Before I left work, I read the GGW post mentioning the "Mary Poppins effect" (I also read about it here, here and here) and I thought that it would be a good subject to ruminate on during my ride home. Instead thinking about it only made me wish I had an umbrella.
Bike commuting is great in that some times you get to see cherry blossoms, but one of its major downsides is the exposure to elements. It wasn't even raining that badly (I got home and my cap was barely damp), but it still wasn't excessively fun. It was a cold rain, though not a wintry mix. It was still rainy enough for cyclists to be the second smuggest people on the road, the most smug being those joggers who got home from work and then decided "Hey, why don't I go out for a run right now. In shorts. Because I'm like that." Tangentially, I'm pretty sure that there are some people who run home from work. Is that a real thing? I sorta think it's a real Washington thing, but not a real real thing. Whatevs.
On my way down New Mexico, there was a UPS truck parked/stopped on the right side of the street past the intersection with Macomb. I was moving alongside of car traffic, but not merged between cars or in the middle of the lane because when it's raining, I like to move a little slower than normal. The girth of the UPS truck made it such that my path was obstructed and I had to move over. Some driver was a jerk about it and, rather than give me the space, tried to speed up to get past me before I merged. This peeved me. There was still enough room for me to move over in front of him, but barely, though considering I was only in front of him for the length of time it takes to get past a UPS truck, I don't see what the big deal was. I guess I could have yielded to him, but that would have probably meant that I would have needed to slow down to the point where it would have made it essentially impossible to blend back in with car traffic. So, some advice: in the rain, take the lane earlier than you would otherwise.
I don't really have a name for my bike, but sometimes when I head towards rough patches of road I invoke "CROSS CHECK" (the way Aragorn might Anduril. Ok, I had to look that up, but if you knew what I was talking about, than you're a bigger dork than me. Half dork points if you thought his sword was named Narsil. Zero dork points, but probably a successful social life, if you have no idea what I'm talking about) to give me special ohmygodpleaseletmestayonthebike powers. Thus far it hasn't failed, but I'm not exactly riding on the roughest roads.
Wilson Boulevard after the intersection with Oak Street (near the bus stop in front of the Safeway) is a huge, ruddy mess. Big ugly potholes make riding to the right very inconvenient. Be careful as you move over to the left because that part of Wilson is where three lanes merge into two lanes and a half lane that cars get into when they want to go into basement Safeway. There's also a lot of pedestrian traffic there. It's been a while since I rode up Wilson and I might have been overstimulated today.
Another bike commuting tip: be sure to look completely over your shoulder to try to see what's behind you. It's especially helpful on rainy days. Here's a way to practice at home. Find a loved one and an exercise bike (this can be in your building's exercise room or a public gym or wherever. If you can't find an exercise bike, you can use a saw horse.) Get on the bike/saw horse and have your loved one stand about 15 feet behind you. Distances may vary given your available space. Begin biking/fake biking because you're on a saw horse and every 15 seconds have your loved one hold up a different card from the beloved board game Guess Who. Look over your shoulder and shout out things like "Hat" or "Beard" or "I think that minorities are under-represented in this game." It's a great way to practice your visual acuity and definitely prepares you for real-life bike commuting . If you ever do this, be sure to record it and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ditching a bike lane for the middle of the street is sometimes a good thing, especially if you can tell that a motorist turning around in a driveway isn't looking for anyone in the bike lane and only watching for car traffic. Getting out of the bike lane was a good idea because, in my case anyway, the bike lane was closer to where the driver (of a Buick) was about to put the front of his car and because it was where he was looking for cars anyway. I half-yelled "Stop stop stop stop stop"," but I don't think at any point he made eye contact with me. Eye contact is generally a good way tell if someone is looking at you. Tautology alert?