Rides 8/31

Goodbye August. You're a weird month. You know why.

It's time to ban right turns on red. It's time to ban them because they are bad and it's time to ban them because they encourage infringement into crosswalks and this insults the dignity of the pedestrian at least and imperils their safety at most. It's time to ban them everywhere. And it won't matter given the number of people who think nothing on turning on red when signs tell them not to. 4 drivers in 5 minutes. I don't want to harp on about lawbreaking because I think it's mostly a fruitless discussion that ends in a lot of finger-pointing and a lot of bad comparisons and false equivalence. What I do know about laws and law following is this: there is no one who thinks that the person who drives under the speed limit in the left left of the highway should be exalted as a paragon of virtue and rightness. The 'everyone should follow all the laws all the time' crowd remind me a lot of biblical literalists. It's all true, even the contradictions, until we need to make exceptions.

This was a long day at work, but the bike commutes on both ends were pleasurable in spite of that or because of that (I don't know which). The morning was sweatier than I wanted it to be, but the evening was kind. Both rides saw a pleasant sensation in my legs when riding uphill. It wasn't a burn exactly, but a kind of physiologic feedback that evoked if not pleasure at least contentedness. I wonder to what extent the experience of bicycling opens me to feelings that I wouldn't otherwise arrive at during the course of my regular day and I suspect it's a few. Some of these are frustration, but most of these feelings are quite good ones and I'm grateful for them.

I haven't been wearing a helmet most of the summer. I wonder if I'll put one back on in the fall.

There's a sign painted on someone's garage and it's blue and pink and says "BEST" and "WORST" and there's a bar chart with numbers and I'm sure this has been written about previously and I'm one google search away from knowing more about it, but I pass it everyday on the ride home on 19th Street and I wonder if I should actually finally do that google search and learn more about what I'm looking at or just allow myself to live with the mystery. It's very gnostic, this best and worst sign, and the baby blue and bright pink are the colors of the infant room's of parents of an earlier generation, and the whole thing is quite curious. I don't know what possesses someone to paint blue and pink bar charts on their garage and to label those bar charts best and worst, but I can only assume it's good motives and not craziness.

The light at Florida and 19th is too long. At least the red light. I don't know if the green light is too long because I'm normally the first to go through the intersection.


Rides 8/29 and 8/30

I work in higher education and yesterday was the start of the fall semester. I decided to mix it up by riding up 19th street in the morning rather than 18th and I can tell that 19th is a little steeper and there's less to look at (at least in terms of visual interest) and while I avoid the stoplights at Florida and Columbia and Adams Mill that way, it turns out that 19th ends on a one-way going the wrong way so I had to, um, creatively approach getting to the DE Bridge. From there, it was a normal ride to work and so on.

One thing I've been thinking about is how non-local drivers seem to be vastly worse at driving around bicyclists than local ones, or at least so it seems. Disproportionately it's North Carolina or New York or Florida license plates on cars being driven too closely to me and I don't think it's just my selective memory telling me that's the case. So I guess maybe there is something to be said for drivers "learning" to be better around bicyclists when they're more used to it. This is as close as I'll get to an apology to MD Driver in DC.

Hasn't been nearly as much back-to-school traffic as I had expected, but maybe it'll pick up September. Not sure yet if the St. Albans/Cathedral students are back and I'm just fortuitous enough to miss them or whether I haven't yet experienced the madness that will be Garfield Street when they return.

This is an aside to tell you that I ride past the Belgium Embassy everyday. It's unremarkable. And yet I did a whole aside to remark about it.

Summer remains hot and it will linger through September. There's a crispiness in fall, but it's still too far off for me to crackle with excitement about wet leaves creating peril beneath my tiny Bromtpon tires. I think the ambient heat is getting to drivers and their frustration bubbles only to be emitted in periodic honks and outgassed in feckless lane changes. I wouldn't mind it so much if it didn't affect me so profoundly. It's one thing to watch the boxing match from the stands, but another entirely to be seated in the middle of the ring. And without gloves no less.

Left work a little later today and went home the normal way. I wore sunglasses, but it wasn't that sunny. I wore a belt, but I don't think my pants would have fallen down without it. Not much reason to tell you I wore a belt. That belt is the Belgium Embassy of my apparel.


BONUS EXTRA CONTENT: Gear Prudence: What's the Best Type of Cargo Bike for Riding With Kids?

This week's GP tackles biking with kids and cargo bikes and since I don't know anything about either of those things, I sought out some help from Loren Copsey, co-owner of The Daily Rider, and Gillian Burgess, leader of Kidical Mass Arlington. Needless to say, they're both amazing people and amazingly helpful. So helpful, though, that given the word limits on GP, I could barely include any of the truly wonderful advice that they provided. So, I'm posting their responses to the question in full here because it's really good. 

Loren's full response:
I can talk cargo bikes until most people tune out and walk away, so I apologize for you having to edit me down to 450 words. Bottom line on this matter is that I can sing the praises of a front loading Bullitt all day, but 95% of parents are going to hear the price and walk out with a Yuba or get themselves another longtail option. Until we get a viable, mass produced, US based, Chinese made, front loading model from a major manufacturer (Metrofiets is a micro-bike manufacturer so not counting them) it will not be an option for most families. Manufacturing and production numbers have to increase to make them attainable for everyone. Some major companies are looking at this market and wondering if they can enter it. We'll see in the next two years. 
Here's what we tell people in the shop:
Like every bike, you're going to want to test ride them. If the shop can attach accessories to let your kids ride as well, even better! 
Front loaders are great for cargo or kids. We use our Bullitt in the shop to shuttle bikes and accessories back and forth to the warehouses. One advantage to a front loader is that your kids are lower, so their weight shifts the center of gravity to stabilize the bike. Another is that conversations carry on like normal since you can see them and interact. The negatives are that small kids need some imaginative accessory to accommodate them, and the bikes take some practice to master. Because the genesis of these bikes (Long Johns) was in the cargo field, kids are often an afterthought. Weight capacity is around 400 pounds, similar to the Yuba Mundo. After kid duties are finished, this is a great bike for picking up drywall or 5 bags of mulch at Fragers or your entire weeks worth of groceries. It can be done on the longtails, but it just takes more doing. 
Rear loaders (longtails) are native to the US, starting with Xtracycle. Their ride is similar to your regular bike and many accessories have been created especially for the kid hauling crowd. For a fully equipped bike coming in at $2,200 (Xtracycle or Yuba) versus a similarly equipped front loader at $3,900 this is the deciding factor for most. The second hand market for these bikes is going to really pick up in about two years, and is already hot, so turning one into cash later is an option. 
For people that don't want to dive into cargo bikes just yet, adding a rack and child seat can be a good way to test the waters. Yepp has a rack mount with an extension allowing the addition of panniers to a bike with a child seat installed.

 Gillian's full response:
Gear Prudence: I'm thinking about getting a bike so I can ride with preschool-aged kids. I want a cargo bike- but there appear to be two types (the one with they ride up front and the one where they ride in the back) and I don't know which is better. Do you have any advice?

Perplexed Annoyed Running-on-coffee Exasperated Never-on-time & Tired [Ed. Note: THIS IS AN AMAZING ACRONYM]

Dear P.A.R.E.N.T. - Congrats on having kids and knowing the two main cargo-bike types: the box bike (front carrying) and the long-tail (rear carrying). Each type has pros and cons, but they are all better than “regular bikes” because they allow you to take with you basically everything you want and your kids.

Box bikes are the easiest to use -- you can load up to 4 kids in the box, and all of the junk that they “need”. Because the kids are in front of you, you can see what they’re fighting over, and when one is trying to escape. The good ones are more stable than a bikeshare bike and surprisingly easy to pilot. You can add a plastic bubble (called “rain cover”) that keeps the kids out of the elements, even warming them up in the winter. Because box bikes are so big, you can use a framelock, making any spot a parking space. However, they are big, heavy, and pricey, so if your storage or budget are limited, the attention you’d get from riding a box bike around town is probably not in your future.

Long-tails can also carry a load, but you have to think a bit more when you’re loading. You’ll need a seat on the back for when they’re too young to be trusted without straps. Long-tails (and they’re shorter sisters “mid-tails”) look more like normal bikes, and are easier to store at home and to park at racks. Some are even light enough to maneuver up and down a few stairs. Kids are behind you, so you don’t have to see them while you ride, and you can fart on them with reckless abandon. If they’re strapped into seats, it’s harder for them to fight. It’s easier to tow their bikes along with a long-tail, allowing for rides where they sometimes do some work. The best long-tails have smaller rear wheels, so the load (i.e. your kids) are closer to the ground, and those look weird enough to turn heads.

Either kind of cargo bike can be upgraded with “e-assist” -- a little electric motor that flattens the hills. E-assist can be pricey, but worth it around here.

You can find out more about the wonderful world of family biking by visiting the Kidical Mass Arlington website (kidicalmassarl.blogspot.com) or just talking to families who bike. There are a lot of those on Kidical Mass rides, so come join us!

Be prepared, because riding with kids is far, far awesomer than riding alone. As you ride through the city and see the usual menagerie of dogs, trucks, cranes, etc., you will be treated to a soundtrack of “DOG!”, “TRUCK!”, “CRANKY!”, and “I WANT A SNACK!”. It’s like your thoughts being shouted in in a squeaky voice for all to hear. Plus, that hill that you thought was a challenge when you started biking -- with kids, it again becomes Everest, but this time with your own personal coaches reminding you that you’re late to preschool and they need to use the potty. The bottom line is that biking with kids is really, super awesome. If you want to practice, I have an extra kid to lend.

Once again, one billion thanks you to each of them and let this serve as yet another reminder that DC bike people and generous and smart and knowledgeable and funny and I'm so lucky to know so many. 


Rides 8/25 and Rides 8/26

Sort of lost track of the back half of this week and I didn't realize that I didn't blog on Thursday, but it makes sense, since I spent some time Thursday after work buying and drinking cocktails at the new Passenger, which has moved a few blocks north on 7th. I got there via Bikeshare after getting home via Brompton and I got back from there via Bikeshare as well, but both of those were bonus rides that took place after the commute proper and might fall outside of the bounds of TFTS territory. (It's funny to set limits on a personal blog, which no one controls but me, but rules are important. Strictures matter.) The ride home was one where I doubled back before crossing the Ellington Bridge because I learned that my ANC commissioner would also be riding this way, so I headed up 29th Street to Cathedral Avenue to Woodley before linking up with her at the top of the hill and riding back down. This is the route of the 96 bus, the bus that sometimes takes me to work and a route these streets are truly amazing because you probably wouldn't ever ride on them unless you were willing to actually follow those signed bike routes signs, which always seemed a bit too on-the-nose for me to take seriously. 'Yeah, buddy, sure this is the way to Chevy Chase. Sure, but I'm gonna go this way,' I would say before taking a less direct way to not Chevy Chase, for example. Of note along this stretch of road is the Swiss Embassy. About this place, I have negative interest. That's a monetary policy joke. "Joke," I mean. There's also the Maret School. According to it's website, the Maret School was founded in 1911 by Marthe Maret, who was French Swiss from Geneva. It looks like a nice school and it seems to have capacious buildings and ample lawns.

Must've gotten to work on Thursday morning somehow, so let's assume it was by bike.

Friday morning saw me skip Coffee Club again (I'm sorry!) and from what I remember it was a quick ride in and there was gobs of cyclists on 18th. Just gobs of 'em. I keep expecting there to be more conflict around the Oyster-Adams School (a school named after our second President and our second favorite bivalve probably) but by the time I ride by, it's after drop-off, so I barely ever get to square off with a road raging parent. And here I am, studying krav maga for nothing. But seriously though, it's nice that there's little conflict there because I would hate that idea that I would come to dread it.

Friday afternoon was a later ride home because I had a reception at work (I'm halfway decent at receptions in that I can chew, talk, and manage to hold wine and canapes at the same time- this is no small feat and yet no one endorses me for it on LinkedIn, alas), but after that it was a straight shot down Mass to Garfield and then beyond. The Brompton performs well. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I rolled over a marginally large stick or into a somewhat deep pothole with any pace, but I shouldn't wonder. One, it's bad luck to think about bad outcomes (ok, I just made that up, but that sounds plausible) and two, there's no sense wondering since the answer would be that I'd fall down. Small wheels are great, but I think they, in some cases, presuppose non-terrible roads, which is not always the case. Nevertheless, I think I'm going to keep riding it until the snow comes because it's the easiest to get in and out of the apartment and that counts for a lot.


No Rides 8/23 and Rides 8/24

Didn't ride a bike yesterday. Took the bus. Oh, and I rode a bike from the bus stop. But that doesn't really count. For some reason. 96 in and the N2 home, if you're the kind of person who wants to know what bus routes I ride. Oh, and come to think of it, I rode a bike when I got off the bus to get from one bikeshare station to a different one that's a few blocks closer to my place. But yeah, I've already written "No Rides" in the title, so as far as your concerned, and as far as I'm concerned, yeah, no rides. Even though there were rides. But they were short.

Took the Brompton today. Both ways. Didn't even bring it on a bus. Also, I wrote "Rides 8/24" so again, using the title rule, the one that I just made up, even if I took the bike on the bus, it'd still count as rides. But really, I did ride the bike and both ways and uphill and downhill and the whole way in and the whole way home.

One thing I think about on these rides is the extent to which some people who bike internalize the idea that they're slowing down drivers and how this is bad. One, who cares? Everybody who travels slows down everyone else. That's why you get home faster at 2AM when no one else is on the road and it's slow on the Beltway at 6 not because the road has changed, but because there's just a lot of people on it. And really, if you thought about it, and I do, I'm fairly confident that I'm as slowed down on my bike by drivers than I slow them. But again, this isn't really the point that I'm trying to make. I think the point I'm trying to make is that even if you, person on a bike, was slowing down a driver and you slowed that person down for 5 whole seconds, that's, um, 1/6th as long as the time they'd be stopped at a 30 second red light. If you stopped right in the middle of the street and paused for 10 seconds, which, I assure you, would feel like an eternity and make everyone feel really uncomfortable... that's still 20 fewer seconds than a 30 second red light. So, really, I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that in objective terms, even if you wanted to cop to the fact that you, a bicyclist, slow down drivers, you're rather terrible at it compared to any old red light.


Rides 8/19 and 8/22

Started Friday with a ride to A Baked Joint on K between 5th and 6th. I got there by taking 17th to Q and then crossed town to 11th or possibly 7th before taking one of those to a different street and let's just say I got there because I definitely did and there are witnesses so quibbling about the details after a weekend seems unnecessary, ok? I rode the Brompton, which I took to work by riding up 5th to R and R to Massachusetts and up that until my workplace got in the way of my bike ride, as it does during these commutes.

The ride home was one of mild frustration, as Friday afternoon rides so frequently are. The embrace of the weekend should be a joyous affair, but drivers drive the worst on Friday afternoons to the point that it's noticeable. Passes are closer, speeds are higher and there's a general sense of anxiety about 'escaping the office' that translates into an apparent dickishness on the roads. For awhile I thought that Monday mornings were the worst times for jerky driving behavior, under the theory that people wouldn't want to go back to work after the weekend and their grumpiness would translate into crummy driving, but that's not true. Crummy driving is, quite interestingly, a result of...anticipation of a good time? Or excitement about that good time and an attempt to get there faster? Anyway, if the NSF is reading (and they hack everybody, right? Oh, that's the NSA. But how else are you supposed to get a man to the moon? Wait, that's not them either), I'll take a million dollars in grant money to study this scientifically. The study will involve electrodes, so that definitely makes it science.

Today's commute aspired to start with a Bikeshare ride downtown, but there were no bikes, so I went back upstairs and got the Brompton instead. I rode downtown using the streets between where I live and where I was going and then after walking the bike to the metro, folded it and took a humdrum underground train trip to work. I only beschmutzed my pants a little from carrying the bike against my leg from the train to the escalator and whatever gunk wound up on my pant leg was easily smudged into the gray slacks to the point that it blended well amidst the previously smudged gunk from the other times I carelessly carried the folded bike. I rode the bike from the metro to work. Nebraska Avenue could be a much better street. It won't be though.

I stopped at the store on the way home for vegetables and bread and limes. Another delicious dinner of key lime sandwiches. Mmmmm. I have this very nice bag that I infrequently use since it's normally too small for the amount of things I want to bring to and from work, but I used it today and it fit my lock and my limes and my coffee mug and a folded copy of the newspaper and some other things.

Riding down Newark through Cleveland Park is a joy. I've even come to liking riding on Connecticut Avenue from there until Woodley, which is a monstrous thing to admit. Connecticut Avenue is, in common parlance, a fuckshow, which is like a shitshow, but worse. It's not that the behavior is especially bad, but the speeds are faster and given that D=RT, that means that when things go bad, they take less time to get to you. We could have lovely avenues in DC, but don't.

Sometimes I think about Big Things during my bike commutes, in spite of trying to help it. One of the recurring themes of this blog is hatred of pogo sticks continuity and change. I guess that happens with any kind of daily accounting of some repetitive activity. How were things different today in the context in which everything around pretty much stays the same? How am I the same today in the context of everything around me slightly evolving? To what extent are my brake pads running down and turning into nothingness and What Does It All Mean? I didn't have any answers by the time I turned on Biltmore and I was tired of pretending to think about it by the time I got to T. I got home and walked the dog and folded the bike and I'll unfold it tomorrow.


Ride 8/18

Didn't think it was that hot this morning and arrived at work a sweaty mess anyway. Humidity is rough.

At the top of Cleveland, I make a left turn to Garfield. It's a weird intersection because its the confluence of three streets and none of them really cross at right angles. There's a left turn lane from Cleveland, but I'm rarely in it since there's normally a bunch of cars there and I'd rather not put myself between them and, well, basically anything else. Instead I do a kind of modified Copenhagen left, but without waiting for the green. It kind of works out fine in that I haven't been run over yet. It might not exactly be the best way to do it, but bike commuting is an iterative process and you get better at it by getting less bad at it everyday. Unless you don't.

Coming home was the same old jam until after the bridge, when I went down 19th, like I did yesterday. 18th has a few draws: there's the AdMo strip to look at and it once it starts going downhill, it doesn't go back up. But there are stop lights a few places and the intersection with Florida isn't great and also, since it's a commercial strip, there's a lot of shenanigans (and Shenanigans) with trucks unloading and loading and taxis doing the same, but with people, instead of goods. 19th has none of that since it's a residential strip and once you get past the stop signed intersection at Columbia, the only thing to worry much about is the intersection with Florida, which is less complicated than the one at 18th. T Street proved easy too.

For most of the day, in spite of knowing it wasn't, I thought it was Friday. Tomorrow is Friday. I'm going to try to make it to Coffee Club.


Rides 8/17

I'm especially wary about commutes the day after I fix a flat tire. This relates to my long history, which hopefully is now ancient, of not being especially good at fixing flats and doing a half-ass job of it. You know, not doing the basics, like fully diagnosing the reason behind the flat and taking steps to address it. I fully believe that many flats are simply ordained by the Universe and there's nothing you can do to stop them, but repeat-flats, those are made by man and often made from a combination of laziness and ineptitude. And repeat-flats tend not to take too long to appear.

Thankfully one didn't. The morning ride was flat-free, as was the one home. The bike rode well and without wobble. I didn't feel spry, but that's ok- it's just a commute and I'll get another one tomorrow. Two if I don't get a flat on the first one.

I love the little inclines. Everyone knows about the hills. Hills are blunt and you know about them right away, but the little inclines you might find (there's one on the east side of the Ellington Bridge before the stop light at Adams Mill, for example) are subtle and charming and you have to coax them out of their shells a little before you can really get to know them and meet them. You learn about the little inclines a little more reach day and they reveal themselves slowly over time and you eventually come to think of them as flat, but you know, lurking underneath, that they've been little inclines the entire time.

On the way home, I cut down Biltmore and then 19th, which if not for the crossing at Columbia, would be a better way to get home than 18th, but I wasn't going home. I turned right on Florida and then crossed the street and rode down the sidewalk to Glen's, where I folded the bike, left it outside, and went inside and ordered a beer. The beer was cold. The weather was hot. The picnic table was wood. The description of it all was terse. And declarative.

After that, it was a couple blocks down S and I was home. I forgot to go to the store.


Rides 8/16

This bike commute started unconventionally for a bike commute, which is to say on a bus. I rode the bus to building where I had left the Bromtpon on Sunday and spent the next 10 minutes fixing the flat that had befallen it. The puncture was on the inside of the tube, so I checked the rim tape, but there didn't seem anything amiss. I've heard of unfortunate happenings related to flats caused by bad tapings, especially on Bromtpons, but I really don't know. It's pretty easy to fix a flat on the front wheel (far easier than the back wheel with the internal hub) since it only requires an allen key, so I guess if I'm going to get a mystery flat, at least it was on the good wheel. I used the Zefal pump that pegs to the frame to pump the tire, but gave up after I had pushed in just enough air to give the tire a moderate firmness that was well below the recommended PSI. After that, it was a quick ride down the hill on Newark and then Macomb and up the hill on Mass Ave to work.

In the afternoon, I thought that I'd try to put more air in the tire, but somehow my attempts at this only resulted in releasing air from it. There's a fixit stand not too far away, so I headed over there, but the pump was broken. Next to the fixit stand was a floor pump, which I tried to use and then think I might've broken it by pushing down slightly askew. Whether it was permanently broken or temporarily so, I abandoned that and switched back to the frame pump for another minimal effort. The Brompton doesn't ride well when underinflated. It's very squirrelly and handles laggardly, but if there's anything I wrongly think about bikes, it's that you can pretty much do anything on them for just a few miles.

So I set off for home the usual way, worried about a pinch flat that never came. The air held, but the handlebars seemed a little off- maybe I didn't right the wheel upon installation?- but I didn't worry too much about hat, being overly consumed with worries about what would happen if the tube exploded when riding downhill on Cleveland. It didn't. It also didn't explode on 18th. The number of streets upon which it didn't explode was numerous. I got home, tried to right the wheel and then added more air. It's back to proper PSI, hasn't self-deflated yet, and should be good to ride tomorrow. Or good enough.


Rides 8/15

This weekend two things happened that affected my bike commute this morning. Three things if you count the passage of time. The first is that I rode the Ogre on Saturday, realized that the brakes were, if I were to used the technical term, "barely functional" (I don't know how exactly, but the pads weren't catching the rotor), still rode around a bunch (I mean, what choice did I have since I couldn't stop?), but then on Sunday, took the bike to the shop, where the brakes were fixed and the bike returned to functionality once more. Also on Saturday, I rode the Brompton (if you have the chance to ride two different bikes on the same day, do it. There's only one exception to this rule and it's when you have the chance to ride three bikes, do that) and was gifted a flat by The Universe in the midst of delivering a sandwich and since I didn't have a spare tube or tools with me and since I only realized that I picked up the flat after walking out of the sandwich shop, the bike is now sitting in an office in a building on Wisco, after having been walked down P Street through Georgetown and transported on a bus. And since you can't generally commute on a bike that 1) has a flat tire and 2) isn't in your possession, the Brompton was shelved in favor of the Ogre, which performed mightily on the mighty hills of my very brief bike commute.

The school year starts soon and with it, more terrible driving. This is true in both quality and quantity. Terrible driving around schools is the culmination of like sixteen different public policy failures, so rock on, everybody. Also, stay safe.

Stopped at the grocery store on the way home for broccoli, milk and some flowers. Transporting flowers by bike is somewhat tricky. It's less tricky if you don't care if they stay intact, but I didn't want to shove them in my bag which was full already and so I came up with this very clever (?) mostly adequate solution involving my cell phone mount.

I sorta can't believe this worked as well as it did. None of the flowers were harmed, which is way more than I was expecting. I wondered if I would see any additional safety benefits and drivers being extra careful, but the so-called Eliza Doolittle Effect does not appear to exist.


Rides 8/11 and 8/12

There are two things bicyclist do in August: ride in the heat and complain about riding in the heat. It's hot and there's no way around it. But as the saying goes, "ugh, please don't say that trite saying about how 'it's not just the heat, it's the humidity,'"and so I won't mention humidity or the dew point, which is, I've recently learned, not the point at which it's so hot you're willing to drink Mountain Dew. (My elementary school science textbooks were sponsored by Pepsi, so I have some gaping knowledge gaps. Unless, of course, the moon rocks don't taste like Cool Ranch Doritos. Why would have they ever tasted the moon rocks in the first place? I never wondered this when I was 8. I guess 8 year me just assumed they would've tasted the rocks. Makes sense in a way. Anyway, Buzz Aldrin and Chester Cheeto are great American heroes for going to the moon first, even if the rocks they brought back are regular flavor.)

I took the regular way into and home from work on Thursday and I remember nothing remarkable about either of the trips. I don't remember much unremarkable either. I've given up trying to give up Connecticut and Calvert. I'll just ride through. I could use the excitement in my life. Wait, no, no bike commuter should have to delude himself into thinking 'mortal peril' is 'excitement.' That's just terrible. I think the intersection is worse in the morning than in the afternoon- coming over the bridge from AdMo is a long straightaway that goes into a right-turn-only lane and that just invites high speeds. Coming from the other way in the afternoon isn't as bad since there's almost always a backup at the light by the exit from the park, so the speeds are never that high. But the bike lane, unfortunately/negligently, disappears there and so you've gotta take your place amidst the cars and then hope that when you get through the intersection, you can successfully manage everyone merging back over to the left and then make it to the bike lane when it reemerges on the bridge. Ok, so my descriptive powers aren't that good and if you don't know the intersection, you probably haven't gleaned anything from the previous few sentences. But worry not about gleaning details and just focus on gleaning this: it's bad.

On Friday I missed coffee club due to an early work "maybe I have a meeting?" (I didn't) and in the afternoon, I rode down New Mexico to stop at the Lebanese grocery store that somehow exists in an office building that's primarily doctor's offices. Armed with pita and meat and spinach pies, I kept going down New Mexico through Glover Park to Burleith to R Street and by Oak Hill Cemetery and then down to Q Street and over the Dumbarton Bridge. I stopped at the Safeway on 17th to but some non-Lebanese items (well, I can't say for sure if the cucumbers were Lebanese- I didn't ask) and then rode back on Church on the sidewalk because I didn't want to salmon to New Hampshire and then it was another few blocks and home.


Rides 8/9 and No Rides 8/10

I had to go to Foggy Bottom in the morning to pick up a key (let's pretend my life is some kind of dramatic espionage drama wherein I do mysterious things instead of it being as banal as it actually is), so I rode down New Hampshire to R and then made a left on 21st, taking that across New Hampshire again and then across Pennsylvania and then finally to E Street, where I turned left and locked up the bike in front of a Dunkin Donuts. I looked up before I left how long the trip would be and Google told me it'd be 1.7 miles and I guess that's as far as it was. That is a distance that I'd like to call "not very far." That's also on the other side of the Golden Triangle/K Street/Downtown area where lots of office buildings are and maybe one day I might try to work in one of those office buildings (instead of working as a blimp pilot based in upper NW) and if I ever have the bike commute of a scant mile or less, I'm not sure that bike commuting would be that fun anymore. There are some activities, while really enjoyable, that just aren't that fun when they're over too quickly. 

After I secured the key, I shook the counter-intelligence agents tailing me (let me pretend) by riding up 23rd street, circled Washington Circle, took Pennsylvania to 24th (25th? I don't know- the one with the Trader Joes), then M, and eventually up Wisco and eventually to work. I was powered in this effort by a coconut donut and an iced coffee. 

There was bicycling in the afternoon, but it was just down the hill and back up Macomb Street to Idado and then past the Giant to a bus stop, where I folded the bike and took the bus home with my ANC Commissioner. Bromptons don't fit on the front of buses (although I've never tried), but they do fit wonderfully in the middle of the bus aisle, where they only inconvenience everyone a little, but no one more than the person holding the folded bike doing his best not to inconvenience anyone too much. 

Today I didn't ride my bike at all, but it was for a good cause: I was returning my car to the dealership. I now have zero cars. The lease expired. I've had a car in DC for the entire time I've lived here (and had one in Denver before that) and truth be told, it has proven pretty useful at times. The problem is that those times are rather limited and now that I've moved, even more limited still. I'm lucky that I live in a place that makes the choice of not owning not terribly inconvenient, but I'll still be curious to see how many transportation choices are shaped by my lack of personal automobile. I didn't drive it a lot of places in the city (in the spring, I'd drive it to school once a week and lately, I've been driving it to Ivy City on weekends, but since having it in DC, I've used it for the usual DC driving purposes, which mainly consist of going to suburban places that would slower to get to by bike or public transportation), but I did drive it to the point where owning it was worth the costs of owning it, so it's never been that big of a burden. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to living without it. I think it will be a nice change. 

The dealership is in Del Ray. They gave me a ride to the Braddock Road metro station and I took the yellow line back to U Street and then walked home a few blocks. It was hot, but a nice walk. 


No Commutes 8/8

No commutes doesn't mean no rides though. I took two. One was from Tenleytown to work, after taking the bus from the place I dropped off the car, which was in Georgetown. I was getting the car cleaned. The second bike ride was back to the car and this was down Mass to Wisco down to P Street. Wisco isn't the best street for biking, especially after the parking lane becomes a parking lane, but the speeds through Glover Park and Georgetown are slow enough that any rider comfortable enough mixing it up in traffic only needs to worry about mixing it up with slow traffic, so that's something.

I love Capital Bikeshare. I don't know how people picked up their cars before without it. One of the funnier parts of Bikeshare is how the bikes hit their top speeds pretty early into descents and the rider doesn't benefit much from pedaling. It's enforced leisure. I like it.


Rides Over the Past Week

I will try to be better this upcoming week. I really will.

One of the things that I tried a few different times on the ride home this week to avoid the Connecticut and Calvert intersection. It would've worked too if not for this dog and you meddling kids. Wait, no, that was when I pretended to be a ghoul so I could inherit the amusement park from my great aunt. Wait, no, that was just a Scooby Doo episode I saw once. Well, in any case, I wanted to mix up my normal route through the bummer of an intersection and decided a few times to head down Woodley, which is a really fun street. Another time this week, I thought that it would be fun to ride down Newark from Wisconsin and skip the whole of Garfield/Cleveland and Calvert entirely. Results, I think, were mixed. I liked riding the other routes- something about Cleveland feels very exposed, but with any of them, you sort of get stuck at Connecticut and to get over the bridge, you sort of have to deal with that. It's not so much getting there that's the problem- it's navigating the six lanes of cars. There are just too many cars. There are just too many cars.

This week in the morning I found myself passing two cyclists when riding uphill. I don't know why I felt compelled to do it, but I wanted to and so I did. There weren't going especially slowly- I just wanted to go faster.

I've been riding the Brompton everyday for the past few weeks and I've been keeping it in my office during the day. Somedays I'll fold it up and leave it mostly out of the way and other days I'll treat it like a regular bike. It's still summer and there aren't a lot of people around, so the bike and I are both happy to be a little less furtive with its presence. Truth be told, the bike probably doesn't care, it being an inanimate object and all. I'd really like to figure out some coffee holder situation for it though. That feels like the only thing lacking on this otherwise Sweet City Ride.

Went to Pittsburgh yesterday. Stayed for a a day and I'm home now. I didn't bring the bike- I rarely ever travel with one. I would like to go back with one though. Seemed like a place where you could seriously wreck yourself riding up hills and then wreck yourself a different way riding down them. I think the Dirty Dozen would utterly end me, but that hardly seems like a reason not to try it once. You should try everything once. Some thing you'll only ever try once, since they'd utterly end you. So that's good, I guess.

Also unrelated to bicycling, I'm on the cusp of no longer having a car. I didn't think it'd be possible to be any more smug, but here we are. I look forward to not having to pay car insurance, which has always seemed like a scam to me. My car didn't even have pre-exisiting conditions. Thanks Obama. Anyway, it'll be a brave new world of getting around DC by bike and public transportation. I wonder what that'll be like.


Rides 8/1

This is August. It's hot and muggy and hot'n'muggy, which is like a hip new way of saying that it's hot and muggy which is popular with the cool kids these days. There's no way around the omnipresent damp washcloth feeling that sits atop you with each ride, so you just have to ride through it. The morning was worse than the afternoon and we might have a tiny respite over the coming days, but it'll stay hot'n'muggy (sorry cool kids, I'm appropriating your slang) until October because that's just what happens. Got a late start to work, which resulted in a very quiet ride. I think the sports camp that took place at St. Albans is now over, so there's really no traffic there anymore. In the next few weeks, we'll get a lot more cars there and at Oyster-Adams down the road, but it'll be ok because parents dropping kids off at school are some of the most kind, observant and conscientious drivers out there. LOL. It's going to be terrible.

I think when I ride the folding bike cyclists in front of me compelled to ride faster. It might be because they don't want the apparent embarrassment of being passed by a guy on a folding bike or it might be that they wish to avoid the stain of being associated with a guy on a folding bike, but in either case, after two glances back (they never fully grasp it on the first glance back), you see the downshift and a little extra effort in the legs and the attempt at putting some distance between us. Can you unfold a broken heart? So lonely. Of course, the other side of this is a developed self-consciousness about passing people on regular bikes when you're on a folding bike and this afternoon I rode gingerly down the hill behind a guy I would have otherwise passed for fear of causing some slight slight.

Who feared causing no major slight was the bus driver who parked in the bike lane in front of the Wardman Marriott. Between the hotel, the exit from the Rock Creek Why Is There a Commuter Highway in This Park Parkway and the horrific Connecticut and Calvert intersection, my anxiety levels rise before crossing the Duke Ellington Bridge each day and then slowly dissipate through the rest of the ride through Adams Morgan. I wish there was a better way. I mean, there probably is and I guess I'll look for it tomorrow. It might involve following the signed bike routes (why must be always know how far it is to Mount Rainier, MD?). I'll give that a try.