Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Riding

Don't forget! Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the DC Bike Party Holiday Ride!!

Meet at Dupont Circle at 7:30, roll out at 8pm. A Holiday Photo will be taken at the SW Waterfront Tree, so be sure to decorate your bikes (and yourselves) accordingly. Final stop will be at the Rock n Roll Hotel on H St. NE.
More info here.
Also, BicycleSPACE will be having their holiday ride as well and WABA's holiday party is tomorrow evening at Smith Commons on H St NE (conveniently near the endpoint of the DC Bike Party ride).
There's no excuse for not riding tomorrow.
Happy Holidays!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Loaner Bike

I dropped off the bike I mentioned in my previous post to the local bike shop for an overhaul, so it will be ready (and safe!) to ride.

I wanted to take this time to give you a little more info on the bike itself.

This bike is a 2007 Jamis "Coda Sport". That's the brand name/model. It doesn't actually denote anything about the bike itself. This bike has a special place in my heart because its the very first bike I ever bought on my own, and its the bike that I used when I first started riding in DC.

This bike is considered a "hybrid", meaning its a mix of different styles-in this case a road bike & a mountain bike. It's light and nimble like a road bike, but has a "flat" handlebars (you'll see a picture soon) and can navigate obstacles like a mountain bike. In other words, this is an ideal bike for city riding. Pot holes & road debris are no problem.

The frame of this bike measures 17.5 inches. I'm 5'5" tall, so this frame is ideal for me. If you are around my height, you shouldn't have to do much adjustment (the saddle can always be moved higher or lower). However if you are very tall or very short, this might not be the bike for you.

Here's some better photos:

The bike itself: As I mentioned before, it comes with a rear rack (so you can transport stuff on it--you can use bungee cords to secure stuff on it, or you can purchase special bags that comes with either hooks or straps that you can attach to that rack). Also, fenders. The fenders are great because you won't get sprayed in the face/back with water & mud on those rainy days.

There are also "toe clips" attached to the pedals--these are straps that you can use to hold your foot onto the pedal. This helps you with getting more power when you pedal the bike. They can be removed if you don't want to use them. If you DO want to use them, I'm more than happy to show you how. You can just ignore them too, without having to remove them completely.

The bike also has a bottle "cage" (or holder, I don't know why they name these things the way they do). I can even throw in the bottle (I've got plenty).

The "flat" handlebar set-up. Comes with a bell, front light & front reflector. This style is different than "drop bars" which you would see on a standard road bike, like this:

These are drop-bars. Why the difference? With drop bars, you can get into different positions: you can use the top of the handlebar for easy riding, or hold onto the bottom bars for more aerodynamic fast riding. Unless you plan on doing any racing, the flat-style is perfectly fine & easy to use. In fact, I find it easier because you can use the brakes without having to move your hands first. The brakes are always immediately accessible with flat-bars.

Rear rack. Useful for carrying stuff. (Not seen, but included: rear red light).

I've used this bike for lots of stuff. I rode my first "Bike DC" event with it. My fiancé also learned how to bike in DC on it. I've ridden countless trails & city streets with it. I have no doubt you'll come to like it too.

Anyway, if you have specific questions about the bike, please feel free to email me. I'm happy to let you know whatever you like.

In other news, I went on another BicycleSPACE City Explorer's ride, and it was also awesome & showed me new routes & places that I've never been to before. This ride was called the "Wilson Bridge" ride. I've never even driven over that bridge, let alone rode over it. We ended up taking a route that went right by the Police Academy, which was super-useful to me since I always have trainings over there, and could never figure out how to get there by bike or how long it would take me. Now I know! We also ended up taking the Oxen Hill trail & riding up the hill, which brought some not-quite pleasant P.T. memories...

We ended up riding by National Harbor (another place I've wondered if its possible to bike to) and then over the Wilson bridge itself. Wow. That was really neat. I especially liked exploring underneath it, because they turned that space into a big park/recreation area. Very nifty. In the end, we ended up riding through DC, MD and VA, for a total of 26 miles. Not bad.

I didn't take very many photos because 1) it was a gloomy, dreary, wet day and pulling my phone out of my pocket was a pain and 2) I was extra tired because I had also ran the Jingle All the Way 8K earlier so I was lazy. I just wanted to ride.

The bridge, as seen from the scenic overlook:

Part of the park underneath: there's a basketball court, restrooms, and lots of open space.

National Harbor, way in the distance:

Historical facts about the area:

The route (you'll have to zoom-out to see the whole thing. I got tired of trying to get it to display correctly, argh):

View Larger Map

I can't wait for next week's ride!

(click on pictures to get a better look. I don't know why this stupid app makes them so blurry)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wanna ride my bike? No, seriously. I want you to ride my bike.

(click on pictures to get a better look. I don't know why this stupid app makes them so blurry)

I decided to make a resolution this month to participate in at least one organized ride each weekend in the month of December. As the weather gets colder and grayer, my motivation to get on my bike any more than I have to starts to deplete.

I started off the month by doing two rides last weekend. A "Women on Bikes" video ride from WABA on Saturday, and BicycleSPACE's (a local bike shop) "City Explorers" ride on Sunday.

I'm going to start by telling you about the City Explorers ride--this is a small group ride that happens every weekend (the shop actually has quite a few different themed rides; this was one of them). There is a different route each time, and the idea is guessed, it...explore the city. This particular ride happened to be based around bridges--the idea was to ride over every bridge in DC. Neat idea, right? How many bridges can there possibly be?

A group of 8 of us headed out from the shop. We all rode different bikes; from Brooks-accessorized vintage-style bikes to fancy road racers, everyone had their own style. This was meant to be a meandering group ride, so the pace was very easy. Most of the group are "regulars" and do these rides every weekend. I felt very comfortable joining in.

A good portion of the route took place on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail--a trail I had never been on before. I *loved* it. I can't wait to explore the whole thing (plus it goes right by the Anacostia Skate Park, another item on my to-do list). We also briefly stopped by Kingman Island, another place I had never had the chance to visit before. We lamented at out lack of picnic items, because it was the perfect day for a picnic. Next time, maybe.

In the end, we rode just under 30 miles and had hit every bridge except for one: the Chain Bridge. Our fearless ride leader, Eric, wanted to push ahead and go for it, but in the end the group declined. I know I was starving (I underestimated how long the ride was going to be and didn't bring anything along), and I had brunch plans which I was already running late for (totally worth it though). Next time, I am definitely going to ride that bridge too.

Our route:

I highly recommend doing one of these rides if you happen to be in town on a weekend. I can't wait to go on another one and see what else I can discover about DC. As we were departing Kingman Island, I was reminded how cycling really opened up this city for me: I would never have known about or bothered to participate in so many activities and places if I didn't bike. Truly.

Riding on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (with one of our bridges ahead in the distance)

No hands cycling on a beautiful day. Yes, this is in DC proper.

Kingman Island. I bet its really beautiful here in the Spring/Summer.


Brooks lovers.

Dead End. But not for long. The trail will be extended out to Maryland, I believe.

A great way to start off a Sunday. Again, I can't wait to do it again.

Now, for some even more exciting things I want to tell you about. I mentioned that I also did a ride on Saturday--a Women on Bikes "video ride". I wasn't quite sure what this ride was either. All I know is that it said Women and Bikes and that it started right across the street from where I live, so I had no excuse not to go. Turns out that WABA (the Washington Area Bicyclist Association) is putting together a Women on Bikes program, and this ride was going to be recorded to help showcase that program.

Although cycling has become more popular in DC, it's still (apparently) lopsided when it comes to genders. I say apparently because my eyes tell me differently: I see plenty of women riding everyday. However, statistics say otherwise. WABA wants to change that and get more women out on bikes. Can't argue with that.

A group of about 15 of us gathered at the start of the ride, and our lovely ride leader & WABA guru Nelle had us introduce ourselves to each other, and she also spoke a little bit about her personal experience with having a bike mentor. She mentioned that when she first began cycling, it helped her tremendously to have someone that she could ask questions and bounce ideas off of; however, these people were mostly men. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but when it came to certain issues, she admitted feeling a little uncomfortable asking a dude or they wouldn't understand. There are definitely issues that women face that men might not understand/identify with; things like street harassment (cat-calling, and the like), fear of crime/violence, feminine issues (saddle chafing, bike clothing fit), learning bike repair/maintenance and just not wanting to put up with the condescending/patronizing attitude guys can adopt when it comes to teaching women anything.

This certainly made me think. I didn't really have a "bike mentor" when I started biking in DC--I just basically started on my own. I had influencers-people that I observed biking and figured that if they could do it, I could do it. I learned by trial and error, and google was (and still is) my best friend. I don't regret it, but it sure would have made my life easier (and more fun) if I had someone I could ride with and ask questions of. Even now, I still get a little hesitant when it comes to doing certain cycling-related things (I don't like to ride too far on my own, because I panic at the thought of getting lost and not being able to get home, or having a mechanical issue and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere on my own. I also would like to learn some more technical riding skills).

So....for my exciting news. I want to help out with this "Women on Bikes" movement. I want to make myself available to help local ladies be more comfortable with biking in DC. I have quite a few bicycles, and one in particular seems to be just simply gathering dust lately. Why not put it to good use?

I have an extra bicycle and I want you to ride it.

Have you been thinking about riding a bike in DC? Want to commute to work by bike? Run errands by bike? Maybe you're not sure about this and don't want to commit to buying a bike YET?

Why not use mine?

I have a 2007 Jamis Coda Sport that you can use. The bike comes with a rear rack, full fenders, a bell & lights. I will probably also throw in a u-lock as well (I will have to purchase another one). It's a flat-bar hybrid bike-perfect for biking in DC. The frame is 17.5" (I'm 5'5", if that helps you figure out whether it will be the right size for you).

Here's a crappy picture of it.

If you are a woman (sorry guys), live/work in DC (although if you commute to the nearby burbs, that's fine) and are curious about biking in DC, then get in contact with me (girlonabikedc AT gmail DOT com).

I'm willing to loan my bike out to you. Depending on how much interest I get will determine how long you get the bike for.

I will even ride with you. If you aren't sure about this whole "biking" thing or want someone to give you pointers/tips/routes/etc, I am more than willing to help you out and even ride with you if you would like.

Yes, I'm aware that Capital Bikeshare is an option for bike-less ladies, but bikeshare doesn't really provide the whole "bike experience" for those that might make it a more permanent part of their lives. Maybe you want to practice storing a bike in your apartment or job. Maybe you want to be able to take longer trips and not have to worry about how much its going to cost. Maybe you want to practice basic bike maintenance skills. Maybe you want more than 3 gears. Maybe you are a weirdo that wants to ride other people's bikes. I don't know. But you now have this option too. Plus it comes with me!

There are a few rules:

1. You must be at least 18 years of age, a woman, and reside in Washington, DC.

1. You have to actually ride it.

2. You are responsible for any damages/loss.

3. You have to help spread the word and let other women know about this as well.

4. The maximum amount of time you can borrow my bike is 30 days. It may be less due to demand. Of course, this is negotiable. I'm pretty easy-going.

5. If you want to take me up on my offer of riding with you, keep in mind that my free days are generally Sunday/Monday, and I am available before noon most other days.

The bike will be available for borrowing soon--I am going to take it to my local bike shop for an overhaul because it needs one, and because I want to make sure its in tip-top shape before you get on it. I plan on dropping it off this weekend (thanks to a tune-up/overhaul holiday special BicycleSPACE was running, yay).

Part 2 of this exciting news is this:

A twitter follower retweeted this awesome idea from @VegginMegabeth: The Hains Point 100. She (Megan) and a few other folks (quite possibly myself) are going to ride around and around and around the Hains Point loop for 100 miles. Crazy? Yes. Insane? Yes. Boring? Yes. Awesome? Yes (I say this now, but I know I will be hating it while I do it). Why? To raise awareness and funds for the WABA's Women & Bicycles Program.

Yes, I said funds. I'm gonna need your help here. To help get me motivated to ride 100 miles in circles, I need you to donate a little $$. Just a little. Each $=1 mile. For every $1, I will ride 1 mile. My ultimate goal is to ride 100 miles.

What happens if there's more than $100? I will ride the remainder on a following weekend.

So please donate. This program is very important.

You can donate through this link, or you can donate in person the day of the event--there will be a cash jar available. If you donate online, please note in the "In Honor" of field that its for the Women & Bicycles program and include my name (Kate) so I now how many miles I will ride.

Also, you can ride my bike in this! Interested in doing this too? (are you crazy?) You can borrow my Jamis to ride with me. This assumes that the overhaul will be complete by then, of course. It should be. But do consider participating in the ride, even if its just for a few laps. ESPECIALLY if you are a woman--I see a lot of dudes on twitter getting excited about this ride (which is cool) but it will be very disappointing to me if this ride, which is supposed to benefit the WOMEN & Bicycles program, is made up of mostly men. Hurumph.

Don't have the $$$ to donate right now because its the holidays and everyone is broke from shopping? Considering coming out and supporting the riders. We will probably need:

-Folks to donate water/gatorade/snacks/etc.
-Folks to help transport/distribute said water/gatorade/snacks/etc
-Cheerleaders! Riding in circles can get very tedious. Having people there to help cheer us on will help tremendously. Even if its just one person holding up a sign.

Isn't this an awesome idea from Megan? Yes, it is. I'm excited.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Coffeeneuring Round-up & A Few Social Rides

I managed to get my last two coffeeneuring rides in last weekend, even though it was a bit of a squeeze. To be honest, my heart wasn't really in it. I'm just not a coffee/tea person. If there were a beerneuring event, I would win.

Coffeeneuring Trip 6:
Coffee Shop: Starbucks
1455 K St. NW
Date: Sunday November 4th, 2012
Miles: 4.84 miles

I was participating in the Tweed Ride later on in the day, so I knew I'd need to get some breakfast/fuel. I grabbed a vanilla latte (my usual go-to drink at Sbucks) and relaxed before getting ready for the ride. I know Starbucks is a chain, but there's a reason that it is successful: they are good at what they do.

Coffeeneuring Trip 7:
The Diner
2453 18th St. NW
Date: Monday November 5th, 2012
Miles: 2.5

This was my late-night edition. I'm very much a night-owl, and most of my local bike rides actually take place at night. I thought to myself--why not coffee? I was actually going to go to Tryst because I had thought they were open 24 hours. I was wrong. Luckily, The Diner (owned by the same people as Tryst) is next door and they are a 24 hour establishment and serve the same coffee (they also own The Coupe, another coffee place I visited in a previous coffeeneuring stop).

I grabbed a hot coffee to go because I didn't really feel like sitting in a diner alone at night. It was pretty tasty, if a little "fancy" for diner coffee.

Coffee to go on the bike. I managed to not spill it on the way home :-)

And that concludes my coffeeneuring adventures for 2012. I have to admit, I've just never been a coffee & bike person, even though I know they go together like peanut butter & jelly for most people. I'm more of a bike & lunch/dinner type-person. If I'm out for a ride, I don't like to stop too much and lose my momentum. I prefer to ride to a destination and that's it. Done. Does that make sense?

One bright side of having my work schedule turned upside down for the last month is that I was able to actually participate in a good many organized "fun" rides that I don't normally get to do. I believe I've mentioned this before, but I'm not a big fan of group rides. They tend to be a bit too chaotic for my tastes with folks not understanding how to ride safely with a group of people. They can either be a blast or a total nightmare.

However, I've been getting the itch to ride in a group again, and I saw an opportunity to try a few new rides, as well as join up with some familiar faces.

First up was the DC Bike Party group. This is a relatively new group and they do an evening ride once a month on Wednesdays. I've been invited to ride with them before, but my work schedule prevented me from doing so; except I finally had a Wednesday free! My first impression was that they were all very young. People rode all kinds of bikes, but there were a core group of fixie riders that seemed to be "leading" the ride. This is very much a free-wheeling group (er, except for the fixed-gear riders, I suppose). There is a large bike-speaker set-up to provide some tunes that really sets the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the speakers were out of commission on this ride. There was also a lot of spontaneous "races" and deviations from the route. I thought this was actually a lot of fun. With most organized rides, my brain starts to go numb after awhile and I just want to get it over with, already. That didn't happen on this ride. There's a pit stop in the middle (BYOB) and the end is usually at a bar/party somewhere. Definitely a "party" bike group. I had a good time. I even got to do their halloween ride too. That was quite a sight, I'm sure.

Gathering up at Dupont Circle (crappy photo, sorry)

My Halloween costume for their Halloween ride. I'm not really sure what look I was going for. Vampire Warrior Princess? Whatevs.

Lots of people! Costumes!

It's Counselor Troi & Lt. Cmdr. Riker. Cute couple.

My next ride was the 7th Street Social (formerly the Eye Street Social). This ride is every Thursday evening, and is hosted by BicycleSPACE. I've done this ride before and really enjoy it. It's usually a slow meandering route around the city. If you've never done a group ride before, this will probably be the ride for you. It's not overwhelming and everyone is usually on the same page when it comes to signaling & traffic flow. They also have a bike-speaker system (nicknamed the Monkey Wagon) and usually have popsicles as a mid-ride treat.

Gathering up outside of BicycleSPACE

The Monkey Wagon

Pitstop at the Lincoln Memorial (where we were promptly yelled at by a Park Ranger for being an unauthorized "demonstration". <---insert rolling eyes here)

Next up was the Illuminated Art Ride hosted by The Daily Rider. The idea was to light up your bike and becoming a rolling illuminated piece of art. I'm sure you all know my love of accessorizing my bikes, so this appealed to me greatly ;-) The Daily Rider was kind enough to provide a bunch of lighty-things to add to our bikes, and I also bought some nifty spoke lights as well (which I still use). Some people went all out and dressed up their bikes like Christmas trees. One lady even had a bike with a thousand rhinestones glued on! That must have taken ages, but it looked spectacular.

Lighted Pedi-Cabs carried musicians that played while we rode.

And last, but not least, was the annual DC Tweed Ride. This was my third year of participation. I really enjoy dressing up & riding around the city (even though there seem to be a few haters in our local media). I wore my steampunk "cycling tour" outfit (which was ironic, because it's definitely not made for cycling). Thank goodness Betty is a step-through frame, because there was nothing lady-like in the way I had to hike up my dress to ride. I wore my cold weather tights underneath, so it wasn't too immodest.

We all gathered at Franklin Square off of K Street for the usual pre-ride photos & gawking. As usual, Betty got more compliments than I did ;-)

The ride started off a little rough since we rode on some pretty heavily-trafficked streets (even for a Sunday) and there were times the car traffic got a little too agressive. Once we got past Union Station it was smooth-sailing though. Our halfway point was the National Arboretum, which I had never been to before. I really need to go back. We stopped for more photos & to rest a bit (my hips were killing me since my dress was very constricting while riding) and then we headed back. The end was Logan Circle, and the after-party was at The Brixton, which I think was a really good fit. First, it was actually big enough to accommodate the group (even though it was a bit of a squeeze at first) and the style of the Brixton fits with the "tweed" style. I stayed to have a couple of cocktails and headed home quite happy, but worn out. Cycling in a skirt/dress/heels is NOT for sissies.

My outfit. Hem reached my ankles. Not pictured: heeled boots.

Obligatory High-Wheeler shot.

My favorite bike at the ride. This is the 2nd year I've spotted it. I love the Red Baron!

Post-ride cocktail on the roof of the Brixton. They have great views up there, but be wary in the colder months: either you will roast under their heat-lamps or freeze out on the perimeter.

And I think that will be it for organized rides for now. The Tweed Ride is usually my last group ride of the year.

Now I'm going to work on just keeping up a basic level of fitness. I signed up to do the Unity Tour again (a separate post about that is forthcoming) and this year I want to train *right*. Last year was fun & I did fine on the ride, but I want to really be able to enjoy it rather than just get through it. I've already started cross-training & building up my fitness by running. If you follow me on twitter, you might have noticed that I've been running quite a bit lately. I'm signed up for a 5K "Turkey Trot" on Thanksgiving, and an 8K Jingle Bell Jog in December. I've found that running has really helped my biking quite a bit. I'm hoping to get a "real" road bike & a trainer so I can do some indoor training when it gets colder (but more on that later).

The season has definitely changed and its getting darker earlier & colder. Time to get my cold-weather gear out of the closet. I'm a year-round rider, so I can't let a little cold/snow/dark scare me off. I'll have cold weather tips posted soon.

How's your riding coming along? Any fun rides lately? Did you coffeeneur?

(click on pictures to get a better look. I don't know why this stupid app makes them so blurry)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Coffeeneuring and other adventures

MG over at Chasing Mailboxes announced the second annual coffeeneuring challenge. The challenge being to ride to 7 different coffee shops before Nov. 11. This is a challenge because you can only do the rides on weekends (Saturdays & Sundays, UNLESS your "weekend" falls on other day, like mine) and each ride needs to be at least 2 miles round-trip. I've tried this challenge last year, but fell short of the required number of trips. I think I'll make it this year.

Coffeeneuring Trip 1:
Coffee Shop:  Chinatown Coffee Co.
475 H St. NW
Date: Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 (Wednesday/Thursday was my "weekend" that week).
Miles: 3.98
Beverage of choice: Latte

I chose Chinatown Coffee because I needed to drop Kermit off at BicycleSPACE to get my rear brakes switched out, and this coffee shop was nearby. I always forget how busy it can be, though. I found a spot & sipped my latte, which wasn't too bad at all. Not bad for the first trip. I did not order an espresso over ice, because I didn't want to be murdered where I stood.

Latte, bike lock & Linus bike bag.

Bike in the coffee shop (not mine).

Coffeeneuring Trip 2:

Coffee Shop: Columbia Heights Coffee
3416 11th St. NW
Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012.
Miles: 2.80 miles
Beverage of choice: Medium House Coffee

My favorite neighborhood coffee shop. I come here quite often. It's small, cozy and a staple in the neighborhood. I know I'll always run into someone I know. I was on my way to BicycleSPACE to pick up Kermit, so what better way to fuel up for my ride? The 11th street corridor is certainly becoming the place to be. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough bike racks to accommodate everyone anymore (and there's a good amount of racks!). But its a nice street to stroll on without the circus atmosphere of Adams Morgan or the touristy atmosphere of the H St. NE corridor. It's very much a neighborhood area.

Again, bike lock, Linus bike bag & coffee.

Coffeeneuring Trip 3:

Coffee Shop: SOVA
1359 H St. NE
Date: Saturday, October 20th, 2012
Miles: 4.05 miles
Beverage of Choice: Dark Mocha

I love coming to H St. NE, but it is such a pain to get there. The most efficient way for me to get from Meridian Hill to H St. NE is to take Florida Ave--which is a nightmare to bike on. Drivers are way too aggressive & treat it like a highway. It was even worse because Howard Homecoming was happening, which turned the already-congested area of GA/Fla Ave into a complete mess. But I survived. I really wish DDOT would do something about FL Ave. It needs traffic calming measures and improvements for pedestrians & cyclists (the only people who have it worse on FL Ave than cyclists are pedestrians. It's the exact opposite of pedestrian-friendly). I love SOVA and don't get there nearly enough. It's a nice comfy place to enjoy a cup of coffee & tea and zone out. The mocha was much too sweet for me though. And I didn't have much time to zone out because I needed to head over to The Daily Rider and get Betty decked out with lights for the Illuminated Art Ride (more on that later).

Super sweet mocha: very decadent. Not pictured: lemon poppyseed muffin (delish!)

Coffeeneuring Trip 4:
Coffee Shop: The Coupe
3415 11th St. NW
Date: Sunday, October 21st, 2012
Miles: 2.80

Back to the 11th St corridor again to try out the new joint in town, The Coupe. This place was opened by the same folks behind The Diner, Tryst & Open City. The Coupe's concept is to basically combine the concepts of all three into one big place. It was my first time here, and I was eager to see inside after watching it being built up over the months. I will admit that I felt like I was cheating on my little coffee shop, though they close at 7pm and I didn't make my way to the Coupe until 9pm. The best part of the place is that its 24 hours! Awesome. I was very impressed when I walked in. The place is huge and has an interesting set-up. One side is the restaurant & food counter area, and the other is the coffee/bar lounge area. I can definitely see myself grabbing a late night snack or coffee and getting comfy at 4am. I sat at the "lunch counter" area (since it was just me) and ordered a latte & some grub. The latte was very good! I also had the burger special (since I firmly believe that you can judge a restaurant's quality by its burger) and I was slightly disappointed. I like my burgers rare. Very rare. But this burger was practically raw :-/ The middle was still stone cold & the cheese was barely melted. Ugh. Otherwise, it would have been fantastic. They top it with house-made onion rings and I ate it with their side of house-made potato chips (which were fantastic). They also serve frog legs (?!) which I'm not brave enough to try and a rabbit pot-pie which I'm definitely gonna get next time. Anyway, a fun trip.

My latte (with animal crackers!)

Coffeeneuring Trip 5:
Coffee Shop: Point Chaud Cafe & Crepes
1736 14th St. NW
Date: Monday, October 23rd 2012
Miles: 2.05 miles
Beverage of Choice: Mint tea

I like this little creperie on 14th St. I wasn't in the mood to ride too far or even to get coffee (hence why I had tea instead, which is allowed according to the rules) but I knew I needed to get another trip in while I could, because I never know what's gonna happen with my schedule. I had the grilled chicken pesto crepe (delicious) and the mint tea really hit the spot.

Crepe & tea

Only two more trips to go. Can I make it? I want to say yes, but I don't want to get too cocky because last year I missed the contest by one trip.

You might also note that for the last three trips, they are on consecutive days (Saturday, Sunday, Monday). My days off last week were switched around so that I ended up with two "weekends" back-to-back; Friday/Saturday and Sunday/Monday. This is because I worked 10 days straight the previous "week" and hadn't gotten my days off yet. I'm not cheating, I swear!

Another bonus to my "double weekend" is that I was able to participate in some BikeDC activities that I normally don't get an opportunity to do. DC Bike Party, the 7th Street Social Ride, and the Illuminated Art Ride are few of the bike events I was able to participate in. Posts on those rides coming up soon!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Back in the saddle

I was feeling the itch to stretch my legs on the bike and get out in the wonderfully mild weather we've been blessed with in the last week. I made plans with Mir to meet up with her at Great Falls Park and do a little hiking on the Billy Goat trail. I've never hiked it before, but I've heard good things about it. Mir was going to drive there (she had to work that afternoon) and I was going to bike there via the C&O canal towpath.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling a little bleary, but excited. I packed my backpack with water, snacks & a sandwich for later, plus some appropriate footwear for hiking since my Keen commuter sandals probably wouldn't work very well. I grabbed some breakfast from Harris Teeter's hot bar (surprisingly not too bad) and headed out.

I took my usual route of the Rock Creek Park trail to the Georgetown waterfront to the the Capital Crescent Trail. I rode by the end of a road race on the Parkway-the cone truck was slowly picking up orange cones behind one, lonely, last runner. Is there such a thing as a lanterne rouge for runners?

When I got to the CCT, I realized there was another race going on-either a half or full marathon. Luckily, it was near the end of it so the trail wasn't too crowded. In fact, I didn't have a single issue. It was a rather pleasant ride. There were race volunteers at every lock cheering on the runners and giving them water/Gatorade. I pretended they were cheering for me.

I decided to take my time getting to the Great Falls Tavern visitors center, where I was meeting Mir. It was nice not to feel rushed or pressured to get a certain number of miles in by x amount of time. It was just me & the bike & the outside. The weather was perfect-sunny & not too hot or humid. 

Fletcher's Cove. They rent all kinds of fun things including cruiser bikes.

Kermit the Hulk. He has a rear rack now, but I've been having problems finding panniers/bags that fit it. That's a subject for another post though.

 I passed Lockhouse 6 and reminded myself to make a reservation to stat there again soon. It will be almost exactly one year that we first stayed there (September 19th 2011 according to my Parks Passport). When I passed Lockhouse 10, I remembered that we'll be staying there Halloween weekend next month (spooky!).

Lockhouse 6. Love the porch & rocking chairs. It's been almost exactly a year since we stayed there for the first time.
The runners began to thin out at this point and it was pretty much just me & the canal for the rest of the trip. I was riding Kermit, and he was riding smoothly along the towpath.

I could tell when I got close to the Great Falls visitor's center, because the towpath suddenly became crowded with families. I hopped off my bike and walked it to the center (formerly a tavern) and found a few bike racks scattered around the grounds. I locked Kermit and was just in time to see the canal boat coming into the lock. You can take a canal boat ride from Great Falls Tavern. Normally the boat is towed by mules, but apparently the water level is too low to use the lock, so instead the mules got a break while a human pulled the boat a short distance up & down, and the boat was physically turned around by hand. Not exactly the same experience ;-)

Great Falls Tavern visitor's center/museum

Canal boat being towed by a guy.

Coming into the lock. It's a tight squeeze.

The mules were on break today.

I met up with Mir and we walked to the Billy Goat Trail A entrance. The trail is divided into 3 section, A, B & C. A is the most difficult with plenty of scrambling over large boulders (probably why it's named the Billy Goat trail-you need to pretend to be one). It was the closest trail to Great Falls (and had the best views). B & C are closer to Old Angler's Inn.

We hiked for about 30 minutes or so, before Mir had to turn around and head back-she had to work that afternoon. Still, the 30 minutes we did was a lot of fun & afforded plenty of views of the Potomac.

If you look carefully, you can see climbers on the opposite cliff.

We made plans to come back again and hike the entire trail next time.

After Mir left, I decided to hang around and check out the Tavern. I was able to get my Parks Passport stamped (they sell them there if you'd like to pick one up) and checked out the gift section. It took quite a lot of self-restraint not to buy almost everything. They have a decent selection of books, maps, toys & games. There are also some displays about the Tavern's history and a silent film produced by Thomas Edison in 1917 about life along the canal. Pretty neat. There was even a duo of bluegrass musicians outside playing the fiddle & banjo. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.


View from the overlook.

Unfortunately, the day turned darker when I saw a fire & rescue vehicle pull up with lights flashing, and U.S Park Police's helicopter began circling low overhead. That's never a good sign. I thought maybe a hiker or biker was injured or a boat had capsized, but it wasn't until later that I learned that a swimmer had drowned just north of where I was. Apparently he had gone out into the Potomac (illegally) and became trapped under a rock. There were plenty of witnesses, but they couldn't do anything for him except watch him drown. That area is littered with signs warning people not to wade/swim in that section of the Potomac. The current is very strong and there are so many hidden rocks. It was a sad reminder that those warning signs aren't just there to protect the park, but also to protect us.

Figuring it was time to head home (sunset is getting earlier and earlier, boo.), I headed back the way I came. The towpath was pretty empty at this time & the ride back was pleasant, but uneventful.

This was just the ride I needed to start feeling good about being in the saddle again.