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October 24, 2018 / bikesbytesbites

My 50-mile shopping trip, er, bike ride

This past weekend (Oct 20-22) I took part in the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia‘s (BCP) fall weekend, based in Hanover PA. It’s actually billed as the Hanover-Gettysburg weekend since, I guess, Gettysburg is a bigger draw than Hanover; plus, many of the rides go to Gettysburg, some exploring the battlefield.

Gettysburg was not that compelling for me.  It’s relatively easy to get to from Washington DC, and I’ve ridden there many times. So  I decided to head in the other direction, east to Loganville. Conveniently, a ride was scheduled to leave for Loganville at 9 AM on Saturday.  I had gotten up early and was ready to ride by 8 AM. Therefore, I decided to start with a small detour, heading into downtown Hanover, to explore. I had even planned where my route could intersect the ride route and hopefully join up with the group.

Early in the ride, I passed the R H Sheppard Diesel Museum (!!) which wasn’t open. It turns out it is only open by appointment, but it was an intriguing store front.

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My first real stop was the Hanover Market. It’s a farmers-market-plus, with nice produce, other food items (the best selection of rooibos teas I’ve ever seen) and some handcrafts. Purchases: one of those rooiboos teas, some Halloween candy for the group, and some non-pasteurized wildflower honey.  Who knew that most honey was pasteurized? And I was glad I decided to equip my bike with panniers to carry stuff.

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I left the market in time so that, if I hurried, I could make it to the corner where my route would intersect the ride route, just a little bit behind the ride. Alas, another distraction: just before that corner was a factory outlet for Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels. That’s a slight simplification: the factory outlet was for  Snyder’s Lance, a large conglomerate that owns Snyder’s Pretzels as well as lots of other cookies and snacks.  That explains why the building across the street said it was the Snyder’s Lance Research Facility.

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The walls are hung with the trademarks and packaging of sample products. When I questioned one of the sales clerks, “Really? Does Snyder’s of Hanover own Pepperidge Farm?”, I was corrected: Campell’s owns Pepperidge Farm; but it also owns Snyder’s of Hanover.

20181020_3_SnydersI sampled some pretzels-with-peanut-butter and bought some candies.  I had to resist buying a large package of pretzels to give out for trick-or-treat: although I could have carried it on today’s ride, I was also riding partway home from Hanover, with my panniers packed with the weekend’s clothes and sundries, so there would have been no room for the pretzels. Rats.

After that little shopping excursion, there was no way I was going to catch the group ride, so I tootled along enjoying the scenery. The route didn’t actually go on the Heritage Rail Trail, but it paralleled it for a bit.  I happened to glance at the trail as I was passing Hanover Junction, and just had to take a picture of one of the sculptures (?), with my bike added for scale.

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I actually did see a group of cyclists as I was approaching the rest stop; it turns out it was a group of BCP riders that had left half-an-hour after the group I had wanted to join, and was going at a more relaxed pace. Anyhow, I ended up not having lunch at Brown’s Farm Market (too busy), but enjoying the free snacks (apple cider, various samples) and making another purchase: honey crisp apple sauce.

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I don’t know if I can count the next stop as part of my “shopping expedition” since the only thing purchased at Rutter’s was for immediate consumption: a sports drink.  I keep thinking that Rutter’s must somehow be related to Sheetz, since their color schemes are similar, but no; in fact, they are competitors.

The ride back to Hanover was west-by-southwest, which seemed to be exactly the direction the headwind was coming from. So, it was nice to stop at Sonnewald Natural Foods.  Even nicer, they were selling a brand of protein powder I had been wanting to try — Whole Foods stocks it, but only in one flavor in a giant-size package. Sonnewald had multiple flavors in single-serve packs. Into the shopping basket and into the panniers.

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It was good to get back to the hotel, away from the wind. A very enjoyable ride, even using a detailed cue sheet and not 21st century technology. Thanks, BCP, for organizing this weekend.

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June 4, 2018 / bikesbytesbites

Yesterday’s Adventure/Misadventure

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Interesting day Sunday. I was attending a triathlon in Rock Hall MD.  (Not participating because of lack of training due to injuries, but my share in the AirBnB house had already been paid for.) Anyhow, I cheered on my teammates at the start and left for home around 10 AM.

Really bad news: When I got home and unpacked, I realized I had left my pocketbook at the house. I called my housemate, but she didn’t answer. I thought that maybe she had already left for home, since it was a sprint triathlon and the weather was so lousy.  So I started to drive back to the Eastern Shore. (My wallet and driver’s license were in my waist pack, which I was wearing.)

Mini bad news: The entry to the highway was blocked by an accident. I waited five minutes for it to be cleared and then got going.

Great news: About forty minutes later, my housemate called. She was at the house and found my pocketbook. We arranged for me to pick it up at her place when she got back to town.

Good news: Because of the delay caused by the accident, I was five minutes closer to home when I turned around. On the trip back, I stopped at the Wegman’s in Lanham MD, just 2 miles off route 50. So, I got in a trip to my favorite grocery store, which I had skipped on my first drive since it was raining so hard. And because routes 295 and 695 into DC were showing B-A-D traffic, and I was already off US-50, I explored a new, alternate route to get back into town, which worked out very well.

All told, I could have lived without this adventure/misadventure.

April 15, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

Baltimore Bike Swap and Social

The Baltimore Bike Swap and Social took place this past Saturday, April 13. Individuals and non-profits can rent tables or floor (or outdoor) space to sell bicycles and accessories. Yes, there are several similar events closer to DC. But this one was sponsored by (and near the headquarters of Baltimore Bike Works. I wanted to see and support them, as well as helping Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg sell bikes.

The trip also gave me the opportunity to try out roll-aboard bike access on the MARC train Penn line. This was started a year (?) ago on weekend trains and very recently extended to weekday trains.

There are actually two types of bike accommodations. On the trip to Baltimore, the conductor directed me to the first car of the train, the bike car. There were racks for twenty or more bikes on the floor along one side of the car and seats on the other. Very nice, except a long walk along the tracks at both stations.

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On my return trip I was directed to one of the double-decker cars. On the entry level were two bike racks. Unfortunately they’re the kind where you have to hang the bike by the front wheel. Not happening. I just bungied the bike to the rack. The conductor didn’t object, maybe because I was the only passenger in the car. These must be the cars that are used on the weekday trains. 

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It was a short ride to the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, where the sale was being held. Ross from Recycle Bicycle was already there. I helped him finish setting up and pricing things. He was selling about 20 bikes and miscellaneous parts, both used and new. Once the sale started we were both busy, showing bikes, helping people find a bike they liked and that fit, adjusting bikes and sometimes fixing them. It was a lot of fun and a learning experience. It’s great to recycle a bike to someone who will appreciate it. And sometimes teach them a little about bike fit and repairing it in the process.

My original plan had been to work for a few hours then explore Baltimore. Nope. I was enjoying myself so much that I stayed almost until closing time, leaving just in time to make my train. 

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It was a great experience. The Streetcar Museum was a great building with exhibits which I barely  remembered to look at.  I just need another trip to Baltimore, to see more of the city.  But I didn’t return home empty handed — got some great deals on new and used parts and accessories. 

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April 9, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

Bike Florida 2019 Part 2

Brooksville Day 1 – Friday, March 29

One ride was listed for today, 21 miles.  There was an option to extend it by continuing on the Southcoast Bike Trail.  Of course, I decided on a different option to extend the route, by continuing west to the Gulf Coast.  Bike Florida had handed out Adventure Coast brochures, which included bike and ped paths around Brooksville. Sure enough, one of those trails shown as planned/under construction still did not exist.

As I was backtracking, I met a group of Oxon Hill bicyclists, who were exploring the same option.  They picked out a route. Part of the route was on a signed bike route, alongside highway 50.  That was not particularly pleasant or picturesque. However, the scenery improved once we got to Weeki Wachee and Pine Island. And the beach (complete with palm trees.) And a restaurant with alligator on the menu.

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We got back to camp at a reasonable time for the yoga class (for those so inclined) or for a shower at the shower truck. (Great use of technology.) Dinner was at Luigi’s, the nearest restaurant, which served vast amounts of Italian food. Missed the pre-trip meeting, but oh well …

Mileage: 56

Brooksville Day 2 – Saturday, March 30

Official routes offered a choice of a metric century or a shorter ride. I opted for shorter, hoping I would have time to explore downtown Brooksville at the end of the ride.

The ride started on the Good Neighbor Trail, which is partly a rail-trail conversion and partly an extension.  That trail connected to the Withlacoochee Trail.  The first half of the ride was entirely on the trails, which were pleasant and well designed.

The second half should have been on low-traffic local roads, but some sort of traffic incident on I-75 led many cars to a detour on our “low-traffic local road”, Spring Lake Road.  But in the middle of this was the second rest stop, at Boyett’s Grove.  I don’t know about the facilities inside, but the outside walls were decorated with murals/outsider art that provided a nice break.  I especially liked Alligator Elvis.

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Speaking of art, I usually don’t buy event-specific bicycle jerseys. However, I was so impressed by Dan’s jersey from a Cycle Zydeco tour that I used this rest stop as the opportunity to snap a picture.  One of the honorees that year was Bernard Hinault (“The Badger”). The dancing and accordion music at Cycle Zydeco is also pictured — but where’s the food?

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On my return to town, I took some time to explore the development at the trailhead of the Good Neighbor Trail,   which is being publicized to increase bicycle tourism to Brooksville.  At the trailhead is (yet another) old rail station.  On the ride outbound, as we went over some railroad crossings, people had wondered why there was only one track. The answer is that Brooksville was the end of a special 12-mile spur, built to serve the tangerine producers: trains came in and backed out. The station building is a collection of old artifacts, a museum of sorts. Additional historical buildings are being moved to the site.

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I deviated from the route (so what else is new?) to explore some of downtown Brooksville on the way back to the park. It’s a mix of old buildings, new buildings, and parking lots.

Mileage: 53

Brooksville Day 3 – Sunday, March 31

I didn’t do any of the official Bike Florida routes today.  Instead, I plotted a route to Tampa Airport, to pick up my rental car. The plan was to ride toward the airport, maybe getting to the airport, maybe calling Uber somewhere along the way.

I started out by going through Brooksville, using some of the roads on today’s century route. Then, I picked up the Southcoast Trail, going south from where Friday’s ride turned off. The first part of this trail was great — I got to see a roadside memorial/shrine that people who had done the extended ride on Friday mentioned.  It turned out to be the Josephine Guadagnino Memorial Garden.

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The next part of the trail was not so pleasant — right next to the highway, with a warning that facilities were few and far between.

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After riding several miles, seeing few bicyclists and no walkers (unlike the previous portion of the trail), I saw two bicyclists in a shelter. They said there were intersections with stores either 5 miles north(not happening) or 2 miles south. Sold! I left the trail, found the Starbucks, ordered an iced coffee, bought the Sunday NY Times, and called an Uber (in that order). I didn’t even need an Uber XXL for the folding bike — a regular-size Uber would do. It was a delightful (air-conditioned) ride to the airport, where Enterprise had my car ready and helped me get the bike in the rear.

Mileage: 35. Would have been 52 if I’d biked the whole way. But I was worried about finding a route to the rental car building without having to get on a busy highway. I’m sure there must be one (I’ve found it at Dulles) but 35 miles without traffic was quite enough.

Summary

That was basically my Bike Florida — I was only signed up for the weekend. I was planning to ride the next day (after driving to Inverness), but then taking off for my drive home on an indirect route, visiting two friends along the way.  It was a nice break to the winter. Next year I’ll have to find a way to get to Florida a little more in the middle of winter … but I’m still planning to investigate Bike Florida.

April 5, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

Bike Florida 2019 – Part 1

Intro

Read more…

February 25, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

Dumplings…Dumplings…Dumplings

A few weeks ago, Charmaine found a Zagat article about the eight best dumplings in the DC area.  Not dumpling places, but actually the best dumpling type. They are at eight different places. So, that sounded like a good excuse for a bike ride to sample all  of the best dumplings.

The original plan was to ride to as many of the places as possible for one lunch, getting a sample of the champion dumpling at each one. That plan didn’t last long.

Dumpling Day 1: We only got to one place, The Source.  The featured dumpling was so good, and the other dumplings were so tempting, we stopped there.  Warning: Very popular restaurant, so get there early (opens at 11:30 for lunch) or have a reservation.

Dumpling Day 2: We got to three places, but, in good conscience, we should only count two of them.

  • Full credit – Mandu. The vegetable dumplings were ok, but not spectacular. The other options are much better — and there’s a large selection of vegetarian options. (Had already eaten there, but not tried the dumplings.)
  • Full credit – Bantam King. The chicken gyoza was phenomenal — good flavor, good texture, tasty sauce (sweet chili oil). Worth the short wait to get a table. However, the place is small and noisy.  But with very interesting decor.
  • Half credit – Tiger Fork. The “best” dumplings are not on the lunch menu, only on the dinner menu.  The bun and shumai were good, but (1) not spectacular and (2) not dumplings.  The jasmine blossom tea was interesting. Needs a dinner visit.

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Warning: Zagat has the wrong address for Tiger Fork . So does the Washington Post review. (Corrected below.) Don’t they recognize Blagden Alley as an actual street?  Plus there’s no sign in English outside.

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Extra Added Attraction: Walk around Blagden Alley while you’re there. The murals, mosaics, and sculptures on the walls are wonderful to behold.

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Future (to be updated): Dinner visits needed to Dorjee Momo and ChiKo and desirable (to truly be a stickler) to Tiger Fork.  Trip to the burbs needed for A&J.

Pork and kimchi potstickers  ChiKo 423 Eighth St. SE; 202-558-9934 Dinner only!
Lamb momo  Dorjee Momo 317 Seventh St. SE; Thurs-Sun Dinner Dinner only!
Shrimp and carrot dumplings  The Source 575 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-637-6100 Fantastic!
Chicken gyoza  Bantam King 501 G St. NW; 202-733-2612 Good
Pan-fried vegetable dumplings Mandu 453 K St. NW; 202-289-6899 Nothing special
“Humble plate of chili wontons”  Tiger Fork 922 Blagden Alley NW; 202-733-1152 Visited, but …
Pork and cilantro dumplings  Laoban Dumplings 2000 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-780-8746  
Pan-fried pork dumplings  A&J Restaurant 1319 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 301-251-7878; 4316 Markham St., Annandale, 703-813-8181 Suburbs! Needs a special trip

 

 

 

January 10, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

2018 Year in Review – Movies

During the past year, I saw (or at least logged that I saw) 87 movies.  My tastes and viewing habits are somewhat eclectic. I saw films in current-run theatres; on broadcast TV; on Netflix; in festivals in commercial theatres; in revivals at museums or art-houses.  The list of films is here:  movies2018

I record a (too brief) comment on each film, and categorize films ranging in these categories

  • Wonderful; I would see it again
  • Worth seeing, but once was enough
  • Historical interest only (an old film that I finally got a chance to see)
  • No (for various reasons; I usually don’t walk out on a film, but sometimes …)

Reviewing my list, I would say that the highlights of this past year were:

  • The Jacques Becker festival I attended at Film Forum in NYC this past summer
  • The silent film festival at AFI this fall
  • New films – Notorious RBG (seeing the 2019 fiction film is on my list);  The Spy who Dumped Me; First Reformed
  • Newish films seen via meetups, including French, Italian, German, and “Bethesda Arts” (in keeping with me practicing my languages)
  • As always: pre-code films (US sound films from the years 1929-1932) before the production code went into effect.

Some of the specific films I would recommend (if you can find them; not including current US films or other films in wide distribution):

Transatlantic (1931)

 

There are many reasons to see Transatlantic. I actually saw it last year, at the Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, Italy, where they were celebrating the all-but-forgotten director William Howard. It’s pre-code, so has adult characters and situations. This showing was co-sponsored by the DC Art Deco Society, since the ocean liner and decor are very art deco. And the story keeps your interest — it’s another version of “assorted characters trapped together in an enclosed space”, but very well done. img_2643[1]

Film Noir (Noir City DC)

I only got to see five films in this festival; the best was the Alan Ladd “This Gun for Hire”, but any film noir is worth seeing at least once. Also worth seeing/hearing is an introduction by Eddie Muller, who basically puts together Film Noir festivals that play across the US.

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Silent Film Festival (AFI)

Silent films are a relatively new passion. Many of the early films (I’ve seen a few from 1917) are historical interest only for me. However, women had a much larger role in directing, producing, acting in, and otherwise contributing to silent film than they seem to have had in the film industry since. For example, I had never heard of Alice Howell, a physical comedian who was very popular in the 19-teens and twenties.  And then there

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One film stood out —  The Ancient Law — German, from 1923! The plot is basically “The Jazz Singer”, but the errant Jewish son becomes a Shakespearean actor in 1850’s Austria, and not a jazz singer in 1920’s NYC.  I was very impressed by the film itself — its depiction of Jewish rites and customs (in Germany! in 1923!) as well as the live klezmer accompaniment.  The Ancient Law has just been restored.   It has also been showing in some Jewish film festivals, so that’s another opportunity to see it.

November 5, 2018 / bikesbytesbites

This past weekend’s goodies – I worked for them

On Saturday,  November 3, I marshaled WABA’s Apple Cider Ride, the long (“Honey Crisp”) version.  I got to the Dance Place early, signed in to get my marshal vest and first aid kit; had a cup of coffee; picked up a cue sheet; loaded the route into Ride with GPS (a backup never hurts); and hit the road.  It was my first time doing this ride, so I was looking forward to a relaxed ride in autumn weather, a combination of familiar streets and trails and maybe some new ones.

Marshaling is sometimes (ok, rarely) a free ride:  there are no mishaps along the route, no riders to help, either with advice, first aid, or bike repairs. That was not the case on this ride. The weather was lovely, but it had rained the day before and there were wet leaves on the trails. I witnessed the aftermaths of two accidents and was able to help out at the more serious one — a rider went down on a slippery, leaf-covered boardwalk. We called the EMTs and they were walking toward the accident site, carrying a stretcher, as I rode away.  (Other marshals were there helping the injured rider.)

The rest of the ride was relatively uneventful. Gorgeous scenery in neighborhoods and trails. A new trail (to me) – the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail. I stopped to help twice to help the same (!!) rider repair two flats.  (ATTN PEOPLE: I know that a pump weighs more than CO2 cartridges, but it doesn’t have a limited life span. And if you have deep-dish rims, either carry multiple tubes with long valves, be prepared to patch, or buy and carry a valve extender, so you can use a borrowed tube.)  But I did take time to stop at the two rest stops to enjoy hot apple cider and both the pumpkin and apple pies.  I earned those pies, pedaling into a fierce headwind from the west.

I was running a little behind schedule (had to be in Annapolis between 3 and 5), so I took a short-cut, missing the southern part of the East Anacostia River Trail, that I was fairly familiar with anyhow. But the bridge I took (Benning Bridge) happened to be the route of the 30-mile ride, so I was still doing marshal duty, and was able to reassure riders that, yes, that road would get them to the Dew Drop Inn for the post-ride celebration.  I was sorry to miss that celebration. Maybe next year.  This ride is definitely a keeper.  I didn’t get a T-shirt, but I did end up with two engraved cups — which have carabiners as handles, so people could carry them hooked to their seat post rails.

The reason for the trip to Annapolis was to pick up my packet for the Annapolis Bridge 10k Run, scheduled for the next day, Sunday, November 5. Packet pickup was at the US Navy-Marine Corp Stadium, which gave me a chance to figure out where I needed to be the next morning, to catch a bus to the run’s actual starting point, at the foot of the western side of the bridge.

The run/walk has something like 20,000 participants. Since I was in a late wave (9 AM; the first wave starts at 7), I figured I would bike to the start, since there probably wouldn’t be parking spots left anyhow by the time I got there.  That strategy worked out. What looked like every yellow school bus in Anne Arundel and the adjacent counties must have been hired to shuttle people between the meeting places and the race start. By 8 AM I was on a bus,  and by 8:30 I exiting the start corral and starting to run.  (Going with an earlier wave is evidently ok, not like more tightly controlled triathlons I’ve been in.)

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One span of the bridge is closed to traffic and open for the race. There were police, EMTs, and water supplies stationed along that span and the 1+ mile the race extends to Chesapeake College on the eastern shore.

Once again, I lucked out with the weather. The wind had died down, the sun was bright, I even managed to have just the right combination of clothes. Racers were all considerate of the crowd, and there was very little jostling, just careful passing, stopping to enjoy the views. The bridge is ramped, but the highest point isn’t in the middle of the bridge, but closer to the western shore — that must be where the deepest part of the bay is. So, a level start to get to the bridge is followed by a less-than-2-mile uphill, which is followed by a more-than-2-mile downhill, which is followed by a level 1+-mile run to get to the finish. The run is 6.2 miles, but the width of the bay at that point is “only” 4.4 miles.  (Sigh, which I know because friends with  different sports training regimens have swum across  it.)

Anyhow, I collected my finisher’s medal  and some free food (Dole must have been a sponsor; the peach and mango in coconut water is really good) and walked around the grounds, checking out the food trucks and exhibitors.  The long-sleeved event T-shirts had some of the nicest graphics I’ve seen on event T-shirts.

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I then headed for the bus to get back to Annapolis. A great way to spend an early November Sunday morning.