2015 Question Marks

January– a cold month prone to dreary days and shades of brown on all sides– is generally an optimal time for me to hang out inside and ponder big ideas for the year ahead.

Usually at least two or three appealing active undertakings grab me and won’t let me go. Last year those big doings were our two-week Colorado tour, the Appalachian Adventure 1000K, and my bike tour-marathon combination in Harpers Ferry.

A year falls into place under the umbrella of these bigger scale activities, and free time is dedicated to condition the body and mind so events might be enjoyed and not endured.

I like shaping years this way. Felkerino and I share a few common goals that we work toward together. Big activities give me long-term structure, and I have concrete milestones to anticipate and hopefully achieve.

Running at sunset

This year is starting out strangely for me, as I’m not seeing anything significant calling my heart and legs. I hope to ride the brevets, but I’m on the fence about PBP. I’d like to complete at least two marathons this year, but what else is out there? I don’t know.

I’ve jotted down a bike tour, but as to where it will take place? I’m not sure. I’m not setting any mileage goals, but plan to ride and run regularly and continue my commitment to active transportation.

Small goals occupy my mind, many of which have little to do with riding or running– eat healthy, prepare my own lunches, reduce sugar and alcohol consumption, return to regular strength training, and fully engage in my work.

These are not small goals, exactly, but rather the type that require more rigorous daily attention. They have a more general purpose of improvement to my overall health and well-being.

As I muddled through this post I had an “Aha!” moment. Maybe I don’t have to have grand bicycling or running goals for 2015. Who cares? They can be question marks for now, while I attend to the smaller-scale activities that demand my attention.

Felkerino and I will figure out PBP in the next month or so. We love being outside on our bikes and always manage to find places and time to bike tour. Running is my meditation. I will continue to do it, whether or not I write down a specific goal about it.

Question marks are okay. Question marks mean I’m taking my time. I’m open to possibility.

Friday Coffee Club Turns Three

Today we celebrated three years since that first tweet from Felkerino introducing Friday Coffee Club, a weekly D.C. meetup of commuting cyclists around the area.

FCC turns 3-Lisa Ed

Three full years, and we’re still meeting and enjoying morning beverages together. I don’t want to overanalyze the reasons why people continue to come to Friday Coffee Club, but I’ll throw a few thoughts onto the page.

No confusion. Friday Coffee Club is every week, same time, same place.

FCC Kirstin

FCC 3rd anniv

People invite their friends to go on a bike ride that ends at Friday Coffee Club.

Pete and Ed

You can exchange notes with other commuters without a 140-character limit.

FCC Outside edition

Bicycle window shopping.

Bike inspection FCC

An opportunity to stop and see friends you might only otherwise cross in passing.

B and Ted

Friday Coffee Club boasts the shortest group ride ever– the weekly rollout through the White House Plaza.

FCC rollout

There’s coffee, and latte art if you’re lucky. Swing’s has been good to us.

FCC latte art

Oh, and of course, many photo ops.

FCC Peter-Swings

Here’s to another great year of a.m. fellowship at Friday Coffee Club. Thank you, BikeDC.

Bikes Are Not Family Members, But…

After a month spent in delightful lollygag mode, Felkerino and I pumped up the tires on the Co-Motion Java tandem for our first century ride of 2015.

As I rode along looking alternately at Felkerino’s backside and a somewhat snotty top tube resulting from my runny nose, I was wholly grateful for the hours and miles together on our beautiful, sturdy, and maybe somewhat dirty, tandem.

One of my favorite parts of our day was riding beyond the edges of Poolesville, Maryland, into more rural countryside. The wind snapped at us over the open landscape and through leafless trees. Chill bit into my feet.

Normally, I don’t like those sensations, but on this sunny winter day they invigorated me. It felt so good to be riding our tandem together after a month of rest.

We reached the entrance of Sugarloaf Mountain and began our two-mile rise to its summit. Sugarloaf is a mostly gentle (by East Coast standards) switchback climb, and at this time of year the bare trees give you a good lens on the winding path behind you.

The cold made the area fairly quiet and we enjoyed a contemplative rise to the top. Love for my riding partner welled inside me, and I leaned forward and whispered, “I love you, bike.”

Bikes are not people, I know, but this tandem has sure found its way into my heart. With a tandem, Felkerino and I sit snugly, one in front of the other. All movement is synchronized, and when Felkerino and I ride in tune it reminds me of playing in an orchestra that has melded every note, sound, crescendo, and pause together. It’s a blissful feeling.

Obligatory Cow Photo with Felkerino and tandem

When our previous tandem– a custom-sized Co-Motion Speedster– developed a crack, I cried, and didn’t understand why the loss of a bike had affected me so. But it was the first tandem I’d ever ridden that was sized just for us, and we’d had memorable times with it, including our 2011 PBP jaunt.

As nice as that bike was, our Co-Motion Java is even better. It was built to tour and made to climb. It fits me as well as the Speedster did. Co-Motion designed it to specifically fit our two bodies, and over a long ride it continues to painlessly support us.

Our Java climbs so agreeably and doesn’t mind if you add extra weight to it. It’s happy to carry your extra jacket, or those items you need to pick up at the grocery store on the way home.

The Co-Motion is an eye-catching steed, and through it we’ve enjoyed many a nice conversation with people we might otherwise never have met.

Cheesy though it may seem, this bike is like a family member to me. I never gave it a name, I just call it what Co-Motion branded it, but our bike is more than a thing we own. It’s an essential element of Felkerino’s and my approach to seeing and feeling the world. Our Co-Motion Java tandem is our partner in intimate exploration.

Lifestyle Changes in Small Packages: Brown Bag Lunch

In 2013, I read David A. Kessler’s somewhat horrifying yet engrossing book The End of Overeating, in which he provides an inside look at how the food industry perpetually entices us to shove the ideal mix of sugar, fat, salt, and who knows what else down our throats.

After being shown how I was being taken for a ride by companies that say they prepare “food,” but want us to be loyal patrons of junk, I committed to making changes in my diet. I bought fewer prepared foods, read food labels more consistently, and ate more fruits and vegetables.

Doing these things helped me try out cooking a little more and expand my palate. I’m still not a good cook, but purchasing food in a purer state increased my awareness of the hidden ingredients in packaged foods and even restaurant fare.

And yet, I would not bring my lunch to work. For the past 20 years, I have been an idly aspiring, largely unsuccessful brown bagger. Instead, I have spent most lunch hours wandering downtown like a mangy coyote in search of the elusive and healthy five dollar meal. I still haven’t figured out if it exists in D.C. Continue reading Lifestyle Changes in Small Packages: Brown Bag Lunch

Coffeeneuring Housekeeping: Patches

This note is specifically for the Coffeeneuring Class of 2014.

All patches were mailed on December 30, both to those living in the U.S. as well as the International Cadre of Coffeeneurs.

What I’m saying is everyone should have received the patches they ordered/earned (unless you are a D.C.-based person, in which case I should have already spoken with you to figure something out).

If you did not receive a patch and believe you should have, please let me know, either through the Contact form or via my “gersemalina” gmail.

Hope everyone’s 2015 is off to a good start. Back soon with another blog post from the recesses of my mind.

PBP 2015: To Go or Not to Go?

The turning of the calendar to 2015 also means the arrival of a “PBP year.” Paris-Brest-Paris, the most heralded, historic, and international of all grand randonnees now peeps its head around the corner and beckons to us randonneurs, a mere eight months away.

I thought that deciding on a return trip to PBP would take little internal debate. I would set my sights on it, no matter what. Yet, as of this writing, I feel mixed. Like the self-help books taught me, I drafted a list of pros and cons to aid my decision-making. Continue reading PBP 2015: To Go or Not to Go?

Combating Cynicism Through Active Commutes

Today I was reading David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech “This is Water.”  In it, he addresses the theme of selfishness, as well as the tedious aspects of adult life and how we all construct and view our life experiences.

Our challenge, he says, is to step outside ourselves, take an active role in interpreting our surroundings, and not succumb to that everyday tediousness.

I call this fighting cynicism. In recent years, the importance of this challenge has been very present in my own mind. It’s easy for me to become irritated by the day-to-day administrative functions of my life as I fume about how they hold me back from a potentially “rad” existence. I’ve been hearing that word “rad” a lot lately, and I hate it, so I’m using it here. Cynicism! Wait, where was I?

As I read David Foster Wallace’s speech, I thought that it would have benefitted from a paragraph suggesting that one of the best ways to stave off cynicism is through actively commuting, whenever you can. Continue reading Combating Cynicism Through Active Commutes

BikeDC Commutes 2014: The Months in Photos

As I was assembling my recent post about 12 months of running in D.C., I realized that I wanted a memory of the past year’s bike commutes in the city.

Considering I spent much of the year feeling blasé about the urban bike experience, my photos make it seem like it wasn’t so bad. As if I enjoyed it, even. Continue reading BikeDC Commutes 2014: The Months in Photos

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