2/18/11

Ride In (With Special Guest) 2/18

Last night, I suggested to my wife that it would be a nice day and it would be fun to ride into work together. She's working in Rosslyn today (not downtown), so she obliged. We've done the ride together a few times previously (on Bike to Work day- which I remember as not being very fun) and I was glad to do it again. She asked me if she was going to have to say something funny for the blog. I told her that she didn't have to, but that I was going to write that she said that. She said that that was very meta. I told her that this is the Community of local bike commuter blogs.
We take a pretty circuitous route to get to her office, which is on Wilson Boulevard near Oak Street. We bike from our place across Glebe Road and then rather down Quincy to Fairfax (the way I normally go and the way I first took her when she first got her bike. I'm still so, so sorry about that. Not a good choice for a new rider!Don't be dumb like me when trying evangelize bike commuting!), we go down 5th Street, which runs roughly parallel. 5th street is exclusively residential and while there's no bike infrastructure, there also isn't much more than intermittent car traffic either. We turned down Irving and then did a multiple crosswalk sort of diagonal crossing of the Washington/Wilson/Clarendon nexus and then down Irving to 13th. 13th runs past I dog park and I though seeing dogs playing might be some nice positive reinforcement. Bike commuting = happy puppies! It's true! There were no dogs out.
We worked our way over to Key Boulevard, which is also residential and has some nice downhill bits, then a left on Rhodes to the sidewalk next to Lee Highway. The sidewalk was surprisingly wide enough to comfortably ride on and since Lee Highway lives up the highway part of its name along that stretch, the sidewalk was appreciated. As we passed Colony House, a store in a high modernist building that seems to sell anything but modernist furniture, I turned around and said "You might want to get into your lowest gear right now." I try not to talk too much to my wife when we're riding together. Mainly because she can't hear me that well, since I tend to mumble, but also because I don't say very much of consequence and I think, much like when we're driving together, she likes to quietly look at the things around her and not be bothered with my asinine observations of new road signs or "I learned at my bike meeting that they're re-striping this street some time in 2013"  or "I read on this local blog that this restaurant is gonna open here, but their liquor license is temporarily delayed."
There's a nasty little hill on Quinn Street. We both made it up in I think relatively good spirits, though we got stuck on opposites sides of the stop light. From there, it was just another left turn and then to the back door of her office. I went in with her because her boss not-really boss is a big bike guy (He's buying Andy Schleck's bike or something. Not the actual one, but the same kind). He appreciated the Cross Check and especially the Brooks saddle. The conversation was only a little awkward, or maybe I'll just say that it was only a little awkward and just leave it at that.

...

Now, entirely independent of my writing the above, my wife asked if she could write up a guest post describing her trip. As a fan of gimmicks, I totally encouraged it. Below, presented without comment, is what she wrote up. It's strikingly similar, so I guess that means that mine was an accurate re-telling...?

I’m working from our Arlington office today, so Brian suggested that we bike to work since the weather is so unseasonably warm.  I agreed – extra endorphins never hurt anybody, and it’s casual Friday, so this makes the prospect of biking considerably easier.  I don’t need to bring an entire change of clothes and shoes, and combating helmet hair with a ponytail is an acceptable option. Also, my legs are feeling stiff from taking a dance class for the first time in almost a decade this week, so I hoped the biking would possibly help loosen them up (don’t we sound like quite the Washington ‘do-er’ couple? I assure you, that’s not the case).
It felt slightly cool today, but it is February, so I don’t really feel like I can complain.  I’m equally petrified of riding on streets with traffic and on the bike commuter superhighway that is the trail (bike to work day was a little harrowing - no one liked me; not bikers, not cars, not anyone), so we went a longer, more circuitous baby-biker route.  When I first got my bike, Brian thought it would be a good idea to ride home from the bike store on major streets with bike lanes.  Having not been on a bike since I was 10 years old, this may have done some psychological damage.  Anyway, while I’m still not comfortable with cars, there weren’t that many out on the road this morning, and I’m happy to report I didn’t lose what little comfort I achieved biking over the summer and fall, so maybe there’s hope for me yet.  I tried to get into the smug biker mindset by thinking self righteous and judgmental things about how the various pedestrians I saw walking to work should just get bikes, but that’s just not really my style.  Who am I to judge other peoples commuting choices? Not a biker, obviously.
At one point, crossing over Wilson/Clarendon near NorthSide Social to take the residential back streets, I glanced wistfully at the bike lane going down Clarendon.  ‘It would be so direct,’ I thought to myself. But I know Brian doesn’t even usually take that route, and the bike lane is still blocked from construction, so I didn’t even really entertain the idea.  The only other remarkable part of the trip was the Big Hill at Quinn St.  Brian helpfully warned me to get into my lowest gear before we rounded the corner.  I remembered that on my first trip biking into work, I spent all my energy on the first hill, and didn’t have enough steam to make it up the next couple, and had to shamefully walk my bike up the final col de Rosslyn.  This time, I decided that slow and steady wins the race.  Two excuses, I haven’t biked in months, and my bike in constructed in such a way that it at least seems very front heavy.  I always feel like I ride way faster than Brian going downhill, but he definitely beat me up the hill…by a lot.  He made the light, I did not.  I got stuck at the intersection, and when the light turned green, I didn’t quite know how to proceed.  Should I go like I would if I were in a car?  What about the car waiting to turn left? How will he know what I’m going to do? Should I move to the crosswalk and cross like a pedestrian? Should I get off my bike so as to signal to other cars that I’m know that I’m going to stay out of their way and cross like a pedestrian? I got a little bit overwhelmed, and kind of wanted to get off my bike and cry, but I didn’t.  And then we were right at my office (what happened to the other hills?) so everything was okay.
So, yeah, that's the story of our ride in today.

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