Put Something In The Box
I can’t get enough of this ride. Of course, that sentiment is much different during the laatste quarter of the ride where my legs are already the consistency of Silly Putty and I still have a few 20% grades to contend with. However, as I peruse the images and Strava data post-ride the numbness and nausea subsides and I begin to think of the next edition and what I’d like to tweak on the bike and the route.
An alteration of the route was deemed necessary as I both wanted to summit Slate Ridge twice and sample some espresso from the lone coffee shop within a 50mi (lies) radius between said summits. Adding to the rubberiness of my legs was the apparent resurfacing of nearly every gravel secteur I rode. And by resurfacing I mean dumping giant boulders everywhere and letting cars and idiots like me flatten them out.
It’s been a while since the laatste time I rode the roads of my hometown. This time I went in search of what was a commonplace feature of our local roads: gravel. Turns out a good portion of what was once today’s terrain of choice is now chip-seal. Which isn’t actually terrible since I’m looking to ride crap roads regardless.
Not sure how I managed it, but there’s not a bit of flat in this route. I’m either going up or going down, and I loved every second of it. 22 miles with 2358 feet of climbing (Strava)—voor me that’s pretty good.
Note: all images taken with iPhone 4 and post-processed on Aperture using VSCO Film (Visual Supply Company) Fuji Superia 400++. I’m really digging these emulations.
Got a little weird on this ride. Had some running narrative playing out in my head and shot a ton of images to support it. However, in order to actually finish this post in a timely fashion considering it’s already late, I will spare you the details of my insane inner-monologue.
It should be noted that in addition to my disqualification in my previous post, that I’ve mis-read Rule 7 completely. Almost none of the rides have been utilitarian in purpose.
I pretty much suck at #coffeeneuring. But I’m damn good at riding my bike to get
The cultural dichotomy between Arlington, VA and Whiteford, MD is vaast (Flemish version). Even though I was raised in the northern territory, living in DC and Arlington since 1996 has made it seem alien. So, what’s the best way to integrate yourself into the local populace after a long absence? Wander around the countryside on a pushbike dressed like a ninja scuba diver. Bear with me as I reminisce ever so slightly during my journey through the ol’ stomping grounds.
Cue: Right on Rt-136 (Whiteford Road)
Feeling cocksure and ready to face the locals I snapped the shot below and loudly tweeted:
Alright hicks, watchu got?! campl.us/hefH
— Cycleboredom (@Cycleboredom) December 25, 2011
Their answer was swiftly sent in the form of a ludicrously oversized 4×4 buzzing me as they illegally passed a turning car on the shoulder. It’s something you expect out here so I was positioned in the grass, but it was a gentle reminder that I’m cycling in the land of the car.
See that rise way in the distance? That’s Whiteford Hill. Living on Rt-136, it comes 2.5 miles into the ride and hits 8.5%. It makes the heart and lungs do funny things. The shoulder disappears when the slow lane starts at the base of the climb forcing you to go anaerobic while cars are passing within feet of you. Thrilling!
Cue: Right on Main Street
After the lung-busting ascent and subsequent hope-and-pray decent, I turn onto Main Street for my first stop—the proverbial little red school house. And by red, I mean brick. And by school house, I mean converted apartments. People are sleeping in my childhood memories.
As you enter from the street you pass the white retaining wall of the house sharing the parking lot with the school. In my first act of public vandalism I drew a line the entire length of the (then) pristine white wall with a giant carrot I had been gifted during our visit to the Whiteford Packing Company down the street. I ended up having to wash the wall as punishment. In an ironic twist of all ironic twists, the owners of the wall ended up being my sitter for 4th and 5th grade years. They had forgiven me by then.
Never truly appreciating its significance when I attended, the fonts over the gym doors are magnificent. Inside, the many horrors of gym class were born. Especially that damn climbing rope…
About 100 yards or so down the street is the view below. Lots of memories of that route to school. I remember jumping across gaps as I balanced on the brick/stone walls in front of these houses. Some were too far to when I was really young, but I distinctly remember the exhilaration once I was able to clear them as I got older. I also recall one of the houses on the right was that creepy one you never wanted to go near. Pretty sure it’s a meth lab now. Some things never change…
Passed this every morning and afternoon on my way walking to/from school. During the busy season the air was suffocatingly thick with dry corn dust. It smelled amazing.
I loved this Mason-Dixon marker as a kid. It always felt like a historical relic from ancient times. It turns out my feelings were correct as this M-D marker was probably erected in 1765.
Cue: Left on Dooley Road.
Once a wretched hive of scum and villainy, this former gas station/live bait/liquor store is a mere shadow of its former glory. Which makes the fact they have such city-slicker beer like Fat Tire Ale all that more surprising. Although, they might be superimposing dreams of massive 4×4 mudders rather than puny MTB tires.
Cue: Left on Rt-165 (Pylesville Road)
This stretch of road was, and I think still is, where you could find out how fast your car can go. That’s life in the middle of nowhere.
Waaaaay in the distance is our local John Deere dealership, solidifying our ruralnicity. But just before that and just after the tree line ends, there’s a clearing. Which makes that section of road a deer crossing extravaganza, inevitably leading to…
After a few miles of familiar old fields interspersed with alien looking new housing developments I arrive at my former middle school. Ma Boredom taught here when it opened and only just recently retired after an incredible 40 years of educating. Chapeau!
Although, I don’t remember this being necessary back then. Thank you, nonsensical fear.
Cue: Turn back at roundabout, stay on Rt-165
Across the street is my high school. Bad things happened there. Dark things in dark halls. But with the ’07 makeover it looks like a happy happy 90210 school—at least from the outside.
Since the Xmas drivers were getting nuttier and more numerous, I decided to take the road less travelled.
Cue: Right on Old Pylesville Road
Immediately after turning off I snapped this shot of a familiar post-school stop: Halsey’s. All I remember is chocolate chip ice cream cookies. I always seemed to be hungry immediately after school let out.
A little further down the road less travelled is another store of convenience. This one, however, has certainly seen better days. Now it’s a meth lab.
Scenic overlook, maybe. Sadly, many of the local farmers are getting too old to run the farms and are selling their properties. Housing developments are showing up in the strangest places.
Cue: Right on Rt-136
After a few decent out of saddle efforts on the previous road’s rollers, I was debating whether or not to hit Whiteford Hill again. Deciding to go for it, I put my head down with no intention of stopping for a shot. This GoogMap screener will have to suffice. Fun fact: the speed limit is 30mph, but most travel 15-20mph above that. Notice the complete lack of shoulder. Again, thrilling.
Cue: Left on Jones Road
At the top of the hill, and once I recovered from my greyout, I make a quick left onto a road that I never travelled on in the 23 years I lived here—Jones Road. It’s one of the few remaining dirt roads in the area and I relished the opportunity to get all Rapha Continental on it. My Specialized Roubaix Armadillo Elite did NOT disappoint! Super smooth over rocks, potholes and other various country nastiness.
Cue: Slight left onto Ridge Road
Quickly off of Jones then onto Ridge Road I decided that I had to cross back over using another oft unused road. Back in the day Slate Ridge Road was a fantastic place to hear dueling banjos. But today I was astonished to see some massive houses where Ned Beatty might’ve knelt. In the first 50 yards of the road the grade hits a sweet 9.0%—and my legs started to get pissed.
Cue: Left on Slate Ridge Road
Some Strava evidence, FWIW. Let’s just say I’m not at my ideal climbing weight when compared to my power output. Those two elements will never align, sadly—I’ll never be that skinny!
With nearly everything named after slate, there has to be a reason right? Well here’s why: there’s actual slate on a ridge. No longer in use, the mine yielding slate once deemed the best in the world (Crystal Palace Exposition of 1850), operated from 1734 until 1944.
Cue: Right on Main Street
The rest of Slate Ridge Road drops down into Cardiff but not before providing some descending thrills. I made a right back onto Main Street again this time continuing on into Delta, PA. Starting with staying with the sitter to go to school, all the way up to my debaucherous high school days, this street played a large part in my “development” as a human—for better and for worse. The picture below has nothing to with any of that, though. I just wanted to get a shot of the service bear before it rusted through. Also, I think the shop is now a meth lab.
Yes, that’s a genuine, fully functioning general store!
As I’ve touched on a little earlier, Delta, PA is an old Welsh slate mining colony that ended in tragedy when the remaining inhabitants ate each other in a vain effort to stave off famine during the great blizzards of 2010. Okay, the first part is truthful as evidenced by the evidence provided below as well as the slate pictured 3 shots above.
In this land, the sidewalks are paved with slate.
This African American church has always felt like an embassy in an unfriendly foreign land, but it has thrived since 1900. It should be noted the Confederate flag is still proudly flown in the region, regardless of their location north of the Mason-Dixon.
Immediately to my left: “We’re Knights of the Round Table, We dance when ere we’re able!”
Cue: Continue on Main Street as it turns into Atom Road/Peach Bottom Road
Slate is everywhere, and it’s not always in slabs. Sometimes it’s in chunks. Drove by this for years and never noticed it. Bikes get you closer to your surroundings. And by surroundings, I mean this creepy haunted house.
Going in for a bit of detail, you’ll notice that amazingness is involved. That’s slate people—its sole desire is to break into slabs.
Cue: Right onto Slateville Road
Making the final stretch of what I consider the back way to getting home, I’m greeted with this National Geographic-esque facial of Americana. Or, at least, that’s what I think when I see it.
Cue: Turn right on Prospect Road
Make it to the church, turn right and you’re faced with this. I love these expanses.
The final miles of the ride are played out on unmarked, crap chip-seal rollers with a nasty pop waiting at the end. It hits 10%, but at this point of the ride and considering how bad my legs are feeling now it might as well be this:
Again, no shot considering I approached this climb with fear-driven speed only to cramp halfway up. Amusingly, there’s no Google Street View shot since this is too remote for them to consider.
A few more turns and I’m home. I was too tired to snap a shot where I got plowed by a car in 6th grade while riding my bike. It’s very close to home, and seems to be a nexus of disaster. The house whose driveway I bolted into the street from burned down last year. Creepy.
Finally, if you’ve read this far, I’m sorry.
Huy image by: Claus Moser on Flickr.
As I sit here in a pharmacological haze due to a MASSIVE attack of Streptococcus, I’m finding it difficult to recall anything from my past 15 days. Luckily I’ve been stalking myself with a camera and posting the lurid shots for the world to gaze upon and judge.
After viewing my personal paparazzi shots, I’ve concluded a few things:
I’ve already written how stupendous the #30DaysofBiking phenomenon is, and if you haven’t already read it, that’s what the obnoxiously long hyperlink is for. Even if you’re not participating in the challenge, I highly recommend trying to insert some extra bike into your life. Just pick something you normally do by car, and try it by bike. You’re not going to regret it.
If you’re already rocking through your own 30, how’s it going?
Since the April edition of #30DaysofBiking starts tomorrow, I’m going to try and keep this short. Otherwise I’ll be writing this until I’m 15 into my 30!
It’s a celebration, bitches! It’s celebrating bikes by riding them everyday for the entire month of April (and September). The official description states: “The only rule for 30 Days of Biking is that you bike every day for 30 days—around the block, 20 miles to work, whatever suits you—then share your adventures online. We believe biking enriches life, builds community, and preserves the Earth. This is the second year, and third round, of 30 Days of Biking!”
It’s everything stated above, but it’s the process that you go through during those 30 days that I find so intriguing. Sure, the holy grail for many is commuting to work. But that’s only one part of a “Want some carryout? Use your bike and pick it up yourself!”much larger picture. What was most revealing for me, was how I began looking for a multitude of opportunities to integrate the bike into my daily life. Need to pick something up from convenience store down the street? Use your bike. Want a cup of coffee a few miles away? Use your bike. Thinking of sightseeing or visiting a park or monument? Go by bike. Want some carryout? Use your bike and pick it up yourself! We’ve been conditioned so thoroughly to choose the car that it almost seems an impossibly herculean task to use anything but.
Once you start making those small trips by bike, you begin to notice how close everything actually is. Living in Arlington, VA we’re subjected to the traffic going in and out of DC on a daily basis. Some areas of Arlington are so impassable by car during both rush hours that you completely avoid them altogether. Yet with a bike, you’re able to dodge ALL of that congestion by accessing quiet, picturesque backstreets and bike paths. So where you might normally avoid travelling altogether, you’re more willing to make these trips regardless of the time of day. Now, to me, 3 or 4 miles for good coffee or food is a very short, enjoyable trip.
Next, as you become accustomed to riding everywhere on both long and short trips you start noticing your surroundings. You see things you might never have seen by car. You’ll take new routes where, new buildings, houses, and similar experiences flood your senses. You hear things otherwise impossible by car. You smell things (good and bad) that air conditioning would’ve filtered. Then best of all, you start interacting with people. You know those weirdos you see out running, or walking, or riding bikes when you’re speeding by? Now you’re one of them. Some say “Hi!” Some wave, “The disconnect caused by your steel barrier-box on wheels is gone when you’re street level.”some nod, and yes, some ignore you, but the odds of actually interacting with members of the human race increases exponentially. But for this to truly be a rewarding experience, you have to engage them. The moment you do, the world starts getting a little smaller and a little warmer. Think about your average emotion while driving a car when dealing with other people. It’s usually indifference, or irritation, or worse yet: rage. The disconnect caused by your steel barrier-box on wheels is gone when you’re street level.
Lastly, you’ll be subjecting yourself to physical exertion. You’ll be placing yourself in unknown situations. You’ll be challenging yourself on a daily basis, and you’ll come out stronger in the end. Your first trip down to the convenience store for a drink is an achievement. Then you’ll add in distance. Or it could be new roads with more traffic. Then you finally use your bike as a conveyance of cargo. The first time you bike carrying more than you ever thought possible is potentially the most liberating part of the 30 Days of Biking.
I was so amped upon completing my first #30DaysofBiking, that I wanted to continue the process of documenting my bike lifestyle. That’s where the #EverydayByBike series and hashtag came from. While I don’t need to be on my bike every single day (freelancer working from home), I make sure that when there’s an opportunity, I choose the bike over the car. I’ve been doing it so much that I actually feel defeated when forced for one reason or another to use the car. Below I’ve included the slideshows of my #30Days and #Everyday Flickr sets.
No loquacious setups, no wistful words of memories past, let’s just jump into the sheet.
Still partially buried from the first of the ’09/’10 winter dumpings, I made my way with the Revolution Cycles management team to the Dominican Republic for a little “R&R”. It turned out to be not completely restful, and in some cases not relaxing at all. But it made for a ton of stories. Out of everything that happened on that trip (24/7 rain, fire in airport terminal, moldy clothes), these two are the most memorable for two distinctly different reasons.
Bike Ride of Doooom: MTB ride down picturesque mountain roads and paths. Turned out it was during a downpour in 60˚ temps and we had no cold-weather gear. You know, because we’re in the TROPICS!! The ride tested the limits of our handling skills as sheets of rain obscured our vision while cars/trucks passed us on narrow blind corners. “…desperately stripping myself of soggy, clinging bibshorts moments before I produced my own torrential downpour.”Once we got off the roads and on the paths, they turned out to be brutal rock gardens covered in mud. Midway through our harrowing decent, the previous evening’s dinner decided that it had enough and wanted to escape my colon while I was riding my bike. Next thing I know, I’m in a shed behind a road-side fruit stand sitting on a wooden box desperately stripping myself of soggy, clinging bibshorts moments before I produced my own torrential downpour. Once I reigned in my innards, we continued down the mountain again, where I was promptly shelled off the back due to my lack of fitness. Then I flatted. Yeah, it was THAT fun. Luckily we had a sag-wagon that scooped me up and dropped me off with the others for an amazing Dominican feast under a thatched-roof canopy. But not before I hit the baño a few more times… One of the most amazing experiences of my life!
Earthquake in Haiti: Definitely not a highlight whatsoever. While eating dinner we all suddenly felt off-balance and queasy. At first we all thought we were having a simultaneous outbreak of Monty’s Revenge, but it turned out we were feeling the ripples from the massive earthquake in Haiti. We made our way home through yet another downpour and could the locals congregating around the glow of televisions, their gaze affixed attempting to glean some sense from the disaster. When we arrived back at our hotel, the entire area was under a cautionary tsunami alert. We all held our collective breath waiting for something that fortunately never materialized. Being so close to the disaster was painfully sobering. I could only think about being with my wife and daughter again.
February brought a unique opportunity in the form of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS). That it was being held in my “backyard” of Richmond, VA guaranteed that I’d be in attendance. I’ve been to Interbike a few times, and marveled at the quaint size of the NAHBS show. I say that because the entire show is the same size as the BMX pavilion in Vegas. But needless to say, the vendors/builders of handmade bikes are much more interesting people to talk to. I took a crapload of shots, and you can find them all on the Revolution Flickr page. Or below in the fantastic slideshow:
Mr. Fisher and the Lord of the Trek: In March I was part of something pretty revolutionary as Revolution Cycles opened the City Hub concept store in Crystal City, Virginia. It’s a mix of fixed-point localized bike-sharing, bike rentals, and traditional accessory sales and service. As we were putting the finishing touches on the space, the National Bike Summit was taking place just across the Potomac in DC. The summit brought us our very first customer, who was none other than Gary Fisher! Gary also sparked the first Tweet-ride from the City Hub location that evening. I had envisioned doing Tweet-rides beforehand and I couldn’t have asked for a better impetus than one of the founding fathers of mountain biking and Superman cycling ambassador. The City Hub business model was revolutionary and intriguing enough for Trek president and CEO, John Burke to pay us a visit the next day. Not too bad for the first 24 hours of being open!
Logos. Oh, and Brochures. Wait, Add Business Cards too. Also…: So other than looking pretty while mugging with Mr. Fisher, I had a relatively important job—the Hub needed a logo. It also needed a metric ****-ton of printed collateral! My partner in crime and I were flying by the seat of our pants as we were crafting both the conceptual and visual identities simultaneously.
I get to brag as well, since both John and Gary both commented on the design of the logo. Being cycling dignitaries they both copped a free City Hub diner mug as well. That’s a damn fine mug.
There’s also a damn fine shirt as well. I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome than how these shirts turned out. Logo on front, and my City Hub slogan/catch phrase , “Shares Well With Others” on the back. How much genius can be packed onto one garment? Don’t answer that. Instead, marvel as you gaze upon its visage.
If for some reason you’ve enjoyed my narcissistic indulgence, I have more coming. Topics include, a secret alternative Hub logo, a multitude of design, Hub Spins galore, and whatever else I can remember that I’ve obviously forgotten here. Stay tuned. Please.
Super stoked to announce that I’ve made the cut to join Ergon’s 2011 Commuter Team! Selected from hundreds of applications based on a combination of web/social media presence mixed with commuter cycling, I’m extremely honored to be chosen to represent the DC Metro area. The team of 12 will be sharing our commuting experiences through our websites and social media links all while using Ergon’s commuter-friendly products such as: GP1 BioKork grips, BC3 backpacks, PC2 pedal, and their new gloves!
Check out Ergon’s post on the team to see the names and locations of the 11 other team members and our media links. Stay tuned, this is going to be a lot of fun!
Randomness is generating within my head nearly every second I’m riding. But it’s during my longer road rides that I truly acquire some post-worthy subjects. Unfortunately, I’m out there for so long I typically forget them by the time I’m at the computer. This time I was lucid enough to capture these tidbits just before slipping into a Nutella induced coma.
Stopped into Boccato for an espresso, just to create a pre-ride ritual other than my usual taking a long-assed time to get out the door. I was greeted by Rob (co-owner, but the best owner) with a, “That’s one serious looking outfit. Nice ballet crotch too!” Nothing like having everyone in the place looking at your cod-piece, but that’s the beauty of wearing your kit in public. People can’t take their eyes off your package. Virgina (barista extraordinaire) however ,was unmoved managing to avert her eyes from my protuberance, crafting my shots as well as a mini fruit tart thing. Sweet!
I pretty much haven’t recorded a single mile or calorie this entire year as both of my Polar HR monitors batteries have died. And since these were purchased before Polar got their heads out of their asses, I have to send them back to base camp because the batteries aren’t user serviceable.
Regardless, I’m really starting to need one as my ego (cycling brain) is writing bigger checks than my legs can cash.
Case in point: Came upon another sartorially exceptional cyclist such as myself riding a Colnago. As he slotted in behind me, I picked up my pace slightly. It didn’t take long for him to That lasted a few hundred meters (metric is pro), until you could hear a distinct pop, then a horrific crack.decide that I’m not going fast enough for his HR to begin to register actual exercise, so he passed. Of course I immediately jumped on to his wheel in order to maintain the extreme level of pro-ness we were both exhibiting. That lasted a few hundred meters (metric is pro), until you could hear a distinct pop, then a horrific crack. There I was, 1/4 of the way into my ride, and I was cooked. Plus I also realized that I was starting to act like a pathlete by jumping onto his wheel, and that’s a Cycleboredom no-no.
I also need the timer to tell me when I should drink. I used to pull out the water bottle every 10 minutes, and the gel every 20. Now I’m completely forgetting both. I didn’t drink anywhere NEAR the appropriate amount of fluids for the ride. And the fluids I did managed to consume were hydration hole-digging diuretics. I’m a smart one I am.
While rolling through Old Town Alexandria, an impatient driver tried to overtake me as I came to a stop sign. I dutifully paused, then as I accelerated I looked back to stare down the car who essentially was trying to cut me off due to their impatience. Surprise, surprise, it was an unmarked police cruiser. From that point on, he stayed a respectable distance off my wheel as I stopped at each sign. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Since this post has gotten completely out of hand lengthwise, and I can’t see how anyone could read the literary equivalent of bleaching your eyes, we’ll continue using bullet points.
2 rides are enough to declare something as fact. If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Flickr then you know that I’ve been doing nothing but bitching about my back. So for the past two rides I took MA’s advice on embro-ing the lower back during colder weather. All I have to say is that it’s sex on your back. And depending on who with we’re talking about, it was better than sex in some cases. I used Mellow since anything more would be a punishment for that soft, virginous skin just north of your crack. It was just enough burn to remind you that it was there. Plus when I was literally chilling while sipping my espresso outside, the fire above my butt kept me warm. Lovely. Mad Alchemy Embrocations ain’t no snake oil. Check ‘em out!
This doesn’t really constitute as news, but I was delighted with my espresso shots at Perk Up. Aesthetically speaking, espresso served in Illy demitasse cups tastes better. Ironic that the shots aren’t pulled from Illy grinds though. Then again, Illy tastes like ass most times anyway so that’s probably a good thing. Reason I’m writing on such an inane topic is that it’s the closest shop to the Mt. Vernon Trail that isn’t Starbucks, and that their pulls have varied each time I stop in. So I give them a break since I don’t have much of a choice by going into the whole operation with less than positive expectations. Maybe I should Yelp that for them?
I know I’m generalizing, and that I can’t possibly know everyone’s life stories at that given moment, but rich looking people on the trail generally have the most sour looking faces, ever. It baffles me that while walking/riding/running in such a beautiful environment, and living in ridiculously expensive neighborhoods that no one smiles. I’ll admit from time to time I’ll extract a small crack of a smile upon their dour visage but that’s few and far between. Is this true of rich people in general, or is it just a Northern Virginia/old money thing? It makes me enjoy being poor so much more if that’s what I have to look forward to. Anyway, enough on that silliness.
These really have nothing to do with the title of the post, but they happened. So here they are.