Martin’s Every Road Tour

I met Martin Arnold in the Honey Pot in Gackle, North Dakota. Actually, I woke him up after midnight. Martin had begun his bike tour two months before mine in Brunnen, Switzerland.

For the next month we met time and again as we both made our way to Anacortes, Washington. Martin had a video camera and has made this edited account of his ride. The section of his ride in Europe is new to me. Although we didn’t see each other, our routes actually overlapped somewhat from DC to Indiana and again from Minneapolis to Gackle.

I got a good laugh out of the pictures from the Northern Cascades in Washington state. He’s going fast one second then crawling the next. Just as I remember it. Except that the crawling lasted all morning and the speedy descents lasted a few blissful hours in the afternoon.

At the end of the video is his blog address. The blog is in German but contains many more pictures including one of the two of us when we briefly rode together near Colville National Forest.

 

Medical Update

I realize I mentioned the fact that I was going to see my hematologist and my pulmonologist for a status check. Sorry to leave you all hanging.

Both visits were little more than conversations. “How are you feeling?” “Are you having any symptoms?” etc.

Long story short: I’m doing fine. Mentally, I have never been better. Thanks to the bike tour and the afterglow.  Of course, a year ago, I was feeling my oats and then the wheels fell off the cart in December. Like the song says, I could go at anytime. There’s nothing safe about his life.

So I have a green light from both medical specialists. Bueno.

Speaking of afterglow, my blogging friend Brittany is glowing like a lava lamp after a very cool summer in Yellowstone. Check it out here.

 

 

Finishing the Boundary

Crisp. Gentle breezes. 45 degrees. Sunny. Good day to curl up with some hot tea.

But no, I decided to finish off the Boundary Stone Route.

So I rode 20 miles to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens where I abandoned the route a few days ago.

It being Veterans Day the streets and trails were empty. So the ride to the gardens was pretty much effortless

Once in the route I failed to find the first stone at the intersection of Eastern and Kenilworth Avenue.

No worries. Just a few miles southeast on Eastern Avenue led me to the East stone.it was in a wooded area but the fence surrounding it was easy to spot.

The ride along Eastern Avenue was quite hilly but nothing like the climbing festival that awaited me in Southern Avenue.

The rollers would have been easier but for the red lights at the bottom of each descent.

Some of the stones are located in hard to find spots so I decided that to keep things moving along I would only look for the stones within eyesight of the road.

I rode the Southern Avenue roller coaster toward the southwest breathing in the crisp autumn air and a pretty significant amount of second hand marijuana smoke.

At the end of Southern Avenue the route takes you around a strip mall and to a bridge over a man made stream. Except the bridge was there. Instead was a man made rapid that I decided not to ford.

I could have ridden into an adjacent neighborhood to get to the last stone but decided against it. I’d have had to bushwhack through some high weeds and shrubs to find the stone. Then I’d get to climb up the nasty, bumpy hill at Oxon Farm. Instead I retreated to the frontage road of the highway and used that to ride up Oxon Hill.

The ride home involved a pleasant descent to the Potomac then a climb with a spiral ramp to get to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Trail.

The trail features numerous bone jarring expansion joints that Maryland transportation officials seem unable to fix or mitigate.

So my Boundary Stone make up ride is complete. It was pretty tedious and hilly. I’ll bet it’s a lot more fun with other people along for the ride.

The Mule and I managed to ride 43.5 miles today.

Tomorrow I go back to the hematologist for a status check on my blood clots. Tuesday I visit the pulmonologist for the same reason. No worries.

Rebound(ary)ing

Last night, I watched the election while drinking beer and eating chips and guacamole. I was feeling like a blob before the evening began; by the end of it I felt roly poly.

There was just one thing to do. I went for a long bike ride today. The weather was on board allowing me to ride in shorts. Not bad for November.

A few weeks ago I had planned to participate in the annual Boundary Stone Ride. The night before I watched an 18-inning baseball game. Need less to say, I slept in and missed the ride. But I did get the cue sheet.

What is the Boundary Stone Ride? When it was decided to establish the District of Columbia (thanks to that Hamilton chap), surveyors laid out boundary stones in a square. The square was rotated so that its corners pointed north, south, east, and west. This is because the founding fathers were incredibly anal.

Anyway, ten boundary stones were laid along all four sides of the square. 36 of them are still there, over 225 years later. Somebody nearly as anal as the founding fathers decided to ride a bike to each stone. The ride is over 60 miles long even though the square is 40 miles in circumference.

I rode to the South stone in Jones Point Park on the Mount Vernon Trail. It was overcast but the weather was just right for Little Nellie, posing here at Dyke Marsh.

The route goes clockwise mostly northwest on King Street through Alexandria. Since the stones are arrayed in straight lines the ride goes up and down hills rather than around them.

Near Seven Corners the route turns toward the northeast. I rode on streets I’d never seen before, and I have lived here since 1984. In North Arlington I went down a side street to find a stone. It was on someone’s back yard so I couldn’t see it. At least these folks were decent enough to have a gorgeous red tree in their front yard for me to gawk at.

The route took me down a scary hill to the Potomac River at Chain Bridge. Across the river I picked up the muddy C&O Canal towpath and then pushed Little Nellie up a flight of stairs to get on the Capital Crescent Trail. I very nearly fell down the stairs as my grip on the bike slipped.

Across the river I climbed up to Massachusetts Avenue and then to Western Avenue which runs along the northwest boundary of DC. From time to time I could see a stone off to my left. By this point I had missed finding about five stones so I was more concerned about the riding than the stones.

Down into and up out of Rock Creek Park brought me to scary East West Highway. It took me several tries but I finally found the North stone tucked away near the edge of a parking lot. Note the cage that surrounds the stone to protect it from evil doers.

From here the route points southeast, more or less. Eastern Avenue is the boundary road but the route meanders about. By this point I pretty much stopped looking for the stones. I was more concerned about avoiding being car chow.

In Colman Manor the route put me on the Anacostia River Trail System. After a wrong turn, I found familiar pavement and crossed the river. I stopped at Bladensburg Waterfront Park to use a blue room and refill my water bottles. I had ridden over 45 miles so far and it occurred to me that breakfast was about to wear off. Also sunset was only about 1/2 hour away.

I decided to abandon the last third of the ride and head home on the Anacostia Trail. As I  rode to the 11th Street Bridge, crossed the river, and headed toward Nationals Park. Once there I followed my route to my house from summer days and nights at home. This involved dodging pedestrians and cars near the DC Wharf and nimjas on the Mount Vernon Trail. (Get some lights, people.)

I arrived home after 70 miles.

I still feel like a blob. A sore blob.

But it was so worth it.

Assume a sixth bagel…

It’s been cold and rainy the last couple of days here in DC. The rain part is no surprise. We are experiencing the sixth wettest year in recorded history. And we still have 55 days to go. Yesterday it rained 1.43 inches. There was a raging river in our backyard where the French drain is.

Today it rained some more. You’d think the weather forecasters would be getting with the program. They predicted that the rain would stop at 2 pm and that temperatures would be in the 60s. I figured I’d wait until 2 and go for a bike ride.

The rain stopped just before 5. Fug me.

Looking at the bright side, I did manage to go to the eye doctor, meditate, lift weights, go grocery shopping and listened to two podcasts, Rachel Maddow’s Bag Man and Jeremy Dylan’s My Favorite Album. 

Bag Man tells the story of how a group of Justice Department attorneys in Maryland unearthed corruption at multiple levels of Maryland politics. They kept pulling on the string of evidence and clues and it led them to the Vice President, Spiro Agnew, who was once Maryland’s governor. Agnew and his attorneys denied wrongdoing and demonized the Justice Department and the press. Sound familiar? Once they knew the VP was in their sights, the attorneys from the Justice Department Maryland field office had to break the news to the Attorney General that they were investigating criminal behavior by the sitting VP. At the height of Watergate! Eliot Richardson, the AG, told them to continue their investigation. I’ll bet he had a strong drink after work that night.

My Favorite Album is a series of interviews with musicians about their favorite album. Luckily, about 1/4 of the podcasts deal with my faves The Beatles and Neil Finn. The people being interviewed know a lot about the bands they are discussing which keeps the rehashing of well-worn anecdotes to a minimum. So far I’ve listened to discussions of three Beatles albums, all kinds of Crowded House and Neil Finn music, and Blond on Blond. There are over 170 episodes (including Radiohead, Springsteen, Neil Young, Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, and more) so I know what to do when I’m snowed in this winter.

I feel like a blob. Mostly because all the crap I’ve been eating since coming home from Oregon has finally caught up with me. Since tonight is election night, I’ll be binging on beer and chips and guac and queso. Tomorrow I will punish my fat ass with a long ride.

One weird thing happened at the grocery store. The checkout the clerk told me that my five bagels actually cost 30 cents more than if I had bought a half dozen. Seriously. As a retired economist I am pissed that I didn’t tell him to assume a sixth bagel.

Two years ago I was in Silicon Valley working with some futurists on election day. Everyone simply assumed that Hillary would win. When we met the next day, the futurists all showed up dressed in black. They had not coordinated this. Black swans.

 

 

 

 

 

Leafy recovery

I took some vitamin I last night with a mild sedative and made full use of my extra hour of nighttime.

When I awoke my knees were a bit sore but my back felt wonderful. Not half bad considering how hard they pushed both yesterday.

The weather today was even better too. Perfect fall day. I spent over two hours raking leaves. There are now about 20 giant bags of them out by the curb. Raking leaves is one chore I actually enjoy. On Facebook I offered up my leaves for my friends to take but they have other ideas of fun. Fools!

After a quick lunch I heard Little Nellie calling so I hopped in the saddle and let my dead legs take me out for some neighborhood leaf peeping. How strange that we get so much beauty followed by four months of dreariness.

I went to Fort Hunt Park because it has some fantastic maples. This is the big one at the entrance.

I rolled down to Old Town. The trees in Dyke Marsh are mostly barren now but the low angle of the sun shining off the river made up for lack of foliage.

Tomorrow it will rain. I will rest my weary legs and steel myself for Tuesday’s insanity.

Did someone say cider? And doughnuts? And pie? And beer?

What a difference a week makes. The autumn that wasn’t put on a fantastic show today. Reds and yellows and browns and crisp breezes and puffy clouds.

Lucky for me there was a bike event to get me out into the glorious outdoors. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s Sixth Cider Ride was today. Somehow, someway the WABA weather curse failed. A storm front moved through the area last night bringing high winds and heavy downpours. A couple of hours before the ride began, the front moved eastward. I had come prepared for rain but made a last minute decision to change from rain gear (rain jacket and long pants) to cool weather gear (shorts with long wool socks, topped off with a pull over fleece). Perfect.

I also decided to raise the saddle on Little Nellie, my Bike Friday folding travel bike. Just a tad. Even minor adjustments can have big benefits or cause big problems. I guessed right, however. I rode about 2-3 miles per hour faster today than yesterday. And my back and knees didn’t bother me at all.

The ride started in Northeast DC just before 9 a.m., and took us on a ramble along the Anacostia River trail system. The trails were covered with wet leaves making the going a bit dicey. One unfortunate rider fell and had to be taken away in an ambulance. Elizabeth, the rider immediately behind him, couldn’t stop and crashed as well suffering a big boo boo on her left thigh.

I knew several of the riders. I rode initially with Leslie but she was riding as a course marshall and had to stop and render assistance to the injured riders. Before the crash we came upon Jesse whose bike had died a hero on the trails. Somehow her rear derailler had fallen off. She was forced to take the Uber of shame. (She had her bike fixed and actually did one of the shorter versions of the ride. She persisted!)

We left the trails and stopped at Proteus Cycles in College Park to partake of warm cider and apple slices. No wait. There’s doughnuts over at the next table. Ixnay on the apple slices. Bring on the junk food!

After achieving sugar nirvana, we headed on roads through the Beltsville agriculture research area. Here my tweak to Little Nellie’ saddle height paid off. I was riding 15-20 miles per hour through fields and stands of colorful trees. Clearly, the tailwind helped a lot but I was feeling very comfortable on the bike for the first time in weeks.

Did I mention that it was gorgeous outside?

I could have stopped dozens of times to take pictures but I figured one would do the trick. Light car traffic, the low angle of light, colorful leaves everywhere, and a road with some bikes receding in the distance. Dang.

The route took up to the Patuxent Research Refuge where we turned around to fight the wind for a few miles. Then we crossed back through the agriculture complex, over a hill,  and into Greenbelt. Here we stopped in a park for warm cider and pie. I went with the apple pie because pumpkin pie makes me gag.

I stayed long enough to hear more about the crash from Elizabeth, who showed me her  bruise. (Elizabeth, Dr. Rootchopper recommends red wine. It won’t help the bruise but you won’t care.) And I got a surprise hug from Laura. I am a fan of the hammy Instagram mini-movies she makes of her bike commutes and other shenanigans.

I left the rest stop and headed back toward DC. This part of the route was different from last year so I stopped frequently to avoid getting lost. I only went about 100 yards off course all day. (I missed the cue “Take a right at the porta potties.”) We rode back to the trail system by way of the College Park Trolley Trail in Berwyn.

Just before getting back on the Anacostia Trails I passed a rest stop where people were yelling at me. I learned later they were yelling “Mead!” I was in a nice flow so I passed up the offer to wet my whistle, choosing instead to make a crossing of a busy highway behind 20 other cyclists. Within minutes I realized I had goofed. This group was doddling along and I was in the mood to motor. After a mile of hanging off the rear, I started passing people. In five minutes I was alone off the front of the group and whizzing down the trail along the river. It was beautiful. The sunlight off the water was the perfect complement to the breeze and the colors.

The change in the course also involved going south along the Anacostia on the east side of the river for about a mile then doubling back on the west side. This portion on the ride featured a strong headwind off the water and was serious work. It appears that most other riders skipped this part. I can’t blame them. Perhaps the highlight was riding past dilapidated RFK Stadium. The stadium was one of many “multiuse” stadiums built in the 1960s. I looks ripe for implosion these days.

The last few miles were across Capitol Hill and up the Metropolitan Branch Trail. I rode most of the second half of the ride much harder than the first so I my legs were ready to call it a day. And soon I arrived at the finish at the Dew Drop Inn. There, after 55 honest miles, I tossed back a couple of Raven lagers and hung out in the sun with friends on the elevated deck.

And tonight we set the clocks back one hour. The extra hour of sleep is exactly what my tired legs need.

 

October Riding

This month hasn’t been much to talk about in terms of bike riding. I spent the first half of the month riding my recumbent and the second half riding my folding travel bike. My body is all kinds of confused. By messing around with the height of my handlebars on my Bike Friday, I screwed up my back. So I have been maxing out at 30 miles or so per day. When your back hurts riding is exhausting. I better up my game for Saturday’s Cider Ride. which is over 50 miles.

Total miles for the month: 835.

Longest ride: 43 miles.

Miles so far this year: 10,390

(This means I have now ridden over 10,000 miles outside after being a rehabbing cellar dweller for January and a weather weenie for parts of February and March.

My next goal is to reach 21,000 miles on Little Nellie. I’m fewer than 300 miles from that goal. Maybe I’ll do a hike to celebrate.

 

Ramblings on a Gloomy Saturday

  • My participation in a 60+ mile bike event today was dashed by an 18-inning epic World Series game. Yes, I watched the entire thing which didn’t come to an unsatisfactory end (the Saux lost) until 3:30 in the a of m. A few years ago I attended a Washington Nationals game that lasted 16 innings. I have to say that I was grateful that I didn’t have to ride 15+ miles home after last night’s affair.
  • I actually woke up on time to go to the 9:30 start but the combination of feeling bleery, the cold, rainy weather and the ache in my lower back convinced me that crawling back in bed was a better way to spend my day. I did download the cue sheet so maybe I can ride it someday during the coming week.
  • Yesterday, I rode to Friday Coffee Club in DC. After starting small the gathering grew to about 8 or 9 people. Somebody took a group picture. I had my mouth full of muffin. I look like a deranged chipmunk.
  • Most of the gang left leaving me talking, I kid you not, to two men named Poncho and Bones. Cowboys? Bank robbers? Drug runners? The left side of a athletic yet inept infield? Nope. Just Frank and Steve, an attorney recruiter and a computer scientist. So boooring!
  • I am getting kind of depressed by the low angle of the sun and the shortness of daylight. I left for Friday Coffee Club in predawn blackness. I waited until I was 6 1/2 miles from home to take a sunrise picture. sunrise 102618
  • For you politics junkies, as I took this picture I had my back to the condominium that was once home to Paul Manafort. I think he’s still in the pokey.
  • Tomorrow morning I am riding to Crystal City to watch the Marine Corps Marathon. A friend of my daughter is running. It will be her first. Go Marien!