Winter Weather Wimp Gets Back into a Routine

I really am a wimp. It’s below freezing outside but there’s no ice on the roads so it’s safe to go riding. But I walk out the door and the blast of cold air pushes me down the stairs in to the basement where Big Nellie and Lincoln in the Bardo await.

I know I am a weenie because my bike commuting friends are out there slogging away to and from work. Although she doesn’t exactly slog, Mary the Coffeenuer is braving the cold and – for the most part – enjoying it. Her latest blog post pretty much is a call to arms, or pedals. So I resolve to get out of the basement as long as there is no ice on the ground. (It’s supposed to snow tomorrow night so this might be a pretty short lived resolution.)

An update on my recovery: I feel fine. I have my energy back. Mrs. Rootchopper says that my left calf looks bigger than my right. This is consistent with a deep vein thrombosis or big blood clot in my left calf. I have used a tape measure and I can’t find a difference. I also don’t feel any difference between the left and right calf.

I have ordered a mirror for my Cross Check just to decrease my chances of being run over by big metal things. And I have purchased a RoadID which is like a medic alert bracelet. It has my name and address, my wife’s contact numbers, my blood type and Xarelto, the blood thinning medication I am on. This is especially important in case I crash and hit my head and am knock out or concussed. Blows to the head can lead to runaway bleeding in the skull which can be fatal within a day or two. I want to make sure that EMTs and ER doctors know about my medication from the get go even if I can’t speak for myself.

Well, that was depressing.

My CT scan for tomorrow has been postponed because my insurance is flinching at having another one so soon after the last one. This is pretty routine.

Later this week I have a dental appointment. Hopefully I won’t need any crowns or fillings because I’d have to stop taking Xarelto for a couple of days and I really can’t do that right now.

I am getting back to the daily routine I was in before all this craziness took over my life.

  • Meditation for 20 -30 minutes – This is a hold over from self treatment of depression. I’m into my fourth year of sitting on a daily basis. Oddly, it’s also the last vestige of a friendship gone sour. Go figure.
  • Reading the newspaper over breakfast – I have been doing crosswords since college. Breakfast doesn’t seem right without a puzzle.
  • Reading – I am an obsessive reader. I can’t imagine living without books all around me. I am working down the pile of books I got for Christmas and as gifts for nearly dying. (I can’t die now, God.. I have four more books on my nightstand.) I should be coming up for air about May 1.
  • Riding – I am still searching for a good substitute for the best bike commute on the planet. And I have to get myself into some sort of decent riding shape because I fully intend to ride to Pacific waters this spring and summer.
  • Learning guitar – I am the least musical person on the planet. And I have small hands. So this is an uphill battle. Still, twiddling away at finger picking is strangely relaxing. And it’s a lot easier to learn these days because there are a bazillion instructional videos online.
  • Listening to music – This is something that has fallen by the wayside with all the bike riding that I’ve been doing over the years. I was browsing YouTube recently when I saw the name Brandi Carlile. I’ve heard her name many, many times over the years and never took the time to listen to her. Doh. She’s been making interesting music for 12 years and six (soon to be seven albums). So I am wearing out two of her CDs and I am about to buy all the others. This will tide me over until the next Neil Finn CD comes out later this year.
  • And doing at least one adult thing –  Today’s was driving my daughter’s car so its battery wouldn’t die. And doing a load of laundry. Hey, that’s two.

In addition to these daily activities I have a few other things I want to keep doing.

  • Socialize – I am trying to do at least one social thing a week so I don’t turn into a hermit. The weekend before last was brunch with folks from grad school. This past weekend was the wedding of the daughter of a former work colleague. It was at a mosque which made it especially unusual (for me at least) and interesting. This Thursday I am going to a #bikedc happy hour. I am not supposed to drink alcohol while on my medication but I think one drink in a two-week span won’t kill me. Then again, who the hell knows!
  • Advocacy – As a total introvert, I make a lousy advocate. Still, I hope to attend a meeting with National Park Service staff regarding the Mount Vernon Trail on Saturday.
  • Sportz – I don’t watch much sports but the NFL playoffs include the Patriots. I lived in Boston and Providence for 11 years during which time the Patriots were consistently mediocre. Their recent run of excellence has been fun to watch. I only watch during the playoffs. I don’t have time for the other 16 games.

 

 

 

 

 

Weighty Things

My plan was to get up early to go to the gym and life weights. The Astros and the Dodgers had other things in mind. Game 5 of the World Series was supposed to be a tidy pitchers’ duel. Instead it was a slug fest. Houston won 13 – 12 in 10 long innings. I pretty sure there were at least four standing 8 counts. You could almost hear the players saying, “Yeah, Well…TAKE THAT!” as they exchanged home runs. Big fun.

Long story short, I woke up a tad later than planned. As it turned out, this was not entirely a bad thing because temperatures dropped about 20 degrees from yesterday. And it was windy. Fall has arrived and, boy, does it feel great.

I managed to make the four-mile ride to the gym into eight miles. I let the breeze push me down the Mount Vernon Trail before turning back. Then I had to face it. The dreaded weight room. I know, I know. Weight bearing exercise is good for you. It especially good for people like me who do little more than non-weight-bearing exercise and who have ripened a bit.

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The Chamber of Pain

I did one circuit through the machines, mostly to figure out how to set them up. It was pretty funny that one some machines I wasn’t sure which way to face, toward or away from the machine. And there was one work station without any weights at all that had no instructions. I had no idea what the heck to do with that.

After my first go round, I did another circuit. I made sure to use less weight than I might normally and to move the weight very slowly. I hope I don’t ache tomorrow. Even with low weight, I had the same result I usually have from weight lifting: I felt like throwing up when I was done.

The good news is my ribs didn’t hurt. The bad news is my left tricep is messed up. It wasn’t the weights. My father had rotator cuff problems beginning at about my age. Thanks Dad.

After the weights, I went for what I planned to be a 22-mile ride. One thing led to another and I found myself riding The Mule all over the place: across the Potomac on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, up Oxon Hill past the casino, back down to the river at Oxon Hill Farm, back up the hill to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. I took MLK to Howard Road. Then I got on the Anacostia River Trail. I rode a few miles north then crossed the river and came south all the way to the soccer stadium being built at Buzzards Point.

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Swift Progress on the Soccer Pitch

Then I made my way to The Wharf where I rested in a swing and took in the sights on a perfect fall day.

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Swings on a Pier

The ride home on the Mount Vernon Trail was a breeze.

When I arrived a package greeted me.

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The package also included a book (Britt Maire Was Here by Fredrik Backman) and another CD, Little Fictions by Elbow (I am going to their DC concert on Saturday).

 

Floods and Bunnies and Goslings and the Ogremeister

It was Friday the 13th. A full moon would be risin’. First, we had to get the workday out of the way.

I left early for Friday Coffee Club. In the spirit of SharrowsDC, I fiddled with the cleats on my shoes. I moved them forward. I instantly became amazingly fast. NOT.

Even a child knows you can’t fake it.

The only way I can become fast on a bike is to be airlifted to the top of a ski jump and released.

The ride in was peaceful except for when the supermodels lined up and cheered me near the stone bridge. I awoke soon after. Sometimes on Friday’s I ride in a dream state for a while.

Don’t dream it’s over.

I had an eye out for snapping turtles but all I saw were my first three bunnies of the year. Yay bunnies.

I rode through flood waters at the base of King Street in Old Town Alexandria. And again on the trail near Daingerfield Island. There must be a hole in the river. Little Nellie didn’t mind.

Rats. I forgot my snorkel.
Rats. I forgot my snorkel.

Once I was on the 14th Street Bridge I could see the high waters of the Potomac. Muddy, fast moving, filled with debris. It must have rained like a bitch upstream.

Into the city, i managed to hit green lights all the way to Friday Coffee Club. That’s a first. As SharrowsDC might say, it was a perfect.

Friday Coffee Club was crowded again. I didn’t know about 1/3rd of the attendees. I got to play with my favorite soon-to-be two-year old, Hugo. Once he wakes up and gets a muffin in him, he’s a pretty happy camper. He was a hug machine this morning.

SharrowsDC: The Ogremeister
SharrowsDC: The Ogremeister

After coffee club I headed down G Street with SharrowsDC on my flank. Well, not literally ON my flank but kind of off to the side. He was riding his backup bike since he had his 223rd flat of 2014 on his new Ogre bike. I’ve never met anyone who gets so many flats as SharrowsDC. It’s absolutely uncanny.

He feels possessed.

The ride back over the river on the TR Bridge gave me another opportunity to see the big muddy.

Work pretty much sucked.

During the day it rained like a bitch. So the saving grace was the fact that I could have been out riding my bike in a deluge instead of pushing ideas around and around.

Then I got to ride home. The air was heavy like the bayou. This shoud have given me a zydeco ear worm but instead my head was stuck on Neil Finn.

They'll Soon Take Wing
They’ll Soon Take Wing

My possessions are causing me suspicion but there’s no proof.

I stopped under the 14th Street bridge to take some pix of some gosslings. These were about a month older than the ones I saw earlier this week. I imagine they’d be fledging any day now.

As I neared home a light rain began to fall.

I always take the weather with me.

The work week is over. 155 miles of bike commuting in the bag.

I’m taking the rest of the day off.

 

 

Busy Weekend

Friday began with a splendid bike commute aboard Big Nellie. My back is feeling better but it is still not quite free of the two-month long stiffness. As usual, I stopped at Friday Coffee Club in DC for some bike commuter chat. It was great to see that everyone was sitting outside!! And Jacques brought Hugo (and Elmo the Muppet). I had quite a good time goofing around with Hugo who likes to giggle at goofy grown ups. 

After a day of IT headaches at work, I rode home along the river with temperatures in the 70s. Did it really snow a few weeks back?

For dinner I took Mrs. Rootchopper out to Legal Seafoods in Crystal City. I had high expectations since I have been hearing about this restaurant since my days at BU, but we were both underwhelmed. The food was fine. The service was pretty good. The ambiance was meh. At home we celebrated with dyslexic chocolate fudge birthday cake. Daughter Lily phoned in a fine rendition of “Happy Birthday” from Indianapolis. We will return the favor in a couple of days.  Son Eamonn called Mom earlier for his rendition of the song.

Saturday was a near perfect day for bike riding but, having knocked off something like 137 miles in the previous four days I instead devoted the day to lawn work. First, I drove to Sears to get a new mower. The old mower had wobbly wheels and a leveling mechanism held together with zip ties. It gave me 10 years or so of use so no complaints. I had to use up the gas in its tank so I mowed the back lawn with it. It sounded like it was straining to cut even the shortest grass. Then I put together the new mower and fired it up. Yowsa!  It had noticeably more power. I could actually hear the blade zipping around inside. 

With the yard work done, we set out to see my favorite performer, Neil Finn, at the Lincoln Theater in DC. For the uniformed, Neil Finn is a singer/songwriter/guitarist/pianist from New Zealand. He’s been the force behind Split Enz, Crowded House, three solo albums, two albums with his brother Tim, and two ensemble productions with the likes of Johnny Marr, Eddie Vedder, KT Tunstall, and members of Wilco and Radiohead. His most well known song is “Don’t Dream It’s Over” but he has written scores of songs, many every bit as good. His show at the Lincoln lasted nearly three hours and exceeded my already high expectations. I am pretty sure that he could put on another show, every bit as good, with songs that he did not perform last night. I once saw Sting play Constitution Hall when he was in his early 50s. Perfect voice. Perfect band. Perfect perfromance. Same thing last night with Neil Finn. So here goes my all time favorite performances:

Neil Finn last night, Sting, Elbow at Club 930 last year, Orchestra Baobab at the Birchmere, Raffi (yes, that Raffi) at GWU, Johnny Clegg and Savuka at Georgetown, Andy Narell at Blues Alley, Los Lobos and Buddy Guy at Wolf Trap, the National Dance Company of Senegal, John Mayer with Michael Franti and Spearhead at Verizon Center.

Today was another perfect weather day. I had a date with Big Nellie. We began by checking out the Morningside bald eagle nest on the Mount Vernon Trail. There was one eagle in the nest and another apparently out and about. I do believe there will be little ones in the days ahead.

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Zoom in to see the bald eagle in the nest

I took the Woodrow Wilson Bridge over to Maryland and spun up the long hill to Oxon Hill Road. My intention was to take a left and head to DC but I took the Frostian road less traveled to the right and ended up doing a 15 mile loop through suburban Prince Georges County. It’s not a pretty place to ride but the roads were not very crowded. After the loop I did another couple of loops nearer to DC. Suffice it to say that signage is not PG’s strong suit. 

I eventually made my way to the Anacostia River Trail for some flat spinning along the river. I crossed over the river on the Benning Road bridge. I worked my way to Florida Avenue which heads rather laboriously through Northeast DC and ultimately to the Lincoln Theater. Since Neil Finn was long gone, I stopped for some food and water at a 7-11. Sadly it lived down to my expectations. 

I rode over to Meridian Hill Park which was packed with people enjoying the weather and listening to the drum circle. After dining al fresco on my Turkey and cheese sammich and three oatmeal raisin cookies, I headed back home. I spent 20 minutes getting through the amazing throngs of cars and pedestrians near the Tidal Basin where the cherry blossoms were now past peak. 

The ride home into a stiff headwind kept me honest. During the ride I pondered a set list of Neil Finn songs that he did not perform last night. I’d pay good money to hear him sing them.

Funny thing is with the perfect weather this weekend his last song last night was called “Weather with You” which includes the line: Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire couldn’t conquer the blue skies.”

Indeed