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.