Posts Tagged ‘let’s ride bikes!’

Bikers: Beware the black Fuji.

She will park on top of you and cost you 45 minutes trying to loose your bike.

Due to how she’s manipulated her frame around a space that’s built for just one bike (and Andre was there first), this endeavor could ultimately take 3 people – pushing, pulling, yanking, and cursing.

And, in the end, it might take removing (and reattaching) a wheel of the offending bike because even though it’s attached to the cable lock, removal allows you just enough space to free the victim.

To the fellow commuter (owner of the bike with the blue handlebar above!) who helped, apologized that he couldn’t help more, left, and then came back to help and eventually free Andre! I can’t thank you enough. I’m sorry I didn’t get your name, but I think you saw how frazzled and grateful I was.

To the owner of the black Fuji, I really hope karma comes back to bite you in the ass. Hard.

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I don’t do a lot of research before I set my birthday goals. They’re kind of a gut decision – things I want to do, ideas I’ve had. That kind of thing.

So when I added “Take a bike ride out to Mount Vernon,” I wasn’t thinking of how far it was, I was thinking, A bike ride! That sounds lovely!

Turns out, it was beautiful, but I don’t know if I’d call it lovely.

You see, Mount Vernon is about 20 miles (a little more, as we found out) away from the apartment.

The longest ride I’d ever done was also about 20 miles – and that included a wipeout.

I did not think about these things in conjunction until we were already on our way to Mount Vernon.

Husband had done the Mount-Vernon-and-back trip before. He told me it would be about 40 miles total, but I must have just let that wash over me, not registering that 40 miles is SO FAR.

I was also anticipating that this would be more of a leisurely ride, where we would stop and rest and relax for a bit along the way. You know, no hurry to get to the end.

Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

But, for the first 10 miles or so, I was peachy. We rode down Rock Creek and picked up the Mount Vernon Trail. We passed the airport, which was as far as I’d been on that trail before, and ventured into new territory. And it really was beautiful.

We had a perfect day for riding and only minimal crowds on the trails, so we weren’t dodging people left and right.

Just after we passed under the Woodrow Wilson bridge, however, I started to feel it. We’d been riding for more than an hour, and my butt was beyond sore. If we’re being honest here, that whole general region was sore because my bike seat, while comfortable enough for a daily commute, was not built for use for hours at a time.

That, and I still haven’t bought padded bike shorts. And that’s on me.

Regardless, the next ten miles to Mount Vernon were filled with me alternatively shifting in my seat, cursing myself for this idea, and wondering how such a beautiful ride could be so painful.

But we made it.


I was stalling, trying to prolong getting back on the bike for the ride home, so we wandered around the visitor center for a bit, trying not to collide with the tour groups.

Eventually, we had to go. It was getting cooler and windier and, by that point, we both wanted to be home.

I’d be lying if I said the ride back was easy. It was still painful and made me appreciate the cushy-ness of our couch more than I ever have before.

But I did it. And now I know what 40 miles feels like.

And I know that if I ever want to do it again (which seems unlikely right now), padded shorts are a necessary investment.

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I was inspired last week after reading this post and realized that I, too, wanted to get back in touch with my inner eight-year-old.

I also realized that it’s probably not too hard.

1) Next time it rains (warm rain, of course), go outside. Splash in the puddles. Take a friend and see who can make the bigger splash. But mostly just revel in the storm.

2) On a non-rainy night go to a park and catch lightning bugs. You don’t have to put them in a jar or anything, but the simple act of chasing and catching is enough to transport you back.

3) Find a hammock. Lie in it. Don’t get up until you absolutely have to. Invite people to join you, if you feel so inclined. (Okay – this one may be harder in a city. Maybe see if there’s a tester at Target?)

4) Run through sprinklers. On a walk to Union Station from the ballpark recently we passed an entire lawn full, and I was sorely tempted. I was, however, being too much of a grownup.

5) Do arts & crafts. For no better reason than spending time with your friends. (I’d add the free food and drink, but that’s not really child-friendly.)

6) Ride bikes. Race a friend or go on an adventure. But while you’re riding, remember how cool your bike used to look with its streamers and spoke decorations.

7) Have bubble blowing contests and see who can make it the biggest – and who ends up with gum on their face. Added bonus: if you can track down Bazooka Joe bubble gum, you get a little comic with your treat.

8 ) For that matter, play with actual soap bubbles. Do it in the park or, at the very least, in the sink while you’re washing dishes. Trust me – it makes that chore more fun.

I’m sure I’m missing things, but maybe I’ll be re-inspired after volunteering with kids tonight.

They always have the best ideas.

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I have seen other women do it. I know it can be done.

I just cannot figure out how to gracefully ride my bike while carrying my purse.

Now, I get it. That’s what backpacks are for. But sometimes a girl gets tired of lugging around a backpack, and on a day she doesn’t have class, she just wants the minimal amount of stuff with her.

I think I knew as soon as I got on the bike that I’d made a mistake. But I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to be stubborn enough to try it anyway.

The first few blocks were wobbly at best.

  • I tried putting the bag on my shoulder. It slipped.
  • I tried sitting up straighter. Still not helpful.
  • I contemplated sitting the bag in front me, kind of on the handlebars. And I almost fell over just thinking about it.

Eventually, I thought I’d found a winner. I was holding the bag in my right hand, so that it was hanging parallel to the bike. Or so I thought.

But if it had been truly parallel, I wouldn’ t have heard sounds like chhhhhhshhhh. Eeeeieieieieie. Oh, yes. Those are the sounds you hear when your purse gets caught in your wheel. Or, more specifically, between the fork and the wheel.

And this is what happens:

It looked worse before I cleaned up all the dirt/grease/gunk. Kind of like when you get cut and there’s blood everywhere, but the cut itself isn’t so big. Exactly like that.

So, on the one hand, I know this doesn’t look awful, but on the other, this bag was a gift from the boyfriend’s mom, and I’d really like to get it fixed before I see her again.

I’d also like to figure out how other women manage this feat. Seriously, there must be some sort of balancing trick I can learn. I can’t afford to have all of my bags looking bike-chewed.

Maybe on the way home I’ll just try wearing it around my neck.


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In the nine months that I’ve owned Andre (my bike), I’ve gone on just one long bike ride. And even that wasn’t very long – 12 miles or so, out to Gravelly Point (for a picnic) and back. I actually blame the marathon. Every free weekend I had was dedicated to racking up those running miles, and the last thing I wanted to do after running 20, was bike that same distance.

But this weekend we had the time.

I’d also never taken advantage of Beach Drive being closed on the weekend, so this past Saturday, even though it wasn’t particularly beautiful out, we planned to go for a nice 20-miler.

Now, I still don’t have bike-specific clothes, so I busted out my running spandex and old pair of sneakers, and vowed that I’d get a pair of those butt-padded shorts eventually. But that was really my main concern.

Turns out? It should have been the shoes.

The adventure started off fantastically, and it felt like the miles were flying by. I even practiced holding the curvy part of my handlebars (is there a technical term for that?) so I could feel like a real racer.

Photo courtesy of the boyfriend, who is clearly not afraid to ride and snap shots simultaneously

I didn’t. And I could have sworn I was much lower than it looks, but it still got my adrenaline pumping.

From Beach Drive we jumped onto Capital Crescent trail to make our way back toward Georgetown. It was smooth sailing, and Guillermo (and the boyfriend) kept me posted on just how fast we were going.

"Take the picture faster! Your tires are kicking dirt into my mouth!"

At one point, I noticed how the trail is just a little bit raised, so that there’s a bit of a dip to the dirt shoulder. And I thought, this is what scares me. I bet if I hit the side at this speed, I’d lose control.

Talk about foreshadowing.

I felt the tug first. It was the tug of my shoelace catching a little bit on my gears. Not a big deal, I thought, let me just slightly shift my foot…Well, *slightly* was all it took.

Before I knew what was happening my front tire had hit that little edge, my bike spun out from under me, and I was on my butt, all tangled up with Andre.

I was shaken, for sure. And the bruises that have shown up on the backs of my legs are slowly turning that lovely shade of purple.

They don't look so bad here, and they could have been MUCH worse, but they're still not fun.

But luckily, that’s all. I’m not broken, and neither is Andre. And the boyfriend was there to help me shake it off and encourage me to get back on the horse, so to speak.

I told him later, “This is exactly why I don’t want clip-in shoes! I would have been stuck!

Although, after this experience, I am strongly considering velcro.

*At least four different groups of cyclists stopped while we were on the side of the road to make sure everything was okay. Granted, cycling may be a little more dangerous, but I’ve never had any runners stop to make sure I was all right, including when I was going through my “run fast and vomit” phase.

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As a driver who often saw (and, to be fair, will probably sometimes continue to see) cyclists as a nuisance on the road, I am so SO sorry. I got annoyed at you weaving in and out of traffic, and even more annoyed when I thought you weren’t going fast enough, thus causing me to go slower – especially uphill. I thought that helmets looked goofy and couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t just ride on the sidewalk. Roads were¬† for cars.

As a pedestrian, I wasn’t much better. When you flew down the sidewalk I was walking on, I wondered why you weren’t in the street. After all, sidewalks are for walking.

Well, I rode to work today, and tested out the route last night, and I have some new insight.

What I fear...

I’m now jealous of those of you who are comfortable enough to weave in between cars. I was far too scared this morning. And, because of that, I became a sidewalk-biker (just for a couple blocks!). I’m sorry. I just couldn’t see how [yet-to-be-named] and I were going to fit on 16th Street amidst all that morning traffic. I’ll get better.

I also know that I wasn’t going fast enough. If I had been the car behind me, I would have been sighing loudly (to no one), and possibly cursing (myself, I guess) – particularly last night, when I was chugging up 16th and my legs were burning. I have a new found respect for that hill – and the bikers who climb it regularly.

And I still think the helmet looks goofy. But after feeling so vulnerable next to all those cars on the road who I’m sure are feeling the same things that I felt as a driver, there’s no way in hell I wouldn’t wear it.

So, bikers, I really am sorry. I can’t promise that I won’t revert back to my old ways, but I really do get it now. Drivers – please be patient and try not to hit me. And pedestrians, also please be patient if I take up a slight portion of the sidewalk.

There’s a learning curve on this thing, and I really am doing my best.

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I’ve always been curious – why do we refer to most modes of transportation as “she?” Cars, boats, bikes, etc in and of themselves aren’t feminine, but if you’re prone to naming them, it’s almost always a female name. Why?

I’m thinking about this again now, for a couple reasons.

1) The madre just got a new car – a Subaru Forrester – and suggested the name Sabrina for the car. Maybe it’s just me, but does this look like a Sabrina to you?

2) I finally got my bike! And now I want to name it.

Isn’t she (see? I just did it, too, without even thinking) beautiful? I’m not quite ready to check the bike riding item off my 25 list, because I’m still not comfortable riding around the DC streets. When I rode my bike home from the shop over the weekend, I came down one particularly busy road to get to my apartment and legitimately thought I’d get hit. I don’t know how commuters do every day – and in the morning, especially.

But, regardless, even if I’m not ready to ride, I am ready to name my ride. I’m just not feeling anything yet.

When I got my Garmin, he was named Guillermo within a matter of hours, if I recall correctly. And see? He just looks like a Guillermo:

It fits.

So here are my questions for you, in order to start the naming process:

1) Do we think the bike has to be a girl?

2) Have you ever named a mode of transportation, and, if so, what did you come up with?

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