2/11/11

Ride Home 2/11

As I wrote earlier, I didn't have my bike with me today and since Bikeshare doesn't as yet extend to Ballston, this trip would have to be multi-modal. I had a few different options with various bike, train and bus combinations and I elected for the Bikeshare to M and Wisconsin to 38B bus to get me into Virginia. The ride once again put me on Massachusetts, which was fine, and then I went down Wisconsin the whole way through Glover Park and Georgetown. CaBis are sturdy bikes, but the gearing makes it such that it's really difficult to pedal at a speed that is consistent with the car traffic around you on a downhill. I maxed out on Wisconsin around the intersection with 37th and it became difficult to blend in with car traffic as I normally would. So, it became a game of stay to the right and hope you don't get doored. No, it wasn't fun. Things slowed down again around Reservoir and it just became a slow pedal behind frequently stopping cars from light to light. I didn't cut in front of too many cars, but I did come to the front of the line between the right-hand turning lane from Wisconsin to M and the straight down Wisconsin past M. No one seemed to mind, but short of honking or some sort of enraged, really loud shouting, I wouldn't have noticed anyway. I docked- it was 15 minutes total. There's no way that I could have made that trip by car or public transportation in as little time. Students of American U- use Bikeshare to get to Georgetown! Take a cab home because riding up Wisconsin blows! As usual, the highlight of any ride on Wisconsin is passing Kitchen No. 1. Oh, but if I could have stopped...(First time I organize a Tales from the Sharrows Ride, because of these kinds of blogs organize group rides for some reason, I know where we're going. Total non-sequiter, but when I saw the blog's name in italics for the first real time just now, I thought that it would make for the title of the lamest Harry Potter book ever. Will Harry and Ron be able to find adequate bike parking by Hogwarts before Voldemort and the Committee of 100 succeed in defeating Dumbledore's rezoning effort to make streets safer for all users? Will Hermione side with the vehicularists of Slytherin in the debates on the online bike/magic message boards? You're welcome JK Rowling)
My timing was good in that I caught the 38B after only having to wait for 3 minutes. The bus stop was a United Nations (actually, more like a veritable Babel) considering that polyglot cacophony that surrounded me. There was even a Russian lady who looked like a Russian doll, because her skin was a scary smooth and of a very pale white porcelain-like complexion. When I got on the bus, I did what you're supposed to do on a bus- zone out. I'm not gonna worry about traffic conditions or way-finding. That's why they pay the driver. I turned on some podcasts and minded my own business.
My mistake came when I got overly ambitious/lazy about my next bus trip. I could have stayed on the 38B and then walked 10-15 minutes home. But instead, I chanced it for a 4B, which would drop me off right outside our building. Well, the 4B turned into a 4H (why WMATA? why? Why can't the bus actually be what it's marked as?) and I was already off the 38B and rather than wait for an actual 4B, I took the 4H which would still put me really close to home. I spent the next 41 minutes on the bus- for a trip that should have take about ten- stuck on Arlington Boulevard. Next to a bike path. An unused bike path. Now, the reason the traffic was slowed wasn't necessarily volume, but rather that some masonry fell from the Glebe Road overpass. Act of God, I don't know. Act of poor maintenance? Maybe. Unforeseen, certainly. But I was stuck and I'm not used to being stuck. The primary virtue of a bike is that you're pretty much never stuck. There's almost never any "unforeseen circumstance" that delays your trip inexorably. You just turn around or walk your bike on the sidewalk or do crazy shit like this or whatever. I'm not trying to be smug, but it's just that when you've got a bike, you've got options and having the ability to turn around or go some other way is really rather pleasant and I've become accustomed to it and I like it very much. It's not the only reason to bike- there are plenty- but it's one of my favorites and, to my mind, it's the hardest thing to give up. I'm really not trying to evangelize here- while I like bike commuting, I'll readily admit it's not for everyone and all situations- but just explain one of its more positive aspects.
Anyway, I got home and fixed myself a drink (Hendricks and Sierra Mist. Not recommended). That probably explains the rambling and the unconvincing earnestness. Tomorrow, getting the Cross Check, I hope.

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