Monthly Archives: January 2011

Inclement Winter Days and Capital Bikeshare

When I looked out the window this morning, it didn’t look like a good day for bike commuting. Cloudy sky. Slush and snow on the sidewalks. I resigned myself to taking the Metro.

A gloomy morning in the city

En route to my station, however, I noticed that the roads were wet but clear, the rain/sleet/snow was not falling too furiously, and the temperature was mild. What did it all mean? Bikeshare!

Capital Bikeshare!

Lucky for me, a CaBi station is adjacent the Metro closest to me. I bypassed Metro and walked up to one of the bikes. I took out a rag to wipe down the damp saddle, put my key in to make sure the bike was in service, pulled out “my” bike, and rode away to the office.

My “real” bikes stayed clean and warm at home. As for me, the CaBi mudguards and chain protector kept my feet and clothes free from any water and road grit spraying up from the wheels. The sleet did sting my face a little, but it was still preferable to a Metro ride.

Another Bikeshare panda portrait

Snow began falling in earnest later in the day. Rather than deal with the congested streets and uncertain road conditions, I left Bikeshare for another day and enjoyed a snowy walk home.

I love Capital Bikeshare!

2nd Annual TDR Rando Photo Contest

All CaBi, all the time

Brrr! Did you get outside this weekend? If so, extra credit. It was not that nice out there!

This week, it’s all happening on The Daily Randonneur as we reveal the winners of our 2nd Annual TDR Rando Photo Contest. Check it out. I think you’ll like it.

Cyclist Stan Miller and Community Impact Statements

Yesterday was the sentencing for the person who killed our friend and fellow cyclist, Stan Miller. Prior to the sentencing, individuals were invited to submit Community Impact Statements that would then be read and considered by the judge in Stan’s case. The purpose of these statements is to show the implications of a person’s death on the community.

Prior to Stan’s death, I was unfamiliar with community impact statements. I had never felt cause to write one, and doing so was more difficult than I anticipated. Revisiting Stan’s death, in addition to thinking about how it has affected me and our community, was painful. I also wondered about the importance of writing my statement. Does anyone read these? What does my statement matter?

I now believe someone does read them and they make a difference. One of the local Maryland papers, The Gazette, noted that over 50 victim impact statements were written on behalf of Stan Miller, and that six of them were read at the sentencing. I don’t know if they combined the community and victim impact statements together and called them all “victim impact statements,” or if the community impact statements were an additional number of letters. Either way, it shows me that what people wrote about Stan mattered to the case.

While Stan was not a close relative or friend of mine, there are people we intersect with throughout our lives that may not be our closest friends, but make our lives better in some way. Stan was one of those people in my life.

He did his own thing. Stan had an easy smile and a great enthusiasm for bike riding. He loved wearing his bib tights, carrying his own cooking gear on occasion, and showing off his hysterical helmet hair.  I admired his skills as a bike mechanic and his willingness to help others. He was good riding company and fun to talk with over post-ride pizza and pop.

I’m glad I wrote my community impact statement and that others did, too. Stan was part of our community, and and he was violently taken from us before he was supposed to go.

We miss you, Stan.




Capital Bikeshare Makes Life Better

Winter CaBi Bikeshare Panda

In my efforts to avoid Metro and breathe in the fresh Washington, D.C., air as much as possible, I’ve started riding Capital Bikeshare more frequently. Bikeshare is awesome! I just run over to the station nearest me, plug in my key to get a bike, yank the bike out as hard as I can, and off I go. All rides 30 minutes or less are included in my $75 annual membership.

Now, riding a Bikeshare bike is not an overly cool riding experience. These bikes are no Rivendells, ok? They have no real pep, and feel like bikes a child just graduated from training wheels might ride. A Capital Bikeshare steed is a lumbering three-speed beast that toddles along steadily with me atop it until I get to wherever I’m going. The wide foam saddle fits awkwardly below me, making me long for my Brooks saddle.

There is a lot that makes CaBi tranportation cool, though. The bikes are well-maintained and get me where I’m going. They have a nice spot in front where I can secure my bag so no hauling stuff on my back. Fenders and a mighty chainguard protect my clothes from debris.

With CaBi stations near my home and my office, I can make a spontaneous decision to hop on a bike and head off somewhere not directly along a Metro line, but easily within reach of a CaBi station. I can turn a 45-minute walk into a 15-minute ride. Today, I decided not to risk pedaling in because I didn’t know the road conditions. This afternoon, though, I used CaBi for my trip to the grocery store. I then rode another one home. So convenient.

Riding CaBi is also liberating to me in an unexpected way. When I’m riding one of my other bikes, I like to have a certain look. I admit it! (Some of you might be able to relate to this. Your own personal look, not mine!) I feel like I should look a little competent. No crooked helment. Color coordinated. Lots of wool base layers and Ibex. Sidi’s. Enough bike-specific gear to look like I know what I’m doing. Something to keep my pantleg from being eaten up by the chainring.

When I’m on CaBi, that stuff doesn’t matter one bit. Today, I wore a long wool coat, big blue hat, wool pants, and Danskos. No need for SPDs or my Sidi’s. CaBis have flat pedals! Cycling apparel on a CaBi bike? Why? Nothing I wore on my commute was bike-specific, except for my helmet.

CaBi riding attire

The other liberating aspect of riding CaBi is that nobody puts any expectations on me about my bike riding. Crooked helmet? Ten miles an hour? Work clothes instead of cycling-specific attire? Who cares! I’m on a CaBi bike. I just got my training wheels taken off!

TDR Rando Photo Contest – Wild Card

The fourth and final category of the 2nd Annual TDR Rando Photo Contest is the Wild Card. This category allows photos from Populaires and Permanents, and is the catch-all category for those brevet photos that do not seem to fit in Randonneur Lifestyle, Obligatory Cow Photo/Nature Shot, or Spirit of Randonneuring.

I had a couple of photos that fit perfectly as Wild Cards.

George M., DC Randonneurs 400K. May 2010

I’m not sure what exactly George is doing here (observing, learning to paint, giving pointers?), but I just find this picture hysterical. Time out for art on the DC Randonneurs 400K brevet.

Felkerino, PA Randonneurs Stillwater 200K. November ’10

This old gas pump is located at the final control of Tom Rosenbauer’s Stillwater 200K. Felkerino liked it so much he tried to gas up the Co-Motion. Forget about it, Felkerino. That Co-Motion is zero miles per gallon!

OK, kids, that does it for my 2010 “submissions.” What do you have in your 2010 Rando Photo Collection? We’d love to see it highlighted in the TDR Rando Photo Album!

Oh, and happy Friday!!

TDR Rando Photo Contest – Spirit of Randonneuring

Since I began riding brevets, I have often heard the phrase “Spirit of Randonneuring.” Blah blah blah represents the Spirit of Randonneuring. Doop be doop does not. Randonneuring means different things to different people, and the selection of photos below represents the images from this past year that fall into my own definition of the Spirit of Randonneuring.

1. The faces of riders at the early morning starts.

Jeff and Bernd wait to start the DC Randonneurs Civil War Tour 200K

2. Good moments at controls (with good food and sunny days an added plus!).

Team Carnivore eats lunch at the Blue Moon Cafe on the DC Randonneurs Fleche, while Bill takes a photo.

Bob, Scott, and Charlie at one of the post office controls on the Endless Mountains 1000K.

Bob, David G., Justin, and Justin’s brother-in-law take time out for a photo on the Civil War Tour 200K.

3. Pedaling and talking the miles away with others.

Paul D. and Carol on the DC Randonneurs 300K.

Mary C., Carol, and Kelly talking and pedaling on the DC Randonneurs 300K.

4. Helpful and friendly people to sign your control card.

Felkerino making it official at C&O Bicycle, a control on the DC Randonneurs 400K.

5. Having someone ride out and meet you at the end of your big ride.

Jan rode out to meet Nick at the finish of the DC Randonneurs 600K.

6. The accomplishment of finishing your first Super Randonneur series.

John and Cindy became Super Randonneurs upon completion of the DC Randonneurs 600K.

These all define some aspect of my idea of the Spirit of Randonneuring. Like I keep saying, I’m glad I don’t have to pick just one photo to share. Throw your photos into the mix of memories by e-mailing a photo (or two, or three) to gersemalina “at” gmail.com!

TDR Rando Photo Contest – Obligatory Cow Photo/Nature Shot

With the recent announcement of the 2nd Annual TDR Rando Photo Contest, I’ve been itching to show some of my favorite 2010 brevet moments captured on film.  You saw my Randonneur Lifestyle favorites, and today I’m displaying the Obligatory Cow Photo/Nature Shots that I thought worthy of sharing.

What is the Obligatory Cow Photo/Nature Shot? Seen on almost every brevet, cows captured on film are a must for completing your brevet photo-set. However, all animals are created equal and this category accepts photos of any and all fauna. This year we are broadening the category to include your landscape photos as well. If it’s nature, we want to see it.

Personally, I am not the best at getting the Obligatory Cow Photo. They all seem to turn out blurry or too small, have their heads missing, or suffer some other problem. Lucky for me, this category is about more than just cows, or I’d have nothing to show you.

DC Randonneurs, Cacapon 200K

This photo, from October, was taken after we had climbed to the High View orchard area in West Virginia. I was so proud of Felkerino and me for clawing our way up there that I felt obligated to memorialize the moment in a photo. I like the look of the apple crates and the sky was incredible that day.

DC Randonneurs, Frederick 300K

This brevet started in Frederick, Maryland, and took us into Adams County, Pennsylvania. Suddenly we saw a horse-drawn buggy coming our way. I love seeing these, and was happy to have captured the moment, although the picture is slightly blurry. Oops!

PA Randonneurs, Stillwater 200K

This picture, taken in November, represents a “this is why we ride” moment for me. We are crossing the Delaware Water Gap. It was a crisp fall day, the sun was just coming up, fall color was in its final glory, and the beauty of the morning overwhelmed me. It was a perfect day to be out on the bike with friends.

As I keep saying, I can’t wait to see the 2010 shots from other randonneurs. Please send a brevet memory or two our way: gersemalina “at” gmail.com!

TDR Rando Photo Contest – Randonneur Lifestyle

Happy New Year, all! Last week, Felkerino and I launched the 2nd Annual TDR Rando Photo Contest. This is a way for us to highlight all the awesome rides and and the people who rode them over the past year. The fabulous Gregg Bleakney is judging the Rando Photo Contest, and Felkerino and I are not eligible to participate. That would be a conflict of interest!

Nevertheless, I took a trip down memory lane of all the great rides from the past year. What would I submit if I could? Since I’m ineligible, I decided to post a few photos here from my own rando photo collection that highlight my personal favorites for each category.

First up, Randonneur Lifestyle.  This category features the high-brow lifestyle of randonneurs. Here are the Randonneur Lifestyle finalists from my 2010 brevet photos.

DCR Fleche – Team Velo Espresso Gelato

This picture of our fleche team was taken in Gettysburg in the dark of night (probably around 11:00 p.m.), which requires the randonneur salute to block as much reflective gear as possible. I like the diner lighting in the background, the bit of reflective material that caught the lens, and the team’s expressions.

Scott G. on Day 3 of Endless Mountains 1000K

The picture of Scott in front of the convenience store was the first controle of Day 3 of the Endless Mountains 1000K. The sun has been up for maybe an hour. Just love Scott’s thumbs up and smile. Only 160 miles to go!

Felkerino and me, DC Randonneurs 300K. Photo taken by Chris M.

A romantic moment at a convenience store in reflective gear. How can you beat that? This was our final rest stop before the finish.

And I know I’ve featured these two lovelies below in previous posts, but for me these pictures represented the beauty of the 2010 brevets. Groups of people out riding and then taking the occasional break to sit on the pavement and have a drink and a convenience store  treat together.

DC Randonneurs 600K – Chris, Lane, Joe, Felkerino, and Dan

Day 3, Endless Mountains 1000K. Bill O., Bob H., Jon, Me, Christine, Bob O., Vytas, and Felkerino on the side. Picture by Andrew Mead.

Fortunately, I’m ineligible or I’d have had a tough time whittling it down to one photo!

Hope some of you are also taking the time to delve into your 2010 brevet memories and will send some photos our way. Rules are on the TDR site, and photos may be sent to gersemalina “at” gmail.com. We can’t wait to see what you’ve been doing this past year…