carfreemsv

Like a Boss

Edited ¼/13: 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)

*photo by SharrowsDC

Well… It’s been 3.5 weeks since I’ve been car free. I’m adjusting pretty well. Although, I still catch myself searching for my car fob to press the lock doors button when I park my bike in the garage. I’m still figuring out how to make changes in my life to make living car free easier.  For example, I’ll probably start having my groceries and my dogs’ food delivered.  Not that I can’t bike to the nearest grocery store, but the biking uphill with groceries doesn’t sound appealing right now.

I’m comfortable biking around DC and biking uphill is getting “easier” (for lack of a better word).  There are 3 challenges that I’m trying to overcome as I prepare to enter in my second month of biking.

1. Fear of biking at night: I live east of the Anacostia River in the Ward 7 neighborhood of Hillcrest.  I’m very comfortable in my community and I know the crime stats like the back of my hand.  My fear of biking late at night has little to do with potential of being robbed or anything. I figure being a moving target via biking is “safer” than being a sitting duck at a bus stop.

My fear has more to do with being alone on the street. There is little to no foot or bike traffic at night once you cross the Sousa Bridge into Ward 7.  There is a decent amount of vehicle traffic rushing home to Maryland, but I’m not afraid of being hit since there is a nice wide bike/ped path along Pennsylvania Ave SE.  There is also plenty of pedestrian scale lighting.  I know how to change a flat and fix a chain, so that’s not it either.

I’m simply afraid of being alone.

2. I don’t know where I can lock my bike: I either bring my bike inside with me, lock it where I can see it, or lock it next to a bike that is easier to steal.  As I venture into other parts of the city with my bike, I’m realizing I don’t know where bike parking is located.

For example, I had to bike to the Transportation Planning Board Citizen Advisory Committee meeting in the NoMa area of DC.  Even though I’d been to that building before, I couldn’t envision where I could lock my bike.  I called a staff member and they informed me there is bike parking in the garage. A few weeks ago I went salsa dancing in Chinatown and I made myself a bike parking space in one of the garages.

It may be a difficult task, but it would be nice to have a bike map that identified bike parking.

3. Negotiating with other people: Many times I’m going places with other people.  Their natural inclination is to use public transportation or drive.  This puts me in the position of trying to convince them to bike. I’ve had varying degrees of success. Usually I’m able to convince two of my neighbors to bike with me even if it means biking home late at night.  One of my neighbors and I go to church together, but I’ve been unsuccessful in convincing her to bike to church.  Then I have a neighbor who hasn’t been on a bike in decades.  I offered to let her use my old bike, but those negotiations went south quickly.

As I bike and blog, I hope to be able to provide you with updates on how I’m fairing with these challenges.

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)

How Murphy's Law kept me from Sweet Baby

I took 2 weeks off from cycling (no I didn’t not drive during that time)…. because I was afraid of falling off my bike. Okay… let me explain….

I haven’t had health insurance for the last 3 years (topic of discussion for another day).  Up into 3 weeks ago I didn’t have any fear of riding my bike around DC without health insurance. Then out of nowhere 6 different people questioned my decision to bike without insurance.  That in and of itself was a big deal, but two of them put the whammy on me with these words “what happens if you fall off your bike or if you get hit?"  (haters, gonna hate).

I didn’t think anything of it until a few days later a car almost hit me and in a separate incident I almost fell off my bike going downhill.  It was enough for me to avoid Sweet Baby for almost 2 weeks.

So what changed…. Well I’m happy to report I joined Better World Club’s bike membership.  With the membership comes "accident” insurance.  My membership kicked in on Saturday (10/13).  First thing I did that day was ride Sweet Baby all over DC.

Sweet Baby and I are reunited and it feels so good.

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.

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.

(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)

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.

Time for another shoe review.  Last time I reviewed my favorite pair of shoes for work.

Today are one of my favorite summer casual sandals.  They are flip flops without the flop.

Brand: Chinese Laundry

Type: Sandals

Heel Height: Flat

General Comfort: These shoes are a great casual flat.  Perfect with a sundress, pair of short shorts, and even jeans.  While I love my 3-4 inch heels, these are a nice break for the feet (and the back). 

For Biking: I hate biking in flip flops.  I’ve lost a flip flop one too many times while pedaling.  While these shoes have the open foot feel of flip flops, the heel strap keeps my feet secure.  The thing I don’t like about biking in these shoes was the hard bottom makes it difficult to feel the pedals; I don’t feel like my bike and I are one unit.  I’ve biked about 22 miles in these shoes.

Result: Meh.

Photo from USDOT

I’m so excited to be honored with 13 others as a Champion of Change by the White House.  If you had told me 2 years ago that I would be honored by the White House for biking, of all things, I probably would’ve laughed at you.  Alas, living the talk has paid off brilliantly.

I’ve been experimenting with biking in different types of shoes.  I don’t bike in flip flops, because bad things happen…. *cue: creepy music*…. BAD THINGS.

First up on my shoe review are my favorite pair of shoes for work.

Brand: Nine West

Type: Wedges

Heel Height: 3 inches

General Comfort: These are my favorite pair of shoes for networking events that require walking and/or standing for over an hour. They are comfortable and the heel height makes my skinny calves look more shapely.

For Biking: I biked to work and back for a round trip total of 6 miles.  They actually weren’t too bad. The thin sole on the ball of the foot allowed me to be able to feel the pedal.  It also helps that my pedals have a slight curve.  My feet didn’t sweat.  Most importantly, my pedicure survived the trip.

Result: Thumbs up

I had money left over after buying my new faaaaaaancy bike, so I decided to splurge and get this BROOKS Hard Leather Barbican Shoulder Bag.  If you been around me more than 15 minutes, you’ll figure out I’m a “thrifty” person.  It takes a lot for me to let go of money, especially the kind of money for this bag. But I bought this bag for several reasons.

1. Some times you have to spoil yourself: No explanation needed.

2. Time to dress like an Executive: I’m an executive and I need to start portraying the image of one. Good by backpack, hello faaaaancy leather bag.

3. This is an investment: BROOKS makes quality products that last a lifetime.  I could have gone lower end on the messenger bag, but how long would it last me?

4. It’s stylish: I’m no fashionista, but I like to look cute while I bike. Nothing says “she’s a hottie” like a leather bag.

5. It’s functional: The best part about the bag is it has a strap for the waist that keeps the bag from moving while you bike. I tossed the back in my basket, so I haven’t tested the feature out yet. 

2

I did it…. I made it up Heart Attack Hill. My neighborhood is called Hillcrest for a reason. The elevation profile above is the actual profile of my ride.

Shout out to my neighbor, Winslow, for coaching me up the hill.

Finding "The One"

People keep asking me what kind of bike I selected.  They see “Purple Rain” and ask if he’s my new bike.  Figured it would be easier to tell everyone at once. No… I haven’t found ‘The One’ yet.

The challenge with finding the perfect bike is the same I have with dating: my lifestyle.  As a business owner I’m constantly on the go between the office, client meetings, continuing education trainings, happy hours, and developing new relationships. I’m involved in the community and try to have some resemblance of a social life. Sure I could have multiple bikes for each function of my life, but that seems overly complicated for this simple gal.

So what do I need? Well I’d like him to be attractive.  Let’s face it if he looks good, I’m more likely to ride him and show him off to the world. (By the way talking about the bike). He needs to be sturdy enough to handle my on the go lifestyle, but light enough that he’s not deadweight.  Being able to handle the challenges of uphill are a must.  I travel light, but he has to be able to handle my baggage. (I swear I’m still talking about the bike).

What I don’t want? He can’t be high maintenance. In the words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that”.

I test rode a Pashley Poppy, which was used during the Tour de Fat ceremonies.  I bike from BicycleSPACE to Potomac Ave. Put it on the bus to the top of the hill, then biked from the bus home.  Then the next day I biked from home to Yards Parks. I seriously though I was “in love”.  That bike is pure flash and charisma. The ride was smooth and I really liked the Brooks saddle.

BUT, the bike was a little too heavy to be lifting on and off the bus bike racks. It only has 3 gears, so I know it’s not going to handle uphill.  The reality is it’s a lot of flash, but not enough range to meet the daily hustle that is my life.

I met with Dave from BicycleSPACE for a 1 hour consultation.  He recommends the Surly Crosscheck. They didn’t have one in my size, so I wasn’t able to test ride. Hopefully this Thursday at the 7th Street Social I’ll be able to take it out for a spin to see how it rides.

I feel like I reached a new high in my life.  I’m a cartoon!!!! BOOM!  Anywho, here’s a little write up in the Washington Post Express about my decision to do car free.