Monthly Archives: June 2010

Let Us be Mindful and Caring

Today, as I walked to work I spent a lot of time thinking about Stan Miller. I don’t know why thoughts of him kept creeping into my head. Perhaps because it was such a beautiful day to be outside and there were lots of people out riding their bikes or walking to the office. Stan would have liked being out there with us today.

As I came to the intersection of L’Enfant Plaza and Independence Avenue, I saw this little memorial attached to a light post. Whenever I walk commute I see this sign, but I never read it until today.

“Let Us be Mindful and Caring”

It was dedicated to someone who had died there, “and others who die needlessly.” The last sentence read “Let us be mindful and caring.”

Stan died needlessly. Someone might say, “he died doing what he loved,” but let’s be honest. No one wants to die by being rear-ended on their bike by a drunk driver and then hurled 40-50 feet.

Stan was a cyclist, a motorist, a father, a son, a friend, and all-around nice guy. In fact, all of us are composed by multiple identities. We are not just cyclists, pedestrians, sisters, or friends. We are many things, and these facets of who we are interconnect us as a society.

Stan’s death reminds me that the way we move through life shouldn’t be an “us versus them” exercise. We are all in this together; it’s important to look out for each other. If we don’t, terrible things that cause great suffering and pain can happen.

Ghost Bike (c) Felkerino

“Let us be mindful and caring.”

The Journey

Today, I thought I’d take some time to consider the beauty of commuting by bike, despite the daily risks that cyclists face out on the roads.  Be safe, everybody.

I regularly commute to work by bike.  I used to take the Metro, but I gradually discovered there is a much richer way to experience life in Washington, D.C.  And that way is on my bicycle.

This way to the daily grind.

Bicycle commuting takes mundane trips to and from the office and turns them into mini-adventures.  My husband and I found a (mostly!) peaceful D.C. commute route that takes me on (mostly!) quiet streets and along the monuments every day.  

I like feeling the bumps and undulations in the road (although I could do without the big potholes), and the effects of the weather on my body.  Fully immersed in my environment, it’s just my bike and me, exploring the world together.

Loving the Post-Work Commute.  Photo taken by Andrea M.

When riding, I am fully exposed.  If I shout epithets or act aggressively, I cannot hide anonymously behind a motor and metal, roll up my windows, and zoom off.  Riding a bicycle is different than that, and this sense of responsibility and connectedness promotes a sense of mindfulness.

I treasure kind drivers and polite pedestrians. When I am on my bicycle, people ask me questions about where I have been, and where I am going. They tell me stories about the rides they have taken, or the riding accomplishments or habits of their friends. We share in a way that never happens when I am in a car.

When it comes to transportation, especially commuting, our society is fully focused on the destination… forget about the journey.  Bicycle commuting is a unique way of being in the world unmatched by any other mode of transportation.  For me, riding a bicycle is one of the greatest and most fulfilling ways to experience life.  It transforms travel so that once again the journey can be savored.

Saying Good-Bye to our Friend Stan Miller

Today we learned that one of our cycling and randonneuring friends, Stan Miller, was killed by a suspected drunk driver.  The story regarding this tragic accident may be read here.

It is difficult to accept that we will never go for another ride with Stan. Below is a photo Jan Bull took of Stan. This photo won The Daily Randonneur‘s photo contest in the “Spirit of Randonneuring” category. As our contest judge Gregg Bleakney wrote:

This category was tough to call but Stan just looks like the perfect poster-boy for rando-spirit. Nice warm light, big smile. Creative bull-clip map/notepad on front bar bag.

Spirit of Randonneuring (c) Jan Bull

He will be missed by all of us. Stan always rode his own ride, and always finished brevets with a big smile and the craziest helmet hair I’d ever seen.

(c) Felkerino

I am lucky to have known Stan.  He brought something special to our group and we will miss him.

Summer Solstice Dahon Hon Solo Ride

Summer officially arrived in Washington, D.C. on Monday, and I decided it was time to pull out my summer bike, the Dahon Hon Solo.  This is a limited edition folder with 16 20″ wheels from (guess?) Dahon and is also (guess?) a single speed!

This bike is so much fun to ride.  It’s functional, fits well, and no one expects me to ride fast or beat them on their morning commute.  It is a low-threat commute steed.

The bike came stock with some cheapo crank and Felkerino and I spruced it up with a nice Dura Ace crank that used to reside on my Bike Friday Pocket Rocket.  You can’t tell that it’s Dura Ace from this angle, although you can definitely tell that I’m wearing Sidi’s, but I assure you that it is a Dura Ace crank.  Maybe this crank slightly increases the commuter threat, but not by much.  It gets canceled out by the lacewood fenders. See how cute they are?

View of the Crank and Lacewood Fenders

As you can see by the photo below, I’ve also added a nice Acorn saddle bag.  Yes, I am a bag matcher.

Dahon Hon Solo by the Reflecting Pool

It was a great summer solstice commute.  I think I took as much time taking pictures of my bike as I did riding it. Happy summer, everybody!

300K Fun Ride – Warrenton, Virginia

If a ride happens and no one knows about it, did it really happen?

This weekend, Felkerino, Lane, and I rode the 2009 D.C. Randonneurs 300K route from Warrenton, Va. This is a lovely rolling route that takes the rider all around horse country and back. It’s not killer in terms of terrain, but the first part of the ride, in particular, has plenty of hills to keep your attention and tire you out.

Apples, Hay, and Mountain Views

I wasn’t that excited about doing the ride, but if I have to choose between staying at home by myself doing dishes or riding my bike, I’ll definitely lean toward the latter most days. If Felkerino was riding, then I was riding, too!

24 Crows.  Artisan and Coffee Shop

24 Crows. Artisan and Coffee Shop

The day was clear and hot. We all did a good job of managing the heat, hydrating well, and taking very civilized stops like this one in Flint Hill.

The fun thing about our “fun ride” was that we were able to start later than a “real ride.” We rolled out at 6:20 a.m., not something I would ever consider on a “real ride.” The other nice thing was there was no time pressure.

These upsides about our “fun ride” were also the things I think could get us into trouble. Knowing there is no time pressure could turn the “fun ride” into an impromptu 24-hour fleche-type ride. Our stops throughout that day were at least 15 minutes longer than they would have been on a “real ride.” However, this “fun ride” was also blazing hot during the middle of the day and taking a few extra minutes to cool down, rehydrate, and refuel was critical and kept my spirits up.

The last time Felkerino and I rode this course we spent many miles riding with Russ Morris. I thought of him when we made our last stop of the day in Remington, Va., where Russ educated us about the Crucial Stop.

The last Crucial Stop of the day. Remington, Va. (c) Felkerino

Back to my question: If a ride happens, but nobody knows about it, did it happen? Probably not, which is why Felkerino and I made sure to keep the cameras rolling throughout the day. My set can be found here , and Felkerino’s is located here.

In conclusion, it was an excellent “fun ride.” Good company and enjoyable riding (save for the blazing hot portions!). Now, about those dishes that need washing…

New Bike! Rawland dSogn

Felkerino’s Rawland

Felkerino liked his Rawland dSogn so much, he bought and built me one, too!

Today Felkerino and I took my new ride on its maiden voyage. I love it! This is my first bike with 650B tires and disc brakes.

My new Rawland dSogn

First impressions: I love the feel! Maybe it’s because I wasn’t carrying around panniers, but the dSogn feels responsive and zippy. Can’t wait to really dial it in and take it off-road, where is where it really deserves to be ridden.

Rawland, Rawland, and Felkerino

Now we have matching bikes. Little by little, all our dreams are coming true, ha ha!

chasing mailboxes

There he is.  See him? 
Just down the road.

Yes.  Yes!  I see him.
Pedal hard. We will catch him.
Let’s do it!

Pedal pedal pedal.
I think we’re gaining.
Yes, gaining!  Pedal faster!

Almost. There.
Wait. That’s not him.

Oh, that’s a mailbox. Ha ha!
It was fun trying to chase him down, though.
Got my heart rate up.
Even if he did turn out to be
a mailbox.