Godzilla Sleeps

Last night Mrs. Rootchopper and I went to the movies (Kinsgman: The Secret Service. Save your money unless you like faux Tarentino and/or Colin Firth.)  After the movie we went out to dinner. I had fish tacos. They seemed fine.

This morning they weren’t. After staggering around the house (it’s a federal holiday), trying to eat a little breakfast, and feeling unwell, I did my best Godzilla breathing fire imitation. Yes, I called Ralph on the porcelain phone. I made an offering to the porcelain god.

When it was over I felt awful. So I went back to sleep. Or tried to. An hour later I was ingesting over the counter drugs like there was no tomorrow. (And there is no physical therapy tomorrow because I canceled it.)

At 2:40 pm I woke up. I feel better now. Not quite to James Brown but really how’s he doing these days. Snow was just starting to fall. I went outside to retrieve Big Nellie for indoor use. I put it on a trainer in the basement. Not a lot of fun but it is a bit better than nothing at all. Next I postitioned my Wover next to the front door. It’s a warning to the snow gods that they’d better not mess with me.

Now I am back under a pile of Snuggies (don’t knock them, they are really warm). And I amd drinking a ginger ale that Mrs. Rootchopper just brought from the store. When I am sick ginger ale is the nectar of the gods. When I am well, I can’t look at the stuff.

Now I lay me down to sleep….

Spring Training

We are training for spring. Today the temperature on my back deck reached 66 degrees. After weeks of freezing our asses off, the people of DC are all smiles. Except, perhaps, for the tourist I saw crashing on his Segway, but I am getting ahead of myself.

I started the day doing physical therapy for my foot. It was barely numb when I awoke but I decided to forgo yoga or my other exercises and just do what the PT people told me to do. Dang, it hurts. Raise this, lower that, keep your stomach and your butt cheeks tight. After about a half an hour our was done. My stomach muscles wanted to be traded to another body. And the lacrosse ball that is beating the knots out of my calves is seriously in danger of getting thrown out the window. Ouch.

After a morning of relaxation, I headed out the door on Big Nellie. I was bound for an everything bagel in Bethesda, about 24 miles away. It was 50 degrees outside. Yesss.

As I was waiting for cars at an intersection with Fort Hunt Road near my home, an SUV drove by and made friendly tooting sounds with its horn. I have no idea who it was but I waved at them

I made it to the Mount Vernon Trail which was not particularly crowded. In Old Town Alexandria I took South Washington Street. My physical therapist ran past. Small world.

The ride to the city was so peaceful I went on auto pilot. I stopped at Gravelly Point to watch a plane land overhead – easily one of my favorite free things to do.

Over the 14th Street Bridge I rode then up Ohio Drive to M Street to the Capital Crescent Trail. The long ride up to Bethesda took time. Recumbents simply don’t do uphills very well. And since I am not exactly a badass on two wheels let’s just say it took a while.

When I got to Bethesda Row I headed straight for Bethesda Bagels. Since it was well after noon there wasn’t a line. I picked up my everything bagel, toasted with veggie cream cheese and a sweet tea. I proceeded to inhale these comestibles with great vigor. Ah!

I rode the Georgetown Branch Trail over to the Rock Creek Trestle. The trail was somewhat muddy. Recumbents are the best mudders so it was a tense ride. I slipped this way and that several times. The view from the testle differs by time of year. The winter view is, of course, leafless but it’s always fun to be at treetop level with the world. IMG_20150208_142017

I reversed course then headed down into Rock Creek Park. All the climbing has its rewards and for most of the next 7 miles I was cruising downhill. The number of people on Beach Drive was impressive. Many families out riding bikes with their kids. I had to be careful not to hit any of them. They wobble and waver and dart out in front of you unexpectedly.

I got on the trail at Klingle Road. This was a mistake. The trail at this point is narrow and crowded and has numerous bumps from tree routes. Once I reached the zoo entrance, I took Harvard Street to climb into Adams Morgan. It’s a healthy climb, too. To recover from my exertion I took a very slow speed spin through Meridian Hill Park. There was a healthy number of people there, no one I knew though. I rode by the drum circle but there was only one man with drums so I decided to head back home.

I took 16th Street which is a nice straight downhill shot to the White House. Along the way I saw the indefatigible Ted a.k.a @MrTinDC.

I shifted over to the 15th Street cycletrack and got behind a long line of tourists on Segways. Normally, Big Nellie looks weird to people I pass but in a cluser of Segways, Big Nellie doesn’t get a passing glance. At the intersection with Pennsylvania Avenue, the Seqways stopped to regroup. One tourist’s Segway jolted to a stop throwing him to the ground with an audible SPLAT. Should’ve rented bikes.

I crossed back over the river and headed home on the Mount Vernon Trail. It was packed with people, most of whom were oblivious to the fact that some people were actually trying to make forward progress. At the south end of the airport I balied out, opting to cut through Del Ray.

I cut over to Old Town and rejoined the MVT at the southern end of Old Town. Mistake. This part of the trail was every bit as chaotic as what I had bailed out on.There was no point in getting upset about it. I slowed down and took in the madness that warm weather brings. And besides, by this point my legs were started to tell me that all that time off in January had taken its toll on my fitness.

I arrived home. Mrs. Rootchopper had opened the windows. The temperature was 66 degrees. (One degree off the record, so I am told.)

So I ended up riding 170 miles in seven days. Not half bad for winter. Tomorrow is a day off the bike as I am going to three doctors appointments.

We now return to our regularly scheduled winter.

My Right Foot 4 – Acupuncture Mission Creep

Since my last (and first) acupuncture visit, I have purchased orthotic shoe inserts. They seem to help my back from getting stiff while standing. They also make my feet sweaty. You can’t have everything, I suppose.

I rode Big Nellie, my recumbent, twice over the holiday. It made my right foot tingle and generally feel messed up. Yesterday I rode Little Nellie, my Bike Friday, to Old Town to meet some peeps who were having brunch. After brunch as I rode home I felt the peroneal tendon on my calf and foot snapping back and forth. This is not good.

I told my acupuncturist about this. He asked me if I was having any other problems. I mentioned my lower back and my right shoulder and he went to town on me. His method involves squirting the area with a lubricant then massaging the area feeling for tight muscles. Basically, I am a gold mine of tight muscles. His examination amounted to a massage so I can’t say I was bothered by him loosening all my tight areas. While he did this he mentioned that I should take a magnesium supplement to keep my calves from getting all cramped. Not a bad idea.

He pinned my hips, my middle back on both sides of my spine, my right calf (which he declared a mess), and my right foot.

After about 20 minutes he took those pins out and went to work on my right arm and shoulder.

The new areas (hip, back and calf) will need more treatments. Really? We were on the two and done plan last week.

The fact is that one week after my first treatment my shoulder and arm feel much better. I couldn’t be happier with the improvement. My foot is getting worse by the day. In fact, I am starting to get concerned that if I don’t get it squared away soon, I might tear something and be up the bike path without a bike.

So tomorrow I am calling a neurologist. I will likely have to wait a few weeks for an appointment. Then I will decide whether to do one more acupuncture treatment. Mostly that will depend on whether any of today’s treatments do any good over the next few days.

We’re Going to Pay for This, I Fear

The weather gods gave us some nearly springlike temperatures today. And no howling winds either. It was the real deal. 50+ degrees and sun.

I took Big Nellie out for a spin. I had no place to go. So I went there. I buzzed over to Fort Hunt Park, rode the 1 1/4 circuit and then headed north parallel to the Mount Vernon Trail. People were out and about. Kids were riding their Christmas bikes. Every other little boy said, “Cool bike!” as I rode past. (In a few years they’ll be saying, “Dork!”)

On a whim I headed over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to Maryland. The trail was crowded with walkers making their way toward Alexandria. The best part of the bridge is the spiral ramp on the Maryland side. Riding this on a recumbent induces glee.

On another whim, I decided to ride up to Oxon Hill Road. It’s a long steady grind but I made it without coughing up a lung. (Yay, asthma!) Once to the summit I decided to check out OHR which has been under much needed construction for most of the year. It is not yet finished but will be much improved when the crews return in springtime. I did a loop using OHR and Fort Foote Road. After that it was back down the long hill toward the Potomac River and the Wilson Bridge. I behaved myself and kept my speed under 30 miles per hour. (With a fairing this is a 40+ mph blast.)

I rode home on the Mount Vernon Trail slaloming through the walkers, runners and cyclists. I was so focused on not hitting anyone that I completely didn’t see my friend Judy who called out to me as I rode by.

I finished the ride with a trip to the hardware store for birdseed and a padlock.

On the way home from the hardware store I rode with my jacket zipped open. It felt like 60 degrees. I fear the weather gods are setting us up for a fall.

Three Outings

I worked on Christmas Eve. Well, I intended to work. I rode Little Nellie to the office in the rain. It was not entirely unpleasant. I figured I’d have 5 or 6 hours for my stuff to dry out before the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come scared Mr. Scrooge into an early release.

About 2 hours into the work day all three of my phones range in succession. I figured it was all my fans calling to wish me a happy holiday. I figured wrong. It was my daughter calling from the eye doctor. After they gave her eye drops she became nauseous. Too nauseous to drive herself home. Mom was incommunicado. Son was dead to the world. So I had to go get her. I put on all the still wet clothing and headed out into the rain.

The eye doctor is on my commute route so it was no big deal getting there. I ran a bunch of stop signs in Old Town, including one in front of a police car. The police officer probably didn’t want to get wet so he let me ride on in peace. A Christmas miracle.

By the time I got to the doctor’s office, my daughter was over her crisis. Well, at least Igot an early start on Christmas Eve out of the ordeal.

Christmas morning began with 45 minutes of yoga while my peeps slept in. After about 2 hours of gift opening and a Wizards game on TV, Mrs. Rootchopper announced that we should go to Great Falls Park for an easy hike. Best gift of the day. I picked the Berma Road and the towpath, about a 2 1/2 or 3 mile flat loop.

Great Falls Park

Today I waited until it warmed up and rode Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent, to  Old Town where I went to the Comfort Shoe store. My acupuncturist recommended a particular brand of shoe insert/soft orthotic. Since my doctor told me that one possible solution for my numb foot would be orthotics I deciced to try give my acupuncturists inserts a try. They were pretty expensive (over $70) but that’s much cheaper than an orthotic from a podiatrist. I put them in my hiking shoes and my feet went “Ahhhh!.”

After the shoe store I rode to Mount Vernon on the Mount Vernon Trail. Along the way I stopped to check out a house on West Boulevard Drive that is being demolished. The house must have cost north of $800,000 so I am interested in seeing what gets built in its place,

DSCN3591_716

I continued past Mount Vernon to US 1. I crossed US 1 and headed back home on back streets. After the ride my kids took me to buy a smartphone. We stood around for about an hour while the sales clerk did his thing. Normally my back and knees would be barking at me but they felt fine. Score another for the orthotics.

My numb foot seems to be getting better. At least it’s not numb all the time.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be wonderful. Hike, bike, nap?

At Least the Day Was Warm

60 degrees. Ok. Tailwind. Ok. November 24. No way.

Yesss

I took off from work with shorts on in late November. I felt like James Bond meeting Pussy Galore.

I arrived at the Dyke Marsh boardwalk. Mr. Sun was greeting me. I stopped to take his picture with Big Nellie. Say “Cheese.”

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The rest of the ride was effortless. Why can’t we bottle this?

The ride home began with a scare of sorts. I made it almost all the way from my office to the Mount Vernon Trail on Lynn Street. The bike lane disappears on the last 100 yards of Lynn. A block Honda CRV pulls up behind me and the driver honks his horn. Apparently this poor soul thought that the deed to his car came with a deed to the road. It was simply too nice out to put up with his nonsense so I nonchalantly gave him the finger. He pulled along side me and I could see him yelling at me from within the car. I couldn’t hear him so I mouthed “Buck Cough” or words that rhyme with that. He showed me how manly he was my zooming off toward Key Bridge.  You can’t ruin my bike commute Honda man.

The ride home was pretty awesome. I managed to avoid ninja after ninja. You could probably make a pretty good video game of Bike Commute: Ninja Kill. The rest of the ride was fine except for the bike with the headlight set on vaporize. I really like how bike light technology has advanced but some of these lights are way more bright than necessary. I do hope my retinas recover for the morning ride to work.

Coffeeneuring with George Washington Foodcourt

I waited to long to go on my bike ride today. You see, last night I attended a bike poster art thing called Artcrank in DC. There were bike themed posters on display. They were very creative. As it turns out, my favorite was from Friday Coffee Club member Aaron. His poster was called No Bad Day and it showed a bike rider in silouette, half riding in foul weather and half in fair. It reminded me of my running days. My wife would look out the window and say, the weather sucks. My response would invariably there is no bad weather for a run. And out I would go.

The real highlight of the Artcrank event was the fact that there were 20 or 30 #bikedc people I knew there. (No way I’m naming names since I would surely leave some out.) And I met several people who I hope to see again soon. I’d say the first edition of Artcrank DC was a big, big success.

Aaron, is a year round, indefatigable bike commuter. He commuted in Minneapolis which is either badass or insane. Or, actually, both. We were talking with beer cans in their cozies in our hands when he mentioned that the cozies make excellent toe warmers for winter cycling. This is either badass or insane, but it is an economical (actually free) alternative to the stupid toes covers I bought a couple of years ago. They lasted all of two weeks before shredding.

Cozy toes? We'll soon find out

I put them on today but it wasn’t cold enough to make a difference. I’ll get another chance soon enough. (There is of course the possibility that Aaron was putting me on. I am unshamable, however.)

Fort Hunt Park never disappoints in the fall

My ride today was my sixth coffeeneuring ride. I decided to roll down to Mount Vernon and check out the food court. I’ll bet you didn’t know George Washington invented the food court. He was badass, too. On the way I took a lap around Fort Hunt Park. The trees in the park were a little past peak but they still impressed with their bold colors.

New bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail

Further down river on the Mount Vernon Trail I came upon a brand new bridge. This is really quite nice and was much needed. Thank you, National Park Service.

SS Minnow found at last

Just past the bridge I came upon a boat parked at the river bank behind some yellow tape. It could have been the S.S. Minnow, but maybe not.

Coffeeneuring No. 6: MV Foodcourt coffee

The food court was ‘Merica. Burgers and fries and pizza and other things that didn’t make my nose too happy. I bought a decaf coffee and a soft pretzel. The pre-ride coffee I made with my new coffee maker was more better by far. The soft pretzel was salty and took up sufficient space in my digestive tract that it might be classified as actual food.

The ride home along the river was lovely. It had warmed up a bit while I was decaffeinating and so it was quite comfortable.

Chain love with the Nellies

Back at home I had a chain lube party with my three favorite bikes. They are my favorites because they are the only three I have.

Coffeeneruing Rap Sheet

Place: Mount Vernon estate food court at the end of the Mount Vernon Trail

Drink: House decaf as bland as coffee gets

Miles: 13

Observation: There used to be a Starbucks in the foodcourt but now it’s just generic weak joe. The coffeeneuring pickings sure are few and far between in SE Fairfax County. The ride, however, is pretty darn nice.

July by the Numbers

After my 1000-mile June, I backed off a bit in July. I rode to work 18 times. The only times I didn’t ride to work were days I took off or worked from home. My parking space at work must have cobwebs on it.

Other than a half-mile spin on The Mule to check out its new drivetrain, all my riding was on Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist, and Big Nellie, my Easy Racers Tour Easy recumbent.  I rode Little Nellie for 16 commutes (including one where I rode from work to Nationals Park). Big Nellie picked up the other two rides to work.

My long ride for the month was Big Nellie’s 111 mile ride to Purcelville and back.

Total mileage for the month was 746 miles. About 2/3rds of which was on Little Nellie which pretty much tells me that my back will tolerate big miles on its little tires.

Off the bike I finally started doing some hiking. The Billy Goat A trail is only about 3.5 miles but it proved to be brutally hard on an oppressively hot and humid day. I did the Billy Goat B and C trails, a total of at least six miles. It was a much more enjoyable hike. I really like doing these hikes as a thing unto itself and as a break from all the biking I do. I need to further investigate the trails in the woods of Great Falls as well as the Rock Creek Park trails which I am ashamed to admit I’ve never hiked.

For the year I have racked up 91 commutes, 41 on Little Nellie, 24 on Big Nellie and 27 on The Mule. I’ve ridden 4,544 miles, a little under 650 miles per month.

 

Blocked and Blockhead

The Blocked

After a late night of watching the rain fall down at Nationals Park, I awoke in a bit of a fog. Unfortunately the fog in my brain was accompanied by humidity outside. I rode off into the mugginess officeward.

There was considerable leaf and twig debris on the roads. Somehow this debris was concentrated along the right side where I normally ride. So I boldly moved toward the center of the lane. No drivers’ egos were harmed.

Near Belle Haven Park, a tree had fallen across the trail. According to fellow bike commuter Reba, the tree nearly nailed a passing runner. As a former marathon runner, I can attest that this can ruin your whole day.

Little Nellie was not amused.
Little Nellie was not amused.

I made my way around the tree on foot and proceeded northward-ish. Near the power plant, I came upon a tractor trailer which had fallen across the trail. I rode around it on the grass.

Little Nellie was even less amused
Little Nellie was even less amused

Near the Memorial Bridge, a gaggle of geese formed an occlusion of the trail. I rode through them undaunted. One goose mouth a goose obscenity at Little Nellie,  I am pretty sure this goose is a columnist for the Washington Post. He was probably upset that in years past geese were ticketed for using the trail.

Over the course of the day, it got muggier. Or as the French say, “I’ll fait icky.”

I rode home under ominous skies. Sprinkles turned to light rain. Distant rumbles turned to thunder booms. The tractor trailer was gone but the trail was blocked by a cyclist chatting with a surveyor and a pedestrian. I stopped for the pedestrian almost certainly ruining my credibility as a bike terrorist.

On Union Street in Old Town, the bike lane was blocked twice. The first blockage was by an SUV double parked in the bike lane.  Shortly thereafter the but end of a luxury car was parked so as to preserve the entrance to a townhouse’s garage. It’s butt end blocked the trail.

At King and Union a King Street Trolley (actually a bus) stopped mid-block obstructing my way up Union Street. I was begining to think this was Block the Bicyclists Day, sponsored no doubt by the Washington Post.

The last five miles home were under a steady rain. The distant thunder and lightning suddenly became directly over head. BOOM! CRACK!

Uh oh. Not good. The hairs on my calves (the lower part of my leg, not my baby cows) stood on end. Eek.

Pedal pedal.

Fortunately, that was the worst of it. I arrived home soaked having somehow not terrorized anybody.

The Blockhead

You may have noticed that I have been making oblique references to the Washington Post today. This is because Courtland Milloy, a Post columnist, wrote a column today that expressed his exasperation with having to share the city with cyclists. In addition to some veiled racist remarks, he said that the $500 fine for hitting a cyclist with your car was worth the expense.

Mr. Milloy’s column demonstrated an astounding combination of ignorance, intolerance, and race baiting, quite the trifecta. It also contained many factual errors. Here are some facts for Mr. Milloy to think about:

  • My wife was run over on a crystal clear day by a careless driver in a hurry. She was lucky. She got to spend three months in bed. It took her the better part of a year to get back to something resembling normal. The driver nearly killed her in another way, because the aftermath of the crash left her unable to have surgery for a malignant tumor for one year.
  • My friend Rachel volunteered to ride sweep during a cycling event last December. Her job was to make sure that the very last riders finished safely. She was run over by an inattentive driver near FedEx Field. She was injured but fortunately recovered rather quickly. She is still jittery about riding her bike in the city.
  • My friend Charmaine was run over by a pickup truck while riding to work on Michigan Avenue in Northeast DC. The crash broke her right arm and destroyed her bike. She missed weeks of work and endured months of painful physical therapy. (It was the second time she’d been hit by a car.)
  • I didn’t know Alice Swanson, but six years ago today, she was riding her bike in a bike lane near Dupont Circle when she was run over by a truck and killed.

I could go on with more examples all night.

In my entire life of riding about 100,000 miles I only know of one death by cyclist. This happened when a kid at my grade school lost control of his bike and struck an old lady walking home from church. As bad as we all felt for the victim, we felt equally bad for the kid who was going to have to live with this for the rest of his life.

I hope Mr. Milloy parks his car and his hate. If he rode his bike in the city he might see what I see.

  • Riding through Anacostia on a Sunday morning is a joy. The church goers, dressed in their Sunday best, wave and say hello, even though in Mr. Milloy’s mind I am an evil suburban white guy on a bike and they are black and there are no bike lanes on MLK Boulevard.
  • That riding through all eight wards of the city during six or seven Fifty States Rides has revealed a city that is finally rising from the ashes of the 1968 riots and the farce of a crack head mayor. The restored Union Market and Lincoln Theater, the hundreds of rehabilitated rowhouses, the new buildings springing up everywhere, the resurrection of near Southeast. You miss this driving in and out of the city with a death grip on the steering wheel.
  • And that during those same rides and many, many more in DC, dozens of people have waved, cheered me and my fellow riders on, and made sure we didn’t take a wrong turn. Over and over again.
  • That little kids see me go by on my funny looking recumbent or my equally odd folding bike and say, “COOOL!”

I don’t like  riding my bike in DC during rush hours, but I’ll do it to get where I need to be. That doesn’t mean I am an inherently bad person or anti-car or racist.  It means that I am rational. I dislike driving in the city too. The difference is that in a car I have steel barrier between me and people like Mr. Milloy. On a bike, I am apparently a viable potential target for a pathetic man with a small mind.

Mr. Milloy should be ashamed of himself. As a 30-year subscriber to the Post, I have but one request. Stop running his columns. They are reckless, irresponsible, and hurtful. Find someone with a positive voice to fill the space.