Ride In 5/9

I got new brake pads (cartridges, too, so they'll be easy to replace in the future) and inflated my tires for the first time in a few weeks and it feels like I'm riding a new bike. I also had a rare bit of forethought yesterday and packed an extra change of clothes in my bag and left it at work, thus allowing me to ride to work unencumbered. Oh, the sweet lack of encumbrance, I thought as I bicycled down Pershing Drive.
When stop lights are out (well, not out, but flashing red in all directions), this is a dangerous thing for a bicyclist. I think that drivers basically understand that traffic is supposed to alternate, but something I like to call "bike blindness" makes it kind of perilous. Bike blindness is not an affliction that plagues the bicycle, just to be clear (it has eyelets! worst bike pun ever), but rather something to impacts not a small set of motorists. They get that they have to alternate with car traffic, but not so much with bicycle traffic. In any case, I used a blue Toyota as a moving shield, much in the same way that an action hero would use a...moving car as a shield? Maybe to deflect bullets or something? It's been a while since I've seen a Fast & Furious movie, so I'm not exactly replete with the examples.
There was a police officer standing in the middle of the bike lane on Lynn Street after the intersection with Wilson. I don't know why he was standing there, but I hope it wasn't to make sure that the bike lane was free of obstruction. Irony alert.
I hate crossing the Key Bridge on the Watergate side. Crossing the entrance to the Whitehurst Shitway Expressway is harrowing and there's no other way to describe it. I just plain don't like it. Mostly because of the turning cars, but also because of the huge pylons that make the passage rather narrow. They're probably there to make sure that bicyclists and pedestrians know that cars are about to turn in their path and by narrowing the walk, people will pay more attention, but I hardly think the problem with that intersection is a lack of awareness by pedestrians and bicyclists.
I'd like to invent a bike bell that accompanies each ding with a burst of electromagnetism that temporarily interrupts whatever's playing on the iPods of the people walking in front of me. Only then would I feel satisfied that they're aware of my coming. I mean, I also don't need to personally invent this. If you do and it's not prohibitively expensive/carcinogenic, I'd buy one. 
Clipless pedals are great, but it's important to make sure you clip in before pedaling with any oomph. There are negative personal health consequences if you don't and I'll leave it at that.
Wisconsin Avenue Challenge! It's not so much a challenge as just a way to get to work, but still, woo...? The best part about riding up Wisconsin today was encountering a superbiker.
A few things about the superbiker that might not be abundantly clear from the picture. He has socks that match the "team kit" that he's wearing. Not just in color, but like with logos and stuff. On the back of his shorts, it read RealityBikes. I thought initially it was RealtyBikes and he was just sponsored by KellerWilliams or something. Or maybe just on the way to an open house. Nothing about his ensemble says "reality" to me, but to each his own. And, most superbikerly of all, in his back pocket he had chamois butter. For those of you who don't know what chamois butter is, here's a product description from Amazon:
You wouldn't rev up your car's engine and all its moving parts without oil, so why would you pedal for hours without Chamois Butt'r greasing your most sensitive parts? Cycling is all about reducing friction, and during long rides, increased heat and friction can cause chafing and eventually saddle sores, which can ruin your hopes for triple-digit mileage. Keep those hopes alive when you apply this cream to your chamois.
There's a big debate in the bike advocacy community about the extent to which the outfit one wears while biking impacts the decisions of others about commuting by bike, with some elements going so far as to say that normal bicyclists (that is to say those not engaged in racing) should only ride in street clothes and that lycra is evil. I've always thought that this was a bit navel-gazingly naive and that there are much more important factors than what some bicyclists wear that impact a person's decision to ride or not to ride. Nonetheless, this guy didn't look like someone biking to work. He looked like someone who got lost in DC on his way to a criterium and if that's the default image of bicyclists in a city than I can understand why one might feel alienated.
Anyway, superbikers love (read hate) being tweaked and the best way to tweak one is to pass one while going uphill. Mission accomplished, though my gains didn't last when I chose to stop behind a few cars at the next light whereas he jumped the queue. Oh well.


  1. That's a great point. We should be encouraging biking to work because it's easy and fun. Bike commuting shouldn't require any buttering of anatomy, nor matching socks.

  2. I guess RealityBikes is clever, but as a RealityBites superfan (and not superbiker), I'd have appreciated use of the provided for go-to RealityBites bike reference of Hey that's my Bike.