Biking with Judd and George

The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail is a volunteer organization recently started to help the National Park Service with the trail. (The NPS has very little money so it needs all the help it can get.) Today, Judd, one if the group’s founders, led a bike ride from DC to Old Town Alexandria. It being Presidents Day, Judd guided the group to points of interest having to do with George Washington.

I started the day with a CT scan. It took much longer than planned so I didn’t have time to ride 14 miles to the starting point of the ride. With some logistical help from my friend Erin, I rode 12 miles to the 14th Street Bridge and waited for the riders to come across the Potomac from their first stop at the Washington Monument.

IMG_2215
Judd making the turn onto the MVT

There were over 20 of them. They came down the ramp for the bridge and headed south along the MVT. After National Airport they headed west on the Four Mile Run and Washington and Old Dominion Trails. About six miles later they stopped at a marker indicating the northern most point of George Washington’s land. Judd explained how Washington personally took a block of granite and, with his bare hands, tore away chunks of rock to create the marker.

I made that up.

Did you know that George was a dog person? He had a dog named Sweet Lips.

I did not make that up, but its the kind of bizarre info that Judd had discovered in his research.

We backtracked along Four Mile Run, an old trail that meandered along the creek of the same name. I hadn’t ridden this section of trail in over 20 years. It was in surprisingly good condition.

Our route took us to the riverfront near Old Town Alexandria. I missed the turn and tool a few riders about a half mile out of their way. We made it back in time to see the very end of Judd’s remarks.

Judd led us to Christ Church, after some detours caused by the Presidents Day parade in Old Town. Christ Church dates to the 18th century. We went inside and were treated to a presentation by Dell, a church docent. Some of us actually sat in George Washington’s pew (actually, it is a box with a pew facing forward and back). Robert E. Lee also had a pew there. The place just oozed colonial cool. Amazingly none of our group were kicked out for being heathens.

IMG_2228
Heathens in Christ Church

From the church we rode west about a mile to the George Washington Masonic Temple on Shooters Hill. The highlight of the visit was going to the top and walking around the outside. The views were terrific. So was the gale coming from the west.

IMG_2231
Stain glass in the Masonic Memorial

After our tour, we all headed to Whole Foods for beer and food. It’s a good thing because I was starving.

Judd explained how George Washington shopped in this very store.

I made that up.

When I left, I found that my Krytonite U lock refused to open.

IMG_2233
Little Nellie was held hostage

After scores of tries, I gave up and called Mrs. Rootchopper. She brought my spare key to the lock but it didn’t work. So we drove to a hardware store and bought some WD40. I squirted it in the lock. Waited five seconds, inserted the key and rejoiced as I freed Little Nellie! Yay.

By this point the sun was setting and the beer was beering my brain, so I folded up the bike and popped it into the trunk of the car.

We drove home. Our home is on property that was once part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.

I did not make that up.

Getting Well

After my trip to London I was a physical wreck. I think I am starting to get well.

My one-month cold is almost gone. Lord knows my sinuses must be tired of producing so much gunk.

I have had a nasty pain in my upper left arm for more than a year. It’s occasional but extremely painful, like someone is stabbing me. It seems that the shorter stem I put on Little Nellie is helping a lot. I haven’t woken up with a dagger in my arm for a few days. Now that I think about it, the pain went away when I was on my bike tour on The Mule, a bike with a similar reach to the handlebars. (This is not a coincidence; Little Nellie was custom made to mimic the geometry of The Mule.) So, maybe the culprit is the geometry of my Cross Check. Hmmm.

My left hip is still wonky but it’s definitely better. I do two PT exercises specifically for it. Then I do my runners calf stretch. This, for some reason, helps with my lower back. After that comes my mishmash of about 20 yoga and PT exercises. The whole thing took me 30 minutes today. I am going to add some foam roller exercises soon because why be bored shitless when you can torture yourself too!

My left knee is still barking a bit. I use a pillow between my legs when I sleep and this keeps it from aching at night.

For whatever reason my legs no longer feel like concrete. My thighs are still tight, so tight as to completely rule out certain yoga asanas from the book I am using.

I was weighed at the doctor’s office the other day. 218 pounds is way too heavy for me. I spent some time backing up pictures from my laptop to an external hard drive. I saw a picture of me at the 50 States Ride, six months ago. Yep. I done ate too many cookies this Christmas. The added weight probably isn’t helping my legs, hip, and back when I walk 7 or 8 miles in one go either.

Off to bed for this busy boy. I have to get up at dawn to get a CT scan. They will inject me with contrasting dye. It imparts a warm tingly feeling from the top of the head to the groin (I don’t know why I’ve never felt it in my legs) as it spreads through the blood stream.

Too bad this anti-freeze doesn’t linger in the system. I have a 35 mile bike ride to do tomorrow morning.

 

A busy week

It’s been a busy week:

  • Four medical appointments (endocrine system, eyes, teeth, skin), two indoor bike rides on Big Nellie, two outdoor bike rides on Little Nellie, a visit to the gym, five yoga sessions (on my own) (Did I mention I hate yoga.) A return to meditation after several months. One WABA event followed by a WABA happy hour. And Friday Coffee Club. Also, I stealthily bought Mrs. Rootchopper flowers for Valentines Day. And we went out to dinner.
  • I started doing yoga again because my body is a wreck. I suspect part of the reason it is a wreck is that I’ve gained about 20 pounds since last summer. My left knee, hip, lower back, and arm are all messed up. And very painful. My thighs feel like they are made out of concrete. So the yoga I am doing is very basic and emphasizes freedom of movement. My routine also includes PT exercises for iliotibial band syndrome (which I think may be behind the knee and hip pain) and runner’s calf stretches. I’ll give it another week before I go to my doctor and raise a white flag of surrender. The last thing I want to do is get on the medical hampster wheel again.

Next week promises to be busy as well.

  • A CT scan (as part of the endocrinology thing) on Monday at 7:30
  • A bike ride at 9:30 on Monday (I’ll probably miss the start because it’s in DC)
  • Breakfast with Mrs. Rootchopper at a diner on Thursday, an every other week thing.
  • The Hains Point 100/Bike DC 3rd Thursday happy hour. (This coincides with my friend Rachel’s trio playing at a local eatery. Sad face. Gonna miss it.)
  • Friday Coffee Club

I suppose I could be cavorting in Antarctica or Munich or some other far away land. But I’ll leave that to the young folk for now.

In a couple of weeks, the Crystal City Garage Bike Races begin. If you are in DC and want a cheap (i.e. free) night out, you should come.

 

Tour Planning 2019

  • Warm weather and improving health have nudged me to start thinking about a tour.
  • I went to Friday Coffee Club and talked to Felkerino about the Sierra Cascades Adventure Cycling Route. He said it was not a climbing hellscape, had lots of services, and is very pretty.
  • So I just sat down and mapped out a tour using Adventure Cycling’s interactive route map.
    • Take Amtrak to Chicago (I’ve ridden across Ohio and Indiana enough, thank you.)
    • Ride Bike Route 66 from Chicago to Marshfield MO. (Basically this is in west central MO.)
    • Hang a right and take the Trans America Route west from Marshfield to Pueblo CO.
    • Take the Western Express Route from Pueblo through the Rockies, the canyons of Utah, and the basin and range terrain of Nevada to Alpine Village CA, near the southern end of Lake Tahoe.
    • Switch to the Sierra Cascades Route north to Sisters OR.
    • Switch back to the Trans America Route and head west from Sisters to the Oregon Coast.
    • Ride from the coast to Portland and fly home.
  • This tour would be 3,700 miles long. That’s 600 miles shorter than last year. This one is considerably hillier and hotter, though. I guess I could do it in 65 days.
  • If I were feeling spunky, I could ride down to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. This would add 300 miles and a week. Also, a side trip into Bryce Canyon would take a couple of days.

 

Lost and Found – Adventures in Early Onset Dementia

Lost

Another springlike day in DC demanded that I go for a ride. Having just achieved a mileage milestone on my Cross Check, I switched hosses and pulled Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist, from the shed. I was all set to go when I remembered that I needed to bring a lock.

I looked.

And looked.

And looked.

No lock.

WTF

I’ve had the same Kryptonite black U-lock for ages. In fact, in 2004 when Kryptonite’s old key/lock mechanism was found to be hackable with a Bic Pen, I sent in my old lock for this one.

So we’ve been together for 14+ years.

After 30 minutes I gave up, grabbed the lock off the Cross Check and headed out.

Found

A few month ago I bought new brake levers for Little Nellie.. The levers were more comfortable than the old ones and I was pretty happy until I rode a few hundred miles with them. My back was screaming at me. The brake hoods (the part your hands rest on) on the new levers are about an inch longer than the old ones. In order to use the brakes I had to stretch out my lower back, which is a bad thing even if you’re a yogi (which I ain’t). It’s even worse when your missing a disc in your spine (like I yam).

Now, Bike Fridays have little wheels and little wheels do not absorb road shock like bike wheels. The jolt of every bump went right to my lower back.

Ow.

Shortly after buying the bike, I bought a second stem for it. (The stem is a long piece of tubing that connects the headset to the handlebars.) This stem was shorter. So I figured I’d just swap out the shorter stem to compensate for the longer brake hoods.

It must be here somewhere….

I looked.

And looked.

And looked.

No stem.

WTF

In order to ride the bike I had to rotate the handlebars to bring the brake hoods closer to me. This meant that the shift levers which stick out of the ends of the handlebars would be farther away. And with the brake hoods leaning backward, the brake levers rotate upward making for very awkward braking ergonomics.

As I rode Little Nellie today, I contemplated this less-than-ideal set up. I all but decided to call Bike Friday and order another short stem.

Then, as if I were tapped on my shoulder, I thought about the suitcase that I bought for this bike. I wondered if my short stem was in the suitcase. When I got home, I opened the suit case and

Voila!

There was my short stem swaddled in bubble wrap.

I figure if I wait a few months, I’ll remember where I put that lock….

We interrupt this winter…

I rode 32 miles today. In shorts. It was 70 degrees F during the ride.

I’ll take it.

Oh, and this happened.

CC11000

My Cross Check went all Nigel Tufnel and turned 11.

Time to put this bike away for a while and switch to one of the others.

Tonight was the State of the Union Address. No mention was made of the most important event on the horizon: Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a week.

 

 

Do hips lie?

On our first day in London we walked about 8 miles. My left side was a wreck. My back, my hip and knee all screamed with pain. Same after days 2 and 3. Then I switched shoes and things got better.

I haven’t done any long walks since. So today, to take a break from riding in the basement, I went for a long walk. (My iPhone said it was 6.1 miles but my bike and car odometers put it at 8.)

I used a third pair of shoes, some low rise hiking shoes with no orthotic insoles. After a mile, my lower left back started to tighten. That’s pretty normal for me these days. After five miles my left hip felt a little tender.

The last half mile was Day 1 in London all over. My left hip and knee were on fire. I could barely get up the steps in to the house. My left leg wouldn’t flex.

I took some ibuprofen and got comfy on the couch. After an hour or two, I got up and did some iliotibial band stretches. They seemed to loosen things back up.

I quit stretching during my 2018 bike tour. I did get hot spots on my left hip and some lower back soreness, mostly when I was climbing for hours on end. On a number of occasions, while walking, my left hip seemed to pop out of joint for a split second.

One unexpected benefit to not stretching was the fact that I became more flexible. I could change clothes in my tent with ease. So I continued to avoid stretching even after getting home.

Looks like I’m going to have to start up again. (I might even pull out the old yoga book that I’ve used in the past, if for no other reason than to give me a routine to follow.)

My left knee has been wonky for decades but this left hip thing is relatively new. I’m going to give it a month. I will test it once a week or so with long–ish walks. I’d like to do some hiking this summer so fingers crossed….