Trek Women
May 30, 2008

Green goddess...

Car [WARNING: If you get grossed out easily, you might want to pass on this one]

This is good, I guess, if not really disgusting. So, ever since I started my new job, I rarely drive my car. It just sits on the street day after day. Mostly, I ride one of my bikes or take the scooter if I’m crossing town or buying groceries. If it’s raining, I leave the house early and walk.

This past weekend, I had to drive to the MORE event and discovered that my car had turned into a wetland reserve. There’s a leak in the convertible top and rain got in and combined with some tree pod things that blew in the last time I drove. My interior was literally sprouting. I didn’t need a weed wacker or anything, but it smelled a little earthy in there. Gross. It’s clean now and Lysol'd like no one's business.

But, at least its evidence that my go-by-two-wheels lifestyle is having a green effect!!

P.S. sorry about the re-use photo. I should have taken one at the time

May 28, 2008

Gimme more...

I shoved Shady in the passenger seat and off I went on Monday morning to meet up with MORE, a cool, local mountain bike club --Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts, for a special Memorial Day ride at Shaeffer Farm in Gaithersburg, MD.

I met Tom Jackson, the ride leader and MORE Vice President, a couple of months ago at CycleFest 2008. He sent me a friendly email afterwards to help educate me about responsible mountain biking and how important it is to take care of trails and not ride on them when they’re wet. He also told me about all of the hard work MORE has done to maintain trail access in the DC area. I really appreciated his note. Since then, I’ve been trying to sync up my crazy schedule so that I could join a MORE event.  When Tom emailed me about Monday – I was in for my third-ever mtb ride!!

But here’s the thing, I’m not very good at it (yet). So within 10 minutes, I had worked myself up trying to figure out what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks I was doing while worrying that I was slowing down the other 7 riders and making their rides less fun. I was swearing a blue streak so long it matched Shady’s paint color. Tom and the other riders were great and encouraging the whole way.  I picked up a few tips from them I thought I’d share…

1) If in doubt, dismount – billy, don’t be a hero
2) Roll over it – for me that means stop overthinking and just go over the dang log
3) Keep your weight in the back – a balance thing
4) You are going to fall – but at least ground is softer than pavement
5) Look ahead, not right in front of you, don’t look at what you don’t want to hit – your bike is going to follow the line of your eyes, so if there’s a big rock in the way don’t look at it or you’re going to head straight for it. Learned that one the painful way.

It was a tough ride for me. You know us Type A’s we don’t like to suck at things. But, at least I’ll probably never be this horrifically bad again. I can only get better. I’ll be back for MORE!

May 26, 2008

Zzzzzz...

Alberto_2I go on an on about the Giro and what happened yesterday? I fell asleep and missed the coverage on the Versus network. I couldn't believe it -- Alberto Contador earns the pink jersey on Stage 15 and I was conked out on the couch while waiting for Cyclysm Sunday to start. Today, Alberto held onto the jersey.

May 21, 2008

Hand me that sports page...

Peloton_backsI was in the office kitchen stalking the coffee pot when my boss, MH, walks in with the Washington Post. He says, “Here, MacLean, I saved you the sports page” and laughs. MH is a rabid Boston Red Sox fan. I’m a rabid Project Runway fan. To each newspaper section his/her own.

But today I said, “Hand it over, I’ll see how my guys are doing in the Giro.” “The what?” he replied. “Giro D’Italia. You know… big road race… Italy… Astana got in.” He shook his head in the funny way that he does whenever I talk about cycling. I laughed back.

Following the Giro and the competition for the maglia rosa (pink jersey) is fun. It’s even better than I thought it would be this year since the Astana team was invited to participate after race organizer RSC reversed its original February decision at practically the last minute. Looks like the “Let Levi Ride” campaign might be making a difference since the Giro is one of the world’s most important stage races after the Tour de France.

Anyway, Levi and his teammates, Andreas Kloden and Alberto Contador, are kicking it into gear and I can hardly wait for the coverage on the Versus network this Sunday.

I couldn’t tell you who’s leading the National League; but, I can still get some sports on. AND I can tell you which team’s jersey I think is the prettiest. How about that.

May 19, 2008

Bike rider v. cyclist...

Astana What's the difference between riding your bike and cycling?

A while ago, I traded emails with a guy who considered himself a “happy kind of biker” who enjoys sunny days and ringing a bell and remembers putting playing cards in his spokes. He wrote, “I’m not in the same league as you.” That made me a little sad to tell you the truth because I’m pretty happy on a bike. Am I e-league-ist??

Then, I tried to think back to the last time I went for a non-commute ride when I wasn’t concerned about pace, form or distance. I couldn’t*. Plus, I own specially designed gear and I usually check out the rides of others on the paths. Are these the signs of a cyclist?

Mostly, I tend to think of myself as a Type A bike rider who rings her bell so that people will get out of the way. I mean, kindly move to the right so I can pass on the left**. Hmmm. Do bike riders get annoyed or is that reserved for cyclists?

Is your “league” (bike riding v. cycling) determined by your attitude or level of performance? Do you have to be "good enough" to earn a cyclist title?

What do you think?

*Technically, we rented bikes in Amsterdam to have fun and cover more ground/distance.

**I had a near-zero speed fall 2 weeks ago when a family blocked the path, wouldn’t move and I overbalanced getting my foot out of the pedal while veering onto grass. 

>>>And just so I don't come off as a member of the jerk league -- I make it a point to give lots of warning and heads up when I'm going to pass and I say thank you. But, there's no need to give me a rude gesture because I've asked you to move over so I can go by.

May 16, 2008

Gutter bunny day...

Bike2workday_2 gutter bunny n. a bicycling commuter.*

I am a rather soggy bunny on this, National Bike-to-Work Day. Rain showers happening here. I got up this morning, taught my spin class, and seriously contemplated whether I was going to honor my pledge to bike commute today.

On the one hand, I promised to hop to it. And on the other, ugh, I hate getting skunk butt, or whatever you call it, when mud and road gross-ness flings up from your rear tire onto your rear-end in a nice neat vertical stripe. Plus, I do worry about wiping out on slick streets.

But, I did it! I rode Shady since she’s got the grippiest tires of all my Treks. However, I decided to bypass the Bike to Work main event down at Freedom Plaza hosted by the awesome Washington Area Bicyclist Association. No breakfast and swag for me this year.  That’s okay, it’s the biking that counts, not the free bagel and water bottle.

With any luck, I won’t be riding home in a down pour tonight.

*I didn't make this term up. Feel free to google it.

May 14, 2008

Jiggle and bounce...

Sport2  [WARNING if you are a guy, you might want to pass on this one, it’s for the ladies.]

I’ve got something to get off my chest, literally. Yes, today’s topic is sports bras and mine are in a sorry state these days. Being a bountiful gal, my sports bras have got to manage—as the old ditty goes—the hang low AND the wobble to and fro. 

I own a collection of oldies with crooked hooks and crossed eyes; minimizing mono-mashers; and underwire contraptions for bust bondage. Last summer, I bought a triathlon one-si to go from water to land. It had a shelf bra—awww, how cute. I would have knocked myself out trying to race in that thing. The dynamic duo must be contained at all costs.

There’s the rub. I’ve found that the higher the “strap-em-down” quality (aka “higher impact”), the higher the price. I’d guess my average is 45 bucks per undergarment x 6 used per week = a hefty upfront investment. And, you really never know how it’s going to hold up over the long haul beyond doing jumping jacks in the dressing room to rate the jiggle suppression. 

I want wicking. I want separation. I want dent-free shoulders. I want the bounce out. I want it all!!

What’s your favorite brand? I’ve been buying Moving Comfort for a while; but I desperately need to get some new ones. Where do you find good deals? Don’t be shy girls, let loose!

May 12, 2008

No. 1 tourist day...

Lower_garden “If we were in Europe, we’d take of picture of that.” How many times have Wayne and I said that to each other when we’ve come across an interesting spot right in DC. This summer, we have pledged to spend one weekend-day a month sightseeing in our own hometown. Turns out, none of us have seen the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives or done the Mint’s money tour and the guys have never been up in the Washington Monument.

Late Saturday morning, as we were sitting around like lumps at Starbucks trying to figure out something fun to do, we realized it was a good day to play tourist. We scooted west towards Georgetown. (The story would be better if we had ridden our bikes, but we weren’t in the mood to gear up, so we rode our two-wheel motor scooters instead. Next time though…)

Dumbarton Oaks was our destination, a beautiful country house and garden purchased by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss in 1920. Mildred and landscape architect, Beatrix Ferrand, spent almost 30 years planning every garden detail. It’s fabulous, especially the Orangerie, which is home to a fig tree planted before the Civil War.

We also walked by the Oak Hill Cemetery (not open on Saturdays), a 19th Century garden park cemetery with very ornate burials and monuments. After a coffee stop, we headed over to the Washington National Cathedral. We couldn’t go inside (closed – was feeling a little like Athens with everything closed on a Saturday no less!). But, the outside is gothic and swooping. It’s almost like being in a foreign city, with more bathrooms and real Diet Coke.

We ended our first tourist day at a local Irish pub on the Hill, the Dubliner, with a pint of Guinness. Outside the bar, there was a line-up of about 12, parked Harley Davidson motorcyles; so of course we had to park our tiny scooters next to them. Hahaha, the photo doesn’t do it justice. Enjoy!

May 8, 2008

Commuting connections...

Trek_rider_047_2 Bike commuting and I go way back. I guess you could say I’ve been a go-by-bike gal off and on since I was 7 years old and did my first ride to Hinsbrook Elementary School. By the time I was 17, I was bike commuting on a red 10-speed to my job as a lifeguard 5 miles or so from our house. The 10-speed didn’t survive my undergrad days; then again, neither did my waistline.

I got chunky and stayed chunky until I lost weight while I was getting my Masters. My graduation present to myself was that old Trek 930 in 1994. My first job was at a public television station and bike commuting--RT 25 miles--was cheaper than riding the bus. Then, I got a new job where I met Russ (who would later become my boss). And then I got chunky again; bought a cheap, used VW and hid the 930 in a storage closet until 2005.

When I started riding again, I decided to go back to my bike commuting roots. Round-trip was about 30 miles. Sometimes, Russ would ride up to meet me and we’d do the trip back together. When I changed jobs, I tried the commute route but it was just too much. Now that I’m close to home, biking to work is actually my fastest form of transportation.

There are so many great reasons to bike commute—better for your health, your wallet and your environment—and so many valid reasons why people find it daunting. Sweat, weather, distance and traffic top my list. But, where’s there’s a wheel; there’s a way. Here are my tips:

Sweat: If it takes more than 30 minutes, I wear cycling gear and carry my clothes and wash-up kit in a backpack. Luckily, I belong to a gym with locations all over DC and can shower up. A lot of office buildings have facilities now for commuters as well. Also check your local cycling organization because it might have deals with area gyms so that you can shower there too.

Weather: I confess, I don’t ride in bad weather. But, there’s all kinds of gear if you don’t mind it.

Distance: Do a trial run first. Maybe you start by parking and riding half the route. In most cities, there are racks on the front of buses for bikes and in DC, you can take them on the metro. Or, do like the Dutch and get an old bike that you keep on one end of the commute (i.e. train station to office).

Traffic: Safety is #1! I try out different streets to find the best ones and to maximize my time in bike lanes. I avoid major bus routes. I use hand signals and obey traffic lights. I don’t weave. I have lights if it gets dark.

Again, contact local bike organizations for more helpful info. You can find yours using this link from the League of American Bicyclists. Your regional transportation authority might have some good stuff too.

Next week is National Bike-to-Work Week and Friday, May 16 is Bike-to-Work Day and events are happening nationwide. If you can, why not give it a try. I ask you… what could be better than starting and ending your day with a bike ride?

PS> Here’s a neat web site, www.commutebybike.com. Check out the gas savings calculator, the Simple Guide to Bike Commuting and the Slackers Guide to Bike Commuting.

PPS> Hey bike commuters out there… post a comment and share your tips!

May 6, 2008

A ride with Brit...

Last night around 7 o’clock, I’m in the elevator down to the parking garage where the building has bike racks -- the guards keep an eye on our rides. (LOVE the perk that I can bike commute!)  The doors start closing when a voice call outs, “Hold the elevator!” I throw an arm into the gap and the doors peel back. A tall gentleman enters, in his late 50s maybe. He looks really familiar. He says thanks and nods to the helmet in my hand, “You bike to work?”

21_61_hume_brit_320_2 It dawns on me who it is… Brit Hume, the anchor from FOX News. I work in the Hall of States, which is around the corner from the Capitol and home to offices for FOX, NBC and C-SPAN. Anytime you see a live shot with a reporter and the Capitol in the background, it’s probably happening on the sidewalk in front of the building.

Back to Brit. I reply, yes, that I love biking, especially with this weather today. (It was gorgeous – mid 70s and sunny). Brit says something like it must be miserable when it gets hot and humid in the summer. I laughed and answered that I don’t mind the heat, it’s the cold that turns me into a total wimp. Then, we arrived at our floor and wished each other goodnight. He in an intelligent anchor-ly way; me, wishing I was wearing something other than ratty workout clothes.

As I was unlocking my old Trek 930, Brit drove past and gave me a wave. It was nice riding with him.