Willis Carrier is a god

It’s not the heat. It’s not the humidity. It’s BOTH.

I have been trying to adapt to the heat and humidity here in DC for the last month. I was totally spoiled by warm, dry days in the Pacific northwest for the better part of a month.

Yesterday, I decided to get my yayas out and did a ride I do every year. It’s the Whites Ferry century. I leave from my house and ride to Whites Ferry Maryland about 35 miles up the C&O Canal then take a cable ferry across the Potomac River. I pick up the W&OD trail in Lessburg Virginia and ride home. It’s flat but the 33 miles on the C&O towpath are unpaved. This means you use the same muscles for the entire ride.

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When I left it was actually comfortably warm outside. Withing two hours the heat and humidity increased. By the time I left the shade along the canal, I could tell it was getting mighty uncomfortable. I stopped in Leesburg to have lunch in an air conditioned bar, opting for Diet Coke over beer. The bartender must have refilled my glass ten times. Well, done, my good man.

I was pretty much gassed after 90 miles but made it home on fumes. 101 miles in total.

Today’s plan was to mow the lawn, then work on my bikes (including cleaning off the towpath dirt off my CrossCheck). I walked out the front door and it felt as if I were hit by a hot, wet towel. I hadn’t mowed half the lawn and my clothes were drenched with sweat. It only took a little over and hour but I looked like I had jumped in a swimming pool when I was done. I wish!

I gave up on the idea of doing work on the bikes. Suffice it to say that Willis Carrier is my favorite inventor.

In a few hours I was in a movie theater watching “Juliet, Naked”. No it’s not a porno. It’s based on the novel of the same name by one of my favorite authors, Nick Hornby. I ate all the salted pop corn and drank a “regular” soda. (Regular means a quart these days, apparently.) The movie was shown in a new theater with comfy seats. Bliss.

I lived my first 28 years in the northeast. Up there you go to the movies in the daytime when it’s too cold or nasty to do anything outside. DC stands the year on its head.

With a day off the bike today, I should have fresh legs tomorrow. I’m driving to central Virginia to do a 62 mile ride on a rail trail. The heat index (what it supposedly feels like) will be over 100 degrees.

Willis, whatchu talkin’ about.

The Mule Comes Home

In Portland I dropped The Mule off at West End Bikes. They packed it in a box and, using BikeFlights.com, I had it shipped via FedEx to my local bike shop. (I’d mention them by name but their normal policy is not to accept these kinds of bike shipments. Given the fact that I’ve been a loyal customer for well over a decade, they agreed to accept the shipment.) The bike shop did a quick assessment and sent me a proposal listing work to be done on the bike.

After some discussion we replaced two chain rings, the cassette, the chain, the rear wheel, and the handlebar tape. They turned the work around in two days. So today, I took my baby for a shakedown cruise.

After 62 days and 4,300 miles of daily riding, my body and The Mule’s geometry fit like hand in glove. With no panniers or tent, The Mule took off at a gallop. I had it in my head to go really long. So I rode to the town of Purcellville, just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The cool thing about this ride is the fact that it was done almost entirely on trails. Welcome to BikeDC. Dang.

Purcellville is 57 miles by bike from home. The fact that I’d even consider doing this ride on a muggy day with storms in the forecast shows what bike tours will do to your mindset. My legs were flying. I felt completely at home on The Mule. My brain went to its happy place. For hours. So good to be back there.

The ride is gradually uphill with a few short rollers at about the 30 mile mark. Unlike before the tour, I was passing people on racing bikes. Ding. Mule on your left. Whoosh.

My quads and my knees were burning after 40 miles. I’d back off long before this point under normal circumstances but not today. So what if I get tired; I’ve got all day and all night if I need it.

I had no food with me – a mistake for sure. I made it 35 miles to Leesburg before I realized that my tummy was lonely. Rather than stop there, forged ahead to Purcellville. The gradual uphill can eat away at your confidence. Not today.

In Purcellville I noticed that many of the shops were not where they had once been. A bike shop was now a bakery. And, more importantly, Haute Dogs and Fries, a hot dog shop, was no longer in business. I headed to the bakery hoping to buy a sandwich but they only sold pastries. I inhaled an eclair. They make pretty awesome eclairs.

Then it was back on the trail, now trending downhill. In Leesburg I went to a gas station for fuel. A refrigerated sandwich, a candy bar, and cookies were all I could find. (The apples looked rather beat up so I passed on the fruit.)

With sammie in mouth, I was back on the trail. Then it started to rain. To avoid sammie sogginess I ate fast. With some fuel in my furnace, my speed increased. So did the rain.

After another ten miles I finished off my rolling repast. The rain intensified a bit. Lightning flashed. Thunder thundered. We’re havin’ fun now.

As the miles went by, my legs started to tire. My knees hurt. My lower back started to ache. My arms and shoulders were barking at me. Bear down, dude. The Mule didn’t care.

I made my way to the Mount Vernon Trail along the river. The storm seemed to increase in intensity. By this point I was already soaked. Once you’re wet, you’re wet.

Near home I decided to get off the trail out of concern about falling trees, because the ground here is saturated from so many days of rain. I chose a short, steep hill on a street rather than the gradual one on the trail. I deliberately opted not to use my granny gear just to see how my legs would react. They felt a bit like the top of Rogers Pass in Montana. Been there. Done that.

Ten minutes later we were home. 114 1/2 miles.  No major problems for The Mule or me.

I have a month until the 50 States Ride. I think I’ll be ready.

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Two for Tuesday

I Rode a Jackie Robinson Today

The thermometer said 73 degrees. I stepped outside. It was no lie. Dang! I went for a ride, of course. In shorts. Yes, shorts!

I know I am supposed to be taking it easy but did you hear what I just said? 73 degrees in January. And SHORTS!!!

So I went for a level-ish ride on some local trails, mostly the Four Mile Run, W&OD, and Mount Vernon Trail. With a steady wind out of the west, the ride out the W&OD was a bit of a slog. I decided to turn around to have a little fun with a tailwind.

Wheeee!

I timed the turn around just right. Near the end of the ride it started to feel a little cool on my legs.

My odometer read 42 miles. That would be 79 miles for two days. I haven’t done this much riding since early November. And my heart and respiratory rates stayed down the entire time. My windpipe, which has been tight for weeks, felt like it was wide open.

All I can say is WOW. I can’t believe how good I felt for all 42 miles.

I know. I know. Take it easy, you idiot.

Cold air is coming. That will mellow me out.

The Cereal Quilter Quiz

Mrs. Rootchopper is a quiltaholic. She’s made 37 quilts last year. It was an off year for quantity. (I kid you not.) She spent more time than she had intended preparing donated blankets for distribution to sick kids.

She makes a lot of quilts and other fabric creations for sick kids. The quiz question is: why would she need me to eat more breakfast cereal?

 

 

 

 

How Do You say “Sandbagging” in Spanish

To recover from yesterday’s 55 mile meander I decided to do a 36 mile meander on Big Nellie. I mean why not meander while the meandering is good? Again, unbelievably, the weather was absolutely perfect for riding a bike.

Off I rode to do the Tour of Arlington, a loop around Arlington County Virginia entirely on bike trails.

I headed north on the Mount Vernon Trail. I stopped after a half mile to buy lemonade from a little boy and his mom. They were giving the proceeds to a  hurricane Harvey charity.

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Apparently the word got out that the trail is a nifty place to ride on a holiday with perfect weather because it was CROWDED!!!! Once I cleared Belle Haven Park I was enveloped with the scent of honeysuckle so I stopped to smell the flowers.

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I took my time and rode into Old Town Alexandria. The streets were CROWDED!!!! I made it through unscathed and approached the warehouses at the north end of Old Town. I spotted a woman riding up ahead and thought it might be Emilia. Sure enough it was. She didn’t recognize me apparently because I was on my unobtrusive long wheel base recumbent.

Once I said her name and waved she said “Hi John. Is that Nellie?” All was right once more. Big Nellie was flattered to be recognized. If a bike could blush, she would have.

I rode behind a friend of Emilia. They seemed intent on making good time. Emilia and I tried to talk but the one-behind-the-other thing didn’t work. I rushed ahead to get a decent photo of them but they flew by before I could get my phone ready. Then about 10 other bikes rolled by. Soon I was faced with the task of getting past all these people and dealing with heavy on-coming traffic. This is harder on Big Nellie for two reasons: (1) Big Nellie does not accelerate fast and (2) Big Nellie is low to the ground so I can’t see what is coming and what is coming can’t see me. I think I kind of pissed off some people but I managed to get around the crowd and caught up to Emilia and her friends. Her friends went north on the trail at the airport; I followed Emilia west on the Four Mile Run trail. Now when I tried to talk to her, Emilia was on her phone. Oh well.

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I sagged back a bit so as not to intrude on her conversation. That it was in Spanish meant that I had no idea what she was talking anyway, but I wanted to be polite. I kept pace and looked down. Emilia, riding a hybrid with wide tires and chatting on the phone, was cruising along effortlessly at 13 – 14 miles per hour.

I signed Emilia up for the 50 States Ride this year. Ever since she has been sending me messages that she is slow, that she is out of shape, and that I should be nice and wait for her during the ride. She repeated this today during our brief chat.  The reality will be rather different, I fear.

Last weekend Emilia and some friends rode to Harpers Ferry (and back) along the C&O Canal. The distance including the ride from her house to the start was about 65 miles each way. Nearly all of it on unpaved surfaces, some of it muddy. When I saw a picture of her in Harpers Ferry on Saturday I thought “Wow, they must have left early.” I thought this because Emilia looked like she had showered and changed clothes. I was wrong. She had just finished the ride. She looked completely relaxed and composed.

The same was true today. She just cruises along. No effort. Today she told me she no longer drinks alcohol or eats sugar. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

Como se dice “sandbagging” en Espanol?

Anyway, when she got to the end of the Four Mile Run Trail she turned left to go home and I turned right to continue on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail.

After a few more miles I turned right onto the Custis Trail that heads back to the river. The trail has a series of rolling hills. Big Nellie started hill hopping, flying down one hill and up the next. This was why god invented bicycles. Fortunately, this trail was not at all crowded. Wheee!

Back at the river the trail was once again CROWDED!!!! I took my time and pedaled onward. I stopped at Gravelly Point to take some pictures.

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I arrived in Old Town to find it even more CROWDED than before. I think it had reached peak tourist. The intersection of King and Union was absolutely gridlocked with cars and walkers. I rolled to the front of a long line of cars waiting at the stop sign at King Street. A huge pick up truck was stuck in the middle of the intersection unable to move because of all the pedestrians. When a gap in the pedestrians opened up, I slowly rolled past the rear of the pickup, waited for a gap in the pedestrians crossing in the next cross walk and rolled free. Alexandria really needs to ban cars in Old Town on days like today. They serve no reasonable purpose.

A few blocks further on, I spotted  a massive line of people winding along the sidewalk from the left and turning down the sidewalk along Union Street. The line was 3 or 4 people wide. It turned out that all these people were there to see a tall ship that had docked this morning.

I cleared the mass of humanity and headed for home amid the breezes and the warm sun and the smell of the honeysuckle.

 

 

 

Whites Ferry 101

I have a few rides that I seem to do every year. One of them is the Whites Ferry Loop. Starting from my home in Mount Vernon Virginia about 6 miles south of Alexandria Virginia, I ride about 10 miles to the start of the Washington and Old Dominion Trail in Shirlington. Next I take the W&OD to Leesburg Virginia, about 35 miles to the west northwest. In Leesburg, north for five miles until I reach the Potomac River at Whites Ferry. Across the river on the ferry, bang a right and I’m cruising back to DC on the unpaved C&O Canal towpath all the way to Georgetown. I ride the last 16 miles home along the river.

Todays jaunt began with a hearty, completely inappropriate gut bomb of a breakfast. Grape Nuts with banana and strawberries and milk. And a chocolate chip scone. I waddled out to the bike and headed out. There was not much to report. It was in the 80s with partly cloudy skies. The trail was crowded but I managed to make decent progress. Somewhere west of Vienna, I was passed by Flogini, almost certainly another one of her dopplegangers. It’s impossible to know unless I turn around and give chase so I pedaled on.

In Herndon about 30 miles into the ride two women triathletes passed me on their super fast bikes. I caught up to them at a street crossing. They moved to the center island of the street. The one on the left couldn’t get free of her clipless pedal and went down sideways. I thought of my friend Dave S. who did the same thing in DC and broke his leg. Woman on the left seemed fine and I made a remark “That’s why I don’t use them.”

Off I rode on the trail I had ridden scores of times before. I didn’t stop. I banged a right in Leesburg and played with cars for a few miles. The turn onto Whites Ferry Road was a bit of a relief. Two lanes. Trees and manicured lawns and farms and blues skies and puffy white clouds. It’s a shame the road only lasts a mile or two.

The ferry, called the Jubal Early after the Civil War general, is a kind of goofy operation. It only goes a couple hundred yards, but it’s worth the $2 fare.

In the rather pathetic general store, I bought a large bottle of water and an Eskimo Pie. I am a bike nutrition god.

Onto the towpath I rode. No pavement and rainy days means mud. With each passing mile the mud got worse. I figured out that the best tactic was to ride straight through puddles. The bottoms of the puddles had a stone surface. No sliding but there was a mess building up on my bike.

The last 25 miles were smoother sailing, but bumpier. My triceps were really starting to feel sore. On the plus side, the canal is beautiful.

I was waved to a stop by three women who wanted directions to a field of sunflowers. I hadn’t seen any but we got to talking and they had no idea what the C&O National Park was. I explained how there was a plan to use it as a highway until Justice William O. Douglas to a bunch of reporters on a hike. Their stories led to public support for a national park.

Lesson finished, I cruised on down to Great Falls where I stopped for water.

Into the crowds I rolled. Among the people I likely passed was Kelly, my co-worker who sits right outside my office. Never saw her. My fusiform gyrus made a crackling sound.

A mile later I was riding past my favorite section of the canal called Widewater. Here, the canal widens and looks like a pond. Deep blue. Often, but not today, with waterfowl in abundance. What was in abundance was people. All ages. Some kids on wobbly bikes. Hikers. Groups of bros. Families. An emergency cart.

Once past the crowds, I fell in behind the cart at a dreary 8 miles per hour. It pulled off at the far end of Widewater where a dozen first responders were standing on the edge of the path. It looked like a drill of some sort.

Just 12 miles to Georgetown I passed the Carderock area where I go for my New Years Day hike. Just before riding under the beltway, I saw Lawyer Mike, a Friday Coffee Clubber, pedaling toward me with a purpose. Of course, it could have been yet another misfire of my fusiform gyrus.

The bumps were really getting to me. Luckily, the paved Capital Crescent Trail came to my rescue. When I cut over to the CCT, my speed picked up by at least 3 miles per hour.

The remaining ride home involved no dopplegangers or co-workers. I had neglected to drink enough water or eat appropriate food and I started riding on fumes through Old Town Alexandria.

Thankfully the wind stepped up big time and blew me along. I arrived home with a dirty bike and a sore body.

But 101 miles on the odometer. I’ll take it.

I made a Flickr album with some pix over here.

Post script: It was indeed Lawyer Mike so I am not completely losing it.

 

 

 

From Arte Johnson to Tater Tots in 39 Miles

Those of you old enough to know who Arte Johnson is know that he made famous a couple of bits of schtick. One was a lecherous old man who mumbles and grunts at Ruth Buzzi’s old lady in a hairnet until she whacks him with her purse. The other was of a man on child’s tricycle riding until he falls over sideways.

I pulled Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent, out for the first time in over two months. I planned on looking at colorful leaves and the upright seating position on this bike is just the thing I needed for maximum enjoyment. Sadly, peak foliage around her is at least a week away. (This is great news for those of us who will be riding the Great Pumpkin Ride in Warrenton VA next week, however.) Of course, if I wanted to see foliage, I should have gotten out of bed and driven to the Blue Ridge. But I slept in.

Big Nellie is my only bike with clipless pedals, the kind that attached to the bottom of your shoe. I anticipated that this might be a problem and I wasn’t disappointed. After dodging 4,397 runners, walkers, cyclists, and escaped convicts on the Mount Vernon Trail, I made my way down Union Street in Old Town Alexandria. I had made it half way through the tourist zone near King Street when I came upon a Mazda stopped in front of me at a stop sign. I rolled slowly up to it. It didn’t move. Nobody was in its way. It just didn’t move.

As I came up to its bumper I realized I was going to have to stop. I went to unclip and nothing happened. My left foot wouldn’t release. So I veered to the right of the car as I frantically twisted my foot to no avail. I lost my forward momentum and started falling to the left. I reached out to brace myself on the Mazda’s back left fender. Then it moved and I completed my Arte Johnson and landed on my side on the pavement.

My recumbent seat is only a couple of feet off the ground to begin with. Breaking my fall by contacting the Mazda made the normally uneventful fall even less so. Yet I was still lying on my side in the middle of the street with this ginormous bike attached to me.

A Latina pedestrian came over to help. She was saying something in frantic, accented English but I couldn’t understand her. During the fall, my left foot unclipped but my right foot stayed attached. As she was speaking, I was twisting my right foot and hoping it would release so I could get my body out of the street.

The driver and the passengers in popped out of the car in a panic. ARE YOU OKAY? No, I have a really bruised ego! An my foot is stuck!

A cyclists with gray hair flowing out from under his helmet appeared. Her grabbed my right arm to pull me up. No. Please. I am fine. I just feel like a complete dweeb lying in the street with this chaise lounge attached to my right foot.

Finally, my right foot released and I stood up. Latina smiled. Gray hair bike rider looked relieved. Mazda people got back in car free from the fear that they had somehow contributed to the clumsiest cycling accident of the month. (As I write this four hours later, only my left knee feels any pain. Mostly from getting whacked by the bike’s top tube as I twisted my right leg to free it.)

Well, if any of the people who were there are reading this, thanks for your concern.

I continued riding up the trail of a million weekend warriors until I reached Teddy

Teddy

Roosevelt Island. I ride by TR Island every day on my way to work, but the last time I set foot on it was at least 20 years ago.

 

I locked the bike and went for a calming walk on its dirt trails. The island is an oasis of green in the Potomac River only a few hundred yards from the Sunday brunchers on the riverfront in Georgetown. It would be an incredibly relaxing place but the noise from airplanes flying into National Airport and the cars rumbling across the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge ruined the ambiance.

Teddy Trail

Before leaving I did an Interwebs search for pizza. I was hungry. There’s an Italian place right next to the Custis Trail about 2 miles away. It’s called The Italian Place. Damned clever if you ask me. So I rode up the long hill out to Rosslyn then up some more until the universe decided I had had enough. After a half mile down hill run, I came to the place. They should change its name to The Place with the Incredibly Long Line. I was took a number. 87. Then I heard them call “47!” I walked out.

I continued on the trail up/down/up/down/up/down etc. Until I came to a flat stretch. Lance Mamilot came riding past from the other direction. He blew a snot rocket to his right. Then just as I reached him he blew one to his left. What an asshole! I got a misty spray of his nasal excretions on my left leg. Ewwww!

At the W&OD Trail I headed back toward home. Nineteen miles down, only 17 miles to go. I decided to leave the trail at US 1 and work my way through the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. I stopped at Del Ray Pizzeria. I was going to get t

Burp

hat pizza after all. Sadly, they don’t serve individual slices. This was almost as upsetting as the snot rocket and the Arte Johnson. I had a cheese steak instead.  It was humongous. I looked great but did not live up to its visual wonderfulness. It was probably a good cheese steak as cheese steaks go, but I am not much of a cheese steak person. Nick Hornby once remarked that there are well written books that are poorly read. Perhaps this was a good cheese steak that was poorly tasted.

In any case, the cheese steak came with tater tots. Tater tots cure everything. I’ll bet that if Arte Johnson ate tater tots, he’d have stayed upright.

 

 

 

The Long Weekend Goes Long

My plan was to do a long solo hike in Shenandoah National Park on Friday. Mission accomplished. Saturday was devoted to baseball and fireworks. We got both in the game. The Nationals went up 3-0 without making an out in the bottom of the first inning. The first pitch of the game was hit for a home run. The second just missed and ended up being a double. A few pitches later another home run. Yikes.

The game ended up being a 9-3 win for the good guys but Strasburg, the starting pitcher, got hurt in the process. There is a rumor in town that the Nationals are going to replace the curly W on their caps with a red cross.

Perhaps the best part about the game is the fact that the morning’s rain stopped earlier enough so that the start was delayed by only 15 minutes. The downside was that I didn’t get to hang out with Normie “Woodrow” McCloud. I’ll see her later in the week.

Later in the day we drove to a friends house for a cookout and fireworks. The skies opened up and it rained impressively. The water in the underpass of the Memorial Bridge was up to the center of the wheels of the cars. Rain in DC this summer has been very entertaining.

Today I woke up and procrastinated. I decided to salvage the day by riding Big Nellie to Bikes at Vienna to buy some gloves and tires. It’s about a 23 mile ride from my house. After shopping I thought, why not just ride out the W&OD trail for a while.

So I did,

I ended up in Leesburg and wondered whether the rains had closed Whites Ferry, a cable operated ferry across the Potomac River. To quote a favorite children’s book, “There was just one thing to do.”

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I rode to White’s Ferry and managed to sneak on the back of a trip. The river was very high and muddy. An osprey passed overhead with fish in its talons. A great blue heron seussed by at about 15 feet. As we cabled across, I discussed the condition of the C&O canal with a Marine triathlete. She said she had ridden it a few days ago and it was a muddy mess. I decided to stay off the towpath. Good thing too, I could see huge puddles of muddy water as I passed.

The road to Poolesville was hilly but surprisingly devoid of traffic. I was expecting a pulse of cars from the next ferry crossing. It never came. This was a little disconcerting.

After a stop for ice cream and liquids in Poolesville I turned for home. My legs were quite tired having yet to adapt to riding my recumbent. River Road is a roller coaster of long downhills – always a blast on my recumbent – and long uphills – not so much.

The breeze from riding maskes the heat of the sun. I stopped a few times en route to get my bearings. It was a lot hotter than I thought.

There was just one thing to do.

Pedal, pedal.

I mentally broke down the rest of the ride. It’s five miles to this intersection. Three to this landmark. Four to that hill.

As I rode through DC, I endured tourists. I always remind myself that I want to be treated well when I visit a town I am unfamiliar with so I supressed the urge to spew unkind words.

I plugged along and soon reached my neighborhood with 99.5  miles on the odometer. There was just one thing to do: I rode around the block until I saw 100.

When I dismounted, I felt a sense of invigoration. Actually, that’s a lie. I was tired. I was hot. I was done. Put a fork in me.

Tomorrow is car mechanic day. I will ride only about 6 1/2 miles.

A Monday goes short.

The Haute Dog 100

Lisa is a busy person, multitalented and goal oriented. After riding 137.28 miles last month she decided it was time to ride a century, 100 miles in one day. Gradualism is not one of her strong points.

Lisa recruited some #bikedc friends, Ryan, Justin, Ted, and me) to ride from DC to Purcelville on the W&OD Trail. Once in Purcelville our plan was to have liunch at Haute Dogs and Fries.

The ride was set for Saturday July 5 at 7 a.m. We would be at the intersection of the Custis and W&OD trauls in North Arlington. Since this is 15 or 16 miles from my house this meant getting up at 5 a.m. Fortunately, we all agreed that 8 a.m. was as early as anyone could tolerate so 8 a.m. it was.

After waking up and daundling I left the house ten minutes late. I chose to ride Big Nellie. my Tour Easy recumbent, to save my back. I rode as fast as I could to the start stoppoing every 15 minutes to adjust my front fender. The fender stay was rubbing against the side of the ture making an annoying buzzing sound. (On the fourth try I realized that the screw holding the stay was loose. One tunr with a screw driver and peace and tranquility returned.

I arrived at the starting point to see Ted and Ryan. Ted was actually shivering. It was in the 60s. I opted for a long sleeve shirt but Ted was wearing a sleeveless shirt and paying for his miscalculation. Justin showed up. Also sleeveless. What did they thing it was July or something?

Lisa rolled in about 8:40. We decided not to kill her.

Off we went on the ever so gradual uphill ride to Purcelville. As we got underway, we spread out. I found that Big Nellie was in the mood to roll so I was going faster than my usual 12 mile per hour trance speed.

In Vienna we stopped for coffee and pastries. My bagel was filled with EPO, Once we got underway, Justin and I were rolling along in the high teens. A MAMIL in a Discover jersey rode by somehat agressively. Justin and I were letting him pull us all the way to Reston where we waiting for the Ryan, Ted and Lisa.

We kept rolling along in one configuration or another, stopping in Herndon and Lessburg. Then we made the final push for Purcelville. The W&OD gets slightly steeper for its final 10 miles. The leafy canopy shading the trail offer a welcome break from the bright sunshine. The uphill grade, however, is a bit of a morale buster. As Ted, Ryan, and Justin sped away, I hung back wondering what happened to Lisa.

She had Fourth of July legs. She was pedaling away but the bike gods were denying her speed.

She made it to the end of the trail with a smile on her face which is pretty much the point of the exercise.

A passerby took my camera and had us pose for a series of photos under the Purcelville sign at the restored train station.

Lisa and the Boys
Lisa and the Boys

Then we rolled through town to Haute Dogs where we made short work of an array of hot dogs. I had the Fenway Dog because it is made exactly the way I make a hot dog at home. I also drank mass quantities of Coke which topped off my sugar and caffeine stores.

Nom Nom Nom
Nom Nom Nom

After a brief visit to a nifty bike and coffee shop we headed back to the trail. Justin, Ted, and Ryan led the way. Lisa decided to save her legs and glided (glid? glud?) as much as the grade and tailwind would allow. I stayed with her and,at one point, actually rode two miles without pedaling. I could have done more but for some congestion on the trail.

We met up with the three amigos at Leesburg. Ted, Ryan, and Justin all had to speed away to family obligations so Lisa and I rode the long trail back to North Arlington. We stopped for drinks, bannas, and ice cream along the way. (We also passed two breweries who had signs on the trail. I’ll have to come back for a taste some other time.)

Lisa took the Custis trail into town and I headed down the rest of the W&OD to the Mount Vernon Trail. I rolled into the driveway after 111 miles. I decided not to have a shower beer so as not to be a bad influence on my impressionable children: one of whom made mojitos for our guests on the Fourth, the other was drinking beer while watching the Red Sox/Orioles game from atop the green monster in Fenway Park. (If a parent sets an example and nobody sees, does the tree make a noise?)

Thanks to Lisa for setting this up. Her account of the festivities is here. My pix are here.

Little Nellie, Big Ride

Bike Friday’s have little wheels and little wheels give a rough ride. That’s okay for commuting since work is 15 miles from home, but for longer rides it becomes a problem, especially with my problematic back. Whenever I ride long distances I take one of my other bikes which have a cushier ride.

Lately though Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist, and my back have been getting along splendidly. I decided to take a day off work and go for a long ride. Since it was Friday, I headed into town for Friday Coffee Club. The ride in was uneventful if a bit slow. I had put 180+ miles on my legs in the previous five days.

I had a bowl of Cherrios and a banana for breakfast but decided to have a scone with my coffee at Swings in DC, because I am weak willed. After about and hour of gabbing, I hopped on Little Nellie and headed westward. I worked my way over to the new M Street Cycletrack. It’s pretty nice and extends one-way all the way to Georgetown. I like how there is a parking lane that separates the cycletrack from the rest of the roadway. I don’t like how several people treated it as an extension of the sidewalk or as a loading zone. And then there were two wrong-way cyclists. What is it about people in this city that they can’t clue in to the obvious.

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Near the end of the cycletrack I was joined by Jacques, Hugo’s dad. He was on his way from Swings to his home in Georgetown. As luck would have it, his house was on my way so we had a good talk for a mile or so. Once Jacques peeled off, I was back on solo mode. I followed Reservior Avenue to MacArthur Boulevard. The cars were going a litttle faster than I am used to so I used the cycletrack along the wide of the road. It’s a bit precarious because turning cars don’t expect to see cyclists when they are turning across the cycletrack.

I survived and made my way to the long hill after the Old Anglers Inn. It’s one of those giant’s staircase hills: riser, tread, riser, tread, riser tread and so on. After dancing with the luxury cars on Falls Road, I turned onto RIver Road heading west. River Road has a series of long downhills followed by long uphills. It can wear your ass out. I just plugged along. I made it through two lane closures with the help of flagmen that gave me defference to the cars.

After a long downhill to Seneca Creek, I momentarilly considered stopping for food and drink at Poole’s General Store. I’ll get some at White’s Ferry, I thought, not wanting to give up the momentum I was building on the downhill.

It was getting hotter but I felt fine. RIver Road becomes a shaded country lane after a while and I was in a world of my own. Then I turned up Mt. Nebo Road and the work began anew. This is another giant’s staircase but much more difficult than the one near Old Anglers.

I was relieved to make it to the top without dying. A short while later I came to a T intersection. I stopped and checked my cellphone for routing options. I decided to ride down to the C&O canal towpath and take that the last five miles to Whites Ferry. I was glad that the towpath was dry but not so fond of the occasional tree route that caught me off guard. I passed several touring cyclsts as I rode. None of them had front panniers just huge piles of stuff on back racks.

I popped out at Whites Ferry where I was to learn that the story and diner were closed. Uh oh. I had to wait for the ferry so I reached into my handlebar bag to check my phone for messages. No phone. Damn!

I looked and looked and couldn’t find it anywhere. I thought about it for a while and decided to head nack to the T-intersection some seven or eight miles back and look for it. I was down to my last half bottle of water and was starting to worry about running out. I passed a campsite along the canal. It had a water pump that was working so I, after testing the water for taste, filled all three bottles to the top. (The water in the well is treated with iodine so no worries about getting sick.)

At the T intersection there was no cellphone. I turned around and headed back to the ferry slowing for every object on the ground that might possibly be a cellphone. I found all kinds of rocks and poo, but no phone. I was pretty diligent when I came to a bump like the speed bump near Edwards Ferry. In several spots tree routes traverse the towpath. I hit a few of these pretty hard so everytime I came to one I slowed and looked hard. Rock. Poo pile. CELL PHONE!!!!

I had blown two hours and 15 miles looking for my phone so I needed to get rolling. The ferry only had three cars and me on it so the load/unload time was brief. The ride up to US 15 was peaceful. The five minute wait for the traffic light was annoying. I rode into Leesburg thankful that the big trucks didn’t roll over me.

There are plenty of places in Leesburg to eat. I couldn’t decide where to stop and I wasn’t all that hungry so I rode on. I banged a left onto the W&OD and headed east. Into a headwind. I am such a sucker for a tailwind that I didn’t notice its gentle assist on the way west. There was nothing to be done but grind it out with one eye on the clouds building to the south.

I as actually hoping for rain at this point. It would have felt great. Lightning not so much. I saw a trailside sign for a beer place but the clouds won. In Sterling I couldn’t resist the big BBQ sign at Carolina Brothers. I really don’t much like barbeque but my belly was all sconed out.

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Snarf.

Back on the trail I kept at it. I stopped again in Vienna for an Arnold Palmer and a Snickers bar. My legs were starting to feel it.

Pedal, pedal.

Since when is Vienna on a hill. Oh, Alps. Must be why they named it Vienna.

Pedal, pedal.

I saw a shirtless Mr. Universe walking along the rode. Dude was ripped. I offered to have his child.

Pedal, pedal.

(Just kidding about that.)

Into Arlington. I saw @Shawnofthedread ridng home from work. Do you know how hard it is to say hi when your mouth is full of Snickers.I wanted to tell him that I had just hit the 100-mile mark but all I could say was “Nom nom.”A little later on Fast Friendly Guy came by. Hi. (Snickers was gone.)

At the end of the W&OD I pressed the button to cross the street to get to the Anderson Trail. A sign above the button said this:

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I needed that laugh. Thank you, signage people.

Rather than mess around with the detour near Route 1, I doublebacked and headed up Commonwealth Avenue through Alexandria. It was a nice flat roll through the city. I caught only one light the whole way and picked up the Mount Vernon Trail south of town.

The storm clouds had broken up. The temperature had dropped into the seventies. The last miles were on autopilot.

117 1/2 miles. I was a bit beat up. My left hand was a little numb. My knees and back were a tad sore.

Pretty darned good way to spend a day off, if you ask me

Pix from the ride are on my Flickr page.

No Mother. Yes Bike Ride, Elbow Later

My mother is in a better place. My wife is in upstate New York with our son. My daughter slept until noon. What should I do?

Big Nellie and I headed out for a flat ride. Yesterday was a bad day for my back so I planned on taking it easy. Within 2 miles my back loosened up and I was good to go. A bunch of #bikedc folk were headed out to a barbeque place on the W&OD bike trail. Most people around her go nuts over barbeque. I think it’s way overrated. (I have eaten at the barbeque place they were headed for. I’m sure it’s great barbeque. For somebody who likes barbeque.)

I rode through Old Town Alexandria and out King Street. Part of King Street is about to get bike lanes after a months long kerfuffle that even involved op ed pieces in the Wall Street Journal. (Pity the Journal’s readers. They can’t get it’s editorial head around the concept of public infrastructure. They probably oppose increases to the gas tax. May they drive over a bridge as it collaspses due to floods caused by man-made climate change.)

King Street, even on Sunday morning, is not a whole lot of fun to ride on. Once I crossed I-395, I jogged north a half mile to the W&OD trail. (Please note: it’s the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. Many people call it the WO and D. Dyslexia lives.)

Out the W&OD I rode against a gradual up grade. I didn’t see anyone I knew and figured the DC biking crowd was behind me. Some 10 miles later I pulled into Cafe Amouri in Vienna and there they were. A group of eight or so cyclists with the buzz of caffeine on their faces. 

I grabbed a Guatamalan coffee (this place makes excellent coffee, by the way) and chatted with the assembled wheelpersons. Most of them took off for barbeque, but Ed and Mary rode up the street a couple of blocks to Bikes at Vienna, the shop where I bought Big Nellie. The shop was closed until noon and this being just after 11 we decided it wasn’t worth waiting around for an hour when the roads were calling our names.

Ed and Mary headed back to DC on their Co-motion Tandem. The thing is huge. It looks like something the Defense Department would design. It’s got racks and bags and bike computers and couplers (so it can be broken down for shipping) and a new generator light and mounts for all sorts of other goodies. It probably cost more than my car. It probably rides better too.

I headed back on the trail, enjoying the 70 degree weather and the slight downhill. I avoided the Mount Vernon Trail on the way home. On days like this it is so congested as to be nearly useless. About four miles from home, I decided to tackle Beacon Hill. It is one of the nastiest climbs around these parts, which explains why I avoid it like the plague. 

After 45 miles I arrived home. Time to mow the lawn and get ready for Elbow at the 9:30 Club in DC. They gave an excellent show the last time they were in DC. Ed and Mary will be there too. Mary is an Elbowhead. (Don’t tell any body.)