Vacation Ramblings

Isle La Motte
R and I talked about bringing our bikes on our vacation. As it turned out, my shifter cables decided to explode and fray the day that we were going to leave. I had to leave my bike at the shop.

We ended up renting a couple of bikes on the first day, and rolled around the islands. One day was enough for R. I couldn’t help but notice bicycles and infrastructure throughout the week. Bikes were common in Montreal, and there were painted bike lanes, bike lanes with a concrete barrier separating them from cars, and sharrows. We saw all sorts of bikers– from the spandex-clad racing up Mont Royal, to the commuters in regular clothing riding from one part of the city to another. I did not see any conflicts with bicyclists and drivers while I was there, and it seemed like biking was simply another accepted mode of transportation.

Burlington Bikeway
I noticed the trails in Burlington, VT and in Northampton, MA. Beautiful day for a leisure ride, and again a good mix of sporty bikers and commuters.

I realize the obvious consequence that the more I bike, the more I notice biking around me. That’s a good thing. It’s a part of my life, and I’m happy to see it’s a part of other people’s lives where I’ve traveled as well.

Some Ramblings About Riding Mt. Vernon

sign for Mt. Vernon
This was my first time riding the Mt. Vernon Trail– in the daylight. I’ve done parts of it, but only at night. I figured I should get to know the trail during the day. Some thoughts:

-It’s really pretty, even in the wintertime. I’m envious that this is Rootchopper’s commute. He pointed out the eagle’s nests– and as if on cue, we saw a bald eagle fly into one. Magical.

-I got lost a couple of times– getting out of Old Town Alexandria, and getting out of Jones Point Park. I know I tend to be directionally challenged, but I do think the signage could be better. Many thanks to Justin for pointing me in the right direction.

-Oh, and why do I not go to Old Town more often? Seriously– so easy to get to by bike.

-There was a downed tree near the end of the trail, which I attempted to go around. Unfortunately, there was mud on the side of the trail, and I slipped and fell. I was happy to discover that 1) I slipped in soft mud instead of hard pavement, and 2) that my feet will come out of the pedals in an accident. Still, falling was embarrassing.

-It’s not my heart, it’s heartburn. At mile zero, I stopped to eat a Clif Mojo bar. On my return ride, I started feeling that familiar burning in my chest. I looked at my heart rate monitor, and I wasn’t even close to being at threshold level. So now I know, and I guess I need to eat Tums on every ride. It hurt me all the way home.

-I’m still amazed by how much of the area I haven’t seen. So much to explore!

-It was great to meet up with Mr. T in DC and Jerdlngr. So great to meet up with Bike DC folks!

-I meant to just ride for the morning, but instead I made a day of it. And it was a great day.

Rootchopper’s account is here.


And now, to reverse what I said in my last post.

Around these parts, training seems like a bad word. When I mentioned that I was training for the next brevet, a friend remarked, “I hate that word– it sounds like work. Riding is supposed to be fun.”

I do agree that riding is supposed to be fun, and it can be for me, when it’s wandering around the city, leisurely trying out new routes and trails, or riding to fun destinations. But right now, hilly brevets are not fun for me. There is always a point where I’m trying not to cry, and although I’m fine (and ecstatic) at the end of a ride, the day after seems to be a day of reckoning for me where I’ve discovered I’ve physically gone too far and am doing some harm to myself.

When I tell folks how I feel, the answer is always that I need to ride more. I don’t disagree with that– as I’ve discovered through Strava, I ride considerably less than my Bike DC friends, even those who don’t participate in randonneuring. I try to ride when I can, but carving out time is difficult for me, especially now when I’m in school.

Mike W. sent me a thoughtful email with tips on how to train off the bike as well as on. He suggested I work on exercises to strengthen my core and leg muscles. So I’m doing stuff like plank pose and burpees. I’m not exactly enjoying this, but I am already noticing a difference. I feel stronger.

So, I’m training. I’m training to not get beat up by brevets. I’ll be at the next one, and we’ll see how it goes.

Just Ride: Another Review

By now, if you’re a bicyclist, you’ve read all the reviews you could handle for Grant Petersen‘s book, Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike. In the comments for Lovely Bicycle’s review, Grant himself wrote, and offered to give ten readers of the blog a copy of his book. (He gave away 30, and the offer is now closed.) On a whim I wrote to him and asked for a copy, not really expecting to get one. But right before Christmas, a box appeared on my doorstep, and I received a signed copy of his book.

As Grant writes in his introduction, “you’ll disagree often, but I’m not asking you to buy everything– just to consider everything.” So, in that spirit, here are some points in the book that were new to me and that I spent some time thinking about.
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Hains Point Loops

On New Year’s Day, I rode out to Hains Point and rode 4 times around. The first time, I stopped several times to take pictures and post to Twitter. Then I tried to actually do interval training the way J had taught me: easy riding on one length of the point, 80% effort on the second length. I don’t yet have a heart rate monitor, so I guessed how much effort I was expending. All I know is that I’m out of shape.

I can understand how training this way– riding in circles– would get pretty boring. But I enjoy looking at the scenery here. For now, anyway, I’d rather do this than ride up and down a hill.