Ride Home 8/6: Pack your pack mule. We're going muling.

Down Massachusetts and up Macomb and I stopped near the top of the hill to go into Jetties, because it would be sandwiches for dinner yet again and I like their sandwiches. I suppose some might argue that transporting egg salad in a pannier is a recipe for more rancid mayo than anything else, but the sandwiches held up fine and were as delicious as they tend to be, which is to say sufficiently delicious. Corporate synergy allows Jetties to also sell cupcakes from Something Sweet and since "never resist a baked good" is written in Latin (and buttercream) on my family crest, I picked up two for the road and they, somewhere along the way, tipped over, but aside from aesthetic considerations, there was no real impact. There are few foods I've yet to transport by bike. I haven't yet biked home a live lobster or live turducken, but I'll let you know if/when that happens.

I crossed Wisconsin and rode Macomb down to 34th and I was tailgated by the driver of a white SUV. For some reason, I was convinced that this was a mail truck. I'd like to apologize to the USPS for my muttered cursing about them. 34th to Porter and then downhill on Porter for a good long ways. The street winds a bit and I rode behind a bus and I thought that that bus was planning to stop for two guys at a bus stop but either the bus driver went rouge or the guys waved him off because as I was making my pass to get around the bus, the bus took up again and I was left on the opposite side of the road, invariably giving cyclists the world over a bad name and now drivers will be forced to treat everyone of us badly forever. I've been thinking a little more about that "ethics" of following traffic laws, so allow me a thought experiment (Whenever I think about thought experiment, I always think about telekinesis, which is the coolest of all thought experiments). Ok, so here goes. Put your thinking and/or shower caps on. First part of the thought experiment is to forget about bicyclists and pedestrians. You're on the highway, driving a car. The car might even have fuzzy dice. And because you're an ethical person, a real one, not like a scofflaw bicyclist, you decide that ethics dictates that you must drive the speed limit, which is the law. And your friend, also an ethical person, also in a car, also drives the speed limit and since you're friends, you drive side by side and both of you are taking up both lanes on this highway with your law-abiding ways. What kind of response with you get from your fellow drivers? Honks of approval? Tailgating of admiration? Thrown bottles of support? If I've learned anything from articles about bicyclists written by people who are dumb, it's that the MOST IMPORTANT THING, the thing that will convince people to just be nicer to bicyclists, in the adoption of a steadfast and unwavering commitment to following the law. And yet, is anyone terribly convinced that the same unwavering and steadfast commitment to following the law will bring anything but approbation and disdain when it's undertaken by fellow drivers? Follow the law or don't, but the notion that doing so, individually or collectively, has any impact on the overall impression of people on bikes (to say nothing o fthe granting of bike infrastructure) is a huge canard.

The climb out of Porter wasn't as bad as I expected, but it was still slow and I ended up behind a black BMW, the natural enemy of the urban bicyclist, and the driver faked me out by acting like he was going to ignore the pedestrians waiting at the crosswalk and then slamming on his brakes in an act of rare noblesse oblige. Even when BMW drivers do good, they do bad. It was funny. I turned right and then left again onto Lamont and then I got lost and ended up in a parking lot on the other side of 16th street and then I rode up to Park Road for some reason and that reason was not knowing that it was one way in the other direction, so I skipped by bike along the sidewalk, a la draisine. I turned right at the next block, which took me to Irving (?), biked past an IHOP (official eatery of those smug pogo commuters) and then across 14th down the hill to 11th.

The distance on 11th from Irving to the parts I recognize (let's say around U Street and south) was longer than I thought it would be, perhaps made even longer by the repeated shoaling by the bearded fixie rider (RSBTBFR for short), but that was no real bother and by the time I crossed Rhode Island, it was all old hat again and I was back on the regular route, where regular things happen with a certain degree of regularity. These regular things are jockeying for spaces with buses and taxis (and yet not jockeys), but such is the way things are done here. Sometimes I think it'd be difficult to explain our customs to a visitor from a foreign land.

I think when the new bike arrives I'll leave this one at BicycleSpace for a makeover tune-up. I'll just tell them to take as long as they need with it. I think there's definitely something go on with the bottom bracket and I'm sure cables are stretched and who knows what other issues it might have. I'm confident they can fix anything less than a witch's hex and even then, there's a good chance they could fix that too. That's what hex wrenches are for, right? (I'm not a mechanic)

Rode next to a dragonfly for a bit. It was terrifying large.

Pretty quick jaunt up the hill and down the last road or two home. The afternoon heat seems to peak during my ride home. But other than a little heat, it's not so bad. I'd still rather be on my bike than anything else.

1 comment:

  1. I really strongly disagree with the "ethical cyclist" article. First, I think the whole ethical thing is beside the point and just serves to get people riled up (which may have been his intention).

    But as I've said before, one of the serious drawbacks to flouting traffic laws like this, even if YOU do it safely, is the person who comes after you. I've watched one jaywalker follow another blindly when there was time for the first to cross more or less safely, but the second forces a car to slow down. Almost every day I see some car turn left during the bike green at the end of PA Ave at 15th, and once one car goes, anyone behind them probably goes, too. And one of my favorites was heading south on 14th at R when so many cyclists jumped the light that the first car in line did it, too.

    So, until we as a species learn to make our own decisions and not just follow the person in front of us, who may well be an idiot, riding like the guy who wrote the article is wrong.