Ride In 4/30 & Ride Home 4/30: The disciples' least favorite exercises were Pontius Pilates

Let's blogulate. It's two posts, but it still might be short.
I got up early and left early, but I didn't exactly have to rush into work, so I didn't. Instead I explored. I guess it wasn't really exploring since plenty of other people had already done rides where I rode, but then again, we celebrate Columbus Day and he all he discovered were a bunch of people who were here already. And be here, I think I mean Hispaniola.
First, it was to the east. The signage around RFK is terrible. I don't know how to get from roads to the trails and the trails themselves appeared to have been diverted through a series of rather large construction projects. There should be better signs and fewer of them that say "Dismount bike." I'm pretty sure I've never actually "seen" a "Dismount Bike" sign. They come out of nowhere, you know?
And then the new bridge. It goes up and over the railroad tracks. Here are some pictures:

Still middle

Near the end of the middle
It's a good bridge. I'd almost say that's its beautiful. There's a needless bollard near the end. On the bridge, there was a workman, sawing something on a saw horse. I don't think he's permanent.
The other side of the trail was fine, but empty. The street lets off on M and M is pretty much fine, except that if people want Near SE/Navy Yard/Unnamed Ballpark Neighborhood to be a real neighborhood that's nice for people, M needs a road diet. Streets are too wide.
After a while, I got bored on M and decided to ride on I, which has a bike lane. The bike lane is fine, and was less obstructed than the last time I took it.
7th and then the fish market. Fish markets smell like fish. But how to fish smell? Through their fish noses, obviously.
And then I got swept up in a bout of ridiculous and rode to Hains Point. That's where people ride "intervals" and "laps" and there are "pace lines" and traffic LAWS that bicyclists must OBEY. I wanted to do a "lap" (a circle, not licking the ground), since this is a thing that bicyclists in DC sometimes do and I've never done it before. And, to make to occasion momentous, or whatever facsimile of momentous substitutes for as much as a narrowly read bike commuter blog, I would time my lap, using the Strava. I would, in essence, be epic. I would then adjust the time downward to account for the 30 something padded envelopes, tax documents, and towel in my pannier. And I tried to take a lap. The first way I went didn't seem to be lapward. It seemed like a road that then stopped. So I turned around and started again. This time I rode a bit, stopped at a stop sign because of the aforementioned TRAFFIC LAWS, and then turned right. But then at the next stop sign, it was a one way and the one way it was wasn't the way I thought I was supposed to go. But I took that one way anyway and ended up by the Jefferson Memorial and Ohio Drive, which I'm not totally sure is where I was supposed to go. In short, until they put a coffee shop or grocery store or my workplace on Hains, I'm not going to be able to figure out how to get around down there. Only a few roadies out. Maybe I should've waited and followed one, but then he might have thought I was racing him and that might be a faux pas.
Ohio Drive and then past the Kennedy Center and then another diversion up through Rock Creek Park. A few bicyclists heading into the city, but no one really going my way. The sidepath seems a bit narrow. Good thing that they turn the road that runs through the park into a monodirectional highway for cars. I'm sure that's what the founders of the National Parks movement would've wanted. Pretty sure there's a section in the Ken Burns doc about that.
Hill from the park to Calvert is a bitch. And then the hill up Cleveland wasn't much fun, but not nearly as bad. And then Garfield and Massachusetts. On Mass, I saw a dude in a kilt, drinking a Red Bull. I emailed myself a reminder about that once I got to work. I care deeply about the quality of my reportage.
Home was the usual way. Roadwork on Mass closed a traffic lane by Sheriden Circle and it also closed the sidewalk. I think DDOT had a policy. Must be like the policy about not embezzling from youth charities: optional.
Ever see a crane truck salmon down a wrong way? I have. It's terrifying.
On Q, I think I rode behind some Spaniards. I could tell because they [insert some combination of jamon iberico, lisps, soccer, and sovereign debt crisis here]. There was also a guy on Q who just couldn't stop and had to ride mostly into traffic and then in circles and then midway through the opposite lane. Just put your foot down. I promise. The ground isn't lava. Trust me, I've lapped it.
Best way to hail a taxi from the bike lane is to not stand in the bike lane. The only thing you'll hail is dirty looks, but maybe they were trying to hail dirty looks because they were masochistic misogynists. There are a lot of conventions in DC.
I'm glad no one tweets about the liberties I sometimes take vis-a-vis traffic laws. Spotted: some guy kind of playing fast and loose. Sorry. One thing I don't do is block crosswalks. So, that's a point in my favor. (A point from pedestrians, which is like the lamest point you can score. The coolest point you can score is from the drivers of WWII replica tanks. Those guys give you a 'point,' then you're doing something awesome, something that probably involves kicking Nazi ass)
Doughy people by the Capitol. I hear America singing.


Ride Home 4/27: Vampire Diatribes

Left late on a Friday. Made up for it by savoring the ride home. Savory.
I like riding down Massachusetts in the afternoon and watching the people ride back up it. It reminds of a mountain stage in a bicycle race after the lead group cracks and individual cyclists are strewn and separated and trying to make their way up the mountain as best they can in the attempt to claw back measly seconds from the guy in front of them. Of course, most bicycle races don't feature hybrid bikes with rear racks piloted by 50 year old dudes in khakis and bright yellow jackets. At least not the ones they show on cable. (Also, 50 year old dudes in jackets and yellow jackets is one of this blog's key readership demographics. I think you guys are great!)
I like the move when you jaywheel but in a crosswalk, so it's like, no, it's cool, I'm in the crosswalk.
Hit a manhole cover and the bike really rattled. I trust that the frame can handle it and the tires can handle it, but yikes for poor brittle me. I don't worry about pinch flats any more because of the Schwalbe "Punctures become obsolete"  Marathon Plus tires that I have. Of course, punctures may become obsolete doesn't necessarily guarantee that I won't get a pinch flat, which is a different thing, but whatever. I like the tires, but they have sort of terrible rolling resistance and they're also heavy. Tradeoffs.
I always smile when I see someone riding a cruiser. Cruisers are really cool.
When the smooth jazz band playing outside the Metro is playing an instrumental version of that Gym Class Heroes song, who exactly wins?
This happens when I'm driving a car too, but I got stuck behind someone who was going just fast enough (but relatively slow) to nip in the end of the yellow light, but only with just barely enough time so that I had to stop at the red. Is there a name for this? It should be named something. Giving it a name will rob it of it's power to ruin days. Or not. But it should have a name.
Zip cars. To the best of my understanding, the drivers don't pay for gas or insurance. So, why don't other drivers insist that Zip cars shouldn't be on the road because they don't pay "road tax, as is sometimes suggested fo bicyclists? I mean, aside from the fact that this is an inane argument for all parties, since there's no such thing as road tax and that gas taxes fall far below what's necessary to keep up highways, which bicycles aren't allowed on anyway.
Saw this on Q. You might not be able to read it, but it's a chalk message that says "Don't Fuck."

Abstinence education has gone street.
11th street problems. Well, maybe not problems, but blocked roads at Mass. I think there might have been a motorcade coming. When I biked by, the cop said "We knew you were coming, so we just it just for you." What he said didn't register before I babbled "Thank you," perhaps a bit too ebulliently. I don't really need the police to close the roads, but I wouldn't mind a police escort. An equestrian police escort. (How does a horse even get into the Academy?)
Lady with kid, her no helmet, kid no helmet, both in regular clothes, her talking on her phone. Guy, intense and racerly, bright jacket, helmet [TFTS key demo!]. I don't think she was American.
East Capitol bike lanes repaved. Looks like they're the same as they ever were. Panic over.

Oh and the streets weren't wholly paved, so it was bumpy. Bump bump bump. Still better than riding on crowded sidewalks.
What kind of chowder do I plan on eating for dinner? No chowder at all. We already ate. That's an odd way to end a blog post. See you Monday.

Ride In 4/27: Green Folders

I'm terrible at guessing the temperature and dressing accordingly. On the days that I don't put on my gloves, my hands are too cold. When I wear a sweater, it gets too hot. On a good portion of my rides, I stop about five minutes in to adjust what I'm wearing. If I commuted by space shuttle, I probably couldn't even do this because I'd still be strapped in and experiencing G-force (which I think is the in-flight movie) and I'd have to remain uncomfortable for the duration of my trip (mostly from the talking guinea pigs). Bike commuting 1, Space Shuttle commuting 0. It's not a bad thing, necessarily, to stop for a bit and take off your gloves or put on a hat or remove a jacket or zip up your fly, but it does break up a little bit of the rhythm of things.
Many CaBi commuters by the park. I see a lot of bike commuters, but the ones on CaBis look the happiest. Except for the ones who look uncomfortable. Yesterday afternoon, I saw this guy on a CaBi who was just beaming with smiley positivity. Good for him.
There's a bus ad for Bike MS. It says "Don't just ride. Bike MS." I find nothing wrong with Bike MS or charity rides in general (ride a bike, have people pay you and give that money to a worthy cause? sounds great! Better than karaoke-ing or something), but I do find the "Don't just ride" bit a little objectionable. Do just ride. Ride for your own sake (that's sake, not sake, though I do like the idea of the latter. Nothing I like more after a long ride than some sake). If you're only ever riding your bike to raise money for worthy causes or to train so that you'll be able to raise money for worthy causes, you're really missing out on a great deal of quotidian fun (Quotidian Fun is the name of my-yet-to-be-IPO-ed daily deals site), to say nothing of practical transportation usage. So, yeah.
It's Friday and that means coffee. E Cap to Penn and then up 15th and over past the WH and then to G. Usual suspects, plus and minus, and some new suspects. I'm highly suspicious, so I'm referring to everyone as a suspect from now on. I admit that doing this makes me highly suspect. I suspect, however, that you knew this already. In any case, it's really nice to carve out a little time each week for some mid-commute coffee drinking (way better than post-commute sake sipping) with pleasant people and nice, bikey conversationalizing. My one mistake was not availing myself of Swing's plentiful pastry resources and since I didn't eat anything before leaving the house, I felt rather laggard for the rest of the trip (and the post-ride sake hit me really hard) and most especially on the going-up parts. The going-on-the-same-plane parts and the going-down parts were fine, which is ironic since going-on-the-same-plane-going-down would be a terrible thing if you commuted to work by plane (or by bi-plane, but mostly bye bye, plane! or Bye Bye Bi-plane, which is the never-staged prequel where Conrad Birdie is drafted to serve in World War I) unless you're just coming in for a landing, since then the going-down part is intentional. Why yes, this post has gone off the rails, but I'm going to stick with the aviation theme and get back on track, full steam ahead though I'm almost out of gas. Oh no. Something's gone terribly wrong.
It's common courtesy to ride on the right side of the cycle track, though common courtesy doesn't seem to be as common as it should be. I blame it on the lack of commoners. Thanks a lot, gentrification. Stupid gentry.
In case you're wondering, yes, I do think that there are certain norms in bike commuting and there is something of a rules-based system (though those rules don't necessarily match the TRAFFIC LAWS you might have seen written about on giant flashing pixelated letters at Hains Point. UPDATE: This.) and that bike commuters aren't all rugged individualists who just make it all up as they go along. I think that's something that maybe new bike commuters don't totally get and that's why there's so much shoaling and otherwise weird behavior. I don't know.
Because I was later than usual, I saw a guy on 15th who I normally see on Massachusetts. I wondered if he recognized me out of context, the way I recognized him. He has a puffy coat.
Does anyone have a good "thanks, driver" (actual gratitude, not sarcasm) hand gesture that's better than a thumbs up? Sometimes I'll do a little wave, but I want to make sure that my actual gratitude is being properly expressed if someone does me a nice turn. I don't want my friendly wave to be misinterpreted as a hostile wave (Hostile Wave is never-made sequel to Point Break), especially if the driver can't see my face. Like today, a driver slowed down so I could move over and not be forced to ride my bicycle into the back of a parked pick-up truck. I appreciated this and stuck my hand down to the side and opened my palm facing back to the driver, to indicate my acknowledgment of his kind deed. I just don't know if an open  hand and a kind-of horizontal flick does that. Maybe I should just write THANK YOU in marker on my hand every morning. You know, instead of doing it while I'm sitting at my desk as I wrap up this post.

As always, [see above] for reading.


Ride In 4/25 and Ride Home 4/25: Dogswithlolz.biz.co.uk

It rained this morning. Just a drizzle. Here's my bag when I got to work. It has my jacket in it. I am a dunce.
Disembodied foot. Wait, that's a different blog. 
There's a public charter school near my house and everyday I pass bike lanes that are blocked by cars with Maryland license plates, having dropped off (or in the process of dropping off) kids who I'm sure live in the District, right? Critiquing Maryland drivers is like shooting fish in a barrel, or as Maryland drivers are wont to do, driving directly into barrels of fish and then blaming the fish for not sharing the road. I find it good practice to bicycle with caution when around schools because children are apt to run out into roads without looking and the adults who drop them off are apt ro run you over without looking. PTA doesn't stand for Prevent Traffic Accidents. It also not an acronym for anything that starts with Pterodactyl. Nothing starts with pterodactyl.
I don't think I was properly caffeinated for the morning ride. Between that and the gray skies, I don't think anything in particular stood out. Those bollards that I thought were fixed weren't fixed and now I have to follow up with DDOT again. I didn't notice that until I the ride home, but this is a double post and I'm going to write about the ride home anyway, so why not mention it now? It's my blog and I can do whatever I want. What's that, shareholders of TFTS Co.? A hostile takeover? Whaaaaaa?[I've been deposed. The remainder of the post is being written by the new board-appointed blogger. I knew I never should've taken TFTS public.]
When to cut the queue and when to wait in line? That's an important question. I mean, relatively. Not like, world-historically or anything. Weird tangent alert: I recommend David Abulafia's book on Frederick II. I think that the things I consider when making this decision are: how many cars, amount of relative space on the side of the cars, amount of time on the red light, and the amount of space/bike infrastructure available on the other side of the intersection. If there's ample room and ample time, I'm probably going to cut the queue. I will probably not cut the cue, which is what really short billiards players must do. Unless, I'm not really in a hurry and then I'll just wait. But here's the thing. Sometimes cutting the queue, especially when there's a bike lane on the other sid of the intersection, is more selfless than selfish. In aggregate, the total speed of everyone will be improved. So, there's that to think about, too.
[Specific recounting of my behavior and the behavior of others on the same roads on which I always recount this behavior, specifically. Also, I saw a guy riding a bike with a bike leg brace on his right leg and I saw a lady riding a bike as she held a bouquet.]
I like when people match their umbrellas to their boots and I especially like when both are in the Burberry pattern.
South Africa embassy construction is cramping my style. Also, they were doing some digging in front of the Vatican embassy and I'm pretty sure they weren't landscaping so much as looking for hidden papal gold.
Why do some bicyclists feel the need to show their deference to other bicyclists not just by moving over, but by moving over off the road and riding on the grass? There's a difference between beindg polite and being weirdly anti-social.
Before I left for the ride home, my boss said to me that I should use the ride home to decompress. I really appreciated this advice. Bike commuting is a great way to decompress. I endorse decompressing.
There was an event at the British Embassy and it snarled traffic (stuff 'snarls' traffic all the time. it's cliche-tacular) on Mass and it was lame. Boo. And then there was traffic in Sheriden Circle and that was also lame. I snuck though past some buses and I was kind of worried that the police officer in the police cruiser was going to pull me over because I am a scofflaw.
I got shoaled by some lady three seconds before the light turned green. I don't know why she shoaled me. I didn't ask.
I think this was yesterday, but there was a brass band playing at Dupont. A brass band!
When I'm in a right-hand bike lane and a driver next to and a little in front of me puts on his right turn signal, I move out of the bike lane and directly behind their car. Because then he can see that he's not going to right hook me. And perhaps more importantly, then he can actually not right hook me. It doesn't work in every situation, but it works in most.
Why do I think it's awkward when I pass people? Is it because I know I'm quite slow?
out of sequence picture. 
Oh, that's a guy who locks his bike to the rack and takes off the front wheel, so it's even harder to steal. I don't know if that's overkill. It might be overkill. But I guess you're no worse off for overkilling. You don't have to be faster than the bear.
I think someone scoffed at me in the Penn lanes. I can't be sure. She might have just been scoffing generally.
People jaywalk a lot between the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. Maybe that's a metaphor. Or maybe they just should look for bicyclists. Maybe a sign that said "Hey, look over there! Bicyclists coming!" could work. Or something less exclamatory. Whatever.
East Capitol paving problems. New bike lanes seems way too narrow. Way, way too narrow. They haven't been striped, but there are dashes. I hope that this is wrong.
I might have seen John Boehner. Or just an orange dude. I don't know. Seemed too short to be Boehner. Right shade of orange, though.
Does anyone want to read a series of detectives novels about blonde ladies who run in bike lanes and also solve mysteries? Because I've got a really great setting where that novel could take place.
Brakes squeak again. Maybe I'll rub some coffee on them at Friday Coffee Club tomorrow. 7:30 to 9 at Swings (17th and Gth, NWth). I'll have buttons for sale. Bloggers be vending.

Guest Post: @ChasingShinyObj crosses Arlington, lives to tell the tale

My tremendous gratitude to Kevin for supplying this great bit of fresh guest postery. Meanwhile, I can't get my act together to write at lunch. I'll combine what I can recall of this morning's ride with what I hope to not forget from this evening's ride in what I hope that we all will, someday, fondly recall as an unforgettable post, unless of of course, it's not that good, at which point, we can all disavow it.  More you than me, since it'll be forever attached to this blog, which I only assume will eventually be printed out and hidden in the deepest archives of the Smithsonian, mostly because that's my plan for this weekend. I'm basically the Banksy of bike bloggers. 

My bike commute is a paradox of white knuckle road riding combined with a beautiful trail ride on parts of the W, O +D, Custis, and Four Mile Run trails. While Arlington and Alexandria taut themselves as bike friendly, there are stretches that would test the most seasoned bike commuter. I start out on a few roads in Arlington that have dedicated bike lanes, cross Lee Highway (route 29), Washington Boulevard, and eventually gain access to the trails just east of East Falls Church Metro.

This is the pretty part--yes, for a while it's beside route 66, but I get about 15 minutes of solid nature ride, including towering trees, babbling brooks, small waterfalls, and even Sparrow Pond [http://g.co/maps/gbdr5] with some turtles and an alleged beaver in it. The problem with this wonderful pond is there is nothing between the trail and the pond and on more than one occasion I have almost veered off track craning my neck to see some kind of wildlife.

After I cross Columbia Pike (and a bike counter), I get to the white knuckle portion of my ride--on George Mason Drive. You see, there's a steep hill there with no dedicated bike lane. When I'm in really good shape, I don't need to drop down to the lowest gears but most days I'm fighting the urge to push it down to those small nubs. The good news is it's all downhill just as much as it is up.

I cross Route 7 east of Bailey's Crossroads, duck into a neighborhood just after Seminary, and cut through an elementary school before getting to my office. We're in the shadow of the behemoth Mark Center, which you can see for miles on 395.

Part of the reason I bike is for exercise. My commute isn't as long as it once was when I worked in Old Town Alexandria, but it's about a half hour because of all of the lights I need to navigate. It's almost all downhill on the way to work, and almost all uphill home, which I don't love but that's the way it goes. I ride a Cannondale Bad Boy bike with a rack on the back and a messenger bag. I flirt with panniers, but always chicken out when I see the price.

Today's ride was an average ride. A little chilly in the morning, pretty much perfect on the way home. I think the rain on Sunday and Monday spawned every small gnat like bug along the trail and I ate a few dozen. I saw three (THREE) roller bladers on the trail today, which is a rare occurrence in the 2010s. There were more dog walkers and joggers than there were a month ago, but I like the company, to be honest.

Finally, I always text my wife when I get to work so she knows I made it safely. She doesn't like to think about what *could* happen on George Mason Drive, or crossing some of the arteries of Arlington County. Like many of you reading this, I've been called crazy, a hippy, and a risk-seeker for biking to work. I do love the exercise, and I like it even more when the gas prices rise. I feel very lucky I have an employer with showers, a boss who supports my efforts, and a family who values getting outside instead of inside a car all the time.


Ride Home 4/25: Before his promotion, Cpl. Pepper only had a lonely hearts club solo act

I had a different title for this post, one that I thought of on the ride home, but as soon as I finally nailed the wording on whatever pun I cobbled together, the words simply vanished immediately, floating off forever to the heaven where bad puns go. Oh well. It's probably not a "best practice" to try to think of blog titles while riding home and a better idea to "pay attention" to things that are going on "around you," but I felt relatively confident that I could keep track of all of the drivers not pulling over to let an ambulance pass. Though I did have some concern for whatever victim of whatever tragedy to which the ambulance was rushing as I was able make my way most of the way down Massachusetts before the ambulance finally pulled past me. I'm on a bike and I'm about as aerodynamic as a wet potato, so I'm fairly certain that I was going that fast. I blame Obamacare.
The ambulance eventually did make its way past me and it made its way past the stopped car traffic and I made my way past the stopped car traffic, mostly by switching to the sidewalk and then switching back to the road in front of the open top tour bus that followed the orange and green tour trolley. I'm not like an expert on Washington, DC tourism or anything, but if you're paying good money to be driven in traffic on "Embassy Row," you're pretty much wasting your money. Take a city bus and you'll see the same thing. Or, ride a bicycle, maybe behind me, as I narrate "fun facts" that I'll spontaneously make up about the various buildings you'll see. For example, did you know that the Brazilian embassy is constructed entirely out of Brazil nuts? What? That's crazy. But true. Maybe. And did you know that the ambassador from Mali is actually a robot? And that the Bolivia's embassy houses the only extent VHS copy of The Matrix? Because you'd totally have bought that on DVD if you were going to buy it at all? Right? Or, maybe you could take the tourist trolley.
It was a two-part trip and the first part saw me stopping at St. Arnold's on Jefferson between 19th and Connecticut. I had to salmon half a block on Jefferson. Before that I had to ride through Dupont Circle and there was another ambulance that drivers ignored.
And then after my stop, it was the PRESIDENT'S MOTORCADE and OMG and SRSLY and WHY ARE YOU SCREWING UP EVENING RUSH HOUR? I mean, whatever. Dude's gotta drive (and by Dude, I mean President Dude and by that I mean President Obama). Mostly because they haven't bullet-proofed the CaBis yet (these are the quality ideas you can expect from me as VO's rep on the DC BAC), but a motorcade trip during the evening rush really has the potential for screwing up bicycle trips and maybe even trips by other vehicles, but I'm mostly concerned with the bicycle ones. It didn't really screw up the bicycle trips of those heading in the other direction and I watched many of them skirt their way through the cars that blocked the intersection from drivers who would have wished to do the same. Once I picked my way through the stopped cars, which I did mostly by riding through a concrete-covered triangle park that I don't know the name of, and ended up the other side behind a few other bicyclists at about the exact same time as the police officers were lifting the traffic restrictions and then it was go go go for everyone, except for the guy in front of me who wanted to pedal at two miles per hour.
17th and then in front of the White House. It looks like this:
How many of these people are wearing jorts?
And then it was down Pennsylvania and I passed some people who were riding in the other direction and this one guy was really breathing hard and he looked like he was pushing himself, but in at athletic sort of way, and I thought, good thing you're wearing that bandana. And then I rode behind a guy who I wanted to accuse of being French.
Look everyone! It's the Old Post Office.
Why is it called the Old Post Office? Because it's made of old posts, obviously. In case you were curious, I really enjoy neo-Romanesque and neo-Gothic archtitecture and I really wish that DC were covered in maudlin dark stone with towers and turrets rather than all this classical-inspired marble nonsense. George Washington is basically Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. And by basically, I mean not at all.
If you get to a red light and there's more than a few seconds for you to wait, you probably pedaled too fast.
A lot of people have dogs. A lot of people walk those dogs during my ride home and I get to see a lot of different kids of dogs. To those of you walking those dogs, I salute you. I like seeing your dogs.
Paving update: they paved from 2nd to 4th, but now it's milled until 8th (7th?). Anyway, it's fine. Also, I'm talking about East Capitol. I wonder if they'll pave the whole way to the park. You might want to take it slow when you're riding over the unpaved parts. It's bumpy. (You read this blog for the sophisticated analysis, I bet)
That's all I got. Have a nice night.

Ride In 4/25: Is April really almost over?

Let's share some non-commute information:

  • I'm behind in mailing out buttons. I do now have them. I will be mailing them. Hopefully tomorrow. Thank you for your patience. And your purchase. And your love of ankle tattoos of sea horses (I'm assuming). 
  • Kaitlin Luna, from the public relations office of Gallaudet University, emailed me and asked me to share some information with you about a meeting about the Gallaudet Campus Plan community workshop. So, share I will, because that seems like a nice thing to do and I'm a very a nice person. Sure, she sent this to me two days ago and I've posted like 37 times since then and I still haven't responded to her email telling her that I'd be happy to post the information, but I'm still going to go ahead and declare myself nice. (Sorry!)  Anyway, did you know that part of the campus plan includes a new Bikeshare station at 8th and Florida, NE? That seems like a good idea, so if you'd like to attend this meeting to endorse that idea, here's the deets (which I believe in Kirghiz for details):
      • Workshop Session
        * This session will summarize information collected from the three community forums.
        Monday, April 30
        7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
        Gallaudet University
        Peikoff Alumni House
        800 Florida Avenue, NE
        Washington, D.C. 

        Light refreshments will be served.

        RSVPs are appreciated; please contact Julia Triman at Julia.Triman@Gallaudet.edu or (202) 714-3182
  • Have you bought your ticket for BikeFest yet? It's WABA's fundraiser/celebration/fundabration (the last one I made up!) and it'll be your chace to hobnob (?) with DC's bike "elite" (?) and dress up like old-timey people. Like, not first season of Downton Abbey people, but like late second and probably third, though that hasn't aired yet. There will also be jazz. So, if you like that sort of stuff, it'd be a good idea to show up. And it'll be at Eastern Market, so that's a thing, too. Friday, May 11! 
  • I still haven't yet been contacted by the good people at Mr. Orange's office re: my appointment to the DC BAC. I still plan to attend the meeting and I still plan to wear an orange scarf, so there's that. 
Let's share some commute information:
A helmet is neither permission for reckless cycling or absolution from dangerous driving. It's just a foam hat.
East Capitol has been milled from 5th to 2nd, so only 3 blocks. Seemed longer last night. Who knows what it'll be like tonight? Other than the people who live there or have driven or walked or ridden past it or maybe even the people who are working on it and their supervisors or loved ones that they've talked to during the day about their jobs. But other than them, who knows?
Lines of cyclists on Penn Ave. I think if I were ever to write a book on bike commuting, I'd call it either The Sorting Out or Sense and Sensibility and Bike Commuting. But I like The Sorting Out because that's pretty much what happens whenever there are lines of bike commuters working their way through the bike lanes. Sometimes it goes smoothly and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it doesn't because I decide that I'm not going to get shoaled and I do things like pull to the far sides of crosswalks or jaywheel or ride to the far left of the bike lane because that's just the kind of mood I'm in, like I was this morning. I'm fine with people passing me, it's just that sometimes I want to make them earn it. Because, like I said, sometimes I'm a jerk and (this admission might seriously be damaging my candidacy for that vacant seat on that volunteer advisory board). Anyway, sometimes I just don't like it when other cyclists expect to get away with stuff (like passing too closely within a bike lane or shoaling or thinking that if they wheelsuck long enough, I'll move over) and I'm fairly confident that if I don't want it to happen, I'm not going to let it happen. But most days though, I'm all like whatevs. 
I took the new normal route, meaning Penn to 11th to R to Mass to work. I like 11th, but I miss riding the last few blocks on Penn before 15th and I sort of miss riding near the White House, but I don't miss the cycle track. Maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder. But I doubt absence will make the pavement grow smoother or the lane grow wider. Only magic beans will do that. Or DDOT. 
Why do you think I took this picture? Anybody have any ideas? I've got nothing. 

Some advice about riding on the sidewalk: try not to ride between a pair of pedestrians who are walking together. It's really awkward and the next thing they're going to do is look at each other and maybe make a snide remark about how impolite that was. I've watched this happen. Normally, if you ding, one will just move over a little. Or, you could just wait. Or not be on the sidewalk in the first place. There are lots of solutions that don't involve riding between two people. 


Ride In 4/24 and Ride Home 4/24: Flaubert and Ernie

So, I didn't get a chance to write up this morning's post. But I did get enough time to send myself an email at the end of the day and recap some of the things that I planned to write about. I wanted to do this before I made the ride home, you know, in order to preserve the integrity of the memories because that's a real thing or whatever (or in case I get Inception-ed). Here's the email:
When you're in Baku
penn bollard, DDOT email, need of official vest
11th is a mess
R Street u-turn
VO BAC appointment
sometimes there's nothing you can do. jerks are jerks
Jersey Strong bumper sticker
Armenian genocide counter-protest
lady asking me for directions to georgetown, no left turns for cars
chasing the guy up the hill, him passing me at crosswalk
I will annotate.
When you're in Baku: This song was stuck in my head for much of the ride. You can thank the Official Wife and her former Peace Corps colleagues. She's at State now, so who knows what kind of YouTube will be coming my (and subseuquently your) way.
penn bollard, DDOT email, need of official vest. Penn bolllard refers to this:
I guess that DDOT has reinstalled the bollards on the Penn Ave cycletrack. Poorly. I sent an email, from the bike lane on 11th while stopped at the red on L (not that L, the other L). I blocked the bike lane and I apologize to the cyclist who rode around me, but I figure that since I was doing "official business" (tweeting DDOT about a bollard), it was ok, but I figured that maybe if I were deputized in some way, perhaps with a snazzy vest or maybe a sash, that would give me greater allowances to do stuff like this and maybe bicyclists would understand. Also, any combination of deputization and vests works for me.
11th is a mess- Some people say that the Fort Dupont park trail has really good singletracking or mountain biking or something (clearly, I've never been), but I like something a little bit more hardcore and extreme, so I just ride on 11th. Do bikes come with triple suspension?
R Street u-turn- I thought about going up 11th to Euclid, but once I passed R, I decided to turn around, hence the u-turn. I always wonder why drivers make u-turns and bicyclists don't. Well, there you go.
*Addendum. I forgot something in my initial email, so I sent myself another email on the way home and it read "Garbage Truck"
Garbage Truck- At 11th and Rhode Island, there was a garbage truck that was first in front of and then behind me and the other cyclist (the one was passed me when I was tweeting DDOT about the bollards) and the driver of the garbage truck decided to politely tap on his horn a couple of times, so as to suggest that we move ourselves from the bike lane that he could turn right onto Rhode Island. Per Rule 1 (Don't mess with garbage trucks), I moved over and looked back and smiled at the driver in the car that I pulled in front of. She smiled at me, mostly because I think she realized the rather silly position that we were in vis-a-vis the garbage truck. And no, I get that I didn't have to move over and maybe I even should've turned around and told the driver to suck a lemon, but we're at a red light and there's plenty of room and they're driving to do a job and since it really wasn't putting anyone out, I just moved, as did the other guy.
VO BAC appointment- I've emailed CM Vincent Orange and requested that he appoint me to the DC Bicycle Advisory Committee. This isn't a stunt. So, Mr. Orange and I haven't exactly seen eye to eye on a number of issues and I'd request that all of you email him to express your support for this appointment, but I'm pretty sure that your emails would have the exact opposite effect. I listed a few compelling reasons why I'd be a good appointment and, though I didn't state it, I would be willing to "go Rugova" and wear an orange ascot to all meetings. I'll keep you posted.
sometimes there's nothing you can do. jerks are jerks- This is mostly a message for new cyclists. Sometimes no matter what you do, no matter how legally and safely and appropriately you ride, other people (in cars, on bikes, on foot and definitely on war elephants) are going to be jerks to you. And this shouldn't really be surprising, because they are also jerks to people who are driving or walking (but not the ward elephant [UPDATED: this was a typo, but see comment below] part. those guys get a way with a lot of stuff). I think that bicyclists as a group make the mistake in thinking that if WE just do _________ better, then everyone will be nice and wonderful and there will never be any problems. Some people's just jerks.
Jersey Strong bumper sticker- Saw a bumper sticker that said JERSEY STRONG. Pretty self-explanatory.
Armenian genocide counter-protest- I ride past the Turkish Embassy. Today, there was a bunch of guys out front with Turkish flags and signs reading something like, "The Armenian Genocide never happened" and "Armenians are liars." Here's a bad picture:

The actual protest and counter-protest took place during the afternoon and I rode past it. Turks on one side of the street, Armenians on the other and they shouted and yelled and that was pretty much it. I'd say "Only in DC," but I'm pretty sure this kind of stuff happens in every city where there are Turks and Armenians, so pretty much everywhere.
lady asking me for directions to georgetown, no left turns for cars- Drivers ask me for directions a lot. This morning on Mass, a woman asked me for directions to Georgetown. I assumed the neighborhood, but I should've (maybe) assumed the university, so I just aimed her in the general vicinity. Turn left on Observatory, I suggested, and left again on Wisconsin. That's pretty much the way to Georgetown. Problem is that you can't (legally) turn left on Observatory. Or pretty much anywhere else along Massachusetts. So, my directions weren't that good. Don't ask bicyclists for car directions. Their responses will probably not help you.
chasing the guy up the hill, him passing me at crosswalk- This happens sometimes. You're climbing the hill and you pass someone along the way, but then you stop somewhere to cross the street and he makes a big point of riding up and waiting in front of you. It actually happens kind of a lot. It's really not a big deal if someone passes you while riding uphill and it's certainly not "negated" if you shoal them at the next available opportunity. There's no negating in bike commuting!
And that was this morning's ride. The home one took me past the Armenian-Turkish yell-fest (not official name) and then down Q in the usual way. At Q and 18th, a young woman drove her VW Bug up next me and she had a panting dog in the passenger seat. I really wanted to pet that dog. Instead, I furtively (I hope) kept looking at it, but no more than one quick glance at a time. Dog probably thought I was shifty.
I saw this lady:
You can barely see what I'm about to write about. 
She was using a yellow barrette to clip her cuff. That seemed sort of novel. She left me at 15th. "Bye!," I could've said, but didn't.
What about the rest of the way home? I dunno. Normal, I guess. I rode in the wrong lane to make the left the 11th and Penn, but that seemed mostly ok. On Pennsylvania, I saw an SUV with some window decals in the back that said SWAGG TRAFFICKERS. I don't know what that is, but I could very much use some decals that say SWAGG TRAFFICKERS. Next button campaign.
At East Capitol and 2nd, Ben (who I met at a Friday Coffee club), pulled up alongside of me and we rode up to the Park together. There was a guy on an Xtracycle behind us who really seemed desperate to pass us. It's always nice to ride with someone. Also, the pavement on East Capitol from 2nd to, let's guess, 8th (?) has been milled and the ride is bumpy. I assume that they'll re-pave. Or, maybe NIMBY-ism has finally merged with constitutional Originalism and now all neighborhoods have to revert to the conditions that existed when the homes were first built. So, worse roads, but we might get more hitching posts and you can probably lock a bike to a hitching post.


Guest Post: @jdantos and the foregrounded highlights

I am a dolt. Justin sent me this guest post weeks ago and I never posted it. Because: see first sentence. And then, doltishly, I asked this morning for a guest post when I already had one sitting in my inbox. Of which Justin was kind enough to remind me. So, tonight, while I'm stuck in class (we're covering the following topics: ninja weapons, needlepoint in Jane Austen novels, 17th century Ukrainian cookery of potato dishes, and non-Euclidean geometry. I really should have looked at the syllabus before signing up) , I invite you to to enjoy this guest post from DC's premier Bikeshare data analzyer and all-around good guy. One million thank yous in his general direction. 

Some days, my daily bike commute blends into the background of life, becoming simply the way I get from place to place.  On a few bad days, my commute can make me frustrated at the selfish ways other road users can act.  But most days? My bike commute usually is the absolute highlight of my day.
My bike commute is the single most variable time in my weekday routine.  Every day is something different. During those short 3.2 miles in the morning, and then joyriding back in the afternoon, this city shows me all kinds of sights, sounds, and spectacles – from urban wildlife, potholes, delivery trucks, hail, rain, dazzling sunshine, cherry blossoms, turning leaves, birds of prey, sunsets, snow, other bicyclists, joggers, buses, dogs, protests, presidential motorcades, and street musicians, to name a few.
Commute self-portrait?

Today was one of the good days.  It was colder than normal, but not too bad.  I started out, as usual, swinging onto Kentucky Ave. SE towards Lincoln Park. Kentucky is a quiet, residential street that’s great for biking. My favorite block is the even-quieter 100 block of Kentucky, where on summer evenings the little kids and dogs all play together on the sidewalk and the parents sip wine in the front yards.
The bike lanes around Lincoln Park are great, and make it really pleasant to ride around the park.  I passed the Bikeshare station, which was surprisingly not empty of bikes today. Normally it’s empty by the time I roll by at 8:45, and I’ve even seen people waiting there for the re-balancing truck.
At the northwest corner of Lincoln Park, I glided to a stop at a red behind a couple on bikes, who spoke for a bit before giving each other a quick “have a good day honey” smooch, and rode off along Mass. when the light changed. It made me smile – a couple who bike commutes together…
Mercifully, no one honked us cyclists in the bike lane at the light, waiting for the green left arrow.  This always makes me happier.  Honking in the morning can really be a bummer if you’re not encased in glass and steel.  It’s like, hey, does honking ever really help you get to work any earlier? Does honking activate some magical power to make the obstruction before you disappear? Not usually. Most honking is just you transforming your frustration into a loud noise that does nothing to help the situation. But does make me cringe. Kind of like the comments sections on newspaper sites. Anyway, no one honked, which does happen sometimes because there’s this ambiguous left turn thing at this intersection. Here’s a brilliant idea about honking.
The ride down East Capitol was free and easy.  Other riders shoaled me as I waited at red lights, but what’s new.  The sun was shining, and it felt like spring. And I had coffee, ahhh.
Thermoses and cupholders for all!
Here’s my idea for how to entice bikers to stop at red lights: cupholders and thermoses for everyone.  In the winter, I ride with a thermos filled with hot coffee. It fits snugly in the water bottle cage, and a little button keeps it watertight.  Come to a stoplight? Coffee break! Try it with tea, juice, beer, whatever suits your fancy. Main thing is, make it something you really like, so you stop for that red light just so you can take a swig. This would be total Pavlovian positive reinforcement, just like training my dog. Don’t just punish them for doing the wrong thing, show them how to do the right thing. Stop for a red light; treat yo self. Cupholders and thermoses, I’m telling ya.
Mini-circus at the Supreme Court

Around the Supreme Court and the Capitol, there was a minor circus happening over the Affordable Care Act hearing.  Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself how lucky I am to ride past such amazing, beautiful sites each and every day. Heck, people come from miles away to see Washington, and I get to ride by it every day. And it all kind of makes me proud – you know, the Capitol, heart of democracy, and all that.  I’m happy that people can protest stuff, regardless of the cause.
What I am lucky enough to ride by every day.
People sometimes ask me if it’s dangerous to ride a bike in DC.  My answer is I don’t think so - I’d say you should always be cautious, but riding a bike around town is no more dangerous than any other form of transportation.  In the last 5 years, I’ve carefully ridden over 12,000 miles in DC with zero crashes. You should know the rules of the road, written and unwritten, and have a mental map of which streets are bike-friendly vs. not, but mainly just get out there, be safe, and enjoy the ride.
Riding up and over the Capitol, and down to 3rd St. NW I passed another rider with a real, honest to goodness #TFTS pin attached to his black Timbuk2 bag. For real! First time I’ve caught one in the wild! I caught up with him and chatted for a bit; he told me he was one of the folks who got his delivered by Brian in full tuxedo.  He turned left to cross the Mall before I could catch his name, and I continued down Penn.
Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself how lucky I am to be able to ride on nice bike infrastructure, like the lanes and cycletracks on E. Capitol and Pennsylvania Ave. NW.  Paint and bollards really go a long way to making me feel safe and welcome on city streets, and I usually go out of my way to ride on them.  It also made me wish for the rest of the bollards back on Pennsylvania soon.
I got to the office, parked inside for free, and plunked down at my desk, caffeinated and happy.

Ride In 4/23: Renaissance Popes also permitted self-indulgences

A good bike commute, for me at least, is one where my legs, lungs, bike and brain all work together, with the legs, lungs and bike moving me forward, freeing the brain to pay attention to stuff, some of which gets transcribed in this here very blog or think of hilarious limericks, most of which go unrecordered. And for the most part, that works out, but it wasn't really happening today. I was strangely out of breath and my legs didn't seem to have the impact on the pedals that I expected, confusing the brain and distracting me. In was weird. In case you haven't been paying attention for the last year or so, I'm not the biggest fan of exertion during my bike commute. Physical exertion can be used for better things, like building an orphanage or picking up trash from a playground or something- it doesn't really need to be directed into a bike commute, which can normally be accomplished through minimal output. But today that wasn't happening and I felt myself having to push harder than I would've wanted just to make the bike go. And then there was the cold and the wet, out of place in late April. And it was a Monday morning, so that exactly didn't make things seem peachy either. In conclusion, not one of my favorite rides. Oh well. There's always another bike commute.
Significantly fewer bicyclists until 15th, but it wasn't empty either. At 15th, there was some police action, blocking car traffic in both directions and I was unclear as to whether it would block me, but I asked the officer if I could go through and he was like, "yeah, sure" and that was nice. My base assumption is that bike traffic and car traffic will be treated the same in situations like this, but that's rarely true. Nevertheless, if there's an actual person standing in the street and he's wearing a uniform and seems to be in charge of the situation and the situation seems out of the ordinary, I recommend always asking if you can proceed rather than just assuming that it's safe/permitted to go through. Normally, it's fine, but in a hypothetical case where it wouldn't be, I don't need bike my way into the middle of something where I oughtn't be, like a hostage situation or a bomb threat or whatever else has the potential to bring about lights, sirens and police cruisers blocking traffic. But I'm cautious.
Almost got left-hooked by a Terminix van coming from 15th to O Street. Some drivers just really aren't good at estimating the speeds of other vehicles, which is sort of a problem, since that's kind of one of the core competencies of driving. The other thing is that I've been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately and I'm sad to admit that the first thing I thought when I skidded to avoid the van was EXTERMINATE, because I was imagine a Dalek exterminator and how funny and appropriate that would be for a Terminix ad campaign.
I spent much of my ride on Q behind a woman on a Bikeshare bike. She didn't look very comfortable at all. She especially looked uncomfortable when we were shoaled at 16th and then again at Connecticut. A few times, she tried to use her feet as brakes. She turned at 21st.
Riding up Mass, it was really quiet. Spooky quiet. One guy had his car radio on, blasting some techno remix of inescapable Gotye song and it went beat beat beat beat beat before Kimbra belted I DON'T WANT TO LIVE THAT WAY, as I pondered the long line of stopped SUVs, idling in what seemed like interminable traffic. That's called symbolism or something. Or coincidence. Or both. Or really heavy-handed point-making by a smug bike commuter blogger.
I'm sure I've mentioned her before, but I rode up most of hill behind Ms. Blue Tires. I did't want to pass her because I wasn't convinced that I would be able to maintain the pace to stay in front of her (and didn't want to feel compelled to, as I would, had I passed), so I hung back and sort of regretted it, since that just made me more aware of how my legs, lungs, bike and brain weren't all getting along. My nose wasn't crazy about the ride either, but I'm pretty sure that it (he? does a nose have gender?) was exogenous to the whole situation, but I can't know for sure. Here's to feeling better later, a task that's been complicated by my leaving my office window open all weekend. But I've got my work hoodie on and plan to consume some coffee this afternoon. Oh, also, does anyone want to write a post for tonight? Please? Email talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com. There's no format, no preferred content, no length and virtually no editing, so write what moves you, preferably if what moves you is a bicycle.


Ride Home 4/20: Ferenc Puskas

It's Sunday before noon. This ride took place Friday, after 5. Scene set.
I didn't ride directly home on Friday. Instead, I stopped downtown. It was the Official Wife's last day with her now former job at the Peace Corps and I was going to meet her to help her bring home some of her stuff.
I rode Mass, which is increasingly congested lately, perhaps in part from cars with diplomatic plates not being moved from the parking lanes before the restrictions are lifted. I think the a Secret Service cruiser had pulled up behind the parked sedan and was either in the process of issuing a ticket, or something else, since I'm not totally sure that the Secret Service can issue parking tickets and I'm almost completely sure that it would go unpaid if issued. Prior to that, I saw an adult roadie with a kid roadie in tow, both in Lycra kit and I really regret not taking a picture, because it was kind of cute. Maybe cute isn't the right word. I rarely see young kids fully decked out in cycling gear and I'm not sure I've ever seen one during an evening commute.
I rode past Q and down, elected to turn down 20th and then elected to jaywheel through the red, inconsiderately delaying a bus that was pulling off from the curb. I get mega bonus asshole points for delaying a bus, since that inconveniences like 30 people. Way to go, me!
Then it was quick turn onto New Hampshire and then down 21st. The car traffic through downtown is abysmal. I don't know how drivers put up with it everyday. I guess it's either from a) a tremendous preference to drive over other means of travel or b) a feeling of captivity with driving as your option to get to and from work. Congestion, however, doesn't distinguish between the two types. It also slows down bicyclists. I weaved around a bus, filtered between the two lanes of cars, and then down through midblock on the other side of M, where there's a courtyard. I know that you can't bike on sidewalks downtown, but can you bike through paved courtyards? (I did, regardless).
Locked the bike in front of the Black Rooster, where there are four or five racks, all but one of which was full, went inside with my bag and had it filled with items to be brought home, including at least one plaque and not including one giant chocolate cake, which was transported home by the Official Wife on the Metro. I'd like to believe that I could've transported the giant chocolate cake by bike and that might be true, but only if we're all willing to accept something at the end of the trip that no longer possesses the outward qualities of a cake. For what it's worth, I'd really like to read the @DCalerts tweet "Traffic on L Street. Bicyclist hubris, cake all over roadway. Expect delays."
Instead, it was a quick shot down L and I took the lane for the most part. For a while, I was tailgated by the driver of a black BMW and that's heartening because I've been worried that all of the sudden that I no longer knew the preferred car of assholes, but it turns out it's still a black BMW. Anyway, L Street, in it's current configuration without the cycle track is fairly thrilling.
L to 11th to Penn. I think. It's been a while and commute memories tend to bleed into memories from other ones if I don't write them down quickly enough. Was this the ride down Pennsylvania where the guy shoaled me at a red or the one where he stuck behind? Was this the one where the pedicab was passed too closely by an overaggressive CaBi rider or was it the one where the CaBi ride slowed down in the middle of the cycletrack before turning onto 4th but gave no indication that he wanted to turn and almost turned into me? It was definitely the one where the driver of the Maryland-played ivory Escaladed pulled a midblock u-turn and then ignored me when I tried to give her a "what the hell are you doing?" shrug/scowl (not to be mistaken for the shrug cowl, which is what Batman wears when he doesn't want to wear the full cape). During my slowing to properly give the shrug/scowl, another bicyclist zoomed past me. Apparently, there's no class solidarity when it comes to passive-aggressive chastisement.
Watched a driver making an illegal left turn against the light almost hit a cyclist and then saw that that cyclist had a Tales From The Sharrows button! It was Samuel Moore and this was my first button-sighting-in-the-wild/why-the-hell-am-I-using-hyphens-this-way and it was very exciting for me. Sam was heading towards the Capitol Hill Club, and I decided that I would ride along since that was generally the direction that I was heading. We rode through the circle and then down First, crossed Independence, and then up C. We talked about his new bike (sweet!), nonsensical placement of cones (nonsensical and anti-cyclist!) and good ways to get passed over-question-y security guards (Sam once said he was going to the RNC and that worked. I thought it was just an excuse, but it was actually where he was going). Anyway, it was a real pleasure meeting him and riding with him and I'm sure there are many other things that we talked about in our five minute ride that were far cleverer and more interesting than the few things that I'm capable of remembering now.
C runs into Pennsylvania and then there's North Carolina, the park and then home. There were many hockey fans around.


A word from our sponsors

Ok, technically this blog doesn't have sponsors and moreover I shouldn't be using the first person plural. Anyway, were there sponsors (and not were-sponsors, lupine and terrifying), they'd probably want you to know that I'll be writing up tonight's commute tomorrow morning. I won't be writing about tonight's ride to and from dinner, except insofar as I can definitively say that that was rather wonderful and it is/was a beautiful night to ride a bicycle in DC.

Ride In 4/20: Intermediate Accounting Waived

Check your tire pressure and inflate your tires if needed. I did this yesterday and my ride is now considerably better for it.
What would Leonardo da Vinci think of airplane food? I imagine that on one hand, he'd be underwhelmed since the food isn't so great. But on the other hand, he'd be in an airplane and that would probably be a really big deal for someone who died in 1519. (Can you tell that it was a pretty uneventful ride and I'm floundering?)
I don't remember too many details about my trip from home to coffee. Presumably, I biked there. At Lincoln Park, I pulled alongside a guy who was very intently waiting for a red light to change so he could continue to pedal forward. Like he was trying to will the light green with his mind. The light turned green, so he might be some sort of bike commuting telekinetic, but I've been duped into believing outrageous claims of telekinesis before. Ok, not really, but I probably could be. I'm a very gullible person.
Do you know anyone that bikes their golf clubs to the golf course for golfing? I don't, but I don't know too many people who golf. Maybe I should go to a golf course or a driving range and inquire. It's probably really unlikely that people do this, but maybe? I feel, somehow, like golfing and bicycling are completely inimical and that the dads of the kids on a Bethesda youth soccer team are divided into warring factions over this very issue.
First rule of #fridaycoffeeclub: everyone pretty much talks about #fridaycoffeeclub at any prevarication and it's widely mentioned in social media amongst the 20 or so people who sometimes attend. But if you don't know how it works, here's how it works: some people show up and get coffee on a Friday morning. Many of those people ride bicycles there, but some arrive via other means (but NEVER POGO STICK. WE DON'T WANT YOUR KIND. HOP ALONG, BUDDY). And then we drink some coffee and talk on subjects of mutual interest, which is predominantly bicycles, but often other things, like coffee and baseball and sundry topics. Note: I'm not sure that baseball has actually ever been discussed. #Fridaycoffeeclub meets at M.E. Swing Company (17th and G, NW) from roughly 7:30 to 9 AM. So, that's that. If you're interested in coming, it's a very welcoming group (me excepted. I sit in the corner and scowl, writing horrible things about pogo commuters in the moleskin I've purchased for that very task). It's fun. It's also a good place to buy buttons. Yes, I'm still selling those and will be for the foreseeable future. And the unforeseeable future for all you non-psychics out there.
Post coffee, as is my wont, I rode up 15th and it was crowded with bicyclists, which is wholly unsurprising. Bike commuting, for what it's worth, no longer seems to be a novelty and I think that maybe (maybe?) the reality that many people choose to use bicycles as transportation might finally be getting through to those who don't, but I have no real factual basis for this opinion. I'd like to be true. I'd like to think that seeing stacks of 6 or 7 bicyclists at each stop light along the city's various cycle tracks might result in this kind of change in perception, but I don't know. I also don't know what the impact of this kind of change would be and I worry about backlash and about those insistent on defending the status quo (make roads so cars can go fast no matter what) outweighing those willing and ready to embrace a paradigm shift. In any case, I'm just going to keep riding my bike to work. And maybe to a golf course, if I find out that that's a thing. FUN FACT: I've never been golfing.
I think I spent much of the time riding up Massachusetts working on a title for this post. I certainly decided on something, but the title that's there now isn't what I thought up at the time. I'm sure it was very clever.
Bike etiquette question: if you ding you bell and the jogger in front of you is wearing head phones and they don't hear you, what should you do?

a) pass the jogger
b) ding again
c) quit biking, join Shaolin Temple, master kung fu
d) None of the above. This: __________________________

I really don't have an obvious answer, except for maybe not (c), but I wouldn't begrudge you if you wanted to do that. I think that you're not obligated to ding again and can proceed to pass with caution, but an extra ding wouldn't hurt. If anyone feels especially strongly about one of the choices, I'd like to hear your rationale in the comments.
Should be beautiful weather for the ride home. You might be want to consider a meander.


Ride In and Ride Home 4/19: This telenovela makes no sense

Two posts, one episode of The New Girl in the background to get this done. Let's do this thing!
Format change! I'm not going to write about my ride per se, but instead about what I thought during the ride. For those of you expecting the usual, skip it! There will be no poodle pictures or glancing references to corn chips. Ok, I can't do that to you. Here you go:
"Not getting up unless there's corn chips"
Anyway, here's what I was thinking this morning:
We need a new archetype for bike commuters. Here's what we have now and here's why they're insufficient. We've got the racer. The racer isn't necessarily a type denoted by his attire, but by attitude. Plenty of people in lycra are perfectly normal and civilized and plenty of others in otherwise regular clothes act like competitive dolts, insistent on proving their superiority through DECIMATING you in a rather unfun way and demonstrating that they are fast and you are slow and they will do whatever it takes to get anywhere before you. They are competitive and they try hard. They think about things like "panache" and"suffering" and they'll jockey for position with you at stop lights. And then there's the renegade. They don't follow laws, either those of man or beast, though admittedly the laws of beast hardly occur when bike commuter. "YOU MUST PAY YOUR TIGER INCOME TAX!" would be a law of beast, but the penalties and interest wouldn't be so bad until they throw you in JUNGLE JAIL, which might or might not be a zoo. Anyway, the renegade is rugged and "bombs" things and doesn't care what you think and maybe even has a messenger bag and "shreds" stuff and bangs on car doors and kicks things because he or she is an individual and they don't care what you think because they have attitude. Anyway, here's the problem with those two types: they're unappealing and they turn people off on the idea of bike commuting. It's because they don't seem happy. They seem sort of mad and exclusionary and deliberately put off by other people. They make dads biking with their kids move over to the sidewalk because they make them feel self-conscious. And this is wrong. We should, if anything, encourage parents to bike with their kids and not make them feel self-conscious. We should aspire to have more people biking, not fewer and we should be happy when the ranks of bike commuters becomes a swath more representative of the normal, wide swaths of humanity and not some subculture of it. So, here's the new type that I'm proposing and the type to which I aspire: the bon vivant. The bon vivant is happy and cultivated and relaxed and enjoys himself and goes with things and doesn't get worked up or upset or competitive or angry because he enjoys life and only wants to spend his time in worthwhile tasks. He might be in a hurry, but he never rushes. He doesn't waste a pedal. He goes with it and he gets along with others and bends like a supple reed in the wind or whatever the diktats of Eastern Philosophy are. I don't know because I only saw the first Three Ninjas moves. And here's why this is a good aspirational figure: because that person is happy and who doesn't want to be happy? That's not exclusionary. It's appealing. And maybe if more of us adopted this stance- that we're enjoying ourselves and that we're easy-going and content with how we get around- maybe it will make more people think that bike commuting is a good idea and worth considering. 

For the ride home, I took this excruciatingly poor  secret picture.
"I'm so secret"
That woman behind me rode into traffic against the light, ignoring both the light and that all of us were standing there. She then stopped, halfway into the intersection and then slowly, very slowly, backed her bike up back onto the sidewalk. Don't be a dolt!
Who's going to see Sarah McLachlan?
The bus will remember you. Will you remember it?
I'm probably not going.
Way bad traffic on Mass and bad through Q, but not so bad for me because I ride a bike and the bike lanes aren't that crowded. It was crowded, however, with this one guy who was making awesome fist pumping moves as he biked along.
Not making fist pumps in picture

Anyway, I like when people bike and dance during their bike commutes. I'm always doing the Charleston. The knee-knocking part is the hardest. 
11th was pretty quick and so was Penn, but there was some bike traffic and at least three CaBis and one guy on a Surly. Everyone seemed race-y. That's fine. I am not race-y. Nor racy. 
I saw a tour bus advertising the "CSI Experience" at the Museum of Crime & Punishment. I didn't know museums put on exhibits about stilted acting and formulaic dialogue. 
You can ride fast, but you probably won't get there any faster. Or at least you won't until they change the lights. 
A bunch of bicyclists on East Capitol and even a few on the other side of the park. One guy on A, but he was on a rather small BMX, so maybe that doesn't count or only half-counts. 


Ride Home 4/18: Tender is the Knight should be a book about Galahad

Let's start at the grocery store first, which is near home. There was an old bike locked up outside and it was locked with a cable lock around the handlebars and I'm pretty sure that it was a "bait bike," in that it might have attracted bass or sturgeon or very lazy bike thieves. It somehow remained "locked" there throughout my time in the store. In the store, there's a separate section and check out for liquor purchases and I really like the woman who works in the afternoon. Today, she grooved along with the radio and the slow jams it emitted. But you can't check out produce from the liquor section (this sounds like the line from a real bad Chris Rock comedy special), so you have to buy your beer in a separate transaction if you also wish to purchase Roma tomatoes. That's not normally a bother, or at least a big one, but the self-checkout line was moving slowly on account of those drawn to it who could have really benefitted from an expert checking out their groceries. It would have been more expeditious. They don't give out awards for expedient self-checkout, but if they did, I might have a really sad trophy, topped with a plastic man waving his box of Cheerios over the barcode scanner. Beep. When I got out of the store, there was another bicyclist there and he was eating a Twix. Two teens prattled, but one seemed less interested in prattling than patting, as they were young and in love or whatever. I rode home and I passed the new pretzel bakery, which is yet unopen. Soon, my neighborhood will have crepes and pretzels and a number of self-loathing celiac disease sufferers. Pretzels are the new cupcake. I don't know what becomes the new pretzel. Perhaps artisanal, small batch chewing gum.
Before I got to the store, I passed this sign an took a picture.
I know, right?
I actually went back to take a better picture because it's just that important for you to know what it says.
Excuse the following all-caps diatribe: SINCE WHEN DO YOU GET A KITTEN BY TAPING A SIGN TO A POLE? AREN'T THERE TONS OF KITTENS AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION LIKE EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME? HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW THIS? I'm highly suspicious of this. I'm not sure they want a kitten at all. I think that this "mature couple" just wants people to call them on the phone and then maybe they'll try to sell you a time share or something. I suspect duplicity!
Before this, I saw a picture of a white evergreen, perhaps painted in the street to symbolize DC's abiding love of flocked trees.
"That's not a white evergreen!"- some outraged guy

It's just an arrow.

I only mention it because this report* (executive summary means that it's written at a third grade level so any executive would be able to read it) mentions that DC bicyclists don't stop at stop lines and instead ride into the crosswalk and pedestrian refuge. And indeed, that's true and if you ride the Penn Ave cycletrack enough, you'll learn not to do it or maybe you'll know not to do it and still choose to be an inconsiderate jerk. But, I think the point I'm trying to make is that maybe some people think that the GIANT ARROW might indicate that they should keep riding forward. I don't know.
*link might not work. It's not working for me right now. Maybe the hosting server got lifted from the DC Auditor.
Before I saw that, I saw this bus ad.
iRony not intended
It says don't talk on the phone and drive because it reduces your brain capacity or something like that. And with reduced brain capacity, you get worse at driving. I'm paraphrasing, which is the kind of phrasing you do when you've got a big sail and you're towed by a speedboat, I think. Seeing drivers using their phones when driving really bothers me, mostly because they're probably calling about their extra kitten they want to give away and THAT'S JUST NOT HOW YOU DO THINGS. Also, the whole "margin of error" thing, whereby their not paying attention might cause me grievous injury or bodily harm.
And before I saw that other stuff, I didn't take any pictures of anything else, so thematically, I feel like it might behoove me to end the post here. You know, for unicity and such. And because Dance Moms: Miami (This is real. A Dance Moms spin-off. I am not joking) just ended and I should pretty much just wrap it up and move on to other things.

Ride In 4/18: Gym Neighbors

Misty and chilly.
They say that misery loves company and that must be why there's so much traffic in the morning.
People who block the bike lane are history's greatest monsters. Except for these guys.
I stopped to allow a woman and her daughter to cycle across the street at a crosswalk. I'm unclear as to whether bicyclists at a crosswalk have the same rights as pedestrians. I sort of think so. I think I felt compelled to stop because of the "Judith Light Effect," because the woman totally looked like someone who would be a lot of made-for-tv movies or something. I'm not going to stop naming "Effects" until I have I've coined one for  every 80s sitcom actor. This is real bike advocacy.
I really enjoy the sound of wide mountain bike tires on the pavement next to the Capitol. It's a low whoosh that reminds me of a sci-fi space engine noise mixed with the final spin cycle of a washing machine. I rode behind a guy today whose bike was making that noise and I'm glad he didn't turn around to see the stupid grin on my face.
A good amount of bike traffic on Pennsylvania and I didn't get over in time to make the right on 11th, so I followed everyone else up to 15th. So much for iconoclasm. I noticed my new bestie Sebring in front of the JAWB. I thought about leaving a note, but I worried that Homeland Security might feel compelled to explode it, like they do on a airport tarmac when there's suspicious luggage. This might be why the Riddle doesn't take vacations- what could be more suspicious than rolling luggage festooned with question marks? (Yeah, that's back-to-back days of Batman references. Strange)
My handlebars are exactly the same height at the top of the security bollards at Madison Place and for some reason that suggests to me that I should really slow down and walk through them rather than ride through. No other bicyclist I see seems to have this problem. I might just be uniquely terrible at handling my bike (FUN FACT: that's true), especially as far as navigating it through tight spaces is concerned. Almost every day, my bag brushes against one of the posts. The other night, I had my stainless steel coffee mug inside and when it brushes against the metal pole, it clanged. I'm glad they didn't take me out to the tarmac over that.
Black women bike. In fact, a lot of them do- I see them every day, along with white woman, Hispanic men, red-bearded Estonian-Americans (presumably), guys who wear mesh shorts, and that lady with the purple helmet. Bike commuters are pretty diverse crowd and one that can't be easily defined by race, creed (Creed?) or color. Anyway, now Black Women Bike DC is on the twitter, so follow if you'd like to know what that group is all about (hint: much of it pertains to black women and biking).
Less crowded on 15th and on R than usual. Maybe people didn't bike today because of the rain or maybe I was just a little earlier than usual or maybe the crowds headed down to 11th since I've been talking it up so much lately (note: that is doubtful).
I very much enjoyed these tips from our friends in the UK. It's good to let things go.