Rides 7/18: Arbogast

Two prevailing thoughts, one of which I've temporarily forgotten but hope to remember and rally back to before I finish typing up the first bit:

1. How much are out bike commutes shaped by the exact bicycles we ride? I used to think not so much and that it was all larger ambient and environmental factors, but given the disparity in experience between my ride yesterday on the Brompton and my ride today on the Ogre, I'm beginning to reconsider. If you ride a squirrely, agile, and lithe fixed gear bicycle, your perceptions of "bike commuting" must surely be different if you ride a beefy Dutch bike or a beater Schwinn or a new Trek hybrid you plan to sell on Craig's List when you and your girlfriend move from one apartment in Clarendon to a slightly different apartment in Clarendon when your lease expires next October. Bike commuting might not actually be one thing at all, but many things and these many things and many experiences might be so disparate and might so shape our perception of the ambient things that the ambient things (the jerk drivers, the sense of exposure, the lack of connected infrastructure, the freedom, the road itself) are just incidental. I'm having a sort of 12 Monkeys experience with this and I've lost all sense of reality and my bearings within it. It's been real folks. I'm on the other side of the looking glass.

2. I've temporarily remained forgetful of what my second point was, but it might have something to do with never bicycling in denim in the summer in Washington. Few things are as immiserating.  If you must wear denim in the summer, have the good sense to wear jorts and this marks the first time in the history of written communication that the phrase "good sense" and the word "jorts" have been juxtaposed.

3. Ah yes, it was chaos that I wanted to write about and not KAOS from Get Smart, though I'm sure they're equally worth a few words. But that's for another time. Ride your bicycle in enough situations in the city and you're bound to ride your way into utterly chaotic situations in which the rule of law has broken down and the rule of good sense and courtesy remains never to have existed. Such is the situation sometimes at rush hour near and in Washington Circle, where whatever guidance and mandate is given to travelers is met with haughty laughter because valar morghulis and whatnot. There's no especially good way to face a traffic situation in which there are no good options for someone on a bicycle. You could ride timidly and law-abidingly and maybe you'll only get a little bit wrecked. You could ride with recklessness and abandon and it's totally conceivable that you won't instantly be torn asunder. You could fashion a trebuchet and launch yourself and your bicycle from 23rd to 21st street, but would you be able to stick the landing? That's the thing about chaos: you simply don't know how it's going to work out or even if it's going to work out. It's terrifying. It's exhilarating. It's pointless. It's what we've been left with. In conclusion, try not to ride in or through Washington Circle. Just take the L Street cycletrack as it's mostly unworse for bicyclists, but as you ride along it's many blocks of sometimes protection, give some thought to chaos because chaos is certainly given some thought to you.

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