This is the true story (TRUE STORY) of thee rides and one drive picked by me to be blogged to find out what happens when I stop riding politely (ok, not really) and start commuting real (real being an adverb for some reason). THE REAL TFTS. [Well, that was painful.]
My ride home yesterday was one in which I let the metaphorical clock take over as I was in a bit of a rush to get home so I could get back out to an early dinner. When you let considerations of time impinge on a bike commute, it really has a way of drowning out all other considerations and this really isn't great, either for the ride or for blogging about the ride. What I do remember of this ride is my trying to assume an aerodynamic tuck on the Brompton while riding downhill and I can only assume it was a laughable in appearance. I decided to skip the L Street Cycle Track, thinking it would be faster to ride to 19th, then to Pennsylvania and connect to 15th and Pennsylvania again rather than taking L across town to 11th. Was I right? I don't really know, but if not faster, it was decidedly more unpleasant. I got stuck behind a commuter bus between K and I and in spite of my trying to pick my way through the sidewalk (again, trying to rush makes you a bad person), I felt very much hemmed in and delayed and slowed, to the point where I regretted my decision, threw my bike down, stomped on it a few times, lit it aflame and danced about the burning embers. Or at least I would have done that had I been really shortsighted, impractical, a bit off my rocker and in possession of matches and kindling. I'm not totally sure my bike is flammable and I hope to never find out. I connected to Pennsylvania at 19th, rode in front of the White House, where the construction is even further constricting the path of cyclists and pedestrians, heard a guy who was off his rocker and hopefully not in possession of matches mutter/yell "FUCK THE WORLD" or something along the lines, definitely the word FUCK was involved, rode to 15th, rode down 15th, and then kind of mostly rode through a light that was less the color of a top of a tequila sunrise than the bottom of one (the preschool teacher who taught me colors moonlighted as a bartender), taking Pennsylvania for the rest of the way down the cycle track and lo and behold I beheld some u-turns because that whole $100 fine thing is, at this point, more theoretical than anything else and tickets are only issued to drivers if they are caught and catching them in flagrante (like my bike?) requires actual resources to be dedicated to this task. This is why I propose deputizing DC's bike commuters and this wholly impractical and most likely illegal idea will be the centerpiece of my future unsuccessful campaigns for local political office. Bike commuters truly are the someone elses who can do it. I don't know if it was this night or another night, but I'm pretty sure I used the effort and pacing of another bike commuter to pace myself up Capitol Hill and then down East Capitol, but then I lost him because I am not quick enough to keep pace with other bicyclists on flat surfaces. I am like one of those Spanish climbers who can rocket up the hills, but sucks at time trials, but not in any way related to bicycling but only through our mutual enjoyment of jamon iberico. That was that ride.
The ride this morning was back to the car dealership in Crystal City/Potomac Yards and it was another ride that was ridden in an attempt to prioritize speed over enjoyment. My goal was to bike there, drive home and then bike to work, arriving at work not excessively late. Granted, the time element of this plan was really going to hinge on the car traffic on the drive home much more than it was going to be based on whether I rode "not very fast" or only "somewhat not very fast" on my way there. I took 14th to South Carolina to 11th to M and on M a driver of an SUV that passed me looked at me like I was some kind of leprechaun or unicorn or moderate Republican or some other kind of fictitious creature. Bicyclists aren't that rare, dude. I rode M to where it becomes Maine Avenue and then on Water Street, under the highway flyovers and past the Jefferson Memorial, up and over the bridge and down to the Mount Vernon Trail on the other side. The MVT was littered with cyclists, almost all of them heading in the opposite direction. You can say what you will about MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra), mostly because there were very few of them riding on the trail. Most everyone was MAMIBYFJ (Middle Aged Men in Bright Yellow Fluorescent Jackets), which is a totally different species entirely and one that I find to be genial and hardy and not unlikable. I rode past Gravelly Point then passed the airport and down to Four Mile Run, up the hill to Route 1 and to the dealership, where my car was. At the dealership, one of the valets asked why I was all red in the face and rather than tell him about the gin rickeys I had for breakfast, I explained that I had biked there and he told me he was a cyclist and I thought that was cool and he told his colleague that he has all winter bike gear (unlike my pea coat, I guess?) and he seemed like a nice guy and he told me that he hadn't been riding since doing a century in the summer but that his riding buddies were going out on Sunday and I suggested that he could join them because that's what he seemed to want me to suggest since why would he have told me about it otherwise. I put my bike in the trunk of the car and drove home. Over the course of the drive, I noticed three stand-out vanity plates. One was CHRIST, one was WAYNE, and one was PABLITO.
When I got home, I debated about just taking the Metro to work, but I soon recovered my pep and I rode in, taking the route I normally taken around Lincoln Park and down East Capitol, along which I saw a guy with a really nice Carradice bag and soon I fell into a disorganized group of four bicyclists, three of whom, including me, wanting to go faster than the guy at the front of the group. In the plaza by the Capitol, the group split and we each took our own routes to to the bottom of a hill where the three of us who wanted to go faster than that other guy briefly coalesced but then out group of three dissipated when one guy turned and the other guy got through a light before I could and at that point I was by myself on Pennsylvania until I rode up behind a gentleman in khakis who stayed in front of me until we turned for 15th when I stopped to take this picture:
This is a scaffolding work truck parked in the cycle track. I have no objections to scaffolding work. Some of my best friends of scaffolders (Maybe I mean scofflaws. Either way). And, I'm more than capable of understanding that sometimes work trucks, for the purposes of expediency, need to be parked close to the work itself. That doesn't seem controversial and I think that, generally, people understand that it's a temporary thing. My problem is how cavalierly this was done and with no attempt to even pretend to accommodate the many hundreds of cyclists who use the lane. Would the same "fuck you we're working here get over it," with no sign or cones or anything be done if they were parked one lane over and blocking one of the traffic lanes? I have my doubts about that. All I'm asking is that if they're going to block the lane that they provide some kind of sign/warning/accommodation to the people that they're displacing. Would that be so hard? Or as someone who travels on two wheels, should I just ditch any expectations that anyone cares at all about my safety and well-being? (Don't answer that).
I rode 15th to R and I had gloves off for the rest of the ride and my hands were cold, but the inside of my gloves were a little sweaty and the wetness was enough to dissuade me from putting them back on.
Stopped to 43 seconds to take a video of the passing Vice Presidential motorcade (Rolling Dunder, I believe it's called. I kid!), but I've decided not to post it because it's very boring and there's no real need to share with you how the theoretically second-most-powerful man in the government gets to work. You ever see a motorcycle? You ever see a police car? You ever see a limo? You ever see a bunch of black SUVs? You ever see big gaps in road space between these things initially, but then a tightly packed convoy, no doubt arranged in some kind of strategic, second-most-maximum defensive formation? That's pretty much the deal. They don't stop sidewalk traffic for this, which is nice if you're on the sidewalk.