Ride Home 5/24: Stilicho Ruled

When you commute by bike every day and then blog about it every day (which is admittedly a niche thing, but they're are at least 36 others of you in DC who do it), you get to know your route really well. You not only spend the time riding it, but you spend the time recalling stuff about it and then trying to write that stuff. It adds up. And then cumulatively, over months and years, it really starts to accumulate. You could even print it all out and smuggle it into the Smithsonian if you wanted. You shouldn't, but you could. It just becomes very familiar. But rather than having a profoundly negative effect, it instead makes any non-standard bike commute seem like most exciting ride in the world. Because it sort of is! It's new and different and has the potential for all sorts of novel experiences/subjects for snide mockery and nothing gives me more pleasure than finding a new route or taking an especially roundabout way to get home. And that's what I did today.
Well, after a little while at least. It was sort of the standard bike down Massachusetts and go WHEEEEEEEE! (but only on the inside because I find that people don't really like it when I scream WHEEEEEEEE! Spoilsports.), except it was a bit interrupted by some crummy traffic that suggested that I ride the sidewalk instead, but that ended before Sheriden Circle, where I diverted from my route and headed down Q street for a block or two with the intention of turning around a little and finding my way to the Rock Creek Path and then eventually to Hains Point because that's where I had previously decided where I would go in order to take a "lap" (lap not in the way a kitty drinks milk) amongst the superbiker set, something I had yet to have done.
I feel like I've achieved some kind of weird bike commuting zen, or at least achieve it some time. I'm self-aware, but not self-conscious. It's a curious feeling.
So. Many. People. Jogging. And. Such. Superfluous. Use. Of. Punctuation. It's really a lot of people. I wish we could find a way to harness it. My plan would be to require all people who wish to run to have to attach Swiffers to their sneakers. They could exercise and clean the streets at the same time. This idea has merit. Vote Sharrows 2012.
There are some annoying signs on the Rock Creek at every intersection the that say something like "Trail users stop for traffic." Aren't trail users traffic? I think you mean "Trail users stop for people driving because that's who we're choosing to prioritize."
I think I saw some tween superbikers on Ohio Drive. Dear God save us all.
When I got to Hains, I didn't really know where to go so I just followed some bicyclists in front of me. That got confusing when the guy riding in front of me turned around and then came to a complete stop. I kept going, and was heartened by the sight of some roadies approaching from the other direction. I knew if I could just figure out where they were going, I could maybe remain close enough to find out where to go. And I pretty much did this. At the first stop sign, from the west side of the island, I turned left and then rode across the island toward the Washington Channel. I got the stop sign where there used to be that annoying LAWS sign. I stopped. I put my foot down. I counted to three. I pissed off the driver behind me. I turned right. For a while I followed another cyclist, but then I passed her. And then I followed a superbiker who must've been on some sort of rest lap because I passed him too. And then I rode into the wind and it was immensely boring. I was bored. I don't know how people do this, much less do this for enjoyment. Then I got passed (silently and too closely!) by a group of roadies and I felt very much like I had achieved something magical. And then they were out of sight and I just kept pedaling, waiting for the island to run out and the road to head in the other direction so I could stop being buffeted by the wind and that eventually happened and then I found myself behind a group of other superbiker types, who were slowly making their way along the road and I sat in behind them and listened to a fairly banal conversation about "college." I finished my lap, but not without emphatically stopping at all stop signs because of LAWS and whatnot. Here's my takeaway on Hains Point, a place I've now been twice:

  • Riding in circles bores me. 
  • WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CARS THERE AND WHY ISN'T THE SPEED LIMIT 15 MPH? It's a park. It's absurdly over-car-ed. There should be absolutely no expectation of going more than 15 miles per hour in park. And yet...
  • So this is where all of the African-American guy bicyclists are. I bike a lot in the city and I feel like black guys are pretty under-represented demographically in the number of bicyclists I see. Not on HP. 
  • It was a nice place to visit. I'd recommend it to cycling visitors. It would be better if there were a Bikeshare station.
Anywhere, here's my lap. I'm proud. 
From Hains, it was down the ART the whole way to P street and then marginally lost again on Buzzard Point, but eventual back near the baseball stadium. And then I audibled. I initially planned to pester the Navy again, but I decided that I would instead ride over the Douglass Bridge, ride along the other side of the river and cross back over at 11th street. The Douglass Bridge is absolutely terrifying. There is a sidewalk. It is barely narrow enough for one bicyclist. And then there was a guy riding in the other direction and we sort of did ok passing each other but I wonder if he saw how terrified I was. It would've been hard to miss. The connectivity on the east side of the bridge is pretty good and you can get on the trail directly, so that's what I did, heading further east and north along the river, glaring across at the Navy Yard and it's unbikeable trail. I thought about shaking my fist, but I didn't want to prompt some kind of battleship bombardment. If you haven't had the opportunity to ride on this section of trail, from the Douglass Bridge to the Sousa Bridge, I would highly, highly recommend it. It's really well done and vastly underutilized. 
I turned at Good Hope, rode under the highway, and turned left at MLK to take the 11th Street Local (how about we name this Chuck Brown Bridge? Timely, right?) back over the river and then  I turned the wrong way by the Navy Yard and realized that I would've been salmoning on a one way street if I didn't just ride on the sidewalk, which I did instead. The corner of M and 11th is a total mess and drivers don't know what to do. 
Then it was 11th to K to Potomac and then up to 16th and home. It was a phenomenal ride and I hope that the warmer weather brings more of these. 16 miles is double my normal commute, but it only seemed to take about 15 minutes more. So that's kind of cool. 
#fridaycoffeeclub tomorrow. Come one, come all, which is what they might have said at Three Musketeers tryouts before the whole "All for one, one for all" thing. 

1 comment:

  1. Fiancé and I also rode the ART. We took the new bridge on 11th and headed north on the eastern branch of the trail. I think we may have felony trespassed through CSX territory while heading under Souza, but we didn't get shot and made it to Benning and back up the west side of the trail...lots of construction and what not, but that just means the city is actually making it better, which is awesome. Living in SE is the best.