Friday, June 28, 2013

H is for Hades and Humid

I've lived in Las Vegas.  It's a dry heat. Well, actually with the weather they're getting right now it is just darned hot.  But they expect that. I mean, DEATH VALLEY is called that for a reason, and it's just next door.

But now I live in Virginia. Northern Virginia.  This morning I rode over to Ashburn (about 10 miles) to meet with a friend. Coming home around noon it was AWFUL.  The humidity was off the charts and the air was just ... mucky.

By the time I limped home, I was drained in every way you can imagine. Even after eating some lunch, cooling down, drinking a ton of water, and getting a shower, I was still pretty useless. I managed to cook some dinner because some people around here insist on eating EVERY DAY. But it was chicken and rice and salad so easy-peasy.

Sheesh, it was miserable today!

Tomorrow I'll start and finish early!

I did see a cool license plate though...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rackin' them up

I'm on a committee for my community called the PBAC. It stands for Pedestrian Bicyclist Advisory Committee.  One of the goals we're working towards is a "Bike Friendly Community" designation from the League of American Bicyclists.

We met last night and one of the questions on the application is "number of bicycle parking places in your community."  We divided the areas to go count bike racks. I got "South side schools and shopping centers". Since there are six schools on the south side and 2 shopping centers, it was pretty easy.  In the middle of that  loop I also mailed a package to my nephew who is a camp counselor.

At any rate, here are my photos!

Langston Hughes MS

North Side Hunters Woods ES

South Side Hunters Woods ES

South Lakes HS

Sunrise Valley ES
Terraset ES

Safeway @ South Lakes Village Shopping Center
Starbucks @ South Lakes Village Shopping Center
Outside Cafesano @ South Lakes Village Shopping Center

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

I don't really participate in this meme, but it seemed fitting today.  Photos from last Friday at Arlington National Cemetery. RIP dad.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Teach Your Children Well

What is WRONG with people today?  The kids and I went to World Market to see what was there. I parked a ways out so I could pull through on a parking space. When we returned to the car, someone had sideswiped it, damaging the passenger and driver door.

And big surprise -- no note.

I was SO TICKED!!! I'm using it as an opportunity to remind the kids that you ALWAYS try to wait for the owner if you do damage or leave a note as to where they can get ahold of you. (And use their cells phones to document damage if they cause it).

Why is that such a hard thing to do? Perhaps because as a culture we want to avoid responsibility.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Happened to "Partly Cloudy"?

Yep, that was the forecast!  When I headed out to ride this morning to the next town over for a hair appointment, it was lovely -- overcast and muggy but cool.  When I arrived I discovered that my appointment wasn't today. As I got ready to head home, a few drops fell, then a few more ...

I didn't get soaked, but I was glad I had turned around quickly.  If I HAD waited the hour or so to begin my return, I would have been in driving rain...which I was later but in the car.

So squeezed in some saddle time -- 16 miles, and saw a great, big, fat, groundhog along the way.

Good day.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Not So Exciting

Just riding to do errands today.  Went to our HOA to get a pool pass for my son, and then on to Target to pick up some things.  Took the long way home so I could justify eating leftover pizza when I got home.

Here's a photo of some pretty hydrangeas at our HOA building.  Did you know you can change the color of the blossoms by changing the pH of the soil?  Pretty cool.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Father's Day Contemplation

A wise pastor once preached that "absent or present, good or bad, loving or indifferent, your father has the most profound impact on your life." I wondered -- how could an absent father have an impact? Then I grew up to realize that my friends whose fathers had been absent had definitely missed something. And even I, whose father was physically present a lot of the time, but emotionally absent most of the time, missed something in that relationship.

I just lost my dad in March.  He'll be interred at Arlington National Cemetery this coming Friday -- the day after his mother (still living) turns 97. I'm still processing all of this.

I think my dad did the best he could with the equipment he had to work with. His own father had walked out  for good when he was about 10. He had been in and out of their lives for a few years, but when he came back again to try to reconcile, he found that his now ex-wife had moved on. Although she married the new man in her life, I think my dad, at age 11, was conflicted about loyalties and manhood and how a father was to treat his children.

They moved back to his stepfather's home town where my dad and brother were enveloped in the love o

f a close family -- but his stepfather's father had died when he was young, and he had never had fatherhood modeled to him either.

So my dad never really learned what life as a husband and father was supposed to look like when it was done well.

He fed and clothed us, paid for our expenses and needs, kept a good job, and deferred to my mother in all things. He did not really know how to show us love. He did not have deep conversations with us. He did not try to help us make better decisions.  All of that fell to my mom.

He was a man of his time, and of his abilities. I am grateful for the parts of himself he was able to share. It will be difficult on Friday, but not unbearable. It is time to lay him to rest.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Cycling Saturday

Slept in this morning for quite a while since I was at the high school last night providing security for the ANGP (All Night Grad Party).  I was glad to help, but by the time I finished at midnight, it had been a VERY long day (remember those 20 miles in the saddle?).

I finally got moving and rode over to the post office to return something I ordered.  It was about 8 miles roundtrip.  Got back in time to take son to meet up with other Scouts heading out for a kayak overnight.

Then I drove to Alexandria to take a confident city cycling course.  Learned a couple of new maneuvers that might help if someone cuts me off.  We did a ride to practice moving through traffic.  The best part of the course was the video prerequisite I watched yesterday. Today on my post office trip, I was able to employ some of the techniques I'd learned. It's always good to learn to be safer.

Now I'm waiting up for daughter to come in from work.  Having trouble staying awake!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Feels like Saturday?

Son was out of school this morning, much to my displeasure. (His being out made it feel like a Saturday).

His German teacher was chaperoning a trip to Germany that was to leave on Wednesday.  She adjusted the curriculum and managed the testing to all be finished in time so that they would not have to take the final today, the scheduled day.

However, she could not tell them to "stay home".  Instead she told them that if they came, they'd be sitting in the back of the Latin class, quietly, while the Latin students took THEIR final exam.

Today is graduation, so everyone was dismissing at 9:30 anyway. Son was BEGGING me to be allowed to sleep in.

It made me angry because the teacher put the parents in the position of having to send their kid to do NOTHING for 2 hours, or call in to the attendance line with some excuse, or just take the unexcused absence.

I called in and told the secretary for his grade that "he won't be coming because he doesn't have a final and doesn't feel like himself today."  I think it was a squirrely way of getting out of it and I'm disappointed in myself. I'm really irked at the teacher though.  She knew from the beginning of the year when her final exam and graduation day would be.  Grrr....

SO, I went on a bike ride to Ashburn and back.  Perfect cycling weather today. Twenty miles.  Sweet.

On my way back through Herndon, the town to the West, I heard "MOM!"  It was son and his friend who had biked over and were on their way to meet his friend's dad who said he'd take them to lunch.  And now son is cleaning his room, so I guess I can forgive him.  He just put 7lbs of papers from the school year into the recycling bin.  Wow.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

More weather

I had to take my car in for service this morning.  Normally I just ride my bike home, but I was thinking ahead today, which was good.  As I was turning my keys over to the valet, the heavens OPENED.  Fortunately, we were under cover!

I just waited there -- until an hour in when my service manager told me bad news: he needed the car for a while longer and it was going to be a bit expensive.  Sigh.  On the other hand, Aria did everything he could to save me money and it ended up being 1/3 less than originally quoted, and let me drive a rental free.  Of course, it was a 2013. The idea is to make you want a new one, right?

I drove home and got my daughter and we ran errands.  We were in between storm fronts, but were able to go to her favorite Asian stationery store, have lunch together at Panera, and go to the first Michaels store.  Then Aria called that my car was ready.  We dashed over there, traded the 2013 for the 2006, and decided to visit the Michaels near my house.  As we finished there, the skies were turning dark and it was definitely time to head home.

So WHY did we go to two different Michaels' stores?

From the $1.50 bin!  Woo-hoo!

Look at the rhinestone sticker when flash is on!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Finally! A Ride!

Monday was icky and wet all day.  Yesterday was as well most of the day.  I got a (VERY) short ride in going to the high school with my son so he could do his sports physical for the fall.

But today I rode to Vienna, met the Babes, then led a ride up to Herndon, went on a pretty trail, had lunch, and then we headed back towards Vienna.  I bailed out so I didn't have to ride all the way to Vienna and then back.  It was hot!

The trail we went on had two crossings they call "fair weather" crossings.  It's been raining much of the last two days and some last night, so they were pretty vigorous.  I rode through the first, as did one other rider.  Everyone else either walked through the stream carrying their bikes (2 of them) or across the stepping stones.

And ... I rode 25 miles total.

Now I'm tired.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Just Ride June - Day 9

Went out after church today to check a route.  I'm going to lead a ride with some ladies on Wednesday.

Good thing I checked.  This ride has several "fair weather" crossings.  That means when it's been raining a lot, these can be a bit dicey.

More importantly, as much as it has rained, sometimes the paths have these kinds of problems:

I was able to get through by lifting my bike over the lower limb and then squeezing under the trunk.  Not fun though and not something I think they'll want to do.  There was another one further on, so I modified the whole thing for Wednesday.

On the way home, I stopped to take a photo I'll entitle "PEDAL FAST"

Nice sky and storm warnings if you're not out in the open!  Fortunately, it waited until I got home to dump.

Something funny happened to my GPS today.  I was almost home and it said "20 miles".  (It announces every five miles)  But then it said the speed, 'Four hundred and thirty six miles per hour."  WOW -- that's .7 mach!  I think there's a bug in the system.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Cycling for ... ?

As I've gotten more into cycling, I've observed there are several different types of cyclists, and some people change their type depending on their circumstance. I think that's why some of my friends have multiple bicycles.  These are my totally unscientific observations.

Some people cycle for time.  These are people who say, "I have Xminutes to ride today. I'm going to go as far as I can and then head back within my time frame."  I met one of these guys the other day when I was handing out treats on the bike trail.  His wife had told him he had 45 minutes before he had to be "present" for a family obligation.  Except for the ridiculously long light he was waiting at as we were talking, he was going as far and as fast as he could -- probably 20 minutes out and 25 back. He was on a fast bike, but not necessarily a racer.

There are also distance riders. These people want to go as far as they can. Many of them aren't terribly concerned about time. The extreme distance riders are called randonneurs and they go on bike trips riding hundreds of miles.There's a whole culture associated with this type of cycling, and as you can imagine, some pretty distinct vehicles to ride in order to maximize comfort for those long hauls!  These bikes might also be called "touring" -- designed to see the world at the pace of a leisurely trip.

We've all seen bike racers, who are trying to beat their last fastest time, whether on a racing bike or a mountain bike -- although the mountain bike racers like some exciting terrain to go with their time trials.

Some cyclists are strictly commuters. Their bike is their go to and from work vehicle.  Many of them these days are folding, so they can take the bike inside their office to protect it from weather and thieves.  In our area, only folding bike can go on the metro trains during rush hour.

Some cyclists are what I call "way of lifers". They've so incorporated cycling into their lives that it rarely occurs to them to even start the car. They cycle to get groceries, go to the gym, business meetings, etc. If thy need to go farther a little faster, these cyclists tend to some combination of the bike and public transportation.  These are also the ones that have several different bikes.

And then there's my type of bicyclist. I like to have a goal. Whether it's to get groceries, run an errand, or ride on an adventure with some friends, I need to have some purpose to my cycling. I tend not to want to "just ride" for fun.  I mean -- the riding I do is FUN, but there's always some underlying mission in my mind. I don't worry about my time, except if I have to be back for something. I don't worry about my distance, although I want to go at least far enough that it was worth doing.  Now that I'm past 50, the first two miles are just getting my knees warmed up, so anything after that is the real ride.  I do keep track of my miles, only because a group I belong to is doing the National Bike Challenge, and it helps the team.  More importantly, I always check how many calories I've burned.

My bike is 20+ years old, a steel Bianchi that I bought in Germany when I was stationed there.  It has held up well and I love it.  But I have to admit, I am starting to look around for the last bike I will ever buy. I don't need a folding bike, since I don't go to work and don't take a bike on the metro. I don't need a racing bike as I don't intend to compete. If I get a distance bike, I can extend my range, and modify my present bike for the errands and local things I do. But do I really want to extend my range?  I'm pretty happy with 20 miles in a day.  The 40 mile days are exceptional and therefore noteworthy. I wouldn't want to do those all the time. It makes what should be FUN seem a lot like WORK.

Hmmm...decisions, decisions.

Just Ride June -- Day 8

Today son is doing his Eagle project.  He and several other young men are replacing the roof on the shed at our church where missions supplies are stored for several churches in our denomination until there are enough accumulated to ship overseas.  It needs to be water and critter tight!

I went over to leave lunch (by car), went home to get daughter to work.  From her work, I rode my bike back to the church to SERVE lunch for the guys.

It is interesting to see your 16 year old son acting like he's in charge of something.  Such maturity!  Wow.

After I served up, I packed everything in my husband's car which was there, and then rode my bike the long way home.

I got sprinkled on, but mostly it was a good ride.  Only 7.5 miles, but enough to get stretched out and sweaty.  One thing that was cool -- on my way home, I rode by the local elementary school where one of my son's friends was doing HIS Eagle project -- landscaping for the school. I got to chat with his mom a few minutes and then I harassed a couple of the boys who had spent the morning on my son's project and then went over to their mutual friend's project.  They oh-so-cleverly managed to score lunch at BOTH projects.  Ha ha.  Boys.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Just Ride June

Andrea is in town so no riding today.  It rained most of yesterday, all night last night and has been raining all morning.

So ... no ride today.  Maybe a nap.  Much better use of my time.

Heh heh

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Just Ride June -- Day 6

Taking a break today.  Very dark skies and intermittent showers.

I was at prayer group this morning, then lunch with a friend from it.  Came home to an e-mail account going nuts.  Someone hacked my yahoo account.  I've since rectified it but it was pretty exciting there for a few minutes!

So if you got an e-mail supposedly from me, don't click on anything.

Ride on!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Just Ride June - Day 5

Fun day!

Had lunch today with some young women who work in the area of bicycle advocacy (Nelle) and bicycle planning (Vanessa). Also along for the ride (ha ha, get it?) was my friend Fionnuala and my daughter Lindy.

Nelle works for WABA (Washington Area Bicyclists Association), which is the umbrella advocacy group over the group I volunteer with, FABB (Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling). Part of her job is outreach, so today was her day in our county.  After lunch she mentioned she was going over to Vienna (the town next to my community) to hand out KIND bars to cyclists on the trail. Each bar had a KIND tip on it -- today's was about making sure we communicate clearly to drivers using hand signals and making eye contact.

I took my daughter home, jumped on my bike and got there in 22 minutes -- a new record for me!  We had so much fun.  When we had emptied her pannier bag of 100 or so bars, I jumped on the bike to head home and heading uphill, it was 33 minutes.  Not bad since the first leg I had started about 3 miles closer to Vienna by getting a ride from my daughter to the Starbucks near the trail head.

So, round trip miles: 12 --  and I averaged 13 miles both ways and burned 700 calories.  The Chinese food at home tasted GREAT.

I'm in green.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Just Ride June - Day 4

Met up with some FABB friends and rode to the County Government Center where the volunteers for Bike to Work Day were being recognized.  It was a nice cool morning.

The politicians talked WAAAYYYY too long, but they finally got to us and we got to go have our photos taken.

Wee-ee!  Went to lunch with the FABBulous people and then rode home.  Nice time.  About 17 miles total.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Just Ride June - Day 3

Wow, what a great ride this morning.  It rained all night and into the morning, so I looked at the radar to see when my window of blue sky would occur.  It looked to be about 10, so from 6-10 I puttered around and did stuff I needed to do, and at 10 took off.

I had GREAT cloud cover, which made it truly enjoyable. I love blue sky and high puffy clouds, but they tend to make the bike a slightly less comfy place!

As I got ready to go on the path behind my house, I saw these little dudes. They were a charcoal gray -- very pretty in a gray-scale kind of palette.

I wanted to check out a trail I knew existed but hadn't made the cut for the County bike map. I headed over to Herndon and then exited and followed Sugarland Run.  NICE trail. I followed it for about 3 miles.  There are two creek crossings in this area that are called "wet" crossings, meaning that if it has been raining, you might get wet.  Um...did I mention it rained all night and into this morning?

I rode through the first one with no problem -- well, I got wet, but it was okay.  When I got to the second one the current seemed a lot stronger, and bike tires slip easily, so I dismounted and crossed on the stones.

Nothing like a little adventure, right?  I wanted to check out some new bike lanes and discovered that there are miles more bike lanes in that area than I had known about!  Woo-hoo!  New trails and ways to see the County.

By the time I worked my way back home, I had ridden 18 miles and realized that I wasn't wiped out. Thank you for the clouds, God!

And now, at almost 3pm, it's getting ready to storm again.  I read the radar well.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Just Ride June

Had to be at my post at the Sprint Tri to be a bike marshall by 645 am so I decided to drive this morning.  Had a fun morning cheering and waving at the riders.  I was at the crest of a long hill, and they ride the route 3 times, so the cheering becomes really important for them.  Most were friendly and positive.

I was also at an intersection which meant I had a cop there.  He was great, but not as cute as the one last year. ;-)

And, some people paid no attention to him.  We had one near miss as someone ignored his STOP signal and pulled in front of one of the racers who had just started a speed burst.  She was screaming some profanity at THAT driver!

Overall, a fun event to support. I saw several friends and since the results have been posted, I see that they all completed it successfully!

But now, I'm taking it easy for the day.  Laundry, etc. calls.  As always.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Just Ride June - Day 1

Let's see how I well I can stay with it.  Boy, today would have been a deterrent if I'd had access to my car.  It is HOT out there.

This morning I rode up to the Volunteer check in for people supporting the Reston Sprint Triathlon tomorrow.  I'm a bike marshal.

From there I took some back weaving paths over to the Herndon Festival where I had Bike Valet duties for a couple of hours.  It was fun!  I got to talk to a lot of people about cycling and saw some really cool bikes.

But it was HOT.  Then I rode home.  It was HOT.

This is a photo of Matt, one of the FABB members who was in charge of the Bike Valet service.  He is with his wife and one of his two lovely daughters.  The 4 year old is camera shy.  You can see our Bike Valet service behind him.

We had people entrusting us with $3000 bikes!  Wow!  It was a free service and people really appreciated it.  Herndon is right on the bike trail, so people who might not have gone to the Festival stopped to enjoy it when they got there.

It was HOT.