Looking forward to the next adventure(s)

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I’ve shared portions of this news with some folks, all of it with even fewer – but as of 3:00pm today I can finally share with everyone.

Escape velocity has been achieved. 

What does that mean? Well, after a few years of general malaise regarding my career (complicated but leaving me wondering if I had fallen out of love with my profession) – I felt like I would never achieve sufficient escape velocity – to find myself in the perfect career in the perfect town and the perfect house for our perfect family. Fortunately I had married the perfect wife in 2012, so that part was all set. However, a few months ago we decided to stop “letting the perfect be the enemy of the good”, so I put some electrical tape over the check engine light and took some risks that I felt somewhat unprepared for. But it paid off –  escape velocity achieved –  I’ll be starting a new job, doing some pretty different things starting mid-January.

It is all made even more exciting when paired with this other announcement: sometime in June 2015, between diaper changes and midnight feedings I’ll also begin shopping for extracycles, bakfiets or something similar. Yes, we’ll be welcoming our first child onto this planet. That’s pretty amazing by itself.

So, we’re moving north by 35 miles.  First a temporary residence in Columbia, Maryland – then possibly Baltimore City in the spring. Maybe we’ll find that perfect house and perfect neighborhood.

I’m looking forward to closing my eyes, jumping in head first and experiencing some great and happy adventures. That being said, I look forward to keeping strong ties to DC – particularly with the wonderful people I’ve met over the past 4 years.  Hoppy100, Monument to Monument, Brewvet, and more will continue on.  I’m hoping some of you will join me in Maryland for bike rides or stroller pushing hikes, just as I’ll swing down to DC for the same.

-John

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

More Bike Gifts for Beer Lovers

Last year I wrote up a summary of holiday gifts that are particularly well suited to your beer drinking, bike riding, adventure seeking friend, companion, or family member.   Now, the idea was never to serve as a complete resource [And it wasn’t necessarily meant as a wish-list either] – so let’s discuss some of the interesting items that I’ve stumbled across in 2014 that work nicely as beer-bike-adventure gifts.

VeloVO Six Pack Rack Orange Six-Pack Rack – Early in 2014 VO let out some photos of a new rack attachment it was testing along the streets of its home base – Annapolis, Maryland – and I immediately liked the concept.  A six pack rack, designed to attach to their Randonneur rack, Pass Hunter rack, or Constructeur front rack was a nice and elegant way to carry six of your favorite bottles to and fro. While the rack itself may be a bit of a uni-tasker, it could easily double as a space to stash a vest or jacket, a lunch bag, or a box of cookies for your friend.  Price: $55 (not including necessary main rack) [Image: Velo Orange Blog]

 salsa anything cageSalsa Anything Cage – Perhaps an elegant porteur bike isn’t your thing – you’d rather thrash through the woods on a fat bike, build campfires, and skinny dip in frozen alpine lakes. You’ll need something to help warm you up after that adventure, and the Salsa Anything Cage will help carry your drink of choice out into the wilderness.  Basically, a water bottle cage, on steroids and with more flexibility.  A 22 oz. bomber of imperial stout, your favorite whiskey, or perhaps some additional camp fuel to keep your fire going – it will handle any of those. Price: $30 each. [Image: Salsa Website]

growletteSprocket Growlette – Perhaps you stopped at the brewpub before your fat bike adventure and want something nice to take home with your Anything Cage. The folks at Portland Growler Company make some pretty neat stoneware growlers by hand, including the Sprocket Growlette (32 oz) and Growler (64 oz.) which feature bike sprocket inspired details. Price: $55-$65. [Image: PGC website]

paul toolPaul Bottle Opener – When it comes to opening your beer, there are many bike-centric multi tools available.  I listed a handful last year, but somehow forgot to mention the hefty anodized aluminum opener from Paul Components.  Available in silver or black, and occasionally special anodized colors, this tool also features a 15mm wrench perfect for aligning your lovely Paul brakes.  Extra credit for Made in USA! Price: $20 [Image: VeloNews]

 sku_225_Next_Door_Brewing_Co_CottonWalz Craft Beer Caps – If you are on the side of caps, not hats, then Walz has a few options to cover your head while promoting a favorite brew. I own three Walz caps myself, and think the fit and quality is really great, even for my large circumference dome. Despite being priced a little steep for my tastes, and with designs that may not be of everyones liking – the cap is an excellent way to show your style both on and off the bike.  Oh, and they have jerseys available too.  Price: $29 (cap), $69 (jersey). [Image: Walz]

bikehoppyblue_smallBike Hoppy T-Shirt – Perhaps you’re afraid of Jimmy Duggan insulting a cap – well, how about this t-shirt from Forked Apparel Company instead?! Its got bikes in the shape of a hop cone. Is there anything else to say?  Price: $25 [Image: Forked Apparel Co.]

Knucks_decalsREEB Apparel: Oskar Blues makes some good beer. They also have a whole product line called REEB (can you tell what it stands for?), that makes shirts, belts and other accessories.  Oh, also 100% made in America bike frames too.  Shred in style with some REEB apparel, on a REEB bike, in the mountains of Western North Carolina on the new REEB ranch/bike farm. Man, I’m in the wrong industry! Prices: $7-$70 (apparel), $1,500 and up (bikes) [Image: Oskar Blues]

hop saddleHop in the Saddle: Planning a trip to Portland, Oregon anytime soon? You definitely need to rent a bike to get around this wonderful city – and you absolutely should bring this pocket guide to Portland bike and beer culture. During our Oregon Adventure this past fall Hop in the Saddle was an invaluable resource for getting around, and narrowing down our list of destinations into a almost manageable quantity. Price: $10 [Image: Hop in the Saddle]

 

WABA Cider Ride – Escape Velocity

When you throw an object straight up into the air, gravity (and air drag) begins to act upon it slowing its upward trajectory until it stops and falls back to earth. But gravity is a curious thing – as you move an object further from the Earth the gravitational forces acting on it diminish. So if one were to throw an object with enough initial speed that it could travel sufficiently far away from ground faster than the  effects of gravity can slow its speed, it would break free into outer space and continue on its trajectory.

Scientists call this minimum speed the escape velocity. It is something that has been on my mind lately, but in the context of escaping the urban tangle of the District of Columbia.  Though I seek the calming, rejuvenating effects of a bike ride in the country, I just can’t seem to escape DC. Sometimes the simple thought of riding across town feels like too great a force to overcome, and thus turns me off of my planned route.

WABAs second annual Cider Ride provided just enough of an extra force to enable that escape to the county recently. This year the ride took folks out to northern Montgomery County, Maryland to experience some of its beautiful rolling hills and farm land. That being said, despite my professional training in soils, rocks and groundwater, I do not understand space travel – and at times it felt I was just at the cusp of slipping below the escape velocity.

The forecast of mid to low 40 degrees and rain didn’t exactly help, and as anticipated riding partners dropped out the night before, I was wondering if I should give in to the forces and do the same. Fortunately a few of the best ones, Justin and John, decided they’d brave the deluge – nudging me closer to escape velocity. With the start in Rockville, the red line Metro also helped, bringing me from ground level urbanity to some form of exurban farm living.  The train became a rocket booster, lifting me nearly 20 miles into the atmosphere before I jettisoned leaving it to fall back to earth. This is something I need to do more often.

Waiting to board my rocket ship

Waiting to board my rocket ship

At the ride start in Rockville the farming history of the area was evident, though just barely. Rich farmland having been recently erased by townhome developers, leaving behind signs at development entrances with the words “farm” and “preserve”, devoid of meaning but allowing a boost in asking prices. Achieving escape velocity isn’t easy.

At the start, we hadn't yet escaped, but we knew we could make it.

At the start, we hadn’t yet escaped, but we knew we could make it.

As we traveled these developments became fewer and far between – and I felt as if we truly achieved escape velocity – sufficient enough that even a flat tire and broken chain experienced by my riding partners couldn’t slow us down – we persisted and broke free into some pleasantly familiar roads.

This is what I came for.

This is what I came for.

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The weather hindered the views, but not the feelings.

As I slogged up those familiar grades, gravities pull became ever apparent.  My fitness wasn’t at the peak it was only a few months ago when daylight and favorable weather allowed for countless miles in the saddle. My cold muscles weighed down by layers of waterlogged clothing certainly didn’t help either – I feared they couldn’t maintain sufficient velocity to keep me moving away, outwards towards the rolling hills and forests that made this ride so appealing.

But eventually we made it – Kingsbury Farm, a refuge, a space station – warm apple cider and salty snacks abounded. Soggy riders shared stories of their despair and triumph. All relished in the scenery around them.  I was happy, pure and simple, but it was time to re-enter the atmosphere.

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A shortcut allowed for a little less time in the rain, but unfortunately it meant the sprawl came back into view quicker than I had hoped.  But that is ok – because while I had great company on the ride, I knew what waited at home base.

Achieving escape velocity is something we all need to do every once in a while, it keeps us sane and happy. There’s more to say about that theme, and I am excited to share it, but I’ll save it for another time.

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Thanks

Image: Jefferson McCarely, Mission Bicycles,

Image: Jefferson McCarely, Mission Bicycles,

For many adventures, big and small.

For family, friends, readers of this blog, people who inspire me, and people who work to make the world a better place.

For many miles of safe travel (by bike, car, foot, plane, boat and train).

For the future, and whatever it brings.

 

 

 

We Love Coffeeneuring: A Talk with Four-Time Coffeeneur John R. in #BikeDC

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portajohn:

Hey look – I was interviewed about coffee and beer!

Originally posted on chasing mailboxes :

The final weekend of the Coffeeneuring Challenge approaches, and as part of the final week festivities I took the opportunity to chat with four-time challenge finisher John of #BikeDC.

You may know John from Twitter (@dirteng) or through his blog, Portajohn. John used concepts from the Coffeeneuring Challenge and created a beer and bikes challenge known as the Brewvet. (The Brewvet is a springtime challenge so you have plenty of time to practice up for it.)

A cyclist, coffeeneur, and explorer, John loves to combine bikes and coffee whenever he can (unless he’s opting for a craft beer instead). We recently talked about the appeal and expansion of the Coffeeneuring Challenge as well as other bikes ‘n coffee-related topics.

Coffeeneuring John 1

1. You were 1 of only 12 people who completed the Coffeeneuring Challenge in its first year. What attracted you to it, and why do you think coffeeneuring…

View original 1,253 more words

Biking and Beer – A Problem?

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CityLab (of The Atlantic) recently posted a summary of a Governors Highway Safety Association study indicating an increase in cycling fatalities by 16 percent, and linking this with an increased amount of “BUI” (biking under the influence).

While statistics are often easily manipulated or misinterpreted – the article does point out a real problem with real consequences. The next steps are to identify the true cause and potential solutions to the increase in both cycling fatalities and BUI – causes that likely extend beyond superficial observations. On the BUI side, I’ll admit that there are times when I have stopped myself after a night out and realized that it isn’t safe to bike home. It is never good to even get to that point of decision making, instead plan ahead and take Metro or a cab.

More to the point, though: People aren’t just cyclists or motorists. They’re rarely one or the other exclusively. Especially in cities today, car-sharing options turn people who don’t own cars into occasional drivers. It’s in cities that the majority of fatal crashes involving cyclists occur (69 percent, according to the study). And it’s in cities that people—not cyclists or drivers, but people—continue to regularly make bad decisions regarding alcohol and transportation.

There is no easy answer to these complicated issues. The above point from the article explains perfectly one of the ways that things get complex – transportation mode is fluid, and rarely is there a person who commits to one, and only one, mode.  We switch between modes for a variety of reasons. Which begs the question – why are there times when the idea of getting on a bike and riding home sometimes doesn’t raise an alarm flag – when at the same time the idea of getting behind a wheel is abhorrent.

Thoughts? Make a comment and let’s start a conversation. Whether or not you agree with the GHSA study or the CityLab article, it is worthwhile to make sure we all think about the dangers of being on the streets while drunk, and hopefully the next time you get behind the wheel or on the saddle after a night out you take a moment to assess if you are making an unsafe decision.

Safe travels and keep the rubber side down.

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The 2014 Coffeeneuring Challenge

It’s hard to believe that the annual coffeeneuring challenge has been around for four years now. Over times the rides, the cups, the baked goods – they all blend into one big blur.  Fortunately, chief coffeeneur Mary has kept everything organized and the “sport” has grown tremendously.

I’ll be explaining my personal thoughts about what has driven the success of the challenge, and why I am drawn to the event in a post coming out soon – but it should be no surprise that coffeeneuring is synonymous with exploring. In that spirit, I purposely sought out never before explored shops in the DC area to complete my seven stops this year. Let’s explore them below:

Control #1: Caboose Cafe

When: October 4, 2014

Where: 2419 Mt Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA

What: Espresso

Miles: 15.9

Factoid: We stopped into Del Ray (a new favorite neighborhood) to check out Art on the Avenue. Mount Vernon Avenue was jam-packed with folks checking out the many vendors in attendance. If you haven’t been to Del Ray yet, I highly recommend.

Bike Parking: :star: Bike rack s nearby, but not super convenient.

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Control #2: Bullfrog Bagels

When: October 5, 2014

Where: 1341 H St NE, Washington, D.C. ‎

What: Small black coffee (Zekes of DC)

Miles: 2.8

Factoid: I broke my promise never to come back to “Star & Shamrock” on H Street NE when Bullfrog Bagels opened up as a side-project in their space earlier this fall. The bagels, while much better than most in the DC area, are still not quite “New York” level. While waiting for an eternity to get our bagels, I was able to bide my time with a delicious hot cup of Zekes coffee. Yum.

Bike Parking: :star: :star: :star: Bike rack right out front.

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Control #3: Pret a Manger (Union Station)

When: October 18, 2014

Where: Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C. ‎

What: Double Espresso.

Miles: 3.1

Factoid: To some degree, this was my “phone it in” coffeeneuring adventure of the season. In reality, it was a test ride to see how my hand would hold up to bike rides. The previous night I burned it in pretty amazing fashion while cooking dinner. Tender, blistered, but able to make it work. This is my favorite coffee in Union Station, but go elsewhere for baked goods.

Bike Parking: :star: Ample bike parking at Union Station – thought parts of your bike may be missing when you return.

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Control #4: District Doughnut

When: October 19, 2014

Where: 749 8th St SE, Washington, D.C.

What: Small black coffee and a sweet potato donut.

Miles: We’ll say 2.2 – which is the distance from my apartment and back. But this location kickstarted a 100+ mile ride that is a kinda-sorta organized but not century.

Factoid: I prefer donuts to doughnuts. I also prefer my donuts to be reasonably sweet, not stomach turning excessively sweet. Lastly, I prefer to pay less than $3 for a donut. Alas, doughnuts are apparently sweeter and more expensive. The coffee – from Compass Coffee – is really good.

Bike Parking: :star: :star: :star: Bike racks and signposts on sidewalk. Generally available.

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Control #5: Compass Coffee

When: October 26, 2014

Where: 1535 7th St NW, Washington, D.C.

What: Double Espresso

Miles: 26.0

Factoid: Compass is a new roastery in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Inside is light and casual, though seating is limited. The coffee however, is rapidly becoming a favorite.

Bike Parking: :star: :star: Two stars for apparent safety, but severe lack of places to sling a lock on.

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Control #6: Culture Coffee

When: November 1, 2014

Where: 709 Kennedy St NW, Washington, DC

What: Espresso. Lemon Pound Cake.

Miles: 18.8

Factoid: I discovered this place while confirming a route to 3 Stars Brewery. Located on a commercial strip that needs some real help, this is a pleasant neighborhoodly place. The folks inside lived nearby and were so friendly and talkative. Our friends just moved nearby – I’ve already recommended they stop in and make friends with the proprietor.

Bike Parking: :star: :star: Two stars for having a rack right outside, but nothing more because it is the fattest diameter tubing I’ve ever seen. Bring a BIG u-lock.

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Control #7: Killer E.S.P.

When: November 2, 2014

Where: 1012 King St, Alexandria, VA

What: Double Espresso. Spinach and Goat Cheese Quiche.

Miles: 37.7

Factoid: Wow. E = espresso. S = sorbet. P = pie.  The espresso is pretty good (Stumptown), but the real winner here is the food. Pie from Dangerously Delicious, and empanadas  – wow. Add in baked sweet treats. It’s no wonder this place was packed the entire time I was there.  Hint, we got some super spicy salsa verde with the empanada we ordered. I put it on the spinach and goat cheese quiche. It was awesome.

Bike Parking: :star: :star: :star: Three stars for having an empty rack only a few steps from the door (and it was quite easy to lock to) but honestly – a few more wouldn’t hurt.

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