Rides 8/4: Summit

The National Mall is a big expanse of grass, dotted by one obelisk. It's very bike-friendly in the morning, when the museums that flank it aren't open and before the tourists line up to ride in elevators to the top of obelisk or circle the sunken pool surrounded by stately altarless baldacchinos or ascend the steps to a seated Lincoln. It makes for a nice ride and I'm foolish for only doing it so infrequently, though it's now been two in a row. Here's the castle where Old Man Smithson used to live:

Everyone knows that DC was built atop a swamp, but few people know that Old Man Smithson was the one who drained that swamp and was declared the First Margrave of Columbia and given the land upon which to build this castle. Before there was a reflecting pool there was a reflecting moat, but George Washington made Old Man Smithson fill it in because the Founding Father did not believe that moats were in keeping with the Great American Experiment in Democracy and also because the reflecting moat would unwittingly lead the president's cows to dive into it, having been lured by equally inquisitive cows staring back up at them. In an attempt to win back the favor of George Washington, and perhaps someday restore his coveted moat, Old Man Smithson set about gathering precious artifacts from around the world, but each successive prize was never good enough for George Washington. When Smithson died, George Washington was like "what do I do with all this crap?" and, also because Martha had given him a labelmaker for Christmas, he decided to build a bunch of museums to house it.

Too tall, not enough parking

Once more, I retreated into the woods and rode through the park on a winding path, a creek and a cemetery on one side, the effluvium of car traffic on the other. There were few people on the path, but probably more cyclists than runners. It's another place that morning suits. I'd take it home in the evening, but it's a little indirect and I think the narrow path might lose some its charm when more peopled. And in the evening, even if I wanted to ride in the road (which I don't), the highway through the park changes direction and all of the drivers rush outward, escaping the teeming city and its horrid urbanity through the shaded wood that bisects it. 

Afternoon came and that meant leaving work and seeing a bike tied to a lamp and that bike advertised grass fed beef, as bikes sometimes do. 

If this is viral marketing, do I have hoof-and-mouth disease now? I don't know if locked bikes make for effective billboards, though I did stop to take this picture, then tweeted about it, and have now included it in a blog post, so maybe? 

Down Massachusetts and 21st Street and to L, where I followed other cyclists in the cycletrack to 15th where I followed other cyclists in another cycletrack and then to Penn where I followed other cyclists in another cycletrack. I try to be understanding about pedestrians blocking the the poorly designed cycletrack, which runs through what should be the pedestrian refuge in the middle of the block, and I'm generally forgiving because almost all visual cues seem to suggest that that's exactly where you should stand. But standing there and blocking the bike lane with your bike? Like, of all the kinds of people who should maybe be cognizant that they're standing and blocking the bike lane, maybe a bike commuter (this was not a bike tourist type) would be the one kind of person who I hope would have the situational awareness to not do this. And yet, twice in 6 blocks. We really ought to modify the design. And sooner rather than later.

Rode to the top of Capitol Hill and it was motorcade o'clock. We were all stopped and we waited as seven to ten SUVs drove from the Capitol to the Russell building across the street. 

I'm rarely competitive with other cyclists, but I will try to prevent you from passing me on the right. I might even succeed. 

Hyper-local neighborhood gripe: I don't very much care for the intersection of 14th SE/15th SE/Independence/South Carolina/Massachusetts. It's a lot of roads crossing and it's a lot of pavement. For what it's worth, maybe Independence should be a two-way street. Whether this would uncomplicate things or complicate them in a way that's more people-friendly is up for debate. I mention this because I couldn't make my usual left turn onto A because the driver closest to me was on her phone and I didn't feel like chancing it. There should really be a law! Oh, never mind. Maybe if we all just respected each other. Or maybe not

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the history in this post. In fact, I laughed hysterically. Thank you.