Monday morning and per usual, it was at least three attempts to get out of the house and even then I still forgot my towel, so sorry about the whole not showering thing, colleagues! Best to cop to that upfront rather than leaving it to the end up the post, just so you know the frame of mind in which I'm writing. And by frame of mind, I mean vague discontentment, not because showering is strictly necessary but because I would have really preferred to have met some hot water head on after a ride in which my feet froze and my chain (new) sometimes skipped (boo). I got the replacement chain on Saturday from UrbanVelos-Topographic location where Congress meets, as it was was the closest shop to my house and I have $20 in commuter checks, which they take that. Not my top choice (that "distinction" belongs to Bicycle Space), but $20 off is still $20 off (until OBAMA MAKES INFLATION HAPPEN AND AMERICA BECOMES THE WEIMAR REPUBLIC JUST LIKE GLENN BECK PROPHESIED ON THOSE TAPES I BOUGHT MY GRANDMA!) and I figured replacing a chain would be a pretty standard thing. And it was, but the mechanic informed me, rightly, that I might experience some skipping and need to replace my rear cassette because I guess these things tend to happen after you ride your bike for some time and the chain stretches and the cogs bend a bit. The skipping really only happened when I had my bike in the gear I mostly ride, so I don't know the mechanical implications of that. Probably overdue for some kind of minor overhaul anyway.
Aside from the skipping, the ride was fine. Rode behind a guy on East Capitol on an older Fuji road bike with a brown Brooks B17, tucked under which was a Brooks saddle cover, which I suppose he would use in case of rain. We made fine time and caught a bunch of lights and he almost rode directly into a guy who was crossing on the sidewalk where East Capitol meets First NE. The guy who he almost hit called the bicyclist an "asshole" because I guess that's what you call someone when they almost ride into you.
I'd make some comment about the amount of salt in the Penn Ave cycletrack, but that's already been done. However, I do want to point out that the salt in no way caused hyper-tension between cyclists and motorists. I'm here all week, folks.
More bicyclists out than I would have expected. It was quite cold, but there was virtually no wind and not a cloud in the sky worth remembering. I find that it's hard not to bike to work once you've gotten in the habit of doing so. Probably just like every other way of getting there. We slip into our routines (donning our powdered wigs and name tags and whatnot) and commuting becomes synonymous with the way we get there. I think it's important to "reclaim" the terms related to commuting from the exclusive domain of car driving. Commuting is about going back and forth from home to not-home, not about the means you use to do it and it's silly and imprudent to cede, verbally, the idea of commuting to those who do so exclusively by car. In exchange for the word "commuting," I'll let them keep "fender bender."
Construction by the White House security gates pushed me and the guy biking behind me up onto the sidewalk, which isn't my preferred way to go. Some jerk drivers at the intersection of the cycletrack an I (Eye, Aye!) Street decided it would be fun to block the track with their not-yet-turned cars, so I rode out into the street and salmoned half a block. I caught a glimpse of Kyle, doing his best neck-swivel, eye-contact death stare as he rode by in the other direction. That move is TFTS approved! (as are many products available through SkyMall. Check the catalog for the logo on your next AirTrain flight)
A little farther up the track, a woman who decided to shoal me, almost go hit by a guy pulling into one of the mid-block parking garages. He quite dramatically slammed on his brakes and looked peeved. I decided that I would stop and let him complete his turn, not so much because he had the right of way, which he didn't, but because I wasn't in any special kind of rush. I hope that my decision to do this didn't undermine the bicyclist in front of me, making it seem like she did something wrong. I mean, she was in the right and had the right of way and was riding in a cycletrack. I just stopped as a courtesy, not because I had to. Anyway, there's no way that anyone else in this scenario has given nearly as much thought to this as I have. Or at least I hope not.
Tree work on 15th pushed me out of the lane again. It would be nice is tree trimming didn't happen during morning commute times.
Q Street was fine, but seemed narrower than normal. I hope that someone isn't playing a prank of me by moving the sidewalk out by an inch each day. This would be an elaborate prank. I think it's just more likely that a series of construction projects and big trucks and stuff made me feel cramped and corralled. Not to be confused with Cramped and Coraled, the title of my snorkeling memoir. From Dupont for another block or two, I rode behind a man on a Bikeshare bike, who rode slowly and deliberately and slowly. It's tricky to try to pass someone on Q between Connecticut and Florida, mostly because there isn't very much room to get around before the stop sign and also because there's normally a driver gunning it from the light. So, it's normally just better to wait it out, since, if you're riding up Massachusetts, pretty much everyone turns by Florida anyway and two blocks of going slower than you'd prefer won't kill you.
I was really worried about my chain slipping during the climb up Mass, but it didn't. Perhaps it was because I tried to ride very gently, whatever that means. Heard a few horn honks, but none of them were for me. I'm of the opinion that horns either need to be removed from cars or their power needs to be amplified, so that a sonic blast is actually capable of lifting and moving the object at which it's directed. The in-between state, loud enough to be bothersome, not powerful enough to cause massive destruction, is just so wishy-washy.
Some horn honks were directed at me while I was heading down Massachusetts. It was of the double-honk "I'm behind you and I'm going to pass you" variety. Totally unnecessary. Just drive by me with ample room such that we're both sure you're not going to hit me with the front end of your car. If you can do that, then I'll be pretty happy.
Something special in store for you all tonight. Get excited.