Rising into Spring

Paying to say goodbye is flying on the ground.

“Use your third eye.”

“We have today; tomorrow may not come.”

“So we have learned.”

“Be safe.”

“Be happy.”

Send an apple pie to the far side of the world.

Birds return. Evening light. Riding in shorts.

“Do I know you?”

“You totally should get your fusiform gyrus checked out.”

Laughing so hard it hurts.

Well on the way to fixing a hole.

“I’ll do.” Indeed.

Dreadless Monday

You could approach the begining of the work week with a sense of dread. Or you could jump on your bike and ride to work along the Potomac River in time for this.

On the way to work I stopped for 90 minutes of torture at my physical therapist. They took measurements to see how my range of motion has improved over the last two months. My range of motion has deteriorated. This could be because I rode hard yesterday. Or it could be that my body thinks medical science is poppycock.

After work a bunch of people went to happy hour. I can always use a little more happy so I went. After two glasses of happy, I went back to the office and changed into my bike commuting gear. It was warm out so I wore less than in the morning. Riding home in shorts with regular biking gloves is also a good way to add a little more happy.

The Mount Vernon Trail was somewhat busy. This is the price I pay for warmer weather. Warmer weather brings new sounds. During the last week or so, the number of bird songs has increased dramatically. I especially like hearing the red wing blackbirds. This evening I heard another welcome sound. At Jones Point Park south of Old Town Alexandria I heard the first spring peepers of the year. Yes!

Once I left the Mount Vernon Trail I had to content with an unusual number of drunk drivers. At least that’s what it seemed like. Drivers were zigging when they should have been zagging.

So Monday ended. It wasn’t dreadful. It was dreadless.

Blueberry Soop – 24 and There’s So Much More

Today was the Vasa ride, the first #bikedc event of the year. The Vasa ride is put on by WABA in collaboration with the Swedish embassy. Then idea is to mimic the Vasaloppet, an annual  cross country skiing event in Sweden. (I tried telemark style biking but have since reverted to conventional nordic style.)

Last night I traded tweets with fellow Mount Vernon bike commuter Linel. We hadn’t met in real life so it was decided that I would give her a ride to the start. I picked her up in the sea of condos in Belle Haven/View just south of Old Town. The Mule was already on my bike rack. It takes considerable effort to get it there as The Mule is actually a corruption of Molnir, Thor’s hammer, which only Thor can lift. I picked up Linel’s bike, a Trek Madone, and couldn’t believe how light it was. It was like hefting a can of beer, without the beer.

Not wanting to search endlessly in Georgetown for a parking space, I parked in Rosslyn and we rode Key Bridge into Georgetown. About 1 block from the start we rode by no fewer than ten empty parking spaces. Doh!

The starting area had an abundance of #bikedc people I knew. Gina and Michelle from WABA were working the registration area. Liz was volunteering there as well. Chris M. and Rachel “Don’t Call Me Bob” Cannon were marshalls. Ed and Mary (she less than 24 hours removed from running a marathon) and Dave and Jean were hanging out with their Co-Motion tandems. Up rolled Shawn, Brian, Jonathan, Lisa, Ryan, Will, John Roche (all the way from Baltimore), and Matilde.

Some of these folks rolled out on the 59-mile course, the rest of us headed out on the 31 mile ride. We cruised along without incident and learned that Linel’s Madone is equipped with an anti gravity device as she cruised up the hill on Reservoir Road. A few minutes later winter took a bite out of the fun as Matilde lost her phone when her bike’s impact with a pothole sent it flying.

We climbed up the small hill at the reservoir. I took off on the backside and fell in with a group of people riding in a pace line. Wee, no headwind for me. Chris B. flew by, heading back toward DC.

I continued on rather pleased with myself until we reached the hill at Great Falls Park. Here I demonstrated my craptastic hill climbing abilities. Bicyclists after bicyclist passed me and my bruised ego. The first thing to go is your legs. The second thing to go is your pride.

I rolled into the rest stop in Potomac Village and rested. Foods were eaten. Bathrooms were broken. Rest was achieved.

Back we went toward the start. As I turned left into Avenel I was pushed by a strong tailwind gust. Rather than waste the energy, I down shifted and started pedaling hard. The Mule and I went all 02134. (Obscure PBS reference.)

Peter pulled along beside me. He had been meandering around the route and decided to head back to DC. As we chatted he told me how he, too, had lost his phone. We rode side by side down Persimmon Tree Road to MacArthur Boulevard. Tailwinds made for easy work.

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Sea of Bikes at the Finish

 

At the finish we made our way inside the Swedish embassy to partake of the blueberry soup. It was hot but not as sweet as I recalled from previous years. At the embassy we met up with Lis. This was the first time I’ve seen her in the wild. Normally, I see her at Friday Coffee Club. I also met up with Randy from the Alexandria Bike Ped Advisory Committee.

A few minutes later KL came up to me and introduced herself. I drew a blank until she explained we met at the WABA holiday party last December. She introduced her friend Magen.

After a few minutes of souping, we gathered together 11 people and headed to Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown where KL and Magen were already seated. (Who says bicycle events don’t do something for local businesses?)

After some fine pizza and beer, we parted ways. Linel and I rode across Key Bridge and were soon on our way homeward.

All in all, the Vasa ride provided a pretty darn good start to the #bikedc event year. I think it’s incredible that I, a pretty serious introvert, can go to a bike event in DC and see 23 people I know and meet another. Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped out. Thanks also to the WABA employees who gave up their Sunday to make this happen. Humongous thanks to Michelle Cleveland, WABA’s event coordinator. She was working on four hours of sleep and somehow managed to keep smiling throughout the day.

For some more pix of the day, check out my Flickr album.

Errandonnee Scorecard

To be an official Errandonnee finisher, you have to complete a scorecard. Since I have blogged about each of my errands my score card will just be links to those other posts. Thanks to Mary for doing this again this year. As usual, this little contest got me out of the house when I’d otherwise be loafing.

Errand No. 1: You Carried WHAT on Your Bike?

I rode to a park to go snowshoeing so I put the snowshoes on my rack.

Miles: 11

Errand No. 2: Personal Care # 1

After snowshoeing I rode to Sherwood Gourmet for a sammich.

Miles: 1.5

Errand No. 3: Personal Business # 1

I went to the bank.

Miles: 6.5

Errand No. 4: Store # 1

I rode to a shoe store to get some orthotic inserts.

Miles: 1

Errand No. 5: Non-store Errand

I wobbled across the street to buy some Girl Scout cookies.

Miles: 0.05

Errand No. 6: Personal Care # 2

On the way to work I went to the physical therapist.

Miles: 6.5

Errand No. 7: Work or Volunteer # 1

I rode my bike to and from work.

Miles: 23

Errand No. 8: Work or Volunteer # 2

I rode my bike to and from work again.

Miles: 30

Errand No. 9: Personal Business # 2

I stopped at the bank on my way home from work

Miles: 9

Errand No. 10: Arts and Entertainment

I listened to a woman singing opera on a street corner.

Miles: 0.5

Errand No. 11: Social Call

I rode to meet up with the Freezing Saddles Pi Day ride.

Miles: 6.5

Errand No. 12: Store # 2

I rode Little Nellie to the bike store for some TLC.

Miles 3

I did several more errands by bike that don’t count for one reason or another. I rode to work two more days. I went to the supermarket. And I went to the bank a third time.

Pictures can be found at each of the links. You can also check out the Flickr page.

Errandonnee Finis!

I finished my errandonnee for 2015 today. It was pretty easy. Today was Pi Day. It’s 3.1415. Pi. So naturally, there was a great desire by nerdly minded people to eat pie. A group of people who have been participating in the Freezing Saddles competition decided to do a Pi(e) Day ride. (In Freezing Saddles, bicyclists team up and ride through the winter. They talley their miles and then have a happy hour. I didn’t participate because I hate crashing and riding in winter – for me, at least – involves crashing.)

I was invited to participate by Bob “Don’t Call Me Rachel” Cannon. So I decided to ride up to Old Town, Alexandria and meet the riders at their first pie stop, Misha’s Coffeehouse.

There were a number of surprises in store for me. I had decided to ride The Mule because it was raining and a bit cold (high 40s). This way I could wear my waterproof hiking boots. I pulled The Mule down from its hook and surprise number one: my first flat tire of the year. I spent a few minutes screwing around with it but decided to deal with the situation later. I changed shoes and rode Little Nellie to Old Town.

The ride was uneventful because it rained the entire way. This is not fun, thought I. I arrived at Misha’s a good half hour before the Freezing Saddles folks. I decided to eat some pie and drink some coffee.  A friend of mine is a gluten free vegan. The intersection of her diet and mine is the null set. (Hey, it’s pi day. Math rules.) Her one concession to dietary fun is apple pie. She loves it. So I decided to try the Scottish apple pie, even though I am more a cherry or blueberry pie person. The apple pie was made by Acme Pie company. It was pretty awesome.

The riders showed up. There were around 20 of them. The coffee house was packed. Having finished my pie and two cups of coffee, I headed back outside in the rain. The rain helped me to decide to abandon the rest of the pi ride and get some errands done. I headed out on Little Nellie only to notice that the front brake was impossibly screwed up.

I fiddled with it to free up the front wheel and rode to the bank. Then I headed to my local bike store, Spokes Etc. in the Belle View shopping center. On the way I passed Linel who is a bike commuter who I know from twitter but have never met. She waved at me as she headed toward Old Town. She looks different when she’s not a one by one inch picture on the web.

At Spokes a mechanic lubed and adjusted and air blasted my brake caliper. It was all gunked up from the crud on the side of the roads. In ten minutes he had it working like new.

I rode home in the, um, not rain. Being a rain wuss is rather frustrating.

After putting my bike away, I inspected The Mule’s flat tire. It was a repeat of a flat I had a few months ago.  When I repaired that flat, I used a $1 bill as a boot, a barrier between the new tube and the small hole in the tire casing. The bill had deteriorated and the hole chewed a hole in my tube as it expanded and contracted. Rather than go through this again, I decided it was time to cough up some dough for a new tire. I drove to Bikes at Vienna and bought a new tire and tube for The Mule. I also bought a couple of spare tires, since past experience tells me that early season punctures come in bunches.

Having ridden only 12 miles today, I am rested and ready for tomorrow’s Vasa ride.

Errand No. 11: Social Call

Miles 6 ish.

Observation:  I am a rain wuss. I just do not enjoy riding in the rain. I’ll do a bike commute in the rain but standing around in wet clothes just doesn’t do it for me.

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Errand No. 12: Wild Card – Bike Shop

Miles 2

Observation: I love that Spokes Etc. will work on my bike while I wait. (They do this when they are not super busy.)

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Errandonnee # 9 and 10 – Banking and Busking

I was begining to think that the clock was going to run out on my errrand running. I only have four more days to knock off four errands. One of those four days is taken up by a business trip. So I needed to get busy.

I can’t count my ride to work because I already have two commutes to my credit. So on the way home I swung by the bank to check about transfering funds between accounts. Unfortunately, the account I need to pull the money from hasn’t recognized my paycheck yet so the trip was for naught. I still get to count the trip as Personal Business even though it’s more or less identical to a previous bank errrand.

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From the bank I rode down King Street, the main drag of Old Town Alexandria. As I approached the Torpedo Factory, a former torpedo factory turned IMG_20150312_174209arts center, I heard the beautiful voice of a woman singing opera. Where else do you find a busking opera singer? So I stopped and took in a few minutes of the show.

After she finished singing her song, a man holding a baby walked up. He launched into an opera tune of his own. Then she joined in. And then the incredibly cute baby, started howling as if to say, “Not again Mom and Dad!”  The two singers suppressed laughter as they continue to sing through the howls.

Just another day on the MVT. How I love living here,

Errand No. 9: Personal Business – Bank

Miles: 9

Observation: I really should do this sort of errand online but my log in info expires from neglect.

Errand No. 10: Arts and Entertainment – Opera on the Mount Vernon Trail

Miles: 1/2

Observation: Do I have the most amazing bike commute or what?!!!

Be Careful What You Wish For

Most of the people I know in the #bikedc world live in or near DC. Their commutes are much shorter than mine. Either on their way home or after arriving at home, they often go out to restaurants, art events, or bars. I envy them.

A friend of mine moved from Adams Morgan, in the heart of the city, to subrurban McLean last summer. Her five minute commute radicaly changed. Instead of riding down a hill to work she now had a multi-modal, expensive monstrosity to deal with. She rode her bike to the Metro, rode Metro into the city, and rode to her job. To do this she had to arrive at Metro before 7 am to take her bike on the train. On the return she had to wait until 7 pm to take her bike on the train.

She complained that she had no time to do the things (yoga, meditation, Skype, blog, etc.) that she used to do in the evenings.Then I realized she was complaining about a life that I have just accepted as normal.  My bike commute and job suck up at least 12 hours of my day. In winter, it’s worse because of all the layers of clothing that I have to put on and take off four times in a day.

So tonight I sat down to blog and realized it is already 10 am. I will be getting up in eight hours. I should be tired but I am not. After all, I have ridden nearly 90 miles since Monday. Yet I haven’t felt this good in months. A warm ride home along the river really floats my boat. It would be nice to be able to pull into Meridian Pint or the Right Proper Brewing Company on the way home for a pint of cold  ale. Then again, I saw an amazingly beautiful great blue heron on my way home tonight. He was standing in the river motionless, as if posing for me. Yes, sir, you are one beautiful work of art.

So sometimes I wish I lived and rode in the city. Mostly, as my McLean friend was once advised, I am careful what I wish for.

Errandonee #8 – Looking through the Bentback Tulips

Today’s errand was my 18th bike commute of the season. Having taken the better part of three weeks off, I am finding my commute to be really hard. I am confident that I will get the hang of it soon and be back to mindless mindfull commuting.

On the way home I passed a Beatles song. Can you guess which one?

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Maybe tomorrow I’ll make a dovetail joint.

Errand No. 8: Work

Miles: 30

Observation: I’d have prefered spotting the kind of girl who makes the News of the World

Daylight Errandonnee Time

Today dawned cold-ish. The “ish” refers to the fact that it was not COLD just seasonably cold.

I left home after sunrise to get to a physical therapy appointment in Old Town. I suspected that there was some lingering ice on the Mount Vernon Trail so I rode Fort Hunt Road to Alexandria. I arrived at the PT place about 20 minutes early.

Here I am before the torture began:

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Note the pre-torture trace of a smile.

After 90 minutes of flossing (that’s what they call manipulating the leg to free the entrapped nerve), foam rolling, core work, and other delights I was back on the bike.

The trail was ice free but for a ten yard stretch near the power plant. I walked this because I am an ice wuss.

When I got to the Intersection of Doom, I had to wait because a truck was DSCN3631_766being positioned in the middle of Lynn Street. A police officer was “helping” in a way that was mysterious to my eyes. There was confusion. I waited until I had safe passage. Then I passaged.

Work happened.

Then I left the office in shorts. The trail was very busy. There were many runners. Mostly female. Mostly wearing very little clothing. I didn’t mind. A week ago they were wearing anoraks.

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Here’s the score card.

Errand No. 6: Personal Care – Physical Therapist

Miles: 6 1/2

Observation: My numb left foot is getting better incrementally.  My patience is getting worse.

Errand No. 7: Work or Volunteer – Work

Miles: 23

Observation: What a joy it is to ride a bike in shorts.

Errandonnee – Three in a Day

I woke up at 5 am. Except 5 am is the new 6 am, this being the first morning of daylight savings time. It was dark outside. So much for saving daylight.

I waited around for a few hours trying to be productive and failing. Then I hit the road on The Mule. We headed north-ish to Old Town Alexandria to run some errands.

I took Fort Hunt Road, the secret alternative to the Mount Vernon Trail. FHR was covered in ice just two days ago but now it is covered in sand and salt. Pick your poison.

FHR takes you to US 1 at the betlway. This is a pretty hostile place for bicycles and pedestrians. Fortunately, there is a side trail that connects to Washington Street in Alexandria. So I took it. It was clear of ice and snow. Nice.

I rode into Old Town to make my first stop at the bank. It was six miles into the ride.

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After the bank, I rode down King Street to the Comfort Shoe store at the corner of Lee and King. This store sells the orthotics that have saved my back. I bought a second pair so I no longer have to swap them between my hiking shoes and boots.

#Errandonee No 4 Orthotics for me

As I was unlocking my bike, I noticed that there was a bit of commotion across the street. Girls scouts were selling their cookies so I had to go and partake. I bought one box of Samoas. Then I immortalized the girls in an Errandonnee evidence photo.

#Errandonee No. 3 Banking fun

Feeling zonked I tooled around Old Town looking for more Errrandonnee inspiration. A man was playing a banjo and singing at King and Union Streets. I could have chalked up another errand for Arts and Entertainment, but he wasn’t very entertaining.

I headed home the way I had come, because the Mount Vernon Trail is still an icy mess. Climbing up the hill on FHR I noticed that some cars had pulled over on the opposite side of the road. I learned why almost immediately. A man was tending to a dog on my side of the road. The dog was lying on its left side, its head in a drainage ditch on the side of the road. My guess is that it had been hit by a car. I would have stopped but there was not a whole lot that I could do short of feeding the dog a Samoa.

About a mile from home I stopped at the grocery store. The store didn’t have the kind of coffee I wanted so I went home with my first errand fail of the year.

Here’s the official tally:

Errandonee # 3: Bank

Category: Personal Business

Miles: 6 1/2

Observation: Depositing checks at an ATM is more better because you get a copy of the check. Technology rocks.

Errandonnee #4: Shoe Store

Category: Store

Miles: 1

Observation: I love the orthotics that I am using. They give me happy feet and a happy back.

Errandonee #5: Non Store Errand – Girls Scout Cookies

Miles: 100 feet

Observation:I am a sucker for Samoas. And an easy errand.