Friday, May 31, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May - LAST DAY

This is it! Today I made it to the end of May with a good ride. I went 19 miles -- from my house to Ashburn and back. This is what the bike rack looked like in Ashburn.

I took my bike into the store and asked them to have someone move the carts.  They did it very promptly.  Of course, the butt can is still an affront, but I figured I'd shot my "good" karma.

Not so bad going out but pretty hot coming back.  I'm still cooling down.

So, my total mileage for May is ...

135.84 miles

To compare:  DC to Richmond: 108 miles


Time for a nap.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May - Day 30

I'm not riding today.  After yesterday's 30 and knowing I'll be doing about 25 tomorrow, today is a down day to let my ... body ... recuperate.

But I'm THINKING about bike things, so that counts for something.

Did you know that 85% of our trips we take by our personal cars are within 5 miles of our homes?  I realize some of those trips are very difficult to do by bike, especially those involving children and sports equipment.  What if only HALF -- 42% -- were done by some other form of transportation -- bike, walking, or public transit. Think of the most congested roadway around your house. Is it within 5 miles?  Now imagine the traffic there cut in HALF.  Yeah.

One of the biggest challenges to people using public transportation is what is called the "last mile" dilemma.  If the transit station is more than a mile (even half a mile) from people's homes, they won't choose public transport if the only alternative to getting there is walking.

But one can bike, easily, 1 mile. Heck, you don't even break a sweat going 1 mile!  Then lock up the bike and get on your way to your job, or wherever you need to go by bike or train.  OR, in our county, you can put your bike on the front of the bus, and during off-peak hours, you can take your bike on the train.

Planners have worked hard to give us lots of options for turning our "sitting" time into "active" time. It's our own fault if we're not taking advantage of those options!

Just my .02

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May -- Day 29

Getting close!

We headed out this morning at 10 and went about 15 miles before we decided it was too blazin' hot to go all the way out to Purcellville.  The problem wasn't when and where we stopped -- it was knowing the last 10 miles would be on an area of the trail that has very little vegetation cover.

We had lunch in Leesburg.  Here's the crew:

Back Row: Nancy, Bunny
Front Row: Betty, Dina, Barbara

The last five miles were hard.  The weather guys said it was 86, but my car reading of the ambiant temperature said it was 93.  I believe the latter.  By the time we got to the last two miles, I was starting to get the shakes -- and had gone through two bottles of water.  I'm really glad we turned around when we did!

When we got to the parking lot, something exciting happened to Betty's back tire! She had placed it on her rack on the back of her pick-up truck and we all heard a sound like a shot!

Her tire blew out!  We had just come off the very hot trail, had been traveling at some speed, and I think when she started her truck and the exhaust started blowing out, it was close enough to the tire to superheat it and ka-blam!

Glad that wasn't on the trail!

So, 30 miles total for the day.  Whew!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May -- Day 28

Didn't ride today since I'll be doing over 40 tomorrow with some friends.

Fortunately, I drove to go to my tutoring job this afternoon instead of taking my bike.  The family wasn't home, and I would not have been as easy going about riding up there and back on the bike for no purpose.

The Monday holiday messes them up every time.  Sigh.

Photos tomorrow!

Monday, May 27, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May -- Day 27

Today is my sweet girl's 19th birthday.  I celebrated by letting her sleep until noon while I went to get my hair cut.  When I returned I brought balloons that scared our parakeet!

We took a bike ride to the grocery store to get the stuff to bake a cake and while I took her to the fabric store, her dad baked it.

We tried to go out for Thai food to celebrate but our favorite restaurant was closed for Memorial Day.  We found someplace else to eat and celebrated with cake at home!

And, while we were riding to the store, we saw a fox disappear around a bend in the path ahead of us.  Big fluffy red tail with a white tip.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May -- Day 26

Busy day today!  Church this morning and then took some meals people had brought to a friend recovering from surgery.

When I got back it was time to take the daughter to work. We have a system now -- I take her, with my bike on the car. From her workplace (only 2 miles away), I take off on a bike ride.  Then she has the car to come home at 10 and I get a bike ride.  We originally contemplated her riding her bike this summer to work, but I don't want her on a bike at 10 at night so this works well.

Still had a pretty stiff breeze today, but nothing like yesterday.  It took my muscles about 2 miles to get over their whining and complaining.  About 8 miles into the ride I realized my tires were low. Between that and the head wind I got a good workout!

Here is today's photo.  Can you see the deer?  Just pretend.  Come on, indulge me.  That darn thing stood there on the left next to the big tree for about five minutes just staring at me.  As soon as the shutter opened on the iPhone, he leaped off into the bushes, just before it clicked.  I hate that slow shutter response!  Argh!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May -- Day 25

Rode in high winds today -- but the big treat was son rode with me.  Well, sort of with me.  Mostly he rode ahead.  At one point on the trail we were being pushed sideways!

We did errands together -- office supply store for printer ink, cashed in a coupon for a free "naked cone" at a frozen yogurt place (I gave it to him for being a good sport and riding with me). Next we rode to the nearby town and dropped off a couple of things.

On the way back home, the son took off, so I called him and told him I'd just meet him at home. I went to the grocery store instead!

On our ride to the office supply store, we found this on one of the paths.  Sigh. If they'd just give us a target date of when it will be open, I'd be SO much happier!  This is inconvenient for cyclists, but it's life changing for people in wheelchairs.

Friday, May 24, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May -- Day 24

Yucky, rainy day today.  Lots of high wind.  I saw a little sunshine, but it was a tease.

So I worked on a project all day that INVOLVES bikes.  It's mostly finished -- just needs a hem and few cosmetic adjustments.

Sheesh, every time I sew I remember why I don't do this for a living.  My back is killing me and I HATE doing zippers.

I'm going out for a long ride tomorrow.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May -- Day 23

Okay, I'm a slacker.  No ride today either.  Rain has been flirting with us all day, but more importantly, I've just not felt like riding today.

So instead, I went to run errands that are hard to do on the bike.  While I was at the fabric store, I saw that they had updated their bike rack.

This is a wave rack. Architects love them. They're not usually installed correctly, but this is well done.  This is the place that used to have a one-bike "garage".  It was weird looking -- like an igloo but for a bike. Its saving grace was that it was under cover ... I guess.  I never used it.

If you didn't see today's Google Doodle, take a look. This is the one I voted for. Probably has something to do with being a military kid, grandkid, wife, self...

I know this is what my kids felt like when their dad came home from Iraq.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May - Day 22

Had to miss a great ride with the girls this morning to await the final piece of our bathroom renovation but it's worth it.

To recap -- it was a dark, dank, moldy, hard to clean, cave before.  Now:

And, I was able to take care of some of the piles of laundry that have accumulated while I've been out riding!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May -- Day 21

So there I was, thinking I wouldn't get a ride in today.  I was on phone leash for an exchange student transiting the area.  When that happens, since I live within 10 minutes of the airport, I need to be able to get to the student if a subsequent flight cancels, etc. He was on the ground at 11:45 and his flight was leaving for overseas at 5:10.  I was supposed to tutor at 4:30.

BUT, my husband is also qualified as a volunteer in this situation, so I took a chance and rode my bike to tutor.  What a relief!

My student was very wiggly today.  They've started the SOL (Standards of Learning) Exams and are penned up all day.  She's also not very interested in tutoring as much as socializing.  Sigh.  I held her to the task though and I think she now understands rounding decimals up and down.  Whew!

So on the way home, as I cruised past all the people caught in bumper to bumper traffic (I was on a bike trail), I stopped at the tollroad overpass and took this photo.  I call it, "Why I ride my bike."

Monday, May 20, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May -- Day 20

I had a great ride today. Yes, it was muggy, but when I got some speed under my wheels, it wasn't too bad. I was determined to go to a fabric store near my house that is well-known for the obscure buttons one can find. I'm trying to replace an unusual button from a blouse that I really like. The original broke -- they're really thin -- almost shell-like.

When I got down to the shopping area, I got turned around.  There are four different streets with the same name.  When you're in a car, it's easy to turn around and go back, but by the time I figured out where I was in relation to where I wanted to be, it was a mile back the other way and the only way to get there was via a steep hill with no shoulder on a two-lane road. We have a lot of those around here, but this one carries heavy traffic, and a lot of it big trucks. I had ridden down it once already, and back up. It wasn't the uphill that bothered me. It was the lack of protection I had.

So...I came back to my neck of the woods. What was really cool is that even when I was 8 miles away, it didn't feel like it was a huge slog to get home. I guess that means I'm getting into better shape. Finally!

I stopped at my local bagel place for lunch. The shopping center it's in is under renovation. Some creative soul left a portrait for us. Look closely -- anyone you know?

27 miles today.  Sweet.

(Almost) Every Day In May -- Day 19

I got in a short ride today. I had to go to a PTSA Scholarship Committee Meeting at a nearby home. The meeting was interesting, but I'm glad I'm stepping out of my PTSA duties for next year.  I currently write/edit the ptsa weekly on-line newletter.  We call it the KIT (keep in touch). I've done it for about 5 years now, so I think it's time for someone else to enjoy it!

And I'll help with the scholarship committee next year, but I don't want to be in charge of anything.There are some leadership changes going on and I'm ready, along with many of the veterans, to let people with new energy levels take over!

So my ride today wasn't very exciting, and I didn't bother with photos.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

(Almost) Every Day in May - Day 18

Today it is rainy. It's so rainy, on and off, that the Boy Scouts cancelled a hike.

Since the only bad accident I've ever had was because the trail was wet, I'm practicing discretion (and house cleaning) today and staying in.

But, no worries -- there are definitely bikes in my homebound activities.

Yesterday my daughter and I went to a fabric store where I got three yards of this:

and two yards of this:

It's hard to tell but the background color on this is actually a light teal.

At any rate, now I have to figure out what to DO with them!  I'm thinking a skirt for the first one, but not sure what to do with the second one.

Any ideas?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Every Day in May -- Day 17

Today is National Bike to Work Day

I helped the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB) at their table at our local town center. I'm a member of FABB and got a bunch of people to sign up for our newsletter.

I also got to practice putting my bike on the front of a bus. That was cool.  This isn't me, but it's one of the photos from our FABB website.  

And of course, there were freebies.

As it wound up I realized I needed to get to Ashburn for a meeting so I jumped on my bike and headed out.

I meet a friend at the Wegman's out there every Friday.  Today I discovered their bike rack on the north end of the building (I've been going to the other end, but I forgot my lock today so wanted to stay close by).  It's a wave rack, which architects love and bicyclists don't.  And look at this.

Do you see the problem?  I know very few cyclists who smoke. But over and over again, next to the rack provided for the most healthy form of transportation, I see grocery stores doing this.  Ick.

Day 17 ... over halfway!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Every Day in May - Day 16

I had quite the adventure today!  I rode my bike 9.4 miles from my house to the metro stop in the next town over. It's going to be SO NICE when our stop is open in January!

Once there, I locked my bike up and got on one of these:

I love how this turned out -- kind of like Edward Hopper only in the Metro.
And that was just on the iPhone!

My destination was here:

 to visit a friend who is recovering from surgery.  It's in Northeast DC, an area which has seen a lot of good and bad over the years. Near this is Lincoln's "Summer White House" where he would go to escape the heat and stress of the job.  It's at the "Soldiers Home" and is now a National Park Service site.

The area one travels through to get to this lovely oasis is gritty, urban core. Is this art or graffiti? Is there a difference?

But, it is also near Catholic University and there are some beautiful buildings there.

This is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Unfortunately, the photo was taken from the window of the shuttle bus taking me to the metro station after seeing my friend. Fortunately, they HAVE a shuttle!

Can you see how the wind is whipping the flag?  A lovely, gusty day in DC.

Because I rode 40 yesterday, and almost 10 this morning, and I have a meeting tonight, I decided to cry uncle and called my husband to meet me at the station with my car since it has the bike rack.  Wimp, I know.    At least the car is a hybrid.

Every Day in May -- Day 15

Great long ride today. Met up with 2 Babes on Bikes (it's a loosely organized club). We started from Reston Town Center and headed west to Leesburg.  It was overcast when we started. The weathermen said it would be 86 and we were scoffing at that!

In Leesburg (16 miles later) we stopped for lunch at a lovely little place that Bunny knew about. Yummy almond chicken salad half sandwich with vegetable soup.

Then the hard part ... the return.  The sun came out and I do believe we hit 86 before we were finished!  I should have filled my water bottle at the restaurant.  I was parched by the time I got home!

When all was said and done, because I had ridden to and from home as well, I'd gone 40 miles.  Whew!

Here are Bunny and Betty, the babes I rode with!  Great pace and great ride, ladies!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Every Day in May - Day 14

Sigh.  Had to take child to appointments today.  Didn't ride.  Sigh.  So much for every day.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Every Day in May - Day 13

SO great to be back on the bike today.  I receive nothing for this endorsement -- but I gotta tell you, the Emergen-C hot drinks I had each day last week when I started feeling bad really kicked my col very quickly.

I had errands to do today so rode with daughter to her work place, bought her coffee, made sure her bike was locked up. Then rode up to one of our race organizers' house to pick up some extra shirts to give to volunteers who helped with Packet Pick Up. Then rode back to my neck of the woods to deliver shirts.

When all was said and done I'd ridden a little over 10 miles and it felt good.

I passed all of our 3 lakes. This couple was hanging out on the shoreline of the north lake.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Every Day in May - Day 12

The Be AMYazing Reston Youth Triathlon for 2013 is finished. It was a great morning. We had a group from a local elementary school who became a team coming alongside a classmate who has cerebral palsy so they could work as a team to encourage him. Yay for kids with HEART.

I heard that some of the kids got a little distracted because there was a turtle on the race course somewhere along the way. You gotta love kids.

And we had a great deal of fun despite the wind gusts that blew even heavy clipboards off the volunteer table!

This is my friend's daughter who competed.  She's 7.  Last year when she got to the track (their last lap), she started doing cartwheels.  This year she was a little bit more serious, but truly, that face says it all. This is AFTER she had swum 50 meters, ridden her bike over a mile, and was about halfway into her .33 mile run.

And yes, I got some biking in today too.  Not much -- just 2.5 miles, but enough pain in my leg muscles to motivate me to get busy tomorrow for some serious distance!

Happy Mother's Day to all.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Every Day in May - Day 11

Well, I guess if my activity has something to DO with biking, I'll count it.  Still feeling pretty ragged, but had to do pre-triathlon things.

Last night we cleaned the bike route.  That means shoveling and sweeping and blowing the road.  Once it was pretty clean, I took a photo and blew it up for our racers to see today at packet pick-up.  Little kids tend to think the part closest to the curb is the safest part, when it's actually the worst in terms of potential accidents. So this is to illustrate the difference between the CONCRETE NO ZONE and the BEAUTIFUL BIKE LANE.  Love bike lanes..

Packet pick-up was so much fun this morning.  The kids are excited, the parents are excited and the teens running everything are excited, but strung out on adrenalin because most of them went to Prom last night. By noon when we finished they were fading fast...and tomorrow is a very early start. For the ones helping set up the course, it's 5am.  Yikes.

Today at Packet Pick Up.  Lots of excitement!

Yesterday evening I saw this license plate. I wonder who would put this on their plate and why?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Every Day in May - Day 10 -- Countdown to the TRI

See this beautiful shirt?  Last night I counted and sorted 160 of these shirts!  First sorted by size, then by functional area for the Reston Youth Triathlon. On Sunday morning, around 300 kids, ages 6-15, will swim, bike and then run for glory. Nearly 200 volunteers will be on hand to make sure it's safe.  Our local cops and medical guys and gals will be there.

This is not the only triathlon for young people in our community. In fact, right after we kicked ours off, the local community HOA, along with the local YMCA, decided they needed to run one.  Many of the big money donors who had said they'd support us headed for the one with higher visibility and bigger names.

But ... ours was established by students for a very special purpose. Olivia, Hannah, and Kacey were classmates of Amy Boyle in elementary school. When they were in 6th grade, Amy died from a brain tumor. The girls decided to make something meaningful from her death  -- to celebrate her life.

At first the girls formed a service club, Amy's Amigos, to do acts of community service. This included raising money through the Relay for Life. When they were in middle school, the girls recruited more students to Amy's Amigos. Other students were drawn to a club that existed solely to do acts of service for others.

But these girls are athletes, as was Amy, and when they got ready for high school, they wanted to think BIG. They realized that our community had an adult triathlon and an adult sprint triathlon, but the element missing was the triathlon for young people. They knew Amy would LOVE this idea, so they contacted Amy's family and started moving forward.  Amy's family is integral to the event, serving on the board and cheering on the racers, the organizers, and the community.

The girls are now high school juniors, and this is the third year of the Be AMYazing Reston Youth Triathlon. Each year the event has gotten bigger. Our participant sign ups sell out within 15 hours. We had to turn off our volunteer recruitment spot because we had more than we needed. And to date (after 2 very successful years), the proceeds of $16,000 have gone to the Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF).

These young people -- the founders as well as their numerous friends at school -- OWN this event.  Sure, we adults come alongside to sign forms and advance money, but the event belongs to the girls, in memory of Amy, and to celebrate fitness in our community.

It is an honor to serve alongside with these young people and their families.  And word to the big boys down the street -- these girls may graduate next year, but they have younger siblings.  We're not going away.

Check us out at

p.s.  Still marshaling my energy.  No ride today so I can be 100% tomorrow for volunteer training and Sunday for the event.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Every Day in May -- NOT

Okay, today would be Day 9, but I'm sick as a dog so I'm not riding.  It's tough to ride when you can't inhale too deeply.

This weekend is the Reston Youth Triathlon and I'm the volunteer coordinator so I need to spend today healing.

Fortunately, I have a lap top and lots of last minute details to work on.  Now if I can only get my college kid out of bed to go get me some chocolate...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Every Day in May - Day 8

It's National Bike to School Day!  The weather held off and we had an awesome 34 bikes in the racks this morning.  Kids walked, rode, and ran (the girls running club) to school.  Our local bike cops came as did the director of recreation for our community, our Fairfax Advocates for Better Biking chair, and one of our bike/pedestrian engineer/planners for the county.  Most of us rode to get there.  What an amazing turnout.

Kristin Eddy, HWES organizer and Bruce Wright, FABB Chair

Kristin's family arrives. They bike from the next town almost every day.

The bike train led by Aric Line approaches

A much better use of the Kiss N Ride!

We love our bike cops!

Larry Butler, our community director of Parks & Rec
and one of the mom organizers

A sweet sight, indeed!

The rack on the far side of the school got some action, too!

Vanessa, one of our County bike/pedestrian planners, drove to my house
and then rode with me along the path to the school.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Every Day in May -- A Down Day

So, it won't be every day.  Today has looked like this all day long:

That top part is NOT blue sky -- it's the tinted portion of my windshield.  I served in the nursery on Sunday and now I'm feeling a little tickle in my throat (connection?) so I decided to forego getting soaked.

Tomorrow is Bike to School Day though so I may get a very wet but short ride in.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Every Day in May - Day 6

Woo-hoo!  On an overcast rain-threatening day, I convinced college daughter to ride with me up to our local shopping center so I could do some bank business.  When I added "bagels" to the equation, she agreed. (Why is it my children only ride with me for food?)

When we started out, it started sprinkling, but it didn't last.

The path behind our house (the Turquoise Trail) goes almost directly there, but mostly through the woods. After we crossed one street, and got back on the path, I slowed down. Not 6 feet ahead there were deer on both sides of the path.  I didn't want to be in the middle of the herd when the ones on the south decided to join the ones on the north or vice versa so I used my CAPTAIN AMERICA...bell.

Works every time!  On squirrels too.

On our way back, I took this photo in my neighbor's front yard.  Do you know the name of this plant? It's very pretty, but she gets more sun than I do, so I'm pretty sure it's a "no-go" for my yard.

And finally, when we got home, I thought I'd better take a photo of this before the trees fully leaf out. This is a perennial squirrel's nest. It looks like just a bunch of leaves, but it is amazing to see 3 or 4 squirrels emerge from this blob. They're entertaining but destructive little dudes!

So, only 5 miles round trip today, but it still counts and I avoided the rain!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Every Day in May - Day 5

As much as I gripe about living in an over-priced pretentious area in which who you know is much more important than knowing anything at all, I realize at the same time I am very blessed.

Yes, the Washington area has the worst traffic commutes in the nation. But I live in a community that has 55 miles of paved paths, all of which are at least 8 feet wide which allows for shared use. They weave in and out of trees, and between playgrounds and pools, alongside beautiful babbling brooks (which occasionally swell to roaring creeks), and dump into three man-made lakes. This area (not a town) is called Reston and it's one of the earliest planned and executed communities in the nation. It is the model for many around the world, and many have come to study it over the years. Reston is bisected by a toll-road that goes to Dulles International Airport. Just north of the toll road, the W&OD trail runs through Reston. The W&OD is an awesome reclamation of a railroad easement turned into a walking/running/horseback riding trail. And even with all that goodness of bicycle heaven, we have some bike lanes, and LOTS of bicycle-thinking planners who want to keep our community the bike-friendly place it is.

This is one of our new bike lanes. It is so freeing to be in my own lane -- to know that I'm not having to compete for real estate with something tons heavier than my bike and me!

Still, we have the worst commutes in the nation, so the Metro system committed many years ago to extending out to Dulles Airport.  It's coming through via the same route as the toll road. The first station in Reston, Wiehle Avenue, is supposed to open in January 2014.

I wondered what the access for bicycles and pedestrians will be from the south side (where I live), so today I took a ride up there to see.

What amazes me is that there are guys working there today and it's SUNDAY! And as you can tell from the blue sky, it's a BEAUTIFUL Sunday.  That area on the left that looks like a chute is the escalator area going in. I'm told there's an elevator for people to take their bikes up. Sadly, our Metro rules don't allow bikes on the metro (except for folding bikes) until after 9:30.  On the other hand, the W&OD goes all the way to Washington, so one could ride in -- about 25 miles depending on where you're going in Washington.  The new metro station has a bike room under cover where people can leave their bikes after cycling to the station. One will be able to purchase a monthly "pass" to use the room, just like purchasing a car pass. It's a great solution to the 'LAST MILE' issue.

Except for rainy days.

Speaking of rainy days, we're supposed to get some this week so I'll be sky-watching hoping to ride around the worst of it.  I want to do the every day in May thing, but not be stupid.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Every Day in May - Day 4

It was tough to get my miles in today. I was helping out with our last mandatory AFS meeting with the students. What a great bunch of kids.  They're sad about leaving, but some are ready to go back to whatever "normal" will be back home. In this photo the ones who purchased the cool T-shirt I designed are wearing it.

Here they are:

After the meeting our family decided to go out for dinner at Silver Diner.  My son agreed to ride with me up there so I could stretch my legs and get some miles in.  My husband and daughter met us there. We could have thrown the bikes on the back of the car, but we decided to ride home.  On the way, I stopped to take these two photos.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Every Day In May - Day 3

Went out to meet a friend.  Heading out it was cool but nice.  It seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to get up to the bike trail.  Surface streets are slow during rush hour.  Once on the trail it was like I was on a freeway -- only pleasant.

We talked for an hour or so, prayed, and then I headed back.  On the way, I stopped twice. The first photo is the great bridge over a highway that goes to Dulles airport.  SO GLAD I was up there and the cars were down there.

The second is the local library in the town next door.  I think it's so pretty and the grounds look wonderful this time of year.