#30DaysofBiking: Day 2|New Bike

Sophie, out of the saddle, testing a bike

Not for me. No, I love Louise and don’t need a new bike. At least not yet. Today I helped my friend Sophie pick out a bike. We grew up together and ended up living two doors down from each other in the same apartment building. She’s been talking about getting a bike for ages and asked if I would help her pick one out. And yesterday we made it happen! It felt so good to be able to offer my knowledge to make her feel more comfortable. She was like me, doing research, research, research before she went to the shop, but, just like me, realized it’s about the bikes in front of you, not about the hypothetical “best” bike for you. The “best” bike is the one you ride that feels the best! Buying your first bike is super intimidating and I never would have bought mine if Shannon hadn’t come with me- just her presence was comforting! I was happy to pass along that comforting presence to Sophie and offer what little advice and prodding she needed.

When Sophie and I go on our first bike ride together, I’ll post a picture!


#30DaysofBiking: Day 1|Take 2


Well. It’s happened again. This month has been declared a #30DayofBiking month. I participated last time a #30DaysofBiking was declared, back in April. I enjoyed the challenge of coming up with new pictures to share and new stories to tell last time and decided I wanted to do it again. I got a bit lazy towards the end- taking pictures but not blogging them- so I only actually go up to day 23, even though I swear I biked 30 days. I’m going to try it again and this time make it to the end. I’ve recently moved and am looking forward to photographing and writing about my new haunts.

So. Today. You know how they say in cycling circles, “Go on a ride, it will make all your troubles go away”? And the generally accepted belief that cycling makes everything better? While in theory, I support and love this idea, in practice, I’ve found it not to be true.  Sometimes, when I go out on my bike in a bad mood or a negative attitude, I just stew in the bad ju-ju and my bad mood just festers. It affects how I feel on my bike and how I see others around me. I even start to hate on my fellow cyclists- “Why you gotta ride like that?! Why don’t you ride the right way, like ME?!” And that was today. A lost wallet was the cause of such a bad mood and even riding around Hain’s Point with lovely weather was not enough to distract from my irritation at myself. So, while generally a bike ride can cure many ills, there’s no guarantee.

Check out all of my #30DaysofBiking posts here.

#30DaysofBiking: Day 22|Wildlife

Today I did the same Putuxent Wildlife loop that I did a couple of weekends ago, except this time I biked from my house to the “start” of the loop, instead of taking the metro to Greenbelt. I also just rode to the Wildlife Refuge, looped it, then rode home. It still gave me 30 miles, but I didn’t have to take the metro! Anyway, fascinating stuff, I’m sure. The Wildlife Refuge is pretty cool. It’s a nature fun center! They’ve got nature-y displays and exhibits, a little nature walk through, and even a little tram tour! I’ve never really explored, but that’s because nature doesn’t interest me too much, haha! The weather was lovely, I called my mom (it was Mother’s Day) during my rest at the Wildlife Refuge, and my ass was killing me by the time I got home. All in a day’s ride.

#30DaysofBiking: Day 21|Commute

I’d biked to work a few times before, but had been off it recently, mainly because I needed a new backpack to commute with and because my “soft tissue” saddle issues were too much to commute with. With a new bag and a new saddle, I decided it was time to start again. So I rode to work. First I wind my way through residential Maryland, then I get on the Metropolitan Branch Trail (which runs next to the Red Line and is a very nice path with some reeeally ugly views) to Union Station. From there I make my way to the Mall, going down to the Lincoln Memorial, cross over the Memorial Bridge, ride by Arlington Cemetery, up this hill that looks tame but is actually killer to the Marine Memorial, then I’m there! Today, instead of riding down the tourist paths to the Lincoln Memorial, I took Constitution. Big mistake. Tons of cars, four lanes of traffic, a stoplight every block. We’re gonna call that a failed experiment.

#30DaysofBiking: Day 20 | Teaser

#30daysofbiking day 20
Shannon's a proper cyclist

Today was supposed to have been an epic ride for me. Shannon and myself went on a training ride to that she used when she went on Climate Ride last year. Not only was it a longer route, but there was a killer hill right in the middle to wake up the legs. The route went along MacArthur Boulevard and up to Potomac, MD. It was a fabulous ride. The route is amazing- it’s like you’re riding through a forest. The weather was perfect, the roads not too crowded. I couldn’t believe how many proper cyclists were out! As in, proper cyclists out training for shit. Or cyclists who consider themselves to be proper cyclists (like, say, me!). While I was intimidated by all these fast guys in their team kits (plus one guy in a Rabobank jersey, one guy in a Cervèlo jersey [so pretty!], and one guy in a Garvèlo jersey), it was super cool to see all of them out on the road and know they do exist around here. All my time just spent riding around the trails doesn’t expose me much to the Lycra wearing cycling contingency. Sometimes it felt a little lonely.  But I certainly wasn’t lonely out here.

Sadly, our epic ride was epic for reasons other than route/steepness. But that story is best left for another day. To be continued…

#30DaysofBiking: Day 19 | Tweetup

#30daysofbiking day 19

Today was the first time I went out on my bike for a real ride since getting sick over the weekend. I might have waited a few extra days had an excellent opportunity not presented itself. A Twitter friend was in town and wanted to get together for a ride. I couldn’t pass up a chance to meet some Twitter peeps, so a  meet up (or “tweet up”, if you will) was arranged with Bob*, Chris (@cycleboredom), and Ryan (@TheEpicRide, who I didn’t realize had answered Chris’ tweet about our ride until after he’d left! So I thought he was just some random guy who decided to ride with us.).

We planned to meet up at Hain’s Point (which, incidentally, is where I had my first group ride). About an hour before we were supposed to meet, I got SUPER nervous. I felt like I do before a first date- a sick stomach kind of nervous. I think this came from two things. One, I have no idea how my fitness level would compare. I always get nervous when I ride with new people because I never know how my fitness level will stack up to theirs. I think this is why I’m also nervous to do group rides. I really want to do group rides, but I hate getting dropped, and always assume this will happen when I ride with new groups. As much as this goes against the logic that riding with these groups will help me improve so I don’t get dropped, we’ve discussed before how humans (me) are rarely logical. Moving on. The second reason I think was so nervous was because I essentially was going on a blind date with these guys. Twitter/social media creates such strange relationships- I know these guys, but only as much as one can know someone through the internets. While I would consider myself to be friends with these guys, how much can you really be friends with someone you’ve never meet face-to-face? Who knows if we would actually be able to interact in the real world.

So I set off from work to find out. I didn’t ride to work, but brought it on the metro that morning. Which meant I had to leave extra early, so I’d be off the train by 7, after which bikes are outlawed for the rest of rush hour. Luckily, my ride down to Hain’s Point after work helped calm my nerves some. And I’m sure we all know how this story ends: we meet, it was great, everyone was nice, we were able to have a conversation longer than 140 characters at a time and without the help of a Twitter middle man.

But it was more than that, because Chris and Bob were super awesome. They were both super excited and impressed with my doing RAGBRAI, which made me feel good. In terms of our ride, it was a great workout for me. Being with those guys made me push myself further than I normally would’ve gone- I never would’ve done 31 miles by myself, at least not at that pace. It was a fabulous ride, I almost didn’t want it to end- mind and legs said “more!” but my saddle said, “enough!” I hope more cycling tweetups are in my future, because this was awesome!

*some names have been changed to protect the innocent. Mainly, me. Being associated with him is social suicide.