Friday, May 27, 2011

Diggy-dum diggy-dum

Biking to work was exactly as wonderful as I'd imagined it would be. I didn't imagine the sticky humidity, though, but I was out the door (6:45am) before the sun had fully risen and at least I didn't get baked while steaming.

Yes, 6:45am. I know. It's unheard of for me to be not only awake but also functional at that horrific hour. I was actually awake an hour earlier to answer nature's call and was unable to go back to sleep. I played with the cats for a bit, chatted with Scott as he got ready for work, and then decided to get my own booty in gear to beat the sun and rush hour traffic. Of course, being the start of a holiday weekend, traffic was nearly non-existent at that time of day and I did not have to play human Frogger during the last mile of my commute. There was hardly any traffic on the trail as well. Two people with dogs, two joggers, two walkers, and a handful of bikers all heading eastbound. I discovered that I can coast from Rte 28 all the way to Pacific thanks to the steepness of the Rte 28 bridge. Of course, going back home will be awful because it's pretty much all uphill and the sun and temperature will be at their respective zeniths. Actually, it won't be awful. It will be grand because I'll be in the fresh (allergen-filled and steamy) air getting exercise (and a coronary).

My basket assembly worked beautifully. The cargo net kept my backpack and lunch bag securely ensconced in the basket and the extra weight on the back of my bike didn't throw me off at all. I packed everything in my backpack in travel space bags to a) protect my clothes and electronics from wet (sweat, puddles, rain) and 2) take up less space in the backpack. Color me impressed that the buggers actually worked for item 2, well, for the clothes anyway. Vacuum sealing an ipod doesn't really do anything.

I did not wear the padded shorts and I think I'll save those for longer rides. I'm going to plug Aveeno's Hydrosport Sunblock SPF 85 and Neutrogena Sport Face Sunblock SPF 70. They are da bomb, as the kids used to say. The Hydrosport is a little sticky -- I caught several bugs on my arms -- but it doesn't sweat off. The Sport Face is NOT sticky and doesn't budge after it dries. I love not having sunblock sweat into my eyes and mouth.

My next project is going to be figuring out some way to air dry my underthings without offending office mates. My shirt and capris are on a hanger and the unmentionables are hidden under my desk. Maybe some strategically placed cup hooks and clothesline...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More bike stuff

Try as we might, Scott and I could not get the new rack and basket to attach safely to my bike last night. Scott tried using the extender arms that worked with my old rack for the new one but the arms shifted every time we put weight in the basket and caused the rack to drop onto the rear tire. Very much not good. We called REI -- where I'd purchased the rack and basket on Sunday -- and asked if they'd be able to attach everything for us. No problem!

Scott chatted with the bike guy while I perused the bike shorts. I tried on a few different styles and brands and discovered that I am merely a "large" in the padded bike short world. As much as I dislike vanity sizing, I was still a bit bouncy over that discovery. Granted, I'm not comfortable with wearing those shorts on their own, but they'll work just fine underneath the shorts I usually wear while riding.

As for the bike and rack themselves, the bike guy had to open up the holes on the rack to accommodate a larger screw and used a smaller bolt than what Scott had on hand to keep the assembly from hitting the bike chain and gears. Everything fits and works and is safe and I couldn't be more pleased. We'll take our test spin tomorrow night -- tonight is choir for me and fight practice for him -- and then I'll be ready to commute by bike on Friday. Words fail me to express how very excited about this I am.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Must... bike...

Despite soreness in my legs and tush, I hopped back on my bike yesterday morning and rode a surprising 5.75 miles. I say surprising because I'd thought that I would ride up to Old Town Herndon, but I was feeling pretty tired by the time I got to Crestview and decided to turn around for home. What I forgot is that there's a slow but steady incline from Sterling Blvd to Crestview which means the ride back is downhill. After lots and lots of coasting, I felt refreshed and continued across the boulevard and on up to Church Street. I wanted to ride up to the cemetery, but there's no sidewalk that far up and Church is pretty dang busy and scary there. Instead, I rode the sidewalk along Church to Magnolia and dove into that neighborhood until I found the cut-through to my neck o' the woods. Try as I might, I could not peddle up Holborn. I walked halfway and then hopped back on for the final, and slightly less steep, portion of the street before it curves onto my street.

Surprisingly, my legs didn't hurt after that ride. Even more surprisingly, they still don't hurt. I am saddle sore, but the new seat pad definitely helped. Scott attached a new rack and basket to the back of my bike last night. We're going out for a ride tonight to see how stable the set-up is. If it's all good -- and the weather isn't too stormy -- I'm biking to work on Friday.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Muskrat love

Scott pulled out our bikes and made them safe for the road. We hit the trail yesterday and rode towards Ashburn. The air was thick with the perfume of honeysuckle along the trail. It was glorious! We came across a mama muskrat with two juvenile muskrats trying to cross the trail just before Loudoun County Parkway. Mama and kid #1 crossed the trail but kid #2 freaked out and dove back over to their originating side. We stopped on the LoCo overpass and watched Mama try to herd her babies many times as bikers and walkers zoomed past.

We continued on to Smith Switch Station and I mentioned that this would be where I'd dive off to go to the campus. The 'fink asked if I wanted to go to work and I said, "Sure!" Most of that road is closed to through traffic for some construction project and the ride up to the light at Waxpool/Farmwell was fairly safe. We even crossed Farmwell without issue and stayed in the far right lane as cars whizzed past on Waxpool. Finally there was a break in traffic and we were able to dive across the road for the left hand turn into the campus' back entrance. We hung out in the shade of the parking garage for several minutes as a breather and sweet respite from the blazing sun.

After the short break, we headed back out for the open road which was very busy all the way to the light. I've watched cyclists leave the campus on workdays and I knew which lane to stay in and where to stand at the light. We didn't have any problems and it felt like most of the ride back to the trail was downhill. Yay, coasting. Unfortunately, once we got back on the trail pretty much the entire ride back to route 28 is uphill. Our booties were sore, especially Scott since he doesn't have nearly the amount of natural padding that I do. I was able to peddle about halfway up the incline for the rte 28 overpass and then had to push my bike the rest of the way. Same thing for the last hill up Holborn. I should be strong enough to get up Holborn in a few weeks. 28 will probably be another month or so.

We collapsed in the yard with water and a banana (me) and a gatorade (him), very proud of and amazed with ourselves for our ten mile round trip on our first bike outing of the year. And the best part? I now know for a fact that I can fairly easily ride my bike to work. I'm going to start out one day a week and I'd like to get where I bike Monday and Friday, drive Tuesday and Thursday, and telecommute on Wednesdays. I'm practically salivating over the gas savings and how buff I'm going to get.

Oh, and Mama Muskrat was STILL trying to herd both babies across the trail when we crossed Loudoun County Parkway the second time.