27 miles with Nolan

Back Roads Century last Sunday, Cannonball Century tomorrow, both on my single bike.  I ride a tandem with my son Nolan, age 15, but due to his disabilities a century is, and probably always will be, beyond him. But he loves to ride (he says it is “so exciting!”, and says “woo-hoo” when we go fast down a hill), and loves wearing “bike clothes.” You won’t catch him riding in street clothes.

Our rides are local, and shorter.  We generally ride to Clemyjontri playground (we are there so much the staff know Nolan by name), and stop for breakfast/lunch/drinks and snacks coming and/or going. The Clemyjontri route is only 13 miles, and recently I have started riding to a different breakfast spot not directly on the route to stretch it to 19 total miles.

Today we managed more.  First, 3 miles to Vienna (opposite direction from Clemyjontri) for breakfast and haircuts.  Then to Clemyjontri, but by a not quite direct route, another 11 1/2 miles.  Then to lunch, then home, another 6 1/2 miles.  We needed bread for dinner, so we rode to Vienna again (parked bike in exact same spot).  We rode through the trail along the creek in Vienna, and stopped to see deer (and to put the timing chain on when it came off).  When I noted to Nolan that the deer were eating leaves, he said “ew.” The bread run was another 6 miles, for a total of 27 miles for the day, one of Nolan’s longest days.  Total time was 2 hours 33 minutes (10.5 mph avg., we are not fast), not a bad day in the saddle for a disabled kid.  He was exhausted and fell asleep early. I am a bit tired myself and going to bed to get up to ride again.


Project 8K and 80K Update

Good news and bad news on my cycling and weight goals for the year.  First, the good news.  I am on track to exceed my goal of 8K miles for the year.  Mileage-wise, my months have been as follows:

 Month     Total      Days with  # Century  Tandem

                   Miles      0 miles        rides           miles

Jan.                  651                    5                        0                        49

Feb.                 455                    10                      0                        22

March             600                    4                        0                        24

April               917                    1                        0                        56

May                 998                    1                        0                        61

June                 907                    2                        0                        54

July                  1024                  2                        1                        108

August             1008                  1                        2                        53

Tot. YTD          6560                  26                      3                      427

So I only need 1,440 miles to meet my original goal of 8,000, which would require only 360 miles a month for the last three months.  I will obviously exceed that.

If I prorate my year-to-date mileage over 12 months, I am on pace for 9,800 + miles.  Even assuming that my mileage decreases in the last couple of months, I am well on pace to exceed my original goal of 8,000 miles for the year, and I should exceed 9,000.

427 of my miles have been with Nolan on a tandem.  We had over 100 miles in July but fewer in every other month.  One reason for low mileage is that the days with no riding are often weekend days doing something else with Nolan.  And any day with a century means no ride with Nolan.  Plus he now spends the occasional weekend away from home (at Jill’s House, a place that takes in disabled kids for overnight stays).  And we essentially only ride the tandem on weekends.

I have recently mounted an odometer on the tandem.  We average about what I thought – about 12 mph for a totally flat ride (Haines Point, where it took 2:08 to ride 8 laps, or 26 mis.), or about 10 mph on the more common local rides with some hills.

So much for the total mileage.  There have been some memorable rides.  Mountain Mama, dirt roads in Loudon County (two in really bad storms, one where I took refuge from a thunderstorm in a garage with a big hole in the side), and the C&O Canal –rides to Whites Ferry and on some mornings just an extra 10-12 miles on the canal before work.  Rides with Nolan, including both our usual routes and a couple of group rides.

My other goal has been to lose weight, and get down to my college weight (80K).  Well, after shedding 15 pounds in April and May, I have lost only five more pounds through August.  I doubt I’ll lose the 15 pounds I need to get to my college weight. Not even trying much anymore really.

Tale of Two Centuries

I rode my first two centuries of the year in the last few weeks.  Both were fun, though they were very different.

On Friday July 28, I rode my first century of the year, Bike to the Beach, a fundraiser for autism.  Among other things, the ride provides funding to Keen Sports, a program for disabled kids (not just autistic kids, but kids with ANY disability – none turned away) that Nolan participates in.  The ride – from D.C. to Dewey Beach–was both great and, well, difficult.  Not difficult in regard to the route—the 107-mile ride was very flat, and I didn’t go very fast – 6 hours 20 minutes for the 107 miles, or just under 17 mph average.  It was difficult in that it leaves at 5 a.m., so I had to get up at 3:40.

ride start

And we’re off at 5 a.m.

Plus after the ride finished, I had to wait for a bus back to D.C., then wait in pouring rain for my bike to arrive by separate truck, and then drive home, getting in after 11 p.m.  I was pretty tired.  But felt great that I’d both completed a century and raised money for Keen $895 myself; over $5K for the Keen Team of which I was a part.). And we finished the ride before the rain hit.

Doing this ride was more gratifying than other centuries as I accomplished something for a worthy cause.  You also get a different group of participants–some were accomplished cyclists no doubt, but there were many who had never or rarely done a century, or even any long ride (one of my teammates had never ridden more than 35 miles – she finished). There were people cheering us as we finished, and they never let up. I eventually joined them and cheered the stragglers.  Some autistic kids joined the ride for the last several miles too.

The next Thursday a friend told me he was doing Mountain Mama in Monterey Virginia. So I decided to do that.  Most difficult century I’ve done.  10,000 feet of climbing.



I rode a lot in the small ring, often matched to the largest cog (34X29), sometimes in the 34X27 or the 25, at speeds of as low as 7 mph.  When I finished a climb, I had a fast and frankly often scary descent.  The first descent was the worst due to hairpin turns and the fact I was still in a group of riders, some of whom were braver/riskier than me and descended faster through the hairpins passing me on both sides.


A bit of flat riding, but you can see the hills.

My top speed was 45 mph, and it would have been higher if I hadn’t kept my speed down by feathering the brakes and sitting up to catch air.  The ride took 7 hours and 3 minutes (on bike time; 8:15 including stoppage time at the well-equipped and friendly rest stops), for an average speed of 14.2 mph, easily my slowest century ever. (Second slowest would be a 105-mile century I did on Skyline drive, time 7:05, average speed 15.1 mph.)

next 4 miles

A welcome sign at top of the third to last climb.

It was an awesome ride, and I don’t know why I didn’t see lots of cyclists I know from DC there.  I registered day of ride, and I was cyclist number 211, so it’s a small century in terms of riders.

trees and hills

Another great thing: nestled in the mountains, it is colder there.  Temperature at ride start was only 55, and it was only 70 at ride end at 4:15 p.m.


Project 80K and 8K

This year I embarked on what I call Project 80K and 8K, with no fanfare.  8k means I will bike 8,000 miles this year. That’s probably what I do in a normal year, though I don’t usually keep track.  (The last year I kept track was 1980—my last year racing.)  80K means I’ll get my weight down to 80 kg., or 176 pounds.  I am actually aiming for 175, which is my college weight.

So how am I doing?  I started the year a bit slow.  Mileage-wise, my months have been as follows:

Jan.        651 mis.

Feb.       455

March   600

April       917

May       998

Total YTD= 3634 miles

So I started slow, but am getting in good position to meet my goal.  212 of those miles were with my disabled son Nolan on a tandem.

nolan and me selfie

Nolan and me at Star Nut in McLean VA.

April was a pretty good month, because I got back to doing a longish ride every weekend.  The last weekend in April I did three rides, including a 20 miler with Nolan – an out and back group ride from the Wiehle Avenue metro to Fairfax County Springfest in Chantilly.  Nolan enjoys group rides, and his rides need a destination so this ride was perfect.  We saw turtles, a hawk, and an owl at Springest.

May was an even better month.  I finally got some dirt road riding.  I rode to a place near Middleburg to meet my wife and Nolan the second to last Thursday. That meant a 63-mile day, including my daily commute followed by my ride to Middleburg.  My route included the W&OD (to Smith’s Switch Station Road), then some really busy roads, followed by some rural roads, both paved and unpaved.  Would have been great ride had it not rained, but even in the rain it was pretty great.  I did have to stop for ten minutes during a torrential downpour though.  Glad I took my raincoat.

That Friday I rode about two miles with Nolan on dirt roads.  It was too hilly where we were staying to do more with Nolan. Saturday I did a short ride, some on dirt roads, by the Philomont General Store and on roads local cyclists would know, such as Jeb Stuart Road (NOT in the direction where you have to ford the creek).  Sunday I road home, but by a circuitous route that took me over many dirt roads, including several I recognized from past rides. It was a pleasant 77 miler, despite about 45 minutes of rain early on.

bike loudon

Bike on a bridge over a creek on a dirt road in Loudon Cnty.

The following weekend saw me do three rides again, one with Nolan.  May put me over 700 miles per month average, so I am now on track for 8000 for the year.

My weight? Despite formulating Project 8K and 80K before the New Year, I didn’t even bother to weight myself or start dieting until April.  On April 3 I decided I needed to start, and I weighed myself.  14 stone, 12 pounds.  It sounds better that way, since no one knows what a stone is.  But it’s 208 pounds. Ouch.  Next day, after first day of my diet, 209 pounds! Double ouch.  But today I am down to 195, so I am off to a decent start. Still, I doubt at this pace I will reach 175.


Coffeeneuring with Nolan ## 7 and 8

Nolan and I wrapped up our coffeeneuring adventures a couple of weeks ago but I neglected to write it up.  On November 6, we did our 7th coffeeneuring.  We had gone to Clemyjontri playground on the tandem, as we often do.  On the way back, we had lunch and drinks at Chesapeake Bagel Bakery in McLean.  I had a drip coffee, which was fine. Nolan had chocolate milk.  We ate ham sandwiches.  Bike-friendliness?  Same as most other McLean locations, maybe a little less friendly as I had to park the tandem a couple doors down. nov-7-chesapeake-bagel-bakeryNolan had a Keen Sports class at Kilmer Middle School, so we had to hurry. I dropped him off, rode the tandem solo to Café Amouri, where I got a good cup of coffee (ginger spiced latte), and then picked Nolan up and rode home.  Had to fix a flat, first we’ve had on the road that I recall.  Total distance with Nolan was about 14 miles.

On November 19, for coffeeneuring #8, we rode to Bentley’s Family Restaurant on Route 50 for breakfast.  I had drip coffee and bacon and eggs; Nolan had chocolate milk, Belgian waffle, and bacon.  This is a great place for breakfast.  Easy to access by bike (maybe one mile from the W&OD by side roads), and easy bike parking.  We’ve been there twice since in fact.  bentleys-nov-19Nolan’s a happy kid.  His new wool jersey is rather long, and his old wool trainer is getting too small!

After the restaurant, we rode to Bikenetic to purchase spare tubes, then to Clemyjontri, and then home.  About 18 miles total.

That wraps up the official part of coffeeneuring, but then Nolan and I are always coffeeneuring.


Coffeeneuring with Nolan ## 4, 5 & 6

Coffeeneuring with Nolan isn’t really about going to get coffee.  It’s more a combination of errandoneuring and coffeeneuring, or just trying to work cycling into our day.

Coffeneuring # 4

On Saturday October 22 we did our usual ride to Clemyjontri playground, followed by lunch at McLean Family Restaurant, or MFR for short. We had already used MFR for a coffeeneuring trip, so this wouldn’t count for that, but we were hungry and looking for sustenance.  After that, we rode to Claude Moore Colonial Farm in McLean, near the CIA. This is a reconstructed 18th century farm.  Nolan enjoyed the animals, especially Helen the blind chicken who alone among the chickens is allowed into the farmhouse.  We fed Rosie the cow.

Then we rode to Greenberry’s Coffee & Tea in McLean. Nolan had chocolate milk, I had a cappucino, and we both had croissants.  It was very good. I also ran into an old high school friend of my son Brian and we had a nice chat.  Greenberry’s is bike-friendly enough (see my posts re biking in McLean).


Total mileage: 14.

Coffeeneuring #5

The next weekend, Nolan was invited to the French Embassy for a special event, a Euro Festival for disabled kids and adults. (I studied French for years, including in France, where I also worked as an illegal immigrant laborer, but do they invite me? Non!) It was called Keen Day for Special Needs Children.  We were going to drive, because my wife was going to go, but she backed out. When I checked and saw that the embassy is in Georgetown, I realized we could bike it, so we did. It was a beautiful day for biking, and we had a blast at the festival.  We saw Greek dancing, which we joined in on, Irish dancing (which Nolan declined to do), and did a zumba class. If you haven’t zumbaed with disabled kids you missed something. They are totally unself-conscious. It was great to see everyone having such fun.  The event was organized by Keen, which stands for Kids Enjoy Exercise Now. They have sports and other events for disabled kids.greek-dancing

We rode to the embassy up Foxhall Road, but returned via 35th Street in order to ride down the steep cobble-stoned hill.  Nolan enjoyed that.  I wouldn’t do it again on the tandem as it is very steep and the tandem’s brakes not the best.

We returned by the Custis and W&OD trails, stopping at Mike’s Deli at Lazy Sundae for lunch and coffee.  I had a regular coffee and a burger; Nolan had a chocolate milk and hot dog.mikes-deliThe coffee was good by deli standards. Mike’s Deli is bike-friendly in that it is right off of the W&OD.  (I have been told that it will be moving to the corner of Broad Street and Shreve Road, at the site of the old Arthur Treacher’s.)

Total mileage: 24, one of Nolan’s longer rides.  He held up well, never complaining.

Coffeeneuring #6

On Sunday, we road to Vienna to get haircuts.haircutAfter the haircuts, we went to Jammin’ Java in Vienna. JJ is primarily a music venue, but it also has a coffee shop.  I had a cappuccino; Nolan had a smoothie, the “Natural” I think it was called.  They were both good, though they only offered one size cappucino, and served it in a paper cup.jammin-java

Bike-friendliness: it is near the W&OD.  You can ride up Maple Avenue from where the W&OD crosses it, but there is a better way by side streets from a side trail off the W&OD.  We ride roads to get there (Gallows to Electric etc.), and they are wide and bike-friendly too.  There’s a bike rack on Elden Street or you can lock up right in front.

I can’t say I love JJ as a coffee shop, but it is one of my favorite music venues.  I have seen Bill Kirchen here (think Hot Rod Lincoln), as well as That One Guy, among others.  When my son Brian was in high school, he formed an Irishy folk-rock band that played a Sunday afternoon gig here as part of a show of high school rock bands that also included his friend Michelle’s punk band. (Michelle later became our “adopted” daughter. Long story for another time.)

Distance: 6 miles.

Shameless Plugs

My son Brian’s current band Kendall Street Company occasionally performs in the D.C. area.  They’ll be performing at Gypsy Sally’s on December 20.  The band played last Friday night at the Bayou on Penn, where they wore Halloween costumes.  Here’s Brian in shark suit playing bass:


Another shameless plug, coffee-related: You can buy a coffee named the “Michelle”, after our Michelle, at Pineapple and Pearls, where she is a barista.

Coffeeneuring with Nolan 2016 – Our First Three Rides

It’s coffeeneuring time again.  September brings centuries, and then October brings coffeeneuring.

I participate in coffeeneuring with my 14-year old son Nolan.  He is intellectually and physically disabled, but can ride a tandem that I have modified only slightly (back rest and special pedals).  He loves riding the tandem.  When he wants to ride, he says “bike clothes.”

Coffeeneuring is the perfect ride for us.  Nolan can’t join me for longer rides, and our rides tend to be shorter rides to some place we need or want to go to.  Pretty much all of our rides involve stopping at a restaurant or coffee shop.  The main challenge of coffeeneuring for us has been to expand our usual route and try new places.

This is our third year doing coffeeneuring together.  We have done three rides so far.

Coffeeneuring #1 (Sat., Oct. 8).

It was raining but Nolan insisted on a bike ride.  First we went to the City of Falls Church Farm Day at Cherry Hill Park, where they had a petting zoo, and Nolan rode a pony and the train.


Then we went to Cafe Kindred, 450 N Washington St. (Route 29), Falls Church, http://www.cafekindred.com/ . I had a Dutch Apple Pie latte, which was excellent. Nolan had chocolate milk and a cookie.  nolan-at-cafe

This is a great place for coffee.  With the latte, they serve a tiny cookie and a shot of sparkling water.  apple-pie-latteThey also have great food (and beer on tap!), and they are very friendly. Gary gave Nolan a T-shirt on our previous visit, and on another visit when we arrived late and they were closed Gary opened up for us.  I highly recommend it if you haven’t tried it.

It is bike-friendly, being very close to the W&OD.

Total distance: 7 miles.

Coffeeneuring # 2 (Sat. Oct. 15).

Nolan and I first rode to  Clemyjontri Playground.  We go here often. It is pretty much Nolan’s favorite place on earth.  This is a playground designed for disabled children and able-bodied children alike.  Among other things, it has a carousel. Nolan’s favorite things to do here are ride the swing and the carousel. (He used to call the latter the “horse-around”—a term he coined—but now he says “carouself,” like there’s an f on the end.)


Here he is on the carousel:nolan-at-clemy


After Clemyjontri, we rode to McLean Family Restaurant, our number one stopping point on our rides. They have breakfast until 3, and we usually get breakfast. (side-note: we often wee Newt Gingrich here with Calista, but they were not there this time) Nolan had waffle, turkey sausage and milk.  I had a corned beef and cheese omelette and coffee.  The coffee is pretty good by diner standards.


I forgot to take a pic of our coffee stop, so only photo from this ride is of Nolan on the horse.

Bike-friendliness: fine.  It is in the business part of McLean, and there’s no bike rack, but plenty of room and places to lock your bike, and I have never had problems riding through McLean.


Total distance: 12 miles.


Coffeeneuring #3 (Sun. Oct. 16).


Another day, another trip to Clemyjontri, this time followed by a stop at Star Nut Cafe in McLean.  I had a cappucino and a croissant with spinach and feta. Nolan had a mango smoothie and a plain croissant:nolan-at-star-nut


As always at Star Nut, the coffee, smoothie, and croissants were excellent. They always are.  The ambiance here is great.  Though you order at the counter, they bring your order to your table and you pay when you leave.  They have a nice patio area that overlooks a fountain too.  The place has a sort of old world feel, and in fact there are always conversations going on in foreign languages.


Bike-friendliness: good.  See above re biking in McLean. They have a bike rack in the parking garage at the back of the shop, but we prefer to just park along the side nearer to the entrance.

From there we rode to Nolan’s sports class, so our total distance exceeded yesterday’s by a bit.


Total distance: 13 miles.