Rides 3/16: unchained

I try not to have routines. Routines make you predictable and predictability means that, in all likelihood, a band of ninjas will try to intercept you and who wants to deal with fending of ninjas? Certainly not me. But I do have a Monday morning routine of checking whatever bike I plan to ride that day. I see if the tires need air (generally they do) and see if the chain needs lube (sometimes it does- today it needed a lot and also some chain links needed to be rassled free, having gotten themselves stuck on account of some gunk) and also to make sure that the bike still has at least two wheels (it did), brakes (yup) and one seat (thankfully, yes). It's not a bad habit, though I never remember to leave myself enough time to do the full check so that I'm not delayed in getting out of the house. Maybe it's my reticence to leave home on the first morning after the weekend, and not diligence, that prompts the bike check in the first place. If every workday were Monday, I'd probably have an immaculately running bicycle. In any case, the Ogre was in bad shape, as I last rode it maybe two weeks ago and put it away muddy and wet and covered in grime and salt. FUN FACT: this is not the best thing to do. In fact, it's one of the worst things you can do, unless you like spending money on all new components for your bike. Allegedly, you can extend the life on your chain and your cogs if you treat them better and clean them regularly and keep them in good working order, but this also might be an urban legend. Instead I just say "clean chain" 5 times while looking in a mirror and then turn off the lights and hope that some kind of mystical bike maintenance hobgoblin takes care of it. It rarely yields positive results.

Oh yeah, Friday. I rode to and from work on Friday, but I didn't blog about it. Assume it all went well, even the parts that didn't, because even the parts that didn't go well were still on a bicycle, so how bad could they have been?

Back to this morning and the Ogre. It felt slow. This might have been because I was riding slowly. It might have been because I was riding comparatively slowly to the pace that I've been making recently on the lighter Cross Check. It might have something to do with the only half-assed maintenance job I performed in the 15 minutes before leaving. It might have had to do with carryover fatigue from the Vasa Ride the day before, when I rode my bike to Sweden or maybe just the wilds of not-too-far-out Montgomery County. (By the way, the Vasa Ride was great, as was seeing so many people that good fortune, the internet, and bicycling has allowed me to come to know.) Or maybe it was something else, like hindsight.

You see, I didn't think I was actually going that slowly. I think it was just comparison to the SPRINGTIME CAT 6 RACERS who appear in bike lanes this time of year, looking to demonstrate their rightfulness in those lanes by riding faster than others. I've long since given up caring that other people bike commute faster than I do, but the first sign of the SPRINGTIME CAT 6 RACERS is always met with something of a wistful sigh. Winter bike commuting is over and so is its solitude. When you sing aloud weird songs to yourself, springtime means that other bike commuters will hear you and they'll probably think you're weird. And I guess it gets 'crowded.' But bike lane 'crowded' isn't like car crowded, which dictates lives to the point that the local news has to report on it every 10 minutes. Bike lane crowded is just like 5 other people on bikes. It doesn't really dictate lives at all and especially if you're not afraid of singing in front of those people.

Super smart guy on a CaBi stopped at a red light like 30 feet back from the light, but at the top of a hill, and then when the light turned green, he used gravity to pass all of us suckers.

I rode up M Street towards 34th through commercial Georgetown and I counted 6 lanes for traffic and 6 feet for people. Georgetown has plans to have a plan to have a gondola to carry people over the river from Rosslyn and I wonder if this plan also involves widening sidewalks to accommodate the added foot traffic from ex-gondoliers. I somehow doubt it. I think one of the things I think a lot is 'what would we do with this place if it wasn't set aside for cars? Could we come up with a better use for it?' If you've ever been to M Street on a Saturday, you'd probably say 'let people walk on it as the sidewalks are very crowded.'

You can also tell it's spring because there was another bike commuter on New Mexico Avenue.

I decided to take the Capital Crescent Trail home. It was easy and slightly downhill and uncrowded in the way that I was going. I love having a reverse commute back into DC. I love seeing people on bikes stream out of the city. They all look so happy.

I was happy to see today, in order, Chris and then Kathy and then Kyle at various points on the way home. It becomes much easier to recognize fellow bike commuters in spring, when they're not all bundled up. Kathy and I had a very nice talk as she rode towards taking a lap at Haines's Pointe about tourists and their return and her fairly amazing double bell strategy and I wished I could've kept it up longer, but I had to head back over the Case Bridge to the mainland.

L Street SE might have the gentlest approach back onto Capitol Hill. At least, so far as I've discovered. M might be somewhat milder, but it's traffickier. There might be a way to take one of the number streets (6th perhaps?) and that might barely have any incline at all, but I never remember to do that.


  1. I know I'm a week late, but as a Navy Yard-Capitol Hill commuter: 6th St is noticeably but not cruelly uphill from about K St to G St (which is actually just 3 short blocks due to elision of letters) and that's about it. I bike that way every day and it's approximately 20% as difficult as going up, say, Independence - with the added benefit of a bike lane past G St. 3rd St is roughly the same, and has the added bonus of not having been turned into a postapocalyptic wasteland due to DC Water's pavement-destroying hijinks. I like both of them better than going up L and then trying to deal with 7th (non-continuous) or 8th (too much retail-seeking traffic and bad parking) or the labyrinthine maneuvers required to reach 11th (and the freeway offramp which - shockingly! - tends to have very idiotic driving). Try it out sometime! And if you see some dude with an orange messenger bag and a black-and-green helmet, say hello.

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