Another Ho-Hum January

Think of January as a warm up for a better year. It’s had it’s ups and downs so let’s review.

Biking: I managed to ride 726 miles this month. Most of my riding, 666 miles, was on the Cross Check. The other 60 was aboard Big Nellie. My longest ride was 40 miles. All of this activity was out-of-doors which is extremely unusual. The Cross Check got some TLC. I swapped out a huge saddle bag for a lighter rack bag. I replaced the chain and cassette. The finishing touch was new lighter. The Cross Check is nearly three pounds lighter now. Whee.

Weather: It was another abnormally warm month. It cooled off these last few days. Today it is snowing for the first time in over two years. Yesterday in a fit of pessimism, I moved Big Nellie into the basement.

Politics: Insurrection at the Capitol. A second impreachment. An inauguration attended by 25,000 National Guardsmen and A-Rod, Garth Brooks, and Lady Gaga. An inaugural address upstaged by Aa poetry reading. Line of the day: “I’m walking to work.” Unbelievable fireworks. Miles and miles of security fencing remains in place. Mr. Biden, tear down these walls!

Pandemic: My state decided to reduce the age for Covid-19 vaccinations to 65. Yay! Two days later they announced they had thousands fewer doses than they thought they had. Boo! I doubt I’ll get jabbed before March. So much for riding to the ballpark in April. I do know a few people in the area that have received the vaccine so that is encouraging. Meanwhile the virus is mutating. Are we having fun yet?

Reading: I have been burrowing through my pile of gift books from Christmas. All four are keepers.

  • Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
  • Just Like Us by Nick Hornby
  • The Cold Millions by Jess Walter
  • Anxious People by Fredrik Bachman

Viewing: The viewing month was pretty busy. Some keepers

  • The Queen’s Gambit
  • Luther
  • Midnight Sky
  • News of the World
  • Wandavision

We watched two old Robert Mitcham movies.

  • Out of the Past
  • The Night of the Hunter

Out of the Past was an interesting film noir if you’re into that sort of thing. The Night of the Hunter is regarded as a cinematic masterpiece. I thought it was amateurish crap barely a step above Plan Nine from Outer Space. Your mileage may vary.

Yesterday I watched Project 11, a documentary about a football injury gone horribly wrong. A compound fracture became infected with flesh eating bacteria. The documentary shows the progression of the infection; it is not for the squeamish. Suffice it to say, I may never look at the barbacoa in my Chipotle burrito again.

The Baby Race: I watched on social media as four women I know carried their lockdown babies to term. Congratulations to Claire, Megan, Liz, and Malina.


It’s been a very mild winter here in DC. We haven’t had any snow in two years. This is about to change,

The last couple have days the temperatures have been in the low 30s with gale force winds.

According to the app on my phone it feels like it’s in the teens out there.

Of course, the App people don’t bother to factor in that when you’re riding a bike into the wind it feels even colder.

For some reason my body tolerated the cold yesterday. I managed to ride 30 miles comfortably. Today was a different story. I began by riding about a mile to check out Bernie. He looked a whole lot warmer than I felt. Note the double decker Buff I have on. It thick on the bottom to protect my neck. On top, it’s thin for breathability. I doubled the top over to avoid infecting the Bern.

After my Bernie moment, I decided to ride up a side street. “Up” being the operative word here. It was a steep climb then a chilly descent then another climb to the top of Mason Hill. Under my blue wind jacket I had on a short sleeve base layer, a long sleeve base layer and a holey wool sweater. Somehow the sweat from the climb didn’t wick very well. The descent from the Mason Hill was frigid. Ugh.

I kept plodding along. I passed through New Alexandria, a cute neighborhood just outside the DC Beltway. One of the residents puts up a road sign now and then. Mrs. Rootchopper appreciated this snarky one.

I never did warm up so I decided to pack it in after 21 miles. One more day of riding before we get hit with our first snowstorm in ages. Before I went inside, I made sure the Wovel was ready for action.

Today I learned that my local hardware store has closed because an employee has Covid. The people in the store have been very sloppy about wearing masks. When I shop there, I go in and out as fast as I can to limit my exposure. In any case, I haven’t been in there for a week so I hope I am virus free.

Covid appears to have an interesting side effect. I recently heard that there is a nationwide decline in the birth rate during the pandemic. My circle of friends are bucking the trend. Claire (whom I have known since infancy – hers, not mine) welcomed Della few weeks ago. I met Megan at the pit stop on the first Cider Ride outside DC. She, a self-described Florida girl, was freezing her ass off. A little over a week ago Megan gave birth to Wesley (her first). About that time, my friend Jacques announced that his wife Liz was due any day and, well, she delivered Lucille a few days later. And Melina, who we met as a three-year-old at our son’s preschool, posted a picture from the delivery room earlier today. The baby will be her first. Congrats to all. Maybe I should put together a tour du diapers.

Time Off for Good Behavior

I haven’t blogged in nearly four weeks. It was not for lack of trying. It’s been a rather emotional month.

Insurrection, Impeachment, and Inauguration

First, I was in a rage about the attack on the Capitol. I wrote several posts about it only to scrap them. I suppose I should consider the writing therapeutic.

What I can’t get my head around is why over 70 million people twice voted for a scumbag charlatan. What part of bankrupting casinos, stiffing contractors and others who worked for him, and tanking an entire football league didn’t these people understand? And all that was before he ran for president giving speeches that were hate fests. Then add his contempt for the rule of law, people of color, and the Constitution. Hel-lo!

Next there was the impeachment. At least we now know who in Congress deserves to be sent home in two years. What part about inciting a mob that kills a police officer, infects dozens more with a deadly virus, kills and injures many more, and trashes our Capitol building was hard to understand? What part about hunting down the Vice President and the Speaker of the House to kidnap or kill them seemed okay? Oh and lets not forget that the president deservedly got his ass kicked in the election and convinced millions that he was a victim of fraud. Poor Donald.

The inauguration was such a relief. What a change from “American carnage”. Gaga, JLo, and Garth getting upstaged by Amanda Gorman’s magnificent poem. “I’m walking to work.” The best damned fireworks display I’ve ever seen. (Too bad I wasn’t there in person but it was the lack of people on the Mall that allowed the fireworks people to go completely bananas.) I thought the whole day was such a relief. Everyone involved should be given an award. As for the 25,000 National Guard troops and miles of fences and barricades in DC? What an embarrassment. Hats off to the guard not to mention the Metropolitan Police (DC’s police department) who came to the rescue at the Capitol and worked 12-hour shifts for weeks.

For me, the biggest symbol of change was the removal of the white wall that was put up around the White House. It was a national disgrace. At least Mexico paid for it.

Jab Me

I had hopes to get vaccinated soon as the age for getting on the priority list dropped to 65. Yesterday Virginia announced it has a shortage of vaccine. It looks like I won’t get jabbed for many weeks. So much for baseball games and bike tours in the Spring. I’ll be keeping my distance. I have had very few interactions with people outside my immediate family this winter. I stopped doing Zoom get togethers months ago when I found them to be frustrating and annoying. Don’t even think about coming near me without a mask on. Inside or out. And as for my anti-vaxing friend: it was nice knowing you.

Bike Diet

I have continued to ride nearly every day, 600 miles for the month. A few weeks ago I decided to put the CrossCheck on a diet. During event rides in and near DC, people IDed me by the huge Carradice bag hanging from my saddle. It expands to double its normal size, but I had grown tired of the leather straps and metal buckles. They are a pain to open and close. I took it off and replaced it with a lighter Arkel TailRider rack bag. The TailRider uses zippers and a velcro flap so access is much easier. It has a less capacity but if I need to carry more I can slap on a pannier easily because the rack has two tiers of horizontal bars at the top (the upper bar is obscured by the TailRider).

I have had a habit of putting old tires from The Mule on the CrossCheck. These are Schwable Marathon Plus tires. They last forever and have taken me on over 10,000 miles of bike tours without a flat. The protection comes at a cost: they are very heavy and don’t roll particularly well. Also, they are stiff and very hard to mount. The rear tire on the CrossCheck must have had over 6.000 miles on it. It’s tread was worn away, I swapped out the Marathon Pluses for a pair of Schwalbe Mondials. They have decent flat protection but weigh half a pound less each. And they go on and off easily.

I am not in the habit of weighing myself but I am pretty sure that I’ve dropped a few pounds since Christmas. I haven’t had a beer in over a month. (I drank one Corona and was cured. Skunk beer.) And we are nearly all out of Christmas goodies. (Mrs. Rootchopper makes shortbread cookies with Hershey Kisses in the middle. Resistance was futile.)

I also took the CrossCheck to a bike shop and for a new chain and cassette. I was lucky they had the parts. I was even luckier that they could do the work while I waited. Thanks Conte’s of Old Town Alexandria

My last few rides on the CrossCheck have been fantastic. I can tell just by gliding that the new tires are a vast improvement. Going up hills is also much less of a chore. I can’t wait to get it out on the road for a long ride in the country.

Hurry Spring!!!!