Rides 11/18: Wisco Blues

My tale of woe follows:

I left home late and I rode towards the Bicycle Space, a bicycle shop, where the bike was to be spruced up. The bike was the Brompton and it needed sprucing (brakes, headset and most importantly, the lights, which are powered by a generator hub in the front wheel) and so I set off in the abnormal cold for the bike's first proper maintenance in about two years of ownership. Chastise away. Last year, when we had moved out of the house for a few months, I commuted on the Brompton every day in December and in the cold and in the rain and maybe in the snow (or not), so I was, at one point, both accustomed to more regularly riding the bike and moreover more regularly accustomed to riding the bike in winter, but this seemed much worse than that. The wind was mean and spirited. I was slow and dispirited. Massachusetts, Columbus Circle, First, K and then I was there, more or less, after a half a block of 7th Street. I dropped off the bike, said hello to Rachel (Rachel, formerly of WABA and more recently formerly of a hammer museum in Alaska, works at the Bicycle Space now) and we talked and so I set off for the second part of my trip which was conceived of as follows: I would take Bikeshare from 7th and M to the red line Metro and thereafter take the Metro to Tenleytown and then take Bikeshare to work. The plan was foolproof. Until the problems started. The first problem was my Bikeshare key. This was, I think, my fourth replacement Bikeshare key. The problem with the previous Bikeshare keys, and with this one too, is that the chip inside, the chip that activates the unlocking mechanism when entered into the dock, liberates itself when the plastic halves of the fob begin to come apart. The top of the fob loosed from the bottom, or vice versa, and the chip fell out. Chipless, the key no longer works. You can call up the 1-800 number and the Bikeshare people will send you a new key (they've got a new batch of superior keys now that don't suffer the same problem) and also give you a code for a free 3 day pass until your new key comes, but I couldn't do this because my phone, which is currently in its last throes, turned itself off in the cold. The top button on my phone, the power button, no longer works, so I couldn't turn the phone back on. So, I didn't call and I didn't get my Bikeshare code and I didn't take Bikeshare. Maybe I could've just gotten a 24 hour pass and asked Bikeshare to retroactively reimburse me, but I don't know if it works that way. Anyway, I was right at the Metro, though at a station that would have necessitated a transfer, and I thought 'oh well, might as well just get on the Metro.' I did that. I didn't have a SmarTrip card in my wallet. I own SmarTrip cards. Maybe even 2. I had none with me. I bought a new SmarTrip card. It's a very special snazzy commemorative silver line card. It has a big SV on it.

I waited about 15 minutes for the train to arrive. I rode it one stop. I shared the train with, among other people, a man with a beautiful Rivendell bicycle. The man had a beard and some Bono looking sunglasses, but of a very little tint. Are you that man? Are you reading right now? I transferred at Gallery Place and waited another 15 minutes for the train. I rode that train to Tenleytown and the shuttle to work for there and I arrived at work about 45 minutes after leaving the bike shop.

At work, I called Bikeshare and they're sending me a new key and they gave me a code to access the bikes. At the end of the day, I walked to the Bikeshare station. The screen was busted. I could not read the screen, nor punch the correct buttons. I gave up. I walked to the first bus stop and waited, then walked to the next bus stop and waited a little more. Do you know it's 20 minutes between buses? And that's legal for some reason? I walked away from the second bus stop, but glanced over my shoulder and thought I saw the bus coming and ran back to the bus stop. The bus was a FedEx truck. I am not very good at spotting buses. I walked toward the next bus stop and this time I clearly saw the arriving bus. I ran to the bus stop and turned around and excitedly saw that this next bus was not in service. I was sad.

I decided to walk to the next closest Bikeshare station, which I later found out was devoid of bikes. I walked uphill to Wisconsin Avenue (btw, I call this street Wisco now. Way cooler) and I watched three buses go by as I was about two blocks away from the intersection. I decided to keep walking down Wisco and would look over my shoulder every 30 seconds. Maybe a bus would be coming! The buses didn't come. My phone turned itself off again before I got to the Russian Embassy. I was planning on taking a picture and tweeting 'If I were Russian, I'd be home by now.' Maybe that would have been funny. Maybe you would have laughed.

At Calvert Street, in Glover Park, I traversed Wisco, and walked down Observatory Circle towards the third Bikeshare station of the night. That station's screen also wasn't great and my skeleton gloves inhibited somewhat my ability to punch in the code, but I eventually managed it after much accidental button pushing and purposeful deleting and at this point on my intended bike commute, maybe about 40 minutes in, I had a bicycle.

Thus forward, it was mostly normal. I rode on the sidewalk down Massachusetts and I was glad that I didn't ride into any low-hanging tree branches. 21st and then L.

Hey, can we talk about L and 15th? It's the intersection of two cycletracks and this is great. Except, you know, when a bicyclist in front of you on L wants to turn onto 15th (right or left, it doesn't matter) and they just stop in the in-between space between the left-turning cars and the plastic flexposts. This is a problem if you are behind this person and intend to continue straight. My suggestion: if you intend to turn left (to go north on 15th), merge in with the left turning drivers. If you intend to turn right, um, do something else? I don't have the best advice on this because the design here doesn't really allow for a lot of great decisions. Maybe just bail from the cycletrack a half a block earlier? Maybe just turn left and then do a 180? I don't know. Just don't stop there. That's just not the best move.

L, 11th, M and then docked. I got my bike back and it was in considerably better shape than how I left it. The lights worked well and the brake pads bit the rim, like a cobra does a [whatever a cobra eats]. I was very pleased. I remain pleased. K, 6th to E and more or less back the way I came in the morning after Columbus Circle, on the same bike I rode many hours before.

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