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Category: outdoors (Page 1 of 23)

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

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.

bringing it all back home: #projectfemur hits the slopes

Well, it was bound to happen: last Saturday, I donned my trusty Lange boots, clicked into a well-worn pair of skis, and got on a chairlift.

Destination: to ski again, this time at Mount Snow, Vermont.

I happened to be up north for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, staying with sprite’s folks in north-central Connecticut. We drove up to Connecticut in a winter storm that produced much rain, freezing rain, sleet, graupel, and snow, arriving to a wet, 5-inch accumulation in Connecticut. But that same storm dumped 12-14 inches of fresh, fluffy snow on top of a very good man-made base at Mount Snow, so my choice of venue made sense. Also, it’s only 90-or-so minutes from sprite’s folks’ place, so the drive isn’t an all-day time suck.

I arrived at the resort about 20 minutes before the lifts started turning, and there was already a large queue at the Bluebird Express lift, the only chair serving the summit of the mountain. That was fine by me, as I wanted to start my day on something a bit less of a full commitment. So, after picking up my lift ticket (pro tip: buy online in advance, it saves a decent amount of money), I donned my skis, tightened the strap on my new Briko helmet, and proceeded to the Canyon Express lift, which serves the lower half of Mount Snow’s front face.

As I rode solo on the lift (all of the crowd – and I mean all of it – was heading toward the summit on Bluebird), I surveyed the open terrain: two rolling intermediate-level slopes, recently groomed, with excellent snow cover. I assessed my legs, and both seemed up to the task. I did have a little trepidation, as I wasn’t able to get a needed shim installed on my right boot to compensate for the loss of femoral length (1.5 cm) on #projectfemur. But this was going to be a low-key, low-speed day, so being a little bit out of balance wasn’t a big deal.

Most of all: I was elated to be back on skis!

As I promised myself and friends, I took it easy. The lack of shims on my right boot meant that turns involving said foot would be awkward, and that flat-footed gliding would be nigh-on-impossible. But, just like riding a bike, the feel came back. My back wasn’t in the best of shape (strained it a week prior), so I decided to mete out my runs in small chunks. Eventually, I waded into the crowd to catch a ride to the summit, where I snapped the panorama you see at the top of this post – it was a beautiful day, ideal for skiing and being outdoors.

After three runs of short-swing, slow GS turns, and stance drills, I retreated to the base lodge for coffee and some light stretching while I waited for the lunch spot to open. I figured that taking an early lunch would allow me to enjoy shorter queues as the crowds ate.

As you can see, the queue for Bluebird Express was quite large while I ate my chili and enjoyed a local microbrew (and Canyon Express was handling the overflow, and had a decently long queue, as well):

After lunch, I decided to explore more of the open terrain at the mountain, heading over to the Carinthia area. Yes, it’s technically a terrain park, but this early in the season most of the runs are groomed, without the rails, jumps, and other trappings of the park crowd. The snow was soft and easy on my legs and back, and I was able to enjoy a slow ride up one of the few old-school, fixed grip lifts remaining at Mount Snow.

I skied until 1:45pm or so, as my lower back started to ache and impede my skiing motions. I managed nine runs for the day, soaking in each one as I did my first outdoor bike rides back in August. There was a lot of smiling, laughing, and joyful yodeling easily traced back to me.

Yes, there’s work to be done – namely, getting my right boot shimmed and re-aligned to the new reality of #projectfemur. But it was skiing, it was brilliant, I was back in my element – home, again.

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

ten on tuesday: the great outdoors (#projectfemur)

Carole’s prompt this week is “ten things I like to do outside.”

This is a tough one for me, especially as spring is finally arriving in DC. There are so many outdoor activities that I love, but I can’t do them because of… well, y’know. But I’m happy to say what I love to do in the out-of-doors, if only to remind myself why I’m doing all of the tough-as-nails physical therapy, pain and all.

  1. Ride my bicycle. This should be obvious: I love to ride my bike, and can’t really stand indoor riding. That said, this summer will be full of such activity.
  2. Ski. My first sporting love, and I’ll be back on those slopes this coming November.
  3. Camp. sprite and I really enjoyed camping in New Hampshire last fall, and I always like to sleep outdoors – it re-centers me.
  4. Picnic. My favorite Friday night activity is to gather with friends for a picnic at The Yards Park.
  5. Go to concerts. I love going to shows at outdoor venues, like Merriweather Post Pavilion or Wolf Trap.
  6. Read. Most progress I make in books is done at parks and cafés.
  7. Eat at cafés. DC has many wonderful cafés with outdoor seating.
  8. Go to the beach. And it has to be a real beach – i.e. one with ocean water and real waves for body surfing (which I won’t be able to do ’til mid-August due to my anticoagulant meds). Still: sun, surf, sand, I love it!
  9. Drink. A cold beer, a glass of wine or sangria, an icy daiquiri or margarita – all are wonderful and perfect for outdoor imbibing.
  10. Hike. I love hiking, and don’t do it often enough. And it’s something I will be able to do this summer, once the leg is strong again.

Do you have favorite things to do outdoors? Share ’em in the comments!

Yards Park picnic

Camping at Mt. Monadnock State Park

people of dc: shovel and treat your sidewalks!

DC is going to get hit hard by a storm, starting Sunday night and continuing all day Monday. Given it’s still winter, that’s great – it’s pretty snow!

What isn’t great? DC residents’ collective ineptitude at clearing their sidewalks. As a person who is limited to getting around on crutches, I implore the people of DC:

SHOVEL YOUR SIDEWALKS! TREAT THEM WITH ICE MELT! AND CLEAR THE ENTIRE WIDTH OF THE WALK!

Seriously, it’s as if DC people think that snow magically clears itself (hint: if it’s cold for days after a storm, it doesn’t!), or that doing the bare minimum of “clearing” – i.e. sort of shoveling/pushing aside a 10-inch-wide “path” – is acceptable. These people are just plain rude, and are also in violation of DC law (see below). For folks on crutches (like me), using canes, reliant on walkers, or riding in wheelchairs, these “goat paths” are often completely impassible.

So, DC: it’s time to cowboy up and shovel your walks!

As a person who grew up in snow country (20 years in Utah, 10 in New England), here are the basic rules when it comes to shoveling:

  • Before the snow falls, treat the sidewalk with halite, rock salt, or a pet-friendly ice melter. Note that rain transitioning to snow calls for this to happen once the snow appears -otherwise, the salt dissolves.
  • Shovel the complete width of the sidewalk, from lawn/planter box/retaining wall/foundation of house to the curb/tree box.
  • If you live on a corner, it is your responsibility to keep the ADA curb cuts clean, including a path to where the street is clear.
  • Clear all paths to the house, including stairs, and clean the full width.
  • In trying to place shoveled snow, do not block storm drains. This can cause flooding of your house or icing of the sidewalk when melting starts. Likewise, if you see these dams, break ’em up with your shovel.
  • If you have neighbors who are elderly, infirm, or mobility challenged, please pay it forward and clear their sidewalks.
  • If there are vacant properties or absentee property owners, be nice and clear the walks, but contact the property owner and remind them they are legally responsible to keep their walks and curb cuts clear.
  • A note about DC law: legally, all sidewalks must be cleared and fully passable within 8 daylight hours of the cessation of snowfall. That said, it’s totally OK to shovel anytime, day or night.
  • If you live in a tony neighborhood and offload the shoveling to your gardener or landscaping service, note that they could be snowbound and unable to get to you in a timely manner. Shit happens. So be brave (and responsible) and shovel your own walks – it’s the neighborly thing to do (and if I see you are home and haven’t shoveled, I’ll come knocking… if I can get to your front door, that is).

Being limited to walking with crutches these days, it amazes me how many in DC (especially in Dupont, Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, West End, and Logan Circle) do a bare minimum of cleaning, if any. The “goat paths” are really slick, and get even more icy after multiple days of freeze/thaw cycles. This is especially the case for sidewalks on the south side of east-west running streets.

Again, people of DC: please think of those of us for whom snow and ice are a dangerous challenge to everyday mobility. We are your neighbors, friends, and colleagues.

Thank you!

P.S. – a note to DDOT and DCDPW: please properly plow the bike lanes and cycletracks as you plow the car lanes. There are a lot of four-season, everyday cyclists in this town who would appreciate the respect from your offices.

what a difference a week makes

Fall foliage’s fleeting foray into our lives is worth capturing.

And you need to be quick, because from one week (17 November)…

to another (24 November)…

things can, and do, change.

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.

fireside in new hampshire, october 2013

Some shots of the campfire from Gilson Pond, New Hampshire, during our October vacation:

fire - good

sprite winds yarn

Final fire embers

The campfires were a lovely part of camping for sprite and me. Camping should happen more often.

Post topic courtesy of Write ALM.

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