Author Archives: kbikeva

Coffeeneuring Conclusion

I finished #7 today with a short ride, not far out of my neighborhood, with a very good friend. It was great to get him out on his recumbent again and we rode in the new bike lanes. Sadly, today one was blocked because they’re putting in a crosswalk with pedestrian refuge island. Sadder still, the crosswalk is going in NOT where people cross, but where “line of sight” will be compliant with VDOT standards. When will planners start to look at where people actually naturally cross barriers (the yellow spots) and design accordingly?

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The yellow is where people cross right now — to the entrance of the shopping center and to a bus stop directly across from a walking path. The green is where they’re putting the crosswalk in — and having to create an entrance to boot!

 

We rode up the lanes and worked our way over to our goal, just past Fairfax County Parkway on Sunset Hills where it turns into Spring Street. Turning into the Sunset Park light industrial area we saw a bakery, two cafes, Dunkin Donuts, a gelato place and our destination, Weird Brothers Coffee. It was excellent coffee (my usual latte) and the price was right (Rick paid – ha ha).

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Not the most visually arresting sign!

The portion was generous:

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The bike parking left a lot to be desired:

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After coffee and solving some of the world’s major problems, we left there and went north on Herndon Parkway to the W&OD trail access and rode back to Reston. Rick peeled off to his neighborhood and I crossed Reston Parkway to get home. Near my house there is an elementary school which has often had terrible traffic issues.

Thus, I’ve been excited to see the restriping going on around the school. In some places they’re putting in bike lanes. Although usually I love bike lines, in this case I’m ambivalent about them.  What the safety folks really wanted to do was get rid of the parking on both sides of the street because of the danger to the kids of all that congestion. That required removal of car parking.

In my imagination, I see this occurring in a meeting: “Aha! we now have room for a bike lane!” But they never needed a bike lane through there to begin with – just less congestion from on-street parking, and now it will just annoy the people looking for a place to park and make them blame cyclists. Moreover, in the parts where they do allow the on-street parking, they’ve put down sharrows and they’re not all in the right place, nor were they necessary. They could have just left it to the cyclist to determine where it is safe to ride. With the sharrows, drivers will insist we have to use them (similar to them getting mad when we don’t use a bike lane).

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The yellow tags in the left side of the photo is where the center line will go…the sharrow puts the rider firmly in the door zone which is a real danger in this area with all the school parking.

It is exciting to see infrastructure come to Reston, but sometimes I wonder if anyone who actually rides this route was listened to!

Nonetheless, a little over 9 miles round trip and a sweet finish to the 2017 Coffeeneuring season.

I wasn’t finished though. After a quick trip home for some lunch I biked to Herndon to help with after school bike shop. A cold front was moving in and I had head winds the whole way. The school is northwest of my house. The winds were out of the north west. Sigh. The kids have done a great job getting the bikes ready for the holiday giveaway. They’re almost all ready – just tweaking to go. And wrapping with big bows!

That northwest wind made riding home from bikeshop chilly but tailwind the whole way was SSWWEEEEET! Arrived home in time to make a Blue Apron dinner special. Life is good.

 

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Coffeeneur #6 – Closing In on the Finish

Took a long ride out to Leesburg today to visit my Coffeeneur #6 site. I rode with my buddy Laura for the first part until she split off at Ashburn to go see her son. I don’t blame her – if I could veer off to see my son, I would too. Plus he promised to fix her bike so who would turn that down?

On our way out we had the thrill of riding in the new bike lanes on Colts Neck Road in Reston. VDOT turned this road into a road diet and it’s WONDERFUL. (This photo is on my way back, but I liked it so much on the way out, I retraced my steps going home!)

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This used to be 2 lanes each way, no bike lanes, and peds crossed at their own risk.

Near Herndon we discovered this delight along the trail!

Bike pump, stand and TOOLS! It’s in the short section of the W&OD between Van Buren and Elden.

When I got out to Leesburg I went to King Street Coffee. What a lovely little place with excellent skim latte (I know, no imagination), and delicious pumpkin cake!

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Don’t judge me — I rode 20 miles to get this cake…and it served as my lunch. King Street Coffee also has a restroom, good bike parking, and a great location in an old building in the historic part of Leesburg. Think about it – they named it King Street because when the town was formed, the people there lived as British subjects!

This was one of the inside walls of the place. Kind of interesting, right?

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After my coffee I stopped by South Street Under to pick up some of their delicious bread. I eagerly anticipate the next couple of days of yummy flavored morning toast. Mmmm…

I headed back to Herndon to meet my friend Radhika at Green Lizard. On my way out with Laura I had found a small purse on the trail right by their store. It had ID, money, and keys in it so I took it in to Alex and asked her to do some location magic and reunite it with its owner. When I got back this afternoon she said the woman had been delighted when Alex called. Whew!

It was a good ride today – cold, and mostly overcast, with a slight cross-wind, but dry. Any day outside on the bike beats not riding, so I was content.

My last photo — the landscape crew obviously does not appreciate the new bikelanes as much as I do. We don’t even have curbside leaf pickup in Fairfax County so there’s no reason for them to put it here. Sigh.

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40 miles for coffee. One more and my fall goals will be met!

Marching to Coffeeneur #5

I love hanging out with my biking friend Laura. She is always up for last minute creative (sometimes a bit wacky) adventures, and sometimes she initiates them!

Such was our Monday adventure. She had heard that on Monday, the 163rd birthday of John Philip Sousa, there would be a brief memorial and concert by The President’s Own at Congressional Cemetery where he is buried. Even better, there would be CAKE!

The timing necessitated us taking Metro but the Metro rules on when you can take bikes on board made it a little tricky. If we had ridden our bikes to our local station, it’s too far out for us to get on board in time to allow travel time to the destination by when the event was to start. So we threw the bikes on the back of my car and drove to a station that was closer in. It wasn’t quite 10 when we got into the station but the station manager told us to go on in, “Rush hour is over ladies.” (I love someone who exercises some good common sense).

We got to Potomac Avenue station in plenty of time to hop on and bike the .5 miles to the cemetery. Congressional Cemetery is an active burial location and has the graves of many of history’s figures, such as Matthew Brady, and Leonard Matlovich.

The ceremony started with an actor impersonating John Philip Sousa. He was droll and humorous. I don’t know if Sousa himself was ever that lighthearted (my experience with band directors has been that they gravitate to the ‘take themselves way too seriously’ side), but it made for a good show.

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After he spoke the Marine Band marched into the cemetery and took their place in front of Sousa’s grave.

They opened with Semper Fidelis, by John Philip Sousa.

Next was presentation of the colors.

There’s nothing like singing the National Anthem accompanied by The President’s Own! Nobody was taking any knees in this crowd.

The director spoke a few words, largely indicating that he and the Sousa re-enactor had read the same Wikipedia article. 🙂

The director placed a wreath and Laura tells me the tune was Eternal Father. Thanks Laura for correcting me on that!

They finished, of course, with his most well-known march, Stars and Stripes Foreverwhich has come to be known as “America’s March.” The piccolo player was fantastic. Watching the fingers of the clarinetists took me back to my marching band days and the sheer terror of the squeak that might drown out the important moments!

After we got our piece of cake in the little chapel, we walked our bikes over to see Leonard Matlovich’s grave. The entire area around him is filled with graves of gay couples, either buried together or with markers indicating that they plan to be so when the time comes. I would imagine the real estate here is in high demand, so people go ahead and purchase their plot, and perhaps prepare their stone in anticipation of the eventuality. One, at the foot of Matlovich’s grave, is a bench placed by self-described cat lovers. Both men are military veterans, still living, but wanted to give people a place to sit while they reflect on whatever they want to reflect upon. Here is the spot.

There is definitely a change of tone around this area – you can almost “see” history change from the defiant final words of those who chose to come out when it was still so dangerous to the joyful celebration of lives intertwined and then finally allowed legal marriage.

We stopped by to see Matthew Brady’s stone too, but we were running out of good weather indicators so we hopped on our bikes and headed for Rosslyn. We rode up Pennsylvania Avenue, which is always a breathtaking view of the Capitol.

We stopped in Rosslyn for COFFEE because after all, I needed to do #5! We stopped at Joe’s Coffee Shop on the first level of the Metro station. The coffee was good, the bike parking was good (quantity, quality, and visibility while sipping). Fortified, we attacked the hills of Arlington riding the Custis Trail west to the W&OD where we rejoined my car.

On the way home I realized I was going to have to go back to Arlington as I’d promised I’d help with the bike light giveaway that evening. And what I love about Laura, she enthusiastically agreed to come join the fun! We stopped by our houses to drop off bikes and change shoes and then went back to the Wiehle Station and left my car there.

We had a GREAT time handing out lights to people who had been caught by how early it got dark (especially with the overcast). We also provided lights to people who had them, and encouraged them to share them somewhere along the way with those who didn’t.

It was a fantastic day and I’m so happy Laura and can spend a whole day together with biking, Metro, march music, coffee, and STILL be friends!

Halloween Coffeeneuring

Yesterday Laura and I rode to DC to celebrate Halloween, visit a gallery, and do a little coffeeneuring.

We met in Reston at the Glade pool, which has brand new U-racks (yay Reston Association and Reston Bike Club) and where Glade Drive has new paving and sharrows. (Not fond of the sharrows but love the new pavement)

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We dressed appropriately for the occasion and we were the only people in costume on the W&OD and Custis! Twenty miles of NO Halloween?

It was really cold when we started out so we had a few layers underneath!

The exhibit we went to was called The Spirit of Autumn. It was at Artechouse, an art space in which the artists’ main medium is technology. This exhibit was so delightful. There were no costumes allowed inside, so we left them in our panniers on our bikes but we still had a couple of layers on which was a good thing because the exhibit space was cold.

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The leaves are all made by visitors over the past weeks. They are digitized and become part of the exhibit.

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On this first wall the leaves are falling into the exhibit from the upper left. There is a sensor that interacts with the viewer by allowing one to “move” the leaves, particularly by kicking them – just like a pile of autumn leaves.

There are also two sound sensors, one which produces rain and one that produces thunder and lightning. (No actual water falls)

On the back wall there is a big tree whose sensor interacts with fuller body movements. In this one Laura is “conducting” the leaves in a swirl.

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My favorite was the third wall, in which leaves mimic body shapes. We tried to do a bridge. We were also wearing multiple layers of clothing (remember, it was in the 40’s when we started out), so we were a bit ungainly. Look past us to the ‘reflection’ of our shapes in leaves.

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This is the same wall with Laura taking the photo of my “leaf person”

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There was a side gallery in which one could mold colors. They changed quickly so were difficult to photograph.

And finally, we got to create our own leaves. Once we ‘mailed’ them, they entered the exhibit.

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This was the second exhibit I’ve attended at Artechouse. I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with next. It’s one of the best values for money spent in DC – check it out!

After our thoroughly delightful romp in the exhibit we rode over to The Wharf to check out the new District Hardware and Bikeshop. Inside the shop is VeloCafe. They’re doing a very.soft.opening. In fact, they probably shouldn’t be open yet. We had a pastry and drink. I had a latte and for $4.75 it should have been perfect. It was … okay, but very pretty.

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But it was coffee at a place I’d never been, and with a friend on a delightful day. (We wore our costumes after the gallery and all through the rest of the day).

We caught the Metro back to Reston and then rode to trick or treat at The Bike Lane in Reston Town Center and then Green Lizard in Herndon. No one gave us bikes, but they did offer candy!

So, Coffeeneuring adventure #5 is in the books, 35 miles total for the day – costumed, to boot!

 

It was pretty much a perfect day!

Coffeeneuring #4

Today was a blustery day in the words of Winnie-the-Pooh! I was headed to Dunn Loring to meet my friend Debbie to return a DVD I borrowed. I looked up the forecast and saw that the wind was supposed to be out of the west. Great, I was riding towards the east so at least one leg would be boosted, right?

Not exactly. I was using the W&OD and I think one of the cosmic rules of the trail is that one is NEVER allowed a tailwind. Sidewinds and headwinds yes, but no tailwind.

No worries, it was a beautiful day and the wind had kept the numbers low on the trail. I got in a trail patrol mission while I was at it.

We met at District Taco in Dunn Loring next to the station. Bike parking leaves something to be desired, but to be fair, they’re right next to the Metro station where there is a lot of bike parking. I used the porch because I didn’t think with the wind and cold too many people would sit outside.

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I was impressed that they had power outlets with USB receptacles at every table! If one wanted to write the great American novel, this might be a good place to work on it in between crowds.

And, they had coffee! I had a cup of their seasonal blend with my customary 1 Splenda and splash of skim milk. It was delicious along with their tacos al pastor (with pineapple, of course). Yum.

We kept an eye on my bike while we dined. I’ll ride in the cold but I’m not stupid — sitting inside was preferable!

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It was a nice ride home, even with a headwind. Total mileage just over 21. Total speed – laughable.

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Coffeeneur #3

Boy, these days in Northern Virginia are hard to dress to bike for! Today was chilly and then sunny.

I went out about 1:30. I was going to meet a friend at 3 but needed to go by the post office to mail my son’s birthday package.

Not ONE pen in the post office would work on their printed label. I borrowed one from a nice woman next to me. Since he has 3 roommates and there were home baked cookies in there, I thought it was important to put his name on the package!

Our post office has a lovely new sidewalk/path in front of it, but of course, no bike parking. I had to break the law to lock up.

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From the post office I headed to Lake Anne. There’s a nice coffee shop/wine bar there. Lake Anne is coming back, largely due to the Lake Anne Brew House as well as this place. These are owned by locals who have committed to the neighborhood. Hope they survive!

When I got there the sun was shining and I was down to my base layer. As I sat I got chilled so put on my jacket. Then my friend got there Rick and we moved inside because it was chilly after the shadows lengthened.

This broke my theme a little since I have been to the Lake Anne Coffee House before. But it’s been a while since I’ve been there by bike, and it is one of the few home grown ones in Reston (maybe the only one?), so I’m counting it at #3. Bike parking — well, see for yourself. I had a late afternoon cup of regular coffee to which I added a splash of skim milk and splenda. When we were about to leave we gave our seats to new arrivals — my friend Sue who was with Supervisor Hudgins.

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By the time I got back home it was 12.8 miles and I was happy to have my jacket back on. Wasn’t quite ready to layer yet. Bummer.

 

Coffeeneuring #2 – For real this time

In case you missed it, I rode 25 miles yesterday to put a notch in my coffeneuring belt and … forgot to get coffee. The donuts were so good and I spent all my money on them. Oops.

So today I rode 22 miles to Potomac Yards to meet Ilga for coffee. My theme is places I’ve never had coffee before, so we met at M.E. Swings, a coffee roaster on Monroe. I got my standard skim latte and had a wonderful time talking with Ilga!

On the way there I rode the 4 Mile Run trail. They continue to do work by the water treatment plant along the creek. Now they’ve put these panels in along the trail as part of the pavement. Each one shows two different fish species that might be found in 4 Mile Run if it stays healthy. They also added an interesting … um … piece of artwork. You tell me what you think it is!

 

I’m a little concerned these panels will be slippery when the weather’s wet, but I’m hoping they planned for that. There are about 8 of them along the way, spaced out along the trail.

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Here’s the artwork. You tell me?

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Proof my Surly made it there!

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Adequate bike parking but when I pulled up there was a dog tied to it so I took the high ground.

 

 

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Proof that Ilga and I were there!

It was a beautiful day and I think we could have sat there for hours more, but it was time to get moving. I rode back as far as E. Falls Church and then jumped on the Metro. I had to get home to prep for tomorrow’s Youth learn to ride class since I was going out tonight. I think we’re ready! By the time I got home my total was 33 miles biked.

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That’s 10 youth bikes and helmets, seats down and pedals off.