[The following description has been redacted]
I can't tell you, because my wife said this: "If a smug bike commuter writes about this trip, I'm never reading his blog again." I don't usually do verbatim quotes on this blog, but I think I've got that one right. I can't afford to lose half my my readership, so you can find out more info about what it's like to ride Metro, though not from the perspective of a daily bike commuter, here.
After seeing my wife's office for the first time, I got to do some of my first downtown rush hour bikesharing. My CaBi membership is underused- working at AU, I pretty much only have one place to go and since I don't go to Tenleytown for lunch every day, my membership is pretty fallow. I picked up my bike at 19th and L, walked it on the sidewalk [I'm kinda shocked at how much sidewalk riding I saw] down to L street proper and set off towards 15th street, where I planned on my inaugural ride up the Cycle Track, which I will capitalize to stress its importance in my mind and in my heart. L street was fine, but it will be better once the bike lane is installed. I think that might even be this spring- that should be really nice for west-east travel.
I really liked toddling along on my CaBi. Prior to leaving home, I literally sprinted back from the bus stop to grab my helmet, since I anticipated maybe trying to bike around downtown and eventually to work and I didn't want to miss the chance because of a lack of helmet. I know it's not required or illegal if you don't use one, but if you have one, it's really not a hassle to bring it and wear it. You could even wear it on the Metro for reasons that, for the sake of my blog readership, I'm not free to elucidate. I went down the four blocks on L and tried to turn left onto the Cycle Track. There was a red light, so I sorta had to maneuverer my bike with the pedestrians through the crosswalk and I could find no way but the most awkward and clod-like to get my CaBi pointed in the direction I needed it to go. When you're in a car and you cause inconvenience to pedestrians, you at least have the windshield to protect you from their icy stares. A bike affords no such luxury- you're just some dope with a helmet who's in their way.
I love bollards. The Cycle Track is just a different urban biking experience entirely. I thought that the Cycle Track was maybe the slightest bit narrow, but maybe that's because I was just on a hulking CaBi. I saw at least 10-15 cyclists, though only one other CaBi, in just the few blocks I traveled up 15th street before turning onto Q, which I took down to 14th, which I took up to R. One way streets are annoying, even when they have bike lanes. Sometimes you just want to salmon. It was nice to see so many bikers and such a different sort. Way more in work clothes than my normal Arlington-Custis Trail crew. It's pretty amazing that you can live, work and bike commute in the same city as so many others and have such a qualitatively different experience.
When I wrapped up my coffee, I got back to the CaBi station on R with the intention of making the ride all the way to Ward Circle. According to Google Maps, that's 3.8 miles. I did not want to pay $1.50, so I needed to do it under 30 minutes. The only thing that stood in my way was Massachusetts Avenue, which is
I didn't check my watch before I left, so I really had no clue how long I was on the road. My route was flat until around where R meets Massachusetts and then it was all up from there until Wisconsin. I was determined to ride in the street rather than on the wide sidewalk next to the road. Yikes. A lot of cars going way too fast, passing way too closely. I thought about bailing and going up the sidewalk, but pride kept me on the street itself and it worked out ok. I'm used to biking in traffic and, for the most part, I felt fine. I got sort of bullied into a right turn only lane when I intended to go straight on account of a lumbering furniture delivery truck. Dick. I jumped the light and re-established myself in the lane and he just passed me with a wide berth about 75 feet further. I know that it wasn't "polite" of me, but I had to get out of the right turn lane somehow and jumping the light seemed preferable to waiting for a few cars to pass. I was on the clock! Not even the cost of a small coffee was at stake!
I normally have a pretty good internal clock and a generally good idea about how long I've been riding. I thought I was pretty close to the thirty minutes, but was almost sure I was under. Luckily, Capital Bikeshare's super computer/regular computer keeps track of these things:
R St NW
|Ward Circle / American|
, 4 seconds
Sweet, inconsequential, needlessly sweaty victory.
When I got to work, I got a call from Bicycle Space. MY CROSS CHECK IS READY! Of course, it's on the day that I don't have my bike with me and therefore the transfer of seat, pedal, fenders and rack can't happen. I asked them if I could bring it by tomorrow, but I think it'll take longer than if I could do it today. So, updates on that tomorrow. In case you couldn't tell, I'm very excited- so excited that I spent a good half-hour trying to figure a way to get home and back to the shop with my bike that wasn't preposterously stressful. I realized that the only way that this would even be conceivable would be if I left work at 2:30, and since I only got in at noon, that's not really an option.
I'm trying to figure out how I'm getting home. I really wish that the CaBi station was installed at Rosslyn already. I mean, I wish they were all up the R-B corridor, but we'll have to wait until October maybe. I'll post later about my ride and I'll probably even call it my "Ride Home", but, sadly, the bike part will be truncated. But, on the other hand, it'll give me time to work on my side project, Tales From the Bus Lane (this is not a real thing).