Wednesday, July 28, 2010

5 Questions, Answered

Accepting a challenge from The Natural Capitol, I'm answering 5 questions that are being passed around among bloggers. It's like those annoying memes your old high school biology partner keeps sending you on facebook, but somehow not the least bit annoying (at least for me).

1. You seem to have an intense curiosity of the natural world, how did that curiosity come about?

As a kid I was always going on nature hikes and drives with my dad. If he saw me laying around with nothing to do he would throw some snacks in the car and we would go on a nature drive. This meant getting lost in the Shenandoahs for the day or heading out to White’s Ferry and exploring the Potomac and the C&O. Also, the house I grew up in backed up to the Difficult Run Trail which gave me easy access to plenty of forest, from Lake Fairfax Park to Great Falls Park.

2. What would you change about your home, your neighborhood, your corner of the world? What one thing would you change to make it a better place?

I would stop my neighbors from over fertilizing their lawns. All the harmful crap they use just to keep their lawns the right shade of green ends up in Sligo Creek and frankly it’s got enough problems.

More selfishly I would cut down the tree in my next door neighbor’s front yard which shades the only spot I have to grow veggies.

3. Describe your most profound encounter in the natural world.

I was on one of those zip line tours in Monte Verde in Costa Rica. The highest zip line was 400 feet above the tree tops that went 750 yards connecting two mountain tops. The clouds had come in and all I could see was the next15 feet of cable as I flew along. In the middle of the valley the clouds broke and I could see the jungle 400 feet below me and the valley stretching out on either side. About 50 feet to my left a Swallow Tailed Kite emerged from the clouds heading in the opposite direction. I glanced over at him as he glanced over at me and for an instant our eyes met and we watched each other go by. It was an incredible feeling being able to share a moment with this bird while on its turf. At least now I know what my spirit animal is.

Secondary to that I would say raising wild birds as a child. My family would take in baby birds that fell from their nests and were abandoned. It’s surprisingly easy to care for and raise a baby bird. Over all, we did this for 2 Sparrows and a Baltimore Oriole.

4. If you could have a conversation with any person in history who would it be, and why that person?
I would want to talk to Charles Darwin. I would like to get his point of view on the resurgence of the argument against natural selection 150 years later. On the same subject I would ask for some tips on how to deal with frighteningly stupid people.

5. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to better experience the natural world?

Similar to Elizabeth’s answer I would say slow down and “be here now.” While hiking my dad would randomly make us stop and observe our surroundings in silence to make sure we weren’t missing anything. This always brought us into the moment. I try to do this a few times during every mountain bike ride. It also gives me an excuse to stretch more and catch my breath.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Combination Of My Two Favorite Things

I dig the XTR and Chris King taps. 

Very nice. I wonder how it would be to commute on this thing...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Feel Good Cycling Video Of The Day

This is an outstanding video on the cycling infrastructure in Copenhagen by Streetfilms. DC has a long way to go.

via EcoVelo

Yes it looks as though that woman is indeed dressed like a cow.

Silver Spring Gets Even More Awesomer

Here are some shots of the new Civic Building and public space in downtown Silver Spring. I didn't get a chance to look inside but things look pretty nice from the outside. I'm looking forward to lots of ice skating and concerts and watching skateboarders get bullied by overweight police men on segways. The future is bright my friends.

Silver Spring has come a long way indeed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Purple Nurple Update

I saw this Purple Nurple update on the WashCycle via CCCT.

CCCT Chair Peter Gray presented our Coalition testimony to the Council. The testimony focused on those Trail design issues that need to be addressed in the design if the Purple Line is built:

1) The plan should incorporate the High Investment LRT design for the Capital Crescent Trail through the tunnel under Wisconsin Avenue. This design will maintain the Trail as a continuous one for users between Silver Spring and Bethesda. It is imperative, that the CCTrail maintain this continuous status and so effectively connect both sides of Wisconsin Avenue avoiding any at-grade crossings of that busy state road.

2) The plan should include at least a 12 foot paved width with two foot useable shoulders on each side (as in the trail west of Bethesda Ave). As County Executive Leggett noted in his June 25, 2010 memo, a minimum 12 foot wide paved Trail, 16 feet wide where possible, is recommended. It will not only provide better access for emergency vehicles but will also help avoid user conflicts on the Trail. We also agree with Mr. Leggett's recommendation that there be as many access points as possible along the Trail.

3) The Purple Line Plan must include a CCTrail that is completed off road directly connecting into the Silver Spring Transit Center and on to the Metropolitan Branch Trail, with funding for the Trail assured.

4) Further analysis should be conducted towards developing design details, not currently included in the Functional Master Plan, for the CapitalCrescent/Georgetown Branch Trail, including:
a. detailed plans for all access points
b. retaining walls and fencing for safety, noise reduction and privacy
c. planting of grass between and along the side of the train tacks for noise reduction purposes
d. regarding loss of trees and landscaping along the Trail corridor
e. aesthetic treatments for the bridges crossing Rock Creek
f. signage and marking along the Trail
g. bicycle facilities at all Purple Line stations (including parking and access for bicycles); and
h. a public plaza at the Woodmont East terminus.

DIY: Helmet Repair

I'm a bit tough on my bike gear. I tend to push bike parts and accessories farther than most people would. Mostly because I'm cheap but do take pride in the longevity of a good bike part.

I have a Giro Atmos that I love dearly. It's a great helmet that I rarely notice while riding. To me that's the sign of a good piece of gear. If your not thinking about it while riding then it's doing it's job and all is well. 

With the Atmos however, a piece of the metal... um...  clip housing thingy, broke off allowing the plastic band that fits the helmet to my head to come loose...  often. To fix this I took a rather unconventional approach. I needed to put something in there that would harden in place like glue. I was worried about the glue dissolving the styrofoam making the problem worse or possibly weakening the helmet.  What I came up with was wood filler.

With a little wood filler in place the plastic strap snaps right back into place allowing me to once again forget about it's existence.

I know it's frowned upon to do any repairs to a helmet out of fear that the helmet won't perform as it should when the time comes but this seems pretty minor. I'm going to replace it at the end of the summer anyway.

All this talk of helmets makes me think of... the 90's.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

PSA Follow Up: Fightin' The Funk

Last week I wrote a post about bike commuting in hot weather. There are many facets to bike commuting and making it work and everyone has to find the techniques and gear that work for their personal commute. This is an ongoing process of trial and error. One such error came this week during one of the many afternoon  showers.

In said post I mentioned that a good way to keep cool is to switch to platform pedals and wear sandals. This week I found a draw back to wearing sandals and that's the funk that gets kicked up in the rain. 

On a rainy day leave the sandals at home and throw on some crappy shoes you don't mind funking up a bit.

On the topic of funk, yesterday I found another draw back to sandals. They get funky, making your feet funky, and that makes everyone around you a little funky. Yesterday I had to put a fan under my desk to combat the funk. When I got home I soaked the Tevas in antibacterial soap water. The funk is gone and I am a little wiser.

I'll still sport the Tevas in the summer but I'll be ready for funk for sure.

Summertime Harvest

I know there has been a lot of non-bike related content as of late and I mean to correct that. Until I do, here's some photos of a dinner I prepared this week with some home grown tomatoes and basil. 

Step One: Cut a hole in a box... Grow some of these.

Step Two: Combine with this stuff.

Step Three: Eat.

Repeat as necessary.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Road Trip! And Pub Review

Over this past weekend I took the family up to the Cycle Jerk Family Fun Compound in Blah Blah, Michigan where there was lot's of swimming, feasting, and playing to do. I was looking forward to all of this but I was really wanted to get a ride in. If the opportunity presented itself  I would to tour through the rolling hills, beautiful farmland, and scenic lakes of Michigan with my uncle so I threw the LHT (yeah you know me) on the roof and hit the road. We ended up doing a short 25 mile romp which was refreshing, 25 miles and only a handful of cars on the road.  The bummer for you is that I forgot the camera.

On the way home we stopped in State College, PA to see the fireworks at Penn State which were bad ass. While there we hit Otto's Pub and Brewery for some much needed refreshments.

The beers made on site are very nice, I had the Slab Cabin which was a wonderfully hoppy IPA with very little bitterness at the finish.

After touring the facility and not finding any Belgian style beer aging in old whiskey barrels on the premises the little one got fussed and tried to pee on the floor.
 (beer snob)

The food was good and the atmosphere is standard brewery/restaurant decor. The thing that stood out for me was the hops growing up the facade of the building.

I also like my bike parking to be bike shaped. Well done.

For a one night stop over we had a great time. I'll definitely stop in again when I return to sample the epic single track I keep hearing about.

Happy Monday.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cycle Jerk: Socialized Media

A little while back I started a Cycle Jerk YouTube channel, then I caved to peer pressure and started a Twitter page. I always thought twitter was kind of a silly thing to do, but now that I've done it I realized it's astonishingly  silly. To further my silliness I've created a Facebook fan page as well.

Love me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

PSA: How To Bike Commute On A 100+ Degree Day

I was going to post about my 4th of July road trip with the LHT but that'll wait until tomorrow. It was already 92 degrees when I biked in this morning and I think that warrants a public service announcement.

I think the most common question people have when they learn I commute by bike everyday is, "Do you have a shower at work?". It doesn't matter if we're talking summer heat or winter freeze, most people think that having a shower at work is the only way bike commuting can work. It dawned on my this morning while pushing through the heat that not having a shower in the office is stopping a lot of people from even considering the bike as a way to get to work.

I don't want a shower at work, it would make the process of biking to work longer and more tedious. Taking a shower is an important element of bike commuting in the summer heat but take it before the ride, not after. The best way I've found to manage the DC summer is to take a shower right before I leave the house.

If you are a burning hot when you get to work and take a quick shower odds are you'll start sweating again the second you step out to dry yourself off. Your sweat isn't what cools you down, it's that sweat evaporating that does the trick so when you get to work all sweaty find a fan, a big ass fan.

This BAF circulates the air in the parking garage under my building. It's never on but I can plug it in when I need it. Three minutes in front of this with my shirt held open cools me down enough to enter the building. If  I'm still hot after changing in the bathroom I head to my desk where i have a stick of deodorant and a small fan waiting. After about 10 minutes I have to turn the fan off because I get too cold. If you can't find a BAF try two small ones at your desk, you'll be surprised at how effective they are.

All that an no shower! It's a quick process and because I took a shower right before leaving the house I'm relatively clean.  

Another way to beat the heat is to wear sandals on your ride. Last fall I switched to platform pedals on the LHT (yeah you know me). In the winter I wear my boots, in the summer I've started wearing my Tevas. They're not ideal for long rides but they are fine for a commute and they keep my feet nice and cool.

Now I know that everybody's physiology is different, some of us are sweaty pigs that stink like a barnyard after a ride. Just give it a try, modify your routine until it works for you. Asking your coworkers to let you know if you smell of barnyard isn't a bad idea either.

Got a good hot weather commuting technique? Please share it with the rest of the class.

Now get out there and kick this Wednesday in the jimmy.

PSA: Fighting The Funk