I started my morning commute with a drive. The car needed a new windshield and I arranged for this to happen at the car dealership, which happens to be in Alexandria. I also arranged for this to happen at 7:30, which necessitated my leaving the house early and maybe even early enough to "beat" rush hour traffic, though I'm not sure how rush hour-y it is at that time or how rush hour-y it is heading away from the city rather than toward it. I put the Brompton in the truck and the drive was uneventful and relatively quick and soon I found myself ready to bike from Crystal City to work and soon thereafter I found myself biking from Crystal City to work.
It's a fairly direct route back to the District from the Mount Vernon Trail and I had many options of bridges that I could take. I elected to take the Key Bridge and ride through Georgetown. The Mount Vernon Trail runs parallel to the Potomac, which is a river and sometimes Reagan National, which is an airport. I was buffeted by the wind for most of the trip to the point where I was pleased with just maintaining forward progress. It doesn't take very much headwind to reduce me from hardcore bike supercommuter to sniveling bikey mess. Hats off to all of you who ride the Mount Vernon Trail daily. You are made of sterner stuff than I (toothpicks bonded by gumdrops).
How to Nod to Another Bike Commuter.
- Establish eye contact. No sense nodding if you don't think you're nod will go recognized.
- Get close enough so that the nod can start and finish while you're still in view of the other bike commuter. Don't start nodding from too far away because there's nothing more awkward than post-nod gawking.
- Slightly lift your chin. In one motion, lower your chin as if it were being pulled downward on a string from your breastbone. Do not lower your chin any more than 45 degrees. Keep eye contact. You may smile, do a pursed lip half smile or remain expressionless. There is no preference.
- Raise your chin. You don't need to raise it fully, but only back to a position that is comfortable.
Why To Nod to Another Bike Commuter
- I'm not really sure. Recognition? Camaraderie born of mutual understanding? Just plain like nodding at stuff?
I crossed the Lee Highway intersection of doom and rode over the north side of the Key Bridge. At M, I wathced one of the cyclists in front of totally screw up his jaywheeling. Either he badly misjudged how much room he had or maybe he screwed up clipping into his pedals, but he ended up wobbling into the middle of the intersection and was promptly greeted by the honking of a driver who rightly suggested the bicyclist ought not be there. There's an aphorism that says you shouldn't do the crime, unless you're willing to do the time, but I would also suggest that you shouldn't do the crime unless you're quite sure that you're going to pull it off with a certain degree of aplomb and effectiveness, like in an Oceans 11-style movie, but instead of a big casino heist, you just cross the street when the light tells you not to.
I wanted to ride up the hill at 35th street so badly, but even on a good day, with fresh legs and not carrying anything, I'm pretty sure the Brompton wasn't going to make it. I walked up the hill. No shame in that at all.I guess I could've circumvented this hill with a some forethought, but why start being sensible now?
On 37th, I saw a man and two children all riding together on a triple-tandem. Wait, does that mean 6? I'm trying to mean 3. Is that a tridem? Anyway, there were 3 of them and the man was the pilot and both children were stokers. First time I've ever seen this.
By the time I reached Tunlaw and New Mexico, I was pretty tired and I let my mind wander it wandered to the #waroncars, something about which I've been a bit tongue-in-cheek with on Twitter lately. I guess I wouldn't say that I like sympathy for solo drivers (on a personal level, I know how much it sucks to be stuck in traffic and I totally get feeling frustrated), but I'm just not sure that we should prioritizing the needs of car driving people over the needs of everyone else. Were I to have my druthers (and I'm not exactly sure what druthers are, so I might have them already. Is that like gout?), I'd think that the group that should get top priority in any of other thinking about transportation resources are people who don't really have choices and need the most help getting around, namely the elderly and infirm. This group doesn't always seem to be flush with money either. Anyway, I think if you built a system that worked for them (a robust and efficient widespread public transportation system, streets that were safe for walking where speeds were slow enough to negotiated by these users, and an ample supply of accessible taxis and reserved handicapped car parking) then you'd probably be building a system that would work for everyone and wouldn't have nearly as many negative externalities as the autocentric status quo. That's my somewhat serious stance on that. For my non-serious stance, I'll stand on one leg and cluck like a chance. For my batting stance, I will attempt to imitate the inimitable Darryl Strawberry.