It’s Swinter. Or Wummer.

I spent my first 28 years living in upstate NY, Boston, and Providence. Each winter, usually in January, there are a couple of weeks where the outside temperatures are so cold that you just give up and stay indoors. You can tell it’s time to surrender when you can feel the inside of your nose freezing.

Temperatures in the DC area rarely get into the single digits Fahrenheit, so we don’t experience these winter doldrums. Instead, we get a sort of inverse winter or swinter or wummer. It gets so hot and muggy outside that you simply shelter in air conditioned place for a while.

I’ve still been riding my bike but doing work in the yard is out of the question. After five minutes you’re drenched in sweat. It’s totally gross. Today I spent ten minutes pruning a lilac bush and I thought I was going to die. I can’t imagine working on a road crew or roofing in this weather.

I suppose we could look at the bright side. The South has this weather for months on end. Here, at least , it comes and goes.

Our air conditioner had been conking out every few months for the last couple of years. It was over 15 years old and, to make matters even worse, sounded so loud that we couldn’t sit on our deck for the noise. So a couple of weeks ago, we replaced it, along with the furnace and the water heater. (My wife’s childhood bedroom was in the basement. One evening the water heater burst. Let’s just say she has water heater PTSD.)

The new AC is so quiet I sometimes don’t know that it’s on. The new furnace has a blower on it that blasts the cold air out of our air ducts. It’s super comfy in our house.

Another way you can tell it’s oppressively hot out is the cicadas. Their activity level increases with the air temperature. I was standing outside waiting for my wife’s car to be emissions inspected today. I was hit by cicada after cicada. I wasn’t anywhere near a tree. They were just bobbing around in the air, totally stoked by the hot air.

I think the 17-year cicadas are very cool but I am getting tired of feeling like the smooth side of velcro.

The forecast calls for a high temperature of 69 on Friday. Then it’s swinter again.

Pass the ice cream.

Let Slip the Bobbleheads

It has been a disappointing baseball season for Washington Nationals fans like me. The team seems mired in quicksand, unable to execute timely hits one night, pitching batting practice the next.

Yesterday’s game featured a foul ball disabling the home plate umpire, the Nationals’ starting pitcher getting hit in the face while trying to bunt, and the protective netting behind home plate collapsing onto the players (not to mention a television cameraman who looked like a trapped tuna).

I haven’t been to a game since the before times. Perhaps my COVID trepidation is behind the team’s woes. Or maybe it’s the fact that several Nationals of the storied 2019 champions have been trapped in boxes in my kitchen.

And so I decided to free my captives and release their mighty power . Of course, Doo and Tony Two Bags have moved on, but there is hope in reconnecting with their mojo.

Cry havoc and let slip the bobbleheads of summer!

One Way on the WOD

I’ve really been cooking with gas on my bikes lately. It always takes me a few months after winter departs to get my mechanics working right, but the last week I’ve been riding like a boss. After ten consecutive days of riding over 30 miles a day, I popped a 52 mile ride on my Surly CrossCheck. My route took me up to DC where I rode up Rock Creek Park to Bethesda. After a couple of miles of connecting roads, I hooked up with the Capital Crescent Trail for the return. Beach Drive. the main drag through Rock Creek Park, is closed to through auto traffic in the upper half of the park. This is a positive pandemic dividend. I hope the National Park Service continues this policy because it’s a beautiful ride.

Near the end of yesterday’s ride, the CrossCheck hit 20,000 miles. As is my practice, I am now switching over to other bikes for a while.

Today, The Mule got the call. My wife and daughter drove me out to Purcellville, Virginia where the Washington and Old Dominion (WOD) trail has its western terminus. I bid them farewell and headed for home.

The WOD is about 45 miles long. (A few detours here and there add about a half mile by my odometer). Since it starts at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains the ride loses about 545 feet along the way. The decline isn’t constant, but there are long stretches of gradual downhill that allow for riding at a respectable clip.

A couple of hundred feet from the start of the ride I noticed that my riding position on The Mule is much less aggressive than my position on the CrossCheck. I decided to try an experiment. I adjusted the tilt of the saddle down just a bit. At first it felt strange to have additional weight on my hands. And my butt seemed to have been raised much more than it actually was. After about three miles, I didn’t notice the difference at all and I seemed to have much better power transmission to the pedals.

Dang was I riding fast. I think I had about a 2 mile per hour increase in cruising speed.

To be honest, making a tweak to your riding position before riding 50 miles is not a particularly good idea. But for me. it work out okay.

The more I rode, the more my body liked the new position. Cruising along at 20 miles per hour is not at all normal for me. I blasted through a tunnel of green for ten miles before stopping at Leesburg for a Mule photo op.

As I rode the din from the Brood X, 17-year cicadas was my constant companion. From time to time I heard other summer bugs such as the annual cicadas. The Brood X sound is a low pitched drone coming from the tree tops; the annual bugs make a higher pitched sound that seems to be only a few feet over your head.

The best part of the WOD is the ten miles from Purcellville to Leesburg. After that, development encroaches on the trail corridor. For those of us who remember when much of this area of the corridor was farm land, this change in scenery is a bit depressing.

It is what it is so you just keep rolling along. I past a few turtles in the Ashburn. Later I east of Vienna I saw a deer eating grass on the fringe of the trail. No worries.

Trail traffic was light probably because of severe weather that had raised the humidity noticeably since yesterday.

I booked along through Sterling and Herndon and Reston. Vienna came and went as did Falls Church where some major trail work caused a half mile on-street detour. It brought to mind the fact that I have very little idea what this area looks like beyond eye sight of the trail corridor.

I ran out of WOD in Arlington and stopped for a couple of other photos, one of the trail sign and the other of the Weenie Beenie, an Arlington culinary institution for decades.

With the WOD conquered. I switched to the Four Mile Run Trail which took me three miles further east to the Mount Vernon Trail at National Airport. Turning south on the MVT, I made honest work of the last nine miles. My pace had slowed but by this point my brain had shut down and The Mule and I were on autopilot. Every few miles I had that how-did-I-get-here feeling.

Did I just ride 110 miles in two days? Why am I not crippled? A month ago I would have sworn that my 65-year-old body couldn’t stand a bike tour anymore. Now, it’s telling me “You still got it, kid.”

May Riding

Somehow I managed to ride 887 miles during May. I took four days off, three for a trip to Hartford with my family. I started the month on Big Nellie, then switched to the Cross Check when Nellie reached 45,000 miles on the odometer. I would have ridden much farther but for the many hours I spent working in the yard.

My longest ride was 57 miles, a one-way ride from Purcellville Virginia to home on bike trails. Now that the warm weather is here I’m sure to pop a few longer rides.

For the year I’m at 3,778 miles. That’s 359 miles below the pace I need for another 10,000-mile year. I have to admit I am surprised I am that close because I haven’t been feeling very good until recently. Among other things, I’d been coughing up mucus for weeks . Last week, I quit taking a daily 24-hour antihistamine at the recommendation of my pulmonologist. On my own, I stopped taking my daily asthma medication. After five days I feel so much better. Go figure.

I’ve signed up for an event ride in June, my first since November. It involves 50 miles and over 2,000 feet of climbing.

I only read one book this month: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Original. Reminded me a bit of A. M. Homes.

And I watched only one movie (baseball season): Without Remorse, star vehicle for Michael B. Jordan. Don’t waste your time.