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Category: cycling (Page 3 of 44)

cycling log: 2 november 2013 (edinburg gap)

Activity: road cycling (club ride)
Location: Front Royal, VA > Edinburg, VA > Middletown, VA > Front Royal
Distance: 101.4 miles (two very steep climbs)
Duration: 4:50 (4:00 rolling time)
Weather: cool, crisp, sunny to cloudy, wind from west, 55-68 degrees
Climbing: 5,217′
Avg HR: 143 (max 181)
Type: aerobic

A lovely club ride with the Potomac Pedalers gang, on an atypical day for November: one that was sunny and relatively mild. It was so mild that I wore shorts sans knee warmers (arm warmers were a must for most of the ride, however).

The group rode a mostly smooth pace. While fast, it wasn’t breakneck for most of the ride, and the group stayed together for far longer than is typical on this ride. The route went form Front Royal, down the Fort Valley, over Edinburg Gap (the only big climb of the day, though many rollers peppered the parcours), then back northeast in the Shenandoah Valley, before crossing back to Front Royal. There were three county lines (read: sprints), a town line (into Edinburg), and a KOM point (Edinburg Gap) – good for some spirited moments. We stopped twice to regroup and refresh.

Jonathan organized the ride, as he does every year on the first Saturday in November. The nice weather – as well as the prospect of peak fall foliage – attracted a big crowd. Luckily, we were a sympatico group, and rode well in a pack, each taking our pulls on the front. The first county line came about 10 miles into the ride, and I ended up being the lead-out into the line. I managed to hold off the crowd – zing! Having over 5,300 miles under my wheels this year, and still having good speed and strength, I recovered quickly and enjoyed the ride southwest through Fort Valley, down to the turn west to Edinburg Gap.

Jonathan and I weren’t into going full gas up the gap, nor was Greg. Al and Mike raced ahead, while the three of us “slackers” kept them in view. Toward the top, Jonathan and I started to reel in the others, and while we didn’t catch them, I managed to pass Jonathan about 100 meters from the summit. Mike waited for his wife, Susan, at the summit, so I raced down the hill to catch Al, pass him, and continue going hard to the town line sign (two “palmares” acquired).

The group gathered at the rest stop in Edinburg, at a convenience store where the proprietor was watching the cricket test between India (his home country) and Australia. An iced green tea and fig newtons consumed, we rode northwest toward Back Road – our main thoroughfare for the return leg. In the distance, dark clouds amassed over the Blue Ridge, a sign that the predicted cold front was on our doorstep.

It hit as we rode, without rain but with a stiff head/crosswind that made riding in a pack a matter of efficiency. The group splintered in this long stretch (over 20 miles), and a core group of Jonathan, Greg, Ed, Vince, Al and me ended up racing to the second county line, at the bottom of a hill, across a short bridge span. Jonathan tried to distract me via conversation, but I managed to out-sprint the group, taking the line (that’s three). We turned east to ride the handful of miles to our next rest stop in Middletown.

The rest of the group arrived in ones and twos, having been splintered by the wind and pace. The refreshments at the 7-11 were welcome, even if we were only 12 miles from our cars in Front Royal. At least we could look forward to a nice tailwind for the eastbound trek that lay ahead.

The final county line came a few miles after the 7-11. Greg and I were conversing on the front of the pack, and I mentioned the impending county line. He gave some chase, but I powered through the line (we have four “points” sprints there – yes!). The group quickly reconvened, but gradually split again, as those of us with some pep in our legs kept a higher pace. It wasn’t a big deal – the rest of the ride was enjoyable, and everybody made it back to Eastham Park without difficulty.

So it was a fun day, a fun ride, and a fun group – just about perfect!

This is another NaBloPoMo post – number two!

cycling log: 29 june 2013 (c&o canal end-to-end)

Activity: trail cycling (bucket list)
Location: Cumberland, MD > Washington, DC
Distance: 191.0 miles/ 307.5 kilometers (mostly flat with gradual descent, a few climbs here and there)
Duration: 18:47 (14:01 rolling time)
Weather: warm, humid, partly cloudy, some rain at dusk, 60-82 degrees
Climbing: 1,883′ (less than 10 feet of climbing per mile)
Avg HR: 131 (max 170)
Type: aerobic

In life, there are “bucket list” items: the things you want to do before you leave this mortal coil (and no, I’m in no hurry to do so). And riding the C&O Canal Towpath – the whole thing – in one day is one of those.

I hadn’t planned on doing this ride, in actuality. Yes, it’s bucket list material, but this year? Maybe, perhaps, but it wasn’t on the radar. And then my friend, Eric, said he had to scuttle plans to do the ride – all 184.5 miles, plus commutes to and from the start and end points – as our friend, Lane, was having knee problems. I expressed my interest, Eric asked, “how about next weekend?,” and the die was cast.

The ride is a bit of a logistical challenge. Being a one-way, point-to-point ride requires one-way transit to the ride start. Regrettably, Amtrak doesn’t handle bikes as baggage on the line that serves Cumberland (though I’ve heard that it’s not difficult to get a bike on the train on low-traffic weekdays), so we had to go with another route.

Luckily, Hertz offers one-way car rentals from DC to Cumberland, so that was the choice. Eric and I braved the Friday rush hour traffic out of DC (which cost us an hour of driving time), stopped at the wonderful 28 South restaurant in Hagerstown for dinner, and settled into our hotel room around 11:30pm – later than planned, but not too bad…

…except that our plan was to wake at 4:30 for a 5:30-something departure. We were well prepped: bikes packed with essentials (food, clothing, tools, tubes, toiletries), everything in order to roll in the morning. But waking at 4:30 was painful.

We rolled out of the Holiday Inn at 5:41am and made the short crossing to the start of the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail, the latter of which meanders to Pittsburgh (another time for that, I’m afraid). We snapped photos in the early morning light, mounted our bikes, and left.

I chose to ride my 16-plus year old Marin mountain bike (named “Skully” because of a foam skull sticker on its head tube) because it offered more rugged components, the ability to run wider tires (1.5″ slicks), and front suspension – all reasonable considerations when the rolling surface is a dirt trail, with mud holes, crushed stone, bumps, tree roots, and other things that make it a bit less smooth than my usual paved routes. Equipped with a seatpost rack and rack trunk, it was suitable for the task.

The C&O Canal Towpath is a curiosity, one that only had a short usable life as a commerce channel before the railroad made it obsolete. It only exists today because of the intervention of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, whose love of the towpath prevented it from being converted to a parkway, instead becoming the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath National Historic Park. The National Park Service provides upkeep over the full 184.5 mile run of the towpath, repairing flood damage and keeping it passable.

Eric and the towpath

The first 30 miles showed the side-effects of this area’s ongoing rain: a lot of mud. It wasn’t impassable, but it made the going a bit slower than we planned. Our “timetable” had us averaging 16 mph for the ride, and we were mired, as it were, at 14 mph. It wasn’t a big deal, but it did make a mess of things.

Muddy drivetrain

I was glad I brought the mountain bike, as its drivetrain was tolerant of a bit of mud and other muck from the trail.

We eventually arrived at one of many engineering marvels of the towpath: the Paw Paw Tunnel. This tunnel cut the journey on the canal by over six miles. It was also a dark, eerie place to ride a bike.

Paw Paw Tunnel - west portal

The path through the Paw Paw Tunnel is narrow and bumpy. Headlights are a must if you plan on riding in the tunnel, as it is extremely dark inside. We both made it to the other side without incident. Once there, you emerge onto a boardwalk and can see where a rockslide blocked the east portal back in May.

I made it through Paw Paw! Photo by Eric Pilsk.

From Paw Paw, we continued toward Little Orlean, where we stopped at Bill’s Place. Essentially the only hangout in the town, Bill’s Place is a bar, general store, restaurant, canoe rental, town meeting hall, etc. The owner is a nice, middle-aged guy, and the service comes with a smile. We spent some time on the porch here, enjoying cool beverages and salty snacks.

From Little Orlean, we rolled toward Hancock. As the towpath was still muddy, we made the decision to take the Western Maryland Rail Trail to make up some time (I’ve ridden the stretch we skipped today back in 2011). Our average speed tipped up to 19 mph once we were on the WMRT, which was a nice boost. We saw many other cyclists on the trail, including a couple who were riding the full GAP-C&O length from Pittsburgh, albeit over multiple days. They were far more sane than Eric and me.

Selfie in Hancock

A quick stop in Hancock allowed us to top off our bidons and grab some snacks at C&O Bicycle. I also bought a bottle of chain lube here, as the mud and grime had already washed away the lube I’d applied to the bike on Friday. A quiet drivetrain was a nice thing.

On the way back to the towpath, we took a wrong turn, adding a mile or so to our journey. However, we passed a house where the yard had been converted into a “field of dreams” baseball diamond, presumably for the family’s kids.

Field of dreams near Indian Spring.

We did find our way back to the towpath, which wasn’t quite as muddy by this point but had its rough spots. The lovely thing about staying on the path is that there was shade pretty much everywhere. On a day that promised high temperatures near 84°F/26°C with ample humidity, it was a nice perk. The thick foliage did block some scenery, but not too badly: Big Pool was, indeed, big, and tough to miss.

Milepost 100. Photo by Eric Pilsk.

So we kept rolling through the day. We had a lunch stop in Williamsport (a Sheetz MTO hasn’t tasted as good), where we saw a young woman catch her first fish in the lock pond, squeeing at it and shying away from removing it from the hook. We passed a tour boat on the canal. We saw more cyclists out on short trail excursions.

Outside of Sharpsburg and a little over 110 miles into our ride, we stopped at the quaint Barron’s Store & C&O Towpath Museum, a family-run outpost (literally run in what would be the living room of their house) that provided needed cold drinks and fresh fruit, as well as some indoor seating. Our legs still felt just fine (mine did, at least), but it was nice to sit back. A quartet of teenage boys rolled up to the store as we prepared to leave, each on a BMX or older mountain bike, reminding me of a hybrid of Stand By Me and Back to the Future in terms of “groups of kids on bikes, out having fun.”

Eric and the Potomac

By this point, we were well behind schedule, but enjoying ourselves, all the same. Soon after Barron’s Store, we approached a section that Eric believed to be closed: the Big Slackwater viaduct. This wonder of civil engineering replaced a portion of the towpath that settled into the Potomac, and it was a joy to behold – and to ride! It was one of the more exposed areas of the path, clinging to the side of a sheer rock wall, and as we passed a group of boaters taking a dip in the water, we were tempted to jump in….

Eric approaches Big Slackwater

Riding the Big Slackwater viaduct. Photo by Eric Pilsk.

We soldiered on with an increased tempo at this point, past Sherpherdstown and Harper’s Ferry, toward our dinner stop in Brunswick at the wonderful Beans in the Belfry coffeehouse. A Celtic group was playing there, I and recognized the lead singer and guitarist from Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (he didn’t recognize me, which is all well and good). Eric and I noshed on spinach quiche, and also took advantage of the nice bathroom to wash our faces and brush our teeth. The cleanup had an amazing energizing effect, which was good, as we saw dark clouds approaching as the daylight grew long. As a nod to the weather gods, we donned our cycling caps under our helmets to ward off the rain.

Getting back onto the towpath, we increased our pace yet again, taking advantage of a smoother section of trail to try and make as much progress as possible before the sunset. We made it to Mouth of Monocacy rather quickly, stopping briefly to snap a picture from within the aquaduct, looking toward the setting sun.

At Mouth of Monocacy. Photo by Eric Pilsk.

A little further down the trail, we found an even better view of the sunset, near Dickerson:

Sunset over the Potomac in Dickerson

It’s at this point that our cycling caps ran out of good mojo, and we experienced our first rain of the day. We weren’t sure whether it would be heavy, as the clouds looked very black. We decided to carry on to White’s Ferry and make a decision whether to stay on the towpath and risk the mud, wind, and rain, or to take the well-known paved roads down to Riley’s Lock.

Luckily, the rain stopped about 1/2 mile before we pulled into White’s Ferry. At the ferry store, we bought some cold sodas and talked with the ferry operator, who deemed us crazy for wanting to carry on to DC along the towpath in the cover of darkness. We laughed, wished him well, and got back on the path.

Less than 1/4 mile from there, the battery on my Garmin Edge 500 died. It had sent out a warning beep a little while earlier, but as my unit has a blown-out screen, I had no way to verify that the beep was battery-related (though I suspected that it was). It did well for an older unit: 15.5 hours of runtime. Luckily, my phone had a decent amount of charge, so I swiftly started the Strava iOS app, missing only 0.1 miles of tracking (easily connected when I combined the two GPS tracks).

As we rolled along, there were frogs all along the towpath, their song growing louder as we rode deeper into the woods. The amphibians would jump out of the way just in time as we rolled. Our pace was slower, but our lights allowed us to find safe passage. The towpath started to have more muddy patches as we neared DC, so our lines had to be chosen more judiciously. When we passed one of the lockmaster’s houses, the group staying there was making s’mores over an open fire – and we were quite tempted to join them and crash there for the night.

We also weren’t sure where our next known landmark, Riley’s Lock, was. Yes, we had the mileposts to go by, but we weren’t sure where Riley’s was in the grand scheme of things. This added an eerie quality to this section of the ride, and while we weren’t necessarily physically fatigued, this added to our ever-growing mental fatigue. At least the frog song was there.

At this point, we made a decision: due to our growing mental weariness, we would exit the towpath at Great Falls. The stretch from Great Falls to Fletcher’s Lock features a good deal of technical trail: mud, ruts, damp boardwalk, things that require full mental faculties to navigate in the dark. It wasn’t that tough a decision: safety trumps stupidity. And both of us had tackled this stretch many times before, so it wouldn’t be big loss to skip.

So we stopped at the restrooms at Great Falls, let our significant others know that we would be getting onto MacArthur Boulevard to complete the trek into DC, and climbed our biggest hill of the day. My legs were quite spry here, and I climbed the road quite quickly. I waited for Eric at the top, and enjoyed the light show put on by thousands of fireflies in the trees over the Great Falls access road.

Once on MacArthur, we made decent time: nothing approaching my typical Wednesday night club ride, but still a good clip. We wound our way to Georgetown, took a left on 35th Street, wiggled to 34th Street, then made our way back down to the towpath for its final 3/4 mile to its origin.

Marker at the start of the C&O Canal Towpath

We stopped, took photos, congratulated ourselves on a bucket list task now complete. I was confused by a text I received from sprite, saying she had refreshments in the parking lot – I was unable to remember that there is a parking lot by the Watergate, only 1/4 mile from where we were. We turned toward The Burrow, up the Rock Creek MUP. I stopped my Strava app, sat down, and I was done.

So what would I do differently? I’d like to do this again – over a period of 2 or 3 days. I’d take a hydration pack to allow for easier drinking while on rougher surfaces. I’d use regular panniers that keep the center of mass low on the bike (read: better handling). I’d also setup a dynamo wheel to charge my lights, Garmin, and phone via USB (I have a dynamo hub that needs to be built into a wheel).

But I’m so glad I did this ride! Eric was a great riding partner, his experience with the DC Randonneurs giving him many bits of sage advice to help on such a long ride. We had a great time – what more can a guy want?

my 30s: a look back

I turn 40 today. Frankly, it’s not a birthday that’s weighing on me like my 30th did – it’s just another day to me, this time around.

But a lot has happened to me over the past decade, and since I’m feeling a bit put out by other things in life right now, I figured it would be worth a trip back through time to see where I’ve been and what I’ve done, just as a reminder.

  • Settled into DC (2003)
  • Settled into Georgetown U. (2003)
  • Helped two presidential campaigns (2003-04)
  • Run for political office – and won (2004)
  • Traveled to England and Wales (2005)
  • Traveled to Austria and Germany with my mom (2007)
  • Rode up Mount Shasta (2008)
  • Ski trips to Colorado (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Cut off my long hair (2008)
  • Traveled to France (2008)
  • Rode from Boston to Windsor for a beer (2009)
  • Testified in front of City Council (2009, 2011)
  • Traveled to Iceland (2011)
  • Chaired my favorite bike club, Potomac Pedalers (2011)
  • Traveled to Louisiana (2012)
  • Groomsman in two weddings (2005, 2013)
  • Many concerts: Simon & Garfunkel, U2, Thomas Dolby, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Brian Wilson, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Paul Simon (solo), Pink Martini, The Beach Boys, Retro Stefson, Erin McKeown, Nellie McKay, Sloan, The Pipettes, Polyphonic Spree, Elvis Costello, and many, many more
  • Seeing awesome plays written by my friend, Michael
  • Excellent beers, including the rebirth of brewing in DC
  • Birthdays, holidays, picnics, and other random occasions hanging out with friends

So a lot of things – a lot of great things – have happened over the past decade. Yes, there have been setbacks and sadness, but the good has outweighed the bad, all in all.

foiled and frustrated

A quick update from Utah:

Firstly, this trip has been the pits. Lots of arguments with my mom, a lot of bruised egos. Yes, there have been positive moments, but for the remainder of the trip I’m biting my tongue so I don’t fan the flames that ignite when we argue. Our personalities are similar, and right now, she has a hard time separating the adult I am from the child she raised.

Work I’ve wanted (and needed) to do? Only partially done. Nerves? Frayed. Patience? Gone, just gone.


I rode last weekend, but it wasn’t great. On Saturday, I crashed 2.5 miles into my afternoon training ride, which caused a great deal of road rash on my left side, some deep contusions in my pectoral and iliac crest regions, and gave my weak shoulder a really painful whack.

It also broke my saddle and tore up my brake lever hoods, which are things that can be repaired (and I was due for a new saddle, in all fairness), but are a drag, all the same.

My friends rode a flat-to-rolling metric century with me the next day (I’m stubborn – what can I say?), and that was good riding, if not good training for the upcoming Mountains of Misery event. I was sore, but the ride was good for allowing me to keep moving – and luckily my backup bike (the Jamis) was ready to go.

Wednesday evening had me ride the “Downtown Breakaway,” and I was definitely slower than normal, with less punch up the short, steep hills we ride. I stopped to help a rider who broke a spoke, which had me riding a bit behind the group with Mark. It was great riding, from a social sense, but wasn’t the best training for me.

And now I’m in Utah. I took off Tuesday (redeye flight back to DC tonight), hoping to get in a ride on Skyline Drive in the afternoon. The only problem? It’s going to rain all day, and Skyline Drive isn’t fun (or, frankly, that safe) in the rain. So I’m resigned to some bike maintenance and… well, some kind of workout to keep me moving (and no, I don’t ride an indoor trainer – a task I find somewhat pointless and non-motivating).

So I will ride this coming weekend, weather permitting (and possibly in spite of the weather if there are scattered showers). None of the official Pedalers rides sound that inviting, so I’ll need to figure out what to do.

Do I sound crabby? I am crabby. I can’t help it, as this trip has made me very, very frustrated with almost every aspect of my life.

these wheels keep spinning around…

Life seems to be on fast-forward since returning from Utah, so here’s some catch-up on bike-related things. I’ve been riding a lot in preparation for some big summer rides, and it’s been quite enjoyable.

I didn’t ride much in March, thanks to the Utah trip taking up the lion’s share of the month. Not counting last year’s ski injury, this was one of the lowest March mileage totals I’ve ever managed: 114.8 miles. The first weekend in March was spent up north, where I skied – and that was a blast. On March 9th, I rode a very hilly route in northern Maryland, not realizing that I was coming down with a nasty sinus infection at the time:

I rode once while there, which was a treat: from downtown Salt Lake City, up Emigration Canyon, and partway (at least until the snow blocked the road) up East Canyon. This was a typical training ride for me in my teenage, ski racing years, and it was fun to revisit it, even on a (well-fitted) rental bike (thanks to Salt Lake City Bicycle Company for the rental):

Otherwise, I did a lot of manual labor, endured a lot of stress, and had a bout of food poisoning (ick), the combination of which helped me shed 8.5 pounds. My cycling got a bit rusty, as I found out on my first long rides after my return to DC.

Luckily, the first of these rides was with friends who took it fairly easy on me. We headed out to Antietam Battlefield, then north to explore some dirt roads in the Catoctins:

I’m glad I went on a gentle recovery spin in Rock Creek Park the next day, just to flush the lactate out of my legs.

The hills on this ride had me in fits, but I got the hang of things, by the by, especially on the flatter terrain. And that’s good, because the next weekend had me co-leading a Potomac Pedalers ride over three classic Virginia climbs: Naked Mountain, Mt. Weather, and Blue Mountain:

In all of these climbing rides, I was “climbing my own climb,” so to speak: riding a pace that was self-dictated, not chasing any of the “rabbits” in the group, and trying to keep good form. I rode well below my maximum output, which kept me fresh through the end. The next day’s flatter recovery ride, out of Riley’s Lock and around the flank of Sugarloaf Mountain, found my legs relatively fresh and my form fairly decent:

That all leads to this past weekend’s chilly-yet-beautiful ride from Thurmont into Pennsylvania, through a forest and amongst the fruit farms of Carroll Valley:

This was a really fun ride: scenic, with great friends, and one that found my climbing legs really coming into form.

And lest I forget, April brought back the “Downtown Breakaway” rides, a Wednesday night Pedalers affair that takes in side roads and less-well-known routes out to the near Maryland ‘burbs and back. We’ve had four of them, thus far (1, 2, 3, 4), and while they have all been great (we have a lot more riders this year than in past years), I always love riding through the cherry blossoms of Kenwood, Maryland:

Riding through the canopy of cherry blossoms with the gang

I’ve just changed out my cassette on my main bike with a wider-range unit, as there are some big climbs coming up in the next few weeks (and a weekend trip to Utah to visit my mom).

Thus far, in April, I’ve logged 542 miles on my bikes, bringing me to 1458.6 miles to date in 2013. I’m well ahead of my usual pace, and I still have a lot more strength to find – can’t complain about that.

So I guess you can say I still love the bike (even if the bike industry doesn’t always seem to feel the same way at the same time). These wheels do, indeed, keep spinning around…

building it back up

All of the time in Utah set back my cycling training heading into the summer – a.k.a. “big ride” season. I had planned on two weeks off, but not three, so the rust is evident when I ride.

Yes, my recent rides have shown decent performance, with strong climbing. But things feel a bit off, not crisp. The endurance is there, but the smooth pedal stroke and climbing spin isn’t what I feel it should be.

I’ll miss one of the build-up weekends into my first big event ride (the weekend being May 4-6, the event being Mountains of Misery over Memorial Day weekend) to check up on my mom’s healing progress. That’s part of life, and it must happen – family comes first, after all.

But I feel that I’m missing prep time.

Am I being a bit critical? Perhaps.

Is this petty whinging? Maybe.

I have set goals that may not be met – at least not in the timeframe I had originally plotted. I’m reworking my training plan accordingly. Will everything turn out as hoped? It’s hard to say. I’ve had to deal with worse, that’s for sure. My training plan is fairly aggressive, and it could work brilliantly – or prove to be too much to chew.

This weekend will feature some good training rides. I need to make sure I ride my own pace on these. Some of my riding friends are far stronger these days and will push the pace. I shouldn’t take the bait. We’ll see what transpires, as I always like the challenge of the “rabbits.” But I have a training plan that works for me, so…

We’ll see. Right now, I’m simply building back up to speed. And if there’s any consolation, the riding is good for my mental health – a positive side-effect.

cycling update: february wrap-up

Two months down in 2013, and 803 miles under the bicycle wheels. Typically, but March 1st, I only have 400 to 500 miles, so this year is starting out quite strong.

Last weekend, I rode the earliest century I’ve ever done, from Georgetown to Sugarloaf Mountain and back. I rode with a group of local cycling friends, and we took it easy due to the fact that it was February and we didn’t want to do any harm to our training. Furthermore, a strong, steady wind from the WNW also made the outbound stretch a bit of a slog. I tried to route the group out of the wind as much as possible, but it’s winter, the trees lack foliage, and, well, wind is wind.

The wind was a nice perk on the return leg, when fitness truly came into play. My route backloaded some steep hills toward the end of the ride, which was tough, but everybody made it back safely.

March will have fewer miles than February (which had 373, for the record), as I’ll be in Utah for at least two weeks attending to family affairs. I’ll get some rides in out there, but they will be less frequent and likely a bit shorter, though not devoid of hills (bless the Wasatch).

moving right along

A few random musings – not necessarily something like sprite’s “Three Beautiful Things,” but simply a few random bits of reflection.


En route to my “Coffee” control in the 2013 Errandonnée, I had a less-than-excellent interaction with another motorist. He had been boxed out of his lane on Massachusetts Avenue NW, impeded by a taxi that had decided to idle along the curb.

The motorist – a construction worker driving a white van with Maryland tags – tried to pull out in front of me im my lane, not signaling his lane change, simply barging into my lane. I let out a little toot of my horn to let him know that, without a signal, I had no idea of his intent, and wanted him to know that any additional movement of his van would result in a collision.

The horn set this guy off. He rolled down his window and started to unleash a series of F-bombs my way. I tried to wave him off with a small smile, but he was full of steam. I then rolled down my window, and mentioned that a turn signal would have diffused this entire situation.

The result? More F-bombs.

He unleashed a total of 19 – I counted – and I once again, without unleashing a single expletive, mentioned that the turn signal was a courteous thing to do when changing lanes (as well as the legal thing to do). He got out of his van and stood in the path of my car – not a huge deal, as the traffic was heavy and the signals were slow to change, but still not a reassuring position. I asked him to let it go, as we both had places to be.

Then he let forth words that I remember verbatim: “I’m going to fucking murder all you cyclists.”

Charming. And scary. I tweeted out a preemptive apology to other cyclists (my bike was on the roof of the car, as I was headed to Bowie to meet a friend for my “Coffee” ride). Simply having my bike with me (atop the car) made me “the enemy,” which is frightening. This man’s vocabulary was very limited, and I understand that he was not in a great mood (nor was I after my interaction with him). But his reaction shows me that cyclists are still personae non grata to quite a few people on the road.


A cyclist crashed into me on the way home the other night. It was dark, and I had my full complement of lights, rode legally in my lane, signaling all turns and stops, stopping at intersections, engaging positively with other road users (mostly drivers).

The other guy was riding on and off the sidewalk, earbuds planted firmly in his ears, darting around cars by switching lanes, and running all stop signs, all without any lights or reflectors on his vintage 1970-something road bike. The rider was in his mid to late 20s, by my estimate. We had made brief eye contact a few minutes earlier, at 32nd Street and R Streets NW.

As I turned left onto Q Street NW from 28th Street, having stopped at the intersection, waiting for other cars to take their turns. As I rounded the turn, this other cyclist passed to my left, blowing through the stop sign, and clipping my rear wheel. He ran headlong into a parked car.

I stopped to see that he was OK. He’d been bruised, and was angry at me for not noticing him. I proceded to tell him that he was in the wrong in many ways (running stop signs, wearing earbuds, riding in the wrong lane, no lights at night), and the he really should be more careful if he wants to live to see his 30th birthday (OK, I wasn’t that harsh, but I did get him a stern reprimand for being a dumb ass).

Note I haven’t mentioned the fact that, landing head first, he wasn’t wearing a helmet. It took him a minute or two to get his bearings.

The plus: a pedestrian commended me for riding by the letter of the law. I mentioned that it works well in building cyclist relations in a part of town where folks treasure their precious, expensive cars.


OK, this has been a downer, thus far, so let’s look at a positive.

sprite decided to test all of the “fairy lights” (i.e. Christmas lights) we had in The Burrow, and she found that a very long strand that we had written off were, in fact, quite intact. I strung them up around the perimeter of our living room, and the glow is a nice, warm, pink blanket over the room. Hooray!

Sure, there were other things that went on this week, but these were the most notable, and the ones that I felt like writing about.

the errandonnee: wrapping it all up

Today is the last day to log miles and trips for the 2013 Errandonn̩e Рeek! Given I still had a few controls to make, I had to find a way to multitask.

Fortunately, I found the perfect solution: do a lunch run to Whole Foods, book in hand, and pick up some post-work provisions at the same time. It is an elegant – and efficient – solution to this particular problem.

Riding up 37th Street NW toward Glover Park:

Heading north on 37th Street

Welcome to Glover Park:

Welcome to Glover Park

A favorite bit of street art on Hall Place NW:

Street art on Hall Place NW

Parked at the bike rack at Whole Foods in Glover Park, next to the rain barrel display:

Bike and rain barrels

My haul for the Personal Care & Health category: three beers (yes, Mary G. says they count!) and one skyr!

The haul: three beers and one skyr

My lunch, my second Coffee control, and my Library/Reading control, a fun book on artisan cheesemaking in the U.S. From this book, I learned that most cheeses, prior to the rise of industrial dairies in the 1930s and 1940s, was done by women at small farms – and that most of the new, artisan cheesemakers are women who are reclaiming the practice.

Lunch, coffee, book

So, that wraps up the 2013 Errandonnée. Here are the totals:

Total errandonee mileage to date: 137.5
Total controls: 9 categories, 13 controls (Work Commute [x2], Breakfast/Lunch [x2], Dinner, Grocery Store [x2], Bike Shop, Wild Card, Coffee [x2], Library/Reading, Personal Care & Health)

the errandonnee: a wild card and 61.2 miles for coffee

It’s getting down to the wire with the 2013 Errandonnée, so I put in two long rides this weekend that contained, oddly enough, errands!

Saturday I got together with my friends, Chris, Jonathan, and Ed, to ride our bikes from Riley’s Lock out to Sugarloaf Mountain, with a rest stop in Dickerson at their small convenience store – a nice, 52.1 mile round trip.

I’d like to count this as a Personal Care & Health ride, if only because it took me to the snow – and anybody who knows me knows that a winter without any snow makes me bitter and grumpy, so this could count as a mental health destination. But I’ll field it as a Wild Card entry, just to keep things even with Mary G. 😉

Ready to roll from Riley’s Lock. I left on my rear fender due to the damp roads (I figured it made me a nicer riding companion, not spraying my friends with road gunk):

Ready to roll from Riley's Lock

Jonathan and Ed prepping to roll after a cocoa break at the store:

Jonathan and Ed

Sugarloaf has tinges of snow on its flanks!

Snowy Sugarloaf in the distance

Snow on the leaves of the shrubbery as I climb Sugarloaf:

Snowy shubbery

Snow at the high traverse between East and West Lots:

Snowy traverse

Sunday was too cold and blustery for a good bike day, so yesterday’s Presidents Day holiday was the other long riding day. It was also a great day to get my Coffee control taken care of.

Jonathan and I met at Allen Pond Park in Bowie, MD, to roll an easygoing, 61.2 mile route to North Beach, along Chesapeake Bay. Our coffee destination was Sweet Sue’s, where the coffee is excellent and baked goods are sublime. I even wore my new socks (thanks, sprite!) to celebrate this sunny day ride:


We enjoyed a mellow ride through the beautiful country in Anne Arundel and Calvert Counties. Here’s Jonathan taking a pull:

Jonathan takes a pull

I decided to smile for the camera, too:

Self portrait while riding

My bike wanted an “in motion” picture, too, as I glided downhill:

The cockpit

As we approach North Beach, I dig out the iPhone and don’t notice that the lens has misted up in my pocket. Thus, this “Streisand filter” shot of Jonathan:

Jonathan's Streisand shot

We pull up to Sweet Sue’s and… IT’S CLOSED! We didn’t realize they were closed on Mondays. So we rolled up to Rose Haven, to Honey’s Harvest.

Honey's Harvest

The deli

This place used to be a crummy, dirty, poorly-stocked convenience store, but it recently found new owners who renovated the place, revamped the menu, and made it quite lovely. I had a coffee, along with a cinnamon scone and a honey-laden Greek yogurt:

The bounty

After 25 minutes of R&R at Honey’s Harvest, we got back on the bikes for the return to Bowie. Along the way, I took advantage of the extremely clear air to snap a picture of one of my favorite views, over Fairhaven toward the eastern shore:

Looking at the eastern shore

We rode through more woods:

Jonathan rides through the woods

I also snapped a shot of this “clean one-owner” house near Deale:

The clean one-owner

What a lovely way to get a cup of joe! 😉

I need to crunch to get my 12 tasks (though I have all 7 controls) finished by end-of-day tomorrow, but I think I’ll make it.

Total errandonee mileage to date: 134.3
Total controls: 7 (Work Commute [x2], Breakfast/Lunch [x2], Dinner, Grocery Store [x2], Bike Shop, Wild Card, Coffee)

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