A lot of stories in the future, and the present, will start "So, I was talking to this person on Twitter..." and while that's not the most interesting opening to stories (unlike "So, I was in this bar fight with an orangutan...") it'll at least be accurate so far as this post is concerned. In any case, E., #bikeDC fellow traveler, and I were conversing about the idea of a bike commute where one doesn't touch one's feet to the ground. And so, that's what I tried on the way home.
A few thoughts on this: it's very stressful. I'm normally all laa-dee-dah, but today I was an unbecoming uber-intense super-focused guy and this is something I'll not likely repeat. A little too much worrying for my taste. I was pretty determined to do it, but I also knew a few things about my own limitations, namely I wasn't willing to do anything too brazenly dangerous and furthermore, that I'm kind of incapable of standing still on my bike. If I wasn't moving forward, the game would be over.
I figured out ahead of time that I'd have a good chance until about the bridge. And that bore out. I managed to either slow down or speed up at the approach of various lights and stop signs and made it ok through Glover Park and Georgetown. At the hard right turn from the 34th sidewalk to M, I unclipped but I didn't put my foot down. At the bridge, I caught a lucky break and caught the waning ticks of the crosswalk and made it on the bridge. In Arlington, I had a few different route home, but I didn't want to "cheat" (in this purely asinine and utterly fake contest) by taking the trail, so I stuck to the streets and luckily traffic abided me at the intersections around Lee Highway. Rather than make the left on Oak, I stayed on Key and worked my way very slowly downhill prior to the left on Quinn. Left turns are the worst. Quinn was fine, though at Wilson there were some unsure pedestrians who just wouldn't cross the street so I slowed and slowed and then eventually just turned right in front of them. For the record, I yielded- they just didn't cross. Uphill through the red light (sorry) at Court House and then slowly through the next two greens. At Danville, I might have been a bit more rolled into the intersection than necessarily legal or safe, but I got past ok.
And then, it was a pretty clear shot for the rest of Wilson, except for the guy riding right behind me. He turned right with me on Fairfax and I slowed down, not yet having seen the green light at the intersection. He passed me on the left, with his squeaky chain making horrible noises as he pushed extra hard to ride around me. When I saw that the light was green and that I had to make it, I dropped the gears and pushed as hard as I could and left the dude well behind me. I wasn't trying to set you up, I promise. My biggest cheat was at Fairfax and Pollard, where I cut across and rode on the sidewalk up to Quincy and crossed the street into the bike lane. The light at Wilson was green, but it turned yet soon and so I dropped into the lowest gear and I had and inched forward, mindful of the pedestrians at the intersection. And then I inched a little too far and all of the sudden I was confronted with an minivan. In the bike lane. Damnit. And then it was over. Goodbye, beautiful dream. I made it about 5 miles, which for an "urban" commute (one with stop lights) wasn't bad.
I don't necessarily recommend doing this. It was interesting, but it was a little too "thinky" for my tastes. I guess I'm just a foot dropper, but I'm pretty much ok with that.