Cycling Through COVID 19
April 26, 2020 – For over a week, I have been attempting to submit an update to Lisa’s Corner. But it’s been hard to focus. Every day seemed to bring significant new changes in the news since the reality of COVID-19 has sunk in on the American public.
It’s felt like a full-time job staying abreast of the day-to-day updates from Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the governors of Virginia, Maryland, and New York. But big changes seemed to have eased a bit on the news front, now that many people are adhering to Stay Home orders.
Maverick Bicycles & Café has stayed open, thanks to the dedicated staff. The shop continues to service and sell bikes, as permitted under Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 53.
The cafe was just finished as the pandemic hit so we never had a chance to open. We are hopeful that it will be serving the general public by mid summer. The bicycle shop business has continued on and we are paying bills and employees so far. The staff thats in place has been working long hours and conducting sales and service on the sidewalk. Its been a heavy lift for those still working in an attempt to keep up with repairs and building all the new bikes for sales.
Many people are finding that biking is a great way to get out of the house for exercise and relief from the tedium of four walls. In keeping with Order 53, the shop has altered how interactions with customers take place. The ground rules are posted on the shop website for conducting business and keeping everyone – staff and customers – safe. The hours have changed to Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. For more information, go to https://revolutionsmaverickllc.com/
Nationwide, bike shops were deemed essential business in many metropolitan areas, including New York City. In cities and close-in areas, bicycles serve as primary, or only, transportation to jobs and stores. Loudoun County has a number of bike commuters who ride to jobs, both white and blue collar. For some low-income residents, bikes are their only transportation. Maverick Bicycles serves customers from all spectrums.
As we adjust to Northam’s Stay Home order, issued March 30, many people are out walking, running, and biking to stay fit and sane, as permitted under Executive Order 55. Getting out is wonderful to combat Cabin Fever. The usual users of the W&OD have hit the trail, along with a variety of new users from cyclists and runners to walkers, dog walkers, and families with young children.
Jack Mount, sales associate, said, “I took a ride this afternoon on the W&OD and it was jammed. Makes sense with schools closed and a lot of folks working from home. Actually it’s pretty unsafe in a few spots as young kids were all over the place with little knowledge of trail etiquette…so be polite out there.”
NOVA Parks, which includes the W&OD Trail, has taken measures to restrict use of the trails by closing parking lots, shutting off water fountains, and closing restrooms. On Twitter, @WODTrail has posted daily, “YOU can be an everyday hero by simply limiting travel to essential travel only. Please find exercise and recreation options that are available within walking or biking distance from your home. The faster we flatten the curve the faster we can re-open our parks.”
Many cyclists, including myself and those who participated in shop rides, have enjoyed biking in our own neighborhoods. Some of us are finding the roads less crowded and much easier to “social distance” than it would be on a public trail. There is over 250 miles to enjoy weekend rides on quiet gravel roads in western Loudoun County. Jack is riding the western section of the W&OD and off the trail on quiet country roads in northwest Loudoun. In my area of south Loudoun, west of Rt 15, I have been riding the quiet roads, getting in good hill work and watching spring unfold.
I encourage you to come by the shop if you need to but bring a mask. And ride your bikes to stay sane and fit, just sometime or somewhere less popular. Someday the Stay Home order will be relaxed. As the Persian Sufi poets wrote, “This Too Shall Pass.”
Spring is Almost Here! Time to Plan
It’s March, my daffodils are poking up out of the ground and the forsythia is blooming. Finally! Winter is going away!
While some cyclists have kept fit over the winter by riding indoors or riding outside when the weather permitted, others have slacked off. Regardless of your fitness level, the season is upon us. Many of us start looking at ride calendars, and tempting organized rides that keep popping up on Facebook’s newsfeed.
For casual riders, or those who haven’t been on a bicycle for a while, who are interested in jump starting the season, Revolutions by Maverick has a program for you. On Tuesday, March 17, 6:00 pm, come join us for my bicycle safety refresher course and then a short community 4-mile ride around Leesburg. After the ride, Dönor Bistro, our neighbor in Virginia Village, has offered a 20% discount to all participants to come by and enjoy St. Patrick’s Day libations and food. For more information on the class, go to https://revolutionsmaverickllc.com/event/season-opener-bicycle-safety-class-community-ride/
The regular Tuesday Night Ride will start on March 24 with a departure time of 6:00 for casual riders and those just starting the season. Revolutions by Maverick plans to have rides for different levels – casual 10-12 mph W&OD rides, 15+ mph road rides, and gravel rides. Our Facebook page and website will be updated with details as those rides come available. Some exciting organized rides, coming up this season, are worth mentioning, and having a ride to aim for provides excellent motivation to get in the saddle.
For gravel riders, the Loudoun 1725 Gravel Grinder is an outstanding event to experience. Salamander Resort in Middleburg is the launch site on routes that will take you through the best of the area’s gravel roads. The event’s website best describes it, “Located east of the Blue Ridge, in lush Loudoun Valley, these crushed rock roadways meander through awe inspiring beauty, past stone walls, grand estates, horse farms, wineries, bubbling creeks, tiny hamlets, and significant historical sites. Riding these roads is a sublime experience – like stepping back in time and cycling through history.” Mark your calendar for Sunday, June 14, for a 40, 60, or 80 mile ride. Revolutions by Maverick’s staff will be volunteering. Look for service manager, Justin Hanger at Philomont Store, ready to fix what ails your bike. For more information, go to https://www.ex2adventures.com/loudoun-1725-gravel-grinder/
Ever dream about riding the whole C&O Canal? All 184.5 miles from Cumberland, Md., to Washington, DC? For many cyclists, the logistics are overwhelming. San Mar Family and Community Services in Boonsboro, Md., has been running an annual C&O ride as a fundraiser for the past 32 years. This year, it is July 11-14. I have participated in this ride twice and I can’t say enough about the best quality of care the staff and volunteers provide the riders. This is a four-day ride. On day one, they schlep you (on a coach bus), your bike and baggage to Cumberland from Boonsboro, and from there you take off. Your baggage will be waiting for you at the end of the ride each day. Rest stops, lunch breaks and catered dinners are provided. The riders camp the first two nights at campgrounds with showers and swimming pools. The third night, everyone goes to a hotel. For an extra fee, those who aren’t into camping will be taken to a
hotel. Riders must fundraise a minimum of $475, darn cheap compared to tour company prices. For more information, go to https://sanmartgbt.org/
Want to bike Washington, DC on roads closed to traffic? The 20-mile DC Bike Ride is set for Saturday, May 16. This is a mostly flat ride with a few short hills in the Georgetown area. Imagine riding on busy roads, but now car free, like the Whitehurst Freeway, I-395 HOV lane, Rock Creek Parkway, and around the Mall area. The rides start in three waves, with the more experienced riders going first. The end of the ride and celebration takes place on Pennsylvania Avenue with food trucks and live music. The fun factor ranks high in my book. For more information, go to https://dcbikeride.com/
While these are a few of my favorite rides, there are other well-organized fun rides in the DMV area, as well as many out of town rides. Potomac Pedalers Touring Club, based in the DC area, offers a regular ride schedule and has a great list of out-of-area rides. To drool over the list, go to https://www.potomacpedalers.org/out-bounds
We at Revolutions by Maverick Bicycles look forward to seeing you this spring, and helping you get yourself and your bicycle ready for the season.
Dressing for Cold Weather Riding
Many of you, like me, are still feeling the effects of the holidays and binge eating that racked up unneeded calories, now on the waistline. Despite the fact that it is now winter, the pull of cycling never leaves my mind, craving this form of meditation, de-stressing, and calories burned all in one package. The spin of the crank turns in my head.
As I write this, it is a typical Northern Virginia winter day – snow to start, a lull in the action, then sleet turning to rain later on. Not good cycling weather. Nevertheless, we do have a good number of winter days in this region that are bikeable outdoors. Don’t let a little chill stop you! The big battle of outdoor winter riding is the cold and the wind chill we generate as we go. Take a 35-degree day with no wind for instance – ride at 12 mph and it will feel like 26 degrees. What do we do when we go outside in 26 degrees? We bundle up in layers! Layers is the key word for two reasons. 1) layers trap more warm air near the body; 2) as we warm up, we can peel them off to avoid getting overheated.
Merino wool is a miracle fabric for active outdoor people. It is wicking and has magical heat trapping properties that synthetics can’t match. The hair fibers, which keep sheep warm in the worst climates, are hollow. And it’s soft, not itchy. Merino wool tops, underwear and socks, aka base layers, tend to be thin, perfect for layering. I ride on cold days with two layers of merino wool tops, and then a windbreaker or jacket over that. Sometimes a heavy vest over the windbreaker as the temps drop. Over my fingerless cycling gloves, I pull on a cheap pair of full-fingered gloves, which are easy to pull off and stuff in a pocket as I warm up. A thin stretchy tube of fabric called a gator is the best invention for cyclists! You can look like an alligator by pulling it on with just your face poking out, and pull the backside of it down on your neck. Bike helmets will fit over top of it, and your ears and neck will stay warm. If you get too warm, just pull the top down so it is bunched up on your neck. If you are still too warm, it is easy to pull off and stuff in a pocket. The shop has a full line of cold-weather riding clothes, jackets, and accessories that are carefully designed to keep riders comfortable. The racks have an array of winter gloves, merino base layers, riding tights, balaclavas, toe warmers, and full boots to go over cycling shoes. Anyone on the staff will be happy to advise you as they all have kept riding despite the cold.
This winter, a group of us has kept on riding the Thursday 10:00 am ride from the shop except on days of high winds or icy trail conditions. We have found ourselves riding in temps as low as 27 degrees with a breeze. Each of us has experimented with layering, and with each ride we learn what works best, layering with what we have in the drawers and closets at home. Some have invested in cycling foot warmers, merino wool, and different jackets. It tends to be a topic of discussion before we set out on our rides, often 15-20 miles roundtrip on the W&OD and off-trail east of Leesburg on the growing network of multi-use trails.
We are lucky here in Loudoun County to have the W&OD Trail which goes right through the towns on its route. For most residents, it is a short ride or drive to access it. NOVA Parks does a wonderful job of keeping it clear of downed limbs and trees, blowing off the leaves and debris, and just keeping an eye on it. However, snow and ice are tricky. With the winter sun so low in the sky, sometimes ice patches of frozen run-off just won’t thaw because the sun does not reach the pavement.
Of course, a lot of people are not able to get outdoors very often in the winter because of short daylight hours. They either work or go to school during the daytime, or tend a family. Their options to stay cycling-fit include joining a gym or investing in a home trainer. Loudoun County community centers with gym equipment are inexpensive alternatives to annual gym memberships. HPC Cycling is another option for cyclists who want to keep in tip-top fitness.
Riders bring their own bikes to ride on trainers connected to a computer. Each rider is riding with his or her own set of goals though the session is the same workout plan for everyone. HPC is located in the shop, and ask for Sue or Pierre to learn more.
But for the mind and spirit, stationary cycling is no match for getting outdoors. So come join us for our Thursday rides if your schedule permits. Watch for weekend rides as the weather and conditions allow. These rides will be posted on Revolutions by Maverick’s Facebook page and on the Greater Loudoun Bicycling Meetup page.
Revolutions by Maverick has given me this great opportunity to share lots of ideas and musings with you. Posts will include all things bicycles, bicycling, trails, trips, news, and of course, safety.
Watch for posts about special shop rides and events in the works, new places to ride, maintenance tips, noteworthy organized rides coming up, innovative products on the market for cyclists, and other topics of interest.
Look for updates as Loudoun County evolves to become more and more bikeable every year. We can ride more places using new and improved connections to the W&OD Trail and new multi-use trails thanks to Bike Loudoun, working behind the scenes.
Safety – I know this subject may not be high on anyone’s list, judging from the attendance at safety lectures. But nationwide, there has been an uptick in the number cyclists’ fatalities. 6.3% in 2018. But more on that in another post.
I’m looking forward to this journey with you.