Ride In 1/31: Two

Sparkling morning here in the nation's capital where it remained remarkably temperate for late January and remarkably windy, like in that Beatles song "The Long and Windy Road" (oh, it's winding? like the font?). If you prefer your musical wind puns more regionally indigenous, then "Wind me up, Chuck" might suffice. Or course, if the wind makes you upchuck, then that's a much worse problem than puns premised on homonyms and probably even worse of a problem for any person standing nearby. I feel like gustin' loose, but you left me standing here a long, long time ago.

Saw Dave and Kid O by the Capitol and rode past and said hello and I wish I could've tarried a bit longer, but the demands of professional obligations made it such that I needed to get my bike and myself to work faster than I would have otherwise preferred.

Samovars on folding tables in front of a motor home parked on 3rd Street between the National Gallery and the Capitol reflecting pool. I wonder what that was all about. I did not look in any way official.

Have you see the light pole that used to be at Penn and 13th Street?

This pole defected, like Czeslaw Milosz.
It has been displaced. They can put its picture on a very tall and slender milk carton. Between this and flexposts, I'd say there's so major upheaval at DDOT. Speaking of which, a fond farewell to John Lisle of DDOT, their soon-to-be former Director of Communications. John has done an excellent job being extremely responsive to the #bikeDC community, especially in the realm of social media, and he will be greatly missed. He is moving to a new position with DC Water, where he will either be working in communications or operating a giant tunneling machine. Either way, it will be considerably more boring.

Actually, the pole was just prone on the sidewalk in front of the Taxation with Representation counter in front of the JAWB.
Taxation without adequate traffic control
Enough talk about prone poles, let's talk about sexism. Personally, I'm not a fan. It's insidious and wrong and I see a lot of banal sexism amongst some of the male bikists I encounter on my commute. Don't be sexist. The form that this most frequently takes is assuming that they're going to be faster (i.e better) than the lady bicyclist they've just pulled alongside/in front of. So, when the light goes green, the dude starts hustling on the CaBi, pulls in front, and then is promptly passed once again because she's on a road bike and she was faster anyway. Don't make assumptions of bicycling speed based on gender! This is also why I advocate only passing while moving- this allows you to properly gauge everyone's speed and make decisions accordingly. Anyway, I know this isn't the biggest problem facing women and biking (it's not enough pink clothes at bike shops, right?) but I think this kind of "get out of my way, lady cyclist" mentality is one worth addressing and rectifying.

They're pulling down the inaugural viewing stand in front of the JAWB.

Someone the ripped banner makes the message less muddled.

I rode up 15th and across the White House to Pennsylvania through the upper teens and twenties (the blocks, not the eras because I am on a bike and not a time machine) and I watched a tow truck driver fail at properly attaching an SUV and saw a dramatic looking and unintentional convergence of the two vehicles. Friendly fire in the war on cars. I stuck to Penn through Washington Circle and then took M Street to Wisconsin and soon enough found myself standing in car traffic. As far as I'm concerned, by biking, I've opted out of the world of car traffic and I shouldn't be held up by it. I'm not carrying around 2000 extra pounds and hundreds of unused cubic feet of metal and plastic with me, so it seems unjust that I have to deal with the delays caused by the people who are. I left Wisconsin at P Street and rode to 35th, soon enough again on a familiar route, the one I took when I first started this blog, through Glover Park, which now has a sign welcoming you on 37th Street.

In Volvos and Jogging Strollers We Trust
37th was a less bitter climb than I remembered and New Mexico Avenue didn't prove as awful as it could have. I stopped in the near middle of the lane in order to allow a woman to cross the street (in a crosswalk) but my stopping failed to dissuade the old guy in the car behind me to do the same and he swerved around me and kept going. The next guy, thankfully, stopped. The problem, I think, is that we've accustomed ourselves to a world in which people on foot are so subservient to people on cars that there would be no indignation whatsoever if the scenario was opposite and the woman was the driver and the old guy was trying to cross the street. It's Stockholm Syndrome, especially if there are Saabs involved.

For those of you not keeping track at home, presumably with notches cut into tree bark with a pocket switchblade, today makes the two year anniversary of the beginning of Tales From the Sharrows. That's two straight years of chronicling my everyday bicycle commute, ride in and ride home. Over the course of that time, I've been extraordinarily lucky to have interacted and met so many of you who happen to have (maybe sometimes) read this blog. All nine of you are wonderful people. I've learned a lot from writing about my bike commute, though not proper grammar or punctuation or word usage or technical traffic terminology (thank you for bearing with me). This blog has at times been a diary, a paean, a grocery list, an instruction manual (in how not to ride your bike in DC), a sounding board, a jeremiad and a collection of rants and ramblings, shambling and ambling, but never gambling. "I have never bet on bike commuting"- Pete Rose, probably. I've yet to determine what year three of this project is going to look like (haikus and pictures of mason jars?) but, in whatever form and shape it takes, I'm tremendously grateful to those of you who have ever taken the time to read TFTS and may there be many wonderful, better than 37th best, bicycle rides ahead of you.


Ride Home 1/30: Dotes From The Underground

At 23rd and Massachusetts, I came upon an ambulance. By L Street, about 5 blocks later, I was a good two blocks in front of it and as it idled in impenetrable. There were sirens and there was honking, but there was no where to go. Some drivers tried to heed and others tried to take advantage of the heeding and the ambulance driver did as best he could to get through the morass. But it just wasn't happening. It's sadistic to think this is funny or worth chuckling over or holding any other opinion than thinking that car traffic that paralyzes emergency vehicles is immensely sad.

The L Street Cycle Track has been denuded of its flexposts.

I blame Carmen Sandiego

It no longer had flexposts at the beginning of each block and DDOT doesn't know why they aren't there. It must be deliberate and I'm sure they've been removed on purpose. The purpose of the posts is to prevent drivers from using the cycle track as a cut through and they've been rather effective. Between 16th and 15th, already one driver, the driver of an SUV limo, had already taken advantage of their absence to pull up to the curb and load a passenger. I always thought they were "temporary" and that eventually drivers would learn, but seeing their absence already really makes me worry. I thought maybe they'd keep them in until at least spring. Maybe they've been taken out for cleaning or have been treated to a spa vacation for all of their hard work.

15th to Pennsylvania and then a trail of bicyclists on Pennsylvania rode in front of me, including at least one guy who opted to use hand signals to indicate to me, riding behind him, that he was slowing and stopping and I should do the same. Immaturely, I decided to be a jerk about this and snicker to myself, "Oh, thanks, buddy. Never done this before" and I feel bad about doing this because clearly he was just trying to be helpful and there's no reason for me to be so conceited and self-righteous. So, I'm sorry guy. A few of us tweeted about it afterwards (including Emily, who I've never met, but also happened to be in the bike caravan with the hand signal guy. You ride in #bikeDC and you'll eventually meet everyone else) and now I'm wondering, how often do you all use hand signals to the cyclists behind you in your commute? I pretty much never do and now I wonder if I'm a bad bike commuter. Or at least comparatively worse.

But maybe not as bad as this Bromptoneer shoaler?

My wheels are small and I need to hold on to this pole for balance
Even worse than the shoaling is that he's sort of just in the way. Seriously, he's practically in the path of turning cars for what, maybe 10 feet closer to the other side of the intersection? Is there something so wrong about waiting behind stop lines?

East Capitol to and around the park and down A to home. Goodbye, false spring. I'll see you all again next winter, which I believe, commences tomorrow.

Ride In 1/30: Rupert of Hentzau

Hard to be too upset about a 60 degree day in January. Well, once you put aside your fears and consternation about drastic and catastrophic climate change. But, other than that, I can't say that I terribly minded (mound?) wearing shorts and a short sleeve shirt instead of wearing all of my clothes and all of my jackets and all of my hats in a feeble and futile attempt to stay warm. It should rain this afternoon, and quite hard, and that will make things quite interesting and by interesting, I mean wet.

Officials patrolled Pennsylvania Avenue Bike Lanes Wednesday. Starting tomorrow, in the unlikely event that someone is actually caught making an illegal u-turn across Pennsylvania Avenue, that person will be issued a $100 fine. Many, many thanks to all of #bikeDC and especially Dave and Nicole for raising awareness of this issue and Charles and the many others for doing the down-and-dirty (?) political (?) work that helped bring about this clarification, which will hopefully  eventually help play a role in dissuading drivers from engaging in the dangerous practice of u-turns across the bike lanes. I also hope that DDOT et al  continue to investigate the deployment of physical barriers on the lane because you know, plastic sticks are cheaper to pay for than constant police presence.

All this talk of Penn and I didn't even take it today. I rode down Mass to Columbus Circle (bike lane isn't fully striped yet) and then up First and Florida and I moved over to ride into the crosswalk at North Capitol and I found myself stuck in that crosswalk rather than in the road on Florida Avenue. In trying to get out of the way of drivers, I just ended up putting myself out.

Got honked at around 7th and R and Rhode Island. It was my fault, apparently, that a driver found herself at a red light in the lane to my left when she wanted to be in the lane to my right (I was in the bike lane between the go straight lane and the right-turn lane). I moved forward a little, after looking back and blankly staring, (expressionlessness is my favorite facial expression) and she moved across the bike lane and turned right and all was well once again with her commute, I guess. My everlasting advice to all bike commuters is to try to forget the small stuff and forgive the pettiest of the small stuff. If I wanted to let minor annoyances ruin my day, I'd take the bus. And if I wanted to let miner annoyances ruin my day, that'd probably involve dead canaries and that's just terrible.

Oppose Maryland's Proposed Mandatory Helmet Law.

All sorts of cyclists on R Street, but only a few on Massachusetts and even most of them were riding in the other direction. It was a nice steady climb today, though maybe I just liked it more because it's hard to be mad about any part of your bike commute when you get to spend it outside on a day as nice and warm as this one. I guess you could get mad if you were chased by a woodchuck or something, but stuff like that never happens to me. Maybe tomorrow.


Ride In & Ride Home 1/29: Drams and Dramaturgy

A secret warm day hinder in the midst (mist?) of winter, like the surprise inside of a Kinder egg. Warm in the morning and warmer in the evening still. I overdressed, but barely, for the ride in and underdressed, but barely, for the ride home. I wonder if nudists underdress barely.

You may honk, sir, but it will fall on deaf ears. I simply do not care, especially if you're honking it me for having left the bike lane on account of a car being parked within it. Like many people on the political left, I know just enough about Marxism to badly misstate and fumblingly misuse its precepts for the purpose of overwrough polemics and I so state that the history of all hitherto existing commutes is a history of mode struggle and class solidarity sometimes means that you're just going to have to deal with my riding in front of you for like 3 seconds to get around your fellow motorists. Or something like that. It's in the back of Capital, like in one of the later chapters. Maybe in a footnote. Definitely something in there about bikes and cars. Almost certain.

Penn to 11th and I rode around some construction equipment between H Street (not that H Street) and New York Avenue and then past Massachusetts and Rhode Island and later on in the ride across Vermont on R and then eventually across Connecticut before regaining Massachusetts and up the hill. That's a goodly amount of states.

Ever try to compose a sonnet while riding your bike? It's hard! My pentameter per kilometer ratio is very low. Is that something I can track on Strava?

For the ride home, I thought about taking the Capital Crescent Trail, but left work closer to the usual closing time than I thought I would and I opted for the more direct route home via the streets. Were the streets mean? I'd say they were about average and I managed to keep my mode, a bicycle, out of the median.

Usual route home and the L Street Cycle Track proved lovely and somewhat crowded and I rode later on to 15th where I encountered the first two of many runners who found themselves running in the bike lane. I call these people zombie joggers because they have glassy eyes and there's nothing going on behind them. BRAINS, they turn off instead of eating. And they refuse to acknowledge my glower in any real way and I find this infuriating. I yield the remainder of my time, like a Senator or something, to this screed about running in the bike lane:
It is simply unacceptable in any circumstance. More than unacceptable, it imperils the runner and it imperils the bicyclist. It is selfish and anti-social and in poor taste. There is simply no excuse that I will abide for it. It is also illegal, if you care about that sort of stuff. Sure, it may be more convenient than running on the sidewalk, but maybe it's more convenient for me to bike on the highway and yet I don't think that convenience is the appropriate means by which to make this judgment. Plenty of things are convenient and still quite wrong. For example, Hot Pockets. 
Also, since that wasn't very super screedy or especially long, I unyield the remainder of my time back to myself (SOMEONE CHECK ROBERT'S RULES TO SEE IF I CAN DO THIS) to tell you some other stuff:

  • My cycling cap was in my work bag and I spilled coffee in that work bag (stupid putting mug in bag without checking to see if it's closed) and it soaked into the cap, but I wrung the cap out of the sink and wore the cap anyway. From now on, schoolyard bullies will call me "java hair" in a taunting way.
  • On Pennsylvania Avenue, I saw a woman hunched over in the process of having just done some adjustments to her bike. I asked if she was ok and she responded "yeah" and that her "chain fell off." She had the dirty hands to prove that she got it back on. Been there, done that.
  • A little later on Penn, I saw another rider with her bike's kickstand fully extended in the downward position. I yelled "Your kickstand is done!" but I don't think she heard me. Never forget your kickstand. 
Now I've reached the end. After arriving home, I changed and biked back to dinner, where I met the Official Wife and we biked home together. Huzzah for more biking. 


Ride In & Ride Home 1/28: A Rare Condition From Which She Is Not Suffering

Of all of the impressionists, I think my favorite is the guy from Police Academy. The impressionists, as we're all aware, were very much concerned with light and/or funny noises and this morning would have made for a terrible work of impressionism because there wasn't very much light, as it was crowded out by a clouding out. There was also rain, which wasn't freezing. being an optimist, I prefer to think of it as melted snow anyhow. Work started later than usual and I left the house at 10 and by then the roads were fine and the bicycling riding was no different from normal, unfreezing, rain riding.Roads were wet and still salty. On the bright side, there certainly won't be any slugs in the bike lanes come spring.

East Capitol, Pennsylvania, 15th and R. I ride these roads so often, I'm sort of hoping for a TFTS Heritage Trail to be established in my honor. Or, I would, if I suffered from delusions of grandeur. I instead only suffer from delusions of grand pianos and, like the saying goes, if you Chopin in the first act, you have'll have to use it by third.

There's a box in my closet in which I keep my winter bike "stuff" and I've until today completed neglected to look through it. Big error on my part. Lots of really useful stuff in there (Franklin stoves, snow shoes, yeti repellent) and I'm glad I've gotten to it before February. Wish I looked through it months ago.

Stopping in the rain, just stopping in the rain
What a marvelous feeling, I'm skidding again

To download the rest of my Singing in the Rain lyrics-replaced-with-biking-things album (including "Make Em Crash," "Fit as a Fixie," and "You Are My Lucky Car"), please contact my agent, who happens to be a toy poodle.

It feels like my ride doesn't actually start until I get to the base of the hill on Massachusetts. The first few miles just don't seem to count. Does anyone else's ride start when you're nearly at work? It's curious.

I found myself stuck in Ward Circle today and I weaved through some cars and jumped a red light and I regret nothing.

The sensation on the ride home was an interesting one in that it was pleasant and unadulteratedly carefree and fun. I blame it on the not rain. It also wasn't cold. The only things bike rides need to be to be perfect are for some things to not be. It's like Buddhism, basically.

Massachusetts to 21st to L. I rode conscious of the metal plates and metal  grates and manhole covers and other things that dot our roads in a way that I find unfathomable. My worst of all bike crashes, the one that required stitches under my chin, came from my riding over a metal grate in the rain and since then I've been quite wary of them. I encourage you to do the same.

Blaming bike lanes for traffic is like blaming foreign aid for the national debt. That's trenchant bike and political analysis. Two-for-one deals all day here.

Perfect ride on L Street. I biked a perfect, as all the cool kids say. Ok, no one but me says this, but if cool kids would like to adopt this phraseology, that'd be something. Then I would be the progenitor of some hip new slang and maybe they'd build me a statue (underwritten with "Progenitor of "Biking a Perfect") and put that statue along the TFTS Heritage Trail. There will be deluges of grandeur if the drains are blocked when it rains.

11th Street, Pennsylvania, Capitol Hill and East Capitol. Then, Kentucky Avenue to the grocery store. I thought about all the rights and responsibilities that I have that are allegedly the same as all of the drivers next to me. Sure don't feel the same.

Grocery store saw kale and chorizo and potatoes added to my bag for the trip home and it was an easy couple of blocks riding after setting off again. Good ride, happy ride and good riddance to all of you, assuming riddance has something to do with bike riding, which I'm not sure it does.


Ride Home 1/24: Puddle Sandwiches

The metro stop closest to my office is on the red line and I live closest to the blue/orange. This necessitates a change at Metro Center, something I don't particularly enjoy. When I decide to take the Metro home, it has been my habit to bike from work to one of the nearer blue/orange stations, normally Farragut West (on this ride, McPherson Square). This is primarily a downhill ride that follows my normal route home and it's all right- though this time, maybe, wasn't the most fun. I'll return to that in a little. I don't know, however, why it has never occurred to my to start my trip with a ride of the red line at Tenleytown and then bike the final two miles from Union Station to home. In many ways, that seems much more sensible. This might be, in part, to my deeply held aversion to that metro line on account of my formerly, in my pre-bikey life, having taken it from Takoma to Tenley, an hour long u-shaped ride into, through, and out of downtown DC. But, more likely, my decision to ride to Farragut or McPherson more echoes my desire to just get on the bike and go and put as much distance between me and my workday as I can.

Though, when one tries to accomplish this on a CaBi and in the snow, the distance is hard-won. On the initial ride down Massachusetts from Ward Circle, the Bikeshare bike reached it's maximum speed and I sputtered and puttered as drivers zipped past. Though I wasn't going particularly fast, it was fast enough that the falling snowflakes pelted my face and stung like needles or nettles. I wanted to ride my out of this problem, to try to summon some vitality and power the bike with a greater effort in my legs, but this didn't seem to work and I felt pokey and slow and poked by the snow and altogether unhappy at my failing to bring with me a headcovering of any kind. Unsolicited advice for bike commuters or anyone who might at some point be inclined to think of taking a bicycle for transportation: always have with you a hat. No exceptions. It really does make a difference. This unsolicited advice is brought to you by silktophats.eu. The .eu means it's classy.  Also, gloves aren't a bad idea either.

I thought that maybe I should ride on the sidewalk since that seemed safer, in that I'd be farther away from cars, but it turns out that it wasn't safer as I was, riding there, much closer to ice. Ice and snow, more than car and driver, is the greater enemy to the inclement weather cyclist. Though the CaBi handled the snow well (thanks, giant tires and drum brakes!), I did feel much more comfortable on the road, like normal. There's almost never any need to take evasive actions. It's riding a bike home, not navigating an asteroid field. I think that we bike commuters can tend to over-complicate things.

New Hampshire Avenue is under construction and the intersection with 21st Street is a total disaster. There are concrete barriers and no sidewalk on the east side of 21st, but this doesn't stop intrepid pedestrians from attempting to walk up that side of the street. This is madness! There's absolutely no accommodation for pedestrians at all and thanks to the barriers, the street is only a little more than one car width wide. On this ride, I rode passed a woman, dragging along behind her wheel luggage, who squeezed between the barriers and the car traffic stopped at the light. This is a real mess and, while the construction is only temporary, I worry that this situation is going to result in a pretty serious crash.

L Street to 15th Street, but the light was green at 15th and I didn't know how to handle turning right on to the cycle track because I only realized too late that I wanted to turn on 15th to dock at McPherson, so I rode to the other side of the intersection and then cut across the street to ride on the sidewalk. Yup, I was the jerk riding on the sidewalk (illegally) when there's a cycle track on the other side of the street. I'm not sure how much I believe in the effectiveness of penance, but I do believe in unfailing karma and I'm sure that my punishment, just and equal, will be meted out by the Universe soon enough. You'll probably even read about it here. Turning right from the cycle track during  green light still baffles me a little. The design doesn't really accommodate one stopping in the bike lane,  so guess I should've just ridden slower to catch a red light.

Only two docks at 15th and K and I walked into the wrong Metro entrance at McPherson. I saw a mouse on the platform. It was causing quite a hubbub. The train didn't take very long to arrive (by DC standards) and I got a seat and I sat there until I got off the train to walk home.


No Ride In 1/25: The Day The Nerf Stood Still

*Caveat- I did ride from the Tenleytown metro to campus, but I'm not going to count that as blogworthy. I have standards, you know. Very, very low standards.

Those of you who follow me on the tweet box might know that last night we have issues with our boiler and our radiators. The primary issue was that the boiler stopped working and heat stopped emanating from our radiators. This was a problem and a problem that many of you weighed in on with helpful tips and friendly advice. This was greatly appreciated. At a certain point last night, I decided to give up and retire to the bedroom, where I built a snow cave and covered myself, the Official Wife and EtP and *tP with animal pelts and bearskin rugs and such and we hunkered for the evening. In the morning, through serendipitous good fortune, or maybe just because of how the boiler is supposed to work, the pilot light reset and once again, faint heat pushed forth and all was well. However, I was thoroughly done with being cold and decided that a bicycle trip would be not treat. Sometimes you just have to know when you're licked and I was licked. I took the train to work and it was fine. I got a seat and I listened to podcasts. It wasn't very crowded. It took longer than it would have had I just biked. It cost $3.60.

It's snowing now and I'm trying to decide whether to take CaBi all of the home, part of the home or none of the way home. I think I'll ride the bike about halfway and then switch to Metro. But you'll have to come back for the next post to see what I did. Or, conversely, we can make this a Choose My Own Adventure and if you want me to take Bikeshare all of the way home, flip ahead to page 74. If you'd like me to skip Bikeshare and just ride the train, go to page 32.

Pg. 74- The blogger rides Bikeshare and is eaten by an alligator.

Pg. 32- The blogger rides the train and isn't eaten by an alligator. That is, until he gets off the train when an alligator strikes. Stupid alligators. Why are there so many loose alligators anyway? That makes no sense.


Ride Home 1/24: Bananas Foster Dulles

What does it mean to "ride home"? Does it mean to get on your bike and leave work (yes) or does it mean more than that, an act fraught with meaning and world historical significance (no)? Or does it mean something else entirely, something internal and visceral and difficult to express in words and only conveyable in wistful and longing glances to your secret paramour across a crowded ball room as Strauss wafts through the air and thuds one-two-three one-two-three? No, it's certainly not that. It's pretty much just the first thing, the thing where you get on your bike and leave work. That's what I did tonight and it was fine.

Remember your first day of bike commuting when they gave you that secret mind control ring that makes the driver in front of you go slow so the driver behind you can get mad and blame you? Why do they even give you that mind control ring? It doesn't make any sense. Bicyclists shouldn't be allowed to deploy mind control at drivers in front of them! Luckily, some really astute drivers, typically the ones behind the bicyclists, have figured out about the mind control rings and rather than get upset about the slow drivers ahead of the bicyclists, they completely correctly have determined that it's the bicyclists and their secret mind control rings that are to blame and thus they rev and honk at those bicyclists because, why oh why, must they have those powerful mind control rings? Remember: it's never the driver in front who might just be going slower than the driver behind you might prefer. It's the secret mind control ring and they're on to us.

Not the best night on the L Street Cycle Track. Oblivious pedestrians doing oblivious things, like obliviously stepping off the curb nearly into a collision with me, who thankfully, wasn't then oblivious to the world around me. I said "stop." She looked miffed. Rather miffed than spliffed (because maybe in the recovery of injury of broken bones and such there would be need for medical marijuana) is what I always say. Rolls right off the tongue. Anyway, I'm not one of those people who thinks that pedestrians need to be hyper-vigilant and never wear headphones and wear reflective vests and have whistles for some reason and run across the street only in crosswalks and only when the light a WALK and never when it's a RED HAND and numbers counting down. Really, I think we should aspire to the kinds of streets where people can get along just fine paying the bare minimum of attention. But let's at least then expect the bare minimum! This, in my opinion, includes not stepping into oncoming traffic, Mr. Magoo-style.

11th Street to Pennsylvania Avenue, which was nicely salted. I'm not going to complain about the salt because I'd rather have too much salt than too much ice. Same is true with a margarita. But WHERE ARE THE EMERGENCY TEQUILA TRUCKS? And the trucks that deploy novelty glasses with cacti on the stems? And yet we somehow call this is civilized place.

In the bike lane behind a woman dawdly riding with no hands on the handlebars and a bus lurking to my left and slightly behind, the driver waiting and waiting and waiting for us to get past the bus stop about a half a block away. Lurking buses are the worst. They make me nervous. Though I guess a lurking bus is better than a lurching one, one where the driver cuts you off to pull into the spot and you have to grab the brakes and pull and just hope for the best. In conclusion, I might need to see an analyst to talk about my bus issues. Or DC could invest in more separated bike infrastructure that keeps cyclists and buses farther apart. Either/or really.

Tried to wash my bike off with the hose in the back yard. Heard that's a thing you should do so the salt doesn't hatch into salt worms (is that how science works?) and corrode your bike. Hilariously, the hose was frozen, which might also be a line from the album Snoop Dog: Live from Antarctica and I ended up going inside, filling a bucket and throwing that bucket (of water, not confetti because I am not a Globetrotter) at my bike and I hope that did the trick. I think I'll take the other bike tomorrow, just in case.

Ride Home-ish 1/23 and Ride In 1/24: Dodsworth

Last night I had a social engagement at a synagogue and I didn't bike the whole way home. Rather I bike to Bicycle Space, which is on 7th Street. To get there, I rode down Massachusetts (cold wind makes eyes go cry) and then took 21st street (not wide enough for two lanes, but wide enough for one car lane and one two-way cycle track can I get an amen?) to L Street Cycle Track (where the opprobrium for bad driving is thick like molasses and comes from other drivers as much as it does from cyclists in a way that is somehow reassuring, like a cup of warm tea) to 11th street to M Street, which runs under the convention center because the convention center, like my speech pattern sometimes, but not now, is stilted, to 7th Street for a block and a half and then I locked my bike up out front where it stayed for a while until I unlocked it and locked it in front of another building where it stayed until I unlocked it walked it down the street where I locked it across the street from a Burmese restaurant before unlocking it once more before walking it down and then into the bowels of the cavernous system of the Washington MATA (the transportation that is either the namesake of the Chelsea midfielder or the third person singular conjugation of the Spanish verb to kill) where I had a minor meltdown because I am 1) not especially comfortable in the world of the mole people who take underground trains and 2) hate being the guy carrying his bike through Mole Land and causing all sorts of "problems" for people who are minimally inconvenienced by my having a full-sized (not fun-sized, though still fum) bicycle with me on escalators and in train cars. But then, after a change, we got back to our home stop, walked three blocks through Armory West (the fake name I've given my neighborhood) and then put my bike to sleep with lullabies and warm milk.

This morning there was snow. I used this as an excuse to leave the house later than normal. The roads were, for the most part, passable. The bike lanes were, for the most part, passable. For the parts where they weren't passable, I didn't ride in them. Quid Pro Quo, which is Latin for "I'm not riding in the bike lane if it's covered in snow." I rode down East Capitol behind Scott, who was on his Xtracycle, which has tires that are at least 9 inches in diameter. I envied them. I also didn't say hello, which makes me rude. I don't think he recognized me behind my scarf, which covered most of my face. I looked like a very twee bandit.

I decided to ride up 11th Street, which was fine and then R Street, which for patches was fine, but for other patches was less than fine, or at least snowy. There was another guy on his bike in front of me and he decided that he would ride through the snow, so sometimes I rode through the snow behind him and other times, I rode in road where there was less snow and more dirt and shit. You will notice that there are no pictures of the road conditions because it was simply too cold to take my gloves off to operate my camera, which also happens to be one of those old-timey cameras where everyone needed to stay still for 15 minutes. Frankly, I'd probably be easier to do a silhouette of the roads, though that would just require me to cut away all of the black paper, leaving just the white or cut away none of the white, obscuring the black (I don't know which way silhouettes work).

I tried to ride on the sidewalk up Massachusetts, but didn't for very long on account of the snow. I took the lane on the street and I kept my head down and tried not to think too much about the drivers whirring past. I did think, however, about a variety of topics that include things about which I have little recollection, like forgotten memories and people I never knew. Nah, just kidding. I thought about bike stuff and jerk drivers and the usual nonsense that you occupy yourself with when you're alone on the road and just want to get to work, which I did safely and soundly and in less than 50 minutes from the time I left home, which seemed like a fine amount of time to spend on snowy, salty, dirty roads. My bike, a magnet for snow and salt and dirt, I tried to clean when I locked it up, but soon gave up when I realized I wouldn't even bother doing an even marginally half-way decent job with my half-hearted attempts. It's just going to get dirty again and that's probably a metaphor for man's fallen nature or nature's fallen snow or the nature of the Olympia Snowe, from snowy Maine, or all or none of those things. Deep.


Ride In 1/23: Wait, I lied

Another cold one today. Might have been worse than yesterday or maybe just as bad or maybe not as bad. Those are pretty much the only options I can think of. Didn't seem as windy, but when there was wind, I made sure to get in its way as much as possible because there's nothing in life I aspire to be more than a kite. That explains why I'm always hanging out at the beach wearing brightly colored outfits and always have about 30 feet of string hanging out of my back pocket.

East Capitol to the Capitol to Pennsylvania Avenue to 15th Street and its cycle track and on that magnificent piece of bike infrastructure, I continued on northwards before turning west on R Street. It was a game-time decision about whether to take the R Street route or to continue on Pennsylvania Avenue through Foggy Bottom, but ultimately, I think it was the right choice. However, once the #MStreetCycleTrack is installed (between some time later this afternoon and December 31, 2013), I'll probably eschew both of these well-worn routes and take that, mostly because of the novelty and the juice the bike count numbers, assuming they actually do bike count numbers. I imagine that bike numbers include 1, which sort of looks like a seat post, 8, which looks like two wheels, and 3, which looks like drop handlebars. Other numbers probably look like other bike things and I encourage you to think of all of your numerals and all of the bike things they represent.

WABA has an app. The idea of launching Angry Bikes at Pig NIMBYs to rescue the pilfered bike lanes is totally inspired. Of course, that's not what this app is for, but maybe they'll incorporate that in version 2.0. This WaBa also has an app, if you'd like to work at a California teriyaki house.

R Street was fine. Some dude shoaled me but what do I care because it was really cold and when it gets super cold, my umbrage doesn't prove to be self-heating.

On the climb up Mass Avenue, I thought to myself about how much I just wanted the ride to be over. It was eventually, but it only ever ends when you get to where you need to be or stop to take the bus and bus service is far too infrequent.


Ride Home 1/22: Brief, Amicus

I'm taking the night off. It was very cold and I have little to say about that, though it didn't seem as bad as the morning. If I recall anything especially piquant, I'll fold it into tomorrow's "ride in" post, much as one might fold sour cream into a salsa picante for a bit of tang. It will be another very cold day tomorrow and I'm going to wear real, i.e. not bike, shoes. Bike shoes, it turns out, or at least mine, are made in large part of mesh, which doesn't act  to keep out cold very well. I had never previously noticed this, which speaks to my keen powers of observation. The more you know. "To less cold feet," I shall say, which is coincidentally my go-to toast for weddings. Or "to fewer cold feet" if you're a fan of Civil War medicine.

Ride In 1/22: The Transparent Trap

It was very cold this morning. Colder than it's been all winter. Colder than I wanted it to be. Very, very cold. I wore many, many layers of clothes to combat this cold, but it didn't really work, especially towards the tips of my toes. While the rest of my was warm, the toe cold was deeply unpleasant. Even recalling it now is unpleasant, though my toes are currently somewhat thawed. Managing the cold is in many ways more about managing expectations (thinking that it will be thousands of degree colder that it actually is, so reality in comparison feels vastly less frigid) than it is about the actual clothes. 90% of winter biking commuter is 100% mental, so never said Yogi Berra. 

I'm amazed that I'm still shocked by the disdain that some people display to those sharing the road with them. You would think I'd be used to it by now. A driver doesn't yield to a guy crossing the street by Lincoln Park. The car get stuck behind another one and idles on top of the crosswalk markings. The guy crosses the street behind the car, then flips off the offending driver, casually. The driver returns fire, flipping off the guy crossing the street. Guys, it's like 8 AM on the first day back from work after a long weekend. Such negativity really has a way of polluting my own attitude and that might have been why I said, mostly under my breath, "No turns, you fuck" to a guy who made a left across the bike lane on Pennsylvania and 14th. Or maybe I would've done that anyway. Maybe I shouldn't have been upset and maybe he just missed the sign that told him that it was illegal to turn left. But, here's the thing about my being hard on drivers: I have to assume that they're being willfully negligent because the alternative, that they're just not paying any attention whatsoever, is vastly more unpalatable idea that scares me far, far worse. And on that happy note, I will suddenly segue with a picture of a Canadian toy poodle wearing pearls and a straw hat

The now famous Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track is back to normal, with the exception of the blue stripe, which remains, and piles of asphalt, hastily removed to reinstall the traffic lights. 

I like the blue stripe
For some of the ride, I rode behind a woman on a beautiful Pashley and for other parts of the ride, I rode behind a man in a cycling jersey that had on it images of sunflowers. There was a lot of bike traffic today and far more than I expected given the temperatures. A cadre of four of us set off from the White House plaza and rode down the western side of Pennsylvania Avenue, where at least two of us turned right at 20th and then I did the jerk thing where I stopped in the middle of the L Street Cycle Track to take a picture of a delivery driver who did the jerk thing of parking in it. 

The President and the Vice President were attending something at the National Cathedral this morning and police vehicles were gathering to take their places along Massachusetts Avenue. I was well at work before the motorcade passed. I'm amazed at the unwillingness of some drivers to make way for emergency vehicles, though I am at least a little happy that they don't take immediate evasive action to pull over and crash into me. I think there's a probably happy medium. 

I arrived at work very cold, as previously mentioned. I don't think I'm looking forward to revisiting the cold on my ride home, but at least I'll better be able to manage expectations. Long weekends are rough. 


Ride Home 1/18: Thomas Friedman, Boy Detective

Biked home again tonight. Seems to be a recurring event. I'm afraid I'm addicted and I can't quite shake it. Every morning it's bike to work and every night it's bike back home. It's a vicious cycle, pun intended.

You know the part in the multi-stage thousands-of-mile grand European bicycle racer when all of the professional bicycle riders are like "race race race go go go"? Yeah, bike commutes aren't anything like that. And yet, somehow, bike commuters and/or people who happen to ride bikes for exercise have lately been asked to have opinions about a certain disgraced wheelman, though one mightn't expect the average beltway driver to have thoughts and opinions about the latest NASCAR brouhaha. But, in spite of that, I do have some opinions and I do have some CONFESSIONS of my own. The fact of the matter is this: the success of a certain American bicycle rider stoked my own passion for the enjoyment of bicycling racing, which, eventually translated into my thinking, after many years, that perhaps, I could take to bicycle as a means of getting places and going about town. And, this, after having experienced and subsequently learned of all of the practical and pragmatic reasons for riding a bicycle for normal and everyday purposes, seems quite silly in retrospect, but I cannot now divorce myself from my past, much as I cannot pretend that I didn't have braces on my teeth nor disavow that at some point, but totally not now, I very much enjoyed and was far too emotionally invested in all things Star Wars and Magic: The Gathering. But, Corinthians 13:11 and all that. Do I feel, in any way, that somehow this now sordid history of my relationship to the bicycle-qua-tainted bicycle racing somehow impacts my present? Not especially. But were there no Sociopathic Texan, would I be currently biking to work? I don't know. I'd like to think so. Is this a thing on which I feel is it useful to dwell? Not really. Should it be? I doubt it.

Massachusetts to Connecticut via Dupont Circle. Met a friend at a bar thereabouts, for a well-deserved Friday confabulation. Thereafter, we walked down to Farragut West-abouts and then I kept on down 17th before turning across Pennsylvania in front of the White House. Need to see a picture of from where the President will be watching the not-him parts of the Inaugural Parade?

So, there's that.

Need to see a picture of from where our legislature might sow fiscal chaos and crater the global economy?

So, there's that, as well. Not much doing between the first thing and the other. Sure am glad there's bike lanes between the two places, though I'm not totally sure that anyone every traveling between the two has ever used them for the purpose of business, but I can pretend. Maybe Mr and Mrs. O (one of whom is now rocking bangs!) will alight from the limousine, stand astride a bicycle, and show to the world something re: America and bicycles. Though I'm not holding my breath. But, yay, bike lanes! So, rest of America, here are some takeaways that Washington, the District of Columbia, would prefer you to glean on Monday:

1. We have bike lanes here.
2. We do not have a real vote in Congress.

So, just keep that in mind. Tell your friends and family. K thnx.

After the hill and the picture-taking, it was an easy and calm ride home and there was little in the way of hassle and that's the way I prefer it. I won't be back to work until Tuesday, so I wish everyone a wonderful extended weekend and all the best in ventures great and small. One million thank yous for reading, distributed evenly across everyone. You're the reason I do it. Thank and the lucre. So much lucre.

Ride In 1/18: Thanks a Latte

It's Friday and for the past 52 Fridays, that has meant the gathering of various bike types at M.E. Swing Coffee shop on G Street. This gathering has subsequently been named Friday Coffee Club and subseuqentlier been hashtagged #fridaycoffeeclub (though the origin of the name and the hashtag might have been concurrent) and it has been the venue through which many of us who had only theretofore known each other digitally (through our various bike blogs and bike tweets and bike Etsys and bike slashfic) have come to know each other non-digitally (like "No Fingers" Bill!), or at least in person. And as enjoyable as it is to interact with bike people in virtual space, sharing coffee with them while standing around a marble high top (Ancient Greek sneakers?) isn't bad either. In fact, it's downright good. And it's made even better when there is anniversary cake, as there was today.

Ed, who along with Mary, had the crazy idea that #bikeDC people might like coffee and want to meet each other, baked this cake himself and out of humility put a Firehook bakery medallion on it. FUN FACT: After they rode Paris-Brest-Paris last year, Ed and Mary stayed in France to enroll in six-week intensive pastry study at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Unfortunately, they missed the first control. Their tandem stand mixer malfunctioned. And, maybe even better than cake, all attendees were given these cool pewter coffee buttons!:

FUN FACT: After Ed and Mary were kicked out of Le Cordon Bleu, they enrolled in an six-week intensive pewtersmithing program which they successfully completed! Not only do they have a dining room bike shop, their kitchen has been retrofitted for the smelting of various precious and non-precious metals!

Anyway, the cake was delicious and it was great to see everyone and if there's no cake at future meet-ups, I'm not coming. Friday Coffee and Cake Club or nothing. But in a slightly more serious note, I just want to say it's a pleasure for having gotten to meet so many of you in "real" life. I'll miss you all very much when I stop coming because Ed doesn't bring cake. #bikeDC is the best. It really is.

The route was there was pretty standard. Inaugural preparations have not yet closed all of the roads, but soon they will and it's a good thing that I'm a reclusive hermit who barely ever leaves his house because those closures will prove massively inconvenient. After coffee, which I had to leave slightly earlier than I wanted, I rode G Street to 24th, 24th to Penn, Penn to M and turned right on 29th. I thought I was on 28th. I was not on 28th. (There's a really bad Abbott and Costello Bit called "Who's on 29th?" and it's terrible, even with the appropriate context). I followed to the top of the hill, which was R Street and on R Street, I tried to wave a driver around me while I slowed at the intersection and this was hilariously ill-advised because he was trying to make a right turn and my slowing to wave him around, while well-intentioned, only succeeded to delaying him further. As they say, the bike commute to hell is paved with good intentions.

It was slow going up Wisconsin Avenue, but fast going down Massachusetts and I arrived at work by the time I wanted to be there and this kind of consistent arrival timing, in my experience, can best be achieved on bicycle rather than by taking public transportation or private car or pogo stick (you might pogo into quicksand). So, add predictable to cheap on the lists of reasons why it's good to bike to work. On the list of reasons why it's less good, add cold and wind, both of which were very much a factor today. But I'm only mentioning them now and not earlier because I sort of forgot how bad it was, so you can add "ephemeral" to the list of good reasons. I think ephemeral was one of the drugs that Lance used, as well.


Ride Home 1/17: The Real Poodles of Mogadishu

Left work late. It was a long day. There was no snow. I was glad. Plenty of salt. Now I know what a margarita glass feels like.

What's the meanest thing you've ever yelled at someone on your bike commute? I mean, I'm always super nice and have never said anything regretful or terrible or suggesting that anyone copulates with any kind of relation or farm animal, but I imagine that some people, who have less self control or who have faced far worse driver interactions or valiantly serve in the Navy while suffering from Tourettes, might have dipped into more colorful language than I have. If you're like me, you're probably not proud of it. I really don't like losing my cool and I really don't like that losing my cool sometimes results in an effluvium of horrific cursing/barnyard animal references and one of my resolutions for the new year has been to try to not do this and thus far I've been relatively successful. So, good for me. The Stoics would have been good bike commuters, probably.

Mass to 21st to L. Nice night on L. Lots of bicyclists. Lots of car traffic before Connecticut but almost none after it. There's some construction in the right lane at the intersection there and that's blocking the right travel lane. So, I'm thinking since it's slowing down car traffic, it's time to outlaw construction. Also, pedestrians, turning cars, cars driving below the speed limit, parallel parking, delivery trucks, speed bumps, stop signs, and red lights. And then, maybe just then, the drive from Georgetown to Penn Quarter will finally be better. So long as there's a parking spot. And it's free. I love city living.

Pennsylvania Avenue was wonderfully pleasant, as was the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue after the Capitol. I stopped at Good Stuff eatery and bought some cheeseburgers and then biked those cheeseburgers home, following Pennsylvania to 8th to South Carolina and then 15th and A.

Ride Home 1/16 and Ride In 1/17: Stand Up For Your Rites

My feelings about riding down Massachusetts Avenue wildly vacillate depending on the weather conditions. If it's nice out and the roads are dry, it's the favorite part of my commute. Add rain and I hate it. Maybe not hate, but I certainly don't enjoy it. Wet roads and long downhills just aren't my thing. In fact, I'll even confess that I'm (healthily?) scared of them and I will go slowly and clutch my brakes and worry about falling down and my distanced advice to myself is that I shouldn't do this because there's nothing so counterproductive as riding scared. Well, maybe riding into a back of bus. So, I go slowly and it works for me and I've yet to be honked at by an angry driver and I think that this is a useful reminder that most people in cars aren't antagonistic to most people on bikes and there's some solace to be taken in this and maybe I'll think of this solace during the next time I ride down Massachusetts Avenue on wet roads. For what it's worth, I still think it's safer to ride down the hill in the street rather than on sidewalk. 

Embassy Row is nice and I pass a lot of embassies and consulates, but I've never once even seen the Zapf Chancery, so I'm not even sure if we have diplomatic relations with those folks and their nice font. Embassy Row, known for its embassies, is also know for its street parking restrictions, which limit parking to diplomatic vehicles, which in many cases, aren't moved when the parking lane, supposedly, converts back into a travel lane, and this is because of diplomatic immunity or maybe because the diplomats are just busy or forgot. And this creates a fuzzy situation in which there's really only one lane, but some drivers like to pretend that there's one and a half lanes and this creates all sorts of exciting situations for bicyclists. Exciting situations are the worst. 

Here are some bicycle-related accomplishments that have happened over the last four years. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if there were no bicyclists or bike lanes.  I know that my life would certainly be worse for it, but I don't think that the average non-bicyclist would be any better for it. It wouldn't make the Beltway any better. All the streets that have bike lanes would get, what, maybe 8 to 10 more feet for cars. Not sure that that's a game changer. in DC 3.7 miles of cycle track would go away, so that could marginally maybe vaguely help some streets. There'd be no decorative bike racks, so that's a plus for sidewalks. So, even if bicyclists all just took the bus or teleported to work or did something that didn't involve any more cars to the road, I just don't know how dramatic the net impact would be. For all of the column inches and virtual editorial ink spilled on bicyclists, I wonder if anyone has actually realized that a world without us is pretty much the same [this veered into the bleakly existential. whoops]. I guess this shows how much more we need to do. 

L Street to 15th to the sidewalk next to the security booth because the road/driveway is blocked with inaugural whatnot and then to Pennsylvania Avenue, which remains as yet still open to car and bicycle traffic. It also remains highly crossable by scofflaw taxi drivers. I hope Uber runs all the scofflaw drivers out of business. 

Up the hill and down the street to home. I rode past a woman on East Captiol who was using her CaBi commute time to talk on the phone (via headphones) and this seems like good multitasking if whomever your talking to doesn't mind being told "on your left" on at least one occasion. Maybe it was even pertinent to the phone conversation, which makes it even better multitasking. 

It wasn't even cold and raining this morning. I wore my raincoat anyway, in advance of the forecasted snow, which now most likely won't happen.

Car parking has been replaced with truck and bus parking in front of the Capitol. You can ride through it still. At least, no one yet has shot at me.

This is the $342,000 viewing stand from which our local elected officials will watch the inaugural parade. 

Other things in a more perfect union: cheaper parade viewing stands
At the intersection of Pennsylvania and 15th, I had a delightful encounter with yet another driver who doesn't understand the bike traffic light. Is it so difficult to understand? That's not really even a rhetorical question. Could DDOT better place a left red arrow by the bike light to make it much more obvious or is that even more confusing? 

Pleasantly surprised to see Chris at the intersection of Pennsylvania and 17th. He was padding his miles for freezing saddles, having taken the long way to his office on L Street. We rode Pennsylvania together and chatted, mostly about the stop signs on the W&OD trail. I think it's dumb to have stop signs on a trail, especially at intersections where there is little car traffic. As Chris said, the W&OD is the closest thing we have to a bike highway and we wouldn't put stop signs on 66, so why do it there? If only there were some kind of sign that could indicate that bicyclists should YIELD to car traffic when there is some, but could otherwise pass through without stopping. Alas, such signs, let's call them "Yield signs," don't exist and aren't part of the common traffic lexicon. WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY. Though, it would probably cost $6 million to replace the signs, so might as well just not. 

We rode to 22nd, then L and I rode to 20th and then to Massachusetts and up the hill to work and I worked there all day, workingly. 


Ride In 1/16: He should've just said "she lives in Canada"

Another dreary morning and I've got holes in my gloves. It's time for new gloves. Or maybe next winter it will be time for new gloves. I've almost purchased neoprene shoe covers in the past couple of days, but it seems wasteful to do so now when global warming makes it that by the middle of February I'll be bike commuting in flip flops or in bare feet or in thin socks or in some other footwear or lack of footwear that connotes warm temperatures, which is the joke I'm trying to make with the global warming reference unless that wasn't unapparent, as my feet would be were I to commute to work in flip flops.

East Capitol to Pennsylvania. They've started closing off sections of road (some of which is parking) around the Capitol, but not to bicyclists because bicyclists can and will pretty much ride anywhere there's room, even when that room is just 3 feet between two parked tour buses.

I took 15th street. When people describe urban streets as leafy, they typically aren't referencing the ground. But 15th Street is leafy in a different way.

If this picture looks familiar, it's because I've posted a variant of it each week for the past 4 weeks.  Also, is that a Mickey Mouse hand? 

DC Department of Public Works has since indicated that they're "on it" so we'll see. Hopefully they mean that they plan to clear it of leaves and not dump more in the cycle track. Wet leaves are the worst.

I like when the cyclist in front of me is so busy chatting with the crossing guard as he rolls through a red light into the middle of the street that he doesn't seem to see or hear or heed in any way the approaching, honking car. Maybe "like" isn't the right word.

I saw this via @JDAntos yesterday and I thought it was really interesting and very much matches my perceptions of traffic risks. What I think is more interesting is the discrepancy between the blue bar (potential cyclists) and the red bar (frequent cyclists) in rank ordering. It's easy to get habituated to "too fast" and "too close" but it's the stuff like getting cut off and getting doored that no matter how frequently you ride (or maybe because of it?) that become and remain your real concerns.

Up and down Massachusetts. Bike is dirty again and the chain is getting gunky once more. There might be snow tomorrow. That could be fun, with the snow angels and the icy slickness and Capitol Sledshare and all that, although I made that last thing up.


Ride Home 1/15: Mutiny on the HMS Quicker Picker Upper

It was sort of cold. Better than very cold, I guess.

Massachusetts to 21st to L. I felt fast, but I think I just shifted gears well and pedaled no faster or with more power than normal. I have no training in the fine art of shifting gears, nor extensive background in its philosophy or best practices. Nonetheless, I occasionally seem to inadvertently do it correctly and find myself in the right gears and the right time for maximum efficiency at minimal effort and there is a minor pleasure in this, like finding a five dollar bill in a winter coat pocket.

I wonder what an urban bike commute would be like without the sound of car honking in the background. It's probably wonderful. I don't think I'll ever know.

I biked a perfect on L Street. What I most remember about it though is the gentle pitch of the tiny hill after 14th street. Even the flat streets aren't flat. Stuff like this is a tiny reminder that cities happen to be built on real landscapes and aren't just natural occurrences and only man-made impositions. I like thinking about stuff like this.

This is the sidewalk where you can ride after the L Street Cycle Track unceremoniously ends at 12th Street.

Strictly speaking, this is illegal. So, if you care about laws and whatnot, don't do it. But practically, it's the most sensible place to be, especially if you're turning north or south on 11th.

I don't know if it'll change anything about my bike commute (aside from not having to ride through a construction site), but City Center DC is going to be a big deal. A really big deal. Maybe even bigger than a really big deal. But no bigger than that. Probably bigger than a breadbox, but I don't know that many people with bread boxes, so if you had one or got me one, that would probably be a pretty biggish deal. But I'm still inclined to think that a massive retail, office and residential development in the heart of downtown might prove bigger than a box in which I keep bread. Hard to say for sure.

Is is a sidewalk or is it the driveway entrance to an underground parking garage? Can it be both? Should it be both?

Pennsylvania Avenue through the Capitol grounds, which remains open for business (whatever that is) and bike commuting and I found myself riding up the hill behind a guy and perhaps unintentionally committing the bike faux pas of not passing him because I don't think he cared for my riding behind him. Not sure why I think I thought that, but I did. Some cyclists like to stay in front no matter what and others don't want that and there should be some kind of color-coded system that lets other bike commuters know which one you are. I'm a passer. If you want to get faster than me and we're both riding along, just get it over with. No need to lurk. I'm not a winter KOM monster like a certain Bike Arlington employee.

Some buildings on East Capitol is quite tall. I'm not sure they were in keeping with the rest of the neighborhood when they were built so where were the 19th century ANC NIMBYs to stop it? Weren't they concerned about horse parking? For the record, I think that 19th century people, in spite of their not demanding beautiful buildings not be built because they didn't look like the building already existing, were the most amazing people. They just had so much energy. And deep feelings about things. 19th century people cared about stuff, stuff with -ism at the end of it. The only thing that excites 21st century people as much is street parking.

Ride Home 1/14 and Ride In 1/15: Ford Friction

Let's see, yesterday, huh. I have some pictures. Maybe I could use those.

 This is my hand. It is dirty because at the start of my ride home, I removed some electrical tape that had previously been wound around my left hood (the plastic that covers the top of the brake lever on the handlebars), and this left behind some gunk (technical term) which I promptly managed to transfer to my left hand. It was gross.

On 19th Street, I saw two guys with two service animals. One was exiting a building and the other was walking down the street. And the dogs totally went nuts and start barking and lunging at each other! To the best of my previous knowledge, I didn't know that one of the services a service animal could provide was aggression toward other service animals! It's like the Highlander out there.

On L Street:

Hello, sunshine.
Also on L Street, a woman behind me on a Bikeshare bike was asked by a driver or maybe a pedestrian (she was behind me and I don't wear a mirror on my helmet, or in this case, a helmet) asked her about the bike and her response was totally spot-on. It was like she was a Bikeshare plant, or a Plantshare, which is totally different thing for aspiring greenthumbs who don't want plants of their own. She responded, "It's $75 a year and you can take a bike from any of the stations and ride it for free!" That's pretty much the exact summation that I'd want to give: it's cheap and you can get a bike anywhere and bring it anywhere. What's not to like? Hard to argue with cheap and convenient.

When the L Street Cycle Track ends, I implore you to just ride on the sidewalk next to the Edmund Burke pocket park. It's the conservative thing to do, and per Burke himself probably (though he died in advance of the invention of the bicycle, probably), the most reasonable. In an ideal world, should you have to do this? No, probably not. But in choosing between trying to get over three lanes to the right and just riding on the sidewalk for a little and then waiting for the light to change at 11th, I know which one I prefer.

11th to Penn to the Capitol. Here's the picture of the pre-inaugural Capitol that most people would take:

And then, the bicyclist's picture:

Look ma! I biked here! 
I've yet to meet a bicyclist who thinks that any picture isn't vastly improved through the edition of a bicycle. Ask a cyclist to choose between the Mona Lisa versus the Mona Lisa on a Colnago and the latter will win every time. Dogs playing poker versus dogs playing poker while riding tandems? I think you know which one is real art. (neither.)

I biked up the hill and down the street and then last night turned into this morning and this morning was rainy and cold and I rode to work anyway because that's what happens when it's rainy and cold. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many other people out on bikes (though there were some gaps- I'm looking at you R Street from Florida Avenue to 11th! Where were you guys?). If this weather doesn't prove to be a deterrent to people riding to work, not much will. I think bicycle has firmly taken hold and we're not going backward. But, I'm hardly unbiased when it comes to these kinds of things. I used the rainy ride to think about a lot of things, but one of them was the ranking of best personal attributes that should be embodied by bike commuters. I came down to two, patient and empathetic, that I feel are the most important, with forethoughtful as a not-so-distant third. What qualities do you think make for the best bike commuters? And "leggy" is not an acceptable answer.

I rode around Union Station just to savor the new pavement. It looks like the bike lane around Columbus Circle will begin on Massachusetts Avenue, only to be quickly interrupted by a turning lane for drivers looking to get to the parking garages. But it's at least something.

I rode down First NE and almost met the trunk of a car which had been turned by a driver on a red light. It's time to seriously reconsider allowing right turns on red as the default position. Not just because it adversely affected me (though I do have to admit that self-interest plays some role in my thinking), but because it really unfairly and, in my opinion, unsafely affects non-motorized traffic. We can build all the bulbouts and bike lanes we want, but so long as the traffic laws suggest that drivers have priority and need to Go GO GO!, non-cars are at best second-class citizens or maybe third class citizens or maybe citizens who are in steerage, though all of that Irish dancing in Titanic made that look fun, at least until the boat sank.

Braking sure took a while on the wet roads.

One of the bicyclist behaviors I like least is when one cuts off a pedestrian in the middle of the crosswalk in order to roll through a stop sign. "DON'T YOU KNOW THAT YOU'RE GIVING US ALL A BAD NAME?" would be the kind of thing I would say if I thought that was in any way true. What you're doing is being an asshat, so you shouldn't be an asshat.

A bit of the sidewalk in front of the construction site on Massachusetts Avenue had been dug up and replaced with gravel and when I rolled over it and didn't fall down I thought about how awesome at bicycling I am. Anyone (read: not me) can do a gravel century (100 miles on gravel roads), but it takes some real skill and dedication to complete a gravel century of centimeters.

The Official Wife bought me a thin down winter jacket for Christmas and it came in very handy today, when it was both cold and rainy. It took care of the cold and my rain jacket took care of the wet. The rain jacket alone would not have taken care of the cold and I don't have any other jackets that would've taken care of the wet, so this layered approach proved to be the best one. It's true with winter weather wear and it's true with cakes.


TFTS TFTomorrow

The Official Wife and I met up with one of my top two favorite aunts for dinner. She was in town for work and it was great to get a chance to see her. Consuming dinner consumed my evening and I will postpone bloginating to the morrow. Bloginating deferred is in no way bloginating denied, but this is mostly due to bloginating's not being a real term for what I do here. Though I'm not exactly it isn't, either. Check ya on Tuesday suckaz.

Ride In 1/14: Minestrone Poem

You ever get to work to realize that the soup you brought with you for lunch had managed to find a way out of its container and on to your work shirt? Until this morning, I hadn't either. Frankly, I'm pretty surprised that it had taken this long to happen. I still don't accept this is a valid argument to bike to work in work clothes, like I saw a woman doing in front of me on Pennsylvania Avenue. I don't know if she was new to bike commuter or new to bike commuting on wet roads or whether she was just new to not giving a shit on dirty street water spraying from her rear wheel to form a speckled pattern on the back of her off-white blouse. In any case, except for that last case, she might have been in for an unfortunate surprise. But then again, I'm the guy who's wearing a hoodie atop a white undershirt because of spilled soup, so I'm hardly in any position to critique or judge.

Speaking of soupy, the weather was soupy. Like being through tepid liquid that results from an underpowered office microwave. It has since gotten colder, like a bowl of soup tasted and then ignored, left on the other side of your desk as you descend back into an unending succession of increasingly less captivating work emails. There were thick clouds and as I approached the Capitol, domed in front of the dark background, I whistled Orff, as is obligated in these kinds of situations.

Did I burn Rob on the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track? Aye. The only time I ever try to ride faster than absolutely necessary is when I'm late and had I known that I would arrive to the office with a be-souped dress shirt, I would never have hastened. Next time, because there's always a next time because the winter bike commuter types in DC are stalwarts and not too numerous, I will be more talky and less rushy.

Up Penn on the west side of the White House and I took 22nd north through the West End towards Massachusetts. I think I've taken 22nd maybe one other time and there's a reason it's only ever been one other time and that reason is because 22nd is a street that houses hotels and hotels draw to them tour buses and taxis and both of those categories of vehicles are, generally speaking, not the best for bike traffic. Buses more than taxis, mostly because they'll just stop in the right travel lane to load or unload and then that thing happens when you get stuck behind a stopped bus and no driver wants to let you move over and you daren't move over without permission lest you find yourself struck.

I rode on the sidewalk past the Shevchenko statue. Not that Shevchenko. Turned out that it wasn't a sidewalk so much as a median and it stopped prior to the intersection with Massachusetts. I got back in the road and made a left on a yellowish red light.

Have I mentioned yet that my soup spilled on the shirt I was going to wear at work today? And that I washed it in the sink and now it's hanging up to dry in the locker room? Because that happened.


Ride In and Ride Home 1/12: Standardized Test Tubes

Gotta buy some stamps. I'm mailing this one in.

The ride in, or what I remember of it, was fine. I took E Street for fear of Pennsylvania Avenue being closed or maybe because I couldn't make the left at the west end of Lincoln Park (It's going to be Choose Your Own Adventure hodgepodge of my not exactly remember a lot of what happened) and E Street was nice and I turned at 13th and rode up the hill, which was more challenging than I wanted it to be on the Brompton. The bike's drive train is really dirty, and dirtier still now on account of riding in the rain (or fog on wet streets?) and this is more likely than not contributing to my level of struggling to make the bike go. Then, it was a left on G and there's a fair number of retail vacancies on the 1300 block of G NW and this seems deeply problematic because the 1300 block of G Street seems like a place there should be more retail and restaurants rather than less. Unemployed buildings really deaden the block.

After coffee, I rode to 15th (I think?) and then took the cycle track to R (probably?) and an uphill slog on Massachusetts which I've entirely forgotten, thankfully, I'm guessing. It probably wasn't that bad because I was on a bike and life is never bad when you're on a bike, unless it's a stationary bike, which I've always found to be very dull. It's all the fun of pedaling with none of the fun or getting anywhere.

After work, it was the same old route to L and there are a few things I remember about L Street and its cycle track. One of them was a sewage truck parked in the cycle track. I declined to take a picture or say anything to the driver because the last thing that the cycle track, or I, need is to be vengefully covered in sewage. The other thing I remember about L Street is riding past a soon-to-be opened Dunkin Donuts and I predict that the allure of donuts and coffee is going to prove far too strong for many drivers to resist. I expect lots of cycle track blockage, similar to the blockage of the arteries of someone who avails himself of a daily DD breakfast sandwich. DDOT (which doesn't stand for Dunkin Donuts of Transportation) would be well advised to post or dispatch a Traffic Control Officer to the area to issue tickets and/or eat crullers. The DD itself would be well-advised to ask for some bike racks in front because the only thing that bicyclists (and by bicyclists, I'm generalizing from my own personal preferences) like more than coffee is beer,  but they (I) really like coffee and also don't mind donuts and there's much money to be made for any baked-goods concern with ample bike parking.

I saw a car with a Pennsylvania license plate turning right from 11th and its license plate read CYCLES 82. I wrote an email to myself the other night to remind myself to this very important thing to share with you. I was worried that by writing up the rides today I would be diminishing their quality but details like this prove that that this isn't the case. Sad trombone.

On Halloween, they should replace all the street signs and call it Transylvania Avenue. Transylvania Avenue Cycle Track would be a great name for a band.

I suppose I rode up Capitol Hill and then down East Capitol, but I have only the faintest memory of it. It might have been raining. It was definitely raining later, when we biked back out for drinks and dinner. My deepest apologies to the Official Wife to telling her that she didn't need gloves. It was cold and gloves would have been appropriate.


Ride In and Ride Home 1/10: Alpo Chino

Morning: A Street, 15th Stree SE t, East Capitol, Pennsylvania Avenue, 15th Street NW (symmetry), Pennsylvania Avenue (symmetry?), H Street NW and 23rd Street NW. There I met the Official Wife and we talked together to Whole Foods, where we shopped for fancy pasta (worth it), fancy canned tomatoes (not worth it) and fancy tomato paste (not totally sure) and we didn't get fancy bread. Afterwords, I rode across New Hampshire Avenue to 24th Street and followed 24th to M and M to 28th and I rode up the hill on 28th through the eastern end of Georgetown, where the car traffic was thick and the pedestrian smiling was wry and I'm not sure where there was wry pedestrian smiling. At the corner of 28th and P is Stachowski's, which is a place I want to go because I have never been and by all accounts is a great place with a great sandwich, though it was open when I rode by this morning, but I saw some people in the back, preparing for a day of making great sandwiches. I stayed on 28th and kept riding up the hill until both the hill and 28th Street stop at Oak Hill Cemetery and there's a right angle for a left turn and I turned left and kept going on R Street, where I waved the driver behind me in front of me, because I could and there was room and I passed Dumbarton Oaks where there are rooms full of antiquities. Wisconsin Avenue was next and there was more hill and a bus and another bus and it was busy and bus-y, but there was still room for me, mostly because I took it, much as Mr. Dumbarton took his antiquities. Pilfering cultural heritage was Bliss, as was finding myself with plenty of room and fresh enough legs to climb the hill and make it to work, where there was work to be done (some of it not at work, but in Tysons, where I did not bike) and then the day was over and I rode home.

Evening: Some advice for President Obama, courtesy of some very clever liberal PAC with deep connections in DDOT, I bet.

21st and New Hampshire
I rode behind a guy on a CaBi on L Street and he was one of those angry bicyclists, mad at the word for reasons that seemed utterly baffling. He yelled at drivers. He yelled at pedestrians. He probably would've yelled at me, had he known I was behind him. I think that bicyclists, in many cases, can have some legitimate grievances, but I certainly didn't see them. Angry yelling, angry honking, angry birds. There's just too much anger. Maybe we should wage a "war on anger," but with equanimity.

11th Street to E Street and around the freshly paved Columbus Circle. Smooth like butter, though I've never biked through butter.

I stopped at Schneider's and I had to lock my bike to a chain that connected two poles of a sort of crappy fence. There was no bike parking. I mean, why would a group that's portrayed as rich, effete europhilic snobs ever want to do something as humdrum and lowbrow as shop for fancy and expensive imported wines? When it comes to bike parking, I'm a "see something, say something" sort of person. When I bought my wine, I asked the woman behind the counter if they had bike parking. She said they used to and then something happened and now most people lock their bikes to the fence-like place where I locked mine. I told her that they should really get some bike parking and if they did "I would come here, like, all of the time. I promise." She said that she would tell "them," but I'm not sure that's going to happen. Doesn't she know that I'm the 37th most popular wine lush bike blogger in all of Washington and my requests are not to be ignored? I should organize a boycott of wine shops with no bike parking. Oenophiles shall overcome.

After the wine, came bread (Bread and Wine by Ignazio Silone also suggests you KEEP LEFT) and this was at the Spring Mill Bakery on Barracks Row and I rode there from Massachusetts to 7th Street to Pennsylvania to 8th Street. I bought two loaves and bread and zero loaves of anything else. Then it was G Street SE to 11th and I saw Adam, whom you might remember from the other times I've mentioned seeing him, and then it was back around Lincoln Park and to A Street SE and home.


Ride Home 1/9: Partial Eclipse of the Spleen

Rode my bike home tonight. Yup. Again. Surprise.

21st street is definitely wide enough to handle a bike lane and maybe even a bike lane between parked cars and the curb. Do you think the ANC commissioner would want an unsolicited "you should put a bike lane here because you can and because it would be really useful to me and maybe some other people too" email? It's a residential street (from Mass to NH). It would probably have traffic calming effects, like whale song. If we're going to just install random stretches of bike lanes on random streets that don't really connect to anything (see: N Street NW, from 19th-ish to 24-ish), then we might as well do this one too. 

There's no cycle track on M Street (yet), but there's still lots of car traffic. Doesn't make sense, that. I mean, has anyone bothered studying how that's even possible?

I ride in the L Street Cycle Track every day and I respectfully disagree (because I have great respect for anyone who rides in this city and also because I am just generally a disagreeable person)  with all of you that think it's more dangerous than before. I just don't see it. Yes, I agree that the mixing zones are weird and riding on the left is unusual, but I used to ride on L Street before and it wasn't better. You might disagree (and probably will), but I really like it and I think it's generally a really pleasant experience, even with the odd standing car or driver turning from the center lane. Sure, the end, when it just sort of dumps you on that last block that intersects with Massachusetts isn't really graceful, but I'm not totally sure how you'd do it any better in light on DC's propensity for diagonal streets. I don't know. You tell me. 

11th to Penn and as I approached the Capitol, I thought that I recognized the man riding in front of me. I actually recognized him by the springs of his saddle. It was Erik, of Bicycle Space, and I shouted his name and we briefly chatted in front of the Capitol. I like Erik a lot and I especially liked his attire today. He is a dapper gent. Sort of looks like northern European nobility. Maybe from this point forward I will call him Erik von Bicycle-Spaeztle, fully recognizing that spaetzle is in no way the German word for space. It is, however, delicious, especially with sour cream and bacon. 

I rode up the House side and then it was East Capitol to Lincoln Park and around the park to home and no trips at all to the grocery store and we had leftovers for dinner. But this isn't some kind of daily dinner blog and I shall withhold the details out of respect for the sanctity of this space, a space for bicycles and sometimes spaetzle, neither of which did I consume for dinner. 

Ride In 1/9: Concorde Grape Jelly

I had to take the dog to the vet this morning (*tP is fine. "An awesome dog" even, according to the vet) and for some reason, in spite of having moved to DC more than a year ago, we still frequent the vet that we used when we were in Arlington. I drove there for an 8 AM appointment and drove home afterwards and the traffic wasn't too bad, but I was still leaving home for work well after the time I normally would. This prompted me to make the decision to take the Brompton and then take the Metro. I take the Metro to save time, but perhaps not in the way that you might think. The trip by solely bike and the trip with bike and train take about the same amount of time. However, splitting the commute and only riding on the flat parts of my route allows me to skip the showering and changing that I normally do when I get to work, thus saving me time and allowing me to go directly to my desk and unsmellingly (not a word?) at that. Sure, I could go to my desk all gross, but I don't especially like being gross at work and also I don't like my office to smell of grossness, which has a way of hanging about in the air.

I rode down Massachusetts Avenue to Union Station to board the Red Line. Along the way, I followed a guy riding a Surly Disc Trucker. The bike was adorned with a honey color Brooks B17 and bamboo fenders from Portland Design Works, along with a sturdy rear rack. I coveted his bike very much, as coveting is the surest sign of displays of affection, though certain deities haven't always proven themselves fond of it and have enshrined their displeasure in tablet form. The next bike I buy (and if you're the Official Wife, I'd like you to just skip this next part and maybe even forgot the beginning of this sentence) wants to be a Surly Disc Trucker, which is the bike that I didn't get when I got the Brompton. The heart wants what it wants, I suppose.

What I've wanted for a while is for DDOT/subcontractors to pave the area around the eastern end of Union Station and it seems like I'm finally getting my wish. If I had a genie, I'd waste all my wishes on minor paving projects. Remember when Captain Tony Nelson did that? Me neither. A bad picture:

You can kind of see the guys in the yellow vests. 
This will vastly improve bicyclist quality of life. I don't know if they're going to extend the bike lanes (and I have my doubts) but I'll be happy to no longer experience the boneshaking terribleness of the unpaved roadway on my boneshaker (SFW).

It's very easy to bring the folding bike on to the Metro and it's very easy to sit next to the bike on an uncrowded train. It's less easy to somehow find a way to get your pants dirty with bike gunk because the very design of the bike is supposed to make it difficult, but somehow I found a way.

I idled the time on the Metro thinking how nice leather mudflaps would look on the Brompton and how I might as well just set all my money on fire since that would be a more productive use for it.

The escalators at Tenleytown are quite long and my preferred method of dealing with this fact is to stand still and let the escalators escalate me (I'm a good writer) and I put the bike on the step in front of me and it's small enough to allow anyone trying to escalate himself to pass.

The parking on Nebraska Avenue is variable and I was arriving at work late enough that the four travel lanes had converted to two travel lanes and two parking lanes and were the prospect of dooring not so scary, the gap between the parked cars and the white dashes of the other lane would make for a great bike ride and that's where I rode in spite of the fear of dooring. I think that a sensible solution to the dooring problem, and really this is much more sensible than suggesting to all drivers that they pay attention and look around before opening their car doors, is to simply not have driver side doors. Dooring problem eliminated. But you, know sometimes there's a bike lane on the passenger side and maybe we shouldn't have passenger side doors either. So, the most sensible solution I can think of is to have all car occupants enter from the roof, as one might enter a tank or a submarine.

I arrived at work fresh and ready to go and envious of anyone who arrives at work in a presentable manner. You are the real heroes.