Thursday, July 6, 2017

Fourth and Fifth

I have written previously about the morning "coffee clubs" sponsored by BikeArlington. These weekday get-togethers are part of what fosters such an active cyclist community in Arlington. I started attending them during Freezing Saddles 2016. During the wintertime they are attended only by hardcore cyclists, mainly Freezing Saddles participants. Who else is going to get up extra early just to go riding to coffee in the cold, dark pre-dawn hours? But the warm weather is another story - bigger crowds, early sunrises so no need to ride in the dark, languid breakfasts outdoors, and supreme difficulty in tearing oneself away to actually go to work.

This past Tuesday was Independence Day. The coffee clubs are mainly populated with bike commuters, and since most people weren't going to be commuting on the holiday, I wasn't sure if the Tuesday coffee club would even be held. But, I needed a destination for my morning ride and so I pointed my bike towards Crystal City. As it turns out, a nice crowd showed up - about ten people, at peak.


Crystal City Coffee Club Crowd

I don't think anyone was actually on their way to work, though a few of us marveled at how busy our work had been the days before, a Monday stranded between the weekend and the holiday. Some folks were stopping there on their way to do longer rides. Others were like me - just there to socialize and get a bit of a ride in before we started our real plans for the day.

I mentioned that I was thinking of biking to Wolf Trap the following night and got good advice on the best route to take. When I revealed that I was actually planning to drive from Frederick (where I'd be for work), park my car in Vienna and ride just the last few miles so I could avoid the after-show traffic jam, FFG Dave (center in the picture above) dubbed that approach the "bike dinghy" - moor the yacht in the harbor, then use the dinghy to get to shore.

I followed through and indeed bike dinghy-ied. I parked right by the town green in Vienna and walked over to Whole Foods for a quick snack and to use their bathroom to change from work to cycling clothes (BTW, the slice of pizza I had there was SO BAD that I am taking a mulligan on my monthly pizza ration). When I took my bike out of the car I discovered that somehow my rear view mirror had cracked - maybe I banging it with the tailgate. I don't much believe in superstition and I'm pretty sure I'm already in the midst of a string of bad luck - so maybe breaking the mirror will flip the bit and give me seven years of *good* luck.

The ride to Wolf Trap was easy. I still carry with me the paranoia of the unsafe New York City of my youth (the era of movies like Death Wish and The Taking of Pelham 123) and so I took note that the section of the W&OD I was riding was isolated and unlit - was going to be creepy later. As a a result, true to form, throughout the show I had a background process of worrying running in my brain out of concern for what the ride home was going to be like.

Other than building a reserve of paranoia, I made it to Wolf Trap with no issues and a ranger pointed me to the bike rack. A woman seated on the bench adjacent to the rack expressed that she was impressed that I had ridden - which I ate up. I hiked up the hill to where I had managed to wangle an invitation to a tent hosted by Devil's Backbone Brewery - free beer! I had a tasty double IPA, but in terms of food restricted myself to vegetables to make up for having indulged in pizza back in Vienna (have I mentioned how bad that pizza was?). At DBB tent I bumped into Rob K, who I had met at Neil's party, phenomenal singer Mary El, who has performed with me in Magnolia Blue , and - as I was leaving - the drummer from Magnolia Blue, plus I met up there with Bill Y who at the last minute had stepped up to use my second ticket (after Shawn C. got stuck in Charlottesville and couldn't make it to Wolf Trap in time).

As showtime approached I wandered through the gates. Over the course of the evening I ran into Neil (from Magnolia Blue), Lexi, Bob A., Jeff McL., Dee, Rick & Cheryl, the woman with the dreads who always wears a fedora (she's part of the Magnolia Blue crowd), Jennifer M. (another member of that crowd - I've met her but remember her name only because of Facebook) and more. Running into so many people was a neat vibe - like being at a big party.

The show was great: Hot Tuna, The Wood Brothers, Tedeschi-Trucks Band - but this blog isn't about music so I won't dwell on that aspect of things. I will, however mention that TTB was playing with a substitute keyboard player because their regular guy had just had emergency heart surgery! A familiar story. Maybe schlepping all those heavy Fender Rhodes and Hammond B3 keyboards back in the day strained our hearts. 
Tedeschi-Trucks Band
I cut out a little early. Counterproductive - I had arranged the perfect way to get through the post-show crowds, then I left early to avoid them anyway because I was concerned about riding my bike on the roads with all the people pouring out of the show. Speaking of pouring, it rained pretty hard during parts of the evening. Fortunately, I had pavilion seats so I had stayed nice and dry. It was still drizzling when I hit the road - but I had brought my rain jacket so I was fine, except for getting my butt wet on the soaked bike seat.
Passing The Barns


The ride back turned out to be straightforward - no need to have worried. I took Beulah Road all the way down into Vienna in order to avoid the creepy, dark trail. Tossed the bike into the back of the car, and off I went! It's good to know how easy it is to get to Wolf Trap by bike, and so next time I'll be more at ease with the ride (particularly if I go with others).

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Oh, and for no reason at all, here's a picture I took on Sunday to show off my new Ironheart Foundation jersey. I don't usually wear cute little jerseys when I ride, but I decided to buy this one to support Ironheart, an organization that supports athletes with cardiac diseases (ahem).



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