My Surly CrossCheck keeps truckin’ along. A couple of days ago it reached another milestone.
My Surly CrossCheck keeps truckin’ along. A couple of days ago it reached another milestone.
After a day of riding 65 hilly miles, my legs felt like concrete. Yesterday I was walking around like Frankenstein. In a fit of sanity, I took the day off.
Today my legs felt much better. I decided to go for a spin but before I began I raised my saddle a smidgen. Small changes to saddle height and other bicycle settings can make an enormous difference in comfort. Just a couple of millimeters was all it took to calm my sore left knee. I had no pain at all during my 35-mile ride up to DC and back. The change also seemed to help my lower back.
About a mile from home, I pulled The Mule over to take a picture..
I am beginning to wonder whether The Mule will outlast me.
Today was my final prednisone pill. It’s powerful stuff. It has interesting side effects. It makes you speedy, improves your mood, and boosts your appetite. Basically, you run around the kitchen eating all the Christmas goodies. It’s a dirty, lousy, thankless job but somebody has to do it. Oink.
After breakfast, I did a half hour of yoga for my back. Normally, I start by doing standing stretches, but today I did nothing but stretches and core exercises on the floor. Child pose is the bomb. I think the prednisone allows me to relax and stretch without muscle soreness. It’ll be interesting to see how my body handles some of these positions without the benefit of steroids.
Earlier this month I had a colonoscopy. The doctor found three abnomalities. He found one to be obviously innocuous. Two were suspicious. He biopsied the baddies and removed all three. Today, he showed me the results from the pathology lab. My two suspect polyps were adenomas, the kind of polyps that can develop into colon cancer. Had I not had this colonoscopy I might have been in for a rather rude surprise in 2020. Long story short, I’m good to go, so to speak, for another three years.
The Last Ride
After a 20-minute meditation session down by the river, I went for my final bike ride of the year. It was a 28-mile gentle meander on the Mount Vernon Trail aboard the Cross Check. My back did not much like the bumps on the trail. After the ride I lowered the saddle a couple of millimeters. We’ll see how that feels next time. (Later in the evening my hips and left leg were sore from stenosis. Hmm…)
I have four bikes. The end-of-year odometer readings are pretty cool. Clockwise from top left: Little Nellie, The Mule, The Cross Check, and Big Nellie. These are only outdoor miles. I put some miles on Big Nellie in the basement every winter so its odometer reading is probably short about 1,000 miles. Grand total: 135,050 miles since 1991.
In December I rode 667.5 miles. All but 44 miles were outdoors. I rode 24 out of 31 days. My long ride was during the Hains Point 100 when I did 37.5 miles.
I rode a total of 10,618.5 miles in 2019, 2,978 of them during the No Name Tour from May to early July. During the tour, I climbed over 150,000 feet. I rode 188 miles indoors, evidence of a mild winter. I climbed 0 feet indoors. Boredom has its advantages.
In addition to the Hains Point 100, I squeezed in a few other bike events this year. I did my 11th Fifty States Ride, my fifth Cider Ride, another Great Pumpkin Ride (I can’t recall how many times I’ve done this one), a ride looking at murals in Alexandria, and still another with a George Washington theme.
A Decade of Riding
I rode 84,531 miles in the 2010s.
The Mule ended the year in style by turning 56. I think this bike may just work out for me.
In a relentless march to nonsensical mileage milestones, my CrossCheck just made it to 14,000.
A double nickel is 55. The first time I heard this expression was when Jimmy Carter imposed a national 55 mile per hour speed limit during an “energy crisis.” Back in the 70s an energy crisis existed when you couldn’t find gas for your tank. Driving 55 on a wide open highway clearly designed for speeds of 70 or 75 miles per hour is enough to make you crazy. I once got a ticket for going 65 on I-66 in Virginia. The very same highway now has a 70 mile per hour speed limit. I should ask for a refund.
The energy crisis also introduced us to right on red. I am willing to bet that thousands of bicyclists and pedestrians have been mowed down by cars that don’t both to stop when making a right on red. It happened to me when I was on a bike trail.
I wonder if the lives saved from the double nickel exceeded the lives lost from right on red. Personally, I think these two changes began the erosion of the public’s regard for traffic laws. We got rid of the 55 mile per hour speed limit decades ago. We should do the same with right on red.
The contractors working on our house were not nearly as noisy as usual but their choice of overwrought oldie latin ballads on their boombox was getting pretty irritating. How long is this singer going to hold the vibratto note on “quiero”? Fortunately today was an absolutely perfect day for a bike ride.
I hit the road with the intent of riding to Bethesda for some pizza for lunch. Bethesda is about 25 miles from home so in my mind this makes sense. Your sanity may vary. I rode the Mount Vernon Trail to Crystal City. Then rode by a scenic and vast Pentagon parking lot before cruising around the north wall of Arlington Cemetery. I circled around the Iwo Jim Memorial (forever fixed in my mind by a nincompoop radio news reader who called it the Statue of the Two Jimas). Next I took Lynn Street through Rosslyn and the Intersection of Doom which is doomier thanks to construction. (I cannot even begin to describe the Intersection of Doom other than to say a bunch of roads, trails, and on and off ramps to I-66 and the GW Parkway all converging at one end of the Key Bridge over the Potomac River into Georgetown. Look up “hot mess” in the dictionary. You’ll se a picture of the Intersection of Doom.)
Over the Key Bridge then up a side street into Georgetown where students meandered with big smiles on their faces, a sure sign that classes aren’t underway yet. I managed to miss a turn but soon found myself headed west-ish on Reservoir Road past Georgetown Hospital (and more construction) and the Bauhaus-y German Embassy.
Reservoir took me to MacArthur Boulevard which I planned to take to Persimmon Tree Road then up to downtown Bethesda. By the time I got to Persimmon Tree Road, I had already clocked 24 miles. Downtown Bethesda seemed a bit too far away so I decided to continue on MacArthur to the Old Anglers Inn where I could get something to eat.
Did I mention it was a perfect day for riding a bike? Well, it was. I got to the Old Anglers and I didn’t want to stop. So I refilled my water bottles and cut over to the C & O Canal towpath and headed back home. The towpath was bumpy in parts but after about a mile things smoothed out and I was cruising along with a tailwind.
There was plenty of evidence that this has been a hard year for the towpath. The towpath was narrow where it runs along the top of a huge wall near Carderock. (It’s a long way down.) The Billy Goat B Trail was closed. And crews were out clearing large trees that had fallen across the towpath.
After a mile of repairs the canal became blissful. Low humidity. Warm temps. A tailwind. Shade. The crunch of tires on the towpath. Ahhhh…..
My bliss was interrupted by an ominous sign. It’s a good thing the sign is there because this part of the river looked really inviting.
No skinny dipping for me.
Other than being all kinds of messed up under the Beltway, the towpath was in pretty good condition. About three miles before the end of the canal, I cut over to the Capital Crescent Trail. This took me to a protected cycletrack on K Street along the Georgetown waterfront.
Next I took the side path along the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway and Ohio Drive past the Watergate, the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. (For you out of towners, this is pretty typical of DC. You can’t go a mile without seeing some famous building or other.)
I crossed the Potomac on the 14th Street Bridge and headed home on the Mount Vernon Trail. About five miles from my house the first double nickel happened. The Mule turned 55.
Dang, The Mule abides.
I pulled into my driveway with the second double nickel. I had ridden 55 miles.
Did I mention that it is perfect weather for a nap?
Nothing makes you feel older than seeing an odometer click over. Because I ride a lot and split my riding among four bicycles, I see several odometer events every year. Today, my Crosscheck clicked 13,000 miles, for instance.
I think it may be time to get new brake pads, don’t you?
Earlier this summer I went to the National Mall to see a projection of the Apollo 11 Saturn V rocket on the Washington Monument. It was pretty cool.
While I was out of town, the Smithsonian celebrated the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 by having the rocket take off with all kinds of extra audio and video stuff. It was a real crowd pleaser. I didn’t mind missing it though. I was a space junkie when I was a kid. I saw Apollo 11 live.
Another thing I saw live as a kid was the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I wasn’t much into music at the age of eight but my older brothers were. When one of them yelled down the cellar stairs that the Beatles were on, the rest of us scrambled up to see the big event. I had no idea why they were so worked up. I was expecting to see some sort of beetle act, after all Ed Sullivan had novelty acts on all the time.
As I watched the performance, I didn’t get the big deal. They looked strange and sounded even stranger. They sure seemed to be having fun though.
I never saw them live of course. And I have shied away from those Paul McCartney arena shows because hearing him sing now is a bit depressing. But when my friend Paul asked me to join him to see Ringo at Wolf Trap I decided I might as well go.
The show featured about nine or ten Ringo songs and 12 songs by his band which included three members of Toto and one each from Santana, Men at Work, and the Average White Band. In fact, the AWB member was Hamish Stuart who toured with McCartney’s post-Wings band.
Ringo is pushing 80 but seems much younger on stage. He runs around a bit and even did some jumping jacks while clapping his hands to the beat of a song.
The crowd was gray and white.
Lately, for some strange reason, I’ve had the urge to rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight.
I rode 32 miles today. In shorts. It was 70 degrees F during the ride.
I’ll take it.
Oh, and this happened.
My Cross Check went all Nigel Tufnel and turned 11.
Time to put this bike away for a while and switch to one of the others.
Tonight was the State of the Union Address. No mention was made of the most important event on the horizon: Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a week.
It was a whopper of a year for me on my bikes. I pretty much shattered every personal record.
I rode a total of 11,837 miles, 1,926 miles more than last year.
I averaged 32.4 miles per day.
I rode 309 days, taking 56 days off. I never took more than 3 days off in a row.
On my riding days, I averaged 38.3 miles.
I rode 4,300 of miles on my Any Road Tour from Mount Vernon, Virginia to Portland Oregon.
June, all of which was tour riding, was my highest mileage month: 2,260.5 miles.
My longest day was 136 miles from Morehead, Minnesota to Gackle, North Dakota on June 18.
The Mule, my 1991 Specialized Sequoia, accounted for 46.5 percent of my riding, 5,502.5 miles. 281 miles of my riding were done indoors on Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent, mounted on a trainer. Most of this riding was in recovery from medical problems in late December 2017. I only rode the Tour Easy 1,099.5 miles in all. I’d sell it except for its usefulness indoors.
My Bike Friday New World Tourist took me 2,001 miles. It’s fun to ride but it beats me up because it’s little wheels don’t absorb road shock particularly well.
My Surly Cross Check soaked up another 3,234 miles, just riding around the DC area.
Year end Odometer Readings
The Mule: 51,024
Big Nellie (outdoors miles only): 42,010
Little Nellie: 21,002
Cross Check: 10,668
I’ve ridden The Mule over 5,500 miles this year. Today my trusty steed turned 51. Time to give it a rest for a few weeks.