Ride Home 12/16

I might break this into two parts because it was a longer ride home and I'm not sure if I'll get through it before I run out of steam (My computer is actually powered by steam. The average post takes the half a cord of wood) (UPDATE: I made it in one post, for what it's worth). Unlike most nights, I didn't ride home, but instead into Arlington County, Virginia, USA, my forming stomping grounds. I had an engagement, one that didn't require any stomping, so that was good.
Jolly ride through Glover and Georgetown and not much going on. The 34th street lane was bad, mostly because of police activity on M, and by bad, I mean completely blocked by diverted cars. I rode the sidewalk and bounced and jarred my way through and it was mostly fine, except for the jarring and the bouncing and the unevenness of it all. M Street was basically empty due to the police activity and it was an easy ride to Wisconsin, down the hill and across K to pick up Rock Creek.
My light isn't really powerful enough for nighttime trail riding. Not on blink, not on beam. That's pretty much why I stick to streets. But I wanted to take the 14th Street Bridge and figured that some combination of Rock Creek and Ohio Drive made the most sense. Very little bicycle traffic, though it's fairly crummy to ride in the opposite direction of the high beams of hundreds of passing motorists. Not fun at all.
I'm pretty sure I was the only non-motorist on the bridge. I would have thought that they'd be more bike commuters at this time of day. My plan was to head north and explore the area around the Humpback Bridge to see if I could find some sort of path over towards Pentagon City. Yes, non-DC readers (there's like 2 of you, there's a place called Pentagon City. It makes me think of Autobot City from the Transformers Movie (the real one) , but to the best of my knowledge, the luxury apartments and Sur la Table don't turn into a battle station to ward off Decepticons, but who knows. And according to Google Maps, it's totally possible to go under the Humpback Bridge and somehow get "over there," with "over there" being the other side of some body of water. I started by taking the south path (there are two pedestrian/bike paths that go under the bridge. And things were going fine for a few hundred feet. And then this:
Within the scary purple fog was just some construction equipment and the end of the trail. So, some advice: don't take door #1. I turned around and head back up to the main path, rode over to the other side of the bridge and opted for door #2. This put me in the parking lot of a marina and the parking lot was fine except that it was a parking lot. I kept heading north, because I was pretty sure that there was some sort of bridge that way, and eventually the parking lot ran out and there was a path. If you like dark, wooded paths, it's a good one. The surface changed from asphalt to something like slate slabs and I just kept riding along, operating under the assumption that I'd eventually get to the bridge or I'd run into some more path-blocking construction equipment or I'd be abducted by dryads, but there'd be resolution and that'd be something.
There is a bridge and it's wooden and perfectly adequate for bike traffic. It took me "over there" (I'm not referring to WWI France) and I ended up on the outskirts of the Pentagon parking lot. So, I decided to ride around the Pentagon, which seemed rather far away, so I felt relatively secure in my belief that I wouldn't end up crossing some sort of security perimeter, but I was less sure that I wouldn't end up on some highway. There were lots of signs for highways and the roads were quite open, so I'm not really sure if I was in the Pentagon parking lot or on some sort of Grand Prix track.
It was very dark.
Eventually, I got to the other side of the parking lot (by the way, how wasteful is all this parking?), managed to get past some buses at a rather large bus depot, cross under some highways and arrive to somewhere that looked familiar enough for me to feel certain that I was pretty much in the right place. And so I was.
[Hour passed]
I was torn when deciding how to head home. Not literally. I didn't know whether I should once again chance the Pentagon, and the mystery bridge and the dark paths and arrive closer to the bridge back to Taxationwithoutrepresentation-stan or whether it'd make sure sense to head into Crystal City and take the Mount Vernon Trail back to the bridge. I was under the impression that the Trail route would be longer and it might be and I was also thought it might take me past the airport and I wasn't much in the mood for that for reasons that I can't quite explain. I went back the way I came and it was fine. In fact, it's pretty good. If you have to go to Pentagon City and you don't like riding past airports for some reason, you can always take this path. It's probably even pretty nice during the day.
I'd gonna just glide over the rest of the trip. 14th street bridge, past the Washington Monument, down the Mall past all them thar fancy museums. I'm always amazed how much aeronautica you can see from the street in the Air and Space Museum. I'm also always amazed how crappy and gauche the National Archives look from the Mall side. Much, much better from the Pennsylvania Avenue side. There are also lots of limousines out at night in Washington and I find that bizarre. Taking a limo tour of the monuments at night is lame.
I've thought of a new awareness campaign slogan and it's this: expect bicycles. Don't resent them, don't ignore them, don't be surprised by them when "I didn't see you there," just expect them. Next button campaign I suppose.


  1. New campaign button: "Bikes Happen" ?

  2. Oh, there IS a path there. Thank you! I had started to explore it but became despondent that it would actually worked, so turned around. Whee - a new bike commuting route option!