Wow….It’s Been Too Long

I have been gone for quite a while. It is not like there has been nothing going on in my life, au contraire, it’s been quite a year. A little over a year ago I packed up my life in Virginia and moved west. Landed in Colorado with my dog and all my worldly possessions, including my three bikes. I am living in Carbondale, Colorado where I continue my work in the solid waste industry.

It’s been a year and I am still amazed I ended up here. I live in an area surrounded by mountains, and world-class ski areas. There is hiking and biking opportunities a plenty. I have taken up fly fishing and snowshoeing. I have had to up my outdoorsieness street cred! I no longer wear pretty clothes to work; my hiking shoes get far more use than my pretty sandals and heels.

Just a brief reintroduction. I have committed to writing more, and sharing my new adventures. My blog may have to change to Bikes and Pie and Skis and Hiking, because I will be incorporating all of these adventures into the new and improved site!

See you back here soon…there is a bike ride planned for this Sunday.

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Goals for the New Year

Another year has rolled around, which means I will spend the next several weeks trying to remember to write 2013 instead of 2012.  As with all new years it’s a time to renew, refresh and set some goals.  I am going to avoid the clichés of losing weight and getting more exercise, that is just a given.  Come to think of it, we could all use more exercise; I don’t know a single person that I would say to “hey, you really need to stop exercising so much.”  I am sure there are some serious exercise fanatics out there, but I don’t know any. 

However, I do have some reasonable goals I would like to accomplish in the new year, so here it goes:

  • I have set a goal of biking 3,000 miles this year.  So my friend Caroline, and partner in biking shenanigans, we have to get busy planning some rides.  I would like to do at least one century. It also means more biking to work.  Now that the tolls have gone up on the Dulles Toll Road (my main route to work), this should not be too hard of a concept to embrace;
  • I am going to use more coupons.  It’s free money people.  I have a nice coupon organizer that I keep in my purse, but it gets overloaded with expired coupons, and coupons I would never use in a bazillion years.  I have never bought cookie dough with the fanciful holiday images that are emblazoned on the internal parts of the cookie; but yet I had three expired coupons in my organizer;
  • I am going to focus on clean eating, which means cutting out processed foods, less carbs and refined sugars. Cook more with whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  More organic meats and cheeses.
  • and more writing about my biking and pie making adventures, I admit, I have not been very good at this whole blogging thing.   

I have also gotten back into spin class, I used to do it years ago in the winter months, but fell out of the habit.  I enjoy it.  There is generally upbeat music, fans that blow cool air on you, a general camaraderie with the others in the class, and no fear of a blown tire or busted chain.  I find it is a good lunchtime workout. 

I’ve also signed up for a triathlon.  I used to do at least one a year, but injuries knocked me off track.  The biking and swimming portion are usually no problem, it’s the running that gets me.  If it were up to me, I would do the run first to get it out-of-the-way, and the swim last when you are all hot and sweaty…it would be much more refreshing.  Perhaps I will propose this to the US Triathlon Association.  I will be doing the Reston Triathlon this September.  Also thinking about adding the Luray Olympic distance tri as well.

2013 is going to be a good year, I can feel it. I wish you all a happy new year. See you out on the trails!

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Fall Foliage Riding and Other Tidbits

I know….I know…It has been a long time since you have heard from me.  I wish I had a good excuse, like I was kidnapped by paramilitary guerillas in the jungles of Southeast Asia, or I was whisked away to some exotic location by a new romance, but alas it would all be lies.  I was right here in Arlington, Virginia going about my daily business.  But just because I was silent for the last few months does not mean the biking and pie making came to a halt; au contraire my friends, biking and pie making has been alive and well.

The Summer months were particularily hot and humid here in the DC Metro area, so the bike to work commuting dwindled to near nothing.  Laziness overcame me, and I lost all desire to ride to and from work in 95 degrees and 100% humidity.  But I manged to continue with errand commuting and pizza dinners around Arlington.  I even upped my Capital Bikeshare rides.  I probably bike to Trader Joes at least once a week for groceries.  Given my lack of self control in TJs I might need to buy bigger panniers for the bike.  I have to stuff items in the bags and balance various sundry items precariously on the rear rack. 

September brought about the first of two organized Fall bike rides.  On September 9th my friend Caroline and I embarked to Charles County, Maryland where we participated in the Indian Head Ride put on by the Oxon Hill Bike Club.  The weather was beautiful, temperature was comfortable, and the skies were clear, you couldn’t ask for a much better day to ride a bike.  We opted for the 63 mile route, well marked with moderate rolling hills.  Not a great day for me.  My legs felt like they weighed a thousand pounds each; every hill climb was a struggle, plus my hard leather seat was making me angry.  Needless to say I got a bit grumpy at times.  I can only attribute it to not riding enough hills over the summer, playing soccer the day before, and again that terrible, uncomfortable seat.  Only I was to blame for my poor performance and that terrible bike seat (I’ve complained about it since I bought that bike seven years ago).  I was whipped and not feeling good about the upcoming Shenandoah Fall Foliage Ride that would soon be upon us in October.

So October 19th rolls around and Caroline and I again headed out of town to Staunton, Virginia.  I was armed with a new padded bike seat, anatomically made for the ladies.  The Howard Johnsons welcomed us, and we met up with others for dinner.  Saturday morning arrived with not enough sleep, but with the promise of a beautiful Fall day.  The leaves were in spectacular color, the weather was crisp and cool, and the sun was shining brightly.  We departed from an old church and started on our 39 mile loop.  Caroline encountered problems early on with a broken spoke.  Ride support came for her and took her and her bike to the church for a repair.  Luckily she got back on the road and was able to instersect our group a couple of hours later.  We all made it back to the church for a tasty post ride lunch.  All in all I felt great, the hill climbs were steady without too much complaining from my quads.

The Fall Foliage Gang!

Saturday night we all enjoyed an Italian dinner (service was super slow, but the wine was good).  Discussions about who was doing what ride on Sunday worked its way into dinner conversation.  The premier Sunday ride is a beautiful 37 mile loop near some of the fineset scenery the Shenandoahs and Alleganies have to offer, with a stop at the 22 mile mark for brunch in the historic little town of Middlebrook, Virignia.  The Fall Foliage ride offers up a handful of various routes, depending on your motivation level.  Not having had enough sleep the night before, the 12 mile relatively flat, family ride was sounding like a good option for Sunday.  I’m just going to say it, I’m not very rational when I have only had a couple hours of sleep.  I finally came to my senses and agreed to join Caroline and Drew for the 37 mile ride, I decision I did not regret. 

Drew and Caroline-Cold Sunday Morning Ride

The ride was spendid; the route took us through the rolling hills of Shenandoah farm country.  I was again feeling great.  The hill climbs were steady, without much complaining from my legs.  We got an early start on a chilly morning, but we were well dressed for it.  We determined that downhills are nice, but not when they take place on the shady parts of the road, enough to make your eyeballs freeze.  We arrived at the breakfast stop around 10:30 am and enjoyed coffee, juice, pancakes, sausage and eggs.  Pefect amount of sugar and protein to power on through the remaing 15 miles.

Biking and Farm Fields

Beautiful Day

We returned to the middle school around 1pm, cracked open a Fat Tire beer and sat by the car looking out over the scenic countryside.  Probably not proper to be drinking beer on school property, but we are of legal drinking age, weren’t making a scene, and we probably have done far worse in our lifetimes.  We got ourselves cleaned up, changed out of our biking clothes and packed up the car for the two and a half hour drive back to northern Virginia.  It was a great weekend. If you are looking for a Fall bike ride, with beautiful scenery and wonderful local hospitality this is the ride. 

What Could be More Appropriate Than a Fat Tire Beer After a Ride

When I returned home I got out my bike maintenance book to research repairing a broken spoke.  In the process I learned I have an all important nipple wrench (spoke nipple wrench that is) in my bike bag tool kit.  Although, I think truing a bike wheel on the side of the road would be a daunting task.  When on an organized and supported ride take advantage of the sag support, and always make sure you are carrying that phone number with you! 

A shout out to Caroline whose brand new Honda CRV and hitch bike rack got us to and fro to these bike adventures.  I will someday in the near future equip my car with the amenities of making bike hauling more convenient and secure.

I have some riding plans this weekend, and certainly some pie making with the Thanksgiving festivities approaching.  I’ll keep you posted!

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Blood Donation and Biking Don’t Mix

The DC summer is fully upon us, hot and humid has become the norm.  I believe it has been above 90 degrees for most of the month, with humidity levels that say don’t even bother with that flat-iron to straighten my hair in the morning.  I have lived here long enough to realize, there is no getting around it, just accept it.  I have to admit, I have become a baby about bike commuting in this weather, and therefore have not done it a single day this month.  I have limited my rides to doing errands around Arlington.

Just last night I rode to Trader Joes in Clarendon to get my usuals….burritos, various cheeses, spinach, strawberries and a few other items I could probably live without but I just don’t want to.  On my way up to Clarendon I rode behind a bike commuter, likely on his way home from work.  We both came to a stop at a red light, when some woman blew past us and through the red.  Now I am a law-abiding citizen and do my best to follow all traffic laws, especially on a bike, I like to consider it self-preservation.  Being a cyclist and blowing through a red light is just the same as if you did in a car, it’s illegal.  She made it safely through the intersection, but this caused the gentleman I was behind, go off on a tirade.  In essence, he loudly commented (I am assuming to me, because everyone else around us was nicely packaged in their air-conditioned autos), about her blatant disregard for traffic laws giving cyclists a bad name; I had to agree with him.  Besides, I commented how I didn’t want the image of said woman becoming the hood ornament on some BMW or SUV. 

Now, this is going to serve as a lesson learned, and I hope the rest of you take note…do not donate blood then go riding your bike (not even for a couple of miles) in 95 degree heat.  I donated blood last week, something I try to do every eight weeks or so.  After my donation I was given a stern warning to not do any physical exercise for the remainder of the day, and to make sure I hydrated properly.  Well, thinking I was in decent enough shape, and I was only going up the road about a mile for some pizza that it should be fine.  My first indication was the unusual amount of effort it took for me to climb the hill out of my neighborhood.  Given the extra required exertion, I did make it to the my favorite pizza place just fine. it was not until I sat down at the bar that the unusual sweating started and the tunnel vision occurred.  I must have looked bad because it prompted the bartender to come over and ask if I was OK.  After several minutes and a couple of glasses of water, I got my act together, without passing out.  I even was able to bike home without incident, although the ride home is a nice steady downhill.   Never again! I will heed the advice of the blood taking lady not to exert myself on blood donation day.

Not a lot of bike riding, but there has been a lot of pie making.  I created an especially delicious peach pie with a crumb topping, made with peaches from the local farmer’s market.  I even pulled off a key lime pie, made from the juice I squeezed from little key limes; lots of work juicing those little suckers, but worth the effort.  I’ll post the pictures soon, got to get them off my phone.

Soon I will get back into bike commuting,  just need to stop being such a baby about the hot weather.

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You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Hangry!

Summer has officially arrived in the DC metro area; hot and humid weather has been unleashed upon us…..and all of the news and weather channels can’t stop talking about it.  In all honesty, it’s not that bad.  Although, I am lucky, I no longer have a job where I have to work outside all the time.  I do feel bad for those who do have those kinds of jobs, there is no really good way to avoid the heat; not even being naked would make you feel better.  When I did have a job where I would be in the field, working on hazardous waste sites (yes, I used to have to deal with that crap) or at a gas station pulling their underground storage tanks (yes, did that too), people would say to me how lucky I was to get to work outside.  I eventually came to the realization that there are actually very few days you want to be outside working:  cold, snow, rain, bugs, heat, sunburns, terrible farmer tans, crazy people who think you are planting bombs in the ground…the list goes on and on. 

Enough of my whining.  This past weekend was absolutely beautiful.  I decided it would be a perfect time to take the mountain bike out for a ride down the C&O Canal path.  A few weeks ago I attempted the same thing, but before I could get a block away from my house, my tire blew.  For some time now my mountain bike hasn’t been shifting right, it was filthy, and it made a squeaky sound in the pedal.  Changing a tire is a pain, so I decided I was going to pay someone to do it, and have it tuned up at the same time…..WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO DO THIS?!!!?  I picked up the bike, it was sparkly clean, shifts beautifully, no longer had a squeaky pedal, and my water bottle cage was attached properly to the bike (for two years now it would flop around due to a broken mount screw).  This freshly tuned and cleaned bike was a joy to ride down the path.  I probably did a 20 mile ride, and could have gone further, but I got hungry, and forgot a snack.  If you know me, I get hangry (angry when I’m hungry) so I thought it best to turn around before things got out of hand in an Incredible Hulkish situation….you don’t want to make me HANGRY…you won’t like me when I’m HANGRY!!!

C&O Canal Path, about 5 miles west of Georgetown

It has been a good biking week.  On another note, I got my bike computer working again on my hybrid.  Nothing is more aggravating than looking down at that little screen and see it mocking you with no readings.  My bike computer issue started on the ride up to Bike New York this past May, the screen on the display scrambled for some reason and drained the battery.  I replaced the battery in both the computer and sensor, and reset everything.  All is good with the computer, but the sensor wasn’t sending the speed and distance.  Kudos to Cateye for helping me fix this; they sent a new sensor free of charge.  Everything is back as it should be.

No bike commuting this week…no good excuse, just a little lazy.  I’ll get back to it next week.  However, I did run a few errands by bike, always enjoyable.

I also made a pie for the first time in a long while. Key lime pie was my choice.  I have perfected the graham cracker crust, no longer shall I use the pre-formed crusts you get in the aluminum tins.  I have to say it was delightful for a Sunday evening barbecue with friends.  I see a number of key lime pies being consumed this summer. 

I love cats in clothing and who appear to be speaking! I would like to give proper credit for this photo (it is not mine), so if you happen to recognize it, let me know.

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First CaBi Ride and CO2 Cylinder Shortages!

I finally did it, took my first Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) ride! I recently purchased a CaBi membership, because there are stations popping up all over Arlington, with one just a block down the street from me.  I used it to run an errand to Clarendon, which turned out to be for not.  My errand was to replace my CO2 cylinder for my Sodastream…love my Sodastream.  I arrived at Williams and Sonoma with my cylinder stuffed into my messenger bag.  I felt like some clandestine messenger with a secret package to drop off.  As soon as I walked into the store the clerk had a question for me….whether or not I had heard of the book 50 Shades of Grey, I answered yes, a little embarrassed because I know what this book is about!  She then exclaimed to the other salesperson that she had to be the only person in the world not to have heard about it.  I am sure there are others, so she should not feel so bad.  Anyhow, Memorial Day brought about a run on Sodastream CO2 cylinders, and apparently there are none to be found in the City.  My name is on a waiting list, and I will be notified when they arrive.  Perhaps I will ride a big red CaBi bike to go pick them up.  It is still a very nice evening for a bike ride, so I wasn’t too bummed I cannot have a freshly made diet orange soda….stuff is like crack if you have not tried it!

Check out this guys bike in Cuba, 2 stories tall…glad CaBi chose the comfortable red bikes for their stations and not this.  I can’t imagine how you get on and off this bike.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/06/felix-guirola-bike-cuba_n_1573434.html

Cool news from the U.S. Post Office, they released a set of cycling stamps this week, stop by your local post office or order some.  I rarely mail anything, but I’ll be getting a set because they make me happy!

https://store.usps.com/store/browse/uspsProductDetailMultiSkuDropDown.jsp?categoryNavIds=catBuyStamps%3asubcatS_S_45cFirstClass&categoryNav=false&navAction=push&navCount=3&productId=S_469340&categoryId=subcatS_S_45cFirstClass

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Today’s Bike Commute Brought to You by WTOP

No WTOP, the informative news radio station, did not actually sponsor my ride to work today, they just encouraged me to get my somewhat lazy and tired butt out of bed, put on a spandex cycling skort (skort is a great word) to bike 17 miles to Reston. 

Here is the deal, last night (Wednesday) was my monthly/bi-monthly sojourn for pizza and wine with my friend Caroline.  I biked to Faccia Luna where we spent a couple of hours drinking wine, eating pizza and chatting about recent events in our lives.  It was lovely as usual.  I then hopped back on my bike to head over to Dave’s house to watch what remained of the USA vs Brazil soccer match.  After that disappointing ending, I rode back through the streets of Arlington toward home.  My big mistake was picking up a book before heading to bed and reading until midnight.  This is a late night for me!  When the alarm went off at 6am the willpower to bike to work was nil, and the thought of delaying my weekly commute until the next day (Friday) danced around in my head.  That’s where WTOP came in.  Their kindly weather man, through the magic of a clock radio, informed me that today (Thursday) was going to be a perfect day in the DC metro area….and tomorrow was not going to be a perfect day.  Not wanting to waste a good day for bike commuting, I drug myself out of bed and made the ride, and as usual, I was glad I rode.

For the most part the ride was uneventful.  The best part came when I was on the lonely stretch past Vienna on the last push towards Reston.  A man on a bike waved for me to stop.  I was hesitant at first, figuring it was trickery and a band of looters would jump out of the bushes and rob me of my chain lube and spare tire tube….not the case.  He wanted to point out the baby deer (fawn I believe is the correct zoological term) standing wide-eyed in the brush next to the trail.  The cyclist informed me its mother had just crossed, and apparently the little guy had not worked up the nerve yet.  The cuteness factor was overwhelming. A picture would have been awesome, but I did not want to upset the little deer any further and felt I should move on so it could join its mother on the other side.  So much better than a band of raiding bike trail marauders.

A rather uneventful bike ride today, which is a good thing.  A beautiful day for a ride….Thanks WTOP weatherman for making it all happen.

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