8/27/16

Rides 8/25 and Rides 8/26

Sort of lost track of the back half of this week and I didn't realize that I didn't blog on Thursday, but it makes sense, since I spent some time Thursday after work buying and drinking cocktails at the new Passenger, which has moved a few blocks north on 7th. I got there via Bikeshare after getting home via Brompton and I got back from there via Bikeshare as well, but both of those were bonus rides that took place after the commute proper and might fall outside of the bounds of TFTS territory. (It's funny to set limits on a personal blog, which no one controls but me, but rules are important. Strictures matter.) The ride home was one where I doubled back before crossing the Ellington Bridge because I learned that my ANC commissioner would also be riding this way, so I headed up 29th Street to Cathedral Avenue to Woodley before linking up with her at the top of the hill and riding back down. This is the route of the 96 bus, the bus that sometimes takes me to work and a route these streets are truly amazing because you probably wouldn't ever ride on them unless you were willing to actually follow those signed bike routes signs, which always seemed a bit too on-the-nose for me to take seriously. 'Yeah, buddy, sure this is the way to Chevy Chase. Sure, but I'm gonna go this way,' I would say before taking a less direct way to not Chevy Chase, for example. Of note along this stretch of road is the Swiss Embassy. About this place, I have negative interest. That's a monetary policy joke. "Joke," I mean. There's also the Maret School. According to it's website, the Maret School was founded in 1911 by Marthe Maret, who was French Swiss from Geneva. It looks like a nice school and it seems to have capacious buildings and ample lawns.

Must've gotten to work on Thursday morning somehow, so let's assume it was by bike.

Friday morning saw me skip Coffee Club again (I'm sorry!) and from what I remember it was a quick ride in and there was gobs of cyclists on 18th. Just gobs of 'em. I keep expecting there to be more conflict around the Oyster-Adams School (a school named after our second President and our second favorite bivalve probably) but by the time I ride by, it's after drop-off, so I barely ever get to square off with a road raging parent. And here I am, studying krav maga for nothing. But seriously though, it's nice that there's little conflict there because I would hate that idea that I would come to dread it.

Friday afternoon was a later ride home because I had a reception at work (I'm halfway decent at receptions in that I can chew, talk, and manage to hold wine and canapes at the same time- this is no small feat and yet no one endorses me for it on LinkedIn, alas), but after that it was a straight shot down Mass to Garfield and then beyond. The Brompton performs well. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I rolled over a marginally large stick or into a somewhat deep pothole with any pace, but I shouldn't wonder. One, it's bad luck to think about bad outcomes (ok, I just made that up, but that sounds plausible) and two, there's no sense wondering since the answer would be that I'd fall down. Small wheels are great, but I think they, in some cases, presuppose non-terrible roads, which is not always the case. Nevertheless, I think I'm going to keep riding it until the snow comes because it's the easiest to get in and out of the apartment and that counts for a lot.


8/24/16

No Rides 8/23 and Rides 8/24

Didn't ride a bike yesterday. Took the bus. Oh, and I rode a bike from the bus stop. But that doesn't really count. For some reason. 96 in and the N2 home, if you're the kind of person who wants to know what bus routes I ride. Oh, and come to think of it, I rode a bike when I got off the bus to get from one bikeshare station to a different one that's a few blocks closer to my place. But yeah, I've already written "No Rides" in the title, so as far as your concerned, and as far as I'm concerned, yeah, no rides. Even though there were rides. But they were short.

Took the Brompton today. Both ways. Didn't even bring it on a bus. Also, I wrote "Rides 8/24" so again, using the title rule, the one that I just made up, even if I took the bike on the bus, it'd still count as rides. But really, I did ride the bike and both ways and uphill and downhill and the whole way in and the whole way home.

One thing I think about on these rides is the extent to which some people who bike internalize the idea that they're slowing down drivers and how this is bad. One, who cares? Everybody who travels slows down everyone else. That's why you get home faster at 2AM when no one else is on the road and it's slow on the Beltway at 6 not because the road has changed, but because there's just a lot of people on it. And really, if you thought about it, and I do, I'm fairly confident that I'm as slowed down on my bike by drivers than I slow them. But again, this isn't really the point that I'm trying to make. I think the point I'm trying to make is that even if you, person on a bike, was slowing down a driver and you slowed that person down for 5 whole seconds, that's, um, 1/6th as long as the time they'd be stopped at a 30 second red light. If you stopped right in the middle of the street and paused for 10 seconds, which, I assure you, would feel like an eternity and make everyone feel really uncomfortable... that's still 20 fewer seconds than a 30 second red light. So, really, I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that in objective terms, even if you wanted to cop to the fact that you, a bicyclist, slow down drivers, you're rather terrible at it compared to any old red light.


8/22/16

Rides 8/19 and 8/22

Started Friday with a ride to A Baked Joint on K between 5th and 6th. I got there by taking 17th to Q and then crossed town to 11th or possibly 7th before taking one of those to a different street and let's just say I got there because I definitely did and there are witnesses so quibbling about the details after a weekend seems unnecessary, ok? I rode the Brompton, which I took to work by riding up 5th to R and R to Massachusetts and up that until my workplace got in the way of my bike ride, as it does during these commutes.

The ride home was one of mild frustration, as Friday afternoon rides so frequently are. The embrace of the weekend should be a joyous affair, but drivers drive the worst on Friday afternoons to the point that it's noticeable. Passes are closer, speeds are higher and there's a general sense of anxiety about 'escaping the office' that translates into an apparent dickishness on the roads. For awhile I thought that Monday mornings were the worst times for jerky driving behavior, under the theory that people wouldn't want to go back to work after the weekend and their grumpiness would translate into crummy driving, but that's not true. Crummy driving is, quite interestingly, a result of...anticipation of a good time? Or excitement about that good time and an attempt to get there faster? Anyway, if the NSF is reading (and they hack everybody, right? Oh, that's the NSA. But how else are you supposed to get a man to the moon? Wait, that's not them either), I'll take a million dollars in grant money to study this scientifically. The study will involve electrodes, so that definitely makes it science.

Today's commute aspired to start with a Bikeshare ride downtown, but there were no bikes, so I went back upstairs and got the Brompton instead. I rode downtown using the streets between where I live and where I was going and then after walking the bike to the metro, folded it and took a humdrum underground train trip to work. I only beschmutzed my pants a little from carrying the bike against my leg from the train to the escalator and whatever gunk wound up on my pant leg was easily smudged into the gray slacks to the point that it blended well amidst the previously smudged gunk from the other times I carelessly carried the folded bike. I rode the bike from the metro to work. Nebraska Avenue could be a much better street. It won't be though.

I stopped at the store on the way home for vegetables and bread and limes. Another delicious dinner of key lime sandwiches. Mmmmm. I have this very nice bag that I infrequently use since it's normally too small for the amount of things I want to bring to and from work, but I used it today and it fit my lock and my limes and my coffee mug and a folded copy of the newspaper and some other things.

Riding down Newark through Cleveland Park is a joy. I've even come to liking riding on Connecticut Avenue from there until Woodley, which is a monstrous thing to admit. Connecticut Avenue is, in common parlance, a fuckshow, which is like a shitshow, but worse. It's not that the behavior is especially bad, but the speeds are faster and given that D=RT, that means that when things go bad, they take less time to get to you. We could have lovely avenues in DC, but don't.

Sometimes I think about Big Things during my bike commutes, in spite of trying to help it. One of the recurring themes of this blog is hatred of pogo sticks continuity and change. I guess that happens with any kind of daily accounting of some repetitive activity. How were things different today in the context in which everything around pretty much stays the same? How am I the same today in the context of everything around me slightly evolving? To what extent are my brake pads running down and turning into nothingness and What Does It All Mean? I didn't have any answers by the time I turned on Biltmore and I was tired of pretending to think about it by the time I got to T. I got home and walked the dog and folded the bike and I'll unfold it tomorrow.

8/18/16

Ride 8/18

Didn't think it was that hot this morning and arrived at work a sweaty mess anyway. Humidity is rough.

At the top of Cleveland, I make a left turn to Garfield. It's a weird intersection because its the confluence of three streets and none of them really cross at right angles. There's a left turn lane from Cleveland, but I'm rarely in it since there's normally a bunch of cars there and I'd rather not put myself between them and, well, basically anything else. Instead I do a kind of modified Copenhagen left, but without waiting for the green. It kind of works out fine in that I haven't been run over yet. It might not exactly be the best way to do it, but bike commuting is an iterative process and you get better at it by getting less bad at it everyday. Unless you don't.

Coming home was the same old jam until after the bridge, when I went down 19th, like I did yesterday. 18th has a few draws: there's the AdMo strip to look at and it once it starts going downhill, it doesn't go back up. But there are stop lights a few places and the intersection with Florida isn't great and also, since it's a commercial strip, there's a lot of shenanigans (and Shenanigans) with trucks unloading and loading and taxis doing the same, but with people, instead of goods. 19th has none of that since it's a residential strip and once you get past the stop signed intersection at Columbia, the only thing to worry much about is the intersection with Florida, which is less complicated than the one at 18th. T Street proved easy too.

For most of the day, in spite of knowing it wasn't, I thought it was Friday. Tomorrow is Friday. I'm going to try to make it to Coffee Club.

8/17/16

Rides 8/17

I'm especially wary about commutes the day after I fix a flat tire. This relates to my long history, which hopefully is now ancient, of not being especially good at fixing flats and doing a half-ass job of it. You know, not doing the basics, like fully diagnosing the reason behind the flat and taking steps to address it. I fully believe that many flats are simply ordained by the Universe and there's nothing you can do to stop them, but repeat-flats, those are made by man and often made from a combination of laziness and ineptitude. And repeat-flats tend not to take too long to appear.

Thankfully one didn't. The morning ride was flat-free, as was the one home. The bike rode well and without wobble. I didn't feel spry, but that's ok- it's just a commute and I'll get another one tomorrow. Two if I don't get a flat on the first one.

I love the little inclines. Everyone knows about the hills. Hills are blunt and you know about them right away, but the little inclines you might find (there's one on the east side of the Ellington Bridge before the stop light at Adams Mill, for example) are subtle and charming and you have to coax them out of their shells a little before you can really get to know them and meet them. You learn about the little inclines a little more reach day and they reveal themselves slowly over time and you eventually come to think of them as flat, but you know, lurking underneath, that they've been little inclines the entire time.

On the way home, I cut down Biltmore and then 19th, which if not for the crossing at Columbia, would be a better way to get home than 18th, but I wasn't going home. I turned right on Florida and then crossed the street and rode down the sidewalk to Glen's, where I folded the bike, left it outside, and went inside and ordered a beer. The beer was cold. The weather was hot. The picnic table was wood. The description of it all was terse. And declarative.

After that, it was a couple blocks down S and I was home. I forgot to go to the store.