A Year Well Ridden

For a guy who spent three weeks on a bike-free vacation and the better part of the winter waiting for a thaw, I rode a whole bunch in 2015.

For the year I clocked 7,518.5 miles. Nearly two thirds of this total was from riding my bikes to work 162 times. Pro tip: if you want to boost your annual miles, get a job farther from home. The remaining 2,601 miles was on various weekend and bike touring excursions. The No Wrong Plan Bike Tour was about 370 miles including riding to the shuttle at the start and riding home on Bike to Work Day at the finish.

The tour made May my biggest mileage month at 951. September, usually a big month, was my lowest mileage month at only 296.5 miles. I spent nearly three weeks on vacation and didn’t touch a bike despite the fact that I could have laid claim to riding in Asia and Australia and New Zealand. Oh, well.

The Mule, my oldest bike, got the most use, 3,342 miles, including exactly half of my bike commutes. The least mileage went to my new bike, a Surly Cross Check, at 1,000 miles. Of course, I only had this bike for four and half months. None of these miles was from commuting.

I rode indoors on Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent six times for the equivalent of 99 miles. Otherwise, Big Nellie fell into disuse. I rode it only 86 miles since August. Over the course of the year, I rode it to work 25 times. Its total mileage for the year was 1,289.

Little Nellie got much more use than I expected. It is a Bike Friday folding travel bike but I didn’t travel with it. Instead I just rode it a lot locally. I did 56 rides to work and 1,887.5 miles overall. Being able to stash it in the trunk of the car came in handy many, many times.

My longest ride of the year was exactly 100 miles from my house to Whites Ferry and back on Big Nellie. The second longest ride of the year was the 18 mile ride home from the Tour de Fat event. I find riding a bike after a beer or two not to be problematic. Riding a bike after drinking beer in the hot sun for five hours, is considerably more challenging. Next year I will volunteer so as to remain sane. (Of course, I say this every year and rarely get around to volunteering. Bows his head in shame…) Another rather long bike ride was my bike commute the day after returning from Thailand. I was jet lagged out of my mind. It was not a lot of fun.

Other than the tour, the rides I liked best usually involved baseball games at Nats Park. The Nationals’ bike valet service is just about the best thing going.  Every ballpark, major or minor league, should do this.  A couple of times I had the pleasure of riding with Katie Lee to the Capitol and watching her do a victory lap – riding around in circles, hands free, head back, with an ear-to-ear smile. Pure bike joy. And then there’s always the fun of a ride home after a night game. I love riding home in the dark on a warm summer night.

The last ride home on the bike tour on the C&O Canal was special. Ryan intercepted us on his way to Brunswick. Then Rudy gave us a full escort from Great Falls. Near Fletcher’s Boat House, Mary came out to escort us. Somewhere along the line Chris showed up. We rode to Glen’s near Dupont Circle for a celebration where we were joined by even more #bikedc friends. I was escorted on my ride home against the Bike to Work Day flow on the 15th Street cycletrack and down the Mount Vernon Trail  by Mount Vernon resident Ed. This day was in stark contrast to the last day of my other tours when I was greeted with a ho-hum from non-biking relatives. (This is why I made it a point to meet Linel in Belle Haven Park at the end of her C&O Canal tow this year.)

I don’t recall how many times I rode to Friday Coffee Club, but it’s a thing and it’s fun.

I went to several bike events: WABA’s Vasa and Cider rides and holiday bash, the Great Pumpkin ride, the Tour de Fat, the kinetic sculpture race in Baltimore, the Cookie ride, and the #biketivismdc protest on Pennsylvania Avenue.

I hiked a bunch too. I honestly can’t say which trail was my favorite. They all have their distinct characteristics. I learned that I don’t much care for rock scrambles or crossing steams on slippery logs. In my running days I was a pretty darn good downhill runner. I am a pretty lousy downhill hiker.

I am not much of a massage fan but I had three massages this year. The last and only other time I had a massage was after a century in 1991. I liked the oil massage in Thailand the best. It was outdoors under a shelter in the rain. The next best was a Thai massage from a friend in McLean Virginia. This was relaxing and nothing like any of the other massages I’ve had. The reiki at the end was also pretty cool. The sports massage I had near my home was rather vigorous. I was sore for days afterward. I am still not much of a massage fan. I’m just not into pampering, I guess.

Enough with looking back already. It’s 2016. Let’s get on with it!







Summer in the City – It’s Not All Bad News in Baltimore

From all the recent bad news coming out of Baltimore these days, you’d think the city was going to change its name to Baltiless. Days like today belie the news reports. Sure Baltimore still has plenty of problems, but it has so much going for it.

I had thought about driving up for the annual Kinetic Sculpture Race which my friend Charmiane has raved about. There was also a well regarded bike ride called the Tour Dem Parks. And an Orioles game. And a celebration of the Hampden neighborhood. Baltimore was feeling its oats today.

After doing my physical therapy and reading the paper I had dithered away too much time to do the Parks ride. My friend Linel had managed to dither less and made it to the ride. (I’m jealous.)  I still wanted to see the race so I hopped in the Millenium Falcon and drove north.

If I had my act together I would have tossed Little Nellie in the trunk of the car, but the prospect of walking aronud in bike shoes put me off. I regretted my decision. Parking in downtown Baltimore on a Sunday is a tad pricey, $30 for the day. I drove to Patterson Park and parked for free on the street. I was now more than a mile from the Race, Fells Point or anything else I wanted to see. Dumb. Bikes are good. Folding bikes are gooder.

I walked into the park and my favorite Baltimore building, the Patterson Park Pagoda was open. I climbed the stairs to the top and enjoyed the fantastic 360 degree view of the city and a cooling breeze. I stayed up there a good 20 minutes watching the Parks riders climb the hill to the 25-mile rest stop at the base of the Pagoda. I was using Instagram and I noticed that Paris, whom I had met at the Cookie Ride earlier this year, had just taken a selfie with the Pagoda in the background.

Me inside the Pagoda
Me inside the Pagoda

I climbed down and found her. We talked for a few minutes and she headed out for ten hot, muggy miles of bike riding. I hoofed it to the Canton neighborhood to check out the race. People were all headed east on Boston Street, the main drag in Canton. I didn’t see any race so I left the street for the much prettier waterfront promenade. I don’t do boats but it would be sweet to live along the water here.

After 10 minutes I spotted on of the race participants heading east on Boston so I went back to Boston to check it out. The “sculptures” came in ones and twos. They are really sculptures they are more like human powered parade floats. As I watched I was tweeting my friend John Roche who was coming to what he referred to as the splash zone. It turns out the sculptures also have to go into the water and sail (if that’s the word) around a buoy. Yes, they were parade floats in every sense of the word.

#balmer kinetic

Huge dogs (one with a sock monkey on its back), a black birthday cake, a dinosaur, a space shuttle, a giraffe. The designs were whimsical and creative. The crowds watching the floats floating were festive. It was hard to see the actual action because the crowds were several people deep. Everybody was in a good mood, including John and his wife Kate. Kate is pregnant and overdue. Despite the heat and being on her feet for what must have been over an hour, she looked fantastic and was in a great mood.

Kate wasn’t alone. I saw half a dozen pregnant women in attendance. And one mom with a brand new baby. What’s in the water, hon?

I left the splash zone with John and Kate. They headed home and I hoofed it back to my car through a neighborhood of row houses. Many of these row houses were three stories tall with roof top decks for views of the water. It just looks like the kind of place that would be a blast to live in. And these homes are only a short walk or bike ride from downtown.

I know it has its problems, but from what I can see, Baltimore is looking good.

Except for the Orioles, of course.

Paris’s account of the day is here. A few more pix of the race here.