Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A study in scarlet

Red is a powerful color and one that I work to incorporate into my wardrobe and accessories so that I don't drown in an over-abundance of my go-to blues. Monday's commute made me especially observant of the reds about me:

Blazing in the morning light.
The crimson of dying leaves in the trees and shrubbery along the trail,

The scarlet of the cardinals who flitted away before I could snap their photo,

The vermillion of my new trench coat,

The ruby of a passing cyclist's backpack,

The write-me-a-ticket red of the SUV which passed me on the two-lane portion of Smiths Switch,

The rosiness of my cheeks, nose, and forehead after the morning commute.

Red. It's not just for tail lights any more.

Monday, October 22, 2012

How I spent my Sunday afternoon

I love October because it holds not only my birthday (only five more shopping days!) but also Halloween. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday and I love decorating inside and out to celebrate. I typically  wait until the weekend before Halloween to deploy the cemetery, but this year I threw caution to the wind -- literally: today was GUSTY -- and built my little yard of horror.

Welcome to the Cemetery.

Enter if you dare. Muahahaha!
The neighbors are quiet.
But we have a bit of a giant spider problem.
The masterpiece which delights and terrifies the neighborhood children.
This is definitely one of the better parts of being a grown-up.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fear the bicycle

I'm afraid of my Specialized Dolce. She's a beautiful bike and satisfies my need for speed, but she's so light and twitchy that I never feel fully comfortable on her. It's not because of the few falls I've had from her: I've suffered more, and bloodier, crashes on the Ariel. Nor is it the function of being clipped in: my clipped falls on Circe were at a near stop while my clipped falls on Lily were at speed (see "bloodier" above). I don't feel like Circe is under my complete control and it makes me hesitant to ride her.

A local friend has a Dolce, which is two years older than mine, and she feels the same way about her bike. She's not the collector like I am and this is her only bike. At least I have a choice when I want to hit the road for a bit of two-wheeled freedom.

Anybody else? Do you have a bike that gets neglected because it gives you the heebie jeebies?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

An out-of-the ordinary commute

I hit the trail thirty minutes later than usual because 1) I stayed up too late reading and wasn't ready to bounce out of bed the third time my alarm went off [I am way too fond of the snooze button] and 2) it took a while for me dig out my cold weather gear and suit up for the commute. I'm good with a light cardigan, scarf, and gloves in the 40s, but once the mercury dips into the 30s, I want my helmuffs, arm warmers, and at least a windbreaker. After bundling up and ensuring that I had all the needed bits and bobs, I took off for work.

As I pulled my bike over the curb separating the neighborhood street and small hill to the W&OD trail, two lightly bundled cyclists on heavily laden bicycles cruised by in my planned direction. I overtook them after half a mile and realized they were on a bike tour. The fully loaded panniers and bedroll each had attached to their rear racks gave it away. I called out for them to enjoy their trip and the woman of the couple assured me, "Oh, we are!"

More joggers were out than I normally see in the morning and fewer commuters/trainers. I'm sure that was due to the lateness of my ride. I was surprised that traffic on Waxpool was lighter at 8:50 than 8:20. It certainly feels heavier when I'm in the car. Crossing two traffic lanes to get into the left turn lane for the campus was a breeze. It was also nice not having to fight for a parking space what with several parking lots and access to one of the garages being closed off for repaving and repair. One of the many perks of riding on two wheels.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Flying in the dark

I needed to ride last night. It wasn't a want; it was an actual need. A need of movement. A need of freedom. A need of solitude.

I grabbed Lily and hit the trail just as the last of the sunset lit the sky. By the time I was a mile from home, I needed my headlight to see instead of just to be seen. I passed many cyclists without lights who I saw only because of the reflectors on their pedals and several joggers in dark clothes who were merely shadows at the periphery of my light, but I was alone in my lane neither overtaking nor being overtaken by other people.

I startled too many rabbits to count who were cropping the grass close to the trail. I, apparently, sneaked up on a ginger cat who didn't turn to see me until I passed it. I heard peepers singing the entire length of my ride.

At the base of the Town Center overpass in Reston, I turned around because I didn't feel like battling that long, shallow climb. Shortly afterwards, my light warned me that its power was low. Turning around was the right idea.


My imagination took over on the return trip. I still had enough light to barely illuminate the canopy of trees between Herndon and Sterling and I felt as though I were deep in the woods on some mission or quest. I kept my eyes wide for deer, but even the rabbits had moved elsewhere. I was completely alone, flying in the dark.

When I'd completed my nine miler, I was sweaty and clear-headed. My dark journey was exactly what I'd needed and I realized how much I had missed the experience. With the closing of the year, I look forward to more dark rides.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


My general feeling about October. Source.
I needed a scarf in addition to my thin wool gloves for this morning's commute. Egad, I love this time of year!

However, because I love to borrow trouble, I'm looking ahead to the dark, damp months and wonder how well Beatrix the C8 will handle slick roads. Her tires aren't nearly as narrow as the Dolce's, but are significantly thinner than the Ariel's. I feel more confident in the hybrid's handling of rough weather -- as if I ride that often in such conditions, but you never know -- than the upright's.

But the practice of that particular theory is at least two months away (unless we get another freak Hallowsleet this year). In the meantime, I look forward to fall's riot of color and chilly mornings. Yum!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Drive by (ride by?)

Backroads Century was fun.
OBX beach time was fantastic.
Work week has been crazy busy due to out-of-commission laptop and boss visit.
Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Howl-o-Scream at Busch Gardens on tap for this Friday through Monday.

There will be actual content and lots and lots of photos next week. Promise!

Kate on the sound-side boardwalk in Duck, NC.