Four Days in January

Once a year, I like to ride my bike outside of the District of Columbia and for purposes that aren't going to work or the grocery store. Also, once a year I like to ride my bike "a long distance." So, I glommed on to a ride with Ed, Mary, Alex, Ryan and Kevin and we rode to Leesburg and then took a boat trip and then rode back in Maryland and all the while I had a great time and it was a good route and ride, though one in which I had to make greater haste than I would've normally because I had some weekend errands that I needed to accomplish before the weekend went errant. My errands involved a certain big box wholesale retailer where I bought conspicuously large sizes of items including chocolate cake, tequila, coffee and canola oil. You might not want to go shopping at a place that sells giant chocolate cakes immediately after an 80 mile, or conversely, you might really want to do exactly that. Anyway, to sum up and reiterate, it was a really fun and I'd certainly go bicycling with that lot again some time.

Etymologically, the word "spirit" is derived (probably) from the Latin spiritus meaning "breath" and breaths mean inhalation and exhalation. Bicycling to work is, for me, a source of exultation and that's why these nothing more dispiriting than finding one's tire flat after returning from walking the dogs after having inflated that tire. This was the Brompton and I daren't'd ride the Surly as I discovered along the ride the day before (or maybe Ed discovered. It's like a Leif Ericson/Christopher Columbus situation) that one of my brake pads had nearly worn away to nothingness. I took Bikeshare to the Metro and then found a way to break my light in a closing train door. I decided to also take the train home and I don't remember that as being terrible, but it was slow. I like that DC is taking steps to facilitate bicycle use, but if it aspires to be a much better city, it needs more frequent (and faster) public transportation.

I fixed the Brompton Tuesday morning. I saw in addressing the flat (hello, flat) that the tube had been previously patched and in seeing this, I then agreed that, yes, I had previously patched this tube. The tube, apparently, could not abide one more inflation and so died. That tube was a total drama queen. The new tube, itself intact, seems more comfortable holding onto air than its predecessor. I think it rained in the morning. At some point, the bike stopped being able to shift gears. It only has two gears. If shifting were a yes/no question, my bike's answer was to go "uhh" and look down at its sneakers.

On the way home is when the fun happened and by fun, I mean my falling down. There's recently been some utility work on Pennsylvania Avenue where it intersects 3rd Street and as part of the utility work there's a gash in the pavement. I tried to jump over this gash, but maybe a little too late and with far too little finesse. My left hand, right knee, left thigh and left pectoral muscle all the hit ground at around the same time as my overturned bike. It was peachy that the assembled mass of motorists at the intersection had the chance to rate my tumble. On technique, I would score low, but the artistry was fairly impressive. I ripped one of my gloves and also destroyed one of my cork grips. For awhile, I was having a problem extricating my chain from some other part of the mostly folded bike. I eventually sorted it out and the bike is fine and I'm fine. It was very silly.

I put new brake pads on the Surly and on that bike found my way to work this morning. So far, I've yet to fall down or break anything. I took Q Street and drank some free-for-bike-commuters coffee outside of The Bike Rack and that was nice. I rode R Street and it's been maybe a month or two since I've last taken that route and while there is putatively a bike lane on that street, it seemed more harrowing that I remembered it. Also, Massachusetts Avenue seemed longer than I remembered it. I guess in my memories, all roads are sedate and all hills are short. My memory is applying to be a Bicycle Friendly Community.


  1. Oof. I'm glad you're OK. Utility cuts are dangerous things--I still have a scar on my hip from where the road leapt up and bit me during an alleycat in November. And hooray for free coffee!

  2. Tough week. Apply coffee. Tomorrow morning. And cake. If you haven't had enough cake yet this week, that is.

  3. I once tried to hop two stairs near a Metro station but clipped the second. My rear wheel described a near-perfect circle over my tumbling body, right in front of a mass of subway commuters. As a I rolled to a stop, I called out, "Did you get the shot? I really don't want to have to do that again."

  4. I lived on a cobbled laneway for about 3 years. After falling there one day in the rain I had the heebie jeebies every time I turned into that laneway to come home. The mental scars outlasted the physical by a long way. At least your crash was on a temporary feature - should help with recovering confidence...