Ride Home 2/16: Karl Marx in Duck Soup

Not quite the rain I was expecting, but it was a gray day with low clouds and a thick wet atmosphere of dampness hung about in a way that made the fact that it was still mostly light out seem somehow worse and not better. I greeted the weather by wearing (again) my gray fleece, which was perhaps the worst decision ever as it provided no real protection from dampness and was the exact same color as the low clouds and thick wet atmosphere. I was camouflaged, in perhaps the dumbest and most avoidable way possible. But I had lights, so that was ok. Please use lights. If you don't, I forbid you from reading this blog. You'll have to self-report and I suppose there's no way to prevent someone from printing out a copy and smuggling it you, except for the fact that I forbid the remainder of you from printing and smuggling blog posts to the lightless, though I suppose there's no way for me to enforce that except for me to demand that you immediately remove and mail your ink cartridges to:

Tales From The Sharrows
666 Never Gonna Happen Drive, North by Northwest
Washington, DC 20003

Having lights on your bike (and using them at night) is something I feel very passionately about and it's something that you should feel passionately about as well. They're cheap and easy and could save your life.
Tonight was the night that I laundered delivered your hard-earned and poorly spent button money to the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. I took Mass to Garfield to Cleveland to Harrison to Cleveland again (that's a Grover Cleveland joke. You're welcome) to Calvert and over to Columbia Heights (Adams Morgan?) to WABA HQ on Ontario. They had bike parking out front, so that was nice. The ride over was relatively uneventful. I rode a bit skittishly on account of the rain and not wanting to wipe out because the roads were the kind of slick that they are when it's only a little raining. Very little traffic drama. I'd say that every ride is an adventure, but that's not true by any stretch of the imagination. Jon, of manfredmacx.com, met me out front.
WABA, in case you don't know, has its offices in an underground bunker that could probably withstand a blast from a multi-kiloton nuclear weapon (Pick another target, enemies of freedom). The hard-working staff remained hard-working throughout and beyond our visit. It's not easy to make bike advocacy happen and they do a great job and I'm glad that collectively we found a way to help them out a bit. I have no doubt that they will translate your generosity into great things. Vote for them as best DC non-profit here. Here are some pictures, without context or explanation or even captions:

I'd like to thank Greg for the tour and the bike-centered conversing. I'd also like to thank him for the insider-y info about bike infrastructure that I hope will be brought to fruition soon. Or if not to fruition, at least to Fruitopia.
After leaving WABA, I salmoned down Ontario (Delicious Ontario salmon!) to Euclid (You klidding me, right?) and over to the 11th, where I saw a couple of other bicyclists, all heading in the other direction. I'm just never over in this part of town, so I won't even hazard a guess as to where. Home, I guess.
11th went from the 11th I didn't know to the 11th I did and then it was [insert previous ride home post here]. Chain skipped a bit, so I don't know what that's about. Probably some sort of gypsy curse. Took it really easy on Penn once I realized that the traffic lights weren't going to be any different if I went any faster. I feel like this is the key insight of bicycling: you can't beat the system. That was also the key insight of 1984. That and how terrifying cages full are rats are.
What if Congress was more like feudalism (don't tell Susan Reynolds) in that each representative and senator was responsible for providing a certain number of security guards?
Along East Capitol, I did my usual moderately paced dawdle. The driver of a Mercedes considered making a left turn across my path, but didn't because I didn't stop for him. He flashed his high beams at me, as if to say "stop for me." Perhaps I should have switched my front light to blink as if to say "nope."Later, I passed a charming looking family (or maybe just dude with his mistress and love child. I don't want to make assumptions), all of whom who thought it would be a lovely idea to have a conservation while standing in the bike lane. One ding and nothing. Two dings and I felt like I might has well have not dinged at all (don't tell Tennyson). I rode by and didn't say anything or even look askance. I suppose I could have made a big deal over being inconvenienced, but I wasn't really inconvenienced.
Swings coffee tomorrow, if anyone is inclined.


  1. You must have ridden right past my place.
    (P.S. the part of Ontario where WABA is situated is The. Worst. Pavement. Ever).
    (P.P.S I hate Euclid and it's sudden one-way changes)
    (P.P.S. My battery for my lights on my work bike has finally kicked the bucket, so I have been lightless for about a week now, and every night when it gets dark I feel ashamed because I think of what you would say. I am switching Betty's lights onto the work bike RIGHT NOW, and ordering a new NiteRider battery. Sorry. I did feel bad).

  2. @K.C.- totally agree about the pavement and Euclid. I really wish Euclid was two ways, or at least two ways for bikes, though I'm not sure that would totally work. Sorry about the light guilt. I just get really worried about 1) my getting hit by a lightless bicyclist and 2) someone else just getting creamed by a car. When I drive, I worry so much about ninja bikers, so I can really sympathize. It's just about trying to minimize some of the risks.

  3. WABA is in Adams Morgan (Formerly Adams-Morgan(Formerly Lanier Heights (sort of)))

    I don't obey all the traffic laws all of the time (as a driver OR a cyclist OR a pedestrian, for the record). But I do one thing, always, and that's light my ass up. I have a red light in back that blinks and flashes in an up and down wave. I have a white blinking light in front, and a headlight on my helmet. So there's that.

  5. Why I always use my lights: Sometimes when I am making a life choice I try to imagine trying to explain to my mother what I was doing when something bad happened. If I got hit by a car biking at night (and lived!) I would like to be able to tell my mom I was completely covered in blinky lights : )