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Category: outdoors Page 2 of 23

weekending (wait – are we living in seattle?)

It was a grey, damp weekend here in DC. The predicted sun and warmth was tempered by drizzle, fog, clouds – something closer to the Pacific Northwest than the Mid-Atlantic. Such is November, I reckon. However, it was enjoyable:

  • Trekked with sprite to see the UConn women take on the University of Maryland Terps. It was #1 versus #7. #1 UConn won.
  • Went out to shop and dine at Franklin’s afterward – yum!
  • Got to sleep in Saturday morning – ahhhh….
  • Watched the two FIS Alpine Skiing World Cup races from Levi, Finland – one live (today), one on-demand (yesterday). Seeing the top racers in the world dice up the slalom courses was awesome.
  • Rode my bike twice today: one 42 mile ride to test out the Achilles (all OK), and one 6 mile coffeeneuring ride.
  • The latter ride was the 9th and final coffeeneuring outing for the 2013 contest.
  • Watched the final episodes of the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) on Doctor Who.
  • Cooked soup with sweet potato greens we grew in our own garden (it was yummy).
  • Smiled a lot.

Tunnel of ginkgo foliage

How was your weekend?

weekending (or how i didn’t ride long distance this week)

Two weekends ago, I went on two awesome bike rides – one in the Virginia hills, one closer to home. They were a ton of fun, but there was a pesky side effect: I strained my left Achilles tendon. My ankle was swollen, there was pain. Professionals advised me to curtail any high-intensity cycling. Commuting was fine, as were leisurely rides, but not anything close to my normal weekend riding.

But my weekend was chock full of good things:

  • Cooked a lovely Moraccan tagine for Friday dinner.
  • Watched an episode of Top Gear.
  • Discovered that Chuck is finally available on Netflix streaming (and added it to my instant queue).
  • Slept in on Saturday morning – it was luxurious!
  • Did a lovely coffeeneuring ride to Big Bear Café, a place new to sprite and me.
  • On that same ride, stopped by BicycleSpace, where sprite bought a lovely handlebar bag at a hefty discount, and I ogled cyclocross and cargo bikes.
  • Watched the CBS Sunday Morning reporters explain Twitter to the more senior audience that makes up a large percentage of said program’s viewership. (For the record, it was a good profile of Twitter and its founder, the weekend after the company’s IPO. But it still seemed like a “let’s explain the Tweetie to the old folk” story.)
  • Collected ballot qualification petition signatures for my good friend, Charles.
  • Went to the garden with sprite, where we picked all remaining tomato fruit, pulled the associated plants, and dug up quite a few potatoes (white and purple) and sweet potatoes.
  • Met the rest of the Liberty Mountain Race Team coaching staff at the first organizational meeting of the season. I’m coaching the U16 racers.
  • Watched an episode of Doctor Who (one of the last of the David Tennant episodes).
  • Followed that tense show with a more lighthearted episode of Psych.

For those counting: I only rode 14-or-so miles at a fairly mellow pace over the weekend, compared to my more typical 130-150 miles at a more intense pace. The ankle is healing, which is a wonderful thing.

Intrepid readers: how were your weekends? Post in the comments!

the buck stops… right in front of me

Tonight I came face-to-face with a four-point buck.

I was leaving the parking lot at my office, on my trusty bicycle. As I rolled up the ramp into the chilly night air, everything seemed at peace. My bike’s drivetrain whirred as I ascended the ramp, no creaks or noises from the chain, cogs, seat, or anything else. The stars were out, traffic was light enough to not be able to hear the drone of Wisconsin Avenue.

As I crest the top of the ramp, I look up and there, right in my face, is a deer.

This young buck had a decent rack: four points, no fuzz on his antlers. He even smelled slightly musky.

Our eyes met.

He moved out of my way – not with a lot of expediency, but still not wanting to hang out with me.

I stopped my bike, and the buck walked to a safer distance, maybe 20 feet away, then looked back at me.

It was a nice way to end my work week.

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 feet (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?

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…

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).

ten on tuesday: goals are for soccer

So Carole does another non-knitting “Ten on Tuesday,” and I’m compelled to join in. The subject: 10 goals for the summer. I think you can guess where my goals will be….

  1. Get back in prime cycling shape. This goal is vexing me right now: I’m back on the bike, essentially cleared to ride anything (though I still need my doc’s full “OK” to do the big stuff – I’m hoping it comes with tomorrow’s check-up), but feeling so out-of-it. I’m enjoying riding, but my climbing shape is woeful right now, and I have a lot of muscle mass to build back after the long sit-out and gradual build-up to riding again. Working on pedaling mechanics, good as it is in the long-run, doesn’t hold as much satisfaction as being able to climb like I usually can at this point. The rest of my riding friends are well ahead of me, thanks in part to the lack of winter we had in DC. And while I know that recovery from an adductor injury is a long, drawn-out, steady process, my inherent impatience is making things a bit tough. I have a lot of ground to make up, and having to do it in the midst of summer’s heat and humidity will make it extra challenging.
  2. Rebuild my carbon bike. The frame has been repaired for months, but sitting in a shipping box. I’ve stalled rebuilding it because of…. well, because of depression due to not being able to ride and riding like crap. I think I’ll be happier once it’s built and back on the road (and I’ll have two road bikes to choose from in riding – woot!).
  3. Do a mass de-cluttering. The Burrow is in a weird state of “packed” right now, and I could stand to clear out some things that I’m not using any more, but I’m sure could be used by others. Goodwill, local bike swaps and co-ops, eBay: be forewarned, I’m coming!
  4. Cook more. Part of the de-cluttering will involve “rationalizing the pantry.” This will make me more likely to cook. That’s a win-win.
  5. Go camping. I’d like to go backwoods camping – hiking, backpack, tents and all – but would settle for car camping, all the same. That said: must go backpacking sometime in the none-too-distant future.
  6. Go to the beach a few times. I’m a person who believes a beach isn’t a real beach unless there is actual surf (thus why I was never too keen on the Connecticut beaches: salty water but no surf). Why? Because I like to body surf (or at least attempt to do it – success is fleeting). The nearest good beaches are a few hours from DC, but worth the trip.
  7. Go on more picnics and cookouts with friends. I feel that this often gets overlooked in my summer plans. Hopefully, it won’t in 2012 because I’ve committed to it here!
  8. Enjoy what little available weekday vacation time I have. Due to a double whammy of working in academia and a large, enterprise-wide roll-out happening this summer, my available weekday summer vacation time (i.e. the stuff that summer vacations are made of) is all-too-short this year. Putting it gently: I have all of June and a few days in July, and that’s about it. I could complain about the fact that, unlike most of my DC friends, I don’t get to enjoy the dog days of summer with 4-day work weeks (believe me, it’s highly irksome), but that’s just a waste of time. So a road trip sometime in June is a must.
  9. Stay sane. The aforementioned big roll-out, happening in July, will likely tap my physical and emotional strength. My department is expected to turn in long work days for extended stretches of time, and I don’t cope well with these situations if they drag on for too long. So I’ll need my sanity checks along the way.
  10. Keep a positive outlook, come what may. Since my injury, I’ve had more than my share of ups and downs. I’ve found myself fighting to stay positive, and it’s a tough battle. Thus summer’s busy times and tough situations with regard to my favorite summer pastime have me in a bit of an anticipatory funk. I just need to take every day as it comes and find the positives wherever they are hiding. I can’t promise that every day will be good, but I hope that every day has at least one positive moment.

I know that sprite has her list, and that Sarah may also play along. Do any of my readers have specific summer goals? Post ’em in the comments!

(Note that I haven’t mentioned soccer until now? Good!)

recovery update: day 26

I am realizing, through the recovery from my injury, that I’m a bit of a busybody. And it’s never more apparent than during the weekend.

My mind wants to be outside, riding the bike, skiing, hiking or doing something very active. When the weather conspires to deliver unseasonably pleasant temperatures wit low humidity and plentiful sun, it simply rubs salt into the wound.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m enjoying spending my weekend time with sprite, going to the Dupont FreshFarm Market each weekend, and trying to make up for weekends that would normally have a lot of time committed to cycling. I’m becoming more involved with local politics, if only for an issue that has bothered me for some time. I’m going to homebrew some beer with a good friend. And I’m doing some much-needed inventory assessment of my media collections.

But this isn’t satisfying my busybody self, at least not enough to be a consistent substitute for my preferred weekend activity.

Recovery continues. I’ve gone a whole week without needing to use pain medication during my awake hours (I take ibuprofen before bed to allow for a more comfortable and restful sleep). I can walk more than 4 miles without difficulty or any lingering pain. And while there is general pain, it’s not as bad, nor is it as severe in the motions that are still guaranteed to make me wince a little. I’m going to add new exercises to my fitness regimen this week, too, which adds some much-needed variety.

I may even be able to ride my bike on a stationary trainer by the end of this week, so long as the pain continues to decrease.

And yes, anybody who knows me understands that I typically despise riding a stationary trainer. In many respects, I consider it somewhat fake cycling with minimal tangible benefit and a ton of boredom. I generally dislike working out indoors, even during the coldest of winter days, so I may get creative with this endeavor and set up a stationary trainer outside, on the sidewalk or at a local park, so long as it’s not raining. We’ll see….

But it still won’t be the full-on freedom package that I adore about cycling. It may be weeks before I’m commuting to work, and longer still before I’m going on club rides (a weekly ride I host starts up again in April, and I won’t be able to join the folks riding until sometime closer to May). And it will likely take most (if not all) of the summer for me to get back up to the speed and fitness of my usual riding buddies (I’m trying to steel my resolve about riding alone, which is the likely reality of a lot of my rides when I first start out again).

With my big summer goal ride now something for another year, I’m feeling the relief of removing the pressure that is involved with preparing for a big ride on a specific date, while feeling like I’m staring at a lot of unknown aspects of my summer. Will I get to do any big rides? If I can, will there be space available? Will my friends be able to ride with me, or will I have to go alone, knowing that I’m bound to meet lots of great people at the ride? It’s a lot of undefined time, which makes my mind race because it wants to fill up those days with activities on the bike – yet it can’t, at least not yet, and not with any certainty.

As you can likely suss out, I’m not all too happy about this. It makes me angry, sad, unhappy, you name it. As I tweeted last night, seeing folks riding their bikes makes me happy and sad: happy that they are out riding, sad that I can’t be among their ranks.

But I try to find the positive in all of this. I’m learning a lot more about the wonderful machine that is the human body. And I’m learning a lot about myself and certain aspects of my personality that I’ve not fully understood or appreciated until now. I will come back from this injury, stronger than before (if only because I’m a stubborn busybody), ready for any and all challenges. And before I know it, I’ll be back on the bike for the summer, and winter will return and I’ll ski once the snow flies again.

But right now, I’m impatient and frustrated. So if you encounter me and I’m a bit crabby, please realize that it’s very likely not your fault – it’s just an unfulfilled and fidgety busybody at an uneasy state of forced rest.

ten on tuesday: things to do in 2012

OK, so it’s Wednesday Thursday, but this seems like a good topic to start of 2012, right? As usual, Carole posted a lovely topic, and both sprite and Sarah posted their lists.

So, here goes:

1. Read more books. I read a couple books in 2011, but I really would like to be a bit more diligent about diving into the stack of volumes that are whispering to me, urging me to open their covers and get lost in the pages.

2. Plan another big trip. Iceland was a surreal, magical, wonderful experience – and one that sprite and I planned mostly by happenstance. I’m not sure that this next big trip will happen in 2012, but getting the wheels in motion now wouldn’t be a bad idea.

3. Cook and prepare more things that I would otherwise buy. Often I’m in a rush to leave in the morning and don’t pack lunch. That means having to uy lunch, and the cost adds up. So I’d like to have the foresight to pack more lunches. Also, I’m a sucker for gourmet coffee drinks that I can totally make myself (e.g. espresso, Starbucks’ gingerbread lattés). For Christmas, I received an Aerobee Aeropress, and sprite pointed me to this DIY gingerbread latté recipe, so…. there ‘ya go!

4. Clean a little bit every day. The Burrow is a tiny apartment, and it’s often far from the sanctuary it should be. I’d like to rediscover the space inside by cleaning it a little each day and, like sprite, concentrate on sectors. It may mean that we’ll have guests over more often, and that would be great.

5. Let go of things. This goes hand-in-hand with cleaning, in a sense: I tend to hold onto things, sometimes to the point of obsession. This leads to messes, both literal and figurative, which leads to unnecessary stress. I’ve been working on this for a few years, and it’s a continuing process.

6. Really crush the Death Ride. It’s my big event ride for 2012, and I want to be super-strong in it! So it will involve training smartly, eating well, resting, keeping the bikes in shape and always looking forward.

7. Go hiking in both Rock Creek Park and Shenandoah National Park. One is just blocks from my front door. The other is only 60 miles from my front door. And I really haven’t hiked in either park. I love hiking, so…. let’s do it!

8. Draw more. I have a lovely set of Prismacolor pencils and sketchbooks – I should use ’em more!

9. Post more on this blog. It’s fallen somewhat by the wayside. This will change in 2012.

10. Say “thank you” far more often. I’m often not grateful enough for the friends and family I have, and the things they do to help me through life.

Do any of you have things you want to do in 2012?

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