Category Archives: Commute Reflections

Our House, In the Middle of Our Street


Whenever we hop on our bikes, we not only expose ourselves to all sorts of elements, but we also come face to face with other bike riders.

Despite that, riders do not tend to talk to one another. We share space, but generally our only apparent common goal is coming and going each day from home to work and back home again.

Maybe that’s okay. Maybe we don’t need to be acting as though every commute is like the end of a Waltons episode (anyone besides me remember this show?).

For some of us, though, being a bike rider in the city means being open to connection in a way you can’t get by taking Metro or driving.

When riding, we tune into all the other people also on bikes. Our bikes identify us in a unique way. Our bikes make us nimble.

The street becomes more than a thoroughfare that paves our way to and from the office. It’s a spontaneous meeting spot with a friend. A welcome interruption from anonymity and get-there-itis.

This morning Felkerino and I encountered our friend Tony riding into work on his relatively “new to him” Rivendell. I was running late. Maybe Tony was, too. We were headed in opposite directions.

But upon seeing each other, we all turned around to hang out and talk. We talked bikes, gas cans, Surly junk straps, and bike touring in the brisk morning air. It was the highlight of my day.

Our house, in the middle of our street.

Cherry Blossom Farewell: Petals, Puddles, and Pavement

Surly LHT and cherry trees

One of my favorite times in Washington, D.C., is when the cherry blossoms reach out to say hello to all of us. Another is when these delicate petals fall, leaving a textured pink layer over grass and pavement.

D.C. residents knew the blossoms were preparing to take their leave. The downed magnolia petals gave us warning, as did emerging redbud, and the green leaves that began to eclipse the presence of pink on the cherry trees.

Magnolias and Surly LHT

Despite the steady rainfall, I departed for work by bike, hoping for quiet streets and a glimpse of the petals’ farewell to the city.

The rain cleared the roads of tourists and left only the most dedicated of bike commuters to contemplate the quiet, warm, damp of the morning.

I steadily pedaled toward the Tidal Basin and Ohio Drive, seeking out a special spot. I didn’t know where it was, only that I would know it when I came upon it.

I passed over petals, puddles and pavement until my bike steered me toward a tree peppered in tiny pink ovals. My special spot.

Propping my bike against the tree’s solid base, I soaked in the morning. Yes, like that.

Surly and cherry blossom trees

As I was taking photos, my friend Chris rode by. I said hello, thinking he would simply continue on his way, given the rainy morning.

Chris on Ohio Drive


To my surprise, Chris turned around. We exchanged photos, chatted a little, and contemplated the morning rain by the Potomac River.

Chris's Instagram of me


I took a few more photos, Chris pushed off, and I hopped on my bike to bid Ohio Drive goodbye. Suddenly the wind rushed, clouds fused, angry waves licked the shore of the Potomac, and the previously steady rain morphed into a pounding downpour.

My feet squished in my socks and shoes, and I wondered what the hell I’d been doing, pausing my commute to grasp that moment. I imagined Chris crossing the 14th Street Bridge. What were we thinking?

But the stormy beauty of the day brought an unrepentant smile to my face. Morning’s warmth and a peaceful moment with a friend and fellow bike commuter. My immediate view of the storm’s intense rising over the river, the swaying of trees, and the flurry of pink petals intersecting my path.

The intense pre-work soaking was well worth it. Farewell, dear blossoms.

Flow Like Water

The fleeting pink and white blossoms cover the city. Sun shines and spring breezes blow. Families and field trips congregate on our sidewalks. And hey, how about those tour buses! Yes, it’s cherry blossompalooza in Washington, D.C.

Hains Point, cherry blossoms, and the Surly LHT

In previous years I dreaded this scenario. But thanks to my regular midday runs that have exposed me to this sudden, yet annual, increase in activity I figured out a system to keep me moving (mostly) calmly.

As a self-confessed rule follower and righteous city dweller, I have held tightly to the believe that we all should follow certain rules. Walk on the right side of the sidewalk. Don’t run or walk in the bike lanes. Walk two abreast at most and single file in crowded zones.

Personally, I think these are really good rules. However, while I have not done any studies of the issue, few others seem to agree with me. Groups crowd the entire sidewalk, moving like schools of fish from point A to point B. Small children, and even grown ups, love walking at odd angles. They’re like human lightning bolts.

Photographers at the Tidal Basin

One day I was out on a run, weaving through the midday chaos, when I realized the rules I thought everyone should follow were maybe nice ideas, but mostly unrealistic.

I let go of my rigid views about space. I sidled in and out and around. I paused. I flowed like water.

Learning to move like this slowed my frustrations at those around me not adhering to what I perceived as the rules of the road and sidewalk.

Now I try to flow like water every time I step outside, be it on my bike or on my two feet. It’s totally changed how I look at my environment.

While more people than not make a half-hearted effort to operate in a predictable manner based on the rules of the road and sidewalk, it cannot be expected to occur all the time.

People may drift inadvertently into your path. Somebody might shoal you at a light. A tour bus may stop to unload all of its passengers at the exact moment that you are trying to pass it.

Cherry Blossoms, Surly, on the Potomac

Flow like water.

Touch the brakes, dodge where need be, and if someone gets in your space, slow down or change course. Try not to sweat it. As Felkerino likes to say, it’s all just pavement.

Sounds obvious, no? Not for me. It’s taken 10 years of commuting and more than a year of weekday runs on the National Mall to finally begin to relax my stance on the rules I was sure we all should follow. Finally, I’m unlocking the mysteries of how to flow like water.


On Naming Your Bike: The Baby Post of Bike Names

One of the posts people read frequently on this blog is Say My (Bike’s) Name: On Naming Your Bike, in which I described my  tandem partner’s affinity for naming bikes and my own tendency not to do so.

Bike collage

That bike naming post received great comments about people’s processes for naming bikes as well as their bikes’ names. I liked them so much that I thought they deserved their own post, rather than being an addendum to my original remarks.

Below you will find the “Baby Post of Bike Names,” a first attempt at capturing the bike names shared on Chasing Mailboxes. Thanks to all contributors.

Enjoy, and if you have a name to add please do so in the comments. I will update the post accordingly.

By the way, the name The Big Cat stuck so our Co-Motion Java Tandem is frequently referred to as such. Meow? Rawr!

Baby Post of Bike Names

Amelia — Cannondale Quick 3. Named after Amelia Earhart, she flies far and fast. @astridbear

Archie, short for Archaeopteryx –  Blue 1974 Raleigh Professional set up as a fixed gear. Because I used that as my animal totem in the Furnace Creek 508 years ago, and somehow that became the bike’s name. Emily O’B

Audrey – Mixte named after Audrey Hepburn because she is a pretty little mixte that I ride to work or to the coffee shop/pub in my street attire/makeup. She even has a woven basket. @Vic_toria

Baby – Circe Helios Duo tandem. @velovoice

Battleship Stupid – Surly Big Dummy @I_am_Dirt

The Beast – Salsa Mukluk fatbike. It’s big and likes to roll over things. Christopher T.

The Beast – Specialized Crossroads Sport (very heavy)
. Laura

Betty – Electra Cruiser. Because that’s the name she comes with (it’s model). @girlonabikedc

Big Blue – Blue Raleigh Grand Prix: Big Blue. Rootchopper

Big Nellie – Tour Easy Recumbent. So named because I yelled “Whoa Nellie!!” as I passed 45 miles per hour fully loaded on Big Savage Mountain. Rootchopper

Birte – Koga  Named after the person who signed off on the QC tag checklist…but I just call it, My Traveller. @mujozen

Blackie – 
Black Trek 1200. Rootchopper

Bluey – Jamis commuter. @jerdlngr

Blue – Jamis. Her name is Blue because, well, she’s BLUE. pencilfox

Bridget – 2010 Surly Cross Check. @velovoice

Casper the Little White Moulton – Moulton. Judith S.

Clover – Surly Disc Trucker, dark green. Named after one of the workhorses in Animal Farm for color, dependability and ability to haul lots of stuff. Sally H.

Demon - 2010 cannondale F5. robyn

Doris – Specialized mixte. Named after the BMW satNav system, Drive On Roads Intelligent System. Take the bike rather than the car, any day. LisaEmms

My Dumpster Bike – rando/commute bike. Because that’s where my wife found it and insisted I go dumpster-diving to get it. Andy

Electric Dream Machine – Felt ZW5. EDM for short. Laura

Esmeralda – Surly Long Haul Trucker. Iron Rider

Esmeralda – Brompton. @MrTinDC

Esmerelda – 2010 Raleigh Venture 3.0. The 2008 Raleigh Venture 3.0. James R.

Essie – Raleigh SC30. James R.

The Fixie – Raleigh Super Course. An admittedly unoriginal name that reflects its conversion. MT Cyclist

Fleur – Linus Dutchi @seven2seven8

Frankie – Handbuilt frame from tube steel. @josephlrc

Frankie – Red 80s steel frame with lots of replacement parts including crazy mustache bars with black-and-white zebra tape. Named after Frankenstein, but androgynous. Sally H.

Free Spirit – Schwinn Free Spirit. Laura

Giant – Giant Innova. Pronounced: gee-aunt but with more of a French accent to make it sound fancier. Renee Christine

Giddyup - Salsa Vaya. Because it’s light and quick. Christopher T.

Greased Lightning – Jamis Ventura Race. @TurtleDub616

The Great White – Santana Noventa tandem. Named such due to its pearl white color, and also my penchant for singing the Jaws theme as we overtake an unsuspecting half-bike. - pearl white Santana Noventa tandem. Paul

Gregor – a stupidly big bike named for the mountain that rides (Gregor Clegane). TheAirgonaut

Idéefixe – Bianchi San Jose, a fixed-gear. Named as an homage to Idéfix, Astérix’s dog and as a quasi-joke about fixation with bicycles. @ricksva

Ivan – Dahon folder. Tim

Jealousy, the Green Dragon – Lemond Ventoux, repainted British racing green. @josephlrc

Jon Snow – Specialized Allez. He knows he’ll never inherit the title and lands, but he is noble and strong nonetheless and goes off to join the Black Watch, and does an honourable job defending the kingdom. @Vic_toria

Julek – Trek 8000 mountain bike. @seven2seven8

Julius – Peugeot folder, named after its color. “Orange Julius,” get it? MT Cyclist

Kermit – Velo Orange Polyvalent. Because he’s green and has an affinity for swamps. @girlonabikedc

Lady Raincorn – 
Peugeot Versailles (white with rainbow accents)
. Laura

The Lead Sled – Cannondale mountain tandem, charcoal gray in color. Another bike Felkerino succeeded in naming.

Leela – Takara Tribute, 80s steel frame. Smart, sturdy, light purple, one eyed (headlight) so named after the Futurama character. Sally H.

Liesl – 1950s Puch Rugby Sport. @velovoice

Lil Bleu - 2008 cannondale six13. robyn

Little Nellie – Bike Friday New World Tourist. Named after James Bond’s kit helicopter in You Only Live Twice.

Lorelei – 1979 Puch Princess mixte. @velovoice

Lucy – 2012 Brompton custom S8L. @velovoice

Miss Persimmon Pimpernel — Electra Townie. With her deep orange paint, white fenders and rack, and a flower bedecked front basket, she is every inch a lady. @astridbear

Mongo – Surly Big Dummy. Tim

The Mule - Heavy as hell old Specialized Sequoia, a corruption of Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer that only he can lift. Rootchopper

Old Faithful – Specialized Expedition (mountain-y hybrid). Laura

Ole Red - 1995 Cannondale Super V-900. robyn

Old Ironsides – Specialized hybrid. Named to note its substantial weight and steel-like qualities, but in truth rarely use the term. Steve

Pauline – Surly Long Haul Trucker, because the silver screen like smoggy pearl color reminded me of old silent movies like “The Perils of Pauline,” in which the heroine goes on many adventures, as I plan for the bike to do. James R.

Pearl – Cyclepro Mixte. My husband rescued and rebuilt it for me. True love, my commuter! @JenBrenneman

Pig, short for Iron Pig – Novara Randonnee. Originally named for how it handles with a 60 pound load, it’s kept its name (fondly) for the way it got me across the country. Pat L.

Pilot Vanishing Point – Custom Fast Boy Cycles mixte. Named Pilot Vanishing Point (a certain type of fountain pen), after the lugwork. @justshinyorg

Puck – Jamis 26″ mountain bike. Tim

Rachel – 1996 Specialized Rockhopper. James R.

Riley – 2014 custom Enigma Etape.

The Radish – 70s Motobecane 10-speed. @seven2seven8

Resolute Ruby – 2007/2008 Cannondale Quick. The story of how she got her name is here. russtyred

Robin – 2011 Surly Pacer. @velovoice

Rocinante – CCM. This bike somehow made its way south of the border to Washington, Illinois in the late 1970s. Every part was worn out, I eventually added a third wheel to it so I could compete in a high-school tricycle race, and shortly thereafter, I retired it. It was politely exotic and pretty much shot. 16incheswestofpeoria

RocketGirl – Titanium Seven  @LDMay, who also works for NASA)

Rollie – ’75 Raleigh Sprite, the bike that launched my bike-wrenching obsession. MT Cyclist

Rootie – Trek mountain bike, because of its root beer color scheme. MT Cyclist

Ruby – a ruby-red 2010 9:Zero:7 fat bike. Michael L.

Sandy – Bianchi Volpe. @TurtleDub616

Silver Bullet – anodized silver Santana Sovereign. The frame looks like it’s made out of aluminum (Coors) beer cans and it’s fast! MikeC

Speedy - 2007 Cannondale Supersix. robyn

Sweetpea – ANT mixte. Nancy L.S.

Sweetpea – Surly Long Haul Trucker. Because it’s an apt description of her nature and color. @kfront

The Tank – Specialized Sirrus. @WilyMouse

“Taxman Craig” (or simply “Craig”) – Shogun Ninja I bought off Craigslist the very day I received my tax return. Jordan L.

Thorp – Custom road bike (named after Jim Thorpe). Tim

Tiny – Bike Friday Pocket Rocket. Bob T.

Tropical Gail and Storm - 2008 Cannondale road tandem. Captain half is Tropical Gail; stoker half is Storm. robyn

Venture, short for Aventurine – Surly Disc Trucker in matte green. Julie S.

Veronica – 2008 Raleigh Venture 3.0. James R.

Violet – Specialized road bike. Because the first road bike I test rode was purple, and the name stuck. Apparently there really are reddish violets.  @jerdlngr

Woody Anne – 2000 Surly Cross Check, named after a bar down on Winnebago Street. Michael L.

Yellow Submarine – Dahon Speed Pro folder, due to an unfortunate episode involving a (surprisingly deep) river, back when I lived on the Isle of Man. @WilyMouse

Zwijn – Schwinn World Tourist. Zwijn is Dutch for hog, sounds like “sfwain.” I’m Dutch by birth, as are most of the people in my corner of Iowa. Plus, the Netherlands is solid bikes from one end to the other, so it works. Nathan

#BikeDC Meets #BikeNYC IRL: Dmitry Gudkov

Dmitry Gudkov

Tuesday, the mighty social networking tool known as Twitter paved the internets to an in real life (IRL) encounter with photographer Dmitry Gudkov.

Among other projects, Dmitry is the photographer behind #BikeNYC, a dynamic series of portraits of the people who ride bikes in New York City. Through it I have learned about the people of the New York City bicycling community and glimpsed various places where they ride.

I initially saw Dmitry’s work via my flickr wanderings, and the people at the flickr blog even interviewed him about how #BikeNYC came to be.

I began my Tuesday in a cranky mood after feeling like a fool for riding my bike into work while road conditions remained questionable or poor for bike riding in so many places after Monday’s snowfall. Probably should have done the run commute, I thought.

I was idly checking my Twitter account to see what was going on in the outside world when I saw a tweet from Dmitry accompanied by the #BikeDC hashtag and a photo of our Capital Bikeshare bikes.

After confirming that he was in D.C., Dmitry asked if I had ridden my bike and I went from feeling duped about riding to work to having an “everything happens for a reason” moment. We arranged to meet later in the afternoon.

The day was cold, probably around 30, but the sun cast its long golden late-afternoon shadows down the National Mall and managed to convey that spring will arrive at some point, just not today.

Even so, the cold was at that level where you step outside and know that when you stop moving the clock will start ticking on when you will shift from comfortable to chilly to hand-throbbing territory.

Fortunately Dmitry and I both arrived around the same time and managed to hang out and happily talk while he shot a few photos as the sun dipped gradually lower in the sky.

It really is a thrill to meet someone whose work you have followed over the years and who you admire.

I was also excited because Dmitry took a portrait of me with my Quickbeam. If I had known it was going to have its picture taken I might have washed it and redone the bar tape, but that scruffiness is what makes it real, man. Or something like that. I do still need to wash it.

Mr. SharrowsDC even happened by so that I could evidence my #BikeDC credentials. Now I owe him $20 plus whatever it cost for him to exceed the 30-minute minimum on Capital Bikeshare for pausing to say hi to me.

As we were about to head our separate ways I awkwardly asked Dmitry for a photo. I always get geeked out asking people who really know how to take photos for a photo.

Fortunately for me, he graciously accepted and this picture, complete with Brompton and his Vision Zero sticker, is the resulting cell phone shot. I only wish I had a photograph of his light blue shoelaces. Next time!

And a few minutes later, I saw this. That’s how the pros do it!

Dmitry's #BikeDC Photo on Instagram. Courtesy of Dmitry Gudkov (@gudphoto)

Dmitry’s #BikeDC Photo on Instagram. Courtesy of Dmitry Gudkov (@gudphoto)

I first “knew” about Dmitry through flickr. I then started reading his blog so I could keep up with his #BikeNYC work, and eventually I connected to him on Twitter and Instagram. I continue to be pleasantly surprised and also grateful for the ways social networking tools can meaningfully connect us.

Many thanks to Dmitry for taking the time to meet and to take a portrait of me. What a privilege to meet you in real life.

First Week of September in D.C.


Like that, everyone is back in the city. Congress gears up and the tourists recede. I forgot so many people work here.

Spectacular weather means an explosion in fair weather commuters. They’re everywhere. Part of me is glad to see more people on bikes, and part of me feels annoyed by the overall congestion.

I head toward Hains Point via the Mall. Someone passes me, mashing her pedals, racing determinedly to the… oh right. The stop light. The red stoplight.

I turn onto Hains Point with my goal to wind down and relax from the day at an easy pace. The roadies whiz by. Three at a time. One here and there. A runner up. A double pace line.

That was not the wind down I hoped for and I point my front wheel home. I see Felkerino in the opposite lane, and decide to make a U-turn to say hey and join him for one more Hains Point lap.

We ride, talk, and chat about our days. The roadies still pass, but after a couple of miles they disappear into the background.

I soak in the low-hanging sun. It turns the sky and the Potomac River a peachy orange I don’t remember seeing before. I appreciate the low humidity as I increase my pace but don’t sweat up. I pedal with vigor into the headwind so I can ride alongside Felkerino. I extend one lap to two.

The first of week September in D.C. has been an awkward adjustment, but riding with Felkerino has made it so much better. Funny how a friendly face, and a good chat while riding bikes in perfect weather can do that.

How Did I Get Here?

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself
Well…How did I get here?

-Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime

Do you ever wonder what life would be like if you had been born in another time or place? It’s not really a productive exercise I suppose, but it does make me think that even though I perceive that I’ve worked to be in a certain place in my life, chance has played a big role.

As luck would have it, I was born to parents who encouraged me to be active.

I grew up during a time when learning to ride a bicycle as a child was a rite of passage. My parents were willing and able to buy me a bike. Not a brand new sparkly one, but it did the job. Again, happenstance.

Me on the Romulus

My arrival in Washington, D.C., a place easily navigable by bike and where physical activity is happening all over the place, was mostly the result of a blind stumble during a time when I was flailing about for a different pond in which to swim.

I started bike commuting in 2004, and since that time society’s interest in alternative transport has been growing and growing.

D.C. now has Capital Bikeshare. It has been a huge success and is helping normalize cycling as a form of transport. Encountering other cyclists on the city streets is a regular occurrence. More people are moving into the city, choosing to go car-lite or car-free.

Groups like WABA are working hard to increase bike lanes and improve conditions for cycling so that even more people will ride.

When I first began riding, I don’t recall anyone being too concerned about the cycling disparity between men and women. New groups have formed to build the community of women riders. Gradually we are seeing results.

How did I get here? How am I part of it all?

Maybe I tried to plan some of it, but much of it falls under the umbrella of luck.

Sometimes I idly wonder what life in D.C. will be like 100 years from now. Heck, even 20 years from now.

Will bicycling be a regular form of transportation for people in the area? Will the numbers of men and women riding be more equalized?

Rather than being subject to the unfortunate “Get off the road!” heckling when riding in the District, will cyclists at last be fully integrated into the city’s landscape? Will there ever be a time when the car is not king? I’d love to see that.

I pump up my tires for tomorrow’s ride and hope.

The Big Confusing Dilemma of What to Wear While Riding your Bike Around Town

Skirt panda

When I rode my bike as a child I did not give much thought to the clothing I would wear while riding it. Have bike. Wearing clothes. Shoelaces tied. Will travel. Remember those days?

Fast forward a few decades and what to wear while biking has become much more wrought. Currently, there are a couple of strange ideas afoot about cycling and clothing selection.

The first is that we need special bike clothes made by specialty manufacturers to ride our bikes around town. If you don’t believe me, please refer to the Terry catalog.

I think companies take perverse pleasure in making us feel as though we are wearing the “wrong” clothes so that we will give them our money to remedy something that was never wrong in the first place.

Now that I’m older, I definitely have preferences about what I like to wear while riding. I prefer clothing that does not chafe, does not reveal anything I don’t want others to see, and that allows my legs to move easily. I wear shirts that don’t gape or expose my chest if I’m bent over my bicycle. But most of what I wear around town is not cycling-specific.

If I’m going for rides of 50 miles or longer, I confess that I prefer cycling-specific clothing, such as shorts with a chamois and a cycling jersey that has rear pockets. I like the extra cushion from the shorts and I enjoy having a spot to stash my keys and lip balm that I can easily reach when pedaling.

Some would say bikey clothing is never necessary and that’s true enough, but as I note I think it has its benefits on longer rides. However, if I am tooling around town or commuting, I wear t-shirts and hiking shorts. When it gets cold, I wear hiking pants and long-sleeve shirts and layers.

I wear regular clothing when I ride. My commute wardrobe is not made by some bikey retailer and sold under the label of “bicycling clothing” (or worse, “urban bicycling clothing”). And is it just me or does making something cycling-specific also tend to make it more expensive?

I'm wearing a dress, but no one gave me guidance. Disaster ahead.

I’m wearing a dress on a diamond frame, but no one gave me guidance. Disaster ahead.

The second myth I’ve come upon of late is that, if we decide to do something crazy like ride in regular clothes, we need some kind of special instructions. These articles generally are written for a female audience and frankly, I find them insulting.

Take this short piece about “How to Bike In a Skirt.” I need an article to teach me how to ride in a skirt? Really?

I ride around town in a dress or a skirt sometimes– not a “bicycling” dress, but a regular dress. Can you believe it? It’s true!

And guess what? It is not a big deal. It doesn’t feel weird. I don’t inappropriately flash people. AND guess what else? I didn’t have to read an article about how to ride in a dress to figure it out. Go me!

It’s as though the bike industry, which spent the past twenty years largely ignoring women as well as transportation cycling in general, thinks we became as lost as they did.

No, we don’t need to be sold special cycling clothes to ride around town. Yes, people ride bikes in regular clothes. No, I don’t need advice to figure out how it’s done.

Nobody expects kids to have special outfits for riding their bikes. They just wear what they’ve got and pedal. Why should adults be any different?

Want to know what to wear while cycling? Watch the little kids and learn from them.

Say My (Bike’s) Name: On Naming Your Bike

The Co-Motion Java, aka ?

The Co-Motion Java, aka ?

Do your bikes have names? If so, how did you name them? Did you give them a name you would give a person, like Betty or Howard or something?

Or is the name you gave your bike akin to something you might bestow on a pet, like Pumpkin or Spot or Patches? Did your bike speak to you somehow and tell you its name, or did it come to you in a dream?

I don’t name my bikes. Even when I was small and had a bike that had been named “Gypsy” by the manufacturer, I called it “my purple bike.” Nowadays I refer to my bikes by whatever make and model they are, like Rivendell Romulus and Surly Long Haul Trucker– LHT if I’m in a hurry.

I love my bikes and all that they do for me. I will even congratulate or thank them sometimes if a ride has gone particularly well. But naming them? Nope, I never have.

So what do you do if you don’t name bikes but you co-own a tandem with someone who does?

Felkerino, my partner in all things tandeming, isn’t much of a bike-namer either, but when it comes to our tandems he is sure that they are trying to tell him that they have a name.

Granted, the “lead sled” could not fit our Cannondale mountain tandem any better than it does. It’s perfect, and even I happily call it the lead sled.

Our previous Co-Motion Speedster was a burnt orange color, and Felkerino thought initially that it might have another title besides Speedster. “Autumn Leaf?” he said to me one day. “What? No way,” I answered. The Speedster never did offer up a name that stuck, and calling it the Speedster worked for me.

We have had our Co-Motion Java tandem since the beginning of the year, and Felkerino is pretty certain that it has a name. Initially, I could hear him murmuring something like “Shooting Star,” but that name has not picked up any traction.

If you read his most recent post, you will notice that he let slip that he’s been referring to the Java as the “Big Cat.” I think he’s waiting for some confirmation that Big Cat is, in fact, the “right” name. But I don’t know. I like to refer to it as the “Burly Beast,” but beyond that I simply refer to it as the our Co-Motion, the tandem, or the Java.

I never realized how not into naming things I was until our tandems came along. What’s to be done in a scenario where one says name the bike and the other says are you kidding?

It’s been funny to watch unfold. Big Cat. Burly Beast. Fluffy. Co-Motion Java. The tandem.

Tomato. To-mah-to. In the grand scheme of things, at least we know what the other is referencing.

So do you name your bike? I’m dying to know. And how… how did the bike get its name?

Back in Washington, D.C.


It was rough to return to regular life this week after eight straight blissful days of the bicycle life in Colorado. I missed the open road with stop signs few and far between. I missed full days in the sun, and the steady progression over mountain passes. Lo’ our bike tour was wonderful.

After today’s workout, though, I started to see the upside of our trip and being back to business in Washington, D.C.

If I hadn’t ridden more than 700 miles over nine days of riding, I would not appreciate all the time I sat working at my desk these last days.

All of the bicycling made me super happy to slip on my running shoes and head out to clomp around on the city streets. And I didn’t forget how to run while I was gone, either.


If I had not spent all of last week riding through the summer heat of Colorado at altitude, I would not have been so readily acclimated to the hot weather that hit the D.C. area this week.

Without the conditioning from our awesome vacation, I would not have been able to get outside a few days this week for a midday run around the Mall. I would not have been asked for an interview by a local reporter who said they were doing a story about “people who exercise in extreme heat.” I declined the interview (because I was exercising!), but it was fun to be asked– unless they were really covering “nincompoops who exercise in extreme heat.”


Nine straight days of riding tandem meant a happy return to riding my Rivendell Quickbeam around town. I’m starting simple, by steering a single speed. So far, I have not forgotten to clip out at a stop sign once. Go me! Maybe next week I’ll graduate to a bike with gears.


Being away also helped me see the city with fresh eyes. I saw they put in new flowers in one of the flower beds near the Capitol.


I found a perfect post-work oasis where I lingered and soaked in a rare moment of solitude.


Yes, I confess a part of would rather be on vacation still. But all in all, it’s good to be back home in Washington, D.C.