#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.

#30DaysofBiking: Day 17 | Puncture

#30DaysofBiking day 17

Proof of Puncture

#30daysofbiking Day 17

Back tire off!

Is it weird that I was strangely excited by my first puncture? Because that’s how I felt when it happened today. It hadn’t started out as a ride to get excited by. Despite having a bit of a scratchy throat, I decided to go out anyway. And that was a mistake. The heavy breathing and colder, wet air just killed my throat and lungs. Not to mention the whole still unresolved saddle issue. So halfway through I called it quits and headed home (still got 20 miles in, though!). In the way home, I heard the unmistakable hiss of a tire going flat. I was close enough to home that I just decided to walk the bike home and change the tube there. So I don’t think I’m a proper cyclist yet, as I think that doesn’t occur until one has changed a tire on the side of the road.

I would give you a play by play account of how I changed my tube, because that’s how excited I was about this puncture, but I’ll refrain. I will say the two instances when I felt the most proud was when I got the back wheel off and when the tire bead popped off the rim.

So, why was I so excited about this puncture? Mainly, I knew it had to happen eventually and I just wanted to get it over with. In theory I knew how to change a puncture- my LBS gave me a crash course- but theory is a lot different than real life. I was nervous to have to do it myself on the side of the road. So I was glad it happened when I was close enough to home that I could just do it there.

I like knowing how my bike works and being able to fix things on my own. I don’t mind taking it into the shop for bigger things, but I don’t want to take it in for every little thing. So knowing how to fix a puncture is one more thing I know how to do on my bike!

#30DaysofBiking: DAy 16 | Discomfort

Tonight’s ride was throughly dissatisfying. I was uninspired and depressed when I got home. I do not like feeling this way. And I don’t like that it was my bike that made me feel this way. I think part of it was because I was not interested in doing my regular route. I’m bored with it and I need to find something new. Also, I’m still not comfortable on my bike. I’m not sure if this is something that can be fixed through more tweaks, or something I just have to get used to. I don’t enjoy being on my bike as much as I have because of the discomfort. I don’t look forward to my bike rides. Was I expecting the bike fit to solve everything? Yep. Unrealistic? Maybe. There has been improvement, but I’m not convinced I can do a long ride without serious pain. I’m going to do a real ride either tomorrow or this weekend and see how I feel. And then go back to the shop to see if they can fix me.

#30DaysofBiking: Day 15 | Trailer

#30daysofbiking day 16

Post bike fit ride. It was quite lovely out and the trails weren’t that busy. On my way back, I rode behind a bike pulling a trailer. We had one when I was growing up and I remember using it to drag my siblings around, to deliver papers, to get groceries for my mom. We got rid of it ages ago, but seeing this one today, and @cycleboredom‘s shot towing his kid, made me miss it a bit.

#30daysofcycling day 16

#30DaysofBiking:Day 14 | Ice Cream

#30daysofbiking day 14

No good picture from today, so you get this instead

Today I rode my bike to the store for ice cream. I’ve been having major sweet cravings lately- especially for ice cream- and could be denied no longer. I tried to justify a trip by trying to come up with a grocery list for the week, but was unable to take my mind off of the delicious ice cream that I was soon to have in my possession long enough to concentrate on the task at hand. So without even changing out of my work clothes, I headed to the store. Despite rolling up my pant leg, I still, as @cycleboredom likes to say, got hipster on my pants. But it was worth it, because the ice cream was delicious.

#30DaysDayofBiking: Day 12|Sun

#30daysofbiking day 12#30daysofbiking day 12

Today the weather walked that fine line between spring and summer. The wind had a bit of a nip to it, especially if you were in the shade. The sun was warm, but not with its trademark summer scorch.

This weather has helped me understand the point of armwarmers. When I started my cycling adventure in the cold winter months, I thought, it’s either cold and you need a coat or it’s warm and you don’t. Arm warmer wouldn’t be useful in either situation. But I forgot about the weird transition period between spring and summer. When it’s cold and hot at the same time or it’s cold when you start but warm 15 minutes in. Can’t take off a coat if it gets warm or carry it in your back pocket! So think I’m gonna invest in some armwarmers.

#30DaysofBiking: Day 13|Epic

#30daysofbiking day 13

Do I look like I just rode 30 miles? Because I feel like it.

#30daysofbiking day 13

Like Iowa. Except more trees.

Today I embarked on a epic journey (for me, anyway). I decided it was time to tackle a longer ride by myself. So I decide to do the Patuxent Wildlife Preserve Loop, found on the Bike Washington website (and pointed out to me by Shannon). It’s marked at 25 miles, but I went about 30, thanks to some unexpected detours. And I think it went pretty well. The route was great- it was hilly enough to challenging, but not hilly enough to be soul crushing. It followed some well traveled roads with nice wide shoulders and empty back roads. I didn’t do the whole thing without stopping but it still only took me 2 hours. I was a little nervous- I’d never ridden that far before and it was a country road route, so I’d  be a long was from anything if something happened. But it was great. Discovered a chapel founded in 1861. Took a break by a cabin built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).

It wasn’t all awesome, though. It’s been awhile since I’ve taken a longer route and I forgot to bring any food. I did eat lunch before I left, but it clearly wasn’t enough! I did make one wrong turn, but only one and I quickly realized my mistake. The last 8 miles were pretty yucky. I was tired, there was a nasty crosswind whenever  the surroundings opened up and I just kept wanting the ride to be over. Then on the metro home, I found a slice in my tire. Whatever it was didn’t puncture the tube, thank god, but now need a new tire. Boo.

But I made it and in the end felt pretty good! I was happy I hadn’t tried to ride the trails today- my friend Olivia did, and said it was crazy busy with the nice weather.