Osprey and Eagle

I did another ride among the eagle nests today. My ride to Old Town took me past three nests. None had eagles near them. I rode through Old Town and back, mostly to make sure there was no ice on the trail. (There was a big icy section of the Mount Vernon Trail in the shadow of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Jones Point Park last night when I came home. It is all melted now.)

On the ride back south, I spotted what I thought was a bald eagle near the first nest at the Belle Haven Country Club. I took several shots before I realized that it was an osprey. Both birds have white heads but ospreys have white chest feathers and are thinner and smaller.

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I rode about a mile farther south and came upon the nest just past Tulane Drive. It had a bald eagle standing guard.

This is the nest that I saw two eagles at last week.  Unfortunately, this bald eagle was not a cooperative one. It kept its back to me the entire time I was watching it. Most of the time I see eagles around here they are facing the river. Today was the same. The nest is fairly large as you can see (most of it, at least) in the lower right picture.

I continued riding south to the nest at Morningside Lane. This nest, about a half mile from the Tulane nest, looks abandoned. It may have lost part of its structure as it seems asymmetric.

I rode on to the Fort Hunt nest a couple of miles farther south. This nest is across the GW Parkway from the river. It is massive. I have seen one of its residents perched in a tree right above the trail on a few occasions but today was not one of them.

So I went 1 for 4 with an error. Not bad for spring training.

 

 

 

 

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Shorts in January!

It’s been kind of depressing around here. Cold rain for a day and a half. I spent an hour doing yoga and tweaked my back in the process. Around noon, the rain stopped and I walked outside into 60 degree air. Damned nice for January 4.

I was out of the house in no time, wearing a compromise of my rain jacket and mountain bike shorts. Shorts!  Yay!

Shorts on Jan 4

I had no place to go and I wasn’t in a hurry to get there so I took my time on The Mule. As usual, I ended up on the Mount Vernon Trail headed north toward Old Town. For such a nice day, the trail had very few people on it. Near Belle Haven Park I spotted an osprey in a tree. They look imposing until you see one beside a bald eagle.

I rode through Old Town and re-connected with the MVT. North of Daingerfield Island I stopped to chat with Ryan. He was riding his Salsa Vaya which made me jealous. Disc brakes. Nice fenders (instead of the crappy old ones on The Mule). I want one. Sadly it would be redundant.

Ryan Sigworth on the MVT

After chatting I made my way over to Del Ray and cruised Mount Vernon Avenue. Del Ray was a dump when I first moved here now it’s rejuvenated.

Instead of yet another ride on the MVT I chose to ride Fort Hunt Road. It’s hills didn’t bother me in the least. My back was doing great. As I rode a black Honda Civic passed going the opposite way and beeped at me twice. I have no idea who it was.

I cruised home despite the warm weather. Time to get together with my daughter on her last night home from college. Tomorrow the nest will be empty and work gets real again.

Adios Winter

Lilacs = Spring. Adios Winter.

With the emergence of lilac blossoms and their intoxicating fragrance, I now declare winter officially, completely, indisputably OVER. There were lilac bushes next to the doors of my grade school. I remember walking through the doors and inhaling the amazing smell of their blooms. Soon we’d be out of school!!!!

Earlier this week, as I came back from fetching the morning paper, a huge osprey squawked at me from the top of a tree next to my house. Tonight on the ride home, I spotted a bald eagle taking flight along the Potomac River. He was flying about ten feet above the surface straight at me. Eek.

I’ve had a few other interesting moments on the bike this week. Last night a jeep quickly backed out of a driveway as I rode toward it. I veered to the left to avoid the jeep and it just kept coming. I don’t understand how you can back up a ton of steel and not look.

Tonight as I took the lane to take a left turn onto my street. An oncoming truck hesitated. I wasn’t sure that the driver was slowing for me so I waved at the truck to continue. As I waited for the truck and the two cars behind it to clear the intersection a car came up behind me. The driver leaned out his window and called out to me: “You should have turned in front of the truck.” Thanks, dude. Next time you have a 95 percent chance of not getting crushed by a truck, be my guest. The odds are good that your pie hole will be permanently shut sooner or later.

I didn’t say anything to him. I was 100 feet from home and I had lilacs to smell.

Snowblind in Springtime

Shorts were the order of the day. Yeah, baby.

Little Nellie appeared to get the worst of yesterday’s ride. She was making making more noises than my joints which has me a little worried. I isolated one noise: my rear fender was rubbing against my rear tire. Fixed.

Yesterday a clicking sound appeared during the last hour of my ride. It was worse today, maybe because I didn’t have a 20-mile-per-hour headwind to mask the sound. It only clicks when I pedal. So this is either a bottom bracket bearing gone bad, a pedal in need of a dab of lube, a seat post or saddle rail problem. I can deal with the pedal easily enough, but the other three could mean big trouble. Of course, since Little Nellie is a folding bike, it could be that one of the half dozen oddball parts on the bike is misbehaving. Time will tell.

Little Nellie is overdue for some TLC anyway so I hope to get her to 10,000 miles before she disintegrates.

The tailwind on the Mount Vernon Trail was most appreciated after yesterday’s long ride. I looked to see if my Dyke Marsh Canada geese were parents yet. Overnight Mother Goose gave birth to three retired men with fishing poles. They were lined up like See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, sitting on their folding lawn chains in the narrow grass  strip between the water and the Parkway. I hope they don’t make it a habit of fishing there.

In Belle Haven Park the Hoppy Runner came cruising by, with nothing on his head and shorts on his bottom. This is perfect running weather, and he looked pretty happy.

The Belle Haven nest was empty but in a tree next to the MVT there was a sentinel. An osprey high up in the tree was positioned so that he could see both the river and the nest. He looked serious. I wasn’t going to mess with him.

By the time I hit the halfway mark of my commute near the power plant, the clicking from my bike was really getting on my nerves. North of Old Town, traffic on the Parkway was all gummed up because of a collision. I do believe the Prius is kaput.

French Braid Girl came rolling by. She’s sporting some Annie Hall sunglasses. Stylish.

A virtual Cossellian plethora of cyclists passed me on the way to work today. I felt old and pathetic. Then again, they will get to work early and I will still be out here enjoying the splendid weather. Ah, ‘tis good to be the tortoise.

I have a new regular. He’s John Roche Clone. John rides with black rimmed glasses and a wool cycling cap. So does JRC. I have waved to the clone three times now, each time wondering what he must be thinking.  Shortly after passing JRC, I saw Bob (Don’t Call Me Rachel) Cannon coming by. He didn’t see me. He was in a morning trance. Or maybe he has a clone too.

The ride home began with another encounter with tourists lacking situational awareness. A huddle of seven or eight Asian people, probably Japanese tourists on the hunt for Cherry Blossoms, had completely blocked the Mount Vernon Trail. On the right of the scrum was a rock wall and the GW Parkway. On the left of the huddle was the front of a line of parked cars. I rang my bell and slowed to a crawl. After a few seconds somebody called an audible and they awkwardly dispersed, but only enough to let me squeeze by. As I was about to clear the group two bikes coming from the opposite direction closed in on me swerving to cut speed as the huddle re-formed behind me. I nearly hit the second bike. I turned and yelled, “GET OFF THE TRAIL!!!”  I think by this point, having nearly been hit by three cyclists, they may have gotten the hint.

Truth be told, I feel sorry for people like this. They are disoriented by their surroundings, trying to get their group organized, and getting yelled at by the locals. From now on, whenever I go abroad, I will make it a point to obstruct the locals whenever possible, just to even the score.

I made the executive decision to take my life in my hands and ride over to DC to take in the cherry blossoms. I’d say they were about 90 percent of the way to peak. I rode the Hains Point loop in the hopes of seeing some of my cycling friends. None were to be found. I decided to walk around the perimeter. Instead of locking Little Nellie, I decided to walk her around. At first I followed a wheelchair. This made for plenty of room for my bike and me. When the wheelchair pusher ran out of steam, I had to fend for myself. I took about an hour to get all the way around. I had to stop dozens of times so that I wouldn’t photobomb the tourists getting their picture taken with the blossoms. Everyone was very civil. It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you’re going snowblind from blossoms.

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms

The ride home was into a strong headwind. I didn’t much mind. It was actually warm out. What a strange feeling after five months of being all bundled up. South of the airport French Braid Girl came by. She looked happier. Maybe it was the tailwind that was pushing her along.

I arrived home after dark. 37 miles in shorts. Not too bad.

For pictures of the blossoms, check this out.

Overrated

It’s the first day of spring, or so I am told.  On went the shorts, then the wind pants, the base layer, the holey sweater, the wind breaker, the thick wool socks, the overboots, the watch cap, the buff, the glove liners and the mittens. Not exactly tanning weather.

I haven’t ridden to work in a few days. Sunday’s ride aboard Little Nellie strained my lower back and my left knee. I am starting to worry that my left knee may be crying out for medical intervention. I hurt it playing volleyball over 25 years ago and have managed to avoid the knife. Let’s hope this is only the strain of a hilly ride at the end of a 190-mile week.

All bundled up, I hopped on Big Nellie and headed out. I had my headlight on but only for a couple of miles. Soon I can put it in the bottom of my panniers for 6 months.

The Mount Vernon Trail was deserted. I think people are staying inside to protest the cold weather. I plodded along with my knee yelling at me. “Oh, shut up, I’m going to get another 60,000 miles out of you.”

A bald eagle, all puffed up, stood guard over the Belle Haven nest. I crossed the creek bridge near Porto Vecchio and saw something make a splash in the water below. I wonder if it’s a jumping fish or a snapping turtle. It happens whenever the water is at a certain level.

The ride in was uneventful. As the sun rose, I could feel its warmth on the right side of my body. Bring it on.

After 8 hours of working for the man, I headed back the way I came. I passed Bob (Don’t Call Me Rachel) Cannon and he gave me the peace sign. I gave him one back but it looked like a “How!” with my mittens on.

Later a tall brunette woman jogged past and gave me a wave and a big smile. I think she was on a bike the other day and did the same thing. She probably has the hots for all middle aged men dressed like a hobo riding a lawn chair. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Later a cyclists rode passed me and said “Hi, John.” I have no idea who it was. I was in my trance. Pedal, pedal, Om.

People seemed awfully cheery tonight. The evening temperature was a touch above 50 degrees. I actually unzipped my jacket to cool off.  I was riding into a headwind the whole way home. Planes should have been taking off in my direction but they were going the opposite way. I must have imagined the headwind.  After Gravelly Point , a biggish passenger jet, probably an Airbus of some sort, took from the secondary runway right over the trail and the parkway. Dang,

As I made my way south of Old Town, I spotted a big osprey in a tree next to the river. He was facing away from the river, toward the trail. He looked like he had just swallowed something that didn’t agree with him. Do ospreys eat Tums?

After that profound thought, I faded into another trance and om’ed my way home. It was still light out when I arrived.

And so passed the first day of Spring. It supposed to be 90 in San Antonio on Saturday. I’ll be there with my daughter. Enough of this nonsense. Let’s get some heat!

Friday on My MInd

Can you say “It’s Friday” and not smile? I can’t.

I headed out in the dark aboard Big Nellie. I made the Park Terrace descent at high speed and crossed the Parkway without having to stop for the second day in a row. I hit the Mount Vernon Trail at 17 miles per hour with a smile on my face.

I was hoping to see bald eagles, because they tend to be out and about at sunrise.  I was rewarded for my early departure with two eagles. The first was perched on a branch above the Belle Haven nest.  I am pretty sure it was a male, because he looked very big. The second was on the wing near Daingerfield Island between Old Town and National Airport.  This is an unusual place to see eagles so it was an extra bonus. Riding a recumbent is advantageous in this regard, because of the heads-up riding position.

Just before the second bald eagle, I had a Nancy Duley siting. Normally we pass on Union Street, but my early departure moved today’s passing to the beaver marsh north of Slaters Lane. She later said that I made her think she was late.  I like to mess with people’s minds. I saw French Braid Rider, one of my regulars, well north of our normal passing point. She had a concerned look on her face. I’ll bet she thought she was late too.

A light tailwind made the ride honest, but workaday, which is appropriate because it is a work day after all.  I came off the second fly over bridge at the airport with an impressive head of steam, maxing out at 25 miles per hour. I passed the airport fence where it juts out into the trail and there was a small executive jet right above me. It was coming in for a landing on the secondary runway. It’s creepy how they seem to appear out of nowhere.

After I passed under the flight path to the main runway, a 737 landed. A few seconds later a black duck flew from the river into the plane’s air wake. He went haywire, looking as if he had hit an invisible wall. It was like something out of a cartoon. He somehow gathered himself midair, turned, and hightailed it back to the river where the air was calm.

On the way to Friday Coffee Club, I nearly clipped the concrete base of a wrought iron fence at 15th and Constitution. I had to rein in Big Nellie. Whoa, Nellie. I met up with famous local blogger, bike commuter, and curmudgeon Brian in front of the White House. We chatted until we tied up our steeds outside Swings Coffee Saloon.

Friday Coffee Club was crowded, mostly with people I don’t know.  Even so, I had lively conversations with seven or eight people. When warm weather comes, we will definitely have to  move the group outside.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rootchopper/8561386658/in/photostream

(Please note that WordPress refused to embed the photo of the Friday Coffee Club, even when I used html. What lovely software.)

After FCC, I rode past the wooden elks at the Kennedy Center and across the TR Bridge to Rosslyn. The trip up Lynn Street through the Rosslyn Circle of Death was a challenge. At the I-66 off ramp, a white SUV trying to make a right turn on red blocked my access to the crosswalk.  I yelled to get the driver’s attention since she was looking away from me to see if she could turn. She didn’t hear me. So then I really hollered.  She looked at me from her perch behind the wheel with derision as I rolled in front of her grill. I yelled “Get out of the crosswalk” to her and she honked at me. I’m just trying to keep you from putting me in the ER or the grave, you incompetent, scofflaw dipstick.

A block later I watched as two cars coming down Lee Highway ran the red light on Lynn Street to get onto the I-66 ramp. Don’t mind the rest of us. Getting to the office one minute quicker is far more important than anybody else’s lives.

Another block later at 19th Street, a shuttle with a U.S. Forest Service decal on the side, pulled into the crosswalk on red.  I yelled at the driver who was looking the other way. He couldn’t hear me. Rather than take a chance that he would execute his turn while I was in the crosswalk in front of him,  I stopped. Instead of turning, he waited for the green light. Better safe than roadkill. Still four dangerous driving incidents in a quarter mile is ridiculous.

Once I reached the far side of 19th Street, I encountered the Vamoose bus crowd. Arlington lets intercity bus operators to use the corner of Lynn and 19th as a bus terminal. The Vamoose employee had his back to me when he waved the soon-to-be passengers across the sidewalk in front of me. I duck walked through the crowd. Yabba dabba do.

When I got to the parking garage, I knelt and kissed the ground. I cheated Rosslyn once more.

I rode home into a headwind. I won. No one tried to run me over. I won again.

Tomorrow I rest. Sunday I ride for soup. It’s a Swedish thing.

So Much to See

After yesterday’s long ride, my eyes were bloodshot and glassy. I don’t really know what was going on, but I decided to take some Nyquil and hit the hay early at 9. I woke up at 5:59 less than a minute before the alarm was set to go off. Not bad.

I expected my legs to be dead during the ride on aboard Big Nellie, but the tailwind gods were with me. I decided to check out the Morningside nest. On the way there, cars were suspiciously rolling slowly behind me. One was driven by Nancy Duley, who I normally see biking on the Mount Vernon Trail. I guess she prefers to bike commute in the rain and cold. No problem. We’ll serve some up for you tomorrow, Nancy.

There was no eagle action to be seen at the Morningside nest, so I took advantage of the winding downhill and let Big Nellie do her street luge thing. Several spots on the trail were covered with debris or water. The river had gone over its banks overnight thanks to snow melt, rain and high tide.

I had hope of spotting a bald eagle at the Belle Haven nest and I got a bonus. A pair of bald eagles, one big, the other small were in the tree with the nest. I hope it’s a mating pair.  Other than more evidence of flooding including a few rather deep sections of standing water the ride in was routine. A tall man on a Tern (a brand of folding bike, not a seagoing bird) had the audacity to pass me. He must have been getting a bigger push from the wind.  And he was going downhill. Or, maybe, I’m old, fat and slow.

The weatherman was even handed, giving me a headwind for the ride home. No worries. As I turned onto the MVT, I saw Ryan from Friday Coffee Club. At least, I think that’s his name. I suck at putting names to faces. (If you are reading this, let me know if I am right. Thanks.) As I approached the Memorial Bridge, I was passed by Chris, another FCCer. Chris was coming toward me with the tailwind and he was flying. Go, dude. Near the Humpback Bridge I was passed by Eric, an attorney at my old office. Eric was enjoying the tailwind too. Maybe I should turn around.

Seeing three people I know in quick succession rarely happens during my commute. I forged ahead into the wind. Near Daingerfield Island, I spotted an osprey overhead. He was shopping for his dinner, I am sure. Ospreys look impressive when they are overhead, but when you see one along side a bald eagle they look rather small. I once saw an osprey attack a bald eagle in Dyke Marsh. Dumb osprey.

As I approached Old Town near the south end of the power plant, I saw a woman cycling toward me. She was waving at me. I recognized her face, but I couldn’t put a name to it. (If you read this, please let me know. It’s going to drive me nuts.) She looked like she was enjoying the tailwind too.  

As I rode through Belle Haven Park, I came to realize that something was missing; the huge flocks of Canada geese from two weeks ago have thinned out considerably. We are left with the normal number of geese, and some mallards and cormorants.

I shouldn’t complain. I know where some geese nest along the MVT at Dyke Marsh. I should be seeing some goslings pretty soon. Another reason for not complaining is the fact that I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a black swoosh in the sky. I through the trees along the river and there it was, another bald eagle.  It was probably leaving the Morningside nest.

As much as I enjoyed the ride home and seeing all those familiar faces and birds, I have to admit the best party of the ride was not being blinded by headlights. Daylight Savings Time is the best. Except when it rains like a bitch. But that is a tale for the morrow.

Cars and Cannons

I stayed up late to watch the Academy Awards. As a result I was operating on 5 1/2 hours of sleep when I headed out into the cold morning on Big Nellie. Winds were light so the ride in was not too difficult.

There are two fly over bridges at the airport. The bridges carry the Mount Vernon Trail over airport access and egress ramps.  Just as I finished riding over the first bridge, a guy on what looked like a mountain bike but with bigger wheels passed me. He was tall and was wearing a backpack. I couldn’t see around him. As he passed another bicycle came from the opposite direction. To avoid a collision he cut back in front of me just missing my front wheel.  When it comes to down hills, faired long wheel base recumbents are king.  I rode up the second flyover bridge right behind Backpack Lance. I couldn’t safely pass him so I had to ride my brakes for 1/4 mile.  Really considerate of you Lance. Fair warning. Next time you get the bicycle death ray.

I heard that a car drove off the Memorial Bridge into the Potomac River last night so I was hoping to see the car nose first in the river. No luck though. Evidence of where the car blasted through the side railing on the bridge could be seen but the car had already been removed. Apparently the driver was not seriously hurt (which is something of a miracle)

A Long Way Down

The ride home featured a wave to Bob (“Don’t Call Me Rachel”) Cannon of the Friday Coffee Club as we passed between the Memorial and 14th Street Bridges.  The sunlight lasted so long tonight. I didn’t need a headlight until I was well south of Old Town. As I enterred Belle Haven Park, I spied an osprey about ten feet up in a tree next to the trail. He was facing toward me with his back to the river.  Ospreys look pretty impressive until you see one next to a mature bald eagle, that is. Then they look like wimps.

As I rode past Dyke Marsh I was treated to an rising full moon. It was orange and a damned impressive sight. I’d have taken a picture but that would have required photographic competence of which I have none.