I Should Have Practiced More

Retirement is hard. I’m having trouble getting into the flow. Take today, for example. I completely forgot that it’s Friday. On Friday’s I get up really early and ride to Friday Coffee Club. I slept until 7:45. Then I made a pot of coffee, sat down to a bowl of cereal, and read the paper. Mrs. Rootchopper walked into the kitchen and said, “No Friday Coffee Club?”


In my defense, it is that time of year when the low humidity and cool temperatures make for perfect sleeping. In the aftermath of the bike tour and with my rib still healing, my body just wants rest. So I am feeding the beast.

Each day, though, I have a plan to do one or two specific things. On Tuesday it was volunteer at WABA in the evening. Don’t tell Greg but we didn’t get a damned thing done once Kristin cracked open the tequila. Anyway, since the WABA office is 16 miles from home, volunteering also means a pretty decent bike ride. (On the way home I encountered several people headed to the High Heel Race in Dupont Circle. I didn’t want to say anything but I think some of these women were, um, not. Women, that is. A couple could play wide out for pro football teams. And they could go a little lighter on the make up and sequins. Just saying.)

Today, after waiting for the temperature to rise, I rode the Cross Check to the Lincoln Memorial. Just because. And it was super nice out. And the trees are turning. Like this one across the river from the Memorial.

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On the way home I pulled over to record another odometer milestone.

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Not bad.

I’ll put the Cross Check away for a few weeks and give my other bikes some attention.

Once I got home, I mowed the lawn. Mowing the lawn feels like you are accomplishing something even when you really aren’t.

Then I went inside and did something I’ve been meaning to do since I got home. During my bike tour to Key West, hurricane Maria made landfall on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Two of my BikeDC friends (who, incidentally, don’t know each other) are from Puerto Rico. They each spent many anxious days not knowing the fate of their families. (From what I can tell, all are accounted for and out of immediate danger.) A week or so later, I started riding in southern Florida. Even a month after hurricane Irma made landfall in the Keys, the devastation was obvious. I simply cannot imagine what the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are like. So today I made a donation to the American Red Cross. You can too. Here’s the site.




No Way So Hey – Day 26

I began the day dowingca quart of sports drink and 1/3rd of a sub sandwich. And then I hit the road at 8 am. 

The directions were easy: Go south. 

Storm debris increased with each passing mile. Some stretches were perfectly clear, probably because crews had finished the clean up. In other areas piles of debris ran down one side of the road. 

The middle Keys got hit hardest and it showed. Debris was strewn among the mangroves along the east side of the road. Roadside piles were bigger and bigger. At a state park a consolidation area was set up. Plant based debris was being ground up into a mulch. Lord knows what will be done with the appliances, furniture, and house parts I saw. South of marathon the mother of all debris piles stretched on and on. Mount Irma. It’s hard to believe a month has passed. I can only imagine what Puerto Rico is dealing with. 

Under normal conditions there would be flowers and breezes. Now junk and smell. 

Any discomfort I might have on this trip pales in comparison to what these people have been going through for the last month and a half.

If I had s place to stay in the middle Keys I’d have gone to the sea turtle rescue place of the dolphin research center. But the only place to stay was in Key West. 

The morning was cool and humid. Then the clouds burned off. It got hot. I drank and drank and drank. I forced myself to eat so that I wouldn’t bonk.

As it turned out stores were open almost all the way to Key West. I stood in one. A young Israeli dude started talking to me about the ride. He was incredulous. Hr called me Forest Gump. Just last night a convenience store clerk did the same. Bike Forrest! Bike!

The ride wasn’t all trashy debris. Many miles were spent in bridges with the Atlantic on my left and the Gukf of Mexico on my right. The water was a pale green. Just beautiful.

I rode on the shoulder of US 1 and never had a problem with cars. One picked up pulling a trailer right hooked me at an intersection but he was no match for The Mule.

(The bike path along US 1 would have been nice but it was blocked by debris so often as to be useless. Near the heart of the storm it was torn to pieces.)

I crossed the seven mile bridge. Seven miles with ocean and gulf. Jesus. What a ride.

At 80 miles the skies turned black, just like yesterday. Temperatures dropped. Ran fell. The storm passed. I rolled into Key West and took the path along the sea wall.

I ended up at the Southernmost point in the 48 states. No more road. 


Former co-worker Melissa is in town. She was an all star on Mrs. Rootchopper’s staff. She steered me to a local Cuban place. I ate all the food. So good. 

And so I rode 101 miles today, 1,953 miles to the end of the road. Time for s few days of rest before a ferry, two more days of biking, and a long train ride home. 

My Fiend Irma

I apparently have been infected with the notorious WABA weather virus. Events run by or benefiting the Washington Area Bicyclists Association have a rather distressing propensity for crazy weather. My planned tour to Key West is beginning to look rather dicey. Hell, Key West is looking dicey.


During my 2005 tour I encountered the remnants of Katrina but I was in Ohio. I got rained on. I noticed the price of gas had spiked as my tour continued. This is very different. This monster could threaten not just my destination but most of the entire route. Not that my tour is of much importance in even the not-so-grand scheme of things.

So what are the alternatives if the Keys or some other part of my route get clobbered?

Option 1: Go south until I can’t anymore, then turn around. Maybe this would involved riding to some nifty place like Charleston or even St. Augustine, turn around and ride home via the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Option 2: Bah Hahbah. The set of maps I bought go from Bar Harbor Maine to Key West. I could just head north. I ride to Bar Harbor Maine would lack the heat (and humidity)  of the Keys trip but riding up there and back would be about 1,500 miles. It would also be much, much hillier.

Option 3: Kill Myself on the Blue Ridge. It’s something like 600 miles to the other end of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Cherokee NC. What could go wrong? Oh, it’s unbelievably hilly. And how would I get home?

Option 4: A Big Loop. I could ride from here to Erie Pa then bang a right and ride to Albany or maybe through the Adirondacks. Then I’d take NY Bike Route 9 or 11 south to DC. It’s easy to put together a tour of 1,500 miles. Much of it would be on flat trails and canal towpaths.

Option 5: Ride up to Vermont, around Lake Champlain, across the Adirondacks and back on NY and PA bike route 11.

One problem is that Irma has to go somewhere after the Carribean. If it heads up the East Coast any of these options could be a washout. No decisions will be made until Monday at which time I’ll have a much better idea of what’s doable.

In the meantime, my fingers are crossed for Linel’s and Richard’s families in Puerto Rico, with Renee in Florida, and with Wendy on the southern coast of North Carolina.