Bike Therapy: Visualize Your Ride, Your Life

happy hipster
A cyclist enjoys a fall day in Washington, DC.

Can you write your way to the ride you want? To a certain extent, I think you can.

That’s Mary Gersemalina on Chasing Mailboxes, a great blog devoted to biking, run-commuting and coffeeneuring.

In her post, Mary talks about visualizing the ride that she wants. She doesn’t want it to be a story of failure, where she doesn’t measure up to faster riders. Instead:

I wanted my story to be about working through whatever unexpected challenges the ride offered.

Mary is shaping her narrative through positive visualization. Rather than dwelling on what could go wrong – a broken chain, a flat tire, a hot day – she focuses on the positive nature of the experience and her own strengths, imagining how she will tell this story when she’s done.

We are the stories that we tell ourselves. The mind is good at telling you what you can’t do. These stories limit our potential. While this negativity may have saved our ancestors from being eaten by lions, it’s not so useful today.

With her visualization exercise (imagining telling the story of this ride), Mary gets past her negative thoughts, recognizing that while there will be problems, she has the strength to overcome them.

In addition to being the queen of coffeeneuring (where you bike to different coffee shops), Mary also created the Errandonnee Winter Challenge, in which you pledge to conduct twelve errands by bike. The opportunity to be a part of this positive, group activity caused me to set aside my preconceived notions about winter cycling (it’s too cold, dark) and start using my bike for just about everything.

The experience of conducting ordinary activities by bike turned what was once a weekend activity into an everyday one. By completing twelve errands over twelve days by bike, I got to be a part of the errandonnee narrative. Rather than believing that winter was too cold for biking, I now have the errandonnee story: you can do anything by bike, any time of year.

Hey it's my #errandonnee patch! #bikedc
The coveted Errandonnee patch.

And I got a patch.  Never underestimate the power of tchotkes on human behavior.

Biking is therapy for many people. It’s a joyful exercise that combines the thrill of accomplishment (I biked all those miles) with the pleasure of seeing the changing landscape. We’re problem-solving primates who like to move – biking is ideal for that.

And scientific research has demonstrated that everyday cycling makes you happier.

Bikes are happiness engines that provide rich rewards for anyone who will ride them.

Tour de Fat Recap: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Mohawk nation

More than 7,000 people descended upon Yards Park in Washington, DC for the third annual Tour de Fat. For those unfamiliar with this unique event, it is a celebration of bikes, beer and fun sponsored by New Belgium, the Colorado-based brewer of Fat Tire.

I’ve attended every year for it brings together two of my great loves: bikes and beer. Here’s what it was like: Continue reading “Tour de Fat Recap: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly”

Friday Photo: Tour de Fat Edition

the couple that bikes together, stays together
The couple that bikes together, stays together. Maybe.

What can you expect at tomorrow’s Tour de Fat?

  1. A fun and safe bike ride around DC with people in costumes. Last year, we did a wonderful loop around Lincoln Park.
  2. Wacky bike-based entertainment, music and games. The photo above was from a corral of impossible bikes to try out.
  3. Delicious beer from New Belgium. This year they’re going to have some interesting seasonal varieties.

Everything kicks off at Yards Park in DC starting at 11 AM. Check out my photos from last year to sample the frivolity. Look for me on my beloved foldy bike. See you there!

Three DC Brewvet Destinations

Brewvet is a beer and biking challenge with the aim to get you to explore new neighborhoods and try delicious new beers. The rules of Brewvet are simple:

  • Eight separate bike rides to a different location
  • Buy or consume a beer at each location
  • Ride a total of at least 40 miles.

You have from May 1, 2014 through June 10th, 2014 to complete this challenge. Like the equally whimsical coffeeneuring challenge, the aim of Brewvet is to turn cycling into a fun adventure.

Where to go in DC? Here are three ideas for Brewvet rides in Washington:

1. Glen’s Garden Market
2001 S St NW
Washington, DC 20009

Grilled cheese and beer at Glen's Garden Market #errandonnee 10

Four-dollar beer. And not just any beer, but amazing local beer on draft, including DC Brau, Port City and 3 Stars, all of which you you can enjoy with a grilled cheese on their outdoor patio. Located north of Dupont Circle, you can also pick up organic snacks and sandwiches in the market. They also fill up growlers if you want to take beer with you. I really love this place. Afterward, I suggest a stop at Dolcezza Gelato to round out your urban adventure.

How to get there: If you’re coming from Virginia, get to the White House then take the 15th Street Cycletrack north and make a left at R Street. Maryland riders should get off Rock Creek Parkway at P Street.

2. ChurchKey
1337 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

Weekend remnant - chicken and waffles

Saturday afternoons are the ideal time to visit this popular Logan Circle bar. It’s usually not crowded (especially around lunchtime) and their beer selection is the best in the city. I usually get anything by Bell’s Brewery. Also, they have four-ounce pours and low-alcohol beers if you’re concerned about biking while drunk. If you have friends without bikes, there’s even a Capital Bikeshare stand across the street.

How to get there: ChurchKey is at 14th and Rhode Island, a block from the 15th Street Cycletrack.

3. The Bier Baron
1523 22nd Street NW
Washington DC 20037

Bier Baron

The Bier Baron doesn’t open until three on weekends and the food is mediocre. But, they have a great beer selection from all over the world, a comfy vibe and it’s just a block from Rock Creek Parkway. This makes it a perfect Brewvet destination, especially if you’re coming from MD.

How to get there: Get off Rock Creek Park at P Street, make a left and it’s on your left.

Those are my suggestions for DC – what are yours? Where should I brewvet to in MD and VA?

In the Blueberry Soup: The WABA Vasa Ride

Riverside check-in for the WABA Vasa ride.
Riverside check-in for the WABA Vasa ride.

I survived the legendary Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) Vasa Ride. The ride began early Saturday morning at the House of Sweden in Georgetown. Riders got to choose from three route lengths: 15, 30, and 59 miles. Destinations and routes were not disclosed before the ride. When you checked-in, you were given a cue sheet.

Which I just glanced at, seeing that we were going to Potomac. I signed-up for the 30-mile ride and figured I’d just follow the pack. Wrong!

Starting off from Georgetown, the group of a hundred riders or so threaded its way up the Capital Crescent Trail before making a right (what? should’ve looked at the cue sheet!) at Fletcher’s Cove and heading up Reservoir Road to MacArthur Boulevard.

Once on MacArthur, the road cyclists accelerated away from me on my Specialized Sirrus. I lost contact with the peloton. Behind me were a mass of slower riders – I hope you’re not following me, because I didn’t read the cue sheet…I knew that MacArthur would eventually lead me to Potomac so I kept going.

It was a lovely morning for a ride. The route went through the leafy-green Palisades, then past the faded Glen Echo amusement park, across the single-lane bridge at Cabin John, by the Old Angler’s Inn and the entrance to Great Falls. The road was filled with cyclists, some from the WABA ride, others just out enjoying the day. Every kind of bike and every kind of rider was represented.

It had been a gradual incline up from the river before we reached the massive hill at Great Falls. The top of the hill was a natural stopping point for many cyclists, including me. The Vasa ride went from here to Potomac via Falls Road before returning by Persimmon Tree Road (I found out later).

http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3735/13431535585_4ee74a14c1_z.jpg
The first half of the WABA Vasa ride.

Cars were speeding along Falls Road. I didn’t want to deal with that. And I’m not good at following directions or being part of a group. Continue reading “In the Blueberry Soup: The WABA Vasa Ride”

Errandonnee Winter Challenge: Twelve Errands by Bike in DC

I am a weekend cyclist. I primarily use my bike for fun and recreation. Plus, it’s the quickest and easiest way to get around DC.

What I liked about the Errandonnee Winter Challenge is that it recognized the utilitarian aspects of cycling. It’s not about riding vast distances clad in lycra. Instead, the Errandonnee Challenge was to use your bike for 12 different errands over 12 days. While there were also sorts of complicated rules, provisos and mandates (the contest was created in Washington, after all), the idea was to use your bike for everyday activities, highlighting how you can do anything by bike.

I looked at it as an opportunity to use my bike more often. Or, rather, bikes, for I would be completing this challenge on two of them – a Specialized Sirrus and a Breezer Zig7 (a foldy bike).

And I would capture it all with Instagram.

Errandonnee 1: Marie Reed Field
Distance: 2 Miles
Category: Health
Bike: Specialized Sirrus
Remarks: It was a short city ride to the play the beautiful game on this new turf field in Adams-Morgan.

Errandonnee 2: Georgetown Waterfront
Distance: 10 Miles
Category: Health
Bike: Specialized Sirrus
Remarks: There was no way I was staying inside on a warm Saturday. After lunch, I biked to Georgetown to get some sun, then made a loop around the National Mall before returning home.

Errandonnee 3: Gibson Guitar Room
Distance: 2 Miles
Category: Work
Bike: Breezer Zig7
Remarks: The next day, I spoke on a panel about screenwriting for DC Shorts Mentors, a four-week class on filmmaking. The class took part in the Gibson Guitar Room, which is a super-cool private venue near the Verizon Center.

Continue reading “Errandonnee Winter Challenge: Twelve Errands by Bike in DC”

Bikes, Beer and the Arts: 2013 in Photos

“Find a city
Find myself a city to live in.”
Cities, The Talking Heads

In 2013, I didn’t travel to anywhere exotic. I didn’t have any great adventures. I didn’t experience anything particularly unique.

But I was in a city  – adventure came to me. Photowalks, film festivals, performance art, burlesque, comedy, music and biking all could be found in Washington, DC, the city I have a love/hate relationship with. I experienced as much as I could, capturing every moment with my iPhone or DSLR.  Here are my favorite photos from the year, featuring bikes, beer and the arts.

Fun with Flickr

I have really mixed feelings about Instagram. While it’s a great social network, I hate how it shrinks pics down to little squares. I was glad to use the upgraded Flickr mobile app, which provides all sorts of adjustments and filters for iPhoneographers (my favorite filter? Brooklyn).

Continue reading “Bikes, Beer and the Arts: 2013 in Photos”

Friday Photo: WABA Edition

I'm a WABA member because...

DC is a land of tribes. “Where do you work?” is the first question that you hear at a Washington party. It’s an attempt to discover your tribal affiliation – are you Government, Lawyer, Liberal, Nonprofit, Corporate or Something Else? The purpose is to determine whether you are friend or foe, superior or inferior.

It’s a silly practice based upon the assumption that people are defined by their jobs. But work is not a passion for most people. Most of us are defined by our interests, rather than our jobs.

Case in point: The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). At last night’s Holiday Party at the Bier Baron, I met an incredibly diverse group of people. They were young, old, women, men, gay, straight – one of the most eclectic gatherings you’ll find in self-sorting DC. They included everyone from government employees living in the suburbs to entrepreneurs working in the city.

And they weren’t interested in what you did for a living. Instead, the talk was of winter cycling tights and the best bike route to Silver Spring. “How many bikes do you own?” was a popular question. With just two bikes, I was an outlier among the avid cyclists.

New bike lanes and the advent of Capital Bikeshare has led to an explosion of cycling in DC. In the crowded 15th St Cycletrack, you see scores of bikers every morning – women in dresses (yes, even in this weather), hard-core commuters and elderly tourists on red Bikeshare bikes.

Which is why I’m glad to be a WABA member. It’s not just the sexy legs. It’s that cycling is a shared experience that bridges communities across the city. I’m a WABA member because biking in DC is fun.

Seven Coffeeneuring Trips in Washington, DC

Cappuccino at Peregrine on Capitol Hill #coffeeneuring
Perfect cappuccino at Peregrine Espresso on Capitol Hill.

When I first looked into the Coffeeneuring Challenge, I thought to myself: so many rules! You can tell it’s a contest created by a Washingtonian.

But the strictures were good-natured and amusing, a Byzantine level of complexity that obscured a simple idea:

Bike to seven coffee shops over seven weekends from October 5 – November 17.

There’s something about completing a goal, even an arbitrary one, that excites the imagination. It provided motivation to get me out of the house and on my bike. Here’s where I went:

1. Buzz Bakery in Alexandria
Date: October 6
Distance: 17 miles
Drink: Coffee (and a cupcake)
This was  a really pleasant ride on the Mount Vernon Trail. This branch of Buzz Bakery was right off the trail but I had never been there before. That’s what I liked about coffeeneuring – it provided inspiration to visit new places.

2. Big Bear
Date: October 15
Distance: 6 miles
Drink: Coffee
Next stop Hipsterville as I fixed my foldy bike and crossed the city to Big Bear in Bloomingdale. Note: I took advantage of a special proviso of the coffeeneuring rules that allowed weekday adventures by those effected by the government shutdown.

3. Union Market
Date: October 20
Distance: 8 miles
Drink: Cappuccino
I’d never been to Union Market, and followed some crazy Google bike directions to get there.

4. Capital Crescent Trail
Date: November 3
Distance: 18 miles
Drink: A bad cappuccino-like substance
I love the CCT. It’s my favorite trail in the city.

5. Peregrine Espresso
Date: November 10
Distance: 9 miles
Drink: Cappuccino
It was a beautiful day to visit Capitol Hill, and experience the best cappuccino in the city.

6. Illy Cafe
Date: November 16
Distance: 7 miles
Drink: Cappuccino
A hidden spot in the city, I’m a big fan of hanging out at Illy and reading – or writing – a book.

7. Buzz Bakery at the Navy Yard
Date: November 17
Distance: 11 miles
Drink: Coffee (and a cupcake)
I wrapped things up by going to a Buzz Bakery, but this time in the revitalized Navy Yard neighborhood.

What I liked about the Coffeeneuring Challenge is that it gets you in the habit of biking places. And drinking coffee (not that I needed help with that). By combining a fun activity with a goal, it’s a perfect expression of the joy of biking, demonstrating the great time that you can have on two wheels.

 

Coffeeneuring #7: Washington Navy Yard

Destination: Buzz Bakery, Navy Yard, Washington, DC

Total distance: 11 miles

The great thing about biking around a city are the surprises you see along the way. Being on a bike allows you to cover large amounts of ground quickly – but it also lets you stop and check things out, in ways that you couldn’t if you were trapped in  a car.

I was on my way to the Navy Yard for my final coffeeneuring adventure when I noticed that Constitution Avenue was closed along the National Mall. I stopped and asked someone what was going on. A historic Pullman train car was being installed in the African American History Museum. It’s such a large object that the Pullman is going in first and then they’re building the rest of the museum around it, which isn’t scheduled to open until 2015.

Watching the Pullman car get delivered
A historic Pullman train car being hoisted into the under-construction Museum of African American History.

Continue reading “Coffeeneuring #7: Washington Navy Yard”