I was out of the house around 9:45 because the bike shop opened at 10 and I wanted to be there on the early end, but not too early, since I think it's generally impolite to be at a place of business before they're actually set-up, which isn't the same as when open the doors. I don't like it when I get phone calls as soon as I walk into work and if, God forbid, there was a student waiting for me when I got there, I think I would actually cry. I took my new favorite route down Pershing to Barton past Team Ptero Car (it says that in caps across the top, above the pterodactyl) to 10th the Fairfax and then into Rosslyn. Cab passed way too close on Fairfax. The driver was probably thinking (maybe) "why isn't this bike guy on the bike path next to the street?" Or at least, that was the question I was posing answers to after he passed me by. Well, long story short, the path is shit. It's too narrow, it's bumpy and the only way to get onto it would be to bike through some heavy construction equipment, which currently block the path at its entrance around 10th street. So, yeah, biking in the street is the preferred option, though the street is nothing special either.
Lots of joggers on the Key Bridge. They all had those belts full of grenade-shaped water bottles. I always wonder if they're going for a nice jog or storming the beaches of Normandy. M street was pretty mellow, but on Saturdays, cars are parked alongside the right side of the street that serves as something of a bike lane on weekdays. I've gotten used to riding down L (since I did it the the other day, too) and I was pretty able to move along with the cars.
I got to Bicycle Space and the bike was ready. However, I asked them to transfer the racks, fenders, seat, and pedals from the Trek to the Surly. That was going to take some time and I was more than happy to wait. I used the time to talk to the guys in the shop, who could talk bikes all day, every day. This is exactly what you want your bike salespeople to be like and I appreciated the overal geniality of the place. After a while I decided that the best use of my time would be to test ride a Brompton, something I'd never done and always secretly (why secret, I don't know) wanted to ask them about.
The Brompton is a real bike. It rides like a real bike- it's sturdy and reactive and smooth. I took it up a few blocks on 5th (north of New York Avenue, there's bike lanes). I looped back left on P and then down 6th back to the shop. The ride was ridiculously fun and if money weren't an issue, there'd be no reason not to have this bike. Except money is an issue (it's not a cheap bike in any way) and it'd be hard to justify having a bike that would be useful for the same situations that having a bikeshare membership would be useful (short, point-to-point city rides) or for one-off scenarios, like needing a bike to get back from a car dealership where you drop your car off to have work done or wanting to bring a bike with you on a train or bus and immediately upon arriving at your destination, zipping away. These things don't happen with enough frequency in my life to warrant the purchase of a Brompton and I'm more than content coveting it from afar. (The Brompton would be a great bike for an apartment building or business to communally own, so it could be signed out to residents or employees looking to take quick, medium distance trips. It can be easily stored behind a desk or in a closet, so space isn't an issue, and it's very easy to ride. Its probably not sufficient for grocery trips, but I could see it as a really useful for unexpected short trips for someone in a one car family when that car isn't there. Anyway, if any (non-bike) businesses do this, please let me know so I can blog about it)
The shop got really busy and since I was going to have two bikes there anyway, I asked them to remove the components from the Trek, which I would ride home while I was waiting for them to finish up installing everything on the Cross Check. I went down I Street (way too many potholes and rough patches), Key Bridge then Wilson.
After the "it's ready" call came in, I embarked on my multi-modal return trip. I managed to sprint to catch a bus (waving down an obliging driver too. I wasn't technically even at the stop). Only a 6 minute wait for the Orange line from Ballston into downtown. I got off at Foggy Bottom, walked to the CaBi station on I, loaded up and bungeed my Ortlieb pannier into the front basket/rack/rasket (not the way that pannier is meant to be used) and set off once again towards the shop. I was wearing my bike gear, plus Sperry laceless, slip-on shoes. A weird look.
When I got there, everything was set. Emboldened by the new bike, I decided that I would take the 14th street bridge-Mount Vernon trail- Four Mile Run-W&OD-George Mason Drive route home instead of once more biking through the city and over Key Bridge. Getting from the shop to the bridge proved a surprising challenge, only because I'm not really sure the best way to get there. I aimed for 14th street obviously and worked my way down across the Mall. Monumental Washington can be depressing sometimes- it's just so can be so empty and wan- like a de Chirico. In front of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, a bird shat on my right arm. Thanks, bird! I ended up following another cyclist down, since I thought he knew where he was going, but he didn't. A guard let us cross down some securitized driveway, with gates and flashing lights and everything, onto 15th street, which crosses Maine and then dumps you out on Ohio. You can get onto the bridge from Ohio, past the Jefferson Memorial. I made the the mistake of biking on the sidewalk/path rather than in the street and accordingly was "on your left"-ing families from all around these them there United States visiting the nation's capital. Windy on the bridge and windy on the trails. Windy pretty much the whole way home and I'm pretty sure that regardless of the direction I was going, the wind was blowing in my face. During one section of the Mount Vernon trail, after National Airport, I really pedaled hard, "opened it up," if you will, and it was really fun. I wouldn't say that I normally bike that fast, both due to limitations of my (previous) bike, my legs and the road conditions (stop lights and stop signs preclude really pedaling uninterrupted). I really felt like I had a proper bike.
I'm not used to the gearing or the drop bar yet, so I spent a lot of my time on the way home experimenting with different grips and gear combos. On my old bike, I was never on the small front chain ring and I didn't think twice about avoiding it on the new bike. Big mistake. My legs really hurt and I think I overdid it on my first ride out. Oh well.