Zipcar Date Night Upcoming

First, an update on the 100 pushup challenge. I managed to struggle my way through week 4, and I’m moving on to Week 5. However, I did my max pushup test (39, even though I might have managed to squeeze out one or two more) last night, so I won’t actually start week 5 till tomorrow. Also, I have attained “bronze” level on the President’s challenge. Not too shabby.
Tomorrow is going to be a big night. Our neighbor is coming over to babysit the kids, and Lisa and I will be going out to dinner. A real sit down dinner, with reservations and everything! As part of the fun, I’m going to go pick up a Zipcar to use for the evening. I mean, who wants to go out on a date in a minivan? So I’m going to go pick up the Mini Cooper and we’ll scoot around town in that for the night. We’re heading to Et Voila, a Belgian restaurant. I’m excited to try their mussels, and Lisa will have plenty of desserts to choose from.
On Friday afternoon, I took a couple of pictures on my commute home. Now remember that these were taken before 4pm, theoretically before “rush hour.”

The Beltway, getting stacked up already.

The W&OD Trail, no traffic here.

The sun is starting to come up later now though, so soon enough, I’m going to have to either start delaying getting to work, or get a stronger headlight for the darkness. No thanks to Congress moving daylight savings to November!

Sport Utility Bike

Awesome video and article from Salon about the Xtracycle Free Radical, an add-on frame that converts your mountain bike into a sport utility bike. I think I’m still a few years away from one of these, but the blender attachment is so sweet! Last weekend at the market, we saw a guy with a Yuba Mundo, which is a bike built specifically for tasks like grocery shopping. He had no problem getting his stuff on his bike, while I was glad that we had driven (since I was still weak from my stomach bug) so I didn’t have to try to transport our 5 bottles of milk home in my meager panniers. I also just found out that our CSA today will have a watermelon, which I am likewise sure will not fit in my panniers. I clearly have bike envy.
Anyway, check out the video below for a taste of what can be done with a properly equipped bike.


I managed to recover from Thursday’s stomach bug enough to ride my bike in to work again today. If I hadn’t been able to, I’d have had to ride the bus. Not a big deal, just requires more planning. Plus, I like riding the bike better. Thankfully, after Thursday’s difficulties, I was able to slowly work my way back to health on Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday I was well enough to eat just about anything, including gumbo yesterday, made with our first batch of okra from the CSA. Yummy. Unfortunately, week 4 of the pushup challenge got sidetracked, so I am redoing week 4 starting today. It’s not any easier than it was last week, believe me.
Not much else to say at the moment, so I might as well get to work.

Low Car Diet Begins

This morning, I went downtown for the start of the Zipcar Low-Car Diet program. For the next month, I have to keep my Honda Civic parked and try not to drive it. For some of the participants, they’re trying to avoid using any car at all, using only Zipcar and public transportation.
I threw myself right into the thick of it, taking the train downtown for the kickoff event. Then after the event was over, I had to figure out how to get to work. I took the train to the West Falls Church Metro, and just narrowly missed catching the shuttle to where I work. Instead, I hopped on the 3T bus and ended up walking about a mile to my office. It was warmer than I would have liked, but I succeeded. On the way home, I just have to walk .25 miles to catch the bus, then walk about 1.5 miles the rest of the way home. The best part so far is that I just started a new book this morning, and I’m 86 pages into it already.
Oh yeah, and if you click on the Zipcar link above, you can find me under the Washington, DC participant list. Mine is the third picture, the giant eyeball. They’re supposed to update those pages when we send them emails about our progress. Mine should be interesting this week, since I have to pick up Lisa and the kids from the airport tonight. Unfortunately, the Toyota Matrix Zipcar isn’t available when I need to pick them up, so we’ll have to take Metro instead. Ellie will be thrilled: airplane AND train both in the same day!

Another Challenge Update

Week 3 of the One Hundred Pushup Challenge was a killer. I tested into the “> 25 pushups” portion after doing 30 on Sunday, and immediately on the first day, I had to start with 25 pushups for just the first set! It doesn’t get easier, as you have 60 seconds to recover and move on to 17, 17, 15, then 25 to finish up. My form was… not good. But I pretty much finished it. Eventually on Day 3, this morning, I had to do 30, 22, 22, 20 and 27. I barely eked my way through that, leading me to consider redoing the week. However, after looking ahead to week 4, I realized it wouldn’t be that much more than I did this week, so I will forge ahead and see how I do.
On the President’s Challenge side, I’m now 86 % of the way toward the goal of 20000 points for a Bronze Award. I should be able to surpass 20000 by the end of next week.
On Monday morning, I’ll be headed downtown for the Zipcar Low-Car Diet kickoff. If anyone happens to be near Gallery Place around 9am, stop by and say hi. The requirements are pretty simple: don’t use your car for a month, and see how it goes. I have to send them email updates every couple of weeks, and I might record a video of my commute or our trips to the market or something. In return, I got a free Zipcar membership for the year, $150 driving credit for Zipcars, $250 MetroCard for riding the train or bus, a copy of How to Live Well Without Owning a Car (which I already read and own a copy of) and a free one year membership to the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. Not a bad haul, I must say. That MetroCard should definitely help on those bad weather days. Who knows? Maybe I can eventually sell our second car.

Challenges Update

I completed Week 2 of the One Hundred Pushup Challenge this morning. So far it hasn’t been too terribly difficult. Sometime this weekend, I will do another test to exhaustion, to see which column I have to do for weeks 3 and 4. I’m pretty sure I’ll be in column 3 (the hardest) again, since I should be able to do more than 25 easily. One thing I do need to add is situps in the off-days, to make sure I stay well-rounded.
In the President’s Challenge, I have 13413 “points,” meaning I am roughly 2/3 of the way to a “Bronze Award.” Not too bad after only a month of recording the data. I started getting points more quickly now that my biking speed has gotten faster, and I’m no longer in the “Moderate, 12 – 16 mph” but in the “Vigorous, faster than 16 mph” category. It’s a big difference too, I have found that I can stay in the big gears going up hills for much longer. I am still definitely winded once I get to the top, but I’m getting there much quicker, which makes me feel good. And this morning, I raced the bus and won for the first time. We were both at the same stoplight, and when it turns green, the bus takes a short detour to pick up a couple of passengers while I go straight. The bus usually catches me before I get to the end of the mile long stretch, but this morning, I beat it by a good 30 seconds or so. A good way to start the morning.

One Lucky Guy

A couple of weeks ago while browsing the Fatwallet forums, I stumbled across what seemed like a sweet deal: Sign up for the Zipcar “Car-Free Diet” plan. You agree to keep your car keys in your junk drawer for just one month, from July 21st through August 15th. In return, you get a loaded public transit pass, a free 1-year Zipcar membership, some driving time and more goodies that we’ll tell you about a little later.
Seemed like a no-brainer, so I signed up and waited. And waited. Turned out, they only took 30 people from each area, not everyone who signed up. But, lo and behold, I was one of the chosen 30! Schweet! So on July 21st, I’ll be downtown for the ceremonial key-relinquishing (they give them back, but I don’t anticipate needing them). Coincidentally, that night, Lisa and the kids will be flying home from Detroit. Luckily, they are arriving at National airport, so we can take the Metro back. I could also potentially pick them up in one of the Zipcars, but the kids do love the train.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve done damn well riding my bike to work pretty much every day, so I don’t think it’ll be a big deal to keep doing so. The fun part will be the stuff I send in to them to document my experience. I’m planning on taking pictures of the receipt from my last gas fillup (June 26), my odometer which shouldn’t move, and maybe some video of my ride to/from work, especially the part where I pass over the packed Beltway while on the trail. It should be a lot of fun.

I feel obliged to mention that yesterday, a young woman riding her bicycle was struck and killed by a garbage truck in DC. The driver apparently never saw her. There is also apparently a bike lane on this road, but it’s not clear whether she was riding in the bike lane or not. Either way, it’s certainly a wakeup call to everyone to pay attention when riding, driving, or walking. My heart goes out to her family. Ride safe out there everyone.

June Bike Totals

I need to make sure my GPS watch is charged better. I know these totals are going to be low because I didn’t have the watch charged and thus it didn’t record my stats those days. Still, for what it’s worth, here they are:
Driving roundtrips: 5 (two of which were when I had a flat tire)
Biking roundtrips: 16
Bike mileage: 205.02 miles (I know I am missing two days of GPS data, so that probably adds another 30 miles or so)
I’ve gotten really good at the big hill on my commute home, and I’ve managed to get my average moving speed up over 16 mph a couple of times. Now if only I could avoid those couple of stupid traffic lights….

Long Weekends Rule

I bagged out of work early on Thursday afternoon so that we would go up to Hartland Orchard for some blueberry picking. We ended up with 12 pints of blueberries for $20, less than $1.67 per pint. They were on sale at the farmers market for $4.50/pint on Saturday. A good deal, even accounting for gas costs. Of course, now we have 12 pints of blueberries to eat. We gave away 3 pints to friends and neighbors, and Lisa made blueberry buckle for breakfast. That leaves a lot of blueberries left, though Evan has figured out that he can reach up on the table and grab handfuls at a time to snack on.
We biked up to the park on Friday for the Independence Day festivities. Shockingly, the “all-you-can-ride” bracelet was priced at a reasonable $10, so Ellie got to have all the fun she could handle on the various moon bounces and slides. It was a bit hot, but we brought plenty of water and had a lot of fun. We skipped out on the laser light show though (last year’s fireworks went horribly wrong, shooting into spectators and badly injuring at least one woman) since it was starting to rain. Instead, we picked up Baskin-Robbins where Ellie had the very patriotic Nation’s Birthday ice cream.
On Saturday, we headed down the street to our neighbor’s second birthday party. They had a moon bounce there too, so Ellie was in heaven. Burgers, popsicles, cake, fun times had by all.
Finally, on Sunday we headed downtown for the last day of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Featured this year were Texas (skipped it, except for the BBQ), NASA (50th anniversary), and Bhutan. Learning about Bhutan, a small country wedged between Nepal, India and China, was fascinating. I particularly enjoyed hearing about the various alcoholic drinks they make all from the same fermented mash, the most popular of which is called ara. Unfortunately, the rules didn’t allow us regular folks to sample the drink, so we’ll just have to plan a trip to Bhutan sometime. Maybe then I could actually try some real “ema datshi,” which they served in a watered-down, barely spicy version at the vending stands. We could also try the equally fascinating butter tea, suja. At any rate, the kids had a good time, especially at the NASA area.
So now I’m back at work after riding in this morning (73 degrees can be surprisingly oppressive when combined with 84% humidity), wishing I just had one more day for the long weekend.


Today marked the fifth straight day I rode my bike to work. That’s right, a whole work week without driving. I haven’t made an official total yet (I do still have to ride home tonight after all), but my total mileage for the week should be about 78 miles. And last night, I somehow managed to make every single light on the way home, finishing up my 7+ mile trek in just over 26 minutes, beating my previous best by over 2 minutes.
This week’s riding included riding home in the rain on Monday after the worst of the thunderstorms rolled through, once again knocking out power throughout the area. But on my bike, I could easily zip through the clogged intersections with their dark signal lights while the cars couldn’t do anything but honk their horns. The only obstacle was a tree down across the biking trail at one spot, but that wasn’t much trouble. On Tuesday, I once again took a 3 mile detour to pick up our farm share, which is working out well. The rest of the week riding was fairly ordinary, with beautifully cool weather all week long, as opposed to the oppressive 95+ degree heat last week.
So while I continue to ride my bike the rest of the summer (at least), I’ve decided to take on two more challenges. First is the “One Hundred Pushup Challenge.” It’s a six week plan to work your way up to doing 100 consecutive pushups. I figure I should work on my upper body strength in addition to biking for the lower body. Sometime this weekend, I’ll do the initial test (do as many pushups as possible to exhaustion), and I’ll start doing the 3 days per week training to build up my strength.
Second is the President’s Adult Fitness Challenge. This is similar to what we did as kids. There are four tests: aerobic fitness (1.5 mile run), muscular strength and endurance (situps and pushups), flexibility (sit and reach) and body composition (BMI and waist circumference). I’m going to try to do these tests sometime in the next couple of weeks, and then again near the end of the summer or possibly into September. I’m also going to register and log my daily activities to earn “points” for Presidential awards. Since they allow you to enter data back 14 days, I’m already 26% of the way to my first award!
Those are the challenges I’m taking on this summer. What are YOU doing with your summer?