Deja Vu All Over Again

It’s only my fourth bike commute of the year and it’s already getting repetitive. Good thing I have only 7 months and 1 week to go.

Today was an especially good day because the sinus problems that I had yesterday were nearly cleared up. I used a nasal rinse gizmo (mine has a filter so I can use tap water) patterned after a neti pot twice last night and once this morning. And I took vitamin I to reduce swelling. Success.

So today my head didn’t hurt, the sun came up and it was beautiful. See for yourself.

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And just like last winter the untreated wooden bridges on the Mount Vernon Trail were icy menaces. I was warned by the hoppy runner who was turning around at the bump out where I took the sunrise picture. I was very careful to ride in a straight line and made the crossing of the Dyke Marsh bridge with my rubber side down.

North of Old Town I bypassed the bridges on the river side of the power plant, but decided to take a chance on the beaver bridge just north of Slaters Lane. A walker on the bridge heard me approach and waved me off. I dismounted and immediately realized that the bridge was very slippery. So slippery in fact that I could see two cyclists recovering from a crash. It took me few minutes to walk the football field long bridge. I saw several fresh gashes in the wood decking, most likely from pedals. I actually had to grab hold of the chain that acts as a railing along the side of the bridge because my feet were sliding out from under me. Several cyclists rode by. I didn’t hear any crashes. I don’t know how.

The concrete bridges near the airport were icy but passable. By the time I made it to the wooden Trollheim bride that passes beneath the TR Bridge into DC the ice on it had mostly melted. I rode across without incident.

It was 55  degrees when I started the ride home. It was downright pleasant so the squirrels in my head could run freely. Thoughts bounced around. Then the trance came. Big Ed blew by me without realizing it was me. He nearly took out a ninja runner in the process. I cracked up. So much for that trance.

I rode into Old Town and my old friend was back. The car illegally parked blocking the bike lane at 420 North Union Street was in its usual scofflaw position. I called the police and asked them to ticket it. Again. If this keeps up, I may ask for an accounting of the number of times police responded to my complaints, how often a ticket was issued, how many fines were collected, and such. What really gets me is the fact that nobody else on this block parks like this. They used to but stopped. It takes only one entitled millionaire to ruin a bike lane. Lest we forget, Alexandria is a certified Bicycle Friendly City.

Once I cleared Old Town and headed down the trail in the dark the trance came back. I honestly lost track of where I was on the trail. I must have ridden two miles before I had that how-did-I-get-here moment.

 

 

 

 

Some Things You Can’t Miss

  • I was one sick unit this morning. I have a cold that has morphed into a sinus problem. It’s been going away and coming back. I might have to go for some scotch if this doesn’t get better soon. I broke out the neti pot thingie (not an actual neti pot but does the same thing) and flushed my brains. I felt better. Probably all in my head though. (Oooh, did he pun again? Sorry.)
  • Of course, the sickness didn’t keep me from bike commuting in 26 degree weather. Hey, I had a tailwind. No way I’d pass that up. So I made it to Dyke Marsh at sunrise. Never gets old. Note the frozen river. Image may contain: outdoor
  • The rest of the ride to work was an ice free slog except for a treacherous patch on the street at the north end of Old Town. It was just there in the middle of the lane for no reason. I rode over it rather than try to maneuver around it. No slippage.
  • I am happy to report that the scofflaw car parker who blocked the bike lane at 420 North Union Street is no longer scoffing the law. I’m watching for any backsliding.
  • I made it to work in one piece, did my thing for 8-ish hours, and headed for home. While I was in transit I was invited to my third happy hour this week. So on Thursday we take a departing co-worker out for a drink. Then I go do a volunteer thing at my kids’ high school, then I swing by the WABA happy hour in Adams Morgan. Then Friday night there’s a birthday happy hour for a friend downtown. If this doesn’t cure my cold nothing will.
  • When I got home, I checked my Twitter feed to find all this stuff about Russia and the president elect and golden showers and kompromat and such. Somebody put acid in my Dayquil. Come on, fess up.
  • So sick or not, I’m riding to work tomorrow. I may be barely making 10 miles per hour but it’s going up to the 50s and I’ll have a tailwind and I won’t be exposed to any more of Trumpster fires for about four hours. Bike commuting has its benefits.

Reading Season: Books and Blogs

Winter is a time for rest. I learned this as a distance runner in New England many years ago. Over time your body will thank you for not going out on a 20 degree day and trying to grind junk miles through gusting winds.

And baseball season is 85 days away.

So I read.

Mrs. Rootchopper gave me two books for Christmas: Michael Lewis’s The Undoing Project and Jeff Passan’s The Arm. I’ve read all but one of Lewis’s books. (Lewis is one of my go-to authors. Others are Nick Hornby, David McCullough, David Lodge, Tracy Kidder, John McPhee, Tom Wolfe, and Jon Krakauer.) This one is about the bromance between two academic psychologists who flipped economics on its ear by noticing that people do not behave rationally, and they are irrational in predictable ways. I finished this book on Friday while riding Big Nellie in the basement. (I read faster when my legs are moving. I swear.)

Passan’s book is an investigation into the epidemic of torn ulnar collateral ligaments among baseball pitchers. These pitcher have what is known as Tommy John surgery. Long- time baseball fans will remember that the orthopedic kiss of death for pitchers used to be a torn rotator cuff in the shoulder. Not anymore. So Passan’s book looks at the inane history of baseball and sports medicine. (For a while, it was thought that sore arms were caused by infections from the mouth. So injured pitchers had some teeth pulled. I am not making this up.)

I am also reading blogs. I have a long list on the right that is in no particular order. My favorite blogs these days include:

BlissfulBritt: I have become addicted to this one about a twenty something perpetual college student and erstwhile barista in Seattle. Britt’s bliss is often illusive but the quality of her writing and photography is ever present. And I’d kill to go on a hike with her.

My Year with Kerouac: Michelle is another twenty something blogger who coordinates events for our local bike advocacy organization. She loves the beats and tats and cats. And writes wonderfully. Somewhat like Britt, she’s in search of something more profound in her life than the daily grind. (Ooh, a pun.) She’s a banquet.

Wakeupshakeup: Katie is between successes as they say. She quit her job after feeling worn down and disrespected. What next? For now it’s odd jobs and writing gigs and interviewing “responsible adults” for insights into how to get on board the train to happy success or successful happiness.

Revrunner: I have no idea who this blogger is but (I think it’s a woman) she takes great photos mostly of the DC area (the DMV) and occasionally other places. She has a great eye for making the mundane look intriguing.

Smilecalm: Whenever I feel the need to get my woo woo on, I read Smilecalm. Half the time I don’t have a clue what it’s about. Other times it strikes a chord in me. The photos are wonderful.

And since I live in DC and ride a bike, there are three go-to bloggers I read regularly.

Chasing Mailboxes: Mary’s writing and photography captures her inner being, the one every distance runner and cyclists has a running mental conversation with. Her inner child often makes an appearance between the lines or in a picture (especially when she jumps for joy). She sometimes writes about long distance running and it evokes strong memories in me of my running days some 30 years and one knee pop ago. Mary, as the superhero Coffeeneur, runs two annual friendly competitions: the Coffeeneuring Challenge and the Errandonnee. Originally intended as a DC thing, they quickly went global. Try them. But you must follow the rules!

Tales from the Sharrows: Brian is a notorious rule-phobe who started this blog as a blow-by-blow account of his bike commutes across DC. How he remembered the details of his rides is beyond me. In recent years, he’s written more broadly but always with quirky wit. He also writes a bicycle advice column for the local free weekly newspaper. It’s called Gear Prudence. Feel free to submit a question.

The Washcycle: From time-to-time this blog has gone dormant, but it has started kicking its heels up again. Washcycle posts are in depth reports of interest to the DC cycling advocacy community. Lord, that sounds dull. It’s not. I don’t know where he gets his material from but there are maps and annotated photos and links galore to help you get your inner bike advocacy wonk on.

Finally, I read  Adventure Cyclist and National Geographic from cover to cover. I highly recommend National Geographic’s latest issue on Gender. It’s especially interesting if you are or have been or plan to be a parent.

Okay, time for me to head into the basement for some active reading on Big Nellie.

Feel free to recommend blogs or books to me in the comments section. I am always looking for new ground for my eyes to cover.

Trail Droppings

  • This morning was a cold start to the ride to work. This made up for it: Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature
  • I called the police on the people who park their car obstructing the bike lane on North Union Street in Old Town Alexandria. When I rode by this morning the car was gone. And it wasn’t there tonight either. Progress? Time will tell.
  • My colonoscopy blog posts helped persuade a friend to go for one. My ego wants to say that they found a massive tumor and this blog saved her life. The reality is that they found nothing and she’s good to, er, go for another five years.
  • Today was a sub-freezing morning bike commute. There were a couple of icy spots on the Mount Vernon Trail. I didn’t slip or anything but they reminded me of how much I HATE riding on icy trails.
  • Riding in cold weather really knocks me for a loop. Riding while sick does too. So this week’s bike commutes while sick in cold weather have been a real joy. Also, my cold has kept me from getting a decent amount of sleep. We may get an inch or two of snow overnight. I am working from home tomorrow.
  • It seems that the newspaper is filled with news items of politicians proposing things that seemed motivated by spite. How did so many mean spirited people end up running our government? I can’t read the paper or watch the news because I am exhausted by hatefulness.
  • My oldest brother has been doing genealogy research. (Why is there an “a” in that word?) He submitted a DNA sample for analysis. It determined that we are nearly entirely descendants of Irish/British/western Europeans. With dribbles and drabs of other Europeans thrown in. So much for the family story that we are part Blackfoot Indian. He hasn’t discovered any famous ancestors.
  • Tonight I am talking some Nyquil and getting some sleep. Take it easy out there #bikedc.

A Bicycle Werewolf in DC

Winter has its charms. Take today for instance. As I rode to work, the temperature rose to about 50 degrees. Winds were light. I had to unzip my jacket. It’s hard to complain about that. My normal solitude was interrupted by Ed, a Friday Coffee Clubber who lives near me. Ed has an interesting skill. He can carry on a conversation while riding without impeding bike trail traffic. I don’t quite know how he does it. It was a good talk that lasted for about 1/3rd of the ride to work before he veered off for his office in DC.

I arrived at work damp, from sweat. It’s January 4. How did that happen?

The ride home was colder and windy. There was some lingering daylight that made me nearly joyous. Can you believe it?!!! Light!!! OMG!

Soon it was dark. The wind was at my back. Life was good. The car parked at 420 N. Union Street blocked part of the bike lane. So I finally said Enough and called the police. Let’s see what happens.

The church bells of Old Town were ringing their 6 pm song.

South of Old Town where the bike trail is free of metal fart barges, my brain veered off into a narrative about things that could happen. It was like a mental movie. There was violence and some strong negative emotions. My adrenaline spiked and I found myself speeding up. That’s when I returned my focus to the white circle formed by my headlight and the calming rhythm of my pedaling. The trail angled upward and my commuting trance, what Flogini calls my meditation, took over.

I arrived home and went inside to do my physical therapy exercises. Mrs. Rootchopper says women would call it yoga but men call it PT or back exercises. (She’s right. More than half of what I do I see on the morning yoga program on TV. Of course, the TV yoga people are elastic and I am kevlar cords.)

Tonight as I was doing a side plank, my foot cramped up. It was seriously painful and ugly. It was not a full moon but my foot looked like the Dr. Pepper guy’s hand  in American Werewolf in London.

Image result for american werewolf in london

My big toe was at 11 o’clock and my other toes were at 2 o’clock.

I finally got my foot to calm down. I re-did the plank on my left side then switched to my right side.

FOOT CRAMP!

I check to see if there was a full moon. There wasn’t. So I won’t be changing my name to Loup Garou.

The cramps subsided. I finished my plank then tried my bird dog exercise.

FOOT CRAMP!

I gave up.

I am pretty sure that the cramps are caused by a combination of cold weather and insufficient hydration.

But I am really not looking forward to the full moon next week.

 

First Bike Quack of the Year

There was rain. Persistent. Light. Rain. And a headwind. And it was only 46 degrees outside. I have a cold. I rode to work. I am an idjit.

The rain soon overwhelmed my Goretex hiking boots. So much for their waterproofiness. Somewhere along the line I tore a hole near the inseam of my rain pants. My mittens were sopping wet. So were my socks.

Are we having fun yet?

It took about 20 extra minutes to get to work in this slop. I just could not make any speed at all. I had fresh legs too having taken yesterday off.

Just before my office I nearly collided with a bike commuter. It was my fault. I was tired and wet and wasn’t looking up and he/she was RIGHT THERE. Sorry. My bad.

So 2017 starts with a discouraging, soggy bike commute.

 

My office was festooned with wet gear. It was as if some alien being had decided to put out decorations for the post-holidays.

Fortunately my stuff was mostly dry-ish when I left for home. There was still a lingering mist. It stopped after about 20 minutes. And I had a tailwind. And it was still 46 degrees outside. So the ride home was not at all unpleasant.

Until I came upon a Comcast service vehicle parked in the middle of the Mount Vernon Trail in Old Town Alexandria. After I nearly crashed getting around it, I found myself confronted with three cars aimed in different directions in the next cross walk. They were likely driven by parents picking up their kids at the crew facility down by the river. But they decided to park, u-turn, and such in the crosswalk where the Mount Vernon Trail passes through.

A couple blocks late at 426 N. Union the car with Maryland plates was parked perpendicular to the curb obstructing the bike lane. Again.

Alexandria is a bicycle friendly city. Really. The League of American Bicyclists seems to think so. Apparently you fill out a form or two and say “We like bikes” and the LAB gives you some sort of award. Sure glad I am a member. Not.

Do I sound cranky?

Quack.

42, 4001, 2017, Bike!

It’s a new year. Normally I start the new year with an easy hike, but I did one the other day so I decided to take my Cross Check for a spin. I rode the Tour of Arlington, which is a loop around Arlington County entirely on paved trails. Instead of riding from Rosslyn to Alexandria directly, I took the Key Bridge into Georgetown. Riding down M Street and then around Washington Circle is always a bit nerve wracking. Good thing Washington Circle has an ER just in case.

I took a brief detour to check out the progress at 17th and G Streets. This is where Friday Coffee Club used to convene before somebody decided to renovate the building. I wanted to see if the outdoor seating area was still intact. It was. The sign outside said the project will end on 5/12/2017. This is a Friday so I am marking my calendar for a return to Friday Coffee Club. img_20170101_133511

Next I rode across White House Plaza, the section of Pennsylvania Avenue that goes past the front of the White House. The review stand for the Inaugural Parade was nearing completion. There are police and guards all over the place. And fences. I found the whole thing depressing to be honest. I haven’t been this depressed about a president since Nixon. img_20170101_134208

From there it was down the 15th Street Cycletrack, dodging the tourists from back home who didn’t get that a cycle track was for bicycles not for standing and wondering where Ford’s Theater is.

For giggles and kicks I rode a lap around Hains Point. I was getting pretty tired because breakfast was about five hours earlier and I didn’t bring any health Christmas cookies with me (except those stored in the rolls of fat around my waist). On the way toward the point, Grace pulled up alongside me. We follow each other on Twitter. She slowed down to chat with me for a lap before I veered off for home.

The ride down the Mount Vernon Trail was automatic. Just south of the airport I stopped to celebrate reaching 4,000 miles on my Cross Check. As soon as the winter is over, I am riding this bike nonstop. 20170101_143037

At the north end of Old Town Alexandria, a sign was posted next to the trail. A small dog had bolted from its owners during the New Years Eve fireworks display. The dog looked distressingly like that of a friend of mine. I kept my eyes peeled for the dog for the next mile. No luck. On the south end of Old Town a notice was posted. It said that a bicyclist had been bitten by a dog while riding on the trail just south of the Beltway. The dog was on a leash! The Notice was a BOLO. (My daughter and I were binge watching NCIS this week. They say BOLO all the time on that show. Just don’t call me Jethro.) Police are looking for the dog and its owner. It’s the first time I’ve heard of a bite and run.img_20170101_145312

I slogged the final six miles home. Nobody’s dog bit me.

The best part is I can now truthfully say that I have ridden 42 miles everyday in 2017. At least until tomorrow night.

I hope you had a great start to the new year.