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Category: cycling (Page 1 of 44)

Coffeeneuring during foliage season

coffeeneuring 2016: something old, something new…

It’s autumn, so it’s time for another round of Coffeeneuring. Still being underemployed (seriously, folks: somebody hire me!), I didn’t really jump on the challenge like I did last year. Perhaps it’s the general malaise of being extremely constricted financially, perhaps it’s that my hip is being pesky (let’s just say that, once ski season is done, that hip replacement can’t come soon enough), or just exhaustion from a contentious political season that left me emotionally spent.

Let’s face it: it’s been a tough 2016. I’ve had some great highs and some awful lows. As the year nears its end, my level of optimism isn’t particularly high. But there are bit of hope. Ski season is nigh, and I’m enjoying the challenge of being Head Coach for Liberty Mountain Race Team. The holidays always bring friends and family together – and these connections matter more than ever during low times.

And without fail, the bike provides escape to a more carefree world – a needed batch of smiles and freedom, if only for a while. Get your escape where you can, right?

Following in last year’s footsteps, I didn’t choose a secondary theme. This is likely because of my general “meh” feeling of late – I just couldn’t be bothered to think up some funky way to bind all of these rides together other than “well, they all have a coffee break in the itinerary.” So that will have to do for another year.

As with last year, if you click on the mileage numbers you can see the Strava recordings of each ride. These contain additional photos from each adventure and are worth the click!

Adventure the First:
Date: 10 October
Distance Ridden: 67.5 miles
Location: Middle Ground Cafe, Stafford Springs, CT
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (on a main drag through the center of a New England mill town, so not a lot of bike parking adjacent to the shop, though the town is sleepy enough that leaning your bike outside the shop is fairly safe; lots of great food options here)
Drink: double espresso (Counter Culture… I think?)


Lesson Learned: My first coffeeneuring outing for 2016 happened over Columbus Day weekend while sprite and I were in Connecticut. My initial plan for this day was to ride a full 100 mile century visiting Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts with three or four stops for coffee. However, the day started out a bit more chilly than planned, so I got off to a later start and had to scrap the three state itinerary. I decided to improvise my route instead, while still making at least two coffee stops. This was the first stop, and one I’d been meaning to visit for some time. It was worth it: fun staff and a really great pull of espresso. I also stopped at Coriander Café in Eastford, one of my stops in 2015, and enjoyed lunch in the sun. The new route introduced me to some lovely gravel roads through scenic and peaceful woods, as well as a country store that offered many kinds of candies for 2¢ per piece – score! I arrived home just before sunset. Tara Rule invoked.

Adventure the Second:
Date: 22 October
Distance Ridden: 14.5 miles
Location: Armed Forces Retirement Home grounds, Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 5/10 (not a place you can ride outside of DCCX, but the roads are fun and winding, and it’s a splendid venue for cyclocross, roads to access the AFRH have bike lanes and nice pavement)
Drink: drip coffee (Ceremony Coffee from La Mano Coffee)


Lesson Learned: The plan for this coffeeneuring day was to do some on-the-spot brewing for The Bluemont Connection and District Cycle Works at their DCCX tent. However, the weather was very windy, so any hope of running a camp stove to heat water was quickly quashed. Luckily, Idit was able to stop at La Mano Coffee and brought hot coffee and chai for folks to enjoy. The racing was spectacular – so cool to have a UCI cyclocross race within the District of Columbia! I also got to cheer on many friends in their races, catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and take in a place in DC that I’d only seen from the windows of National Rehabilitation Hospital back in January 2014. Coffeehouse in the wild.

Adventure the Third:
Date: 5 November
Distance Ridden: 48.4 miles
Location: Spokes Etc., Belle View (Alexandria), VA
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (it’s a bike shop, so it’s bike friendly by design, though the road it’s on has a decent amount of traffic; there’s also another good coffee shop in the same shopping plaza)
Drink: drip coffee (Dunkin’ Donuts)

#latergram of my #coffeeneuring at the @potomacpedalers maintenance clinic at @spokesetc in Belle Haven.

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: I was at Spokes to help teach a bicycle maintenance clinic for Potomac Pedalers. The coffee and donuts were procured from the Dunkin’ next door to the bike shop. The class was held in the basement of the store, where Park Tool classes are typically conducted. There’s also a large storage area down here, where Spokes keeps hundreds of bikes at the ready to sell. I rode to and from the clinic, and after the class concluded I went on a ride around the Fort Hunt area with my friend Ed, who was fresh off a multi-week trip to the Canadian maritimes. It was a great day for riding a bike, and the foliage at Fort Hunt Park was spectacular!

Adventure the Fourth:
Date: 6 November
Distance Ridden: 5.6 miles
Location: Grace Street Coffee, Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (easy to get to and has lots of tasty food with its fellow co-location businesses, but there’s a lack of good places to lock a bike in front of the store, and a narrow sidewalk preventing the installation of racks – though there is a bike rack at a plaza adjacent to the C&O Canal Towpath approximately 200 feet west of the shop entrance)
Drink: latté (Grace Street Coffee Roasters)

#coffeeneuring in Georgetown – cool new coffee house in the ‘hood. #alwaysbecoffeeneuring

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: The new coffee house in Georgetown is a funky little place, and opened just before this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge commenced – splendid timing. The space is shared with a juice bar and a brick-and-mortar location of SUNdeVICH, a well-known food truck. It’s also on the same street as the awesome Dog Tag Bakery (another solid coffee stop) and Chaia (vegetarian tacos!). The crew in there is always in motion, which is good, as they became backlogged with orders due to a lack of barista manpower. The space seems like a good place to hang out or even get some work done. There’s a cute little patio in the back of the space that gets sun at some points in the day. sprite and I ended up enjoying our beverages and edibles (the latter from Dog Tag) in the little plaza outside of HOK Design, next to the C&O Canal.

Adventure the Whateverth:
Date: 12 November
Distance Ridden: 78.1 miles
Location: Zaglio’s Bakery, Poolesville, MD
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (tasty treats, friendly staff, and a good bathroom here, though no bike parking in the strip mall location)
Drink: drip coffee (roaster unknown)

#coffeeneuring and #granddonut? Yum!

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: This coffeeneuring stop was the main rest stop on a lovely weekend ride with Ted. We rolled out to Poolesville via both well-traveled and less-well-known roads, making Zaglio’s our primary coffee and snack stop. My donut there was awesome: light and fluffy, with chocolate, caramel, and coconut flake toppings. The foliage on this ride had some spectacular flourishes (see the headline image for this post as an example), though it was definitely heading into a past-peak state along many parts of our route. We made quite a few stops for pictures, as the weather and the light were ideal for this. Early in the ride, we saw Dru Ryan at the Starbucks in Potomac Village Shopping Center – great to finally meet him in person. He was rocking some excellent A Tribe Called Quest socks, appropriate given their new album dropped the previous day.

Adventure the Whateverth-plus-two:
Date: 13 November
Distance Ridden: 5.1 miles
Location: Kristina’s Cafe and Pastries, Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (on a side street off of the lower end of MacArthur Boulevard, no bike racks but plenty of deck space for parking a bike, clean bathroom inside, and decent food options)
Drink: latté machiatto (Illy Coffee)

#latergram of my #coffeeneuring outing with sprite to @kristinascafe in Foxhall Village. #latte #caffeine #bikeDC

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: sprite and I spent some Sunday afternoon time on this coffeeneuring outing to the new café in Foxhall Village. Our route involved a couple of sidewalk stretches to avoid cresting the hill at the intersection of Reservoir and Foxhall Roads, taking us instead through the lovely British pastiche of Foxhall Village. The café wasn’t busy – it was late in the afternoon – but the one outside table in full sun was taken by another patron. We managed to move another table into the sun, which was nice. Our cupcakes were underwhelming: small and nondescript. My latté was better than the cupcake by far, though I wish this place used coffee from a local roaster – nothing against Illy, but given the wealth of local options in coffee roasting, it seems odd to go with “the Starbucks of Italy.”

Adventure the Whateverth-plus-a-few:
Date: 19 November
Distance Ridden: 66.8 miles
Location: Cafe Kindred, Falls Church, VA
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (1.5 blocks from the W&OD Trail, 1 block from Bikenetic, )
Drink: double espresso (Vigilante Coffee)

#coffeeneuring stop the whateverth-plus-a-few: espresso at Cafe Kindred. #radlerlife

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: This day was the last one predicted to be really warm for a while (likely for the rest of the year), and my available days for riding on weekends are coming to a close with the approach of ski season. So I gathered some friends and went on a lovely bike ride in northern Virginia, all the while logging my final coffeeneuring stop for the season. The ride spent a lot of its outbound leg on the W&OD Trail, and it was great to see the new segment of trail in Vienna: wide, smooth, with good sight lines. There were a lot of people on the trail, but nothing like the density of mid summer. Once in Reston, we ventured north off the trail toward Great Falls. The sunny, pleasant weather was perfect for riding, and a bit of die-hard foliage greeted us along Beach Mill Drive. Ed led us down an unpaved, slightly rough trail to Great Falls Park. We had a snack stop at Yas Bakery in Vienna, a favorite Persian market, where sour cherry nectar was the drink of choice. On the way back to DC, Marc and I had a lunch, espresso, and beer break at Cafe Kindred – so good! As we left, a dark wall of clouds approached from the west. The air grew colder, the wind started to gust. By the time I reached Georgetown, gingko berries hit me like rocks due to the stiff, gusting wind. I sought shelter at District Cycle Works, then made the rest of the ride home just before the rain began to fall. Winter definitely rolled in with fury.

Total Mileage: 286 miles

#projectfemur: my hip is now missing a couple of bits… for the better

My hip/femur is now a few grams lighter. There’s less pain and more mobility. #projectfemur – for now – feels quite a bit better.

Sixteen days ago, Dr. Faucett removed some of the hardware from my January 2014 reconstructive surgery. As I wrote about in my previous post, the screws that bound my femoral head to the rod that aligned my broken femur had made their way into my hip capsule, playing bundles of nerves like a guitar pick on a string.

It was painful, to say the least. Standing up, sitting down, lifting my leg, walking, running, skiing – it all hurt. In the weeks leading into this most recent surgery, even riding my bike was painful. The nerves were so aggravated on a ride one week prior to my surgery that my entire right leg went numb, and I had to ride 25 miles back to DC more-or-less on one leg’s worth of power.

No more screws

Look ma: no more screws!

The surgery was a laparoscopic procedure, minimally invasive. One screw came out without a hitch, while the other brought a bit of dead bone with it on the way out so I wasn’t able to keep it. There was a ton of post-operative swelling: laparoscopy requires a lot of fluid to be flushed through the working area to provide a view for the camera, so the incisions drained for the better part of 30 hours. It was painful at first, and awkward.

But the pain soon subsided (I was off of the opioids within a couple of days, save for a few nights’ worth to aid sleep comfort during the heat wave), the swelling went down, and mobility returned to my leg rather quickly. I’m on a prescription NSAID (Celebrex, FWIW) that’s keeping any latent pain in check, but there isn’t a lot of pain to be found. I was cleared to bear full weight on the leg from the get-go, and graduated from two crutches to one within a week.

So things are better, much better.

However, the nerve pain being greatly reduced shows me how much biomechanical compensation I’ve introduced into my walking over the past year. My right hip flexor, gluteus, adductors, and hamstrings are very weak, and my right abductor is smaller than its left counterpart. In fact, my upper leg is one inch smaller in diameter than the left, and both legs are very lean right now. Below the knee, things are just about equal.

Two legs, two sizes

My legs as of August 31, 2016: one is smaller than the other…

So I know what work I need to do in the next two months: get the right leg back into shape and try to get back some of the flexibility it had before necrosis set in. I know not to expect 100 percent pre-injury mobility, and that even 100 percent pre-injury strength is tough given the femur is still eroding. But getting things into shape, and closer to equilibrium, is key, whether I’m heading into a full ski season this winter or a total hip replacement just after Halloween (the timeline depends on how pain levels even out over the next 4-6 weeks, but I’m optimistic).

Dr. Faucett says it’s now entirely my own timeline to write, and I have a prescription for physical therapy to help along the problem areas. The muscles are already saying “thank you” to me in anticipation.

I’ll be researching orthopedists to do my total hip replacement. I have two primary parameters: the orthopedist must be well versed in revisions of previous hip replacements (i.e. compensating for already-compromised and rebuilt joints), and must be good at rebuilding the hips of impact sport athletes. I will leave no stone unturned in finding the right surgeon and the right replacement hardware for my needs.

Until then, I’m back on the bike, starting tonight at the penultimate “Downtown Breakaway” for the year. It’s a ride I organize every year, and I’ve missed the last two weeks due to the surgery. While I won’t be at 100 percent, it’ll be good to be back out there on two wheels with my friends.

Stay tuned…

#projectfemur turns 2.0: osteonecrosis

I know, I know: it’s been a long while since my last update on… well, anything. For this, I apologize.

Heck, two years ago this week, I went on one of my first club bike rides after my surgery.

First club ride after surgery, August 9, 2014.

It was awesome – as was the 2015 riding season!

During the 2015-16 winter season, I had a really successful alpine ski coaching experience, helping my athletes qualify for elite regional championship competitions.

Coach Rudi at Sunday River, March 2016

That rocked!

But there was a specter lurking in the background. It is a single word:

osteonecrosis

Also known as avascular necrosis, it’s a condition where blood supply gets cut off within a bone, causing the bone to die. It is caused by any number of things, and I’m not sure how I happened to develop it, but it’s there, clear as day, in my femoral head.

Avascular necrosis has taken over my femoral head - not good.

Avascular necrosis has taken over my femoral head – not good.

How did my discovery of this come about?

Let’s do a quick recap:

After my one year surgery anniversary, things were good:

My femoral head, one year after its repair.

My femoral head, one year after its repair.

See that nice, round femoral head? See the clean mending of where I was once broken in two? All good!

I skied in 2014-15. I rode my bike a lot once I was free to ride outdoors. I hiked. I ran.

But then things went off the rails.

Back around Thanksgiving of 2015, I started to feel a bit of pain and catching in my right hip. It was here-and-gone stuff, and while my hip had always been a bit stiff in the morning, until then it had been able to get into the swing of things rather quickly on most days.

But by late November, the pain was more intense, sharper, and sustained. Sure, it would go away after a little while, but sometimes it would just stay there all day. Ibuprofen would calm the pain most of the time, but not all of the time. And I’d get a real nerve pinch down my adductor (I believed this to be a lingering side-effect of tearing said adductor a few years before my femur break).

As the ski season commenced, the pain continued to intensify. When I flew out to Utah for a USSA certification clinic, some of the on-snow exercises were tough to pull off. I noticed a decreasing ability to lift my right leg laterally. Every afternoon after the skiing was over, I’d spend time in the hot tub at my hotel, then stretch to try and loosen my hip, often to only semi-successful levels.

During a bike ride over the Christmas holidays in Connecticut, my right adductor would lock up in a painful way, and my hip would mis-track, causing my entire pedal stroke to degrade into spasmodic chaos – no fun. And a ski camp that occurred immediately thereafter was equally pain-laden, though skiing wasn’t too difficult to pull off without pain.

However, as the ski season continued (I was coaching four days per week all season long, sometimes more during intense racing times, from January through mid-March), the pain grew, the pain medications were less effective, and certain activities required in my work (e.g. having to drive long-ish distances to racing venues, skiing with large, heavy bundles of slalom gates, etc.) became downright excruciating. I’d demonstrate skills to my racers, trying to mask the pain in my expression. I even fell on the screws that attached my femoral head during the initial healing time, which was not pleasant at all, smarting for weeks.

Every day was masked in hip pain that would, at times, radiate down my leg. My walking gait became so labored and awkward that everybody could tell something was wrong. At least on a bike, I could be more-or-less normal, my December pain eventually subsiding as I began to ride more in the spring. But my range of motion in my right leg was compromised, catching in painful ways and making me feel like an old, helpless man.

Eventually, I had to clear things up with my orthopedist. X-rays happened, finding that one of the screws in the femoral head had been knocked through the head, the tip impinging my hip socket and possibly dragging over nerve bundles that travel down my leg. My doctor thought this could be part of the cause of the pain, and said that the screws should come out – a simple outpatient procedure.

My femoral head as of June 2016.

My femoral head as of June 2016.

Worrying both my doctor and me, though, was a random bone fragment that showed itself on another X-ray. As X-rays don’t show things in three dimensions, he ordered a CT scan for my right hip. I had it performed at GW Hospital, in their latest CT scanner (a very quiet machine).

When my doctor called me two days later from an out-of-town conference, I knew things were not good.

He kept it simple: I had osteonecrosis, and am facing total hip replacement.

Fuck. Damn. Shit. Why? How? Fuuuuuuuuck!

I received this news a few days before departing for a week long family vacation at Cape Cod, which left me plenty of time to digest this news and start researching my options. There is a lot to learn about hip replacement, that’s for sure!

The long and short: I’ll get back my leg length and range of motion with any hip replacement method, which is a big plus. The minus is that anything other than basic cruising on alpine skis is highly discouraged, as it can displace, dislocate, or fully break the replacement hip. I hope to speak with some elite ski coaches who have had THR to get their perspectives on living with a replacement hip as a high-level skier.

I’ve since seen a second orthopedist to get a second opinion – major medical things like this should get a second opinion – and he confirmed the same diagnosis as my original doctor. He did, however, recommend having the hardware from #projectfemur removed first (the same thing my original orthopedist recommended), allowing the femur to adjust to a non-titanium-enhanced state and to prevent possible infection of the marrow channel if I get a total hip replacement during the same surgery.

And that’s what I’m going to do this coming Monday, August 15th, with my original doctor, Dr. Faucett, doing the honors. It’s a short, outpatient procedure, and recovery should be fairly quick. Hopefully, getting the screws out of my hip socket will alleviate much of the leg pain I have these days – and it is a lot of pain, lemme tell ‘ya!

But I look forward to this next chapter of #projectfemur – and yes, it’ll need a new hashtag. I’ll figure that out sometime soon.

Once the incisions heal and swelling subsides from this upcoming surgery, I’ll assess my pain levels. And I’m going to keep riding my bike – something that’s encouraged by both doctors to maintain strength and cardiovascular health (trust me, I don’t want another pulmonary embolism or similar issue). I’ll be on crutches for a few days, then a cane, then just plain walking again.

And then the bike – definitely the bike.

It’ll be a minimum of two months before I dive into the more major procedure of total hip replacement. Hopefully I’ll get enough pain relief to delay this until spring of 2017 – and thus will be able to ski and perform my coaching duties more-or-less as usual. If not, surgery will likely happen later in the fall, and I’ll be coaching from a lawn chair. I’m up to the challenge, either way.

But right now my focus is on Monday’s surgery. And I apologize in advance to the ski team’s board of directors: I may be a bit groggy during the evening conference call that evening. Heheheheh…

Coffeeneuring 2015: When You Have The Time… (updated 22 Oct)

Another year of Coffeeneuring is in the books. As I’m currently without a job*, there was a bit more freedom in my ability to adventure and log stops (I’ll also note any supplemental stops in another posting).

There is the suggestion of a “theme within a theme” in this year’s Coffeeneuring Challenge. The closest I could come up with is “places that also serve baked goods,” but I think I’m going to settle on the approach of Monty Python’s “Bruces” sketch and claim that my secondary theme was to have no secondary theme. I simply enjoyed the rides too much, and relished the tasty beverages to the point of throwing the secondary theme out the proverbial window – that’s OK, MG, am I right? 😉

Note that you can see the route and additional pictures from each Coffeeneuring outing by clicking on the link in the “Distance” line – visual reference is a good thing, right?

Adventure the First:
Date: 3 October 2015
Distance: 6.1 miles
Location: A Baked Joint, Mt. Vernon Square, Washington DC
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (bike shop adjacent, though no bike racks anywhere to be seen, free H2O refills)
Drink: latté

#coffeeneuring stop the first: A Baked Joint! And a rainy ride to get here.

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: A Baked Joint is a wonderful space, their bread is fantastic, and their coffee drinks are every bit as good as those at Baked & Wired (without the cupcake-driven crowds). Given BicycleSPACE is next door, it’s bewildering that there isn’t a bike rack out front. We rode through rain and drizzle during almost all riding parts of this adventure.
Also Visited: 5th Street Hardware (they offer many fun sodas from all over the country – bought Frostop root beer and red birch beer), Safeway, Giant, Whole Foods (these last three in search of panang curry paste – a fruitless endeavor).

Adventure the Second:
Date: 7 October 2015
Distance: 60.3 miles
Location: Dunkin Donuts, Hyattstown, MD
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (on a busy road, no bike racks tho none needed)
Drink: double shot of espresso

The most twee little espresso cup for a weekday #coffeeneuring outing in Hyattsville, MD.

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: This stop was during a test ride of a Potomac Pedalers route. Espresso shots at Dunkin are the cheapest coffee drink on the menu: 69¢ per shot (sometimes as expensive as 99¢), and it’s a generous shot that tastes quite good. The espresso shot cup at Dunkin is the cutest little cup. Crossing MD-355 to Clarksburg is not too appealing, though once past the new condo subdivisions there are some spectacular farms and quiet, shaded roads. Unemployment/Retirement Rule invoked.

Adventure the Third:
Date: 12 October 2015
Distance: 53.9 miles
Location: Coriander Café, Eastford, CT
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (many great, bike-friendly roads lead there, no racks for locking but no need, staff love cyclists, free H2O refills, cyclist-friendly to-go snacks – e.g. homemade oat bars)
Drinks: pumpkin latté and double shot of espresso

The goods: pumpkin latté, double espresso, danish, and an oat bar for on-the-bike noshing. #coffeeneuring

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: Eastford is a big town with a tiny commercial center. Coriander Café’s food and drink are first class without the prices typically associated with such lovely fare. The riding to and from traverses Yale Forest, which is peaceful and beautiful, with one route through the woods on smooth, blissful dirt. Tara Rule invoked.

Adventure the Fourth:
Date: 14 October 2015
Distance: 8.0 miles
Location: Block Island Ferry en route from Block Island to Point Judith, RI
Bike Friendliness: n/a (it’s a ferry – bike parking is ample and secure, I guess)
Drink: hot cocoa

The #coffeeneuring beverage of choice is hot cocoa on the @blockislandferry – yum!

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: Block Island is a beautiful place, though if you go after Columbus Day many businesses are shuttered for the season. This made for tough hot drink discovery. We had sub-par hot drinks at Mohegan Café and Brewery (the drip coffee was decent, the hot tea was very blah), so the Block Island Ferry was the better option – and a more unique venue (the Atlantic Ocean) for a hot drink after 8 miles of lovely bike touring on the island. Vacation Rule invoked.
Also Visited: North Lights Fibers (alpacas in the yard!), Southern Point lighthouse, Mohegan Bluffs, Crescent Beach, old burial ground, airport.

Greetings from Mohegan Bluffs! #coffeeneuring #bikeRI #radlerlife #blockisland

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on

Adventure the Fifth: DISQUALIFIED (more than two stops in a week)!
Date: 16 October 2015
Distance: 7.6 miles
Location: The Coupe, Columbia Heights, Washington DC
Bike Friendliness: 8/10 (bike lane adjacent, plentiful racks, free H2O refills)
Drinks: hot cider with bourbon, espresso shot

#coffeeneuring stop the fifth: bourbon hot cider & espresso for me, lavender cocoa for sprite at The Coupe.

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: The Coupe’s menu is very veggie/vegan friendly. Their PB&J sundae flip-turns the concept, with concord grape ice gream and peanut butter sauce (delicious). Vacation Rule invoked.
Also Visited: Upshur Street Books, The BakeHouse.

Adventure the Sixth:
Date: 17 October 2015
Distance Ridden: 5.2 miles
Location: Dublin Coffee Roasters, Frederick, MD
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (busy road, easy to leave bike outside but no easy locking places, free H2O refills)
Drink: drip coffee plus bean purchase


Lesson Learned: Woman owned-and-operated coffee roaster where no beans for sale are more than 4 days from roasting. Big spaces inside used for community meetings (can be reserved). Raise money for many local charities. Can buy a bottomless mug of in-house drip coffee and have hand-pours of anything they have recently roasted. Across the street from Monocacy Brewing Company (must visit next time). did this ride after a scheduled Potomac Pedalers ride (Feats of Strength).

I also bought some freshly roasted beans at @dublin_roasters – yummmmmy! #coffeeneuring #bikeMD #radlerlife

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on

Adventure the Seventh:
Date: 18 October 2015
Distance Ridden: 2.1 miles
Location: Teaism, Dupont Circle, Washington DC
Bike Friendliness: 7/10 (bike lane adjacent, shortage of racks but no shortage of lock-to objects, free H2O refills)
Drink: hot chai

We polished off the chai before we snapped the pic – we wanted warm drinks! #coffeeneuring

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: The only location I’ve been to before (as it is 1.5 blocks from my house). New menu is OK, though the new, locally-sourced flatbread is inferior to the not-as-local naan they used to serve.

Bikes en route. #coffeeneuring #bikeDC #radlerlife

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on

Adventure the Eighth:
Date: 19 October 2015
Distance Ridden: 65.5 miles
Location: Main Street Daily Grind, Front Royal, VA
Bike Friendliness: 6/10 (no official bike parking, tho easy to lean bike against shop exterior within clear view, clean bathrooms, quiet road)
Drink: latté

#coffeeneuring stop the eighth: latté at Daily Grind in Front Royal, VA. #bikeVA #radlerlife

A photo posted by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on


Lesson Learned: I’d never been to this coffee shop in Front Royal, and it’s a lovely place. Yes, you need to leave Shenandoah National Park to get to it, but it’s worth the 1.5 miles of detour. The foliage on Skyline Drive was peak to slightly past peak, quite lovely though not as fluorescent as I experienced in the Berkshires. Dustin, my riding mate, was a good rabbit – my legs were shot by mile 50 or so, with my core being in suffer mode all day due to four (!) core workouts the day before.

 

* – Yes, I’m without a job right now. I’m in search of a job in transportation/cycling consulting, or IT project management that skews toward transportation or urban design. Consult my other site for CV info.

Julie and Sam on a raft

use the road safely (in memory of sam felder)

One year ago today, my friend, Sam Felder, was riding his bicycle to work, as he did most days. He said goodbye to his wife and daughter, then set off for his office at Facebook.

Only on November 18, 2013, he never arrived at work. Instead, he was struck by a car at a dangerous intersection. He suffered severe brain trauma, spent time in multiple hospitals and rehab centers, and eventually succumbed to his injuries on April 11, 2014.

Given I’m a year-round bicycle commuter, and given Sam was a big-time proponent of using a bicycle for everyday tasks (and for making the roads safe for everybody), here’s my plea to all users of the road:

If you drive a car/van/truck, please be mindful of your fellow road users, especially the most vulnerable: pedestrians and cyclists. Obey the posted speed limits. Stop at all stop signs and red lights. Check your blind spots. Use your turn signals. Give cyclists at least 3 feet (1 meter) of clearance when passing. Only pass cyclists and other motorists when absolutely safe. Never use your cell phone while driving. Never text while driving. And don’t get angry at slower road users, as they have every right to be on the road.

If you ride a bicycle, please be mindful of you fellow road users, including fellow cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. Make eye contact with drivers. Ride courteously, but visibly. Wear bright clothing, especially if you ride before sunrise or after sunset. Use lights when it’s dark or raining. Indicate what you plan to do with clear hand signals. Don’t run red lights or stop signs – ever. Ride predictably. Don’t talk on your phone or text while riding. Be kind to your fellow rider, and encourage your fellow cyclists to do the same. And don’t snap at motorists: you win more fans with kindness than anger.

If you are a pedestrian (including runners), please be mindful of your fellow road users. Be visible, especially at night, and wear bright clothing. Don’t tune out the entire world with your music, as hearing is a safety mechanism. Make eye contact with your fellow road users. Don’t jog in bike lanes – ever. Smile. Act predictably.

For any mode: be the best advocate you can be for complete streets.

Above all: be safe. It’s the least that Sam would want as his legacy. If you can, chip in a few bucks in Sam’s honor to The Alliance for Biking and Walking. Volunteer with your local cycling or pedestrian advocacy organization. If you drive, join an auto club that also supports cycling and walking.

And say “I love you” to your loved ones. Hold them close. Show them you care.

R.I.P., Sam Felder. And we love you, Julie and Sylvia.

(Cover photo by Sam Felder, covered by Creative Commons.)

coffeeneuring 2014 (sure, this is #projectfemur, why not?)

Riding in the pursuit of coffee (or reasonable substitutes) is a great way to keep #projectfemur in shape.

Yes, I’m riding my bike again – have been since August 8th – but haven’t written about it. That will come soon, but for now? Let’s talk coffeeneuring.

Once again, Mary G. has rallied the cycling troops for the 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge. The basic rules: over seven weekends, ride in pursuit of coffee, tea, cider, or craft soda, document the experience, and, well, end up writing it all up for folks to enjoy.

Easy, right? So here we go!

Stop 1:
Date: 5 October 2014
Location: Country Convenience, Blue Grass, VA
Bike Friendliness: no racks, but safe to lean bikes against front porch of store – guard cat on duty.
Drink: Pure Leaf Sweet Iced Tea
Distance: 89.3 miles
The store cat at Country Convenience, Blue Grass, VA
Notes: This is a favorite ride of mine, especially during foliage season. The second rest stop is at a classic country store, where the store cat is still loving as ever. While the coffee is somewhat blah, I tend to go for cold beverages at this stop (thus the iced tea, which quickly made its way into my bike bidon). The foliage in the Blue Grass valley was stunning and at peak color. The only damper on the day: Chris’ crash only a few miles past the store, which resulted in a broken clavicle (and our having to shortcut the route – and add 500-or-so feet of climbing – due to the wait for EMS to arrive).
Jonathan rides past Blue Grass Valley foliage.

Stop 2:
Date: 13 October 2014 (Columbus Day)
Location: Starbucks, East Longmeadow, MA
Bike Friendliness: no rack, but felt OK leaving bike outside for 5 minutes.
Drink: double espresso
Distance: 22.9 miles
The Rudi Projekt and a double shot.
Notes: This was a recovery ride and foliage excursion the day after the Great River Ride, so the pace was mellow. The foliage at Hurds Lake was stunning (see picture below). I stopped to say hi to Chip at Competitive Edge Ski and Bike (he’s due for hip replacement this fall). As it was late afternoon, I decided to take the most direct route back to Somers on Route 83, which passes a Starbucks. The barista knowingly asked if I wanted a lid for the espresso (I didn’t), and the hand-pulled (!) double shot was very tasty. Glad I had my full set of lights on the bike, as I rolled home after dark.
The foliage at Hurds Lake, Somers, CT

Stop 3:
Date: 15 October 2014
Location: Farm Market, Peterborough, NH
Bike Friendliness: outdoor park, no rack, but no worries about theft.
Drink: coffee bean purchase from Parker House Coffee (micro roaster)
Distance: 6.3 miles
Parker House Coffee beans, Peterborough Farmers Market
Notes: This was a lovely pre-dinner/pre-movie ride with sprite. By exploring the roads heading north out of Peterborough, we experienced a lovely Rotary-kept park with spillway falls and vibrant foliage. We found the local farm market, which moved from its former location in the center of town, where coffee beans were bought from the owner/operator of Parker House Coffee (he had samples of brewed coffee to try, which was a tasty treat). We then rolled to Ava Marie Chocolates for us to enjoy “hot” chocolate – the quotes needed as the milk was barely tepid, so the chocolate flake hardly melted. I chalk this up to a tired staffer who was worried about scalding the milk. After this, we returned to our car, locked up the bikes, and enjoyed our dinner and movie. Dinner was at Harlow’s Pub, featuring excellent food and drink (I really enjoyed my pumpkin black-and-tan with a cinnamon rim), and the movie was the excellent My Old Lady.
Spillway at Rotary Park, Peterborough, NH

Stop 4:
Date: 17 October 2014
Location: Amy’s Bakery Arts Café, Brattleboro, VT
Bike Friendliness: no racks, but lampposts and parking meters for locking.
Drink: maple latté
Distance: 7.0 miles *
Hot beverages (cider and maple latté) at Amy's
Notes: We initially attempted to ride in NH, but the road on the other side of the Connecticut River was a bit too crazy for our tastes, so we rolled back into Brattleboro and had drinks and food at Amy’s. We love Amy’s: great drinks (including the best maple latté you’ll ever have, made with locally-roasted beans from Mocha Joe’s and maple syrup from a local farm), and the food there is equally fantastic. The view from the dining area is a technicolor feast in the autumn. After lunch we rode to Grafton Cheese and the Retreat Petting Farm along Route 30. After rolling a little further out, we turned back toward town. I broke off to see the town ski jump, which is up a steep hill. After re-connecting at the town green, we rolled back into town and had fun at Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, the Brattleboro Co-Op, and Mocha Joe’s.
Harris Hill Ski Jump, Brattleboro, VT
(* – The Strava recording is partial, as the app stopped recording along Route 30 – the full route is plotted here: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/6315947)
The Rudi Projekt at Retreat Petting Farm, Brattleboro, VT

Stop 5:
Date: 18 October 2014
Location: Hot Chocolate Sparrow, Orleans, MA
Bike Friendliness: on CCRT, plentiful racks at store.
Drink: iced coffee (outbound) and quad espresso (inbound)
Distance: 46.2 miles
The Rudi Projekt outsde Hot Chocolate Sparrow, Orleans, MA
Notes: sprite stopped here en route to Coast Guard Beach via the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I’d already taken said trail to Dennis and then back, and met her here for an iced coffee. After we finished our drinks, we continued to the beach where we saw surfers and seals battling for best wave rides. The water was chilly, but pleasant, though I did nothing more than soak my feet.
Shadow waves, Coast Guard Beach
We rode back into the sunset via Sparrow, where we purchased more hot beverages (tea for sprite, a quad espresso for me) and baked goods (pumpkin coffee cake for me, warm blueberry pie for sprite – both delicious), then charged our phones for a spell. It’s good that we had our lights, as the last few miles back to Nickerson State Park (our campsite) were in the dark on the CCRT.
sprite in sunset light on the CCRT, Wellfleet, MA

Stop 6:
Date: 19 October 2014
Location: Savory and the Sweet Escape, North Truro, MA
Bike Friendliness: no racks, but safe to leave bike outside shop while I ate inside.
Drink: coffee
Distance: 53.7 miles
Coffee, bagel, taillight, Truro
Notes: This outing had multiple purposes. I wanted to see sunrise over a Cape Cod beach (something I last did on my 21st birthday, when I was a student at Connecticut College). This meant leaving camp before dawn and riding the CCRT by headlight, encountering foxes and rabbits along the path – and not a single cyclist. I saw sunrise (muted by low clouds on the horizon), then set off toward my second goal: getting all the way to Provincetown. However, a persistent strong north-northeast headwind (20mph) and a hilly route after the CCRT ended made this a tough go, especially given time constraints (had to break camp and head back to DC). I saw folks setting up the Wellfleet Oyster Festival – something to try next time, I guess. I threw in the northbound towel in Truro at this lovely café, having ridden the whole 32 miles to this point on no food at all. The coffee and bagel were most welcome! On the return ride I enjoyed the tailwind (and a more direct start via Route 6) back to Nickerson SP to strike camp.
The Rudi Projekt outside Savory and the Sweet Escape, Truro, MA

Stop 7:
Date: 26 October 2014
Location: Capital Teas, 8th Street SE, Washington, DC
Bike Friendliness: bike rack outside DC Doughnuts.
Drink: darjeeling tea (hot)
Distance: 10.2 miles
Helmet, doughnuts, teas, Barracks Row
Notes: sprite and I had wanted to try District Doughnuts at their new brick-and-mortar location, so we set off to do just that. When we arrived, the sign said “CLOSED,” but the staffer inside saw our sad expressions and motioned us to enter. Although the shop had technically been closed for 15 minutes, there were plenty of doughnuts, and we bought a half dozen to share with our friend, Sarah, who was meeting us to pick up some unpasteurized cider that sprite had procured for her. We bought teas at Capital Teas, and took our loot to a pocket park at the south end of Barracks Row, enjoying the sunlight and friendship. On the way back to The Burrow, we stopped at the National Botanical Garden and took in the lovely plants and afternoon sunlight.
The bikes and District Doughnut

TOTAL DISTANCE: 235.6 miles

Once again, coffeeneuring was a fun adventure! It was fun to do a few outings with sprite, and fun to visit the coffee venues, new and old.

You can see all of the pictures from the various coffeeneuring stops here.

Days since surgery: 289

starting re-entry… slowly… (#projectfemur)

It’s less than a month until I’m back to riding full-time on the road. I’m keeping busy during that time.

The workouts continue, with increasing intensity and focus. My time in the gym is spent mostly either in the weight room, where I’m building leg and arm strength, or in the stretching area, where I can work on core strength and flexibility. The latter is something I’m working on a lot in PT, where Scott and Megan have been working diligently to make my repaired leg every bit as capable as its healthy neighbor.

Next challenge for that: rotational flexibility. To visualize what that is: I can’t sit cross-legged on the floor right now, as my right leg can’t rotate and lie flat just yet. Soon – just another goal in my sight.

This morning I started the next step in my bike training with Matt at District Cycle Works: morning workouts on a Wahoo Kickr. This is a major step up from the Star Trac eSpinner I’ve been using at the gym, as it allows me to use my own bike for the workouts. It also pairs with my Garmin Edge 500 and my iPhone to record my rides and the associated data, including power output. This opens a whole world of possibilities for my workouts as I head into the home stretch.

Most of all, though, it’s fun to be able to workout with friends who will actually converse with me.

Wahoo!!!

That’s something that’s sorely lacking at the gym, where folks tend to fold into the insular shells provided by the ever-present earbuds.

Just so you don’t think it’s all about the bike (do I owe that Armstrong guy a royalty for trotting out that phrase?), I’ve also spent some time on the beach, where I tested out my run.

Running!

It was awesome!

I’ve also been dipping my toe back into local government – very local, as in the Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s Transportation and Public Infrastructure Committee. Basically, this committee advises the ANC (which is a step below the District Council) in all matters walking, cycling, parking, and parks. While I was brought into the fold because of cycling, as a pedestrian during my convalescence, I’ve gained a lot of knowledge of mode share issues that affect this committee. I’ve already penned a letter to DDOT, asking for follow-through on motions passed by the ANC back in 2012, and look forward to doing – and learning – more as my tenure grows.

And I’ve been working with some of my fellow ski coaches to come up with a fitness plan for our junior racers. I’d like to see all of the athletes come into the ski season in peak physical shape, not only to allow them a great chance of meeting (and exceeding) their goals, but also to provide them more safety against injury. Hopefully this will get some traction within the team – I know similar plans helped me achieve my skiing goals when I was younger.

What else is there to say? Sometimes you need to look at the details to see where you need to go…

Shados in surf

Maybe Jimi Hendrix said it best, regarding the impending next steps of my #projectfemur recovery:

“And so castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually.”

Sandcastle at Bethany Beach

now it’s getting really tough (#projectfemur)

The end of May has been very, very trying for me.

The weather has turned drop-dead gorgeous. Temperatures aren’t too high, the humidity hasn’t been too thick, and everybody is working out outdoors.

Except for me, that is.

And I’m really in a funk as a result.

It’s really gotten to me this weekend, as today was the Mountains of Misery century, something I’ve done almost every Memorial Day since 2007. It’s typically my first big event ride of the season, and this year it would’ve been the first long event of the year after a handful of road bike races.

But thanks to #projectfemur, I wasn’t there – and it’s crushing me.

I should’ve been out there, but I can’t.

There was a generous offer to head down with one of my friends and either volunteer or “coach” from the sidelines. But that wasn’t what I needed to do – it would’ve been just as tough, I think – perhaps even tougher.

I’ve been working really diligently with my PT to rebuild my strength and flexibility. But improvements are now very minute, less tangible, and less rewarding in the short run.

I realize I’m on my own path this summer, that I can’t gauge my performance against my cycling friends, and that I need to find the happiness where I can. But it’s proving far tougher than I expected.

As I fully expected, working out indoors is proving to be less than ideal. Sure, it is getting me back in shape, and helping to rebuild my flexibility. But I just don’t get the endorphin fix that I get from my outdoor bike rides. There’s a good reason that I steer clear of spin classes, and riding an indoor trainer is proving that, loud and clear.

To me, riding a bike indoors – whether on a spinning bike, an exercise bike, or a bike on a proper indoor trainer – is akin to substituting masturbation for sex (I know, graphic analogy, but as I’m being blunt…). It’s not the same, it provides little of the satisfaction or reward. I’ve not yet done any work on the Wahoo indoor trainer, so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but it’s still working out indoors. It’s having a fan blow on me while I physically go nowhere, instead of seeing actual distance pass under my tires, with the wind blowing through my hair, the birds chirping, and so forth.

That said, it’s my only option right now, so I need to suck up and deal.

Granted, the outdoor pools in DC have reopened (though only on weekends until mid-June – not overly useful for regular workouts just yet), and swimming laps will be something I can, and will, do. And I’ve had rowing recommended to me as a good way to keep in shape and address areas that cycling tends to miss (e.g. back and core muscles). So those things are in my future, for sure.

And there will be some hiking, once my leg is a little more stable and sure-footed. That’ll get me out with some of my cycling friends who also like to hike – a definite plus.

But that’s still a bit far off in the future. And I really, truly want to be on my bike, riding in the fresh air, getting the sun and the breeze, and being with my cycling friends in our “native territory,” so to speak.

And it’s not happening. It can’t right now, and there is no proper substitute.

I’m a bit angry with my hematologist for keeping me on the anticoagulant meds for a full, six-month course. If it wasn’t for that, I could commute by bike already. Even that would make life a lot better than it is now. I know it’s petty and a bit myopic, and that I’m being kept on the meds for a valid reason, but the voice that drives my motivation isn’t placated by that at all.

August can’t come soon enough.

And even then, will my riding be up to snuff? I know plenty of friends who I don’t ride with that often under normal circumstances (because my pace tends to be fast), and I’ll be able to ride with them. But when I ride with my normal crowd, I worry they will simply leave me in the dust, heaving for breath to catch up – or that they’ll spend half of the ride waiting for me to arrive.

That isn’t an appealing thought at all.

I know from past experience that I tend to bounce back well from injury, and tend to be stronger than I was before said injuries. But my femur break and surgery are far and away the worst injury I’ve ever experienced, so this is a great unknown. There is no precedent in my life experience for this kind of recovery, and I’m simply not sure what to expect.

Will I be stronger than I was pre-injury? Will I still be as capable of climbing the hills on my bike? Will I still ski with the same confidence and strength? I simply just don’t know.

And given I feel like I’m being left behind, like my improvement is going incredibly slowly, and my patience is razor-thin, having big unknowns in my life leaves me grasping at thin air to find some direction.

sprite has helped me as much as she can to try to keep my spirits up – she rocks. So have many of my friends, for which I’m grateful. But this is still a battle that is very much my own, and one that only I can tackle.

I need to find a way to right this ship and find something positive to go on. I need ideas, because I just don’t have any right now. The lows are outweighing the highs right now, and that needs to stop.

As I said: August can’t come soon enough.

Days since surgery: 134

it’s time to admit something (#projectfemur)

I’ve been treating the entire #projectfemur as a new, positive opportunity. While it’s been a challenge, I’m enjoying the work and trying to channel it into exploring new opportunities in all aspects of my life.

But I have to admit something, a thing that has bothered me for a while:

I miss my bike.

I miss being able to ride it.

I miss being able to even get it down off its storage rack in The Burrow.

As spring approaches, the weather will be perfect for rides all over the greater DC area. Spring is probably my favorite riding season in this area: cool mornings with pleasant afternoons and reasonable humidity. And while the roads show the scars of a hard winter, with tons of frost heaves and potholes on every conceivable paved surface, they are roads that I love to ride. Whether it’s a ride out of Bowie, Maryland, heading to Chesapeake Bay via lovely, gently rolling roads, or climbing the bigger rollers and hills in Loudoun County, Virginia, or zipping along with my friends during the upcoming “Downtown Breakaway” rides on Wednesdays here in DC, I miss all of it.

I miss the camaraderie of the Friday Coffee Club at Swing’s.

I miss my weekend rides with a crew of friends with whom I’ve shared many adventures on two wheels.

I’m missing the inaugural season of District Taco Cycling p/b BicycleSPACE. I was to be part of their roster for this season – another posse of great cycling friends.

I even miss my daily bike commute, even though I’m not yet back at work.

I miss the freedom of simply being able to hop on the bike and go somewhere – anywhere.

My physical therapist at Georgetown University Hospital happens to be a cyclist and a bike fitter – a happy coincidence, and definite luck of the draw. He knows my drive, my desire to get back on the bike and be stronger than ever. He wants me to start working out on a trainer or stationary bike sometime soon – though not soon enough for my desire to simply ride.

But the promise of getting back on the bike is real, and my goal of being stronger than ever is not unreasonable or unattainable. I know there will be some adjustments, but it’s a small price to pay to get back on my bike.

But right now, the bikes hang on their rack, taunting me every time I turn my gaze their way. They’ll get their cleaning, tune-up, re-fitting, and time back on the pavement.

I’m simply impatient. As Queen once mused, “I want it all – and I want it now!”

“In good time,” I keep telling myself.

In good time.

Days since surgery: 54

transitions (or trading shoes for boots)

This morning, I woke up and brewed coffee. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and toasted an English muffin. I then donned my cycling togs (longer layers, as it’s chilly outside, with wind in the forecast), packed a bag, topped off the bike’s tires, lubed the chain, loaded up the car, drove to Bowie to meet my friends.

In other words: it was a typical Saturday morning.

We rolled out from Allen Pond Park: Jonathan, Chris, Mark, Ed, and me. Our plan was to ride a smooth, off-season pace, no county line sprints, on a route that gently rolled down to Chesapeake Bay and back. The sky was streaked with cirrus and cirrostratus clouds, with a cool breeze from the northwest – it was a perfect day to ride.

As we rode, the conversation was fun, and everybody seemed to be in a fine mood. Our bikes all wheeled along quietly. We passed farms with horses, cattle, sheep, and weary farmers. One pasture had a girl flying a kite.

 Girl flying a kite

The halfway point was Sweet Sue’s, our usual break spot. The hot drinks were just so-so (the folks behind the counter just couldn’t pull a quality espresso shot), but the baked goods were up to their usual yummy standard.

Rolling north along the Chesapeake, we were spared the bad wind, and treated to myriad lovely views. The wind that was there was increasingly chilly, and the cloud cover became thicker the closer we got to our cars.

 

After we were done riding, I went by the local ski shop to pick up my new skis and old boots so I’ll be ready for my coaching duties, which should be starting in mid December (though I hope to ski next weekend while up north for the holiday). The excitement that coursed through my body and mind when I took hold of the new skis for the first time was infectious.

 Redsters

And tonight, there were snow flurries in DC. I went outside, giggled with glee, and danced a little dance of joy (not to worry, DC snow paranoids: it didn’t stick).

sprite in the snow
The transition from my summer sporting love to my winter sporting love is in motion – and today’s transition between the two worlds made it very clear to me. While the cycling shoes won’t be totally hung up for the winter – I’ll still ride a bit, and my bike commute won’t go away – my boots are going to be the go-to footwear for fun when the snow flies.

Winter is coming, and I’m prepared – and elated.

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