September 2022 by the Numbers

Plugging away. That’s all I do. Just keep riding and riding. I managed to pull off my fifth straight 1,000 mile month. And probably my last for the year. I’ve got less than 1,100 to go to reach 10,000 for the fifth straight year. Pedal on.

This month I rode 1,014.5 miles, split among my three main bikes. As I;ve been riding, I’ve tried to identify all the repairs that will be needed over the winter. Already, I know that The Mule needs new brakes (again!) and a new front rim. The Cross Check has a strange shuddering of the front brake. I think the rim is defective but I’ll let the bike shop folks sort it out. Big Nellie doesn’t need much; because it uses 2 1/5 chains, the chains and cassettes tend to last a bit longer than my conventional bikes. (Little Nellie doesn’t need any work except for a good dusting. I really need to sell it.)

The Rides

I did two rides over 60 miles. One was in Dorchester County, Maryland on the Eastern Shore. It was an out and back route that I found online. There were several side roads that went down necks to views of the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers. These little excursions doubled the length of the route. My other long ride – which I keep meaning to blog about – was my 14th 50 States Ride. We had a posse of ten or so. I fell down as I was dismounting at the pit stop at the half way point. Otherwise it was a pretty nice ride through DC.

Social Stuff

I started attending Friday Coffee Club again. It gets me rolling by 7 in the morning and after I get to DC and hang out I’m good for another 40 miles or so. Also, riding along the river at daybreak is a mighty way to wake up.

I met up with Keith and Charmaine to talk bike touring and bikes. We met on the 50 States Ride in 2006 (I think). Keith cooked brats which I don’t normally eat. They were bueno. Keith is buying a new custom touring bike so we measured him for it.


Aside from watching the Nats lose a lot on TV, I watched three Marvel stories. Thor – Love and Thunder was a disappointment. It wasn’t nearly as witty as Ragnarok and relied way too much on one of my least favorite actresses, Natalie Portman. Ms. Marvel was not a whole lot better. The lead actress was a novice and did very well. To some extent it’s the Spider-Man story moved from a white male teenager in Queens to a Pakistani-American female teenager in Jersey City. I also watched the first several episodes of She-Hulk. I keep thinking it has to get better. So far, nope. In addition to these less than super hero stories, I watched Andor, a new Star Wars series. It’s a prequel to Rogue One, an overlooked gem among the Star Wars movies. Andor benefits from a coherent story and great acting from Diego Luna and Stellan Skarsgard, who has yet to turn in a performance I didn’t like. (Alas, even he couldn’t save Thor – Love and Thunder.)


I dug into the pile o’books that built up after my birthday and bike tour.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley was an entertaining beach read that was an Agatha Christie novel set on an island off the coast of Ireland. I enjoyed it mostly because of all the scoundrels in the cast of characters.

How the Post Office Created America by Winnifred Gallagher describes how the post office was used to bind the new nation together and help it extend out west. In some ways it dovetailed nicely with what I’ve been learning about the western U.S. on my bike tours. When I used to write for a living, I struggled with what to do with all the interesting tangential facts that I came across while doing my research. They often were edited out. Gallagher tosses hers in parenthetically to interesting and amusing effect. (Full disclosure, I read and commented on the last chapters of this book while she was writing it. A friend of my wife bought it at a used book shop and thought I’d be interested in it. She was floored when she found out I was mentioned in the Acknowledgements.)

86 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff is a collection of correspondence between and American writer based in New York City and a rare book shop in London. It’s surprisingly interesting. I wished it was longer,

The Post Roads Act of 1866 by Bob Cannon, an expert on Internet law, is a self published monograph of Bob’s research into the regulatory law that intended to make the U. S. telegraph industry more competitive. Suffice it to say, it backfired big time and all but allowed Western Union to monopolize the industry. The fact that Western Union could buy up its competitors, consumers be damned, ultimately to the enactment of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the establishment of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the expansion of the federal judiciary, and the Federal Communications Act. Dang. (Personal disclosure again: Bob’s a personal friend who rides and often crashes bikes. He should not be confused with Rachel Cannon who is no relation to either of us.)

The Maid by Nita Price is a whodunit set mostly in a boutique hotel. The story is told from the perspective of the peculiar and naive titular character. Her odd and engaging voice made me recall Amor Towles’s first two novels. That’s high praise. Unfortunately the resolution of the mystery read like a screenplay. Also, after the big reveal the book carries on for far too long, as if the author couldn’t bear to part with her characters.

The Mount Vernon Trail – From the Sublime to the Rediculous

The Sublime

Today was just another ride on the MVT. I rode south of home to check out the replacement bridge near Fort Hunt Park. It has only been open for a day or two. The old trail was narrow and bumpy and the approach to the bridge had steep switchbacks with no shoulders. (Who’d have thought this was a good idea in the first place?) It was one of the highest crash locations on the trail. Mrs. Rootchopper was one such victim.

The replacement includes a wide trail with new pavement on both ends from street intersections on Waynewood Boulevard and the Fort Hunt Park access road. The new bridge is higher and wider than the old one and switchbacks are no longer a feature of the approach.

This project has been in the works for a long time. Unfortunately, the southern end of this section of trail connects to a narrow winding trail with washboard root heaves and another, similar dangerous bridge on which I crashed 30+ years ago. This second bridge was itself a replacement for a bridge that was even worse. Funding for the improvements in this area came about after a US senator’s wife was seriously injured.

New bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail
New Bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail

The Ridiculous

After checking out the bridge I rode north through Old Town Alexandria. At Canal Center just to the north of Old Town the trail splits into two: the left side goes around the old power plant along the GW Parkway while the right goes around the plant along the river. I was planning on going left when I came upon three young men and a shiny white Toyota. The car was parked directly on the trail. Apparently the men were photographing it. (The only reason I could think of doing this on the trail was to ensure that no other cars were in the picture. Ironic, no?)

I told them to move the car off the trail. They blew me off. I said you can laugh when the police come.

I rode a mile north and turned around using the river route. The three photographers were now shooting a blue sedan on the trail. I lost it. Words were used. One of them called me a racist. (They were POCs; I am white.) After more words that advanced the cause of bike trails not at all, I took a picture for posterity then rode off. I called the Alexandria police but I have no idea if they sent someone out to roust the rapscallions.

Just for context three weeks ago I was passed by a couple on a gas powered motor scooter on the trail near National Airport. I guess they were afraid to ride it on the Parkway. About a week ago, I saw a photo of a car stopped on the trail north of the power plant. The driver had to jump a curb to pull this off so it showed remarkable disregard for trail users. And let’s not even talk about me getting hit by a car on the trail a few years ago. (No right on red? You can’t be serious. This is only a 3,000 pound SUV.)

Three knuckleheads using the Mount Vernon Trail for a auto photo shoot
They clearly weren’t interested in good lighting.