Friday Mind Dump

  • I changed my password to “Retire” at work. Then the system wouldn’t accept it. I had to change it to something else. I am not making this up.
  • A bike rider on the Mount Vernon Trail approached me from the rear and yelled “Walker up!” Seriously.
  • When I hit 60, my muscle strength noticably deteriorated. The remedy is to drink more wine. You won’t get any stronger, but you won’t care either.
  • I am doing my taxes this weekend. This is slightly more fun that having a colonoscopy.
  • I just failed at doing both the Sudoku and the Washington Post crossword. If my tax return says I get a $42,000 refund, I suspect I’ll be 3 for 3.
  • I am technically part of the investor class because I am old and have a retirement account. The fact that the stock market is up 10 percent since the election is both deeply disturbing and rewarding. I may have to boycott my retirement.
  • I am also fixing a toilet this weekend. This is the limit of my homeowner skills. Also, there will be cussing.
  • I need to put new siding on my shed. I did it before with my son. It’s not hard but the sheets of fake wood product are heavy. Does anybody want to help? I can offer pizza and beer. Contact me in April when the Nats are out of town.
  • Why in the world would you tell someone that you read their Facebook page when you haven’t commented or “liked” anything on it in over 2 years? If you’re going to tell a white lie, at least make it one that’s not so obviously verifiable.
  • I have under-volunteered my entire adult life. So I signed up to be a volunteer at the Vasa Ride in March. I also plan on signing up to volunteer for the Tour de Fat again. If you are in DC in mid-March and want to find out what warm blueberry soup tastes like you should ride the Vasa Ride. Here’s the link:

  • I actually saw the Vasa at the Vasa museum on my trip to Sweden a coudscn4954ple of years ago. The Vasa was an immense, ornate wooden warship that set said off the coast of Stockholm, Sweden. To show off it’s fire power, on its
    maiden voyage, all her guns were brought to one side of the ship. The weight of the guns caused the Vasa flop over and sink. The picture only shows the very upper part of the ship. The keel is a couple of floors below where I am standing.


Each spring the bike riding season in DC begins with the Vasa ride. This is an event put on by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association and the House of Sweden, a.k.a. the Swedish Embassy. There is a family ride of 16-ish miles, the Halvasa of 31-ish miles, and the 61-mile Vasa ride, known in Malmo as the Whole Lutfisk. Okay, I ma25124970033_bdd5088f21_my that up.

It was also the first day of Daylight Savings Time. So we lost an hour of sleep. Michelle is WABA’s event coordinator. She is known to carry a divining rod in her messenger bag. Of the time change, she said this:

“I only control the weather. I do not control time.”

That’s a relief. I think.

I drove to the ride because it was cold and dark and I had misplaced an hour overnight. I blasted the Chieftains because my peeps own this month, dammit. (Oddly, all Chieftains’ songs sound the same to me. Even dirges end up sounding like rowdy nights at the pub.)

At the start I talked with Michelle and Colin, WABA’s Jimmy Olsen, and with Michael from Friday Coffee Club. (Actually he’s one of three Michaels. Michael is the new Katie.) Michael was riding the short ride and I didn’t see anybody to ride with so I rode the 32-ish ride alone. I know the course by heart so there was no need for a cue sheet. Ride out K Street to the Capital Crescent Trail. Cross over the canal at the boathouse. Ride up the steep hill to MacArthur Boulevard. Ride MacArthur Boulevard until it tops out (literally) at Great Falls Park, bang a right on Falls Road. Ride until you see the WABA pit stop at Potomac Village. Drink from Ursula’s stash of Gatorade in the back of the truck. Look around for people to talk with. Seeing no one you know, retrace your path one half mile. Hang a looie into Avenel. See the big houses. See the pretty golf course. Bang a right on Persimmon Tree Road. See more houses. See a different golf course. Bang a left on MacArthur. Repeat the first 10 miles in reverse.

The route was a fitting place to try out the newly tweaked saddle height on the Cross Check. I think I am pretty close to dialing my set up in. My arms were a little sore but that could just be muscle atrophy from riding my recumbent so much. I did a 100 yard stretch on the canal towpath at the cross over point. Dang, if this bike isn’t awesome on gravel. Can’t wait to do the Whites Ferry century loop on this beast.

At the end of the25130723163_e981fa864b_m ride, I went into the embassy and had a cup of warm blueberry soup. It’s a thing. It tastes great after a cold ride. Did you know that the word “babe” is a direct translation from Swedish for Swedish Soup Lady? It’s true. I swear. I took a picture to prove it. Also, they said “Get well, Ricky!!!” because Ricky got clobbered by a car last week and they miss him.

I didn’t see anybody I knew so I left after one cup. Outside I ran into Tom and Kirstin. She’s Ultrarunnergirl . She and Hubs were doing an ultrasugarthon in Georgetown instead of riding the Vasa.

Greg, WABA Executive Director, appeared. He was all smiles after running a half marathon yesterday. You smile when the pain stops. It’s a running thing.

And so, I headed home. After a totally unhealthy lunch, I turned on the Nats spring training game. You know that hour of sleep that I lost? I found it. And a couple more.

Baseball cures the sleepy beast.

Tack to WABA, the Swedish embassy folks, and to all the volunteers.


Blueberry Soop – 24 and There’s So Much More

Today was the Vasa ride, the first #bikedc event of the year. The Vasa ride is put on by WABA in collaboration with the Swedish embassy. Then idea is to mimic the Vasaloppet, an annual  cross country skiing event in Sweden. (I tried telemark style biking but have since reverted to conventional nordic style.)

Last night I traded tweets with fellow Mount Vernon bike commuter Linel. We hadn’t met in real life so it was decided that I would give her a ride to the start. I picked her up in the sea of condos in Belle Haven/View just south of Old Town. The Mule was already on my bike rack. It takes considerable effort to get it there as The Mule is actually a corruption of Molnir, Thor’s hammer, which only Thor can lift. I picked up Linel’s bike, a Trek Madone, and couldn’t believe how light it was. It was like hefting a can of beer, without the beer.

Not wanting to search endlessly in Georgetown for a parking space, I parked in Rosslyn and we rode Key Bridge into Georgetown. About 1 block from the start we rode by no fewer than ten empty parking spaces. Doh!

The starting area had an abundance of #bikedc people I knew. Gina and Michelle from WABA were working the registration area. Liz was volunteering there as well. Chris M. and Rachel “Don’t Call Me Bob” Cannon were marshalls. Ed and Mary (she less than 24 hours removed from running a marathon) and Dave and Jean were hanging out with their Co-Motion tandems. Up rolled Shawn, Brian, Jonathan, Lisa, Ryan, Will, John Roche (all the way from Baltimore), and Matilde.

Some of these folks rolled out on the 59-mile course, the rest of us headed out on the 31 mile ride. We cruised along without incident and learned that Linel’s Madone is equipped with an anti gravity device as she cruised up the hill on Reservoir Road. A few minutes later winter took a bite out of the fun as Matilde lost her phone when her bike’s impact with a pothole sent it flying.

We climbed up the small hill at the reservoir. I took off on the backside and fell in with a group of people riding in a pace line. Wee, no headwind for me. Chris B. flew by, heading back toward DC.

I continued on rather pleased with myself until we reached the hill at Great Falls Park. Here I demonstrated my craptastic hill climbing abilities. Bicyclists after bicyclist passed me and my bruised ego. The first thing to go is your legs. The second thing to go is your pride.

I rolled into the rest stop in Potomac Village and rested. Foods were eaten. Bathrooms were broken. Rest was achieved.

Back we went toward the start. As I turned left into Avenel I was pushed by a strong tailwind gust. Rather than waste the energy, I down shifted and started pedaling hard. The Mule and I went all 02134. (Obscure PBS reference.)

Peter pulled along beside me. He had been meandering around the route and decided to head back to DC. As we chatted he told me how he, too, had lost his phone. We rode side by side down Persimmon Tree Road to MacArthur Boulevard. Tailwinds made for easy work.

Sea of Bikes at the Finish


At the finish we made our way inside the Swedish embassy to partake of the blueberry soup. It was hot but not as sweet as I recalled from previous years. At the embassy we met up with Lis. This was the first time I’ve seen her in the wild. Normally, I see her at Friday Coffee Club. I also met up with Randy from the Alexandria Bike Ped Advisory Committee.

A few minutes later KL came up to me and introduced herself. I drew a blank until she explained we met at the WABA holiday party last December. She introduced her friend Magen.

After a few minutes of souping, we gathered together 11 people and headed to Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown where KL and Magen were already seated. (Who says bicycle events don’t do something for local businesses?)

After some fine pizza and beer, we parted ways. Linel and I rode across Key Bridge and were soon on our way homeward.

All in all, the Vasa ride provided a pretty darn good start to the #bikedc event year. I think it’s incredible that I, a pretty serious introvert, can go to a bike event in DC and see 23 people I know and meet another. Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped out. Thanks also to the WABA employees who gave up their Sunday to make this happen. Humongous thanks to Michelle Cleveland, WABA’s event coordinator. She was working on four hours of sleep and somehow managed to keep smiling throughout the day.

For some more pix of the day, check out my Flickr album.

A Sunday Ride with The Impermanent Resident

Did you know peripatetic is a noun? If you look it up, you’ll see a picture of my friend Florencia right next to it in the dictionary. Would I lie to you? 

Flor and I have been doing rides together since we met on the 50 States ride in 2007. It doesn’t seem possible that seven years have passed since we met. We were going to do it again this year, but she has a conflict. Boo. Her friend Emilia is riding for the first time and is a little worried that she won’t be able to handle the 50 States course. So Flor thought it would be a good idea to get us together for a little shakedown ride.

Florencia at the Watergate
Florencia at the Watergate

It was a nice Sunday morning so I decided to bypass the Mount Vernon Trail and ride Fort Hunt Road to the streets of Old Town and Potomac Yards in Alexandria, Crystal City in Arlington, and (according to the sign on the side of the road) the Pentagon reservation. (Apparently the Pentagon was one of the little known tribes of the pre-colonial days.) I met up with Flor at the Jefferson Memorial. Emilia was a no show. Sad face. Flor later told me that the two of them are doing a 120-mile two-day ride in the weeks ahead. I do believe Emilia will drop me after about 10 states.

Flor and I soldiered on. We rode the Halfvasa route from DC to Potomac Village and back. We managed to survive the onslaught of tourists on bikes and idiots looking for parking spaces on K Street in Georgetown. The Capital Crescent Trail had little traffic allowing us to settle into a nice groove. At Fletcher’s Boat House we cut over to Resevoir Road managing to avoid several toddlers who seemed determined to die by under our front wheels. 

The ride up reservoir was long and slow. For me. Flor didn’t seem to be working with the same gravitational field. We rendevoused at the top and proceeded side by side out MacArthur Boulevard chatting all the way. The hill near the reservoir made us work a bit but we cruised over the top and enjoyed the breezy downhill on the back side. 

Flor Is a Way Better Photographer than I
Flor Is a Way Better Photographer than I

MacArthur has no shoulders making it hard to ride side by side so we took to the side path and chattered away. Yoga, rolfing, vegetarian food, being a proud big sister, DC condo values, riding motorbikes in Thailand, and Montessori education. She has a lot going on. She also gave me an update on our pal Richard who rode the 50 States with us in 2011. It’s good to hear that he’s still the kind of person who never has a down day.

Along the way, Flor yelled, “DEER!” There, dead ahead. was a young deer grazing in the grass next to the road. As we approached the deer bolted, thankfully away from us, and joined two others in the roadside shadows. 

We reached the dreaded hill at the end of MacArthur and slowly, ever so slowly, made our way up. The chatter stopped. The work was honest. We made respectable time. After a brief stop to discuss our route, we headed down Falls Road to Potomac Village. 

We chilled in the shade, enjoying iced drinks and continued the conversation. Once we were talked out, we headed back to DC via the Avenel neighborhood of massive houses. “They’re just boxes holding stuff. Once you get enough stuff, it owns you.” Life according to Flor.

We made our way back to MacArthur. Since Flor lives in the city uphill from the river and the memorials, I thought it would make sense to cut through Georgetown instead of heading downhill to the river. And so we did. 

Once we crossed Rock Creek Park, Flor took over navigation. She knew the best route to her place. Just before we got there she asked if I wanted to go to Meridian Hill Park and hang out. And so we did. 

We sat in the sun and talked with Jeff, a friend of Flor whom I met at a happy hour last winter. We talked and listend to the drum circle drummers until the sun wore us down. Flor and I headed to our respective homes. She got the better of the deal by about 15 miles. Or maybe not. Riding down 16th Street to the White House followed by ten miles along the Potomac River is a mighty fine way to go.

Flor and I took some pix.



Back Out, Day 8

After discovering some helpful stretches yesterday, I actually felt pretty good when I went to be. Pretty good doesn’t come close to normal function though. I can’t roll over in bed without help from my hands and legs so continuous sleep is hard to come by. When I woke up, I rose from the bed without pain. After fetching the paper, I checked myself in the bathroom mirror. My back should be an I but it’s still an S, albeit an S with less severe curvature. I figured if this keeps up, a ride to work this week would not be out of the question.

Gentle movement helps a bit. Being stationary seems to make things worse. I discovered this when I went to get out of the car at work. OWWWW. I made it to my desk. The relief of sitting at my desk was a comfort, until I had to get up and walk around. More owww.

I made it through a full workday, stopping occasionally to stretch my hip flexors and hamstrings every hour or so. Each time I did it, my back felt noticeably better.  Each time it would stiffen up again. During the drive home, I noticed that my back didn’t hurt when I hit bumps as it did over the weekend. I walked around the yard and my back 

During the day, I signed up for the Vasa ride in late March. I signed up for the 59-mile version but am considering dropping down to the 30 miler. (I can make it a 60-miler by riding to the start and riding home.) Either way, I’m getting some hot blueberry soup at the end from the Swedish embassy soup ladies.

I just learned that we might get 5 inches of snow later this week. I might just go out and buy a wovel. If I use a conventional shovel, I’ll be out of action for a month. I could even miss out on the hot blueberry soup. Not gonna happen.



Springtime in Sweden

Today was the first event of my 2013 riding calendar. Each year the Washington Area Bicycling Association and the Swedish Embassy get together to hold the Vasa ride.  In Sweden, them crazy Swedes hold a really long cross country skiing event called the Vasaloppet. Thousands of Swedes, nearly crippled by cabin fever, go skiing for hours and hours. Somehow, like chocolate and peanut butter, WABA and the HofS decided to merge the Vasaloppet concept with bicycling and, voila (sorry, don’t know any Swedish), a ride was born.

The Vasa event is held in March, because Swedes don’t give a damn about cold weather. This helps keep the number of participants in the Vasa ride down. Still we had several hundred folks doing one of the 3 rides. There’s the full Vasa of 59 miles. Then there’s the Halv Vasa of 31 miles, and finally there’s the Kort Vasa of 16 miles. (Swedes ain’t so hot at fractions apparently, but we at the Rootchopper Institute of Anal Retentive Arithmetic are a forgiving lot.)

At the end of the ride, the HofS gives riders hot blueberry soup. It’s actually pretty tasty, buy I wouldn’t want to drink it every day.

The infamous Friday Coffee Club came out in great numbers, a few even brought along their significant others. You can tell it’s true love when your partner will ride 30 or 60 miles in the cold for a cup of blue soup and your company.

Temperatures were around 40 degrees and winds were light. At 8 a.m. a gaggle of FCCers took off with the Full Vasa riders. Our group included Mary and Ed on their amazing Co-Motion tandem, Ryan, Aaron, Will, Shawn, and Lisa. Leslie, another FCCer, was riding as a ride marshall. Thanks for volunteering, Leslie.

Lisa is now the official riding buddy of this blog. We’ve done five or six rides together in the past year and she hasn’t cussed me out once yet. (She shows remarkable restraint.)  The last official riding buddy of this blog was run over by a pick up truck, so, Lisa, watch your back. Although I didn’t see them during the ride, Shawn and Will were also in the Full Vasa pack as we headed out.

The ride went out the Capital Crescent Trail, crossed over to MacArthur Boulevard and headed to Potomac Maryland. At Potomac Village we stopped to chat with Megan and Katie, two WABA people who were giving out drinks and maintaining good cheer despite standing in the cold all morning.

At this point, Lisa and I made the executive decision to turn around while the rest of the group forged on. Their plan was to do a 3 Kort Vasa, the full ride less a portion in Rock Creek Park.  Lisa and I had fun riding back despite feeling a  bit chilly.

Back at the HofS, we met up with Dave, another FCCer who had ridden the Kort ride with Jean, his wife. Jean did the ride despite disintegrating riding slacks, a recent purchase gone sadly wrong. I am sure she will get her money back.

While at the HofC we met up with Rachel and Kate, FCC regulars, and their partner in cycling crime, Katie Ann. Other FCCers we met up with at the HofS included Crystal, John and Kate, and Justin and his wife, whose name escapes me. (This has been a problem of late. I mixed up Kevin with Ben, another FCCer, at the start. I may have to up my coffee consumption.)

The Rootchopper Institute would like to thank the House of Sweden and WABA for putting on this event. I’d list all the names of the WABA peeps who got up super early to pull this shindig off, buy I’d miss a few names (see previous paragraph). Special thanks go to Alex, who managed to take pix with an SLR, tweet on her phone, and use a megaphone in the same morning.  Her stirring pre-ride safety speech was beyond compare. And also to Megan who was standing in the cold at the Potomac Village rest stop with Katie despite having run a half marathon yesterday and getting only 3 hours of sleep.

As usual, the only thing that could have made this a better ride was warm sunshine and more FCCers. These folks are a joy to ride with.

Mary, Ed, Lisa, and I took pictures. You can check them out here, here, here, and here. WABA’s pix are here.