9/16/14

Rides 9/16: Mystery Machine

Gonna make this short as I'm currently battling allergies/a cold and I'll need to give my undivided attention to not feeling well. I'd hate to get distracted from self-pity. (Wait, is that a reference to being sick or bike commute blogging? Um.) 

- If I ever had doubts about the Ogre, which I never did, I still don't. Every plodding commute is a joy. It's brilliant.

- not to #slatepitch, but I kind of love CityCenter. I love how it looks. I love how preposterous and luxe it wants to be. I love how it doesn't exactly fit in with its surroundings. It just makes me smile. (Have I mentioned I've taken some cold medicine?) Anyway, there are a lot of worse things you could do with Qatari money. 

- saw a bicycle cop Cat 6 the crap out of some commuters on M. He crushed it. 

- still car traffic in Glover Park in the morning, even after they restored the three lanes each way. I think it's time to admit the re-re-configuration has failed before it starts hurting the local businesses who demanded it. I'll wait patiently for neighborhood curmudgeons to complain, much as they did when the two-lane conversion "failed." Waiting patiently [checks watch]. 

- saw a guy with bike shoes on, but brown flip flops tucked into his belt at the back of his pants. Bro so hard. Also saw a pedicabber swerve at some Segway riders on Pennsylvania while screaming "THIS ISN'T A SEGWAY LANE." I think he was joking, but I'm not totally sure. I don't know how fraught the relationship between these groups are. We could have a Jets-Sharks thing going on and I'd hate for the peace and quiet and open air to be marred by awkward rolling rumbles. 

- on the way home, I saw three people I know. Tried to go for a roll-by high five with one, but it didn't work. The world just isn't ready for it. 

- Kids on bikes everywhere. Just everywhere. Hard not to blame the Kidical Mass movement. Thanks for ruining biking for us hardcore avid cyclists. Thanks a lot. More longtails than a brontosaurus convention. ["boooooo!," says the imaginary crowd in my head that hates lame dinosaur jokes.] Apropos of this and of other things, it's worth remembering that before you were an experienced cyclist, you were an inexperienced one. Be kind. 

9/11/14

Rides 9/10 and Ride In 9/11: Moose

It's the time of the year that's on the eve of the time of the year when I start getting ragey about bicyclists not using lights at night. So, get excited for that. As always, this offer stands: if you do not own lights for your bike and cannot afford lights for your bike, I will buy you lights for your bike. Please email talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com. I am willing to put my money where my soon-to-be ragey mouth is. Lights are too important to not have.

I remember the ride in yesterday as uneventful. It was a straight shot along the Mall and when you catch the lights, you can really make a go of it. Of course, this means something like sustained pedaling for more than a block and that's utterly exhausting.

I went up Wisconsin in the morning and came down it in the evening. There's a mildly thrilling view from Book Hill of the Kennedy Center and the world beyond that always makes me happy. The conditions on the road for bicyclists are suboptimal and I would recommend that 9 out of 10 times you take the better bike routes through residential Georgetown instead of along the commercial strip. But 1 out of 10 times, I recommend the other way around. Of course, my advice being what it is, you should ignore it and do what you want.

I rode through Washington Circle, which is designed to ensure that all passers-through are obligated to stop and pay due deference to George Washington and his statue. It's not just a traffic mess. It's deliberate. Yes, sure. It's another place best (and rather easily) avoided by bicycle. I guess the recurring theme of this ride was 'poor choices,' which itself was an homage to George Washington's time in the French and Indian War (which was an important 18th century military conflagration and not just the world's most lopsided cricket match).

This morning I wasn't much up to riding to work, so I decided to take the Brompton to the metro. Along Massachusetts, I was passed by another bike commuter and I just got bad vibes coming off of him, like he was resentful that I was on a clown bike and wearing normal people clothes and not on a proper bike wearing proper bicycling clothes. I'm relatively confident that I'm making this up, but do you ever occasionally just get a feeling that other bike commuters are judging you? I get this feeling all of the time and not just because they hold up score cards as they ride by. Judge not, lest ye be judged and all that. There's no wrong way to bike commute (except by driving, which is the most wrong way to bike commute) and it seems foolish to mistake the paltriness of the percentage of us who do it regularly as exclusivity.

At my Metro destination, the escalator was broken so I ended up carrying the folded bike up one of the longer escalators in the system. I did make it to the top eventually, but for a while, I thought I was never going to make it and would have to live permanently underground and aspired to become the 37th most popular mole-person blogger in DC. Good thing I made it. The ride down Nebraska wasn't terrible. One close-ish pass.

I won't be riding to work or blogging on Friday or Monday (please don't cry), so see you Tuesday. But before I peace out, here's some info about a Kidical Massing event that you might want to know:

There are those times in life when two forces rocket towards each other, only to meet in the middle with an incredible explosion of AWESOME CUTENESS and CUPCAKES. On Sunday, September 14th, the incredible adorability of Kidical Mass Arlington will cross the bridge and join forces with the amazing delightfulness of Kidical Mass DC to ... circle the Washington Monument. And eat cupcakes. It will be awesome.

When: Sunday, September 14, 10:00am (roll out 10:15am)

Meet & End : LBJ Grove, on the Pentagon side of the wooden bridge (Right by the Columbia Island Marina)

Parking: Either in the Columbia Island Marina / LBJ Memorial parking lot, accessible from the southbound GW Parkway OR in the LBJ Grove Parking lot accessible from Boundary Channel Drive on the Pentagon Reservation.

Route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/5725066

This ride will be long -- 3+ miles EACH WAY, but it will be awesome, and there will be a break in the middle. We'll meet at Columbia Island Marina at10am, bike across the Memorial Bridge, meet our friends and cupcakes, meet, eat and be merry, then return via the 14th Street Bridge.

9/9/14

Rides 9/9: I rallied

Every morning's the same, but different. Every morning's different, but the same. If this passes as a deep thought, it's likely you've been using spray paint in a confined space. Please crack a window. 

Slightly varied repetition. It's like different bands covering the same song. You know the words and the melody, but there's a freshness in a different timber or in an unexpected lilt or trill. Speaking of music, I'd just like to clarify that I have terrible taste in it. Like, legitimately bad taste. I wish I were kidding, but I genuinely believe that whatever's best is whatever's the most popular right now. How could so many people be wrong simultaneously? Doesn't the law of averages mean that this is impossible? [is there even a law of averages? Thanks, Obama] 

Anyway, the "Shake It Off" of bicycles routes these days is M Street. There was a Metro Access van and a box truck parked in the cycletrack and then there's the part of the sidewalk that's closed where the cycletrack becomes a sidewalk. Swift? Hardly. 

I didn't stop for croissants at any of the places I could've stopped and made it to work without an buttery encumbrance. I can't help but think that was a tactical error. I think we could have a greater bike mode share than Copenhagen if breakfast pastries were tax deductible for bike commuters. Danish? Indeed. 

There seemed to be extra car traffic everywhere on the way home. It's probably has something to do with more people making car trips. Or because DDOT spent all summer narrowing the roads by just one inch every day and only now, after months of this devious prank, has anyone finally realized the net result. I bet it's that and not the whole more cars thing.

On L Street, I saw and rode with Ross, who I've known so long (and haven't seen in forever) that we used to ride a together back when BicycleSpace was on I Street. He's heading out of town again for work (bon voyage!), but it was great to see him and share some of the commute. You just don't get to do stuff like this if you drive to work. I mean, you could, but shouting through open car windows as you dawdle down the highway seems considerably more burdensome. Anyway, among other things, we talked about a fairly crazy sounding bicycle ride from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea and now I have a new life goal: to never ride a bicycle from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. 

L to 11th (bumpy) to Pennsylvania and up to East Capitol and down Kentucky to the grocery store where both my kale and the reusable mesh produce bag in which it rested were commented upon favorably by the woman working at the checkout (#thistown?). She did not comment on the cake slice I also purchased. 

9/8/14

Rides 9/8: Pull Up Jumper From the Top of the Key

The heat broke and those who didn't ride in the heat were back in action and the streets teemed with cyclists in the way that an early fall day does. I rode along the Mall with many others and a paucity of drivers looking for a shortcut. It sometimes shocks me that there are barely any drivers on Jefferson Drive in the morning, but I guess that Constitution, which parallels it, is speedway-y enough at that time of day. There is a lot of parking along the Mall in the morning, in spite of signs that claim that parking is prohibited until 10AM and I have half a mind to write or call or otherwise badger whatever agency is allegedly responsible for enforcing this dictate that is so clearly unenforced. Park Police maybe? If I had my way, and I don't, cars would be banned from Madison and Jefferson drives (those that buttress the grassy part of the Mall) and only tour buses and pedestrians and cyclists would be allowed through, but clearly this is an awful idea because, um, George Washington drove a Hummer or something? The Mall, a place I ride along now every morning from one end to the other, is a remarkably stolid place and I don't think in a good way. It reminds me of a cemetery. I get the idea of 'grandeur' but I don't know if we wear it especially well. America is, to my mind (or imagination), a too woolly place to be celebrated with boring geometry and even more boring grass. Tuileries whatever.

Rock Creek Park, K Street, Wisconsin Avenue and the whole way up. Lots of car traffic by the British School. I blame all the people driving on the wrong side of the street. something guv'nah something.

Riding home was fine. On Massachusetts, I followed a man on a bike who wore a reflective ankle band around each pant cuff. I think this is fine and all, but what I'm really pining for is hi-viz tattoos. I feel like there's a whole market of bicyclists out there who love tattoos but are meh on visibility at night and could really go for this, to say nothing of all those who would love to wear a hi-viz ankle band but suffer from debilitating velcro allergies. And yet, we lag behind in hi-viz tattoo ink technology. Thanks, Obama.

Dance like nobody's watching
Love like you've never been hurt
Sing like nobody's listening
Drive around bicyclists as if you actually gave a crap about their safety

L Street to 15th to Pennsylvania Avenue. I'd go home a different way but then I'd have to move. I spent some of the trip thinking of some hypothetical Gear Prudence questions I'd write (please write in. Mine weren't very good) and also about other things. Bike commuting, and the not-reading and the not-listening to anything that it provides, is like not wearing socks. You breath a bit. And instead of foot juices that evaporate into the ether, it's day worries. Let loose the foot juices of your mind. Ride a bicycle.

9/7/14

Rides 9/5: Better late than better

"Did I not write this already?" he asked miself, upon remembering that he did not in fact write this already. "Should I try some lame conceit in which I write in the third person and then primarily only about the process of writing the blog post and totally in a way which manages to elide writing the blog post itself?"

"No, that would be terrible," he thought.

Pennsylvania Avenue to coffee and from coffee G Street and I think after that, as far as I can remember, it was upon Wisconsin Avenue until Massachusetts and from there down to work. I like G Street a lot and wish it had a bike lane. There's no reason it shouldn't. "While I do see dead people, I don't see bike lanes"- The Sixth Sense II: the Cat 6th Sense.

It was a different route home because I had a work obligation in Adams Morgan and that took me across Garfield and Cleveland and Calvert. Before that, I rode up Cathedral from New Mexico, I think for the first (and last) time. For one, the street is on an unforgiving hill, made more unforgiving by the lack of bicycle accommodation and the willingness of drivers to also not accommodate bicyclists. And for two, I don't really have a two, but maybe T.S. Eliot does. "Don't cry, don't raise your eye"- Mr. Mistoffelees, in youth.

After my work obligation, I rode down 18th Street on a Friday night and hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. I'm not laughing from funny. I'm laughing because it has sharrows. Replace sharrows with chalk outlines.

I took 18th the whole way downtown to L probably (I can't recall) and eventually made my way home. It was a muggy night. I remember the sweat.