I didn't intend to ride today. I really didn't. I worked from home yesterday and I've been nursing a cold for a a couple of days and since it was roughly -73 degree this morning (ok, it was 12F), I figured that I would just take Metro to work and maybe be better for it. Of course, "taking Metro to work" involves taking Bikeshare to Union Station and then Bikeshare again from Tenleytown to the office, but for some reason, I don't count that as biking to work. Anyway. But it turned out that Metro had other plans and thanks to twitter, I learned that there were serious delays on the Red Line and I spared myself those delays by choosing to bike in the cold.
I rode to work in normal people clothes, but I overdressed. I wore two pairs of socks. And two coats (a thin down one and my usual wool one). I would've worn two pairs of gloves were I capable of putting another pair of gloves over or under the pair I did wear. I sweated a little, but for a commute, I think I'd rather by more warm than more cold. I'll ride in the cold, but I don't think I'll ever really embrace riding in it. It's just not my thing. I didn't really know this about myself until I started bike commuting, but it turns out I'm more of a summer person than a winter person. I mean, ideally I'm a fall or spring person, but given the less moderate seasons, I'll take the heat over the cold. On the other hand, see if I'm singing that same song in July.
I decided to take 11th (hi Ted!) up to R Street and then ride across town through Dupont Circle. At one point on R, I was the third of three cyclists stopped at a red light. Given how cold it was (and how icy the bike lane remained), I was pretty impressed to see other bike commuters at all. After Dupont and on Mass Ave, I didn't see other cyclists at all. I started riding up Mass on the street and switched to the sidewalk, as is my normal habit on Massachusetts Avenue, but that turned out to be a bad choice. Most of the embassies along the way managed to clear their walks, but across from the Naval Observatory, backing up to some bit of Rock Creek Park, the sidewalk was covered in an inch of ice. My reaction to discovering this was 'let's see if I can ride on this ice without falling down.' And I did! For the first section. But around the bend, the ice slick continued and it stretched much farther than my capacity to endure it. I switched back to the road. Massachusetts Avenue is two lanes and the speed limit is an oft-ignored 35. Normally in the morning there's scant traffic, so the drivers are free to go as far as their hearts and lead feet desire (and this is why I tend to ride on the sidewalk, which is virtually unused in this part of town) and this is only a problem when drivers decline to move over into the left lane, leaving the right lane free for pokey ol' me. I try to ride enough off the curb that it becomes clear that there isn't room enough in this lane for the both of us (perhaps I should wear a cowboy hat and a six shooter?) and for the most part it gets the message across. But it doesn't always work and some drivers decline to move over into the empty left lane to leave me be. The drivers today who didn't move over were: a driver of a white BMW, a driver of an UberX car and a driver of a WMATA bus. Amazing.
On the ride home I was befuddled by a recurring noise I couldn't quite resolve. I think it was a fender scraping against the front tire, but it could also be the front derailleur cage (is that a thing?) scraping against the chain. I mean, it could've been a lot of things, but I didn't really stop to inquire. It was very cold. The ice in the bike lanes somehow seemed even icier. Luckily, it wasn't consistent and there were plenty of patches of clean pavement too.
In the evening, I saw a car with ghostbusters logo stickers on it. In the morning, I saw a car with the Bayern Munchen logo on it and next to that, a Dave Matthews Band sticker. I passed a truck with pictures of wild horses across the back windshield. What do you get when you put of these things together? Something to do with soccer playing marching ants and ghostly palominos? Maybe! But I mostly just reached the conclusion that people put weird stickers on their cars. 'Car as canvas' sounds like an overly grad school way of conceptualizing this. So let's not do that.
L Street, 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. How many people in #bikeDC get to commute on all three cycletracks? Even if each is imperfect in its own special way, I'm still pretty lucky. Of the three, I think I saw the most people on Penn. That's always where I saw the most ice, so I can only conclude that cyclists love riding on ice.