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Coffeeneuring: I would have but…

November 20, 2012

Outside at Big Bear

So yeh, I had every intention to complete this coffeeneuring challenge. I anticipated knocking out 7 weekend trips to coffee shops without too much trouble. I like coffee. I like bikes. Really, this wouldn’t be much of challenge at all. Bringing the Mrs. along, things started out great.

Then Hurricane Sandy came. But didn’t the weather not actually get bad until Monday night leaving the weekend free for coffeeneuring? Well sure, technically. I did have to freak out over how my dog would relieve herself if it rained for 2 straight days. And that took time.

Ok, no problem. I would just double up next week. The only issue was that on this Saturday, the wife had made reservations at a very nice restaurant for my belated birthday dinner. Wait, so that meant I couldn’t eat or drink anything in the morning? Yep. Moving on…

I can’t specifically recall what happened that Sunday. Something having to do with a food coma, I assume.

The next weekend I was stuck at a FedEx copy center in Adams Morgan. And everyone knows that neighborhood is a coffee desert. I mean besides Tryst, Crumbs & Coffee, The Diner, L’Enfant Cafe, Locolat, Adams Morgan Coffee Shop, Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market & Cafe, Starbucks, and 90 Min Cafe, where is one expected to get coffee here? I know, there’s nothing!

Animal crackers at Tryst

And that’s it. We lost. I think what really held us back was our coffee addiction. See, before our day officially starts we NEED coffee. This means that I had to have coffee before I could leave my house to get coffee. And if I already had coffee why would I need to get coffee? Well, we’ll have one year to figure this one out.  Next time this coffeneuring challenge will be all ours!

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The short list:

#HubsnPubs Report

November 17, 2012

I’ve been in a bit of a bike funk lately. Between a new internship cutting potential commute days in half, back-to-back conferences, and finishing projects, my cycling opportunities have been limited (which I guess explains why I haven’t posted anything for the last month and a half). So when a heard that @crysb had organized a 15-mile ride that would swing by three DC breweries, I figured grant proposals could wait another day. This would be too much fun to pass up.

Convincing Mrs. Bicyclebug (@workforcashmere) to come along, we met up with a growing group at Big Bear Cafe. I thought about grabbing a pre-ride muffin, but after poking my head inside at a very long, typical Saturday line I decided to just mingle outside instead. Shortly after noon, our crowd was off.

@Gyspybug and @DailyRandonneur the Grand Marshalls of #bikeDC had stopped by to snap photos and send their regards to this bike parade.  Which reminds me, I really need to get my coffeneuring stuff over to her  (I’m in the “I was going to complete the challenge but…” category).

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Hey, I know her!

My favorite part of this ride was the meet up with tweeps.  Besides some of my favorite twitter personalities including @dirteng, @rootchooper, and @sharrowsDC, I also met for the first time in person @MrTinDC and @DizzyLuv25. There’s something slightly weird but also great about knowing somebody so well you never actually met (did this sound crazy to people who don’t check twitter as much as I do?).

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After our second brewery, Crystal realized we left someone behind. Oops. Luckily for the straggler this ride had a strict no drop policy. We spent the next few minutes mingling on the side of the NW Branch trail. The sky was blue and beer filled our stomaches so it didn’t look like anyone was upset waiting. Ted was even kind enough to snap a photo of the two of us (I smell Christmas card…)

Not Ted’s photo, not our holiday card

By the time the lost party arrived, we had decided that this was as good a time as any to head back. With a nice sampling from both Chocolate City and DC Brau, this Saturday ride was a great and welcomed distraction from the errands of life. Thanks again to Crystal for putting this one together.

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PS: Unfortunately, I did later hear that a rider took a nasty fall when his scarf got caught in his wheel. He ended up going to the hospital but all things considered he appeared to be “ok.” It was nice to find out that the riders stayed with him and a group even transported his bike home for him.

The Big Rock (Shh…it’s a secret)

October 4, 2012

Although, I don’t remember when exactly, I suppose I learned about it from my older brother and my friends from their older siblings. Eventually, I showed my little brother the way. With lunch and supplies in tow, it was a day’s hike deep into the woods. The only indication we were on the right path were benign natural markers – left at the half fallen tree nestled behind the forked branches of another, straight when the trail becomes very sandy, a final climb up a foreboding, winding hill meant you were just about there. These waypoints were always intrinsic to the boys of Rolling Hills. We just knew.

The Big Rock, a mammoth boulder, stood in stark contrast to the otherwise flat, sandy terrain of Long Island’s Central Pine Barrens. As we climbed the rock face (the younger kids reaching only the small ledge of the first tier, the older boys making it to the summit), we gave little thought to why this was here. Something having to do with a glacier, maybe. Actually (Science Alert!), boulders like this are called glacial erratics and caused by retreating glaciers 20,000 to 11,000 years ago. There are quite a few sprinkled throughout Long Island (thousands of various sizes, in fact). Geologists believe the erratics originated either from Westchester, NY or Connecticut. Being on the eastern end, ours probably came from Connecticut. One of the more famous, Shelter Rock, even has a road named after it.

Our erratic wasn’t on any map, had no advocacy group fighting to preserve it, and was not part of any trail guide. That was fine by us though. It was ours. No one else knew about this treasure. Sure, the rock face was covered in graffiti. But, we reasoned that this could have only been left my Native Americans many, many years ago. For example the ancient paint scrolls declaring, “Jason wuz here, -87″ clearly showed that the Indian Jason was here in 1487 (5 years before Columbus made it to the West Indies). Yes, that was proof enough for a 10-year-old boy.

A few weeks ago, I took my mountain bike with me on a visit to see family. After a fun afternoon romping around new trails at a nearby county park, my brother asked if I wanted to detour to the Big Rock on our way home. I looked at my watch. Remembering the times when packing a sandwich was required, I asked, “It’s already 3 o’clock. Do you really think we’ll have enough time to gets there and back?” He told me to just follow him.

We hit the trail hard but not too aggressively. Despite years since I was last here, everything came back quickly. I did stumble a few times. Wait, this can’t be the left turn already, I thought. But it was. To my astonishment, we reached the boulder clearing within 10 minutes. I dismounted and stared at the Big Rock. Hmm, smaller than I remember. Weathering. Yes, that must be why the rock looks half its old size. Or was it my memory that’s been weathered by years of relentless nostalgia?

Later, my brother posted a photo of his bike hoisted onto the rock on Facebook. The comment block immediately flooded with 30-something-year-olds who grew up in the area that (1) instantly remembered the adventures they had there as kids and (2) couldn’t believe anyone besides their closest neighborhood pals knew about the Big Rock.

Some secret, I guess.

When the miles matter

September 23, 2012

“How many miles did you ride today?” The conventional standard to mark your achievement is distance. Then there are those who feel this metric is useless without the additional dimension of time. “I killed this workout today – kept an 18 mph moving average for 20 laps.” Rivendell founder, Grant Petersen discourages both of these and instead insists on counting minutes or even days ridden instead. “Count things that add up fast, come easy, and encourage you,” he says.

Yes, counting things can be fun. But in the end, who really cares? What it really comes down to for me is this: it’s not how you rode but who you rode with. Looking back on my previous year’s ride reports, the ones I look most fondly back on are those that I shared with friends and family. I think back to a toe-numbing trip for authentic Serbian food, romps to the sources of delicious beers and wines, and lazy circuitous pedaling around the neighborhood. There was the afternoon when Mrs. Bicycle Bug and I stumbled onto the DC Scoops event with free Ice Cream – that was a good one.

The memories I’ve taken away from these experiences have been selective. I don’t remember exact distances (ok, I remember my first 100-mile day), my cadence, speed, or heart rate. I do remember benign conversations, destinations, and wrong turns. I remember the people, not the numbers. So, maybe from now on I should count conversation with other riders, track cups of coffee drunk, or log jokes per hour (JPH) – for these things are where the miles really matter.

50 States

September 23, 2012

I apologize for the image-less post.  Perhaps one day someone will invent a pocket-sized phone that has an 8 megapixel camera on it so you can carry it around all the time.  Until that day comes check out @DailyRandonneur ‘s and @GypsyBug’s always great photo streams. 

WABA’s 50 States Ride has cyclists tour across all 50 State-named streets throughout the 8 Wards of DC.  This 65+ mile ride has been described to me as legendary, anarchy, chaos, amazing, and a rite of passage for area cyclists.  On the first day of registration,  I made sure to sign-up.  I was all set and pumped for the ride.  The only problem was that when the ride day finally approached I just wasn’t feeling it.  While my twitter stream was exploding with tweets from excited riders, I was figuring out how I could rationalize to myself to skip the ride.  I’m not sure what happened during the month since I registered but I was on the verge of NHF.

The night prior to the ride I made the decision to forgo the longer 50 States Ride and instead do the 16-mile 13 Colonies Ride.  The catch was that I would be doing it on my 16-inch Dahon Curve.  Not having ridden this small-wheeled wonder for more than 12 miles in one sitting, finishing the shorter race would still be an accomplishment of sorts.  This turned out to be an acceptable compromise and my motivation began to return.  I spent the rest of the evening prepping.  But not too much, after all I was only riding 16-miles (or until I finished my coffee).

The rides began at Walter Pierce Park in Adams Morgan.  The 50 States would begin at 9 while the 13 Colonies would depart 30 minutes later.  Despite the 500 other riders packing the park, I managed to meet up with the Friday Coffee Club folks before they departed for their ride.  At 9, the large group began their bottleneck out of the park towards downtown.  Would anyone be left to ride the colony ride with me?  Here I made the quick decision to join the big group – isn’t this why you sign up for group rides in the first place?  My goal was 16 miles and I figured it didn’t really matter how I got there.   We were off!

Between the opening bottleneck and timing of traffic lights, riders quickly broke into groups of 20-30 people.  This dynamic continued throughout the day making it fun when you crossed paths with another groups snaking their way around the city streets.  It also meant that if you got stuck at a red light while your current group moved ahead you could alway expect to merge into a new group coming up behind you.  Never being alone helped keep me motivated to keep going.  Of course, total reliance on the fastest riders didn’t always work out.  For example, just  1.28 miles into the ride we missed our turn onto Corcoran St.  Later in the day, some locals had to direct us back on course because some guy on a little red folding bike insisted on going down a cul-de-sac.  Oops.

As I passed L’Enfant Plaza and made my way around the tidal basin around mile 12, I met up with @Rootchopper.  To my surprise he said @Jdantos and his wife were just behind us.  Meeting up with them, I was even more surprised to find out that @Dirteng and @ramblingrider were just behind them.  I remember them getting ahead of me early on so I couldn’t quite figure out how I got the advantage.  We continued on to our first pit stop at the Anacostia Park Pavilion.  Now at mile 18.75, I had already exceeded my planned mileage.  This would be a perfect spot to say my goodbyes and head home for the day.  But as soon as the Coffee Club group started back up I followed.  And continued to follow through the hills of Anacostia (cursing for just one more gear) and back across the bridge to Eastern Market at mile 31.

Now it was time to go.  At the Eastern Market Pit stop, I grabbed a Crepe from a nearby vendor.  Energized by the nutella-goodness, I was ready for more!  Ready for it all!  But the rolling hills of Brookland and Northeast DC had other plans.  10 miles later I was looking at my cue sheet for an escape.  Looping around Sherman Circle was going to be it for me I decided.  If I didn’t exit know I would be facing more hills north to Takoma Park and then a final barrage of steep passes west of Rock Creek Park.  You have to know and accept your limitations.  No regrets.

The 50 States ride is tough.  Telling someone it’s just 65-mile ride doesn’t do it justice.  I warn anyone thinking about doing this without being 100% motivated for this urban endurance challenge.  Congratulations to everyone who finished the ride and made it back to the happy hour.

Next year, 50 States Ride – I’ll own you!

 

SOLD: 1965 Schwinn Traveler

August 19, 2012

Update (8/21/2012): Sold to a very nice girl whose bikey boyfriend is trying to get into cycling (sounds familiar). I know they’ll enjoy it!

Well my building’s bike room is becoming increasingly more crowded. I recently ordered a Jamis Commuter 3 for the wife from Bicycle Space. The old rusty Schwinn we purchased a year ago had the dual purpose of being a fun project for me and letting the wife see the possibilities of city bike riding. Both objectives were met! She is now ready to trade-up the steel tank for something a little more nimble.

While I figure most of my local DC readers probably aren’t interested, just in case anyone has a friend or colleague (who no doubt has become fascinated with your own bike adventures they’re beginning to want to try it themselves) I’ve listed the details here. And I’m sure we could work out a deal for friends of the blog – seriously. 🙂

This is a 3-speed 19″ women’s Schwinn Traveler with 26″ wheels. It’s a small framed bike and will fit someone between 5′ – 5’5″ (give or take).

This bike was meticulously restored a few months ago and ridden very little since. In addition to scrubbing away surface rust and clear-coating any scratches, I replaced the brake pads with Kool Stop Salmon brake pads; replaced all brake and shifter cables and housing, added new handlebar grips, new chain, new tires and tubes, and even a basket (for farmer’s market runs). The shifter lever and components were also replaced while the three-speed internal Sturmey Archer gear hub was serviced and overhauled. It was a fun project but it’s time to free up some space.

The bike is in surprisingly great condition for its age with only few expected scuffs. This bike is a steel tank – so it can take a beating and will continue to stand the test of time. It’s great for someone just getting into biking or who wants a townie bike where they don’t have to be constantly worried when it’s locked outside (the wheels and seat post are both bolted too).

Please respond “Blue Schwinn” in the subject line or I will not answer. Thanks for looking!

If interested you can click the “Contact Me” link at the top of this page. The craigslist posting can be found here. It’s currently listed at $175 but as mentioned above deals can be cut.

Hoppy 100

August 15, 2012

Proof

I’m a big fan of endurance events.  It’s not about a physical sprint to the finish.  It’s about building up the mental will to press on and overcoming everything in your head that tells you to stop.  I’ve done an ultramarthon, 24-hour adventure race, and now proudly, a 100-mile century bike ride.  When I tell folks what I’ve done over the weekend I usually receive that look that let’s me know that they know I’m not quite right in the head.  The response of “I don’t know, because it’s fun and I can,” to their “why” does nothing to sway the not-quite-right mindset.  My response for this weekend’s adventure seems to have pushed not-quite-right into full-blown looney tune.

“100 miles?!  Why on earth would you do that.”

“We wanted to get a beer.”

First, yes, a beer (3 actually).  Second, that’s right, we.  I wasn’t the only one who thought this journey sounded like a great idea.  In fact, I wasn’t even the one who thought of it.  That distinction goes to Lisa.  But what’s a crazy idea without actual planning?  Good thing we had John to work out all of the logistics.  Rootchopper John rounded out the group doing the full 100-mile ride.   More crazies (and I mean that in the nicest way possible), including Crystal, Chris and mega-crazies (again, nicest way possible), Ed and Mary even joined us for parts of the ride.

Riding with bloggers meant one thing was guaranteed.  We would all end up writing about our adventure.  Lisa wrote up a great play-by-play of the day (and it’s pretty much the way I saw it) at the Rambling Rider.  She also included her personal Lessons Learned from the day.  Lisa mentions that she did not bonk during the ride.  I’ve bonked twice during two years of bike commutes (skipped lunch both times) and it sucks.  What if this happened 50 miles from home just as we entered some industrial hell park?  Luckily, none of us experienced this and I think it’s realistic to thank the beer (liquid bread) for this!

In addition, Rootchopper John’s always entertaining blog A Few Spokes Shy of a Wheel has a nice write-up and a link to his Flickr pool at the end.  Judging by the post’s comment section it looks like his account has inspired a whole new group of riders for next time!  As mentioned early, we spent a bit of time riding with Ed and Mary as they made their way to Strasburg on an overnight bike trip.  As a result, the Hoppy team is  featured in a few photos of Mary’s collection (I really need to figure out how to ride and take pictures at the same time).

Finally, our ride leader John of PortaJohn put together a few pros and cons for the ride.  While I agree with his list of “What Went Right” (rain at mile 83 – awesome!), the “What Went Wrong” portion is just a nitpicky list that was so trivial and didn’t affect the enjoyment of the ride at all (except maybe #4 – lets shoot for free beer next time).  He did a great job getting us to a nice range of breweries including Lost Rhino, Mad Fox, and Port City.

Team Hoppy

There, how can we all be crazy?  Pedaling for 12 hours is more than just getting to your destination.  Country air, soy fields, bumps, hills, descents, ferry crossings, lemonade stands, downpours, and camaraderie were only a taste of what made the day so much fun and one to remember.  And besides, it wasn’t like I drove 125 miles for ice cream (that happened the next day).