5/25/11

Ride In 5/25

Very special episode today on account of my having a "staff appreciation" event downtown. I decided that I would ride to work by CaBi since I hate parking my bike in unfamiliar places and am probably overly paranoid about it getting stolen. But you read stuff and you figure better to be safe than sorry and since I have a CaBi membership that I rarely ever use, I figured that this would be an ideal circumstance for it.
The only problem is that I don't really live by a CaBi station. They're hoping to expand the Arlington stations out my way by October, but that doesn't really help me now. So, I had to multi-modally get to a CaBi station through a combination of walking and busing.
We don't live as close to the Ballston metro as I thought we did. Also, the motorists on Glebe Road aren't consistently the most friendly towards pedestrians. Even a bus driver indicated to us (I was accompanied by the Official Wife) with a raised hand open palm "Stop in the Name of Love"-type motion that we should halt mid-crosswalk even though we had the walk signal so that he could complete his left turn. We did not oblige. This was after a right-turning driver also tried to cut us off. I pointed to the No Turn on Red sign, but that was dumb because he had the green. Luckily, the Official Wife thought that I was pointing to the walk signal, the germane traffic regulator, that still proved our right of way. I know that bicyclists have it bad sometimes, but it's nothing compared to what pedestrians go through. They are just as exposed and can't go as fast. It's rough.
We took the 38B down the R-B Corridor. It was pleasant enough, but it seemed really slow today. I think that the stops are placed too close together. There should be an express bus.
According to Spotcycle, there was one CaBi available at Rhodes and five or six at Pierce. I opted for Pierce because 1) you never know if Spotcycle will be right 2) You don't want someone to snag it before you get there (I was imagining a dramatic race with another passenger from the bus to the bike) and 3) what if the bike is busted?
At Pierce, there was another guy (not from the bus) picking up a CaBi and I thought he was mumbling to me about something, but it turned out he had one of those Bluetooth headsets on. I don't recommend using those while biking either. Before undocking, I applied my to key safety accessories (my helmet, which I brought from home because really how hard is that to do? and sunscreen (SPF One Million because I'm really paranoid about sunburns and skin cancer. If you had "skin cancer" in the "Diseases that Brian Fears Pool" please contact me about picking up your prize). I activated the Spotcycle timer with an alarm at 25 minutes to let me know if I'm going over my time limit. I refuse to pay extra for CaBis, not that I really had a plan about what to do if the alarm went off. The stations are so diffuse where I was heading that I would have pretty much just been screwed. I put my bag in the front basket, bungeed it, undocked the bike and tried to lean it against my leg as I put my phone in my pocket. However, CaBis don't have a top tube, so the bike just fell over, scraping my right leg in the process. I picked the bike up off its side, spun it around and promptly smacked into a bollard. Awesome.
The ride through Rosslyn was fine. The bike handled the not-yet-repaved road quite well and without jarring me in any way. I was able to pick up a good bit of speed going downhill, enough so that I could merge into traffic to get past a turning truck on the left. When I moved back right, I was passed too closely by some guy driving a BMW. Why is it always a BMW?
The CaBi station at Lynn looked super busy and the bridge was full of bicyclists, including two other CaBis heading in the opposite direction. I was on my 30 minute mission, so I had to pass some other bicyclists on the bridge. At the end of the bridge, I timed it in such a way that I could move from the sidewalk to the roadway during a gap in the traffic and this allowed me to really build up some speed on M street, which slopes down slightly. I had an green lights and an unobstructed lane all the way to Wisconsin, where I moved into the crosswalk and then angled my bike to head uphill.
This was going to be the challenging part. From this point, I only had three re-dock opportunities if needed them: Social Safeway, Guy Mason and Macomb (which I would only use in desperation since it would have required me to really go out of my way). I felt like I was making good time so far, so I declined to check my counter.
I was lucky with the light sequencing because I was pretty much able to make all of the key lights. There were no other bicyclists heading in the same direction, but I saw a few heading down Wisconsin, including a guy on a Surly Pacer, one of the less seen Surly models. Was this an omen? Why would it be? Do I even know what an omen is?
The gearing on the CaBi is pretty good for these kinds of slogs and that's good because it's very difficult to ride out of the seat. The ride itself was fairly uneventful. The most interesting part was getting around a landscaping truck that was parked in the right lane of Wisconsin just past Calvert. The driver behind me was fairly obliging. I don't know if this had anything to do with the fact that I was riding a hulking CaBi, but I suspect not. I got across Massachusetts and checked the timer. I was around 18 minutes and I was pretty sure I would make it.
Going downhill on Mass, the CaBi builds up enough speed that there's no sense in pedaling. That's a fun feeling.
I docked at AU at 24:39, keeping my blank slate in tact. I don't know if Bikeshare keeps stats about what rides have been completed in what amount of time, but I think it'd be pretty cool if you got an email from them if you ever broke a dock-to-dock record. Would this encourage racing, competitiveness, and unsafe activity? Yeah, maybe. But it would definitely make my day if I got an email declaring me a "champion" of a certain route. Or if there was some kind of leader board on their website. Would I take lunch time to try to become "champion" of different routes? Maybe.

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