Archives For Bicycling

A bench by a stream

November 8, 2014 — Leave a comment

2014-11-08 14.26.17

In early June, I purchased a new bike to use during the 2014 Lake Placid Iron Man and spent the last weeks of my training practicing on it, mostly while circling Lake Montebello hundreds of time. I rode it on the course once before the race, just before the road to Keene was re-paved. It handled well during the ride but I felt uncomfortable when riding in an aerodynamic position, especially down the steep hill leaving Lake Placid. My center of gravity seemed too high and way too far forward and I felt that the slightest mistake would send me tumbling to the ground.

The days leading up to the race were beautiful. An easy run on Thursday was followed by a short bike ride on Friday in perfect weather. A flat rear tire greeted me when I brought the bike out the basement door on Saturday morning. There was no clear puncture and although I thought I found a small piece of glass poking through the tire, I was not sure I had found the source of the leak before replacing the tube

I woke early on race day and walked to the transition area with my brother and a bike pump fearing that the tire would be flat again. It was pretty cold but the sky was clearing and I was optimistic that the predicted rain might not actually appear. The rear tire was fine.

I was at the beach early, trying to get towards the front at the start but ultimately only made it to the fourth wave. I did not wear a wetsuit and kept my sweatshirt and sweatpants on until the last-minute when I left them, never to be seen again, neatly folded next to a trash can.

I stayed far left during the swim and swam by the wet-suited competitors bunched tightly and colliding with each other while following the cable that connected the course buoys. It started to rain within the first 800 meters and with one half mile left the thunder-storm hit. I watched the lightning flashes as I breathed to the right side and the short delay before the thunder-claps told me the storm was moving towards us very quickly. I swam as fast as I could to get back to the finish of the swim course and waved to Kathy and Abby as I ran up the chute leading from the shore.

I spent a long time transitioning to the bike portion of the race. It was raining hard and the thunder-storm was in full force. I was soaked even before I mounted my bike. None of us were in a hurry during the fourteen mile ride down to Keene in the pouring rain. Once we reached the bottom the rain eased and the rest of the ride went by without incident.

I felt good at the start of the run. I was on schedule and certain that I could finish with time to spare. I ran for five minutes and then walked for thirty-seconds, guided by a Garmin watch that beeped on cue. I repeated that cycle fifty-nine times before crossing the finish line.

During the run I passed by a memorial to the 10th Mountain Division next to a small stream. I promised myself that someday I would come back and visit it for a while.

Which is what I did today.

2014-11-08 14.27.23

A few words of thanks

July 27, 2014 — 11 Comments

Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.

A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

On July 22, 2013, I bought a new pair of running shoes and started this journey. Since then I’ve swum 545 miles, ran 693 and biked for 4,542 miles more. Along the way I’ve jogged through downtown Bucharest and along the shore of the Black Sea; biked with Lucy in Sofia; swum in the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay and the Hudson, Chester and Potomac Rivers; had one serious bike crash and taught the bartender at the Times Square Applebees how to make a perfect Martini. The 2014 Lake Placid Iron Man has just started and I will soon be swimming in Mirror Lake with number 367 painted on my arms. If all goes well sometime before midnight tonight I will add another 140.6 miles to these totals and then stop keeping track.

I have approached today’s race with mixed emotions. On some days I would wake brimming with confidence. On others full of self-doubt wondering what I had gotten myself into when I signed up for this. But no matter how I felt when each day began by its end I always fell asleep reflecting on how fortunate I was to have the support of my family and friends as I worked to achieve this goal. And for that I offer these few words of thanks.

First and foremost I thank Kathy who has supported and encouraged me throughout this journey as I transformed from someone who didn’t really exercise much into a dedicated athlete spending most of his spare time either swimming, running or biking. She has been with me from the start when I bought a new bike so that I could start riding it to work and never complained when I followed that purchase with a road bike, a folding bike and most recently a high-end carbon fiber racing bike.

I appreciate very much the swim coaching I have received over the years, starting with Bruce Rinker, followed by Katie, Bethany, Natalie, Zach, Joe and Lindsey. More than the coaching though, I am deeply grateful for the lane mates who have put up with me over the last four years, especially Will, Andrew, Bob, Suzanna, Krista, Brittany, Sarah, Corrine and Lauren. You have made swimming fun for me and I will never forget the times we spent together on our road trips to Bivalve, New York and Point Lookout. Thanks also to Dean, Jim, Ryan, Michele, Kelly, Miguel, Laura and Phil, experienced Iron Man finishers who have offered encouragement and great suggestions along the way. Elysia and Molly are among the dozens of other Marylanders who are here to race and volunteer. I wish them a safe and successful journey across the lake, over the mountains, through the forests and beside the rivers today.

I would not be the bicyclist I am today were it not for Bob, Dave, PJ, Mike and Charlie. You have taught me the joy of long distance cycling with friends and for that I am truly grateful.

The hardest part of the training for me has been the running and I will not set any records on the marathon portion of today’s race. Of all the disciplines however, my running has improved the most and for this I remember fondly and thank Dave, Parnell and John; Valerie; Josh and Glenn; and Kyle, Eric, Jim, Dave, Beth and Monica.

I owe special debts of gratitude to Tim who taught me to believe in myself as a swimmer and to Claudia who encouraged me to start this blog, swam with me in the very cold and rough Atlantic and during an emotional Purple Swim and trained with me for my first triathlon. I will cherish our friendships always.

And finally I am most grateful to Abby who helped me fall back in love with swimming which, after all, is what started this in the first place.

When I was in Lake Placid over Memorial Day weekend, a triathlon club from New York was also in town training. From time to time I would be passed by a member of that club who would call out to me “You can do it!” I would give a slight nod or a wave but didn’t really understand what was going on until later when I saw two members from the club pass each other by. The first yelled out the familiar “You can do it!” to which the second responded “I love you baby!”

Thank you again for the friendship, love and support that have brought me to the point where I really believe I can do this today. And with that let me close simply by saying to each of you, very sincerely, “I love you baby.”

On the road again

May 9, 2014 — 2 Comments

photo

I wake early today for a short bike ride to and around Lake Montebello. This is my second bike ride since the accident and later this morning I will try to bike to work. My arm feels stronger everyday and I hope to be able to start swimming again tomorrow. The black eye is mostly faded and the stitches will be removed in three hours.

Heading home I pass an ambulance leaving my neighborhood. I can’t quite catch the number but think it’s Medic 31. I lift my sore left arm from the handle bar and flash a thumbs up. The driver taps the horn twice and both paramedics give me a wave.

It’s good to be back.

Friends indeed

May 5, 2014 — 7 Comments

wpid-Photo-Oct-25-2012-643-AM.jpg

They say with bike crashes that it is not a matter of if, but when. Yesterday was my turn.

I woke early to meet Dave, Bob and PJ for breakfast before the start of this year’s Monument to Monument Ride. I have not made many of Bob’s monthly century rides lately, being too consumed with training for this summer’s Lake Placid Iron Man, but was determined not to miss this ride.

The weather was perfect and we along with nearly 100 other riders leave Baltimore’s Mount Vernon at 8:15 AM. Dave and I bring up the rear to make sure that no rider is dropped and left to finish the ride alone. Along the way Dave fixes a broken chain for another rider and we help a first timer make it to Union Station where she has decided to call it a day.

Bob and PJ are interspersed with other riders, but the four of us meet up again at 6:00 PM on Hammonds Ferry Road and ride into Baltimore together, hoping to make it to Hampden in time for a quick dinner and some beer. We leave the Gwynns Falls Trail and turn right onto Warner Street. Bob and PJ are a bit ahead and out of sight when Dave and I make the turn. Warner Street is criss-crossed with abandoned rail tracks and although I have rolled across them dozens of times before without incident, today is different. I am a bit tired and inattentive and before I know it I am tumbling to the pavement and steel below my left elbow.

I seem fine at first, although my sunglasses are missing and my face is hot and wet. Dave stops and runs back to me. The look on his face tells me I am in trouble. I look down and my jersey and shorts are showing the spots that are forming as the blood slowly drips down my face and off my chin.

Dave retrieves the first aid kit from my bag and opens it. It is very windy and I have stuffed the kit with extra bandages which the wind catch and send skipping down the road. Dave opens a roll of gauze, wads it and hands it to me. Bob and PJ have now turned back to find us and when they arrive the gauze is already soaked through. I start shivering and Dave covers my legs with the sweater, pictured above, that I was wearing earlier in the day.

I am sitting with my back against a jersey wall being kept company by the best friends in the world when Medic 4 pulls up. The ambulance is massive and stops within inches from where I am sitting. Two paramedics climb down, get swiftly to work and before long I am headed to the University of Maryland Medical Center. I am over-anxious and can’t stop talking. They read my blood pressure and I am shocked by how high it is. “That’s not my normal blood pressure,” I almost shout. They reassure me that everything is okay and that my blood pressure spike is a normal reaction to the pain that I am experiencing. I still can’t stop talking. I ask them what it’s like to treat a gunshot wound and they tell me. I ask them about car crashes, stabbings, gun battles and asthma. They take my questions in stride as they drive me matter of factly to the hospital. When we arrive they wheel me to the emergency room and stay with me for a while. Our talk turns to bikes, bike trails and bike shops. I am calmer now and say goodbye without ever learning their names.

A wonderful nurse practitioner takes care of me. An hour later she counts aloud the sixteen stitches that she has used to sew my left eyebrow and lid back together.  Her name is Jodi and she asks me about what happened and how I got help. And I tell her what you are reading now.

When I get home I notice that the face of my Garmin watch is scratched and cracked. I have used this watch to help with training and although it is pretty beat up I don’t plan on replacing it. Instead, if all goes well, I will be wearing it when I cross the finish line on July 27th. And when I turn it off after the race I will remember and give thanks to my friends Dave, Bob and PJ who were with me when I needed them yesterday.

photo

And the next time you see Medic 4 on the streets of Baltimore be sure to give them a wave and a smile for me.

Night Rider

November 17, 2013 — Leave a comment

On October 1st, I moved into a new office in the heart of downtown Baltimore and stopped driving my car to work. Sometimes I take the bus or catch a ride with Kathy, but most days I ride my bike.

With the shorter days much of my riding is done when it is dark outside. When I swim in the evening, my trip home starts at 9:00 PM.

Leaving downtown, I bike up Charles Street past the Washington Monument. At Mount Royal the traffic lights rise to a hillcrest at 28th Street and look like runway lights inviting a takeoff.

At Penn Station I catch and pass the number 11 bus but it passes me at North Avenue. A large line of riders waits at 25th Street and I beat the light while the bus loads. It does not catch me again this night.

At 29th, I cut behind the Johns Hopkins campus and wave to the security guards I pass on San Martin Drive. Tonight I surprise two deer who have strayed onto the campus from nearby Wyman Park.

I arrive home forty-two minutes after leaving swim practice and turn off the front porch light.

Running on empty . . .

October 7, 2013 — 3 Comments

On Sunday I started and finished my first triathlon at Centennial Park in Ellicott City.

The swim was wonderful. It was slightly less than a mile in distance and the water was warm. The 56 mile bike ride that came next went better than I had expected. I had trained on the course several times over the summer and knew it well. I got off the bike three and one half hours after I started the swim and all that was left was a 13.1 mile run.

By this time I was exhausted. My back was sore and it was way too hot to be jogging through hilly Ellicott City. I would spend almost as much time as it had taken to complete the bike course to finish the run.

As I slowly jogged, mile after mile, I found myself thinking back to the first time I had to run a race against a clock. It was during the summer of 1979 when, rather than return to lifeguarding, I volunteered to attend two weeks of training with the 101st Infantry Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

On the first day we were organized into a Company composed of two Platoons and for some unknown reason I was made a Platoon leader. Three other ROTC cadets from Dillard University were also given leadership positions. Parnell and John were two of my squad leaders and Dave, a senior at Dillard, was made Company commander. The four of us were put in charge of front line infantry troops serving with the 101st and none of us knew what we were doing.

Early on the Drill Instructors punished our mistakes by making the four of us do push ups. When our performance didn’t improve, they made everyone under our command join us, which only made our jobs harder as we quickly lost the confidence of the soldiers we were supposed to lead through formations and march to training.

I was overwhelmed and in way over my head. I thought I had signed up for a couple of weeks of rappelling out of helicopters and instead found myself being ridiculed at every turn. I remember standing in line for the pay phone, using a handful of quarters to call home to tell my dad in a shaky voice that I didn’t know what I was doing. There was nothing he could say during that call to make me feel better.

Dave caught the brunt of the Drill Instructors’ harassment but, unlike me, he never let it get to him. He knew he was doing it wrong, but rather than make excuses or feel sorry for himself he worked to get it right. Over the next week the four of us became friends. We borrowed a copy of the Army’s field manual on “Drill and Ceremony” and learned the proper way to organize a formation and to march troops. Eventually the push ups stopped and we settled into Army life.

In our free time we would play pick up basketball at a nearby enlisted-mens’ gym and John would try, without much success, to improve my jump shot. We talked about our plans for the future. They all wanted to be infantry officers. I hoped to go to law school. Parnell was already a father. I had not yet had a girlfriend.

There were silly rules that we were made to follow during the course, one of which was that only people who had passed the course could walk on the bridges over the many ditches that surrounded the training facilities. Every day we would come to a perfectly nice bridge, pass it by and instead run through a ditch or jump across a stream. And each time we did, John would proclaim that he was going to dance across the first bridge he came upon after we graduated.

The course consisted of a series of graded exercises and we needed to earn a certain number of points to pass. As the end of training approached, Dave was short on points. The last exercise was a 10 mile march in full gear that needed to be completed in less than four hours. The faster you finished, the more points you earned. In order to pass, Dave would need to finish the march in about two hours.

I had plenty of points and could have walked the ten-mile course and still graduated. Instead I learned about loyalty to friends that day and when Parnell and John declared that they were going to run the course with Dave, I decided to join them. Together the four of us ran in fatigues and combat boots, carrying rucksacks and fake M-16s made out of hard rubber. It was June, we were in Kentucky, and it was really hot. It was hard work and from time to time Dave, Parnell or I would drop back and John would encourage us to keep up so we could all dance across those bridges. I don’t remember what our time was when we finished that run, but later that day we all graduated together and John celebrated by dancing across the first bridge we passed.

I would never lead troops again during my military career, but would instead become a lawyer assigned to the Secretary of the Army’s staff. I never saw Dave, Parnell or John again after these pictures were taken and I don’t know what became of them, although I’m certain they each made fine infantry officers and served the Army well. The badge I earned that hot day in Kentucky is hung on my office wall. I cherish it along with the memory of the three cadets from Dillard who taught me the value of teamwork, friendship and loyalty on a long and hot run in June of 1979.

I eventually crossed the finish line six hours and ten minutes after I started the swim. I sat down, drank a Gatorade and wished there was a bridge nearby to dance across.

My favorite bike when I was a kid was a three-speed, banana seated, Schwinn Stingray that looked something like this:

I used it and several bikes that followed to get around the small village where I grew up and the college campuses where I studied.

I bought my first road bike a little over three years ago and shortly thereafter started attending the monthly Rando Ramble rides organized by Bob Wagner. I never truly loved cycling until I started riding the Rambles. The Ramble riders have taught me how to be a self-sufficient, courteous and safe cyclist. The treks laid out by Bob have shown me Maryland at its best, from its quiet back roads to its busy bike trails. Together our group has biked to the heart of the District of Columbia, to the northern and southern shores of the Chesapeake Bay and miles beyond the Pennsylvania border. We often start these rides over coffee and bagels and, whenever possible, end them over beer and stories.

This month’s ride was a 42 mile ride into and around Baltimore ending with a picnic at Charlie’s Catonsville home. The first leg takes us to Jimmy’s Restaurant in Fells Point for a late breakfast. We get there using the bike lane along Frederick Road and the Gwynns Falls and Middle Branch Trails. From Harbor Hospital we turn north and cross the Hanover Street bridge on our way to Fort Avenue. We circle the Inner Harbor and bounce our way over cobblestones into Fells Point.

From Fells Point we cycle east and then north to an ice cream shop in Mt. Washington. After a quick tour of Canton and Patterson Park we climb north using the Jones Falls Trail and the Roland Avenue bike lane.
On the final leg of our journey we bike to the hilltops of Pimlico, then through Leakin Park and finally back to Catonsville.
When we reach Charlie’s house, Mary already has chicken cooking on the grill. We swim in the pool and enjoy some beer while dinneris being finished. It’s a beautiful evening inCatonsville and as I sip Charlie’s home-brewed Arrogant Bastard Ale at the pool’s edge I am grateful that my life’s biking journey has brought me to this fine group of friends.My only regret is that I didn’t keep that Stingray.

During our brief layover in Sofia we took the Sofia Bike Tour and spent an amazing morning biking in Sofia with our tour guide Lucy.

We rented bikes from Sofia Bike and met Lucy at the front of the National Theater at 10:00 AM. She rolled up on a Drag mountain bike and for the next three hours led us around the center of Sofia and through its parks.

At the start she advised us that Sofia was not “bike tolerant.” She wasn’t kidding. Bikes were everywhere when we were in London and Paris but there is no real bike infrastructure here. There is a single bike trail in one of the parks that was originally built as a private exercise area for a senior communist official. The trail is still in good shape and is now open to the public but doesn’t appear to get much use.

Bikes don’t share roads here. Most riding takes place on sidewalks and using crosswalks. No helmets are worn, only sun glasses. There are formal walking trails in the parks but we do not use many of them. Instead Lucy’s tour takes us down smaller and narrower paths. We bike across a four lane high-speed boulevard and even down a ramp to an underground mall, a first for me.

At the stops along the way Lucy tells us the history of her country, its current struggles and the reason for ongoing protests in front of the Parliament. It was a wonderfully informative ride and one of the best tours of a city I have ever taken.

As well as being a strong cyclist and enthusiastic tour guide, Lucy is a kindergarten teacher who works with special needs kids. She has studied English since the third grade, is extremely proficient, and wants to visit the U.S. someday. I hope it happens soon and that when it does she will include a visit to Baltimore so I can return the favor and show her my city by bike.

Thanks again Lucy.

Finish.

August 4, 2013 — 1 Comment

Earlier today I finished the 3 mile Purple Swim to support pancreatic cancer research. There was a one mile swim followed by a two mile swim with the option to swim both, which is what my friends and I chose to do this morning.

The day was beautiful and the conditions were perfect. The humidity was low, with a water temperature in the high 70s. The water surface was basically flat. It was like swimming in a pool without having to do any flip turns.

At the end of each swim, I walked ashore and under the purple banner pictured above and remembered all the times my father encouraged me to finish what I started. My father never rushed into these matters. He waited, let things simmer a bit, and then said just the right thing to convince me to keep going.

I now realize that by encouraging me in this way, my father taught me a more valuable lesson. And that lesson was that once you know you can finish whatever you start, you will never be afraid to push your limits and strive for higher goals.

I just signed up for the “Half Full” triathlon scheduled for October 6th in Ellicott City. Until this morning, my plan had been to swim, bike and run for a total of 40 miles. Inspired by the memory of my father's lessons, I instead signed up for the 70 mile course.

I don't know how I'll do on October 6th, but I will finish.

 

One of my favorite places for a short bike ride is the bike trail that circles the Lake Montebello reservoir in Northeast Baltimore. The lake is a mile and a third around and there is always a breeze, which keeps it relatively cool for biking and adds an element of resistance training on the back loop.

On any given night at the trail you will see Baltimore at its finest, with people of all ages exercising and enjoying the outdoors together. You will encounter cyclists of all abilities, from beginners on training wheels, to couples riding hybrids, to serious racers forming pace lines. You’ll see parents pushing strollers, roller skaters and even a scooter or two. There are walkers, some joggers and a few serious runners. There are even frisbee golfers and people who just like to wax their cars under the row of white pines that line Whitman Drive.

It’s a great place to train, to ride with friends, or to spend a quiet evening pedaling around a pretty lake while listening to music.

Dear David,

Although we have yet to meet, our relationship spans decades.

I started college shortly after More Songs About Buildings and Food was released, but the song that everyone was playing when I moved into the dorm was, of course, Psycho Killer, from your first album, Talking Heads : 77. I’ve been a lifelong fan since then and was pleasently surprised a few years ago when my daughter presented me with a copy of Bicycle Diaries, a wonderful book of essays about your biking adventures as you travelled around the world.

It is truly an inspiring book. Except for one notable omission.

You write brilliantly about your bike journeys in Berlin, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Manilla, Sydney and London. And in the U.S. you have biked in San Fransico, New York, Niagara Falls, Valencia, Detroit, Sweetwater, Columbus, New Orleans and even Pittsburg. But as far as I can tell, you have never ridden a bike in your hometown since you left it for the suburbs in 1970.

Instead, you have proclaimed this about Baltimore to the bicycling world:

“I am on a train passing through Baltimore, where I grew up. I can see vacant lots, charred remains of burned buildings surrounded by rubbish, billboards advertising churches, and other billboards for DNA testing of children’s paternity. Johns Hopkins Hospital looms out of the squalor. The hospital is on an isolated island situated slightly east of downtown. The downtown area is separated from the hospital complex by a sea of run-down homes, a freeway, and a massive prison complex. Eastern Europe and the Soviet bloc come to mind.”

Excerpt From: Byrne, David. “Bicycle Diaries.” Penguin Books, 2010-09-28. iBooks. (This material may be protected by copyright).

Ouch! Now while I don’t dispute much of your description (we have, however, advanced to using mobile vans for DNA testing), I think you missed a great biking opportunity when you failed to get off that train.

And for this reason I write in the hope that you will join me the next time you are in town and correct this oversight. I know just the trip to take because my friend Bob Wagner has been planning and leading amazing rides in and around Baltimore starting probably around the time you released Grown Backwards. He also writes some pretty good bicycle diaries at The Rando Ramble and is a really good drummer, if you ever need a fill-in.

He has designed a beautiful ride that starts in Canton and winds its way to Harve de Grace roughly tracing the route of the train ride you write about. It’s about a hundred miles round trip, with a stop for lunch and Guinness drafts along the way. It may not measure up to London or Berlin, but you will be glad you came and it will forever change your feelings about biking in Baltimore.

Hope to see you soon.

Sincerely,

Dave Hoskins, a proud Rando Rambler and Talking Heads fan from Baltimore,

Some of my best friends write blogs about bicycling. Seriously.

First, there is Bob Wagner, a cycling enthusiast well known for organizing monthly 100 mile bike rides that start and end in Baltimore. He writes brilliant posts about these adventures in The Rando Ramble – Long Distance Biking in and out of Baltimore and freely shares his routes, cue sheets and GPS files. Many bike clubs treat this kind of data like State secrets, but Bob believes in freely sharing his work product and is to be commended for it. One of his most popular rides is the Monument to Monument ride, an annual ride from Baltimore’s Washington Monument to the better known monument by the same name in the center of the District of Columbia. While there may be better known century rides in the area (like the Seagull Century or the Civil War Century sponsored by the Baltimore Bicycling Club), Bob’s rides are elegant testaments to the simple joy of picking a place to visit and then figuring out how to get there by bike. Bob puts a lot of thought into the trips he plans and each ride has a purpose.

Another great biking blog that I follow is BikesNCoffee Bicycles Coffee and Miscellany written by Dave Hopkins. Since we tend to ride at the same speed, many of his posts recount our various misadventures from the perspective of the riders at the back of the pack. Dave writes thoughtfully and from the heart and one of his most inspiring posts is the goodbye he penned to his late father, “here’s to you dad. . .” Dave also designed our group’s cycling sweater and is the author of our unofficial motto: “more about the route less about the numbers.”

I love reading what Bob and Dave have to say and, if I’m honest, their writing inspires me to be a better cyclist, person and friend.

So why this blog? I guess it all starts with the fact that my daughter, a classics major at the University of Chicago, decided to travel to the coast of the Black Sea this summer to excavate and decipher pottery from Ancient Greece. This rather straight-forward study abroad opportunity led to an invitation to join her on a train trip across Europe on her way to the archeological site.

A close friend recently asked what I planned to do during the long train rides. Would I bring lots of books to read? Take time to visit the cities along the way? Well, inspired by Bob and Dave, writing this blog is what I have decided to do.

At the outset, I must recognize, thank and give credit to Mark Smith from the U.K., better known as The Man in Seat 61. . . for his wonderfully insightful and helpful blog post on How to Travel from London to Sofia and Bulgaria. . . He has literally shown me the way, step by step. Check back starting August 28th and you can follow how I do.

And to Mark, as a token of my appreciation, I extend an open offer of a place to stay should you and your family ever visit Baltimore. You will not find the train travel particularly inspiring in Baltimore but, with Dave and Bob’s help, I can show you a very unique way to travel to Washington, D.C. on two wheels.