Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Things NOT to do the night before a 20 mile training run:

Things NOT to do the night before a 20 mile training run:

1. Go to a shuffle board challenge for Happy Hour

2. Drink multiple pints of heavy beer

3. Skip dinner and instead eat nachos from the bar.

Ah, the lessons I like to teach myself; I guess the egg and cheese sandwich in the morning before my run didn’t help too much either.

Overall the run was actually not too bad; started off pretty slow and gradually got up to speed once my body had warmed up. Felt great up until I got up to around mile 8 or 9 when I reached the Georgetown Branch Trail and started heading west. The knees and hips were a bit sore at this point, but nothing I wasn’t used to so I kept on going. The unpaved trail was actually pretty nice as most of the areas the snow had melted off and it provided a nice break from the hard pavement and cement I had been running on up to this point.

When I got out to Bethesda I felt mostly fine and started to pick it up a bit coming down the trail back into DC. The hip was bothering me a bit so I took shorter and quicker strides so I wouldn’t be moving it as far with each step. Around this point my chest also started to burn a bit which was a first for me in my training. At this I slowed up a bit and kept it to a more reasonable pace. When I reached Fletcher’s Boat house I mentally was feeling great since from what I remembered I was just around the corner from Georgetown. That just around the corner turned out to be more of a bike corner then a running corner and within the amount of time it took me to get from the boat house to the start of the Capital Crescent trail I had all but mentally given up on the run.

I ended up completing about 18 of my planned 20 miles and grabbing a cab home since the sun had pretty much set and it was too cold for my wet body to stay warm while walking the final 2 miles home. Probably the most epic bonk in my history though my preparation for the run was more to blame then anything else. While I am a little bit worried about the pain in my knees and hips I think those will be manageable given the couple of day’s rest I’ll have taken before the race and the other ills I felt should be non-issues once I actually prepare myself correctly for this type of run.

Friday, February 23, 2007

"Fix-Up" an Old Classic

I’ve been interested in picking up an old road frame and building a homemade fixie for a while now but I just haven’t gotten my act together and gone out looking for a frame. I emailed a couple of people about some old bikes they were selling but things came up and the items were just not close enough for me to run out and grab without making it a big deal.

After reading Freewheeling Spirit’s latest blog entry about his newly completed Raleigh Super Record conversion my interest has been renewed and I am now back on the market for an older used road frame. FS said he had budgeted for a $100 project though in going with a new seat post, track wheel, set of tires, chain, cog and bar tape he exceeded his budget. He also pointed me in this direction for a geared to single conversion with under $20… and J. B. Weld…

Hmmm, I may budget around $100.

On an unrelated note: Go check out this recap of a Susitna 100 racers ride. The write up is a few posts long so make sure to catch them all. Reading the blog I find myself day dreaming of doing something like that. My eyes have always been bigger then my stomach… I’ll finish the marathon first then maybe start to think about the triathlon before I get any more crazy ideas in my mind.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Gone postal

I finally got myself motivated enough to ride into work this morning after almost two weeks of public transportation. The ride in was great featuring very light traffic and no aggrivated and impatient motorists. There seems to be a trend along these lines for leaving before 7 for my commute. The ice was there but the roads were free of aggresive drivers so I was fine taking up the space I needed to ride safely on my route in. Coming home however was different story all together.

I left work around 5pm with the ground wet but clear of any rain; since I'd finally mounted my rear fender and broke out the rain pants I wasn't too worried about it either way. I made it to R St and turned left and rode at a nice and easy pace using the bike lane when I could and easing into the main lane when it was fully blocked. Coming up to 11th St there was a car and a USPS vehicle waiting at the light so as usual I made my way past the two vehicles in the bike lane and checked for traffic coming on 11th. A quick track stand to assure the busy road was clear and I was off on my way. The light changed as I was in the intersection and the two vehicles came flying by me in a hurry to the next wait at the next light. The postal vehicle however made a very noticable effort to be in as close as possible to my side and then got over even further into the bike lane after passing me.

I of course caught up at the next light, gave him a funny look while he ignored the fact that I was there; likely confirming that he made his move conscientiously. In the next section of road the postal driver does the exact same thing only this time comes even closer to my arm while I expecting this try my best to ride as far away from this ass as the snow will allow.

Traffic gets even more backed up in front of the guy and I manage to squeeze up next to the postal truck and mention something about bike lanes and some sort of profanity while the guy looks at me with the abger and distaste that you only see in a road raged driver knowing they are getting royally f****d by the traffic. I stop my babbling after a couple of quick sentances and pull up to the next light.

After the third such encounter I decided the best way to deal with this situation was to collect whatever identifying number off the vehicle that I could and politely wave (or at least give a thumbs up) to the postal driver (literally and figuratively) and ride away while his jack ass is stuck in the rush hour traffic. I caught up to him hopped off the bike and entered the ID number off the back of the vehicle into my phone and rode away with my thumb held high (ooh, this is a good one here... since he decided he needed to take up the whole bike lane I got to pass him on the left side and really make sure he saw me!)

"Surprisingly" the postal vehicle had no license plate visible on the back of the vehicle, seems a little strange to me...

Anyway, the ID number I collected will find it's way to the USPS via whatever complaint venues can find come tomorrow and though I don't really expect anything to come of this I hope at least the guy gets a notice about his wreckless endangerment and his use of a United States Postal Vehicle as a weapon.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy Endings

Got some good news about the Bianchi Pista I mentioned the other day. Looks like the guy that recovered the bike was able to get it back to it's rightful owner. I love happy endings!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Cyclists torture machine

I've been a little quiet with the posts lately since just about the only to write about is ice, poor commuter manners and my roommate getting to go out late and sleep in since his school district thinks it's still too dangerous for the kids to go to school. Well, I guess that's not quite true since I went to a great beer tasting at RFD's on Valentines night with Swan and Anna. There were some great strongales and it was a pretty cool experience hearing the brewers talk about the process and everything. Most of the beers were sweeter then I typically would go for but overall the night was well worth the price tag.

Yesterday I decided to wuss out on the 8 or 9 mile run I was supposed to do due to icy sidewalks and the fact that it would be too late to be out running for over an hour on a cold night. Instead I decided to hop on the trainer and give it a try. Based on my own preconceived notions and opinions heard from others I've always assumed using the trainer would be like hopping on a erg (aka. torture device) for crew training. I decided though now that it's not quite as bad since for me it seems harder to slack off on the erg then the trainer. This probably has more to do with it being my first time on the trainer and having no idea what levels I should be riding at and holding. I assume my hatred for the trainer will grow in time to a similar level as for the ergometer.

I put on the latest Netflix movie (Lord of War with Nicholas Cage, not really interested in the movie but I feel like my choices of movies from there are becoming more limited) and started spinning on the noisy trainer around 6:30pm. I immediately realized that actually attempting to watch a movie would be useless since I couldn't hear a thing even with the volume cranked up so I settled in content with enjoying the pictures instead.

The time on the trainer was not nearly as terrible as I feel it could have been, although it was certainly no walk in the park. I stayed on for a full hour and probably would have done it longer but I feared the noise and vibrations were probably reverberating pretty badly through the entire apartment complex and my neighbors were probably ready to pull their hair out. Unfortunately my place is all wood flooring and takes up the second and third floors of the three story complex. I chose to set up and use the trainer in my bedroom on third floor so I wouldn't be right on top of my neighbor downstairs but I'm sure he could still hear it pretty loudly.

I kept the wattage at a decent level, though I think next time I'll go for a higher wattage level since I didn't want to go off to hard for the first time on the trainer and ruin myself. My heart rate averaged about 140 bpm which I guess was reasonable too but at that level I should probably have pulled at least 2 hours since my typical running heart rate is closer to 165 to 170 bpm. Next time I'll know what to do.

Saturday I've got the 18 miler so hopefully I'll be able to figure out a decent route with minimal levels of ice left. I'd rather try to avoid Beech Drive since that's where I've been running almost every weekend and biking as well but that will probably be my best option for this weekend. Safety takes precedence over scenic variance any day.

Oh and this morning I finally changed my license over from MD to DC so I'm officially a DCite?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Helping an old lady board a bus?

With the federal government shutting down at 2pm today we all knew the metro would be packed; A little after 2 I decided there was no reason for me to stick around and even though I hate being pressed in a packed metro I'd go ahead and give it a shot. I lucked out when I got down to the platform and was able to make my way all the way to the far side and then squeeze through riders to the wide open isles, out of the way for the time being.

Standing in the middle watching people and their reactions you can't help but laugh; we're all in the same boat but people still feel the need to bitch and moan about how horrible it is that they have to squeeze through everyone to get off and on the train. One guy however with a particularly sour look on his face made it his perogative to take up as much space a possible, seated on the closest seat to the doors by spreading his knees out and flipping through the mornings paper (not express sized paper here either) and bumping people around him. That was particularly nice of him.

I decided to hop off at Dupont Circle and ride the 42 up to my place to both get off the sardine can train while I could and limit the amount of walking on ice I'd be doing in my slick bottom dress shoes. I typically get to the top of the escalators just in time to catch the bus and today was pretty much dead on though I had to run to get there. Unfortunately I was not as dead on as I thought as immediately after I crossed in front of the bus to the bus stop the driver took off through the freshly green light in front of him. Darn, I proceeded to wait with an older lady for the next bus to come through.

When the bus finally came around the bend the first thing one of the people standing around said was "Oh shit". I turned and looked and the bus was just about packed completely full. So, what do all the people waiting (who had just gotten there and were standing in front of the old lady and I) do? Rush the door...

When the last person getting off finally squeeze through they start piling on, though the driver is announcing that not everyone will be able to get on. As the older lady (who is about 70 years old) passes in front of me she mutters "this is crazy" and starts walking away from the bus stop. At this point I called out to all the people trying to rush the bus entrance and yell out "Hey folks can we please let this lady on the bus?".

Two people turn around. They look at me, look at her and then turn around and hop on the bus. Wow; just absoultely amazing. I then said something about her being the first person there waiting and the one that most needs the services of the bus and all I got was a shrug from a guy in the back of the mob. It's incredible that on a day like this when common curtousy is probably the most important and helpful thing, people can be that self-centered and oblivious to things that are going on around them.

I checked with the lady to make sure she was going to be ok and other then a little disgust with the situation she said she was going to walk home and that she would be alright. Then I threw my jacket on over my wool sweater to keep me dry and started the long schlep home. I guess there is only so much you can do when people don't care about anyone other then themselves.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Of dealings with a bicycle crook

On Sunday morning just after Swan cut up on 14th St to head home while I continued on R St. a guy came flying around the corner of 14th and R asking me if I knew anything about bikes and to stop and talk to him for a minute. He was riding a sweet Bianchi Pista, probably somewhere around a 54 or 56 with a nice looking gray paint job similar to the one in the picture below. It had some stickers and identifying markings on it but I didn’t get a good look at them.
The guy told me he had just picked the bike up for $100 and asked me if I thought he could get any money for it and just like that the red flag went up in my head. As my mind ran through what I should be doing a stronger urge to just get out of the situation took over. I told the guy it was a really nice bike and nodded when he asked if he could get over $100 for it. He asked if I knew anyone looking to buy a bike and I told him no and he said that he lived across the street and would be trying to sell it.

I took off and quickly started regretting my handling of the situation as I thought about a few recent postings on Craigslist I’d read about a green Pista that was stolen. I started to think about what I should have done in the situation but the best thing I could come up with was to try and get the phone number of the guy and then post something on CL about it. Then I wondered if I could have gotten the guy to sell it too me for cheap, if I had just kept my mouth shut about it being a nice bike and then followed that with a post on CL to try and find the rightful owner like another guy did back in December.
Most of all though I just felt terrible for who ever it was that likely had it stolen from them and wished I could have done something. I knew I couldn’t outright accuse him of stealing it since I had no real evidence that it was stolen. I also didn’t think calling the cops would do any good both since they don’t actually care about that stuff in the first place and the previously mentioned lack of any solid evidence.

I guess I’ll just say here and post something on Craigslist about it anyway just in case; the location where he stopped me is pointed out here on Google maps and he said he lived right around there. Not sure what good that does other then give a little information but it’s the best I can do at this point.

Next I’d like to ask for some advice as to how I could have handled this situation. It’s not a situation I’ve ever been in before and don’t really plan on being in it again, but if I am I’d like to know what the best way to handle it would be. Anyone have any suggestions for me here?
Well, this afternoon while keeping my eye on Craigslist I saw this post about a Bianchi Pista recovered on 14th St NW. I'm guessing it was probably the same bike which makes me feel a little bit better about the situation; hopefully the owner finds out about it and gets the bike back. My first skim through the post I thought the bike had been stolen from the original thief by the poster but rereading the thief actually took off down the road after handing the bike over.

While this is probably about the best possible outcome for this situation it's also probably one of the least likely. I guess if there is a moral here it is to not be afraid to confront someone if it is obvious (or more don't steal a bike if you're going to be scared to be seen with it). But, on the other hand there is way too much room for error here and the chances of wrongfully accusing someone are pretty high and that is certainly not something I would be interested in doing.

The question still remains; what is the best way to go about this situation? What do you do if you think the bike you're being offered/asked about is stolen. The police offer a very poor option as I know through my own experience. Any thoughts? Opinions? General feelings or experiences with things like this?

Even Newer:

Got an email tonight from a friend of a friend, though I recieved the email through Craigslist and completely unrelated to my friend. Turns out the bike belongs to a 17 year old that is a member of one of the local cycling teams. I really hope he gets his bike back.

Peaceful Riding

On Sunday instead of joining the day’s Racing Union ride from Georgetown, I decided to instead get a couple of friends out for an easy ride through DC and give my legs a bit of a break. After my long run on Saturday a long hard ride was not really on my to-do list. Our ride ended up being just Swan and I since Mandie ended up being sick and on the DL after a Friday night birthday bash and Saturday Frisbee game so we met up in Adams Morgan and headed slowly southward.

We took our time riding through the streets not really heading anywhere in particular just riding and enjoying the cold crisp air. Traffic was light and there was little going on around us so things were extremely peaceful. I rode around the Washington Monument a few times while Swan stopped and took some pictures and then decided to head down to Eastern Market so I could finally witness the weekend experience. We got there and locked up our bikes and walked around for a bit before stopping for some coffee at a small store on the corner before rolling slowly back home.

Overall it was a great way to start a Saturday morning; probably something I could go for on a regular basis, especially when it starts getting nicer out. Maybe I should make it a goal to check out as many of the coffee shops in DC on a Sunday or Saturday morning as possible. I’ll have to work on that.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I've been slacking lately onmy marathon training. My running sort of fell off due to my increased saddle time and then two weekends in a row being out of town took away my planned long "make up" runs. This week I really realized what was happening and so I get my butt back in gear and hit the streets a few times. Tuesday running in to work was a bit rough; I enjoyed the run but my it was obvious that my body had lost a bit of my previously built up training. I really enjoyed running though somewhat early in the day; the roads are less packed, the sun is just coming up and the handful of runners that are out then almost always give a wave and say hello as they pass.

Wednesday and Thursday I was feeling Tuesday's run, though that probably had more to do with the fact that I just didn't stretch out enough afterwards. I forced myself to brave the 30 + mile an hour winds during lunch including about an 11 degree windchill and got a nice 45 minute run in around the monuments and everything downtown. This time I put quite a bit more effort into my stretching and felt pretty good the next day. This morning when I woke up I was feeling great (besides the hangover after Mandie's birthday party last night at which I drank way too much heavy beer). Drove out to Fairfax in a Flexcar to pick up a trainer that Scott offered to loan to me and came home rearranged my bedroom a little to make some room for it and set it up.

I wanted to hop on and try an easy hour or something but today was way to nice and it was also being devoted to a long run. My schedule says 12 miles for today so I decided to head out and do something around there but really was thinking I'd do a few more miles then that. The run started off pretty badly as within the first 10 or 15 minutes I was getting terrible shin splints and just felt like overall hell (once again thanks to those damn but oh so tasty beers last night). Soon after I began to really question whether I was going to be able to do the run then my legs loosened up and the only bad left was the feeling and churning in my gut, so I ran on. I took my much loved route up Connecticut Ave, down through the Zoo and then out to Beach drive which I followed for about six or so miles.

The weather was pretty much perfect despite the cold air and the roads showed the expected number of cyclists and runners in the closed off park. Some folks waved as we passed, others said hello and those individuals who would prefer to remain secluded from all of society simply made every effort to avoid eye contact and went on their way. I never really understand this mentality by people, I mean I'm not even just talking about pretty girls that are afraid of getting hit on, it's all kinds of people that choose to "interact" in this way. But whatever, that is their perogative.

Anyway, I finished up my run at almost exactly two hours and completed something right around 13 miles though I definitely felt I could have run longer today. I came home and got in a good stretch and though the legs are a little tired they feel great. My pace was extremely slow today, especially the first few miles which felt like I was crawling along, but the good news is that I was picking up my speed pretty much the entire. For the last two or so miles I managed to speed up even more which felt great as it kind of opened up the legs a bit and really got the blood pumping. My heart rate stayed right around 160 or so for the majority of the run until this last couple where I had it running around 180 which really felt great.

This week I'll hopefully get out for three shorter runs during the week and then next weekend should be around 17 or 18 miles. then I think the following weekend is my pre-race peek milage at 20 before tapering down for the race. Can't wait, it's finally getting down to crunch time and the moment of truth for this. Now if I could just figure out the correct balance between my running and biking...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

There are FAMS all over this city!!!

So I guess this makes me a FAM; what with my sweet track ride and large easy to handle bag.

Oops, apparently sometimes these C.I.C.L.E. links work and sometimes they don't. The official NPR story can be found here.

Picture taken from NPR.org (Jeff Brady, NPR)

NPR is a bit late jumping on this band wagon and all considering even the New York Times and Washington Post put out similar articles months ago. I wonder what we'll be stealing from the messenger culture next? The typical idea of super tight jeans and all that doesn't really appeal to me since I don't think I'd really find it all that comfortable. I guess I'll just have to wait for the next trend.

I DO like this idea though; one of the Coppis rider has a blue one on his fixie and I've been meaning to pick up a red one for mine. I've got to customize my bike a little bit at least.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Marathoning on Ice

My recent training “regiment” has been ridiculously poor. Between two weekends in a row of traveling to snowy areas and poor roads for running I have not gotten out for a good long run for a few weeks and even the weeks before I was spending my time biking instead of marathon training. Oops; I’m feeling that now as I break back into my training and trying to pick up somewhat close to where I should be at this time. Along the lines of my official training schedule I should be putting in about 15 to 20 miles during the week this week and 12 on Saturday. I did about 5 or 6 this morning and am planning on taking a similar run tomorrow so I’ll probably plan on more of a 15 or so mile run on Saturday and maybe an easy bike on Sunday. Next weekend it’s around 18 miles and the following is the big 20 before tapering back down a little bit before the race so I better get cracking.

This morning was pretty great despite the frigid temperatures. After the first five or ten minutes I’d warmed up enough that I was perfectly comfortable and the ice forming out of condensation from my breath in my beard added a level of satisfaction you just don’t get on the typical run. It’s not really that I enjoy having ice in my beard; I didn’t really care about that one way or the other since my face was still warm enough that it didn’t affect me, but knowing that it is cold enough for that and I was still out training is a pretty good feeling. Hopefully I can channel that feeling even further into my training and keep myself motivated for the next 5 weeks up to my marathon.

As for my running attire, it looks like I may just have the right thing coming through my ultimate crew… SWEET!

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Washington Post ran a story this morning about the District’s pedestrian survey that is being conducted until February 9. Reading through the article cycling was mentioned all of one time when discussing the method of transportation used for commuting in the district stating that 2% of people commute by bicycle. After reading the article I decided to go check out the survey and upon completing it saw that it too did not discuss cycling. I think the survey and the initiative are both excellent but the city should certainly not leave out one of the quickest, easiest and most economical modes of transportation available to us. I left a comment mentioning the lack of cycling in the plan and I think we should all make a point to do so.

If nothing else at least complete the survey to get your points out there. We can hopefully raise enough awareness of excessive speeding in the city if nothing else as that is probably one of the biggest hazards faced by both pedestrians and cyclists alike here.

The Washington Post Article

The DC DOT Survey

Main page for the DC Pedestrian Master Plan

Additional DDOT Survey:

Washcycle also brought up another important survey that affects the cyclists in the area. DDOT is conducting a survey on the Multi-Space Parking meters that have recently been installed in the Adams Morgan, Georgetown and K St areas of the city. While I think these overall are great and much better then the traditional parking meter they leave cyclists a bit on the screwed side especially in the bike centered Adams Morgan area since they eliminate a majority of the bike parking the area had to offer. Please take a couple more minutes and take this survey as well to let DDOT know the importance of installing new bike parking along these areas. The "lollipop" designs being used in Arlington could be a great option.

The DDOT Multi-Space Parking Meter Survey

Friday, February 02, 2007

Short Winter

Happy Groundhog Day! Apparently Phil did not see his shadow this morning and is predicting a short winter. My guess is this just means that since we are just now getting into winter it has already been relatively short and that it will still go on into March and April to at least get a decent season out of it.

Ever wonder about the history of Groundhog day? Read about it on the people's encyclopedia at Wikipedia - You know they are never wrong there!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

# 100

So this is my 100th post! I though that maybe I should do something to celebrate like maybe write an interesting post or something fun like that but due to a lack of interesting ideas I'll simply announce the 100th post and pass along this article picked up by C.I.C.L.E. that I thought was interesting.

Time for New York pedestrians to reclaim city - This article brings me back to my previously mentioned desire for car free downtowns. There is not reason for people to need to drive through downtown business districts and I think every neighborhood should have some sort of car-free "district" even if it is just a couple of blocks.

Now, I'm off the celebrate with pint of beer. Cheers!

Bus Drivers & Bikers

I had an interesting conversation last night with one of the city bus drivers when I decided to take my bike home from work but did not want to ride all the way up to the WARL shelter first. Riding the 80 bus up North Capital St. I took a position up in the front of the bus both since I typically prefer to leave seats open on crowded busses for others and so I could watch that my bike doesn’t decide to go for a ride with someone other then me. Not sure how often or real the threat is but I recently saw something (I think) on Washcycle talking about bike thefts off the front of metro busses. Not my idea of fun there.

I rode quietly for the first half of the ride but as I stared out the front window watching the ridiculous things the bus driver was having to put up with I asked him how he could handle driving a bus through that everyday. We started talking about bad drivers in the city and eventually the conversation moved on to bikers. As I was wearing jeans with the leg rolled up, a regular jacket and a cycling cap the driver assumed I was a messenger and started to tell me how he was cool with messengers since they are out there all the time and that is their job, but those commuters that don’t know how to ride in the city are the ones that bug him.

I slipped in the conversation slightly after that point and told him I was actually a commuter but I understood what he was saying about people riding through the city doing ridiculous things. I’m sure if I’d been dressed differently he probably would have told me that he hates the messengers but the commuters are ok. Later in our conversation he was talking about the crazy things he’d see some riders (calling them messengers though I’m sure not all were actually messengers) and just generally changed his stance to disliking the bikers who are out there riding in a “kamikaze” style as he described it. Those guys freak him out; me too. I don’t always wait for red lights and do sometimes ride through cars and between traffic lanes where I probably shouldn’t but I don’t think I get all “kamikaze” on their asses. He later began to talk about how he hated to see the people out on their beach cruisers riding through the city and that they were the ones that were really bad.

Anyway, the overall feeling I got from the driver was that he was happy see people out riding bikes but he seemed to have something bad to say about all of them (though he did not mention the spandex clad “racers” at all). Unfortunately it was probably just a few bad apples that left the sour taste in his mouth but hopefully it doesn’t taint his overall views on cyclists. Having public transportation workers on the side of cyclists and pedestrians would certainly be a better idea then not.