Monthly Archives: January 2013

Becoming Vulnerable to Change

For the past several months, whenever I have ventured to the gym for a weight workout on my own, I’ve repeated the same routine. A routine that works the basic muscle groups, I have felt locked into doing it because it’s what I know and I was at a loss for how to switch it up.

gym

Last week I asked one of the trainers whose group classes I regularly attend how he goes about developing a workout for himself. He had a quick response.

“You know how I go about developing a workout routine? I think about three things:

  1. Fitness goals. What are the kinds of activities you want to do outside of the gym?
  2. Weak areas. What are areas of your body that are not strong that you want to develop?
  3. Appearance. Look at yourself in the mirror. Is there some way that you want to look different and where is that area on your body?”

To my surprise, he then added, “Go home, look at yourself in a mirror, write down the answers to those three questions and get back to me next week. I’ll write a workout for you.”

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The Politics of Bike Parking at Work

I recently began a new job, and my lovely setup of parking my bike in my office is no more. I now work in a cube and have no space to park a bike. I could use my Tikit or Dahon folder, but I have not put the time in to make either of them what I would consider “commute ready.”

Instead, I continue to ride my Surly LHT and park my bike in one of two places at my building:

  1. The underground parking garage that has inverted U-shaped racks to accommodate about 20 bikes. 
  2. A prison bar-style outdoor bike rack that is mostly covered (depending on what direction the wind blows), and can theoretically fit 50 bikes, but from my point of view is basically worthless for those of us that use fenders and a U-lock with the exception of the end spaces.

During the winter months, I have made regular use of the garage. It reduces the time I need to spend in the cold locking and unlocking my bike and it keeps my bike decently warm so my hands do not immediately turn to ice when I put them on the handlebars.

However, I will still occasionally park outside and lock to what I consider the substandard prison bar-style rack.

Through commuting regularly to my job in this shared parking environment, I have begun to notice funny things about us bike commuters.

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Pitter Patter: Cold Winter Days in D.C.

A midday run on the Mall. A bitingly cold commute to work.

The city looks different, feels distinct over a light powdering of snow.

image

Tourists head indoors, to museums and gift shops. Runners dwindle, leaving only those undeterred by the chill.

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Winter Weather: Testing Your Mettle and Your Wardrobe

It is unusual for D.C. to go into the deep freeze, but it happened this week. We’re experiencing the coldest weather we’ve had since March 2009, according to Capital Weather Gang.

Winter commuting on the Surly

Given that we seldom have snow or ice during the winter months, the cold and wind are the primary deterrents to riding, as opposed to the actual street conditions. Now is the time when commuters test their tolerance of the frigid conditions as well as their gear.

Regarding tolerance for cold, I confess a big fail. I am still riding, but each day I find myself procrastinating my ride to work in the cozy warmth of my home. I don multiple layers and it’s only after I begin to overheat that I reluctantly roll my bike out of the house.

This morning, while parking in my building, a fellow commuter arrived saying, “We’re hardcore. The cold can’t stop us.”

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Inauguration Weekend & Pennsylvania Avenue Bike Lanes

The city is almost ready for Inauguration Day. Yesterday I tried to capture the final preparations from a perspective slightly higher than ground level.

Capitol down the Mall

On my commute home I took the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes in order to see the Art of Weiwei projection on the exterior of the Newseum. This is only on display from January 17th through the 19th in honor of the inauguration so if you are in town, Saturday is your last chance to see it.

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I’m Not Training; I’m Having Fun

Panda

Earlier this week I read a brief but informative article in the New York Times called “Training Insights from Star Athletes.”  The Times interviewed three elite athletes who discussed various facets of their training, including the importance of making it focused and structured.

When Felkerino and I agreed to ride Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) in 2011, I spent much of the two years before it doing what I would call more training-type things. I worked deliberately on strengthening my upper and lower body in my gym workouts, bought a heart rate monitor for doing intervals in spin classes and pushing myself to Zone whatever in cardio classes, and developed a weekend ride training program designed for Felkerino and I to peak at PBP.

As I read the Times piece it dawned on me that since PBP I have not really been training, even though I am still engaged in activities that are similar to those I was doing in 2010 and ’11.

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A Run in Rock Creek with Ultrarunnergirl

Rock Creek 2

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my friend Kirstin, aka Ultrarunnergirl, inviting me to go trail running with her in Rock Creek Park.

Her timing could not have been better, as I had just been lamenting my “story of sameness” and the need to mix it up with other activities this year. I immediately responded yes.

Even though I do some road running, I seldom run trails and have never done so in Rock Creek Park, which is an easy five-mile ride from my house.

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The Wheel of Influence

Why did you start riding a bicycle? Who are the people that influenced you?

I’ve been giving these questions heavy consideration as I think about the reasons that I started to ride and continue to do so today, especially when I see the numbers showing how few people ride bikes.

Surly LHT. Morning commute on the Mall

Surly LHT. Morning commute on the Mall

While the data I’ve come across varies, it shows that around 3 percent of the overall D.C. commuter population are cyclists. Dang, that is low!

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D.C. Commute Scenes: Getting Ready

Commute shadows

It’s been a while since my last “D.C. Commute Scenes” post. Guess everything became routine landscape the past few months. Not lately, though. Right now, big things are happening right here in Washington, D.C. (Insert snide comment here if you feel like doing so.)

The city is rapidly preparing for the presidential inauguration. People are out and about from morning until evening making it happen.

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Employers: Setting the Tone for Bike Commuters

Surly at Dupont Circle

Since I began commuting nine years ago, I’ve worked for three four different employers. All have been located within five miles of my residence at the time, and that short distance encouraged me to leave the Metro behind and either bike or walk to work. Now I exclusively bike or walk to my office, something that I know I’m extremely lucky to be able to do.

Over the course of commuting to these jobs, I’ve seen how employers can influence and even encourage people to bike commute. The following are my experiences commuting to three different places and a description of the various bike commute setups used by each employer.

These environments helped shape my opinions about employers’ roles in creating a conducive environment for bike commuting. Bike commuting isn’t only the ride from home to work. It’s also about what happens once you and your bike arrive at the office.

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