Monthly Archives: August 2010

I Used to be a Randonneur Superhero

When Ed and I rolled into the finish of the Endless Mountains 1000K after 67:37 hours in the company of five other accomplished randonneurs, I felt amazing. There was pain in my knee and I felt dirty and smelled bad, but all that was eclipsed by what our group had accomplished.

622 miles of riding over three days. That’s awesome, I thought. As Mike Anderson and I discussed after our finish, we’ve gone on other types of vacations, but they just don’t feel as triumphant as this. (Viewing 1000Ks as vacation is a topic for another time, ok?)

Reveling in my post-ride euphoria, I saw myself as a powerful woman who had endeavored something other people could not even fathom. I am woman, hear me roar! I am a randonneur superhero!

After a good night’s sleep, however, I was singing a different tune. What had happened to my body? Superhero, ha ha ha! What a joke. I hurt all over and everywhere I looked, I was swollen. I couldn’t even see my cheekbones, forget about my ankles. What had I done? The last thing I felt like doing was roaring.

As I looked through photos of our ride, I noticed that my demise as a randonneur superhero gradually set in over the course of our three days of riding. The further I pedaled, the greater the toll of the event on my body. While I may have been feeling like a randonneur superhero on the inside, the photographic evidence tells a slightly different tale.

Day 1. Randonneur Superheroes

Day 2. Mostly Randonneuur Superheroes (are those potato chip fragments on my face?)


Day 3. Randonneur Superheroes are having troubles.

Vytas, who was our riding company for much of the 1000K, noted that some people say that doing a 1000K or a 1200K takes 7 years off of a person’s life. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I can definitely tell you I didn’t feel 7 years younger at the end of the ride. Maybe what they mean is that, after completing something like this, you look at least 7 years older until you get caught up on your REM cycles.

I meandered into work today and tried to keep as low a profile as possible (without falling asleep under my desk). I still feel like I’m a randonneur superhero when I consider the feat of riding a 1000K, but I want my body to recover enough so that it also shows that randonneur awesomeness. Limping around with barely visible eyeballs and calves that are indiscernable from ankles is not the way to convince anyone of their randonneur superpowers.

Only when my body has returned to its normal form can I start walking around the office seeking out socially acceptable bragging opportunities. I think it’s going to take a few days and a lot of sleep and hydration! It will happen, though, and then I will be the randonneur superhero I imagine myself to be, both inside and out.

Endless Mountains 1000K – Update!

Felkerino and I are no longer riding the Endless Mountains 1000K (although it was quite the adventure while it lasted). We enjoyed a sun-filled ride with some awesome randonneurs and randonneur volunteers, ultimately finishing the event in 67:37.

Thanks to Tom, the volunteers, and everybody who rode with us and helped make the ride epic!

I’m off to bed, but hope to put together a story when my brain is working again. So don’t expect anything anytime soon, ha ha!

In the meantime, you can check out our adventure from behind the lens of my little camera. Just click on the picture below to be taken to the corresponding flickr set.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Crooked Helmet Photos

Fellow cyclists and randonneurs,

As ambassadors of the cycling community, it is of critical importance that we always look our best. That doesn’t just mean wearing the latest and greatest in cycling wear and reflective clothing. It also means that we must be mindful of our helmets!

Some have argued that our greatest fashion dilemma is whether to sport wool or synthetic jerseys on our rides. (Wait, I think I started that discussion.) I assure you, it is not. When a crooked helmet is staring you right in the face as you peruse the flickr slideshow of brevets gone by, the fabric of your jersey becomes a non-issue.

We live in a digital era, people. That means that every ride you’re on, every commute you take, the possibility is high that someone is out there just waiting to photograph you. And when that moment comes, you’d better be ready, or your crooked-helmeted mug will follow you forever! FOREVER!

I’ll use myself as an example so as not to single out any other crooked-helmet incidents encountered by other randonneurs/cyclists. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to have some of the rando-paparazzi capture some great shots of me on a ride. Let’s look at a couple of them.

Woodbine Wallop 2008 (c) Bill Beck

This is one of my favorite shots of me on the bike. I’m climbing up Marlu Ridge in the winter in the company of one of my favorite randonneurs. I’m on my Rivendell Romulus wearing one of my favorite Ibex jerseys. But what’s that? Oh no! I have a crooked helmet! ARGH!

One would have thought that, after seeing this photo, I would have learned my lesson. While some randonneurs always seem to know how important it is to ride with a properly angled helmet, I guess I am not one of those people.

Warrenton 300K Fun Ride 2010, (c) Felkerino

Not again! As you can see, one of the riders in this picture sports a correctly angled helmet, and the other does not. Which rider would you like to be?

How many years of crooked helmet photos can a person take? For me, after three years had passed, I finally decided to address the problem helmet-on. Felkerino and I adjusted the straps of my Giro, and here you can see the fruits of our labor.

Wild and Wonderful West Virginia 203K 2010 (c) Felkerino

Now that’s better. I am not sure why my right arm is posed like that, but I have to go after these issues one at a time. And as I said, one of  THE MOST CRITICAL things for proper cycling photos is a properly adjusted helmet. Your grandchildren will thank you for it.

Now you all know what you need to do. Get out those helmets, find a mirror, and make sure that no crooked helmet photos are going to make their way into your cycling memories.

Bicycle Touring on the W&OD Trail

One of the great things about tapering for the Endless Mountains 1000K is that I’ve been able to do some things that I don’t normally do. The past two weeks I’ve ridden from home and meandered out on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail (W&OD). While I can’t stomach a steady diet of the bike path, it’s nice for a change of pace.

Whenever I leave my driveway for a ride on the path, I know I’m going to encounter lots of bicycle traffic, and I always hope to see an interesting bike. I know interesting is relative, but for me it means a steel touring frame, maybe a Co-Motion or a Surly. Maybe another Rivendell.

The W&OD has been good to me because not only have I seen some really cool bikes out there, I met some people doing interesting rides. Again, interesting is relative. Specifically, I mean bicycle touring!

Last weekend, I spied this man and his riding buddy.

Bike Friday, New World Tourist

New World Tourist, Trailer View

He was doing a dress rehearsal for an upcoming tour in the Adirondacks, and said his suitcase/trailer weighed in at about 45 pounds. Despite the additional weight, he said the bike felt so stable that he didn’t even notice the trailer was there.

This weekend, I ran into two groups of two that were headed out on a couple of different camping trips. The first couple was headed out to Brunswick, Maryland.

Awesome Touring Goodness

The woman, Daina, was riding a Surly Long Haul Trucker (in one of my favorite colors, Truckaccino), and her touring partner,Tim, was riding a black Surly Cross-Check which appeared to be set up as a single speed.

There was so much touring goodness on their bikes! Daina was using an Acorn rear bag and sporting some beautiful Ortlieb Civia panniers, and Tim was riding with a black Velo-Orange saddle bag. Daina was also using a Civia rear rack and Civia Loring bamboo fenders. Touring goodness overload!

A few miles after seeing them, I came upon a father and son who were headed out to Bear’s Den for the night.

More Touring Cyclists on the Trail!

The father was riding an all-purpose Fuji and his son was riding a GUESS WHAT? An olive Surly Long Haul Trucker!

Surly Long Haul Trucker!

This bike also had a great setup. I didn’t catch the front bag, but he was using a set of the Ortlieb Backroller Classic rear panniers and he was wearing the Shimano sandals, which are perfect for summertime rides.

A few more photos from the ride are on my flickr page here.

All-in-all, it was a great couple of Saturday rides. I rode right out my door, enjoyed mellow riding, saw some good steel touring bikes, and met a few people going to cool places. And all on the W&OD!

Bike and Roll and Pedicabs

Did anybody notice the awesome weather this afternoon? Tons of people were out, taking advantage of the afternoon sun and low humidity.

One of the groups that caught my eye was Bike and Roll, a bicycle rental outfit that takes tourists on bicycle tours of the city.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a large Bike and Roll group. Either I’m not looking at the right time, or the humidity has kept the tourists from wanting to hop on bicycles.

Bike and Roll by the White House

I like Bike and Roll. From the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln is two miles, which can be a lot of walking for people. Bike and Roll allows people to easily maneuver the monuments, provides a guided tour for those who want it, and makes taking side trips easy.

Also, Bike and Roll makes people wear reflective vests when it’s getting dark, which makes these tourist groups easy to spot, and gives them an introduction into one aspect of what it would be like to be a randonneur.

Bike and Roll on the National Mall

The other group I noticed on the Mall tonight were the pedicabs, the motor-free bicycle taxis that pedal tourists around to various places in the city.

Pedicab Driver (wearing Vibram Five Fingers, too!)

I have never ridden in a pedicab since I’m usually already on my bicycle, but taking a trip via pedicab is on my to-do list.

Pedicab and the Lincoln(ometer!)

Friday, my good friend, you are here again! Enjoy the weekend, all, and I hope you have a chance to get out for some excellent riding or other activity.

Sunset View from Hains Point over Rosslyn and the Air Force Memorial

Flip Flop Commuters

There is a lot of controversy around the flip flop. Is there ever a time when it’s ok to wear them at the office? Are they appropriate for the Metro? Is there such a thing as a fancy flip flop? If you shouldn’t wear flip flops with your business clothes, are they acceptable as casual wear?

A study was even conducted after the rise of flip flop popularity,, that explored the consequences of flip flops to people’s feet.

Recently, Felkerino said to me, “Gersemalina, you should do a post about bicycles and flip flops!”

“No way, Felkerino,” I said. “Nobody wears flip flops on their bikes. That’s crazy talk.”

“You might be surprised, Gersemalina.”

Flip Flops AND a Dress!

When I started observing my fellow cyclists’ footwear, I discovered that Felkerino was right!  There is a whole band of flip flop commuting cyclists.  They’re all over the place.

Not Just for the Beach

I was shocked.  I never considered flip flops on bikes. They seem

  • Too soft for the pedal stroke;
  • Too likely to fall off while riding;
  • Too likely to cause pain between the toes while pedaling.

How wrong I was. Some people love their flip flops and will wear them everywhere. Even on their bikes.

Flip Flops and No Hands!

A tip of the helmet to all of you, flip flop commuters.  I couldn’t do it, but somehow you have found a way to make it work.

The Quiet Period: Tapering for the Endless Mountains 1000K

This summer, Felkerino and I spent the months since the D.C. Randonneurs 600K continuing to log long miles on the bike to prepare for the Endless Mountains 1000K brevet, which starts on August 26. It feels like every weekend has been spent with keeping the bike in good shape, keeping ourselves in good shape, building our mileage base, and trying to climb as many hills as we can in order to be as well-prepared as we can be the day we start the ride.

For the most part, I’ve enjoyed this training except for the lack of sleep, tandem team meetings (only two, though, yay!), 2:30 a.m. getups, flat car tire on Interstate 66 en route to a ride start, lack of reliably good coffee in the country, gas station lunches, neverending heat advisories during our 500K tuneup ride, vomiting, and crying. Yes, other than that, I loved it.

Summer Brevet Training. So much fun!

I mean it! Weekends spent exploring the roads around the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah have otherwise been outstanding.

  • I love riding with Felkerino (excellent captain),
  • I love our Co-Motion tandem (an elegant bike that fits us both so well),
  • I enjoy a bit of night riding (particularly if it actually happens at what I consider night, as opposed to 3 or 4 a.m., which is just ridiculous), and
  • I like the challenge of 300K+ distances.

The occasional feeling that I’m rushing from work to riding only to rush right back to work again has been a bit of a challenge, but I realize now that I was getting used to it.

Two weeks ago, we started our taper and entered what Felkerino calls “the quiet period.” Riding miles have been cut back, we are getting lots of sleep, the household chores are being attended to (somewhat), and the weekends have had plenty of downtime.

Felkerino at Thornton Gap, the day before the “quiet period” started.

I liked the quiet period for the first week or two. I rode shorter rides, spent a little time in Rock Creek Park, meandered to Old Town via Gravelly Point, did a weekend ride on the W&OD (gasp!), and even did a few miles on the C&O (until the pouring rain drove me away).

Now the quiet period is making me bonkers! I want to be outside on my bike, taking full advantage of the long summer days. Our training made me feel like I should just be riding or working out whenever I could. More miles equals more prepared! Plus, I liked not doing housework. Housework is not nearly as fun as bike riding.

However, a century ride or more at this point is not the best ride preparation strategy. No, instead we need to look online to see what long rides our friends or other randonneurs are doing, obsess over training logs to examine and re-examine whether we are ready for the ride, regularly search the web to see what additional randonneur gadget we need, and obsess about the big day as much as possible. rest, relax, and save our energy for the start of the Endless Mountains 1000K.

More Riding, More Often!

Felkerino and I have put in a lot of miles (for us) this summer and the quiet period is a reasonable payoff for all that hard work. However, it took me by surprise that I haven’t relished it as much as I thought I would. Lucky for me, the quiet period will soon end, and at 4 a.m. on August 26, 2010 we’ll clip in for a three-day extremely anti-quiet period.  I can’t wait!

No Money Fun: Gravelly Point

Did you know that National Airport is located right off of one of our local bike paths (the Mount Vernon Trail)?  Of course you did!

Did you also know that you can watch the planes blaze in for a landing right over your head at Gravelly Point, a park adjoining the Mount Vernon Trail? It’s true!

Looking Out for an Arrival

When I first moved to Washington, D.C., and heard that people waited around at this place called Gravelly Point to watch the planes land, I thought it was just silly.  What’s the big deal about watching some planes arrive?

Coming in for a Landing over Gravelly Point

I have since learned that it’s excellent no money fun!  You spy the plane off in the distance, beginning to make it’s way toward you. It quickly descends and the roar of its motor gets louder and louder.  Suddenly it is passing over, and on a sunny day you are momentarily caught in the plane’s shadow. Whooo!!

Going for the Landing.

All the no money fun spectators swerve at 180 degrees to watch the landing. The plane roars to the landing strip, and the noise and excitement of the moment begins to subside as soon as it touches the ground. We all turn our heads back to the sky to await the next arrival, hoping that it comes soon. (Washingtonians are impatient.)

Watching the Plane Land at National Airport

Gravelly Point is a simple and energizing pleasure. It’s a diverse group that gathers there to thrill in the airplane arrivals and departures. And all it costs me is the pedal power and time it takes to ride there.

Welcome to Monday, everybody.

Bikes to Like: Cannondale Tandem

This week I’ve been reminiscing about Felkerino’s and my very first tandem, a dark gray aluminum Cannondale mountain frame.

Cannondale Tandem en route to Niagara Falls, 2005 with early Burley trailer prototype. (c) Lynn and Steve

During our first two years plus of riding together, the Cannondale tandem was our steed of choice.  We took it on tour from Rockville, Md. up to Niagara Falls, made it through two Super Randonneur series’, and even rode it on the Seattle International Randonneurs’ Cascade 1200K in 2006.  It was a great long-distance touring bike for us.

Randonneur-approved! Washington Pass on the Cascade 1200K, 2006.

These days the Cannondale tandem isn’t seeing that kind of action; it’s on another type of adventure. Felkerino and his daughter now use it for getting around the streets of Washington, D.C. (and even Arlington, Va., if we feel really inspired).

Felkerino and daughter DF, riding along the Waterfront

Converting the tandem for Felkerino and DF allows us to still use our bikes as our primary mode of transportation. That makes me happy because I only somewhat like Metro and I really don’t like driving. And it makes Felkerino happy because he loves having many velocipedes in the rotation.

A tandem is not something most people see every day, although I have noticed that there are at least one or two tandem commuting couples in the city. People love watching Felkerino and DF ride together and I often hear exclamations from children as well as adults about the “two-people bicycle.”

The Cannondale was a good brevet bike for us and now it is perfect for use on around-town errands and touring about. It’s a great transportation solution for the three of us.  Everybody rides happy. Most of the time, anyway!

Hey, did you hear the news that Friday is here? It’s true! Happy mailbox chasing!

The Lincolnometer

Summer is on, people.  How do I know?  The Lincolnometer tells me so.

What’s the Lincolnometer, you ask?  It is a gauge of what’s going on with tourism and to some degree, the weather, in Washington, D.C. The Lincolnometer is largely based on the people lurking around the Lincoln Memorial at any given moment.  The Lincoln Memorial is ideal for assessing tourist activity (and the weather) because:

  1. It is outdoors.
  2. The Lincoln is a must-see on the monument tour.
  3. It is a regular running and commuter zone.
  4. The Lincoln Memorial is so big that, even if your vision isn’t very good, you can still use the Lincolnometer.
  5. Many people hang out at the Lincoln, thanks to the ample sitting space on the steps and surrounding area.

Check out the Lincolnometer for yourself.

Photo A.:  What do you gather about this moment at the Lincoln?

(Note: Click on the respective photo to see its details and to find out if your assessments are on target.)

Photo A. The Lincolnometer

Photo B:  OK, how about this one?

Photo B. The Lincolnometer again.

Photo C: What can you ascertain from the scene in Photo C?

Photo C at the Lincolnometer

Excellent. And here is a final photo for your guessing pleasure.

Photo D: A last look at the Lincolnometer.

Photo D of the Lincolnometer

In truth, the Lincolnometer has limited practical value.  By the time you see what’s going on at the Lincoln, you’ve already made it out into the elements.  Nevertheless, it’s a fun way to get a sense of what’s happening with the tourist population in the city, and it always tells the truth about the weather!