Riding nowhere – October

Another month, another 913 miles of riding around in circles. Except for a single one-way 57-mile ride on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail that is. It’s inane to be doing this but it’s that kind of year, isn’t it.

After putting 676 miles on my Cross Check (which passed the 18,000-mile mark) and another 51 miles on Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent, I switched rather cautiously to Little Nellie, my folding travel bike with little wheels. Little Nellie has been known to beat my lower back to a pulp so I have been avoiding riding it. I was considering selling it until, on a whim, I tweaked the saddle height and found a sweet spot. I can now ride it pain free. So it’s been my ride of choice for final 186 miles of the month.

So far this year I’ve ridden 8,655 miles. Getting to 10,000 is going to require some determination and a whole lot of help from the weatherman.

I also bought some new bike junk. I have a set of rechargeable blinky lights that are reasonably useful. They are be-seen lights, meaning they improve my visibility to others. The headlight will keep me from rear ending a parked car but I will use one of my more powerful Light and Motion headlights for nighttime navigation.

I also picked up a wind vest. It is bright yellow and has a big dorky reflective arrow on the back. The arrow points to the left. (The manufacturer makes a version for left side driving countries too.)

I also bought an Arkel Tailrider bag. This probably will replace my Carradice LongFlap , a huge saddlebag. The LongFlap uses leather straps that are a pain to open and close and it weighs a ton. The Tailrider is lighter and has zippers. I will give up some carrying capacity but I rarely maxed out the LongFlap. The rack on my CrossCheck has two levels which means I can use the Tailrider on the top of the rack and still attach panniers if I need to.

On to November. Brrr.

A Fine Day for a Wrong Turn

The weather here in the DC area is about as close to perfect as it can get. 70 degrees. Nice breeze. Low humidity. Even the pollen seems to be down. Where’s my hammock?

I went for a ride to close out the month and get away from the nonstop stress machines of TV and Twitter. I chose Charles County, Maryland because it is only a half hour from home by car and pleasantly rural.

The ride I did is called the Portside Pacer and traces a figure 8 through the Port Tobacco and La Plata areas. A few days ago I did a different ride in this area. Today’s ride did not involve the Indian Head Rail Trail or a climb up Rose Hill. Instead, I stayed entirely on roads and rode down Rose Hill. When I got to the bottom I got confused ending up on the wrong side of the Port Tobacco River. I rode about 3 1/2 miles before I clued in. (I should be heading east, shouldn’t I? Dang.)

No worries. The weather was so amazing that I didn’t mind the extra distance.

The ride does involved several short climbs but I was on The Mule with it’s ultra low granny gear. I didn’t really need it but, by using it, I can be assured that my left knee won’t wake me up at 3 a.m.

The short climbs also mean some short descents. The smooth, curvy roads made these joyful.

Of course, I did have to return to the start but the route goes more or less around Rose Hill so instead of climbing straight up I had a long gradual roll.

One thing I have noticed in recent days is how my body is almost completely healed after over a year of aches and pains. My pedaling is much, much stronger than it has been since my 2018 cross-country trip. My hip doesn’t hur893.t any more. I can get on and off my bike without feeling like my leg is giving way. I still have some soreness under my left kneecap but it’s not nearly as bad as a month ago. Unfortunately, my back still refuses to let me walk long distances but I am hopeful that it will calm down over time.

So I closed out May with a 40-mile jaunt. That brought my monthly mileage to 893, my biggest month since August 2019. (It’s nearly 500 miles less than last May, but I’m not on tour this year thanks to the pandemic. I’ve ridden 3,799 miles so far in 2020. If the news continues to be stressful, I may double that by September.

Stay safe. Deep breaths. Wear a mask. Call your momma.

Marching like a sloth

Somehow I’ve managed to ride 1,741 miles so far this year. Last year, while recovering from a collapsed lung and pulmonary embolisms I rode 1,954 miles. Some of the shortfall is the result of going to London in January, but the rest is due to lethargy.  I feel as if I’ve eaten 1,741 doughnuts. On the plus side, I have managed to recover from two or three weeks of mysterious body aches and pains thanks to switching from Little Nellie to standard size bicycles and buying new walking shoes with a ton of cushioning.

I rode 771 miles in March, 506 on my Surly Cross Check. I can tell that I am sick of cold weather riding because even 45 degrees seems intolerable.

My longest ride was 45.5 miles on The Mule. My most spiritually fulfilling ride was Saturday’s ride to Nats Park to see my first baseball game of the year.

April promises more baseball games, a couple of family birthdays, tour planning, and numerous adulting tasks. (It looks like we need to replace the roof, one of our cars, and a 29-year old sump pump. The sucking sound you hear is coming from my bank account.)

And it’s time to start doing long rides.

July by the numbers

Well, this is getting ridiculous. I knocked out another 1,482.5 miles in July. 1,357 of that was from the Any Road Tour. I rode in five states (Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Virginia). There were five mountain passes too. My longest day was 94.5 miles over Washington and Rainy Passes then down hill for miles and miles and miles.

For the year I’ve ridden 7,736.5 miles. And my ass doesn’t hurt one bit.

May by the numbers

May was my first month in 2018 with over 1,000 miles. I rode 1,250 miles, 696 during the last 10 days on my bike tour. My longest ride was 79 miles from Hancock to Frostburg Maryland. I’m a bit surprised that I didn’t break 80 miles all month.

I rode in six states and DC.

For the year I’ve ridden 3,993.5 miles. Despite the tour, The Mule has less mileage (889) than either Little Nellie (973) or my Cross Check (1,850).

June’s gonna be a beast.

It’s Hard to Like April

Mostly, April 2018 will fade from memory, because nobody wants to think about cold, wet, windy weather. April did have a few high points. For a start, my pulmonlogist was pleased with my recovery and backed off the prospect of leaving me on blood thinners for years or maybe even forever. She also lowered the dosage of my asthma medicine. And hopes to further lower it when I get back from my bike tour.

My bike tour planning is going along very well. I received several bike maps from the Adventure Cycling Association a few weeks ago. This allowed me to plan my trip as far as Missoula, Montana. There are numerous options for the rest of the trip to the coast. The southern route goes through central Oregon and follows the Adventure Cycling Transamerica Route. The middle route follows their Lewis and Clark route down the Columbia River gorge, through Portland, and on to the coast. Both these routes are encumbered 50 miles on road construction through the Lochsa River valley. In this corner, Felkerino, who is a man of many miles, advises that this road is awesome and contains a continuous downhill stretch of over 90 miles. In the opposite corner is Andrea, a woman of many miles too who rode the Northern Tier from Seattle east. She (and some commenters on this blog) both say the Cascades are awesome.

Two more maps arrived today from Adventure Cycling. One is for the missing segment from Missoula to the western edge of Oregon on the Lewis and Clark. The other is the segment of the Northern Tier that goes through the Cascades. To get to the start of that route, I’d need to ride a truck route along the Flathead River. I’ll plan both routes out and wait until I get out west before finalizing the way to the coast.

Getting back to my health, I did an acupuncture treatment last week that has done my left arm and shoulder a world of good. Yesterday I rode a 52-mile event ride called Breaking the Cycle. It was cold. The first 28 miles were uphill into a headwind. I rode The Mule as a test ride for the tour. It did fine except for some chain skipping on the cassette (which I had tended to today). At Friday Coffee Club last week, I bought a Brooks Flyer saddle from Felkerino. I mounted it too flat and spent much of the ride sliding my butt back to the rear of the saddle. This caused pain in my bad shoulder. Today I tipped the nose of the saddle up just a bit and my shoulder is happy again. So happy in fact that today’s visit to the gym involved two machines that I have avoided for over a month. So I cancelled tomorrow’s physical therapy session in a fit of optimism.

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The Mule at the Turn Around Point

A word of warning about acupuncture, if you don’t want to look like a junkie, you might want to avoid acupuncture if you are on blood thinners.

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The Golden Arm

Near the end of April, the sun came out. The trees and grass did their thing and we got to enjoy a shit ton of pollen. This is my car today.

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There was one excellent thing that happened in April, I went to three baseball games! On my bike, of course. I missed catching a home run at the first game. The Nats lost. At the second game I nearly killed my buddy Kevin with a nacho bomb. The Nats lost.

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At the third game, I avoided batted balls and gut bombs but the Nats still lost. I sense a disturbing pattern.

Despite its crummy weather, April did give me my biggest mileage month of the year. I rode 27 out of 30 days for a total of 789 miles during the month. For the year, I’ve ridden 2,743 miles. That’s a pretty decent foundation for what lies ahead.


February Wasn’t So Bad

Without any major snow storms and some very warm days, February turned out to be a decent month for riding a bicycle in the DMV. I managed to pound out 657.5 miles, a little over 23 miles per day. That’s 101 more miles than in January when my lungs were still messed up with pulmonary embolisms.

I rode all four of my bikes, but 549.5 miles were ridden on my Cross Check, which passed 8,000 miles on the odometer. I rode only 57 miles in the basement. Up hill both ways. My longest ride was 50 miles and it was preceded by a 48.5 mile day. Not too shabby.

I got back to going to the gym and lifted weights two to three times per week. My left shoulder has been screwed up for month so I added trips to the physical therapist twice a week. The shoulder starting to come around but I can’t really say the therapy should get credit. I stopped doing some weight lifting exercises that put stress on my shoulders and this has allowed the nerves to calm down.

I pierced the 1,000 mile mark, reaching 1,204 as of the end of the month. If you asked me two months ago if I would have half this many miles under my belt, I’d have thought you were crazy. What’s even more surprising to me is how I am gaining strength on the bike daily. I go up hills without the gawdawful panting and wheezing of last summer.

I started getting up before dawn to ride to Friday Coffee Club when it moved back to its original location at Swings House of Caffeine at 17th and G Streets NW. On my last visit, I had another run in with Secret Service police who seem to think I am an evil doer.  It must have been the desperate look of caffeine deprivation. Maybe I’ll start carrying a white flag.

I had lunch today with some folks, one of whom, Marie, is doing a bike tour with her husband Roy starting next week. (You can follow their exploits on their blog.) They will ride north from Jacksonville Florida to as close to DC as they can get in three weeks. She and her husband rode cross country last summer. Just talking to her has turned my mind toward “the big one” this summer. Once the weather breaks I’ll be in full planning frenzy mode.

In the meantime I will be focusing on car-related activities. My wife’s car needs to pass inspection. The sticker cost $35. The repairs to get it to pass the inspection will be close to $2,000.

I also need to get my driver’s license renewed. This seems kind of stupid since I’ll be on a bike for 2 1/2 months, but TSA won’t let me come home without one.



January Rebound

After crashing and burning in December thanks to blood clots trying to do me in, I made a guarded return to cycling this month. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t kick some ass.

I rode on 26 of 31 days. Half the rides were in my basement on Big Nellie. This kept me allowed me to gradually get back into the swing of things without crashing and causing myself to buy the farm.

I started very slowly, waiting for clearance from my doctor. On January 4, I did 8.5 miles in my basement.  I guessed at mileage based on time. As I got my legs back the length and intensity of the basement rides increased. I figure that conservatively I averaged about 11 miles per hour. So I guesstimate that I did 183 miles indoors. The remaining 363.5 miles were done outdoors. The first ride was a bit scary. I was paranoid. Over time, I settled in. In the end, I did 340 miles on my Cross Check and 23.5 on The Mule. My longest ride was 46.5 miles.

After all that medical drama, doing the math, I managed to ride 546.5 miles. If you had told me on January 1st that I’d ride more than 200 miles this month I’d have thought you were crazy.


February awaits. I’d love to go somewhere warm, but I have scans and doctors visits out the wazoo.  Each visit seems to bring on a follow up visit of one sort or another which makes planning ahead next to impossible. This medical nonsense should settle down soon.

Of course, the February to do list includes some fun stuff too: a hike or two, a happy hour, at least one foray to Friday Coffee Club, many bike rides, more reading, and a rare day (tomorrow) of museum-ing. And, in two weeks, the return of baseball. Somebody pinch me.


Make It Stop – Another Monster Month

With the last 776 miles of my tour and another 500 miles of riding around home, October waved the white flag. 1,226 miles. And I’m not the least bit tired. I do need to get away from my immediate environs or I will start to get bored.

For the year I’ve ridden 8,754 miles. That’s about 600 miles more than I rode all of last year. And I have two months left. If I average 21 miles a day, I could get to 10,000.


September Gone Wild

I just realized that today is the last day of the month. So I took a look: 1,742 miles of bike riding. I’m pretty sure this is some sort of personal best. 58 miles per day. Lordy.

Most of the riding is from my tour: 1,413.5 miles. I also did a farewell ride to the Rock Creek Trestle that was 55 miles long. And the 50 States Ride day which ended up being 65 miles. It was an unexpectedly difficult ride but the company was great.

So far this year I’ve ridden 7,478 miles. Dang. Assuming I ride all the way to Key West, I’ll be well over 8,000 miles by November.