Red Riding In Random Hoods

Red Riding

The Winter Weather Warrior Contest 2011 is history. Organized by the Capital Bikeshare program and goDCgo, it included over 900 contestants and around 250 diehards that had over 50 total rides in the Jan/Feb contest. By all accounts, I did quite well.

(For details on the contest, read this previous post:

I finished in 9th place overall.

Even though I wanted to win in the beginning, I modified my goal to finish in the top 10. Success! For my efforts, I win two free months of Bikeshare membership.

Have a look at the final results page:

The top two finishers did a jaw dropping final week of riding to epically overtake the dude that had led the whole way. The winner recorded 421 rides in the final 8 days of February (or 52 rides per day). His grand total was 1038 rides. The runner-up recorded 495 rides in the final 8 days (or 62 rides per day). His grand total was 972 rides. By comparison, I only recorded 300 rides for the entire two months of the contest! I honestly cannot understand how they did it (apparently they do have jobs and families…).

After spending two months on a task, you’d think that one might learn something. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.

Winter warrioring exposed:

A new perspective of DC: I have driven a car over every pothole and construction zone in DC. I have walked all about DC. I have taken the metro to and fro. I have taken the bus, mostly fro. I have survived taxi rides. But the one mode of transportation that had failed to lure me, was a bicycle. Now I’ve done it all. (Sorry – Segways do not count.)

Access to everything on the Hill in half the time: As a Capitol Hill resident without a car, the best options for getting around are few. The metro is inconvenient for traveling within the NE and SE quadrants of the city. I don’t like crazy people well enough to ride the bus. So I walk everywhere. Now with the Bikeshare I can get anywhere I would normally walk to in half the time or less. Talk about good news for you! Now I have more time to write…or sleep.

Discovering new places in DC: When walking, the distance you can effectively travel in a reasonable amount of time is small. With a bike, you can range far and wide to those far flung places you never get to. Or would never risk walking to. I needed to partake in many rides, so why not go to new places? Why not discover more secrets of DC? Some notables:

  • Harris Teeter (on M St NE) – the brand new mega-grocery store is a mere 5 minutes by bike. Getting groceries has never been easier.
  • Tynan Coffee & Tea – a new coffeehouse to sip lattes at right next to Harris Teeter.
  • Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) – an 8-mile paved bike path that runs north along the metro train tracks starting at the New York Ave Metro stop NE. Who knew? Certainly not someone that usually walks south towards Eastern Market or Barracks Row.
  • Catholic University – I see the large cathedral dome far in the distance every day while walking on the Hill. Always wondered about it, but never had occasion to venture through the ‘sketchy’ neighborhoods to get there. With the confidence a bike gives you to outrun pursuers and hoodlums, I decided to risk riding through the random hoods for a visit.
  • The Yards Park – a new waterfront park that just opened late last year along the Anacostia River, not far from the Nationals Ballpark. It is quite nice actually. If DC’s Anacostia riverfront ever takes off, this is an excellent centerpiece.
  • Big Bear Cafe – heard about this coffee shop but was never willing to walk up to R St NW to check it out. Definitely would bike there. Crowded every time I went.
  • Random places – I pedaled furiously down countless streets and alleys in neighborhoods I’d never dreamed of. Did not get shot once.

Strategy is important: To compete in a contest of such magnitude you need a strategy. The first month, I simply rode whenever I could. No plan. I started looking at the riding patterns of those riders ahead of me and decided to defeat them. Starting in February, I decided that I would ride at least 4 times a day. With two weeks to go, I made it 5 times a day. And for the last week, I upped the ante to 6 times. This worked well because I was not a crazy person (e.g. doing 60 rides a day) and it tied in with normal errands and the seeking of lunch or dinner at neighborhood locales.

The moral of the story is: Winners ride bikes. They also walk.

Capital Bikeshare
Take a bike

Random iPod Playlist: Winter Blues

Since winter can make you blue, let’s put together a frosty playlist to ring out this frigid season.

The limited effort it took to produce this list was fueled by vanilla lattes and a healthy degree of imagination run wild. This imagination needed distraction while writing something that is theoretically a bit more interesting. That, will have to come another day. Today, this. Such as it is.

  1. ‘Winter Song’, Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson
  2. ‘Winter Winds’, Mumford & Sons
  3. ‘The Winter’, Cake
  4. ‘And Winter Came’, Enya
  5. ‘Early Winter’, Gwen Stefani
  6. ‘Black Gives Way To Blue’, Alice in Chains
  7. ‘All I Ever Get For Christmas is Blue’, Over the Rhine
  8. ‘When The Stars Go Blue’, The Corrs
  9. ‘Window Blues’, Band of Horses
  10. ‘Blue Blood Blues’, The Dead Weather
  11. ‘Bell Bottom Blues’, Derek & The Dominos
  12. ‘300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues’, The White Stripes
  13. ‘Natural Blues’, Moby

Okay, that’s enough of that. Let’s skip ahead and get sunny.

  1. ‘Summer Sunshine’, The Corrs
  2. ‘The Boys of Summer’, Don Henley
  3. ‘Summertime’, The Sundays
  4. ‘Summer Days’, Phoenix
  5. ‘Sunshine of Your Love’, Cream

Here’s to no summer blues.