Monday, August 24, 2009

Reston Metric Century 2009

After doing the Reston Metric Century (100 kilometers) last year, I decided that I'd up my goal and do a full century (100 mile) ride this year. Some friends who have done multiple century rides recommended the Seagull Century — a supposedly beautiful ride along Maryland's Eastern Shore and Assateague Island.

Since the Seagull isn't until October, I decided to do the Reston Metric again as part of my training. I'm glad I did because not only was it a lot of fun, but I completed in much better time than I did last year and with much less pain! I'm now confident I'll be in shape for the full hundred miles in October.

The ride was slightly changed from last year, but not much. The main difference I noticed is that it stayed on the W&OD Trail all the way out to Leesburg. Last year's ride left the trail in Ashburn and took suburban and rural streets out through downtown Leesburg. But this year still had the 10% grade up Woodburn Road which was almost as painful as I remembered it!

The weather was gorgeous and the event was very well organized. I had a great time. Now to finish getting in shape for the Seagull!


Sunday, March 01, 2009



Carol, I, and some friends just returned from a fabulous eight days in Cairo and Luxor. We were all visiting some mutual friends, Cris and Alison, who work for the State Department and are living in Cairo. We really couldn't have done this without Cris and Alison who made sure everything went smoothly and who have an amazing amount of knowledge of Egypt and Cairo for only having been there a couple of years. They also arranged for a fantastic tour guide for our first few days in Cairo.

Both Cairo and Luxor were fascinating. There is more history and amazing sights than anywhere I've ever been. Americans like me get overwhelmed with how old things are when we go to Europe. Seeing temples and statues that are 5,000+ years old is almost incomprehensible.

I have to say, though, that of everything we saw, frequently it was the least-known things that impressed me the most. Alison had told us in advance that she preferred the pyramids at Dashour to the more popular ones at Giza, and I definitely agree. They were every bit as impressive and with far fewer crowds.

Similarly, the Coptic Christian district of Cairo was a favorite of both Carol's and mine. In particular, I thought the Coptic Museum was one of the best museums we saw in all of Egypt.

I also enjoyed walking through parts of the Islamic section of Old Cairo, mainly because in some places it retains its medieval look and feel. As you can undoubtedly tell from the pictures, my favorite thing in this part of the trip was Beit as-Suhaymi, a fully restored 17th century house. A few of the mosques were also quite impressive.

As for Luxor, it has some amazing, not-to-be-missed sights, but the town itself is overwhelmingly touristy and you can't walk more than half a block without half a dozen people trying to sell you things or give you a cab or carriage ride. Both the Karnak Temple of Amun and the temple at Mendat Habu were favorites of mine. As for the much ballyhooed Valley of the Kings, I think I preferred the 8 kilometer hike getting there to the tombs themselves. The peaks and rock formations overlooking the valley were far more amazing to me than the tombs it contained. But while it wasn't a favorite, seeing it did give me a new appreciation for the extent to which the pharaohs of the New Kingdom period went to hide their tombs from grave robbers and vandals.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Christmas in Tampa

Christmas in Tampa

Carol and I visited my brother David and his family in Tampa for the week of Christmas. It was kind of strange walking around in a polo in late December! Most of the pictures are from the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa, and the Sunken Gardens in nearby St. Petersburg.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Only in DC

So I'm drinking some Guinness with a friend at the Old Brogue when CNN starts showing coverage of Greenspan's testimony to Congress. I laugh, shake my head, and comment on the irony of the same Congressmen who just a few years ago were singing this man's praises and only too happy to hang on his every word, now pillorying him. As I do, the guy at the next table says, "Tell me about it. I work at the Fed and was on the Hill today. Talk about hypocrites."

Sadly, he was already putting his coat on and getting ready to leave with his two kids. I would have loved to have heard his take on the credit crunch.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

While visiting Nathan and Kiera, we took a trip out to Natural Bridge. I've lived in Virginia my entire life, including a lengthy stint in southwest Virginia, so it's a crime that it took me this long to take the short detour off I-81 to see it. I was (am) truly in awe. Pictures can not do it justice.


Kai Hansard and the House on Main Street

Nathan and Kai

Carol and I finally met my best friend Nathan's 10-week old baby, Kai! It's cliche to talk about your friends' babies as "the most beautiful and well-behaved baby I've ever seen". In this case, it's true. No, really! Who couldn't adore those chipmunk cheeks!

As always, we had a wonderful time visiting Nathan and Kiera in beautiful Buchanan, Virginia. Since Carol is a light sleeper under the best of circumstances, we decided to stay in a Bed & Breakfast this time. Fortunately, a new one had recently opened. Nate and Kiera hadn't stayed there but they had been to the restaurant and love the very friendly owners, so they suggested we try it.

It was a fantastic suggestion! The room was beautiful, the meals (dinner and breakfast) excellent, and the owners were every bit as friendly as Nate and Kiera said.

If you are looking to visit southwest Virginia (anywhere between Lexington and Blacksburg), we highly recommend The House on Main Street.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

100 Kilometers From Reston To Purcellville And Back

I finished the Reston Metric Century yesterday. I had been training solely on the W&OD trail itself which, with a few exceptions, is relatively flat. The actual course, though, went mostly along roads parallel to the trail. Those roads were not so flat! One hill in particular, on Woodburn Road just west of Leesburg, was a quarter mile at a 10% grade. I realize that for a pro cyclist, that's just getting started. For me, it was 3 or 4 minutes of torture.

Below is a map of the course that someone posted to Map My Ride. On the way out the course goes along the W&D trail from Herndon to Ashburn. It then turns north in Ashburn to Rt 15 in Leesburg. And then southwest from Leesburg before turning back north and hitting the rest stop in Hamilton — the "W" on the map. (The rest stop had yummy Gatorade snowcones!)

Leaving the rest stop, it heads west on a loop out to Purcellville and back. It then goes east on an access road next to Rt 7, drops south on Paeonian Springs, and then picks the trail back up in Leesburg. The relatively straight line from Leesburg to Reston is the W&OD trail which we took the whole way back.

If you click the "View Full Screen" button and from there select "Show Elevation" you can see the hill I was talking about around mile 22 (kilometer 36.5). If you want a good work out, I recommend trying it! ;-)


Monday, August 04, 2008

Reston Metric Century

I've been training all summer for the Reston Metric Century bike ride in three weeks. I've meaning to post something about it but keep forgetting to. I picked up a new Surly Long Haul Trucker a few months ago and absolutely love it. And I'm even mostly used to my clipless pedals (despite one minor knee scrape and a corresponding blow to my pride today).

I did 50 miles today without any trouble. Next Sunday I'm going for 55 miles. Then I'll scale down for the next couple of weeks in prep for the 65 mile ride on August 24th. Wish me luck!

Morocco downloads

I can't believe the response Morocco is getting. Although after three weeks it has now slipped out of the top 25, it is still currently ranked #36 for the free games and it has an average review rating of 4.3 out of 5. I posted to my Bayou Games site my estimates for the number of downloads, along with information about the next update.