Sunday, May 30, 2010

On Saturday, I rode to Old Town with my parents and Josh. We left around 10:30 and got to Georgetown for coffee and breakfast burritos around 11:30. We rode on and low and behold, when we crossed the memorial bridge into Virginia, there was a long parade of motorcyclists, "rolling thunder"ers, crossing in the opposite direction. Here is a picture of Josh and my dad crossing the bridge, bike v bike.

Once we crossed the bridge, it was a little complicated getting back onto the bike path, we had to sprint across a few lanes of parkway traffic and hope for the best. We all survived. Once on the path, we rode right alongside the river for a few miles. It is great, biking along the potomac overlooking all the sights of the district... just another Saturday morning. This path is a nice change from the one between Bethesda and Georgetown which I've done countless times and know like the back of my hand. Unlike the capital crescent trail, the Virginia path has little rolling hills. At times, it did take us right alongside the parkway which is kind of dangerous and not the best for my paranoid nature. Focus pocus as my brother circa 1996 would say. A portion of this path guided us through the great expanse of National Airport which isn't the prettiest. But that was well worth the awesome experience of riding by the end of the runway and watching planes land right over our heads. Unbelievable. It took like three plains flying overhead for my mom to get a decent picture. This is the best we got but you can see how close they are. It was really cool, and so loud!!

About five miles later, I was drafting Josh peleton style when he slams on his breaks and says "rattlesnake!" I am terrified but strangely intrigued by snakes so I screamed but proceeded to get off my bike to see more. We decided that it wasn't a rattlesnake and must be harmless so he got up really close to it with my camera. Later, he did some google exploring and deduced that it was indeed a water mocasin! Good thing it was moving away as he took this picture. And good thing I didn't know that at the time!!

We made it to Old Town hungry and ready to sit for a while only to discover that my dad had much more in store for us. We were to ride our bikes on the beltway! That's right, the beltway. Apparently the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, which carries the traffic of I95 and I495 from Alexandria, VA to Oxon Hill, MD has bike lanes. Not just lanes but a path along the northern side of the bridge that is pretty wide, has benches and binocular lookout stations, and a walled barrier between bike and car traffic. It is 1.3 miles long and is a drawbridge. While we were all ready to take a break, we were happy to have done this. It was really cool to bike 15 or 20 mph alongside 12 lanes of cars going 60 or 70 mph. Here's Betsy on her way back across the bridge.

We made it back to Old Towne and ate on the roof of an Irish bar/restaurant. Riding through Old Town, I marveled at the pretty houses that reminded me of Charleston, SC. I was curious about real estate prices thinking, 'this is Virginia, it can' be too expensive'. Later, I overheard our Irish waiter telling another table that his Bulgarian girlfriend looked at a 650 sq foot one bedroom apartment in old town that was going for $1950/mo. At that price, I'd much rather live in DC.

Last stop of the trip: Cheesetique, a great little cheese shop/cafe started by this young woman from Alexandria who quit her office job one day to devote her life to cheese. Their assortment is amazing. There was a 20 year aged extra-sharp cheddar for $39.99/lb!! I got a guiness veined cheddar and a rosey goat, both unbelievably strong and delicious.

Josh an I, apparently weaker than my parents twice our age, had tailbone and foot pains so we rode to Crystal City and took the metro home from there. We got lost trying to find the station and were highly unimpressed by the unpleasant, empty feel of the area. It is just a bunch of tall buildings and busy roads, there weren't even many people on the streets. Eventually we found the train and made it home. 35 miles later.

Trying new cheeses, biking unfamiliar interstate territory, avoiding lethal snake bites, and coming home with sore legs are truly the marks of a good day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Meet Lucy

She's pretty.

Also, here is a picture of the cake I made my coworker who is leaving us for Boston (and is a huge Celtics fan). Don't let this fool you though, I am wholeheartedly routing for the Magic.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fearlessness lost

During the summers in middle school, 5 friends and I used to ride our bikes to the pool every day. Three of us were members so the other three would each pretend to be one of our siblings and would get in free. We cheated the club out of $21/day for the entire summer. Damn the man. We would swim all day and charge countless blts and ice cream sundaes to one of our parents' accounts. The most memorable thing about these days, for me, is the bike ride home. There was this HUGE hill, which I'm sure would not seem nearly as huge to me anymore. I'm sure it took a few weeks but, eventually, we all grew the balls to ride down this hill without holding onto our handlebars. Some of us, myself included, weren't afraid to raise our arms above our heads, as if we were securely locked into anaconda or space mountain. This hill was not just a hill, it was a road. It was meant for cars to drive down and up. It intersected with another road, the protection from which was nothing but four stop signs. None of this mattered. We were fearless. A fearlessness that I long for today. I now ride to work on busy roads, some busier than Dorset Ave, which hosted our HUGE hill, but not most. On these busy roads, I walk (or BIKE!) a fine line between cautious and paranoid. I am as aware of my surroundings as I can be and I know that is very important, but I also find myself imagining everything that could go wrong. My fearful imagination is distracting and could end up being more harm and good.

While I don't wish to revert to my bike riding days that emulated every parents' worst nightmare, I do wish I could combine the fearlessness of my childhood with the discretion and care that I ride with today. If not, it'd be nice to at least have a bike commute like my mom's which, while it's twice as long, puts her on a pleasant woodsy trail for three-fourths of the ride. Despite her slowness, she can ride like a little kid again.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Discovering Bikes

I have never blogged before. I have, however, biked. My biking days began my junior year in high school when I pulled my mom's ten year old schwinn hybrid out of our garage and rode down to DC for the cherry blossom festival. Despite the congestion on the capital crescent trail, I discovered that biking is the most fun and efficient means of transportation there is. I discovered that biking to Georgetown was the best excuse I could find to shop. I also discovered that biking was the best way to cure a hangover and the best way to blow dry my curly hair (until three years later when I joined the more responsible biking community in wearing a helmet).

Long story short, I moved to Gainesville, Fl, bought an awesome pink Panasonic touring bike from the 70s that lasted me three long years. I passed this dependable bike on to Nicole and began my search for a road bike. I went through two road bikes my senior year but both ended up not fitting me properly. A few months ago, my mom, who knows how to scour craigslist like you wouldn't beleive, found me an awesome 1985 Schwinn World Sport that I have named Lucy and have made my sidekick. She is the reason for this blog.

Ragbrai is also the reason for this blog. And Joyce, my new-found Ragbrai compadre. More on them to come...