It’s been a dramatic couple of days here. High winds, rain, and perpetual monitoring of the Weather Channel with one eye while looking apprehensively out the window with the other as tropical storm Sandy pelted our region.
Fortunately, the area where I reside did not lose power and damage to our immediate area does not appear to be too bad.
As I’ve been reading through the tweets and blogs, I see that even though everybody has to follow the same 15 rules to be an official finisher, people have still customized the challenge and their coffeeneuring rides.
Seldom does a commute not involve some kind of trade-off. Bike commuters are often dealing with compromises, and my sense of safety is often one of those.
Take yesterday, for example. I had to run an errand out in Bethesda. The first half of it had to be via car (Booooo. That’s a compromise already!). However, the second half of the errand I was able to use my bike. So bike I did.
I had two route options for my return trip back into the District of Columbia from Bethesda, Maryland.
1. Take Capital Crescent Trail to the trail by the Kennedy Center (almost ten miles car-free!) and home; or
2. Ride Massachusetts Avenue (a main road in D.C.) back to Adams Morgan and home.
At first, it seems like a no-brainer. Take the Capital Crescent Trail!
Not so fast. I began my return trip at 8:30 at night. That changes things.
With the shades of fall intensely pulsing through our area, Felkerino and I decided we better get out for a good autumn ride before showers or windy days wrested the brilliant leaves from the trees.
We looked at the Saturday forecast, which indicated overnight temperatures would not be bitingly cold. Sun was also predicted, with the day warming from mid-40s up to the mid-60s.
That’s my kind of fall riding! Felkerino convinced a couple of friends to join us and we spent the day riding the dirt roads around the Middleburg, Virginia, area. It was a great reprieve from the pavement and a rare treat to ride enveloped in the peak of autumn’s colors.
Most days, riding my bike is one of the most pleasurable activities of my day. Fresh air, exercise, breeze on my face, and pride in my mode of transport abound.
Every once in a while, though, something happens to disrupt these moments of reverie. Like yesterday, for example, when I was riding to dinner with a couple of friends. We approached a stoplight and a driver rolled down the window of his car to yell out, “Get on the sidewalk!”
Upon hearing these words, righteous indignation coursed through my body. It enraged me to hear a driver advise me to “Get on the sidewalk!” when we have just as much right to be on the road as he does.
Today I’m talking commute basics, as somebody recently asked me what to keep in mind when making the transition to bike commuting. It took me back to when I dusted off my old Ross mountain bike and said to myself, “Metro no more. I’m going to make this bike commute thing happen.” Happily, it wasn’t a tough transition to make, but it was a change to my personal transportation system that took time to refine and become routine.
Now that I’ve adjusted, it’s hard to imagine a time when I relied on metro or car more than my bicycle as my primary form of transportation.
For those considering bike commuting, this post discusses the the basic gear I purchased and the adaptations I made to bike commute. Everyone develops their own systems over time, and this is my basic rundown.
Ride your bike to coffee. The premise of the Coffeeneuring Challenge is a pretty simple one.
Yet, the writing from the coffeeneuring blogs suggests there’s something about the two-wheeled journey to a coffee shop and the subsequent consumption of a hot beverage. Something worth writing about and sharing.
As I read through the posts, that vague something evolved into various themes, and I aggregated them into this list.
What a weekend! The Nationals came so close, but could not eek out a place in the next round of post-season play. What’s a coffeeneur to do but shed a few tears, get on the bike, and go for a latte?
That’s what I did. Felkerino, Ultrarunnergirl, and Mr. Ultrarunnergirl coaxed me out the door. The sunny weather didn’t hurt, either.
We were not alone in our coffeeneuring pursuits. The Twitterverse was alive with dozens of people coffeeneuring here and there. After a while I lost count, so if you want to get a glimpse into what you missed, click on the Twitter image below.
Happy 10-11-12, everyone. As promised, I said I’d be back with a list of those I know using Twitter while engaged in their coffeeneuring pursuits. By combing through the tweets marked with the #coffeeneuring hashtag, I assembled a list of coffeeneuring tweeps.
I’ve also included the Twitter bios. I love reading those things, people describe themselves so differently, and they also give you a flavor of who is participating, either formally or informally, in the Coffeeneuring Challenge.
Helmet use is an evergreen topic widely debated by cyclists and non-cyclists everywhere. Conclusion? No one agrees and this debate will rage until the end of days.
I decided to jot down a post about helmet use yesterday, when talking to a friend as I prepared to leave my building on my bike. Somebody walked by and said casually, “Nice cycling cap. You wear a helmet, too, don’t you?”
Man, those kinds of comments rankle me. Perhaps they originate out of concern, but they come across as judgmental.
No matter how I answer, I feel like it’s a no-win. If I say “Yes, I wear a helmet,” I feel like I answered a question that was really no one else’s concern but mine. Responding with “None of your business” sounds ridiculous, as a helmet’s overall obviousness negates it as a matter of privacy. If I say “No, I don’t wear a helmet,” I’m opening the door to a talking-to, frowny disapproving look, a recitation of accident statistics, or anecdotes starting with “I had this friend who wasn’t wearing a helmet…”
I do wear a helmet. I’ve been in two accidents since I began riding in D.C. In one instance, I was doored. In the other, I was cut-off by a driver that made a left turn right in front of me. The driver didn’t see me until I went bouncing across the hood of his SUV.
Week 1 of the 2nd Annual Coffeeneuring Challenge has already come and gone, with lots of people taking time out of their weekend for a bike ride and a tasty beverage. In the D.C. area, temperatures dropped significantly over the weekend, making the urge to coffeeneur to a toasty spot for an equally toasty beverage quite palatable.
Last year, people coffeeneured from the East and West Coast, and as far north as Alaska. Looks like we are covering some broad territory in this year’s challenge, too, with participants from D.C., New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Wisconsin, Masschusetts, Canada, Ireland, and the UK.
Below is the round-up of what I’ve seen and know about.
With the arrival of fall, night creeps in a little earlier to push out the daylight. Time to think about nighttime riding and making yourself even more visible to traffic.
While a head- and tail-light are critical for rides after dark, there are other accessories worth considering for your bike, too. A couple of months ago, the people at BikeWrappers asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing their product. I agreed, and they sent me a set to test out.
BikeWrappers are three fabric panels that affix via Velcro to three different sections of your bike: the top tube, seat tube, and the down tube. BikeWrappers are two-sided. One side of the BikeWrappers is for decorative purposes and has a pattern or is mono-color. The other side is made purely of reflective material.
Sometimes I like to see myself as a “serious” bike rider. I ride in the rain and cold, maneuver adeptly in urban traffic, and participate in the occasional brevet. That’s right, people. Serious.
Another part of bicycling that I take seriously is riding no-handed. Ironically, riding no-hands evokes images that to me are far from serious. Rather, it’s joy riding that takes me back to the days of pedaling around my hometown in the rural Midwest.
When my middle sister and I learned to ride bikes, our radiuses expanded from a few blocks to as far as our legs and two wheels would take us. We rode pretty small bikes and had equally small legs so we didn’t go far, but they certainly got us from one end of town to the other– an entire half-mile!
Initially, that half-mile was quite an accomplishment. “Look at us go,” we thought. “We’re something now.” Little kids no more, our bikes graduated us to regular kid status.
However, you can only ride around a town that size for so long until it loses its thrill. In need of a new challenge, we set our sights on learning to ride no-handed. My bike, a sparkly purple steed with the name “Gypsy” painted on the chainguard, rode great no-handed.