Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life is like Bike

I was thinking about this post the other day and how my dream of riding the rockies this summer fell through. Not all dreams can be lived. But, somehow, it makes me even more determined to follow through on the dream for next summer, the ultimate dream to traverse America on two wheels. It also got me thinking about what other quotes I might find about cycling. I looked on google image and pinterest so my search turned up far fewer, more aesthetically pleasing quotes than I'm sure exist elsewhere in cyberspace.

I don't get to use my creative gears enough... What else?

Potter's Hill
The best diet is the car free diet

this seems the most popular
well, and it must be... genius!

And, my personal favorite!

Someday I will find some more substantial, memorable words about the sport. But for now, these are nice to look at and think about.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tire Pops

Many weeks ago, on a Saturday in early May, Josh and I woke up and rode our bikes to the polo grounds for our weekly Touchstone soccer game. We rode down Connecticut, across Calvert, by our Frisbee field, and into Rock Creek Park. Josh, riding in front came to a little bridge over the creek, and he came to it way too quickly. Before I knew what had happened, I heard a profane word or two come out of his mouth and watched him dismount his bike. He had popped his front tube. When Josh gets in a sticky situation like this, his first instinct is to get angry. He can not think rationally and just curses the situation. I, trying to think rationally and formulate a plan, get frustrated by his anger and then get angry myself. Luckily, this only lasts two or three minutes and then we can work together. So, in the middle of D.C.’s woods, Josh says, “I’ll lock my bike here and we can grab a cab.” Really? We’re going to hail a cab at 9:30 on a Saturday morning on the side of Rock Creek Parkway? I don’t think so. I counter with, “No cab can pick us up here. You lock your bike here and then ride mine to the Polo Grounds. And I’ll run alongside you.” But really? I can run 4 miles with a backpack on in under 40 minutes and then play an hour of soccer? Again, no. Josh’s anger had quelled but it was still simmering so with each failed idea, he got a little frustrated. But then, a lightbulb went off in his head. I would ride my bike home as fast as I could, drop it off, and grab Alberta (my Yaris). Meanwhile, he would walk back up to Woodley Park where I could up him and his bike. So that we did. I should note that by the time I got to him, his back tire had deflated as well. We got to the field at about 9:56 and I dropped him off. I drove around for about ten minutes before finding a parking space, confirming my belief in the convenience of bike commuting. We played the game with no subs and ended up winning 3-0. So it wasn’t such a bad morning after all.

Josh waited until two Thursdays later to turn our little apartment into his bike repair shop and replaced both tubes just in time for Bike to Work Day the next morning. He did this fairly smoothly, with a little help from myself, but noticed that his back wheel was not spinning smoothly. It looked like this:

After riding to work the next day, while having the free breakfast provided to anyone that showed up with a bike and a helmet (what a great place to work!), Josh showed the awkward spinning to a knowledgeable co-worker and was told that his wheel simply needed to be trued. It was safe to ride on it this way for a little while but not for too long. So the next morning, we rode our bikes to another soccer game (a double-header, actually) at Wilson High School in Tenleytown. It was a beautiful morning leading into a painfully hot afternoon. After the game, ready to ride home, Josh realized his front tire was flat again so I rode home alone and he took the metro with Brendon, probably preferring to be lazy anyway. Not confident in his ability to replace his tube again, having obviously screwed something up last time, he let his bike sit unused for almost a month. This made our commutes to Frisbee and soccer games a much bigger hassle but, finally, my nagging proved useful and he took the Scattante to Silver Cycles in Silver Spring this past Saturday. Fifty dollars and 30 minutes later, his wheel was trued, his tube pumped, and his apparently defective tire replaced. Finally, he can ride with me again.

Bicycle maintenance does cost you something and it can be a hassle but it is worth the effort. A newly functioning bike has proven to rejuvenate even the pessimistic riders, like Josh who I caught researching Florida bike jerseys and comfy padded shorts when we got home. Knowing that the second tube popped because of an existing flaw in his tire, not a flaw in his maintenance will hopefully promote the tiny apartment bike repair shop as a viable option in the future.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Woodrow Wilson Bridge 1/2?

Today, I got back to my desk after a meeting and had this stuck to my monitor:


An inquiry from my babescout friend, fellow runner, and co-worker Hadley. I first heard about the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon on March 25, the day before our half. There was a postcard advertisement in our pre-race packet and I thought it sounded sweet. It is only a few years old and it is local. It begins in Alexandria, VA and ends in National Harbor, MD with a long run across the Wilson Bridge in between. If you've been reading me from the start you may remember my bike rides across this stretch of beltway. I am nostalgic for the snakes, the crashes, the world cup games, the cheese shops, and the beers from those rides and I would love to know what that familiar territory feels like on two feet. So I am tempted.

But I have also been planning, for a while, on running the Baltimore half exactly thirteen days later on October 15. I owe you many updates on that and they will come soon. What do you think, can I run both? Or, the more important question, can I afford both?

Biking to Ingrid

One night last week, Ingrid and I made last minute plans to eat food and drink wine on her eighteen-story high rooftop. We decided to meet at SweetGreen in Logan Circle to grab food to go. Not having ridden the bikeshare beyond Dupont Circle, I decided to venture a little further. There were two very crucial questions to which I needed a yes answer in order for this venture to be a success. First: Could I ride (slowly on this three-speed bike) to Logan Circle in my allotted 30 free minutes? Second: Where are there stations in Logan Circle and would there be space available for me to dock?

 The first question I could not answer with certainty so I simply had to have faith in my legs (and the traffic). The second question, however, I could answer thanks to my trusty iPhone and the “SpotCycle” App. Spotcycle is a mobile app that uses GPS to display the location and status of bike stations near you. They have locations in the US, Australia, Canada, and the UK. It is like nextbus for bikes and it is really accurate and quick to refresh.

This was my first time really using Spotcycle. And by really, I mean holding it in my right hand the entire ride and checking it every time I stopped at a light. I learned that Logan Circle bike docks are in high demand at 6 pm on a Monday night so I was a little frantic. But I got a spot two blocks away on 14th and Rhode Island and I also learned to chill out and risk my life a little less blatantly.
My ride lasted just under thirty minutes, which it wouldn't have had a spot not opened up on Rhode Island in the last three minutes. I assume the system is nice and smart enough not to charge if you go over because your destination station is full and you have to ride to another. But we all know what happens when you ASS-U-ME so I pre-emptively e-mailed customerservice@capitalbikeshare to confirm. I will let you know what I find out.

Biking is a wonderful thing but, in a place like the District of Colombia, it too can be stressful. Luckily I had fun with it and was graced with the presence of my pretty friend at the end of the ride. We got our salads- and I got a SweetGreen card which she scolded me for not yet having. We walked to her apartment and yelled to our frisbee friend Ross as he happened to bike by us on 15th street. We played with her bunny and then went to the roof to watch the sunset, rub away goosebumps for a change, eat and drink wine on lawn chairs, and have a wonderful and exciting discussion about life.

Some Rights Reserved  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Morning Running

I have been running in the morning before work and it's very weird. Sometimes I feel energetic and rested and sometimes I feel nauseous and tired. Sometimes I am fast and sometimes I am slow. Sometimes I run with Nikki and sometimes I run alone. Sometimes I run three miles and sometimes I run six. But I always, ALWAYS feel great for the rest of the day. I feel more awake, I feel privelaged to indulge in any high-calorie food I like, and I feel clean (because it forces me to shower before work...)

I have struggled this week to commit to getting up early and have beat the urge to sleep through the 6am alarm only once. But I think about last summer when I didn't run at all, and even last fall and winter, when I was training for a half marathon and still running only once or twice a week. I am finally in a place where running is plain and simply part of my lifestyle. I am not training for any races (not for a while at least) but I am still motivated to put my shoes on and run miles and miles. And not only am I motivated but I look forward to it. It is a challenge but it is no longer a chore. It's not just about being skinny like it used to be, it's about being happy and pushing myself and setting goals and escaping from work and life stress. And, when I am so lucky, it's the perfect way to socialize with friend(s).

Now, it's time to sleep so I can get up in eight hours and hit the open road!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Tonight my brother said, "If it's not fixed, it's broken." He rides a fixed gear bike. And, though he was kidding, I think he's a snob. A hipster just mockingly confirming his hipsterness. But there's a lot more to him than that.

Tonight my brother also said he would travel cross country with me next summer. I am going to ride my bike and he will maybe follow me in a car with a video camera. I will write a book and he will make a movie. About the same experience. Our parents may join. It's all a new and crazy thing but it's something I've been thinking a lot about recently and it is something I am so so serious about.

And I want Joyce to respond to my most recent e-mail confirming that she is still interested in being a part of this adventure. After all, the idea was ours at first, thought up one afternoon last July as we rode our bikes alongside the cornfields. We've continued to talk about it and I know it will be a crazy time for her, with graduation and all, but I hope she's still as serious as I am. And as the rest of the Shaws are now.