Chips and Queso, Ceteris Non Paribus

Saturday brought the last ride on Little Nellie for a while. I rode to my daughter’s last high school lacrosse game. She played goalie. As a parent I had mixed feelings. Most of the shots she would stop would hit flesh and turn into ugly bruises after the game. You want her to play well, but you hate to see the consequences. Ironically, this is the first season of high school sports that she played injury free, despite having to wear ice bags every night.

At one point on the ride to the game, I spent a half mile dodging several dozen runners who clogged the Rock Creek Trail. They were running side by side, hopping unpredictably to avoid puddles, refusing to move over to let me pass and generally being a pain in the ass. I was pretty impressed that I didn’t collide with any of them. This sort of thing is sadly not all that unusual in the summers around these parts. Soon it will be hot and muggy and these folks will be on treadmills until September.

The ride home was pleasant enough. The skies never carried out their threat to rain like a bitch.

Sunday was devoted to bike maintenance. Little Nellie barely made it up to Calvert Street from Rock Creek Trail. Her chain was skipping across the cogs at unpredictable intervals. I managed to maintain forward momentum all the way up the hill, and the subsequent ride up 29th Street. I installed a new Capreo cassette myself. Then took the bike to my local bike shop for a bunch of other repairs including a new chain, two new sprockets (front gears), three new cables and housings, a headset adjustment, re-lubing of the bottom bracket, and new front brake pads.

After the maintenance was taken care of, I sat down to watch sports on TV with my son. We watched a Nationals game and a Capitals game. This was hard work so we ate chips and queso dip to keep our strength up.

This morning I felt like a sumo wrestler. I wobbled out to the shed and mounted Big Nellie. I swear she groaned. I used to eat anything I wanted and lost weight. Of course, I was running 70 miles per week at the time. That’s the caloric equivalent of about 280 miles of riding. Ain’t gonna happen, folks. Gotta stop snacking with the homeboy.

The ride to work was less than vigorous. I saw two of my regulars, Hoppy Runner and Hardware Store Man, on the way to work. Some bike commuters had the audacity to pass Big Nellie near the south end of the airport. Big Nellie does not like such rudeness. Suffice it to say, that Big Nellie put the hammer down.  Street luge in the cool of the morning will put hair on your fairing.

An amazing thing happened at the Rosslyn Circle of Death. I have to cross the I-66 off ramp where it intersects North Lynn Street at a traffic light. They never stop when the light turns red. Today, they did. I felt like getting off my bike and congratulating the drivers. Such is life in the zone of certain death.

After leaving the office, I stopped to chat with Bob (Don’t Call Me Rachel) Cannon of the FCC and the FCC. Over the last year a Hispanic man had set up home in the brush along the trail near the Rosslyn Circle of Death. He had meticulously built a home of sorts by lashing together a lattice work of sticks and other materials. It was pretty ingenious. He occasionally played a violin while sitting on a bench next to the trail. Somebody decided that his squatting was not to be and they bulldozed his home of sticks. I hope he finds someplace to live. He added character to the trail.

On the Mount Vernon Trail I was passed by Eric the Nine Hour Lawyer. Eric works at my former office and rides to work during the spring, summer and fall. I figure he works nine hours because I only see him riding home.

During both legs of my commute, I checked out the trunks of trees along the way. No cicadas yet. We are only days away from a spectacular invasion of a few bazillion creepy flying bugs.

Just as I passed the secondary runway at National Airport, a jet took off over the trail behind me. For a moment, I thought that the roar was chips and queso hitting the afterburners on Big Nellie’s engine.

South of Old Town, I spotted a massive motorcade of police vehicles. It was the escort of a pack of bicyclists riding the Police Unity Tour. Kate, a fellow #bikedc blogger, and DC police officer also rode in the event as she did last year. It raises awareness of police officers killed in the line of duty and for a memorial and museum in their honor.


A few miles later I pulled over to check out the Morningside bald eagle nest. It is almost completely obscured now by the leaves on the trees. I waited for a few minutes and then I saw the flapping of wings from a large bald eagle in the nest. It was probably feeding its eaglets.

I moved on and heard a strange sounding bird flying overhead. It was a large osprey, with a bright white underbelly, flying in swoops over the Parkway. It was putting on quite a show.

The ride home was effortless. Could it be that chips and queso are miracle bicycling food? That would be awesome. Sadly, ceteris was not paribus. My easy ride home was attributable to a strong tailwind, the kind that turns in Big Nellie’s fairing into a sail.

Latin spoils everything.

Ospreys and Scaffolds

To Whom It May Concern:

It’s mid-April. In Washington DC. I froze on the ride to work this morning. Can we have our spriing back?



I wouldn’t have froze if I broke out my jacket and holey sweater but I didn’t. It’s the principle of the thing.

The ride in aboard Big Nellie was tearful. The cold on my eyes made me tear up like the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. Zuzu’s pedals!

I saw four regulars on the way in: Three-Step Runner, Hoppy Guy, Nancy One-Bag Duley, and French Braid Girl. They are always going the opposite way. I wonder if they don’t get together for coffee at my house after I pass them. There are others I see nearly every day, but they aren’t distinctive. Nancy may get renamed Wave Crash because she waves so enthusiastically I am afraid she’s going to crash.

Along the way I heard a peep-like sound over head.  Riding a recumbent makes it much easier to see things high up. The peep came from a hawk of some sort, perched on a branch of the tree I was passing under.

When I came off the second flyover bridge at National Airport, I spotted three big birds circling over Roaches Run, a little inlet on the opposite side of the GW Parkway.  It looks like a big pond. It was hard to get a good visual fix on the birds, then, suddenly, one took an awkward dive to the water. Dang, that’s a hard way to get breakfast. I think they were ospreys.

I came to the Gravelly Point parking lot and some military folks were doing some sort of timed run. I came to their finish line just as two runners were finishing. They were so focussed on their time that they blocked the entire path. I slowed to a crawl until everyone realized that what my bell was for and they stepped aside.

It was considerably warmer for the ride home. Another osprey was stalking the fish in the Potomac near the 14th Street Bridge. I stopped to take a picture of the scaffold on the Washington Monument.  Several years ago a scaffold was erected on the monument to allow workers to do maintenance. We had an earthquake a couple of years ago so more work is needed. Up goes the scaffold.

Washington Scaffold

I spotted a man on a bike with big fat tires. I wondered if he could ride at a decent pace. I looked away for a minute and he was long gone. Later I saw him crossing the GW Parkway south of Alexandria. It looked to me as if he had an electric motor in the rear wheel. Cheater.

Put one of those bad boys on the back wheel of Big Nellie and we’ll see who’s boss, punk.

Nearly Spring

Here in DC we are being tormented by a winter that just won’t let go. We have had one day over 60 degrees so far this year. March was colder than January. The wind has been blowing day in and day out. No mas.

I didn’t ride to work yesterday so that I could attend my daughter’s lacrosse game. She is the goalie. Watching your kid in goal is difficult. If she performs well she will come home with bruises and contusions all over. If she doesn’t the team probably loses.

It rained overnight, right up to the moment I left the house. It was in the low 40s or high 30s and I had a headwind. So I put on all my rain gear.  Of course, it stopped raining.

Despite the wind, the ride in was pleasant. Two ospreys were messing around at and in the air above the Belle Haven bald eagle nest. I think they are taking over. Ospreys are pretty impressive, unless you have a bald eagle around. Bald eagles are rock stars. Ospreys sing folk tunes.

I have noticed this week that some of the geese are sitting in the grass. I am pretty sure they are mothers about to lay their eggs. Every year two geese set up house on a very narrow piece of grass where the waters of Dyke Marsh pass underneath the GW Parkway. There were two geese there the last few days. By next week we should be seeing fuzzy goslings along the Mount Vernon Trail.

I rode Little Nellie to the Friday Coffee Club. I passed by DC’s famous cherry trees. They are still not in bloom, but the big show should start in a day or two.

Coffee Club was crowded again. This week some Arlington bike commuters began a separate get together. I say “accept no substitutes!!”



Work was work-like.

By the time I left for home, spring had made an appearance. It was 60 degrees and I had a nice tailwind to end the workweek. I packed my rain gear and went with shorts and short fingered bicycling gloves. My fingertips were pleased to be liberated from long fingered gloves.

At the south end of Old Town the Mount Vernon Trail passes a small wooden area that has river overflow in it. I could hear spring peepers making their calls as I rode by. In a couple of days, the frogs near my house will be making quite a racket.