Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It's a...

First off, let me assure you I do not participate in April Fool's Day foolishness. You can read this post in safety. I can't make that assurance for the rest of the internet, however. Browse at your own risk today.

The Husband and I found out the sex of our little alien. It's a.....
.
.
.
.
.
Boy!

Honestly, I had no preference either way. I just want a healthy, happy child. Everything looked good at the anatomy scan, so that was reassuring. We haven't decided on a name yet, but we probably won't reveal it anyway until after the baby is born.

I am now 21 weeks along and halfway through! Time really is flying. I really need to buckle down and start making lists of things we'll need to do and buy. It's a bit overwhelming. I did find out something interesting: the hubster is very much AGAINST cycling with children in a city. I may have some serious research and convincing to do. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Speaking of bridges (see photo below), we made a trip to visit Bass Pro Shops for camping supplies last weekend. I am determined to do an overnight bike camping trip before the baby is here. The husband has never been camping before, so I'd like for him to come along as well. He seems intrigued by the idea, even though he'll probably drive to the campsite rather than bike. I think a simple overnight trip will be manageable for the both of us.

 See, isn't the outdoors FUN? If you're not falling off a bridge, there's a bear waiting to maul you! This was an actual display at Bass Pro Shops. Way to sell nature, guys. 

Happy Spring! The weather finally seems to be catching up, and I feel comfortable getting back into the groove of bike commuting again. To help keep me on track, I pledged to ride my bike every day for 30 days in the month of April (again). I've done this the last few years. It's a great way to kick off spring riding. Today's ride was glorious. Sunny, clear, and warm(ish).

April is also when I start going to into high gear for Police Unity Tour fundraising. You can check out entries from previous years about my experiences riding with the Police Unity Tour. It's amazing. I encourage you to check out these videos that were filmed during our ride last year to get an idea what it's all about.  This year I won't be physically riding WITH Chapter IV, but I am still a registered rider. I plan on putting the miles in. If the weather is decent, I'll be at Hains Point May 10th, 11th & 12th riding in circles.  You can join me! If the weather is crappy, I'll be on my trainer at home.

I have a fundraising goal of $1750 by the end of this month, and I could really use your help reaching it. For the next few weeks, I'm going to be talking about the National Law Enforcement Memorial (to which the funds raised go towards) and the importance of organizations like the Police Unity Tour.

Most importantly, I want to talk about the law enforcement officers that I personally worked with whose names are now up on the wall at the Memorial.

You can read more about the Memorial here.

The profession of policing has come under fire recently. Confidence in our law enforcement institutions is probably at the lowest its ever been. You might be asking yourself why you should support anything to do with policing. The answer to that is simple; it is more important than ever to support law enforcement officers. There are over 750,000 sworn law enforcement professionals in this country; 750,000 men and women that perform their job duties in a professional, ethical and compassionate manner every single day. As important as it is to identify and correct problem officers and policies in law enforcement, it is just as important to recognize that those problem officers are a very small minority. When we are doing our jobs well, no one notices. And that's how it should be--it means that things are GOOD.  No one calls 911 because they are having a good day. Generally, if the police are involved it means something went terribly wrong. Those 750,000 professionals that do their jobs well need to know that they are valued and that they are needed; they need to hear this from you.

Policing is often a thankless job. Police officers are called upon to do things that most citizens will never even consider. It's not just a cliche that while most folks run FROM danger, police officers run TOWARDS it; and they do it for you.

Do you know what happens after an officer handles a robbery call or an assault call or a child abuse call or any other of the myriad terrible, awful and sometimes traumatic calls that police officers handle?

They take the next call.

Think about it. Think about the most awful, horrible thing that's ever happened to you, or you've been witness to. Think about your reaction. Could you keep going on with your day? Could you handle another incident?

For those of you new to this blog, I am a patrol supervisor (I was a patrol officer for 9 years prior to being promoted). Tonight, three of my officers were assaulted and injured while handling an assignment. Minor injuries, but not insignificant. Do you know what they will be doing tomorrow?

Taking the next call and doing it again. And it's only the beginning of the week.

Being a police officer is not simply a job or a career. It is a Calling. It requires a certain strength of character. It requires a thick skin. It requires empathy, not sympathy. Strength, not brutality. Courage, not ego.

Most of all, it requires your support and your trust. Otherwise, our role is meaningless. Our job is nearly impossible if we do not have the support of the public behind us. Police Officers ARE citizens. We are YOU, and you are US. Those names on that wall? Those are YOUR brothers and sisters too.

I will continue to talk about this in the next few weeks. If you would like to make a donation to the Police Unity Tour, you can do so here. Hopefully I will have a direct link on the sidebar soon. Please be sure to include my name (Kathleen Coffey) as the rider you are supporting.

I'd like to leave you with some statistics that were just released by the FBI: (pardon the all-caps and robotic phrasing. This was a teletype message).

FIFTY-ONE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS HAVE BEEN KILLED DUE TO CRIMINAL ACTIONS. 

DURING SAME TIME PERIOD IN 2013, 27 OFFICERS WERE SLAIN. CIRCUMSTANCES

INVOLVING THE 51 OFFICERS SLAIN IN 2014 ARE AS FOLLOWS:  11 WERE ANSWERING

DISTURBANCE CALLS (1 BEING DOMESTIC-RELATED), 9 WERE PERFORMING TRAFFIC

PURSUITS OR STOPS, 9 WERE AMBUSHED, 7 WERE INVESTIGATING SUSPICIOUS PERSONS OR

CIRCUMSTANCES, 4 WERE INVOLVED IN TACTICAL SITUATIONS, 2 WERE PERFORMING

INVESTIGATIVE ACTIVITIES, 2 WERE HANDLING PERSON(S) WITH MENTAL ILLNESS, 2

OFFICERS WERE INVOLVED IN DRUG-RELATED MATTERS, 1 WAS PURSUING ROBBERY

SUSPECT/RESPONDING TO ROBBERY IN PROGRESS, AND 4 OFFICERS WERE ATTEMPTING OTHER

ARRESTS.  SEVENTEEN OF THE 51 VICTIM OFFICERS FELONIOUSLY KILLED WERE EMPLOYED

BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES IN THE SOUTH, 14 IN THE WEST, 8 IN THE MIDWEST, 8

IN THE NORTHEAST, AND 4 IN THE U.S. TERRITORY OF PUERTO RICO. FORTY-SIX OF THE

51 VICTIM OFFICERS WERE KILLED BY SUBJECTS USING FIREARMS (32 HANDGUNS, 9

RIFLES, 2 SHOTGUNS, AND 3 FIREARM TYPES NOT REPORTED).  FOUR VICTIM OFFICERS

WERE INTENTIONALLY KILLED BY SUBJECTS USING MOTOR VEHICLES AS WEAPONS.  ONE

VICTIM OFFICER WAS KILLED BY SUBJECT USING HIS/HER PERSONAL WEAPONS (HANDS,

FISTS, FEET, ETC.).  TWENTY-NINE VICTIM OFFICERS WERE CONFIRMED TO BE WEARING

BODY ARMOR AT TIME OF INCIDENT, 6 WERE CONFIRMED TO NOT BE WEARING BODY ARMOR,

AND BODY ARMOR USAGE HAS NOT BEEN REPORTED FOR 16 VICTIM OFFICERS.  THERE HAVE

BEEN 48 SEPARATE INCIDENTS IN WHICH THESE 51 VICTIM OFFICERS HAVE BEEN SLAIN. 

ALL 48 INCIDENTS HAVE BEEN CLEARED BY ARREST OR EXCEPTIONAL MEANS.




FORTY-ONE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS HAVE BEEN ACCIDENTALLY KILLED. DURING SAME

TIME PERIOD IN 2013, 49 OFFICERS WERE ACCIDENTALLY KILLED. CIRCUMSTANCES

INVOLVING THE 41 OFFICERS ACCIDENTALLY KILLED IN 2014 ARE AS FOLLOWS:  26 WERE

INVOLVED IN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS, 6 WERE INVOLVED IN MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS, 5

WERE FATALLY STRUCK BY VEHICLES, 2 WERE ACCIDENTALLY SHOT, 1 DIED FROM SMOKE

INHALATION, AND 1 OFFICER DROWNED.  EIGHTEEN OF THE 41 VICTIM OFFICERS

ACCIDENTALLY KILLED WERE EMPLOYED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES IN THE SOUTH, 12

IN THE WEST, 7 IN THE NORTHEAST, AND 4 IN THE MIDWEST.




Monday, March 16, 2015

19 weeks, and Errandonnee Roundup

Headed into week 19 and nothing new to report. We find out the sex in two days! That's about it, pregnancy-wise.

I was signed up for the Vasa Ride yesterday, but I slept in instead. I was super sick the day before (I caught a coworker's bug) and was feeling miserable. I knew I did the right thing when I woke up feeling like a million bucks. I like the Vasa Ride, but I've done it enough times that it actually tends to seem tedious, rather than an adventure. I liked looking at the pics and reading about other folks's experience with the ride.

I am sad to report that I did NOT finish the 2015 Errandonnee, and I am perfectly fine with that. My main objective in participating in this challenge was to get my butt back on the bike, and it certainly did that. Mission accomplished, and I'm happy with that. I will recap what I managed to do:

Errand #1: Seeing Kim Boekbinder perform
Category: Arts & Entertainment
Date: March 7th, 2015
Miles: 9.5
Bike: Kermit
Observations: I helped Kickstart her album The Sky is Calling, and this was her long-anticipated DC show for it. I highly recommend her music. The Impossible Girl and The Sky is Falling are some of my favorite albums. She was one-half of the music duo, Vermillion Lies. I was a little hesitant about riding to the venue (The Electric Maid) because it was in an area I'm not familiar with, on a Saturday night. It was perfectly fine though. I did regret not bringing my gloves for the ride home--it was cold!



268 Carroll St. NW: a small, intimate community arts space

Snow was still on the ground, but the roads were clear.


Errand 2: Getting some baby stuff done at a local coffee shop
Category: Personal Business
Date: March 9th, 2015
Miles: 3.3
Bike: Kermit
Observations: I bought "The Belly Book" on the recommendation of friends. It's similar to a baby-book, but for the pregnancy itself. I'm pretty terrible at keeping mementos of important occasions, and figured this would be a nice thing to have for later. It's easy, because it contains lots of prompts for writing things down. I've really gotten out of practice with writing by hand; my handwriting is awful. 


Errand 3: Blogging
Category: Personal Business
Date: March 11th 2015
Miles: 2.9
Bike: Kermit
Observations: I really like the 15th Street cycle track and I'm glad it is there. I remember the wailing performed by certain businesses that this cycle track was going to cost them customers because some parking spots had to be removed. Guess what? Cyclists are customers too! And I absolutely consider whether your business is on a bike friendly route as to whether I'll bother stopping by (also, safe & convenient bike parking). Peet's Coffee, the shop that I chose to stop in, is right on the cycle track, making it super convenient. While sitting at the window, I think I saw at least 50-75 cyclists using the cycle track--all potential customers. That was just in an hour.

the cycle track runs in front of the sidewalk.

Errand 4: Work Commute
Category: Work/Volunteering
Date: March 13th, 2015
Miles: 9.7
Bike: Kermit
Observations: The weather was finally nice enough that I felt comfortable riding to work. It was great, but I also forget that spring weather means Road Work begins again. There was a lot of it. It didn't affect me too much though. I was planning on having The Husband pick me and Kermit up from work (I'm still hesitant about riding late at night, especially Fri/Sat nights), but he wasn't able to--so I rode home. And it was perfectly fine. I can't wait to do this regularly again.

Kermit chilling in the locker room.


Errand 5: Lunch at Kangaroo Boxing Club
Category: Social Call
Date: March 15th, 2015
Miles: 1.4 
Bike: Kermit
Observations: I don't actually like duck as much as I think I do. I stopped here for lunch because I haven't been by in forever, and I wanted to see some familiar faces. Also, I was hungry. I was planning on getting the Constanza burger (so good!) but the pulled duck sandwich caught my eye, so I ordered that instead. It was good, but not as good as the burger would have been. Oh well. Still a good meal over all.

Pulled duck with blackberry caramelized onions, slaw & fries.

Errand 6: Getting stuff for the turtles at Petco
Category: Store
Date: March 15th, 2015
Miles: .5
Bike: Kermit
Observation: I really go there to play with the animals.

This is the husband's greatest nightmare. He is terrified of birds.

Errand 7: Coffee to go
Category: Personal Care
Date: March 15th, 2015
Miles: .4
Bike: Kermit
Observation: A place called Zombie Coffee & Donuts definitely caught my interest. I was feeling tired, so I figured I would get a latte for the ride home. To my dismay, this place isn't nearly as cool as I thought it would be. All of their coffee drinks are "made" by one of those automatic coffee dispensers. *womp womp*. I didn't try their donuts, so maybe they are better at that. I didn't have my coffee mug with me, so I just used their paper to-go cup. I managed to keep MOST of my drink in the cup by the time I got home.

bumpy ride.

And that's as far as I got. It's not that I ran out of time; I ran out of errands. I don't feel like spending time making up errands to do today, so I'm just gonna call it quits here. I've managed to get out on my bike the last week more than I would have otherwise, so I consider that a win.

P.S. Bike to Work Day registration is open! Sign up!


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

18 weeks

18 weeks this week, and I'm feeling ok. I actually had to take a week off of work due to some blood pressure issues, but they seem to have resolved themselves.

The weather is finally cooperating, and I've gotten a few bike rides in. The 2015 Errandonnee Challenge is underway, so that has provided a great incentive to get out on my bike.  I'll do a full write-up of my errands once the challenge is concluded, but in the meantime I've ridden to see a Kim Boekbinder performance (entertainment), rode to a cafe to work on some baby stuff (personal business) and am currently sitting in a Peet's Coffee off of the 15th St. cycle track writing this blog post (personal business). So that's 3 out of 12 so far.  I plan to start commuting to work again this week, so two of those rides can count as well.

Getting some personal business done at Pleasant Pops

Blogging live, from Peet's. If you look closely, you can see the 15th St. cycle track in front. One of the reasons why I picked this place: bikes=business.


On Saturday night, I rode to The Electric Maid, which is a community arts space in the Takoma neighborhood. It was a 4.5 mile ride each way. I was worried about riding in the dark with the bar crowd on the roads, but it was fine. The route I took avoided main roadways. It was a little bit of a struggle in places because it's uphill, but I just took it slowly and shifted into my granny gear (which hasn't been used in years!). My bump is just beginning to take shape, and I did notice a little bit of contact with my knees, but its not a problem...yet. I will probably need to make some adjustments in a month or so.

A nice, intimate space. 268 Carroll St. NW

One of the opening bands (I think this was Martin Bisi).

Although the snow was gone from most of the roads, piles still remained on sidewalks.

A terrible picture of Kim Bookbinder, performing songs from her album, The Sky is Calling


This weekend is also the Vasa Ride! I really hope the weather cooperates. The weather forecast says clear and mid-50's, so I'll take it. I signed up for the 30 mile route, but I'm leaving myself the option to bail to the 16 mile route. It's been months since I've been cycling regularly, and this ride can be challenging at the best of times. I'll be wearing a heart-rate monitor to make sure my HR stays in a safe-zone. I'm also ok if I finish after the Blueberry Soup is gone. I've had it before. My goal will be to enjoy the ride. That's it.

As for pregnancy stuff: we find out if it's a girl or boy next week! Once we know the sex, we'll start working on names and a registry. I have NO clue as to what we'll need. I don't know even know if we'll still be living in the same place. We have a lot to figure out soon. In the meantime, I'm trying to work on taking better care of me. I have two goals to work on for now: get into a regular nighttime routine (I'm a terrible night owl), and get an activity of some sort in before going to work. Currently, I tend to stay up watching tv or puttering around on the internet until the wee hours of the morning and then wake up at the very last minute before having to go into work. I don't work until the afternoon, so I end up wasting an entire morning sleeping. I still need my beauty rest, but if I went to bed at a decent hour, I could still get it. Then I could do something fun in the mornings. It will also eliminate the "all I do is work" feeling I get. So those are my goals for now.

Anyone else excited for Spring?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Baby On Board

Let's get the big news out of the way first. I'm pregnant!  I'm currently 16 weeks and some change, just beginning the second trimester. I'm due in August. I know that one of my New Year's goals was to blog more often but I just wasn't ready to talk about this yet and I haven't had much else to talk about, including biking. I kept starting a blog post, and then....not finishing it. I'm going to try and change this now that I'm feeling better. My hope is to write at least one post a week.

I'm having...an alien?

The first trimester was pretty brutal for me. I felt awful everyday, and it really limited my daily activities including bike commuting. Morning sickness is no joke. In the first few weeks of my pregnancy, I was able to continue biking as normal. However, when I hit about 8 weeks or so, the nausea and vomiting was just too much. I couldn't get more than 2 miles or so before nearly (or actually) throwing up. With the weather getting colder (and snowier), I gave up for awhile. It was too much.

Now that I'm in the second trimester, some sense of normalcy is starting to return. I still have bad days, but I'm also having good days as well. I'm hoping to return to bike commuting more regularly.

My midwife has cleared me for biking (as long as I wear a helmet. Ok lady. Fine.) and keep it slow and steady. I plan to keep it up as long as it is comfortable for me. So far, so good. I'm only starting to develop a bump, so I haven't had to make too many adjustments to the bike.

This winter, combined with morning sickness, means my bike miles have been pretty abysmal. I've only ridden to work ONCE since the new year. It's been difficult because I often get out of work around 10 or 11pm, and I'm not comfortable riding in the dark on streets that might have ice on them. Pregnancy has definitely made me much more cautious about potential falls. Riding TO work is usually fine, because that's in the middle of the afternoon. Riding after dark in the cold is just not appealing. I think I might have a solution though. I bought a bike rack for our car (why yes, we are now a household that owns a car. It's been 3 months and I still haven't driven it.) and my plan for the rest of winter is to ride IN to work as often as I can, and then have the Husband pick me and the bike up FROM work at night. I haven't had a chance to test it out yet.

I did take the opportunity to add some small items to my bike, Kermit. First, I added some Fiks Reflective strips and stickers to my bike since it was getting darker earlier. 

Please ignore the mess in the background, mom.

Then I added a Baby on Board sticker on the back. Why? I don't know, honestly. Maybe folks will take notice and be a bit more cautious and courteous. Or maybe I'm delusional.

This will definitely make all drivers more courteous.

I also set up Blue on a trainer in our apartment, and I've been riding that here and there. I'm usually good for about 25 minutes before nausea starts to take over. It's definitely not as fun and satisfying as riding outdoors, but its better than nothing.

This is my first pregnancy, so all of this is new to me. I've been looking around the web for good pregnancy and biking resources, and they are a bit scarce. There are a few good articles, but I haven't found anything particularly enlightening. I'm more interested in hearing/reading about personal experiences anyway. I've found a few blogs that mention pregnancy or  have a summary of biking while pregnant, but nothing with the nitty-gritty of daily life as a pregnant cyclist. I'd like to change that. We'll see how capable I am, though.

Some upcoming events that I'm looking forward to include:
  • The 2015 Erandonnee Challenge: Runs from March 5-16th. The specific details are at the link, but the idea is basically to complete 12 errands in 12 days on a bicycle for a total of 30 miles. Similar to the Coffeeneuring Challenge, but with less caffeine and more baguettes. It's a relatively "easy" challenge, and will help to motivate me to get moving again.

  • The Vasa Ride: WABA's "spring" ride (it's awfully cold for a spring ride). I opted for the 30 mile option this year, but I might bail to the 15 mile. Or maybe I'll feel spectacular and do the 60 (doubtful). This is a fun, yet deceptively challenging ride. Folks that manage to complete the ride are "rewarded" with Blueberry Soup at the House of Sweden. I've had the blueberry soup before. It's.....soupy. It's on Sunday, March 15th.

  • The 2015 Police Unity Tour: So this one is a little tricky. The dates (as always) are May 10th-12th. I'll be about 6  months pregnant by then. I'm definitely still "participating" (and I will be hitting you up for fundraising soon too. Get ready). As much as I would like to believe I could do the actual ride without issue....I can't. We ride in a peloton (as a coherent group), and a specific pace has to be maintained. This poses two problems for me: my heart rate can't get too high (and on the big hills, it will probably get too high if I keep up the same pace) and the risk of a fall is much higher (since we are riding close together, if one person goes down it usually take a bunch of people with them). If this ride was more like The Ride & Run to Remember, I would definitely attempt it. Since everyone rides at their OWN pace and everyone is pretty spread out, I can go as slow and steady as I would need to. That's just not possible on this ride. SO, I have two options available: I can still participate by volunteering as part of the Support team, or I can "ride" at home on my trainer. The Support role would be a LOT of work. I don't know if I've ever talked about the role the Support team plays in the Unity Tour, but its huge. They keep everything running smoothly and make sure the riders have absolutely everything they would need. As a rider, all I really need to worry about is pedaling my bike. My lodging, meals, repairs, maintenance, directions, etc are all taken care of. As a rider, my role is super easy. Get up, get on my bike, and go. That's it. The Support staff are amazing. They are often up earlier than us, and their days finish way after ours. It's a lot of work. The Husband was actually considering joining up as Support this year too. I'm a little hesitant to go this option because it IS a lot of work, and I'm not sure if I could keep up. I don't want to be a drag or slow everyone down. I'm considering it though. My other option is to "ride" at home. I still have my cue sheets from previous years with the mileage for each leg. I could just follow along at home each day, and then ride to the Memorial on the final day to meet up with the group. I think I could definitely do this. My midwife has cleared me either way, so I just need to make my mind up.

Anyway, that's all for now. If you have any links or suggestions for resources on biking and pregnancy, or want to share your own story, definitely let me know. I'm all ears.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

90 minutes to go

There are less than 90 minutes left of 2014, I will not be sad to see it go.

This has been a difficult year. An amazing year. A year of big changes. A dark year. A bright year.

And I'm glad its over.

This time last year, I was looking forward to a new position at work; my father had been diagnosed with cancer; my brother was engaged; my wedding was on postponement; I signed up for a full marathon; and I was in the best shape I had been in for a long time.

I wasn't sure what 2014 was going to be like, but I knew it would be full of changes and new experiences.

I'm happy to say that my father pulled through his surgery and is doing wonderfully. My brother is now married. I've finally settled into my new work position....and I got married as well. All wonderful things.

I commute to work by bicycle (almost) everyday. On bad days, I use Car2Go. It's the most enjoyable part of my day. I gave up my patrol bike, permanently. It's just incompatible with my current supervisory duties. I miss it terribly, but my bike commutes make up for it. I really enjoyed being out in the community, but that is no longer my primary role anymore.

My new work environment is.....toxic. To say the least. I don't regret the promotion, but the location I've been transferred to is dysfunctional. This has had a big impact on my emotional/physical health of the last year. I dread going to work. I hate almost every minute I'm there, and I can't wait to go home. I keep hoping it will get better, and then....it doesn't. I've reached a point of numbness with it, so I guess that's something. I've gained back pretty much all of the weight I've lost, and I lost interest in participating in a lot of things I used to love. I was in a pretty dark place for a good portion of the year. I dug myself into a deep hole and did not want to come out.

With that said, I'm resolving to make work a less significant part of my life this new year. I loved what I do for a living, but right now I need to love other things more for a bit. I want to get outside more, I want to spend more time with friends/family, I want to go on real dates with my husband, I want fun hobbies. I don't want to be The Police Officer anymore. I need a break.

I can't quit my job, but I can make the time/effort for other things.

Things To Accomplish in 2015:

-I need to blog more regularly. I'd like to blog at least once a week, even if it's just about my commutes.

-Talk about work less. Facebook, twitter, etc. I just want to be me.

-I will get back into a regular exercise routine again. I'll probably be restarting the Couch to 5K program.

-I will make an effort to spend time with friends (maybe a game night, or something) each week.

-I will go on at least a few dates with my husband a month.

-I will save more more money.

-Sign up for more WABA events and 5Ks.

-Try at least one new hobby.

There are a few more things on my list, but they are private for now. I am determined that 2015 will be a greater year than 2014.

Less than 60 minutes to go. I'm spending my final moment of 2014 on my couch with some tea and toast. Real party animal over here. I'll leave you with some photos from the last year....















Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hey this thing happened

So, I did this last week.





At this place...


(The fun part of the ceremony. The legal stuff was all in DC)


I have a lot of catching up to do with you all. And I will.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Police Unity Tour 2014

I didn't do much training for the Police Unity Tour this year. The extended winter simply didn't allow it. I wasn't too worried. Being my 3rd year, I knew what to expect & I was fairly confident that I could ride it well. The only thing I was worried about was the weather. Severe thunderstorms were expected our first day of riding. Riding in a group with a bunch of strangers, of varying degrees of skill, can be a little scary. Doing it in the rain can be terrifying.

I rode Blue this year, the carbon-fiber frame road bike I pieced together last year. When I had the local bike shop put it together for me, they simply went by the bike measurements from my previous fitting I did with them when I was riding the Van Dessel. However I don't think the measurements translated to Blue very well because my back was absolutely killing me during the ride. It wasn't unbearable, but it was unpleasant.

Blue's cockpit

Luckily, we travel with a great couple of mechanics from Trail's End Cycling in Purcellville. They basically bring an entire mobile bike shop with them. They also brought equipment to do a quick custom fitting, which I took advantage of. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the last day of riding that I did so. I don't know why I waited until the last (and shortest) day to get the adjustments made. I hope this will help with the back pain. I wasn't on the bike long enough on the last day to judge how effective the adjustments were. Hopefully I can get some long rides in this summer to test them out.

Let me also add that Trail's End completely volunteers their time & skills & equipment to do this every year. In fact I think they close their shop while they are on the road with us, not entirely sure. Anyway they are great guys, and have an awesome bike shop right at the end of the W&OD trail. I rode out there (but not back, lol) one day last summer. Highly recommend them. Be sure to stop in and say hello. There's a nice used bookstore & coffee shop right around the corner too.

The other issue I had was with my saddle. I've never really had an issue with any saddle before. But this year, I was extremely uncomfortable, even with plenty of chamois cream. Maybe the Brooks saddle on Kermit has spoiled me. I certainly missed it during the ride. Not sure if it was the saddle itself, or my shorts (which I should probably replace. It's been awhile). It's gonna take a few more rides to figure it out. This was only Blue's second big ride. The first time I rode him was only a 55 mile ride last October for the Law Enforcement Ride & Run to remember (in which I crashed at the very end). I don't really take him out for casual rides since DC streets are terrible & he's a bit expensive to leave locked up & unattended.

As usual, I spent the day before the ride making a list of things to pack. Every year, I try to pare it down a bit because I usually end up bringing stuff I simply don't need. This year I think I did a great job of only bringing the essentials. Of course, I did forget a few chargers though. Argh.

This is what I brought:
-2 pairs of cycling shorts
-2 jerseys
-2 sports bras
-Rain jacket
-Keens (SUCH A GREAT IDEA TO BRING THEM. I AM NOT GOING BACK TO SHOES EVER AGAIN. BUT I NEED TO REMEMBER TO SUNSCREEN MY FEET! OUCH!)
-Helmet
-Gloves
-Eye protection
-Chamois Cream
-Advil
-Toiletries
-pajamas
-laundry detergent
-Extra ziplock bags (for icepacks). I brought a regular icepack, but there's really no freezer to keep it frozen & I forgot it in the mini fridge in the first hotel.
-Garmin (which I forgot the charger for. DOH. The battery died on the first day. Luckily, the hotel on our last day had a spare charger so I was able to use that. But I didn't capture the whole ride. Bummer).
-BoomBottle (Review to follow very soon. But also a great idea to bring. It's a weatherproof speaker that fits in your bottle cage. I love this thing. I use it every day I commute. I also forgot the charger for this, but found one at the hotel)
-Comfy "regular" clothes & shoes to relax in (I brought my wonder woman socks)
-Toiletries

That was pretty much it. I was able to fit almost everything in a single backpack. I didn't bother bringing snacks/nutrition because plenty of food & snacks are supplied during the ride. I didn't even bring a water bottle, since I figured there would be one in the swag bag (I was right). However, some things I would like to remember for next year:

-Bring ALL the chargers. Even if I don't think I'll need them (I will).
-Put more sunscreen (also provided) on. And then some more. And don't forget my feet!
-Make a playlist for the ride
-Bring patches to exchange
*Optional for next year: the hotel in Charlottesville has a hot tub ( and pool). Bring a swimsuit.

On to the ride itself:

Day 1 was wet. We never got the severe thunderstorms that were supposed to hit, but we did get rained on a bit. Didn't have to break out the rain jacket, even though I brought it with me. At least it kept the temps relatively mild. I believe our total mileage for the day was about 88 miles. We had a break at about every 18 miles or so, including a lunch stop. It's my favorite lunch stop. We stop at the Louisa Baptist Church, and they always have homemade peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (with chips & cookies) waiting for us. It's delicious. Most of our stops are either at fires stations or churches. It was a long day, but a good one as folks got to know each other during the ride. We have riders & volunteers from all over the country. It was nice to see some familiar faces from previous rides as well. We end up in Charlottesville at the end of the day's ride, usually around 4pm or so.

At the hotel, I immediately went up to the hotel room so I could shower...and discovered there was only one bed (I was rooming with one of the volunteers on the ride, whom I had never met before). Previously, I rode with a friend of mine so it was no big deal if we shared a bed....but its a bit much to ask that of strangers. Luckily DJ (my roomie) was able to secure another room while I was in the shower & it all worked out (I had a king-sized bed to myself now!). I showered and had a few cold ones with some other riders while waiting for dinner. That's always the best part of the day; just sitting & relaxing. At dinner, I ate ALL of the carbs. Twice. And then had cake. But it was so worth it. I went up to my room on the pretext of stretching for a bit (my back was still sore) and ended up just falling asleep for the rest of the evening. whoops.

Getting ready to head out.

The volunteers that keep the ride going smoothly, and the motor escorts that keep us safe.

The most delicious peanut butter & jelly sandwich on Earth, courtesy of the Louisa Baptist Church,

Day 2 is our hilly day. I actually like this day because the hills make the ride more challenging & less monotonous. It is tough though, especially when its sunny & warm (which it was). I made sure to hydrate pretty well at every rest stop (I don't like drinking while riding, I had no idea why). This day seemed to fly by though. I couldn't believe how fast it went by. I think it's because we stopped for break about every 12-14 miles, instead of 18 (although our last leg of the day is about 21 miles). It was a blur. Total mileage was about 80 miles. We end up in Warrenton, VA. We're usually done riding for the day around 3:30pm or so. There were 2 beds in the hotel room, so crisis averted, heh. I snarfed dinner down & headed outside to the patio to hang with the other riders & volunteers. This is always the best night of the ride. Since the following day is pretty short mileage-wise (about 40 miles total), folks feel free to imbibe a little bit harder & longer. It's usually a good night for stories outside on the patio.

 A sunny day ahead.

Lining up to roll out.

You rest where you can, while you can.


Day 3 is the last and shortest day. Probably about 40 miles total, including riding from RFK to the Memorial in DC.  We stop at PSTOC (Fairfax's Public Safety & Transportation Operations Center for lunch) before heading into DC. Fairfax even provides an air "escort" with their helicopter flying with us (assuming the flight crew isn't busy) to the stop. It's always fun to watch it land & take off. We have a group photo taken in front of the helicopter.

The Fairfax County dispatch center. Fancy.

After lunch, its time to head to DC! Normally we ride into DC via the Memorial Bridge, but because there were some other events going on, we had to be routed onto the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge (which was TORE UP. Ugh). On the plus side, we rode through the SW section of DC to get over to RFK, which I liked because I got to check out some the new stuff going in at The Wharf. We ride over to RFK to meet up with all of the other chapters of the Police Unity Tour. This is always the worst part of the ride, in my opinion. All told, there are probably about 1500 riders that end up at RFK. We wait in the parking lot, with no cover, usually under a hot, blazing sun, while the other chapters arrive. I wish they would put up some tents or something for shade. I feel like I'm frying out on that lot. There's nowhere to sit and rest our legs, except the asphalt (with broken glass and gravel). Then when it's time to leave as one group for the memorial, its complete chaos. Instead of having us leave by chapter by chapter, which would be manageable, we all try to leave at once. The problem is that the path (and it is a SMALL path. Uphill.) to get OUT of the parking lot can only accommodate so many people-not 1500 at once. There is ALWAYS some sort of pile-up/crash trying to get out of there. My first year I watched a rider go down and tear his calf pretty badly on one of his front chain rings He couldn't finish the ride. What a bummer to ride all that way, only to crash right at the end.

This is a short video I took of one of the Chapter's arriving into RFK.
Arrival at the Memorial is always the best part. Seeing the survivors lined up along the memorial, ready to greet us is very emotional and moving. After all, its for them that we do this ride. There are hundreds of people at the memorial--so many that we can't even really ride into the memorial--its too jammed. Instead we walk our bikes in. High-fives & hugs are exchanged as we make our way through the memorial to the other side.

$1.9 million dollars. That's how much the Police Unity Tour raised this year. That is not an insignificant amount of money. And its very important. We had 7 Survivors (including my roommate) ride with us this year. At every rest stop, riders are encouraged to tell a story about their fallen officers. A sad theme that ran through many of these stories was one of abandonment/neglect by their officer's agencies. Either their agencies refused to participate in any sort of remembrance or honoring of their officer, or the process of Line of Duty Death determination was difficult & traumatizing. There is a an entire culture behind Line of Duty Death officers/survivors that is both fascinating & heartbreaking, that is often quite the opposite of the hero-worshipping/Honor Guard/Brothers in Blue type event that is often portrayed in movies & television. A good example would be to google Officer Jennifer Sebena to see what kind of traumatic & heartbreaking & often puzzling criteria are used to determine whether an officer's death is worthy enough to be determined Line of Duty. It's more often than not a very gray area. Anyway, that's a topic for another time, most likely in person. Back to my original point. There was a theme of abandonment/neglect from the police agencies from the survivors and it wasn't until they found organizations like the Police Unity Tour, C.O.P.S., H.E.R.O.E.S, Law Enforcement United, etc, that they found hope & honor. I heard a lot of griping from citizens in DC about how Police Week is a "waste" of taxpayer money, and that they were furious that "their" money was going to these "annoying cop events".

Not a single cent of taxpayer money is used to pay for these "annoying cop events". They are all privately funded by donations from organizations like The Police Unity Tour, C.O.P.S., H.E.R.O.E.S, etc. This is why those donations are so important. They go towards paying for things like the Coach Buses which bring the survivors to the Memorial every year so that they can see their loved one's name on the wall. Their lodging, food, travel expenses. Child care for their children. Maintaining the Memorial so that their loved one's memory is properly honored. The escorts are all volunteers. C.O.P.S. pays for fallen officer's children's college tuition. 

It's important because after the wreath has been placed on the Capitol's lawn, after the President's speech, after the pomp & circumstance of Police Week...that officer is still gone. And that family is still grieving. And it is organizations like the Unity Tour that step in all year long & beyond to take care of that family. This is why I ride. "We Ride for Those that Died", yes. We also ride for those left behind.



I didn't take too many photos this year. After all, how many photos of bikes & blue jerseys does one really need? I do wish I could have captured some of the absolutely stunning country side we rode through though. I didn't want to fumble with a camera while riding. Maybe next year I'll use a GoPro or something. Virginia is absolutely beautiful in some places.


We had a professional photographer to capture the best moments. We also had a professional video team to put together a short promo video.

Here is Day 1 of the ride from my Garmin before it died. We went another 20 miles or so beyond this:



And this is Day 3:


Also, some photos from the local law enforcement memorial ride I did on May 15th, which is National Peace Officer's Memorial Day (the day around which Police Week is planned). We met up with some other officers from Montgomery County & Fairfax.