Punked by a Stag at Indian Head

Today was the day for the Southern Maryland 100 bike ride. The ride begins and ends in Indian Head Maryland. There’s not much there but a navy installation. I’ve done the metric century (100 kilometers) several times before. It’s a lovely place to ride and only about 40 minutes from my house by car.

I rode Big Nellie today. The weather was as good as it could be for bike riding. I took a cue sheet but I didn’t need it. I just followed the green arrows on the road.

This ride is put on by the Oxon Hill Cycling Club. They do a wonderful job of staffing the rest stops with interesting food. The first stop had English muffin sandwiches with ham, eggs and salsa. Also, peanut butter sammiches!  The next stop had enthusiastic junior high (or maybe high school) kids cheering us as we rode in. Their special treat was tomato and mayo sammiches. I couldn’t resist. The last rest stop had cherry slushies and veggie sticks (sort of like potato sticks but more better).

The terrain is not very difficult. Oh, there are maybe 10 hills to climb but none of them harder than the Park Terrace hill near my home. Of course, on a recumbent, you get passed by lots of roadies going up. Going down is another story; I hit 37 miles per hour on one downhill and reached the mid-30s on the rest.  Too bad I didn’t have my fairing on.

The riders were very respectful of each other. The lycra pacelines announced their passes and gave me plenty of room. This is not the case at Backroads (my only complaint about a ride that I love).  People said “Good morning” as they passed or chatted about how nice a day it was.

I needed to get back home to take care of a few things so I didn’t socialize or hang out at the rest areas. The last big hill is called Rose Hill. Even the roadies were flagging on this one. I had stayed out of my granny gear all day, but I dropped into it on Rose Hill. I was surprised at how good my legs felt near the top. I down shifted and passed a bunch of wedgie (that’s recumbent speak for a conventional bike) riders just before the top of the hill.  After 33,998 miles, I’m starting to get the hang of this recumbent thing.

I had plenty left in the tank when I got to the finish. I could easily have ridden the century. I am downloading the cue sheet for the 100 mile ride for future use.

When I got back to my car, my rear window had been defaced, or besmirched, or disrespected. My kids attended the Maret School for high school. I have a Maret sticker on my back window, but it was covered with a sign from a Dematha person.  In nature, stags crush frogs, but in DC, FROGS RULE.


Sunrise and Segway

Shorts and a t-shirt are so two days ago. Yesterday, I took off from home on Big Nellie in complete denial which is to say I wore sandals, a t-shirt, and shorts. Not bike shorts, just regular old, wear-around-the-house shorts. The 55 degree/12 mile per hour breeze on my arms and up my pants was rather…um…invigorating. The 30 mile per hour ride down the Park Terrace hill woke my ass right up. Literally.

Today, I pulled out some arm warmers which cut my morning thrill in half, I suppose. Then came the Park Terrace Hill. Hello, sailor!

Since I left early so that I would be on time for our scintillating annual office strategy and planning meeting, I arrived at Dyke Marsh just in time for a pretty awesome sunrise. So I stopped and took a picture.


Then it was back to the commute. A nice little tailwind pushed me along. After I passed through Old Town, I spotted a guy in a tan suit with a manbag riding a Segway. It isn’t often that an old Fred like me on a recumbent sees somebody who is considerably dorkier looking. It’s pretty impossible to ride a Seqway in a suit without looking like an escapee from Camp Devo. Of course, young women who give Segway tours to DC tourists look impossibly cool and sexy on them. (He says to cover his ass the next time he runs into Rachel who used to give Segway tours. My motto is: Be kind to women with power tools.)


The rest of my ride was dork-free (myself excluded).

After a day of strategerific coffee-less meetings, I was back on the bent and headed for home with my second tailwind of the day. Big Nellie is feeling her oats now that she has a new chain and cassette.

Ready to launch to Friday Coffee Club in the morning.

Above the Fold Today, Beneath the Parrot Tomorrow

Well, it has certainly been an interesting day. It actually all started a month or so ago.

I saw a notice online that a Washington Post reporter was looking to talk to people who commuted by bike on the Mount Vernon Trail. I sent my contact information and, within a few days, found myself talking to Pat Sullivan, a reporter for the paper of record in these parts.

Pat and I talked about my commute, what I liked about it and didn’t. I gave her the URL of this blog and that was that. A couple of weeks went by and there was no article. Just as I thought the article had been round filed, I received an email from Pat asking if she could talk to me again.

Pat had written an article about bike commuting in general and her editor wanted a more personal angle. So I found myself on the phone with her again. Since the previous call, Pat had gone to school on the trail. She knew the milestones, the pinch points and other characteristics and nuances of the trail from one end to the other.  This

conversation was much more focused on the good and the bad of my commute. How the headlights from the cars on the adjacent George Washington Memorial Parkway can blind winter commuters, how ninjas pose a hazard to themselves and other trail users, and how the Rosslyn Circle of Death is my bête noire (by which I do not mean a Bryan Ferry record). Part of the discussion involved the automatic counters that are positioned at intervals along the trail. (I had always thought that these were inactive as they emit no light or sound and have no obvious power source.)

A few more weeks went by. I went out of town this weekend to deliver my son’s stuff to his college apartment in upstate New York. I arrived home last night after ten, tired from eight plus hours of driving in busy Labor Day traffic and wired from way too much caffeine. Not being able to sleep I surfed the net for an hour and there it was., just posted on the Washington Post website, an article about the traffic and traffic counters on the Mount Vernon Trail. I clicked on the link and the first two words of the article were my name!  Eek!!

When I opened the paper in the morning there it was, a huge article with pictures and an infographic. Sheesh!! And there was my name above the fold!!

I rode my bike to work very cautiously. Wouldn’t it be a scream if I crashed the day of the article? Nothing bad happened. The Three Step Runner was cruising down Park Terrace drive. Traffic was suspiciously light on the GWMP.  Small waves on the river were lapping the riverbank. Just another day on the MVT.

My Office Door This Morning
My Office Door This Morning

I arrived at work to find the article posted on my office door with my name circled. I checked my Facebook page and Twitter feed. There were many kind words said. My sarcastic (I hope) daughter Lily had the comment of the day: “What a loser. He should just buy a car.” Have a nice 12-hour bus ride home for Thanksgiving, Lil.

The ride home tonight was a blast. Big Nellie, a tailwind, and fresh legs made for a brisk pace. What a terrific day.

Then it occurred to me. Tomorrow, I am yesterday’s news. My name will be at the bottom of some parrot’s cage, with bird poop on it.

Fame is fleeting.