Wovel and Ride

I woke up yesterday feeling quite a bit better. I took it easy and rode my Cross Check 18 flat and easy miles in the 30 degree cold. The cold air helped my sinuses immensely. My hands, however, were frozen into claws. Maybe next time I’ll use those chemical hand warmers. Doh.

I woke up today feeling better still. This was a good thing since it had snowed overnight and there was shoveling to do.

I spent about 90 minutes with my wovel (a big shovel on an even bigger wheel) and a conventional snow shovel. A kindly neighbor plowed the sidewalk in front of my house.

The snow was what we called in my childhood days growing up in upstate New York “good packing”. Ideal for snowballs and snowmen.

Last year when it snowed, I watched Mrs. Rootchopper do the shoveling. I stayed inside feeling feeble, a result of pulmonary embolisms and a collapsed lung

 

With pavement clear and cars liberated, I went inside.

I spent another 80 minutes in the basement riding Big Nellie, my Tour Easy long wheelbase recumbent, on a resistance trainer. While riding I read a chunk of Presidents of War, a new book by Michael Beschloss.

After a 30 minute nap I awoke to find my cold completely gone. Better still my legs feel springy for the first time in weeks.

While I was underground, it started snowing again. Now the snow is big, puffy flakes. It’s picture pretty outside. I’ll venture out again in an hour or two.

 

Shutdown of another sort

In apparent sympathy with federal government employees and contractors, my body has shut down. Three days ago I came down with a nasty head cold. I can’t remember when I’ve been sick for more than a day so I suppose I was due. The head cold coincided with my legs feeling like lead. I think two years and 20,000 miles of riding, much of it without any stretching whatsoever, has finally maxed them out.

I hope to be back on the bike for a few hours before tomorrow evening’s predicted snowstorm. With snow on the ground, I’ll probably be riding Big Nellie in the basement for a few days before I give my bike legs a planned full week of R&R. After that, I’ll turn my attention to the business of summer tour planning. Once the weather turns warmer, I’ll be itching to ride somewhere where the purple mountains rise.

Twice to the end

A Ride with Heather and Daniel

My friend Heather sent me an email the other day asking if I’d like to do a ride on the Mount Vernon Trail to take advantage of the nice weather and her furlough. And so I found myself riding my Surly Cross Check up to DC to meet her at the Capital Crescent Trail beneath Key Bridge in Georgetown.

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Heather brought her friend Daniel, an ultramarathoner and rider of a 29er (a mountain bike with big wheels and front suspension). Heather rode her aluminium Specialized Sequoia which bears absolutely no resemblance to the Mule, my 1991 steel Specialized Sequoia. (Specialized recycles it’s bike names, apparently.)

We began by walking up stairs to get from the underside of Key Bridge to the roadway atop it. Across the Potomac we rode. I stopped before turning onto the Mount Vernon Trail to point out the Intersection of Doom, the bicycle counter, and the glass and steel ick that is today’s Rosslyn.

Down we rode to the trail and across Trollheim, the sketchy boardwalk under the TR Bridge. We came to the staging area of the Memorial Bridge reconstruction project and were delayed by a tractor trailer backing its load onto a barge in the river.

Down by the airport we stopped to admire the planes landing at National Airport. I broke the news to a dismounting cyclist that the porta potties were padlocked shut thanks to the government shutdown. I explained that in order to keep rapists and drug dealers out of the country park users must pee our pants. The cyclist who was by now doing the pee pee dance hit me with a right cross.

On we rode to Old Town were we stopped to admire the hulk of the decommissioned coal fired power plant.

Further south I explained how the fake arches of the Woodrow Wilson bridge were put together. Then it was down the trail past Porto Vechio were an SUV driver failed to stop at the red light and nearly hit me as she turned right  onto the Parkway. Having been hit here once before under nearly identical circumstances at this intersection, I hit my brakes and STOP!! I do wish Alexandria would change this to a no right on red intersection.

As we rode south I pointed out a bald eagle perched in a tree across the road. We made our way through Belle Haven Park then along the edge of Dyke Marsh where I pointed out the nests on the Haul Road and along the trail just south of Tulane Drive.

The gradual climb up to the stone bridge took us by another nest, this one near Morningside Drive.

We continued on the trail with Daniel taking the lead. Despite having sore feet and knobby tires he set a healthy pace. We came to the nasty switchback hill south of Waynewood Boulevard and everyone slowed to wobble a bit.

The ride to Mount Vernon was pretty and uneventful. We are all pretty tired once we reached the top of the hill at the end of the trail. Heather’s husband Rulon appeared as we were about to lock up our bikes. Heather treated us to lunch at the food court.

After lunch I led the descent back toward DC. As we passed Fort Hunt Park I pointed out the big eagle nest across the Parkway. When we got to the stone bridge, I bid Heather and Daniel good bye and headed for home. I finished with 41 1/2 miles on my odometer, my longest ride since Veterans Day.

The Puzzle from Hell

This year we decided to go low key for Christmas. No tree. No presents (we all cheated a bit). Just a few decorations, a shitload of junk food, some board games, and, a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle has been on our dining room table for over a week. I swear it was taunting us in our sleep. Looking at it day after day made me see jigsaw pieces as I rode my bike around.

Jigsaw puzzles make you appreciate how painters take what we see and how our brains translate that vision and distill it into bits of paint. That white dot in the puzzle piece is a headlight. The splash of white on the leaf is the reflection of a street light. The black line is the shadow beneath a piece of trim on a building.

Today I finished the painting. The push to the finish involved re-placing a couple of dozen pieces that had been improperly positioned. I laid 999 pieces together and realized the last piece, on the upper left side of the puzzle, didn’t fit! After 10 minutes of puzzle inspection I found a piece of the right side that was misplaced, switched them, and voila! Done.

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I am doing the puzzle in the middle of the day because I woke up with a head cold. Reason enough to lay about in sweatshirt and sweatpants and eat some chicken soup.

Now to bed….

Into the new year

Turning the corner on the new year allowed me to back off the biking for a few days.

Okay. Okay. One day.

I watched a bunch of movies with my wife and daughter. We went around DC looking at holiday light displays such as Georgetown Glow and a disappointingly unlit display in Yards Park. We had dinner at a tavern in Petworth with #bikedc friends.  I finally got to see my friend Rachel’s string trio (the Tocatta Players) who were playing for the customers. Rachel surprised us by putting down her viola and singing three songs. (She crushed “Santa Baby”.)

On New Years Day we moved my daughter into her new apartment 15 miles away. This involved moving a van load of stuff including a full size mattress and bed, a full size sofa, and some other somewhat lighter stuff. I am shocked that we pulled it off in only a few hours without any orthopedic injuries. We lucked out when a tenant at her  apartment building helped us with the sofa. (Thanks, Emmett.)

We started a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Emphasis on “started”.

I replaced the fan and motor to two noisy bathroom ceiling fans. (Not exactly brain surgery, but still…)

I put a very small dent in Michael Beschloss’s Presidents of War.

And I did go for a couple of bike rides on New Years Day and today. On both days I expected to ride only 20 miles but ended up going 30, aches and pains from the move notwithstanding.

 

I spotted an interesting map on Facebook yesterday. It’s from a charity bike tour of Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Around 4,000 miles with a number or national parks that I have (Yellowstone) and haven’t (Yosemite, Redwoods, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Glacier) been to.

I need to do more research to see how this overlaps with Adventure Cycling routes which would simplify logistics for a solo bike tour. Stay tuned.

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