Sunday, October 30, 2016

Chincoteague Weekend

Valerie once said that her ideal vacation wasn't about a particular destination - it was going away with a good group of friends. Not being a people person (to put it mildly), I think in terms of dream destinations, but I guess she has a point. I mean, I don't think Teaneck, New Jersey makes many "Top Ten Vacation Destinations" lists, but the night before my recent Manhattan circumnavigation the group went out and had an uproariously fun dinner at a Yakitori restaurant in Teaneck. It was the people, not the place. So, when Bela's new bride Leigh came up with the idea of a fall getaway weekend, I saw the opportunity to make a couple of days of the group trip thing come to pass. And in a place much nicer than Teaneck.
Lavinder house view

One challenge for me is that Valerie's not a kayaker, and so is not necessarily going to have a good time on a trip where all everyone does is talk, eat, drink, and smell like kayaking. Leigh is another non-paddler, and so in this case I knew Valerie would have someone to hang with. When Rob signed on for the trip I also encouraged (successfully!) him to invite his wife, who is only a half-hearted paddler/camper, along. There's actually more to the organizational story of this trip: I won't go into all the Chinc-intrigue of how this trip became cross-threaded with a long-planned Pirates of Georgetown get-away, or how this trip squeezed out a trip to a PATC cabin, but when the dust settled there was a happy ending. We had ourselves a mega-weekend: ten people staying at the rented Lavinder House (a funky old place once owned by actress Linda Lavin, but Alice doesn't live there anymore) plus three more at the house Jim owns in town. 

We all rolled in over the course of Friday afternoon. Friday night was spent settling in, catching up, enjoying the sunset, and planning Saturday's paddle. Food was, as usual, abundant. Friday's dinner included multiple variations of chili to suit everyone's tastes and constraints: vegetarian and meat, with and without onions. There was cornbread, and there was delicious fruit crumble for dessert. And Rob, freshly home from one of his many international trips, gave up some much needed sleep and took the time before the weekend to prepare the potions required to make the group's favorite cocktail, the bufala negra, and so we were all well-oiled.
Friday night socializing

The forecast for Saturday was a windy one, and so with input from local expert Jim we planned a trip on the relatively protected waters between Assateague and Chincoteague Islands. Our plan was to launch from a marina at the southern tip of Chincoteague and paddle up in between the two islands. Normally it can be fun to venture out into Tom's Cove at the southern end of Assateague or even go around the island and poke out into the ocean, but we figured that for this trip it conditions were going to be too rough to do any of that. However, the forecast high winds weren't due to start until late morning. When we launched Saturday it was pretty calm and so with consensus from the group we decided to risk paddling down to some of the more exposed areas. Our decision was rewarded; down at the south end of Assateague we were joined by some dolphins and got to paddle in conditions that were playful - choppy enough to be a little interesting, but well within our skills. Still, we could tell things were picking up and after watching the dolphins for a while we turned around and headed to the more protected waters that were our original destination.
Trip planning for Saturday

As if dolphins weren't enough, as we paddled up along Assateague we saw ponies grazing by the water's edge, and in a shallow spot (we were paddling at low tide and it got shallow enough that at one point we had to walk the boats over a sand bar) some of the group found a live conch in the water. We chose to take a lunch break at a beach within sight of the ponies, for a true Assateague experience.
Suzanne and a dolphin
Lunch break
Our route - we traced a picture of an egret!
After lunch we continued north for a ways, but the wind was really starting to pick up, blowing up to 20 KT coming from the west southwest - meaning we'd be paddling right into it on the way home. Indeed, the ride back turned out to be a workout as we fought the wind and the waves. Larry actually had to be towed for a little bit when his back started spasming from the exertion (fairly or unfairly, we turned to Tom to be the tow truck). As I've said before, if I'm going to paddle in a strong wind I'd rather paddle into it than have it coming from just about any other point - it's hard to keep control of your boat with following waves, and beaming waves want to knock you over - but paddling into the wind is a workout! Slowly and steadily, slowly and steadily, we made our way back to the marina. 

Meanwhile, back on land Valerie, Leigh and Barbara spent the day having a good time visiting the yarn shop in town and visiting the Assateague lighthouse. There's a saying in the bike world that the correct number of bikes to own is "N+1", where N = the number of bikes currently owned. [1] Clearly, similar rules apply to kayaks and skeins of yarn.
Sunset selfie
Saturday's sunset

Saturday delivered a particularly beautiful sunset and so we started the evening with appetizers (including Valerie's widely praised baked brie) out on one of the house's several decks. As the light faded we retired inside for another fabulous dinner, this time a Mediterranean chicken, with homemade strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert, followed by the inevitable orgy.


The evening was spent in more good conversation. I'm a guy who has had a total of five addresses in his life: three in New York City and two in Arlington, and so I'm always in awe of the world-hopping experiences of this group. Bela and Rob in the kitchen comparing notes on Senegal. Marilyn's recent experience teaching English in China, Yvonne in the living room mentioning how last week she bumped into her old friend the Eritrean ambassador to the U.N. at her Ecuadorean cousin's wedding on the International Space Station (OK, I'm exaggerating - but only a little), and so on, and so on. The conversation was hot and heavy enough that we thankfully never gave an opening to that guy who brings instruments and traps the group into listening to his pitiful musical caterwauling. The only music was the singing of "Happy Birthday" to the three people whose birthdays fall in close proximity to the weekend.

Dinner is served!

Sunday we all had to be out early. Lavinder House rules require that you be out by 10 AM, and Jim's group was getting out at about the same time. After a breakfast which featured something called a "Dutch Baby", we packed up and headed out. A subset of the group went out for another kayak outing. Sadly, Valerie had been getting phone calls all weekend relating to her mom's declining health and so we headed straight home so that she could prepare for a trip up to see her mom. 

Despite the sad family under-current, it was a really great weekend. The only negative thing I can say about the trip is that it was too short. 


[1] This is one of the rare times I'll reference the widely quoted, but odious, Velominati Rules.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Coffeeneuring #3.3: Change of Seasons

It's funny writing this today: it's October 30th and today's temperatures were in the high 70's. I can tell you that last Wednesday it felt like winter was just around the corner. It was in the low 40's and still dark out when I hopped on my bike to ride to Hump Day Coffee Club. It was my first day bundling up for the winter - balaclava, full fingered gloves, long pants. My hands still got a little cold. I got to coffee club to find everyone else similarly bundled up, and the gathering had moved from the outdoor tables to inside. Today's anomalous weather notwithstanding, the cold is coming!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Coffeeneuring #3.2: Hooky Ride

As I've mentioned in recent posts, my job is temporarily in a fugue state. I have finished everything I needed to do at my old position, but my transfer doesn't take effect for another three weeks. So right now I go in and do things which are productive for me and for the company long-term (like online training and reading related to my new position) but I might as well be invisible at my current position. I get no emails. No one talks to me. This is quite a change from before I handed off my responsibilities, where I would typically get 20 emails during my ten minute drive home (more when I biked, which takes longer!) and always had a stream of people and phone calls. Anyway, it's hard to get motivated to even show up and I've been doing a lot of working at home. Which no one even notices. I'm going to enjoy it while I can, because three weeks from now things will get busy again.
This ride started with a drive in the coffee-themed car

I have also been freaking out a little about the commute for my new job. I'll be teleworking about half the time, but the other half I'll have to go up to Ft. Detrick, which is fifty miles from home. Fifty miles in DC area traffic. So today I decided to test out the drive and do a little exploring of things I can do up in Frederick on days when I want to wait out traffic. I brought my bicycle and decided to do one of the rides listed on the web site of Gravel and Grind, a bike/espresso shop in Frederick (I expect to become a regular customer!). Their listing for this ride makes it sound pretty vertical and so I was expecting a lung-searing experience but in fact, while it did include a nice climb (about 800 ft. of elevation gain, over 1,000 feet of climbing with all the ups and downs) and a few steep sections, it was a pleasant ride out of town, through suburbia, into the countryside and up a gravel road beside a stream and then Fishing Creek Reservoir. With the changing fall colors is was quite pretty. If cycling was like this I might enjoy it more :)
By the stream

As usual, I didn't do a good job of following the cue sheet. In fact, I lost the cue sheet part way up - it fell out of my pocket - and so I navigated the rest of the way using RideWithGPS - except I don't have the paid version and so couldn't do turn-by-turn navigation. Instead I just stopped whenever I was confused and looked at where my little blue dot was relative to the route. I made it all the way out without incident, except that I rode a little past the route's end. My track tops out at 999 ft. of elevation, while the shop's RideWithGPS file tops out at 971. If I had realized I was at 999 ft. I would have ridden a little further to break 1,000! The route's turnaround point is a little pullout at the side of the road - on my way back I did stop there for some water and a snack.
Gorgeous autumn gravel

I rode the brakes all the way down the gravel part of the ride. It was pretty loose gravel and I didn't want to slide out, plus there was a limit to how much jolting my kishkes could take (I don't know how people ride fast on gravel without full suspension bikes). By the time I got back to pavement my hands were tired from gripping the brakes. Maybe it was the way I was zooming along once I got back onto pavement, but I messed up and missed a turn (the web site description does note that this is an unmarked turn) and so I didn't do the exact loop they laid out. My route was a slightly different loop and the good news is that I eventually found my way back to town.
Enjoying the day

I figured that parking downtown would be time-restricted and so I had parked at a little neighborhood park outside of the downtown area. At the end of my ride I rode past my car and continued into downtown Frederick. Frederick is a cool little town with a lot of nice dining options, but my ride had taken longer than I anticipated and I wanted to get back before traffic started building, plus I wasn't really dressed for fine dining so I just went into Starbucks and got coffee and one of their ersatz panini.  
The requisite coffee shot

Then it was back to the car and back to Arlington. With an audio book and a few calls to make the ride didn't seem all that long, which is a good sign.

Well, I ruined my goals of not doing any of my #coffeeneuring rides at SBUX and doing them all in Arlington, but it was worth it for a pretty country gravel ride on a glorious autumn day.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Coffeeneuring #3.1

The end is near! The end is near!

The end of our unseasonably warm October weather, that is. I don't usually go to the Friday coffee club (even though Java Shack is very close to my office), but this has been a bad week for exercise and so I decided I needed a little extra time on the bike.

I have to admit, I like riding in traffic. Maybe it's the legacy of having grown up in New York City, where bike lanes were non-existent and bike paths were rare (though I regularly rode what has been described as the oldest bike path in the United States - even after my dad broke his hip when he was hit by a car while biking there). When I ride on a bike path I kind of zone out, but riding in the streets requires a continuous mindful awareness. You have to be in the moment, watching the movements of every car and every pedestrian. Every parked car could pull out with warning. Every light could change unexpectedly. So, while I started my ride on the W&OD/Custis Trails, I got off at Glebe Road and took the main streets from there rather than the more path-oriented and less traveled route of going to Quincy St. then taking side streets.

I have been hanging around the coffee clubs for the better part of a year now and I've gotten to know a lot of the regulares. I knew almost everyone there, which was nice. As usual I had already had a small cup of coffee at home, along with some yogurt. Java Shack has a pretty poor selection of food and so I never plan on eating there. Their claim to fame is pie, but (a) I'm not much of a pie eater, and (b) that goes double for breakfast. So, I ordered just a large coffee (an excellently swimming pool-sized cup) and sat outside with the guys.

Still dark - nothing visible but the sign

I lingered a bit, but eventually I got on my way. I had other places to go - just not exactly directly to work. I've explained in my recent posts that I'm wrapping up one position and waiting to start another, so my work days are pretty undemanding right now. In fact, I would guess that no one even notices whether I show up. So, I hopped on my bike and headed in the direction away from my office and rode the rest of the Arlington Loop. Another gorgeous morning, but the southerly wind we had started to feel while kayaking last night had continued and intensified; my ride down the river was noticeably into the wind.

I stopped for a minute at Gravely Point. It's impossible for me to totally resist the urge to stop and watch operations at National Airport from this point on the trail, which sits pretty much right at the end of the main runway. With the wind out of the south the planes were taking off to the south and so unfortunately I didn't get to experience the rush of planes taking off right over my head, just a stream of departures away from me. I continued on ...

On the Custis Trail
Not much more to report on what was a very nice ride; however, I will say that I'm glad I went for a ride in the morning. By mid-day the weather was changing. The skies were gloomy and the temperature was dropping. At about 2 PM the heavens opened up with a drenching rain.

This weekend it'll be back to bundling up to ride, run and paddle. Glad I enjoyed the warmth while I could!

Strava Link:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Coffeeneuring #2.2

Good heavens we've been having good weather! The sad truth about life today is that every time I revel in unseasonably warm weather I fear I'm talking up the positives of climate change, but still ... what nice weather! Mid-October in the mid-Atlantic with highs in the 80's. When I was a kid we used to call this kind of weather "Indian Summer", but I'm not sure that term is still acceptable. But, it does raise the point that we had this kind of weather when I was a kid, so maybe the phenomenon I'm enjoying isn't global warming after all and so I can enjoy it without guilt!

Which is a long-winded way of saying that this week I kept my usual Wednesday morning coffeeneuring appointment. As I have described in previous posts, the D.C. area has any number of weekly breakfast gatherings of cyclists. Every weekday has at least one. Wednesdays at Best Buns in Shirlington is my favorite, since it features a nice mixture of people - not all hardcore Lycranauts, people who are able to speak about other topics in addition to cycling. 

Good heavens I love their bran muffins

What's funny is that over the year or so I've been going to these groups I've developed a bunch of good friends, but I never see these people outside of coffee. I've said it before: My kayaking friends are the people with whom I kayak; my cycling friends are the people with whom I have coffee. I don't do a lot of organized cycling events and am definitely too slow-and-steady for most group rides, so coffee it is!

Right now I'm kind of killing time at my job since I'll be starting a new position in a few weeks, so I stayed until the bitter end, enjoying every minute of the patio, the company and my coffee and muffin.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Coffeeneuring Ride #2.1

Let's start with these facts:

1. It's a gorgeous, sunny, 80 degree day in mid-October.

2. I'm basically killing time at my job since I'm about to transfer to a new position and no one really expects me to do much of anything.

3. The Coffeeneuring challenge is underway.

4. I was short-changed on my outdoors time this AM due to yet another aborted run.

5. My son borrowed my car today, which took kayaking off the table (he left me his Miata but that didn't help for carrying a kayak - though I have seen it done).

The signs all point to ... #coffeeoutdoors #coffeeneuring!

So here's how my day started: After sleeping fitfully I woke up with the intention of going for a run then heading to the office. I'm thrilled that I have been able to run again after a month and a half of some sort of asthma or allergies so severe that it would become painful to breathe after about a minute of running. So I headed out the door and ... wait a minute, suddenly out of nowhere I have some sort of muscle cramp/strain in one of my groin muscles. I didn't feel this while stretching - where did it come from? Well, having learned the hard way from many years of making matters worse by trying to exercise through pain, I decided to quit. Another run aborted after about a minute.

This put me in a really bad mood and, knowing that I really didn't need to interact with anyone at work anyway, I decided to just work at home. On such a nice day I should have spent the day on the back porch but I wanted to multi-task between work and getting files transferred over to my new laptop, so I worked at my desk in the basement.

By about 2 PM I couldn't take it anymore. The outside called, sore muscle or not! It was time for a #coffeeoutside adventure ... albeit a local one. I packed water, coffee, AeroPress and Jetboil and headed for the bike trail. I rode down to Glencarlyn Park where I set up shop in a nice spot on the rocks beside Four Mile Run. Coffee was soon ready, and I had a pleasant time sipping a fresh cup and listening to the flowing water.
My Workplace

Just so's you knows that I'm not a total slacker, I brought my computer along and while I drank my coffee I watched some videos from a Coursera course I'm taking on the topic of Data Analysis. I'm not sure if there's a #geekycoffeeoutdoors hashtag, but in this case such a thing would apply.
Coffee & Coursera Outdoors

Strava Link:

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Coffeeneuring Ride #1.2.1

In yesterday's post I lamented that because it was a religious fast day I wasn't able to use a Coffee Club as my coffeeneuring entry. Well, today I decided to do a replacement for that ride, hence the 2.1 designation. Call it a patch release of my second ride.

I was looking for some AM exercise and so I decided to head down to the "Whole Thursday Foods" coffee club, known by its acronym "WTF", which meets at the Whole Foods in Crystal City. Crystal City is pretty far out of my way, but that's OK - I was looking for a ride. Trouble is, it was dark and foggy when I left. Out on the bike path, with slightly foggy glasses and no illumination, it was really hard to see anything. I would come up on runners and walkers and not see them until I was right on top of them and I could barely see the path. Fortunately I know it pretty well. I angled my light down pedaled along slowwwly, following the center line or the edge of the path as a reference. I've never felt so much like I was biking under IFR! I bailed from the bike path at Columbia Pike and took the Pike the rest of the way over to Crystal City. Columbia Pike isn't pleasant riding - no bike lanes, lots of cars - but today I chose it over the bike trail because it was well lit!
Chris takes a selfie, as always

I arrived at Whole Foods to find no other cyclists there. Since I was off yesterday for the holiday I keep getting mixed up as to what day of the week it is and I had a moment where I thought that maybe I had gotten the day wrong; however, just then Peter and Chris (not Peter Chris, the drummer from KISS) rolled into view and I relaxed. They had had to take it slowly too - but of course, their slowly is a lot faster than my slowly. I watched the Strava FlyBy replay and saw Pete come up on me like an F22 on a Cessna - I think he and I missed each other on the trail only because he was catching up just as I made the turn onto Columbia Pike.

I had thought that since the coffee club is named after Whole Foods that people got their coffee and breakfast at Whole Foods. I guess I shouldn't take the names too literally, Hump Day coffee club, for example, doesn't involve ... never mind. Anyway, while we did consume our coffee while sitting outside Whole Foods, we purchased our coffeee and food at to the new  Commonwealth Joe coffee place up the block. The place is a little too hipster for me (do you want cold brew? Pour-over? Espresso-based? Drip?), but they do make a good cup of coffee! They also had some really good scones - which were much too chewy inside to be proper scones, but whatever they were, they were really tasty. It's amazing how many coffee places have mediocre pastries (I'm looking at you, Kindred), so it's good to find ones that have yummy food. Maybe they buy it at Whole Foods :)
This *is* a tasty beverage

Since I was out of my usual AM biking range I asked the group for advice on the best way to get to Ballston. I guess I should have provided my definition of "Best", which to me, trying to get to work, meant "shortest". Instead, the consensus was for me to take a route down Eads Street to the poop plant where I could pick up a bike trail. That was pleasant riding (protected bike lanes and bike trail) but was probably a couple of miles longer than the most direct route would have been. And it was still foggy, though at least it was light by this time! It was only while I was riding along Four Mile Run on the bike trail that the fog finally burned off. And along the way, Peter, who left (according to Strava), like 15 minutes after I did, passed me. Again.

Anyway, I made it to work with no issues and wound up taking several more bike rides today - to the Courthouse to do early voting and back to work, and then home. So, I plussed up my 6 miles of commuting to over 20 miles today. Not too shabby.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Coffeeneuring: Ride #1.2, Not According to Plan

All week I had been figuring that I'd log my second coffeeneuring event by attending my favorite of the DC area weekly coffee clubs, the Wednesday Hump Day Coffee Club (HDCC) at Best Buns in Shirlington. After all, this coffee/cycling  intersection is a pleasurable regular part of my weekly routine and deserves to be celebrated as a part of coffeeneuring. However, a fatal flaw in my plan dawned on me just last night – this Wednesday is Yom Kippur, a holy fast day in Judaism. That meant that Wednesday was going to be  really, really poor choice for AM socializing and breakfast. I momentarily thought about riding Wednesday anyway (HDCC starts at 7 AM, and religious services not until 9) and just sitting and not eating or drinking, but since I wouldn't be able to consume any coffee it wouldn't qualify as coffeeneuring. I instead quickly hatched an alternative plan to replace HDCC for this week with another commuting coffee: a detour to the Ballston Buzz Coffee on my way to work. HDCC will have to wait. 

I was particularly conscious of the time because I really wanted to catch my boss first thing this morning to discuss the fact that I had, um, sent him an email last week saying that I was quitting (well, transferring, really), and oftentimes first thing in the morning is the only way to catch him. Needless to say, it took forever to get going.

Do you ever have one of those mornings where you just can't seem to get out the door? 
  • I didn't want to saddle myself with two complete clothing changes at the end of the day (Jewish holidays run sundown to sundown and so there are services tonight) and so I decided to ride "mullet style", that is, business on top, party on the bottom: dress shirt, stretchy hiking pants and sneakers. No bike shoes, no bike socks, no padded shorts (hey, the ride is only 3 miles). So I had to figure out what to wear instead of grabbing bike gear by rote.
  • Since I was going to be riding in street clothes I decided to ride my hybrid bike. This bike hadn't been ridden since July so I had to pump up the tires, give it a once over and move my rack bag over from my usual commuter.  
  • With clothes and bike squared away I was ready to head out the door, but where was my phone? I almost always plug in my phone in my bedroom at night. I would say there are maybe three nights per year I don't do this. This was one of those nights. I searched the house, couldn't find it. Searched again. Checked the car. Had I dropped it at Home Depot yesterday? 
  • I decided to use technology to help me find my phone by checking the online "FindMyiPhone" to make sure the phone was, in fact, at the house. I went to log into iCloud, which required that I change my password since my present one no longer met their security standards, then it made me update my security questions, then I had to log back in, then answer the security questions I had just entered, before showing me that my phone was indeed at my house. The truth is it was within arm's reach at this point but it took a bit more hunting and calling it from my home phone (yes, I still have a land line) to find it. 
  • Having found my phone (allowing me to start the all-important Strava app) I thought I was ready to leave but I realized that with my non-standard riding attire I had forgotten to grab the bike room key for my office building (I keep the key with my cycling stuff). Back upstairs from the basement to retrieve it.  
  • At this point I finally made it out the door: total time to get out the door, about 45 minutes. 
The ride to Buzz was, fortunately, uneventful, except for the usual looks of disbelief from the Lycranauts at the vision of someone riding in street clothes.  I ordered a dark roast coffee (admittedly, not my first of the day – yes, I have coffee before I go out for coffee rides in the morning – Hello, my name is Jesse and I'm a caffeine addict), but it was so late by this that I didn't really linger. The window to meet with my boss was closing. I snapped a pic and drank the first half cup and wrote the first paragraph of this entry, but then I grabbed my coffee and the bike and walked the block from Buzz to work. 

Coffee at Last!

I got into my office and quickly changed my pants and grabbed the black shoes I keep at work. And wouldn't you know, one of the shoelaces broke. This left me having to put on brown shoes, which, to my horror, don't match the black belt I'm wearing (yes, I know I am risk of being excommunicated from the male gender because I care about stuff like this). I headed for my manager's office, where he and I had a one minute conversation, basically to set up a time to talk later in the day. I then went back to my office where I swapped a shoe lace from one of my brown shoes so that I was able to rectify the horror of the mismatched leathers. 
Note 1 to self: Changes from the routine to save time don't always save time.  
Note 2 to self: Plan a more relaxed ride for my next coffeeneuring outing! 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Coffeeneuring: Ride #1.1

There are lots of differences between the bike world and the kayak world. For kayakers, the act of kayaking is an end in itself. Cyclists, on the other hand, have an endless number of challenges, ranging from gimmicky to extreme. There's the October Mileage Challenge, the Autumn Hill Climbing Challenge, and the Ride a Prime Number of Miles Between Shrove Tuesday and Arbor Day Challenge. OK, I made that last one up, but expect to see it on Strava soon. While I may roll my eyes at the cycling world's hive mind, I have to admit the challenges are effective; I rode a lot more through last winter than I ever had before, largely because I was participating in Freezing Saddles. And I've already bought bike pogies (which the bike world refers to as bar mitts) for this winter.

The cycling blog Chasing Mailboxes (local, but apparently having a worldwide readership!) sponsors a number of enjoyable challenges - and by enjoyable, I mean that they get you out on your bike but don't require body- and soul-crushing exertion well past the anaerobic threshold. On the other hand, they do involve a lot of rules. I say this as someone who deals with both Federal procurement regulations and Jewish dietary laws on a day to day basis, so believe me I have a fairly high tolerance for rules. 

The current challenge is Coffeeneuring, which (in a nutshell, complete description here) involves: 

  • over the course of 7 weeks,
  • ride your bike 7 different places,
  • at least 2 miles round-trip each time
But consider this:  "You may not combine your coffeeneuring ride with any other ride such as an organized century ..." (Rule 9), but "Your ride must be at least two miles total, but there is no maximum so yes, you could ride 100 miles (or more!) for a cup of coffee" (Rule 7). Which brings up the question, what exactly defines a century ride? Is it the act of riding 100 miles, or is it the participation in an organized event? Just when I decided this was a silly distinction, I thought about my morning runs. My normal morning run is almost exactly a 5K distance, but I don't think about myself as having "done a 5K" unless I have a number pinned on and I'm doing it as part of a group (and there's swag!). So maybe Mary of ChasingMailboxes has a point ...

Anyway, I have a great affinity for coffee and I could not resist this challenge. Plus, you can get a groovy patch just for drinking coffee and biking, which for me is kind of like getting a patch for breathing. The Coffeeneuring period started yesterday. It was a work day for me and so my first foray into Coffeeneuring was tame: a breakfast stop at Village Sweet on the way to work (Rule 9 allows this). In doing so I intentionally chose the exact same route as what I incorrectly recalled as having been my first 2016 Freezing Saddles ride (it turns out that while that ride was memorable because it was my first real "true grit" test of riding (5 AM, 16 degrees, biking in early to participate in a technology demonstration of [redacted]), it wasn't my first, second or even third ride of 2016).
Coffee and breakfast bread

Portrait of the artist as a caffeinated  man

Village Sweet is a curious shop. They have very short hours and a very limited selection of baked goods. It seems impossible that a a business could survive that way, but somehow they do. And I must say, their breakfast bread and their coffee are both excellent. I was well fueled for battling cars up Washington Boulevard as I rode to work.

One down, six to go.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Tashlikh by Kayak 2016

I have posted a number of times (going back to 2008!) about doing the Tashlikh ritual by kayak.

For readers unfamiliar with the practice, I present a quote from RitualWell on what Tashlikh is:

"Tashlikh, meaning "cast away," is a ritual performed on Rosh Hashanah (or during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) as a physical reminder of the human effort to cast away one's sins. By casting crumbs of bread into the water and reciting the verse from Micah—"cast all our sins into the ocean's depths"—we state our intention to return to our true selves. For many Jews, Rosh Hashanah is a time for reciting many words. Through tashlikh, we use our bodies and actions to do the work of return. Although the rabbinic authorities originally objected to this ritual, Jews stubbornly performed it until it became a "traditional" part of the holiday."

It's interesting at this point to look back at old entries describing past Tashlikh By Kayak outings:

  • In 2008 I still had my beloved Audi, and I can see in the background of the picture that accompanies the post that Don and Doris, my wonderful former across the street neighbors, were still there. Don and Doris were original owners - they bought the house new in 1952,  raised seven children there, and lived in that house the whole rest of their lives.
  • In 2009 I went with (then 16 year old) Ted.
  • In 2010 I didn't write much but I made a cool video.
  • In 2015 I went all the way down to Mason Neck and did quite a nice paddle.

 This year I went out the afternoon of Rosh Hashonah. I had already gone to religious services the evening before, and the whole family watched a live stream of services (you read that right) in the morning, so I was free in the afternoon.

I drove to Columbia Island Marina, which is undergoing a number of changes. They've automated payment for use of the boat ramp and I guess have gotten rid of the security guard, or at least they've taken out the guard booth. They'realso  re-doing the bathrooms. As has been noted in previous blog entries, the bathrooms at the marina have a well-known secondary use, and I'm happy/creeped out to report that someone has cut glory holes in the Porta-Potties which are currently standing in for the the bathrooms.

Anyway, that's a rather inappropriate tangent for a post about a religious practice, so let me return to the main topic here ...

For some reason I felt like paddling with my wing paddle, which I hadn't used all year. If a Greenland paddle is like riding a bicylce in a low gear, the wing is like being in a very high gear. Sometimes I can't make the thing work and I just struggle with it. Sometimes I get the flow of the stroke right and I can really fly with the thing. Today was the latter and I made really good time up the river to around Three Sisters Islands. It was somewhat windy so I pulled in towards shore and did the brief ritual. No rolling the crumbs off the deck this time - with Rosh Hashonah falling in October this year, the water was a little too cold.

Ready for the ritual

After I was done I booked back to the marina - again, a fast boogie with the wing paddle. This coming weekend a group from my synagogue is going to Roosevelt Island to do a Tashlikh ritual. I may just paddle over and join them!