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.

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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.

Great Caesar’s Heron

The ride in was pretty darn nice. The roads were still somewhat wet out so Little Nellie got the call again. Temps were in the 40s so I gave the holey sweater and my Marmot Precip jacket a rest.  After yesterday’s soggy ride home, it was apparent that the waterproofing on my Precip jacket and pants is history. Time to look for a sale at REI for replacements. I have beat the crap out of these two pieces of clothing for the last 3 years. Good stuff.

I read in the Post that February and March are bald eagle breeding season around these parts. I have only once seen a pair of bald eagles this winter so I am not expecting a lot of eaglet action when spring arrives. There was no bald eagle at the Belle Haven nest today. In fact other that a stupifying number of geese there wasn’t much in the way of big-ish waterfowl at all. That is until I came upon a big, scruffy looking great blue heron on the river bank right next to the wooden bridge that takes the Mount Vernon Trail under the TR bridge. (Question: why is it so important that the Key and Memorial Bridges look classy but the TR Bridge looks like a rusty piece of crap? Show Teddy some love please.) This bird was impressive so I decided to stop and  walk back with my camera. He was on to me. I must have had birdparazzi written all over my face. He started to walk into the underbrush away from me. He got to the edge of the river and took off about 2 feet above the water. By this point he was too far to get a decent picture but the sight of him in flight made my day.  Herons combine awkward and graceful in a way that few other animals do.

Work was less than intense today. I left a few minutes early. I could have ridden the whole way home without any lights but in the interest of making sure I could be seen I turned them all on as usual. No problem with ninjas tonight. Just hoards of runners. Patriots Day is less than two months away!

During the day friend of the blog, Nancy Duley told me that a police officer was shot in Old Town Alexandria today, about 5 blocks from my commute route. The last I heard he was in critical condition. The assailant was chased and crashed his car on Fort Hunt Road about three miles from my house. He was taken into custody. My bike commute takes me through Old Town Alexandria twice each day.

Another friend of the blog, Kate C., is a police officer in DC. She will be riding her bike from Richmond to DC as part of the Police Unity Tour. This event raises money for the memorial to fallen law enforcement personnel. You can read more about it on her blog. Or you can skip straight to her fundraising page.

As for the ride home, it was a piece of cake. I left work a little early so I was in daylight all the way home. I turned on my lights just to been seen. The Mount Vernon Trail was filled with runners in their shorts. Some of them were moving pretty fast. Patriots Day is less than 2 months away!

 

I could never be a police officer. Just the thought of doing a night time traffic stop gives me the willies. Friend of the blog, Kate C., however, is a police officer in DC. In a few weeks, she will be riding from Richmond to DC as part of the Policy Unity tour. It raises monet for a memorial to fallen law enforcement personnel.