Errandonee #5: Car Repair by Bike

There is something not quite right about getting new car tires by bicycle but that’s what I did today. I put Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist, in the trunk of my car and drove to the dealer in North Arlington. Normally, buying tires from a car dealer is dumb but I wanted the same tires that came on my car. And, the dealer cost was $1 more than the Firestone place near my house. Unlike my local Firestone place which screwed up an alignment the last time I went there, my dealer’s mechanics seem somewhat competent.

I took a picture of Little Nellie with my car. As you can see, I pulled into the gray 2009 Accord line.

Errandonnee #5 and #6: Car Fixin

The service clerk asked if I wanted a ride to the Metro and I said, “No thanks. I’ll take my bike.” (Kinda has a nice ring to it, don’t it?)

And I was off. Somehow I managed to nearly get killed twice on the ride to work . My rear brake is not working properly. I rode Quincy Street (named after the TV pathologist) to the Martha Custis Trail.  It was a breezy ride to Rosslyn with some interesting swales in the surface of the trail where winter had been unkind. The little wheels on Little Nellie made them rather nauseating.

I got to work but neglected to take a documentation photo so I can’t count this one as a work errand. No worries, I’m riding to work tomorrow.

During the day, my Saturday bookstore errand was disallowed as a library trip but it still counts as a trip to a store other than a grocery store.

An update on my back: I have been dealing with nasty back problems for about a month. Lately they have migrated to my left hip and knee. I did some web surfing and found out that one side effect of back spasms can be hip bursitis. The treatment is ice and ibuprofen, neither of which I have been using. I took some Vitamin I and slapped some ice on my hip last night. This helped until the ibuprofen wore off at 2 a.m. I woke up for some more “I”.  Suffice it to say I was groggy when I woke up for my first daylight savings time workday of 2014.

I did another set of yoga exercises after awakening today. I can safely say after two weeks of yoga that I have little chance of playing Mr. Fantastic in the Fantastic Four reboot. I looked like a fish on deck trying to do the bow exercise: (1)  Lie on the floor face down. (2) Reach back and grab both ankles. (3) Draw ankles forward toward butt. (4)  Arch upper body up and back. (5) Hold.

I got to (1). This is Spinal Sap.

After I sort of did the yoga routine, I read the “Thoughts for the Day” page in my yoga book. It was all about how housewives would be less miserable and get all the housework done by incorporating yoga into their daily lives. And they’d be all refreshed and invigorated when their husbands came home.

It’s an old yoga book.

Errandonee #5:

Miles: 6 ½

Category: Store that is not a grocery store

Observation: My dealer washes my car whenever he works on it. Wouldn’t it be cool if bike shops did the same with your bike?

Driving Little Nellie

Yesterday, while doing day two of yoga, I felt my back pop. It felt like one of my vertebrae went back into place. It felt pretty good. After my back surgery and eight weeks of misery many years ago, I was lying on the floor and each one of my vertebrae clicked into place. It had never happened before and hasn’t happened since. It was a totally surreal and relaxing moment. So having just one pop was a nice reminder. 

Today was yoga day number three. My flexibility is still pretty sad. During one exercise my neck started making crunchy noises as I turned my head. A little oil, please Dorothy.

Instead of riding to work, I put Little Nellie, my Bike Friday, in the trunk of our 2004 Accord and drove it to a dealer in North Arlington for some TLC. I was a bit worried about lifting the bike and getting it in and out of the trunk but my back tolerated it just fine. The second test was riding the 3+ miles to my office on the Custis Trail. Bike Friday’s are tough on the back. My back didn’t mind at all. In fact, it felt pretty darn good.

My back did stiffen slightly during the afternoon but loosened up when I walked around a bit. The ride back to the dealer featured a nasty headwind and the big hill out of Rosslyn on the Custis but my back was okay.

When I got home, I pulled Little Nellie out of the trunk of the car. The chain got all discombobulated from folding the bike. I wrestled with the bike to free the chain from where it had gotten hung up between the chainrings and a folding joint. This all should have hurt my back but I didn’t even get a twinge. 

My back finally went on protest after dinner. Sitting in the hard chairs in the kitchen seem to really aggravate my lower spine. A little walking around loosened things up again.

I seem to be getting better at last. The question is the yoga helping or would I have gotten better anyway. 

Tomorrow is yet another test: a full 29+ mile commute in the cold. 

No guts, no glory.

Re-cycle Ride

The weather was too nice to do something prudent like rest my back. I needed an excuse to go somewhere that was easy. I had three dead batteries from my old Nite Rider lights so I decided to take them to a place in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood that recycles them.

Before leaving home I did yoga session number two. All the same stuff as yesterday with three additional exercises added. Yesterday’s back bends looked not unlike the Washington Monument. Not exactly limber. Today was better. The three new exercises included one that I do every morning. The other two made me feel like the Tin Man. It’s going to take a few days to get things working right. Even so, my back felt pretty wonderful and I felt like I was 2 inches taller. Funny how standing straight up can do that for you.

The idea was to do a flat ride which means the Mount Vernon Trail to and from home. I figured the trail would be a zoo on a nice weekend day so I headed up Fort Hunt Road. On a whim I decided to ride over to Telegraph Road and cross into Alexandria there. This added two or three short hills to the ride. Until I got to Del Ray and found out the store doesn’t exist anymore.

Plan B was to ride to the Bradlee Shopping Center in the western part of Alexandria. I rode up King Street, up being the operative word here. Traffic was light but King Street is not much fun to bike on. The area around the shopping center is traffic hell and no place to be on a bike. 

As you have probably already figured out I survived. 

My back behaved the entire way until I dismounted. Ouch.  

I rode back through Park Fairfax, a development of apartments and town homes built over 50 years ago. I love this neighborhood but every single inch of curb space was taken up by cars. People had fewer cars back then. 

I had more strength in my legs and back today but after 20 miles I was sucking wind. Fighting your body is exhausting. I took the Mount Vernon Trail home to avoid any unnecessary hills. 

My dismount at home was most unpleasant. I was no longer standing straight but after a few minutes of rest and a hot shower I came back to vertical. 

Tomorrow I’ll only ride about 6 or 7 miles. I have to take one of our cars to the dealer which is only 3 1/2 miles from the office. Little Nellie will get the call. We’ll see if her normally back-unfriendly ride does any damage to my back.

You might think that all these posts about my bad back was getting me down. Pshaw, I say. This evening my friend Charmaine and I made arrangements to go to North Carolina for 3 days of riding near the coast during the first weekend of April. 

Spring, bring it ON!!!!



Time to Stop Messing Around

I am really, really, really getting sick of this back thing. It is definitely better than a week ago but I still can’t stand up straight after sitting in a chair. 

This morning I broke out the big gun. 



I’ve done this program in the past with Mrs. Rootchopper. It’s not easy. The first day is just a short warm up with three exercises. Each one of the first day’s exercises involves a back bend. Dang, am I stiff. Even with my limited range of motion, I could feel my back loosening up. About an hour later. I was standing tall and straight and my back felt fine.

Sadly, this lasted only about 20 minutes.

I spent the rest of the morning dealing with some small tasks around the house, killing time as the temperature outside rose. When it broke 60, I hit the road. 

I didn’t have anywhere to go so I rode around the Fort Hunt neighborhood near my home. I took the Mount Vernon Trail down to Mount Vernon then rode the streets of Woodlawn. During the ride I came upon this cool house with two giant windmills on the roof. A few years ago, a man in a Tesla waved me down while I was riding Big Nellie, my long wheel base recumbent. He was an engineer who was interested in energy saving machines, designs and devices. When we parted, he told me he was building a house near Mount Vernon that would produce more energy than it consumed. Perhaps the windmill house was his.


I rode to the west side of US 1. A new road is under construction that will connect US 1 to Telegraph Road. This will be a welcome addition to the street network. I hope it has bicycle lanes on it.

The ride home was very flat and boring. Just what my back needed. I managed to ride a little over 30 miles. It felt like 50 thanks to my gimpy back. The dismount at home was not a pretty sight. 

Tomorrow is day 2 of the yoga program and the last warm day of February. I’m riding whether my back likes it or not.