6/3/12

Ride Home 6/1: Potatoes, Needles, Tigers

Please excuse my delay in posting. I've only just now dried off.

Here's a smart thing I thought about doing before I left: I turned my bike lights on, even though it hadn't started really raining yet. I figured that I should do it before I got going so I wouldn't have to try to fiddle with them once the rain started. "He's so prescient," says some guy (probably) about me doing this. Also, I decided that I would keep my phone in my back pocket, but I put it inside of a plastic bag to keep it dry-ish. Of course, the only plastic bag I had on me was a "doggy pick-up" bag. I should've just put it in my pannier. Somewhere mid-trip, when the rain really started coming down in sheets, I made the switch. Also, this is just a reminder to anyone who wants to be an all-weather bike commuter that you're not going to do any better than Ortlieb products. It's so waterproof and your stuff says so dry that you could probably cure meat in your pannier. Not that you should.

The fancier the car, the less likely the driver uses a turn signal?

I really feel like my bike commute is Groundhog Day and not just because I take the same route every day, but because I see the same traffic issues over and over and over. For example, there will almost always be someone trying to turn left at the intersection of Belmont Road and Massachusetts and since there's always traffic coming in the other direction, there's almost always a line of cars backed up in the left lane and there's always someone trying to get out of this line into the right lane and as a bicyclist, I always hustle to try to stay as close to the car in front of me as is reasonable so as to suggest to one of these desirous of turning drivers that they ought to wait for me to pass rather than cut me off. This happens every ride home. Which sort of makes me wonder, why are there so many drivers queued up in the left lane anyway? Shouldn't more of them have noticed this? Shouldn't most people driving in this area at rush hour be commuters who normally take this route? I don't know. In any case, I looked over at one guy who I could see was thinking about pulling out into my path and mouthed "no effin way" and then he didn't do it so I'm pretty sure the key to all bicyclist safety is mouthing stuff at drivers. Sure beats pantomime.

Brass band playing outside of the Dupont Metro. A brass band. In a thunderstorm.

Guy on a fixie wearing shorts and winter books. Women in purple pants wearing a cheetah print helmet.

Then the crazy rain started. I worried less about the rain itself (spoiler: you get wet), then the prospect of lightning (spoiler: you get electrified) and the potential side effects of lightning like falling branches, even though at this point I was riding through the downtown core.

Along Pennsylvania, a guy pulled up alongside of me and he was resting a cardboard box on his handlebars. I wonder if he was transporting sea monkeys. What a delightful surprise he'd have when he got home!

By the time I got to Capitol Hill, it was all kinds of miserable. The rain was driving and the wind had whipped up. I wasn't battened, so I was buffeted. It slowed me considerably, but I mustered all that I could and drove my way through it. I even decided that I would yell, summoning some kind of manic, ineffectual virility, but all that I could think to yell was "PRIMAL SCREAM!" I yelled "PRIMAL SCREAM!"

Probably the worst part was biking on the plaza outside of the Capitol. It was empty, except for one guy walking. He didn't have a coat or an umbrella.

The last mile was more or less fine. I was thoroughly soaked and I think my shoes still are. I'm glad there were approximately zero tornados along my route and there didn't even seem to be much thunder or lightning, though admittedly, it's sort of hard to hear over the rain. No hail, either. Hope that everyone made it home with relative safety and relative ease, whether by bike or otherwise.

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