Tuesday, December 30, 2008

kNeedy Bastard

To borrow a lyric from Sir Elton John, "It's a little bit funny"....and a pocketful of not.

I don't have an ACL. I mean it's medically unconfirmed, but I watched it pop up close and personal. I'd bet the health of my 'good' knee on it, which as of late, ain't that good.

So, while I'm in, can you take a look at that good knee, Doc? It's been causing me some discomfort when I get up on the pedals--

Stationary bike? A WHAT? Is that a proxymoron? That's not a real bike! No, I REALLY ride. A REAL bike. Bike to work, work to bike, bike to live, live to bike.....et cetera and so forth.

"Patella Femoral Syndrome." Patella Who? The Spanish rice dish, in my knee? Go on. "Drugs, brace, weights"--Okay, sounds familiar. "Too much bicycling." I'm sorry, come again. Too much WHAT!?!

Sir, I mean no disrespect to your medical expertise, but perhaps you could reconsult your PDR, MRI, GFA (Grey's Freakin' Anatomy)! Google me an alphabetic trio that's simply cyclesomatic and tell me to suck it up.

Lemme get this straight--

Aerobic exercise is good for your health; you should bicycle.
Running is bad for your joints; try the bicycle.
Driving is bad for the environment; Go ByCycle.
Anti-oil? Pro-cycle.
PFS; bye-bye cycle?

Can I get a second, second opinion? "Oh, and about that dangling ACL...."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tinsel Tune

Twas some night a’fore Christmas
When down every street
Not a motor was whirring
Just my pedalin’ feet

The tango of tiny twinkling lights. The purr of a finely lubed chain. The tickle of one overly flirtatious Jack Frost nibbling upon my ear. Forget the holiday romance, get Parson Brown TOUT de SUITE!


A nip in the air? Wintry precip falling from above. Man's antithesis splashing 'round underneath! The hint of toxic salt kissing my lips, assaulting my mouth, mauling and molesting my precious frame. Cancel the flowers; Silence the bells! Call in Officer Krupke.

Oh, the weather outside was indeed frightful. But my ride was oh so delightful. I hate when it's wet when I go. Yo Shutt, can't it change o'er to snow?

Well deck the halls, great boughs of holly! This carolin' commuter is on a roll.

When all of a sudden
There arose such a clatter
An elf in a Crown Vic
Mad as a hatter
He never let on
As he passed by my side
I would learn soon enough
He hated my ride.

Nary a single bi-cycle would be found 'neath thou's boughs, of that I am sure. For upon laying a choice finger aside of his nose, the gas guzzling scrooge conveyed tidings of ill will as he drove out of sight. It did not at all resemble, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"

Explore Your Inner Tube

Disposal of used car tires is a service offered by most tire companies, but what about bicycle tires?

Capital Bicycle of Annapolis sells about 10,000 tubes a year. Multiply that by all the bike shops in the country and you're talking some serious rubber.

According to Parker Jones of Capital Bicycle, recycling old tubes "is not as easy as it should be." Bike shops and clubs all agree there is a need for recycling, but no clear 'how', at least not here in DC.

A few years ago, Specialized set up a tire and tube recycling program to help shops get started. Capital Bicycle in Annapolis was the first shop in the country to utilize this program.

Anyone can stop in Capital Bicycle and drop off used bicycle tubes and tires free of charge. The shop then sends the collected tubes and tires to a local company that grinds them up and reuses them.

Shredded, recycled tires can be used as cushioning in playgrounds, as an alternative to concrete for sidewalks, or even mixed with asphalt to fill the crack that caused the flat in the first place. Now that's the rubber hitting the road!

Capital Bicycle also sends tubes to Alchemy Goods, a company that turns them into belts, wallets, and messenger bags.

Larry Black of Mt. Airy Bikes is a huge supporter of reusing old tubes. "We patch tubes, thousands of them. We use them for our own bikes and you should too," says Black.

One bicycle tube can run between five and eight dollars. A patch kit can repair up to six flats for under three bucks. It just makes sense. Good cents.

Jill DiMauro owner of Proteus in College Park agrees, "you can always carry the patched tube as a spare." Proteus saves old tubes for a local doctor who uses them for physical therapy exercises in nursing homes.

If you can't patch it, be creative. Mt. Airy uses old tubes as tool grips, rubber bands, and make shift bungee cords.

Black stresses, "A worthy project would be to get people not to throw tubes 'away'. There is no away."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Opal And Her Magic Shell

Freezing rain is not nearly as undesirable as it sounds. Rain, when it's figuratively freezing, however, sucks.

Cold rain running down your leg and puddling beneath your increasingly arching foot--not exactly a thoughtful Hanukkah present. The swelling sensation of wanting to gnaw off your own bitterly cold, wet toes--not the teensiest bit like sucking on a peppermint stick.

Literal freezing rain though, ahh, like a vanilla bean cheesecake tucked away in a fruitcake box. Don't judge a cake by it's cover.

Comes down wet, goes on hard -- HO! What the ??? --Work with me here; and get your head out of your chimney ash!

There's no running, no puddling, no liquid of any kind. It freezes on contact, forming a protective outer shell if you will. Like magical chocolate sauce on a sweet hand-dipped dish of double churned ice cream. D. Licious.

Gortex, Vortex. One needs not a hi-techni-colored raincoat with the likes of a Natural Magic Shell. Like Superman and his flying cape. The Hulk and his bulgeous green skin . The Twins and their power of awe and wonder. A dramatic blogger and her liberal creative license to make up words.

Faster than a falling rain drop. More powerful than spittle off a fender less tire. Able to leap through puddles unscathed by menacing wakes and half pipes. Look! Out in the nigh! It's a turtle? It's a bike! It's Opal and Her Magic Shell!

(Beware of the frozen deck; it's a bit like kryptonite. And I don't mean the bic-able lock.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not Like Riding A Bike

Sometimes we all need a little support.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What In Santa Hill?


I'm no Paul Harvey, but here's The Rest Of The Story....

It was a perfectly de-lovely winter's day despite the occasional 'fill in the blank' driver and malnourished Jack Frost noshing on my toes.

The air was crisp. Holiday shoppers milling about. Tourists taking in the Blue Spruce. There was even the sparse snow flake drifting by my nose. I love a good December spin night or day.

As I approached the Washington Monument I found a peculiar sight. Red, red, red. Everywhere I Iooked I saw red. Not in an angry-road-rage kind of way, but in a rosy-cheeked-bowl-full-of-jelly kind of way.

Jiminy Christmas Batman! That's a lot of Santas! Musta been a hundred of 'em. I approached cautiously. There's nothing worse than a scary clown, except maybe an angry Santa. And every DC local knows when a group of people gather on the Mall a protest is sure to break out.

But something seemed askew with this mob. I mean despite the red suits and floppy hats. That's it! Not a single sign. Not a single chant. No wait....what are they saying....Silent who?....Christmas what? Are they caroling?!?!

The Pack-o-Santas began to disperse, or rather swarm. They were marching on...to, of course, the White House. Ah, right, here is where the protest will get ugly. I am wise to your black trash bags ways, slung across your backs just so. Wink, wink. Sack of tricks I bet. Your placards slyly hidden from Park Police.

The Santa Jam politely waited for the walk signal and purposely used the cross walk to traverse Constitution Ave. Huh? One Santa standing in front holding up traffic amongst the shouting and honking. Everyone LOVED the traveling Santas. They were honking in support. DC traffic, happy? Everywhere you looked, everyone supported this ONE cause. The Santa Cause. Jesus Christmas! A Christmas Miracle, Washington style.

Armed with a camera I snapped some photos. I crossed to the Ellipse and watched them go. Upon checking my watch I noticed time was running out; I needed to get to work. I crossed in front of them, there on the wide sidewalk. Me in my helmet, they in their hats.

That is when it happened. That is when my name was displaced. In an instant I went to naughty from nice. Or was it them?

It was a Santarchy. I read the rules. Santa Claus is friendly, respectful, and cooperative. By definition even, Santarchists should disown Government regulations. But not these felted fellas.

"Bikes belong on the street!" I heard it plain as the nose on Rudolph's tiny reindeer face. Well that's not very friendly. I simply waved and thought to myself, "and Santas belong on the North Pole, but you don't see me whining about it"

Welcome to DC, HO.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Santarchists March On Washington

Scores of Santas wandered the Mall bringing cheer and goodwill to one and all.

About one hundred Santas donned the suit of red and pranced between the Washington Monument and the Ellipse. Oh yeah, THAT Mall.

Tourists cheered and snapped photos of the caroling Santas converging on the Mall. Motorists honked in support of the Santa jam crossing Constitution Avenue en masse.

Not often in DC do you come across such a big group marching on the White House without an angry word or raised fist.

The 'impromptu' Kris Kringle Critical xMas bared no placards, no political unrest, no protesting of any kind. Just a jolly ole group of Santas, and a few elves, spreading holiday cheer.

Santarchy, as it's become known, has been breaking out the world over every December for the last 15 years.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Map Mashups

According to One World Two Wheels, 24% of all trips are made within one mile of the home, 40% within two miles. Parking the car and proceeding on foot outlines a need for identifying the safest routes available.

Google Maps is a great tool to find your way around town, but they don't have a 'Safest Route' or 'Bike There' option. Choosing a car-free alternative often brings added complications.

The District of Columbia has a solution.

DC's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) recognized the lack of neighborhood specific interactive maps available on line and offered up a challenge.

Together with iStrategyLabs, DC's OCTO recently sponsored Apps for Democracy, an innovative contest to visualize DC's Open Public Data.

OCTO's Data Catalog provides real-time data from multiple agencies to citizens, ensuring agencies operate as more responsive, better performing organizations.

The Apps for Democracy contest challenged innovative technologists to use this information coupled with applications available on line to create unique interactive maps for use in DC also known as mashups.

Apps gold medal winner iLive.at is the perfect mashup if you live in or plan to move to DC. Simply enter a DC address and iLive.at will present you with information tailored to that exact location, cleanly organized into categories.

Many of the 47 entries offer fun and exciting map mashups to help live a greener life in DC. Find a carpool, bike lane, metro stop, even a sidewalk.

All entries are listed on the Apps for Democracy Web site along with a link to each interactive map.

"The Apps for Democracy contest is part of our drive toward digital democracy in the nation's captial," said District CTO Vivek Kundra. "Apps for Democracy produced more savings for the DC government than any other initiative."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

National Tree Lighting