Ride In and Ride Home 9/19: Covert, Overt

You know how in Gladiator when Maximus is in the afterlife and he's walking across the wheat field and how that's his version of heaven because his wife and kid were there and also there's ample wheat and he gets to touch it and somehow that's a really nice feeling for him? Biking in today's weather is my wheat field. There's something about a crisp early fall day, not still summer and not yet presaging a frosty winter, that's ideal for biking in and biking through and biking during and any other combination of bike and a preposition. You don't get too many "Maximus in a wheat field" days and when I get them, I really try to make it a point to savor them. Just to clarify- I'm not writing this post from some kind of spectral netherworld. There will be no ghost-blogging on TFTS.

What happened this morning? Nothing much. Except for the huge deal which was the free coffee courtesy of The Bike Rack at the intersection of 14th and Q NW. Free coffee for bike commuters! How cool is that? (Coffee was quite warm. I don't want to impugn the shop in mistakenly suggesting the coffee was cold. It was not.) I'm hoping, and quite selfishly, that this gesture leads to an breakfast arms race amongst local bike shops. Maybe next week CityBikes has pastries and the week after The Daily Rider offers breakfast burritos and then Revolution gets a waffle iron in the mix and eventually Bicycle Space brings it with a full omelet bar. As someone who routinely forgets to eat breakfast, I'd really like to outsource this task to local bike shops. Here are some pictures:

Apparently, this is going to happen on the third Wednesday of every month from this month forward, so that's pretty fantastic. So, if the only thing that's been holding you back from bike commuting is the once a month free coffee, I guess you're out of excuses. Jon, of #fridaycoffeeclub and button selling website fame, was there when I was there, he having ridden a good mile downhill from his house on the way to work. It was good talking to him, though he, like me, regretted that the shop didn't have bike stuff for sale. Prime me with free coffe and I'd probably spend money on bike stuff. Just saying.

Before I got to coffee, I took a stupidly roundabout route, riding up Penn and then 15th and then turning left onto P Street. And then I ended up at 16th Street, which was approximately two blocks in the wrong direction from where I wanted to be. I guess I didn't have enough coffee this morning before riding to coffee this morning. I turned around and then rode back to 14th street (instead of riding up 15th for another block) and then slowly rode my way up the sidewalk for a block until I got to coffee.

How do touristical types know that the 15th Street Cycle Track continues on Vermont Avenue from Lafayette Park? I don't think there are any signs. There should be signs. Even if maybe touristical types wouldn't actually take the cycle track because it's not exactly like there's a ton of touristy stuff on 15th.

After coffee, it was down R, through the valley of the shadow of shoalers (though I ride through the valley of the shadow of shoalers, I will not be afraid, for thou art with me and together we'll muster the slightly more energy needed to pass people who ride so freaking slowly that I cannot understand why they rode in front of me in the first place. I really have to summon all of my patience sometimes to not go "WHY? WHYYYYYYYYYYY?" as I pass them 30 feet after the light turns green. And really, I'm not fast or even trying to go that fast) and then behind my second Xtra-cyclist of the day. I've seen a lot more Xtracycles lately and I think that maybe people with children (parents I think they're called) are getting hip to the idea of having bikes on which it's easier to ferry children. Has anyone else noticed this? I think that maybe the beginning of the school year hastened this.

Up Massachusetts. I watched a lot of drivers violate traffic laws, but this isn't anything special or different. To be in public is to break some law or another. And to be in AI is to break Jude Law. And to be AI is to break some dude's ankles with a killer crossover.

The bike is still doing some weird chain skipping. I'm home now, so I guess I'm not going to let this bother me.

My trip home was pretty fantastic, except for the somewhat ludicrous car traffic that backed up most of the way on Massachusetts. I rode on the sidewalk to avoid it. I'm not going to be a martyr to car traffic. If I wanted to sit in traffic, I'd drive. Instead, I rode on the sidewalk, diligently, but it was still faster and safer than riding in the road. In this part of DC, it's completely legal and I have absolutely no qualms about doing it, even though I'd prefer not to. The thing is that I'm interested in getting home and I'm going to do the things, within the bounds of the law and good judgment, that get me home as quickly and safely as possible. And I encourage you to do the same (especially if you're on a bike. Not so much if you're in a car. Please don't drive on the sidewalk). There's nothing wrong with riding in your own self-interest. That's how every other road user gets around and because you're on a bike doesn't mean you need to take some ultimately ineffectual moral high ground. Be courteous, but don't feel the need to be self-defeating. Just get home.

I rode through Dupont Circle, down Mass and made a right turn onto 15th, which I followed to its  end at Pennsylvania. The ride down Penn was fine, except for some weirdness at 7th. Two bicyclists just rode right through the red light and directly in front of the cars in the middle of the intersection. They didn't ignore it and they weren't oblivious to it. They just saw it, decided it didn't apply to them, and then kept going. It was odd. I believe I called them "fucking morons" which seemed apt and that's a fucking moronic thing to do.

One of the things I like to do when I see a driver signaling to make an illegal turn at one of the intersections at Penn is to look over my shoulder, back at the sign that shows "not left turns," maybe hoping that they'll see me looking at the sign and maybe see the sign themselves. I'm only doing it because I don't want them to get a ticket. My passive-aggressive glances are all about helping.

Up the House side of the Capitol and past the parking lot that is the Capitol plaza. Congress is in session and two thoughts about that. The first is that Congress, or the people who work in/at Congress are basically all old white men. Many of them are pudgy. This isn't exactly hyperbole. The second thing is that the end of the day at the Capitol is very much reminiscent of the end of the day at an elementary school. It's fucking parent pick-up, with a line of SUVs driven as close as they can be to the building so the little precious flowers don't have to walk very far and then it's zoom zoom back home. On Independence, I'm pretty sure I briefly rode next to Tom Coburn, driving to wherever he lives, doubtless under a few miles away. Sorry ladies, for not throwing an egg or something.

I rode down Pennsylvania to 11th, stopped at Fragers and noticed an unlocked CaBi at the bicycle rack. People- don't do this!

This could be a really expensive lapse in judgment. Laps in judgment is the name of the Supreme Court track team. Lapps in Judgment is the name of an unpopular Finnish reality show.

Up 11th SE, right at the park and then home. A great ride. And a little noteworthy because I've been riding this route and blogging about it for almost exactly a year. Here's the first post. Thank you all for bearing with me. I'll be back in October. Remember the Alamo. And other stuff, since the Alamo isn't strictly necessary to most of our daily lives.


Ride Home 9/18: William McKinley Halloween Costumes

Now might be a good time to tell you that I'm going on vacation on Thursday and I won't be coming back until October. Not just a vacation from blogging, but a right proper vacation that involves travel and perhaps pancakes at faraway diners, but mostly just not doing the normal home-work-home-work thing. So there will be this post and tomorrow's posts, but then it's going to be more than a week until the next one. Please remember to come back. You can leave a trail of virtual breadcrumbs. We can dustbust them together when I get back. If anyone would like to use the "Tales From The Sharrows" brand to launch his or her own blogging career, I am officially soliciting and welcoming any and all guest posts. Posts can be on any topic, except for pogo stickery, unless it's to denounce the baleful influence of pogo "legalization" on our youth. Please email talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com.

Richard III was willing to give his kingdom for a horse and I would have given at least one horse so as to not have to pick up my car from the auto dealership, where I rested all day after having work done on it for an hour and a half all morning. I'd like to pretend like I'd be able to weave together some sentences that incorporate Lancasters, oil changes, hunchbacks, Tudor/tutor puns, York Peppermint Patties, Prince Hal, HAL 9000, Rafalca, Prii (the plural of Prius), roses, the Spin Doctors (bonus points if you get that right away) and the like, but I think I'll spare myself the trouble of writing it and spare you the considerable burden of reading it. "In many ways, my bike ride to the car dealership was much like the War of Roses" starts the fictitious college application essay that will get me rejected from any and all programs to which I would apply. My bike ride did evoke all of those things and more, but it also involved my riding in the almost rain following the rain that had already come. The rain that came fell hard and it broke branches and shook free leaves and it littered the sides of the road with sticks and twigs  and various detritus that I didn't think would be as disruptive to my bike ride as it actually was. When I ride the Cross Check, a cylcocross bike, kindling in the bike lane isn't a warning- it's an invitation. That bike loves riding over crap. I can't help it, even though I've fop-ified the bike with metal fenders and touring tires and racks and panniers and all of the things that make a bike practical and wholly impractical for an athletic competition that requires you to ride through terrible turf and over logs and shit. The little tires on the other bike didn't seem to do as well. I worried. I avoided sticks (and stones, lest, well, you know the saying) and I spent my ride down New Mexico Avenue and up Tunlaw and through Glover Park and eventually Georgetown riding slightly to the left of where I would generally ride and doing the best I could not to fall over. I did not fall over.

New stop sign at W Street NW on 37th. New to me, at least. New since the last time I rode that way.

The Georgetown streetcar track project (which has nothing to do with a streetcar) is now over and the bike lane on 34th is now striped fully from Wisconsin Avenue to Prospect Street. It's also only about 2 feet wide. But it works! There used to be a one block gap and in that one block, even though the one-way street stayed the same width, drivers would drift back over to the right. White paint works! It has limitations, but it works. It's almost the exact definition of better than nothing. But better than nothing is still better than nothing.

I rode into Rosslyn and then got on the MVT and the "time trial" portion of my commute began. It was like a time trial in that I rode by myself and it was unlike a time trial in that I rode very slowly, in spite of the fact that maybe I was trying to do otherwise. It was sort of a Schleck time trial in that way. The trail was wet but it wasn't slick. There were very few bicyclists and the few I saw seemed to be riding in the other direction. No Rootchopper sightings.

Around Gravelly Point, where the wind picked up the point where I think I was briefly riding in reverse, I sensed that a muscular superbiker type was riding up quickly. I sat up, he rode by. And then, like a dolt, I tried to give chase. I did not succeed. In fact, I did not succeed even worse than usual and gave up giving chase within about 10 seconds. I thought that maybe be trying to keep up with him that I could motivate myself to maintain a somewhat reasonable pace for the last mile or two, but that simply didn't happen.

I rode up to the dealership and a young woman outside, an employee on her smoke break, saw me and asked if I was "trading in?" Har har. Maybe I wouldn't trade my car for a horse, but I wasn't looking forward to driving home. It took me a long time and I was in heavy car traffic for most of it. Oh well. At least I don't have to do it again tomorrow.

Ride Home 9/17 & Ride In 9/18: Bikes on Trains

Maybe I'm writing a post about two commutes because each ride, so to speak, was similar in that each bike ride was punctuated, or maybe enveloped, a trip on the Metro. Or maybe last night I just got a little lazy and didn't get around to writing and now I'm just pretending that it was always my intention to merge two thematically similar commutes into one larger post. Or maybe, just maybe, it's another reason entirely, one that is neither coherent nor convincing: that the bike internet (aka the velosphere) is running out of room because so many people are writing about their bicycles, their bicycle trips, their genders and their bicycles, their bicycles' gender, their attire, their tires and other topics, which might or might not include drawing pictures, and that each of the world's bike bloggers have been given their allotted number of posts and I don't want to burn through mine so quickly. Or maybe it was just the lazy thing.

Last night's ride started where it always starts, namely my place of employment, which rests atop a hill, under which might or might not live hobbitses. One of the joys of working atop a hill is riding down it at the end of the work day. Even on a folding bicycle, you can achieve a pretty good speed and I've reminded of this by the speed display about one quarter of the way down Massachusetts Avenue. Yesterday, a mobile speed camera (aka one-eyed bandit) was placed underneath the speed display, perhaps in order to catch speeders. While I exceeded the posted 30 miles per hour, I don't think I got my picture taken and I don't think I'll be issued a ticket. Another win for the cycling scofflaws! And how would have they even known where to send the ticket? I mean, aside from the fact that I'm pretty sure I'm the only guy with an arctic blue Brompton and a Sharrows DC button on the flap of his messenger bag. I guess if there's some kind of Special Bike SpeedCam Unit, they'd probably find me out pretty quickly.

I wanted to take the Metro home yesterday, at least for some of the trip, because I wanted to "test" Metro's new policy about folding bicycles. Would it work? Would I be tazed? Would my bike get stolen as I took a series of increasingly close and bizarre pictures of it? Here's my photo essay:
I don't know why the picture is so blurry

I started my trip at Farragut West. This station is named after Farragut, which is the Celtic word for "faregate," which regulates entrance into and out of the metro stations. These faregates point west, perhaps because of the religious beliefs of the Druids who built the Metro thousands of years ago. NOTE: I didn't major in WMATA History in college, so some of these facts might be slightly off.

I carried the bike to the escalator and rested it in front of me. The bike is a little heavier than I expected, but this might be because I have the upper body strength of pre-spinach Popeye. I made it through the faregate and down to the platform with no problems. I figured my biggest potential antagonist would be the station attendant, but he was probably [insert @unsuckdcmetro tweet here].

The bike is on the platform. Note how the bike sits safely away from the edge.

The bike is on the train. I didn't get a seat, but I moved to the very back of the car and stood with my back against the door that led to the train car behind it. I couldn't remember if the door warned me not to lean on it or whether it only warned me not to use it. The Brompton could sit up by itself, but it wobbled a little while the train moved.

The aforementioned wobbling. Yes, I stopped the video right before the bike toppled over and thudded to the guy sitting in the chair next to it. I noticed that he was reading an article which might (but wasn't) about transportation issues.

Contexts, Conflicts and Congeries should pretty much be the name of this blog. Or better yet, a much better blog.

To avoid further issues, namely the bike falling over, I decided to employ this disembodied hand to hold it up. Actually, that's my hand and it's fully bodied (like a red wine?). Those are also my legs and feet. This picture is taken from a very odd angle.

When I left the train car upon arriving at my stop, I got my first "mmm hmmmm" dressing down look from a fellow passenger who seemed mildly miffed. Nonetheless, the trip was a success.

I unfolded the bike and rode down a street (A Street) and was home in three blocks. Then I went to write a blog post, but felt mostly like this:

EtP is sleE(t)Py.
This morning I awoke early because I had to bring the car to the dealership for an oil change. The dealership is by Potomac Yards in Alexandria and I figured that I should probably drive there (they don't let you bring cars in the Metro yet. War on Cars. Also, there's no metro stop at Potomac Yards yet). I folded up the bike and put it in the trunk. It then took my 25 minutes to drive three miles to the highway on ramp. I found this whole process exasperating and I don't know how people can drive in city traffic every day without going crazy. Or maybe they can't. In all, the trip took me about as long to make by car as it would have by bike. But I would've had no reason to make the trip by bike, so that's a useless measure.

I dropped the car off, unfolded the bike and rode down the Four Mile Run trail to the Mount Vernon Trail. On Four Mile Run, I'm pretty sure I saw a superbiker wearing a team kit with hammers and sickles on the shoulders. Were my life a Rocky movie, this guy would basically be my Ivan Drago. My life is not a Rocky movie.

I had an early work meeting and I didn't know if there'd be enough time to bike the entire trip from the dealership to my office. I decided that I would take the trail to the 14th Street Bridge and ride to a Metro station (I decided a red line station, so as not to have to transfer) and take the Metro the rest of the way to work. This would accomplish the dual goals of 1) avoiding a long uphill slog and 2) testing to see if Metro clemency extended for one more day.

It rained lightly, but I had my new Showers Pass rain jacket. I like it.

I benefited from an over-exuberant fellow bike commuter on the MVT who was pushing himself pretty hard to go fast and I was happy to try to sit on his wheel for the entire time. I was concerned with being late and I rode at a pace that was faster than one I would've normally taken. Nonetheless, the bike ride was great and refreshing after the pain in the ass that is sitting in car traffic. I rode along the tidal basin and crossed Independence to ride up the sidepath parallel to 17th street, sticking to the sidewalk (sorry!) until Farragut North, where I folded the bike once more and took it below.

Those are more pictures of the bike on the Metro. No context, conflict or congeries.

I don't know if taking the Metro got me to work any faster than riding would have, but it kept me out of the (very light) rain and allowed me to read stuff on my phone, so those are unalloyed good things, I guess.

I won't admit to thinking "Autobots, transform!" each time I unfold my bike.

I rode down Albemarle Street to 42nd, which has sharrows, but winds about in a way that confuses and misdirects me before I found my way to Nebraska Avenue for the straight shot to work. All in all, a good trip. I think now that I've proven to myself (and others?) that it's possible to bring my bike on the Metro without a bag, I'm happy to not do it again unless it's totally necessary. I think I'd rather just ride, but it's nice, in any case, knowing that it's at least an option.


Ride In 9/17: My other dishwasher is a poodle

How was your weekend? How were your fantasy footballs? Fantastical? Some people say Americans are anti-intellectual, but I'd say that a people who elects to impose math and statistics as a superstructure to a game that's basically beefy dudes kicking the crap out of each other over an animal carcass is very much the opposite. I don't "play" fantasy football, but I might play Fantasia football but only if I'm the same team as all of those brooms. As you might guess, we would frequently run the sweep. I think, though, that the Sorcerer's Apprentice might lend itself more to basketball, primarily because the brooms would do a terrible job in pass protection and secondly, because they could be coached by the Wizard of Westwood. "But enough about all that," generic reader complains impatiently. " I want to read about your bike commute!" generic reader says and he/she stomps his/her foot. Very well then, generic reader.

I think one of the reasons why some drivers tend to get impatient/terrible is because they think that they're in private space (the confines of their car) when they're actually in public space (on the streets). We act different in private than we do in public (or should at least) and while a man's home is his castle, a phrase meaning that you can shoot crossbow bolts at invaders from therein (or something like that), the streets belong to us all and suggest a certain level of mutual accommodation. I think I'm less inclined to forget that I'm in public because I have neither roof nor radio to make me think otherwise, but it'd be easy to see how someone in a rolling easy chair might easily forget that he is outside the comforts of his own home. This is why I advocate making car seats less comfortable and requiring that all cars be convertible and roofs must be down unless it's raining. I'm sure that this will do the trick.

Ladies be Cat-6-ing.

I inflated my tires today and there's a noticeable squeak. [FOURTH WALL ALERT: After I wrote that sentence and before I could write the next one, which would be something like "This squeak is an unsolvable mystery and I'll never be able to get to the bottom of it because I'm helpless and the only thing I can think to do is to complain about it to the 9 of you, furthering highlighting my helplessness and haplessness," I decided that I would attempt to solve this problem myself. And I might have! I knew that it wasn't the brake pad rubbing again the sidewall because this makes an entirely different kind of noise (of which I am also well-acquainted), so I decided to sit on the floor (for some reason) and spin the rear tire and use my massive powers of "looking at it" to see that the outside of the sidewall of the tire was rubbing ever so slightly against the non-drive side fender stay, (Fender stay is also what you say when you don't want your guitar to run off). So I bent the fender stay ever so slightly, spun the tire once more and now the squeaking is gone. So, huzzah for all that]

For some of my ride, I was behind a guy wearing a Drunk'n Dragons cycling jersey. Don't let your dragon drink and ride. Or paddle, as the shirt might suggest.

I took 15th and then made a left on R Street, taking that the rest of the way. My legs felt heavy and slow, maybe because I overdid it on a leisure ride yesterday. I didn't mind it at the time, but I certainly felt like I had less juice this morning and not only because I didn't even have juice for breakfast (I had waffles, thanks for asking). This made riding up the Massachusetts Avenue hill laborious and I'm fairly certain that the time elapsed from bottom to top could have been measured in hours rather than minutes. If it were measured in minuets, it'd be a lot as well. If it were measured in minarets (which is a unit of distance and not time), it would depend on how tall the minaret is.

I wore normal people clothes today and that made the transition from the bicycling to the sitting at my desk marginally easier. Always important to nail that.


Ride Home 9/14: Cribs was not a show about the sleeping arrangements of babies...or was it?

The history of all hitherto existing bike commutes is a history of, well, I don't know, pretty much the same thing this post is going to discuss right now. As much as there's a grand unifying vision that lends order and theoretical underpinning to all bike commute blogging, it's essentially this: no two rides are the same even if you take the same route. While a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters for a thousand years might be able to bang out some Shakespeare, a thousand monkeys on a thousand bicycles on a thousand rounds would only result in considerable traffic difficulties for all other road users for I doubt these monkeys would be cognizant of both the traffic laws and travel norms that allow us to have safe and functional commutes. And even if we somehow engaged our simian brethren in a series of classroom and road trainings related to the safe operation of bicycles and/or other vehicles (note: not pogo sticks), I hardly suspect that our message would get through to them. And such if the fate we suffer: if we launch Charlton Heston or any other actor into space, he would return to a world without bicycles and without statues of liberty and what kind of world would this be? Sure, they, the thousands of monkeys, would have re-created Shakespeare (now known as Ape-speare), but without bikes, could we even call them civilized? And should we? For same, theoretical monkey civilization of the distant future. For all of your humankind suppressing ways, you've neglected the most important lesson of all: to paraphrase (and butcher) Orwell "two wheels good, no wheels bad."

I rode down Massachusetts Avenue and took to the sidewalk when traffic got thick and backed up and I decided that I didn't want to wait in it. Prior to that, about halfway down the hill, shouted from across the way Kristen did: "HEY! WE FINALLY SAW EACH OTHER" because we've been riding up and down the hill on opposite schedules for a long time now. I shouted back and this is how conversations are had across 4 lanes of traffic. Apparently, the bike makes me rather spottable.

I continued down the hill and through the traffic and then through the traffic some more down 19th and then made a left on Penn and rode down Penn and over to through the car free plaza and to G Street to check on the status of the blocked bike lane from this morning. It was still mostly blocked by the fence blocking in the construction and I tweeted at DDOT and the world and I don't know if my effort at cleaving an additional foot of dedicated space for bicyclists will pay off. What I do know, however, is that in my attempts to position myself to take a picture, I was the ponce who blocked the bike lane for the other bicyclists heading in the opposite direction. Way to go, citizen helper. None of them kicked me, but it wouldn't have been out of line.

I took G to 11th, turned right and found myself waiting at the light at E. Why don't I always turn left on E, I wondered, instead of turning left on Pennsylvania one block later? Both streets go, generally, in the same direction, the direction of home, and E even has a gentler hill to climb than the Capitol grounds. A rare bit of ruminating, which I think is also the term for when you marinate something in rum. Some ruminated figs would be delicious, I bet.

I watched two drivers make u-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue. So much for the increased enforcement. I like my justice swift. But apparently, that's not how it's going to happen. Oh well.

I had the definite feeling that a guy was racing me all along East Capitol. I hate that feeling and I wish I had the good sense just to slow down and not care, but I don't have good sense and when caught in a pursuit (of a trivial nature...?) my inclination is to ride like I'm being chased, chased by a flying (note: not bicycling) monkey and so I did and while I didn't completely ignore traffic laws and ride with abandon, I certainly rode with greater haste than is my typical habit. He ended up passing me when I turned left from 11th around the park on East Capitol. Congrats, dude. You win.

Have a breezy weekend, y'all. Keep it real. I'll be around.

Ride In 9/14: Defenestration Without Representation

Friday means jeans and coffee and Brompton riding. Obviously. And it meant riding through Columbus Circle and making a crazy sprint across three lanes of car traffic to get from the interior westbound bike lane to the left lane from which to turn on to E Street. I suppose I could've ridden to the crosswalk at First NE and doubled back, but I caught the green light in such a way that scurrying seemed worth it and appropriate. I'm sure it looked hilarious on the clown bike (that's a clown bike, yo), like a circus bear.

The bike is making some noises I can't pinpoint, but I'm only somewhat peeved by that. Bikes make noises. Though bikes don't necessarily make weird scraping noises and I should make try to be a bit better with my pinpointing, lest there's an actual problem.

I found myself riding very slowly behind another bicyclist, mostly because that other bicyclist was riding very slowly and I didn't have a good opportunity to pass. I got over it- there's no sense in getting all huffy about having to go slower than you'd necessarily prefer. It happens. It's not a big deal- but it led me to wonder: is there an optimal (and attainable) speed at which bicyclists should try to maintain in city traffic? One that achieves the perfect balance between effortless movement, the ability to avoid hazards and fails to inhibit other traffic, while also remaining apparent and predictable to all other road users? And if this optimal speed existed, should bicyclists be encouraged to maintain it? Or is that a kind a speed paternalism (Speed Racer's Dad?) that shouldn't be foisted on anyone, unless it's something that they themselves desire? Bike boffins, you have your charge!

It's rare that I'm presented with such a wonderful, blog-worthy picture. It's a blocked bike lane on the 1400 block of G Street NW (I turned right at 11th and E and turned left onto G).

Blocked bike lane? Not uncommon, so why is it noteworthy?
My shadow looms large

That's right! It's in front of the headquarters of auto advocacy group AAA! But don't worry about the blocked bike lane- they're still open! I guessing the fence is just fortification for the War on Cars. DDOT said that this was just temporary, but I'll check it out on the ride home and let you know the current state of affairs.

A great, as usual Friday coffee, and it was nice meeting blog reader and twitterer Ben and it was good talking bikes and seeing the usual suspects and drink coffee al fresco. Afterwards, there was a motorcade which held up pedestrian, bike and car traffic. I saw one lady ride across the street before nearly getting tackled by a secret service agent, who grabbed her by the shoulder and ushered her out of the way. I think that motorcades say less about the dominance of car culture than they do about the dominance of security culture. I'd like to see more bicyclecades, but I don't think those are approved by the powers that be. Maybe in Holland.

I took the 15th Street cycle track and it's been maybe more than a month since I've last been on it. (You can check the archives, but it seems like a month). It seemed wider than I remembered it. I'm pretty sure they haven't widened it. I guess what they say is true and that absence makes the heart grow wider. That and cholesterol.

On Massachusetts, I saw a truck with the license plate DRTGURU. I bet this guy is the envy of all local soil engineers.

I ride past the British Embassy on the Brompton quite frequently and no one has even lifted a bowler to say "Good chap!" at me for supporting their native industry. What happened to the famed British gregariousness?

A bus ad told me that there's a Turkish festival on September 30th. Also, tonight commences Turkish Restaurant Week. One of the (alleged) highlights of last year's Turkish Festival's Tourism tent were the "Amazing Van Cats," which aren't, I've just learned, cats that can drive vans (Toonces, look out!) but cats that look like this.Worth the price of admission, I suspect.

I saw two kids on the wooded grounds of St. Albans next to the intersection of Wisconsin and Massachusetts hitting each other with pointed sticks. Private school tuition, everybody!

Down and up Mass, through Ward Circle, across the street, across campus, fold up the bike, work and now it's about time to head home. See you on the road, people who I sometimes see!


Ride Home 9/13: Pillowcase the joint

Why do we ride? Is it to feel the wind in our faces? Is it the feeling of the blood pumping in our legs? Is it to serve as a pretext to write blogs and tweet? Yes, I say. Yes, it is. I'd like to think that the original pretext was hieroglyphics. Blogging in hieroglyphics would probably see really annoying, though Shit Anubis Says would be a pretty hilarious tumblr. When Amon Ra was like [gif of pyramid], I was all like [gif of sphinx] and then he was all [gif of mummy]. The original gif, and this was well later in history, was the gif of the Magi. Before Christianity, they believed in the Greek myths and then everything was in jPegasus. Moving on.

I rode behind a guy who was hunched over on his bike, his left shoulder lifted to his ear with his cell phone in between. Dude, just pull over. Riding at 2 miles per hour while you try to carry on a phone conversation really isn't worth it. 

On 23rd Street and Sheriden Circle there's a building, perhaps an embassy, the hosts events and those events sometimes have valet parking and this valet parking causes car traffic to back up nearly to Water Street, maybe a half mile or so away. I blame Bikeshare. Wait, I'm sorry- I accidentally touched an Examiner today and I think I caught "the sickness." This valet arrangement must be pretty annoying to other drivers, but I don't know if there's anything they can do about it. Other than get mad. And sit there waiting. I rode on the sidewalk. Peace out suckers. 

I rode through Dupont Circle and out the other side, down Massachusetts before turning right on to 18 Street, mostly because I didn't want to ride next to an MPD motorcycle cop, who for some reason seemed to intimidate me for no apparent reason. 18th Street was fine, but I forgot that it would end after 2 blocks, forcing me to turn left on N Street, to turn right again at 17th, which proved mostly fine, but then I got all turned around and didn't quite remember how I'd get to Pennsylvania Avenue, mostly because you can't get to Pennsylvania Avenue from 17th Street. I turned left again at L, which still doesn't have a cycle track, but maybe will by the end of the year,  and then I turned right on to 16th Street, which I knew would take me to the Lafayette Square and the White House. It was a mess. And by that, I don't mean covered in potato chip crumbs and dirty socks, but a mess of cars and drivers and buses and drivers and trucks and drivers and cabs and drivers some of whom couldn't get their cars through intersections or change lanes, or make u-turns in their cabs, as one driver tried to do, directly in front of me. With his car at a 45 degree angle pointed at me, I stopped, looked up and shrugged. As I set off again, he pulled forward to try to complete his turn, bringing the front of his car even closer! This earned him a muttered "you've gotta be fucking kidding me," but I don't think he heard. Anyway, kids, this was a horrible way to go. If you need to head south from Mass, take don't try anything between 19th and 15th, especially at rush hour. "Rush hour" isn't a term I especially care for and I'm surprised it wasn't banned during the Cold War (for fear of Russians- womp womp). I also don't think I ever saw the Jackie Chan- Chris Tucker movie franchise of the same name, but if the plot involved them sitting in cars sitting amidst other cars sitting on a sea of asphalt, I can't imagine it'd be very exciting. Premium Rush, a movie about bicycle messengers, might have also involved rushing or maybe it just involved trying to get into a very exclusive fraternity. Haven't seen that one either.

Superbiker shoaler. He wasn't in a premium rush to get through the green light at 7th, but saw no problem in riding through the red about two seconds after it had changed. I wrote myself an email to remind myself of this, so as to blog about it and such, and mistyped "supwrbijer" and I think that might actually be Danish for superbiker, or at least it should be. "Should be a Danish word" would be a great Jeopardy! category. On either American or Danish Jeopardy. Danish Jeopardy means you can't prosecute the same pastry for the same crime twice, or something.

I saw three people I knew riding their bikes within three blocks of each other. I love it. DC is such a small town and some day I will know everyone in it. This is only a minor exaggeration, like a fake ID.

I'm ready for Friday. I hope Friday is ready for me.

Ride In 9/13: Lucky Charms Marshmallows Don't Really Taste Like Marshmallows

There are bike lanes around (most of) Columbus Circle, but there are no bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue to the east or to the west. I ride from the east and after passing Stanton Park, I found myself this morning riding in the right hand lane behind a bus and a minivan. Both vehicles put on their turn signals to turn north onto 3rd street NE. As I went to move left to pass the right-turning minivan, the driver of the car behind me decided that he would right then try to pass me, bringing the front of his car what seemed like inches for me, accelerating quickly, squeezing between me and the traffic in the left lane, and only looking back into his rear view mirror about 100 feet down the road to see my raised left hand clenched in an angry fist. Some thoughts:

1. We need bike lanes on Massachusetts Avenue from Columbus Circle to Union Station. I doubt this will ever happen because the street parking is somehow reserved by the Senate Sergeant at Arms and I don't think he'd give up parking spots lightly.

2. Fuck you, driver. You could've really messed me up.

3. I'm tried of being treated like an obstacle to be avoided rather than just another person on the way to work. It's like reverse-Frogger out there sometimes, where the trucks and vans are maniacally swerving to get past me, like I'm some piece of flotsam that fell off the back of truck and landed unexpectedly in the middle of the road. IT'S A LOCAL STREET! YOU SHOULD EXPECT BICYCLISTS! Too many drivers approach driving like it's some kind of video game in which you have to maneuver your car through the fraught urban jungle as quickly as possible, weaving and swerving, accelerating quickly and slamming on the brakes, cutting across lanes and cutting off drivers. It's not. You're in a fucking Camry. You're listening to Morning Edition. You are engaged in the most banal activity you could possibly be doing and to pretend like it's a high-stakes fighter jet dog fight is delusional at best and potentially murderous at worst. Calm down. (This goes the same for bicyclists, but the consequences of this kind of recklessness tend to be worse, at least in general)

4. Why is everyone in such a hurry? Is there some kind of sale of beer and puppies I don't know about/

I took Mass through the construction zone to 6th, turned right and turned left at K, turning again on 7th, crossing New York Avenue and pulling on to the sidewalk because I wanted to use the self-help bicycle repair stand outside of Bicycle Space, which I now realize is only out on the street during business hours. Whoops.

I rode up 7th and turned left on R, where bike traffic was middling and car traffic was also middling, but seemed more than that because cars are huge and take up a lot of room. At this point in the trip, I was still stewing thinking about the jerk guy by Columbus Circle, but I was slowly getting over it because the air was crisp and the sun was shining and it's hard to remain angry when you're on a bike on a nice day.


Whatever the problem my chain had the other day didn't seem to be bothering it again today. Chains are notoriously fickle and I believe that pharmacologists are working working overtime on developing a serum to solve fickle chain syndrome.

Do I see more women cyclists or do I just notice more women cyclists?

I thought that I saw a coworker when I was riding up Massachusetts and I said "hey, how are you doing?" with a slightly emphasis on the "you" so as to signal that I knew her, but she responded something like "I'm very well fine, thanks" with no hint of acknowledgement and I think we can conclusively declare that both sunglasses, which she was wearing, and helmets, which I wore, should be banned because either I said hello to a stranger or she didn't recognize me. Thus concludes this morning's tale of awkward interaction. [theme music plays]


Ride In 9/11: Please use a coaster

Only one post today and no posts tomorrow, so I'll try to make this one good, which is a departure from my normal routine of trying to write as poorly and boringly as possible just to see if anyone comes back the next day. I'm down from a peak readership of 13 and with any hope I'll be at 6 by the end of the month. I'm aiming for negative page hits, which I think is measured by a team of clairvoyants at Google who can tell when you were about to visit a page but then changed your mind and looked at kitten pictures instead.

I don't need a team of clairvoyants to tell me that if you're reading this sentence, it's 20 minutes later and you're positively fatigued from looking at cute kitties and just remembered "oh yeah, that bike guy," so you'll read this until completion, maybe as a means of recovering and revivifying, or maybe you'll just go back to the kitten pictures, which, frankly, isn't such a bad idea.

I rode the Cross Check today and I dressed in bike clothes and wore bike shoes and appeared rather bikerly. The day was resplendent and almost nippy, but shorts and short sleeves were still perfectly acceptable. The bike felt a bit squirrelly, as far as handling is concerned, but then again, I've never handled a a squirrel so I might not be an expert. The Brompton isn't very "responsive" (like a comatose squirrel?) and slight changes in the direction of the handlebars (now I'm thinking about a squirrel with a handlebar mustache) don't turn the wheel (now handlebar squirrel is the captain of a paddle boat on the Mississippi)  nearly as much as the same movements do on the Cross Check. Accordingly, the bike seemed somewhat out of a my control and twitchy (paddle boat captain squirrel was struck by lightning, but he's ok), but after just a little while, it felt better and back to normal. I suppose that transitioning between two very different kinds of bikes would result in feeling these kinds of differences, but it's a rather dramatic shift and I never expected it to be so pronounced.

I rode down East Capitol and there were a few other cyclists out, but not so many because it was still early. On Pennsylvania, there were definitely more people out on bikes than there even were yesterday (FUN FACT: I didn't ride down Penn yesterday so how would I know?), a day with equivalently good weather. I expect the streets to be clogged with cyclists tonight, but in a good way. Like an artery after many happy years of delicious fatty meals.

I took 11th street north and R Street west. The sun was in such a position that I could see the shadows of the riders behind me as they approached me at red lights, giving me time to think to myself "please don't shoal please don't shoal please don't shoal" which mostly didn't happen, except for one guy who passed me on the left, squeezed between two cars and then rode through the red light. He hit the trifecta.

It's definitely easier riding uphill on this bike than on the other bike. It probably has something to do with gearing or maybe magic. However, the chain skipped a bunch and I don't know what that's all about. Yet another indication that I should bring the bike in for a tune-up or maybe a shiatsu massage.

Did I mention it was gorgeous outside today? It really was.


Ride Home 9/10: Synchronized Nightswimming Deserves Synchronized Quiet Nights

Nice ride home. But those of you who suspect it might be autumn, I think you're jumping the gun a bit. The autumn gun, I guess would be that shoots pumpkins. "They shoot pumpkins, don't they?" was a terrible, terrible Halloween-themed Western of the late 1960s. A shot (of) pumpkin isn't what they use to make a pumpkin spice latte, though if they did, the latte art would be gourd-geous. Ok, all done. 

 Mass to Dupont and through Dupont Circle to 19th. I really felt like I head a head of steam going (to froth the milk in the latte?) heading downhill and I was able to maintain my momentum through almost the light at Florida/23rd. Sometimes I just want to keep going that I'll just follow the greens rather than stop at a red, but I've ridden down 23rd maybe once before (and even on a weekend) and it wasn't especially pleasant. So, I stopped and waited at the light, but got a decent jump on the green (HINT: that means I jaywheeled) and was on my way again soon enough, taking the outer circle at Dupont and working my way to 19th past car traffic that might or might not have been stopping at red lights. I'm sure these red lights were "confusing," which is the go-to adjective that people use when they don't like traffic calming measures imposed on them and is one of the hallmark phrases of anti-bike sentiment. They don't make Hallmark cards for anti-bike sentiment. At least not yet. "Roses are red/Violets are blue/It's not my fault/I didn't see you" and such. 

Everything I said about riding down the right side of 19th street is wrong and now I ride down the left side of 19th street. I'm not afraid to admit it. Sometimes it takes more than one or two rides to make an accurate assessment about the best way to approach a route. That's why I've stopped sleeping and now I just ride the streets at night, mostly thinking about good routes, but also fighting crime as a masked vigilante. They call me "The Folder," both due to my folding bike and my folding into a little ball at the sight of criminals. If you ever see the "Brompton Signal" in the skies over DC, well, you're probably hallucinating and might seek medical help. 

Pennsylvania Avenue on the west side of the White House was nearly empty, but on the east side it was rather trafficky. I watched a Super Shuttle driver make a u-turn across the bike lane. Not super. I gave him a WTF look and he didn't give a shit. Looks like someone isn't getting an anti-bike Hallmark at Christmas. 

East Capitol was adequate. What's the deal with that Jimmy T's Place place? I ride by it every day. It looks like a diner, but one of the things about diners is that they're open quite late and this place doesn't seem like it's open, like, ever. Is it a greasy spoon? Is it some other kind of food adjective and piece of flatware? I would think that a place in such prime real estate would want to have a lot of people in it, but this is DC and I'm sure there a ten million restrictions put on it by the neighbors because if there's anything people here like it's to not allow other people to like the things in their neighborhood. Mostly because of parking concerns. I guess I should go.

Saw the Official Wife and EtP on the street, going for a walk, about a block away from home. We walked Brompton, too, and I think it was happy for the exercise. So far, Kirby has mastered "sit" and "stay," but "fetch" is definitely going to be a stretch. So long as it keeps rolling over, I'll be happy. 

Ride In 9/10: Beethoven's Symphony 3.5 "Esoterica"

To The Editor:

I'm an avid runner.

But, after this morning's commute, I think it's time to license joggers. They jaywalk and run in bike lanes and they nearly run into me every day. Furthermore, roads were built for cars and bikes and sidewalks were built for walking, as the name implies.They are not called sideruns.Who do short-shorts-wearing, Usain Bolt-wannabees think they are? Usain Bolt?

Also, joggers should stick to paths and trails. That's why we have them. My tax dollars are being wasted. Joggers don't pay taxes.

This is Washington, DC, not Kenya.

I've never seen a police officer ticket a jogger, but speed cameras.

When I jog, I only jog on weekends and I always wear a helmet. If other joggers run when and where they shouldn't, it's not a surprise that SUVs can flip over and explode on them. In some ways, they were asking for it.

You know who else runs? Criminals, fleeing the scene of a crime. How am I supposed to tell if someone is "jogging" for fun or if they have just robbed a liquor store and are on drugs and are making my neighborhood unsafe?

Once time I was walking and was jogger weaving between people and this startled me. No one should ever be startled about anything, except at surprise parties and even then, you shouldn't yell "surprise" too loudly. Startling someone is basically the same as hitting them with a baseball bat.

Organized jogging, also known as road races, block city streets and make it impossible for other people to get around. Once I was late for brunch and I demand that all joggers be held accountable. My friends ate all of the toast and the waiters didn't bring more. These so called "waiters" aren't even the real waiter, because I was the one waiting because the road was blocked from the race.

In conclusion, traffic is bad enough already. Adding joggers to the mix of cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, buses, compact cars, ZipCars, Car2go, rickshaws, mopeds and cars will only serve to make traffic worse.




I left for work a little earlier than usual and took the Brompton. I wore work clothes because I thought it was cool enough for that and while it was cool, I still ended up something of a sweaty mess. I try so hard to be cycle chic, but I always end up cycle gross. Why can't the stylistas leave their imprimatur on looking unkempt and unwashed, like they did in the early 90s? You could even sew back pockets onto a plaid flannel shirt.

At the intersection of East Capitol and Massachusetts, I saw a 2 x 4 in the middle of the street. There's been a lot of houses sold in the neighborhood recently and I didn't know that "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan had purchased one. Mr. Duggan, I believe you dropped something. Wrestler gentrification is a huge people in DC. Where there were corner stores, now there are just turnbuckles. Entrance music plays all through the night and wakes up our elderly neighbors. There's all these new Junkyard Dog parks. The price of folding chairs (with which to blindside your opponent) has skyrocketed. It seems like every week a new chest waxing business is applying for a license. It's really gotten out of control.

I rode Madison Drive down the Mall, past the museums, on a road almost entirely devoid of car traffic. But almost all of the parallel parking spots were full. If it were up to me (it's not), I'd limit access to these roads to tour buses. Accordingly, you could then narrow the roads, or maybe even turn parts of them into cycle tracks. This is part of my ongoing campaign against drive-by tourism, which I find to be both distressing and sad. I've done my fair share of drive-by tourism and sometimes all you want to do is just look at nice buildings, but I'm not sure it's a socially responsible thing.

If you're reading this, you're an excellent, most likely attractive person and you're the kind of person who 1) like bikey stuff and 2) more than likely lives in DC-ish. That's why it's incumbent upon me to remind you about the upcoming DC State Fair and its Bike Accessory Contest. (Full press release at the bottom of the page). Now according to the Bike Accessory contest (sponsored by TFTS favorite bike shop, BicycleSpace) rules the entries "may be made out of any medium (wool, metal, Pixie Sticks, whatever you'd like!) in whatever crafty way you wish (knitting, macrame, duct taping, what-have-you). Any accessory made by any DC resident for any bicycle is eligible for this contest." Any material for any bicycle! So, if for example, someone wanted to build a toy poodle holder for a the front of a Brompton (and there's a market for a device this practical), you could totally do that! And you should! Or maybe you want to needlepoint "Don't shoal me, bro" onto something you hang from your seat rail? You could! Or maybe you want to make a mud flap for your rear fender out of old copies of Car & Driver because you like irony and whatnot? That's an idea! Basically, what I'm trying to say is that this contest is great and if you want to participate and need help coming up with something to do, let me know! Remember, Entries must be dropped off 11-11:30am at the DC State Fair on 9/22. The entrant can designate a representative to drop them off or contact nicole@dcstatefair.org to try to arrange prior drop off. In conclusions, do this.

I met the Official Wife on 23rd Street and walked with her for a few blocks to the Metro. I then rode down to 24th street, made a left onto Pennsylvania Avenue, which I took to M through Georgetown. Then I faced the substantially unfun virgin ride up Wisconsin Avenue on the Brompton. Just because you can do it, doesn't always mean you should. This is sort of where I am with riding up hills on the Brompton. I'm not a glutton for punishment (I'm a glutton for mutton. I should put that on a shirt) and this was certainly more taxing than I would have preferred. And it was made worse by a broken down truck which blocked a travel lane. I bailed to the sidewalk, but that slowed me down because I don't like riding very fast on sidewalks. I resumed riding on the street by Reservoir Road and stuck with it until Massachusetts, where I turned left and then road down the hill and up the hill and got to work, a half hour earlier than usual. Hooray? I guess. Means I can leave early at least.


For Immediate Release
Third Time’s A Charm: DC State Fair’s Third Annual Event
Washington, DC – The DC State Fair organizers are thrilled to announce the third annual Fair will be
held on Saturday, September 22, at the Barracks Row Fall Festival (8th Street SE below Pennsylvania
Avenue, close to Eastern Market Metro). The public is welcome. Participants are invited to enter any
of the Fair’s more than 20 contests, hear announcements of contest winners, take part in educational
demonstrations on food and craft making, and meet fellow community members. Anyone is welcome
to attend; contest registrants must be DC residents.
The DC State Fair, which serves as a culinary, artistic, and agricultural showcase of Washington, is
completely home grown. Until three years ago, DC had no county or state fair where residents could
show off their talents in baking, canning, urban agriculture, poetry, and photography. In 2010, local
food and garden bloggers decided that was a shame and started DC State Fair, which features contests
such as Tastiest Tomato, Funkiest-Looking Vegetable, Best Homemade Pie, a DC neighborhood
photography contest, and Best Homemade Jam, to name a few. For the first time ever, DC State Fair
has added Sewing, Knit & Crochet, Honey, Heaviest Fruit, Fermented Vegetable, and Kids’ Art and
Poetry Contests to the 2012 Fair so more of DC’s residents can showcase their talents. DC residents
can submit their entries for a chance to win everlasting glory (and prizes!).
The state or county fair concept is largely focused around community: Fairs provides a forum for
neighbors to engage one another, to share knowledge and experience, and to spotlight and reward the
hard work of cooking, crafting, and farming. DC State Fair strives to achieve these same goals within
the District and to help build a multicultural community focused around urban agriculture, education,
and art.
In order to pull this off, DC State Fair offers local, mission-aligned businesses and organizations
sponsorship options that include benefits such as logos on the Fair’s website, a vendor table with the
Fair, or even emceeing a contest. The Fair also has wonderful community support from individuals
who help run the contests and volunteer for the day of the Fair.
Beyond the vegetable, cooking, and art competitions and educational demonstrations run by DC State
Fair, Barracks Row Fall Festival itself will feature stages with musical acts and other entertainment,
a petting zoo, the Military Chef’s Cook-Off, and many other activities and groups focused on the
Barracks Row neighborhood.
DC State Fair’s has succeeded in turning this event into an annual tradition that aims to foster
community spirit and celebrate DC’s talented residents. Be sure to check out the contests, submit your
entries, and swing by the Fair to experience the fun!
About DC State Fair
DC State Fair’s mission is to celebrate the home-grown talents of the District. DC State Fair is an 501(c)(3) charitable
nonprofit organization. Its annual event showcases the culinary, artistic, and agricultural talents of DC residents through
competition. The Fair also coordinates educational demonstrations and supplemental events to encourage residents
to expand their skills, knowledge, and abilities to be able to compete in future Fairs. Visit DC State Fair online at
For more information about DC State Fair or for media interviews, please contact info@thedcstatefair.org.
For more information about major sponsorships, contest sponsorships, and vendor tables at the Fair, e-mail
To learn more about the Fair or how to volunteer, sign up for the State of the Fair and Volunteer newsletters: http://


Ride Home 9/7: Country Lime Dancing

I have this plan which I hope will solve the helmet debate, such as it is, once and for all and it might involve something that might result in my being investigated by Diplomatic Security. The steps go as follows: 1. Determine the country whose people are the most sensible and acturial. I'm thinking either Norway or Switzerland. 2. Call their embassy in Washington DC. 3. Ask if any of its employees commutes to work by bicycle and then ask if that or those people wear a helmet while doing so. Because if someone from a really sensible place situated in the same milieu has weighed the costs and benefits and decided one way or the other, well, that would seem like something worth considering. (In truth, this wasn't the first plan I arrived at while I was thinking about this issue on my way home. My other one included through a helmet into a river to see if it sinks or if it's a witch. Good ideas all around yesterday.) Though I suppose this plan could backfire when a very sensible diplomatic from a very sensible country tells me that he take ths bus to work and would never bike.  Or even worse, drives a black BMW.

I took Massachusetts to Wisconsin and rode downhill through Glover Park and Georgetown. There's more than enough room for bikes on the stretch of Wisconsin from Garfield to Reservoir- it's after Reservoir where things get a little tighter, though if you're willing to ride in the door zone (great name for a door store) for a couple of blocks and aside from almost getting side-swiped by a city bus, things were peachy. I decided to ride to the very bottom of the hill and I was even tempted to ride my bike directly into the fountains at the new waterfront park. I did not do this.

Why have I stopped writing with such frequency about other bicyclists I see? I can't tell you, Maybe they aren't doing as many outlandish things or maybe they don't seem as distinctive, there being so many more of them of late, or maybe their outlandishness and distinctiveness wash over me without leaving much of an impression.

I saw a car with the Virginia license plate M LOPEZ. The lady inside didn't look like Mario Lopez which leads to me ask: WHY ARE YOU DRIVING SLATER'S CAR? Among the highlights of Mr. Lopez's career, my favorite would be his role as host on Pet Star. This was on Virginia Avenue, which I took to 23rd, which I took to C in an attempt to meet up with the Official Wife after work. Our timing was off and I decided to meet her at home and I crossed Constitution Avenue at 22nd and rode down the path/sidewalk that parallels it. It wasn't too crowded, though there were a fair number of other bicyclists, mostly heading in the other direction, presumably towards Arlington and points beyond.

There were three guys filming a music video (I presume) with one guy rapping, one guy filming and one guy I'm not sure what-ing. The emcee spat hot fire from the center of the path and rather than interrupt their filming, I took the Brompton on to the grass, off-road style. I managed to stay upright and I got back onto the path maybe 30 yards down and now I might be in the background of a rap video, so if you're watching MTV (lol) and see a guy with medium length dreads and a black baseball cap rapping in front of the Washington Monument looks for another guy on a bright blue clown bicycle (that's a clown bike, bro) riding in the background and that'd be me.

Most people take pictures of the Washington Monument from this spot, but I took pictures of what you could see if you looked in other directions.

And that's why people pretty much only take pictures of the Washington Monument from here.

Jefferson Drive, the street that separates the Mall from the museums, is really quite a lovely place for a bike ride. I'm so gushy about the Mall lately. I guess after a year of riding back and forth on virtually the same route every day, you really start to prize difference over predictability. Sometimes I wonder if this blog falls too readily in the usual ruts with the same preoccupations and banalities. So, in the spirit of mixing it up a little:

Kenny Rogers on a horse.
Up the House side of Capitol Hill, down East Capitol, around the park and a quick left on A Street. This last part of my route seems to be full of Maryland drivers speeding back home. It's a bit draconian of a solution, but we might want to build a wall on DC's borders. (Some historians posit that the real reason the communists built the Berlin Wall was to keep Maryland drivers out of East Berlin.) Bad drivers aren't bad people, but being a bad driver is bad enough.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. If anyone wants to ride around town Sunday morning, let me know. I mean, if you're interested in riding with me, not just if you're going to go ride by yourself. I'm not your mom- you don't need to tell me.


Ride In 9/7: Forever in Bleu Cheese

A love late summer morning bicycle commute. Was it hot? A little. Was it muggy? Mostly. Did I care? Sort of. Did I see other bike commuters? Uh huh. Have I run out of rhetorical questions? What do you think? (see what I did there?) (and there?)

And that's pretty much all I've got. See you on Monday folks!

Ok, I'll try a little more. I rode around the park and there were many more CaBis left than usual. This happens frequently on Fridays, probably based on alternative work schedules. Though I think that if I had an alternative work schedule I'd be more likely to be biking on a Friday than not. I would also buy a big aquarium and keep colorful fish for pets. I suppose I technically don't need to be off every other Friday to do that, but I'd feel bad for the fish not getting to spend quality with me.

The Brompton isn't making noises any more, so I'm relatively pleased with that. I'm trying to decide how important/necessary/useful a front bag would be for the bike. In practice, I very much enjoy the idea of the utility of not having to wear a bag on my back, but I've priced some of these bags and they are rather expensive. For the same amount of money I could buy so many waffles and then eat those waffles, or at least some of them, and then not feel too great because I ate too many waffles. That's how many waffles I could buy: enough to eat too many of them but still have a lot of waffles left over and that's how expensive the bags seem (I say seem because it's not like they cost like a billion dollars, but they cost a lot for a bag). I might just invest in a good/better messenger bag/backpack, so recommend away. My current bag is made of canvas, which isn't waterproof in any real way. It also gets gross from sweat and stuff.

I rode behind a few people on East Capitol and then bike traffic was fairly light on Pennsylvania Avenue, not that heavy bike traffic would really have any appreciable difference on my commute. Or at least not until it's really, really heavy. But even with little bike traffic, there are some places along the route that could really benefit from some regulation of traffic flow. For example, the entrance to the White House plaza has maybe 15 or 20 metal posts in front of it, denying access to cars, but allowing for pedestrians and cyclists to pass through. But with all those choices, I've seen bicyclists nearly collide into one another because the riders coming up 15th street and the riders heading towards 15th street each want to ride through the same gap, the one closest to 15th street on the other side of the guard house. See below:

Essentially, I think that they should just add some markings (ideally, green paint) that extends from the 15th street cycle track to where cyclists should turn to keep on it. That way, you have a clearer pathway that could help avoid some of the potential collisions. It could even just be words painted on the ground, words like "To Continue on Cycle Track, Turn Left Here" but you'd put them where you want people to turn left. I think this kind of clarity could also benefit tourists who are all like "where'd that bike lane go?" Or, if you really want to be classy and/or you hate green paint, you could use darker paving stones to indicate the desired pathway. Anyway, whatever 29 agencies control this space should really drop everything to ensure that this happens as soon as possible.

Another new Bromtpon at Friday Coffee Club. It belongs to Ted and it has Brooks grips and now I want Brooks grips.
blurry picture
It's a beauty.

After coffee, I set out up 17th street, which was vaguely terrible. The only saving grace was the ease with which I could pull up onto the sidewalk when the traffic was too backed up. I think I did this three times at red lights, riding on the sidewalk to the front of the line of stopped cars and then pulling back into the road ahead of them. This might be incredibly bad form on my part, both for the illegal sidewalk riding and the car shoaling. I've given all folding bike riders a bad name for the history of the rest of all time and now they'll have to cancel Christmas or whatever the usual claims are when people write about one person's bad behavior tarnishing the image of the entire group. In case you couldn't tell, I think that's hogwash. But I suppose it's mightily convenient for a scofflaw to exculpate himself, which I believe was something that Michelangelo did also.

Connecticut Avenue to Dupont Circle and through Dupont Circle (not around, but through the park) to Massachusetts where I rode behind a guy wearing funky yellow plaid pants and then I rode up the big hill and then I folded my bike and now it's behind my chair as I type this blog post.


Ride Home 9/5, Ride In 9/6 and Ride Home 9/6: Live, from the bike shop

I'm writing (or at least starting to write) this post from a bench in the back of the bike shop as I wait for Kirby, my "delicate flower" Brompton, undergo minor surgery- the replacement of his right pedal. It had been clicking for the past two rides and I learned that he had a busted pedal bearing. Poor little guy.

I've since left. Everything is better now. The remainder of this post was written from my couch at home. 

Last night I didn't ride Kirby. The ride itself wasn't super memorable, hence my lack of super memories, which are like regular memories, but in them everyone is wearing a cape. I had left work earlier than usual because I had to get home to take care of the dog (EtP) prior to heading back out again to spend the evening with my wife and a former UN Secretary General (SPOILER ALERT: Not Javier Perez de Cuellar). Traffic seemed lighter than usual and I rode through Dupont Circle to 19th Street, a street that I'm really coming to love. Sure it's full of buses and drivers who aren't looking for bicyclists and pedestrians who see bicyclists but ignore them anyway, but it seems like a pretty direct and fast way to get from north to south (carpetbagging?) if you're willing to mostly mix it up with traffic for a couple of blocks, namely between L and Penn.

I'm thinking that maybe we should just add "unless you think you're special" to the bottom of each traffic sign. No turn on red unless you think you're special. Yield unless you think you're special. Stop unless you think you're special. That way, we can at least make evident who thinks that he's special and judge them overtly.

Down Penn and past the White House and then down 15th and on Penn again across town to the Capitol. For as 'bad' as the Pennsylvania cycle track is, I sure love it. I don't know if that's Stockholm syndrome, the soft bigotry of low expectations or if I've got a real deal Petrarch-Laura situation going on. I don't know if I like riding in the bike lane in spite of its flaws or because of its flaws or whether it has nothing to do with it's flaws (or flossing) and everything to do with the fact that I get to ride past fancy and important buildings while looking at other fancy and important buildings, all within the relative safety of a somewhat separated bike lane. Look at me, all waxing and stuff.

I rode up Capitol Hill (fun fact: somewhat hilly) and down East Capitol. Little doing. I then took Bikeshare back to the thing (thing being the word I use to describe the thing I went to with the Official Wife) and then we rode home together on Bikeshare. We rode past Union Station, which was (and is still) in the process of being striped after being paved. There will be bike lanes! And this is fantastic! And I will add one more sentence just to use one more exclamation point! Though, I've got to admit that I'm going to miss (sort of) the wonderful and terrifying affair that was riding through the bumpy, ruddy, complicated mess of lanes that was the old Columbus Circle. But my missing it is nothing in comparison to the vast utility of bike lanes, and maybe even some bollards.

Here's a picture of the soon-to-be bike lane. I saw it this morning:

So stripy. 
This is the west bound lane. It'll be on the very inside of the travel lanes, next to the brick plaza nearer the station. The bike lane starts after the intersection with Massachusetts and 2nd Street NE and it ends at the Met Branch Trail entrance at First Street NE, rather than continuing on down Massachusetts. So it's kind of a bike lane that appears from nowhere and disappears from nowhere, which isn't exactly great. But when the First Street NE cycle track qua Met Branch Trail (yeah I used qua. what are you gonna do about it?) is completed, it'll make a little more sense. The eastbound bike lane doesn't hug the curb like this one does, instead existing between the right turn (?) lane and the central travel lane. Here's what that looks like:

I'm ready for both of these lanes to be striped because even tonight, with the spray paint on the ground, drivers felt no compunction to not drive in them. Perhaps thicker white paint will do the trick. Or those painted bicycle people.

I took New Jersey Avenue again because if something is worth doing once, it's worth doing twice or something like that. Today was less crowded than yesterday and I didn't mind it nearly as much. R Street was also less crowded and at the time I think I recall seeing some stuff that might have been worth blogging about, but apparently not. I guess I could make something up. Um, I remember feeling like I was riding pretty quickly, so that definitely seems like a kind of fabrication. Most of my ride, I was consumed by the clickety click clicking on what turned out to be Kirby's right pedal. Clicking is one of the more annoying sounds one's bike can make, along with squeaking, squealing, gnashing, thudding scraping, scratching, noshing and grinding. There's not a lot you can do when your bike makes weird noises. Maybe you can ignore it, but maybe I can't. I tried to discern what it was. The clicking seemed to stop when I wasn't pedaling, so I donned my deerstalker, and decided it had something to do with the pedal. It turned out it did have to do with the pedal (see opening paragraph, those of you who read this from bottom to top. Also, why do you do this?).

How did the people at 10th and R NW get that stop light put in? It's a T-intersection and I have no idea why there's a stop light at all. They must have some serious political pull. Overall, I think there are two many stop lights in general and there's not nearly enough creativity when it comes out our traffic control solutions. There should just be a stop sign on 10th and no light on R. Otherwise, it's just a waste. I demand a redress of these grievances!

It's been interesting trying to learn how to ride the Brompton, with its two gears and tiny wheels. I've been "spinning" a lower gear, turning the pedals over at a much higher rate. I think I pedal about three times as much as I normally would on the other bike. It's just different and it'll take some getting used to and I don't necessarily mind it, but it's probably the most marked difference between riding the two different bikes.

And now, on to the ride home. I left work late (oh yeah, sorry about not writing up these posts at lunch. It's still add/drop and I'm unpleasantly busy for too much of the day. Please address you angry letters to the university president. Or maybe, don't write those letters because, you know, remaining employed and such), taking the usual route down Massachusetts. A rode next to an out-of-service bus. Why is any bus out-of-service during evening rush hour? I don't understand. I turned left at Garfield, detouring through [neighborhood between Wisconsin Avenue and Connecticut Avenue] and then through Adams Morgan, across Euclid Street to 7th, the part of 7th called Georgia Avenue, parallel to Howard University. There's no bike lane on Georgia Avenue, at least until south of Florida Ave. I don't especially like that. South of Florida, it's pretty breezy and I didn't mind the breeze-itude, which is not a real thing. I am, however, beginning to get mildly upset about the idea of wind once again hampering my commute. It's gusted a few times in the past couple of days and I simply don't care for it. I rode to Bicycle Space where they, after some time, replaced my busted right pedal (For those of you reading from the bottom, please see the middle paragraph and then the first paragraph. Also, please prepare for a question).

After the bike was fixed, I rode down 7th to Mass, Mass to 6th, and 6th to E, which I took back over to and around Columbus Circle, down Massachusetts and basically to home, after stopping briefly as a market by Lincoln Park, which stocks, amongst other things, fancy cheeses. I've long been seeking a local corner store replete with fancy cheeses and I'm grateful I've finally found one. There's no point in living not near a place that sells fancy cheeses.

I shall leave you now. Thanks for reading.


Ride In 9/5: Mops and Buckets

I managed to leave my wallet at home. First time I've done that in a while. Normally, it's a belt or socks that I forget. I guess you can leave your wallet at home no matter how you get to work (bus, horse, dirigible), but it somehow seems worse that I don't have it for my bike rides. Mainly for the lack of ID. Oh well. I'll do my best not to get amnesia on the way home.

With Capital Bikeshare, you can get dockblocked. With Bixi in Montreal, you can get dockblocquebecois.

I rode part the park and down Massachusetts to the still not yet fully paved Columbus Circle and I battled buses and taxis for space, but mostly just stuck in the middle of the right lane because traffic was slow and I didn't want to get hemmed in by a driver who thought that there'd be room for both of us. I watched someone I presume is a new bike commuter try to sneak past traffic on the right and then bailing to the sidewalk when he realized there was no room and then getting off the sidewalk half a block later and then weaving to the left side of the street, only to find himself once again stranded on a median waiting for traffic to clear so he could move again. Dude, I think you're over-thinking it. As do your legs and lungs, your ability to see traffic patterns improves the more you bike to work. You learn to pick your spots and the times to hustle and the times to relax, the places where it makes sense to filter past slowed traffic and the places where there's no point in rushing. It's not always faster to rush.

I decided to take Massachusetts to New Jersey, a diagonal avenue of no small importance, but amply roomy enough to accommodate bike traffic without currently hosting any bike lanes or sharrows. This was my first commute on New Jersey Avenue, NW. It was fine. It'll be better when there's bike lanes. It got a little sketchy around the intersection with New York Avenue/the highway entrance, but from there to R Street, it was basically fine. New Jersey intersects with R between 4th and 5th street NW and after my left turn onto R, it was fairly familiar territory.

I've never noticed this before:
The thing on the left
It's the Shaw Historic Bike Tour. Has anyone ever taken the Shaw Historic Bike Tour?

I did not stop at Kafe Bohem. I wanted to stop at Kafe Bohem. If Kafe Bohem takes off and DC develops a taste for Central European coffeehouses, someone should really buy the vacant Eastern Thifty Market across from my house and open a Hungarian kávéház. You'll make all the money, or at least all of my money.

At different times during this ride I found myself behind riders who were traveling a pace much slower than I normally would but rather than pass them I decided to follow behind (not at a lurky distance or anything) and just go slower. Much as choosing a different route can break up your routine, so can choosing a different pace. Variety is the pumpkin spice latte of life.

I don't think there will be a post tonight. See you tomorrow.


Ride Home 9/4: Remember that part in Starship Troopers? Yeah, that was awesome

I took a Myers Briggs test and I got B-I-K-E.

One of the worser habits you can develop as a bike commuter is racing cars. I found myself racing a Honda CR-V with a Yale license plate holder. The driver passed me on Mass before Idaho, but I caught up at Wisconsin. She stayed in front on the Massachusetts descent, in spite of my righteous and very bikerly aerodynamic tuck and was in front of me at California, but by Florida I had managed to get in front of her thanks to a "parked" car (blinkers somehow excuse all lane blocking sins. Blinkers are the papal dispensations of automotive lighting. This and other asinine quotes can be found in my new monograph title This and Other Asinine Quotes: A Judith Regan Joint, forthcoming) in the right lane which pinched car traffic but allowed me to get by. "Take that, CR-V driver!" I thought. Ultimately it makes no difference if you "beat" someone in getting to [random location] because that's not what bike commuting is all about (to find out what bike commuting is all about, do the hokey pokey on Bike to Work Day. Then, nirvana) and racing doesn't really accomplish anything. It's not like a driver is going to say at the end of it "Gadnabit, that there bi-see-clist done did get somewhere faster than me in my auto-mo-beel and now I'm gonna get me one of them there bi-see-culls and then I'll start getting places all fast and whatnot." Mostly because most drivers don't speak in goldpanner patois. But also because people don't make transportation decisions based solely on the consideration of a random sampling of speed. If that were the case, everyone would fly fighter jets to work and everyday we'd have yet another Goose situation. And this is why you shouldn't race drivers. Or something.

I rode through Dupont Circle (not well, I might add. Sorry, drivers) and then down 19th street (sorry, Circulator driver. I didn't know you weren't using your turn signal unironically) and we had a situation in one bicyclist decided to ride in the left travel lane and two other bicyclists (one of them me) decided to ride in the right bike lane and two full travel lanes were taken by bicyclists. One way streets are tricky, especially ones that intersect other one way streets which alternate in the direction of traffic, but I'd like to make a suggestion that the standard side on which bicyclists should ride is the right side, excepting for any left-side cycling infrastructure. I think that this is more in keeping with the longheld American tradition of slower vehicles traveling on the right. Just a suggestion. I'm open to hearing opposing viewpoints (and dismissing them, in another fine American tradition). Of course, had I taken my own advice, I wouldn't have been able to make the green light to make my left turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue. This means I embraced yet another longstanding national tradition, that of total and rank hypocrisy. I will now chant USA until I drift asleep.

But first, more blogging! Pennsylvania and across past the White House. Today's thought about the White House: that glass has to be bullet proof, right? I wonder if there was any tension with the historical people who were all like "no, we must use the original glass!" and the Secret Service all like "nah, dude." White House NIMBYs are the worst.

I rode behind a woman who was on a folding bike during the the time I traversed the high single digit blocks on the eastern half of Penn. She was chatty, at least to non-bicyclists. She informed a driver that he had a green light. She informed some pedestrians that they were in the bike lane. I've become less chatty over my years of bike commuter, having decided that people simply don't want to hear from me. Perhaps my folding bicycle will reverse that. The smaller the wheels, the bigger the mouth, maybe?

This is mean and I probably shouldn't admit it but the times I'm most likely to not jaywheel through an intersection is when a driver creeps up behind me to try to make a right on red and I'm blocking his turn by remaining in the bike lane. Like I said, mean and pretty petty. But this is what happens when you read one too many comments on how bicyclists never follow traffic laws. Sure, I'll follow your laws. And we'll all live with the consequences. MWAHAHAHAHAHA. (Maniacal cackling is difficult to render in print. I have no idea how the closed captioners managed the RNC convention)

I stopped at the dry cleaners to pick up a pair of now-mended pants. The cleaner initially denied that they were there. I gave him every phone number I had. I then tried my last name. Only upon the description of the pants and mending they needed was he able to find them. Don't throw out your dry cleaners receipt, ever. As for wire hangers, well, that's already been covered.

Cross Check rode well and I think I might take it again tomorrow. I do suspect that it needs a tune up and there's a decent chance that on one of these rides home I'll just divert to BicycleSpace and leave it there and ask them to give it a look. I think that the bottom bracket needs replacing. Or maybe just cleaning. I'll defer to the experts. I've been riding the bike pretty hard for about 18 months straight and it could use some love and attention, as could we all. Maybe this week.