Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Haven’t really had much interesting to say since I got back from Michigan other then to bring to light my general lack of motivation and heavy interest in food over the past few days. I brought a bunch of clothes to try and get out for a run while I was out of town but the constant snow and lack of safe running routes mixed with the fact that I forgot a beanie or anything that could be used as one and did not bring anything water proof kept me from hitting the streets.

Was missing the bike too but the cold air and wind has kept me off the bike for the most part. I did finally make it out to Pizzeria Paradiso last night with a small group of friends for some good beer and great pizza. I was catching up on some of the blogs I regularly read when I saw a post about a beer tasting someone did there (which I can not for the life of me find right now) and became intrigued after looking at the menu. I started with a Moretti La Rossa which was an extremely tasty red ale and moved onto the Froach Heather Ale (check out the sweet label design) which was also exceptional. The two were pretty different overall but neither one disappointed in the least. The third and final beer I had was unfortunately a bust as it just was not all that exciting and I thought was overly bitter. That was a Speakeasy Prohibition Ale which I personally would not recommend.

I’ve been inspired lately by Freewheeling Spirit’s beer reviews and have begun to move away from the safe haven of a trusty Yuengling and try more beers. I’ll probably post about the better beers I try, though I won’t do an official beer review so as not to “steal” directly from the inspiration any more then I have here. On that note I would highly recommend the first two beers; the Heather Ale was very surprising and though it is not listed on the website it should be there. Unfortunately they did not have the Cask ale that I noticed listed somewhere since I was at the Dupont location and the Georgetown one has the greater selection and variety.

The pizza wasn't too bad either, it was actually extremely good even though the happy hour "pizza" is really just three slices of a pizza.

I did manage to get up this morning at 5 and get my lazy tail out for an hour run before work. Once I got warmed up it was nice despite the ice forming from condensation in my beard. I even saw about 5 or so other crazies out there with me doing the same! I think I've found a new perfect time to run; this way I can still go home after work and make myself a sweet dinner and have time to digest it before my early bed time too. Brings me back to my college rowing days once again.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I wrote this post on Monday morning but hesitated when it came time to publish it. I wasn't sure I wanted to post and share this or not since it involves my personal life in a way I haven't really posted before. I finally decided that this is where my mind and heart are right now and frankly it feels better to get it out there and off my chest a bit as well.

I received a phone call this morning from my mother telling me that my grandmother is not doing very well and will likely pass away within the next few days or so. Even though she has been in bad shape for a while now it is still a sobering thing to hear. She apparently has had a very hard time breathing and hasn't really eaten anything for the last couple of days. She is also entirely unresponsive and seems unaware of anyone around her. They said she is on morphine to at least keep her comfortable until she does pass. My mother began to cry a little over the phone though quickly recovered; I believe for her and likely my sister the strongest emotions felt will be along the lines of what I expect for myself; sadness and a bit of pain while watching our father grieve. Our sadness and affections will go out for and to him as this will certainly be most difficult for him.

The family itself was never terrible close to my Grandmother, neither emotionally or physically. She has lived up in Manistique, Michigan (upper peninsula) for as long as I can remember and we only went up to visit occasionally. I have very few memories of my grandmother in very good health and even those were not quite in the typical grandparent/grandchild fashion. It was likely just because we did not really ever see her that much and so I never had the chance to grow a real closeness with her.

A few months ago my father, sister, sister's fiance and I made a trip up to see her in the nursing home she was living in. It was pretty hard to see her the way she was but also nice to see her for what we knew would be one of the last times we could. She did not really know who any of us were although she seemed to remember my father. My cousin told us that our father was always my grandmother's favorite child of the three and I always kind of suspected that from how happy she always was to see him; though that also may have been due to how little she got to see him. Overall she was very pleasant and seemed very happy that we were there and she seemed like she knew we were there for her.

My grandmother's life was never an easy one; her husband, my grandfather passed away when my father was 13 leaving her to raise and provide for three children on her own. She never got married and worked for a few decades at the US Postal Service. She has lived a very strong life and was always deeply vested in the Roman Catholic Church. I should hope that if there is a heaven that she will find herself at peace in the place she has prayed for her entire life.

I got the phone call last night and so in about an hour I'm taking the train up to the airport to meet my family. We'll fly out to Detroit and drive up from there and come back next Tuesday. My mother called to let me know which sort of surprised me since all week it had been my father calling and emailing with the updates. I asked how he was and she told me he was crying; his mother just died. It's hard to watch the man you grew up idolizing; who was always a rock and who you still view as one of the strongest and greatest people this world has to offer suffer like this. This weekend will be hard to take but my father will be extremely thankful that we will all be there.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

We did more before 8AM then most do the entire day...

This article which I stole from Freewheeling Spirit got me thinking back to my rowing days in college. Obviously the intention of the article is somewhat lost on where I am going with this since it’s main purpose is to shine some light on the awful pollution and overall condition of the Anacostia River. I however clung to the beginning two and a half paragraphs or so of the article as I went back down memory lane to revisit my time on a river or two.

Since I finished up my career on the Duquesne University Men’s Crew Team in May of ’05 I have only been out in a shell about three times. Throughout college rowing was literally my life; I was similar to the college athletes we see on the ESPN highlight reels in that the majority of my time, effort and passion was for my sport and my team while school and classes took a back seat. Every year there were two racing seasons with races on nearly every weekend during those seasons and in locations ranging from Ohio to Virginia to Boston. Add that on top of 5:45 am practice every morning, not to mention the additional workouts, running and weight cutting for lightweight status and that’s a lot of time for the sport.

Since we had full racing seasons each semester we also spent the entire year either in training or racing mode with probably a total around 4 or 5 weeks off not including summer and winter vacation. At the beginning of each semester we began within the first three days of classes and had indoor training throughout the “off-season” including running, stairs, lifting, erging and whatever other torturous workouts our coaches could dream up.

My freshman year I actually only rowed the first semester since my choral director (I was a voice major at the time) would not allow me to continue to miss rehearsals and still go on the European tour in the summer but after I changed my major I was back on the team. My sophomore year we got a freshman who had rowed in high school and made the varsity off the bat, a junior who’d been on the team the previous two years and the two returning novices from the year before including me in our lightweight four. Our Varsity team was only about nine or ten guys strong at this point and we did what we could with what we had.

The fall season that year we did well though not spectacular; we didn’t actually have a lightweight boat that season though since the guy who was a junior had to cut some pretty substantial weight to make lightweight for the spring season. We all did what we could over the winter training period to first beef up and then cut down to weight with three of us cutting at least 20 pounds each to make it. The idea here is to gain as much muscle as possible and then cut weight by dropping fat leaving more muscle similar to approaches used in wrestling.

That spring season began with the Marietta Invitational held by Marietta College which had a very rare scholarship men’s program and competed against the likes of Georgetown, Yale and Brown (three major rowing powerhouses) on a regular basis. Our lightweight four rowing in a race for the very first time went out strong with a ridiculously high stroke rate. We pulled through upsetting the Marietta crew to everyone’s surprise and never looked back from there on our way to 6th at our equivalent of nationals, the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, PA.

Similar to biking rowers can increase their cadence of strokes per minute to pickup the pace. Our boat had a couple of special things working for us that year. For one we were young and overall a bit ignorant to the fine tuning involved in rowing, this sometimes can be very helpful in not over thinking things in the boat. We figured out a way to make out boat move fast and stay balanced and we made it work to our full advantage. The typical boat in our competition would row around a 36 to 38 spm whole we averaged somewhere in the low to mid-forties and finished with our “super sprint” often over 50 spm. We just had the endurance to simply pull through the pain and beat our stronger more technically polished competition.

In the next two years we all apparently became head cases as we learned more and more about how we were supposed to row and never quite got back to the level we were at that first year. Even so we always made it at least out of the quarter finals and into semi’s losing by just seconds each time another trip to the finals. Now we have all graduated and while two of the total of seven people (five rowers and two coxswains) that were involved in that boat those years are coaching, the rest of us are almost entirely uninvolved in any way with rowing (though one guy occasionally assists the current DU coach).

To bring this relatively wandering post to a close, I’m hopeful that someday I will own my own single and maybe even could incorporate it into a daily routine similar to the writer of the article. While it is truly sad that the Anocostia River is in as awful shape as it is, I am still jealous of the rowers that get out on it. Maybe there is hope though still for the river as well; maybe some day we’ll finally realize how big of an impact we make on the environment around us and we’ll fix our way of life. Hopefully that will happen before it is too late.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Forecasting Fatalities

C.I.C.L.E. just posted this article from the NY Times discussing a program Carnegie Mellon University recently completed for AAA/s Foundation for Traffic Safety. After reading the article I decided to go and check out the program since it is posted online for public use. I wanted to compare the risk of fatalities for male and female bicyclists between the ages 21 and 24 (my catagory) but there was apparently no data available for the women in this age group. So I changed it to all ages and ran my search.
Looking at was was defined as the South Atlantic region including basically from Florida up to Maryland I found not suprisingly that males are more likely to be killed then females. The results that I got said that about 10 men are killed per 100 million biked miles as compared to just under 8 for women. It also said that nearly 21 men are killed per 100 million trips made by bicycle while only around 8 women are killed. Not really sure why the disparity other then the typical reason of male aggressiveness on the roads that is also associated with car driving as well.
When I looked at the results that were returned for males from 21 to 24 I was pretty shocked. The program says that for every 100 million miles biked, nearly 146 male bikers between the ages of 21 and 24 die. That's a huge difference between this age group and the overall population. I wonder if this is partially due to a higher number of males between those ages on bikes on roads and a likely very small number in other age groups such as any over 60 or so.
Nothing really profound to say about this, I'm more just passing along the information. Not sure how realiable the data, especially for cyclists even though it does come from the government databases (FARS and NHTS). I would note that the regions are pretty large and don't do much for my interest in urban cycling since they include vast rural areas as well. I would be interested in seeing the program refined to where you could limit to individual states and cities so you could get a true feeling for what the situation is that you are really riding in.
Are cyclists more likely to be killed spinning around through the city where the speed limit is 25 or out on the country roads where people fly by doing at a minimum 45? Would city cyclists have a much lower number deaths per 100 million miles since they typically ride much shorter distances on their bikes per ride? Or because they spend so much more time on their bikes using them to commute?
Now that stuff I would definitely find more interesting. That said this program was built with automobiles in mind not cyclists. Life can't be entirely perfect; not yet at least.

Lazy Sunday Evening

SNOW! It has finally arrived. Yesterday after Chris and I went for a shortened "group" ride I joined him at his place for some cappuccino and conversation and then headed home. My roommate had been up late partying and then while I was out he and the people sleeping in our living room were gone to brunch so I made some lunch and sat down to watch some tv and relax for a bit.

The crew returned from lunch and grew to a party drinking mimosas and beer before heading out to another bar to drink away the rest of the day. I decided to head over to Target in the snow since the roads would be relatively empty and finally pick up the fireplace tools I'd been meaning to get. After I got home I cleaned up the house and got a fire burning which I sat and enjoyed and I made chicken in an ok vermuth sauce topped with melted pepper jack cheese aling with some mexican seasoned rice. The cheese really made the dish, but I really need to figure out a better sauce to go with it.

This morning I decided to skip the ride in and deal with the metro instead which I would say was a reasonable choice considering Chris had a piece of ice fly off the roof of a truck in front of him and hit his helmet. Not my idea of a fun commute. Tomorrow is another LT training ride so I'm sure my legs will be glad they got the rest today.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Perfect Saturday

Amazing trail ride today out in the Avalon area of Patapsco Valley State Park up in Baltimore. We started off with four guys, Adam who was a friend of my sister's back in high school that I recently caught up with, his buddy Joe, Terry also of the Racing Union and myself. Unfortunately a few minutes into the ride Terry took a nasty spill and the resulting sore back sent him back home. I just got off the phone with him though and he is feeling better, though still sore but at least he was not seriously injured.

When we first got started we had to jump a curb and cut across a busy street to the trail head and as I jumped the curb I bumped my back wheel pretty hard and thought I'd already given myself a flat. Thankfully it was fine though when we got to the trail head and I started down the trail I had a oh shit moment when it started off pretty rough and my technique being rusty I began to worry about what I was getting myself into.

Things got significantly better for a bit and I started to get comfortable again on my bike. By the end of the ride I felt great and though I'm not as technically good as the other guys I was out with I managed my own for the most part and had an extremely successful ride. It was actually one of the best trail rides I've probably ever had. That is partly since Joe really knew the trails and tooks us through all the good parts and also I think due to the company I was in. Riding with other people always helps me push myself a little harder and to ride a little more aggresively and when those I'm riding with a good it is even that much more pronounced.

I didn't take any spills and only managed to run into one tiny tree while going around a corner way too fast. I was amazed at how quickly I picked up my technique again though, I'll have to make a point to keep getting out more so I can improve on the few skills I have instead of have to relearn them everytime I get out. That said I'm sure I'll make it out with those guys again soon and also a couple other guys from RU are also interested in some trail riding. Should be a good time. I think I want to try out one of those 29'ers; Adam had a pretty sweet one that he built up himself and seemed pretty happy with it. Alright so now there are 2 more bikes on my list...

Tomorrow it's a long ride back on the roads with some more RU guys.

On a side note it looks like there is a war brewing here...

Friday, January 19, 2007

A gust of pain

That is some brutal wind today. Did some lactate threshold training at Hains Point during lunch today that the wind turned into absolute hell! I was pretty excited about it since I thought I felt pretty good after taking yesterday off but as soon as I took my first blow from a 20+ gust I knew it wasn't going to be fun.

The last LT workout I did the others I was riding with must have gone much slower because this time they absolutely crushed me from the start; even going with the wind. Once I got to the up wind side there was no where to hide for the six or seven minutes of hitting it into the wind.

My first 20 minutes was pretty good dispite the wind and I think I did pretty well keeping my wattage up going into the wind. The second though I definitely flaked out on and didn't keep my head in it as well. Now I can understand why Scott said it is probably more of a mental workout then a physical one. Anyway, the legs were basically rubber when I got back to the cube and I probably spent at least the first hour and a half just recovering from the workout.

Riding home it seemed like the wind had even picked up as I was nearly blown into a car by the first blast when I came out of the garage. I'm cool with cold but I just have such a hard time when I getting tossed around like a rag doll by the wind. As Scott likes to say, you only get better by working at what you're not good at.

Pretty excited about tomorrow as I'll be getting out on the mt bike for the first time in well over a year. Joining up with one of my sister's ex-boyfriends from high school who is working at Capital Hill bikes now and going to the Avalon area of Patapsco Valley State Park up in Baltimore. Really need to pull out the bike tonight and make sure it is all tuned up and ready to go tomorrow. At least one other guy from the Racing Union is joining us though and we may even get a third. I'm glad everybody seems so willing to get out and do all this shit. Trail running last weekend, mountain and road biking this weekend and beers will be sure to flow as well.

Sunday will be another long and relatively easy ride with some teammates out of DC. Doesn't get a whole lot better then this. Hope the wind dies off a little though at least.

Duquesne BBall Team Takes Another Blow

Since graduating from Duquesne University and especially in the past 6 or so months I have become more of a fan of the men’s basketball team for the school then I ever was in my four years there as a student. I probably made it to about one or two men’s games a year with the most exciting games being during their 12 – 17 season my Junior year where we upset nationally ranked Xavier on our home court. The team then went on to beat them on their home court as well making that probably the most memorable season of late. That is of course until this season when for just about the worst possible reason Duquesne Men’s basketball was put on the national spotlight.

After finishing last season with a record of 3 and 24 then head coach Danny Nee retired with two years remaining on his contract as the coach. Duquesne went out and grabbed Ron Everhart from Northeastern who came in and immediately began to stir things up with the team. When the dust settled only two players remained from the previous team and Everhart managed to land the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year in Shawn James who decided to make the move with his former head coach and Kojo Mensah from Siena. (Both will not be eligible until the 07 – 08 season due to transfer rules). The appeared poised to take a strong stride into a new era.

That is when the unthinkable happened and if you follow college basketball at all you probably heard about it. Five Dukes basketball players (including Shawn and Kojo) were shot after a student organizations’ dance on the section of Duquesne’s small campus called Academic Walk. All five went to the hospital right across the street from campus with two in critical condition. All five have since recovered though Sam Ashoulu was left with bullet fragments in his skull and will be forever affected by what happened that night.

When the season began the Dukes started only one of the five players that were shot while Sam was still in recovery and the other three watched from the sidelines. The season started off with 2 straight wins for the diminished team which also had only two players taller then 6 foot 6. Following the two wins the Dukes went on a 7 game slide including a disappointing OT loss to Northern Illinois, a one point loss to cross town rival Robert Morris and a tough game against the national ranked Pittsburgh Panthers.

Following the Christmas break the Dukes had to travel to Boston to take on their first ACC team in Boston College. Right before making the trip Head Coach Ron Everhart was checked into the hospital with abdominal pain and had to miss the big game. The Dukes ended up pulling out the upset of the Eagles in an exciting game for probably one of the biggest upsets in Duquesne’s recent history.

Today I got the latest update of what seems like a feed of all bad news for the Men’s basket ball team. One of our two big men, 6-9 255 pound Almamy Thiero, was hospitalized indefinitely for blood clots in his lungs. Duquesne can’t seem to catch a break for anything this year. Hopefully this will be the end of the bad news for the Dukes for this season and they can finish out this year with dignity and come back even stronger next season. With Shawn James, Kojo Mensah, and Stuard Baldonado who was forced to sit out this season, next years season holds a lot of hope for fans of Duquesne Basketball.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wasn't gonna go to happy hour tonight... Key word: wasn't...

I'm drunk now (marginally since drunk is a relative assessment) and am up writing this when I had planned to be in bed attempting to sleep. Ah well, sleep is for suckers anyway.

Attempted to go back to Ella's for the first time in at least a month tonight and they were having a private party. I gave Mikey the what have you and all he could give me was a big shrug so I/we moved the party down to Gordon Birsch. (I was secretly happy about this as I have not been feeling the Yuengling lately and the heavier seasonal lagers at GB really hit the spot).

Mikey owes us next week... I'll be at Ella's next thursday! :)

Wanted to ride home tonight but happy hour canceled that. That's three days in a row on the metro; drives me crazy!

This post ikely makes no sense and I don't plan on fixing that.

As labeled by the latest Comrade:

Novi Myatejniki iz Velocipedni souz" signing off

Back on Trax

My computer felt like a brand new computer this afternoon when I finally got my internet access back up and running. It's amazing how much I use my internet at home both as a tool and entertainment. Whether looking for directions to get somewhere, finding a specialty store for something, reading blogs for entertainment or the headlines for news and weather I spend a large deal of my time away from my computer at work in front of my computer at home.

I don't think this is a bad thing, as I noticed over the last 2 weeks it is time that I would otherwise be spending in front of the TV. I don't think it detracts from my outdoors time very much at all; if anything it just keeps me from reading as much as I maybe should. Anyway, after my long and drawn out battle with Comcast I'm back on with them, though I am now searching for another internet provider in the DC area that will actually treat me like a customer and not pond scum. Oh and that comcast battle is not over yet either as I still have some thoughts to pass along their way before I defect.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Random recap and a sense of Community

Since I’m not feeling creative or inspired right now I’m just going to sum up my weekend activities real quick here. Had couple of RW dinners but nothing to write home about really. Scratch that, Finn and Porter was very good on Friday night (though in my eyes still no Café Atlantico) while Oceanaire was very nice food but was a very unpleasant and unwelcoming atmosphere. We were treated a bit like lesser people since we were there for RW and not regular dinners and we weren’t even half way done with our appetizers when they tried to bring out our main entrees. I’m sure the other things on their menu are incredible but the RW offerings were a bit slim and did not really impress me. Eh, whatever. I’m over it.

Saturday I watched with great depression (or maybe a bit of malice/anger/contempt/dismay) as the Ravens lost to the Colts basically due to a couple of bad plays by McNair and spent the evening in. Sunday got up early and went trail running with another newer member of the RU down along the Potomac and managed to mix in some free-climbing and serious rock hopping as well since the trail had been washed away in parts by the river. Monday was a nice supposedly “easy” ride with some teammates, though the ease of the ride was debatable at times. Basically did a shortened version of the Lantern Rouge Ride again.

On the way back down through Rock Creek park Chris and I both noticed the ever so well known Gwadzilla riding by, though he probably has no idea who we are. Not sure if I speak for Chris on this but I definitely enjoy seeing people I recognize or know while I’m out riding around the city. Actually makes me feel a little bit more like I know the city and am actually a part of it. Since I started reading Gwadzilla’s blog I’ve managed to pick out a number of the messengers he “features” if you will in picture collages. Provides a bit of entertainment as well.

Quick Comcastic Rant

This is just killing me right now; I’ve continued to duke it out with Comcast to get my account all straightened out and the lack of customer service is just amazing. After faxing my information to the three numbers I was given five times last week I was finally told yesterday to make the trip out to their payment center to drop it off in person. I went during my lunch on Tuesday and went to the administration offices and was told to leave them at the desk. When I asked to speak with the person that would be taking care of the situation so that I could talk about the details of what needed to be done and how it was going to be handled (I even asked if I could get a phone number that I contact her at and not for the first time), I was told she would give me time to get back to my office and she would give me a call. Four hours later I receive another email from the support services people telling me there is someone scheduled to come to my house on Thursday morning to set everything up…

Thanks for the phone call and outstanding customer service guys. If it wasn’t for the hundred dollar credit on my account I would say forget it and find another provider right now. Instead I’m going to stay home Thursday morning and wait for the service people to likely show up hours late and waste one of my personal days. Then I think I’m going to switch to another provider as soon as possible after the credit is gone.
My quick rant for the morning… I actually had a pretty nice weekend enjoying the weather and had plenty to write about; hopefully I’ll get some time and get some things down soon on all that.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Shout Out

Just realized I never gave the shout out to my friends that showed up in the cold rainy night that was my birthday to sing songs (or at least one specific one) and watch my face turn red. Thanks guys for the cake and company. Oh and the beer was great at the Reef as well!

Setting a good example

The bicycle cop riding down the sidewalk along the Duke Ellington Bridge this morning made me cringe. There are bike lanes along both sides of the bridge as well as continueing on Calvert St into Adams Morgan. That is really setting a great example and makes the fact that Trow recieved a ticket for riding his bike on a sidewalk (outside of the downtown business district where it actually is illegal in the city) that much dumber.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Critical Mass: Advocacy or Anarchy

(**This post will be updated once I get the internet in my place back on though I'm not sure when that will be at the rate it is going. Please check back for more pictures from the night.)
When people discuss the Critical Mass bike rides that take place monthly in cities across the country, many different opinions and views may come up. In my own personal experience these opinions range anywhere from complete disgust to a near infatuation to a complete lack of knowledge. CM is a widely used cycling advocacy ride whose stated aim is “to celebrate cycling and assert cyclists’ right to the road.” (Taken from the Critical Mass website )

After finding out about the Washington, DC CM ride for January for the first time I decided to go ahead and check it out and ride along and see what it was all about. I met some cool people and had a pretty good ride in a sort of Tour de Downtown fashion. While I have no plans on riding this ride again, I also would not completely write it off and say that I never will.

The group that turned up on the wet but warm winter evening was right around 40 strong and included everyone from bike messengers, to commuters, to casual riders and probably a few people who were in it for the form of general protest which the ride takes. Bikes were decorated with lights and after hanging around Dupont Circle we all took off in the direction of 18th St and Adams Morgan. It started off slow without much opportunity to really cause much of a scene as we started out due to relatively slow and heavy traffic and we made it up through AM with only the sound of the riders’ cheers as well as some “friendly” honks from cabbies and a few other drivers and some folks walking on the sidewalks.

The ride rolled out to 16th Street heading south where we saw our first real confrontation of the evening. A number of cars ended up lined up behind us as we slowly spun down the hill and at one point a guy laid on his horn for at least 30 seconds straight. All the while the riders are yelling to “honk if you love bicycles…” At one point during this stretch one rider actually went back to a car behind and explained what we were doing and why we were doing it; this was by far the most productive thing I witnessed during the ride.

The rest of the ride included similar though not quite as intense or extended run-ins until the one that took place on K St that caused me to separate myself from the ride. We rode through some busy areas, U St and Gallery Place as well as some nearly empty places, down the mall and up to the Washington Monument. After my departure those left in the group continued on to Georgetown also. The majority of run-ins with vehicles were treated with either complete lack of interest or a cheer and overall the cause of cycling on city streets was likely not helped and most likely harmed a little bit.

The incident that drove me from the ride had more to do with the anarchistic approach that I feared from the ride. We were riding down K St (not positive about the street, may also have been Pennsylvania) in the 2 right lanes leaving the third open for the few cars that were on the street there at that time. A police cruiser drove up and asked us to remain in the one lane and leave the others open and ended up having some words with some of the riders. The majority of those around me were saying to just do what he says and stay over and were riding where we were asked. At a red light a number of the riders jumped out back into the 2nd lane though and basically egged on the officer. Lights flashed and sirens wailed and the officer attempted to pull over and stop the riders, essentially using the car as a weapon to do so. The feeling here was of ego’s and tempers on both sides getting out of control and it became evident that some riders had more interest in anarchy then advocacy.

Despite a few things, my overall opinion and conclusions of the ride are positive. Unfortunately with an event such as this that is borderline on being downright illegal, there are naturally going to be people out there who bring that anarchistic feel to the event. This approach and attitude does nothing but aggravate sides and create even farther extremes, likely endangering cyclists in future bicycling activities. If it weren’t for this slight bit of a feeling in the ride I would almost certainly have plans to join up and probably ride it on a monthly basis.

A few additional things I that think could and should be done to increase the effectiveness and decrease to harmful aspects of these rides would be to have shirts or signs proclaiming the ride as a cycling advocacy ride and not just some free-for-all bike chase through the city at the cost of drivers. Also flyers should be brought to the rides explaining the mission of CM and including helpful links to internet resources on the ride that could be handed out to the affected motorists and pedestrians and other cyclists that happen upon the group. Otherwise it just looks like some unruly parade of bikes through the city and does nothing to promote the cause. Letting people know the reasons behind the ride are far more important then showing them you can hold up traffic for four city blocks on bicycles.

Cancer Research

I won't comment or pass judgment on anything regarding his cycling career here in this blog, mainly because I have yet to come to a solid opinion regarding it. I will however state that no matter how you look at it the man is an inspiration and an amazing example of the extraordinary feats that can be accomplished when you have the drive and the will-power to conquer them.

Lance Armstrong recently wrote this article posted on about federal funding for cancer research and the lack of attention to the topic by congress. I for one have been touched by cancer and still choose to wear my LiveStrong band everyday; not in a show of support for Lance the rider but in a show of support for Cancer Survivors, cancer patients and to advocate for cancer research in order to save the lives of the millions of people affected every year. Who knows, maybe someday it will be my life or my child’s life that is saved because of this research.

Latin American Cuisine at it's best

Cafe Atlantico is basically my favorite restaurant in DC. As I have reported many times before the tastes in their food just kind of explode and everything that I have had there is just so amazing. Yesterday a few commrades and I met there for lunch to partake in our RW feast.
We started off with the guacamole which they make table side and is always a great start to a meal there. For my starter I got the "Shrimp with candied pumpkin seeds, pumpkin puree, lime air and vanilla oil" and was once again how many strong flavors they can match to a single dish that all just taste so amazing. The lime air was actually a foam that looked like foamed dish soap on the plate with a strong bite; strange looking but very good.
For the main course I got a salmon dish which was the specialty of the day that came with sautéed tomatoes, olives, onions, capers and fresh lime with avocado and was another great dish. The restaurant week desert is the one thing I would complain about with Cafe Atlantico except for the fact that I'm not a huge desert eater anyway so I don't really care. More choices would be nice though as they only offer this double chocolate cake bit that it seems most restaurants offer for RW or a mixed sorbet plate.
I will be taking my next serious date to Cafe Atlantico, and I don't mean to impress the girl, I could care less about that. We will go there so I can get some more amazing food and still be a winner even if the date stinks.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Last night was the first of a number of restaurant week meals I will be enjoying this week. The plan had originally been to go to Zola with four friends but when 6:45 rolled around and I was the only one even remotely ready to be there for our reservations at 7 so we had to cancel. I managed to convince my roommate to still go to Perry’s across the street so I finally after 6 months of living a quarter of a block away went to my neighborhood sushi restaurant.

The RW menu offering was very good and included all sorts of enticing sounding dishes. I ended up ordering the sushi for the main course simply because that is what I think of when I think of Perry’s and had never tried it. It certainly did not let me down, but I’ll come back to that. I choose to get the paired wine as selected by the sommelier based on my course choices and selected the Chicken Gumbo soup for my first course. The wine came out first and was absolutely fantastic!

They brought me a Riesling (erbes urziger riesling kabinett 2004-5 mosel germany ) that was easily one of the best somewhat sweeter wines I’ve ever tasted; while I’m not usually a fan of sweeter wines this was by far an exception. The soup was also extremely good with shrimp, sausage and peppers. The two went very well together.
Next was this wine: gentilini robola 2004 cephalonia Greece, which was also extremely good and had a light and crisp taste. The sushi included eel, salmon, tuna, shrimp, a couple I’m not sure about and a California roll. All of it was extremely good as well.
Finally there was a nice dessert wine (bruno verdi sangue di guida ) which was less my type of thing then the Riesling but was not bad for a desert wine. The desert was a lemon Pannacotta with raspberry syrup and couscous. I would not steer away from a meal at Perry’s if it were an option.
Today for lunch was my second time at Café Atlantico and did not disappoint once again. I LOVE great food!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bike Cars on the Metro

I was just reading through an article posted on C.I.C.L.E. about bike commuting in Connecticut and how the state as a whole will be increasing the resources available to bike commuters. As I read a line talking about adding bike racks to all busses and bike space on all trains I started to think a little about DC's own metro system. I thought of a couple of things that I think could be done to make bike commuting a little easier in the DC that I personally have not read any where yet (though that's not saying they have not been thought of already).

I think one thing the city could do is instead of not allow bikes on the metro dedicate a half of one car per train to bikes/bike commuters which could be used by people who wish to stand should their not be any bikes on board. I personally think more standing room and less seating on metro cars would b the most effective way to increase capacity on cars anyway and this way bikes could take precedence in a very small section of the trains and not be "in the way" for other commuters. The layout would basically remove what would end up being a total of 8 two person seats and open up space so that when you bring your bike in the car you don't have to constantly move it to get out of peoples' way.

On each end of most of the cars there is a section which has four benches so you'd just take those out and instead near the end "wall" of the car put in some wheel guides on the ground and maybe include a hook on the wall for the tires to be put around so bikes are easier to control. This gets the bikes out of the way of the doors and you could probably fit at least 5 or 6 bikes ad owners across the train at each of the car. The bikers would just need a bar across the ceiling and probably running down the side of the car to hold onto while they hold their bikes.

Another thing Metro could do, though this one would probably be much more controversial is to charge a slightly higher fare to cyclists bringing bikes on the metro. I personally would not mind since the majority of the time I would be biking to my destination anyway and it would be a good way for Metro to bring in a little more cash. This could go for busses nd trains; for trains just add an extra turnstyle for people with bikes that automatically charges the bike rate and for busses have the driver simply push a button after the rider loads the bike on front and comes up to swipe or pay their way. These methods may be a little tougher to enforce, but similar to the current rush hour blocking of bikes and enforcement of the no bikes on the escalator rules it could be done.

I'm sure the fare hike would be fought pretty hard as many people fight hard for their pennies, though I think for the greater good of the cycling community this could be pushed through. The space for bikes on the trains seems like a obvious choice as it would keep cyclists and other passengers much safer and make things so much easier for people on the metro in general. That's just my quick 2 cents of the issue for today.

The weekend of no internet...

This Saturday afternoon, Comcast decided to shut off my internet so, despite having plenty of stuff to write I had no means of writing it or posting it this weekend, hence the lack of a CM ride recap. That said, I will still be putting this off since I would like to put some time into the post to make sure I say everything I want to say about it and all that jazz. So, hopefully my internet will be reconnected my Tuesday and I'll be able to get started on that.

Saturday, aside from the hour or so I spent trying to get the internet issues worked out, I spent nearly the entire day outside enjoying the unseasonably warm weather that we just can't seem to stop talking about. I'm not going to get into any discussion of global warming as I definitely don't know enough about it to form any kind of educated arguement on it, though I am going to say this one thing. If it does not snow this year, or ever again here for that matter, I am going to be royally pissed! Oh, and I think I am going to go ahead soon and invest in some land up in northern Canada about three or four miles from the Ocean; beach front property anyone?

In the morning I went to Starbucks in jeans and a sweater and after about an hour or so I was sweating sitting out on the sidewalk. Played some ultimate frisbee on a muddy field after that for a while and then came home showered and went back out to sit outside of Astore for lunch and to do some more reading. The breeze on my bare skin finally forced me to go back inside, though only to put on a sweater again and go back out to sit outside at Meze for a couple of beers. I'm already excited for the spring time; though old man winter is definitely still not off the hook yet...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

GET OUTSIDE! Oh and NOT in a car...


I made it out last night for the Critical Mass ride and actually rode what I think was the majority of the ride before realizing I was late for a prior engagement at a friends house. The weather turned out great as the rain held off for us and we encountered a large number of people throughout the ride with the 40+ people we had riding. I will write a much more complete write-up later but I plan to spend a little bit of time writing it so that I say everything I want to say about it and try and get across the feelings and reactions that I witnessed at the ride.

Now however, instead of writing long posts or anything like that I am going to get out and enjoy the incredible weather while it is here. I just spent the morning reading outside of the Starbucks on the corner and was almost sweating in my jeans and sweater. What an amazing day, though if this says anything about what the summer is going to be like I want nothing to do with it; maybe I'll get ready to move to Alaska soon...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Critical Outcomes of Critical Mass

As I mentioned previously tonight there is a Critical Mass Ride scheduled to begin at 6pm at Dupont Circle. I am tentatively planning on attending this ride to try and get an idea of what it is all about and to try and see if it is something which I think is done well and is worth putting my support into. I also think it’d be a great way to meet other like minded individuals who live and cycle in the area that might be good to know if I really start getting involved in the world of cycling advocacy. I passed the idea along to the guys at the Racing Union and the first response I got about it was a pretty negative one. I was surprised by this at first but there was a very good argument laid out about it and I completely understand the feelings behind the issue.

I of course have never seen joined in on one of these rides so I don’t know enough about them to really form an opinion other then what other people feed me about them so I’ve decided that I’ll still try and go check it out. I’d like to at least get an idea for myself as to what the intentions of the group are both as a whole (likely the stated purpose) and those of the individuals involved.

One of the biggest issues raised about these rides is that by going out in a group of 100+ riders and touring slowly through the city streets they achieve their goal of making drivers aware of their presence but in doing so just cause more anger towards cyclists instead of causing people to look at the situation in a new way. This of course in turn leads to further aggravation and future aggression by these drivers when they see cyclists on the roadways.

On top of that, last night as I was riding up 18th street I struck up a quick conversation with a bike messenger and asked if he’d heard about it and what he thought. He basically said the same thing the guys on my team said and told me he used to go to them but decided they were not something he felt he should be involved in. This all leaves me to wonder what kind of people I should expect to see down there tonight (assuming it is not storming and I still decide to go down). In any event, if I do attend expect a full recap of the event to post soon after.

Resolution of my self image to reality...

As a follow up to my post from the other day, I’ve decided to actually come up with a small list of serious resolutions for myself this year. I have never in the past made any resolutions for the new year so I’m hoping this year setting them and subsequently posting them here will sort of force me into really grabbing onto them and making them reality. That said, I think my resolutions are more of life-long goals that I have had for a long time and just get side tracked from but all sort of come together to help build myself and my character into the person that I see myself being and the person I have always wanted to be.

So for my first resolution I restate my previously posted resolution:
1. Drink less and spend less time at bars etc… There are multiple goals here that really in turn lead to further resolutions to be stated. One is of course to save that money I waste on a night of partying and put it towards a better end like for one, paying off my debts. The other is becoming a more responsible and level headed individual. My drinking can sometimes bring out the worst in me; I of course like to think it makes me more fun and interesting but in reality I often can just become obnoxious and I definitely loose whatever attention span I previously had so that actual conversations can be hard to hold with me.

2. Save more money; I tend to be a spontaneous and compulsive shopper, when I decide I want to get something I generally go out and get it whether I either need it or even really ought to be buying it right now. Sometimes this relates to things like clothes/cycling stuff, sometimes it’s the old motorcycle I just decided to bid on on ebay. These types of expenditures need to stop; I don’t have the means to make them and I more often then not have no need for the purchased item/s.

3. Become more responsible; whether this is to be more financially responsible or just more responsible in my general actions and involvements, I need to just generally grow up. I’d also like to become more responsible in my community, whether through cycling advocacy, volunteer organizations or just becoming a more active member of the surrounding community. A large part of how I see myself is as a community oriented and involved individual. I find myself admiring Gwadzilla when I read his posts, he really comes across as a passionate and caring member of the community; both the cycling and city community.

4. Become more giving and less selfish with my own time. This sort of stems off number three here as a lot of times I think we all can be a bit selfish with our own time, which there is nothing wrong with as we all need our own personal time, but I just want to be more giving and helpful with my time. Whether it’s going to the rescue shelter (ok I admit that is a little bit selfish since I absolutely love it there and probably get more out of the experiences then I give), spending time helping friends, or strangers who need a helping hand or lending an ear to someone who just needs someone to listen. I used to be a much better listener, but I have lately become too selfish to even do that.

I think that’s a nice base layer to start off the year… Hopefully now I will feel the need to actively work on this list and make myself really accountable for these resolutions.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Critical Mass - DC Style

Not Sure how Gwadzilla found out about this (though if anyone could it would be him) since I've not seen any official posts anywhere else on it but:

DC's very own Critical Mass ride beginning in Dupont Circle on this Friday, January 5th, 2007. Meet at 6pm ride at 6:30pm. See Gwadzilla's Post HERE.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Oh no baby, it's fine I can talk now, I'm just driving the bus...

I forgot about this last night as I was writing but yesterday as I was walking back to the Takoma Park metro from the Rescue Shelter I saw something that I think could have possibly had some pretty significant consequences for one of the local public transit workers. As I walked south on North Capital Street I noticed a metro bus coming North towards me and for whatever reason I looked in at the driver and was absolutely stunned by what I saw. It could certainly not have been legal; I mean car drivers can’t do this in the district so how the hell would it be ok for a bus driver with possibly dozens of people’s lives in his hands to do it. The guy was sitting there with one hand on the wheel and the other holding his cell phone up to his ear chatting away on the phone… Something just seems wrong about this and should I have had the wherewithal to note the bus id number I might have reported this instance. I unfortunately just kind of watched in shock as the bus sped along it’s route.

When I ride my bike in the city there are often times (almost daily with the drivers around here) when some impatient car driving maniac decides I don’t belong on the road and starts honking at me until they get a chance to speed past me. (This is most often on 9th St NW coming south down next to the Convention Center). What really gets me the most though is that when I turn and take a look at the driver of said honking vehicle (read: flip the bird and possibly confer a word or two of wisdom their way), nine times out of ten they are talking with their cell phone to their ear (and driving either a Cadillac or a Lincoln Towncar).

Another thing that really gets me is when I nearly am taken out by a car, typically a cab but quite often police vehicles and other cars that have decided to make an illegal U-Turn right in front of me. That one is lots of fun.

This all just seems so wrong on so many levels; if nothing else of course these people should be happy I’m on a bike and not adding one more car to the mess of traffic this city calls infrastructure. I strongly believe that cities should be bike and public transport only; no crazy drivers with enflamed road rage and piss poor manors, just bikes, buses (with no cell phone talking drivers), metros, trolleys, pedestrians and maybe some cabs. Of course the day something like that takes place will be the day that greed and corruption will be gone from our government and big oil will no longer run our country (aka. Thirteen trillion years AFTER pigs fly).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Years Eve? Did that happen already?

Happy new year!

I definitely had a crazy new years eve this year; I really only remember up until midnight at my friend's party, after that it's all pretty much a mystery. So, my first new years resolution this year is to drink less alcohol. Maybe it was the not remembering how I got home, or the wondering if I did something stupid around all my friends, or maybe it was just the mud stained clothing strewn across my bedroom when I woke up with my awful hang over to welcome in the new year.

Luckily the follow up phone with my friend who threw the party confirmed I did nothing terrible at least at the party to ban me from any future Bartson academy parties. So my new resolution: drink much much less when I do drink and go out drinking less too. This is also motivated by desire to spend less money on alcohol; $100 a night in bar tabs is not conducive to money saving.

Other then my disgust with myself from New Year's Eve the weekend was pretty good. Got a great 15 mile run in on Sunday afternoon before the party, spent my Saturday evening with the folks in Maryland and ate some fantastic pork loin, spent all day Monday watching football and movies hardly leaving the couch (also something I am not exactly proud of) and went today out to spend my afternoon completing my first official shift as a dog walker at the rescue shelter. Got the new year started off right, just took me an extra day to do so.

The dogs at the shelter were beyond amazing and I got more lovin' then I've had for months. Went almost straight for Larry when I got there and had a blast with him. While I'm sure he would probably be a huge hassle to actually own and everything I absolutely love going in and playing with him. He is just so energetic and playfull and I just can't get enough of him. The first time I walked him I was with a couple of others so I didn't get to just hang out with him and get to know him but today it was just us. He was much more affectionate and interested in interacting this time. He still was all about his fetching the ball (which is a must for me in a dog) but he also ould come over and get his petting and affection too. Great dog.

Back to work tomorrow; the extra short week should be pretty nice. This coming weekend promises to be pretty great as well. If the weather holds up I should be getting out for my first mountain biking trip in the past 2 or so years and then Sunday morning I should be getting out with the Club for a nice team ride and maybe some beers and then the folks are probably coming down for dinner. Next week of course is restaraunt week so I will certainly be getting my fill of great food next week.

My top suggestion (based on the last restaraunt week): Cafe Atlantico - some of the tastiest food I have evr had!