Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Calling the Moon

Last night I had dinner with out-of-town friends, meeting them after I got off work. We had a nice meal, sitting outside at a cafe, enjoying the comfortable temps and catching up. The bike ride home was lovely...the full moon was rising, as I saw it in peeking between trees and buildings. The usual busy city streets were unusually quiet - - which made the ride home even more enjoyable! Not many cars or people that were out and about.

Just one of those really nice bike commuting nights that will stay in my memory always. :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


We're in the middle of a nasty heat wave...temps up near 100 when I get off work. Whew! The other day on my ride home, I was stopped and waiting at a traffic light. As I grabbed my water bottle (that had been in the freezer at work all day), a guy rolled up on his bike. I took a double-take because of two things: he was wearing a LONG SLEEVE SHIRT AND JEANS; and he had NO water bottle (he didn't even have a water bottle cage!). I was pretty surprised and I asked him if he wanted some of my water. He said no, he was fine. I thought maybe he didn't have a long commute, maybe he came from right nearby, so I asked him. Nope, he said his office was right near mine. I don't know how in the world he was biking in those clothes and without any water!! Wow. I don't know if he was crazy or foolish! :) (probably both??) I'm thankful that my commute home is mostly downhill and it is shady. :) These things help a lot. :)

On my commute, I make use the bike lanes, which sometimes feel safe, and sometimes not, so I'm not real decided about them. The bike lane is one-way, on a one-way street. Everyone's going the same direction....except a couple times there will be a bicyclist who decides to be a "salmon" and ride the wrong way - towards you - in the lane. The lane can accommodate this, but it's a little close. Plus, you have the traffic right alongside you, so you don't want to veer very far to the right. The other day, I was surprised when a guy on ROLLERBLADES zipped past me in the bike lane. There was a part where some cars were merging/crossing over into the bike lane to make a left at the light ahead. The skater hip-hopped his way between the merging cars - - I thought he was gonna smack into the back of one of them. Wow. I feel a bit vulnerable on my bike, but this guy has even less protection (no helmet/pads). I haven't seen a rollerblader in a long time - seems the fad kind of disappeared.

One other thing I've noticed on my commute that kind of bothers me. I'll be waiting at a light, and another bicyclist will come along and slow down at the light - - check for traffic and then proceed across. I have seen this same behavior by cyclists up in New York City. Now granted, a lot of times, there may not be many or any cars coming. But a few things: they are running a red light and if anything happens and they are hit or cause an accident, one of the first questions the police will ask was "where were you when it happened" and the police will find out that you had run a red light (and the driver will concur). I think it's kind of odd that a cyclist will pull up alongside me, while I'm waiting for the light to change. You'd think they'd feel a bit guilty or wrong in then proceeding through the light. (Part of me wants to say outloud "That's a RED LIGHT....!" but they would probably just ignore me.) I've seen cyclists run a red even when there are more than one cyclist waiting at the light. It's just not smart. I wonder how long it will be before cyclists get a ticket for running a light.... I'm not sure how the police can enforce it, and maybe that's why the cyclists do it. I read an interesting article about cyclists in Amsterdam. Of course, they have "bicycle traffic lights" there, so the bicyclists can proceed safely and cars are held back. I read that the bicycle lights are TIMED so that if the bicyclists go a certain slower speed, then all the bicycle lights will stay green. If they go too fast, they will inevitably catch a red light. That's an incentive! :) I read another article where it was pointed out that there are positive pay-offs to waiting at the light: (1) greater respect from motorists; (2) improved safety; and (3) better relationship with pedestrians. Not to mention it's your civic responsibility....

Something to think about....while you're waiting at a light. :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

R&R - Raccoons & Rain!


I was heading home last night and was on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. I looked up ahead and saw a large hunched-over animal slowly crossing the path. It didn't take long to realize that it was a raccoon! It went into a fenced area to where some construction machinery was located and I pulled up soon after. It turned around and gave me a mean look like "Don't mess with me!". I saw it was pretty skinny and it was holding its left rear leg up, like it was hurt. Aww....poor thing... So I didn't stick around long and kept on down the path. It's unusual to see a raccoon out in the daylight.

As I continued to ride, I noticed the clouds shifting. The forecast said there was some spotty rain around, so I had brought along my rain jacket just in case. When I got about a mile from my home, the clouds were really looking nasty and I could see some rain falling in the distance. I started to pick up the pace, and when I got to where I needed to cross to my street, a loud boom of thunder sounded. I said outloud "There's your warning sign!!". I got my bike and bag into the house and about a minute later, big drops came down and it poured! Whew! Glad I beat the storm!! :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bike to Work Day 2013

Today was fantastic weather for Bike to Work Day 2013. :) Earlier this week, we had morning temps in the 40's/50's, which felt ridiculous for mid-May. So I was glad I could leave home without a jacket or other cold-weather riding gear. :)

I was running a little behind schedule, and even though I had signed up to stop at the Bike to Work Day pit stop in Magruder Park, down the street from me, I decided to skip going there. When I went last year, there were only a handful of people at that stop, and there wasn't much excitement or activity there. With the different route I'm taking to work now, I ride on part of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, and lo and behold, there was a Pit Stop along the trail! :) I parked my bike and told the organizers there (all ladies) that I had signed up for the Hyattsville stop, but would they mind if I got my freebies at their stop. They didn't mind, so I got a nice blue Bike to Work Day shirt (my favorite color!), a new water bottle (which I needed), a patch kit, a newly issued bike trail map of DC, a granola bar and small brownie, and I signed up for a raffle for a free bike tune-up. Not bad! :) I recognized one of the lady organizers as one of the bike mechanics at the BicycleSpace store in DC. I said, "Remember me? I'm the one who came to pick up my Brompton, but there were 2 blue Bromptons there and I picked the wrong one?" She remembered me (well, she remembered my bike she said!). There had been a blue Brompton in the service area when I walked in to pick up my Brompton. I said I was there to pick up my bike, and since I had just called, I assumed they had brought my bike out and put it in the service area for pick-up. The lady mechanic rolled the bike to a back room to do one more check-over, and I noticed there was a blinking Brompton rear light....which I don't have on my bike! That's when I realized it wasn't mine afterall. She went downstairs, and retrieved my bike, which she said was different from the other because mine had a black stem...something I hadn't really paid much attention to).

Anyway, I was happy to be able to be alive and feeling good enough with my recovered arm to be able to participate in Bike to Work Day. And the beautiful weather was an added plus! :)

Life is good. :)

P.S. I just read online that more than 14,000 people signed up for Bike to Work Day this year!! Wow - amazing!! :)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Having A Ball, Two Ways :)

Last Sunday afternoon, since the weather was pretty nice out, I decided to ride and check out the streets that the East Coast Greenway route takes. There are signs for it along the route I used to ride to work, but I've never seen where the route goes. I wondered if it would lead to the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The Metropolitan Branch Trail is part on-road, and part-dedicated bike trail. Some of the trail parallels the tracks for the subway. During my recovery period from the bike accident, I've been taking the subway to work and I look out the windows and see the various bikers gliding happily along. I knew in my heart I would join them as soon as I was physically able. Fortunately for me, the timing of my return to bike commuting coincided with the arrival of Spring.

The route zigzagged along quiet suburban streets as I followed the small white and green tree route signs. It was a little hillier than my other commute route, but I'll take that over busier roads. :) After a few miles, I then saw the sign for the Metropolitan Branch Trail and I hopped on. It felt good to be on a dedicated bike path, knowing that no cars would bother me there. I took it down to the L Street exit, and wandered around, wondering how I could make my way over to my office. Unfortunately, unless I backtracked, none of the streets really headed in that direction - I just saw "Do Not Enter" signs, which I think were dead-end roads. There were other roads that I could try, but they were busy roads. I'd rather not deal with any busy roads.

So I went back up on the trail and headed back and got off on an earlier exit, at R Street. Heading on R Street for a couple of blocks, you then come to a one-way road aimed right at you along with a "Do Not Enter" sign...but right below it was another sign saying "Except Bicycles". :) There were cars parked to the left along the designated bike route - so it was a little weird. Riding up the wrong way on a one-way street, but safely on a clearly marked bike route between the curb and the parked cars. It brought me in a few blocks to First Street. I realized if I turned left, I would then continue along my old route - - minus the busier roads, because the route skirted south of that area.

So today, I decided to ride to work. I had told a couple of people over the weekend and yesterday that I was thinking of going back to biking. They were surprised and wondered if I would be okay. About a month ago, my physical therapist said that I was cleared to ride, and that it would be good for me and strengthen my muscles. So I was mainly waiting for the weather to warm up (which took FOREVER this year!).

The ride went good - I took it easy and was very watchful and careful. I was a little tired and my legs were weak from not exercising, but the fresh air and movement was invigorating. After turning onto First Street, I rode the familiar route toward my office. I arrived in plenty of time to change clothes and clock in on time. I made it!! :)

It was nice to get back to biking instead of taking the subway. The subway is handy, but it kind of grates on you. Especially during Cherry Blossom season, when the trains are bulging with tourists. Cramming onto the subway trains and moving like a school of fish when transferring at stations is just not a lot of fun...not to mention the daily cost of taking the train. The subway helped me when I needed it, and now my bike will take it from here. :)

Yesterday at the office, I won free tickets to a Washington Nationals baseball game! The tickets usually go lightning fast, so I was surprised that I was the first email to make it in to get the tickets! :) So after work, a biking friend of mine is meeting down at the Jefferson Memorial so she can see the famous Cherry Blossoms, and then we will ride to the stadium for the game. There is free bike valet parking in a garage across the street from the stadium, which is very nice. I heard the seats that we have are right behind the home plate, so that will be great! :) I'm not a big baseball fan, but it will be a nice change to do something different. :)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cue the Rocky Theme! :)

This past Sunday, with the weather being in the 60's, and my schedule being free...I decided to pump up my tires on the Brompton bike, don my new bike helmet, and get back on the steel horse. :) I wasn't sure if I had the strength in my arm to pump up the tires, or get the bike pump attachment off of the bike tire valve once it was attached and pumped... I didn't even think that I would be out of breath to even pump up my tires! :( Jeez.

Then I wasn't sure if my arm could handle carrying my Brompton down the front steps, so I guided it as I let it lightly bump down the stairs. My whole body and mind was on High Alert as I started out pedaling. First of all, it felt a bit weird to be rolling again. The front wheel felt weird to me, maybe because I hadn't ridden my small wheeled bike in so long. Then my attention was directed many times to my rear view helmet mirror, as I saw cars coming up behind me. I automatically tensed up, thinking they could hit me. :( I guess it's an automatic reaction after such a traumatic event as being hit from behind... I had never thought about being hit from behind before in all the years I've ridden. I hopped on the sidewalk where I felt a little safer, but I couldn't ride the whole way on sidewalks to the grocery store (my first errand). The grocery store is less than a mile away, so that was a good first destination.

After I got home and unloaded my groceries, I decided next on the list was to go to the nearby bike store and treat myself to new bike gloves....I don't know what happened to the gloves I was wearing when I got hit. :/ The bike store is probably a mile and a half away, up a little bit of steep hill. So I took it slow (I didn't have a choice!) and huffed and puffed up the hill. (The Brompton doesn't have real good low gears, so that doesn't help.) I did enjoy the downhill from the hill I climbed. :) The bike store unfortunately wasn't stocked with a full selection of sizes of fingerless gloves, as it was a bit early in the season. I told the guy at the counter that this was my first ride since being hit last Nov. He looked at me as if he was seeing a ghost....and I certainly feel sort of like half of a ghost...trying to regain my former biking self...

Next on the list was to go to the bank to deposit a check. It was maybe a mile or less away. Wouldn't you know it, the one day that I want to make a deposit, that feature isn't working on the ATM?? Crazy. :( Strike Two.

I then decided to head to College Park Bicycles, as I thought it might have a better selection in gloves, and I was right. I made the purchase of nice gloves, and then pooped out, I went to 7-11 to treat myself to a Slurpee - - something I haven't had in years. I think they've changed the composite make-up of Slurpees since I last had one.... Anyway, it was cold on my throat and refreshing. I walked my bike over to a retaining wall where I could prop my bike up against, and enjoy my drink, and then I called my sister to make a request.

When she answered, I said, "Can you do me a favor? Can you either sing or play a few bars from the Rocky movie?" (I didn't tell her what I was doing at the time). She was wondering why, but she sang a few bars and then I told her I was out biking! :) She was pretty surprised, and then with gusto, she played the full triumphant Rocky theme music from her husband's phone...as I sat and had tears streaming down my face. I couldn't help it - - for me to get back out on my bike, being alive, and to ride again, was a triumph, and the Rocky theme matched my feelings perfectly. :)

After we hung up, I headed back home...into a headwind and a couple more hills.....Ugh.... It didn't help that my body was fighting off a slight cold. During my ride home, my arm started to feel a little tired, so I would let it rest by my side and ride one-handed to take a break. When I got home and I showered, I promptly fell asleep for AN HOUR! Wow.

I had only biked maybe 8-10 miles, but it felt like almost 100 miles....! Just shows you how an accident and inability to exercise can set you back. :( My arm was a little bit sore in the days afterward. I would think that riding the bike would be good for strengthening my arm...in holding the upright handlebars, and in using the brakes.

So I look forward to being able to get out to ride again, and get stronger, like Rocky. :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Spinning Wheels

The other weekend, a friend helped me to hook up the indoor bike trainer that my biking friend, Reba, lent to me. The first thought I had was, "Well, no cars can get me in here!" :) (unless they veer off the road outside and come through the house!) You can see my bike from the bike accident propped up against the wall in the background.

I rode on the trainer for a little while the other night. It's a bit loud - maybe I should get my iPod and listen to music when riding it, to drown out the noise. I feel like a gerbil in an exercise wheel....spinning but getting nowhere. Safe, but not a lot of fun... Maybe I'll grab a bike magazine or bike-related book to read while I spin... At least it will distract my mind.

Well, at least the weather is climate-controlled inside my room...don't have to be concerned about dressing for the weather! :)

I think I heard a Spring bird outside the other day....Spring will be here pretty soon... (37 days....but who's counting?!) I hope my arm and arm muscles will be ready then to hop on and go for a spin outside. Think I'll ride on some car-free bike paths to start with. :)