What I Learned Bike Touring from Wytheville to Floyd, Virginia

Today Felkerino and I headed off to Floyd, a southern Virginia town that abuts the Blue Ridge Parkway. A scenic and challenging day in many ways, it brought home a few themes about bike touring.

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1. If the route isn’t working, change it.

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Bike Touring from Blacksburg to Wytheville, Virginia

The weather:  Sunny and dry
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Miles ridden:  92

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Mountains:  Three, one being the notable Walker Mountain ten miles outside Wytheville.

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Into the Teeth of the Virginia Highlands

The past two days of riding have brought home the fact that all rides are not created equal.

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Felkerino and I plotted our 70-mile days, climbing away from Clifton Forge, over Dolly Mountain to Covington, and across Hay’s Gap to overnight in Paint Bank.

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Bike Touring Southern Virginia on the Lead Sled

Felkerino and I are off bike touring in  Virginia this week. We began our ride in Waynesboro and are winding our way south to Wytheville.

Day 1 we rode to Lexington, a quaint historic town.

Yesterday, Day 2, we arrived in Clifton Forge, part of the Alleghany Highlands region.

We’ve employed the mountain Cannondale tandem for the trip. So far so good.

Two small Ortlieb panniers in the front, Carradice Camper saddlebag in the back. The bike handles well with a load and climbs solidly.

We’ve moderated our mileage to around 70 miles a day for the first three days, which allows us to sleep in, stop when we feel like it, and savor the journey.

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My 2012 Colorado High Country 1200K Story

Hello, readers. Big news! I wrote up my account of Felkerino’s and my Colorado High Country 1200K. It took a while, but it’s finally finished.

Felkerino and me on the Colorado High Country 1200K

I call it a highlight reel because, instead of chronicling the ride as it happened each day, I honed in on the aspects that made the High Country unforgettable.

Check it out here: 2012 Colorado High Country 1200K: A Breathtaking Trip out West. I hope you enjoy reading about this ride even a little bit as much as I loved riding it.

Bikes to Like: Felkerino’s Cannondale T700 Tourer

Some people have inquired about the various steeds that call the Dining Room Bike Shop home. You can check out most of mine on the “My Bikes” page. Over the next few weeks (or however long that actually translates in terms of time I have to blog) I’ll be featuring the bikes Felkerino rides.

These reviews will not be uber technical so if spec description overload is what you seek, best go check out some other blog. Rather, they will be descriptions through my eyes, my eyes being those focused on the practical and other aspects that catch my attention.

First up is Felkerino’s aluminum, made in the USA, Cannondale T700 tourer. This bike, of 1992 vintage, is one of the first road bikes Felkerino ever owned as a grownup, and serves as his primary commuter.

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Using Shared Infrastructure Sharingly: Chris on #BikeDC Speaks

After several weeks of #BikeDC Speaks posts from the women of the #BikeDC community, we are back this week with a guy’s point of view on riding in the D.C. area.

Chris is another familiar face from #FridayCoffeeClub and, if you ride along MacArthur Avenue, you may spot him there as well. During his years of commuting in the area, Chris has observed and learned a lot about cycling in the city. AND as a new parent who hopes to have his daughter accompany him on rides, I thought he would make a great guest contributor.

Without further ado, here is Chris’s take on riding in D.C.

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BicycleSPACE and the D.C. Murals Ride

After all the heat and humidity we’ve endured over the summer, this past weekend we received a welcome reprieve. Especially Saturday.

Warm sun, light breezes, pleasant temperatures. Far too gorgeous of a day to stay inside, Felkerino, his daughter, and I joined BicycleSPACE’s mural ride to see where it would take us and to simply enjoy the day.

Jordan and the “Monkey Wagon,” issuing last-minute instructions

We weren’t the only ones with this idea. A large group of locals assembled at BicycleSPACE’s shop to take part in the ride, which toured approximately 25 murals located in various parts of the city. Who knew D.C. had so many murals? Not me!

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Bikes to Like: Rick R.’s Trek Elance 300 (650B Conversion!)

It’s all about bikes this week, and today features a guest post from Rick R. about his Trek Elance 300.

A North Carolina rider, Rick completed a full Super Randonneur series with the D.C. Randonneurs. Felkerino and I rode many miles with Rick (and Christian) on this spring’s Warrenton 300K. Felkerino and I joked that we were under attack by the 650B brigade, as both Rick’s Trek and Christian’s Terraferma are set up with 650B Grand Bois Hetre tires.

Riding similar paces allowed me to thoroughly admire Rick’s bike, and I’m so glad he agreed to be a guest contributor for Bikes to Like.

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Summer Commutes on the Velo Orange Mixte

I tend to have an overall preference for diamond frames, and never considered myself a mixte sort of person. However, a couple of years ago Velo Orange was selling off a batch of their mixte frames at the attractive price of $300 so I mixed up the bike stable by adding a mixte to it.

Velo Orange Mixte, acquitting herself well after climbing a steep hill

Over the next year Felkerino and I (okay, mostly Felkerino) built it up with a variety of parts from the Dining Room Bike Shop, including the front Rivendell Mark’s rack by Nitto, Nitto S83 seatpost, gearing, pedals, Tektro brakes, handlebars, and the bags.

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I Get By with a Little Help from My Gym Friends

Good times at the WSC Hip Hop class

When I first started going to the gym, I did so because I wanted to strengthen myself for cycling. Then I wanted to strength train because I completely freaked out about getting older and realized the importance of weight-bearing activity. Later I continued my gym visits because I enjoyed the challenge to my body and muscles, the progression of my fitness, and the feeling of my body strengthening from my efforts.

However, going to the gym also introduced me to a new and unexpected community of people. Gym people. Because I initially possessed limited knowledge about how to strength train, I attended group classes. Nervously I asked someone about how to set up for class. People were really helpful and told me exactly what I needed. Hand weights, a mat, a bench, whatever.

Eventually, I got the hang of the whole class thing, and with renewed confidence I adopted a regular gym routine. I expanded from doing only strength classes to also going to cardio classes.

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Getting Better All the Time: Leslie T. on #BikeDC Speaks

Leslie T., superhero transportation cyclist, and I go way back to the days I first began riding with the D.C. Randonneurs. If there is a way to get there by bike, Leslie will figure out it. When work requires her to travel, she takes a bike along. Vacation? It usually involves a bike. Getting around town? Bike, of course.

You may have seen Leslie out and about. She volunteers with WABA, partakes in the occasional touring and group ride, and regularly attends #FridayCoffeeClub. Here is what Leslie had to say about cycling in the Washington, D.C. area.

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The Appeal of the Run Commute

Run Commute by the Smithsonian

Because I have a fall running event coming up, I’ve inserted a couple of run commutes into my weekly commute diet. While cycling is my primary mode of commuting, mixing it up with run commuting has proven quite pleasant.

Not surprisingly, my running route to and from the office varies from my bike routine. First, I don’t run in the streets. HA! Second, I don’t run in the 15th Street bike lane. HA HA!

I’ve figured out a quiet, low-traffic, point-to-point run commute route. It takes me through one of the Smithsonian gardens and across the National Mall, both of which I find to be particularly peaceful in the morning.

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Reviving the Lead Sled: our Cannondale Tandem

Due to unforeseen circumstances (to be discussed in another post), our Co-Motion tandem will not be around for a while. In the meantime, Felkerino and I still want to tandem together so we decided to put our original brevet tandem, a Cannondale mountain frame, back into service for some summer rides and any upcoming fall brevets we do. Because of its industrial dark gray hue and bulky aluminum tubing, Felkerino nicknamed it the “lead sled.”

Cannondale tandem, back in service

Felkerino invested some serious time this past week to make the Cannondale rando ready. He put on new tires, transitioned our saddles and handlebars over from the Co-Motion, and measured and remeasured to mimic our Co-Motion measurements as much as possible.

This weekend we took the lead sled out for a 73-mile shakedown ride to see how it- and we- would fare. While it’s quite a switch to go from riding a steel tandem that’s been made especially for you to a stock Large-in-front, Medium-in-back aluminum-frame tandem with 26-inch wheels, our ride went better than I expected.

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Cycling-Specific Commentary: Ride Safe!

If you regularly ride a bike, you know that people will say some weird stuff to you. Stuff they wouldn’t say if you were, say, walking. Or, let’s say, in a car.

This week, the phrase I kept hearing whenever I left my office with my bike in tow was “Ride safe!”

Me: “Have a good night!”
Other person: “You too. Ride safe!”
Me: ?

Velo Orange and me at the Lincoln. Ridin’ safe.

Normally I don’t pay attention to these things, but because so many people said it to me, I got to wondering about it.

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