Tuesday, January 27, 2009

White Lie

I like my margaritas frozen, no salt. Ditto on my winter roads.

Congratulations cycle-hatin’-drivers, you have successfully found the impetus to confine us to the trails and off your sloppy, gross roads. Enjoy.

NaBiCO3. Sodium Bicarpedate: the chemical cocktail of salt and sand that eats at bikers, cars, and pedestrians without discrimination.

It melts away the myth. “I love snow” “I miss the white stuff” “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.” This is a big fat lie.

We can’t get rid of it fast enough once it finally arrives. It’s a lot like your in-laws. You gush about how much you love it until it arrives then you count the minutes until it’s completely gone.

It’s like salt in an open wound. And we just keep pouring it in.

It should read: “I love the snow until it falls to Earth and almost kisses my asphalt, at which point I will pour upon it whatever toxic compound is necessary to erase all signs that it was ever there.”

No fender in the world is big enough to protect me from that salty spray. And so I detour my commute to the confines of the beautiful serene snowy white trail.

And I guess they dumped all the available salt on the snow because I woke up to an ice rink street. I think I even saw a zamboni drift by.

Linden Bridge Is Falling Down

It's no joke. The bridge on Linden has a hole in it. It's coming apart at the seams I tell you.

To the average driver I'm sure it looks just like a pesky pothole. To the pedestrian pedaler it's no nursery rhyme.

I'm on Linden, I lower my stance, I can see the Beltway in just one glance!

It's true, I can. Clear as the brake lights glaring back at me, I can see the Beltway through the road. Road THROUGH road. This, as they say, is never good.

I'm just saying, Be Careful out there. In your two ton tin lizzie. Bouncing along on your chassis. Motoring along the highway. Mouthing off the cyclist on the right.

You are safe for now. I am pleased to report there is a plate straddling the chasm that once was a bridge. But I would still tread lightly. And be kind to those bikers, they can see what you cannot. They are not the cause of the disrepair, but they could detect it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

iCycle DC


It’s got nothing to do with greenhouse gases, clean air, footprints, carbon-neutral anything. WAIT. It absolutely does!

On January 20, 2009 our country converged on the National Mall and paid witness to history. The Inauguration of Barack Obama. To the tune of two million.

They came by air and by sea and by foot. Oh, and bi-cycle. Over 2040 of them. Yep, a crisp January morning dipping below 20 degrees and there they were in every direction…bicycles.

I heard the news. Stay clear of downtown DC. Avoid the roads. Take Metro. Traffic nightmare. Beltway gridlock. Media love their mayhem.

And I was SHOCKED. As I turned every corner, no cars, no people. No people, no cars. Clear as far as the eye could see for blocks upon city blocks.

First it was 14th Street. Then K. And 16th. And H. To Pennsylvania, M, Wisconsin. Clear, clear, and clear. There was parking in Georgetown I tell you!

Where pray tell are the people? They are all at the Mall! Shopping for hope, and change, and peace and love no doubt. And here is was down every desserted street. (Misspelling is my cherry on top.)

I was like, well, a kid on a bicycle. I rode on every street. In the middle of the street, with no hands. I did circles in the middle of H and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Because I COULD.

Chains came to Washington alright. And we rode 'em in.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Easy Rider

The ingredients of a perfect economic storm, expensive car notes, steep insurance, and rising gas prices, hovered above the Washington Convention Center. Inside, wheels were turning.

Visitors of the 2009 International Motorcycle Show pulled out childhood dreams and tweaked them into today's economy. "They get great gas mileage," said one hopeful owner to his spouse.

John C. Nauss of Elizabethtown, Pa, has been living out his dream for over 40 years. Nauss bought his first motorcycle, a Honda Scrambler, when he was 43 years old. He was a bit of a late bloomer.

Back then, Nauss did not fit the motorcycle image. Bikers were typically young, 'bad boys', and covered in tattoos and leather.

Today that image has evolved to include all walks of life. At 83 years young, you could argue Nauss continues to defy that image. He's pretty spry for a white-haired guy though.

Two years ago, Nauss still rode his motorcycle, now a Honda Shadow, to his full time job. He refused to retire.

Later that year, lying in his hospital bed, recovering from quadruple bypass surgery, he promised his family he would retire and sell his motorcycle.

Before long he was back on his feet and stubborn as ever. He was back at his job and the motorcycle was back in the driveway. "I'm just gonna start it up," he would say.

His daughter, Judy Flowers is an avid bicyclist. Worried that her 5'3" father might now be too weak to handle the motorcycle, she bought him a bicycle.

He hated it and soon went for rides on the motorcycle. Out on the road, however, he was lonely.

Even in the hospital, he refused to eat his dinner unless his wife Elsie joined him. John and Elsie will celebrate 60 years of marriage this fall. They used to travel everywhere by motorcycle.

Health issues have kept Elsie from climbing back on the back. John considered a side car so she could ride along. "Are you crazy!?" she shrieked.

Despite his daughter's and granddaughter's pleadings, John still has not sold the motorcycle. He has finally retired.

Last year he purchased a trike, a three wheel motorcycle bigger than some small cars. He has not had it out yet, but yes, Elsie said she would ride along.

John and Elsie will turn 84 and 76 on July 4th of this year. "Maybe, we will take the trike down to South Carolina," said Elsie.

John no longer claims he's Superman, but when his granddaughter asks, "Papa, how old are you?" he still counts on his fingers and declares, "38!"

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lean And Green New Year

If your New Year's Resolution was any of the top five, including getting fit, saving money, or living green, pull your bike back out of the garage.

Surviving a DC winter outside is not as difficult as you might think. This isn't Nome, Alaska; studded tires are not required.

Kermit is a bit of a Drama Frog. It's actually pretty easy being green, even in the dead of winter.

Dorcus Adkins, of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, thinks the lack of sunlight is DC's biggest winter hindrance. Preparing for low-light riding is a must, especially when the days are shorter. "Good, bright, flashing lights are a necessity, as well as a legal requirement," Adkins stresses.

Lights are inexpensive and can be run off rechargeable batteries. More expensive lights can even run off your own pedal power.

Larry Black, owner of Mt. Airy Bikes, offers up some great advice, as well as thrifty green alternatives, when it comes to staying warm. Go ask him. He's been dishing up free advice for almost 40 years.

Start by covering your helmet. "This is easy," says Black. "A penny's worth of clear packaging tape over the front and top vents is a must. Leave the back vents open for letting steam out."

He also recommends tape around the toe of your shoe as a junk drawer alternative to Neoprene covers.

Black swears by layers of silk and wool from top to bottom. Whether on your torso or toesies, these fabrics are effective and natural.

Synthetic fibers, such as polyester, are also effective, but their odor retaining quality make them less desirable than wool. Recycling programs like Patagonia's Common Threads, make polyester a reusable resource.

Polyester is derived from petroleum, which is processed into polyethylene terephylene (PET). PET is what makes up those disposable plastic soda and water bottles. The Common Threads Recycling Program takes old, warn clothing and turns it into a new polyester fiber for new products.

Not every effective layer comes on a hanger, however. Don't underestimate the power of newspaper. Newspaper or a paper or plastic grocery bag can act as a good insulator between layers of clothing. For a commuter, it can draw out the moisture in wet shoes throughout the work day.

Jill DiMauro, of Proteus Bicycles, focuses on the bicycle itself as your key to greener living. "A clean bike is a green bike." Wash the salt and road debris off your frame after every ride.

Keeping the chain and gears free of excess dirt and grease can extend the life of the parts and keep them out of landfills. Plus it keeps you happy on your bike and out of a car.

Don't wait until spring. Gear up and get going. Procrastination is also high on the resolution list.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Revolutionary Inauguration

Most people wouldn’t dream of riding a bicycle in January; however, it is looking like a viable way into the city on Inauguration day.

Wait. Ride a bicycle. Outside. In January?

Welcome to your inaugural winter ride! Lines and trains and buses, Oh my! Yeah, by cycle. It's true what they say, Dress for Success.

Turn to wool and silk. Local bike shop owners all agree, these age old materials are still the best.

Pay close attention to your hands and head. Good gloves and a balaclava are a must. Check out a pair of lobster gloves, some cyclists swear by them.

Keeping your feet warm is often the most challenging part of winter riding. Again, look to a combination of silk and wool. Neoprene shoe covers also do the trick.

Cycling shoes tend to run small. Unless you sized up your winter pair, consider regular shoes. Be sure your toes are not cramped or constricted or you’ll end up with cold feet. Remember you’ll be walking around once you are there anyway.

Layer your core. Try a silk undershirt, wool jersey, and nylon windbreaker. On the bottom, spandex tights are a must. Wear pants over them if you don’t want to walk around in bike tights.

The high tech alternatives like polyester and polypropylene are just as effective. Keep in mind these fabrics retain odor. This is one of the reasons cyclists prefer wool, no sweat or odor.

Another thing to consider is backpacks will not be allowed near the Capitol or Parade route.

Dress warmer than you normally would for a ride and slow down. Stuff some toe warmers and a space blanket in your jersey pocket.

Try to get your spare tube and tire levers in a bag attached to your bike and leave your bike with the bike valet provided by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Ohhh, stationary bike. Yeah, I get it Doc. A bike that you pedal that doesn't go anywhere.

I DO ride one of those. In fact I rode one to work today. No, I don't work at home; why do you ask?

I tucked my shirt in thrice, pulled my socks up to my nipples, and buckled my helmet super tight.

Then, I navigated the street like some gnarly single track buried deep in the forest. It was a minefield of branches, debris, and trash cans.

Sadly, the helmet was more of a wind deflector than a melon protector. It would be no match for a tree trunk on my noggin.

Even a three foot bubble would be no match for Mom Nature. I wrestled my girl and I kept her in line, but only to a point. Before I knew it I was straddling the center line with a tank on my tail.

Sheesh. Home was no different. Substitute "debris and trash cans" for "drunks and ash fans". Happy New Year!

Let's go fly a bike, Gear down for the fight, Let's go fly a bike!