie. The brake levers were now very tight. And, as luck would have it, the pads were sticking to the rim. I tried to adjust them several times to no avail. I watched a video when I got home to see if I was doing anything wrong. Not really.

I’ll probably swing by my local bike shop tomorrow after work. They should be able to free the pads up. If they can find them in the fog.

Pix from today’s ride can be found on my Flickr page.