Errandonnee 2019: Take me out to the happy hour

Another day, another errand. The third Thursday of the month hereabouts means that it’s time for another BikeDC happy hour. This one was held on the Dew Drop Inn in northeast DC.

The festivities began at 5 which gave me all day to ponder happiness. What better way to do that than to go to an afternoon baseball game at Nationals Park with my daughter. Our seats were sweet, on the 300 level between home plate and the Nationals dugout.

View from 317

The game lasted 3 hours and the good guys won, but not without some ninth inning drama. No worries, Dr. Doolittle saved the day. After the game, I headed rode north past the Capitol. (Ho hum. Life in the capital of the free world.) I made my way to the Metropolitan Branch Trail which runs along the railroad corridor heading north from Union Station. Using the MBT allows bicyclists to bypass probably a dozen traffic lights. It’s sweet.

The Dew Drop Inn is at the current northern terminus of the MBT. It’s a bar in an small, old industrial building. Fortunately, it serves food. I had beer and a sandwich during the 90 minutes I was there. For all 90 minutes I sat in the direct sun and fried my forehead. Dumb. The picnic tables on the patio where we sat were covered with tree pollen. (We cleaned them off.)

I rode home with progressively less sunlight and seemingly more and more pollen. At times I had to slow to a crawl in order to get the pollen out of my eyes and throat. Once I cross the Potomac River, I added midges to my misery. For 12 miles. At least the weather was enjoyable.

Errand No. 8

Category: Social Call (2nd use)

Place: Third Thursday Happy Hour at the Dew Drop Inn

Observation: The Metropolitan Branch Trail is like a bicycle expressway in the heart of DC. No red lights. Only a couple of stop signs. Relatively flat.

Dew Drop
Photo by Ted Nigrelli

 

Errandonnee 2019: Errand No. 4 at the Old Ballgame

My niece is leaving DC soon and tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday. What better way to mark these two events than to take them to a day game at Nationals Park. The game began at 4 but we arrived early to partake of happy hour brews.

The two ladies took the Metro and I rode my bike. I had noticed on Instagram that my Venezuelan friend Emilia was out and about on her bike. I hadn’t seen her in over two years. As I headed north of Alexandria on the Mount Vernon Trail, I reminded myself to say Hola instead of Hi in the extremely unlikely event that I should see her. Not two seconds later, she passed me heading south. “Hola, Emilia!” I yelled. Just as I did, I realized that she was in a bike trance. My shout made her eyes bug out of her head. I am sure she had no idea who it was who yelled at her. Sorry about that, Emilia.

The ride to the park was a brisk one. Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty good on the bike, even if my back and shoulder have been wonky. It’s all a mystery to me.

After meeting at the bike valet, the three of us entered the ballpark and had a beer at the happy hour bar above center field. We took our seats in the left field bleachers and enjoyed the game in shirt sleeves and shorts. The Nationals did their part by coming from behind  in the 8th inning to win 3 – 2 over Pittsburgh. It was an entertaining game that lasted 2 1/2 hours, a welcome change from the 4 hour slogs I’ve become used to seeing.

We parted ways at the bike valet and I headed up First Street through the crowds of fans making their way out of the park. While stopped at the traffic light at M Street, I noticed a bike pull up alongside me. It was Klarence. She leaned her bike over and gave me as big a hug as could be done with two bicycles in the way. We hardly ever run unto each other anymore. We chatted briefly as we rode side-by-side for a couple of blocks. She headed east and north; I headed west and south.

Once I cleared the throngs of pedestrians and cars on the cycletrack at The Wharf, I increased my speed with little effort and flew home on the Mount Vernon Trail with sunlight fading. Oh, how I love riding my bike at night.

Errand No. 4

Category: Arts and Entertainment (1st use)

Place: Nationals Park

Observation: To see two of my favorite people in DC totally by chance in one day was a cherry on top of a pretty splendid day with my niece and daughter. Thanks to all four of you.

Total Errandonnee mileage: 61

 

 

 

Pedals and Petals

I spent Sunday morning doing yard work, just cleaning up dead branches and vines and such. At one point I jumped to grab a loose branch hanging to within about nine feet of the ground. I never had much ups and have even less now. Suffice it to say, after three tries the dangling branch continued to dangle. My back, always gimpy anyway, decided to go into spasm.

Ugh.

So I ate some ibuprofen and watched the Nats game on TV. It was nice outside when the game ended so I went for a gentle 22-mile ride. When I finished, I was Quasimodo.

More ibuprofen and eight hours of sleep later, I could stand straight-ish. The weather was perfect outside. A sane person would spend the day resting his back by relaxing on the deck. Well…

I decided to ride 20+ miles to Bethesda Maryland to check out the cherry trees in the Kenwood neighborhood. On the way I passed by the Tidal Basin in DC where the cherry trees were clearly past peak blossom.

A tailwind pushed me further to the northwest. I was about to check my phone map for directions to Kenwood when I spotted three people standing in the middle of the Capital Crescent Trail looking up. They were standing under an absolutely huge cherry tree in full bloom. At the next intersection I took a left into cherry blossom heaven. Each street in Kenwood is lined with cherry trees. It was just past peak bloom and a bit breezy so it was snowing blossoms. Because it was Monday, there was little car traffic, and only a few pedestrians wandering around with wide eyes and big smiles.

I stayed in Kenwood for at least a half hour before heading up the CCT to Bethesda Row and lunch. After a slice of pizza and a chocolate chip cookie (my middle name is “Health”) I took off to the west. Bradley Boulevard was a bit hillier than I remembered but I used my bike tour climbing form to its best effect.

I rode through Potomac Village and over to Great Falls Park where I enjoyed the half mile winding downhill on MacArthur Boulevard. The next 25 miles took me through Glen Echo and Georgetown, and across the river to Rosslyn where I picked up the Mount Vernon Trail for the 14 1/2 mile ride home along the river.

I was sucking wind at the end, due to the 64 miles and 85 degree temperature. I was greeted by our own little weeping cherry, which bloomed while I was riding.

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It was the farthest I’d ridden since late August. And my back didn’t mind a bit.

 

And some don’t get rained out

There is an old saying in baseball: you win some, you lose some, and some get rained out.

This is a story about losing, getting rained out, and winning. Leave it to me to get things totally out of sequence.

About two years ago the Red Sox were scheduled to play an exhibition game versus the Nationals at Nationals Park to mark the end of Spring training. I managed to get one of four tickets that one of my co-worker’s bought.

Losing

As I typically do, I set out on by bike for the ballpark. It was raining. I got about five miles from home when, heading northbound, I was hit by a black SUV on the Mount Vernon Trail. (There goes the no hitter.) The SUV was exiting a condominium complex and failed to stop before making a right on red. To this day I am shocked that I managed to escape from this encounter with only some bruises.

Getting Rained Out

A short time after the crash, I was informed by the Twitter that the game was rained out.

Winning

Fast forward 22 months. I am riding southbound on the trail to the exact place where I was hit. There, blocking the entire trail, was a white SUV. I came to a stop and shouted at the driver. “Why are you here? Why are you blocking the trail?” The driver looked at me as if to say “So what.” Then, before I could ride around the front of the vehicle, the driver took off, taking a right turn on red.

I had seen this behavior dozens of times and I finally decided to ask the city of Alexandria to do something about it. I wrote them a short note requesting a change to a sign. Drivers leaving the condo complex at this intersection face a traffic light with a sign that says “No Turn on Red when Pedestrians Are Present.” I asked that the city to replace it with a sign that says “No Turn on Red.” I deliberately kept my request simple thinking it would avoid getting bogged down in analysis and budgetary considerations.

I had no idea that there was an Alexandria City Traffic and Parking Board. My note was referred to them and the issue was placed on the February meeting agenda. My friend Erin Meter provided a statement on behalf of the Friends of Mount Vernon Trail. Her statement, and that of Zack DesJardins, went into details about traffic signal timing, signal delays, best practices on signage and traffic lights and the like. (Judd Lumberjack came and offered moral support.) Erin and Zack did some serious homework on this.

Two representatives of the condo complex spoke. One had several pictures of the scene. (I was half expecting him to talk about the circle and arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one. But I digress.) Finally, I gave a brief statement. (The order was not for dramatic effect. It’s just that I arrived last.)

I explained how I was hit. And that I see the trail obstructed on a regular basis which is obviously dangerous.

The Board then voted unanimously to change the sign and to study the signal and signage issues.

I couldn’t believe it. I actually had to ask Erin if we won.

We won.

A tip of the cap

Many thanks to Christine Mayeur, Alexandria’s Complete Streets Coordinator, for encouraging me to show up and give a statement.

And to Erin, Zack, and Judd for thoughtful statements, support, and photography,

Zack, Me, and Erin (Photo by Judd Lumberjack)

P. S. Teddy Ballgame would not have approved. I put on a tie and nobody died or got married.

 

Biking with Judd and George

The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail is a volunteer organization recently started to help the National Park Service with the trail. (The NPS has very little money so it needs all the help it can get.) Today, Judd, one if the group’s founders, led a bike ride from DC to Old Town Alexandria. It being Presidents Day, Judd guided the group to points of interest having to do with George Washington.

I started the day with a CT scan. It took much longer than planned so I didn’t have time to ride 14 miles to the starting point of the ride. With some logistical help from my friend Erin, I rode 12 miles to the 14th Street Bridge and waited for the riders to come across the Potomac from their first stop at the Washington Monument.

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Judd making the turn onto the MVT

There were over 20 of them. They came down the ramp for the bridge and headed south along the MVT. After National Airport they headed west on the Four Mile Run and Washington and Old Dominion Trails. About six miles later they stopped at a marker indicating the northern most point of George Washington’s land. Judd explained how Washington personally took a block of granite and, with his bare hands, tore away chunks of rock to create the marker.

I made that up.

Did you know that George was a dog person? He had a dog named Sweet Lips.

I did not make that up, but its the kind of bizarre info that Judd had discovered in his research.

We backtracked along Four Mile Run, an old trail that meandered along the creek of the same name. I hadn’t ridden this section of trail in over 20 years. It was in surprisingly good condition.

Our route took us to the riverfront near Old Town Alexandria. I missed the turn and tool a few riders about a half mile out of their way. We made it back in time to see the very end of Judd’s remarks.

Judd led us to Christ Church, after some detours caused by the Presidents Day parade in Old Town. Christ Church dates to the 18th century. We went inside and were treated to a presentation by Dell, a church docent. Some of us actually sat in George Washington’s pew (actually, it is a box with a pew facing forward and back). Robert E. Lee also had a pew there. The place just oozed colonial cool. Amazingly none of our group were kicked out for being heathens.

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Heathens in Christ Church

From the church we rode west about a mile to the George Washington Masonic Temple on Shooters Hill. The highlight of the visit was going to the top and walking around the outside. The views were terrific. So was the gale coming from the west.

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Stain glass in the Masonic Memorial

After our tour, we all headed to Whole Foods for beer and food. It’s a good thing because I was starving.

Judd explained how George Washington shopped in this very store.

I made that up.

When I left, I found that my Krytonite U lock refused to open.

IMG_2233
Little Nellie was held hostage

After scores of tries, I gave up and called Mrs. Rootchopper. She brought my spare key to the lock but it didn’t work. So we drove to a hardware store and bought some WD40. I squirted it in the lock. Waited five seconds, inserted the key and rejoiced as I freed Little Nellie! Yay.

By this point the sun was setting and the beer was beering my brain, so I folded up the bike and popped it into the trunk of the car.

We drove home. Our home is on property that was once part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate.

I did not make that up.

Twice to the end

A Ride with Heather and Daniel

My friend Heather sent me an email the other day asking if I’d like to do a ride on the Mount Vernon Trail to take advantage of the nice weather and her furlough. And so I found myself riding my Surly Cross Check up to DC to meet her at the Capital Crescent Trail beneath Key Bridge in Georgetown.

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Heather brought her friend Daniel, an ultramarathoner and rider of a 29er (a mountain bike with big wheels and front suspension). Heather rode her aluminium Specialized Sequoia which bears absolutely no resemblance to the Mule, my 1991 steel Specialized Sequoia. (Specialized recycles it’s bike names, apparently.)

We began by walking up stairs to get from the underside of Key Bridge to the roadway atop it. Across the Potomac we rode. I stopped before turning onto the Mount Vernon Trail to point out the Intersection of Doom, the bicycle counter, and the glass and steel ick that is today’s Rosslyn.

Down we rode to the trail and across Trollheim, the sketchy boardwalk under the TR Bridge. We came to the staging area of the Memorial Bridge reconstruction project and were delayed by a tractor trailer backing its load onto a barge in the river.

Down by the airport we stopped to admire the planes landing at National Airport. I broke the news to a dismounting cyclist that the porta potties were padlocked shut thanks to the government shutdown. I explained that in order to keep rapists and drug dealers out of the country park users must pee our pants. The cyclist who was by now doing the pee pee dance hit me with a right cross.

On we rode to Old Town were we stopped to admire the hulk of the decommissioned coal fired power plant.

Further south I explained how the fake arches of the Woodrow Wilson bridge were put together. Then it was down the trail past Porto Vechio were an SUV driver failed to stop at the red light and nearly hit me as she turned right  onto the Parkway. Having been hit here once before under nearly identical circumstances at this intersection, I hit my brakes and STOP!! I do wish Alexandria would change this to a no right on red intersection.

As we rode south I pointed out a bald eagle perched in a tree across the road. We made our way through Belle Haven Park then along the edge of Dyke Marsh where I pointed out the nests on the Haul Road and along the trail just south of Tulane Drive.

The gradual climb up to the stone bridge took us by another nest, this one near Morningside Drive.

We continued on the trail with Daniel taking the lead. Despite having sore feet and knobby tires he set a healthy pace. We came to the nasty switchback hill south of Waynewood Boulevard and everyone slowed to wobble a bit.

The ride to Mount Vernon was pretty and uneventful. We are all pretty tired once we reached the top of the hill at the end of the trail. Heather’s husband Rulon appeared as we were about to lock up our bikes. Heather treated us to lunch at the food court.

After lunch I led the descent back toward DC. As we passed Fort Hunt Park I pointed out the big eagle nest across the Parkway. When we got to the stone bridge, I bid Heather and Daniel good bye and headed for home. I finished with 41 1/2 miles on my odometer, my longest ride since Veterans Day.

The Puzzle from Hell

This year we decided to go low key for Christmas. No tree. No presents (we all cheated a bit). Just a few decorations, a shitload of junk food, some board games, and, a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle has been on our dining room table for over a week. I swear it was taunting us in our sleep. Looking at it day after day made me see jigsaw pieces as I rode my bike around.

Jigsaw puzzles make you appreciate how painters take what we see and how our brains translate that vision and distill it into bits of paint. That white dot in the puzzle piece is a headlight. The splash of white on the leaf is the reflection of a street light. The black line is the shadow beneath a piece of trim on a building.

Today I finished the painting. The push to the finish involved re-placing a couple of dozen pieces that had been improperly positioned. I laid 999 pieces together and realized the last piece, on the upper left side of the puzzle, didn’t fit! After 10 minutes of puzzle inspection I found a piece of the right side that was misplaced, switched them, and voila! Done.

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I am doing the puzzle in the middle of the day because I woke up with a head cold. Reason enough to lay about in sweatshirt and sweatpants and eat some chicken soup.

Now to bed….

Sunrise and Coffee

Only a complete idiot would get up before dawn and ride 15 cold miles for a cup of coffee. Yep, I’m your man.

Friday Coffee Club is my excuse for getting my ass in gear once a week. It’s also my excuse for a nap about five hours later.

I was unable to locate the battery for The handlebar bag on The Mule obstructs a handlebar mounted light so I pulled my CrossCheck down off its hook, slapped a headlight on its handlebars and rode off into the cold and dark.

I made it to the Duke Marsh bridge and was happy to see no ice on the boards. I stopped to check out the predawn light over the Potomac.

The ride to DC featured a headwind but I didn’t much mind because my legs were feeling strong after taking yesterday off.

Friday Coffee Club was in fine form. Ricky brought some homemade pumpkin banana chocolate chip bread. Poncho sported his new merino wool Phoenix Bikes jersey. Joe showed off his new screaming yellow jersey. Steve O describes his icky sinus surgery (I had to ask!). Andrea described how to tell male baked goods from female baked goods.

Fellerino checked his batwatch. It said rain was approaching so I headed for home. Of course, I got caught in the rain but the tailwind more than made up for the dampness.

Nap time beckons.

The Mule Comes Home

In Portland I dropped The Mule off at West End Bikes. They packed it in a box and, using BikeFlights.com, I had it shipped via FedEx to my local bike shop. (I’d mention them by name but their normal policy is not to accept these kinds of bike shipments. Given the fact that I’ve been a loyal customer for well over a decade, they agreed to accept the shipment.) The bike shop did a quick assessment and sent me a proposal listing work to be done on the bike.

After some discussion we replaced two chain rings, the cassette, the chain, the rear wheel, and the handlebar tape. They turned the work around in two days. So today, I took my baby for a shakedown cruise.

After 62 days and 4,300 miles of daily riding, my body and The Mule’s geometry fit like hand in glove. With no panniers or tent, The Mule took off at a gallop. I had it in my head to go really long. So I rode to the town of Purcellville, just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The cool thing about this ride is the fact that it was done almost entirely on trails. Welcome to BikeDC. Dang.

Purcellville is 57 miles by bike from home. The fact that I’d even consider doing this ride on a muggy day with storms in the forecast shows what bike tours will do to your mindset. My legs were flying. I felt completely at home on The Mule. My brain went to its happy place. For hours. So good to be back there.

The ride is gradually uphill with a few short rollers at about the 30 mile mark. Unlike before the tour, I was passing people on racing bikes. Ding. Mule on your left. Whoosh.

My quads and my knees were burning after 40 miles. I’d back off long before this point under normal circumstances but not today. So what if I get tired; I’ve got all day and all night if I need it.

I had no food with me – a mistake for sure. I made it 35 miles to Leesburg before I realized that my tummy was lonely. Rather than stop there, forged ahead to Purcellville. The gradual uphill can eat away at your confidence. Not today.

In Purcellville I noticed that many of the shops were not where they had once been. A bike shop was now a bakery. And, more importantly, Haute Dogs and Fries, a hot dog shop, was no longer in business. I headed to the bakery hoping to buy a sandwich but they only sold pastries. I inhaled an eclair. They make pretty awesome eclairs.

Then it was back on the trail, now trending downhill. In Leesburg I went to a gas station for fuel. A refrigerated sandwich, a candy bar, and cookies were all I could find. (The apples looked rather beat up so I passed on the fruit.)

With sammie in mouth, I was back on the trail. Then it started to rain. To avoid sammie sogginess I ate fast. With some fuel in my furnace, my speed increased. So did the rain.

After another ten miles I finished off my rolling repast. The rain intensified a bit. Lightning flashed. Thunder thundered. We’re havin’ fun now.

As the miles went by, my legs started to tire. My knees hurt. My lower back started to ache. My arms and shoulders were barking at me. Bear down, dude. The Mule didn’t care.

I made my way to the Mount Vernon Trail along the river. The storm seemed to increase in intensity. By this point I was already soaked. Once you’re wet, you’re wet.

Near home I decided to get off the trail out of concern about falling trees, because the ground here is saturated from so many days of rain. I chose a short, steep hill on a street rather than the gradual one on the trail. I deliberately opted not to use my granny gear just to see how my legs would react. They felt a bit like the top of Rogers Pass in Montana. Been there. Done that.

Ten minutes later we were home. 114 1/2 miles.  No major problems for The Mule or me.

I have a month until the 50 States Ride. I think I’ll be ready.

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Any Road Tour – Day 1: who needs a canal anyway?

After a leisurely breakfast I packed my bike and nearly crippled it by getting the rear wheel all messed up with my cargo net. Ten minutes of cussing later, I base farewell to Mrs. Rootchopper and ride off to points north and west.

About five miles into the ride it occurred to me that I had failed to pack and important doodad, my Fiber Fix spoke. It’s a Kevlar cord that can replace a broken spoke, no tools required. So if I break a spoke I’m screwed. Yeah well….

I also forgot to pack a master link for my chain. This makes putting a broken chain together much easier. (Not that I’ve ever done it.)

I suppose I can stop at a bike shop and pick at least one of these items up.

The first 31 miles were a combination of my old bike commute and the old Vasa ride route to Potomac Maryland. A tailwind made the ride up the Mount Vernon Trail to DC a piece of cake.

I made my way along the river and under the Whitehurst Freeway. I passed a restaurant named Mate Sushi and thought of my Argentinian friend who is nuts about both mate and sushi. I carried on to the Capital Crescent Trail and ever so briefly on the C&O Canal towpath. As expected it was quite muddy. I thought about riding it but then decided to climb up to MacArthur Boulevard and use the roads.

I was dreading this short steep climb but it wasn’t so bad. My granny gear got its first of many uses today.

The rest of the ride to The kayakers put in near Old Anglers Inn was routine. I’ve done this ride scores of times.

I took a potty break. The restrooms have a covered sidewalk in front. When I came out, The Mule was dry as rain started to fall. Then skies opened up. I pulled out my bag of trail mix and munched a few handfuls. I can wait…..

The rain abated and I started the mile long climb to the top of Great Falls Park. Granny helped. The rains returned. My rain jacket and the physical effort were keeping me warm if not completely dry.

A left on River Road brought me to miles of big rolling hills. Big gear. Granny gear. Repeat.

I turned into Partnership Road and things got all kinds of farmy. Moo. Grain. Mud.

At Poolesville I stopped for lunch in the Watershed Cafe. I had a “veggie” sandwich (it had cheese in it) and some panther piss. ‘Twas yummy.

I asked the Google to plot a course for Frederick Maryland and so it did. The Google is good like that.

More farms and a few cute towns. I counted three purple houses. What’s up with that? Somehow the ride seemed downhill for miles and miles. And the route cleverly avoided Sugarloaf Mountain. My knees and back were pleased.

Now it was just a race against the rain. The skies grew darker as I rolled through funky Buckeystown.

Pedal, pedal.

I rode past English Muffin Road where Bimbo’s Bakery (I am not making this up) makes the nooks and crannies. I’d actually been to this area on a business trip a year or two ago.

I started seeking hotels but continued on playing chicken with the approaching storm. As raindrops started falling an Econolodge appeared.

As I rolled my bike into my room thunder roared from the dark clouds above. Timing is everything.

So I’m content with shelter, TV (I hope they have the Nats game), WiFi, and a Sheetz next door for fine dining.

68 miles down. 3,900 or so to go.

Bicycles and Baseball: I Just Can’t Even…

Today was one of those rare weekday afternoon baseball games. The weather was pretty awesome. I decided to ride Little Nellie to the ballpark.

About 8 miles into the ride, a woman flagged me down next to a swampy area along the Mount Vernon Trail, just north of Old Town.

“Do you know how to change a tire?”

I said “Sure” as my brain noticed two things. First, she was an attractive, fit woman who was probably in her mid twenties. Second, when I was young and single, not once did an attractive, fit woman who was probably in her mid twenties ever ask me to help her change a tire. Not once.

I just can’t even…

I hopped off my bike. Two other bike riders stood by to see how tire changing is done. I thought “Don’t screw this up, you old dork.” Flat tire woman, whose name was Susie, already had the rear wheel (it’s always the rear wheel) off. She had used tire levers to remove the tire and tube.

She: “I put a dollar bill in the tire as a boot. Here’s my Road Morph pump.”

Me: “Marry me. You are the woman of my dreams.”

I didn’t ask how she knew the cool trick of covering the hole in the tire casing with a dollar bill. Nor did I ask how she knew had my favorite pump. (It looks like a little frame pump but converts to a miniature floor pump.) In fact, I had the same pump on my bike. She even knew enough not to mess around with lame patch kits when a replacement tube was so much faster and easier.

She had the whole thing down except actually putting the tire back together.

So I filled up the tube with some air. Put it in the tire. I started working the tire onto the rim. She reached for the levers. Her only mistake!

“Don’t use them to put the tire on. They puncture the tube.”

One tire bead went on. The other went on except for the last, stubborn little bit. I showed her how to push the tire on the far side of the rim into the well of the rim. Then I used the bottoms of the palms of my hands to nudge the last bit of bead over. She pumped it up a bit more. We checked to see if the tube was not sneaking out from beneath the bead. Nope. She filled it up noting that the gauge on the pump was kind of useless. I said “Use your fingers. Just pump until it’s hard to squeeze the tire.” Done.

And off I rode.

About three minutes later Susie blasted past me. “Thanks, again.”

I felt old. Again.

I just can’t even…

So I rode to the game. I sat along the first baseline just beyond the Nationals’ dugout. My seat was on the aisle in row T, about 20 rows up from the field. The sun was shining. The humidity was low. The wind was blowing out. The section I was in was getting a nice breeze from the big gap in the upper decks of the stadium behind us.

Two men were behind me drinking beer and making funny remarks. I had my official Alex Rodriquez glove on my left hand. Unlike ARod I was not taking performance enhancing drugs. Perhaps this was a mistake.

Anyway, life was good. Then. along about the third or fourth inning, Trey Turner, a right handed batter, came to the plate. Right-handed batters stand on the left side of home plate. (This just occurred to me after 62 years. Weird.) They tend to foul balls to the right side of the field. In other words, in our direction.

Turner hit a high fly ball. Foul. Over the Nationals dugout. Over the sections to our left. Over our heads. Then it came, improbably, straight down. The three of us stood. Looking up. I’ll be damned it’s going to land right. Here.

It grazed the front of the man behind me as he stood in the aisle next to us. He flinched to protect his beer. And the ball hit the concrete and bounced over his head about 10 rows behind us.

I just can’t even…

It never once occurred to me to stick the glove out and catch the damned ball. All around me I could hear fans say “He had a glove on!”

Translation: “LOSER!!!”

Complete humiliation.

I felt a strange kinship with my friend and fellow blogger Tim Jones. Tim and I went to school together for six years. He actually played sports in high school. He had and has no vices. (Except perhaps microdosing LSD, but that’s just a rumor.) I, on the other hand, spent my years of military high school incarceration taking PE classes and channeling Bluto Blutarski, who had yet to be invented.  These days, Tim is a comically horrific athlete. He sucks at racquetball. And, remarkably, he was a slower marathon runner than me.

In stark contrast, I am an inept fan. I just can’t even…

Recently, my vegan friend Klarence, who is a baseball fanatic of the first order, acquired a leather glove to catch foul balls. This was a major philosophical concession on her part. She rationalized that the glove was previously owned by a friend from West Virginia. It’s probably covered in coal dust from the mahns. It’s seriously used. Then it occurred to me, the ball is covered with horsehide.

I just can’t even…