Sunday, May 22, 2005

Buzzard Rocks ride

It's impossible to really describe the Buzzard Rocks Trail. Here's Barry O'Melinn riding a typical line from today's ride. Barry hadn't climbed a mountain in 2 years since his knee surgeries, and he was psyched to be finally out there again. He's still a technical riding wizard.


Oliver is gettin' around pretty good these days on his trike.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bike to Work Day (long post..)

Today was National Bike to Work Day, and as I've done the past couple years, I served as the VDOT representative at Fairfax Gov't Center, one of the many pit stops around the area. The pit stops have food, coffee, raffles, t-shirts etc. for the commuters, and some stops even have live bands playing. Bike to Work Days for me usually mean a really early start, some extra miles, and an early ride home for the day. This one was slightly more interesting than the others.

Rain had been forecast for today as far back as last Sunday, and it hit right on time. I woke at 0500 to wet roads and wet air, but nothing really coming down. I got quickly out of the house without waking Oliver (always a challenge), and hit the road with lights on. After a mile I remembered I hadn't brushed my teeth. Luckily I also remembered I had my toothbrush/toothpaste still in my pack from last weekend's camping trip, so I pulled off on the side of the empty trail and did what I needed. Back on the bike, riding the trail along New Braddock/Braddock Rd. I had printed out an aerial photo and map from work showing an abandoned road which cut from Braddock Rd. into an old Fairfax neighborhood directly across from the entrance to Gov't Center. Sweet, I thought. Well, that abandoned road was completely gone so I pushed/rode my bike along a powerline cut for about 1/4 mile until hitting the neighborhood street I needed. My pants, socks, and shoes were now soaked through from the wet, tall brush, not to mention the many small hidden water holes I stepped in. Hopefully, I thought, my clothes would dry out some, or I'd be spending the next few hours standing around wet. Oh well, at least I'll be getting paid for it thought. I've certainly been wetter for less money before.

I made it there pretty dry other than my feet and pants and we had plenty of cover from the rain which had picked up by then and was quite heavy. The organizers were worried that no one would show up with this weather, especially since the Gov't Center area is not a very popular bike commuting area. But, it is the seat of County government, so they want to be a part of it, and they do a good job. Many County employees biked to work despite the rain, and it was evident from their bikes and gear that they aren't regular bikers or commuters. All were happy, not a one complained of the rain. It was interesting looking at everyone's bikes, and seeing their home locations pinned up on the map board. One guy rode all the way from D.C. on a 1950s-era Pee-Wee Herman style Schwinn. Two and a half hours, in the cold rain, in shorts. He won a prize. Surprisingly, many people did bike, and many even went out of their way to stop for a while at our pit stop.

The County Board of Supervisor's Chairman, Gerry Connolly was there. Folks from REI, the County Trails Coordinator (Jenny Pate), and a rep from Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) were also there. The lady from WABA started an argument with Connolly over some of his positions toward bikes, roads, or trails. She challenged him on something she had heard attributed to him. Connolly dug in like a pit bull and was appalled that she would question an elected official's integrity (without backup). He demanded to know what she meant, and I heard her stammer out a "..I hear things...." and a "...we look at things differently.." before a staff photographer friendly to Connolly pulled him aside for a photo op. Unfortunately, the argument was never resumed. Now, I'm all for confronting politicians and putting them on the spot, but the WABA lady was not well prepared and got flustered when challenged. In my opinion, she blew a good opportunity to get any messages across to him, and I wouldn't be surprised if WABA (the major sponsor of Bike to Work Day) weren't invited back to Fairfax Gov't Center next year.

My ride the rest of the way to work was in pouring rain and wind (not too worried about my shoes and socks now..). Luckily I was able to throw all my bike clothes in the dryer at the Health Club where I shower. Went and did a few hours of regular work, then dressed back in dry clothes and hit the road home in dryer air. However, the creeks were so high they were flowing over top of one of the bridges I use, so I was forced to take all roads home and stay out of the stream valley trail network, which was completely under water. Overall, 2.1" of rain fell. Just a day in the life right..... Sorry for such a long post (if you made it this far...)

Monday, May 16, 2005

off-road triathlon

Oliver and I went down to Sherando Lake to watch our neighbor Dave race the off-road triathlon, and to hang out with Dave's wife and 2 little boys (Oliver's best friends). Kim had to stay home and work, and then make another trip to PA. This was Dave's 1st off-road triathlon, and he loved it. We all had a great time camping and playing. We also enjoyed the company of Josh Taylor (Bill's son) and his girlfriend Kristin at our campsite, and his mom and sister came out for the race on Sunday. Was sure great to see them again.

O in the bike trailer heading back to camp after the swim.

Dave, Happy finish

Big Josh

Monday, May 09, 2005

Greenbrier race

Yesterday was the big AMBC race at Greenbrier State Park in Maryland. I took Oliver with me. Julie, one of my Bike Lane teammates brings her daughter Rachel to many of the races to watch our kids while we race. It looked like it was going to be a tougher day for Rachel than for me given Oliver's early mood and week-long sleep deprivation, but Rachel took care of that right a way by taking him to play at the waters edge on Greenbrier's sandy beach. All was well after that. Thanks Rachel.

The race was tough, I wouldn't exactly call it a single-speed friendly course, but I'm always glad I ride that bike regardless. The coolest part of the race for me was late in the first lap, climbing up the big climb near the back of the campground when I saw another Bike Lane teammate, Dr. Kathy, my chiropractor, up ahead, with me, Dave Crouse and Kathy's husband Pierre right behind me. Four Bike Lane jerseys in a row. I slowly got around Kathy near the top of the climb due to my bigger gear, and then shortly after that she passed me on the top of the descent. How cool is that?? To be passed by your chiropractor on a rocky descent. I know my body's in good hands with her!

Dave passed me for good on the 2nd lap after trying to pull me along, and Pierre pulled out the monster legs and passed me (and many Experts) on that big last climb on the 3rd lap. A 5,6,7 finish for the Bike Lane single speeders. Dave now has the crown of fastest SSer on the team. I'll see if I can work on getting that back soon. A fun day for sure, and great to see everyone.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

may 7th

Fun with Oliver at the Fairfax Station railroad museum, and at Burke Lake Park for a trailer-bike ride around the lake and a ride on the train.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

bike commuting an extreme sport

This blog has not even existed a week yet, and already I feel I don't have enough to say.

It's been a good week of bike commuting, 3 days so far, and with National Clean Commute Day tomorrow, I guess I better bike in tomorrow too. The weather has been dry, sunny, and cool. This morning, at the road crossing where my trail crosses busy Route 29 in Centreville, I had to wait much longer than I usually do. So, I rode circles on the shoulder waiting for the busier eastbound lanes to clear. Then I made my way out into the dirt trail which crosses the skinny median, and did a trackstand ("balancing", for the non-bikers reading this) waiting for 2 cars and a dumptruck to go by. The cars in this direction are going much faster than those in the eastbound commuting direction. The dumptruck went by at about 45-50 mph, a bike-length away from me. After making it safely to the other side and back on the trail, I wondered if this was a smart move, to wait out in the median like that? I've made several changes for safety on my commute over the years, especially after Oliver was born, but I still hang out in the median. I'm putting an awful lot of trust (and luck) in the hands of drivers, because in that median, I have nowhere to go if something goes wrong.

I wish that an inherent risk of death were not a part of cycling. Bicycling should not be an "extreme sport". I mean, I'm not BASE jumping, riding 60' surf, or skiing down Mount Everest. I'm just riding a bike! Sometimes that happens to be on roads made for cars and trucks.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Gambrill ride w/ a newbie

So, this blog is turning into more of a Larry blog than an Oliver blog, and since I haven't actually put this blog out to anyone's attention yet, I guess I'm writing all this junk for my eyes only. Is it still a blog if no one reads it???

My neighbor Dave took up triathlons last summer as a hobby in his spare time away from his job and 2 kids. He's mainly done road riding (W&OD and some flat road tri's) and has signed up for the OAR off-road triathlon at Sherando Rec Area in mid-May. Since Sherando is a notoriously brutal mountain bike venue, and since his only previous mountain bike experience was a couple rides at Conway Robinson, I figured I could help him out by getting him on some rocks before he encounters them for the first time during the race.

We spent a couple hours riding the Yellow Trail at Gambrill, and he did fine, actually he did great, especially after a mid-ride saddle adjustment. His saddle was so far back, that he did something I've never seen anyone do on a trail. He lifted up the front wheel to clear a log with a pedal stroke, and pulled the bike right over onto his back, still clipped in with the wheels spinning in the air. After the fix, and a few clipless tip-overs, he began to smooth out, rolling silently along the last few miles, chanting his new mantra, "ride lightly, ride lightly...". He was hooked.