Kidical Mass Arlington Thanksgiving Ride

One of the things the Pilgrims would have been mostly thankful was the bicycle, but since that wasn't yet invented in the 17th century, it complicated matters somewhat. Not that things in the 17th century needed complication. They were plenty complicated already. Just ask Carlo Ginzburg. So, here are you choices for Thanksgiving morning: help with turkey preparation (lame), read about witches and agrarian cults (not as lame, but you could pretty much do that whenever), or go on a bike ride with a charitable bent with your kids in Arlington. Pick the latter! 

In celebration of giving thanks and stuffing bellies, Kidical Mass Arlington will be riding Thanksgiving morning, just in time to work up an appetite. Led by guest ride leader, Christy, we'll meet at Westover Park Playground Pavillion at 10am on Thursday, November 27, and ride on the safe and easy Custis, W&OD and Bluemont Trails down to Bluemont Park. Families can head out from there, or play for a bit and ride back to the start together.

Plus, we'll be collecting canned and boxed goods to donate to AFAC!

Details for the Arlington ride below and on kidicalmassarl.blogspot.com .


Work up an appetite before your big meal! Do you want to get out and enjoy the crisp fresh air on a group ride before the big Thanksgiving feast, have a chance to get out of the house with the kids and let them burn off some energy, or just get out on your bike to enjoy some of our local trails on a beautiful Fall holiday? Join us for a Thanksgiving Day morning ride, the Cranksgiving ride.

When: Thursday, November 27, Thanksgiving Day, 10 am (roll out 10:15am - come early to play!)

Meet: Westover Park Playground Pavillion, 1001 N. Kennebec Street, just off of the Custis Trail

Parking: On surrounding neighborhood streets
End: Bluemont Park Playground, 329 N Manchester Street, just off of the Four Mile Run Trail (*those interested can ride back to Westover together)

Route: https://goo.gl/maps/BbHoi
We start off at Westover Park Playground, one of Arlington's many great neighborhood playgrounds. We'll roll down the Custis Trail under I-66 and over to the Washington and Old Dominion Trail south past Wilson Blvd underpass, heading onto the Four Mile Run Trail shortly after passing the caboose. We'll ride past the fields at Bluemont park and ride into the woods, where there is the Bluemont Park Playground. Ride is 1.2 miles one way. For those interested, we'll let the kids play at the Bluemont Playground for a while and then we can ride back to Westover Park together. All are welcome - with and without kids.

In the spirit of giving thanks, we will also collect canned and boxed food for donation to AFAC. Donations are optional and voluntary.


Rides 11/24: Monday Before Thanksgiving

On Friday, I forgot my light. I vowed not to repeat my mistake. "Don't forget your light!" I repeated to myself countless times throughout the morning. "Is your light packed?" I asked myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth. "Remember your front light, jackass," I crocheted onto a decorative throw pillow as I idled away the time this morning before my ride. I made a checklist and it had on it only one unchecked box and that box was next to Pack Your Light. I put my front light in my bike bag (not on my bike because I don't like the leave the easily liftable light on the front of the unattended bike during the day) and I checked the box. With pen. 

I forgot my wallet instead.

I left it in my coat pocket. I didn't wear my coat today because it was something like 85 degrees. Take that, global warming deniers! You were wrong and won't be proved unwrong until it snows in two days. I'd comment on how many bicyclists were out, but that's hardly newsworthy. Forget it Jake, it's a biking town. 

It's not great to ride to work without your wallet and I wouldn't recommend it. It's not cool to not have ID (in case of amnesia or wanting to buy beer) and not cool to lack money and/or access to it through magical plastic card, as money is sometimes useful. I mean, mostly I don't use so-called fiat currency, preferring instead to promulgate most of my transactions in precious metals and rare gemstones (like a regular person), but occasionally a coffee shop won't make change for your ruby and it's like 'ok, here's some green paper, whatever.' The much worse part was not having the ID. How would I have vouchsafed my identity if I the Prize Patrol finally caught up with me? Or if I needed it for other things that don't involve comically large checks (and not comically large sapphires, which would be so much more convenient) 

I rode over the First Street NE to see if they had begun construction on the missing link of bike lane between G and Columbus Circle. They hadn't yet, but maybe soon. It'll be a six month-ish project, so there will be plenty more times to check in. Of all of the planned bike projects in DC, this one excites me the most. DDOT is un-ruining a currently unworking street for bicyclists. It's like one of those reality shows where they do extreme plastic surgery. I mean, except maybe without some of the moral queasiness. 

The before.
E Steet, 11th, Pennsylvania. CM McDuffie was outside of the Wilson Building interviewed by some tv people, presumably about the passing of CM Barry. 

I quite like this picture
15th to M and across town. Up Wisco. I found myself staring intently at the back of a bus. The sign warned that if I couldn't see the bus's mirrors, then the driver couldn't see me. The illogical might think that that means if I could see the bus's mirrors, then the driver could see me, but that's not how that works, both in terms of logic and in terms of interactions with actual bus drivers. I wish the warnings on the backs of buses were more fun. "CAUTION: not BRT" would be a good one. "WARNING: stops at railroad tracks and for hammertime." "Bus driver does not carry cash, but each of the passengers carries a numbered briefcase- this is Deal or No Deal!" and then a picture of Howie Mandel. Remember that show? Good times. (Remember that show?) 

I also rode home. I wore some bike socks. They did not seem to confer any additional performance benefits.

WARNING: not performance enhancing
Usual route home. Nice of the drivers to get some of the crazy out of their system during this commute instead of saving it all up for their holiday road trips. Saw a guy slam on his brakes to stop for a green light. Bold move. It's the #slatepitches of driving maneuvers. I think I would've liked it more had I not been riding behind him. Tip: never don't pay attention.

Roads closed around the Supreme Court for a suspicious package. Suspicious packages are like immobile motorcades. I rode on the sidewalk for a block and then back to the bike lanes. 


Rides 11/21: Lion in Winter

There are quests. Some are great and others are not so great and some involve the search for a savory scone. I believe Harry Potter and the Savory Scone was a popular children's baking book in the UK in the late 90s. Harried plodder and the savory scone was my Friday morning. The seeds of this were planted the previous Friday and then watered by this comment, luring me out of my way to Buzz, but that's no bother. The best thing about bicycling to work is the digressions, the sidetracking, the shirking and then the hurry-up. It's chasing butterflies, or in this case, buttery baked goods. Bikes aren't on train tracks.

I rode west on East Capitol to North Carolina and followed than to 4th SE under the highway and across M Street to then rode around a bunch, passing and re-passing the bakery a few times, before realizing that I had missed its smaller-than-expected sign. I stopped, locked and stood in the line. The line moved slowly and I had regrets. No coffee shop should be allowed to be staffed by only one person. Like a 747. I got a spinach and feta scone (it turned out to be ok at first and then better after a few bites, but I don't think that it lasted long enough for it to ever get to 'transcendent' or anything. I'd say it wrapped up somewhere around 'sufficient' in the Savory Scone Rankings, which might or might not be compiled by Nate Silver.) and a coffee and I rode on, up Half Street to I and over to 7th Street and this is where things started to get a lot off course. I could've headed downtown-ish, but chose instead to ride along Maine Avenue, which parallels the significant construction that has rendered the interim Anacostia Riverwalk Trail blocked. I kept on Maine and rode through a tunnel and then turned onto a kind of frontage road, which thankfully didn't turn into a highway. I don't think I had ever been that way before. It's unclear to me still whether bicyclists are permitted on that stretch. I suspect they are, but it isn't exactly hospitable. Anyway, bike commutes are for exploration and for going out of your way to procure savory scones and for riding on frontage roads and for never having regrets. 

I rode from coffee on the normal route. I think the real estate company who operates George Washington University as a side business would really benefit from adding a protected bike lane of sorts of G Street. Would be good for property values and maybe incidentally, students and other people. Every time I ride on a street that looks like it could so obviously host bike infrastructure and doesn't, it's just so disappointing. I'm sure there are "reasons," but there are always "reasons," some reasonable, some not, I suppose. 

The only thing I remember about the rest of the way into work is riding alongside the teenage driver of a gold Land Rover. FUN FACT: sometimes the teenage drivers of gold Land Rovers are not the most cautious around cyclists.

And now we've reached the part of the blog post when I confess my shame and ineptitude. I left my front bike light and home and rode home in the mostly dark without it. I'm not proud of this and I consider myself lucky for having gotten away with it. It wasn't my intention to ride home in the dark without a front light (I had a rear red light, whatever that's worth), but I did and I felt pretty dumb about doing it, especially in the same week as the "Gear Prudence says use lights, moron!" column. Anyway, it happened and I'm going to try to make sure it doesn't happen again. Here are some observations on riding home without a front light:

1. I could see just fine. There was enough street lighting and lighting from cars that visibility wasn't much of a challenge. 

2. There are a lot of people who ride without lights of any kind and this seems crazy to me, because:

3. I could tell that drivers and pedestrians couldn't see me coming. I noticed it especially with drivers at the 'mixing zones' of the L Street cycletrack. With no white light on their rearview or sideview mirrors, they didn't know I was there and I definitely felt that it would've been pretty easy for them to move across my path having more clue that I was there. Same with a bus pulling out of a stop on 11th.  As for pedestrians, maybe compared to drivers, their not seeing me was objectively less dangerous, but it felt no less perilous. This became pretty obvious on Pennsylvania Avenue, where more than once, someone stepped out into the cycletrack with nary a clue that I was coming. 

4. In conclusion, never forget your front light. It's really useful and definitely makes a difference on how others interact with (or avoid) you. Maybe also pack an extra light or always leave it on your bike. Or maybe don't ride home in the complete dark if you don't have a front bike light. I thought I could make it home before it got too dark, but didn't, so maybe I shouldn't have tried. In hindsight, it was pretty dumb. :


No Rides 11/20: Consistent Wreaths

I didn't ride to work today. I think it was the warmest day of the week, so in that regard, maybe my decision wasn't the most optimal. But in the regard that I had some stuff to do around the house (namely fill nail holes with wood filler, which was both laborious and tedious. Last time I ever let apprentice poodle carpenters near poodle-sized tiny nail guns. So many nail holes), it was a good day to get things done and I was able to accomplish pretty much everything I set out to do. Here's to small victories.

I did take a quick ride to the Harris Teeter at Potomac Avenue. My idea of a recreational ride is to a different grocery store from my normal one. 'Utility ride til I die' is tattooed across my back in black ink and gothic lettering. I took a slightly longer way back, heading over to 11th street and up that way to Lincoln Park and looped back over. I wore my new commuter jeans, even though I wasn't technically commuting. I hope that doesn't void the warrantee. The Official Wife said they look pretty hipster. I'm not sure that assessment was meant to be taken approvingly.

Tomorrow, colder once more. Remember to pack extra hot (or extra-hot) coffee.


Rides 11/19: "the grace? it was all right"- first draft

I watched another bicyclist put his hand on the hood of a woman's car. He didn't so much smack it as pet it, but maybe the way you'd pet a cat that's kind of a dick. (I do not own a cat.) The car was stopped in the crosswalk and remained there after the light changed and it was finally our turn to cross. That this happens, believe it or not, is not a rarity. That bicyclists or pedestrians sometimes take out their frustrations by angrily petting the hoods of cars is rarer, but it also happens. I didn't see the driver's reaction. Sometimes drivers get quite mad when you touch their cars. Sometimes cyclists and pedestrians get even madder and smack, hit, or wallop the hoods of cars, to quite an effect. I don't really know where this story is going- the story of not much happening after a driver blocked a crosswalk and a man on a bike touched her car- but it happened a minute before I was honked at for not hurrying across a crosswalk, so the two incidents, I guess, stick together in my mind.

Getting honked at is annoying. Getting honked at is not the same as getting punched in the face or the same as being run over or having a lawsuit brought against you for trademark infringement (I'll see you in court, Frito Lay! Chester Sharrow, the sassy sunglassed orange cat, is totally legit!), but like I said in the previous sentence, it's annoying. I don't care for it very much, nor does anyone else really, to the point where I'm pretty sure we should all just agree to get rid of car horns. I was honked at because I didn't cross the street fast enough. I was honked at because someone thought that his having to stop for an extra two seconds was worth more than my being able to cross the street at my preferred speed. And because he had an easily accessible horn. Side note: I, pretty much in almost all circumstances, refuse to hurry across a street, especially at unregulated crosswalks. There are some reasons for this, namely 1) hurrying anywhere is dumb, 2) I want drivers to fully stop and wait and not half-stop. This latter concern is not just out of pettiness. Crossing a street is, much of the time, when I'm the most vulnerable. If I'm rushing across the street and the driver is like 'oh cool, he's rushing, so I'll barely slow down' and then, let's say, I fall over or something falls from my bike or for whatever other reason something interrupts my traversing, then I'm not really in great shape. I'd feel much better about the whole interaction if I know that the driver is stopped. Drivers don't like this. I don't care. I genuinely do not give one tiny fuck if someone in a car has to wait an extra few seconds. 'BUT HE MADE ME WAIT TWO SECONDS!' someone might say. To which I might say 'what are you, a two year old?' [I think this is also why I'm hard on #CONFUSION.] It's time to stop lowering expectations, especially for adults who are operating potentially deadly multi-ton vehicles under government permission. Get over it.

When I left work, I saw a man wearing a hi viz jacket driving his red car down Nebraska Avenue. Finally drivers are taking visibility seriously. Next step, driver smart hats. Because here's the thing: in the sharing economy with the ZipCars and the car2gos and all of the 'rent your car at the airport when you're away on vacation' schemes, it's getting harder and harder to say exactly who is driving a car while it commits a traffic infraction. If drivers wore helmets with registration numbers on the back, then we can be sure to issue the tickets to the correct person and not just go by antiquated license plate technology. Venture capital please < pinches fingers together in mooching manner>.

Usual route downtown and then G Street to Macy's (really?) where I bought commuter jeans (really??? Yeah, I guess. I needed some new pants for winter.) and then down 11th to Pennsylvania and then the same route home as always. It was still quite cold. I should've worn thicker gloves.

Oh, hey, look a new Gear Prudence. It's about lights. 


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.


Rides 11/17: 35 Animal Heads

It rained.

My brakes made an awful noise, louder and more prolonged than the usual squeal. I found it to be over-dramatic.

I stopped at a red light on East Capitol and talk to some Metropolitan Police Department police officers. They were waiting in the rain to babysit some Keystone XL protestors, who had gathered to shout at a building (or maybe the people inside a building). You suck, building! You're probably made of oil and/or pipes! Boo! (I am not especially acquainted with the issues surrounding said pipeline. I try to remained as uninformed as possible.) I expressed my sympathy that they had to stand in the rain. They said that it wasn't so bad. An officer with a mustache said my bike looked really heavy. I hopped off and let him pick it up. I trusted that he wouldn't steal it, as it would've been very easy for me to call the cops, namely his partner sitting inside the car. He was reasonably satisfied that the bike was not too heavy. We said our goodbyes. In hindsight, I find my extroversion weird. It's not my normal inclination, which is somewhere between taciturn and comatose. I wonder how they found it. Maybe a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy morning? In related news, LOL.

The Mall has reopened and I rode past the museums and wanted to take a picture of the dreary-as-all-get-out Washington Monument, bathed in fog and gray and this picture almost happened, but then my phone's battery died. So just imagine a fog covered Washington Monument. To aid your visualization, if you have an obelisk and fog machine at home, get those out. If you don't have those items, get thee to your nearest obelisk and fog machine warehouse. There's probably a sale. My phone is nearly on its last legs and I will replace it soon, but for maybe the next month, I'll have a phone that can't consistently remain functioning in the cold weather. I haven't yet assessed to what extent this might be a problem. I mean, on one hand, if all a wonky phone prevents is foisting on your blurry pictures of what I say is the Washington Monument enmeshed in fog, then that seems like no major loss for any of us. But I'd hate to have to need it in an emergency and not have access to it. My plan for the next few weeks is to have no emergencies.

This time it wasn't an UberX blocking a crosswalk, but a Lyft. Sharing economy for the win.

The roads were comparatively empty on the way home. It felt like a Sunday before a holiday Monday, but it wasn't that at all. I was on the road 10 minutes earlier than normal, but I don't know if the sixth of an hour really made that much of a difference. I guess people just didn't drive to work today? It felt odd and mildly disconcerting. Unfortunately, sometimes the only thing that keeps the worst of drivers from indulging their worst habits is the presence of copious other drivers. It slows them down at least and the slower speeds cages in their terribleness. But when there's no traffic, that's when the worst of the lot find themselves speeding along and staring at their phones and altogether oblivious of things like drifting into the bike lanes and coming perilously close to me. "THIS IS WHY YOU CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS!" would be a sorta meme-y thing I could scream, except I'm too busy trying to stay out of the way. The best of when you get the 'I'm sorry!' wave and the guy giving you the wave HAS HIS PHONE IN THE WAVING HAND. Please, please, please, please pay attention while you drive. Please?

M Street to Pennsylvania to L Street to 15th. Then, back to Pennsylvania again. At 11th, I watched a woman not run across the street even though the crosswalk numbers counted to zero and a red hand flashed. She just kept walking, as if she thought that human decency and understanding would prevent the driver at the now green light from blaring on his horn. She was on the phone. I wonder if he just saw a 'distracted walker.'

So moody:

Filters used to enhance moodiness. I have no idea what reality looks like anymore. Not sure what Instagram filter adds Trump billboards. They should really look into that. Pretty sure that's not supposed to be there.
At Lincoln Park, a woman screamed. She screamed "Zack!" and she ran towards the road, looking panicked. I thought "holy shit lady, Saved By The Bell has been off the air for decades. there is nothing to get that excited about something is wrong" and asked "is everything ok?" Her eyes scanned the road in front of me and while her pace quickened she said "no, it's just my dumb dog" and I guess she spotted the dog, across the street in the arms of a woman who had crouched over to hold the black dog still. Dog crisis averted. To be honest, it's kinda hard for me to blame the dog too much. A dog's just a dog.


Rides 11/14: Cheerios and Milk: an homage

Well, it's really November now. No use pretending otherwise. Not that you would. No one really keeps their calendar a few months back or leaves up their Labor Day decorations (am I the only one with an inflatable lawn Gompers?) or tries to pretend that the month is a month other than the one it is. Instead, you savor the unseasonably warmness (or coolness in the hot months) for as long as it lasts and then, when it all snaps back to normal, you put your inflate lawn Gompers back in the garage and take out your inflate lawn Rudolph, who also tells an interesting story about the history of labor relations. Anyway, it's winter enough now, but not depressingly so. It was actually quite nice and I was pleased the steadfast coffeeneurs at Swings sat outside to sip rather than cram in the shop.

From coffee I rode with Rudi through Foggy Bottom and up and through Georgetown and then I continued on alone through Glover Park and Cathedral Heights. I did not stop for coffee at the top of the hill, but soon they're'll be a coffee shop of the grounds of the National Cathedral. Talk about Good News! I am quite excited for this because sometimes between drinking coffee at home and after riding to coffee and getting coffee as soon as you get to work, sometimes you just need a place to stop for a cup along the way. Pretty sure that's what Henry VIII was more or less thinking.

After work, grabbed drinks in Tenleytown and rode home down Wisconsin, mostly in the space between the parked cars and the white strips that denote the next lane. It was very dark and colder than I wanted it to be, but the night was clear and I wasn't too upset to be out in it. Massachusetts to 23rd and on 23rd the wails of an ambulance brought out curious responses from the nearby drivers, some desperately trying to pull over to yield the way, others desperately trying to outrun it, as if the sirens are something not applicable so long as they can stay in front. It's a weird kind of plausible deniability. "Oh, that ambulance? The one behind me? How was I even supposed to know?" The funny thing about the sorting is that there's really no way for me on my bike to know which driver will slam on the brakes and angle toward the curb and which driver will smash the gas pedal and peel out towards the now open road. Whatever modicum of safety exists for bicyclists mixed in traffic exists in its predictability and when that's all done, it's like surfing, but the wave is made of sharks and razor blades and sulfuric acid.* It turned out ok. I found the right lane and progressed slowly and deliberately until I could stop behind a driver who had pulled over and then the ambulance went by a dozens and seconds later and we all set off again and order, such as it is, descended once more.

L Street, 15th Street and past the White House plaza, where there was a school group in neon green shirts and maybe there were two school groups in neon green shirts and two school chaperones pissed and trying to untangle which gawky 12 year old belongs to which XXXX Middle School 'home of the tigers'. Neon green is, unfortunately, the camouflage of the middle school tourist set, which is why you should dress middle schoolers exclusively in camouflage, unless you're bringing them to the forest or desert, assuming your school's bake sale only raised enough money to purchase surplus desert camouflage instead of the quality green stuff.

I must've ridden Pennsylvania Avenue, for am I home now and that's how I tend to go, but I don't have the faintest recollection of it. There might have been some other people on bikes there and one might have had smurf blue bar tape, but the night was dark and while the air was clear, my memory is foggy. And that's sort of an insignificant detail that doesn't drive the narrative forward in any way. But nor pointing that out.

I remember feeling good riding up the hill. Things were clicking and they weren't my knees. East Capitol went by quickly enough and then it was home the weekend. Today, we listened to six and a half episodes of Serial. Yesterday, we went for beer at Three Stars. Get the Desolation. It's very good. These are superfluous weekend details that aren't about the ride at all, but I figure if you've made it this far, I owe you something at least vaguely interesting.

*professional writer


Rides 11/13: Security Guard Securities Security Guards

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. And not the good kind of funk with George Clinton and some kind of parliamentary spaceship. "Point of order, Bootsy Collins lacks a quorum" or something. My funk coincides with the colder weather, but I don't think the weather caused it. I don't necessarily mind the cold (tip for riding in the cold: wear more clothes. that's all) and there is something refreshing about it, at least at the beginning of the season.

East Capitol, past the Capitol and up Pennsylvania Avenue where in the morning DDOT has not yet paved the unpaved patch of yet which they did pave by the time I rode it again in the evening. Progress! It'd been torn up since August in what I thought might have been an homage to 19th century America, but turned out to just be ______ (I'm not totally sure what). I'd probably watch a tv show about a detective who investigates delays in paving projects, but I don't anyone else would, so it'd probably be a good idea if they aired it on NBC. Maybe it'd be called Macadam, after the titular hardscrabble detective who would get to the bottom of the paving delay mysteries. Someone green light this!

Got shoaled by no fewer than 7 cyclists at 22nd and M. Nice to see so many people biking on a cold day. Yup. I'll let that by my takeaway and not 'sure was neat when I rode past 5 of you a block later and caught up to the other 2 at the next red light.' It's not the biggest annoyance in the world- it's barely even one of the smallest- but I think with shoaling- such as it is- the onus should be on the shoaler to justify the behavior and not on me to be forced to repudiate it. I stand upon the shoulders of thousands of years of queue culture. I am assured in my certitude. I guess that's what makes it certitude. (Certitude is also the name of what one feels after popping a breath mint).

There's something delightful in the obliviousness of a cyclist who stops on red in a right turn lane and has no idea that perhaps the driver waiting behind him or her in that lane wants to turn right, as the lane suggests. There's just something delightful about obliviousness in general. I mean, sure it's annoying and surely there are better ways to go through the world than one without any cognizance of what's going on in the world around you. But still definitely delightful.

Got a craving for a savory scone at the top of the hill by the National Cathedral and I rode down Cathedral towards where is now a defunct Canadian bakery (they sold savory scones. They closed. I hadn't been for many months. Maybe no one else did either). I kept on #savorysconequest2014 and headed up the hill to Wagshal's, a deli/bakery/grocery store and they also don't sell savory scones. Then I rode to work. Thus concludes my story about how I didn't buy a savory scone. "Cool story, bro," says no one.

Like most days, I also rode my bicycle home. Massachusetts to 23rd, where at P the driver of a van pulled a hilarious 'lemme just slam on my brakes like I'm about to miss my turn, no, wait, never mind, haha, I'll just keep going' maneuver and boy did I chuckle.

Regular route the rest of the way, including to the grocery store. The night was crisp.


Rides 11/12: What if the space invaders were us?

Sometimes I possess forethought. I correctly anticipated that the temperature would drop throughout the day and the warmer morning would give way to a cooler evening and I packed a warm shirt and some gloves and thought myself ever so clever in the evening when I used them on the return trip home. They were only slightly superfluous. It's mid-November and I'm still wearing shorts, but I think tomorrow that's all going to change and winter (or what approximates winter) will truly be upon us and the long, relatively comfortable season of riding that's run from roughly March to roughly 3 hours ago will be officially over. From now on, the dry days will just be cold and the wet days will be wet and cold and the first few snowy days (if any) will be somewhat fun and the rest of the snowy days will be a genuine slog. There's nothing especially valorous about biking through cold weather (or wintry, slushy weather) and there's no right or wrong way to do it, other than to wear more clothes. Some people really like it, but most people don't, and it gets a little lonely on the roads. It's not the worst thing to be a little lonely. 

Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House and out the other side to and through Washington Circle and out to Georgetown on M Street to Wisconsin and up the hill to and through Georgtown and Burleith and Glover Park and Wesley Heights. Downtown, I watched a woman on a CaBi pilot herself through a pack of pedestrians rightfully using a crosswalk. I called her, not as under my breath as I would have liked, an asshole. She didn't hear me on account of her headphones. David Farragut, by all accounts, is a national hero, but his most famous quotation is hardly one by which to guide your urban bicycling. It's really quite simple, waiting is. 

Somewhere along Pennsylvania Avenue there was a superbiker in matching Castelli kit and he rode faster to me to each red light and I arrived some time after. It seems self-defeating, but to each his own. 

There's a woman I've seen riding by my office who I saw again tonight who has the peculiar habit of riding downhill with her back bolt upright, hands off the handlebars and arms down her side. I find this curious, but she seems to enjoy it. She's quite fearless about it, but I'm assuredly afraid enough for the both of us. I guess we all have our peculiar bicycling habits (I like to snake towards red lights, annoyingly weaving to and fro) and in some regards, I find her boldness to be refreshing and inspiring almost, but I don't think I'll adopt this style any time soon. I wonder if she hates her handlebars. Maybe she dislikes the feel of her bar tape. I just don't know. 

Saw a car with the bumper sticker "BEWARE: Fencer on board" and I was aware. It was nice of this fencer to alert us all. I wish all fencers advertised their presence with stickers. Better than with swords, I guess. 

Almost got doored by a guy opening his door to litter. I just can't even. 

Saw a guy biking with a golf bag hitched to the back of his bag and he dragged the irons and woods along behind him on Pennsylvania Avenue. Dark for tee time. Early for clubbing. Strange.

Near home I rode behind a woman on a Yuba Mondo cargo bike and as the light turned green, she shot off like a rocket. It took me awhile to realize that her rather large bike, quite sensibly, had a motor. 

Two blocks away from home, I thought I saw a man engaged in some master yo-yo trickery. It wasn't a yo-yo, just some string. The trick was on me. 


Rides 11/11: Literary Allusion

Veterans Day. I'm so glad that as a country we have a national holiday to honor the men and women who take care of sick animals. USA!

The National Mall has been closed for the Concert for VALOR for about a week now and was closed this morning and again this evening (very much more closed, as tonight was when the concert for VALOR actually was) and so I rode along Pennsylvania Avenue, which wasn't really closed, but maybe a little impeded by road signs telling drivers that other roads were closed. Those mobile road signs, the kinds that hackers sometimes get to announce the presence of zombies, were placed in the bike lane and that wasn't maybe the best place for them, at least as far as my perspective as a bicyclist was concerned. Here's a digression that has nothing to do with the preceding sentence:

You can't really tell people to eat broccoli because broccoli is good for them and healthy and pretty tasty and then boil the crap out that broccoli under it's gray and disgusting and then wonder why barely anyone eats broccoli. Thus concludes this digression about broccoli.

On Pennsylvania, at 24th, I was in the middle of the right lane waiting at a red light, when a woman behind me, driving a BMW SUV, decided to pull around me into the middle lane and then make a right turn in front of me from the center lane and as she pulled in front of me she said aloud and I guess to me 'TURNING RIGHT!' as I looked up upon noticing that a driver was making a right turn in front of me from the center lane. I said "OK!" What's there to say? It's not really my dispensation to give.

Wisconsin Avenue becomes less fun for bicyclists when there's parking allowed in the right lane. You could say that the road narrows, but really the road stays the same exact size and what actually happens is that one third of the road is given over to car storage and that means less room for the actual movement of people. Roads rarely narrow.

I thought about avoiding the concert for VALOR and riding home on a route far from it, but at the last minute, I decided that I'd chance it and take the normal way home. Traffic was light, but not much lighter than usual, on Massachusetts and 21st and L. I mean, there were still places where people had to stop because much like many of us, red lights didn't get the day off. Unfair.

Pennsylvania Avenue wasn't terrible. It was half-closed, which is I think the worse than totally open, but also worse than totally closed. Half-closed is tricky. Half-closed invites liberties. Half-closed leads to bad decisions. Totally open, i.e. normalcy, tend to tamp those down. Totally closed precludes them entirely. Half-closed beckons mischief.

Some things I've learned about interacting with the state security apparatus on days when parts of the city are closed:

1. Asking ahead of time if you can go is better than assuming you can. So, ask.
2. Be polite. No one ever went broke from saying please.
3. Ask direct yes/no questions about whether something is open or not. (Really, they have more important things to worry about than untangling the syntax of an overly complicated question)
4. Don't ask 'why?' Why you can't go a certain way is totally beside the point. Assuming the officers know, which is beside the point entirely, the 'why' isn't going to matter. If it's closed it's closed. Just keep moving.

Pennsylvania Avenue was closed at 3rd . I rode up Constitution which was open and pretty empty which is pretty cool, since normally at rush hour it's kind of a bear for bicyclists as drivers speed and there's no space set aside for bicyclists. At the top of the hill, I turned on First and then East Capitol and home. Maybe the Mall will be open again tomorrow, but probably not.

Women & Bicycles Seminar: November 15th!

Register here.


Rides 11/10: Some title that's random or whatever

The CONCERT FOR VALOR has closed much of the NATIONAL MALL and aside from RUNNING OUT OF ALL CAPS DESCRIPTORS of relatively MUNDANE features of my NORMAL bike commute route, the closures have also PRECLUDE my ability to ride along the Mall, meaning I've shifted my bike commute to my OLD ROUTE along Pennsylvania Avenue and through DOWNTOWN, which hasn't been all too bad, though maybe not my top preference.

This morning, I followed Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House and out the other side, westwards towards Washington Circle and it was all very mundane, in the way that riding through a city on an overbuilt road is mundane. There's just so much road. I half-expected Sally Struthers to ask to send this extra road to the needy abroad. It's just superfluous. It's excessive. It's so much road.

I found M Street. It was where they last left it. I follow that to 33rd and followed that up and through residential Georgetown to Volta and westward still. They had 34th street blocked off for some on-street leaf sweepery and I watched somewhere between 1 and 3 Landrovers make sweeping left turns in front of me as I waited on the stop sign, patiently, astride my Brompton. I took the folding bike today, for reasons that might be explained in the part that I haven't written yet, and I can definitely imagine another version of myself that lives in a different place (London?) that exclusively rides this bike and is very ______ (content?) with that fact. Nevertheless.

The bike has two speeds, allegedly. It failed to shift and I found myself riding up the steep-ish hills on Tunlaw and New Mexico in the more robust of the two speeds, the one that required a more stern effort and a bigger push than I would have preferred for a Monday morn. This explains the afternoon, when I rode to BicycleSpace to inquire about the possibility of turning the two-speed Brommie into a 3 speed (with an internal gear hub). I'm still undecided on whether I'll actually see this through, but maybe the plan is to convert the bike for 2 to 6 speeds, which is about 4 more speeds and, I don't know, somewhere between 0 and 1 pieces of mind.

To get there, I took Mass to Q and rode across town to 7th. It was fine enough. Home from there was K to First NE, and there I diverted to check out the progress on the new cycletrack, which is progressing. They've replaced the temporary plastic sticks with permanent temporary plastic sticks. I think the plan is to add additional protection in the guise of parking stops. It's a pretty good connector, except for maybe the JOUSTING LANE, where the cycletrack constricts to abide some kind of 18 wheeler loading zone. It's not a treatment I've seen in DC before and while I understand that sometimes bike infrastructure must give way to realities on the ground (and I really do understand this), it's not especially intuitive. Maybe additional road markings will make this clearer. I don't know.

First Street, Columbus Circle and then Massachusetts Avenue to the park and then home. Monday's a done day. Bring on the next.

Rides 11/7: A dollar short

Words. Ugh. How about pictures:

It was cold on Friday. I wore skeleton gloves. 
On Friday morning, I was reminded of ARTCRANK, which was on Saturday night. 
This is some ARTCRANK, A good time was had by all, or at least that was the case when there was still beer. I think good times continued after the beer ran out, but I was well gone by that point. I would like to reiterate that I had a good time and I'm glad that ARTCRANK finally came to DC. 
I rode across town Friday night (stopping at the 14th Street Trader Joe's because of self-loating and the need for yogurt) and followed Q Street to the MBT and then checked out the new M Street NE cycletrack, which is seen here in the process of being installed. It's not done yet. They're putting in more permanent plastic posts today.

Coming down the ramp from the MBT, the helpful yellow lines guide you to other yellow lines. I hope they paint this green because that might help everyone realizing that there will be intermingling of bicyclists and pedestrians. Also green is a pretty color and I also own stock in a green paint company and it would be very lucrative for me personally. 
The first time anyone has ever captured a picture of a driver idling in an under-construction bike lane. This is what Neil Armstrong must've felt like when he helped Stanley Kubrick fake the moon landing.
The cycletrack from beyond the idling cars towards First Street NE (Northeast, not Nebraska.)
The First Street cycletrack currently ends at G Street, but soon it will be extended and thank Zeus for that. Right now, it's a fucking morass. It's two-way, but isn't. Parking and idling is restricted, but it isn't. It's just a total mess and hopefully adding the cycletrack will help give the street some order. I mean, once they start the massive ticketing blitz needed to "re-educate" the drives who currently ignore all traffic laws thererabouts currently. 
What's white and square and on Capitol Hill? A GOP Congress! (rimshot)
BONUS: This is Saturday, when I rode my bike in Fort Dupont, where the conditions approximate those of mountain biking, a sport for which I have little aptitude. I didn't fall down once. Or multiple times. It's really fun to ride on the trails back there and I bet it would be even more fun if you knew what you were doing.

Majestic DC skyline brought to you by the Height Act. As seen from Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Morris Road SE

Some bike parking at the new Harris Teeter near the Navy Yard. Outside is better than inside, which is a wave rack tucked in the corner not especially close to the entrance. Biking in parking garages isn't super fun anyway, so it's probably best just to park outside, unless it's raining. Service journalism! 


Rides 11/6: Files and Phials

Did anyone else write this post already? No? Ok, I should probably do it then. So, let's.

It might have rained this morning. Honestly, I can't recall. I do remembering that I wore a rain jacket, so perhaps my failing to recollect the rain speaks to the efficacy of the jacket or maybe it speaks to its superfluity. The jacket itself does not speak, but I'm sure the problem of non-speaking jackets will get sorted out by Silicon Valley super-geniuses soon enough and then we'll all be the better off for it when our jackets can read to us our tweets or maybe tell us what weather.com says the weather is. I bet we'll look back on the time before speaking jackets as a kind of dark age, when all jackets ever did was keep us somewhat protected from the elements like some kind of analog sweater like they had in olden times. Maybe our speaking jackets can speak to others (or others' jackets- 'passing on the left. boop beep boop) or maybe speaking jackets 2.0 will write blog posts without such silly digressions. The future will be wonderful.

I think the thing I repeat to myself the most during my bike commutes, though it's really meant for others, is 'please don't do the thing that you're about to do.' Such commentary is mode blind. Bicyclists, motorists, walkeristedestrians (a new uncomplicated term meaning what you think it means), pogoists, none are immune to bad decisions and watching those bad decisions unfold from pre-folded to unfolding to unfolded, all why trying to determine the appropriate pre-action/reaction, means that I repeat my plaintive request many times a commute and many times over each week. "Please don't do the thing that you're about to do" sometimes coincides with people not doing that thing (or at least postponing it until I'm no longer in the way or as grossly impacted by it), but just as often, since magical incantations, no matter how polite, are not especially effective, the thing that you though they'd do and wished the didn't do is exactly the thing they did. Like cut me off or pass to close. And then realizing that cutting me off put them in a right-turn only lane, so they cut me off again on the other side. This happened this morning at M and Wisconsin. It was silly and I reacted poorly, namely by getting back in front of the driver, taking the lane, and slowing down to about 3 miles per hour. She just passed me too closely again. I didn't really think it though.

But sometimes the 'please don't do the thing you're about to do' doesn't even involve me and it's a bit like watching a horror movie. You yell at the screen "DO NOT GO INTO THE WOODS ALONE" or you, in your head, go 'don't stop in the crosswalk. There's a school right there. Come on." In in both cases, horror movie or with real life urban transportation issues, thee's a chainsaw-wielding maniac. Or maybe just some miffed pedestrians or frustrated other drivers.

The construction work on Massachusetts Avenue is no longer and they've appeared to fix many of the gashes and gaps that have made the road perilous lately. (GGW has a post about utility cuts endangering bicyclists). I was especially grateful for the flat road tonight since it seemed extra dark and the rain didn't convince me that my bicycle could easily stop or remain upright had their been some unexpected reason to need to clutch the brakes. It felt so dark tonight. It felt like the drivers felt it was dark.

I rode 23rd Street to L. At 23rd and L, there's a left turn only sign in the left lane. It is routinely ignored by drivers.

do you mean 'only' or 'only only'?
Hard not the blame #CONFUSION. [Confusion and #CONFUSION are not the same.] #CONFUSION is the endless capacity to forgive drivers. #CONFUSION is always finding an excuse for misdeeds. #CONFUSION is being unwilling to accept that lawbreaking is intentional or that there's volition in it. #CONFUSION denies intentionality- it comes from the same epistemological place as "accident." #CONFUSION never seems to be offered to anyone but drivers. #CONFUSION is meant to excuse the same way that "I didn't see you" is. #CONFUSION, once you start seeing it, is something that can't be unseen. #CONFUSION, in my opinion, should be called out and called out loudly. #CONFUSION is disingenuous. No one sees a bicyclist go through a stop sign and say 'oh yeah, he probably doesn't know that he's supposed to stop. Sign could mean anything really.' But how many news stories do you read or see on tv about people parking in bike lanes or driving in cycletracks or basically doing anything with cars ever that prominently and abundantly feature the word and concept of 'confusion'? So, which is this? Are the drivers in the above picture struggling with the meaning of an arrow and the word only? Are they unable to parse out what they're supposed to do? Have they tried to figure it out, given it the best of efforts, really grabbled with the many things that I could mean, and only unwittingly stumbled into the wrong answer through no fault of their own but through some nearly impossible-to-grasp concept and unclear depiction of it? Or is it #CONFUSION?

White House Plaza closed. I walked by bike on H Street. It was unpleasant and crowded with the other pedestrians and cyclists diverted and maybe even some cyclists and pedestrians who intended to be there in the first place. I think we need a viable non-White House plaza 15th Street cycletrack.

At the grocery store, I parked my bike next to Justin, of the #bikeDC and also of Hill East and we talked about the inadequacy of the bike parking situation, which is obvious and sad. For as many shoppers who arrive by bike (and it's many), the bike parking is just a lame toast rack and a railing. I don't think I'd ever boycott a grocery store over bad bike parking, but maybe I'd pretend to threaten a boycott on the 37th most popular local bike commuter blog. That'd show 'em.


Rides 11/5: Guys and Dolls and Guys

M Street, through downtown, has a one-way cycletrack that is demarcated by some plastic sticks and parked cars. Parallel parking is hard.

I mean, on one hand, haha, right? Take that plastic sticks! And really, it's not like these cars are parked in the bike lane, which is annoying and impeding and disrespectful. They're just parked on the plastic sticks that "protect" the bike lane- that is, protect the bike lane from cars (you be the judge of how well they're doing)- and so you stop and you silly pictures and then you use those pictures as fodder in a blog post 12 hours later on life goes on. I mean, it's all quite funny. Until, of course, you remember that the drivers who quite carelessly parked those cars on top of 30 inch tall plastic sticks aren't always parking those cars, but sometimes driving them at 40 miles per hour and sometimes in quite close proximity to bicyclist and you can't help but wonder if these same people who can't bother to not run over a plastic stick at 2 miles per hour (though maybe in reverse? though maybe squeezing into a tiny space) will do much better around you. You can certainly hope so. I certainly hope so.

I saw this sign near a construction site:

I always proceed with caution
I guess that's nice. If the sign were bigger, they could add 'we apologize for the inconvenience.' If the sign were even bigger than that, maybe they could add 'we're so sorry, here's a coupon for some free tacos and beer." I guess they don't make construction signs that big.

Sometimes you gotta outrace a dump truck so the driver doesn't try to pass you. Sometimes you just gotta.

Back on Massachusetts Avenue (and the sidewalk adjacent for the construction parts) and then 21st and L and 15th. There was a demonstration downtown and there were people with banners marching in the street and there were a billion cop cars and ambulances and drivers seemed to be quite inconvenienced by it all. One frustrated driver of a luxury SUV thought it'd be cool if he just cut off an ambulance with sirens flashing. I wonder if karma will cut him off.

I ended up in (the back of) a pretty rad Cat 6 on Pennsylvania and there was some real effort by all cyclists involved, including some epic too-close passing and some serious over-the-shoulder-glancing. I don't know. There are still way too many lightless cyclists out for me to attempt trying to pass another cyclist without being terrified that someone'd be coming in the opposite direction. One of the guys who might've gotten swept up in the race had a white flashing taillight. This is, how do you say, not right. A lot of people don't know this, but the custom of white lights in front and red lights in back was a result of US involvement in the Russian Revolution. In communist countries, it's red lights in front and long lines for Levi jeans in back.

My brakes made an awful noise all trip. Nothing terrifies pedestrians more than squealing bike brakes. I mean, they work fine. They just make a lot of noise. But squealing brakes just 'problem!' so with each stop, people on foot really snap to attention and seem poised to dive out of the way. I'm sorry! I don't like it either.

New Gear Prudence is out. It was a real reader question, too. So, thanks, real reader!

Rides 11/4: Can I buy a trowel?

For the first time in my history of bike commuting, I found a way to leave my bike bag at home. Just plain forgot it. I realized this when I arrived at work. I didn't have my wallet, my lock, my lunch or a change of clothes. I was miffed.

I decided that I needed those things.

I stayed at work for a couple of hours and then rode home. I ended up returning to work (not by bike) since I had a presentation in the early evening, but worked the few hours in between from the couch. It was not altogether unpleasant, but I was about out of sorts.

I encourage you not to forget your stuff. It's distressing and complicating. I would've thought that it'd would be more of a lark. Like a 'haha, isn't that funny, now I get to ride my bike home sooner than I anticipated!' but it didn't really feel that way at all. I try not to get bothered by stuff like this (since it's really trifling), but I did. I'm over it now. But je me souviens.

I took the C&O Canal towpath on the way in. On the way home, I rode down Massachusetts Avenue and saw a local tv news transportation reporter standing on the sidewalk.

I also saw this guy:

Life may be a highway, but lif is definitely an overly wide urban boulevard.



If you're anything like me (I'm so sorry!), you love bikes and you love posters. You also love poodles and your ideal poster would have a poodle and a bike on it and you'd probably never even leave your house because you'd be too wrapped up in looking at that poster to deem going anywhere else worth it. HOWEVER, you do not yet have that poster so I would heartily encourage you to go forth in search for it this Saturday at ARTCRANK

See below:

Saturday, November 8 | 4:00pm – 10:00pm | 1776 | 1133 15th St. NW | The Penthouse (12th Floor) | Washington, DC | FREE Admission

ARTCRANK is making its debut in The District at 1776 with a brand new Poster Party For Bike People on Saturday, November 8!

Our first-ever DC show features handmade, bike-inspired posters created by local artists. Limited edition, signed and numbered copies of all posters will be available for $50 each.

Oskar Blues Brewery will have a selection of craft beers to quench your thirst. Make a donation to support Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) if you want to make The District a more bike-friendly place to live, work and ride!

Join us and our friends from Shinola, Neenah Paper, Clif Bar, andBicycleSPACE for an afternoon and evening of bike-inspired posters, local craft beer, and guaranteed good times.

Aaron Hansen | Abbey Schuyler | Abe Garcia | Annie Riker | Ayn Roberts | Blake Wilton | Carolyn Sewell | Christian Baldo | Dana Jeri Maier | Devin Draudt | Hannah Dean | John Deardourff | Jonathon Poliszuk | kidboy | LA Johnson | Meg Vazquez | Nicolet Schenck | Pia | Rockets are Red | Sean Berg | TJ Cichecki | The Matt Butler | Tim Skirven | Travis Poffenberger | Typecase Industries

Find out more at:

1776 is located on the 12th floor of 1133 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005-- just a few blocks from both Logan Circle and the White House, across from the Washington Post building. The closest metro stops are McPherson Square (blue & orange lines) and Farragut North (red line).

Driving? There is parking in the garage of the building that offers normal daytime rates, evening parking for a $5 flat rate, and remains open until 11:00pm. Additional parking can be found at the garage right next door on 15th Street by the Loews Madison hotel.

ARTCRANK representatives will greet you in the lobby and direct you to the event.

Some ART:

Replace that cat with a poodle and I'd buy this

A bike and poodle at the Tidal Basin? Now that'd be something! 

"Gee, sure am pensive and fantastical and probably thinking about my pet poodle" 

This is actually one of those Magic Eye 3D posters and if you stare at it long enough you see a poodle probably.


Rides 11/3: Pike and Sturgeon

Five things:

1. It's the first day with the first night when it's dark in the evening commute and it's also the first night I've ridden with my new SUPER BRIGHT super light (Urban 650) front light from Light & Motion, which did prove to be super bright. I saw very few lightless cyclists, which is good, but would have I even seen them anyway? Anyway, if you're a lightless cyclist and need lights, please email me at talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com and I will secure you lights. Will my doing this involve some kind of high-stakes bank robbery with subterfuge and Matt Damon? Maybe! Or, it might involve other means (such as robbing Matt Damn, then using his loot to buy lights at a bike shop. Hope Matt Damon carries cash. I mean, nothing against Damon. We find Clooney or Elliot Gould or Brad Pitt or approximately 7-9 other celebrities, then we're not picky. You need lights. We're gonna do what we need to do. Speaking of lights:

2. It's the WABA Bike Ambassadors!

I made them say "war on cars" instead of "cheese"
 I don't offer see the Bike Ambassadors up in the neck of the woods (literal woods) near where I work. This might be because Ward 3 does not have diplomatic relations with Bikeistan, but I guess there's some kind of detente, because there they were. [Do bike ambassadors need Senate confirmation?] When I came upon them, they were literally (literally!) standing next to a car crash. A driver tried to 'squeeze' past another in a lane that didn't have enough room for squeezing or so Bike Ambassador (His Excellency?) Jon told me, denying that he and Bike Ambassador (Her Excellency?) Sarah had absolutely nothing to do with it and it certainly wasn't part of their orders from the Bike Lobby to ride behind enemy lines and cause car mayhem in the everlasting and ever-escalating totally real War on Cars. They claimed to be there just to hand out bike stuff and to encourage drivers to turn on their lights. Sure........ We talked a little and Sarah rode the Ogre a little and then I went home via the normal ways I go home, including past thing 3, which is that

3. The Capitol Dome is nearly fully covered in scaffolding.

They say the scaffolding is up because they're fixing it, but if anyone sees Damon, Clooney, Pitt and approximately 8-11 (how many of those movies did they make?) movie stars around, it's probably related to an elaborate scheme to steal the Freedom Statue. That's why we need to strike first! To save freedom! And also to buy you some lights if you need lights! With their ill-gotten celebrity cash!

4. There is no segue, but I wore skeleton gloves this morning. I'd've worn them before Halloween but it wasn't cold enough when they were thematically appropriate.

It was barely cold enough this morning, but it'll get colder. I like wearing skeleton gloves a lot because they keep my hands warm, but also because they're hilarious and they remind me to not take myself too seriously. (You could probably also make some danse macabre inferences, but you don't have to and maybe shouldn't). It's important not to take yourself seriously because sometimes dumb things happen, such as

5. A guy riding a Bikeshare decided to make a left turn against the red light from M Street to salmon southbound  onto Wisconsin and this would have been fine and all had he not been heading directly at me, albeit slowly and wobbly. I had just begun pedaling at the green, so I hadn't exactly achieved much momentum either, so I stopped and looked at him, mostly befuddled at what his plan was and why he felt it necessary to involve nearly crashing into me in it. I stopped and tilted my head. He eventually braked. He said 'sorry' and I said 'that was ill-advised,' mostly because it was really ill-advised. You shouldn't make a left turn against a red light and ride directly into oncoming traffic. I would not advise this! And I'm a bike advice columnist and I advise all sorts of terrible things! I guess I could've, in place of saying that his maneuver was ill-advised, laid into him calling him a motherfucking asshole fuckface jackass or something along those lines (as he very much was), but somewhere along the way I think I accidentally came to the realization that we aren't always our best selves. I think this guy knew that. I don't think my cursing him out would've made him known it better. I like to let bike commuting try to develop my capacity for patience rather than let it erode it. I think that's the better choice.


Rides 10/31: Fencing Your Neighbor

Halloween! The end of October! The beginning of the Holiday Season! And by Holiday, I mean Armistice Day! What a sad, sad season. Stockings full of trench foot. Candy canes (because of trench foot)! Over the top (of the trench) consumerism! Oh man, this is depressing. Anyway. Halloween! 

I don't think I saw more than one bicyclist in costume on the rides to and from work. The exception was Mike, a Friday Coffee Club regular, who rode his tandem with a skeleton as stoker. The Rootchopper has a picture. Of late, I've been wearing Halloween themed socks, both on my bike rides and in the office during the day, but on Friday I didn't because I think all of my Halloween socks were dirty from previous excursions. IF ONLY there were some way to have known when Halloween would be this year and take some steps to prepare for it, but nope, much like speed cameras, turn lanes, stop signs, and parking restrictions, it's simply unknowable. I am routinely shocked that more people weren't shocked by the costumed children begging for candy. How did they know they were coming? How??? FUN FACT: based on my confusion, anger, and no effort to try to learn more about any of the underlying issues causing these feelings, on Halloween, I dressed up as a Washington Post Metro columnist. 

I rode the Cross Check and the bike has worn for maybe the past month some Continental Four Season tires, tires that I like a lot. But the tires love me not. They love another more. They love sharp objects and I noticed before leaving work that some sharp object found its way through my front tire at some point and the tube stuck forth, visible where it ought not be. This was, for lack of a better word, bad. With the exposed tube, the likelihood of puncture was very much increased. I thought 'huh, the likelihood of a puncture is much increased.' And then I set off on the wonky tire anyway as I had a dentist appointment to make and would not be deterred for some reason. I thought about biking the Metro (I left work before rush hour, so I would've been ok), but instead elected to ride home (past the dentist's office) to swap one bike for another. I made it, though I question whether I should've tried. I suppose I could've taken some steps to try to remediate the problem, but that would've required me to 'do something,' but instead I elected to trust the universe in seeing my through my ride. Thanks, universe. 

I stopped at the Exorcist steps (that's right, even with a gashed tire and at the risk of getting stranded, I took a side trip) because the power of Christ compelled me it was Halloween and that's probably the most Halloween-y place in DC. I thought about carrying the bike down the stairs (I used to walk the stairs frequently when I was younger and dumb) but soon dissuaded myself. That didn't take much effort, to be honest. 

The next spooky place I went was Washington Circle. Who needs a haunted house when you can scare yourself shitless with a poorly planned bike route?

White House, Pennsylvania, the House side of the Capitol (spooky!), home, swapped bikes, back to the dentist (around 2nd and D), then afterwards to the grocery store via D Street Pennsylvania, 12th and D and I bought candy and beer (treats for all!) and then I rode home.