Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy New Year!

To more coffee shop rides…

Romulus at Chinatown Coffee Co.

Commutes and fun rides…

Quickbeam fun ride on the C&O Canal

Surly LHT commute stop at the Lincoln

Maile and me, WABA 50 States Ride

Tandem rides…

Felkerino and daughter DF, Water Street

Ron and Barb on the Civil War 200K

Bob and son, WABA 50 States Ride

Felkerino and me, PA Stillwater 200K

Bike tours…

Bike Touring in West Virginia

Brevets…

DC Randonneurs 600K

Peter, Lane, and Felkerino, PA Randonneurs 200K

Kelly and Mary, DC Randonneurs 300K

PA Endless Mountains 1000K

And more good times with friends, family, commuters, and randonneurs.

Happy New Year, everybody!! Wipe the mileage slate clean and let’s get going on 2011!

Holy High Winds, Batman!

Somehow Washington, D.C., avoided the predicted snow, and we got only winds. Wow! I’m glad we didn’t get the snow, but those winds. WOW! I love commuting during the holidays, though, so I happily hopped on my bike and made for the office.

Windy Day Panda

For much of the commute, my bike didn’t seem to want to ride with me. A lot of the ride was focused on keeping the bike upright, and being constantly at the ready for the next big gust. I’d liken it to riding a bucking bronco.

As I commuted this morning, the flags at the Washington Monument provided further confirmation of the blustery conditions.

Flags blowing away at the Washington Monument

The National Park Service must have decided the wind was more than the flags could take. On my ride home the Monument looked unusually bare.

Washington Monument, no flags.

Did you make it out today? If so, well done! I could only tolerate the direct to and from the office. But at least there was NO SNOW!

Santa Hat Helmet Cover = Extra Festive + Extra Nice Drivers?

Chasing Mailboxes readers!!

I believe I have hit upon something brilliant and economical that combines the spirit of the holidays and cycling safety. It’s my Santa hat “helmet cover.”

Santa hat “helmet cover.” Be nice to me!

Since I began wearing this helmet cover, I’ve noticed drivers and pedestrians being especially nice to me. People have remarked, “Nice hat,” shouted “Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas,” and inquired about the whereabouts of my sleigh.

No drivers have honked at me, and they also seem to be giving me a little extra space on the road these days. Who knew that my four-dollar Santa hat would make my commutes so much more pleasant?

Maybe this is all part of Washington, D.C., being gripped by the holiday spirit. However, I like to attribute these enjoyable commutes partly to the Santa hat. I think it’s providing a little extra warmth, festiveness, and making me safer out there in the big bad city.

Santa Hat = Extra Festive + Extra Nice Drivers?

I mean, really? Who wants to hate on a cyclist in a Santa hat? That’s just not nice.

What Makes December Cycling Fun

Balaclava, Booties, and Lobsters. Oh my!

Is it the balaclavas, booties, and lobster gloves? Think again. December is a fun month for commuting in Washington, D.C. because the streets and paths of the city become scarcely populated and the city brings out its holiday lights and decor to celebrate the season.

It’s also a great month to be a cyclist for a lot of other reasons.

1. You can decorate your bike.

Ron and Barb’s Burley, decked out for the holiday. (c) RW Anderson

2. You can wear a festive helmet cover.

Santa Hat “Helmet Cover”

3. You can take pictures of your bike under a beautiful tree.

Quickbeam at the 7th Street Landing Christmas Tree

4. You might run into holiday festivities during your ride.

Coming upon the Georgetown Holiday Festival during a Ride

5. You get to ride by both the White House and the Capitol Christmas trees!

Randonneur Salute at the Capitol Christmas Tree

Yes, December is a great time to be a cyclist in Washington, D.C. And while the balaclavas, booties, and lobster gloves may not be the fun part of December riding, they certainly make it more comfortable!

Tree Decorating, Bicycle Style

Bicycle Ornaments

The past several days, Felkerino and I have been hard at work on the 12 Days of Randonneurmas, an annual feature of The Daily Randonneur that celebrates our favorite randonneuring goodies of the past year.

As we’ve been writing away, I took some time to think about other bicycle things that make our life great. One of them is ornaments! I love decorating our tree, and not just because of the delicious candy canes. It’s also because I like looking through our ornament collection.

Bicycle Ornament Collection

Some of my favorites are the cycling ornaments we have collected during our time together. They help remind me of all the fun Felkerino and I have on the bicycle together. It’s easy to fondly remember rides when in your warm dry home.

If you’re wondering about that last minute Christmas stocking stuffer for a cycling friend, why not consider a bicycle ornament?Little bicycle things hung on Christmas tree branches help make it extra special!

Nostalgia Edition: A Tandem Century First Date

Felkerino and me. (c) Bill Beck

This month marks the sixth year of the formation of Felkerino’s and my tandem team. Felkerino’s and my first date was a century ride on a tandem bike. As our friends well know, I never tire of telling that story!

Four Super Randonneur brevet series’, one 1200K, a 1000K, and several summer tours later, here we are today. Still riding tandem together.

The Co-Motion along the C&O Canal

If there is one thing I’ve learned in six years of riding tandem, it’s this. If anyone ever asks you to ride 100 miles on a tandem for your first date, say no.

I mean it. Just say you’d like to noodle around for 20 miles or so and see how you all do together. And when you do that, make sure to ask for the following:

  1. A physical inspection of the bicycle, particularly the stoker zone;
  2. References from other cyclists who have ridden with the person;
  3. A written essay from the potential captain, detailing his or her views regarding bike safety;
  4. A proposed list of conversation topics that may come up during the ride; and
  5. A cue sheet of the proposed route, making sure that in includes shortcut options.

A tandem ride is a tricky first date. You put a lot of trust in the hands of a stranger if you happen to be the stoker. You trust that the bike is road-worthy and that the captain has the faculties (both mental and physical!) to know what he or she is doing up front. You cross your fingers that your riding style is compatible.

Further, if you commit to a century and the two of you don’t click, you are stuck together on the same bike for a long time. 100 miles long, to be exact. Lots of time for awkward silences and wondering how you got yourself into this mess. That is emotional pain. If the bike doesn’t fit properly, you are also in physical pain. Who needs more pain in their life?

I didn’t give those things any thought when I got on the tandem for the first time. I just said to myself, “This will be fun!” and off we went. It was, lucky for me! Phew!

The Co-Motion Tandem.

Perhaps throwing caution to the wind might work out for you as well as it did for me. But it’s a risky plan, only for the foolhardy. Go for the noodle ride and call it a day. There will be plenty of other days for long rides, if everything goes well on the short one.

Plus, I love being the only one on the block with the cheesey tandem century first date story.

Missing the Bike: Surly LHT Edition

Remember how I said I did not write a thank-you note to my Surly LHT and felt somewhat guilty about it? This week I unearthed this draft post from a fall trip to Knoxville, Tennessee. Bike love is everywhere! Enjoy!!

Surly LHT and the National Mall

I had a great week on work travel, but I missed my bike. So I wrote it a letter.

Dear bike,

I missed you this week.
I missed
moments on the National Mall.
panda shots with you.
swinging by the fish market together get dinner.
spontaneous post-work detours.
meeting up with Felkerino.
laps around Hains Point, watching the sunset.
seeing my fellow commuters and randonneur friends.
filling up panniers at the farmers’ market.
navigating through the tourists.
avoiding the squirrels.
the freedom you give me in the city.

I’ll see you soon, bike. Don’t forget about me.

All my love,
Gersemalina

P.S. I know you are very dirty and that I need to wash you. I’m sorry and I promise I will soon.

The Surly LHT, looking out on the Potomac River

Back in the Saddle: 93-Mile Tandem Ride

Because we are wimps, Felkerino and I rode from home yesterday, rather than drive ourselves out to colder weather where our D.C. Randonneur buddies spent the day riding a 200K.

Crossing the Mall en route to Maryland

Our route started in D.C. and took us out through Potomac and around to Poolesville, Maryland. We then decided to be adventurous and take White’s Ferry around to Virginia and ride back through Leesburg and down the W&OD trail.

Waiting with the Cars at Whites Ferry

Felkerino, crossing the Potomac on the Ferry

I was surprised how brown the landscape had become during my time away (in sunny warm Florida!). The leaves are all down, and the fall color went with them. It definitely looks like winter now.

Except for all my whining about the cold, and feeling a little out of practice given my time away from the bike, I think we had a pretty fun ride.

One of our ride highlights was sharing some miles with a fellow randonneur on the W&OD trail. Excitement! His Trek 520, fenders, generator hub, and beautiful Berthoud bag caught our eyes immediately as we came upon him. As we rode by, Ed said, “Nice setup!” and I snapped a photo. It’s what we do.

Ahi and his Beautiful Trek 520 Setup

“Hey!” he said. “I know you guys. I read your blog!” Ahi recently moved to the D.C., area from Minnesota. He, like us, was out getting some winter maintenance miles. We talked randonneuring for a while and then parted ways. Great to meet you, Ahi, and I hope we see you again on a ride soon!

I also took a few moments during the ride to check out the captain’s zone. I would like to learn how to captain the tandem, although I am a little intimidated to do so.

The space is a little too big for me up there. Still, it was fun to test out even if we didn’t actually take any pedal strokes with me at the helm. Someday!

Full set of the ride here.

Hope everybody enjoyed some good riding Saturday. Or even Sunday if you have penchant for rain rides.

Missing the Bike and Thank You Notes: Co-Motion Tandem Edition

After I finished writing my Quickbeam “thank you” note for Lovely Bicycle’s recent “Thanking Your Bicycle” giveaway, I started thinking about Felkerino’s and my Co-Motion tandem and all the great experiences we have had with it. That Co-Motion is one awesome bike, I thought. It also deserves a few lines.

The Co-Motion on Skyline Drive

Dear Co-Motion Tandem,

I was thrilled when I found out you were going to be part of my life. A bike made especially for Felkerino and me? Fantastic! Remembering the day we brought you home still brings a smile and a thrill up my backbone.

Thank you for making Felkerino and me famous. I wasn’t nearly so popular until I started riding tandem. Now, when Felkerino and I go out with you around the countryside, people often wave, say hello, or ooh and ahh as we go by. I know their reaction is not because of us. It’s the magic of the tandem. It’s you, baby, YOU. But because you cannot speak, we are the beneficiaries of your enticing aesthetic.

Of all the bikes I’ve ridden, you are the one I/we ‘ve put to the greatest test. You are the one we’ve turned to for most of our brevets and multi-day tours. Thanks for putting up with the extra tinkering, roof rack travel, and high expectations. And thanks for not getting ticked off during the occasional tandem team meeting. I’m sure you had an opinion, too.

Missing the Bike and Thank You Notes: Quickbeam Edition

Before hitting the road to Florida, I participated in Lovely Bicycle’s “Thanking Your Bicycle” giveaway. She invited people to write a few lines thanking their bikes for all they do.

Cycling has become such a pivotal part of my life. It’s how I recreate, commute, shop, and maintain fitness. It was fun to take a few minutes to scrawl out some lines of gratitude. It also helped that I have spent three of the last four weeks sans bike. I’ve had plenty of time to yearn for my two-wheeled companions.

Quickbeam!

I wrote two thank-you notes. The first of these was to my Quickbeam, and I included it below. (Don’t tell the Surly Long Haul Trucker. I did not write it a note, even though I love it just as much, ok?! I just ran out of time.) I’ll post the second note later this week.

I never thought I would see my bicycles like living things, but now I see how this kind of bonding can happen. Each of my bikes has a distinct “personality,” excels at different aspects of bicycling, and helps me get around in myriad ways. Thanks, bikes!

My dear friend and companion Rivendell Quickbeam,

Thank you for riding through life with me.

Every time I make the first pedal stroke down my drive I sense our solid connection. My back, arms, and legs feel totally in sync with you.

You respond to my every need, zipping forward as I apply pressure, gently slowing as I apply the brakes to your rims. (I know you deserve better brakes; I promise to work on that next year.)

I revel in the way we manage traffic and commute together. You (and the Tubus) do such a fine job of hauling all my work clothing and necessities. I can even carry a pannier and ride no-handed. That’s awesome! I know sometimes I carry too much stuff and that bothers you, but you never get too cranky with me.

Your tires are the perfect width. We sail down Washington, D.C., roads without fear of cracks and small debris. On days when I feel like a getaway down the C&O Canal, you offer a smooth ride despite the hardpack and bumps.

I love that you have one gear; we have an uncomplicated life together.

Thank you, Quickbeam, for being so amazing. I know I never gave you another name, but Quickbeam fit you so well. I sometimes forget to share my feelings, but know that I always appreciate your steadiness, beauty, and simplicity.

We were made to ride together, and I am grateful I found you.