Ride In 6/14

As is my usual Flag Day tradition, I, um, mostly forgot that it was Flag Day until being reminded of it by someone considerably more patriotic/holiday-oriented/flagphilic than me. That this reminder came in retweet form on Twitter might speak to the relative importance of this holiday in our continued national dialogue concerning whether or not our country should continued to be represented by stars and stripes or whether we should adopt some more contemporary symbols (lewd pictures of our elected representatives?) to sew onto fabric. Note to readers: this conversation is not actually happening.
I like to take at least one 'ride in' during the week and try out a route that's different from my regular route. Not because I think that there's a better or faster way in (I've got that covered- that's what riding in the winter is for), but instead for the purposes breaking some of the monotony that accompanies riding on the same streets at roughly the same time every weekday. I think that this is a good habit to get into- it makes the rides seem like less of a chore (which they are. A fun chore, but a chore nonetheless) and more like "epic" adventures.
The problem is, though, that there's only a limited number of routes one can take between home and work that tread new ground. If only I lived on a houseboat or worked in a food truck...
I rode Wilson/Clarendon the whole way through Rosslyn down to Lynn Street. From roughly the Clarendon Metro station to the Rosslyn Metro station, I rode behind a guy wearing shiny basketball shorts and brown Adidas shoes. One can only make so many observations about someone while riding on a bicycle behind him, but I can make some assertions that are totally ungrounded in reality. His name was probably Brad. He played lacrosse in high school and played intramural flag football at college, probably a larger state school on the east coast. He recently got a hair cut, so that means he works for some contractor or perhaps a financial institution, though not a bank. He doesn't have a serious girlfriend (but dates casually, but not really) and hasn't since he moved to DC 3 years ago and he's sort of hoping that his college girlfriend Lauren doesn't end up marrying that guy she's engaged to [announced on Facebook 4 months ago] because it would be sort of nice if they got back together. He rides his bike into work to stay in shape, but only on nice days and he would get a new bike and probably overpay for too much bike if he was oversold one. Do I create elaborate and utterly fictitious backstories for everyone I see on the road? Let's just not answer that.
I went over the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge past Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Island which I believe should be populated by hippopotami, rhinoceri, elephanti, and other large jungle animals in an homage to TR's famous post-presidency safari. This might displace some of the more mundane local fauna, but it would make vastly more interesting the park ranger guided walking tour. In spite of its overall decrepitude, I enjoy riding over the TR Bridge, but only when no one is coming in the other direction (it's narrow). On the path of the other side of the bridge, I was distracted by some trucks in the Kennedy Center parking lot (I was trying to figure out to what performance/troupe they belonged) , when a suited man on a CaBi said "heads up" as he rode towards me. I said "thanks" or "sorry"- I can't remember- thinking at the time that whatever I said was sufficient, but realizing now that thanks and sorry express two entirely different ideas. One probably shouldn't say "thanks" when someone asks you to move from the center of the path. That seems a bit dickish. Sorry suit guy.
Before I left home, my plan was to ride up 22nd Street to Massachusetts and then to work. This remained my plan and I rode up New Hampshire from Virginia Avenue to Washington Circle. I don't think that there's a more terrible circle for bicyclists than Washington Circle. It's very difficult to manage and in trying to get to 22nd street, I ended up moving from the far right lane (turn only), to behind a row of stopped cars waiting to get onto K, to back into the circle, to behind a row of stopped cars waiting to turn onto New Hampshire, to getting out of the circle facing the wrong way down one-directional 23rd street. I did this with concern, though I can't say I did it with the utmost caution. One of the joys of taking a new route is finding out exciting new things- like that 22nd street doesn't radiate from Washington Circle. Hilarious! I walked my bike on the sidewalk behind a really tall guy with a lumbering gait and a female Asian tourist who was yelled at by a shuttle bus driver for stepping into the street prior to the walk signal at the confluence of New Hampshire, 22nd and L street. I don't think enough scorn is heaped on L'Enfant for leaving us a city that proves itself in far too many cases hostile to those trying to cross the street(s). Though I guess he didn't foresee the automobile or the erratic, angry driving of shuttle bus operators.
22nd Street is a great street to bike if you like to interact with taxi cabs, tour buses, rickshaws, large groups of high school students, jitneys, private cars, hired cars, bell hops, Metro buses, airport shuttles, and black Lincolns with diplomatic plates. If you're looking for a sedate avenue that isn't used as the primary northbound thoroughfare out of Foggy Bottom, than I would suggest another route.
Massachusetts Avenue was its usual lonely slog. I rode in the street for some, on the sidewalk for some and then back in the street. I would have stayed in the street the whole time to prove a point (?) about sharing the road, but then a taxi in front of me pulled over to pick up a fare and I ditched to the sidewalk, which is almost always underpeopled, at least from crossing over Rock Creek to about 34th Street. I'm not a very principled bike advocate in that I almost always choose the path of least resistance rather than assert my rights and exclusively ride in the street with drivers because the law says that I can. The way I see it, I'm just trying to get to work and whatever gets me there the fastest and with the least chance of my being inconvenienced works best.
The best part of riding up Mass is the view. I like looking at the embassies, including the weird (unoccupied still) glass box that belongs to the Brasilians and the weird (LEED certified) glass box that belongs to the Finns. I also like the sculptures, from the disembodied head of Khalil Gibran being attacked by birds to the Princess Martha hailing a cab in front of the Norwegian embassy.
Ward Circle is a mess, too. I don't think I've even ridden through there without observing a driver totally screw it up and try to turn from somewhere they shouldn't. It's not that hard to follow instructions and yet here we are. I think simplification (get rid of the circle and make it a simple intersection) would vastly improve traffic flow in the area. But, then we'd have to move the Artemas Ward statue and you know that such a slight would never be abided by local curmudgeons of the fife and drum corp variety. Ship it to Shrewsbury, I say.

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