I arrived at home last night at the stroke of midnight. I rode 20 miles to the doctor’s office in the morning then did 31 miles to the Nationals game at night. I awoke today with tree pollen in my eyes and lead in my legs. Coincidentally I was low on cash.
So I pulled Big Nellie from the basement, cleaned and lubed her chain, and pumped the tires up. I rode to an ATM in Old Town Alexandria for some cash. (You’ll have to imagine the bank and the ATM because I forgot to take a picture when I got there.)
After that, I rode a few more miles to enjoy the beautiful weather and avoid yard work.
Category: Personal Business
Place: Suntrust Bank, Old Town Alexandria
Observation: The best thing about riding a recumbent is heating the remarks of little kids.
My doctor’s office is in an office building near an interstate highway in Alexandria, Virginia. It’s 10 miles from my house. I rode there for my 10:30 appointment. The first half of the ride was on the Mount Vernon Trail. Then came some city streets in Old Town Alexandria. I climbed the hill in the bike lane on King Street. The installation of the bike lane created a big ruckus, with one of the homeowners along the street actually raging about it in the Wall Street Journal. From what I can tell, the bike lane works fine.
I turned onto Janney’s Lane which becomes Seminary Road. I followed painted bike lanes and sharrows for a couple of miles, sharing the road with vehicles big and small.
Not one of these bike lanes is protected. They are just paint. It’s a wonder that when I pulled into the parking lot at the doctor’s office building I saw a bicyclist leaving. He told me that the only place to park was at the railing in the front of the building. And so I did.
Errand No. 7
Category: Personal Care (1st use)
Place: Doctor’s office (I’m gonna live!)
Observation: The League of American Bicyclists calls Alexandria a Bicycling Friendly City at the bronze level. I think it should be called a bicycling tolerant city, at best. Over a month ago I gave some remarks to the Alexandria Traffic and Parking Board about a dangerous intersection. The Board voted unanimously to remove a sign and replace it with a No Turn on Red sign. The old sign is still there.
With rain holding off until evening, I took a muggy ride this morning. I stopped at my local Safeway to buy three things: castile soap (for my bike tour), oatmeal (for my bike belly), and Woolite (for my holey sweaters). They only had oatmeal. It’s not a very good store. So I rode three more miles to the bigger Safeway at Belle View Shopping Center where I scored all three items.
After that, I rolled up Fort Hunt Road past the Belle Haven Country Club. I suck at golf but some of the members of this club make me look like Tiger Woods. I picked up three golf balls all within five feet of each other on the side of the road.
The rest of the ride involved spotting scores of eastern red bud trees in bloom. At one point I saw a lilac blooming and took a big whiff for my favorite scent.
Whatever my Cross Check and I are doing, it’s working. I am riding faster and with more comfort than at any time since my bike tour.
Category: Shopping (2nd use)
Place: Belle View Safeway
Observation: If you shop by bike at my local Safeway, you get to lock up next at the loading dock. At the Belle Haven Safeway, you get to lock up at a stop sign. Such is the life of a cyclist in car-loving Fairfax County, Virginia.
Category: You Carried WHAT on your bike? (1st use)
Place: On Fort Hunt Road next to the Belle Haven Country Club
Observation: Technically, this category is supposed to be used for carrying odd sized items like a rug or a sharpened lawn mower blade. But hear me out. I’ve been collecting golf balls (and a few tennis and baseballs) for years during runs and bike rides. One of my sisters contracted cancer years ago. She and her oncologist were golfers. So she told him that she once she was cured (she was), she’d take him out on the course and kick his butt (I don’t know if this ever happened). Ever since I have been shipping my golf ball bounty to her. Conveniently, my Carradice saddle bag has side pockets that hold four golf balls. I have 15 golf balls already this spring.
My niece is leaving DC soon and tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday. What better way to mark these two events than to take them to a day game at Nationals Park. The game began at 4 but we arrived early to partake of happy hour brews.
The two ladies took the Metro and I rode my bike. I had noticed on Instagram that my Venezuelan friend Emilia was out and about on her bike. I hadn’t seen her in over two years. As I headed north of Alexandria on the Mount Vernon Trail, I reminded myself to say Hola instead of Hi in the extremely unlikely event that I should see her. Not two seconds later, she passed me heading south. “Hola, Emilia!” I yelled. Just as I did, I realized that she was in a bike trance. My shout made her eyes bug out of her head. I am sure she had no idea who it was who yelled at her. Sorry about that, Emilia.
The ride to the park was a brisk one. Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty good on the bike, even if my back and shoulder have been wonky. It’s all a mystery to me.
After meeting at the bike valet, the three of us entered the ballpark and had a beer at the happy hour bar above center field. We took our seats in the left field bleachers and enjoyed the game in shirt sleeves and shorts. The Nationals did their part by coming from behind in the 8th inning to win 3 – 2 over Pittsburgh. It was an entertaining game that lasted 2 1/2 hours, a welcome change from the 4 hour slogs I’ve become used to seeing.
We parted ways at the bike valet and I headed up First Street through the crowds of fans making their way out of the park. While stopped at the traffic light at M Street, I noticed a bike pull up alongside me. It was Klarence. She leaned her bike over and gave me as big a hug as could be done with two bicycles in the way. We hardly ever run unto each other anymore. We chatted briefly as we rode side-by-side for a couple of blocks. She headed east and north; I headed west and south.
Once I cleared the throngs of pedestrians and cars on the cycletrack at The Wharf, I increased my speed with little effort and flew home on the Mount Vernon Trail with sunlight fading. Oh, how I love riding my bike at night.
Errand No. 4
Category: Arts and Entertainment (1st use)
Place: Nationals Park
Observation: To see two of my favorite people in DC totally by chance in one day was a cherry on top of a pretty splendid day with my niece and daughter. Thanks to all four of you.
It’s that time again. Mary over at Chasing Mailboxes has announced the 2019 Errandonnee. (2Rs, 2Ns, 2Es – get it write).
Now that warm weather is here, ditch your car and get out and do your errands by bike. 12 days, 12 errands, 9 errand categories. There are rules because the Errandonnee is styled after randonneuring, a long-distance cycling event that includes documentation requirements. Try to also keep in mind that Mary works for the government were documentation is, er, queen. If it floats your boat, you can even write yourself a memo to the file like all the bureaucrats do.
No worries. It’s meant to be fun. And it is. Ride to the grocery store, the doctor, coffee club, happy hour, the gym, the barber/hair salon. Carry something unusual on your bike. (I once carried a newly sharpened lawn mower blade. I’m super glad I didn’t crash.) Or get creative and surprise Mary, Goddess Errandonneur Supreme.
If running is your game, you can substitute your legs for your bike. As a sexagenerian, I can attest that the legs are indeed the first things to go, so I won’t be jogging to WalMart.
Well, it was a nearly nice day here in DC with temperatures in the 50s and light winds. Light rain was the only thing keeping me from celebrating. I rode 29 miles, mostly in the Fort Hunt and Woodlawn areas before finding myself at the gym. After a half hour of weight lifting, I rode home. Lunch was followed by a lame attempt at listening to a podcast. When I awoke it was time to leave for the Crystal City garage bike races.
The 11 1/2 mile ride in the rain was not unpleasant. Faint praise, I know.
Shortly after arriving at the garage, I had a grilled cheese sandwich with guacamole and jalapenos peppers. I somehow managed to refrain from ordering another. Maybe it was because of the cherry pie I had for desert.
Bob “Don’t call me Rachel” Cannon and his wife Elizabeth brought three dogs that were being put up for adoption. One was a mere puppy. I would have taken a picture but it broke the cute-o-meter on my iPhone.
Then the races began. Every time I see people racing bikes all I can think of his “You have to be insane to do this.” I stood with Laura from the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. She was checking out the scene with the intent of racing next week. Let’s just say that Laura appears to be a few spokes shy of a wheel. (Hey, pretty cool name for a blog!)
After the races I rode home. About halfway there I rode the long wooden bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail behind the Slaters Lane apartment building. As I turned a corner I saw something standing on the railing of the bridge. It was an owl looking right at me. He was over a foot tall and seemed unconcerned with my presence.
Errand No. 10: Arts and Entertainment
Destination: Crystal City, Virginia
Observation: Pie+Grilled Cheese+Owl+puppies+garage bicycle races = successful hump day
This one took 23 miles to do. Total miles for the Errrandonnee so far is 127.5.
Yesterday, I tweaked the tension on the leather saddle on my Cross Check. After getting the swale out of it, I measured Little Nellie’s saddle for height and distance from the handlebars. I applied these measurements to the Cross Check saddle position. I moved it up and back about 1/2 centimeter each.
I’ve been doing physical therapy to get rid of pain in my left shoulder and upper arm. I had no appointments this week because my therapist was booked solid. Someone canceled and I took the 2:30 slot. I rode about five miles beyond the therapist just to try out the new arrangement on my Cross Check. Verdict: perfect.
Errand No. 9: Other
Destination: The Jackson Clinic in Old Town Alexandria (next to the Sport and Health fitness center)
Observation: It never ceases to amaze me how seemingly tiny adjustments to a bicycle saddle can take a bike from pain to pleasure.
The big news today was we got a spiffy new dishwasher because the old one died. The installed turned it on and we didn’t realize it. This is going to take some getting used to.
Before that though I had time enough to get out on my bike.
Errand No. 7: Personal Care
Destination: Mount Vernon Rec Center
Observation: I can’t figure out how to dress for this weather. I wore three layers including the holey sweater and was overdressed. This could be it for my favorite cycling garment. It’s more holes than sweater now.
Errand No. 8: Personal Business
Destination: The Italian Store in Old Town Alexandria
Observation: While Mrs. RC waited for the dishwasher installer to come, I decided to grab some Italian subs for lunch. I had to lock my bike to street sign a block away (the store is the white building with the Italian flag on it). Alexandria needs more bike racks.
So another day, another exciting errand-running adventure. I did 22 miles during my gym/sub excursion for a total of 80 1/2 miles.
Yesterday I took the day off from bicycling to go to the March for Our Lives in DC. We drove and took Metro for a number of reasons and it worked out remarkably well.
Today, I got back in the saddle with an old friend, Little Nellie. Little Nellie is my Bike Friday New World Tourist. She has a hair over 19,000 miles on her. I recently put a new large chainring, cassette, rear wheel, rear tire, rear tube, and chain on her.
Errand No. 5: Non-store Errand, a test ride to make sure all the new stuff was working properly.
Destination: Around the neighborhood
Observation: I was half expecting my rear tire to explode because it was so hard to install and the wire bead was slightly bent. So I rode over a couple of potholes to stress it. To my chagrin, I found that the shifting was messed up. The chain was jumping over the big sprocket and getting jammed between the cassette and the spokes. On the opposite end of the cassette, the chain was making unpleasant noises. Be careful what you wish for; you might end up with something worse.
So the first errand resulted in a second errand.
Errand No. 6: Store
Destination: Spokes Etc. At Belle View, my local bike shop
Observation: If I ever move, I will make sure I have a good local bike shop nearby. Spokes has been my go to shop for over 25 years. More often than not (like today, for instance), they do minor repairs while you wait. The Spokes mechanic (Sean, I think) figured out what was wrong within seconds. The new hub of my rear wheel is sized for an 11-speed cassette. My cassette has only nine speeds. He installed a proper spacer and tweaked things a little. In five minutes I was on the road again. Bicycles are so much more fun when they are in proper working order.
The fix was so good that I took off and rode another 16 1/2 miles for a total of 24. Total miles so far in the Errandonnee: 58 1/2