Going down Hill on a Bicycle

Going down Hill on a Bicycle

With lifted feet, hands still,

I am poised, and down the hill

Dart, with heedful mind;

The air goes by in a wind.

Swifter and yet more swift,

Till the heart with a mighty lift

Makes the lungs laugh, the throat cry:

‘O bird, see; see, bird, I fly.

‘Is this, is this your joy?

O bird, then I, though a boy

For a golden moment share

Your feathery life in air!

Say, heart, is there aught like this

In a world that is full of bliss?

‘Tis more than skating, bound

Steel-shod to the level ground.

Speed slackens now, I float

Awhile in my airy boat;

Till, when the wheels scarce crawl,

My feet to the treadles fall.

Alas, that the longest hill

Must end in a vale; but still,

Who climbs with toil, wheresoe’er,

Shall find wings waiting there.

–Henry Charles Beeching. 1859-1919

Biking to work with Road Holland

In February of this year I became a (nearly) full-time bike commuter – with a scant 2.5 miles from the front door of our apartment to the front door of my office building. Cool weather and an easy commute meant that it was no problem to bike in work attire, save for the wear and tear my Brooks saddle contributed to work pants (but that;s another story).

Fast forward to May, and I found myself signing mortgage papers on a home in northern Baltimore, increasing the commute to between 6 and 7 miles, depending on route and traffic considerations. I tried biking in full work attire for a few days, then switching to baggy shorts an open shirt, before finally realizing that there was no way around it – if I wanted to appear somewhat acceptable in the office, I would need to commute in bike clothing, and change in the office.

No big deal right? Well, mostly – except that I didn’t want to become *that guy*. You know the one. Tight spandex shorts and an awfully garish and poorly fitting top. Showing off lots of parts you don’t need your coworkers to know about. How do you walk down the hallway dressed like that, then expect to pull a full Superman to Clark Kent conversion in the bathroom and expect any sort of respect for the rest of the day?

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NOPE

Fortunately a lot of my biking wardrobe already meets the “subdued and casual” look – few logos, simple colors, baggy to trim fitting – nothing intended to draw attention. But a few new pieces of clothing never hurt – and I was pretty excited when the folks at Road Holland asked me to try out one of their new jerseys. I already owned one of their long-sleeve jerseys, and was familiar with the brand and their general aesthetic – athletic, retro, classic, stylish. That sounds like a good mix to me. And yes – when a whole gaggle of coworkers stormed out of an elevator I was waiting to get into – I didn’t run away and hide. No weird looks or anything from the bunch! Dare I say – a bike jersey that might be flattering on somebody who isn’t stick thin?!

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The first thing I noticed about the jersey is the material – a 61% Poly / 39% Merino Wool – very soft to the touch, and feels great when wearing. The fit was trim, but not clingy. My experience is that 100% wool either seems to get saggy or to be very clingy – not the case with this jersey. The full zip (my preference) is a nice touch, and importantly the zipper doesn’t bulge out or lay weirdly like some other manufacturers. On rides into work, with temperatures still in the 70s the jersey feels great, but on the way home with the heat in the 90s and heavy humidity the jersey hasn’t felt gross, but it did get a waterlogged with sweat. Bonus – the wool does seem to keep the “grunge” factor down if it is worn a second or third time before washing (yes, I’ll admit to that, but only for testing purposes).

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Sure, the price isn’t bargain basement, but these jerseys are are made in the USA, by regular down-to-earth folks with a passion for having fun while cycling. And to be honest, compared to a lot of other small- to small-ish volume manufacturers of quality cycling apparel, I think they are on the low end of the pricing scale.

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Thanks Road Holland for making me an ambassador. If anyone wants more information about my experience with their clothing, send me a message! Also – they’ve got an end-of-summer sale going on right now – some really great deals!

Tiny Toes

Things have been quiet here the past few months, but fret not – I hope to have some new blog posts in the near future. For the past few months I’ve been searching for, and eventually buying a new home; exploring a new city on a daily bike commute; and most recently… helping to care for a new set of tiny toes.

Hopefully we can organize a few local dad rambles during these summer months! In the mean time, keep track of things via Instagram and Twitter.

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2015 Brewvet Wrap-Up

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Hi Folks – I hope you enjoyed National Bike Month and the third annual brewvet.  With consistently nice weather, the challenge was a nice way to squeeze in some extra rides in between packing for a move and preparing the new home for our forthcoming kid.

Some brewvet veterans have already submitted their information – three in Maryland, three in California, one in Washington and one in Ohio!

Remember to submit your ride details for a small treat to follow later this summer (and possibly some fun trinkets that I’ve been collecting).

If you’re looking at the instructions and feel kind of like the confused Ikea man, check out my post from 2013 describing how I filled in the brewvet card. ikea-man

Keep the submissions coming – and post below if you found a new favorite beer or watering hole!

Brewvet Begins

Details Here.  Ride bikes, drink beer, make adventure.

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Ride safe, be smart and tag your posts with #brewvet!

2015 Brewvet Challenge

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Is there anything more satisfying than a bike ride through the city or deep in the woods with your best friends, followed by a cold beer and some grub at your favorite local bar? Tired, sweaty, dirty – it no longer matters. 

I love exploring and new experiences – and this year has got a lot of “new” in it – new job, new city, two moves, a bikeable commute, and a new kid (Coming Soon).  For these reasons – the Brewvet Challenge makes sense to complete once again in May – a small but welcome diversion from a lot of crazy. So lets kick it off as I said the first year of the challenge:  “in the spirit of commingling our shared love for gears and grains, hops and handlebars …”

Go, ride, explore. Then come back and share your stories.

Gears & Craft Beers

What is a Brewvet?

In short this is a challenge to inspire you to get on your bike and explore your surroundings – and your local craft beers. The event will run from May 1, 2015 through June 1, 2015.

Award-winning District of Columbia denizen and blogger Mary of Chasing Mailboxes, provides the inspiration for the concept. Combining the long-distance cycling sport known as randonneuring and the simple pleasure of a good cup of coffee – the Coffeeneuring Challenge was formed. Since a randonneuring event is called a brevet, it only made sense to call our take on this concept the Brewvet.

An “official” brewvet will incorporate 8 separate bike rides, each of which to a different location, where you will buy or consume a different beer, for a total distance of at least 40 miles by bike. A ride qualifies if you either stop to drink a beer during your bike ride, or purchase a beer on your bike ride that you drink shortly after you get back home. Mead, cider and wine… well they count too.

Just like in a brevet, you must provide documentation of each stop on your adventures. If you complete the challenge you’ll even get a little prize.

Spokes and Craft Beers

The Rules

Rules? Yes, there has to be rules! That’s another quirk of these randonneur events. It seems like a lot, but I promise you’ll still enjoy yourself.

  1. In the interest of safety, you can only count 1 ride per day. If you have more than 1 beer per ride, it still only counts as 1 ride. Know your limits and be safe!
  2. The location where you acquire your beer must be different each ride.
  3. Each ride should feature a different beer, with preference towards local, craft beers.
  4. The 8 rides must be completed between May 1, 2015 and June 1, 2015.
  5. There is no minimum length for each brewvet ride, but once you have completed all 8 rides, the total distance you’ve covered must be at least 40 miles.
  6. Complete the Brewvet control card at each stop. Document the following:
  • Location;
  • The beer you enjoyed;
  • Some enlightening thought (beer tasting notes, the people you saw, anything really);
  • The miles you rode; and
  • The date.
  • Also be sure to take a photo and share with the hashtag #brewvet

Once you have completed your Brewvet submit your 8 photos and completed control card to dirtengineer “at” gmail dot com. Photos can submitted on your blog, as links to a photo sharing website or tweets, or via email. Deadline for Brewvet submissions is June 21, 2015.

Everyone who successfully completes the Brewvet will receive a prize – albeit very small. Probably not something you need to re-arrange the trophy case for.

Wisdom.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
— Confucius

(Maybe a beer or a photo opportunity should be allowed)

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