Ramblings on a Gloomy Saturday

  • My participation in a 60+ mile bike event today was dashed by an 18-inning epic World Series game. Yes, I watched the entire thing which didn’t come to an unsatisfactory end (the Saux lost) until 3:30 in the a of m. A few years ago I attended a Washington Nationals game that lasted 16 innings. I have to say that I was grateful that I didn’t have to ride 15+ miles home after last night’s affair.
  • I actually woke up on time to go to the 9:30 start but the combination of feeling bleery, the cold, rainy weather and the ache in my lower back convinced me that crawling back in bed was a better way to spend my day. I did download the cue sheet so maybe I can ride it someday during the coming week.
  • Yesterday, I rode to Friday Coffee Club in DC. After starting small the gathering grew to about 8 or 9 people. Somebody took a group picture. I had my mouth full of muffin. I look like a deranged chipmunk.
  • Most of the gang left leaving me talking, I kid you not, to two men named Poncho and Bones. Cowboys? Bank robbers? Drug runners? The left side of a athletic yet inept infield? Nope. Just Frank and Steve, an attorney recruiter and a computer scientist. So boooring!
  • I am getting kind of depressed by the low angle of the sun and the shortness of daylight. I left for Friday Coffee Club in predawn blackness. I waited until I was 6 1/2 miles from home to take a sunrise picture. sunrise 102618
  • For you politics junkies, as I took this picture I had my back to the condominium that was once home to Paul Manafort. I think he’s still in the pokey.
  • Tomorrow morning I am riding to Crystal City to watch the Marine Corps Marathon. A friend of my daughter is running. It will be her first. Go Marien!

The Incompetent Coffeeneur Rides Again

The Coffeeneuring event is up an running again thanks to Mary’s tireless dedication to destroying my central nervous system with gallons of caffeine.

Of course, I wasn’t really paying attention so I accidentally coffeeneured (is it a verb?) today by riding 30 round trip miles to Swing’s House of Jitters in DC to see my peeps at Friday Coffee Club.

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Did I mention we went from 80s and muggy to windy and 55 overnight here in DC? I had on tights and two shirts (one with long sleeves) and I still froze. I have to admit it felt pretty terrific.

I rode into town in the pitch dark and slalomed around scores of limbs downed by the overnight passing of the remnants of hurricane Michael. In Jones Point Park I dismounted to try to remove a small tree that had landed across the trail. I didn’t bring my axe so rootchopping wasn’t in the cars so I snapped the top off to clear half the trail.

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At Swing’s I celebrated with an apple fritter along side my Nicaraguan brew. (Actually, as far as I know this coffee could have come from Dubuque. But it said “Nicaragua” on the urn so I’ll go with that.)

The brew and the fritter put my heart and pancreas into overdrive. On the way home I stopped at the gym to lift weights. You wouldn’t like me when I’m mangry.

So ends my first day of coffeeneuring. I am coffeeneuring again tomorrow because my friend Susana wants me to tell her all the things about my Any Road bike tour.

The Coffeeneuring rules say that I can’t count Friday Coffee Club again. And, despite tomorrow’s coffee meet up, I don’t normally drink coffee anywhere else but home. Therefore, I’ll probably fail to successfully complete the challenge and qualify for the Golden Coffee Urn or other fabulous prizes.

Now if I could only get to sleep….

Rainy Friday, Worth the Ride

Rain. Cold rain. On a Friday morning when most retirees stay in bed. I got up and hit the road a little after 6:30. The rain, blown by a northeast headwind, spit on my face. And I rode. I arrived at Friday Coffee Club (yes, we capitalize it) around 8. The crowd was predictably small, given the crummy weather: Ed, Ricky, Andrea, Jeff, and a player to be named later. (Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.) Ed and Andrea were discussing a 400 kilometer randoneuring event they are participating in tomorrow. (Ed is riding. Andrea is volunteering.) That’s 248 miles (plus 5 because the course designer is a sadist.) In one day or so. I can’t even.

Ed brought a lightly used Brooks Flyer saddle with fancy copper rivets. I bought it from him for my tour. It has lots of room for tension adjustments. My tush should be a happy camper.

After Andrea, Ricky, and the PTBNL left, Ultrarunnergirl made her first appearance of 2018. Yay! I haven’t seen my biking-hiking-baseball-flaming drinks buddy in a very long time. Hugs and smiles. She took the bus because she is nursing a messed up hip. We must get her well for future adventures.

After I left FCC, I rode to the gym and went all Hulk for 40 minutes. Next, I did 20 minutes of physical therapy at home. Then, I went to an acupuncturist down the street.

I had a hard time tuning my ears to my acupuncturist’s heavy Korean accent but with some forbearabce, we managed to get the gist of my problem understood. He examined my tongue and poked various parts of my body. Mostly this was painless, but a couple of pokes in my feet caused sharp pain. (A similar discomfort shortened a Thai massage a few years ago.)

As I lay on my back, He pinned me in my upper left arm and at various other points all over my body. After about 15 minutes, he flipped me over and repeated the process. Acupuncture is rather hocus pocus to me but I have had success with it in the past. I have to say that my arm does feel better this evening. I’ll wait a day or two before declaring the trip a success.

At the end of the appointment, he placed small stickers on spots on my hands. This mark points that I should prod and massage to help my shoulder heal.

When I got home I ordered two new maps from Adventure Cycling. Over coffee, Ed has made the road west out of Missoula sound like bicycle heaven. He said there is a 90 mile gradual downhill that follows a river through the mountains. I stumbled across a blog online that described the shortcut to the Cascades in less than glowing terms. I will use the maps to work out itineraries for both routes.

One of the maps contains a small surprise, a short cut to Missoula from the east. I’ll have to give that a closer look at that. (It probably involves a climb of horrific proportions.)

I think the only way to properly plan for this trip is to go with the flow and see how I feel when I get to Montana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Double Header in Shorts

Spring finally arrived for a few days on Friday. It was shorts weather at the break of dawn so I rode to DC to attend Friday Coffee Club properly attired. The ride featured a warm tailwind, the best kind. Little Nellie’s wee wheels were rolling just fine.

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@edbikes’s apple fritter and coffee

After hanging out with the cool kids at Swings House of Caffeine, I headed back home. Of course, I took another walking lap around the Tidal Basin and a spin down to Hains Point to absorb all the cherry blossom goodness.

Inebriated on all the pinky whiteness, I rode home into the aforementioned wind which was decidedly less than joyous but I had shorts on and I didn’t care.

After a few hours at home, I rode back to DC for some baseball watching. My route back glanced off the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin again. (If you don’t do cherry blossoms and bald eagles, you might as well not live around here.)

I met Kevin U. at The Wharf, DC’s newest, absurdly overdone development on the water. What it replaced was utterly forgettable, but the excess of this place is just inane. Kevin and I ran into Ted and his mother and her friend Bert. I think this is the first time I have seen Ted without cycling clothes on. Now that I think of it, it may be his mom’s first time seeing him with cycling clothes on too.

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I parked Little Nellie in here. It’s the best thing ever.

Kevin and I walked to the ballpark. He wouldn’t accept payment for the seat he gave me so we agreed that I would buy him some nachos. At the nacho booth, the server was being a bit stingy with the portions in the chicken nachos for the customer in front of us. The server’s co-worker started kidding her about it. Then I got into the act as a joke. Stingy server moved down the line of ingredients and Co-worker waited on me. The co-worker put his finger to his lips to keep me quiet as he made a HUMONGOUS bowl of chicken nachos for Kevin. We all had a good laugh when Kevin hefted the thing.

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Here’s Kevin, slim and trim before eating his nachos
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The Nacho Bomb: Kevin’s gonna need bigger pants

Back at our seats I pulled out my food from home and Kevin dove into his nachos. In the spirit of the thing, he did his best to eat as much as he could but it was a titanic calorie bomb. I brought a glove to catch foul balls (our seats were down the first-base line). Good thing too, because the nachos had rendered Kevin immobile.

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The view from our seats. Note the nets put up to protect fans during batting practice. They take them down for the game.
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I brought my son’s glove for protection. Note that it is an ARod model. As a former resident of Boston, I felt a sense of intestinal distress putting it on.

The game was a bit of a yawner. The Nats played poorly and lost 2-1. During a pitching change, the stadium played some dance music and hidden cameras panned the stands for people dancing. A woman in the row behind me was dancing up a storm. That’s how I, standing with my arms crossed looking bored, ended up on the Jumbotron. (It was my second time on the big screen. The previous time was under similar circumstances as the cameras spotted the large couple in front of me wearing Virginia Tech clothing on Virginia Tech Day.)

Well, I didn’t catch a foul ball, but Kevin and I had a good time. Kevin’s gastroenterologist, however, will probably not be amused.

As always, my favorite part of riding to night games is the ride home in the dark. Even the headwind didn’t spoil the fun. I made it home at midnight.

I awoke late on Saturday. At 10:30 a.m. I found out that the Nats were playing at 1 p.m. I could go! Sadly, I was too pooped to pedal. Double headers are hard.

My thanks to Kevin for a fun evening.

 

Errandonnee: An Alarming Finish

With warm air and a strong tailwind, I rode to DC for my final errand. Along the way, I watched three raptors fighting above the Belle Haven eagle nest. Crazy.

It’s Friday and that means Friday Coffee Club. And it’s the season opener for the Washington Nationals. Woot!

Errand No. 12: Social – Friday Coffee Club

Destination: Swings House of Caffeine, 17th and G Streets NW

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Fire Alarm Coffee Club

Observation: When I got to Swings a fire alarm went off. And all the coffee people came outside. I felt like an arriving celebrity. The alarm stopped. I ordered coffee and a muffin and a second alarm went off. So out we went into the wonderfully warm weather. Again. We finally got back inside for good though.

The ride home was into that wind that was so kind to me on the way in. Both coming and going I passed the peripatetic Joe Flood who was out searching for cherry blossoms. (He found a few.) I stopped at the gym for Andrea’s secret sauce (weight training). She’s doing a 200K randonnee event tomorrow. Go girl.

And so that’s a wrap on my Errandonnee for 2018. Eagles and garage bike races and coffee with friends and physical therapy and Italian subs and gyms and stores. It was fun. Special thanks to Mary for running this crazy event again.

 

 

Swinging Back the Joy

One of my favorite things about bicycling in DC is the weekly get together called Friday Coffee Club. Bike commuters would congregate Swings Coffee Roasters at 17th and G Streets NW, across from the Old Executive Office Building, to vent about their workweek, dream of weekend bike adventures, and ponder the magnificence of coffee and fritters. Many friendships were made. Remarkably, even by me.

Then tragedy struck. The building that housed our coffee house was renovated down to the studs. Swings closed. Panic! The coffee club relocated across town near K and 4th Streets NW at A Baked Joint. Despite its fine coffee and yummy breakfast sandwiches, A Baked Joint lacked the three most important things about coffee clubs: location, location, location. (Admit it, you thought I was going to say fritters, fritters, fritters, didn’t you?) Many of the original club participants, including me, stopped going.

This week Swings re-opened. Felkerino, one of the founding members, put out the call via social media. And the old gang re-assembled.  Ricky, true to form, arrived first. Mary and Brian, two of the other founding members, were there as were many unfounding folks. Kristen gets bonus points for making a special telework-day trip to the gathering to represent the K (Kristin, Katie, Kate, etc.) sisters. Bob (Don’t Call Me Rachel) Cannon bemoaned the absence of Rachel (Don’t Call Me Bob) Cannon. This brought to mind how truly amazing it is how much they look alike.

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This was the crowd when I showed up at about 7:50. It nearly doubled in size before work called people away.

Unfortunately, Swings does not yet have fritters for sale. (Oh, the humanity!) Andrea and I improvised by buying over-sized chocolate chip cookies. We touched our cookies together in a celebratory toast of sorts.

The place looks almost exactly as before the renovation. Why mess with a good thing, right? It was actually warm enough to sit outside but the outdoor furniture is not yet in place. So we gathered indoors and conversation flowed around the tall tables. There were so many people that I didn’t get a chance to talk to half of them. Even so, I learned about federal budget injustices and self-administering injections of blood thinner and notice-and-comment proceedings and bike swaps and optimal application of man-made snow, among other things.

After the gang dispersed to make their fortunes in the land of the paper pushers, I rode back to the retirement home. I stopped at the gym and lifted some weights. After that I swung by the local bike shop to have the chain on my Cross Check evaluated for wear. It’s only my second chain on this bike. I thought it would be a good idea to check it since the odometer crossed 8,000 miles on the way home.

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It was a fitting coda to a joyful morning.

 

 

 

Eve Teasing

In India, Eve teasing is what we call catcalling or public sexual harassment. We do not approve of Eve teasing here at the Rootchopper Institute. We do however get teased by the eve of big events and tonight is one of those.

Tomorrow is the 50 States Ride. It sold out a few hours ago. There is a new rule this year: if you don’t ride the whole thing you can go to the after party but you have to give your beer and pizza to bona fide finishers.  (Me.)

I rode to Friday Coffee Club at dawn. The temperature was hovering just above WTF. (It was 51 degrees F when I hit the road.) Now that the sun has moved a bit further south, I can take a sunrise picture at Dyke Marsh. So I did.

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Former co-worker Kelly saw this picture and thought I had gone back to work. No. Not gonna happen, Kelly.

Coffee Club was hopping. I signed up Kevin to join Team Rootchopper. Scuba Michael may also be joining us if his ear infection clears up. “Us” so far is Emilia and me. So if you’re coming and riding, we’ll be at the start around 7 am looking for other victims.

It warmed up for the ride home so the jacket came off. The weather has been glorious around here, such a start contrast to the news from the Caribbean. Hang in there Renee and John and Wendy. Based on today’s forecast (a Category 4 or 5 storm running right up the spine of the Florida peninsula), the bike tour to Key West isn’t going to happen. I still have fingers crossed but the Plan B (DC to Erie to Burlington VT or Albany to DC) tour is beginning to look like a real possibility. I have to be mindful that the point of this tour is to do my longest tour and see how my body reacts in preparation for a ride to the west coast next year.

This eve is also the eve of Clinchmas, the day the Washington Nationals clinch the National League East and a spot in the playoffs. The magic number is 4, so the clinch could happen tomorrow.

As soon as the Nats game is over, I’m going to sleep.

“Sorry”, Java, and Pop!

Thursday was a bikes and baseball game. Kristen and Sean invited me to a baseball game. It was an end-of-summer outing for their two school aged girls.

Of course, I rode.

The weather was wonderful. I was about three blocks from the ballpark when an impatient driver pulled out from behind a turning car and came within inches of me. All I could was yell. Fortunately, the passenger side window was opened and the driver heard me and stopped abruptly before hitting me. I turned toward the stadium. The car followed. The driver said, “Sorry.” All I could think of was: let’s change places so you can wet your pants when I swerve into you.

Rant over.

The game was a terrific one. I often see kids at games and they don’t pay attention and drive their parents crazy. As often as not, the family leaves early. Not these folks. The girls had fun with the game and scouted out some healthy food. I mean baseball and dumplings go together like tea and sugar, no?

I managed to ride home unscathed. The game started at 4 so I was riding home as the sun went down. I didn’t stop to put on lights. Just my wee blinkies front and rear. Just me, the river, and a trillion midges. Nothing makes for a lovely ride like riding through clouds of bugs having sex.

Today I rode to Friday Coffee Club. I left at 6:30 around sunrise. I miss the long hours of daylight already. And it was 58 degrees. Just on basic stubbornness I rode in shorts and shirtsleeves. Twas a tad chilly with a steady headwind off the river.

We had our coffee indoors and the conversation was free flowing. I stayed to the end, through three shifts of bike commuters. Another retirement luxury. The ride home featured a brisk tailwind. There’s nothing like a tailwind to make you feel like you’re in great biking shape.

When I got home, I did my usual back exercises, which are mostly yoga asanas. One of my poses is a side plank. Lying on my side on the floor, I extend my left arm and raise my upper body off the floor. Then I extend my right arm up and point it at the ceiling. Typically I teeter a bit as my stomach and back muscles engage, which is the whole point of the enterprise. This time, I wobbled a bit and my lower left back or, maybe my hip, went POP! Dang, it felt like a knife. I lowered myself to the floor and waited for the pain to subside. I have never felt anything quite like it. Hopefully, it is nothing serious. I’ll know when I wake up in the morning, I guess. My advice to you is don’t get old. Your body betrays you.

As luck would have it, the forecast calls for rain tomorrow. So I will be a good boy and rest. Then on Sunday I have to say goodbye to an old friend; I am riding 25 miles to the Rock Creek Trestle. The trestle will be closed on Tuesday. Apparently for good. It was fun while it lasted.

On a final note, in 2014 I rode the 50 States in a group of ten people. Michael, a friend I met at Friday Coffee Club, led. He is doing a ride along the 185 mile length of the C&O Canal. It’s called WABA in the Wild. It raises money for WABA, the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. If you are feeling generous, you can help him reach his fundraising goal by going to his donations page.

Thanks.

Biking to The Hive

I woke up at normal work time, something I have not been able to accomplish since I retired, and rode to Friday Coffee Club. It was an all male affair, which sounds a little more suggestive than I intend, I suppose.

Talk and jave ensued. The men of Friday Coffee Club done themselves proud but come back you FCC women, you are missed.

After the group activity I rolled a few blocks down 5th Street NW to the National Building Museum. This building has a huge rectangular open space in the middle which gets filled each summer with a crowd pleasing display of participatory art. A year or two ago it was filled with ping pong balls, an exhibit called The Beach. This year it was filled with large paper tubes, silver on the outside and fuschia or magenta (reddish purple) on the inside. The windows along the perimeter and some task lighting made the tubes look intriguingly different depending on your angle of view.

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It’s the kind of things that’s hard to explain. You just have to be patient and look up at all different angles. And you start saying to yourself “That looks cool” over and over again. At one point it occurred to me that this would be a pretty awesome experience on hallucinogens. (Not that I’ve ever done any. Seriously. It’s on my bucket list.)

 

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I also couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a mind thinks of things like this. Not mine, that’s for sure.

To see a bunch of pictures I took (it’s hard to stop) you can check out the “The Hive” album on my Flickr page.

The Hive will be removed after next week so go if you can. I went when the museum opened and managed to avoid most of the 10:30 influx of toddlers with their moms.

Whale Sharks, Fearing the Reaper, Bandolier Booze, and Other Thoughts

Friday Coffee Club made my week. I love how DC has so many interesting clever people. 

  • For the second week in a row, I got all turned around getting to A Baked Joint, but I made a rather splendid recovery and avoided riding on sidewalks or through nearby construction zones.
  • Friday Coffee Club is best when it is about tales told well. Michael B. was in fine form telling us all what it was like to scuba dive in the Philippines among whale sharks. Their tales look so smooth swooshing slowly back and forth. This, combined with the sheer mass of the fish, makes it look like the shark is moving slowly. Quite the opposite, so divers beware. Also, if the tail hits you, you’re chum, dude.
  • Andrea then weighed in on tales of bike touring and RAGBRAI. She and her husband concocted a three-month cross country tour. For comfort, and to be in harmony with her bent hubby, she bought a Tour Easy, the same recumbent as Big Nellie. She went to pick it up two weeks before the tour only to find out that the wrong size had been order. Ack! After some phone calls to a competing bike shop, she scored a bike in the right size and color two days before the tour.  I can’t imagine jumping on a recumbent for the first time and riding 4,000+ miles. Dang.
  • Next Andrea told us about her recent participation in the annual cross-Iowa bike event called RAGBRAI. The ride starts on the banks of the Missouri River on the west border of Iowa and heads to the Mississippi River on the east side. She flew to Minot SD only to learn that her bus to the ride start had been canceled. Within minutes she had hitched a ride on a converted school bus designed around a Blue Oyster Cult theme. This never happens to me. Ken Kesey phone home.
  • RAGBRAI is also a rolling party with pie and alcohol and other ingestible goodies. Being somehow in possession of numerous airplane sized liquor bottles, she needed a way to carry them. So she acquired a bandolier from a hunter friend and put the bottles in the shell holders. Genius! We don’t need no stinking glasses.

It doesn’t take much to be a thoughtful friend.

  • We sometimes forget to stay in touch with friends. And when we do, the communication can be somewhat perfunctory.  I am heartened to know that there are people who I don’t often see but who go to the bother to let me know they are thinking about me.
    • Today, Rando Mike sent me a message out of the blue congratulating me on my retirement. You are two weeks early, my friend. No worries, I’ll stop by your house (an official rest stop) during the 50 States Ride before heading off to Key West. Mike has been trying to talk me into riding somewhere else. He won’t succeed.
    • From time to time, when I haven’t heard from her, I send Klarence an email just to make sure she is doing okay. I’m sure she’s fine, but it doesn’t hurt to check on a friend who did me a massive good turn two years ago. A few hours after Mike’s tweet, Klarence sent me an response to my most recent “Are you okay?” email. She has been busy stalking her favorite jam band, working her ass off, and moving so it has been a while since our paths have crossed. Somewhere in all that chaos she quietly kept tabs on me via social media, liking this tweet and that Instagram picture, a sort of electronic way of waving. Regardless, I have no reason to believe she has any idea what’s going on in my life. So she ends her email: “Ready for retirement??” And you wonder why I am ever grateful, Klarence.
  • My co-workers are busy trying to squeeze some fun out of my imminent departure for Seizure World. Their glee is palpable. They’ve already scheduled chips and quac during an afternoon in the office. My co-workers vastly prefer chips and quac to actual work. Or to me, for that matter. There also will be a happy hour of sorts. Kelly, who once ran her sorority in college, is losing her mind. She’ll be away for all this social stuff. Of course, she couldn’t care less about me. She’s just a maniac for parties.
  • Co-worker Amanda returned from her vacation, a birthday recon trip to Key West. She reports that Key West is chock-a-block full of good restaurants and saloons. She sampled them all. Well done, my young apprentice. I may need you to scout out west coast destinations for my cross country bike tour next summer. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to travel to San Diego, San Francisco, Astoria Oregon, and Seattle. Eat, drink, and take notes.

Home is where the chores are

  • The contractors finished the refurbishment of the 8 x 14 shed we call the Rootchopper Institute’s Headquarters. We are dumping the forest green color scheme and matching the shed colors to the house: gray with white trim. Mrs. Rootchopper has taken over the painting. The particle board is sucking up paint like a sponge. It’s taking as long to paint the thing as it did to rebuild it. So it goes. Looks great though.
  • The contract called for all kinds of extra payments for additional work. Despite doing quite a bit of extra tweaking to the framing, the bill arrived with no additional payments on it.
  • My car did not fare so well. I took it in for an inspection and after replacing the front brakes and doing an alignment (as well as other assorted maintenance), I walked away $600 poorer. Andrea, got any of those bottles left?