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Month: April 2008 Page 1 of 2

happy arbor day!

And to think, I almost missed out on wishing folks glad tidings on my favorite holiday!

(Not that I remembered it was today – it took Dave Letterman to remind me.)

friday my:dc : memorial to the fallen

Sakhi's memorialAnybody who used the Q Street exit from the Dupont Circle Metro station knew him.

They might not have known his name – many called him “Mohammed,” though that wasn’t his real name – but they all knew his knick-knack stand with the umbrellas, scarves and treats. They saw him sit on his stool, his crutch at his side, often flanked by his wife, daughter, or grandson.

They’d see him go to the local restaurants and stores at the end of the business day, collecting the bread, sandwiches, and other food that would otherwise be thrown out. The food would be distributed to the local homeless who slept in the parks around Dupont Circle, and some of the bread would be crumbled and left for his avian friends (sometimes to the consternation of the locals, who claimed that the bread crumbs attracted rats).

They would see him sleeping in his box truck on 20th Street – his home for many years.

And now he’s gone.

Sakhi Gulestan died the morning of March 29, lying in the cab of his box truck. His presence is missed, as this memorial clearly shows. I particularly like the stool – it’s a most appropriate tribute to the man who many saw as part of the Dupont Circle ecosystem.

Wanna see more? Hillary, sprite, Sweetpea, and MsP are all photo-happy and willing to share their unique DC-based views.

cycling in dc: where is the love?

It seems that the coming of spring in DC has brought out three things:

1. Lots of pollen (all cars not kept in garages have a green-yellow hue to them).
2. Lots of cyclists.
3. Lots of angry drivers.

The latter two seem to be related: the glut of cyclists has given the drivers, who had all winter to become content and complacent in their ways with fewer two-wheeled companions on the road, fits of rage.

Evening at Gravelly PointSome of this is warranted. Cyclists in this town tend to be anything but courteous to drivers, are seldom predictable, and tend not to follow basic traffic rules and regs. You’ll see the lot riding in packs, donning headphones, completely dismissing fellow cyclists, motorists, stop signs, traffic lights, and so forth. Many emulate the examples of the hammerheads and couriers, who brashly act as alpha cheetahs in the midst of angry bears and rhinos (the cars). Nothing will stop these folks, save for “sudden deceleration interactions” with cars, potholes, lamp posts, and walls.

And it’s most unfortunate for those of us who use common courtesy on the roads, complete with proper hand signals and full eye contact with drivers. I mean, folks like me even get chided by other cyclists, who truly believe that traffic laws don’t apply (and as a lesson to all cyclists: the only state in the United States where stop signs do not apply to bicycles is Idaho, where they still act as yield signs – i.e. slow down, assess, and stop if necessary). And I’ll admit that I’m not universally adherent to stop signs, but that’s the case in rural areas, where it’s most clear that there’s no cross or oncoming traffic.

But in a city, you get all kinds of cyclists: novices, casual tourists, racers, couriers, commuters, kids and teens playing, etc. And they all interact with the traffic at some point. While it’s not expected that kids will know traffic laws (and kids that young shouldn’t be riding on busy streets at all – at least without a parent watching), any teen or adult should know the laws and follow them. As stated earlier, in most states bikes fall under the same laws that govern motor vehicles. This means riding with traffic in all cases (including one-way streets), signaling intent (turning and stopping), obeying proper yield and right-of-way at intersections, and being assertive without being overly aggressive. Riding this way minimizes the chance of accidents and adverse interactions with motorists.

And on single-lane or narrow roads, take the lane and remain courteous. Many states have “three foot rules” that require motorists passing cyclists to give a three-foot berth to the side of the cyclist. Meanwhile, the only truly safe way to pass parked cars and prevent being “doored” is to give parked cars three feet of space. Where does this put the cyclist? In the middle of the lane – which is perfectly legal and safe.

And while most areas allow bikes to be used on sidewalks, I frown on this quite a bit because of basic safety (pedestrians + limited space + non-predictable surfaces + too many distractions = disaster waiting to happen). For short distances, it’s perfectly reasonable to use the sidewalk, but not for long-distance riding, especially in areas with high pedestrian traffic.

Really, I don’t mean to give the stink eye to all motorists (though if you live in a city or a greater metropolitan area with decent public transit and roads, there’s no real reason to drive anywhere, save for carting very large items to-and-fro). I just want us to interact peacefully and with mutual understanding: I’m willing to follow your rules, so long as you’re willing to accept that I’m equally entitled to use the roads.

wednesday random ten: baker’s dozen

I figure that the fact that the rain is gone, combined with my return to the road bike (it wasn’t that long a break) warrants a WRT return:

  1. “Lemon (Bad Yard Club Edit)” – U2
  2. “Splendid Isolation” – Warren Zevon
  3. “That Day Is Done” – Paul McCartney
  4. “The Burren” – Don Conoscenti
  5. “I Will Follow” – U2
  6. “Falstaff (Act III, part 2)” [Verdi] – The New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein
  7. “Run For Your Life” – Cowboy Junkies
  8. “F.A.G.” – Team America: World Police
  9. “Looking Down” – Winterpills
  10. “Linus And Lucy” – Vince Guaraldi Trio
  11. “Atmosphere Vs. The Dogs Of Dawn” – North Atlantic
  12. “I’m Leaving You Because I Don’t Love You” – Jens Lekman
  13. “Silikon” – Modeselektor & Sasha Perera

workout log: 22 april 2008

Activity: road cycling
Location: Dupont Circle > Bethesda > Dupont Circle
Distance: 21.2 miles
Duration: 1:15
Weather: partly to mostly cloudy, humid, 68-72 degrees
Avg HR: 130 (max 161)
Type: aerobic

PPTC “Downtown Breakawy” ride, Mohican Hills route. Good group, and while I was sore from my weekend crash, I still rode strong. Phillip showed up this week (very cool), so I made sure he didn’t get lost on the circuitous route.

preserve it for the future

Gore Range 2

Happy Earth Day!

riding again

I rode to work on this soggy Monday, taking the Marin (mountain bike) on the rainy roads between The Burrow and the office. Rain gear is a nice think to have, though I need some rain covers for my shoes. Thankfully, my socks and shoes dried quickly in front of my office’s oscillating fan.

I need to re-tape the left side of the Pedal Force’s handlebar, as my tape took a lot of damage during the crash. The handlebar is slightly bent, and I’ll see if it bothers me enough to hasten its replacement. Regardless, a new bar will be installed before mid-summer, just for safety’s sake. The front wheel is true again, though the tech who trued it says that I should look into a new front wheel (or a new rim, at the very least), as I give it a bit of a tortional bend that can’t be fixed. It’s a fine wheel for now, but better to be safe than sorry.

Otherwise, I’m recovering fine. The aches are mostly gone, the road rash is now a technicolor rainbow of “ouch,” and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s “Downtown Breakaway” – assuming the rain clears before then.

workout log: 19 april 2008

Activity: road cycling
Location: Marshall > Bluemont > Marshall, VA (Backward Blue Ridger)
Distance: 55.6 miles
Duration: 3:01
Weather: sunny, warm, with a strong south wind, 70-80 degrees
Avg HR: 140 (max 165)
Type: aerobic

PPTC “regdiR eulB” ride. Rode the hills – Naked Mt. and Mt. Weather – very strong, which was a plus (and a bit of a surprise, given how early it is in the season). After the rest stop in Bluemont, crashed fairly hard on Airmont Road after hitting a pothole. Managed to not get anything markedly worse the a bit of road rash, some bumps and bruises, and a cramped left calf. Bike suffered some damage: front wheel knocked out of true, bar tape on left side mangled, handlebar slightly bent due to it taking a lot of my weight during the fall. I’m sore now (will be more so by morning), but will be able to ride again tomorrow if the weather holds off.

Garmin Edge 305 with HRM

friday my:dc : abandoned bricks

Addison SchoolAddison School is one of many small schools of its kind in Georgetown. They’re all red brick buildings, small compared to modern DCPS structures, and all are no longer schools. Most have been converted to condominiums or offices, and have received some TLC as a result.

But not Addison. From all appearances, the condo conversion is indefinitely stalled – it’s been in this condition since I moved to DC in 2003. And that’s why I like it: the stories the façade tells in its abandonment is a stark reminder of the multi-class neighborhood that Georgetown used to be. I particularly love the shadow of the letters on the brick – it’s as if the building is saying “I was somebody, please set me free again.”

Want further evidence that DC is more than just The Mall? Hillary, sprite, Sweetpea, and MsP are all participating in the photographic phun – check ’em out!

when in colorado, ski you must

Deep tuftsWhen I was in Colorado back in January, my friend Paul mentioned that he’d be having an end-of-season party to celebrate his first year of sobriety. He said I should come out and have some fun – not a tough sell, right? So I booked my tickets back to Colorado, and had a great time skiing there this past weekend.

After a bit of a delay getting into Denver (due to fog in New England that muddled the schedule of many westbound Southwest Airlines flights), I made it into the Rockies (where snow was falling in large bursts) and to Paul’s house in Eagle, which is west of Vail. We spent the evening catching up a bit, and then got some shut eye as the next morning…

…dawned powdery! Yes! We piled our stuff into my Jeep and made our way to Vail, where the powder was ample, and where our friends, Don and Betsy, were waiting to share in the bounty. Run after run, we aimed for the fresh snow: down wide boulevards, over moguls small and big, through trees and threading chutes. Paul showed us some fun routes that are off the official map, and all of us had ear-to-ear grins as we enjoyed mid-winter conditions (in April!) with powder that ranged from ankle to mid-thigh in depth.

We skied most of the mountain. On the front side, we cruised the rollers on Ledges and made zipper lines through the bumps on Zot. In the Back Bowls, we had fun cruising China Bowl and poaching a few turns in WFO. And in Blue Sky Basin we laughed in delight as we “sipped” the powder in Champagne Glades.

There wasn’t a dull run all day long – we even finished with a nice little aspen glade for our last run – and we all returned to our cars tired, but very pleased that we enjoyed such an ideal day.

Day two, Saturday, was the day of Paul’s big bash. His wife, Renée, had done a lot of shopping for the party, the fruits of her labors stuffed into the back of their VW EuroVan, which Paul and I carted to Arapahoe Basin early that morning. Renée and their son, Justin, followed in their Audi, as we arrived at A-Basin just after 8 a.m. to claim our spots on “The Beach,” the area of A-Basin’s parking lot that opens up onto the bottom of the ski hill. During the spring, “The Beach” is party central in the Rockies, with huge parties featuring grills, benches, umbrellas, bands – and even portable hot tubs!

But our party was to celebrate the one year anniversary of Paul’s sobriety – it’s been a helluva turnaround for him, his family and his friends, and all for the better. So while the surrounding camps devolved into various states of pickling, we concentrated on the food (burgers and brats), the friends (who were there from all over the place), and the skiing.

Looking down the basinAnd skiing at A-Basin is a really retro experience. It reminded me quite a bit of Alta, Utah: slower lifts, not as much grooming, and some incredible lines through rocky terrain. The only discernible differences are the presence of snowboarders (still verboten at Alta) and the high altitude. A-Basin tops out (lift-wise) at 12,500 feet, which makes for a lot of oxygen starvation if you overdo it.

I ended up having fun skiing with Don, Betsy, Spence, Tracy, Katy and other random friends of Paul. We had too much fun exploring the mountain, which was wind-whipped and cold for April 12th. The benefits of the wind were many, though: fewer crowds on the fun terrain, and re-deposited powder back in Montezuma Bowl. The only odd part of that equation was the somewhat mysterious entry into said bowl, as the snow obscured the lip of the cornice leading into the powder-laden trough. Somehow, though, we managed to find our way down.

On Sunday, Paul and I made our way back to Vail. And unlike our mid-winter experience on Friday, Sunday’s weather dawned sunny and warm, with temperatures making their way through the 40s to near 50 degrees (F) as the day progressed. What was light powder on Friday was corn and “mashed potatoes” by Sunday – a perfect spring skiing recipe!

We started our day with a couple laps on Vail’s front side groomers, where we sliced beautiful arcs into uncrowded corduroy. However, we had friends to meet – Bob, Pete, Greg and Mike – so we made our way to the summit of Chair 4. As we waited for our friends to arrive, we saw the beginnings of the costumed crazies that make closing day at Vail such a trip: Captain America was there to keep the peace, and a wayward woman in a prom dress traded money for photographs. It was quite the sight, and only got more insane as the day progressed.

But we were there to ski – and ski, we did! Once we met up with Pete and Bob (and Pete’s friend, Rick), we made our way back to Blue Sky Basin for a few laps of Steep & Deep and Heavy Metal. We even did a short out-of-bounds excursion that featured some steep and fun trees (still with nice, soft powder) and a slalom-like tree run back into the ski area (I had to practice my gate blocking skills to fend off the pine boughs).

Poppin' the pink champaleWe then met up with Greg and his son, Mike, who were also at the previous day’s party. With them, we skied a couple of laps on the Teacup lift. On the first ride up the lift, I scouted out a nice, tall cornice at the entrance to Genghis Khan, one of the lines in China Bowl. On the next run, I let Paul lead out to the lip of the cornice and asked him if the landing was clear. He nodded with a bit of confusion as I took a running start and lept off the cornice ledge into the bowl. I got some nice air, then stuck the landing into 5 big, sweeping super-G turns, hearing the whoops and hollers coming from the chairlift above (which happened to be stopped at the time – a captive audience). Paul met me a minute or so later, laughing and marveling that I did something so crazy. But it was such a rush!

We wound down the day as the temperatures soared and the snow became sticky. We met up again with Bob at the top of Chair 4 to see out the rest of the season, basking in the sun, watching the drunken revelers celebrate the end of a record-setting season in the Colorado high country. As the clock passed 4 p.m., the last skiers made their way up the mountain and Paul, Bob and I made our way down. The last run was sweet, and we took our time to lap it up. While it was not the end of Paul’s season, it was the end of mine, so I decided to save it for posterity:

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