Ride Home 7/29

I don't know. Yes, it's feasible and yeah, it's convenient, but I'm not totally sure it was wise to ride home today. It was dangerously hot and I'm a little upset at myself for not stepping back and at least considering an alternative way to get home or maybe a way to split up the trip with multiple modes. I made it home ok and I took it easy enough, but I think in the future I'm going to try to be a bit more introspective about biking in the extreme heat. Seriously, I've got nothing to prove and, as a rule of thumb, it's probably better to not be dumb than to be dumb.
Riding down New Mexico was like riding into a hair dryer. A hair dryer inside of a sauna inside of a volcano. There was nothing enjoyable about it.
It was the kind of hot that keeps people inside. It was quiet, the way that the extreme cold makes things quiet. The silence was noticeable. I guess there's a bell curve of urban noise and extreme temperatures sit at each end. People weren't even out with their dogs. A few people walking, only a handful of cars, all windows up, drivers cocooned in their climate-controlled moving armchairs. No one was even blasting music. Too hot for that, I guess.
The past few days were blonder and white tank top-ier than usual. Not so much today, but I feel remiss in not mentioning it previously.
This isn't related to anything and not topical in any specific way, but I've been thinking about this lately. So, bike lanes are supposed to be this sign of white gentrification. Why then do (many of) the rich (mostly) white people of (parts of) Washington oppose them? NIMBYism is colorblind, I guess. Do bike lanes mean something else? Young people of the "creative class"? Because if it's that's the case, I'd really like to dissociate bike lanes from that subset of the population.
Heard some dudes on the Key Bridge talking about "heading down to Atlanta and fucking some shit up." Don't say you weren't warned, Atlanta. I'm always amazed what people will talk about in public. I can only assume that they're Civil War re-enactors excited about the March to the Sea sesquicentennial. A few years more fellows.
Hope you didn't have any tapes out from the Hollywood Video on Wilson. It's razed now. I think the redevelopment will be quite beneficial. Any reduction in dead space on the R-B corridor is welcome in my book.
Rode behind a thin guy on some sort of Salsa with exciting mudflaps. Here's a picture:
Per usual, not clear. 
The flaps had 3 stars on them. I don't know if that means anything, but I liked his set up. It seemed very randonee or maybe just very Portland.
It stayed hot for the rest of the way home. I think I'm ready for fall. Too bad about August and September. 

Ride In 7/29

Hot and humid. Worst day this week, by far. Should be even worse on the ride home. I plan on drinking a lot of water this afternoon.
Do you hate clicking noises and knowing that your chain rests steadily on one of your rear cogs? Then friction shifting is for you! I had forgotten that I left my bike this way the other day and was a bit surprised how smoothly the lever moved when I first pulled on it. There's really no substantial difference, at least as far as I can tell.
Did I mention that it was really gross this morning? I'm normally a good 10 minutes into my ride before I notice any sweat. Today, it was at the first occasion I stopped, which was at the end of our building's driveway.
I find that using my left hand to signal that I'll be temporarily moving out of the bike lane and into the travel lane (on account of some obstruction or other) is really effective and that most drivers seem to know what I'm doing when I point my fingers downward and show them my open palm as I move my left arm away from the handelbar and extend it to my side. More exciting bicycle hand signals can be found here
Not much else noteworthy today. Some guy be trackstanding and some girl be riding in front of me at a light, but that's hardly news. I like to wait back from intersections a good 5 feet or so because I'm cautious like that. No sense having your front wheel clipped by a careless driver. Plus, it slows me down from getting into the intersection too quickly. Another guy ran the light on M today (by a lot) so I raised my hand and pointed skyward, as if to a traffic light (though the light which gave him a red was nowhere near the direction I was pointing). He sort of looked at me and I think he knew what I meant but what I really meant is that you're carelessness is inexcusable and could have really profound negative consequences.
I like the noise that the little rocks on the roadway make when they shoot up and out of my front fender. It reminds me of a slot machine.
I've grown too complacent at the intersection of Tunlaw and 37th and I screwed up today and accidentally cut someone off. He slammed on his brakes (dramatically) and I raised my hand in apology, having cut my turn short to allow him to continue driving. He was proceeded straight down Tunlaw instead of turning right like I wrongly anticipated. This was totally my fault and I promise to pay better attention next time. Much like drivers, bicyclists also grow less vigilant on familiar routes.
Today was a day where I really wished my route was flatter. That last .8 of a mile (I only know this because there's a sign) is really sapping. Even with bike lanes on New Mexico, convincing people to ride that hill will still be a challenge.


Ride Home 7/28

I type this with (yet another) episode of Dance Moms playing in the background. Just throwing that out there.
Who is Xanthippe? Until I got home and looked it up, I had no idea. But this didn't stop me from asking during my ride home, having no context for the question or any idea why I would even be thinking of the word. Great name, though. Likewise, why would (Narayana) Kocherlakota's name be stuck in my head? I guess today was weird name day and I'm glad that it's over.
Can't descend as fast on the Haul, so I sit up and take it easy. Seems like it takes forever to get downhill, made even more complicated by the stream of drivers making lefts and rights and u-turns and stopping short and not stopping at all. I wouldn't mind as much if it wasn't so imperiling. I'd just rather not be hit because some driver didn't have the patience to allow a slightly slower moving vehicle pass.
Heavier bike means less mashing. That's not so bad.
White Mercedes convertible, older white dude, head phones in ear, less care for traffic laws, fan of tailgating. Glad I was behind and not in front. I imagine he wouldn't be so patient, but who knows? Maybe he won his white Mercedes convertible in a 'share the road' contest, a fictive contest that certainly wouldn't offer a car as a prize.
No matter how fast you drive down 34th street, odds are that I'm going to pass you before you get to M. Bike lane or not, it's still faster to go by bike. It's a question of scarcity- much like a small woodland creatures in the waning time of dinosaurs, I'm more adaptable and need less to get by. I'm pretty sure that The Land Before Time planted the subliminal messages in my youth that paved the way for my bikey lifestyle. And an American Tail has made me a staunch support of Israel.
Resplendent in an azure Bike Arlington jersey was Chris Eatough at the corner of Lynn and Lee Highway. That's two local luminaries in back-to-back days. Double winning. We weren't going in the same direction, so I didn't get a ride along. If I can spot Shane Farthing tomorrow, I'm pretty sure I win BikeDC bingo for an as yet to be determined prize. Maybe an autographed Smuggle game board?
I took the Custis up to Veitch and rode behind a guy on a full-suspension mountain bike. If you're just buying a commuter bike, you probably don't need a full-suspension mountain bike. It might not even be the right choice. Do what you want, but I really think you could do better.
I haven't written in a while about how nice Key Boulevard is. It's very nice for bicycling. A change of pace from Wilson, which isn't exactly the most 'dicey' of bike routes, but is still fairly trafficked. Key runs parallel for much of the way, is residential and has a lower speed limit. If you're trying to convince someone hereabouts (and by hereabouts I mean in a very specific part of Arlington) to bike to work, you're not going to do better in terms of introduction that this route.
Theo Stamos: not a dude.  I had no idea. In my head, it was a cross between Malcolm Jamal Warner and Uncle Jesse.Anyway, here's my official apology/endorsement. Now, I'm not saying that this is going to sway the Commonwealth's attorney race, but I'm also not saying that it won't. I like your campaign signs. You have a lot of them. If this endorsement has submarined my future in Arlington Democratic politics, I guess I could always run as a Republican. On a related note, I have no future in Arlington politics.
Turned out to be a lot hotter than I expected. Should be worse tomorrow.

Ride In 7/28

Tempted by the knowledge that cooler feet are only a pair of sandals away, I went full Arlington and rode in brown flip flops this morning. I opted for the Haul, a leisurely pace and a travel mug half-full of luke warm, slightly over-sugared coffee. It was a nice change of pace, breaking up a sequence of commutes that have been more 'racy' (not like that) than I general tend to prefer. And since the weather was vaguely cooperating (I think it'll only be 92 today) and since I've got this second bike that I haven't even taken to the grocery store in the past couple of weeks, the circumstances seemed to call for it.
My newly shellacked cork grips feel a bit slippery. I guess this will go away after some time. The price we pay for our vanity. (Yes, if I make statements in the third person plural, I am trying deflect criticism away from myself. Thanks for noticing!)
I don't know where everyone was today. I rode my normal route and saw only three guys heading in the same direction in Arlington. One was on, what to my eye, looked to be a time trial bike. Of course, he was blurry on account of his super-speed. It seems like a waste to have a bike that's designed to achieve tremendous speed and to ride it in any area besotted with stop lights. Maybe he was on his way to some open trail. (I truly don't understand the recreation schedules of people here. Is everyone on flex time but me? Or do they use their vacations to head from home during the morning rush hour to exercise at maximally inefficient times?)
Remember how Bikeshare doesn't work?
This summer, the city’s innovative bike-sharing program has been crippled by its own success when it comes to commuting during rush hour, with bike racks completely empty - or just as often, completely full, making it impossible to drop off a bike.
Just an aside. I have nothing else really to say about that, just that 'crippled' seems like a pretty strong word for a system that allowed 150,000 rides in June.
I guess there's a camera now at one of the bike lights along the Custis. I didn't notice it.
Maybe she reads the blog, maybe she doesn't (she doesn't), but my shout-out to my New Mexico friend apparently magically induced her reappearance. I saw her today on T street and smiled the biggest, craziest grin I could muster and now I'm confident that she will never ride her bike again for fear of having the pass the 'deranged man.' Sorry.
First rule of bike commuting: don't mess around with garbage trucks. They're big, smelly and they guys (typically) inside have a job to do, so it's best just to stay out of the way. You can 'assert your rights' (whatever that means) all you want, but when as far as my personal road hierarchy goes, garbage trucks are at the top of the list in terms of deference. Plus, sanitation is really important to preserving the thin veneer of our civilization and it's important to remember that in general.


Ride Home 7/27

A quick reminder about what we I do here: I write about the crap stuff I see and/or think about during my daily bike commute. Sometimes I write during my lunch break, sometimes I write when I'm ignoring my spouse and puppy at home (sorry!). Most of the time, I tell the truth, but occasionally I tell fanciful and elaborate lies. Just kidding! I almost exclusively tell fanciful and elaborate lies. In fact, I don't even know how to ride a bicycle. (This last part might be true, in spite of the fact that I bike to work). This recap is for the benefit of any new readers (Alex?) and for myself, so as to prevent lapses into discussions of 80s movies and helicopters.
No one obeys traffic laws. This isn't so much a judgment as it is a truism. The sooner we all accept this, the happier we will all be. Maybe not happier per se, but at least more acknowledging of rank hypocrisy. I don't say this exclusively to excuse my own dalliances away from legality, but just to point out an easy to ignore fact. And as arbiter of "facts," I score double smug points on the game of Smuggle (like scrabble, but based on pointing out self-righteousness instead of spelling words) that I'm asynchronously playing against all all bike advocates. Woo!
If you have to honk to alert a bicyclist that you're passing, you're probably doing it wrong. Either there's room to pass safely and you can do so without warning the fairly helpless individual in front of you or there's not and maybe you should wait. Please don't honk. Ever. Especially if you're a parking enforcement vehicle. We can hear you. You have an internal combustion engine. It's not exactly stealth.
50 States ride is open. I think I will join, but we might (inshallah) be moving around that time, so I think I'm going to hold off on my registration. Hooray for prudence and forethought! Except, it's capped at 500 riders and if I wait, I probably won't get in. Anyone gonna do it on a CaBi?
One of the perils of riding through the Key Marriott parking lot is the potential for conflict when exiting the lot at Nash. The exit crosses the Custis trail and it's highly likely that some jerk scofflaw cyclist (boo cyclists!) will ignore the signal and continue on the trail and not look for traffic coming up the slight rise from the hotel parking garage. I urge caution, both for scofflaw cyclists and for those cutting through the lot and up the hill. I'd hate to think that the cause of a commute collision would be another biker, but these things happen.
I wish I had the carefree attitude that would allow me to ride without a helmet, but I just can't do it. I'm not sure that anyone should. Here's a TED talk about why you shouldn't wear a helmet. On the other hand, helmets are pretty cheap and I'd hate the idea of thinking that there was an easy and cheap precaution I could take that I instead choose to foreswear that might in someway mitigate the negative consequences of a horrible accident. So, maybe I've been cowed by the "biking isn't safe" crowd, but I'm going to keep wearing a helmet. I will not, however, wear a an 1896 body shield.
One of the services that Bike Arlington doesn't (yet) provide is door-to-door bike chauffeurs, whereby one of their staff members (in this case, Tim) will ride along with you during your commute. However, if you get lucky, you might chance upon one during along Wilson Boulevard, as I did today, and you'll pick up a great companion for your ride home. We talked keeping cool (wear flip flops because your feet sweat a lot!), the weather (not as bad as last week!) the commute regulars (including members of the county staff), and baby "portaging." Seeing him also reminded me that I need to write up my piece on bike parking at Arlington grocery stores. Look for that soon and heckle me if I don't get it out in the next few days. Your scorn is my motivation (this, in latin, is on my family crest).
For whatever reason, at Quincy, I switched to friction, the wild and wooly world beyond index, in which my barend shifter lost all sense of clickiness and moved about freely and fast. I still can't tell you the benefits (this maybe? Not to be confused with this), but it was kind of fun. I didn't somehow dislodge my chain, so I consider this a small victory. I also managed to avoid any awful chain clanginess (not a word), so I consider this a small accomplishment as well. If anyone has any further insight into the matter, feel free to comment. I don't feel particularly attached to any kind of shifting and since I'm easily swayed by any strong opinion, now if your chance to convince me to adopt whatever way you feel is best.

Ride In 7/27

If you only have a limited amount of time for local bike blogs today, I encourage heartily encourage you to skip today's claptrap and check out a much more substantive bike issue, Capital Bikeshare expansion. You can get my take on Bikeshare stuff by reading my twitter, which I will not rehash (twitter pun!) here. If you have less limited time for bike blog reading (and who doesn't, really?), you may proceed to the aforementioned claptrap.
Leaving the house a half hour to 45 minutes earlier makes a small, but significant, difference on my commute. It's still "rush hour," but I think there are more pedestrians on the streets aiming for an 8AM start. It also seems perceptibly quieter, but not eerily quieter as it would had I left 2 hours earlier than normal. Don't worry, there's still pointless honking. And there's still drivers darting in and out of parking spots with little regard to those around them. I think if one wanted to avoid this, you'd have to take a helicopter to work. I wonder if helipad parking is demand-responsive.
For the second day in a row, I've had the bad luck to be approaching the Clarendon Boulevard Starbucks, only to encounter car reversing from the lot into the travel lane. If you're a long-time reader of the blog, you probably remember when I complained about this very same Starbucks on February 15. It's a stupid parking lot and it's dangerous (I imagine even more so for the driver reversing without being able to see oncoming traffic).
I think that Arlington needs to lower the speed limit through the construction zone between Rhodes and Pierce. It's pretty narrow and there's almost always some piece of equipment that's trying to get into the roadway. There's a bike lane there, but I urge hesitancy for anyone riding through on account of the buses and dump trucks.
I didn't see you, driver of black Acura and that's why I rode into the crosswalk even though I should have stopped at the intersection first. I stopped and I waved you though, but you didn't go. Was it because I stayed in the crosswalk and didn't go back up on the sidewalk? It would have been problematic for me to turn around and you had ample space to get by. I really wasn't even three feet off the curb. I don't know how long we stood there, looking at each other, but it seemed like forever. I couldn't see through your tint, so I don't know if you were trying to wave me through, that's why I didn't move. I hope I didn't ruin your day. I promise to pay better attention next time.
Does Giant sell extra-small frames? Is this a mixed message?
There's a rather large storage unit occupying a parking space on 37th and it narrows the road in the same manner that a large-ish SUV would. When the road is narrowed in an unusual way, I tend to take the lane just to make sure I don't get squeezed by a motorist trying to pass me. The best way to not get squeezed is to make it inordinately difficult for someone to do so. Typically drivers will get over it if you move back to the right once you're past the danger zone. If not, screw them. You have to do what's safe for you and not what's convenient for them.
I haven't seen a woman I normally pass on New Mexico (she rides a road bike, had brown hair and wears glasses, maybe 45-50 ish, petite) for a while now. I wonder if she got another job and doesn't ride that way any more. Or if she finally got fed up with biking and switched to helicoptering. I always tried to nod at her in recognition, but who knows what she interpreted it as. Probably a neck twitch. Anyway, I hope things are going well with you. And now this blog has become the lamest missed connection ever.


Ride Home 7/26

Bikes everywhere! I don't know if it was solely a factor of the weather (almost autumnal) or that I left work later (maybe Washingtonians don't call it a day as early as I normally do- circa 2:15 [just kidding anyone who reads this who happens to either be my boss or pay tuition to mu university]), but I could hardly keep up with all of the bikespotting. They came in all sorts: superbikers, regular commuters, irregular commuters, kids on bikes, Meshies (my new name for guys on hybrids who wear mesh shorts), old guys, sporty cougars, khaki office guys, and so much more. I imagine that as "bike culture" (whatever that is) solidifies in a place, there's less deviation from the mean and pretty much all bicyclists start looking the same. I imagine that in Amsterdam everyone rides omafiets and wears wooden shoes and in Copenhagen everyone rides omafiets and carries around a copy of the Edinburgh Agreement. The (relative) novelty of bike riding in DC makes for such wild deviation in bikes and fashion and approach to riding that there, for practical purposes, is no "normal" for the DC bicyclist. It'll be curious to see if/how, over the coming years, the norms are established (especially vis-a-vis helmets and vis-a-vis bikeshare) bicycling "culture" (whatever that means) is built in Washington.
So, the debt ceiling! It's such a thing that people here seem to be worried about for some reason. The ay I see it, it has to be good for bicycling (I am myopic):
If the debt ceiling is raised:
We avoid financial collapse forestall the end of civilization and that's good because a Mad Max-situation will not be conducive the bicycles. There are no bike lanes in the THUNDERDOME.
If the debt ceiling isn't raised:
The full faith and credit of the United States will be irrepably damaged and we won't be able to afford gas, much less cars, and everyone will switch to riding bicycles all of the time. Of course, we'll have nowhere to ride our bikes since our economy will be in tatters, but there will be one bright side: Hobo Cycle Chic. I'm totally prepared for this: I have so many braze-ons, my bike has a bindle holder.
(Yes, I'm fully aware that these two scenarios are totally contradictory. If you want logic, read this instead)
I hate when you're riding in front of someone and then a car pulls out of a parking spot and you stop and then the person who's riding behind you is all opportunistic and rides past you instead of waiting for you to resume. It seems impolite. I don't know.
I'm pretty sure a pedestrian shouted "watch out" to another pedestrian (who could clearly see me, though she had headphones on) as I approached. I'm not sure if this is extra-caution or bike-paranoia. Either way, it's superfluous yelling and if there's anything we need less of, it's that.
The Key Marriott's parking lot isn't the ideal bike cut-through, but it's better than riding on the sidewalks. Sure, you have to dodge a stray tour bus or reversing-for-no-apparent-reason tourist or an angry bellhop (never actually encountered an angry bellhop. I have seen some bemused line cooks), but I'd rather to that than make a blind-ish right at the trail intersection where normally there's a stacked-up group of bicyclists and a gaggle of perma-nnoying eighth graders.
Rode behind a spandexed fellow who was "sponsored" by M & M Dental (?) and some such other organizations with .de websites. I don't know where he was heading, but he was heading there rather slowly. If you're going to the whole spandex thing, I really expect you to bike at least sort of, who do we say, kind of fast. This is why I've always been a big proponent of lycra licenses, which are given out after a written and road test administered by local bicycle shops. Just think of the cachet. (And maybe you  can wear lycra if you've got a permit and you're on a tandem with someone who has a license.)
Speaking of lycra, the panoply of road-riding types were assembling from near and far at the back of Conte's to embark on their weekly ride. So many of them. I ride in the D Group, where D stands for dinner because I like to go home after work and eat and I'm fairly content with my weekday commute as my primary bicycle excursion. I wish you godspeed!
My helmet isn't fitting correctly and I plan to another comedy of errors tomorrow morning when I go to adjust the straps. I have a smallish (non-thundrous) dome and I've never quite been able to make the helmet fit in a way that's comfortable and yet attached-feeling. I suppose the only solution is taking copious quantities of HGH and relying on the "Bond's Boost" to ensure a smugger slugger snugger fit. I know that bike shops do bike fittings, but does anyone do a helmet fitting? And can I muster the self-effacing admission of ineptitude that need presage a trip to a store in order to ask a professional to pull on some straps in the manner that a parent might help a small child? Well, I didn't have a problem blogging about it, so probably.

Ride In 7/26

I spent a good ten minutes fiddling with my rear wheel, trying to make it true to the line of the rear fender. I did this before leaving and not somewhere in the middle of my trip. I think it's ok now, but it was probably ok to start. I don't know why I do these things.
Sometimes I adjust the speed of my ride in order to better mesh with traffic. It's purely voluntary, but in a lot of situations, I find that I'm more comfortable riding faster than I would otherwise prefer to and I'm willing to pedal a little harder in order to gain the advantage of mixing in with cars a little better. Like I said, it's voluntary (and given my level of fitness, I can keep it up for about 13 seconds), but sometimes it feels "safer."
Legs felt good so I took the long way. Counted 110 bicyclists on the CCT with 7 going in my direction and 103 going the other way. This isn't the highest count I've ever had, but it's still pretty substantial. Does anyone know if there's a more formal/scientific process by which the NPS tazes counts bicyclists using the trail? Not that they'd do anything with that information, except maybe declare each individual rider responsible for the blemished viewshed of the drivers slogging their way down Canal to work.
Legs felt good enough going up Macomb and Glennbrook and Loughboro and that was a welcome surprise. I guess it's only Tuesday and I didn't ride this weekend, but I'm always pleased when a ride turns out to be less strenuous than I expect.
Is there any conceivable reason for me to get a trunk bag? Probably not, right?
Sorry to anyone on the trail that I passed too closely. I hate getting cut off and I regret that I did it a couple of times. I guess you could either blame me or the person riding in the other direction, but realistically, it's more fair to blame me since I'm the one who actually did it. Or we can all settle on blaming drivers for some reason. Boo drivers! (Note: this is sort of a joke)


Ride Home 7/25

Obligatory reference to the cooler afternoon temperature.
Saw a CaBi duo working their way up New Mexico, guy on cell phone, girl path-blazing. Guy looked kinda like a doofus, but I suppose it's difficult to look like anything else when you're trying to talk on a cell phone while riding a bike. I see a lot of guy-girl couples riding bikes together and it often turns out that the guy in the pair looks like a boorish lout. I'm sure there are ample counterexamples, but I can recall any number of times when you're riding past a couple where the guy is "suggesting" to his partner that she ride this way or that or altogether abandoning her to ride ahead and completely ignoring her. This isn't every pair, but I feel like I see it enough to wonder a lot about gender and cycling and foist that half-thought-out wondering on the hapless helpless, minuscule readership of this blog.
It's not good to be paranoid while riding your bike, thinking that there's perpetually an anxious driver behind you hoping for you to go faster or be out of the way or both. Not good at all.
Barely anyone else on the road going home today. I suspect that this was my just leaving a little earlier than 5 and not a conspiracy to impact my observations and perhaps make me doubt that I actually saw so many people ride in this morning. It's not good to blog paranoiacally. Not good at all.
Got in a race with a guy driving a Prius. We did this thing where he would beat me to a stop sign and then I'd catch up and then we'd do it again. It wasn't exactly a challenge. As soon as a few other cars were in front of him, I won. You can be as hybrid as you like, but I only take up a few feet of horizontal space.
Saw stand-up-on-bike guy and Gorton's Fisherman today. I cannot adequately express (because I'm relatively horrible at self-expression) how how it makes me to recognize people, even if it's quite rational and banal  that a subset of travelers will be consistent enough in their routes and departure times so that there's a great likelihood of this happening. It's like a commute neighborhood. Commuterhood? Let's make this an actual concept. It happens with transit riders, too. Maybe drivers, also? (though I doubt it. Next ten times you're stuck in traffic on the Beltway or 66 or wherever, let me know if you see the same miserable people)
I complain about drivers a lot, but let's digress and go through some bicyclist pet peeves.

  • Extending salmoning. You know, heading the wrong way down a one way street or a one way bike lane (even worse) for more than is justifiably expedient. Just not cool. 
  • The guy who rides up too fast behind you when you're stopped at a light and slams on his brakes really hard. What's that about, guy? Didn't see me? Didn't see the light? Are you sure you should be biking?
  • The guy who rides up to you at a stop light and then pulls in front of you. Um, in every other context in life from kidergarten forward, you've been inculcated in a first come, first served way of thinking. Why should this be any different? 
  • "Make the rest of us look bad" guy. You know, the one who almost hits a pedestrians and then swears at him and just doesn't seem like he has any sense of what's going on around him, but still finds a way to antagonize drivers. 
I'm sure there's more. Something that's not a pet peeve of mine is a bicycle was a wooden mustache attached the the fork. Sorry, no picture. Can you even go on a tweed ride without one of these? 
I really wish that more care was taken to trim tree branches so that stop lights are made visible around bends. This makes a rather important difference to me since I don't like to pedal especially hard to make a light, only to find out that I'll be soon to slam on my brakes in order to stop. I'm thinking especially of the intersection of Glebe and Quincy. Also at the intersection is a new bus priority light and there's new lane striping on Glebe that many motorists continue to ignore. The far right lane on Glebe (at Henderson) is bus only, the next lane is right turn only and then there's two travel lanes for proceeding straight. You're welcome, society. 

Ride In 7/25

Another week of expected high temperatures has me thinking some more about coping with the heat. I've seen some good posts with tips on route planning and clothing, but one thing that I haven't seen covered yet is the idea that a well-maintained bike (with air in the tires and a lubed chain) provides greater mechanical benefit than a poorly maintained one. Maybe it's just a given that people should try to keep their bikes in good working shape no matter the weather, but I nonetheless posit that you should pay even more attention to how well your bike is running when the conditions are worse than normal. You don't want to make things harder on yourself in this heat by riding on flat tires.
Is it better to salmon in a bike lane for 50 feet or to complete a looping counterclockwise button hook turn for 270 degrees against approximately two red lights? These questions keep me up at night. Ok, not really. Though the other night I had a dream about switching my shifters to friction. I think my sub-conscience is trying to tell me something: that I'm lame.
I stopped at the Custis bike light and there wasn't even a police officer there. It must be that I'm the most law-abiding road user ever. It was either that or my not wanting to ride into the car driving through the intersection. Can't exactly say which.
I like to wave to acknowledge a driver who does the right thing in yielding to me instead of completing their turn. It's more just putting a hand up than an actual wave and while I'm not compelled to do this, I think that it's a nicety that requires very little effort on my part. Of course, I won't wave if a driver makes any sort of "after you" gesture because it's really not his place to adopt such a magnanimous stance. If the light tells me I can go, let's not pretend like you're the one doing me some kind of big favor by doing the barest minimum of paying attention to the rights of way. Is this an internally incoherent way of looking at hand movements? Probably.
I'm fairly certain, though I didn't do an exact count, that more than 75% of bike commuters I saw today were female. I don't know what, if anything, that means for the "big picture" of bicycling in Washington. But I'm not really a "big picture" person, unless the big picture is Guernica, which is quite large, as well as moving, in person.(What does it say about me that I free-associate a painting that "shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians" with bike commuting? On second thought, let's not address that.)
Sometimes it's fun to be cheeky. Like when you're being followed to closely by a driver and take the lane, stop at a stop sign, put your foot down, looking left, right and left again, count to three and then go. There's nothing objectionable about following the law, right? Or when a bus tries to jump the light and make a left turn in your path and you ride very slowly through the intersection on purpose. I think that the heat is making me an asshole.


Ride Home 7/22

I was met with rain when I pulled out and it was the greatest, most welcome rain I could have ever imagined. I was anticipating the death heat, some cross between the Sahara and a microwave, that would completely waste me. Instead, I was rained on and I smiled like a madman, to the point that I barely exhibited any of my usual rain precautions (I sort of really hate going downhill and even more so in the rain) and just rode like a happy imbecile.
The rain didn't last and by Georgetown is was gone. But it did the trick and the rest of the ride wasn't that bad.
There's no bit of road detritus worse than a baby's shoe. Talk about depressing! Though, I guess roadkill isn't exactly fun either. Sometimes it just better not to look at the road and just look at old people and dogs and trees and stuff. You should probably avoid saying things like "Two poodles!" in a way that the dog's owners can hear your stupid excitement. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything.
I think I'm going to start riding up 18th from Oak instead of taking Wilson. There are no bike lanes, but there's also barely any traffic. I think the stretch between Oak and Quinn might be one of the most dangerous bike laned stretches in Arlington on account of the driveways and the constant inflow and outflow of parking and unparking cars. The only bad part of that 18th might be a bit steeper and there's not as much rest on the climb through Arlington. Also, there's a strange bit of 18th where the street narrows and the right lane stops and becomes the entrance to a perpendicular driveway. So, watch out for that.
Made it the rest of the way home without riding in the small front ring. I think that means it wasn't as bad today. I don't think I'm going to be doing any weekend recreational riding on account of the terrible, terrible air quality.
Another night of Jeopardy!. So there's that.

Ride In 7/22

You don't need me to tell you that it's hot or that the air quality is bad and that precautions should be taken so that, if you decide to ride a bicycle today, you don't suffer the ill effects of the weather. I didn't think I would have time to write anything this morning, so I barely paid any attention to what was going on around me. I mean, in so far as amusing observations go. There was a good number of bicyclists out and I didn't ride past anyone who appeared to be suffering. Today might be a good day for altruism, in a busy-body sort of way, so if you see someone who looks ill, I urge you to inquire as to their status.
And per usual, it's not a race. Please take care of yourselves.


Ride In 7/21

A quick one. It's a double water bottle day. Really gross.
I don't often do policy prescriptions, but here's one: give more social security benefits to any senior citizen who voluntarily turns in his/her driver's license. I think that this would lead to a lot of positive outcomes: fewer drivers on the road and less congestion, seniors spending less money on gas (which is subject to price shocks, which is especially bad when your income is fixed [though pegged to inflation] and more money on other things) and a massive reduction in auto fatalities amongst older Americans. These statistics are daunting:
Fatality rates for drivers begin to climb after age 65, according to a recent study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, based on data from 1999-2004. From ages 75 to 84, the rate of about three deaths per 100 million miles driven is equal to the death rate of teenage drivers. For drivers 85 and older, the fatality rate skyrockets to nearly four times higher than that for teens.
The numbers are particularly daunting at a time when the U.S. Census Bureau projects there will be 9.6 million people 85 and older by 2030, up 73% from today. Road safety analysts predict that by 2030, when all baby boomers are at least 65, they will be responsible for 25% of all fatal crashes. In 2005, 11% of fatal crashes involved drivers that old.
So, why not bribe people to get them off the road? Well, I imagine it's complicated and we'd need to do a bunch of other things: greater density in walkable areas through the increase in housing stock and rezoning and the reduction of parking minimums, retrofitting the suburbs in order to accommodate those seniors who for a host of reasons wouldn't either want to move or afford to move into a denser area, increasing public transportation and deregulating things like "dolla vans" so that seniors have access to transportation during the retrofitting period and I'm sure there's a whole host of other things that we'd want to take into account. It would also help build a new constituency for "new urbanism." But, if anyone in Congress is reading and would like to get working on this, you totally have my permission.


Ride Home 7/20

Programming note: this might be the last post until Friday evening's commute. I've got work stuff for the next two days and other stuff tomorrow night that I might mention at the end of the post. If you need more TFTS, read Ride Home 4/5, Ride In 2/7 and Ride Home 5/19. I selected those totally at random. Hope they're good!
Mundane stretch for a while until I realized that my legs weren't quite having it today. It's normally around the time of the first slight uphill when I know whether the commute home is going to be a piece of cake or the less desirable piece of drywall, which is flaky and hard and probably carcinogenic. For me, this slight rise is right by the Russian embassy and this has led to my having nothing but antipathy for all things pan-Slavic. F-ing Scythians.
I am sure happy that this didn't happen. It would make my commute pretty horrible. Biking through a cloverleaf is not my idea of a good time. To say nothing of the fact that the entire development history of the area would have been entirely different and in this counterfactual scenario, who even knows what would happen? But I guess that's just a truism about counterfactuals.
Someone is going to get hit at the intersection of M and the Key Bridge. Way too many drivers run that red. And not just in a yellow-to-red kind of way, but in a straight-up don't see the red kind of way. This is a real, real problem. I don't know what steps can address it, but in the mean time, I urge caution and discretion from those not driving.
Anyone else notice an uptick is helmetless biking? I'm agnostic about the whole thing, but I feel like as the summer has progressed, I've seen more and more riders foregoing the helmet. Maybe because of the heat? Maybe because there are more casual riders? I don't know.
It takes three looks over the shoulder to effectively notify drivers that you intend to cross the street and that they shouldn't drive their cars into you in an attempt to turn right. Three. No less fewer than that.
There's a stretch of Fairfax when, if I hit the light correctly, I ride in the drops and shift down to my most aggressive gear. I've done this about three times. That small back cog is used most infrequently. I've got nothing to prove. Anyway, it's nice to, every once in a while, push hard on the pedals to see if I can reach rapid speeds (I can't) and Fairfax is relatively flat and open and with only a few opportunities for car and pedestrian conflict.
So, tomorrow is this:
I'm the one who isn't Alex. 
Your local ABC affiliate and its advertisers might appreciate your watching. We're having people over and that'll probably prevent blogging, but I intend to ride tomorrow and look forward to the ridiculous heat. If you can't beat the heat, join 'em? Is that an aphorism? Maybe LeBron's? I don't know (what I do know is that I'm the only person in America more cut up about the NBA lockout than the NFL one. There's something wrong with me). Just be careful out there because it's hot and it'll get worse over the next couple of days, weather-wise, and prudence is better than heatstroke. Prudence is better than heatstroke is my family's Ich Dein.

Ride In 7/20

I saw a woman today who rode no fewer than three toddlers to the intersection of 4th and Thomas using a combination of a bike child seat and a trailer. Good for her. It was entirely ambiguous why they had stopped there since there wasn't much for the kids to do other than play in the dirt and watch some other older kids wait for a bus to summer school. I wanted to take a picture, but, in general, I don't think parents like strangers taking photos of their children so it can be put on the internet. Even more so, if the pics are going up on a bike blog.
That's why I got this guy's photo, all secret-like:
This member of the Squadra Coppi checked all the boxes for superbiker (lycra team outfit, high end and impracticable road bike with expensive components, preponderance of body weight carried in the calves) but ruined it by actually carrying a backpack! That probably means he was commuting and that totally ruins his superbiker credibility. He might even be carrying a lock with him! What is this world coming to? Let's hope his backpack was just full of Men's Health magazines and chamois butter and that it's all just one big misunderstanding. If he's riding his bike for a practical purpose, like transportation, well, word might get out and his reputation would be ruined.
I'll forgive the first four drivers for making a turn after the light changes, but the fifth one is history's greatest monster. Have you no decency?
Got stuck behind a guy (one of those guys who rides to work in mesh basketball shorts) who was having a rather difficult time figuring out how to handle the bus driving in front of us. Spoiler alert: bus stops tend to be on the right side of the street. That means that when the bus stops, it'll be moving to the right and you'll be able to ride around the bus on the left. Or, you could wait behind the stopped bus and it goes again. These are pretty much the only two good options. There's no mystery here. It's pretty easy to anticipate it.
Those fake lofts sure are going up fast. But the renderings are horrible! I assume that one of the primary advantages (and the reason it costs to such) of buying one of these condos is the proximity to the relatively dense and sorta urban R-B corridor and the pictures do nothing but show grassy fields and plenty of cars. If you wanted grassy fields, you should have left it as it was:

View Larger Map

It's been almost 11 years since I first set foot on the Hilltop (most pretentious way ever of referring to this place) and it's amazing to me that the "uniform" of a blue oxford and khakis hasn't changed at all. It's like a Potemkin Village run by J Crew where time is frozen like catalog copy. There must be some sort of training camp is central Jersey where the recruits are gathered, trained and issued their uniforms prior to being deployed. And instead of "jump wings," you get a whale belt. Ridiculous.
Rode past a guy and his kid riding a Bike Friday tandem, with the kid at stoker. Kid didn't look happy. They had a rear rack and two, mostly filled Ortlieb panniers. I don't know where they were headed, but I told the guy that I liked his "set-up" (whatever the hell that means) and he said "Yeah" (whatever the hell that means). I didn't say that the kid wasn't pedaling both because he was and because it's not clever and makes you out to be a jerk.
Use turn signals and make a bicyclist's day. Drivers want us to ride on the right, until of course, they want to make a right turn at which point we're in their way. This is why I approach stop lights where turning right is quite common by taking the lane. However, if I continued to ride along on the ride sight, it would really be helpful if you signaled your intention to turn so that I could know either to hurry up or slow down.


Ride Home 7/19

For the second day in a row, I rode behind another bicyclist immediately from the driveway at school. Not a hipster, he was helmetless with Bono sunglasses, a purple shirt and cargo pants and rode some kind of proper road bike of the midrange aluminum variety. It was a nice trip downhill and he took pretty much the same line that I take, avoiding the bumps and the branches and I was overall fairly content in that it reinforced to me that I've been approaching the road in the correctish way. Per usual, he made it down the hill faster than I did and turned off at 42nd, heading somewhere into Glover Park much as the hipster did yesterday.
A CaBi makes a distinct noise and it's easy to hear the clitter clatter of the IGH as someone rides up behind you. This happened to me at Tunlaw and Calvert and I was all like "huh?" because I thought that I was making my way rather swiftly and had no clue from whereabout a CaBi might appear. I think the rider headed off towards George Mason Rec Center, but I don't know. A rare CaBi sighting and a welcome one. I feel like I've seen fewer of them lately on the commute, especially making the cross-river trip from Georgetown to Rosslyn and I wonder if the data backs that up. I sort of thought that the establishment of the Rosslyn beachhead would result in a much larger daily flow, but at least during my commute times, I'm not noticing it. Of course, I'm only an observer for a total of like 4 minutes a day, so I'm not really in any objective place to judge.
I rode behind a car who stopped at every stop sign, but not at the sign, instead stopping in the middle of the crosswalk past the stop sign. Does that count? It's sort of in the spirit of law-abiding, but not exactly pedestrian friendly.
It's disappointing when you go to stare at a driver who's allowed his car to drift well into the bike lane, but he's looking in the other direction. I've only got so many passive-aggressive moves and it'd be nice to get them acknowledged.
Think my tires might be flattish.
Bike chivalry isn't dead, but it's not exactly a real thing either. I rolled, with the walk sign, into a crosswalk and slowed so that a pedestrian would be shielded by me from an itching-to-turn car. This seems like a polite thing to do, though I suppose only advisable in situations in which you have good eye contact with the driver of the turning car. No use making yourself a speed bump.
The bus stop by Court House and Veitch could be better for bicyclists but I don't know how. Right now, the bike lane runs between the two travel lanes and the right turn lane, so whenever there's traffic, you have to pick yourself through the backed-up automobiles and buses and most of the time it's annoying at best and vaguely dangerous at worst.
If you make a driver slow down so that you can run a red light on your bike, you're doing it wrong. Saw some guy really screw this up. If you're going to run a red, do it better.
Sometimes pedestrians do this thing where instead of crossing at the crosswalk, where one might anticipate it, is walk another ten steps and then cross slightly further up the road. What's the deal with that? I mean, do what you want, but don't be surprised if I'm surprised.
Mumbling curses under your breath at joggers in the bike lane is a constitutional right. There's no more compelling argument for more sidewalk space than joggers running in the bike lane. Joggers! Write your congresspeople or local politicians or whoever.
Beat the rain, though I sort of wish I got rained on. It was hot enough to want respite, though really not as bad as I feared. Should get worse later in the week.

Ride In 7/19

Have you ever gotten to work and thought, "Wow, I could really use a panini right now?" Because I'm pretty certain that if I put a foiled brick in my bag this morning, I could have both crushed and warmed a sandwich that it could end up panini-fied. It was just that hot. Of course, the merits of slow-cooking your own pressed sandwich inside of a bag filled with your work clothes might be outweighed by the unfortunate outcome of the perchance melted cheese on your socks.There's probably a very small niche market of bicyclists who would enjoy "cooking" while pedaling and I doubt that sufficient heat could be generated, unless of course, you use some kind of hub that runs to an easy bake oven, which instead of a sandwich, would provide you delicious underbaked brownies. But who wants to whisk together batter in the morning? And furthermore, it's probably not safe to bike along with a child's toy strapped to your rear rack. And what if the timer goes off at an inopportune time? Until they make bike commuter-specific light-bulb powered rear rack-mounted ovens, I'm going to sit out this totally fake and completely non-existent trend.
I made the mistake of thinking that it would be a good day to take the Chain Bridge. I don't ride this route often enough to really know the ins and outs, but I do know that there are two fairly substantial hills on the way there and about 5 minutes into the ride, I could feel that my legs weren't exactly having the best day and that it would be a slog to get in. But what was I going to do? Back down from a self-leveled challenge and use the inter-connectedness of various roadways to shorten my commute and put myself back on a path that was more amenable on account of the weather and how I was feeling? What kind of message would that send to the children? No message at all? Because no one is particularly invested in whether or not you take one route or another? And because they're certainly not in any way impressed if you embark on a unstated march towards self-martyrdom because it in no way impacts their lives or overall well-being? So, I just kept going and figured that it'd be fine and it was. Because as Yogi Berra never said "bike commuting is 90% mental and 100% self-righteous."
Some thoughts on Military Road from Lee Highway to Glebe Road:
  • There's a bike lane on it for most of it, though it's been worn down in some places and could use some restriping.
  • Drivers treat it like a highway and regularly exceed 35 miles per hour, though they seem relatively habituated to bicyclists.
  • It's about 2 miles long and the first climb is way worse than the second one. In between the two climbs, there's a nice descent, which is good for catching your breath. 
  • It's not a popular commuter route, or at least I didn't see anyone else on a bike behind or in front of me. Admittedly, a small sample size.
  • There aren't that many people about, except some kids sitting in their driveways waiting for a bus to pick them up and a mom trotting her toddlers along to what I'm guess were swim lessons. 
I think I need to check my front brake pads for wear. They seemed really slow to slow me down. On Cahin Bridge, I had a guy ride behind me and another guy ride in the opposite direction and saw another bicyclist riding in the roadway from the District to Virginia. This is the most bicyclists I've seen on the bridge. I don't think that DC cyclists are cowed by the heat, though I'd really like someone to look at the morning trail count numbers to see how they correlate to afternoon weather predictions (either high temperatures or rain forecast) to see to what extent bicycling decisions are made with future conditions in mind. My suspicion is that forethought rarely enters the mind of the would-be bike commuter and that decisions are made more on morning weather conditions than anything else.
I don't remember the C&O towpath as being so bumpy. Hurt my wrists a little. Good thing I had my bike gloves (in my bag).
I counted as many cyclists on the CCT between Fletcher's Cove and the Manning staircase today as I did on my entire ride yesterday. I guess this simultaneously speaks to the high numbers of cyclists coming in from the northwest and their preference towards off-street routes.
A pink Cadillac parked on Macomb. Who are you people?
I honestly wanted to ride my bike into the curb and eject myself into the stream of two refreshing-looking lawn sprinklers. It was that hot. 
Traffic seemed bad on Nebraska. I think it was because of the cars.


Ride Home 7/18

For anyone interested in getting into the blogging racket, I don't recommend the twice daily posting with the latter post contingent on your writing when you get home. Sometimes you just want to eat goat cheese and drink box sangria and don't want to type out another post about riding your bike on the same streets you always ride. Good thing that's not me! I can drone on and on about the same roads 4-eva and no amount of goat cheese and box sangria can lure me away from my intense desire to foist my uninformed ideas about urban bicycling on you, the helpless, hapless reader!
I accidentally rode rammed my foot into my front fender this morning, nudging the fender slightly and now the off-kilter fender blade rubs ever so gently against the front wheel. Or at least it did until I bent it back over and now it's askew in a different direction and while still off-center, it rubs less and is now virtually noiseless. I ought to spend more time with it to ensure that it will be ok in the long-term, but so it goes.
My philosophy has always been that if it's not too broken, don't try to fix it (because you will brake it further). It's not a good philosophy, like objectivism, but it gets the job done. If only my bike were made of Rearden metal! (I'm going to keep going back to the Atlas Shrugged well until it runs dry. Is the Atlas Shrugged well in Galt's Gulch? Who knows? I mean, who is John Galt?)
Hipster on a fixie, right by school. Blah blah blah. Track stand. Beard. U lock in jeans. (P.S. Levi Commuter jean? ugh. How many times must we pass through the irony wormhole in which wearing these jeans is seen as anything other than completely stupid? As many times as Dagny Taggart... oh screw it.) I don't understand the assault on the freewheel, which to my mind ranks as one of the greatest inventions in the history of man. Of course, I have no sense of perspective.
It's rare that a driver totally blows a stop sign, but it happens. It's just sort of weird when it happens and when it happens right next to you. Especially when you stop. Oh well.
I apologize to my mom for making her nervous with this morning's post. I wasn't trying to worry you.
I'm probably a jerk for admitting this, but there isn't much of a better feeling than passing someone while riding uphill. Just makes you feel good about yourself. Conversely, there's no worse feeling than getting passed. I think that's why I ride up every hill, no matter how small or short, like a total maniac. I apologize to anyone who's offended by my Braveheart-style screaming as I ride by.
Sometimes when my path is blocked because it's too narrow and cars block the entire lane I pick up my bike and ride on the sidewalk. Because I can.
The Trek Allant. I ask you to consider it. Kent likes it. I see a lot of them. I rode one once and it made me feel like a milkman, but I think that's ok. It's hard to be a bike commuter and not like something that comes stock with a rack and fenders. And the people I've seen riding them look genuinely happy.

Ride In 7/18

I don't like to be morbid, but on a lot of mornings I wonder if I'm going to crash or have some other more serious misfortune (I didn't). I don't know if people do this when they drive. I think it's a little easier to be intellectually and emotionally distant from potential injury when you're surrounded by a couple of tons of metal and plastic, in which you can listen to the radio. I don't know how many other bike commuters do this, but I'd like to think that at least acknowledging the possibility that something bad might happen, I'm actually warding it off. Jinxing it, if you will. It might also be putting St. Christopher on notice (much like Batman, St. Christopher has a blinking red phone that alerts him to anxious travelers. It's in all the iconography), which I figure is never a bad thing.
"Yes, commissioner. I'll be right there"
I take my safety seriously (that explains, rather than contradicts, some of the less than legal things I do) and I think that we, as a society, could do better to make things safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. I don't know how many drivers recognize the immediacy of the dangers non-drivers can feel on the roadways. It's instructive. And this blog has now turned into a bad Miss America answer. And such as...
There's a minivan that parks near our house that has an ad for pistolbasics.com on its trunk.  I don't need any firearms instruction (I use a crocodiles for home protection), but if you do, I support your supporting of this local business. Here's the contact page, which has everything a webpage ever needs.
I wanted to count bicyclists today and so I did. Grand total: 33 between home and work, which is quite respectable since I didn't take any trails and since I work on the periphery of town. These numbers are a bit inflated since I saw about 13 pass by on the Custis while I waited at the light. It was a pretty great sight to see the dozen cyclists bunched riding towards the Mount Vernon Trail. I wish I could have taken a picture.
On the bridge, I saw a guy walking his bike and asked him if he was all right. He stared back blankly so I asked again. He said that his tire "popped" so I offered him a patch (not a tube, I'm not that generous, sorry) and he said no thanks and kept walking. If we lived in some high-tax/high-service society, it'd be nice for local governments to pay for bike rangers to roam the streets and trails offering mechanical assistance to distressed bicyclists.Of course, this would also be a really big waste of money, but roving bands of bike rangers would be way smugger than a bike stand in your airport.
Contraflow bike lane on 37th between Tunlaw and Wisconsin? It'd be uphill, but I'm pretty sure there's enough room. This would serve approximately 4 people (a year) and you'd probably have to remove 20 parking spaces. I'm pretty zealous about bike lanes, but on further review, I think this one might not be necessary.
Why are there so many discarded shoes on the road? What exactly happens here? "Looks like I was wearing two left shoes in addition to my right. Guess I'll just throw it out the window."


Ride Home 7/15

I managed to replace my tube without incident (it was actually really fast and relatively easy) and I was able to ride my own bike home. I'm not totally sure what caused the flat. There was a really small puncture along the seam where the valve piece is melded to the rest of the tube. Some have suggested an issue with the rim strip, others say witchcraft. There didn't appear to be any amiss with the tire or the rim and I made it home without incident.
I have two metal folding baskets on my bike and the thing about folding baskets is that you're supposed to be able to clasp them closed. Not so much with these. I know that Wald is a great company, but it's always disappointing when I'm riding along and one of the baskets pops up and either starts clanging or gets in the way of my heel while I'm pedaling. Minor inconvenience, but something of an annoyance. I stopped twice to try to close the basket (the unused right one) and eventually gave up and fully opened it. But since it was empty, the bottom piece kept bouncing around. #firstworldbikecomplaints
The other bakset held my work clothes (unbagged because I'm hobo like that), with my frame pump wedged somewhere between my jeans and shirt, all topped by a u-lock. I was paranoid about the fram pump coming lose and falling out of the basket. I didn't have the vision or aptitude to figure a better way to store it than shoving it between clothes. I looked over my shoulder a couple of times to make sure it didn't dislodge, but stopped doing this after a close encounter with the curb.
Cars don't stop at Tunlaw/New Mexico and 42nd. I saw three cars pass through with varying levels of slowing as I pulled aside to try to fix my basket. I'm thinking about filming it some day, but this kind of thing has been done. But it might be instructive for those in the neighborhood to be disabused of the notion that bicyclists are unique in their attitude towards traffic laws. And I also bought one of those Flip cameras last Christmas and I barely ever use it any more.
Man, this bike is heavier than the other one..
34th street on one side of Prospect isn't aligned with 34th street on the other side of Prospect. That means that as motorists approach the stop sign, they shift over to the right, aligning their cars with the road on the other side of the intersection. In conclusion, be very careful when you're biking along because many drivers aren't expecting a cyclist to be passing in the three feet between them and the parked cars and think nothing of reducing that three feet to one foot as they move towards the intersection. There's not much to do to fix the problem, aside from striping a bike lane and hoping drivers don't cross the white line, which they will invariably do since the roadway continues askance. Other option is to move the buildings. You know which one I support.
On the Custis, I tried to keep up with a guy with a shaved head wearing a crop-top, but it was to no avail. He had an over-stuffed messenger bag and was wearing more than one bracelet. Cycle chic? It was during my futile pursuit that the pump finally dislodged itself and I had to slow down to kick it back into place. I traded the trail for the street at Veitch because my bike is much more of a street bike than a trail bike and secondarily because I was tired of riding on the trail.
Arlington really needs to hurry up on redoing the Clarendon plaza. I don't think it's great design, but anything will be a vast improvement.
And then this happened:
Taken from 7 miles away
It's not that the driver blocked the lane. It's that he blocked the lane but could have parked 6 feet closer to the curb. I guess he didn't want to be blocked in by cars, but I doubt that the cars would have parked in the no parking zone where the truck rested.
I finally replaced my cleats. These cleats needed replacing months ago. I think it's time for a new pedal system since this one isn't conducive to daily commuting.

It's hard to tell in this picture where the beige carpet starts and the beige dog starts.

Ride In 7/15

Previously on Tales From The Sharrows:
A flat tire on my bike forced me to take Bikeshare from work to Rosslyn and walk the remainder of the way.  I've yet to address this and will do so with materials I bought yesterday and brought today once I finish writing this post.
Today on Tales From the Sharrows:
I walked down Pershing, waiting for a bus that, according to NextBus, was perpetually thirteen minutes away. I decided that I would keep walking, chancing the distance between bus stops and hoping that I wouldn't get passed. I got to Washington Boulevard before Next Bus told me that the 4B was only two minutes hence. I rode the bus until Pierce, where I switched to Bikeshare. While I was on the bus, I checked Spotcycle a couple of times and noticed that the Rhodes station jumped from zero to two to four bikes in a matter of 90 seconds. It was from a rebalancing van, not actual riders, which is somewhat disappointing. The end of the line stations at the outermost edges, I suspect will always require this kind of readjustment, simply on account that DC morning rush hour traffic flows from periphery to core. I will be curious, though, to see what happens when the Court House station is brought online in the next month (I hope). While it will be on the fringe of the Bikeshare system ,the station will be located close to a jobs center and might draw bike traffic up from Rosslyn and the District in a much more meaningful way. But, in reality, I suspect it won't- unless there's a large number of riders who transfer from Blue to Orange at Rosslyn and would prefer to ride uphill or there's a large number of DC denizens work work thereabouts who live within a thirty minute CaBi trip (because I doubt most commuters would be willing to dock and undock to reset the clock). This station will invariably be one of the most frustrating for Arlington Bikeshare members because it will almost always be empty. Here's hoping that Alta proves me wrong. But my suspicion is that there's be a one-way flow of bikes from here to DC like nobody's business, at least until more R-B corridor stations are brought online.
I undocked the bike and started the clock. I wanted to get to work in under 30 minutes and preferably beat my best bikeshare time of 24:39. I felt pretty good. I was wearing shorts this time and that probably contributes to aerodynamics or body heat diffusion or maybe just the appearance of sportiness and the temperature was about right, so I had a good feeling about it. That and having the determination to do whatever it takes (within reason) meant that I was primed and ready. Upon leaving the station, I found myself behind a guy on a red Cross Check with red leopard print bar tape. I don't think leopard print comes standard, so it was definitely an after-market add-on, one that I will not judge. Easy going down Lynn except for the idling car in the bike lane and the idling tour bus that takes up half the lane.
Ever see a cyclist take the full lane on Lynn between the hihgway entrance and exit? There's a sign that says we may, but I suspect that most do as I do and ride as rightwards as practicable on account of jumping over to the Key Bridge sidewalk instead of riding the travel lane.
I managed to stick with leopard (LAY-o-pard?) tape across the bridge and we got stuck behind a bus together on M. I initially thought about doing my normal route instead of Wisconsin, but since I knew I made it up Wisconsin in under 30 minutes previously, I figured why chance it. Biking down M is a hassle, but I'm sure Jack Evans will fix it any day since he loves bikes now. That reads way more cynically than I mean it. Allies on the Council who have experienced biking in the city, within existing bike facilities and on those streets that lack them, are ones that can hurdle the empathy gap that too often separates the different kinds of commuters. Any council members (wink wink) want to bike up New Mexico with me on a weekday morning and talk to the ANC about how a bike lane wouldn't be the end of the world?
Fete Accomplie is the greatest, most-highbrow pun name for a catering business ever.
Given the choice between an empty left lane and a partially-obstructed right lane, why do some drivers not move over and give bicyclists more space? Is it too much of a hassle? This is a genuine question- I'm not being (overly) snarky. When I drive, I like to be in the lane with the fewest obstacles. Is it bike blindness? Do some drivers think that close isn't really that close, so it's not that big of a deal? Guesses?
I stayed in '3' much of my ride, but I did drop down to '2' for some of the steeper sections. You want to become a stronger climber? Take a CaBi up Wisconsin every day. Maybe put a bowling bag up the front rack. Then you'd be good.
Had the good fortune of getting across Wisconsin at the crosswalk with Massachusetts on the final few ticks of the walk signal counter and then across Massachusetts during the opening few ticks of that walk signal. That definitely contributed to my beating my record. According to CaBi, I was dock to dock in 22:55. I'm throwing down the gauntlet to anyone who wants to beat that time during a morning rush hour commute. Preferably you can do it in a way that humiliates me, maybe by like 4 minutes.


Ride Home 7/14

I didn't have the materials (though, maybe finally the wherewithal) to fix my flat at work, so I took Bikeshare. It's hard to imagine that a little less than a year ago, I wouldn't have had this option and instead would have taken the Metro and bus and it would have taken more than an hour and a half to go home. I rode from campus to Rosslyn in about 20 minutes. In under a year from now, thanks to the expansion in Arlington, I would be able to make the entire trip, almost door to door, exclusively with Bikeshare. That's pretty amazing, especially consider than neither the AU campus, nor where I live near Ballston are especially "central" locations. I suppose this is just a long-winded way of saying "I'm grateful for Capital Bikeshare and keep growing because sometimes people get flat tires and need to get home and would prefer to do so by bicycle," which itself is a long-winded way of saying "thanks."
Capital Bikeshare is the only red line that's reliable at rush hour.
I rode down Massachusetts as the only bicyclist in the road, most choosing instead to ride on the sidewalk. Perhaps with good reason as I was passed within inches by a Maryland-plated Black Mercedes driven by a moptopped jackass who managed to pass me within inches. While I applaud his driving skills (seriously, like 6 inches. it was so close I laughed at the ridiculousness and almost wanted to laud the feat), it's unforgivably dangerous and I truly hope that he learns to operate his vehicle in a more considerate and less potentially deadly way.
Wisconsin is fun and choppy, but the CaBis are tanks. I love riding those things at speed. Surprisingly good brakes too.
34th seems very narrow on a CaBi. I rode next to a large truck that provided "shielding" as we both rolled our way through (the stop signs of) Georgetown.
I took the turn on M pretty hard and I'm sort of amazed I didn't fall down. I'm sure glad that Fenty and Klein had the forethought to incorporate Weeble technology into the system.
I took the hills of Rosslyn as fast as I could and that wasn't very fast. It was my homage to all those riders who cracked on Luz Ardiden.
I walked home from Rosslyn. 3 miles on a bike is vastly different from the same distance walking. I missed at least one bus, but I stopped at a bike shop to pick up some new tubes and some new cleats. I haven't figured out how I'm going to work tomorrow, whether by Cross Check or CaBi or car. It'll be a game time decision.
I passed these newly installed bike parking stations (?) that were discussed at the Bike Advisory Committee meeting on Monday.
Park here

They slip over the denuded poles of former parking meters. Quite sturdy too. I tested by pulling with all my might, which is not very much. It's a welcome addition to bike parking infrastructure and the initial installation had them installed all the way to Edgewood Street. A very worthwhile investment and a great repurposing of former parking meters.
If you like bikes and baseball, you can do this. Or not. Just sharing.
Though if you like baseball, you'd know to stay clear of a Nats-Mets game. You'd really have to like biking to make up for it. Maybe you could go and then just turn around and come back? Or check out the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail or Yards Park?

Ride In 7/14

I'm going to try to keep this short. I took the Haul today and before I left, I pumped the tires. Before I got to work, I got a flat tire. What have I done to offend the god of air pressure? Luckily, a co-worker's spouse happened to be driving by and he took me and the bike to the office, less than a mile away. It's locked up the garage and it looks like I'll be taking Bikeshare home or as close to home as I can get before switching to the bus. Or walking. Probably walking, since I'll want to pick up a tube. First flat tire on this bike. I don't know if it's because I over-inflated or just hit something nasty, but either way, I'm miffed.
Prior to the flat, the ride was rather enjoyable. Temperate weather, but still summery. I left the house about 45 minutes earlier than normal and the roads seemed much more sedate. I might want to start leaving earlier more regularly, but this would require a whole host of lifestyle adjustments I'm not prepared to undertake. Is that an overly dramatic way of saying that I'll have to wake up slightly earlier? Yes.
A woman riding on Fairfax told me that I could pass her as we both waited at a red light. I demurred, quite happy to be riding at the pace I was. I guess it's polite to let someone know that he can pass you by if he so wishes, but on the other hand, I'd like to think (probably over-optimistically) that most bicyclists can pass one another in a non-offensive way and without being told that it's ok.
Bike lanes aren't the best place to stand and have conversations. Sometimes bicyclists will interrupt your conversations by riding in the bike lane. This shouldn't come as a shock.
Damn it. I'm still mad about that flat.
I rode Wisconsin again today. From M to Wisconsin, I typically avoid making the direct left turn and instead camp out in the crosswalk by the Serendipity 3 and wait for the Wisconsin green. This, I think, is much safer than trying to weave across the five/six travel lanes and the gabs of walkers.
I was shocked to discover that there's no bike parking in front of the Glover Park Whole Foods. For shame. I locked my bike to the one parking meeter and was complimented on my bike's foppishness by a passing pedestrian. He asked if the wooden rack was made of wood. It is.


Ride Home 7/13

So, it rained and it scared the sheets out of me. Luckily, it was before I left. I didn't have my jacket or hat or any of my other rain-preparedness gear, so I feared that, if left alone against the elements, I wouldn't fair well. Luckily, it stopped well before I left and I was instead treated to dramatically lower temperatures, which themselves proved to be something of a treat. Thanks, completely unreliable weather pattern!
Rain must not only draw out fungi, but also bicyclists. I think I noticed more bike commuters on my ride home today than on most other recent days an for this I am grateful since it will give me something to blog about.
I saw one guy riding up New Mexico (rare) and another on Tunlaw looking to ride up New Mexico. On 37th, I rode behind a girl who diligently put down her right foot at each stop sign, perhaps in a sop to drivers, perhaps because she was part of a very bad bicycle-based step team. At the Key Bridge, I saw a guy on a robin's egg blue Cross Check with a B17 and SKS fenders and blue bar tape. I wanted to ask him what his deal was but realized that this question is a bit unfair, since it draws out no particular answer and seems overly hostile and confrontational. But seriously, what's your deal? Bike looked new. Are you going for a look? Huh? Huh? In front of him was a superbiker, who made his way about the bridge dastardly in the way that superbikers are wont to do. And then there was another guy who had a Topeak trunk bag and a Planet Bike blinky that bounced up and down in a way that did nothing but wildly distract me. I was in  blinky catatony. I rode behind him from Nash, up Key and then halfway down Oak, where I decided to take something of a diversion and go up 18th, which is as hilly as Wilson, but not nearly as trafficked/riddled with pizza delivery drivers. There's 'no right turn 7am- 7pm' on Oak and I don't care to wait, so I think I'll be taking 18th much more regularly. It's a fine street in spite of the climb and in spite of the potholes and in spite of the fact that it slants leftwards for no apparent reason as it approaches Quinn.
From Quinn to Veitch, I don't remember anything particular happening. At one point, I was behind a duo (not dyad and certainly not dryad) of leisure commuters, both of whom rode bolt upright and far too slowly. I skirted about the faster of the duo when a superbiker-type rode past us and I opted to take his wheel, or whatever the cliche bike phrase du jour is. He had a helmet from Specialized with the rainbow colors of the World Champion cascading down the back vents. I cannot say for sure whether he was the world champion, though I have my doubts.
This was very much a ride of me being behind other cyclists.
Thor and I rode up Fairfax together and passed the guy I saw yesterday. No compliments today. Sorry, guy. It was easy going until Quincy where he kept on and I begged off.
Total cluster by my building on account of a stop light outage. I guess when a light is out the best thing to do is to add cones to the roadway and prevent motorists (and bicyclists and pedestrians) from treating and intersection like a four way stop. That or there's some extra money in the cone budget and it's use it or lose it.
Traffic from Henderson couldn't turn left on George Mason and traffic from George Mason couldn't turn left on Henderson and I could barely cross the street without getting hit by someone trying to do something they've either been forced to do or shouldn't do. I don't think this was a very effective traffic management strategy.

Ride In 7/13

I did forget something yesterday. It was that I saw a forest green Chevy Tahoe with the license plate CAPTLZM and a window decal that read Danneskjold Repossession (you can buy your own Atlas Shrugged-themed gifts  through johngaltgifts.com, no joke). I love it when people proudly display their political and ideological affiliations, especially on a means of travel that requires significant government outlays based on the collection of revenue through property and fuel taxes. Anyway, if you get the chance, please go see the Atlas Shrugged, part I movie. The Official Wife and I did at Arlington Cinema Draft House and had a wonderful time, perhaps aided by the pitcher of beer and mozzarella sticks. This morning, I saw a bumper sticker that said POOP with the Obama Hope O used as the middle two vowels. I like it because it's sophisticated. But then again, I'm a member of the Arlington Tee Party. We advocate limited government, except in protecting golf courses, which are symbols of freedom and rugged individualism. The amount of ruggedness depends on how bad a golfer you are.
I would appreciate a flashing yellow bike signal at the intersection of Fairfax and Jackson that allows cyclists to cross while the car traffic on Fairfax and 10th is stopped. This would allow me (or anyone else on a bike) to cross Jackson while the cars on Kirkwood have the green and then further allow me to cross 10th while in the crosswalk, which has the walk signal when westbound Fairfax has the green. Of course, I didn't think a flashing yellow bike light is AASHTO approved and probably for good reason.
You don't have to bike very fast to keep pace with car traffic on Clarendon. That's more just an FYI for drivers than anything else. What I'm trying to say is that if you're trying to get down Clarendon in the morning, you're not going very quickly.
I like to ride about 6 inches inside of the outside stripe of bike lanes. I think this gives me enough clearance in case someone opens a door or steps out from in front of a parked car. It also makes it easy to get out of the bike lane and into the travel lane to avoid pot holes or manholes or debris (amazing the number of banana peels in bike lanes) or a stopped bus. Just a personal preference.
I thought that today was finally going to be the day that I would get pulled over by a waiting police officer (I'm way paranoid). I made my left onto Lynn from more or less than center lane. This made sense to me since there was a long line of cars waiting in the left turn lane and because a nice, wide turn from the center lane would put me in the Lynn street bike lane, which is on the far right side of the street. And then I saw the cop. And he had a funny, distracted look on his face. I guess pulling over semi-scofflaw cyclists wasn't in his purview. There's a cop standing in the bike lane on Lynn all the time. I wonder why.
Speaking of police, apparently there were none on the Custis today. It was probably a return to the wild west.
Is there a word for tailgating when someone rides too close behind you? Fender-rubbing? Spoke-grinding? Something that doesn't sound lewd? Guy was way to close to me coming off the bridge and had to grab his brakes hard as I slowed to politely pass two old ladies in sweatsuits. He continued to ride too closely as we approached the stopped Circulator and it was only after we skirted around it that I was could get away from him. It's just not polite.
Up Wisconsin. Because I'm a dope. It's too hot for non-shaded hills.
Is the cumulative dry cleaning bill for Georgetown residents more than the GDP of a mid-size African nation? Can someone look this up?
I hate yo-yo-ing with buses, but sometimes that's the hand your dealt if you don't want to suck exhaust. If you do want to suck exhaust, well, that's weird and you should probably seek help from both a therapist and a pulmonologist.
The best part of the ride up Wisconsin is the stretch between Q (by The Dog Shop, Ellie the Poodle's erstwhile groomer) and R street, where there's only one traffic lane and ample room to ride your bike. After you cross R, it's the Social Safeway danger zone, and then the Holy Rood/British School semi-danger area, followed by the commercial Glover Park danger zone, followed by parked cars until the Cathedral semi-danger zone. These aren't the official names.If I had to provide some sort of parameters for declaring an area a "danger zone," I'd say it's the combination of fast car traffic, few stop lights, lots of curb cuts and no bike facilities. Based on that description, sounds like there are a lot of danger zones. There are.


Ride Home 7/12

I find that I feel the most secure riding at speed downhill when I ride in the middle of the travel lane. I also think it's the best position as far as your visibility is concerned- it's much easier to be "missed" by a driver waiting to turn when you're riding only a few feet off of the (occupied) parking lane. It probably also helps that I'm going fast enough to feel like I'm not unduly blocking car traffic and furthermore, that there isn't very much car traffic when I tend to do this. But, when it comes to safety, you don't want to let culturally ingrained notions about auto superiority cow you into riding against your own self-interest.
As much as I'm loath to admit it, the presence of the ACPD on the Custis trail might be having somewhat of an effect on my riding. I'm stopping at more stop signs and I'm jumping fewer lights. I can't say for sure whether it's causation or correlation (it's also been very hot and maybe I'm just tired and wanting to go slower), but I've noticed something of a trend towards being more law-abiding. Of course, I'm still causing immense traffic through my very presence (statistics pending).
Now that Mary Cheh's running the transpo committee, Ward 3 is getting more bike lanes? Right? She's probably meeting with Terry Bellamy about it right now. (Actually, WABA says she's ok, though the speed of the embrace was pretty funny)
I thought that Salon stopped paying their rent and got kicked out of the M street office, but it turns out that I just took a picture of the wrong door.
Wrong nondescript door.
I tried to help someone by enfolding him in my ding envelope ("Let me enfold you in my ding envelope" is the worst pick-up line ever), but I was just ringing my bell over his saying "on your left." Sorry.
If you get hit by a Domino's delivery guy, will he bring you to the hospital in under 30 minutes? Might want to get an answer before cavalierly riding past the Domino's on Wilson. That driveway is bad and the line of sight is almost always blocked by a truck or other, so please be careful.
My super-human climbing abilities allowed me to sneak up on an aspiring-superbiker at the top of the Court House hill.(who was rocking the quad-water bottle look, with two in frame-mounted cages and two sticking out of a seat-mounted holder. The back two looked like rear-facing turrets on a battleship, straight out of Jutland). He pulled over towards the side of the road to fiddle with his iPod (hat persze) and there was a car coming up behind so I couldn't use the world's most useless sharrows, so I passed him a little too closely and he made some sort of exclamatory "wha!?" followed quickly by an "I'm sorry," which was unneeded because his transgression, not moving close enough to the curb on the off chance that another bicyclist might pass, was relatively minor. I rose past and then he caught up with me at the light at Veitch, preceding the place his bike in front of mine as we both waited for the light to turn. And then I rode behind him, wondering what superllantas meant because he had that written on his jersey. At one point we rode past a guy, who at a stop light down the road would ask me if "it was hot enough?" It was hot enough.
I'm probably forgetting some other things that happened, but I'm gonna wrap this up in the name of getting pizza, which is the best reason to pretty much do anything.
I take that back. I saw a black BMW make a lady in the crosswalk jump back as he completed his left turn in front of her. I wanted to say "Don't worry, he'll get you next time" but I thought better of it because the lady didn't look amused and black humor doesn't always play well.