Fuzzy goslings, unfuzzy maps, and dead ducklings

Today was a recovery day. My legs and back were sore from yesterday’s 38 mile ride. I suppose I should be used to this. Event rides in cities are a lot harder than the mileage indicates. They are filled with starts and stops and short hills.

Goslings Take Over DC

So today I rode Big Nellie to work. It was warm in the morning then downright hot on the way home. About a mile from work at the Memorial Bridge the trail was covered in goslings.  They didn’t seem to care that I was there and neither did the attending adults.

They had the decency to get out of my way.

Just the Thing for a Mapaholic

When I got home, I jumped in the car to fetch Little Nellie from the bike shop. The folks at Spokes Etc. turned around a cable and housing replacement in 24 hours instead of the promised 48 hours. Well done. Now Little Nellie shifts freely again.

While I was waiting for the mechanic to ring me up, I noticed this on the counter.


No, not the electric bike demo. The new Fairfax County Bike map! Back in the winter I went to the Fairfax County Transportation Department offices to help with this project. The planners had set up a roomful of long tables. The tables were covered with draft versions of the map. Area cyclists like me were asked to annotate the maps. Mostly we looked for errors and wrote comments about bikeability.

I should confess here that I am a total mapaholic. So this map makes me very excited. (I know. Get a life, dude.)

I haven’t had a chance to look at it in detail but my cursory examination says FDOT did a great job on this. Congratulations.

Dead Ducks

Finally, there is some bad news to report. I have been complaining all spring that there has been a dearth of ducklings this year. I was really jealous when I saw a friend’s Facebook pictures of ducklings in the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial. Well, I am sorry to say that they are probably all dead. A parasite has taken up residence there and it kills ducklings. The pool is being drained this week.





Death and Life on the Mount Vernon Trail

Seeing wildlife up close on my bike ride to work is such an interesting part of the whole bike commuting thing. It’s not all sunshine and lollypops though. Sometimes I get a grim reminder that our animal friends live in a heartless world. Today, near Gravelley Point park I saw a male mallard in the grass near the trail. It was facing the trail and not moving. As I passed I saw lying in the dirt along the edge of the trail a female mallard. Her dusky colored feathers camoflaged her a bit. She was on her side, inert. I circled back and the male waddled a few feet further away. Alas, the female had waddled off her mortal coil. Some of her feathers were strewn across the trail. I am certain she was hit by a passing bicycle.

Image may contain: grass, plant, tree, outdoor and nature

I have to say that it was both heart breaking and heart warming to see the male duck standing guard over his mate.

I rode on. Two miles later I came upon some Canada geese. Amongs the adults were a bunch of fuzzy gosslings. They were wandering through the grass at random, a bit like the plastic football players on the old electric football game we used to have (and break) at Christmas. (They were animated by the vibration of the field.)

Image may contain: plant, tree, grass, outdoor and nature

The gosling made me feel better. They always do.

Almost as if on order, Klarence posted a selfie. The literal picture of one of my favorite people. Kind. Compassionate. Rowdy. Prideful. It made my day.

Cops and Goslings

Today was my first day back on the bike after Sunday’s mess of a century ride. Monday and Tuesday were car commutes that allowed me to watch my daughter play lacrosse at schools in Potomac Maryland. (One loss, one win, no injuries.)

The ride in aboard Little Nellie was uneventful. I left a little early and saw the Broken Ankle Biker and French Braid Girl. A red light runner failed to hit me at the Rosslyn Circle of Doom. Free financial advice for Arlington County: if you want to increase revenues just place a traffic cop at this light. You’ll write dozens of tickets for red light running.  Or you can take the chance that somebody gets killed and his or her family sues the county for gross negligence. There will be plenty of hostile witnesses.

The radar promised a nasty ride home but the rain turned out to be light and the winds tolerable.  As I came to the 14th Street Bridge underpass I spotted my first goslings of the year. These babies were fuzzy and their feathers had a tint of green in them. The real fun now will be watching them grow.


A mile later I came upon five Park Police cars parked on and near the trail near the Daingerfield Island Marina. The officers stood on the trail having a calm discussion. My working theory is that one of them had extra tickets to tonight’s Nats game.

The streets of Old Town were just wet enough to lift the oil off the pavement. This gave me an excuse to go slowly which my still-tired  legs appreciated. Of course, I rarely need any help riding slowly. I am one seriously lethargic bike commuter.

South of Old Town, I came upon an all too frequent sight, a car crash at the intersection of Belle View Boulevard and the Parkway. I saw one damaged  car and some people standing about and two police cars. What did the car hit? As I rolled on, I saw tire tracks in the grass leading from the intersection to the trail. When I arrived at home, I received a text message from Reba, fellow Mount Vernon bike commuter and Friday Coffee Clubber. The other car in the collision had crossed the trail and ended up in the woods! I never even saw it.

Like the Rosslyn Circle of Death this intersection cries out for a re-design. A traffic light or traffic circle is desperately needed. Alas, the historic integrity of the Parkway must be preserved.

Nearly Spring

Here in DC we are being tormented by a winter that just won’t let go. We have had one day over 60 degrees so far this year. March was colder than January. The wind has been blowing day in and day out. No mas.

I didn’t ride to work yesterday so that I could attend my daughter’s lacrosse game. She is the goalie. Watching your kid in goal is difficult. If she performs well she will come home with bruises and contusions all over. If she doesn’t the team probably loses.

It rained overnight, right up to the moment I left the house. It was in the low 40s or high 30s and I had a headwind. So I put on all my rain gear.  Of course, it stopped raining.

Despite the wind, the ride in was pleasant. Two ospreys were messing around at and in the air above the Belle Haven bald eagle nest. I think they are taking over. Ospreys are pretty impressive, unless you have a bald eagle around. Bald eagles are rock stars. Ospreys sing folk tunes.

I have noticed this week that some of the geese are sitting in the grass. I am pretty sure they are mothers about to lay their eggs. Every year two geese set up house on a very narrow piece of grass where the waters of Dyke Marsh pass underneath the GW Parkway. There were two geese there the last few days. By next week we should be seeing fuzzy goslings along the Mount Vernon Trail.

I rode Little Nellie to the Friday Coffee Club. I passed by DC’s famous cherry trees. They are still not in bloom, but the big show should start in a day or two.

Coffee Club was crowded again. This week some Arlington bike commuters began a separate get together. I say “accept no substitutes!!”



Work was work-like.

By the time I left for home, spring had made an appearance. It was 60 degrees and I had a nice tailwind to end the workweek. I packed my rain gear and went with shorts and short fingered bicycling gloves. My fingertips were pleased to be liberated from long fingered gloves.

At the south end of Old Town the Mount Vernon Trail passes a small wooden area that has river overflow in it. I could hear spring peepers making their calls as I rode by. In a couple of days, the frogs near my house will be making quite a racket.