18.51 Miles; Brunch with Friends and Solar Decathlon

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Today was just epic. It’s been so long since we’ve trained for anything, let alone biked more than say, 6 or 7 miles together. Today we blew it out of the water! 18.51 miles roundtrip and we got in a nice little tour of DC too. Even though the weather was forcasted to be rainy and cold, we decided that we would still bike because we’ve made enough excuses about not working out :0). So, we packed up our bags with ponchos and wallets and cameras and hopped on our bikes. Our first stop was by Eastern Market. We met up with two of Andrew’s Cornell friends, Stephanie and Kelsey, and Stephanie’s husband, Nick. Kelsey just moved down to DC for work and Stephanie and Nick were in town to celebrate their 1 year anniversary! Our ride to Eastern Market wasn’t too bad; the weather was chilly but there was only a light rain so no need for heat-intensive ponchos. We road through four mile run park, on mount vernon trail, and over 14th Street Bridge where we saw runners in the Woodrow Wilson Half Marathon completed a portion of their race. Just as we hit the other side of the bridge (and landed ourselves in DC) a massive perfect rainbow appeared and just framed the bridge perfectly. Not a shabby way to start the day.

We met up with the crew at Ted’s Bulletin (near Eastern Market). If you’ve never been, I suggest you try it out; delicious brunch and friendly waitstaff. The menus are designed like old black and white newspapers and there’s a big screen tv that was playing, The Three Stooges on it for the duration of our meal. Oh, by the way, we found some bike racks right out front! I ended up with my traditional veggie omelet, and Andrew got a breakfast platter that came with a homemade pop tart! No really, they have a whole slew of pop tart types; Andrew’s was filled with Apple Butter. After breakfast, we said goodbye to friends and headed off down Pennsylvania and along the National Mall to the Solar Decathlon.

Welcome to the Solar Decathlon! It’s basically a competition each year  to build energy efficient homes; a lot of schools participate and there usually a few international entries as well. This year, Maryland was the overall winner. There are a whole bunch of awards categories, however; some based on architectural appeal, some on people’s choice, some on market appeal. Historically the Solar Decathlon has been on the main part of the mall, but this year it moved down near to where the new MLK monument was put in. The one nice thing about an energy efficiency competition? Ample bike parking… they had TONS of bike racks!

We spent a good deal of time walking around and checking out the different homes that were there and talking with some of the students about their designs. We also got to see one of Andrew’s brothers friends from college (and he was at their Wedding this past May)! He was out from a school in California; one of two master construction leads on their home. It was a pretty far out design. It sounds like they did really well in some categories and not so well in categories like market appeal. Try to figure out why…

I like to call it the squishy house :0). The idea is “outsulation.” Basically, rather than the usual design of putting insulation between wood boards to create the walls, they created the walls and then wrapped the whole house in the insulation… it’s actually a pretty cool concept and honestly, this was the warmest house we went inside! The inside was super cool; the top part, where you see the glass, is where the bedroom was located, then the kitchen table actually cranked out and into place or could crank back and be put away to help manage space. Then the lower portion of the house was the living room. Some of their Engineers on crew also hooked up their Xbox Kinect so that it could learn to recognize your human movement and you could point to the different lights to turn them on or off. Awesome. The house also came complete with a deck on the back :0). What house is complete without a deck, afterall? Oh, and solar panels on top. Turns out the supplier of the solar panels also bought this house to use as a demonstration house. Not too shabby.

After spending some time walking around the Decathlon, we headed back to our apartment in Virginia. The ride back was a little slower than the ride out but it felt sooo good when we pulled our bikes into the parking garage under our building. We’ve been all smiles since… just a fantastically wonderful day.

We topped it off with homemade burgers from our farmshare beef, some smashed twice baked potatoes, and corn on the cob. We even packed lunches tonight… instead of waiting until tomorrow. Starting this week off on the right foot!

What did you do this weekend?

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