Tailgating redux

I wrote this about self-driving cars about tailgating. Here is a paragraph that didn't make the final edit that explains how I think the "dystopian" future of no parking lots would play out:
No longer able to profit by charging for parking, teams will want to recoup these losses. Rather than allow ad hoc BYOB festivities that benefit from the surfeit of otherwise unused outdoor space, sports entities could instead choose to reappropriate the space outside the stadium into Fan Zones and profit from the additional concession opportunities. The pre-gaming could continue, but at significantly greater cost to the fan and with a much greater corporate imprint. It’s still eating and drinking before the game, but it lacks the freewheeling, bottom-up spirit of a genuine tailgate.
The tl;dr version is this:

1. land costs money
2. you can make money from land
3. if people are going to come to the game anyway, sports owners don't make any money from tailgating. They have to provide the parking anyway. This is true whether you come to the game by other means, like bike or metro. So, it's definitely possible to tailgate without a car. But that's only because there's space for you to do it. 
4. So if technology/society radically changes and they don't have to provide the parking BUT people still want to come to the game early and party, what's a more likely outcome:
  • Dan Snyder builds some lovely park space for people to enjoy for free while they cook their own food and drink their own beer?
  • Dan Snyder builds some godawful beer garden thing where he can restrict outside food and beverages and charge $12 for a Bud Lite and $16 for a half smoke?

So, yeah. Anyway, far be it from me to mourn the loss of parking lots (we have too many and they are bad in a myriad of ways), but it's always interesting to think about what could/might happen to land that's being used for parking when it isn't used for parking anymore. Generally, the urbanist case response to this is "Good things like more buildings!" but the other side of the coin is "the end of free activities that only can happen because there's a parking lot there, such as tailgating." 


Ride 1/7: the end of the return

Didn't bike today and I didn't bike yesterday afternoon because I haven't been feeling very well, but I did bike in the morning to work and my bike currently sits in my office, where it will be either until tomorrow, when I might ride it home (I have to work tomorrow), or until Monday. It's not like I need to bring it home immediately or anything (I have no rides planned for Sunday, nor much free time for a ride, even if I wanted to plan one), but it still feels weird to not have the bike at home.

Yesterday morning I rode the normal route until I turned off Pennsylvania Avenue and went up 6th Street and then turned at K and went into the Safeway at 5th to buy Old Bay, which I dropped off at a hotel. Shall I offer an explanation? Nah, let's keep in cryptic. Like I live an exciting life full of surreptitious spice blend drops, like a spy who's more interested in seasoning than state secrets. Then I rode up 11th to R and across town to Massachusetts and up the hill. This used to be my route everyday for a few years, but I gave it up last year (two years ago?) and it's always like seeing an ex-girlfriend when I ride it again. The breakup wasn't bad, but there's a reason we're not together anymore.

And now for the part where I tell you, the brave 9 of you who dare read this, that once again, TFTS is going back on hiatus. Don't cry. It's not you, it's me. Back in school for another semester and this means that blogging is back burnered, even though bike commuting won't be. If all goes well- and I'm hoping it does- this will be the last hiatus for a while and come mid May, the daily mediocrity that is Tales From The Sharrows will rise, like the 37th most popular local phoenix. Also, for what it's worth (very little), the end of this month will be the 5 year anniversary of this blog. 5 years! I can barely believe it myself. You'd think the authorities would have intervened by now. Anyway, that's s long time and whether you've been reading since the beginning (sorry) or just started recently (sorry), a million thank yous (prorated to reading time). I hope to keep seeing the many of you who I regularly see and start see regularly the many of you I don't see. Unless you're ghosts. I wonder how many ghosts read this blog. Probably not a lot. Anyway, this went off the rails a bit. See you on the road or twitter or at coffee. Hugs and kisses.


Rides 1/6: trash compactor

Another cold day, but not the coldest and by the afternoon, it was reasonably warm, even for the cold. I'm tired of writing about the weather, but you can't not write about it sometimes- it's just so there. You can outrun a lot of things riding a bike, but you can't outrun the weather.

Almost rode myself into the back of a truck when the driver put on the opposite turn signal from the direction he intended to turn. This was less than ideal. Maybe he was British and they turn signal on the wrong side over there. Blimey.

Rode past the White House this morning and didn't even look at it. That seems wrong. That seems jaded. I guess you get used to things, but even if you do, there's no harm in looking at them anyway. I'm immensely grateful for getting to ride where I ride and forgetting to soak that in seems like a mistake. I rode up the other side to Penn to 25th to M and then up through Georgetown up Wisconsin and then down and up Massachusetts to work.

I thought it was warm enough on the ride home to go without gloves. I was wrong. I fumbled trying to put a glove on while riding. These gloves are thick and not prone to successfully doing that. I think these gloves are too thick- they are my thick winter gloves- and they have the curious habit of staying damp with hand sweat throughout the day between uses and there is little appetizing about putting on a wet glove, much less two. It's a small price to pay on the few days a year when I need my heavy winter gloves, but it's a price nonetheless.

Regular route home with a detour for meeting a friend and walking around some. I've ridden 9th the past two days through downtown and I really quite like it, except for its desperate need for traffic calming. If your street allows people to drive 40mph on it, unhindered, then this is not a very good city street and you need to do something about it. There is no constitutional right to 40mph driving. And there really shouldn't be. The same thing that keeps people from biking is the same thing that keeps people from picnicking on the highway median. People don't like being near fast cars. Full stop. It's an unpleasant experience and if you're not in a fast car yourself, you will barely tolerate and seek the means to avoid it whenever possible. This doesn't seem immensely complicated, but somehow we take more seriously the claims for streets to be used to funnel fast cars than the claims for streets to be used for literally anything else and so here we are. Someday, maybe, someone will stand up with the radical claim that we should fight the unpleasantness of forcing people to be near fast moving cars in the center of a city. I'd take up funds that build a statue of that person.


Rides 1/5: wrong day

We get a few very cold days here a year. Not a lot, but enough to remember what very cold is like so as to remind us that very cold is unpleasant for bicycling. Many of us cycle through it anyway, but some don't because we all have a cut-off point where our more sensible instincts supersede the ones that draw us to bicycling. It's a subjective thing, but it's real and it's far better to recognize you have then pretend you don't and find yourself riding in conditions that your body and mind find to be far too distressing to enjoy. I think if you do this for a while and do it in enough conditions, you realize that you cut-off points are a few degrees higher (because people have cut-off points for warmth too) and a few degrees colder than maybe you'd think they'd be and I suppose you could stretch it even further if you wanted to, but there's really no reason to want to if your mind and body are telling you that you don't actually want to. Just listen to them- they're sensible.

When I left the house, my bike declined to shift. This was troublesome and confusing. I stopped in the middle of the road and looked menacing at the derailleur and I guess that, or maybe fiddling around with it a little, did the trick and the bike was fine for the rest of the way both ways. It wasn't a propitious start, but the rest of the ride was mostly uneventful. I thought about how deeply unfun it would be to have to change a flat tire in these temperatures and luckily the thought of this misfortune somehow warded this away. Maybe tomorrow!

What's the protocol when the cyclist in front of you doesn't press the beg button to cross the street? Do you impatiently saunter up and push it? Even if you know it's the only way to get the light to change in under 2 minutes? I didn't do this by the Lincoln Memorial this morning and we waited at the red forever. I'm not sure the button would've actually worked, but it would have at least provided an outlet for my impatience. Also, WHY THE FUCK ARE THERE BEG BUTTONS BY THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL, A PLACE A BILLION PEDESTRIANS VIST A YEAR? I know the answer to this (NPS), but every so often you want to do some ragey ALLCAPSing about things and riding in this part of town everyday gives me ample opportunity. Speaking of this area, there's free 3 hour parking on the Rock Creek Parkway from the Memorial to the chicane at Peter's Point and I really want to know who parks here at 8AM on a Tuesday. Because I don't think it's tourists. So, who is it? And do they really only stay 3 hours? Do they?

It's nice when another bicyclist says 'thanks' to you, even when you barely do anything.

Wisconsin to Volta to 35th and then up Tunlaw and New Mexico and I felt so, so, so slow, in part because I was so, so, so slow. On the way home, I went reasonably fast down Massachusetts Avenue and caught some keys lights and then made it to L Street and across town towards the convention center, where I went into a hotel lobby and waited around for 45 minutes until I realized that the person I was supposed to meet said that we would actually meet tomorrow. It's a good thing I like hanging out in hotel lobbies. (No, really, that's true. I really like it). After that, I rode down 9th Street (where I think they should build the east-side cycletrack instead of 6th Street) and I couldn't help but notice how many drivers accidentally drove in the bike/bus lane because it couldn't possibly be on purpose. Then it was left on E Street and up past Union Station and then across the Hill and home. It didn't seem as cold in the evening as it was in the morning, but it should be properly cold again in 11 hours when I'll be back on the bike once more.


Rides 1/4: 224 pounds

First bike commute of 2016 and it was the first cold bike commute. I wore:

smartwool socks
merino tights
commuter jeans
tech base layer
merino sweater
pea coat
turtle fur neck warmer
merino hat
cotton gloves
bike shoes

Aside from the bike shoes and the thin gloves, the whole ensemble worked pretty well. This is my generic winter outfit, except I switch it up a little more when it gets much colder by wearing a turtleneck base layer, switching the bike shoes for fleece lined boots and added a thin down coat underneath the peacoat. And much thicker gloves. Is this optimal? I don't know. I mean, it's fine. It gets the job done, at least for the 8 miles. Also, sunglasses help. I didn't wear them this morning since it wasn't sunny, but that was a mistake.

Aside from being cold, the ride felt creaky and a bit slow. My hips were tight and for some considerable stretch, I had a leaf between my fender and my rear wheel and I can only imagine how much drag that caused. Probably slowed me down a good 67%. Yes, that's what I'll say.

Still a good number of bike commuters out. DC's winter bike contingent, even on the cold days, has grown a lot over the past few years.

When I got to work, I had to take care of that stuck leaf, the one that caused me so much trouble, so I flipped my bike off and removed my wheel and got the leaf out and then I put the wheel back on, but then the chain slipped and then the chain got twisted, but then I untwisted it and all the while I was wearing my gloves and so in that regard, my hands were fine, but my gloves became quite gunky, so being a solutions-oriented individual, who is disinclined to have gunky dirty gloves covered in chain grease, I determined that the only reasonable course of action would be to take the gloves into the shower with me and with a combination of hot water, body wash and shampoo, degunkify the gloves. This wasn't especially effective and I worried about the possibility of having to wear wet gloves on the ride home, but I set upon the solution by taking the wet gloves back to my office and resting them on my office heating unit and not too long thereafter, I had gloves that were as dry and dirty as they were before I tried to wash them in the shower.

Unfortunately, the extra layer of gunk on the gloves failed to provide additional protection from cold on the way home, which was colder than the ride in. Also of note on the ride home was experiencing the strange sensation of squeezing the brakes too hard and thinking that I might fly over the handlebars. This is an uncomfortable sensation and one I would not like to have again. Better remove the brakes. For safety.

Every once in a while I feel strong enough in the legs and lungs to go for it on a hill on one of these commutes (and this is pointless, because, as I've said before, there are no gold medals in bike commuting. yet.) and for the first time in a long time, I felt that deep pleasant burn that comes with the rapid inhalation of cold winter air. This is a feeling.

The new Gear Prudence is about bikes and cars and loving to bike and also loving to drive and how there's nothing wrong with that. I don't know if I ever really loved to drive. I can think of a few situations where I've really like driving- situations that are mostly associated with it being late and being in high school- but the vast majority of driving I do nowadays is pretty much drudgery and while the open road can sometimes draw me and sometimes really feel special, mostly the car feels like such an inhibitor to experiencing those things rather than a facilitator. Maybe I'm just not driving the right places. Or the right car. Long story short, though, maybe I should get a motorcycle. Seems reasonable.