Ride Home 5/31: Three Bean Salad Days

Don't take this route. It was dumb. I mean, the likelihood of your taking this route is rather small, but maybe there's a scenario in which it's "take your blog reader to work day" and then afterwards I invite you over for dinner or something and we decide to do the whole things by bikes and frankly, I'd consider this if you'd like to give some serious scratch to WABA, but we're not going to take this route because it was a bit circuitous and worse than that, it was sort of slow.
Down New Mexico, up Tunlaw and down 37th. Along 37th, I was passed by a taxi driver who was in SUCH A HURRY that he revved and revved and blew my house down passed me, only to end up directly in front of me at stop sign after stop sign. I wonder to what extent "rushing" is a performance that taxi drivers put on for their fares and to what extent it's actual economically efficient, I'm not totally sure. Maybe I'll ask Ron Linton the next time we go for coffee, which is never.

Then it was over R and down 34th, which was my old route to Arlington. Heady days, which I believe is a prequel to Hedda Gabler. If I've learned anything about car driving from my time as a bike commuter, it's that it's essentially impossible to keep one's car out of a bike lane. Must be some kind of forbidden fruit thing. The lure of transgression. I wonder what kind of fish the lure of transgression catches.

And then it was M street, which was crowded, but only around the intersections. If you've spent any time as a pedestrian in Georgetown, you'll know that the sidewalks are too narrow and you'll know that the many, many drivers who reside thereabouts or pass through thereabouts would rather pedestrians suffer the fate of sardine-itude (not even close to a word) than accept a road diet (a road diet of sardines might be one of many healthy fatty acids) that makes the place an overall better place to be. I know of very few people who spend money in the shops of Georgetown (or the Shops at Georgetown) from the security and safety of their luxury sedans, but nonetheless, I doubt this considerable problem will be addressed any time soon.

M to Wisconsin to K under the Whitehurst Expressway. Almost got doored by a teen exiting the passenger side of a car stopped about four cars back at a stop sign. I said "whoa" and she pulled back the door quickly and that was rather good for me. Perhaps it was my mistake for trying to filter past the cars on the right side between the curb. I don't know if the habit of flinging open car doors with reckless abandon is peculiar to any kind of age group, class or cohort, but it's awfully dangerous, even if rare.

I rode down the Rock Creek trail. Behind me were two police motorcycles. Vroom vroom.

Virginia Avenue is amply wide, and would be a good bike route if there weren't tunnels along the way and if various left turns weren't prohibited by fiat or by wrong-way-for-me roads. I got stuck behind a bus at 23rd. Unpleasant. It was sort of hassle to get over to E Street. E Street is something of an abomination, since it's kind of highway that abruptly terminates, though the mentality of the drivers who frequent it fails to adjust as quickly as the roadway designers might have intended. Almost got rear ended when I slowed for a yellow.

17th street might be the worst street in DC. All I did was cross it. I don't think I'd ever really want to ride a bike on it, especially near the Mall.

Through the security checkpoints on the Mall and then through the Ellipse parking lot and out the other side back on sidewalk, where I slowly rolled behind a family ambling through the grounds. This was the patient decision. Some guy on a mountain bike rode on the grass next to sidewalk and nearly bent down to touch his toes to avoid an overhanging tree limb. I think he had a tattoo on his calf. A lot of people who ride bikes have calf tattoos. I think if I were to have a calf tattoo it would be of a calf tattoo, namely a bunch of baby cows have a military tattoo because I wouldn't be able to resist the horrible word play of it all and that's why I don't go to tattoo parlors, drunk or sober. That and because needles make me a little squeamish. I'm terrified of pine trees.

And then shit started getting crazy. At 14th, some guy in a pickup tried to turn onto Penn and got a badass finger wag from a lady crossing the street. "Oh no you didn't," she might have said were it a 90s sitcom. The driver behind the pickup, of course, honked, like an asshole. Then I saw a police car parked in the bike lane. It looked like this:

There were approximately zero police officers in sight and I sincerely doubt it was because they were off chasing criminals. This is ridiculous inconsiderate behavior and it does nothing to endear me to people who hold a profession that I consider rather valorous. I'd love to hear an explanation as to why the cruiser needs to be parked there. It's not Occupy. They're gone.

A little later down the road, a 39 bus veered into the bike lane to avoid a Maryland commuter bus. To the best of my knowledge, the cycle track is not a bus overflow lane, but maybe this is some sort of really messed up BRT that I'm just not hip to. That was frazzling. Then the guy on the CaBi in front of me must have noticed someone littering because he shouter (sanctimoniously?) "You dropped your paper back there!" Now, I get it. I'm always judging people and I often feel that people are jerks and I wish I could summon the self-satisfied smuggery to actually shout what I'm thinking, but I don't do this because, really, why? To castigate a stranger? If it bothers you that much, go back and pick up the litter.

On East Capitol, I stopped for a pedestrian to cross the street. Three drivers elected to not do this. I stopped in the bike lane, so the travel lane was free and clear to let them by. When that traffic stopped, I said "You can go" and she pointed to the car about to make a left turn across her path, perhaps as a rebuke to me. Then she crossed. Maybe I should've just ridden past. Trying to do the right thing can be exhausting sometimes.

I saw the Israeli lady I sometimes see in the morning and she was biking down my black with the whole family in tow. I wonder where they're heading. She talks to the kids in Hebrew. The kids mumble to themselves in English.She bikes in the street, littlest kid in the trailer behind. The boy and girl each have their own bikes, and ride on the sidewalk. They're a cute little family.

Ride In 5/31: The Original Smooth

Can't complain. It was a good morning. Better than good, even. Nice weather has a way of relaxing me. Makes the commute seem almost like an afterthought. If DC had a real bike network and more separated bike infrastructure, I'd be so relaxed I'd arrive at work comatose. Bike commuting, even when it's fraught, is still sort of the opposite of stressful. Must be the endorphins.

I screwed up riding around the park this morning and ended up in the left lane and this prevented me from making my right turn, so instead of cutting across traffic, I just rode a little bit farther down the street and made a u-turn and rode back up the sidewalk to cross from the park to East Capitol at the crosswalk. In all, my mistake cost me about 30 seconds. It ruined my life forever and now I hate everything about everything. Or maybe I'm being ridiculous and melodramatic because in the grand scheme of things, a 30 second delay amounts to no real delay at all an isn't nearly as inconvenient as being splayed on the hood of some guy's Toyota. One or the other.

When there's a one story building in the midst of a block of three story row houses isn't that building out of character with the rest of the neighborhood and shouldn't the owners be forced to build a taller building or does  the argument about neighborhood integrity only work when people want buildings to be shorter? There are some low houses on East Capitol, where the vast majority of structures are much larger, and I demand the full weight and authority of the Historical Preservation Review Board to address this.If HPRB had an office basketball team, I'd like their team name to be the Uninterrupted Cornices.

Zip down past the Capitol and then a few bicyclists clumped up by Penn. One guy either had multiple wallets in his pockets and maybe he was transporting decks of playing cards to his job as a black jack deal. One of the other guys I saw was a hyper-anxious guy in street clothes riding a mountain bike that promised to take him not nearly as fast as he hoped to go. Perhaps it was better that way. Based on his super-intense look and willingness to flout laws and good sense, a bike that could move through the streets swiftly under his control would most likely have caused trouble for his fellow travelers. I wonder what he had for breakfast.

I took 11th. So many cyclists heading the other way. Like, a lot in any context, not just in bike commuter context. A legitimately large number of people ride down 11th street. And even more take 15th. Simply put, there are a lot of bike commuters. I daresay, though I'm probably wrong, even more bike commuters along this stretch than drivers, but I didn't count or anything. Also, there are some sharrows on 11th in the middle of the road. I'd suggest to any driver who doesn't wish to ride behind a bicyclist that he avoid 11th street. I love sharrows, but sometimes I wish there were a better way to demarcate a road as a bicycle-friendlier route. Maybe green paint. Maybe a different kid of paving? Something that goes from "yeah, bicycles are welcome here" to "no, seriously, there are going to be a ton of bicyclists using this street and if you intend to drive fast and unfettered by them, you should take a different route. We are not kidding." Hard to know exactly what connotes that.

I avoided the Dupont area and floodmageddon, sticking on 11th up the hill and up another hill at Euclid and then down 15th for a block to Fuller and Fuller to Columbia Road and it's newish bike lanes that are still mostly ignored by drivers who wish to ignore them. Before that, I saw the Polish Embassy. Hello, Polish Embassy.

Don't say anything bad about Poland. DC can't afford another person doing that this week. 

At the light on at Calvert and Adams Mill Road, the bike lane runs between a travel lane and a right-turn only lane. The bicyclist in front of me pointed out to the driver next to her that she had a green turn arrow. The driver pointed out that she had no intention of turning and wish rather to go straight. I don't know if she expressed her intention of cutting the bicyclist off. Certainly the second driver didn't when he sped past and cross the bike lane in front of us moments later. Scofflaws.

Calvert runs over the river (creek) and through the woods (park) , but I didn't go to grandmother's house, though I doubt there's a shortage of old ladies who live in big houses in Cleveland Park. Up a few more hills and I was pretty much at work, no worse for wear. I thought that I had arrived considerably fresher than I actually did, but it's summer (even when it's nice) and I'm glad my workplace has showers. I hit them, much like some sports coach would suggest in a sports movie. Then I got some coffee and then I worked for a couple of hours and then I wrote this.


Ride Home 5/30: Extremism in Defense of Livery

Sometimes I ride on the grass. It's ok: I have a cyclocross bike. I mostly ride on the grass to not ride on the sidewalk. I feel like that gets me even worse looks from pedestrians. For some reason, a bicyclist riding on the grass seems wildly offensive to them. Maybe it is. Maybe they're all lawn care professionals and don't appreciate it. I don't know. I could ride in the road, but the road is full of cars that are backed up at a stupid traffic circle and I'd rather not wait unless it's strictly necessary.

Jackasses are everywhere. Maybe it's the driver who slows to nearly your pace and then changes lanes in front of you without looking, causing you to slam on your brakes to avoid meeting their rear bumper. Maybe it's a tattooed headphoned d-bag who elects to ride his bike on the wrong side of a two-way street rather than taking the barely two seconds to move over to the correct traffic lane. Maybe it's a bird that shits on you. Birds are the worst. We should really license them and require that they carry insurance. They should also wear little bird helmets. Sure, none of these measures will prevent the birds from doing their business on or near you, but lack of effectiveness has never been a good reason to forestall regulation.

Saw a guy speed through a stop sign, rather than stop at it, just to make sure that I didn't get in front of him. Not slow and then speed up, but from regular driving speed to extra fast driving speed into his right turn. First time I've ever seen that.

One last thing about cars and it's this: I don't understand why cars aren't limited to the speed limit. Like, technically limited, by a microchip or something. And here's how it would work: information technology has made it abundantly easy to share information, information like the speed limits on certain stretches of road. And GPS's and computer chips are becoming more common on cars. So why not have a limiter than maxes out a car's speed based on it's GPS location and the uploaded speed limit data? This certainly can't be a technical issue and since sooooo many people are always complaining about law-breaking in every comment section to every online article about any transportation issue I've ever read, clearly there must be some kind of desire for this to be implemented, right? If we're soon to cede all driving to robotic cars, why not take this initial half-step to jumpstart the process of no longer being in control of everything? Just an idea. Think of all the money we'd save on speed limit enforcement. Think of all the money drivers would save on speeding tickets. You wouldn't have to worry about compliance because benevolent technological paternalism would ensure it. I guess they could also put chips on bicycles' brake pads, but that might be a little harder.

Q street is a shoaler's paradise. Happens to me nearly every day. Today, I left the bike lane to pass a woman and three blocks later at the next red light, she rode back in front of me. I've decided that I'm going to be completely delusional about this and decide that she must've known something that I didn't, like there was some danger that we'd soon be approaching and she wanted to, perhaps, nobly sacrifice herself by riding in front. Sort of like, being the first over the top of the trenches. "There's lava up there. I'll ride into it and then you can ride your bike over me to safety" or "There's some zombie hordes. I'll ride first to distract them and then you'll be able to get by" would be the kinds of justifications that I would expect in these kinds of shoaling scenarios, not "I'm weirdly inconsiderate and even though only a few blocks ago, you demonstrated through the act of passing me that you wished to travel at a pace faster than the pace at which I was traveling, that will nonetheless prevent me from inhibiting your doing so." Much prefer the zombies and lava.

11th street again. Thought about going to 7th, didn't. Maybe tomorrow. I only travel downtown through odd, prime numbered streets, many of which seem to have bike lanes. I think I've cracked DDOT's numerology. Who needs a bike map when you have the I Ching.

Might have cut off a driver near the turn from 11th to Penn. I'm sorry. I signalled (with my hand, not with my semaphore flags) and moved over with what I thought was enough space, but who knows how the driver saw the situation and I'd rather acknowledge at least the possibility that maybe I didn't act in the best, most polite manner possible. I'm sure he's reading.

Superbiker on Penn. He pulled up alongside me at 10th and I said hello. He initially declined to pass, but he later passed me at 7th in what I hoped was an attempt to catch a guy with a jewfro on a mountain bike who had shoaled us both. I don't think it was a genuine attempt. As, he didn't and I'm sure he could have. He, the superbiker, rode up Constitution and I rode up the Capitol driveway and I totally smoked him and it had nothing (read: everything) to do with him getting stuck at a red light. I got my just desserts for "racing" by riding into some kind of drainage hole near the security gates at the top of the hill. It was jarring. I'm glad I didn't fall down.

E Cap and I avoided burgling anyone. A Street (SE, never NE. A Street NE is haunted.Probably) and I avoiding hamburgling anyone. Another great evening to ride a bicycle in DC, even without committing acts of petty larceny.

Ride In 5/30: Bone, Thugs, Stills & Nash

Hello again.

Crowded bike lanes and crowded lane lanes and just a tinge of bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians acting a bit more addled than the situation, a humdrum morning commute, might have called for. There are definitely some commutes that have a pall of senseless anxiety and when confronted with it, the best course of action is to accept it and not try to fight it. Commuter craziness is basically like quicksand. The more you struggle against it, the faster you go down.

Bringing kids around via bicycle seems to be a big new spring and summer trend. Perhaps I should swing by the orphanage and pick up a little imp. Or very much not. One kid, from his seat in the rear of the bike, spent much of his ride down East Capitol looking back at me, in what I can only presume to be taunting. On a different bike, another kid, front the seat on the handlebars, decided to go full banshee. Who needs a bell when you have a screaming two year old?

Cantor for Congress bumper sticker on a car with DC plates. This might be the most ineffectual bumper sticker ever. First of all, I can't vote for Eric Cantor since I don't live in his district. Second of all, I can't vote for Eric Cantor because I live in the District. Third of all, ugh.

Penn to 11th and up 11th, between the curb and buses. I find that it's best to yield to a bus when its driver plans to pull into a stop, rather than trying to pass it on the right. Just a friendly bit of advice (Actually, no, it's not because I'm secretly trying to undermine you because I am in a secret race with all other bike commuters and when you're slowing down to let the bus not run you over, I'm sneaking by on the right side and WINNING THIS RACE! Oh, I'm sorry. I seem to have revealed my completely pointless nefarious plan by which I demonstrate that, unbeknownst to you, I can opt to keep my bicycle in front of your bicycle while we share the same route for some amount of time. Why must I always reveal my nefarious plans at meaningless competition?)

Intersections are the worst. It's like all of the sudden there's a totally different bunch of people who might want to go in a direction that's totally different from the one you're going. This is why I try to slow to a near stop at intersections, especially when state-sanctioned road art (traffic engineers primarily work in two media: octagonal shapes and luminated circles. I find their work to be a bit derivative) suggests as much. The reason I do this isn't so much out of desire to comply with the wishes of our government (because I'm a "don't tread on me" type) so much as my desire to avoid confrontation with other user users (because I'm a "don't tread one me" type, when it comes to big trucks, especially). Today, I watched a bicyclist almost barrel into two pedestrians who, started to cross 11th street before finishing crossing Massachusetts. The cyclist had a red light. The pedestrians had a don't walk sign. Everyone was wrong in the eyes of the law (I thought justice was blind?), but that hardly matters. The bicyclist should've still slowed down at the intersection because these are precisely the kinds of things that happen at intersections and you should be able to anticipate that! So, if you don't plan on completely stopping (and this is totally fine with me. Do whatever), I suggest that you might want to consider nearly stopping so as to prevent things like this from happening. I know that if I hit a pedestrian with my bike, I'd feel like a dumbass, so my goal is to not do that.

Almost all of the riders I saw today were wearing helmets. Almost none of them were wearing epaulettes. Ok, none.

I'd like to thank Charles Hurt for writing the dumbest thing ever about Bikesare and not including one reference to lycra or "Lance Armstrong wannabes". I see this as a tremendous tipping point in the continued rise of cycling as transportation and not just a recreational activity. I'm not sure if I'm being facetious either.

R street through (or around) Sheriden Circle and up Massachusetts before I really found out if my legs were having a good time, which they sort of were. I don't know if I made it up the hill faster or slower than usual, but I made it through the green light at Garfield which doesn't normally happen. I've done this ride hundreds of times and it's always something when I catch a green that I don't normally make. It's a super small, almost pointlessly small thing, that makes me really happy.


Ride Home 5/25: Rolling Dewdrop

One of my favorite ways to start a holiday weekend, especially one where I'll be driving somewhere and expect to be delayed by a considerable traffic, is to drive as erratically and aggressively away from my workplace in anticipation of my vacation. It's part of the Law of Conversation of Going- if I'll soon be rendered helpless and impotent by a lack of road capacity in the face of overwhelming demand, I'll have to make up for that by demonstrating my dominance over the roadway and its other users. It's maniacal and it's one of the worst times to be on a bicycle. Vacations are supposed to be a time for relaxing (and grilling meats and maybe waving tiny American flags) and yet they seem to bring out the craziest, most needlessly aggressive driving from some people. It's the needlessness part that gets to me the most. Passing someone on the right and then tailgating then honking and then changing lanes again and then getting stuck at the same red light you would have stopped at had you just driven 'normally' seems like its undermining and a pointless self-imposed stress that brings about nothing good and has the potential to bring out a whole lot of bad, especially to someone who isn't in a car. Just calm down a little, ok? For the troops?

Nonetheless, in spite of the crazy, it was still a Friday afternoon and it was still nice to take the bike home, in spite of the hot. I'd leave the bike at work on the weekends, but then they'd have to pay it time and a half. Also, I like using it on the weekend.

Oh, hey, have you noticed the space between paragraphs? I'm doing that now so you can actually read what I'm writing without straining your eyes. You can continue to strain your pasta. Accordingly, I expect page hits to drop precipitously. Here's the old TFTS:

Hard to read text, circa 2012. 
And here's the new TFTS:

Ok, there's no picture, but just look at the above text and its ample white space. Space hasn't been this white since the Gemini missions. Anyway, thanks for the reader feedback. If there are other formatting issues that you'd like to see incorporated into the blog, don't hesitate to tell me. I have little technological aptitude, but I'm confident that I can come up with elaborate workarounds, perhaps through the use of Rube Goldberg blogging machines.

An annoying shoaling situation suggested that I should abandon Q for 15th and I rode the bumpy cycle track to each successive red light. At Rhode Island, I learned that tall, leggy white women in cocktail dresses can still get a cab in this town, not that I was ever concerned that was in doubt. The cabbie was so willing to pick her up that he blocked the intersection, much to the chagrin of the drivers behind him. I think it was chagrin. Horns just really don't have the capacity to express nuance. Well, maybe trombones.

Watched a pedicabbie (pedicabist? pedicabber? pedicab-man? pedihack?) struggle his way up 15th past Treasury. That is not an easy job and that doesn't even take into account treatment by the Park Police.

I'm shocked when people are shocked that I'm shocked when they're shocked by my expecting them to pay attention to what's going on around them and follow some suggested guidelines about traveling in public. No one made you pull your car into the intersection during the yellow light. You didn't have to bike the wrong way on the cycle track. Stepping out from the curb to take a picture was completely optional! I'm all about coexistence, but a little effort would be nice.

Saw a tour bus with LAMERS on the side. That's about right.

Rolling Thunder. It's here. Not that you hadn't heard already. Literally.

Penn and then barriers by Capitol, but enough room to pass through on a bicycle. But then the tents that I saw this morning had metal detectors in them, but there was no security personnel nearby, so I did what any sensible person would do when left alone with some metal detectors and a bicycle, which is ride through one. It beeped. Steel is real.

Lots of different kinds of dogs on Capitol Hill. (And in general. I'm not making the case that my neighborhood has some sort of uniquely diverse habitat of canines.) I think it says something interesting about humanity that of our primary primitive preoccupations was making our pets have sex with each other just to see what would pop out.

Ended up riding behind a woman who I thought was on a fenderless CaBi, but it was just her own bike, which happened to be red and with thicker tires. Bikeshare would never foist a fenderless CaBi on us. They care too much about our well-being.

Around the park and down the street to home. I'm off work until Wednesday. Have an appropriate weekend.

Ride In 5/25: Cranberry Farmers Wade Bogs

Bicycling, allegedly, provides cardiovascular benefits, but it probably doesn't prove the maximum amount of positive benefit if you're smoking a cigarette during your ride. I was behind a guy this morning and rode directly through his puff of smoke. I recognized the acrid waft by its smell, otherwise I might have though his mustache had spontaneously combusted. I think this is the first time I've encountered a smoking bike commuter and I'd like to applaud his efforts on behalf of bike advocacy. If someone can smoke a cigarette while biking to work, how hard could it possibly be? WABA should give this guy a medal, or maybe a patch. Anyway, I'm probably going to start smoking cigars on my way to work now because of one-upsmanship. Smoking is the new Cat 6 racing. (My goal is to take up a CaBi up Porter while smoking an unfiltered Lucky Strike. If I can do that, it will prove that I am immortal). I know that smoking while riding a bike seems dangerous, you know, because of the fire and whatnot, but he was wearing a helmet.

They're setting up tents for some Memorial Day event in front of the Capitol. I was able to ride through this morning, but it might be blocked on the way home.

Saw Adam at the base of the hill, near 3rd street. He said hello, I said hello. Then something else happened and it has completely slipped my mind what it was but I can recall thinking to myself "remember this for later," so please accept my telling you about failing to remember as a substitute for whatever it was that I actually wanted to tell you about. It was probably something very important, like my secret goulash recipe or that there was a bird or something. Oh well.

Riding along Penn, I came upon Justin, heading his for his first ever Friday Coffee Club. We rode together up Penn and then I took him on his inaugural secret E Street sidewalk journey. I think that he doubted the legality of this route, but it's a perfectly good and safe way to get across from 15th to 17th. It will be better when E Street is reopened in some way, since the over-securitization of the area is really unfair to visitors and residents alike. And the Ellipse is just one big parking lot and that's terrible as well. Sometimes I wonder if the only things the security guards are actually guarding are their own cars. I mean, other than the White House.

Then it was up 17th, sucking in exhaust from a bus and over to Swing's, where the bike parking is proving inadequate to meet demand. Maybe it's time for some racks out front or a part-time bike valet.
Coffee happened and we all left. Well, I presume we all left. Maybe some of you are still there. I left, at least. Back across the White House plaza (but on the other side than the route to Swing's), up 15th, R and up Mass. On Mass, I found myself riding behind a guy who was on a fixie and normally I can fairly well keep pace with other bicyclists, but I just didn't have it in me and he skittered away and I slithered back and also probably just misused skitter and slither. Creative license (to kill).

At Mass and 34th, I really appreciated the fixie rider's boldness when he rode into the crosswalk even though a driver seemed to be wishing to cut us off to make a right turn. He put himself in front of the turning car, refusing to cede the right of way, which in principle, is the correct thing to do. But winning arguments on principle isn't always the safest thing to attempt.

Near the top of the hill, I passed what appeared to be a car-car-bus crash. The only noticeable damage was the front-bike carrier from the bus, which detached and was mangled on the street. There were no bikes in the carrier to be damaged, so that'd be good. I always worry when I put my bike on the front of a bus, mostly about it falling off because I failed to secure it properly, but now I can add to that list worrying about it being collateral damage in a car crash. I didn't see what had happened to cause the incident and didn't stick around to see how it would be resolved.

No turn on red at Mass and Wisconsin. Well, yeah, for everyone but the three drivers who I saw do it today. They're probably grandfathered in or something. That intersection is a traffic violation nightmare, in part because it's very restrictive in what it allows drivers to do and some drivers don't want to abide by those restrictions. So they don't. And the world seems to go on without the driving "community" gnashing its teeth and pulling out its hair wondering about how to get more people to follow the laws.

I got to work a sweaty mess. I think that biking in work clothes (such as they are. I rode in jeans and a t-shirt.) is pretty much a no-go from this point forward. It's legitimately terrible weather and unless you have some kind of disease/superpower that prevents perspiration, there's not much you can do about looking a mess if you're riding more than a few miles. And worse than looking a mess (because really, I think I give far too little consideration about how I actually look and this isn't such a good thing) is just feeling gross. You shouldn't have to feel gross to prove a point that biking is a normal activity. Don't martyr yourself for on a cross of cycle chic.


Ride Home 5/24: Stilicho Ruled

When you commute by bike every day and then blog about it every day (which is admittedly a niche thing, but they're are at least 36 others of you in DC who do it), you get to know your route really well. You not only spend the time riding it, but you spend the time recalling stuff about it and then trying to write that stuff. It adds up. And then cumulatively, over months and years, it really starts to accumulate. You could even print it all out and smuggle it into the Smithsonian if you wanted. You shouldn't, but you could. It just becomes very familiar. But rather than having a profoundly negative effect, it instead makes any non-standard bike commute seem like most exciting ride in the world. Because it sort of is! It's new and different and has the potential for all sorts of novel experiences/subjects for snide mockery and nothing gives me more pleasure than finding a new route or taking an especially roundabout way to get home. And that's what I did today.
Well, after a little while at least. It was sort of the standard bike down Massachusetts and go WHEEEEEEEE! (but only on the inside because I find that people don't really like it when I scream WHEEEEEEEE! Spoilsports.), except it was a bit interrupted by some crummy traffic that suggested that I ride the sidewalk instead, but that ended before Sheriden Circle, where I diverted from my route and headed down Q street for a block or two with the intention of turning around a little and finding my way to the Rock Creek Path and then eventually to Hains Point because that's where I had previously decided where I would go in order to take a "lap" (lap not in the way a kitty drinks milk) amongst the superbiker set, something I had yet to have done.
I feel like I've achieved some kind of weird bike commuting zen, or at least achieve it some time. I'm self-aware, but not self-conscious. It's a curious feeling.
So. Many. People. Jogging. And. Such. Superfluous. Use. Of. Punctuation. It's really a lot of people. I wish we could find a way to harness it. My plan would be to require all people who wish to run to have to attach Swiffers to their sneakers. They could exercise and clean the streets at the same time. This idea has merit. Vote Sharrows 2012.
There are some annoying signs on the Rock Creek at every intersection the that say something like "Trail users stop for traffic." Aren't trail users traffic? I think you mean "Trail users stop for people driving because that's who we're choosing to prioritize."
I think I saw some tween superbikers on Ohio Drive. Dear God save us all.
When I got to Hains, I didn't really know where to go so I just followed some bicyclists in front of me. That got confusing when the guy riding in front of me turned around and then came to a complete stop. I kept going, and was heartened by the sight of some roadies approaching from the other direction. I knew if I could just figure out where they were going, I could maybe remain close enough to find out where to go. And I pretty much did this. At the first stop sign, from the west side of the island, I turned left and then rode across the island toward the Washington Channel. I got the stop sign where there used to be that annoying LAWS sign. I stopped. I put my foot down. I counted to three. I pissed off the driver behind me. I turned right. For a while I followed another cyclist, but then I passed her. And then I followed a superbiker who must've been on some sort of rest lap because I passed him too. And then I rode into the wind and it was immensely boring. I was bored. I don't know how people do this, much less do this for enjoyment. Then I got passed (silently and too closely!) by a group of roadies and I felt very much like I had achieved something magical. And then they were out of sight and I just kept pedaling, waiting for the island to run out and the road to head in the other direction so I could stop being buffeted by the wind and that eventually happened and then I found myself behind a group of other superbiker types, who were slowly making their way along the road and I sat in behind them and listened to a fairly banal conversation about "college." I finished my lap, but not without emphatically stopping at all stop signs because of LAWS and whatnot. Here's my takeaway on Hains Point, a place I've now been twice:

  • Riding in circles bores me. 
  • WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CARS THERE AND WHY ISN'T THE SPEED LIMIT 15 MPH? It's a park. It's absurdly over-car-ed. There should be absolutely no expectation of going more than 15 miles per hour in park. And yet...
  • So this is where all of the African-American guy bicyclists are. I bike a lot in the city and I feel like black guys are pretty under-represented demographically in the number of bicyclists I see. Not on HP. 
  • It was a nice place to visit. I'd recommend it to cycling visitors. It would be better if there were a Bikeshare station.
Anywhere, here's my lap. I'm proud. 
From Hains, it was down the ART the whole way to P street and then marginally lost again on Buzzard Point, but eventual back near the baseball stadium. And then I audibled. I initially planned to pester the Navy again, but I decided that I would instead ride over the Douglass Bridge, ride along the other side of the river and cross back over at 11th street. The Douglass Bridge is absolutely terrifying. There is a sidewalk. It is barely narrow enough for one bicyclist. And then there was a guy riding in the other direction and we sort of did ok passing each other but I wonder if he saw how terrified I was. It would've been hard to miss. The connectivity on the east side of the bridge is pretty good and you can get on the trail directly, so that's what I did, heading further east and north along the river, glaring across at the Navy Yard and it's unbikeable trail. I thought about shaking my fist, but I didn't want to prompt some kind of battleship bombardment. If you haven't had the opportunity to ride on this section of trail, from the Douglass Bridge to the Sousa Bridge, I would highly, highly recommend it. It's really well done and vastly underutilized. 
I turned at Good Hope, rode under the highway, and turned left at MLK to take the 11th Street Local (how about we name this Chuck Brown Bridge? Timely, right?) back over the river and then  I turned the wrong way by the Navy Yard and realized that I would've been salmoning on a one way street if I didn't just ride on the sidewalk, which I did instead. The corner of M and 11th is a total mess and drivers don't know what to do. 
Then it was 11th to K to Potomac and then up to 16th and home. It was a phenomenal ride and I hope that the warmer weather brings more of these. 16 miles is double my normal commute, but it only seemed to take about 15 minutes more. So that's kind of cool. 
#fridaycoffeeclub tomorrow. Come one, come all, which is what they might have said at Three Musketeers tryouts before the whole "All for one, one for all" thing. 

Ride In 5/24: Anchors Away

What a wonderful morning for a bike commute. I worried that it would be too hot or too humid, but it turned out to be not so bad and I even took the time to take a few extra miles to get to work and explore some things on the road from here to there (here being home, and there being here, in the latter case here being work, from where I blog).
A to 14th to South Carolina to 11th. This is my standard route to Fragers, where I buy my gardening supplies, paint and associated tools that I can't effective use, and to the southern half of Barracks Row and its bike shops and haloumi sliders (or whatever else is there. Is there something worth visiting other than the bike shops and the cheese burgers (not cheeseburgers)?). It's a relatively light traffic area and today was probably even lighter on account of the impending holiday weekend. A bit of a cluster crossing Penn with it's shifting car lanes of doom, but nothing major. It's not done yet, but there's a new local bridge on 11th street that opened today. This bridge connects the area near the Navy Yard (Navy Yard is what some people call this area) to the area near historic Anacostia (Anacostia is what some people call this area). I don't know if mine was the maiden bike voyage (how can you even tell if your bike is a maiden? I checked under the bottom bracket, but couldn't tell) and I'm not sure it totally counts as a maiden voyage since I didn't actually cross to the other side of the bridge, instead pausing midway to snap this very exciting picture.

The bridge isn't actually finished yet, but DDOT, in its infinite wisdom has constructed a path for pedestrians and bicyclists to use while the crews wrap up construction. So, consider the bridge open. I hit one of the Jersey barriers with a bottle of champagne, but I'm not sure that's how you christen a bridge. My champagne budget is getting out of hand. I have big hopes for this bridge. I think it might prove to be a useful economic development tool and really connect the communities on both sides of the river. I think I'll do the full crossing in the afternoon.
Back on dry land, I continued down to the riverfront and set about walking my bike along the Washington Navy Yard Riverwalk, which might or might not be considered part of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail system. I chose to walk my bike because bicycling along this trail is prohibited, as explained on twitter recently, replete with a confusing picture of a locked-up bike (which isn't being ridden, so I'm not sure if there's an actual violation here). And why is bicycling along the Riverwalk prohibited? Here's your explanation:
The pedestrian bridge that makes up part of the Navy Yard's Riverwalk is narrow, and cannot support intermingled pedestrian and any type of vehicular traffic. Child strollers and wheelchairs are allowed.
Employees exiting through turnstiles onto the Riverwalk will not have immediate situational awareness of their surroundings, and may not see oncoming vehicular traffic in time to avoid a collision. The reverse would be true for someone who is on a bicycle, skateboard, rollerblades or scooter who would suddenly be confronted with a pedestrian that emerged from a turnstile. This is an obvious safety concern as collisions would be unavoidable.
That's right. A pedestrian bridge (which is about 50 feet of the three quarters of a mile along the river) is narrow and because Navy employees will be so disoriented by turnstile use (!!!) that collisions with bicyclists would be unavoidable. Unavoidable! Not just likely or possible- but cannot in any way be avoided. Sure doom. DOOM! So, what does this treacherous stretch of surefire calamity look like?

Here's a turnstile.

I could definitely understand how someone using one of these might not have immediate situational awareness and may not see oncoming traffic. I mean, it's not like the turnstiles are just horizontal metal slats with considerable gaps between them that in no way obstruct your vision. And it's not like the area of "disorientation" outside the turnstile is only one or two feet or the 30 feet of trail.
Still dangerous. 
Here's what's on the other side of the turnstile. A parking lot. With cars driving. Apparently disoriented Navy employees are well equipped to deal with the potential hazards of motorized, multi-ton vehicles.

Ironically, on the narrow pedestrian bridge, I did encounter two other cyclists heading in the opposite direction. They were riding, as I walked my bike. And of course they almost collided with the one of person who was walking along the Riverwalk. But that's not because they were bicyclists. It's because they were idiots. They would have done the same were they pushing a stroller. Of course, obviously, something like this had to happen in order to undermine my whole point.
But here's my proposal, Navy. Allow biking on the trail. Prohibit biking on the pedestrian bridge. And put a stripe about 5 feet outside of the turnstile either restricts bicycling therein and allows disoriented employees an opportunity to regain their composure and situational awareness. Not being able to bike along this part of a trail is a disservice to the entire community and it really needs to be rectified as soon as possible. The excuses for the prohibition are laughable, flimsy and reveal that the keepers of the trail have little regard for Navy employees or bicyclists.
After the Navy Yard, I managed to find myself lost on Buzzard Point. I might have even biked into the headquarters of the Coast Guard. There was lots of industrial use and parking lots and land that seems rife for redevelopment, either as a soccer stadium or velodrome or anything else that isn't a parking lot or an abandoned industrial site. It's sort of a cool part of town and seems very far away in a way that isn't actually factually true.
I turned back around and got myself to P street, which I took to the other part of the ART, passed the Fish Market, the Jefferson Memorial Fish Market, the George Mason Memorial Fish Market, the Martin Luther King Jr. Fish Market, and the Lincoln Memorial Fish Market. At least, I presume all those places also sell fresh sea food. Along Ohio Drive, bike traffic started to pick up, in both directions. A few more bikes on the Rock Creek Parkway Trail (one old dude in the parkway itself, riding in what is normally the northbound lanes) and then it down K and up Wisconsin. That's a good morning climb and I felt like I did it at a pace that was both leisurely and respectable. I can't wait to get back on my bike this afternoon.


Ride Home 5/23: Deutschland uber Alex

I'm so sorry.
It was only a little raining when I left work, but it rained more later in the ride and I have feeling that given the punctuated and intense nature of rain, it rained more on others than it did on me. My feelings about the rain are two-fold: firstly, I posit that it's previously rained worse and however badly it's raining now, it's rained worse before and I've ridden through it and survived so it's no big deal. Secondly, I posit (because I posit things. I'm constantly positing. It's sort of my default verb. "Where's Brian?" "Oh, he's positing something or other") that in the future it'll rain worse, so as bad as the conditions are now, it'll theoretically be worse at some future date. So, considering that it's both been worse in the past and will be worse again in the future, no matter how bad it is now, it's not really that bad. And that's the sort of trick I play on myself when it's raining. Does it work? Well, I still get wet, so you're free to judge.
About getting wet: here's a thing you can do. Stand in the rain for 37 minutes. Dry off. Stand in the rain for 39 minutes. So, was the 39 much worse than the 37? I doubt it. In short, what I'm trying to say is don't rush. It's not worth it. Wet is wet and it's not really a big deal. The goal of riding in the rain, in my humble opinion, is just to get home and since rain, for whatever reason, seems to induce drivers to do crazy shit, just take your time and do what you can to minimize your risk. And some suggestions on that:

  • Be deliberate
  • Be bold
  • Don't ride scared
Those are some bullet points. Make of them what you wish. I think it's important when you're riding in the rain to be as not miserable as possible and to be cognizant of everything that's going on around you and to refuse to subordinate yourself to other people around you, especially those in cars. They have a roof. They can deal. Take all the room you need. You don't have a roof. Unless you have a roof on your bike, which is weird and different and certainly some kind of after-market add-on. 
I've thought before "moped?" but I've dismissed this thought. Others have not. 
I watched a town car driver u-turn his car over a median. Wow. I encourage you to go outside and for a moment observe the lack of law-abiding behavior by everyone. You can even discount driver speeding. Just watch everything else. It's crazy. And, yet, totally mundane. As a blogger (whatever that means), it barely even interests me. Everyone breaks the law. All the time. It's boring and not worth spilling virtual ink over. 
Mass to Q to 11th. This is my jam. 
On 11th, by Mass (Massachusetts is a diagonal street. I leave it at Q and then cut down back down to 11th to cross it again), the driver of a pickup truck elected to cross the bike lane feet in front of me in order to stop or park or both. I braked and I left the bike lane to avoid his bumper. The driver of a white Cadillac slowed and gave me ample room. After avoiding the pickup, I decided to make the point of trying to thank the driver of the car that slowed to accommodate me. I don't know if he really got what I was trying to do. Gratitude is very hard to express, especially from a bicycle. I really ought to commission Crane to make some bikey thank you notes. It would be expensive, but my thank yous aren't so common as all that. 
Please tell me how upset I should be that I ride down the wrong side of the road near 11th and Penn in order to facilitate my left turn. Am I horrible and evil or is this just an acceptable part of riding in the city? I'm riding pretty much on the yellow line between the two lanes. Am I a monster? I don't seem to be hurting anyone, but maybe I'm giving "all" "bikers" a bad name through my wanton disregard of traffic laws. I can change if you think it's important. 
Catching another bicyclist riding up Capitol Hill gives me more satisfaction than it probably should. 
I rode down East Capitol behind a woman on a Biria. She seemed nice. She "almost" got sideswiped by the driver of a black truck. She snickered, maybe at me. I snickered, sort of at her. In the mean time, some guy in superbiker kit passed us both. He was on a mountain bike and was wearing sneakers. He shoaled us both at a red light, near the Supreme Court. (Supreme Court House? National Hall of Justice? What should be the name for this place?) I don't really understand what goes through someone's mind when they decide to pass other bicyclists at a stop. Presumably it's not "these people are going to think I'm a jerk, but them me do this anyway," but maybe that should be what a shoaler thinks. Embrace the approbation. It had stopped raining by the time I made it home. Don't think it's rained since. Maybe again tomorrow, but who knows. 

Ride In 5/23: Trent Franks and Beans

What is this blog? It's a place where I write about my bike commute. And why do I do this? Because, um, it's, uh, interesting, maybe...? And what happens when it isn't interesting? I make stuff up I write a bottle episode. Ok, I don't do that either. I just sort of slog through the heres and theres of what I recall to have happened. So here are some things.
"Air in my tires makes me happy," is what John Denver would have sung had he been wearing sleeves and also bicycling. But air in my tires does make me happy because it makes bicycling marginally easier and vastly more enjoyable and better yet, this so-called "air" is completely free since Big Air (no, not Jacksonville's newest and largest inflatable fun center but the euphemism for the scheming corporate cabal who control our air supply, but not our Air Supply. Two paragraphs in and we've already got Denver and Air Supply- this post, like the air supply in Denver, seems quite thin) has yet to figure how to monetize it, except through the sale of floor pumps, which would also be the name of a kind of women's shoe exclusively used for walking on floors, but not for dancing on the ceiling. Oh, and since we're here, we might as well do this.
I could ride up 16th street SE for one block, but I ride up 15th street SE for one block. It has a bike lane. 
[Fourth Wall Alert: It thunders. Should be a fun ride home. If the post later includes ZAP! in 72 font, it means that things went poorly for me and Benjamin Franklin has collected more royalties on his patenting of lightning strikes. The People's Intellectual Property History of the United States is a fascinating alterna-history]
Maybe six of us on East Capitol all heading towards the Capitol and maybe another six heading in the opposite direction. Seemed like everyone was on a bike this morning, if everyone means twelve people. I saw a bunch of families bicycling together as well. Seems better that way since you're not stuck a car subjected to children's music or children's NPR, which I find to be considerably precocious or would if it existed. 
I sort of love the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track, even if its design is suboptimal. Something about riding down the middle of a grand boulevard never gets tiresome. 
Up 11th street. It's sort of empty heading northbound in the morning. I have no preoccupation whatsoever about talking the lane, especially south of New York Avenue. There's two travel lanes in each direction and that's ample room to pass a cyclist if one is so inclined. So people deal with it. And this is perfectly tenable and I wish that society at large could reasonably posit to the angrier of drivers that maybe they could just calm down a bit, slow up for a moment, change lanes and not have an aneurysm about it.
Fixies with front baskets. It might be a thing. 
Nothing exceptionally interesting happened on R street. Unfortunately, the instinct of a great number of drivers is to drive in the bike lane seemingly without first checking for bicyclists in the case that the travel lane is blocked. Also, I've noticed a lot of drivers with their cars in reverse in places where driving in reverse seems wrong and unnecessary. I can think of only a few situations in which I feel compelled to do anything backward, and even fewer of those situations involve driving. The other day I watched a guy reverse his car at 25 miles per hour for half a block. But it's the cyclist who only slows down at a stop sign who's the menace to safety and well-being. 
The quality of our roads is lacking. It's very uncomfortable sometimes to ride a bike over the bumps, juts and ruts. It's easy to think of a street as a ftwo-dimensional plane, but bicycling on it reveals its third.This revelation sort of sucks. I ride a pretty sturdy bike and even I wonder how much it can take sometimes. Were I mayor, I'd not be engaged in a series of ridiculous campaign corruption problems, but perhaps even more important, I'd advocate for better quality roads. Better quality roads for a better quality of life. Better living through asphalt. 
I noticed this for the first time today. I've biked this way for almost a year. Is this sign new or does everyone just ignore it? 
No turn on red from Massachusetts to Wisconsin
So, if you're into following laws, don't do that. It's amazing how important literacy is for the correct handling of oneself in public space. Levar Burton should be the new Ray LaHood.


Ride In 5/22 and Ride Home 5/22: Sukiennice

Let's cut to the point and talk about money. It's quite obvious that there's a pecuniary advantage to becoming a bike commuter from a non-bike commuter, but there's also a potential pecuniary advantage in becoming a bike commuter advocate from just a regular workaday bike commuter. And here's why: any time a politician or a bureaucrat tries to make it more difficult or less likely for you to bike to work, he's trying to cost you money. For example, my marginal cost of commuting is $0. I get the pleasure of going back and forth from work without having to spend anything (and you get the pleasure of reading about it for the same price!). Were it made harder for me to do so and I had to start spending money on bus fares or car gas, that's real money and it's real money that I couldn't be spending elsewhere, like on Hummel figurines. And I've grown accustomed to a certain kind of lifestyle where I can budget a few hundred bucks a month for figurines and not have to worry instead about having to give that money to Metro or Exxon or METREXXON, who I imagine to be a terrifying robot shakedown artist. And thankfully, I can spend this money on Hummel figurines and were it the case that I was cash short, I'd be able to liquidate those figurines on eBay and maybe get some money back because I've used that money to purchase real assets with exchangable, though dubious, value. You can't sell used bus fares- it's a cost and there's no recouping it. So, here's the thing: if you bike to work and you like biking to work and you like spending $0 to get back and forth from what I imagine is a fulfilling and interesting job, then you need to make sure well that no politician will make it harder and less likely for you to do so. Because it will cost you real money, money that you might have budgeted for important stuff like rent or food or collectibles. So vote. And speak up. And on the local level, do it even more because the pool of constituents is even smaller. This is pretty much the only thing I thought about during my ride in, other than the fact that a Mercedes is a pretty wide car and it's highly unlikely that it will be able to fit into narrow spaces as might be called upon when its driver is attempting to squeeze between a row of parked cars and a row of moving cars in only the equivalent of half a travel lane.
Here's how the ride home went: fine. Except for maybe some other bicyclists, who might be trying to mess with me. Listen, I'm in no mood for this nonsense. I get it- DC is full of type-A yahoos who are super-competitive and think- nay, know- that they're better than everyone else at everything. But let's all relax and stop treating each light like it's the commencement for a drag race. It's annoying and even irksome and I'm tired of you bothering of me with your foolishness. Could I ignore you? Maybe. But it's hard to ignore someone who passes within inches and then lines up inches in front of you. Just cut it out, already. I'm exasperated.
When you take the lane, ride in the middle of the lane. It helps. It conveys the message that you're really in the travel lane and not just sort of in it by accident. Clarity is always a good idea. Claritin is a good idea if you have allergies. Claire de Lune is good if you're into Debussy. If you're allergic to Debussy, I don't know what you should do.
11th and then E across town. E works, but it's not my preferred route. A little too much car traffic and a few too many opportunities for drivers to cut across the bike lanes. Also, a few hills and one of the hills might be a result of having to drive over an urban expressway. I took E because I met a friend for drinks at the Dubliner, which is nearish Union Station. I drank beer, but not Irish beer. We were two gallants and then we left. No stealing though.
From there it was a quicksh jaunt down Massachusetts when whom did I encounter but none other than GAGA FAN. Proof (sort of):

If you squint, you can maybe make out the license plate. Maybe. It's the convertible. 

And what was GAGA FAN listening to? Train. Revoke the license plate.


Ride Home 5/21: Forward Poodle Move

I wanted to see how long it takes me to get home. I used Strava. I just turned it off now. Apparently, it takes me three and a half hours (I left early today). Whoops. Maybe tomorrow. I'm not normally quantitatively inclined and, frankly, I have a hard time believing that my life would be dramatically different if my bike trip takes 41 minutes or 47 minutes, but I was taken by the idea today, or at least taken by the idea at the beginning of my trip. Oh, and I'm allegedly in 12th place for climbing up the hill in the parking lot on the north side of the Capitol. I'm epic.
Having left early and traveling at a nonstandard commute time, I didn't notice a tremendous difference in the traffic volume or driver quality. Much of my trip I was thinking the following: it's utter foolishness to on traffic laws to keep you safe from people who ignore them. I think this is true for all modes of travel. Laws are only as good as the paper they're written on and nowadays, with the internet, I don't even think they're on paper at all. Though, that's not exactly what I mean or even correct. I think the point that I would be trying to make if making points were a thing that I attempted to do is that there's no substitute for observation and good judgment. Laws might help suggest behavior, but they sure don't limit it. And I'm not even bringing this up because I have an especially fraught commute or even one that's particularly dangerous, but just because it seems like good sense and when I'm struck with infrequent bouts of good sense, I like to share it with the world (aka the nine of you reading this), just like I'd be struck to share if Safeway had an especially good deal on avocados. Never pay more than a dollar for an avocado.
This commute was one of those tipping point rides where my bike switched from "everything's great" to "hmm, might want to check the tire pressure and maybe lube the chain." It's a pretty dramatic difference and I can feel it when it happens. Sometimes I wish my bike were a Pixar animation because then I could see its worried animated face and I could rely on that to make my maintenance decisions. Without anthropomorphism, it's much harder to judge.
It was muggy.
Let's just put bike lanes on 11th from Mass to Penn already. I'm sure there are no significant hurdles to this and my insistence will help materialize it. I can't say for sure it will make any difference to me as a cyclist, except maybe that a bike lane will degrade my commute or improve it in no real way since I'll continue to take the right travel lane so as to avoid the right-turning cars, buses, and drivers exiting the multitude of parking garages. But as a matter of principle, I'd still like there to be a bike lane. Symbolism matters and I'm for marking public space with as much bike symbolism as possible, even if it goes mostly unused. Bike infrastructure should be seen as an integral (and common) part of the urban fabric. The default expectation should be that there will be cyclists and that there should be a dedicated space for them to be. It shouldn't be an afterthought or an add-on.
Crane Services. That's written on some Jersey barriers by the Capitol reflecting pool. I don't know what crane services are. I think it's this and not this and definitely not services performed by cranes, because I don't even know what kinds of services cranes could do aside from sit in your mudflats and maybe eat some fish.
12th place up Capitol Hill, but first place in my own estimation of getting past the tourists and out East Capitol and then home. It's a boring last mile. Pretty, but boring.

Ride In 5/21: Clams Casino Royale with Cheese

Rain, wet. Rain enough, but not rain enough to be distracting. Rode through it. It was the kind of rain that could fall in any season. It could've been any day, but it was only today and it was unremarkable. Also, I was a bit distracted with non-specific thoughts about my impending workday and that, along with the rain, dampened some of my enthusiasm for irreverent observation.
Transparent ponchos. That should be a fundraising idea for Transparency International. People seem to like them. I don't get it. Is it that important that the world see that you're weaing boring work clothes, even though it's raining? I could've guessed as much. When I see opaque ponchos, I don't assume underlying nudity.
Few enough people on the roads to actually allow me to try to pedal fast in the Penn street cycle track. I went as fast as the weather and my power and endurance allowed and I didn't slow up at all, even when the old lady in the walker passed me.
Pedestrians sometimes have impeded vision in the rain, due to hoods or non-transparent umbrellas. Be mindful of that.
Rode behind a woman who was wearing a trench coat. I don't know if a trench coat is a good bike jacket. Does anyone have any experience bicycling in one? Perhaps when you bike commute to your detective agency? Today, I wore my radioactive canary yellow jacket and I thought about what kind of jackets must be worn in countries with a lot of rain and a lot of cycling. I'd suspect the smarmy answer would be "the same kind of jacket we would wear if we weren't cycling because we make no concessions to wearing special clothing for cycling because it is just a normal everyday kind of activity for regular people transportation" and that's a fine answer except the only reason I ask is because I'm in the market for a rain jacket, so any advice would be welcome, theoretical Danish person to whom I am typing right now. Another theoretical Danish person? Neils Bohr. I have a wristband with the letters "WKORJWNBW" (What kind of rain jacket would Neils Bohr wear).
The Jamis that lives outside got its rear wheel stolen. Sucks.

My coffee tasted a bit cloying. I might have sugared twice. Nothing marginally tempers my otherwise vast enjoyment of a bike commute worse than somewhat over-sweetened coffee.
Guy on a CaBi passed me on R. It was like three pedals into my starting after a green light. I won't cry foul. I don't think it's technically "shoaling" if it's done post-green light. What's it called when Wu Tang Clan bikes in front of you at a red light? Shaolin-g. Also, highly improbable. Wu Tang are incredibly polite cyclists, I assume.
Goodly number of cyclists heading down Massachusetts in the rain. Goodly for them.
This post is shorter than usual because reading about the now-ish breaking massively dumb DC political scandal has taken up most of my free time. And now, a conference call.


Ride Home 5/18: Jos. A Bank Robbery

Illegal car parking massively inconveniences everyone. Illegal car idling is also rather inconvenient, especially for bicyclists who were hoping/relying on there remaining an open lane. When confronted with a blocked lane, my suggestion is to come to a full stop and turn around, making sure to make eye contact with any approaching drivers in the lane into which you're about to merge. Trying to blend into traffic seamlessly, I've found, is a bit more harrowing than trying to appeal to the good nature of a driver to let you move over. It's also more risk averse. 
Greek Festival. It's here. You can get Greek foods (greek yogurt?), purchase Greek wares (που?), and hang out with all of your favorite DC area Greeks and grecophiles. I'd recommend biking there, since I'm not totally sure about parking, but the bike routes from the south and east involve considerable hills. So maybe take the bus. 
At least twenty motorcycle police officers parked outside the British Embassy. Hope it's not a Lawrence of Arabia appreciation ride. Presumably, it's part of some security protocol for someone or another. When I see lots of people engaged in the act of "security," I always think about resource deployment and labor productivity. And also how motorcycle engines make really coool vroom vroom noises. 
I watched a woman on a CaBi ride on the raised median (and then off it) at the intersection of Florida and Mass. Sometimes it just makes more sense to wait in line. It was especially awkward when she tried to get back onto the median at the other side of the intersection. Please don't ride bikes on the median. It's not safe and you're going to have to get back on the road eventually. 
Traffic-mageddon by Dupont Circle. It probably had something to do with the two bicyclists I saw and not the hundreds of cars. I think I might have a bit of a persecution complex. I just assume that drivers feel uncharitable and blame bicyclists and bike lanes for all of their woes. I doubt that this is totally accurate, but I've never actually pressed a driver on this point. I've also never pressed a panini on this point and I've had an unused panini press for a number of years. 
It's one thing if you pass someone while stopped because you're in a great hurry and plan to jump the red and really hustle when you're on the other side of it, but it's a totally different thing when you do it, then wait at the red, then dawdle. Why ride in front in the first place? I don't understand. Any thoughts? I've got two working theories and only one of those theories is that people who do this are inconsiderate assholes who think they're better than everyone else. 
Salmon on Q, riding the opposite way through a bike lane already mostly blocked by a few mail trucks. He said "Sorry." I ignored him. Unlike at at a fancy breakfast buffet, in bike lanes I ignore the salmon. 
I think that getting hit by a flatbed truck that's carrying a porta-potty would be the worst all of things. 
Very few people on Penn and East Capitol and the only ones that I saw were people that insisted that they would be riding faster than I would. Two shoalers on Penn and one guy on East Capitol who was willing to leave the bike lane to pass me while moving, narrowly avoiding the car who was attempting to pass us both. He was superbikerly in nature and while my pace wasn't slack, he was looking to ride faster. Which is fine, or would be fine, if the streets didn't have stop lights every few blocks. A less mature me, one of year's earlier bike commutes, would have made a point of riding on his back wheel and maybe even trying to pass him if the time and situation were right. But that's pretty immature and I'm glad I've graduated beyond that phase of this whole enterprise. I'm pretty sure the sequence of bike commuter ascendence goes from 1) craving acceptance to 2) demonstrating superiority to 3) renouncing all slights and riding wholly within oneself. Of course, this is just a construct, but maybe a useful one. I wish more people tried to get from 2 to 3. 
If my track record of soccer predictions holds true, I've got Chelsea winning, so it will almost assuredly be Munich. Have a nice weekend. Good weather for bicycling and picnicking. 


Biked home, read about it tomorrow-ish

Title pretty much tells the whole story. I hope that your ride home was as good as your ride in and your ride in was as good as I hoped your ride home was. Have a nice Friday night. Eat some ice cream if that's your thing or if you just happen to have done and a paucity of more preferred desserts. Or do other things. I'm not your boss.

Ride In 5/18: In Germany, it's Bike to Wurst Day

So this is sort of my Christmas or Super Bowl or both (when Santa and the elves take to the frozen tundra of the North Pole and concuss themselves for our seasonal entertainment and/or to celebrate the birth of Our Lord Savior with wild touchdown celebrations), in that it's Bike to Work Day and biking to work is sort of my thing. It's so much my thing, I've fashioned a whole blog out of it. It's been extremely lucrative as well and thanks to the proceeds of the vast readership of this blog, I can eat Ramen for breakfast and lunch! But joking aside, I love Bike to Work Day. I love that it emphasizes biking (fun) and working (less so), thereby appealing to the duality of our nature, appealing to the libertine and Puritanical sides of the American ethos and affords hack bloggers with pretensions towards profundity to blather about it. Today's bike to work day, at least down by the Reagan Building also emphasized a lot of people yelling about Ethiopia. So, that was something different.
Here's a bunch of bicyclists stopped in front of me at a red light. Take that internet commenters!
Pennsylvania Avenue
Up until this point, it didn't seem like there were any more bike commuters than usual. I'd say there were at least 20 people there.
Here's some shots of people milling around:

Love a good mill shot. I'm basically the Ansel Adams of "people milling around at bike events" photos.
For some reason, Bike to Work Day is marked through the gifting of t-shirts. I'd suggest socks, but that'd be way too controversial.
I accosted some local leaders and gave them buttons. Here's me and my Council Member. I look like I'm both very sleepy and very angry. My rage is narcoleptic. And here's the Director of Planning. I also managed to give a button to another CM. My unofficial goal is to get sharrows buttons to each member of the DC Council and the mayor. It's good to set goals.
At the pit stop, I saw many I already knew, met a few people I know from the internet, and exchanged pleasantries. It's was a nice gathering. I regretted that I couldn't stay longer, but I had to divert myself to Swing's for a #fridaycoffeeclub, where a few brave souls hung on well past 9:30. I didn't actually go inside to drink coffee. And then it was off to work. The roads were pretty clear and easy. Usual route up 15th and over R and up Mass. The creeks were fordable. The hills were climbable. The dales were, well, I'm not totally sure what dales are, so let's say they were dale-able...? All things considered, it was a beautiful day for a bike ride and I'm looking forward to the ride home, which will commence shortly. Enjoy.


Ride Home 5/17: Danny Granger Danger

I'm the goldilocks on sidewalk cycling: traffic has to be going too fast (35-40 mph) or too slow (0 mph) and I'll ditch the road for the sidewalk. I won't don a blonde wig and I won't eat porridge. Unless of course, you're willing to make a substantial donation to WABA. $500 and I'm at an all-you-can-eat porridge buffet, flaxen. But that's not the point. Tonight I could tell that something was amiss on Massachusetts and car traffic seemed to be moving far too slowly, and by that, I mean not at all. So I rode on the sidewalk and was all zip zip zip past the stopped cars and then I was all like "shit, this traffic is going on forever" and then I was like "seriously, dude, how far backed up is this?" and then at Sheriden Circle, at least a mile (an urban mile is at least 10 times the length of a country mile) down the road, there was still traffic and it was all because one road, 23rd street, was closed to traffic. And people in cars, and on buses, were stuck. And that must have been horrible for them. Most of the reason I commute by bike is because I'm a pinko green liberal yahoo, but at least 20% of the reason I ride to work is because I'm a fiercely libertarian misanthropic yahoo. And this 20% of me was activated by seeing these people in cars and on buses held hostage by a road closure and I felt nothing but sympathy and sorrow for how utterly helpless they were in this situation. When I'm driving, I hate to be stuck in traffic. When I take the bus, I hate to wait for it. When I take the Metro, I have legitimate fears about being abducted by mole people. But also I don't like waiting for the train. Or if it's really crowded. Or if the doors open while the train is moving. Basically, bike commuting is the only means of travel by which I can cover significantly longish distances without having to rely on other people or circumstances that I can't control. Road closed? I'll take another. Traffic on the road? I'll be on the sidewalk (where legal). Lurking mole people? Well, presumably they're blind, so maybe I'll just quietly pedal away and they won't know that I was there. This is the best reason to keep your chained lubed, by the way. Anyway, this is the trade-off of going by car- minimal effort, but maximum reliance. On a bike, I might be vulnerable, but at least I'm self-sufficient.
Guy boppin' to go-go pumping from his car stereo. Gimme the bridge now.
Q to 7th. Passed a guy on a recumbent. Did not check to see if he had a beard. 7th is the best and most direct way to get to BicycleSpace, DC's best bicycle shop (now with new website). I had to do a consult about my potential new bike. No test ride. I think we're getting some good ideas about things to do with the new bike and with the Cross Check. Good, expensive ideas. But not that expensive because I think I've got extra parts and should be able to make various accessory adjustments without the purchase of new stuff. So that's good.
From BicycleSpace, I head back in the opposite direction, westerly that is, back down M Street because I was going to a bar to meet my wife. The bar was called Recessions. Still is called that, probably. What I learned on M Street is that Hitler would probably drive a minivan, had he the opportunity. Yeah, I just went there.
Apres bar, it was down L Street and then 15th and down to Penn and past a pedicab and around some illegally turning cars and past some other drivers who couldn't quite clear the intersection before the light turned. And then there were some bicyclists, but more of them heading in the opposite direction than towards my home and that was all for the best since my home really wouldn't be prepared to host a cavalcade of bike commuters. We don't have nearly enough corn chips. Rode up Capitol Hill out of the saddle and pumped my legs and made the bike go faster than I thought it would have gone. Followed a superbiker-type on East Capitol. Many drivers in the bike lane, but I'm sure they didn't mean it ugly, as my mother-in-law might say.
If the commute through my neighborhood were a bad 90s standup routine, I'd write:
White people bike commute like this: [guy biking, looking normal] and black people bike like this: [guy biking, looking normal]. And that's pretty much all I have to say about biking and race in DC, other than that it really doesn't seem to be as fraught a topic as some would make it out to be.
Tomorrow is Bike to Work Day. I'll be at the Reagan Building, circa 8. Say hello.

Ride In 5/17: Hobo Disco

What was the thing that I saw before I saw the guy in full clown makeup standing by the Capitol? Maybe it was the car with the GAGA FAN license plate? I think that was it. The clown guy had a sign that reference clown unemployment and it was either a joke or the Tea Party has gotten really weird (and somehow, even whiter, thanks to pancake makeup). The GAGA FAN is, presumably, just a GAGA fan. Gaga for Gaga, if you will. Or perhaps he's just gaga for fans, perhaps the oscillating kind. I'm fascinated by personalized license plates (really!) and I wonder what this guy was thinking while in line at the DMV. Like, I like really Lady Gaga and I'm about the register this Pontiac Soltice with the State of Virginia, so you know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to assert this one "fun fact" about me on my license plate so I can advertise my taste in music and perhaps be let off with only a warning by a state trooper who enjoys grooving out to "Just Dance." As for what the clown guy was thinking, I just presume that he sort of has a sad life and probably doesn't even drive a Pontiac.
Sartre wrote the "hell is other people." Sartre was also a bicyclist. This might not be a coincidence. I think that my personal hell would be an endless stretch of city blocks, punctuated by red lights that I would hit irrespective of my speed. And then before the light would change, I would get shoaled by some hapless dope, who I would ride around only to have the process repeat for an eternity. So when this happens in non-hell life, you can guess my feelings about it. I simply don't understand the psychology of people who do this. Oh yeah, and on Bike to Work Day tomorrow, be prepared for anything. And I'm really not trying to pick on people who are new to bike commuting- there's definitely a learning curve and it takes a little while to figure out the "system" so to speak. But regardless of whether you've commuted by bike for a long time or just started, there are some fundamentally important rules of etiquette that you could probably figure out if you thought about it for a little or if you're a conscientous person in general. So, once again, I plead: only pass while moving. Feel free to disagree with me about this, but I'm pretty insistent about my being right in a sort of morally objective kind of way. And I never feel that way about anything. I'm more relativistic than, I don't know, an object approaching the speed of light...? (Physics is not my forte)
I took 11th. Some of the time I was on that street I rode behind a bus. So, that happened.
Compared to the Bikeshare trip yesterday, my ride today seemed really swift and maybe even fleet. That was a nice feeling and it was complemented with gorgeous springtime weather that only appears a few weeks a year.
I think it's illegal for a driver to not block the crosswalk. How else to explain the frequency with which it happens? I mean, other than sorcery.


Ride In 5/16 and Ride Home 5/16: Carolus Parvus

I took Bikeshare today. Funny that 18 months later it's so mundane. It's really changed transportation in the city (for some people) and it will soon change transportation in New York (for some people) and Chicago (for some people). And, the haters will get over it. I decided to take Bikeshare because I had an off-campus work event was near a Bikeshare station and that's pretty much all the excuse I needed. I tend not to wear a helmet when I ride a CaBi. You may judge accordingly. Also, if you're under the age of 16, I believe that DC has a law against your reading this blog post unless you wear a helmet. Jousting helmet will suffice. Also, if you're under the age of 16 and you're not an orphan and you're reading this, you have terrible parents. Do schoolwork or something.
I rode up Mass and then down the sidewalk on the south side of the park because I thought that it would be faster for some reason and it wasn't and all I succeeded in doing was annoying runners and people walking their dogs. Should've just stuck to the street and ridden the counter-clockwise loop.
What happened on East Capitol? YOU CAN'T HANDLE WHAT HAPPENED! (Ok, I'm sort of blanking on this stretch of my morning ride. I didn't take it on the ride back, so this is pretty much all your going to get with regard to that street. Sorry, East Capitol aficionados.)
Schoolchildren. Ugh.
Pennsylvania was a good bit and I didn't see a single driver make an illegal u-turn. Progress! Ok, maybe not. There was another guy on a CaBi who kept shoaling people and I didn't really get what that was all about. He even talked to a guy that he pulled up alongside. Is that ok? I don't think it's ok. But I'm a grump.
Scaffolding truck in the bike lane? Check.
Police car in the bike lane? Check.

I took this picture from across the street near the dock at 15th and P. I docked, waited a little, and then took off again. I was determined not to take more than 30 minutes to make it to work and, realistically, I had no idea how long it would take me to drag the CaBi the last few miles. I probably should have thought about it a little deeper because I convinced myself that I really needed to hustle in order to make it. I hustled.
It's not that some drivers don't know about bike lanes. It's just that they don't care. It's not like some bicyclists don't know about stop signs. It's just that they don't care. It's apathy, though I don't think it's the same kind of apathy.
Here's my though process going up the hill on Mass: Go! Go! Go! Go! Go! $1.50 is on the line and you cannot SCREW THIS UP! Unlike other bicyclists, whose fancy road bikes make them all race-y, I think I'm at my worst/most competitive when I'm on a Bikeshare bike. It's kind of ridiculous. Whatever gets you there, I guess. I kept my clean slate and made it in 21 minutes. I also offset 2.35 lbs of CO2, but not really since I'm pretty sure my regular bike does emit CO2, but maybe I should look into that. I arrived at work thoroughly gross. Luckily I started pretty gross, so...
[A number of hours have passed since I wrote the above and I'm only returning to the blog now. I know that this isn't important to you, the reader, but I feel like I should be honest and let you know that these are really two distinct compositions within one post. I could disambiguate them, but I don't think that'll really accomplish anything. And, if you're wondering, the separation in time wasn't a deliberate attempt to recreate the normal separation in time between the writing of the ride in and ride home posts. It's just that I had other stuff to do. Also, I re-read the above and it's really not my best work. So, sorry about that. Thus concludes meta-blogging]
My work event was near the Macomb/Wisconsin Bikeshare station and when the event wrapped up, as is my wont, I biked away. It was hot and the sun was angry and my right arm, the arm that was exposed in the sun when we sat for lunch, is now red and a little burnt. I didn't have the good sense to apply sunscreen and I regret this. In the hierarchy of biking necessities, sunscreen outranks a helmet and socks. It also beats three of kind, but not a full house. So, let me preach for the first time in a while, the virtues of sunscreen. "Let's make melanoma, melano más," says Roberto Duran in the skin cancer advocacy campaign of my dreams.
Wisconsin to Massachusetts and down the narrow sidewalk on Garfield because I missed the light and then back on to the street for the downhill and the little climb. I skipped Cleveland, the road I know, to take Garfield to Woodley, a road I know not (last time I ever take biking directions from a poet) and it was ok, but a little windy and not very straightforward in where it planned to take me. I think there was a bike route sign but it said "Mount Rainier" and that's not really useful for me, since I didn't want to go to Mount Rainier, so I ignored it and then I ended up crossing Connecticut Avenue north of where I would have crossed had I taken Calvert. That's around the time that I realized that I might be riding down into the park and that was exactly was happened. Whoops. And then I was the guy on the CaBi riding in Rock Creek Park. Two things of note in the park: awesome superbiker riding on the road, easily keeping up with car traffic and maybe even exceeding the speed limit. He was not riding a CaBi. I must've been inspired or something, because I ended up passing a youngish guy on his normal bike and this made me feel proud or something.
The P Street exit from the park is rather steep. There's also no sidewalk on the north side.
Fearing that too much time had elapsed and I was in need of a dock ("Dock your bike or they'll dock your pay" could be a phrase that people could say if it made sense), but not in immediate need, so it was through Dupont Circle and down Massachusetts on the other side. That was when my bag came loose from its bungee mooring and fell free from the bike's front basket (rack? rasket?), crashing with not so much a thud as a clang since the only thing in my bag was my thermos. I stopped and went back to get it. I thought about abandoning it forever, but that seemed wasteful.
I did an immensely stupid thing and tried to ride in the narrow gap between cars and the curb on Massachusetts before 15th. I even scraped the outside of my right pedal on the curb. This was immensely stupid. There are very few contexts in which narrowly squeezing through treachery for modest gain makes sense. Outside of American Gladiators, that is.
I docked at Thomas Circle and then biked to 7th and M, where a guy asked me how much it costs to rent a bike. I said $7 a day. And then said "But the first 30 minutes are free" and "You can take them to any other dock" and I had to stop myself before I spent the next 45 minutes talking his ear off about the virtues of Bikeshare. He probably needed his ear.
I've been going back and forth about purchasing a certain bike from BicycleSpace and now I'm back and forth again and I'm not even going to go into the internal angst and drama, except to say that I might get this bike and might not and I enjoyed taking it for a test ride today, but I generally enjoy taking all kinds of bikes for test rides and that doesn't mean that those bikes make sense or are good matches for me.
Bikeshare again, this time at 5th and K. I don't know why I didn't just walk back to where I had previously docked. They moved the 5th and K station around the corner from where it used to be. Don't worry. I still found it. Down 5th, then E and past the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, and then past Union Station, where I caught up to a guy on a mountain bike far better suited to the terrain than my CaBi.
A little more and not too far to home and I docked at my home station (the station nearest my home. I haven't (yet) convinced DDOT that I should have a private dock on my front porch) nd bought beer because I had forgotten that we already had some. I hope it doesn't spoil.