Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Highlights

Living in the present is difficult for me as I'm constantly evaluating the past so I can use that experience to improve the future. 

A year ago today, I reached a goal that I'd thought impossible: I rode the nearly 46 mile round trip from my home to the western trail head of the W&OD trail.

January: Flexed connections by busting a delivery driver for aggressive driving and received an apology from the regional director and a promise of educating area employees.

February: Attended the Stop, Swap, & Save event and enabled a friend in the purchase of her very own bicycle. Purchased the speedy Specialized Dolce so I could ride farther faster.

March: Started using clipless pedals on the Dolce. Purchased the adorable Trek Cruiser because I was overcome by the cute. Went to BicycleSPACE for the first time and test rode a Pashley Sovreign.

April: Rode the "Arlington Triangle" during a 40-mile training ride from Sterling. Rode in Paul's Ride for Life. Watched as the space shuttle Discovery was flown directly over my building during its tour of the DC area before being parked at the Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center. (My employer's campus is directly north of Dulles Airport and Udvar-Hazy.) Crossed paths with a turtle during the morning commute. My first turtle!

May: Rode the streets of DC and Arlington with Scott and several hundred of our cycling friends during the Bike DC event. Met a couple of bike commuters I pass every day at the Sterling stop for Bike to Work Day. Hopped the Metro with the Ariel and rode the streets of DC by myself  to test ride upright bicycles from District Hardware, BicycleSPACE, and City Bikes. Visited New Orleans, took photos of nearly ever bicycle I saw there, and noted the presence of bike lanes and sharrows throughout downtown.

June: Rode 55 miles in the American Diabetes Association's National Capital Area Tour de Cure and raised $1200 thanks to generous friends, family, and blog readers. I cannot say THANK YOU enough. Purchased the Public Bikes C8 and immediately began customizing her.

July: After reading so much about the Memphis/Shelby County Greenline, I rode from the eastern trail head in Germantown to the western trail head and then braved the mean streets of mid-town Memphis to ride to my best friend's house (where I promptly collapsed from heat exhaustion). I look forward to doing that again, minus the heat exhaustion.

August: Took a couple of rides with Bike Me DC and broke a spoke during the last one. Most of the month was too blasted hot for being on a bike.

September: Another commuter I recognized from Bike to Work Day (and had been calling Bike-to-Work-Day-guy in my head) turned around and rode a couple miles with me so we could become reacquainted. Rode the 30-mile route of the Backroads Century with Scott and a couple of friends. Rode both the C8 and Cruiser on the Outer Banks.

October: First cold ride of the season.

November: Met another bike commuter while waiting at the stop light at Waxpool. Met him again at the bike rack in the garage for my building.

December: Completed the upgrades to the C8 and turned her into my dream upright bike. Completed the polka dot taping of the Ariel. Took many solo and accompanied-by-Scott nighttime rides through Sterling to look at Christmas lights.

My riding has slacked off considerably at the end of this year. My bicycle resolutions for 2013 are to ride even more in 2013 and not buy any more bicycles. I hope that all of my readers are able to get out and ride in 2013 and enjoy a safe and prosperous new year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Two out of three "Top Gear" presenters like bikes

Captain Slow, aka James May, endorses bicycling while lamenting the miserable attitudes of fellow cyclists he encounters.

And there is, of course, the infamous race across London by The Stig via public transportation, Hammond via bicycle, May via car, and Clarkson via boat.

This is probably my second favorite race/trek episode right after the drive across Botswana. OLIVER!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cruisin' on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon

Saturday was fairly pleasant in the mid-Atlantic region and I took advantage of the mild weather and sunshine to run my errands via bicycle. Everyone -- pedestrians, fellow cyclists, and motorists -- seemed to be in good spirits and I noticed lots of smiles and waves. A couple of ladies outside the grocery store even complimented Beatrix and my fairly casual outfit. To be honest, I felt casually elegant on Bea with her spiffy new handlebar and grips. I love the way they look and feel. Oh, and it may not be a Christmas tree, but I did manage to haul the twenty-pound container of cat litter home via the rear rack. Boo-yah. Granted it did make climbing that last hill home a little bit more difficult.

Sunday, on the other hand, was chilly and overcast in the mid-Atlantic region and I took advantage of the poor conditions to put in a few miles on the W&OD trail. The trail wasn't empty by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn't clogged with families and dog-walkers like it was on Saturday. I made it out to Battlefield Parkway in Leesburg and attempted the hill that climbs up to a park off that road. My coworker who occasionally bike commutes has mentioned that climb a few times and won't do it. I made it about a quarter of the way and had to push Lily the rest of the way up. Even walking up the hill was tough.

Oof. I've gotten so out of shape.

The ride back down that trail was pretty terrifying and I squeeze the brakes with nearly every bit of strength in my hands. Good times.

The Weather Channel said that the air temperature was 49F, but I beg to differ. I was FREEZING by the time I got home and could see my breath during the last half of the ride. It was a great ride, but it took a while to warm up.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bargaining chip

This is my brain.

Id: I want cookies!

Ego: We don't need cookies.


Ego: All right. We can have a cookie if we ride our bike to get it from the grocery store.

Super-ego: You don't need a cookie. You need to do crunches, squats, and eat some celery.


Ego: Look, I said we could have a cookie if we take the bike instead of the car. Not only will we get a teensy bit of exercise en route, we could also ride around the neighborhood and look at the new Christmas lights that have been put up since the last night ride.


Ego: There. It's settled. Saddle up, body.

Super-ego: I think we should ride to Leesburg and back for that d@mn cookie. It's only twenty miles...

COOKIES! (Not from Leesburg, but I did get in nearly ten miles riding through neighborhoods.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'm trendy?

Oh, PUBLIC Bikes... you silly minxes!

You loved what I did to my Ariel so much that you copied it -- after a fashion -- onto your cute little C7. Bless your hearts. ~MWAH~

Monday, December 10, 2012


Beatrix the C8 is now decked out with her holiday cheer. To be honest, the basket has been cheery for a week and a half, but without a handlebar there was nowhere to hang that basket.

~record scratch~

Kitty photobomb! Margie is the pair of yellow eyes floating next to Oreo.
Without a handlebar??

Yes, Dear Reader, I swapped out the flat-ish stock handlebar for a Velo Orange Tourist Handlebar which now gives me the full upright posture that I've wanted from the C8. The whole operation was a lot easier than I thought it would be aside from initially ordering the wrong handlebar (anybody need a slightly scratched Velo Orange Postino Handlebar that I can't return because my brake handles left marks?) and non-artistically cutting down the right hand faux cork grip so that it would fit with the shifter knob thingy.

Cheer! (And VW photobomb.)
In the process, I swapped out the humongous bell for the slightly more diminutive one that came with the bike and adjusted the position of my rear view mirror.

I can sit almost bolt upright, but I can also lean forward to tackle the hills in my neighborhood and the approach to the 20-hate bridge. The saddle needs a little bit of adjustment backwards and then this will be the exact bike that I wanted when I started shopping for a city bike. At least until I come up with something else to muck around with.

With the new handlebar, Beatrix feels like such an elegant ride, and she's already gotten compliments on the basket decor. The holly garlands have been in my tub of Christmas greenery forever and the lights are two battery-operated strings I purchased at Target last year. Cheer!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Admission is the first step

The main reason behind my not commuting recently is that I developed a fear about riding home in the dark. More specifically, I was terrified of riding the unlit 1.25 miles from the campus to the trail. My headlight is more than adequate for seeing the road ahead and my taillight is also powerful and (hopefully) attention-grabbing. Plus, I have multiple weights of reflective outerwear. However, I've had so many close swipes in daylight from jackhole drivers in that distance that the thought of riding in the dark on those streets made me panicky.

It's skeery out there.

The weather yesterday was so beautiful that I HAD to take advantage of it. And you know what? The ride home was actually more relaxing than the ride in. I felt so calm and happy when I got home that I cajoled the Hubs to come out and ride around with me to look at Christmas lights. We cruised up and down neighborhood streets and my love for riding at this time of year was renewed.

I light up the night.

Monday, December 03, 2012

I'm baaa-aaaack

It's been almost a month since I was last on my bike. Shameful. Shameful, I tell you! But that doesn't mean I haven't been tweaking my bikes. Oh no...

So, remember when I used to fret about being taken "seriously" because I'd personalized my bike? Allow me to condescendingly pat my past self on the head and mutter, "There, there..."

It's pretty and silly.

Check out that pattern matching.

The stars are this year's holiday cheer.

I love that the (inch wide) tape is translucent enough that the manufacturer's stickers still show through. This project took the better part of six hours; although, I'd taped the seat stay and chain stay before the Backroads Century in September. During that ride, Max, one of my favorite Spokes-people, passed me and complimented my "unusual" bike before we recognized each other. He laughed and said that he thought it looked like an Ariel, but he'd never seen one with that paint job. Heh. I told him the red polka dots were to help me learn to love hills. Maybe now that the whole bike is polka dotted, I'll actually get there.