4/6/11

Ride In 4/6

Before this ride, I spent some time doing "bike maintenance" which I'm told is a vital part of keeping your bicycle maintained and operating at its most operational level. You're supposed to do it at about the same frequency as brushing your teeth, which I believe is weekly. This mostly consisted of cleaning my bike (spraying it with Simple Green and smearing whatever came loose around with a paper towel) and it took a lot longer than it probably should have. I'm just so meticulous with my smearing. I also cleaned my chain using this nifty contraption, but also with a paper towel. During this, my chain only came off once. I then lubed my chain, which I'm told is useful. It did make a big difference, so my chain was pretty much silent during my ride. I did all of this on the tuft of grass outside of our first floor apartment's balcony (is it a balcony if it's on the first floor?), with the door open so I could keep an eye on Ellie the Poodle, who has been known to use our absences as an opportunity to unspool the toilet paper, leaving it ripped up in the middle of the living room. She was initially interested, but decided that it would be more fun to bark at noises in the hallway. At a certain point, I declared my bike clean and it was time to go.
I wanted one more chance to see what was left of the cherry blossoms and also to see for the first time the new Humpback Bridge bike path. It's a route down the Mount Vernon Trail that I rarely ever take, since I don't work anywhere near there and if I'm going over the 14th street bridge "recreationally", I'd be more inclined to bike down Four Mile Run and then on the MVT past Crystal City and the airport. This trip also marks the fifth part in my ongoing, and increasingly pointless, series of Bridges I've Biked Over on My Way to Work:
Next Up: Wilson Bridge?
It was a pretty quiet ride to the Mount Vernon Trail. I have some quibbles with the bike lane on Lynn Street in Arlington because it's almost always blocked by something or other. Today it was a police officer in a bright yellow jacket and equestrian boots giving someone a ticket. I did not see his horse. Normally it's some sort of delivery truck- it's a pretty commercial strip. I think the purpose of the bike lane is to try to give cyclists some dedicated space separated (by paint only!) from the Autobahn on which drivers try to cover the distance between Wilson and the Key Bridge/entrance to other highways as quickly as possible. I don't mind merging in with cars, but I think with the eventual arrival of Capital Bikeshare in Rosslyn, it's gonna feel dicey to a lot of cyclists. I don't have much in the way of suggestions for how to improve this, other than putting the lane on the curb side of the parked cars. That would also maybe have some traffic calming effects, but probably also create more cyclist-pedestrian conflict.
Down the Mount Vernon Trail I went, riding for some time behind a guy on a yellow mountain bike who had on a black long-sleeve shirt and black long pants, along with winter gloves. I didn't think it was that cold. He turned off right past the Memorial Bridge, at which point I was riding the windy hills followed by a super-biker type, dressed more seasonally with the exception of his very bright green booties, which I only saw after he passed me before we got to the Humpback Bridge. It's sort of pretty on that part of the trail, especially if you like views of the backs of monuments.
Ghost monument effect courtesy of terrible photography.
The Humpback Bridge path was indeed paved and I appreciated that. There's also a much, much better connection to the 14th Street Bridge for cyclists coming north up the MVT. Better late than never I guess.
I passed someone in a recumbent tricycle on the bridge. Did not get a picture. Instead, I spent my time and effort trying to snap another photo of scenic Washington and Arlington. Here's what I got:
It looks just like it does in the movies!
I should really give up the whole trying to take pictures thing. It's getting embarrassing.
The cherry blossoms were pleasant, though less so than last week. I think the storm from yesterday rather damaged them. It might also be that at the end of peak bloom the blossoms just don't look as fresh. I'm not really a flora expert, so who really knows. It could be from the exhaust of the thousands of tour buses parked nearby.
Do these look as blossomy to you?
I took Ohio Drive up to the Rock Creek trail. I was surprised by the number of cyclists I saw traveling southbound mixed in with cars down the Rock Creek Parkway. Two were lady super-bikers, riding side by side, in turquoise and purple Lycra get-ups. [Insert something here about the Mary Poppins Effect. I wonder if there's something called the "Jane Goodall effect" and I'm biking to work in a gorilla suit tomorrow to find out!]
Georgetown on the right. Sort of.
I rode the Rock Creek trail to P street, then up some side streets a bit to Q. I wanted to take a picture of Dumbarton Oaks, which I think might have a nice garden- this was a very flowery trip-, but I rode past it without seeing anything picture worthy. I always think that Dumbarton Oaks is closer to Wisconsin than it actually is. I rode on the sidewalk for some of that stretch because I didn't want to get run over by a taxicab gunning it from stop sign to stop sign.
Wisconsin to Massachusetts and then to work. On Wisconsin, I saw a man in a light blue satin jacket with a big C embroidered on it. He looked like John Waters, but aged about 20 years.
All in all, it was a pretty quiet trip on account of my leaving home a little bit later and the circuitous route that I took. The Mount Vernon Trail between Key Bridge and 14th Street Bridge doesn't seem like a commuter hotspot, but maybe it is earlier in the morning. But, it's always nice to take a diversionary trip midweek, especially on a day as nice as this one.

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