Ride In 3/20: Mountain Due Diligence

I was on the street outside of my house, not having set off yet, when I was flagged down by a passing motorist. Fluent in semaphore (that's a flag joke, for those playing at home), I opted not to ignore her and hear whatever it is that she had to say to me, which in turned out, was an interrogative concerning parking at a nearby high school. All things considered, which is a phrase that's also a radio program, I was a terrible target for this question, since I've never parked at that high school and have little idea about the car parking thereabouts. But I'm a friendly guy and I'm that stranger upon whose kindness one should always rely, so I offered, somewhat authoritatively, my theory that there was a way to access the parking lot via 19th street, which I know runs north and passes the high school. The driver, who told me it was her first time in DC (mazel tov!) said that someone at the school told her over the phone that parking was available behind the school. Knowing where the school is, I felt that taking my prescribed route would get her behind it and perhaps she'd be able to figure it out from there. And then she asked me if it was "safe" and something I didn't say was "Well, I personally haven't been murdered" because that might have unnerved her, so I just opted with "yeah," because that's really the honest answer. Unless of course you're worried about the dangers of having one of your feet run over by one of those really large strollers that parents and nannies push around because that does constitute a significant danger in my neighborhood, at least for the toes of the hapless. I mean that, and the sometimes street robberies and car vandalism, but that's hardly a big deal. She proceeded to make a three point u-turn (if that's possible) at the end of the block and I wonder if she ever made it to the parking lot.
It rained this morning, but before my commute time, so the roads were wet with sky water but the skies weren't. Maybe we should call it road water. The rain seemed to have the effect of dampening both the ground and the enthusiasm of some bike commuters and there were plenty of bikes available at the first Bikeshare station I passed. Prior to passing that Bikeshare station, I passed a man unfolding his Dahon on the sidewalk in front of his house and I saw him again on the other side of the park, after I took the on-street route around it and he passed through it. As I made my turn, he deferred to me, allowing me to ride in the bike lane as he rode in the travel lane and then fell in behind me, saying something like " you can go." I said "thanks" and he said "yeah, you'd smoke me anyway," which I took to mean that he thought that I looked like I was planning to ride fast and/or set hickory planks afire underneath him. For whatever reason, I took his "smoke" comment with a certain degree of seriousness and set upon trying to "smoke" him as best I could. Two red lights later and him still right behind me, I felt like I would never achieve his expectation of smokiness and thereby, through some attenuated logic, completely waste his goodwill toward me under the impression that I was planning to ride my bicycle faster than he his. I made upon one more push, determined to achieve some degree of separation and meet his however misguided impression of me, and I did it, mostly by running (safely) a just-turning-red light.
Sometimes a bus stops in the middle of the street to let off passengers. Pass on the left of those buses, lest you collide with an exiting passenger. I had completely forgotten that tourists start touring early in the morning and leaving the house at 8 isn't really early enough to avoid them completely. Not that I necessarily want to avoid them. They're fun.(You may decide if I'm writing that sarcastically or not. It's "Choose Your Own Emotional Valence," which was a less popular series of kids books.)
Very empty bike lanes in town this morning, though I think that those of us who leave later weren't dramatically impacted or dissuaded by the rain that no longer was falling. The air was cool, but not cold enough to warrant a jacket. Bejacketedness (not even close to a word, but I think you know what I mean) in a post-rain environment isn't really necessary. It probably would've also made you really sweaty. It was sort of muggy this morning.
Another northbound commuter today. And plenty of southbound ones. Not that many westbound ones. And I couldn't even tell you about eastbound ones. And that's proof, if nothing else, that I know the cardinal directions. Other cardinal directions include how to elect a pope and formerly, overcomplicated baseball managing.
A bikequaintance is someone you see on you daily commute, but don't really acknowledge, except with maybe a nod or smile or look. I have a few bikequaintances, one of whom is an older gentleman with a van dyke. I seem him daily on Massachusetts, mostly in morning, but sometimes in the evening. He has something of a stern face and looks rather serious, rebuffing my respectful nods with a complete lack of acknowledgement. I don't think we're ever going to progress past bikequaintanceship to "commuter buddy" status, which aside from being something I just made up, is someone that you see every day and with whom you are actually friendly and perhaps even converse (Chuck Taylor?).
There has been no attempt to clean the Kegasus graffitti. Maybe that's for the best. The question is still apt.
Some final words on fenders: please put fenders on your commuter bike. You will not regret it. I will not regret it, especially if I'm riding behind you. Others may or may not regret it. If you'd like any assistance in selecting the right fender for you, please let me know and I'll gladly assist. Together we can beat this, this being your not having fenders on your bike.


  1. I think CaBi needs your fender-consulting services. A little rubber lip on the bottom of the rear fender would make a world of difference in preventing spray. Case in point: This morning I saw a woman on a CaBi wearing a white blouse adorned with a lovely stripe of sky water turned rain water turned back water.

  2. Another catch-phrase to go in my bike commute vocabulary: bikequaintance.

    I have no fenders.