Spring Arrives in the DMV

Spring is fighting off winter here in the DMV. (The DMV is what all the cool kids call the DC, Maryland, Virginia area.) The weather goes up and down betraying any ability to get comfortable. If you want consistency, move to San Diego.

Friday, I woke up super early and rode to Friday Coffee Club. My plan was to see the famous DC cherry blossoms at sunrise. I timed it wrong and the cherry blossoms were a day shy of peak bloom, but the sunrise over the Potomac didn’t disappoint. I stood on the river bank for a few minutes just to take it in.

Sunrise wow

Not half bad.

The 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac River reaches the DC side right smack dab in the middle of the Tidal Basin, ground zero for cherry blossom tourist madness. I managed to wiggle through cars and buses and work my way around the Tidal Basin, up 15th Street, and around the Washington Monument, enjoying blossoms the whole way. Friday Coffee Club was busier than usual so all is right with the world.

Yesterday, I rode into DC to see my first Nats game of the season. The temperature during the game was perfect. We sat in the shade just below the TV announcers who were sitting in their perch in the press box. We were directly behind home plate which afforded a pretty good view of the pitches. Throughout the game, the plate umpires inclination to call outside strikes (to right handed batters) strikes was obvious. Somehow the Nats batters didn’t seem to clue in.)

NATS view

The fans in our section have a tradition of chanting N-A-T-S NATS NATS NATS WOO!!! for each Nationals score. I’ve never been into such organized things at baseball games. Such displays are better suited to football or hockey.

Every so often pedals from the cherry trees outside the ballpark would drift down on us.

My daughter Lily kept score. She’s getting pretty good at it.

During the seventh inning stretch, the stadium played A Ha’s Take on Me, something that was discontinued a few years ago. It was most welcome but the crowd didn’t seem to get into it. The whole point is to hit the high notes for the line “In a day or two.” I didn’t attempt it, which I am sure Lily appreciated.

As for me, despite the scorekeeping and the pedals and the perfect weather and the great seats and the drifting blossoms and Take on Me, I had a hard time getting into the game. It didn’t help that, for the second game in a row, the Mets didn’t win so much as the Nats lost.

In the Friday’s game, rookie center fielder Victor Robles was caught in a rundown trying to score from third base. He thus committed the Nat’s first TOOTBLAN of the season. (TOOTBLAN means “thrown out on the bases like a nincompoop.” ) Beating yourself appears to be a Nats forte. Robles, the centerfielder, also seems to enjoy overthrowing the cut off man, perhaps so we won’t miss Bryce Harper so much.

At least a quarter of the fans present were Mets fans. A throng of them in the left field bleachers chanted LETS GO METS throughout the game. This seemed pointless since it is pretty much indistinguishable from LETS GO NATS. Late in the game as the Mets scored several runs,  a few Mets fans in our section M-E-T-S METS METS METS WOO!!! Well played, dudes.

The ride home featured a fifteen minute delay getting to the Tidal Basin as I duckwalked my bike amid tourists headed for the Tidal Basin. The sidewalks around the basin were absolutely packed with tourists. The roads were packed with cars. Nobody seemed to be having much fun.

I escaped the madness and stopped at the Crystal City garage bicycle races on the way home. I watched a couple of laps of the Anything Goes race. It’s fun to see people, some in costumes riding unicycles, cargo bikes, tandems, fixies, and other assorted contraptions.

I rode home at twilight wearing a t-shirt.

Spring is here.

 

 

A Night at the Races

For a month in late winter/early spring, bike races take place in a parking garage in Crystal City, a neighborhood in Arlington County, Virginia. The usual line up is an open race for all comers, a women’s race, and a men’s race.

Last night was the final race event of the year. The categories were a bit different. There was an open race, a government employees vs. contractor race, an anything-goes race, a tandem and cargo bike race, and a fixed gear race.

The anything-goes event included unicycles (including my friend Steve O. wearing a cow costume), a  bike with bouncing rear wheel, several trikes, an inline skater, a couple of skateboarders, long tail bikes with kids on back, bike pulling kids in trailers, and my friend Judd riding the Bike in Bloom, the pink Capital Bikeshare bike that is deployed only during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

The event is full of socializing. I met my fourth #bikedc Rachel during a break in the racing. Her daughter is trying to decide what college to go to in the fall. She wants to do some studying abroad and wasn’t sure she’d be able to if she attended James Madison University. As luck would have it, I had invited my former co-worker Jessica, a JMU grad who studied abroad. So the two of them had a long conversation.

Jessica, who doesn’t ride, seemed to really have fun. She kept wondering what anybody would ride a trike, a bike with a bouncing rear wheel, or any one of a number of the goofy contraptions on display. I have to work on her some more.

Kevin, my compadre from Friday Coffee Club, some mountain bike rides, and the 2017 50 States Ride showed up. We hung out for the second half of the evening. He encouraged me by praising my crappy iPhone pictures. Maybe someday I’ll do what he does and bring a digital SLR.

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Erin’s bike rocks the pink
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Judd with the Bike in Bloom
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Steve O. before donning his cow costume

As I was talking to Kevin, a man walking past caught my eye. He joined a woman with two toeheaded toddlers. Could it be? The woman was Shane, a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. She and I met doing the 2007 Fifty States Ride. It was hot as Hades and she suffered mightily. After about 50 miles, we stopped in Rock Creek Park where she rested her aching back by lying in the shade of a massive old tree. She was one hurting unit. She got up and forged ahead though. At American University, she went into a building where we thought the ride organizers had set up some refreshments. She found some on a table in a hallway on the first floor and took some snacks. Well, the refreshments were actually on the second floor; she had just pilfered her goodies from a seminar. Oops. We hightailed it out of there and made it to the finish before the authorities could track us down.

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The mysterious Adam stands by as Shane contemplates death in Rock Creek Park during the 2007 50 States Ride.
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Luke on the winner’s wheel with one lap to go

This was my third time at the garage bike races. There is a DJ/announcer wearing a skating cap that I thought looked a lot like my friend Megan’s husband Nate. Nate seemed to me to be a rather laid back guy, but the DJ/announcer was animated and LOUD. I learned today that it was indeed Nate. So my apologies to him for not saying hello.

 

 

 

Errandonnee: Bikes, Grilled Cheese, Pie, Puppy, and Owl

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

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This one took 23 miles to do. Total miles for the Errrandonnee so far is 127.5.

Racing Underground

The weather isn’t so great around here in March so somebody came up with the idea of having indoor bike races in an underground parking garage in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington Virginia. I finally got around to checking this out tonight. There were three races. The first race is for novices. They ride whatever the want and go as fast or as slow as they want. One of the participants in this race wore what I wish I had wore at every Halloween party for the last 27 years.

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You can’t see it very well but the man in white is wearing a t-shirt that says “Cutters” across the front. The shirt and helmet exactly match the Cutters team at the Little Indy 500 in Breaking Away.  I didn’t check out his bike but I doubt it was a Roadmaster. Regardless, we are still a little disturbed by the developments in the middle east.

Note how the bicyclists race against the arrow indicating they are renegades who have no respect for authority.

I don’t know have any idea what the orange figure and X on the floor mean. You all should submit creative explanations in the comments section.

One of the other racers wore a donut costume, including sprinkles. He’s in pink, second from right in the front row at the start of the race below.

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The next race was the women’s race. The intensity level went up a few notches. The final race was the men’s race. The intensity went up again, in large part because the speed went up. I saw two crashes in the men’s race. Both men got up and jumped back on their bikes. I left before it was over. I couldn’t get on an elevator because EMTs were transporting a woman who apparently crashed. (She was awake and alert. Probably a case of garage rash.)

While the racers did their thing, the onlookers enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches, pie, and beverages. (I saw wine, beer, and cider. I would imaging that some non-alcoholic liquids were available as well.) It was noisy. There was an announcer, ventilation fans, music, and cheering. It was cold, thanks to the ventilation fans. But mostly it was a bit of zany fun on a chilly evening in early March.

The races in the garage beneath 201 12th Street. It’s at the northern most end of Crystal City.  Check it out next Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m.

 

Weights and Lights

No matter what I do, lifting weights makes me want to throw up. I have no idea why. A few hours later I feel great but immediately afterward I feel like calling Ralph on the porcelain phone.

I rode eight miles to the gym which is four miles from my house. The shortest path between two points may be a straight line, but Archimedes never rode a bike in the fall in Mount Vernon.

I did two rounds on the equipment. I am being very careful. I choose a weight that I can raise and lower slowly for 10 to 12 repetitions. So far, so good. I also found out what the mystery workout station is for. This station has no weights. It turns out you are supposed to drape your upper body over a padded bar, then raise your upper body upward. And repeat. Sure thing. Not in my lifetime. They probably use this “exercise” at Gitmo.

There is one station where you hang by your forearms then raise and lower your knees to your chest. Sweet mother of god. My tummy hurts when I do this.

I rode home, had a late lunch, then hit the road again. This time I rode to the Crystal City bike light giveaway, sponsored by the Crystal City Business Improvement District. I was a bit early. I picked up a few lights then hung out to see if I knew anybody who showed up. Of course, I couldn’t remember the name of the first person. She’s Chris. I’ve met her a few times before. My brain, once again, just locked up. The next person to show up was Chris. This Chris rode his folding cargo bike. He’s an old Friday Coffee Clubber.

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He Chris
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Mr. Blinky Light
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Did you say free?

The next person I met was a reader of this blog. He looked familiar. We chatted for about ten minutes. When he told me his name was Ken I knew I knew him, but couldn’t remember when or where we met. It turns out Ken rode some of the final miles with me (and Big Ed) at the tail end of my Pittsburgh to DC tour in 2015.

After about an hour, I headed home to get ready for tonight’s final game of the World Series. It’s been one for the ages.

 

 

 

 

Bike to Work Day in DC – Recap

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I woke up early. I was having leg cramps. Not good. The dinner concert we went to last night did not serve free water, so we drank beer. Dumb on all counts.

After walking around a bit and drinking a pint of watered down orange juice, my cramps subsided and I was off about 1/2 hour ahead of schedule on my last Bike to Work Day. (Please note the capitalization. I am still biking to work for another three months. Y’all can’t get rid of me that easily.)

Pit stop MV.JPGMy ride to work is about 15 miles. I decided to take the longImage may contain: sky, tree, ocean, plant, outdoor and nature way and stopped 1 1/2 miles from home at my first pit stop of the day. This one was located near the Mount Vernon Trail and was staffed by a couple of guys from my local bike shop, Spokes Etc.‘s Belle View location. At the pit stop, I ran into Nancy Duley who lives near me. We had a good chat. Having already eaten breakfast, I turned down the free muffins and bananas and other goodies and headed toward Alexandria. Along the way I stopped to take in the sun rising over the river. (Wanna know why I bike to work. The picture tells it all.)

In Old Town I stopped at my designated pit stop. (I had switched at the last minute to avoid the lonImage may contain: 1 person, outdoorg lines in Rosslyn. ) Good move. The lines were short. I picked up a t-shirt and a water bottle. Then I popped two donut holes in my mouth. They were from the aptly named Sugar Shack. Big Ed was also there and the two of us rode with massive sucrose buzzes to Crystal City.

Once I dismounted I came to realize the the relative humidity was somewhere north of New Orleans in August. Dang.

The Crystal City pit stop was very well attended. I saw several people I knew including Kathy and Sam (that’s her on the left below). Once again I passed up the free food and coffee.  Hot coffee was not looking really appealing as the sweat poured off me.Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, outdoor

I left Ed to his socializing and headed to Rosslyn. Rather than cut back over to the Mount Vernon Trail, which I assumed would be chock-a-block full of bike commuters, I rode the streets through Crystal City, past Long Bridge Park, and around the Pentagon. I picked up Route 110 with its highway traffic and rode its broad paved shoulder until I exited at Arlington Cemetery.

There was nobody on the path around Arlington Cemetery which made for swift passage to Rosslyn. The streets of Rosslyn were packed with cars but I managed to weave through them. I decide to check out the Rosslyn pit stop conveniently located in the Intersection of Doom which was made more better by construction on the nearby bike trail.

The Rosslyn pit stop was packed. There must have been over 100 bikes parked and many, many more in the hands of their owners meandering about. I was glad I switched stops, even though Rosslyn had the best swag of all four that I visited.

I ran into Lawyer Mike, who, like Big Ed, I know from Friday Coffee Club. But for passes on the trail during commutes, I hadn’t seen him in ages. So it was good to catch up.

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I took off for work. When I got to the office I gathered up my co-workers who had ridden to work. There were five of us, but only four because one of my co-workers who is new to this bike to work thing, missed her pit stop. That’s them in the picture at the top of the blog.

The picture does not include our boss who rode his kids to school (as he does every day) and a former co-worker who works on another floor. So my office did itself proud today.

The interview I did yesterday ran on WAMU  (a local NPR station) today. I was included in the text but did not make the audio version. There’s good reason. Ian, yet another Friday Coffee Clubber, was the lead subject. He commutes almost twice as far as I do. I can’t even….

After work I rode to Adams Morgan in DC for a Bike to Work Day party hosted by WABA. They mentioned something about free beer and pizza and I was a goner. I arrived under threatening skies. As I went to lock my bike, rain fell. Cold rain. It cut through the humidity splendidly.

I met a half dozen people at the party. My fusiform gyrus was given a major work out. I still remember Rachel, Lisa, Grace, Eric, and, I think,…, well, I forgot the other guy. And I know I’ve met him before. Ack.

The highlight of the event was the ovation we gave Nelle Pierson, who had just finished her last day on the job with the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. Suffice it to say, there was an awful lot of love and admiration in the room.

I finished the evening with a ride home under threatening skies. Jeanne who was at the Crystal City pit stop and I rode back to Virginia together. Once on the south side of the Potomac, we found ourselves riding through clouds of flying bugs. Jeanne veered off north of Old Town. As I made my way through Belle Haven Park the clouds of bugs intensified. It was totally gross for about 1/2 mile. Then the swarms cleared and all that was left was the circle of light ahead of my bike. Four miles of riding in the night with a few flashes of heat lightning for good effect.

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Bike to work day. 14 hours from start to finish. My last one. Well played BikeDC. Well played.

Many, many thanks to all the volunteers and staff who worked on this event. Also, thanks to the sponsors for donating all the goodies.