"Redeye" is normally used in describing air travel, but it can apply equally well to fall bike commuting. I'm trying to learn to apply eye drops (I've never had contacts or had to use one of those emergency eye flush showers in chemistry, so I'm a bit squeamish) and they provide some degree of nightly relief. If only Brooks made some gentlemen's commuter goggles. I'd finally look like the classy biplane pilot I've always aspired to be.
It was cloudy and eventually rained, but I didn't think the rain would hold off, so I braced myself for a ride that would ruin the recently established cleanliness of my bike and also get my socks wet, which might be a fate even worse than a dirty bike. Wet socks are the worst. Wet sock puppets are even worser-er, unless you're using wet as a synonym for drunk because that would be fucking hilarious. Anyway. There were literally dark clouds hovering over the Capitol. It was like every dramatic scene in every bad political thriller ever. I suppose I've robbed this post of some drama by revealing that I beat the rain, but getting rained on isn't that dramatic in the first place. Unless it's melodramatic, like in The Notebook. Hey girl, I wore my Showers Pass jacket home anyway.
There are some other bicyclists on my commute route home, but never that many and it's rare that traveling my new route through Dupont and down 19th that I ever find myself behind another cyclist, but today I did and we rode together from roughly Sheriden Circle to L Street. And let me tell you something: it is absolutely terrifying to watch someone else bike commute. Especially when you see that person almost get pulled into be a lane-changing driver. She saw him and it was ok, and were I in the same position, I probably would've written it off as a fairly standard, par for the course, near-but-not-that-near miss that happens pretty much every single day. But watching it from 15 feet behind- it was worse than wearing wet socks. I might have made some kind of noise (certainly not a word, perhaps a kind of grunt or grunt-like noise), but there really wasn't much else to do nor much else I could've done. And as soon as it happened, it was over and nothing happened and then I rode past the driver, again to his right, and then we rode together for another block and then she turned off somewhere (I thought to ride up the sidewalk to avoid the car traffic backed up trying to get onto K, but then she wasn't there) and I found myself stalled on a hill and luckily in an appropriate gear to slowly standing pedal my way up the hill without falling down and then the mundane commute continued with a left turn and a few more blocks of pedaling and even more negotiating with drivers.
Around the time I got to 15th and Pennsylvania, I started to convince myself that maybe I could make it home before it started raining (SPOILER ALERT: I've already spoiled the fact that I did). I rode with a steely determination. Just kidding- I rode normally, which is with a kind of determination that's considerably more malleable. Ok, my determination level is pretty much talc. My effort level doesn't even register on the Mohs scale really. I did try to ride sort of faster than usual and tried to not get stuck at red lights if I could avoid it and I did avoid it at 7th by passing the bicyclist in front of me. The only other thing that happened on Penn was my seeing a minibus/shuttlebus driver pull a u-turn across the bike lane. It was cool though because he let me ride past first and he held up his hand at me, so as to suggest his general pacficity towards me. THIS DOES NOT MAKE IT OK. I don't want to keep beating the same drum (though I do have a gift card for Timpani & Co. Their blue boxes are larger), but 1) enhanced enforcement of these flagrant violations are needed and 2) enhanced enforcement will do nothing to stop this problem in a permanent way. So, here's my pitch: No Taxation Without Physical Separation (of bike lanes). Think I'd get a night in jail if I didn't pay? Probably more.
I don't know if the guy in front of me was also in a rush, but he was certainly riding fast and I thought it might be clever of me to try to match his pace as that seemed like a good way to get home faster. And I mostly accomplished this, at least through the Capitol grounds, but on East Capitol he pulled too far ahead and by that time I didn't think it would even rain any more (BREAKING: It didn't. At least while I was riding. You might have read this paragraphs ago.) and it didn't really matter that we was still rushing and I wasn't rushing because stop lights and perpendicularly moving traffic are the great equalizers and I caught up a couple of blocks later. Things like this are good reminders that rushing hardly ever really works. A thing like this is a good reminder that the Addams Family is a great tv show. [snap snap]