Monthly Archives: September 2010

A Cyclist Hurt my Feelings Today. Boo hoo.

While Alberto Contador was informing the world about his recent bout with food poisoning, I had my feelings hurt by a cyclist. You be the judge about which is worse.

I know it’s difficult to believe that a cyclist would hurt another person’s feelings, given that all cyclists are nice people who care about everyone and are all working together to make this world a better place, one commute at a time.

Sadly, my tale is true. On my pedestrian commute home from the office, I stopped on the right side of the sidewalk to snap a pedestrian panda shot of me wearing my new Octopus cycling cap.

Taking a photo on the right side of the sidewalk.

This was not an extended photo shoot; rather, it was two photos taken by my handy dandy point-and-shoot camera.

My new Octopus Cycling Cap. Isn\’t it cute?

I was abruptly jolted out of my pedestrian panda reverie by a “ding! DING!” Before I could move or react in any way, I heard the sound again, more insistent, piercing my ears like a dagger. “DING!!!! DING!!!!!”

I cowered at the far right edge of the sidewalk and watched the no-front-or-rear-lights-cycling-commuter-with-no-reflective-gear (Judgmental? Me? Lights? What?) make his way past me in the dark on the sidewalk.

As he passed by in the dark on the sidewalk he fired off his trusty bell another time to nonverbally announce his presence to another pedestrian commuter who also happened to be walking on the sidewalk.

Rattled, and emotionally wounded, I marched away. That guy ruined my pedestrian panda shot. He also dampened my disposition in the process, which needed no help given today’s inclement weather.

Cycling brother, why did you treat me so? Pedestrians may be at the bottom of the transportation food chain, but was the incessant bell ringing at me on the sidewalk really necessary? After all, it is a sidewalk. I stay out of the road, and I hope for a little leeway on the sidewalk.You hurt my feelings, Mr. Cyclist!

I know cyclists sometimes receive confusing messages, such as those from drivers who encourage us to “Get on the sidewalk!” as they roar by us. That said, if circumstances arise where we do find ourselves on the sidewalk, it’s helpful to recognize this as the domain of the pedestrian, not a velodrome. It’s a time to settle down, get zen, and keep a light hand on the bell. Consider putting a foot down, if the need arises. You’ll still make the podium of your daily commute.

So… how do you like my new cycling cap?

Field Trip: Suck Creek Cycle. Chattanooga, Tennessee

As I like to keep telling people, last week was mostly work on location in Tennessee. That said, I still eeked out time to poke my nose into some of the local bike shops. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Must. Make. Time. For bike shop!

Shop number 2 for the week was Suck Creek Cycle in Chattanooga. The shop’s motto is that it’s about “bikes and friendly advice.” Sounds like a perfect randonneur shop to me!

Suck Creek Cycle recently moved into a new space, and it is gorgeous. Plenty of room for bikes, pedestrian traffic, gear, and accessories.

Mike, owner of Suck Creek Cycle

Check out the wrenching zone. Isn’t it beautiful? It makes me want to sit down with a cup of coffee and get to work. And I detest working on my bike.

Repair zone/mechanic space.

In talking with Mike, the owner, he shared that mountain bikes were the bulk of his current business. Not surprising, given that Chattanooga is flanked by mountains. According to Wikipedia (yes, I’m citing Wikipedia, is that a problem?), the area “lies at the transition between the ridge and valley portion of the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau. The city is therefore surrounded by various mountains and ridges.”

Mountain bike frames on display.

This shop was my first exposure to Lynskey frames, which are titanium bikes crafted by David Lynskey, the founder of Litespeed. Lynskey’s shop is right there in Chattanooga. Had I known it was just up the road, I would have tried to stop there, too. Oh well, next time I’m in Chattanooga!

A few more photos of my visit are here. I loved stopping by Suck Creek Cycle. The space was beautiful, the bikes were cool, and the owner was kind and helpful. What more could a person want?

WABA 50 States Ride

Want to do a ride in the District that’s 65 miles long, takes 212 cues, and feels like a daily commute that keeps on giving? Then maybe you would be interested in the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s annual 50 States Ride. That’s where I was this past Saturday.

Traffic light photo opp on the 50 States Ride (c) mcn7

The course is a drunken sailor tour through all the District quadrants, and takes you over the city’s 50 state streets. It’s a great concept, and I’m proud to say that I have now ridden my bicycle over all of the state streets in Washington, D.C. I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again, but I definitely think it is worth doing once.

I had no idea that the ride would be such an intense urban excursion. Like I said, it’s 212 cues to go 65 miles. That averages out to 3.4 cues per mile. If you weren’t skilled at reading cue sheets, then this ride would definitely be a good crash course for polishing up your skills.

Studying the cue sheet before the ride start

Some of the state streets were busy (even on a Saturday). In other places, the state street itself was a quiet road, but the path to get there was not. Throw in a bunch of stoplights, invisible street signs, speed bumps, and the occasional patch of glass, and you’ve got your 50 States Ride.

Oh, but I forgot the aspects that make it a good ride. It was toasty, but sunny. Good weather is always a plus, especially on a route that takes you through well-trafficked areas.

The course had several volunteer ride Marshals who made sure the riders stayed on track, and the volunteers at all the pit stops were friendly and encouraging. Thank you, volunteers!

Volunteering is awesome! American University Cycling Club volunteers

I enjoyed spending the day with one of my favorite randonneurs. I met fellow cycling residents of the area and saw some cool bikes. I ran into some familiar faces, including my neighbor.

Familiar Faces. Bob and his son doing the route on tandem

Hey, you’re my neighbor!

I rode through parts of the city that were new to me. My full photo set of the adventure is here.

Also, many drivers and area residents were patient and kind to us. Thank you, drivers! I only recall one honk of the horn and two cranky drivers, one who helpfully advised us to “ride on the sidewalk.” (No, we’re not doing that.) Pretty good for a 65-mile ride in the city.

My friend and I started riding a little before 9:00 a.m., and it took us until 5:00 to finish. That’s right. Eight hours to go 65 miles! That was a little more than I bargained for, but hey, it was a lot of stop and go and it was my first ride of any length since the Endless Mountains 1000K. (Yes, I keep mentioning that ride. Bragging rights are all I’ve got.)

I’d never ridden on Iowa Avenue before. Go Hawks!

I chose the Rawland dSogn as my 50 States Ride steed of choice, a 650b bicycle which is, according to the Rawland site: “designed for touring, commuting, club jamming, or a weekend century.” (I particularly like it for club jamming.)

My frame is set up for disc brakes, and I’m currently using fat 41 mm tires. While perhaps not the best climber, the bike smoothed out the ride on the many bumpy city streets. AND because of the rapid response of the discs, I was able to avoid colliding with a dog that had run out in front of me on Ohio Drive. (Ohio, not Iowa!) With any of my other bikes, that would have been a different story. Thank you, Rawland, and thank you, disc brakes!

My Rawland dSogn in front of American University

While I’m not sure you’ll see me on this ride next year (or the year after that, even), I’m glad I registered and spent the day experiencing the streets of the city. I just wish we could have gotten a 50 States Ride t-shirt! I definitely felt like we earned it.

Field Trip: Tennessee Valley Bicycles. Knoxville, Tennessee

This past week I’ve been on location in Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s been mostly work, but as soon as I had a break I asked the hotel clerk where I might find a local bike shop that leaned more toward the touring and utility cyclist.

The clerk helpfully pointed me in the direction of Tennesseey Valley Bicycles. I sprinted off, crossed my fingers that the shop wasn’t too far away, and hoped that the exertion to find it would be worth it.

The shop feels like it is located just off the beaten path in Knoxville, on the fringe of the Old City area. The building is pretty nondescript from the outside, although the subtle signage gives the place a nice aesthetic.

Tennessee Valley Bicycles

The hotel clerk was right. As I approached the shop, I saw that a group ride was just getting going (or ending, I couldn’t tell). When I walked inside, the first thing I noticed was that the bike mechanic was a WOMAN. Yes!

The Mechanic at Tennessee Valley Bicycles

Tennessee Valley Bicycles stocked a lot of Konas, several mountain bikes (which, I must admit, are pretty foreign to me) a few Salsas, and a couple of IROs.

Bicycles on Display at TVB

The shop carried some interesting accessories, too. They had some wicker baskets, basic rear racks, funky panniers, and some durable-looking (although dirt-prone-looking) linen bags for sale, and I was most taken with the Octopus wool cycling caps, which are handmade in Ohio. I said Ohio, not Iowa! (As an Iowan, I had to insert that.)

The Accessory Wall at TVB

I wasn’t able to linger at the shop as long as I would have liked, but it was fun to have the opportunity to run over after work, check out the stock, and get a feel for their space. If you are ever in Knoxville and have a little extra time, Tennessee Valley Bicycles is worth a visit.

50 States Ride, anyone? If so, I’ll see you there!

Pandas!

No, silly, I’m not talking about the black and white animals you see at the zoo eating bamboo.  I’m talking about “panda portraits,” photos you take of yourself while riding your bicycle.

Felkerino worming his way into my Panda

Panda portraits are one of the best ways to memorialize your participation on bike rides. You can’t always be relying on the rando-paparazzi. Sometimes you must be your own shutterbug.

Once I mastered the basic panda portrait, I decided to take it to a new level. I started working on my DANGER PANDA! A danger panda is like a regular panda, except you take both hands off the bars. That’s right, it’s a no-handed panda shot.

I like to provide clear evidence of my danger pandas so I tend to use the following two techniques.

Representing D.C. Randonneurs. Mom, please read my blog!

In the above example, both hands are clearly touching the camera. Danger panda success! Below is my second danger panda technique.

Hands Free. Yes, another Danger Panda!

In this shot, I’ve made sure to have my non-camera hand visible in the photo, removing all doubt regarding my danger panda capture. Danger pandas are not for everybody, but I like ‘em, and I always do my photo shoots on lightly traveled roads.

Have you been wondering if I’ve been out on my bike? Wonder no longer. I’ve got the pandas to prove it!

Randonneur Paparazzi and the Civil War Tour 200K

Felkerino and I had a great time at the D.C. Randonneurs Civil War 200K on Saturday. We didn’t do any pedaling, either. Instead we volunteered, took pictures (along with our RBA, Bill Beck) and spent a fantastic day on rural roads and Civil War battlefields.

Randonneur Paparazzi, Justin and Ed

The Paparazzi Await your Arrival in Gettysburg

Bill organized a great ride, and picked a spectacular day for the randonneurs. Well done, Bill!

Want to see what you missed OR find out if you made it into my photo set? Click on the picture below.

9/18/10 Civil War Tour 200K

As I said, Felkerino was also snapping a lot of shots, and his set is here. Thanks to all the riders for the great photo opportunities, and to Bill Beck for letting us help out with the ride.

I Love Farmers’ Markets

Rain couldn’t keep me away from the famers’ market today. It didn’t daunt a lot of other people, either, and there was a nice assembly of people patronizing the White House farmers’ market after work.

Rainy Afternoon at the White House Farmers’ Market

Number one on my shopping list was more patty pan squash. Alas, there was none to be had. The farmer who sold me last week’s delicious squash said that the drought caused them to lose some of the patty pan squash they planted earlier in the year, and that it would be a few weeks until they had more. Sadness!

Patty pan squash wasn’t the only thing on my list, though, and I wandered over to the Spring Valley Farm stand to pick up some peaches and honey crisp apples. Delicious!

Sorting through the Peaches at Spring Valley Farm

Spring Valley Farm is located in Romney, West Virginia. Lots of D.C. Randonneurs know this community because of the rides and brevets that take us out that way. Orchards = hilly country, and Romney is no exception.

And check out these great organic cherry tomatoes I picked up on a quick swing by the Penn Quarter market.

Cherry Tomatoes. Ripe. Sweet. Perfect.

Not everything was fruit and vegetables on this visit, though. I picked up a couple of cookies from Praline Bakery‘s stand.

Almond Cookie, Pumpkin Cookie (Sorry, I couldn’t wait and took a bite!)

This bakery has locations in Annapolis and Bethesda, Maryland, and the almond cookie is not to be missed! I learned the cookie’s secret is that it has no flour and lots of butter. Oh, and vanilla extract. Result? Awesomeness!

It may have been raining, but there was sunshine in my heart from all the great produce and sweets! AND since I brought my Surly and a pannier, I was able to stock up more than if I had been on foot.

Have Pannier. Will Stock Up.

Are you excited about the weekend? I am! Felkerino and I are volunteering at the D.C. Randonneurs 200K. If you’re riding, we’ll see you there. Everybody else, have a great weekend.

My Endless Mountains 1000K Story

Hey, everybody! Since I wasn’t able to get out this weekend and ride much, I spent a few hours at the computer with my favorite mug and some lemon herbal tea.

Steeping the Tea, Writing the Story

It was time well spent, as I finally put together a summary of Felkerino’s and my Endless Mountains 1000K adventure!

Felkerino and Me, first post-1000K ride together. We’re on singles, ha ha!!

My story, MG’s Endless Mountains 1000K: an Experiment in Randonneur Amnesia is posted on one of my favorite blogs, The Daily Randonneur.

Check it out! Now maybe I won’t feel the need to mention my 1000K completion in every post I do. I hope you like reading it as much as I liked writing it.

D.C. Commute Scenes: Unicycle Style

Back on the bike, finally! Only for the shortest of rides, though.
No matter. I still see cool things, even on the short route.

Like this commute scene.

Where is the Coolest Commuter?

And up close.

Unicycle Commuter

That’s awesome. If only you could add panniers.

Sustenance in the City

I had a great time hitting the Thursday evening Farmers Market by the White House. I was on foot, of course. Post-1000K walking, remember? Check out these awesome veggies.

The Beautiful Eggplant

Patty Pan Squash. I have no idea how to prepare this, but I’m going to learn because they are so beautiful.

Red Pepper, looking good.

However, I cannot live on vegetables alone. Fortunately, Curbside Cupcakes was at the Southwest Waterfront this evening to help me out.

Curbside Cupcakes was there as part of the 7th Street Landing project, which is featuring live music on Thursday evenings and Mobile Food Truck sustenance on Fridays. I think other stuff is happening, too, but my interests were focused on the food parts.

Cupcakes on the Waterfront. Look out for that boat, ahh!

It was a beautiful evening to dine and eat dessert outside. Felkerino was there, too. It’s always better to eat sweets with a friend. Cookies and Cream for him. Vanilla for me.

The four-day week brought the weekend along quite nicely. Yay! Have a great weekend, everybody!