Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Group ride, interrupted

The Bike Me DC group met up at the Herndon Depot yesterday for a casual ride to the Vienna Depot and back, and I rode the three miles from home to Herndon to meet the group for the ride. We had lovely weather despite one member wearing his cursed jersey again. It rains every time he wears that jersey (the Reston Century riders can thank him), except for last night. Hooray!

We took off shortly after 6pm and the speed demons left six of us in the dust. Eventually, another woman -- Rebecca -- and I pulled ahead of the last four folks. Rebecca and I had wound up pushing our bikes up the final hill during last year's Great Pumpkin Ride and discovered that our cruising speeds are compatible. We rode side by side and chattered happily about upcoming group rides, vacation plans, and bicycle maintenance. We even continued chatting as we rode up the hills that both of us find troubling. It felt great to have a riding companion with similar strength.

A couple of miles outside of Vienna, I hit a pothole. It jarred me and Lily, but she seemed okay. I heard an odd sound and thought that I might have damaged one of my tires, but they weren't losing air. Rebecca pulled ahead of me and eventually left me in the dust. I couldn't get any speed and momentum was nil. My body was starting to hurt, too: hands, back, sides, tush, and feet. I was only ten miles in, with fourteen to go, and I was miserable. As I approached the Depot, two ladies from the far behind group passed me. When I joined the group, I examined my back tire and realized that the brake clamped down on the rim at certain points. I told the ride leader that I was going to take my bike up to the Vienna branch of Spokes, Etc, and have them take a look. The guys, of course, flocked to my bike and tried to fix the problem. I stepped back and let them tweak to their hearts' content. Despite the team's best efforts, my brake still wouldn't let go of the tire. One of the guys did notice that the tire was slightly out of true and that was most likely causing the problem.

The group didn't like leaving me behind but I told them I'd be fine and would have my husband come rescue me if the bike couldn't be fixed this evening. With that, I walked my bike the half mile or so to the bike shop. The diagnosis was that I'd broken a spoke and, happily, the fix was quick and cheap. I phoned Scott, who was halfway to the shop, and told him I was good to ride back home. Since he was in my car, I didn't feel too guilty about his burning gas and toll road money for the wasted trip. He was concerned about the fading light, but I assured him I was okay with my blinky headlight and do-not-look-into-laser-with-remaining-eye tail light.

And I was okay. At least until I got out of Vienna proper when I realized that I'd left my water bottle at the service counter of the shop. Guh. Reston wasn't that far away and I could snag a bottle of water at the McD's next to the trail on Wiehle. I chased the fading light and was in full-on darkness as I approached Herndon. The ninja joggers and cyclists were out in force and I gave my bell a workout warning folks of my passing. I'm VERY happy not to have found any deer on the trail since my spotlight-the-next-county headlight was on the kitchen counter at home. I'm also VERY happy not to have hit the skunk which trundled out of the underbrush just before I got to Sterling Blvd. I don't think I've ever seen a live one in the wild and I'm glad that we passed each another without physical or aerosolized contact.

I thought that I'd be exhausted when I got home, but coasting for a mile or so revitalized me. I was tired and hurting because it's been a while since I've ridden over twenty miles, but I did manage a total of 24 miles in just over two hours, plus the twenty minutes or so of bike repair. And one of these days I'll get to complete a Bike Me DC ride with the whole group.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

So dirty

Lily and I got in two very soggy rides this week: Monday evening's commute and Wednesday evening's group ride from Herndon to Ashburn. Monday wasn't planned; I left work slightly later than planned and the rain started just after I unlocked the bike. A couple of coworkers kindly offered to drive me home because I'd mentioned in the past that I was nervous about slipping on wet streets. I figured, though, that since we'd had a fair amount of rain on Sunday, oil and whatnot on the roads would have washed away. Plus, I had my lights and I was fairly sure I wouldn't melt. It turns out that I wound up being only slightly more damp from the evening's commute (rain) that I'd gotten from the morning's commute (sweat). Funny, that.

Grimy grimy.
The whole of Wednesday was pretty nice, but as soon as I hit the trail to meet the bike club at the Herndon Depot, the drizzle started. Skies were clear in Herndon, but our plan was to ride west to Ashburn and into the wet. Our little group got to Church Road and took sanctuary under the bridge to wait out the rain. A couple of folks turned around while an intrepid few continued west into the chilly and stinging rain. We crossed 28, arrived at Pacific and decided that even we had had enough. Of course, as soon as we got back to Sterling proper, the skies cleared. The other three continued east and I turned toward home to dry off and warm up. Fun, but chilly.

The back rack saves me from a skunk stripe but doesn't protect the seat tube or stays.
The result of all these rainy rides is that Lily is FILTHY. I know that she needs a good cleaning, but I'd rather ride than clean. I guess that since Sunday is supposed to be a wash-out, I'll use the cooped-up time to give my beloved steed a much deserved wipe down and lube. And maybe Circe will be my bike of choice for tomorrow's 20+ miler to Leesburg and back.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Getting a jump on things

Gussied up for the event.
This past Saturday evening was the Champions Dinner for the 2012 Tour de Cure. I was pretty inspired by all the great folks in attendance, especially the Red Riders (the participants who have diabetes) and the Youth Ambassadors. I'd been on the fence about riding next year but now I'm motivated to not only ride but also captain a team. I've put a call out to my bicycle-loving SCA friends to join the Hula Bears* and ride in memory of Tom B./Tirloch.

*We're Hula Bears because Tom was "the Bear" and loved Hawaiian shirts.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A break

There's been a break in the oppressive heat here in northern Virginia and I took advantage of that blessing by getting in a few miles in the saddle. Saturday was the quintessentially perfect summer day and, after we'd finished cleaning the house, I hopped on Lily the hybrid and did a spin around the neighborhood and a quick grocery shop. The number (and diversity) of cyclists on the roads made my heart leap with joy. There were lots of kids along the quiet neighborhood streets and a few other cyclists who were carting shopping or laundry bags. We smiled and waved to one another and all felt right with the world. Even car traffic was patient and considerate. Like I said: perfect day.

The mileage though -- all three miles of it -- just about killed me. Oof. So out of shape. I  hopped back on for a quick jaunt on Sunday and, happily, those four miles didn't quite kill me. And despite today's oppressive humidity, I rode to work -- I'd have to look in the archives to see when I last did that :/ -- and the five miles absolutely did not kill me. Again, car traffic was patient and considerate. I'm actually sort of looking forward to the uphill ride back home.

Not much new about Beatrix the C8 as I haven't really been in the mood to ride her. I have to tell myself that this is okay and there's no need to feel guilty. She fills a certain niche, just like the Dolce and the cruiser do, and that niche isn't in use at the moment. She's too pretty and stylish to languish for long and I'm sure I'll be champing at the bit to put her rubber to the road.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympic cycling

The hubs and I managed to miss all of the Olympic road and track cycling events, but we caught the women's mountain bike race and both men's and women's BMX semis and finals this past weekend. There is, apparently, some controversy surrounding the inclusion of mountain biking and BMX as Olympic evens.

I'm not going to weigh in on either side of inclusion or no -- I do have strong feelings about rhythm gymnastics and handball, however -- but the theatricality of mountain biking and BMX certainly held my spouse's and my attention. Scott said that my constant crash practice made me a shoo-in for either sport. Ha. Ha. He also longed to get a BMX bike and join the circuit. I told him he could do so after he makes sure that his disability insurance is set up.

The women's mountain bike course did look kind of fun except for the rocky bits. I could see myself flipping over the handlebars, much like the German competitor, on the rocky descent. Unlike Sabine Spitz, however, I didn't see myself getting back onto the bike and taking the silver medal. Scott decided that he'd rather get a mountain bike and take up that sport. The insurance rider was again a pre-requisite.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Out of touch

My pavilion during last year's Pennsic War.
I'm headed off to the wilds of northwestern Pennsylvania for an extended weekend camping trip with 10,000 of my closest friends for an event known in the SCA as the Pennsic War. Yes, I'm one of those people who dresses up in funny clothing. I don't try to speak in a "ye olde" way; although, I do sing Middle English, Latin, and Italian songs on occasion.

Hopefully there will be actual bicycle content on this bicycle blog fairly soon. I've put the Velo Orange saddle and matching grips on the C8 and I'm still getting used to that new arrangement. Review coming soon. Plus, there's a beach trip in the works which means my sweet little cruiser will get to roll in her appropriate environment. Lots of group rides are coming up starting in late August, and I just received notification that this year's Great Pumpkin Ride is on the same day as my birthday. The Backroads Century kind of spoiled me for other group rides and I wasn't that thrilled with last year's Great Pumpkin, but I'm willing to give it a second chance. Plus, I get to wear my Halloween jersey again!

Punk rock Venetian, y'all.
So. Y'all be good while I'm camping like medieval royalty.

(Seriously. My persona is a Venetian noblewoman of the late 15th century. She never would have camped in a tent -- not that I can really call what I do "camping" what with my queen size bed, closet, dressing table, and plush rugs; Scott says I camp like a 19th century Briton on safari -- in fact, she probably would have left her casa for only social calls. When people ask if I'd like to have lived back them, my quick answer is "Oh, hell no.")

See you next week!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

"Bicycle" by Nora and One Left

Source: Nora and One Left.
Nora and One Left is a DC-based band who have just released a new album titled Bicycle. They were kind enough to send me a CD, and I have to say that I'm enjoying their music. The songs are bright and poppy and feel like 10,000 Maniacs meets Belinda Carlisle meets Leslie Gore.

I can see myself singing along to the album while out for a leisurely bike ride. Right this minute, though, I have satisfy my need to groove along by quietly dancing in my office chair.

If girl-pop, bicycles, and the occasional ukelele and banjo sound appealing to you (I am NUTS about banjos), head over to Nora and One Left's Bandcamp page and give 'em a listen.

Full disclosure: I have not been asked to endorse this album, but I did receive a free CD.