It's the officially sanctioned Bike to Work Week. If anyone wants to write up his/her bike to work experience, I'll gladly post it here. If you've ever wanted a platform to share your bike commute stories, sending them to me will guarantee that your writing will be exposed to literally tens of the most interesting and influential* people in the Washington area, if not the world. I'd be especially interested to hear from any new bike commuters who've been inspired by reading this blog to get out and try to ride to work. Because you're less likely to exist than unicorns.
I took the Chain Bridge route today, following Quincy to Military Road. It's the first time I've been that way since I rode home and almost didn't make it up the hill without falling over. I initially planned to stop at Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe to pick up some baked goods because a coworker who's been out for a few months on FMLA was coming back to work today and she likes baked goods. (If you need a coworker who at the slightest pretense is willing to bring in baked goods, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any job openings. Skills include: light blogging, intermediate Hungarian reading and successful completion of Park Tool Bicycle Repair and Maintenance Clinic) However, I realized that I'd have to sort of go out of my way to bike back up Lee Highway (I should have taken George Mason) and also that it'd be better to pick up baked goods closer to work anyway. So, I begged off that mission and proceeded apace through North Arlington.
One of the nicer aspects of this ride is that there are striped lanes from Glebe Road to Lee Highway and then striped lanes from Military Road from the intersection of N Nelly Custis Drive (real name of street) to pretty much the Chain Bridge. That makes it pretty bike friendly. So friendly in fact that a fellow bicyclist said good morning as the passed me an intersection. This kind of joviality amongst bicyclists always makes me happy. It's like Mayberry on wheels.
The downside of this route are the two rather long climbs it entails. This, combined with the fact that the Chain Bridge crossing is considerably far away from most of the employment centers downtown, means that I was the only person heading in that direction this morning. That's not so bad, since I like solitude (I'm currently blogging from a shack deep in the Montana woods).
Riding down the cut-through path from N Randolph Street down to the Chain Bridge, I'm not entirely sure how I ever made it up that hill. Seriously- this is simply not good enough and this route should be reconfigured to make it possible for regular people to ride from the Chain Bridge. Having a Bike Route sign doesn't automatically make a road bikeable. A more forgiving topography would help.
My bike was already pretty dirty from a ride I took yesterday, so I figured there'd be no harm taking it down the towpath (rather than "portage" it up the path of doom) and then get on the CCT for the rest of the ride. I was going to ride the towpath all the way to Fletcher's Cove, where it meets the CCT, but I sort of got lazy and instead carried it up the "steps" by the Arizona Avenue bridge. I really wish there was a better way to get from the towpath to the CCT, maybe like a cloverleaf? Because if there's anything quiet, bucolic shared-use paths need, it's design inspiration from interstate highways.
I almost biked past the Manning Place staircase. I was distracted because the CCT is so lush it looks like something out of an Henri Rousseau painting. Along Potomac Avenue, I saw a woman bird watching. She seemed to be miffed by my presence. Sorry. I'm the one going to work, you're the one walking around a residential neighborhood with binoculars. Which one of us is weirder?
Do you think drivers with bike racks on the backs of their cars are kinder to cyclists? I've had mixed encounters, but the one this morning was fairly nice. He even waved.
Have you ever biked on Fordham Road, NW? I'm guessing not, but I strongly recommend it. It looks like the place where the top quarter of the other half live. What's it called when your mansion is bigger than a normal mansion? There's a whole bunch of rather posh residential streets hidden away between Sibley Hospital, American University and Mass Avenue. It looks more like Greenwich than Washington. Incredible.
Have you ever thought that you've got Final Countdown stuck in your head but when you reach the chorus it turns out to be Eye of the Tiger? Boy, was I shocked.
When I locked my bike up outside of Le Pain Quotidien (which is French for "overpriced croissants"), the man sitting at the seat by the window looked at me like I was from another planet. Like he couldn't be more confused/angry that someone rode a bicycle there and was locking it to a a parking meter outside of the very place where he was eating his breakfast. (Perhaps rightfully, since there's no bike parking in Spring Valley, but I digress). It'd be nice if it wasn't such a surprise that people use bikes as transportation.
*By interesting and influential, I mean in the very small circle of the bike advocacy community.