A Peek into Ms V's World
It’s like life or something

My business partner and I recently relocated the company from Anacostia to downtown DC. This is a whole new bike commute for me.  I’m still trying to workout the kinks.  I have perfected the first half of my commute.  Instead of fighting with speeding cars for a lane on Pennsylvania Ave once I get across the Sousa Bridge, I took Kentucky Ave to 13th to East Capitol Street.  From there I ended up on Mass Ave, which was a horrible idea. I made my way to D St, then took D to 6th St.  My cycle peeps recommend cutting through the Capitol grounds to get to the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle tracks. I’ll take any excuse to go by the Capitol.  It’s one of my favorite buildings.

Enough of the boring stuff…. let’s get to the title of this post.

There is going to come a day when I don’t complain about the 2 hills I have to climb to get home, but today isn’t one of them.  As I was biking up the second hill, I had an epiphany (or maybe it was just lack of oxygen).  Biking uphill is a metaphor for life.

  • When you are at the bottom of the hill don’t look at the top of the hill. It’s a soul crusher.  Just like in life we have big challenges to overcome.  When you think about the challenge it seems overwhelming. I know where the top of the hill is, so there’s no need to look at it from ground zero. Same with challenges. You know what the challenge is, so there no need to dwell on it.
  • Instead, break the ride (challenge) into smaller goals.  I break the big hill into 4 smaller goals. Just make it to the bus stop. Okay just make it to the broken baby tree that DDOT hasn’t fixed yet (note to self: take a photo and resubmit it to 311). Sweet you made it to the broken baby tree, not the church. Alabama Ave is next, you can do it. Then it’s all downhill from there (literally).  So, in life break your challenge into small goals. 
  • When it hurts, just keep pedaling. Usually when I hit the broken baby tree the lactic acid has built up in my legs and there is nothing but B U R N. At that point I tell myself, “keep pedaling”.  Even if it’s S L O O O O O O W and steady. As you work toward challenges in life there is going to be that point where you are ready to give up.  Believe me as a business owner, I have had those days. You just have to keep going.
  • When in doubt, remember people are watching and you never know who you’ll inspire. Pennsylvania Ave SE is a major roadway to Maryland, so I always have a full audience when I struggle up the hill.  Maybe someone in one of those cars will be inspired to get on a bike.  Today, I had a real touching moment. My legs hurt and I was ready to get off my bike and walk it the rest of the way home. Right before the point I was about to give up a little boy (~7) and his mom were walking toward me. As the little boy walked by he started clapping and cheering. I kept on biking.

Okay… that’s all I got…. Now draw me a bubble bath with Epsom salt, so I know it’s real.

Total miles - 11.31 miles (45.4 miles for 2013)

Put on my big girl panties

This afternoon I had a lunch meeting in Alexandria. Last night I was trying to figure out how I was going to get there. I was hemming and hawing all night.  It really shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I’ve never biked to Virginia before.  I’ve biked IN Virginia, but never TO Virginia.  Honestly, I have very little reason to go to Virginia.

In my head I felt like I knew how to get on the 14th Street Bridge sidepath for bikes and pedestrians, but I kept second guessing myself. *cue violin* What if I get down there and the entrance isn’t where I thought it was? What if I’m late for my meeting? What if I make a wrong turn and end up on the highway? What if I’m attacked by a squirrel?

I looked up the route from my house to Alexandria on google and that was about as clear as mud. I decided to bike from my house to L’Enfant Plaza, take the yellow line to Braddock Road Metro, then bike from the metro to the restaurant.

BRILLIANT! (in my best Guinness Ad voice)

My plan worked like a charm.

Although sore legs + headwind = S L O O O O O W Ride

I made it to my meeting with 5 minutes to spare.  After lunch, it was time to head home.  I started off biking toward the Braddock Road Metro. I got about 2 blocks then I decided to put on my big girl panties and bike to DC.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  For whatever reason I pictured myself hopelessly lost, on I-395 and about to be hit by a tractor trailer.

On my way up the infamous hill, I met a man who was biking to Capitol Heights, MD via Pennsylvania Avenue SE…. ON A BIKE WITH 1 WORKING GEAR!!!!! He’s my new hero.

Anywho, here are the photos from my ride.

Also, shout out to the League of American Bicyclists for creating a nifty excel spreadsheet to track mileage.

Total Miles- 16.33 miles (34.03 miles for 2013)

*I decided not to track total transportation costs anymore, because I’m lazy.

Photos from my ride today from Alexandria, Virginia.

I woke up and my calves were sore from Wednesday night’s ballet class.  I overslept and missed my civic association meeting, so went directly to dance class at Joy of Motion from home.  Today I took “Beginner Contemporary African”.

The weather was “warm” this morning, but the headwind coming down the hill on Pennsylvania Ave almost pimp slapped me off the bike.  I was bundled up, although I think I have OD’d on pink.

I made it to class is a little over 20 minutes.  After an hour of dance class I think my legs hate me. Since I was already on H Street, I stopped by the bike shop, The Daily Rider, to get my front fender fixed and get a new helmet.

From the bike shop, I had to make a pit stop near Eastern Market.  Then I biked to Fragers to buy bungee cord for my basket so my stuff doesn’t go flying out. From Frager’s I went to Harris Teeter to get some groceries.

Now… I know there are bike racks in the parking garage, but CLEARLY people (like me) prefer to have their bike outside. Honestly, the only reason I don’t like the parking garage is cars aren’t expecting a cyclists to be in the garage and they whip around their corners pretty fast.

Total miles - 8.1 miles (17.7 miles for 2013)
Total Transportation Cost - $0 for metro and bus trips ( $6.10 for 2013)

(Mis)adventures of Ms V

As promised, I’m blogging more (or is this considered tumblring?).  Anywho…

Thursday I worked from home during day. Later that night I went to a meeting in my community, which was across the street so no biking for me.

Total miles - 0 miles (6.8 miles for 2013)
Total Transportation Cost - $0 ( $1.60 for 2013)

Friday was one of my “I Love Lucy” moments.  Like Lucy, I have these GREAT ideas in my head that in reality aren’t so great.  I had a business meeting in the afternoon, so I had to be dressed up. I wore my black boots which have a 4-inch heel.  In lieu of bringing and extra bag or just wearing a different pair of shoes, I decided to bike in the boots.

*heavy sigh*

I used bikeshare, since the bikes are a step through versus trying to get my leg over the bar of my bike gracefully in a skirt.

Bikeshare with flat pedals + 4-inch boots = BAD IDEA.

The biggest problem is the platform sole on the ball of the foot of the boot.  I could feel the pedals. I ended up biking from the arch of the boot versus the ball. Once I made it to Eastern Market, I wasn’t too eager to get back on a bike.

Before I render these boots unbikable, I’m going to road test them on my bike, which has curved pedals.

Total miles - 2.8 miles (9.6 miles for 2013)
Total Transportation Cost - $4.5 for metro and bus trips ( $6.10 for 2013)

Like a Boss

Edited 1/4/13: to add total cost of transportation

Happy New Year. I’ve rearranged my life to make more time for things like friends, activities I enjoy, and useless babble on here. I don’t think I ever gave you a disclaimer, so here it is…

DISCLAIMERS:

1) Samuel L. Jackson is the voice in my head 99.99% of the time. If I could cuss openly without the risk of my grandmother, Ida, turning in her grave, I would sound like Mr. Jackson. 

2) I’m not a morning person.

3) I’ve been overusing “Like a Boss” recently. According to Urban Dictionary, “like a boss” is a phraseUsed to describe something that someone did as amazing or awesome.” Most things I do are awesome

4) Oh yeah… I got a big ego. In the words of B “Some women were made. I’d like to think I was created for a special purpose.”

Now… on with the babble…

Since today was my first day back to work in over a week, I worked from home (see Disclaimer 2). That brings my work commute to a grand total of 0 miles.

Biking has made me lazy in other areas. I don’t bike for exercise, because I’m just not that motivated. I bike to get from Point A to Point B, efficiently and economically. One of my goals for 2013 is to engage in physical activity at least four times a week outside of biking. I decided to take at least one dance class a week.  No time like the present to get started. Tonight was Advanced Beginner Ballet at Joy of Motion on H Street NE.

Class started at 6:30, but I decided to leave my house around 5:30 so I wouldn’t feel rushed or heavens forbid I hit traffic. *slow eye-roll* The temperature was in the upper 30s, but my new outer shell kept me nice and warm.  That reminds me I need to do a product review of my coat. Anywho…

It took me a little under 30 minutes to make the 3.7 mile trek to the the dance studio.  My ride was okay, if it wasn’t for the 2 near hits by turning vehicles.

*** PAUSE***

[Rant]

Almost all (if not all) of my near hits have been turning vehicles. Mr. Jackson… tell the people how I feel.

EXACTLY.  Just substitute “turning vehicles” for “snakes”, “road” for “plane”, and “take the F&%king lane” for “open some F&%king windows”

[/Rant]

*** PLAY***

I was SUPER early for dance class. The class was 1.5 hours of pure torture.  The steps and combinations weren’t hard (I have 19 years of dance training).  The problem is I’M OLD!!!!  I felt like Aunt Viv when she went back to dance. 

I represented “like a boss” and I fell out just like Aunt Viv. *giggles*

Class ended a little after 8 and it was time to make the journey east, which includes two big hills. I could barely feel my legs, but decided to suck it up and ride home like a boss. I rode down 14th Street NE to Pennsylvania Ave SE. I silently prayed for a M6 bus to be a Potomac Avenue Metro Station, but that was no dice. My options were wait in the cold or keep biking.

Being warm trumped my legs feeling like rubber, so I biked up Pennsylvania Ave SE and across the bridge.  Like manna from heaven, a 36 bus pulled up at L’Enfant Square (which is right at the bottom of the first hill) at the same time I did.  I threw “Sweet Baby” on the front and rode the 36 to the top of the hills!

I hopped off at Alabama Ave and biked the rest of the way home.  Total home trip was 3.1 miles.

Total miles - 6.8 miles (6.8 miles for 2013)

Total Transportation Cost - $1.60 for the bus ( $.160 for 2013)

Back in the Saddle

I had minor surgery, which sidelined me for 3 weeks. Today was my first day back on “Sweet Baby” (my Surly Crosscheck) since riding off–road with the guys back in late-November.

I recently bought an Adidas windstopper outershell with a hood that accommodates a helmet. I was excited to road test it.  I get cold easily so I had on a short sleeve base layer, my long sleeve Black Women Bike Jersey and my new outershell.  I forgot my gloves.  I was freezing during the walk from my condo to my bike, so I was a little concerned I didn’t have on enough layers.

My trip started from home.  I rode Pennyslvania Ave SE towards the Sousa Bridge.  DDOT was repaving the I-295 N on-ramp from Pennsylvania Ave SE, which backed up westbound traffic all the way to 30th St SE.  I flew passed the cars and buses. Going across the bridge, the eastbound traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see.  Oh well, not my problem. By the time I got to the Bridge, I was nice an toasty in my new fancy coat.

I cut across Barney Circle to hop on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail west bank, or whatever DDOT is calling it these days.  Passed a big man (like 6’3’, 250 lbs) walking with a little dog (a terrier or something like that). The contrast made me laugh.  From the trail I cut across the RFK Parking lot , then took the right lane on Benning Road NE westbound like I owned it.  Made the right on 17th St and headed down to Bladensburg Road.

After making the right on Bladensburg Road NE, I took right travel lane like I had balls of steel.  At some point reality hit me that I don’t have balls and no parts of me are made of steel, so I got my hindparts on the sidewalk.  DDOT really needs to make the sidewalks on Bladensburg wider.  When I got to the bridge passed New York Ave, there was no room for my bike and me around a utility pole in the sidewalk.

From Bladensburg I made the left up Queens Chapel Road.  I thought Ward 7 had hills. Good grief.  “Fortunately” it’s a short (yet steep) hill.  I was burning up by the time I got to the top.  I took 22nd to Franklin St to Mills St NE.  By the time I got to the top of Mills at Rhode Island Ave NE I had to unzip the pits of my coat to get some cool air.  I arrived at WACIF (Washington Area Community Investment Fund) to handle some paperwork for the business.  Since there are no bike racks outside of WACIF, “Sweet Baby” chilled in the lobby.

Next stop was a on-site meeting for a project at 12th and Varnum St NE.  It was a pretty quick ride up 22nd St to South Dakota to Taylor to 12th to Varnum St NE.  I rode to the right on the road, but gave myself 3 feet from the parked cars.  The motorists were patient and some even gave me a friendly wave.  I passed a few pedestrians who wished me “Merry Christmas”.  One older lady on 12th St NE said she was praying for me.

After my meeting I headed over to The Big Hunt on Connecticut Ave to meet with the New Belgium Brewing Company Tour de Fat Car Traders (say that 5 times fast) from Durham and Boise. A side note, I got “Sweet Baby” by trading in my car at the inaugural DC Tour de Fat in June of this year.  From 12th and Varnum St NE, I took 12th to Taylor St NE.  I went east on Taylor up a LONG. STEEP. HILL. I made it about half way before I got off to walk the bike up the hill.  That hill is so steep even walking was making my calves tight.  When I got to the top I needed a water and oxygen break.  Riding down the hill on Harewood made going up Taylor worth the effort. Took Michigan across to Columbia Rd NW.  Why doesn’t Columbia Rd NW have bike lanes? Anywho.

I made the left on 11th St and was happy to have bike lanes for the first time in my cross city trek. At the intersection of 11th and Harvard a cyclist shoaled me.  He then proceeded to run all the lights on 11th St.  At Florida a second cyclists shoaled me. I checked my back to make sure someone didn’t put a “Shoal Me” note on my back. I abided by all the traffic laws while they both weaved through intersection. I caught up to BOTH of them at 11th and S St NW.  They put their life in danger for no reason.

Took S Street to 15th St cycle track. I road 15th St down to R St.  The southbound lane was full of leaves and clay-like mud. Who’s responsible for keeping the cycle tracks clean? I took R Street to Connecticut Ave NW. In my second crazy move for the day I rode down Connecticut.  Instead of going around the circle I biked through it to my destination on the south side.

After a beer with my fellow car-traders it was time to head home.  I have no idea of the exact route, but I ended up in the L St cycle track.  This was my first time riding it and I have mixed emotions.  I like the dedicated lane for cyclists, however, there is something slightly unnerving about being on the left of the cars.  I wasn’t scared (because I have balls of steel… oh yeah… I don’t), but I’d prefer to be on the right of the cars. I took the L St cycle track to 15th St cycle track to Pennsylvania Ave cycle track.  On Pennsylvania Ave I encountered 3 cyclists: 1 salmon, and 2 ninjas.  One of the ninjas ran the light and almost got wiped out by a tour bus. You would think he learned his lesson, right? Nope. He ran the light at 9th St too.

When I got to 7th St and Pennsylvania Ave NW there was a 36 bus in the distance.  I figured I had biked the good fight for the day, so why not take the bus the rest of the way home. I put “Sweet Baby” on the front of the bus, patted myself on the back for a great ride, and enjoyed my warm surroundings.  That is, until we got to Pennsylvania and 6th St SE. Traffic came to a halt.  It took us 10 minutes to go from 6th St to 8th St SE.  Seeing only break lights, I decided to say goodbye to the warm bus and bike the rest of the way home.

I passed 7 buses from Eastern Market to the Sousa Bridge.  Once I got to the bridge I figured I’d beat all the buses to the top of the hill.  I biked up Pennsylvania Ave SE eastbound S L O W L Y.  The 39, the bus I passed that was the furthest east, beat me to the top of the hill by 30 seconds.  My neighbor who was on the 39 bus that was right in front of the 36 bus that I was on got home 30 minutes after me.

According to googlemaps, my total bike excursion was 20 miles (this doesn’t include the bus leg of my trip).  My legs hate me right now.  I’m thinking bubble bath and a good night sleep is in order.

Missed the clinic? Check out the highlights.
Spreading Bike Love From DC to Mo-Town

Thanks to the Michigan Trails & Greenways Alliance and the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative, I was invited to Detroit for a bike tour and to talk about biking in the Nation’s Capital. It was an action packed 2-days.

Day 1 - October 25th

Look at this amazing view of the waterfront. I flew into Detroit and almost immediately jumped on a bike for a tour of the city.

We biked through the streets of Detroit, which was an interesting experience.  There is A LOT of roadway infrastructure, but not that many cars.  For example, we were biking during rush hour on a six-lane boulevard, but the traffic volume could be compared to SE/SW Freeway in DC at 8:00 am on a Sunday morning. 

The main purpose of the bike tour was so I could see the Dequindre Cut Greenway, which is a rails-to-trails project. Most of my photos are from this, because my phone battery died soon after.

Below is the sign at the beginning of the trail that serves as wayfinding and provides the rules of the trail. It would be great to see something like this on the Met Branch Trail.

Although I did see security paroling the trails, these emergency lights are along the trail.  They have security cameras and an emergency button.  It would be great to have these along the Met Branch and Anacostia Riverwalk trails.

This photo is the trail mile/kilometer markers.  They are spaced every 0.1 mile. You also notice in the background banners on the lights.  I didn’t get a photo, but they say things like “play”, “bike”, and “fun” (going based on memory so they may not say that specifically).

The trail is wide enough for a bike lane in each direction plus a wide pedestrian lane.  For the most part everyone stayed in their allotted space.  I was on the trail during the middle of a weekday, so I can’t speak for when the trial is busy on a weekend.

The great thing about the Dequindre Cut Greenway is the beautiful murals on the walls along the trail and under the bridges.  This one was my favorite.

Here’s the other side of the mural.  It would be great to see art along the trails in DC.

This is a photo of me posing on the trail.  Really I needed a break because I was on a single speed bike.  I was missing my Sweet Baby.

This was a neat old building on the waterfront that is going to be converted into a discovery/activity center. 

Later that evening, I spoke with the Detroit Food & Fitness Collaborative.  I gave a short presentation about Black Women Bike. The attendees asked questions about biking in DC, getting women on bikes, and capital bikeshare.  The one thing in my presentation that was baffling to them was the whole concept of “myoptic little twits" and racial polarization of biking during the Mayoral elections.

I ended the night soaking in the largest bathtub I’ve ever see (TMI, I know). It was relaxing, although I was a little scared.  These are the type bathtubs used in horror movies. That being said… If you are ever in Detroit I highly recommend the Inn on Ferry Street.

Day 2 - October 26th

I woke up bright and early. I gave the same presentation to the Detroit Greenways Coalition. This conversation was much different.  Most of the questions they asked were about bikeshare.  They asked everything from the price structure for users to how the systems get rebalanced. 

Before heading back to DC, I got to meet the wonderful women at Fender Bender.  They provide bike repair classes, loaner bikes, and advocacy in Detroit.  They want to create a space for women and the LBGTQ to access skills related to biking. 

All-in-all it was a great trip.  Detroit has great bones for bike infrastructure.  Apparently there is a lot of new developments coming to the city. My biggest piece of advice to them was to be aggressive about installing bike infrastructure before the development arrives to avoid some of the car vs bike “wars” we face in DC.

Fellow twitter pal, @Nikki_D, and I are enrolled in Park Tool School.  I won my tuition at the WABA BikeFest, back in May. Over 6 Sundays (grrr for conflicting with Football) we’ learn all there is to know about bikes.
Yesterday we got a general overview, then spent the bulk of our time learning about tires and hubs.  I am embarrassed to say I had NO idea what all the numbers on my tire were prior to the class.  Now…. I’m a tire whiz kid.  The best part we learned about the different type of rear hubs (free wheel, cassette).  We took one apart (an put it back together… ahem) to see all the components.
I can’t wait until next week. There’s a tire repair clinic prior to class then we’ll learn about wheels, pedals and cranksets.

Fellow twitter pal, @Nikki_D, and I are enrolled in Park Tool School.  I won my tuition at the WABA BikeFest, back in May. Over 6 Sundays (grrr for conflicting with Football) we’ learn all there is to know about bikes.

Yesterday we got a general overview, then spent the bulk of our time learning about tires and hubs.  I am embarrassed to say I had NO idea what all the numbers on my tire were prior to the class.  Now…. I’m a tire whiz kid.  The best part we learned about the different type of rear hubs (free wheel, cassette).  We took one apart (an put it back together… ahem) to see all the components.

I can’t wait until next week. There’s a tire repair clinic prior to class then we’ll learn about wheels, pedals and cranksets.