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Archive for February, 2012

Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling is taking advantage of an upcoming opportunity to make improvements to the Fairfax County Parkway (currently also known as 7100) trail. 7100 is being upgraded in importance and therefore will receive funding for repaving and replacing signage. The Virginia Department of Transportation may have funds this year to fix portions of the trails. As a result, FABB is looking for feedback.

If you know of any part of the trail that has large cracks, pot holes, mud washed over, etc… please send that information along to FABB. You can read a bit more about what they are looking for in one of their recent blog posts: Fixing the Fairfax Co Parkway Trail.

The chairman’s email is: chairman@fabb-bikes.org

Improvement of this trail is important. The Fairfax County Parkway is a very well-traveled road by motor vehicles and is becoming more and more used by cyclists. Portions of the trail are so bad that it is sometimes safer for the cyclist to travel on the road with the cars, trucks and SUVs. If drivers don’t want cyclists on this 50 – 55mph road (with many vehicles traveling 60 – 65 mph) then I highly urge them to speak up and support repairing the trail as well.

Thanks and happy trails!

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I visited some wonderful friends from my college years down in North Carolina this past weekend. It is always a good time when the group comes together. For the most part we hung out, caught up on life and ate great food. For anyone visiting Boone, NC I highly recommend Dos Amigos which is located on the right side of 421, heading west, as you enter the city limits. They are still one of the best American Mexican (ie. not real Mexican food but the Americanized version) restaurants ever. Mountain House still has a very good breakfast menu and there are little coffee and bagel shops everywhere. It is hard to go wrong if you stick with the local businesses or smaller chains in Boone.

Friday was a little cold with the typical Boone wind that has the ability to cut through jackets like no other place I know. However Saturday gave us beautiful skies and only the slightest hint of a breeze. We headed over to Grandfather Mountain which has a swinging bridge one mile above sea level – and quite high above any sort of ground too.

After soaking in the view we heading out on one of the hiking trails. Steep climbs, and also being a mile higher in altitude than what I am used to, provided a surprise cross training opportunity. We scrambled up and down rocks for a little under two hours. Between the views and the good company I was left with a bittersweet feeling. Boone, NC and my college friends are home to me in many ways. I definitely miss the people and the location. It seems like there is never enough time to see everyone or do everything. At least that gives us all an excuse to continue to come together!

My little sister came on the trip with me this time. She has been accepted into a couple of schools including my alma mater, Appalachian State University. It was a good opportunity to show her the school and the surrounding country. There was still the mixed bag of students. We saw a guy rope walking between trees by the Student Union, grungy college kids, preppy collar popping students and everything between those stereotypes. I showed her Hippy Hill and we visited the Mast General Store on King Street. I wish the college radio station, WASU-FM, had been open or someone had been there to let us in. I spent many hours in that station and it would have been fun to show her around. Maybe next time.

Whether my sister attends ASU or not I know my friends and I will continue to meet up. There are still so many adventures to be had and stories to be made. Sneaking in a little cross training was just a bit of icing on the cake.

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Another splendid day for riding to work! There were between 5 and 8 riders clearly commuting to work and most I’ve not seen before. That might not mean much since I do commute in a county with over one-million people. There are bound to be other cyclists with the same idea. Still, it is nice to know I’m not the only one out there.

Today felt much easier and I had a bit of luck timing lights and crosswalks. My route takes me from road to bike trail (with many road crossings) to road again. I like it because there are some decent hills but also some easy spots as well. I did grumble at a driver who blocked a crosswalk with his car but I know I’ve done the same thing (rolling forward to make a right hand turn) so I can’t really blame him too much.

Wearing a backpack isn’t going to work for much longer. It aggravates the area in my neck and back where my physical therapist has been trying to get muscles to release. I see her tomorrow so I am sure I’ll get a bit of a lecture on it. Hopefully I can purchase a rack soon, something compatible with the disc brakes on the tricross. I should also try to dial in the fit a little better to make sure something like the reach of the bike isn’t aggravating my neck and back.

Another purchase I need to make, and I was reminded of it as I pedaled through some sort of fuel on the road, is fenders. I’m hoping I can find those used to help save a little money.

Just a little over 15 weeks until the Tour de Cure! Being able to commute and put down base miles makes me feel a lot better than when I was only spinning on the bike (there is a huge difference). This is going to be a lot of fun!

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Why do we do what we do? I know for me I love riding my bike and running on wooded trails because it feels good. I like the momentum, the distraction, the challenge, and I’ll admit the endorphin high is a bit addicting. It really is about me and my wants. But I just found a way to make the miles, the activities, count for a little more and hopefully help people I’ve never met and will probably never meet.

Check it out: Plus 3 Network is a free way to log your activities (indoor, outdoor, even recovery from surgery!) and corporate companies then donate x amount of money to a cause of your choice. I’ll admit the choices are a bit slim but I think there are some good ones in the bunch. Hopefully with more exposure there will be more corporations and more causes to choose from.

Whether you are training for an Ironman or just trying to stay healthy why not make those miles count toward helping another person or group in need?

Have a happy Valentine’s Day!

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The Taste of Salt

I’ve been very nervous for the last two weeks. My work hours have been a little wonky and my boredom with the trainer at home has resulted in a bit of a deviation from my training schedule. Earlier this week I decided it was time to start commuting… and then at 6:30 in the morning when I needed to leave I realized it was still far too dark outside. Bummer.

Fast forward to today, Friday, and I have some extra hours I can play with. I could drive to work and leave early hoping to hit the bike trail… or… I could leave a little later when the sun is up more and commute to work. Commuting to work always seems infinitely more exhausting than any trail ride I’ve completed. And it is cold. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate being cold? Well, it is a weakness of mine which makes no sense because growing up I would wear shorts year round, I even went to college in a mountain town and LOVED snowboarding during blizzards… Something happened after the college years and I quickly developed a sensitivity to cold.

Anyway, back on topic. You know what? I decided to hell with the cold I am going to commute. Wool socks, ski pants over my long cycling pants, and a few layers up top. The best purchase I’ve ever made is my pair of Gortex gloves that have two fingers for shifting/breaking and the other three have a single compartment to keep warm. Best. Gloves. Ever!

And then I started my ride on my Tricross. I’ve done it on my Ruby before so I knew what to expect. Except I didn’t. What had been an hour commute last year turned into an hour and a half. First, I’m still not in as good of shape as I was at the end of summer last year. Second, the tricross is heavier and slower than the ruby and hills take so much more work. But it is good for me. I need the work!

The most memorable part of my ride today will be the taste of salt. The roads were still dusty with salt from a few days ago when the county prepared the roads for a storm that never came. I think I’ve hit my quota of salt of the week at this point. I’m on my second bottle of water and still haven’t completely gotten rid of the salty taste. Oh well.

It was a good ride in. Hopefully the ride home will be just as uneventful. For now it is time to work. (Consider typing this as my “smoke break” … and no, I don’t smoke!)

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67 degrees makes for a near perfect ride. I run a little cold so I’d prefer 75 degrees but I don’t mind long pants and sleeves (and toe covers… yes, toe covers at 67 degrees…a little pathetic) while I ride. It was a great 20 miles. I kept my eyes up and scouted for hills to use on future training rides. I saw a handful which will be good.

I started out last year with a riding partner. Even 50 miles seemed to fly by. But in August we went our own ways and I have been riding solo since then. I won’t lie, it was a hard adjustment – mentally and physically. Physically because as a team we drafted off each other. Mentally because the conversation gave me something to do. But since last Fall I have adjusted and actually welcome my solo trips. This is a good thing because even though I have a “team” for the 150 mile ride I don’t expect to keep up with them and plan to ride this on my own.

Still, around the two-hour mark I begin to get bored. I have 15 hours to complete the tour and I hope to finish in under 12 (about 12.5 mph, I normally ride 16-18 mph). That is a long time to be trapped inside your head. Thankfully there will be people around me and I’ll force my shy self to make conversation. The only thing I ask of my team is to have a beer waiting for me at the end!

4 more months until the Tour de Cure. I’m excited.

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