An Off Day

Yesterday’s bike ride was a 26-mile dud. I was a little underdressed and my legs were worn out from riding six days in a row. An annoying rubbing noise from my front wheel spoiled the whole meditative aspect of the excursion. Instead of feeling refreshed at the finish, I felt crabby. I wasn’t surprised when my legs felt like lead this morning. All of which is to say, I needed a day off from my bicycle.

Why not go for a walk and test out my stenosis? Sounds like a plan, Don’t mind if I do.

If you haven’t done an activity in a while you really should take it easy so that your body adjusts. Maybe walk three miles or so, right?

It took me about two miles to get into any sort of rhythm during my walk. Although I had brought them with me, I wasn’t using my trekking poles. The entire time I felt a dull ache in my lower left back. This was not fun. Nevertheless, I decided to continue onward to see if the ache would go away.

No dice. I walked another mile and a half during which I noticed that walking downhill was significantly more comfortable than walking up hill, not because of the relative effort but because my gait had changed. I passed a small path through the woods. Whose woods these are, I know not, but the path belongs to Mary.

I hopped on the Mount Vernon Trail and headed for home. As I did, I deployed the trekking poles and noticed an immediate improvement in my comfort. After a mile of poling, my right hand had become numb. The shock absorbing rubber boot on the right-hand pole had fallen off.

I stopped twice on the trail to check out bald eagle nests, which are easily visible this time of year when the trees are leafless. Nobody was home at either nest. The walk up the gradual 1 1/2 mile rise was increasingly difficult. I could really have done with some water but I neglected to bring any because what kind of an idiot walks more than four miles on an off day.

At about five miles my head was tilted forward. No more looking around. Get this walk done. At the stone bridge I checked my iPhone I had walked 5 1/2 miles, If I walked straight home, I’d hit 7 miles. Plenty.

The thing is I was just getting into the vibe. Walking has a different mental feel than bicycling. Despite my discomfort and fatigue, I decided to add a mile to the endeavor and continued along the MVT. About a half mile later a blister started forming on my right heel. My right shoe did not get the memo about the vibe.

It was about this time that my knees decided to rebel. At times like these I think of the Edward Burns character in Saving Private Ryan: “Hey asshole! Any time would be a good time to stop.”

A mile and a half from home, i turned onto Collingwood Road and headed homeward. Most of Collingwood Road is barely wide enough for two cars and has no sidewalk? Yes, Fairfax County Virginia is where pedestrians go to die.

Well, long story short I made it home with one bloody sock and aches in places that I wish I didn’t have.

In my running days, 8 miles was an easy distance. That was before back surgery and age and chondromalacia and stenosis, not to mention 30 years of wear and tear,

Pass the CBD and the vitamin I.

Maybe I’ll take tomorrow off.


My eyes open. I see the sunlight through the bedroom window. What’s going on? Must have slept in. What a sloth. I roll over. The big red numbers on my bedside alarm clock blare



Another lazy morning follows. Crosswords, newspapers, surfing the TV and the laptop, meditation and physical therapy delay me long enough to avoid the coldest hours of the day.

I put on a mask and venture out to the hardware store to pick up the lawn mower blade that I had left to be sharpened. The cold wind sharpens my mind as I pedal Little Nellie. It takes only a moment in the store to retrieve the blade and strap it to the bike’s rear rack.

I am grateful for the step through frame of the bike. Swinging my leg over the back end would risk an unpleasant encounter with the business end of the blade which sticks out of the back end of the rack.

I take off my mask and return home to drop off the blade and switch bikes. I switch to The Mule and light out for an easy spin. Northwest. Into the cold wind. Am I dressed warmly enough?

Pedal, pedal.

Yesterday’s soaking rain has left every yard and park soggy. The leafless trees are no match for the clear blue sky.

I ride ten miles to a book store. After locking my steed, I head for the store. I stop and cuss. I need a mask. I go back to my bike and quickly discover that the mask I had on this bike is on the hardware store bike.

No books for me.

Off I ride, a bit frustrated by my thoughtlessness. And annoyed for the umpteenth time by the damned pandemic.

By now the temperature is in the mid 40s. Not too bac. When I finally turn around to head for home, the wind is at my back.

No longer chilled, I take my time. I hear the front brake rubbing the rim. I ignore it. I have a tailwind. That’s how tailwinds work.

For a year we’ve been riding into Covid headwinds. Vaccines are about to become widely available. More tailwinds.

The sun sets tonight at



February – Can’t Say I Miss You

I got lazy this month. I only rode 21 days out of 28 for a total of 546 1/2 miles (145 1/2 of which were indoors). But I did get some useful things done off the bike. For the year, I’m at a rather anemic 1,273 miles.

I managed to get my three main bikes (The Mule, The CrossCheck and Little Nellie) fixed up for when the warm riding weather hits. New chains, cassettes, bar tape, and such. The front brake on the Mule continues to rub just a tad now and then. I think that it will stop sticking once the pads wear a bit.

I also created eight tour journals on (A word of warning. I am not known as Rootchopper on Cycleblaze.) Three of the journals previously resided on but the owner of that site kicked me off because I posted a journal based on my WordPress blog posts on Cycleblaze which he considers hostile to him. The journaling project took 20 or 30 hours to do, but it has been something I have been meaning to do ever since the pandemic hit.

Speaking of the pandemic, I recently received my first dose of the Pfizer Covid vaccine. In about three and a half weeks I should have received my second shot and had time for the potion to make me effectively immune. I have hopes of seeing some live baseball games this summer as well as doing a bike tour. Pinch me. My scheduled trip to Machu Picchu is probably going to be delayed until 2022 just to be on the safe side.

I’ve been otherwise keeping busy with taxes (refund!), having contractors look at a defective bay window, getting the lawn mower ready for spring (anybody know how to removed a frozen spark plug?), going to three doctors (no bad news1), and shredding old financial documents (it ate up four hours of my Sunday yesterday). In the process of hunting for the documents I bashed one of my toes against a support leg of my bicycle trainer. I think I broke the toe. (Dr. Internet says it will heal in a few weeks on its own.)

On the pleasure side, I read two books, The Splendid and the Vile by Eric Larson is the story of Churchill during the Battle of Britain. Every time I have been to London I try to imagine what it must have been like in 1940. Two years ago we toured the Churchill War Rooms. It’s no surprise that I found the book fascinating. Just imagine 9/11 happening day after day in cities all over the US for a year. I also read Beautiful Girls, a novel by Karin Slaughter in the style of Gone Girl. I’m not a fan.

My wife, daughter, and I have had weekend bubble dates. We watch Wandavision (strange), SNL (surprising good recently), and movies. We watched Nomadland last week. It’s pretty depressing but you could learn a few life lessons from it. It’s filmed in the deserts of Nevada and Arizona and brought to mind my 2019 bicycle death march across Nevada. A second rather depressing movie that we watched is I Care a Lot about grifters who take advantage of the elderly. Last night we watched A Man Called Ove, a faithful adaptation of the novel by Fredrik Bachman. I want to re-read the book, but my copy was turned to mush in a leaky pannier while riding through a week-long tropical depression in Florida on my 2017 tour to Key West.

March awaits. More sunlight (sun sets after 6 tonight!). More warmth. I’m ready.


Aside from the Kmart blue light special, there are few advantages to being old. One of them is qualifying for the COVID vaccine a few weeks before younger folks Today I had my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. Didn’t hurt at all. No side effects yet but it may be hard to tell since I only had four hours of sleep last night.

My next shot is in three weeks. I’ll be immune for the first home stand of the baseball season.

I was wearing a Nats t-shirt and a bicycling themed mask. Proper dress is required.

A Fistful of Advil

Some 21 years ago I did my first bike tour, a ride from my house in northern Virginia to Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania. It was a bit of a train wreck. In 2003, I decided to try again. Stuff happened. This journal was originally posted on I re-created it so that it would reside on the same website as my newer tour journals. It was interesting for me to see how touring has changed in the last couple of decades.

Check it out at

Off the Road but Busy with Bikes

I have taken some time off the bike. True winter has arrived and I find riding 30 miles in this cold air not to my liking. For the last few days, I’ve been creating journals of the blog posts from my recent bike tours to a new-ish website called So far I have finished with my 2015. 2016, and 2017 bike tours.

I spent four or five hours today working on my big 2018 cross country tour. Creating these journals is not simply a cut-and-paste job. For the 2018 journal, for example, I had to write a few new entries describing my experience with pulmonary embolisms during the preceding winter. As I move the blog posts over to the journal, I re-read each one and make appropriate editorial changes.

I’m about halfway through. I keep discovering things and places that I had forgotten. I didn’t remember North Dakota being hilly, or noticing the gradual increase in elevation beginning in Illinois. Or eating lunch in a thrift shop in a small town in North Dakota.

I hope to have the journal finished by early next week. Then I’ll tackle the 2019 tour to San Francisco.

Once my first few journals went up on Cycleblaze, I was contacted by the person behind CrazyGuyonaBike where I had posted three journals about 15 years ago. He asked me to take the old journals off his site because he regards CycleBlaze as “hostile” to him. I took them off and will likely post them on CycleBlaze. Time will tell.


In other news, I received an email from the state health department. They are currently scheduling people who signed up on January 18 for covid-19 vaccination shots. They also confirmed that according to their records I signed up on that date. My jab should happen soon.