Birthday Ride

Yes, it’s my birthday today.  The stock market went way up, boosted no doubt by the confidence-building fact that I’ve made it through another year.  This makes about as much sense as the other explanations we’ve gotten for the fluctuating market.  We also had a 5.8 Richter Scale earthquake here in Virginia.  The Honshu Earthquake that hit Japan in March was a 9.0.  Since each whole number on the Richter Scale equals a 100-times increase over the last number (logarithmic progression), the Japan earthquake was over 1 million times as intense as this one.  A vase fell of a shelf. A lamp was toppled. A picture fell and the glass broke.  A pinnacle snapped off the central tower of the Washington National Cathedral.  it lasted about 30 to 45 seconds.  Life immediately resumed its normalcy, except of course the Emergency Procedures called for the evacuation and shutdown of all government buildings and many private businesses.  Unexpectedly much of Washington, D.C. headed home from work at 2:30 p.m., and immediately demonstrated once again that in the case of a dire emergency it will be utterly futile to try to evacuate the District in a timely way.  If there is a mortal attack on our city, people will die in their immobile cars on the main traffic arteries.

I won’t even address the following topic, but think about it:  Why do the media assign earthquake news to their staff meteorologists?  Seismology is geology, not weather.

But this morning, long before any of this happened, I went on a birthday bike ride.  Just an ordinary ride in many ways, it nevertheless made me feel great.  The weather was fine, as described a couple of blogs ago.  Perfect late-August, dying-summer beauty.  I had to wait a while this morning for it to warm up to 70°.  First, I put on my birthday suit, or at least some shorts and the cycling jersey given to me two birthdays ago by my son Matthew.  it was intended for the 1997 New England Mountain Bike Championships Race Leader.  I rode my oldest bike, the pink Bianchi (see the Specs page), figuring the “elderly birthday” theme should be respected.  I took it on the Custis Trail going down to Rosslyn, along the Potomac on the Mount Vernon Trail, and back along the Four Mile Run Trail to the W&OD Trail.  It’s always a great ride, with a few semi-challenging short climbs, vistas of the Potomac and the splendid government buildings and monuments beyond, especially the Lincoln, Washington, and Jefferson Memorials.  Then back past the scenic Four Mile Run, a short river that takes the warm but purified waste water from the Arlington Sewage Treatment Plant down to the Chesapeake Bay via the Potomac River, its wafting fragrances making the ride even more piquant.

I noticed a couple of things today.  First, the ride was slowish.  Partly it was the headwinds, because however the wind is blowing elsewhere, it’s usually upstream on the Potomac, and I was going downstream.  partly it was my relative lack of conditioning for this time of year.  Partly it was that I made a deliberate effort to take it easy and enjoy the sights on this leisurely, gorgeous day.  But also, I was aware of being more than usually cautious.  I hope I am not succumbing to elderly fearsomeness, but only taking due precautions.  I’ve not ridden the Bianchi much lately–a long and different story, but basically it needed a handlebar tape job and I procrastinated–so I’ve had to re-learn the art of smooth shifting using the downtube levers.  And I just need to regain the feel of how the bike handles.  Second, the ride was different.  Collectively the last couple of years have seen big changes on the local trails.  One is some long overdue repaving work.  The completed portions are great, but the portions still undone are increasingly bumpy with tree roots undermining the asphalt.  I had to detour onto North Arlington streets for a few blocks today, either for repaving or for I-66 widening construction, I’m not sure which.  Also, they’ve made it impossible to “cheat” at Roosevelt Island by riding through the parking lot.  This is done by  barricading the trail all the way down to the crossing point.  If you head out from there on the parking lot side, you end up at the pedestrian-only bridge to the island.  And the “Humpback Bridge” is no more.  I will miss the dizzying northbound exit and curving descent past the lady Bird Johnson Memorial.  And a few of the greatest benches along the river are harder to access.  But the new bridge is wider and much safer, with a broad trail path separated from the roadway by a solid cement barrier wall.

All the trail changes are for the better, and as I enter a new annual cycle of life, I anticipate the same for life changes as well.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2011.

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One thought on “Birthday Ride

  1. Glad to know you had a good ride in your birthday suit, and glad too to know how you fared in the earthquake. Cheers to the next good year.

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