Rides 10/30: Hopped up on goofballs

Like most days, my day today started in the morning. It started with my riding to work on the Sulry CrossCheck. I mean, technically it started with my struggling to wake up and then slurping some joe and then finding my way outside eventually with a different bike from the one I rode the past few days. I put some air in the tires because I had all this extra air lying around and I was like 'stupid air, ugh. where should I even put you?' and then I remembered 'tires!' and then I so off on another bicycle ride to another day of work, another day of work that still isn't Friday.

There are many paths around the Washington Monument and I normally stick on the low path, the arc that passes wider and gently, but today I took the high path, the one with the incline and the one from which you need to turn somewhat or else you don't get back down and instead have to ride around and around the Washington Monument forever like a perpetual motion May pole. I don't think I'm going to write a Yelp review of the inclined inner path on the north side of the Washington Monument- it didn't leave that much of an impression- but it was fine and I'd do it again if so needed.

Every so often when you ride a bicycle to work you find that your legs are much better at it than you expecting them to be and, in disbelief, I noticed that I made it up the hill from K Street to M Street with a zip I didn't expect nor truly comprehend. I was like 'legs! what's gotten into you?' and my legs were like 'I dunno. Maybe it has something to do with all that air you had lying around and stashed in the tires' and I was like 'whatever, legs. why do you have to ruin everything by pointing out that properly inflated tires and not some sudden burst of leg-related amazingness is the cause of my zip?' They declined to respond.

Homewards, I rode alongside the driver of a black BMW with stickers from Harvard and Penn in the rear window. He liked changing lanes and did so quite often in the brief stretch of road we shared. Sadly he was foiled by a parked car and found himself stuck in the right lane and the many drivers he weaved through and past, passed him in the left one. You can't outsmart a parked car.

Massachusetts Avenue has been the subject of a great deal of road work lately and a lane was closed and car traffic was backed up and I fled to the sidewalk. So long as sidewalk cycling (in this part of the District) is legal, I will never, ever, ever feel bad about doing it. Especially when the alternative is to wait a really long time in a long line of cars. It's not that waiting would be unsafe- no one was driving more than a few miles per hour and only for tens of feet at a time- it's just that I didn't have to and felt no compulsion to waste my time doing so. Saddling bike commuters with the burdens of car drivers is dumb and I don't really accept 'a bike is a vehicle and everyone on the road has the same rights and responsibilities so you need to be saddled by car rules and be just as miserable and inconvenienced as a car driver.' Sorry. I didn't choose car. I chose bike. I chose bike for a reason. Pretty much this reason. Among others.

I saw a group of five or six bicyclists who looked like they had just returned from a long tour on the C&O. They were weighed down with muddied panniers, muddied beards, muddied jorts and however much a few liters of tattoo ink weighs. I guess they looked like they had a fun time. I stayed behind them for the length of Pennsylvania Avenue from 15th to 3rd. Then I rode behind a guy on a CaBi who was wearing a navy suit jacket but navy pants that were not of that same suit. I noticed. People always notice.

The bike lane along the East Capitol is sometimes blocked by delivery trucks and sometimes by drivers looking to parallel park, but I find that most of the drivers who discover by a flick of my left hand that I must evacuate the bike lane on account of these things are basically understanding and accommodating. My situation is pretty scrutable. They get it. "Like, oh, the bike lane is blocked and this bike guy needs to move over to get around it and so, ok, I won't run him over" isn't the world's most difficult feat of comprehension, but it's appreciated nevertheless.


Rides 10/29: A Low Dishonest Decade

I spend a lot of time on my bike commute. It's not just the 45 minutes each way, but then it's the writing about it and all of the hours I spend trying to avoid writing about it and then coming up with lies that I plan to tell about it and then convincing myself just to tell an embellished version of the truth instead and then erasing that and then just deciding to go with the boring truth, but it's a lot of time nonetheless. I don't regret it. But what I've learned from writing about my commute, even more than just riding it, is that sometimes it gets boring. Only so many different things happen each day at around the same time on around the same route and even in a vibrant and ridiculous city like the District of Columbia, even someone deeply committed to the idea that there is something interesting in the repetitive and banal can find himself facing a lack of inspiration. So, you gotta spice things up. And I wrote some suggestions on Urbanful about enlivening your daily ride.

Got talked to this morning. He was a pleasant enough man and he wasn't a native English speaker ('how do you say it? stroller? that you push the baby?') and he had questions about my bike coffee cup holder, namely where to get it and how much it cost. People who love coffee and bicycle to work and who don't have a bike coffee cup holder tend to have these exact questions. We rode along together and I thought I was pleasant enough about it but I eventually ran out of things to say and he didn't have any more questions and I lacked the social grace to move the conversation in another direction and then we rode along for maybe another 3 minutes in total silence and I'm not sure we made eye contact and maybe it was awkward. Maybe it wasn't? It was. But here's my bike coffee cup holder if you'd like to bike coffee cup holder twins. 

Rock Creek Parkway to K Street to Wisconsin and up the hill, just like everyday. I played everyone's favorite game 'don't get hit by that bus!' and everyone's second favorite game 'don't get hit by that SUV!' and realized that everyone has terrible taste in games. 

There are lines every morning outside the Apple Store in Georgetown. Just like the bread lines in the Great Depression except not like that at all. iQueue for the Genius Bar. 

Gloomy on the ride home and I shared New Mexico Avenue with another bike commuter and this is rare. I wore shorts and short sleeves and he was wearing tights, a winter coat and gloves. One or both of us was completely misdressed. 

37th, Tunlaw, R to 34th and through residential West Georgetown which is 17% less charming than residential East Georgetown. The street I took does have a bike lane, though narrow, but unmistakeable. I don't fully understand what compels people to drive their cars in this bike lane as its very avoidable, but people do and I huff a little as I slow to squeeze between their cars and the ones parked. If I was more sensitive to indignity (and I highly encourage anyone who commutes by bike to avoid being so), I'd feel insulted. 

Followed some foreigners (were they Scandinavian?) on Bikeshare bikes on M Street and they handled the somewhat tough and trafficky road quite well, mostly by going slowly and taking the lane and generally not giving a shit that they were SLOWING DOWN SOME TAXIS, which, to the best of my recollection, remains not a felony. Generally speaking, you ride slow enough and ride blissfully unaware enough, and most drivers are just gonna give up waiting for you to get out of the way and move into another lane. There's a middle speed, not fast enough to stay apace with traffic and not so slow that drivers will give up and change lanes, that can get you in trouble. 

L Street to 15th to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Up the hill. Home soon after. 

Have you read this week's Gear Prudence yet? Because that's also not a felony. Not yet at least. Anyway, if you do go on Halloween as a 'sexy bike advice columnist,' 1) yikes! and 2) let me know. I haven't the slightest idea what that costume would look like. You also deserve some kind of prize and maybe some kind of therapy, vouchers to which might be your prize! 


Rides 10/28: Sombreros and Tigers

It's my dad's birthday. Happy birthday, Dad! 

Lovely morning in DC and clearly the bicyclists were ready for it as they poured forth from wherever and there were gobs of them coming from every which way, the way they sometimes do. Weather isn't the only determinant factor when it comes to the amount of cyclists commuting, but it's a big enough one to notice the difference between a cold and rainy morning and one that presages a sunny day with warm for October temperatures. Unfortunately, sometimes the exuberance of being back on the bike creates a headiness that leads to minor breaches of etiquette such as raciness (in that people want to race. Now I'm thinking about racey breeches, which are an entirely different thing) and an exuberance that translates into too-close passing. It's best to ignore what you can and forgive what you can't ignore. Bicycling is EXCITING and sometimes people get swept up in it. It's ok. 

If you read yesterday's non-post, you might have read the link to Brooklyn Spoke's response to some tired "cars go VROOM" tripe in the New Yorker. Now, obviously, cars go soooo much VROOMer in New York, but it led me to think about Vision Zero in the context of our mayoral election and I wrote something about it in Greater Greater Washington: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/24692/vision-zero-wont-be-easy/

This election aside (one week!), I'm worried that saying "I support Vision Zero!" is poised to become an empty phrase. OF COURSE, no one wants anyone to die a traffic death. Traffic deaths are indiscriminate and awful. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that they're saying it. Frankly, I'm glad that safer streets is a thing candidates feel compelled to support. But my question remains: what are you going to do about it? 

Rode home, stopped at the fancy Safeway on Wisconsin Avenue. I'm old enough to remember when it was a slightly less fancy Safeway. Then I rode through residential East Georgetown, which might be my absolutely favorite place in the whole city to ride my bike. I can't say why exactly, but I'm just besotted by it. Probably nostalgia. 

Saw a muffin on a recycling bin, took a picture: 

It's a metaphor. 

[Nope, I'm not gonna explain it. Just gonna not mention it any more and see if you're willing to nod along because honestly, I have no idea if a muffin on a recycling bin is a metaphor. But maybe you do! And far be it from me to rob you of that insight!]

Guy pulled up next to me at Pennsylvania and 15th and the first thing he said was "5 little monkeys jumping on the bed." I was super grateful he had a child on the back of his bike and he wasn't actually talking to me. That is not a conversation I was prepared to have.

I judge myself on how well and expeditiously I cope with/detour around impromptu street closures, of which there are many in DC, because of POTUS and FLOTUS and motorcades and the state security apparatus and whatnot. Pennsylvania was blocked from 6th to 3rd and the cyclists in front of me turned left at 6th and so did I and maybe we all biked for half a block on the wrong side of the road (sorry!) and up Indiana/D and then we split apart and I continued through the scary, near pitch black underpass beneath DOL. I didn't plan to ride over that way today and I can't say that I was really excited about having the opportunity foisted upon me, but an unplanned street closure is the ultimate test of the urban cyclist's mettle and guile. If you do it well, you feel great. If you screw it up, you'll never feel worse.  On a bike in the city, you are almost always helpless to the circumstances around you, but on a bike in the city you're almost never helpless in the circumstances around you.


No Rides 10/27: No title either

Worked from home today. No bicycle rides. Accordingly, I haz a sad. Back at it tomorrow. The bike thing, not the haz-ing a sad thing. I hope. Anyway. In the mean time, go read this by the very good, very smart and very on-point Doug Gordon at BrooklynSpoke (bike blogs are sooooo much better in New York. It's the city water): http://brooklynspoke.com/2014/10/27/vision-zero-versus-the-new-yorker/

It's very good, very smart and very on-point. 


Rides 10/24: Scattered among a hundred cities and wholly given over to unfamiliar affections

Friday. Fry Day. Fried, eh? Friday. It's not Friday anymore. But it used to be. Some things about Friday:

- They didn't make it from Pittsburgh to coffee. They only rode about 240 miles before a combination of injury, inhospitable conditions, and good sense cut short the ride. But man, what an effort! And what a wonderful venture for those who set off at 3AM to meet the riders somewhere along the C&O. Bike people are crazy. The best kind of crazy.

- The effort of the Metropolitan Police Department to dissuade/punish cyclists from/for rolling through stop signs on K Street under the Whitehurst Expressway continued on Friday. Usual caveats aside (i.e. if you don't want a ticket for running a stop sign, don't run a stop sign), this isn't a long-term solution for anyone. I don't think it's going to convince the cyclists who don't stop to become cyclists who do stop and I don't think it's going to convince the people who see cyclists who don't stop to become people who are sated now that some cyclists sometimes have been punished for their transgressions. IF ONLY, there were some kind of superfluous lane that could be converted into a cycletrack and placed between the parked cars and sidewalk, but there's no such superfluous lane. Just a sparsely used central turn lane. Oh well. 

- I took a slightly modified route on the way home (with the aim of checking out a historic viewshed ruined by bicycles) and this route took me down E Street. I have high hopes for E Street (someday) and while it has bike lanes now, they don't go quite far enough and are of an inferior, very easy to block sort. Right now they run from Union Station-ish to 13th Street NW and provide an alternative to Pennsylvania Avenue, which is almost weekendly closed for some event, barbecue, fun run, concert, or whatever. So, they're an important alternative route, even if they have problems. The biggest problem, I think, is that they end too soon. It would be so, so, so nice if thy connected to 15th, but we don't have that now because cars? Because taxis? Because hotels? Because Freedom Plaza? I don't really know exactly, but I can tell you that the area of Penn/E/13th/14th/15th/Freedom Plaza/Pershing Park could just be so, so, so, much more if it was a lot less focused on the movement and stashing of cars. I'm not holding my breath. 

A thing about Saturday: 
- I judged the Kidical Mass DC Halloween ride costume contest at Capitol Hill Bikes. I had a really great time and totally didn't mean to make all those kids cry, but you gotta bring your Hallowern A-game and when you don't, I'm gonna call you out on it, three year old girl in weakass zombie costume. Not sure I'm going to be invited back next year. But I had a ton of fun, so to Megan, Jeff and all the parents and kids involved, thank you all so much for having me! 


Rides 10/23: Of Clay and Wattles Made

Today's commutes were fine. Didn't rain, wasn't too cold. Minor annoyances remained minor. The grocery store relented some of its victuals and I brought them home and cut some of the victuals with a knife and they transmogrophied into dinner, as they do (in the morning, they only ever transmogrify into breakfast. Weird). On the way up the Hill, I saw the doyenne of #coffeeneuring, the MG, and we chatted. In summer, you see on bikes more people you know. In autumn, you actually stop and talk to them.

Tomorrow, like nearly all Frdays, I will be riding to coffee. And so will Pete and Chris and Stuart, who also regularly attend the informal get-together of bikey types at M.E. Swings. Except whereas I will start from home for a mere wisp of a trek, Pete and Chris and Stuart will have started (this morning) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and ridden straight the way through. Some people really like Friday Coffee Club. If you're inclined, you can meet up with them for the last miles. If you're even more inclined there's a charitable element involved as well. More details: https://www.facebook.com/events/716918578394844/

Be inclined. 


Rides 10/21 and 10/22: Imma let you finish, but the "Lake Isle of Innisfree"...

Four rides, one common theme and the common theme was the common weather and the common weather for late October is rain and so it rained, yesterday afternoon and to an even greater extent, this morning, when it rained heavily and unremittingly. But before the rainy commutes, there was one dry one and that was yesterday morning, when a flight of fancy compelled me to ride to work in my work clothes, a rare indulgence of which I hardly ever partake due to obvious reasons, such as wanting to look presentable at work and finding myself less than presentable after my bike ride, even when I ride slowly and with the intention of trying to remain presentable. But, yesterday, given the mild morning temperature and an even more steadfast commitment to trying to remain presentable than usual, I set off in my work clothes to ride to work. Before I left the house, in the pre-commute planning briefing (what? you don't have pre-commute briefings with PowerPoint presentations and whatnot? really?) I had initially laid out my vision to take the folding bike to the Metro, but some late-breaking, albeit highly predictable, information came over the wire (aka twitter) that the Red Line was nearly defunct, so I abandoned that plan, though without abandoning the plan to bike to work in my work clothes and I set off. The ride was fine and I arrived at work as close to presentable as I think I could've been and I would have considered the whole thing a success except for my failure to pay attention to the weather forecast and the rain that it announced and then suddenly my victory of wearing normal people clothes to work turned into the liability of biking home in the rain in my work clothes without a rain jacket or hat and running the risk of dirtying work pants and work shirts which is a thing I don't think to unnecessarily do. Like all professionals, I keep a hooded sweatshirt on the back of my office door and I slung that on and it approximated a jacket and the hood approximated a head covering and I looked approximately like this:

I wasn't altogether unhappy in the rain and the reason for this relates closely to the bicycle I rode and that bicycle is the Ogre, a bicycle I thought was overbuilt and over-the-top for the roads I ride, but it turns out to be exactly the kind of bicycle that is perfect for days that aren't. It hasn't even gotten that bad yet (it will, since it always does) but the Ogre has conquered all that I've thrown it at and with aplomb. The brakes brake brakingly and the wide tires and beefy sturdy frame eat potholes as it potholes were Hostess snack cakes and the bike were someone who really enjoyed and could eat a lot of Hostess snack cakes.* The universe doesn't always give you the bike you want, but it always give you the bike you need and in this case, since I picked out the bike and the universe didn't really have much to do with it, I have both the bike that I want and the bike that I need, though now I also have a hankering for Hostess snack cakes and I don't have any of those at all.

Somewhere along the way, I lost the button from the back of my bag. You find it, it's yours.

This morning, buttonless, I set off to work in the real rain and though I was ready for it, in that I wore a rain jacket, I still got plenty wet because that's what happens when you ride a bicycle to work in the rain. But, as Yogi Berra never said, 99% of bike commuting in the rain is 100% mental and sometimes you have to be 100% mental to ride in the rain, even when you can take the bus or some other covered form of transportation. But still, I didn't need to wear gloves and it's still close enough to shorts weather that I wore shorts, and so, using that as a rubric, it's still not that bad. There are (and will be) worse rains (and sleets and hails and snows) through which I will probably ride to work, but this morning was a nice primer, I could have arrived to worked primmer, but didn't need to because my work clothes were in a waterproof bag and I changed into them when I arrived and packed some extra clothes for the ride home, anticipating, correctly, that the ones I wore in the rain would remain wet even after a workday in which they had time to dry. And then I rode home again tonight and it was, for the most part, totally fine and also dry, for the most part.

Did things happen? Invariably.

*professional writer


Ride 10/20: Brisk Business

First day in long sleeves. We had a good run, short sleeves. It's been real. Something something A Farewell to Arms. Something something winter. Something something the midnight sun. Something something The Sun Also Rises. Something something bullfighting. Something something cold fingers, but didn't wear gloves. Something something Old Man and the Sea. Something something For Whom the Bell Tolls. Something something Don(n)e.

[TFTS behind the scenes: I start each post by typing a  whole screen full of repeating row after row of "something something" and then I replaces those somethings with other words and in the end, I hopefully get rid of all the somethings. It's kind of like decoupage. Sometimes I don't quite make it.]

I rode behind a couple who shared a kiss while stopped at a red light (with each other, not me. That'd've been weird). Cute. They had purchased a pair of panniers and split the pair set between them and the each rode with one blue Ortlieb backroller. Cute.

Mall route to Wisconsin to Volta to 35th to R to 37th to Tunlaw to New Mexico. It was fine. I could've used a few fewer miles. Not because the bike was onerous or unpleasant- it wasn't- but because with the current length and terrain of my commute, I feel like I can't bike in my work clothes without arriving grosser than is generally acceptable and maybe if my commute was shorter, I could, and that would be much better. I guess I could try.

I used to think in buying the Ogre that I was buying a crazy bike that was simply over-the-top for urban bike commuting. And in many ways it is, but in so many others, namely those others that see my riding over (into?) 4 inch potholes and preposterously rough roads, I can't even imagine how poorly I'd fare without it. In conclusion, buy the stupidest bike you can abide to ride. It will pay unexpected dividends.

So many cyclists on L and more on 15th. Even a few coming the other way on Pennsylvania. These are the salad days of bike commuting- the not too cold early fall before daylight savings time- and many luxuriate in it, much like your chopped salad luxuriates in its dressing. And the variety of bike commuters is like a mesclun mix. And bike commuters as salad similes are like soggy croutons. Soggy croutons in the transportation office kitchen refrigerator of the urban landscape that's the Friday lunch of the something something of love. [those something somethings are the cherry tomatoes of something somethings.]

East Capitol, Kentucky Avenue, the grocery store. Some couples are good at working the self-checkout together as an effective tandem and other couples are like the couple that was in front of me. They both wanted to scan. Neither wanted to type in the codes for the vegetables. Their timing on the bagging was all off. Couples counselors should leave business cards where there are normally Life & Styles.

D Street, 16th and home. One more down, as many as it takes left.


Rides 10/17: It's not your dream backyard

Friday was a day of diversions. On the way to work, a stop at a coffee shop. On the way home a stop at a bar. There are worse ways to prolong your bike commute. Instead of a coffee shop, you could have to stop to have a bunion removed. And instead of a bar, you might have to stop at small claim's court to ward off of a frivolous lawsuit from an ex-roommate. Or maybe instead of riding between home and work, you wouldn't even bike commute at all and that would be very sad indeed. Or maybe you could still bike commute, but you're a litigious podiatrist and the light of stopping to remove bunions and sue former roommates is your idea of a good time and drinking coffee and beers and stopping at coffee shops and bars would just be the worst thing ever. I don't know. Anyway, that was my Friday: coffee and friends before work, beer and friends after it, with biking on both sides of both of those things and work in the middle. It was a bike commute-y, work-y, beverage-y, friend-y Thanksgiving in a Bucket and that was my Friday and it was a good time.

It was the usual way in, but I rode across town to Columbia Heights. Columbia Road, while possessing a bike lane, isn't great and whatever pretend bike accommodation there is drops away on Harvard (I think?), so there's a gap, which makes it a somewhat suboptimal eastward route. That's before you even factor in how miserable and angry the drivers were. There was much honking and much cursing. While I'm sure, ma'am, that that motherfucker intentionally wanted to block your turn for some unknown reason, alerting him to the fact that he was a motherfucker was surely superfluous, his motherfuckeringness being, I'm sure, something he knows about himself and therefore the reason that he intentionally chose to put his car temporarily in that place where it momentarily caused you to delay your turn. But then, since you promptly reminded him, and all of us bystanders, that he was a motherfucker (and solely because of this and not because the drivers in front of him were able to move forward at the changing of the light from red to green), he was able to move forward and you were able to move as well. Life is hard for motherfuckers and its harder still for those afflicted by them, but not hard enough to cause enough people to sit out the 'dance of the sugerplum motherfuckers' that is the ballet of the car commute that is driving through Columbia Heights.

After taking leave of the going away party for the after-this-week erstwhile editor of your favorite (?) bike advice column (Jonathan Fischer- you are the best and I owe you a world of gratitude. Nothing but the best of things to come!), I took 11th downhill and through downtown to Pennsylvania eventually and followed that until the Capitol and then it was the regular way home and a pretty easy time since the weather was nice and the roads were mostly clear. I almost stopped to take a picture of the scaffolded Capitol dome because is this blog is about anything (which it mostly isn't), it's about scaffolding.


Rides 10/16: Estates General

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you'll know that I've recently changed my route to work and no longer go through downtown, but instead skirt it by riding along the National Mall, which is America's Mall, but not the Mall of America, and there are benefits to this route, I guess, since it's a long stretch of normally empty road with few stop lights until 15th street and then a series of sufficiently wide, normally unpeopled paths until the other side of the Lincoln Memorial, where the Mall runs out. It's really not bad, even if you don't like looking at neoclassical buildings and obelisks and whatnot, and normally I take a tree-lined path from 17th Street to the Lincoln Memorial that puts the 'quaint' in 'that's a really quaint path' but today I diverged from my normal route and chose to ride along Constitution Avenue on the very wide sidewalk (path?) there, mostly because I don't think I've ever done this before and because I've seen other bike commuters do it and I thought that maybe they were onto something. I rode past the Federal Reserve. I rode past Constitution Gardens, which is a place that makes me sad. Is it supposed to make people sad? Are we supposed to think 'oh, constitutional governance. and a lake of some sort. what ennui I feel about these things,' because that's sort of the vibe that I get. Maybe it was just too grey today, but it hardly feels like a urban oasis(FUN FACT: Urban Oasis was the Gallagher brothers misguided and ill-received hip-hop album). Anyway, after you ride past that, you can cross 23rd Street and there's another path that goes for a ways and then the path goes up a hill towards Roosevelt Bridge and then becomes a sidewalk on that bridge but then (and I know this because I 1) used to live in the Old Dominion and 2) I tend to pay attention to any potential which way one might be able to ride a bicycle from one place to another) the sidewalk on the other side of the bridge just stops in the midst of some grass on the median between a couple of highways. There is no there there. But we've got a perfectly good path that turns into a sidewalk on a bridge that leads to nothing. And there's no signage anyway to suggest to anyone who might not know this that they shouldn't take the path to the bridge sidewalk because it will strand them. Now, I'm trying to decide which is the bigger 'fuck you': building the path that goes nowhere or not putting up a sign that tells people the path goes nowhere. I think it's the latter. You shouldn't build sidewalks that strand people. It's cruel. A sidewalk is a promise. Or should be.

I walked across some grass and cross the parkway and then took the regular path. Under the Whitehurst Freeway, I saw a police officer maybe writing a bicyclist a ticket for presumably failing to stop at a stop sign. Or maybe she was just writing down a paella recipe and was like 'here, you look like you might enjoy paella. Make sure you buy fresh prawns! I only have my ticket-writing notepad, but it is a really good recipe and I desperately want to share it with you!' Anyway, stop at stop signs if you don't want tickets for not stopping at stop signs. I have no advice on what to do for rebuffing unwanted paella recipes.

I also rode my bicycle home from work. I saw three people that I know from real-life and many other familiar faces that I only know from regularly bike commuting. I wonder if they know me from bike commuting too, or if I'm just overly stare-y at the people I pass. Although then maybe they know me as 'Creepy Overly Stare-y Guy.' What bonds we have forged.

I would really like it if my local grocery store (and all grocery stores) had a separate entrance to the parking lot just for bicyclists. This would uncomplicate my life in so many ways and de-stress my store trips tenfold. You can tell a lot about the character of a person based on how they handle parking their car in a grocery store parking lot. It's not a good scene and I'd like to opt out. If you own a grocery store conglomerate and happen to be reading this, thanks in advance.


Rides 10/15: Quaking Aspen

I biked a box across to town. In the box was another box and in that box were shoes that were one size too big. It's not the first box I've biked across town. I'll bike others, too. It's not such a bad thing to strap a cardboard box to your rear rack and bike it 8 miles across town, even though there's probably somewhere closer to drop it off, because biking a cardboard box across town teaches you some valuable lessons about how drivers, pedestrians and other cyclists react to someone biking a cardboard box across town. And the valuable lessons about this is that neither drivers, pedestrians or other cyclist seem to care that you've got a cardboard box strapped to the top of your rear rack. No one honks, disapprovingly or otherwise. No jaywalker halts himself agog at the corrugation. Not a single cyclist once stopped and asked me where I got that 'sweet cardboard trunk bag.' It's an utterly unremarkable thing to bike a cardboard box with a shoebox with shoes inside of them 8 miles across the Capital Of The Free World and it will not change your life. It will not teach you a valuable lesson about These Modern Times or instill in you some virtue that you couldn't otherwise. Depending on the cardboard box (if the contents of the box are particularly heavy or if the box is very large and catches the wind in a certain way), it might slow you down a bit, but this particular box was just a regular size box and the shoes were of normal weight for shoes, so I don't think I suffered in any particular way. Sometimes you just have to bike a box across town and you do and it's not a very big deal and living a banal boring life by bicycle is not only conceivable, but likely.

It didn't rain this morning. If it did and if my cardboard box was full of sea monkeys, oh man, that'd've been nuts. Note: if transporting a cardboard box full of sea monkeys by bicycle, please put that box inside of a trash bag or some other kind of waterproof container. Also, who you sending those sea monkeys to? Huh? What's you deal? What's that about? That's kinda weird. People are gonna notice that. Especially if it rains. 

I rode through the city. I took 15th to M Street and there I saw this:
#waroncars and all that.

Hey, do you like asides? Ones that interrupt what little narrative there is during these posts? Well, did you know that Washington City Paper still lets me write Gear Prudence? The new one.

Saw at least two drivers 'misunderstand' red arrows on M. Or perhaps the drivers were bulls and they were like "Oh yeah? Well, I'm definitely gonna charge that way then!" Unlikely, yes, but why do they call it a cattle drive? If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: we need to hire teams of gauchos to patrol our streets and enforce traffic laws. There are worse ideas.

I was expecting torrential rains on the way home, but there weren't. It barely drizzled and I was happy for it. There were puddles (there was torrential rain earlier in the day) and I rode through those puddles because whimsy.

Mass to 21st to L to 15th. This way has become rote and I might want to try something new. It's not bad. The L Street Cycletrack, for its faults, probably has the highest (speed x safety) score of the few different routes across town. Pennsylvania is faster, but there's no bike facilities. Q has a regular bike lane, but is slower and slightly less direct. I guess you have to pick your battles. Choice is great, but paralyzing.

Let's say that you're nearing the top of a hill and there's someone in front of you who's just about to crest that hill and it looks like, if you continue your pace, you're about pass them right before the top of the hill. Should you slow down and let them get to the top first because passing them 'at the line' makes you seem like kind of a jerk? Should you not let the perceived offense of getting to the top of a hill before someone else cause you to alter your behavior because "who cares?" Should you link arms and triumphantly ride to the top of the hill together? Should you wrestle with the etiquette surrounding this issue nearly every day or should you outsource this problem to a local bicycle advice columnist? I find the whole 'politics' of hills complicated. Ironically, this sort of thing happens to me most on Capitol Hill, which might even make the politics even more complicated. In conclusion, take the bus.

There's a segway commuter I see sometimes on East Capitol. I really want to know how she decided to become a segway commuter, if there's some segwayist version of Friday Coffee Club, if it's a special commuting segway, how far she goes, etc. I just have so many questions that I dare not ask. At least not to her. It seems impertinent. I find that there's something very intentional about choosing to commute a certain way and you don't choose to commute by segway without having really thought about it (like bike commuting, for the most part). It's just novel, that's all. But so was bike commuting once not so long ago, so who knows.


Rides 10/14: Let the Raccoons Run Wild

First Tuesday of the week, but the last one too. I found myself riding the same route as yesterday, even though I didn't think that was the plan. I really need to be more steadfast. I blame the heat. For the middle of October, it was unseasonably warm. Balmy, even. I pined for the colder climes of a fictitious luge camp. Or a real luge camp. I'd even settle for some kind of bobsled training facility. Summer lingers. At least for now. Soon it will be gone and cold and wintry and I'll look back remorsefully on how I complained about the 70 degree weather, like some kind of huge jerk. "Haha," I'll say, "I was so dumb for complaining about near perfect weather." And then I'll set off on my luge sled. Whoosh. 

Well, this is going nowhere. 

(Much like me on a luge sled, as that sport requires a level of courage and athleticism I couldn't even pretend to fake.) 

Not to be too gripey, but walking or riding down the middle of a pathway and then getting mad that someone wants to pass you and can't because you're in the middle of the path and then only begrudgingly moving over and making a big deal about how put out you are about it- wait, did I say not to be too gripey? Because this sounds too gripey. Anyway. 

Took 33rd to Volta. Watched and heard a driver honk at the driver in front of her because he stopped fully at a stop sign. How droll. 

Took the regular way home and it was a beautiful night for cycling. I won't belabor how nice it was, just in case you didn't get a chance to ride home. And totally not because I'm kinda out of things to write and also kind of very tired. Yeah, that's it. Oh, also Evo Morales is trying to kill me. 

Ok, not really, but a driver stopped short to make a sudden turn into the Bolivian embassy on Massachusetts, and my bike made screechy brake noises, but eventually stopped, so that was fun and exciting. But other than that, not much eventful. There remains little international intrigue between work and home. 


Rides 10/13: back back back

Hello. I have returned from holiday, where I was either:
 a) at luge camp in Lake Placid with an eye towards competing in the next Winter Olympics, 
b) at luge camp in St Moritz with an eye towards competing in the next Winter Olympics,
c) at luge camp in Lillyhammer with an eye towards competing in the next Winter Olympics, or 
d) in the U.K. doing tourist stuff and visiting some friends from school and also pining about someday going to luge camp. 

Either way, it was fun, but I'm back now and so is bike commuting. For me, at least. For a lot of others, Columbus Day means no work and the roads and paths and trails were nearly empty. It was gray and a little wet, but warm. Do not let October trick you into bundling up! It's still warm! Do not fall for the machinations and insidious marketing of Big Coat! It's still warm! I promise. 

Federal holidays empty the roads. As such, the fewer drivers are able to go much faster. Which is crazy, because it's not like, in spite of the fact that it's a federal holiday (or Sunday, or late at night or early in the morning), there aren't still pedestrians and cyclists and the roads are no longer city streets through somewhat densely populated urban areas. I don't know why this just struck me today (maybe because I've been off the bike and the speed disparity seemed especially jarring) but maybe it's time to stop having roads that so easily facilitate speeding. Like, immediately. Because cities don't stop being cities on holidays. 

Some new protection on the L Street Cycletrack: 

Oh, I'm sorry. That's just a poodle I saw. 

Here are the parking stops (to stop parking?): 

To recap the improvements: first, we had some plastic sticks. Then the plastic sticks were moved closer to the curb to narrow the track to dissuade parking. Now we've added parking stops between the flexposts to further dissuade it. I think these are all steps in the right direction and I'm glad DDOT is testing them on L. I think they might even have a good shot at working (especially if the goal is to keep people parking/idling in the cycletrack). And this is really good. 


Mixing zones. We still have mixing zones (where drivers cross into the lane to turn left) and these are the points of biggest conflict and I think that so long as we have them (even the better ones on M), it's a compromise that will preclude a lot of people from feeling really "protected" in the "protected" cycletrack. Now, if they could do something about those...