Ride Home 6/29: Buster Poindexter

I didn't much care for this ride. I miss winter. I parked my bike by my office today, walked across campus to the locker room, changed, and walked back to my bike. That I arrived there with a sheen of sweat on my brow was a good indication that any additional physical effort would only be that much more perspirational. My goal on hot days is to sweat only the equivalent amount that I would were I just standing outside and not acquire no sweat by means of my own effort. This isn't so much because I dislike sweating (though I sort of do) but instead as a means to keep my overall effort in check, so as to not exhaust myself. I can't say that this strategy has ever worked. 

I stopped on the way home at a friend's in Glover Park. She'd been out of town for a while, and though my reason for seeing her was unfortunate (the passing of a pet), it was good to catch up and chat and break up my ride a little, though to that point all I had done was ride down New Mexico behind an ivory Mercedes which was behind a red car with Ohio license plates whose driver didn't see to know where she was going, much less to seem to be able to not get there at more than ten miles per hour. For the ride down the hill, it was mostly good temperature-wise. The ride up the hill (there's a nasty little hill where 41st Street turns into Benton. I encourage you to check it out on a day when it isn't 3000 degrees) was less than fun, but I thank the very patient driver who waited behind me rather than attempt to pass on a the narrow curve. 

Afterwards, I rode down Benton to Tunlaw. Of all the roads and all the bumps and all the cracks in all of DC, I think I'm the most familiar with those on Tunlaw between the intersection with 37th and Whitehaven Parkway. It's a funny thing to know bumps in the road, to treat them like old friends and to avoid them like old friends who are now former friends and to see the cracks and notice that they've grown and matured, much like the children of distant relatives that you'd only ever see at the funerals of great aunts who died years apart. The cracks aren't the same, but you know what they once were and you can see the faint resemblance and as much as you try to see the crack as it currently is, you can't help remember as you knew it when you rode over it every day, for months in commutes long gone by. 

Abandoned bike. Flat tire. Might still be there if you want it. 

36th and R, NW. 
Rather than take R to 34th and ride the bike lane south through Georgetown to a crosstown boulevard, I decided that I would stick on it, cross Wisconsin and take the quiet, shady residential streets past the big houses and Dumbarton Oaks and see if I would enjoy myself in the shade any more than I had enjoyed myself in the sun. I thought it was a clever idea, trading wide, exposed streets for a gently sloping downhill ride in the solace of the comfort provided by the canopy, and it would have been especially clever had there been any reduction in temperature whatsoever. About halfway down R, maybe around 30th Street, I saw another bike commuter working hard and pushing his way uphill, gritty and determined. Throughout the night, I saw far more bike commuters than I ever would have expected and this is perhaps the greatest indicator that bicycling, as a means of urban transportation, is here to stay. If today didn't scare everyone off from riding then nothing will. 

R stops at 28th. 28th took my south to Q and Q took me over a bridge and to Dupont Circle and soon enough I was at the intersection of Q and Mass and reconnected to my normal route home, which proved adequate. There were a few other cyclists, those of whom were in normal people clothes looking uncomfortable and unable to hide the fact that they were as much. I was in bike clothes and I was uncomfortable and I made no attempt to hide that fact either. I'm still uncomfortable. As I write, Ellie the Poodle is showing her lack of comfort, splayed out on the parquet (I live in the old Boston Garden) underneath the couch. Nonetheless, I still felt in better shape than this morning, no doubt to having not had any more coffee during the day and consuming instead plenty of water. 

Longboards. They're among us. Cowabunga. 

I pulled up behind a guy on Pennsylvania Avenue. He put toe clips on his clipless pedals. 

This is confusing. Maybe he takes them off his bike for weekend rides. I don't know. I didn't ask, though I was behind him from about 11th NW to 11th NE. Somehow the idea of accosting him with an accusatory, judgmental question just didn't seem like a good idea. I grew to like this guy, though, because I watched him flip off the driver of a towncar who drove in the bike lane at the intersection of Pennsylvania and Constitution. If only there were some kind of plastic, vertical technology that we could use there that we use at almost every other intersection along the cycle track. I grew to like the guy less later, when we were on East Capitol, when he decided to Cat 6 a another bike commuter. There really needs to be a temperature upper bound at which all bike commuter races are cancelled. It's a shame there's no governing authority. 

The biggest struggle of the ride was going up Capitol Hill. Fewer tourists around, but it wasn't empty. 

Enjoy your weekend. I don't think I'll be spending much of mine on a bicycle, but I wish good wishes to those of you who will. My blogging next week will be sporadic, so if anyone would like to write up a guest post, I'd be happy to have it. Thanks in advance. Also, I predict Italy over Spain in an upset. 

Ride In 6/29: Whenever I'm with him

Sweltering. It's hot enough outside to overcook an egg or smelt iron or both if you prefer Eggs Bessemer, a dish that involves the application of hollandaise with a bellows. I can't imagine it's very tasty. They would would serve it at steampunk brunch. 

Fun fact: Congress smells like a cesspool. Well, more accurately, the cesspool reflecting pool on the west side of the Capitol has a nasty, fetid, sewery, sulphur smell (probably from the overcooking of steampunk brunch) and it hits your nose on a hot day like a punch from a leper's unwashed boxing glove. It stinks. 

A hot wind is worse than no wind at all. 

I took the normal route to #fridaycoffeeclub, and for me that means passing through the E Street gates and riding on the sidewalk in front of the White House. I don't know if there was an event that required women to wear ugly, sateen mother-of-the-bridesmaid dresses, but there was more than one woman doing so and this seemed anomalous, which I believe is also the name of the Greek god of white and nearly off-white bargain bin ill-fitting garments. (Anamolous started the Trojan wear when he made Paris tell Helen what he really thought of what she was wearing). There was a large group of tourists on the other side of the drive, but the sidewalk was clear and I was able to make my way through to 17th without issue, turning right and riding up the hill to get in front of a trash truck which provided me the cover to get back into the right lane and work my way left to turn at G, where I locked up my bike and got coffee. 

We had some special guests at Friday Coffee Club. Two of them were two. FCC is a family affair nowadays. Two of the other special guests were from points west. Great meeting you, Jesse and Ted! I hear that #fridaycoffeeclub has made it into the latest editions tourist guidebooks as a "must see" along with the Washington Monument, Ben's Chili Bowl and that hotel where Elliot Spitzer did, um, that stuff. 

I had two iced coffees and that might have proven too many. I did not feel well on my ride to work. I'm what they like to call "a delicate flower" and my stomach gets upset rather easily. The heat, the mugginess, and the mild over-caffeination, when mixed with gentle pedaling left me a bit nauseous. If I've ever tried to assert anything on this blog (aside from the inherent evilness of pogo sticks), it's that assertion (while on a bicycle) is totally inimical to a decent bike commute. It should be leisurely and it should be easy. Weather, unfortunately, sometimes works against this. So, I just went slower. I rode on the shady side of the road. I took my time and I took deep breaths. I drank water and I tried to keep the wheels spinning at a consistent and deliberate speed and that pretty much got me to where I was going. I don't think I saw too many other bike commuters, especially on the hill into work. I think that most of my not feeling great was psychosomatic and I feel much better now. Nonetheless, I'm going to take it really easy going home and I would encourage you to do the same, even if you aren't a delicate flower and instead you're some kind of sturdy tuber or woody thistle. (I believe Woody Thistle played third base for the Boston Braves in the 1930s. Or Woody Thistle played bass for the 1970s British band Steampunk Brunch. I can't recall which).  Have a great rest of the day and may your air be conditioned and the thermostat always lower to cool you.


Ride Home 6/28: Classics of French Cinema

Buttons. At least two of you tried to buy some and for some reason it didn't work. The purchases were on 6/18 and 6/20. If you tried to purchase a button on either of those days and you haven't heard anything from me, please email talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com. I'll ask you a series of riddles (actually, only for the last 4 digits of the credit card you used) and then I'll mail your buttons post haste. Thank you for your understanding.

Other than the heat, not much worth noting about this ride. Usual route, usual problems, usual hangups, usual opportunities. Usual isn't necessarily bad- especially as far as a bike commute is concerned. I'll take a boring, uneventful, mundane, safe bike commute over pretty much anything. I think that society pretty much owes us as much. No one should have to suffer "adventure" just to get back and forth from work.

I question the value of mirrors on bicycles, but I'm willing to listen to an impassioned defense.

Sometimes I break traffic laws, but a lot of the times I follow traffic laws and in neither case do I think that what I'm doing (or failing to do) is having any appreciable impact on the perceptions of bicyclists and the decision-making process of anyone, traveling by any mode, who sees me. Perhaps this isn't true. Perhaps I'm just being cynical. I just know that I've never admired the example of a driver who's refused to speed or saluted a pedestrian who declined to jaywalk and I can't imagine that anyone who has witnessed a law-abiding bicyclist has changed their ways due to overseeing his stellar moral example. This might just be an apology for lawbreaking. I'm more inclined to believe that it's just a sop to reality. Do you what you want. Try not to piss anyone off. That's pretty much what I have to say about that. I feel like I'm having a Charles Barkley moment.

Q to 11th. At 11th, a turning driver almost cut his turn too short, but it turned out ok and the room for the bike lane cleared and I was able to ride apace, almost catching the green, but arriving a few seconds early. On 11th, I rode behind another guy, who seemed to be interested in going slowly and perhaps "scoping the ladies" and after an aborted attempt (a bus was coming), I passed him and left him behind and I didn't see him again, though another bicyclist on a similar bike pulled up nearly alongside of me by L, but then he fell back as I moved left to avoid the shredding truck. By the way, it's not shredding. It's information security services. Those zany Mad Men! They could make any line of work sound highfalutin and fancy.

Getting stuck between two rows of cars before the light turns green is the worst. It's normally a better idea of hang back, take a place in line and wait your turn. Otherwise, you'll cut someone off and they probably won't be happy.

Some segways on Penn. The tour guide seemed half-hearted about pointing out the historical landmarks. I don't remember much of the tour group other than their khaki-colored, synthetic material shorts. I wonder if they were having fun.

Good times by the Capitol. Mostly uncrowded, though I wish there was a bike lane somewhere in its vicinity. I always feel like I'm trespassing on roads either meant for cars or paths meant for walking. Were Constitution not so harrowing (IMHO) and slightly out of the way (for my desired route home), I'd go back to taking that. I do like riding through the Capitol plaza, if for no other reason than seeing how many people are exploring the area by Bikeshare (today: 2) and photobombing as many people as possible.

"Coptic Solidarity" was on the signs of the two men walking in the middle of the group walking parallel to the Library of Congress.  In the future, and/or in a post-apocalyptic Detroit, we might call for robocoptic solidarity.

Back and forth with a speeding driver. She sped and we met up at the next light. And again, and the same thing. Sometimes I wonder if the act of car commuting is so unfun that the act of waiting at red lights seems like a joyful respite.

Ride In 6/28: Put your archdukes up

Around 10 AM, CNN posted "Local bike blogger gets healthcare prediction wrong." They retracted it soon thereafter.

The driver of an SUV complaining that bicyclists take up too much space on the road is like Joey Chestnut getting upset over your running out of hot dogs on the Fourth of July.

Here are some pictures of the Supreme Court, circa 8AM.

It seemed crowded, but hardly like pandemonium. Not like they were opening a new Chick-fil-A or something.

Lots of cyclists very interested in trying to ride fast only to be rebuffed by stop lights and a gentle breeze. Luckily no one was rebuffed by an illegally u-turning taxi, not that there weren't any. The idea of spot enforcement might be nice, but we need a re-engineering of Pennsylvania Avenue if we really want this to stop. The economic incentive to break the law to pick up fares simply won't outweigh the potential cost of any police penalty. Just make it less like to do, you know, with those plastic things I said I wouldn't write about today.

The gap between pedestrians crossing in a crosswalk is not really wide enough to ride your bike through. Stop trying to do that, some people on bikes. If you begrudge a motorist for being upset over the two second delay you might cause him, you really shouldn't begrudge a pedestrian for doing the same to you. But then again, hypocrisy is one of our society's favorite crisy's, maybe only second to this one.

15th to V. Along the way I rode behind a guy who was clutching a copy of the Examiner in his left hand, as if he planned to read it while biking, which, thankfully, he didn't. V seems much shorter than R, in part because I don't travel on it for nearly as many blocks. I guess that's more than just part of the reason. I rode up Champlain, past Washington City Paper headquarters, pased City Bikes on Euclid, took a left on Columbia and then worked my way over the bridge and once again west and north and west. I don't think about my bike trip is terms of cardinal directions too frequently, mostly because I'm not in the middle of the woods or orienteering and the whole point of civilization might be to make navigation through places less dependent on abstract notions of direction. The whole point of Civilization II is to be a massive time suck for nerdy high school students.

Two dads with two sons on two trail-a-bikes on Wisconsin, which is a pretty busy road. Parentals: what kinds of things do you think about when you're biking your kids somewhere? How much do you alter your route? I suspect that you'd might choose less trafficked routes, but maybe there's some parenting philosophy (objectivism?) that suggests otherwise. I've never been responsible for transporting a child by bicycle, but maybe as part of a tired sitcom trope, I'll somehow become responsible to biking with an egg and thereby learn about responsibility and the difficulties of parenting. Tired sitcom tropes are the worst.

Had a driver not pass me until she could safely (for my safety, not hers) do so. Gotta say that it was sorta weird.


Ride Home 6/27: Gong with the Wind

Ain't no party like a repaving party cause a repaving party don't stop...rattling your bike and bouncing you around and hurting your wrists and being generally jarring and unpleasant. Though soon enough, I suppose, there will be some nice fresh new pavement and my ride will be that much smoother and I'll be ever so happy. You know, for like three blocks and around one traffic circle. Totes worth it.

Regular route home. A little slow on Massachusetts because I got stuck behind a red Toyota Matrix being driven about 15 miles per hour. Get off the road, slowpoke! Just kidding, though being stuck behind a car driving considerably below the speed limit does leave me with some trepidation, mostly from anxiety about the impatient drivers approaching from behind me. At California Avenue, I passed him when he was stopped at a red light. I might have technically shoaled him. Whoops.

There should be more (any, really) roadside milkshake stands. I'm pretty much always in the mood for a milkshake, especially while riding home. But then again, this would probably ruin my dinner of milkshakes and malt balls and my habitual milkshake cordial before bed.

Ok, since it's Washington and this is apparently a thing people do here for amusement, here's my healthcare prediction: 5-4 to uphold, Roberts is deciding vote, writes the opinion. He does this not necessarily because he wants the law upheld politically, but because he needs to keep the veneer of judicial legitimacy so the Supreme Court (the institution) is considered a partisan joke for the rest of forever. My qualifications for this opinion? Inside information. In that I look inside the Supreme Court's windows when I pass it on my commute twice daily.

I took Q to 15th, for a rare southbound cycle track trip (Southbound Cycle Track Trip is lesser known Allen Ginsberg work) and it was crowded and slow and there were many red lights and no opportunities to jaywheel. I watched a number of cyclists "blow through" them coming in the other direction, ill-advisedly in my opinion. I used my time waiting at the intersections to admire the "Bikes must yield to peds" signs and looking for the "Cars must yield to peds" signs, but I didn't see any of those. Guess drivers don't need the reminder. They have licenses after all. Like James Bond. (This might be a little sadder and truer than I want it to be)

There was a guy riding behind me for most of 15th and he didn't attempt to pass me in order to wait at the red lights in front of me rather than behind and I appreciated that. He was taking to another cyclist and I didn't know if they knew each other or if they met along the way. A stranger's just a friend you haven't met, so goes the lyrics in that fake musical from that cartoon.

Overzealousitis is a disease that occasionally strikes White House security. I was told to "bike on the other side if the street," though I was pretty sure I was already on the other side of the street and I'm pretty sure he didn't want me on his side of the street, if for no other reason than there probably would have been a less riddle-like way if expressing that sentiment. Unless it was all a trick.

Bollardia is a small town in Italy from where DDOT imports all of its hand-crafted, artisanal bollards. The citizens if Bollardia recently had their bollard harvest (a process that involves some kind of extrusion) and Washington DC us now reaping the benefits. My photo essay.

No bollards at Penn and 15th. Womp womp. On the south side of the bike lane. You can almost see what I'm talking about. Next boat from Bollardia tomorrow?

Sleepy bollards at 14th. My next button drive will raise money to combat bollard narcolepsy. Together we can beat it! If these bollards were, in fact, put back in the ground today, then I move we immediately cancel all driving in DC.

Variation in bollard color. The one in front was a radiant white, indicating its newness.

Some bollards wear different shoes. Bollards can only wear white shoes after Memorial Day. Bollards wear black shoes for more formal events, like bollard prom, which is, coincidentally, before Memorial Day.

One city.
Ocean explorer Bob Ballard.

Pipe. For storming the sandbag barricades.

DDOT moved those bollards over today. Huzzah. That's one small foot for bicyclists, one giant leap for bicyclist kind. Whatever that means.

And now from bollards to collards.

I didn't take any. 
Eventually I'll make my way to Lollards. That's all for now. I promise no bollard talk tomorrow.

Ride In 6/27: Was that Wham song about Chuck Brown?

I woke up late and I left the house late, but this was propitious, as I got to meet sometime commenter and long-time bike commuter (7 years, I think), Douglas Scott, astride his Xtracycle on his way to work. He had stopped behind me at a light and when we were both shoaled, he said something like "Nothing better than getting shoaled first thing in the morning." The guy who shoaled us was riding a Civia, which is a fairly rare bike brand for DC. Anyone, it was nice to meet Douglas and I wished him luck for the remainder of his fairly brief bike commute. Anyway who commutes solo on an Xtracycle is awesome.

What's new in Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track bollards, you ask? Wait, you didn't ask? Well, that's not going to stop me from sharing. Here's a picture of something:

Move those over. 

Looks to me like these bollards (at the intersection of Penn and 3rd) are maybe like 6 inches in the bike lane? Is this supposed to be how they're set up? I might have mentioned this previously and then thought that it was fixed, but it wasn't actually fixed, so I'm going to mention it again. In any case, I wouldn't mind having the extra six inches. Bikes lanes be narrow.

U-turning taxi. Couldn't quite see the license plate number, otherwise I'd share it with you. If you'd like to register a complain with the DC Taxicab commission, please visit here for instructions. Good luck trying to get the operator's name. I might follow up with them to see what their thoughts are on taxicabs making u-turns across Penn. I'll be sure to share my response if I get one.

DDOT has added sandbags to some intersections, presumably for extra pedestrian safety. Bunker mentality.

Les miserables pedestrians.

I've shared some thoughts on bike commuting. As usual, don't read the comments. As of this point, wwo are "BIKES NEED TO FOLLOW THEM THERE THAR LAWS LIKE CARS" and one is "BIKING WILL RESULT IN YOUR DEMISE."

Oh, more on bollards. I saw a DDOT crew parked along Pennsylvania Avenue and subsequent tweets indicate that they were installing (reinstalling?) some of the missing bollards. They had a pretty big truck, so hopefully it was big enough to carry all of the missing ones. I've been pretty cavalier about blaming drivers for all of the knocked over bollards, but I did ride briefly behind a guy on 15th street, who was weaving in and out between them, so maybe it's all his fault. That sounds plausible.

Elliptigo in the wild. It was orange. Saw it by the White House. Maybe it was some form of protest against both running and biking? Restore dedicated gliding funds or else!

15th street was really crowded, but this didn't bother me at all. People seemed to be mostly on their best behavior, which is to say, only ok behavior. No one rode into me, so that was nice. There is hot new trend amongst the more "aggressive" cyclists to ride parallel and outside the cycletrack (into traffic mind, you) rather than having to go marginally slower and remaining within it. Dude, if you're going to do that, just ride on a different street. And also, don't do that.

I learned that V Street is home to a number of older multifamily dwellings. They might even be called apartment buildings. And further review indicates that they might even be nice looking. I am not an architectural historian. Only a few bikes on V, but that didn't prevent a dude from shoaling me. Oh well. There's a police station on V. It sort of looks like my elementary school, in that it's a horrible byproduct of low-slung 60s brown concrete modernism.

From V, it was Florida, but then a quick right turn onto California and then my commute got weird because I had only the faintest idea of where I was going. I took California up a hill and then a right on 19th, up another hill and then a left on Wyoming Avenue. I cannot imagine that the state of Wyoming is anything like the street named after it, especially west of Connecticut Avenue (which isn't much like Connecticut). I don't think I've ever spent any time in this part of town, which I can best describe as mansion-y and opulent. There were embassies, there were big houses and there were SUVs parked in front of both, but I'm sure that doesn't ruin their historical splendor. Pretty much every building looked like this:

Except for the ones that looked like this:

So, that's the story of my trip to the hip, cool neighborhood BeParMaCo (Between the Park, Massachusetts and Connecticut).

Back on Massachusetts by the Islamic Center and it was a pretty standard ride up the hill on the sidewalk. I got run off the path by a guy and his granddaughter, both biking downhill, neither seeing fit to move into a single-file so as to not make me ride on the grass. Thanks.

Nonetheless, it was a great ride and another great day for a bicycle commute. When I get to work, I just feel really good. That's in spite of the indignities and selfishness and foolishness and everything else. That same sort of stuff would happen if I drove or took the bus. Bike commuting at least counteracts that stuff with the opportunity to "make your own fun" and when you have a pretty low bar for "fun" (look, houses!), it's just the self-evidently best way to get to work.


Ride Home 6/26: UN Goodwill Ambassador for Goodwill Ambassadorship

It sucks when you decide to stop your bike in order to let a pedestrian cross the street (in the crosswalk) and the Cadillac driven behind you is stopped only inches behind your rear wheel when the driver (shouldn't she have been stopping to let the person cross in the first place?) only realized rather late that you were fulfilling your legal and social obligation. Shit like this is why people don't do the right thing.

Maybe it's the air in the tires, but I'm just crushing the uphill parts of my trip. It's like a totally different commute. I've never felt this strong riding the hills on my bike. It's like there's a secret motor or something. I sincerely doubt that I'm "fast," so it's not the speed that I'm appreciating but rather the effortlessness. Unless of course the weight of the constant car driving has somehow flattened the hills of Ward 3, which might also be a possibility since many of those cars seem quite heavy and large and. SUVs are good for something! In any case, I'll take ease to speed any day of the bike commuting week. Also, I would take E's in Scrabble since I am not a very good Scrabble player and would probably benefit from the extra vowels.

[Usual complaining about the same stuff]

This thing happened when the first bicyclist rolled through the stop sign and then the first car at the perpendicular intersection rolled through the stop sign and then the second bicyclists rolled through the stop sign and the second car started rolling through the stop sign, but the driver decided to take umbrage at the fact that the second cyclist rolled through the stop sign instead of deferring to her, so the driver decided to roll down her window and yell at the cyclist. This prompted me to think (and later tweet) "Let he who follows all traffic laws honk the first horn," which is similar to a phrase I once heard somewhere said by this guy who's old and Jewish so it might have been Milton Berle or another comedian from the 50s. It's amazing to me that someone in the process of doing something illegal has the temerity to call out someone else for doing this same. This is why I never confront arsonists while I'm jaywalking! The hypocrisy!

Like legos? Like scofflaw comeuppance? Well, I've got a video for you.

I haven't been in The Bike Rack in a really long time, even though I pass it every day. From what I remember, it's a pretty good shop.

haha reckless drivers and I don't want to get injured so smug lol

My never-ending quest to have knocked-over bollars replaced continued today. Some back up, another one down:

I've decided that this issue is important to me so I'm probably going to be writing about it a lot. You can skip ahead if you're not interested, but you're the one reading about some random dude's bike commute every day, so who I am to judge what kind of stuff you'll be into? Anyway, I get a lot of weird looks from other cyclists when I walk the bollards back to the posts of the middle of the intersection. Maybe it has something to do with my humming Taps and saluting. Ok, I don't actually do that. But while we're talking bollards, they're conspicuously absent from the intersection of Pennsylvania and Constitution, on the Constitution side of the intersection. Has that always been the case? I don't think so, but I can't recall.

Some taxi drivers suck. I encourage you to take pictures and/or tweet about any of them who makes a u-turn across Penn. Or throw a stray bollard.  It's illegal and dangerous and it needs to stop before someone dies. Enough people, including people I know, have been hit and it is absolutely unconscionable that this continues. Maybe a GGW post?

Let's make this a bitching trifecta (bitching about three things, not just a trifecta that is 'bitchin') but pointing out how hard it is to not accidentally talk on your cell phone while driving. Super difficult. I could close DC's budget gap with driver fines with one week of traffic law enforcement on Penn. Piece of cake.

The hill climb turned out not to be a slog. Again, I blame magical bike improvements. Lots of people with CaBis by the Capitol. I'm going to take the other side of the helmet argument and say that maybe it's says something good about our bike infrastructure and culture that tourists don't feel like they need to be afraid of biking in the city...? Though, this might be too #slatepitches.

UPS truck blocking the bike lane and I pull around then I find an old VW bug being driven next to me, straddling the yellow lane. Neat. I probably would've just slowed down a little and let the bicyclist get back into the bike lane, but I don't drive a kitschy car. It was orange.

Not much makes me happier than the nightly dog parties in Lincoln Park. I'm pretty sure every golden retriever and lab in the 5 mile radius comes by to romp and play. We'd bring Ellie the Poodle, but romping isn't exactly her forte. I mean, maybe with smaller dogs, but even then, it's not her favorite kind of play unless it involves ripping up some paper and/or eating my breakfast. And to the best of my knowledge, that's not the kind of dog play available. Dog play. Now I'm thinking about Shakespeare in the park, but with dogs as actors. It'd be called Shakespeare in the Bark. Merry Whippets of Windsor, anyone?

Kentucky Ave to the store, then D Street to 15th to A to home. I think I've driven to this grocery store under five times. The parking lot is small and it's under a mile away, so, yeah. And the bike parking is adequate! So hurray for lowish standards.

Ride In 6/26: Taqueria Torquemada

It was a nice morning and I rode to work in normal people clothes. Or at least what passes for normal people clothes around here in the summer, which is best described as business casual and worst described as "pants'n'shirt." It was cool, but not quite as cool as I wanted it to be. I'm ready for autumn and there's still far too much summer left for this to be the case.

What's worse than being shoaled? Well, a lot of things, including famine, pestilence, and being out of Cocoa Krispies, assuming you like chocolate breakfast cereals and are 8 years old. But another thing that's worse than being shoaled is being shoaled by someone with a really squeaky bike with brakes that squeal. When she rode in front and next to me at the first red light after the park on East Capitol, I glanced over, perhaps with a look of mild perturbance. In response, the woman, who was older, but in no real way grandmotherly, said something like "it's my early warning system." Not early enough if you couldn't effectively stop behind me. At the turn of the light, I pushed off and was once again in front and I thought that she certainly must've noticed that I intended to ride faster than she did, but this in no way prevented her from pulling in front of me again when I was stuck at the next red. I didn't look over this time because I didn't have to. I heard her coming. There was an early warning system.

Another bollard down on Pennsylvania Avenue. Another picture taken and tweet sent. I also submitted a 311 request. I'm thinking of doing a whole photo series of bollards in repose. Or maybe I should do chalk outlines. Or maybe I should just collect all of the bollards and build my own bike lanes! Or perhaps I should sharpen one and use it as a spear to hunt fish for some reason. There's lots of things you can do with a 'dead' bollard. It wouldn't bother me so much except for the reason that it's another indication of how poorly people are capable of operating their cars/taxis/buses/war elephants. If a carelessly driven vehicle can rip out an object (one with reflective tape) from its bolted position in asphalt, what would that carelessly driven car do to a bicyclist or pedestrian? Destruction of road signs and bollards is a kind of banal reminder of the absolute carnage that cars can do. It's this kind of thing that's lurking in the background, acting subconsciously,  keeps people off bikes.

I rode up 15th, for a change. For much of it, I was behind another guy on a bike, so he cleared the path from the oncoming rush of cyclists heading southbound, much like how a fullback clears the way for the running back behind him (I think that's a football reference). I advise always having a lead blocker when taking this route. If you're not lucky enough to have someone else play this role, you can always put a mannequin in a wheelbarrow and attach that whole contraption to the front end of your bike. Just make sure the mannequin is wearing a dress and has long hair, so you can benefit from the Mannequin Poppins Effect.

Bike commuting might or might not be a useful diversion for those predisposed to asking big, dumb philosophical questions. Like, are you sharing the road if you're the only one on it? Are you passing someone on the left or are they just passing you in reverse on the right? Does your bike bell even exist if you never ring it? And more mundane ones like, why don't drivers ever see me and change lanes and almost hit me with their cars? Am I real? The confidence (?) with which some people drive, assuming that there's nothing around them at all because there are no cars around them, amazes me. I'm thinking about buying a shirt that reads "I'm a car" to see if this has any effect. I'd also like a shirt that has "Three feet to pass, jackass" written on the back, but that should be a different shirt. Need more than one shirt anyway. And one for my mannequin.

I think I've seen more bicyclists riding down Massachusetts lately. I take this as a generally good sign that the number of bike commuters is increasing. Huzzah.

Ride Home 6/25: A wind in the willows and a chicken in every pot

I pulled up to the crosswalk and when it became apparent that the driver turning right on red out of the traffic circle decided that she would speed through the crosswalk in front of me rather and also cut off the people walking from the other side of the street, I made a rather dramatic and over-flamboyant stomping movement with my left foot. This was both to stop my forward progress and to emphatically indicate that I was indeed being forced to come to a complete stop. I don't think it proved to be a "teachable moment," so to speak- through its drama highlighting to all observers the degree to which I was put out. Instead, I think it made me look like a horse. Pantomime, especially movements overladen with excessive largeness, isn't a very effective means of helping people to feel bad about their driving scofflawism.

The moving truck, an 18 wheeler, turned right from the left lane in order to have enough space to complete its arching turn. I was in the right lane. The truck came to a stop with its cab blocking the right lane, at which point the person in the passenger seat stuck his head out the window and shooed me back. You know, for my safety. Safety first. 

It just happened to be a taxicab driver who elected to race me to the gap between a left turning car and a parked car. Could've been any kind of driver, but it was a taxicab driver. Nothing I love more than having a driver buzz past me on the left and then cut across my path within feet. And by love, I mean not love. Were I to write a musical about this kind of thing, I'd call it Taxi Inanity! No one would see this musical. It would still do better than Taboo. And while the themes of the musical are danger and inanity, I still wouldn't hire Julie Taymor to direct it. 

I don't know what Bicycle Space did not my bike, but it is working really smoothly now. I think it might have something to do with the new rear wheel and it's new rear hub. Or wizardry. I have a working theory about Paul (the long-bearded mechanic) is either Alatar or Pallando. There is something magical about a bike that works exceptionally well. You can feel it. 

Very bumpy roads. It seems negligent to keep our roads in this state of disrepair. I don't know if drivers notice, or at least as much, but you can hardly ride a bicycle through the city without realizing how preposterously bad the roads are. 

The ride seemed less fraught by the time I was east of Dupont (EaD'up could be the neighborhood name and maybe it could be the home of many buffet restaurants?) and it was mostly peachy by the time I was south of Massachusetts. I think they changed the light timing at 11th and H and now there's no slowing between New York and E and that tends to work well enough for me. 

I'm not going to do this, but maybe I should, the this being collecting the knocked-over bollards from the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track, putting them in a big sack and then dumping them on a table before testifying in front of the DC Council during the next hearing on bicycle and pedestrian safety, Every day, another bollard is knocked down. And while I can't say for sure, I'm pretty sure it's not bicyclists who are doing it. I picked this one up at 10th:

And here's the one near 4th:

So, here's the thing about "protected" cycle tracks. If all of the bollards of knocked down, then there's no illusion of protection. And, secondly, if you think about how effective these bollards are at not getting knocked over, well, what does that even say about the illusion of protection? And what does it say about the drivers alongside of you who can't avoid hitting stationary plastic poles? Maybe it's better not to think about that. 

Very crowded Capitol plaza, but a not very crowded Supreme Court plaza. A somewhat crowded East Capitol bike lane, but only with bikes and not media vans, so that's good. 


Ride In 6/25: If you're having bike problems, I feel bad for you son. I got 21 Agendas, but this ain't one

Some weekenderly developments: my new rear rack and fenders arrived and after taking the bold step of removing (by myself!) my former rack and fenders, I pretended that I was on the cusp of being on the verge of installing the new ones by myself until I realized that it might involve drilling through metal, thereby establishing the pretense through which I could relieve myself of even feigning to pretend to attempt doing something with tools in the general vicinity of my bicycle. Instead, I rode to BicycleSpace, America's favorite bike shop, to foist this straightforward project onto one of the crack members of their crack team. And this was a good thing, because not only did they do a crack job with the rack and fenders, they likewise noticed that the rim on my rear wheel was warped and quite along in the process of disintegration. They even placed me on the metaphorical "Do Not Ride" list, which stipulates that this bike in its current condition is extremely unsafe (at any speed?). So, I ended up getting a new rear wheel, which, while unexpected, is better than winding up in a ditch somewhere from my wheel breaking under pressure from braking. This is not an indictment on DC's plenitude of ditches, which are quite lovely, especially in the summer.

All of this serves as preface to this morning's commute, with new rack and new fenders and new rear wheel and a new outlook on life, except for that last thing because new bike accessories don't really have an immediate ameliorating affect on your personality or overall attitude. At least not generally. About three heelstrikes into my ride, I realized that I would need to move my pannier a bit further back on the rack, but thereafter everything else worked out well.

It was a fresh, warm morning and the FedEx vans were in their usual place within the bike lanes and there still remained nothing I could about it so I chucked a grenade in one and it blew up and I earned maximum high score points and advanced to the next level of the extremely violent video game that is bike commuting. Or, I stopped and waited for a few seconds, realizing that the driver had just gotten back in the van and was about the start his engine and there wasn't any special reason for me to feel so much rage about this because these things tend to happen and ultimately it's just not that big of a deal. I don't like it when people block the bike lanes with their cars- it's really inconsiderate and is probably illegal, but I also don't like developing rabies-esque mouth foam first thing in the morning on the first morning of the commuting week. Perhaps I need to spend more time with raccoons. I can't control how he drives, but I can control how I react to it. For the most part.

There's some new caution tape by the Capitol. I didn't take a picture because I don't want "them" to know that I'm onto "them," "them" being the forces of excessive application of caution tape. I'd worry that they read this blog, but I'm pretty sure that their computer monitors are covered in yellow plastic.

Maybe bunch of five or six bike commuters riding between 3rd and 7th before the natural imbalance was once again established and the fast went faster and the slow went slower and we all stretched out once more, like an accordion.  Bike commuting is basically like an accordion, in that we're highly associated with polka music and song parodies from the 80s.

I decided to ride up 11th. At one or two red lights, I elected to bike to the front of the line of cars. I do this not out of pique or because I'm a selfish jerk, but mostly to make sure that drivers can see me and so I don't get hooked by a turning driver who neglects to glance in his mirror prior to turning (or who does and misjudges it). I don't know if from an aggregate societal impact this is "fair," but it's what I do and I move back over to the right after I get across the intersection, so I'm not sure how many lives I manage to ruin with the slight, slight delay, but nonetheless, I wonder if there's a better way to handle it that allows me to feel safe-ish.

On 11th, I decided to skip R and ride to V. Take that, predictability! V Street is lovely. It has a bike lane and, um, I think I saw a church. There were rowhouses, I think, and maybe a stop sign here and there and also some other people on bikes. V Street does end at Florida, NW, at a weird angle, so the left turn is a bit tricky. The I followed the BIKE ROUTE sign up Champlain Street because that's pretty much what I do whenever I see a BIKE ROUTE sign (Please don't alert my various nemeses, lest they use this to lure me into traps most foul) and there's a contraflow lane that goes up a hill and then stops when the street turns two-ways again, but the hill continues, as does the road, and then it's Euclid and Columbia and then bike lanes down and around Adams Morgan, over the bridge, past Connecticut, up another hill or two and then I'm at work.

I was left slack-jawed when a driver actually stopped for pedestrians at a midblock crosswalk. They weren't even nuns or anything (the driver or the pedestrians). What an amazing and rare thing courtesy can be.

One final note, button sales are over for this round. We raised about $500 for WABA, Thank you all for your generosity and your support. That's more than $1000 for WABA between the two button drives and none of it would have been possible without your tremendous kindheartedness.


Ride In 6/21: Eye Mold

Took Bikeshare. It was really hot out.

I'm taking the day off from blogging (I mean, except for the brilliance that you just read above), but I'd first just like to say thank you to the readers of this blog and those of you who sometimes comment and/or otherwise interact with me and bicycling via means of twitter or in unintermediated reality. Words can scarcely express my fondness for our virtual and nonvirtual conviviality. So, instead here's a blingee of DDOT Director Terry Bellamy on a tricycle on Bike to Work Day.

Don't ask me how long I spent on this. 

No posts until Monday. And as always, watch out for pirate parrots.


Ride Home 6/20: Sig Sauer Patch Kids

Sometimes I don't know if the creakiness is me or the bike. Tonight I did know and it was me. 

I park my bike in an underground parking garage to protect it from potential meteor strikes and/or Tusken Raiders. I used to work in this building, but now I work a few buildings away and accordingly I get the distinct pleasure of walking across the Polygonal Grassy Area and experiencing a brief preview of the weather that I will soon experience on my way home. Nevertheless, there was something sort of shocking about riding up the ramp and being thwacked in the face with the truly miserable soggy death heat. (Soggy Death Heat is also the name of my favorite Finnish speed metal band) It was that bad. Luckily, I had taken some precautions and while I didn't have sorbet to put in my shoes, I did dump some chilled Greek yogurt in my socks. Actually, I didn't do that either. I drank some water over the course of the afternoon, applied sunscreen and put on a hat. I also relied on gravity to carry me downwards and prudence to carry me slowly upward, so it wasn't an especially bad ride once I acclimated.

Bike commuters are still commuters and one of the hallmarks of a commuter is that you develop pet peeves about your trip and wonder why the other morons that you're sharing the road with end up the same predicaments as they always do. In my case, this happens along Massachusetts, after the South Korean Embassy where the road narrows from two travel lanes to one travel lane and one parking lane. And yet, every day, it comes as a tremendous surprise to drivers that they'll need to move over. And they just don't want to. So they'll slowly nudge forward and rather than just move to the left (a process accomplished through by means of a slight depression of a foot and a gentle turning of a wheel, so it's not like we're talking about reversing the Queen Mary or anything), they'll find a way to block the half of a lane left over that isn't occupied by parked cars, thereby depriving a narrower traveler (The Narrower Traveler is my book about my European backpacker diet) a passage through the traffic. And this is yet another example of how drivers of cars, the allegedly faster vehicle, slow down the riders of bicycles, the allegedly slower vehicle.

Was there chicanery on Q? I don't remember. Does Chicanery on Q sound like the title a less good Hitchcock movie? A little. Oh, now I remember. There was this one guy who just had to track "stand" his way into the middle of the intersection. That doesn't make you cool. It makes you a hazard. I have very little balance and I know that I can't track stand in any real way that even comes close to resembling something that even approximates standing still. So I just put my foot down and it's fine. Maybe he has really expensive new shoes with soles made of sponge cake. I don't know.

I still worry that I'm going to get clobbered by someone barreling down the 15th street cycle track as I wait for the light to change on Q.

There was a guy wearing a blue shirt and some blue shorts and they were the same color blue and he was on a bike, not blue, and he was wearing headphones, not blue, but the idea of wearing the same color in athletic apparel for both top and bottom seems so last season strangely dated, like something you'd see in an 80s tv afterschool special. Maybe he just likes blue or maybe he hadn't done laundry, but I wasn't going to say anything because everyone should just wear what they want to wear when riding a bicycle. The guy in front of him was wearing what I think were work clothes and he had a backpack and it had a canteen in its mesh back pocket and the man had very good posture and this man seemed annoyed by both blue shirt, who had shoaled him, and another guy, who was also in work clothes, but didn't have as good posture. I don't know if his annoyance was posture related.

Does anyone else check for bus numbers to make a mental note just in case something goes squirrelly as it passes by? It's most likely unnecessary, but I've read one too many "this bus ran me off the road and now WMATA says they don't know who it was" stories.

Here's an idea if you're into self-reflection and trying to be a better cyclist and you're questioning whether or not how you're conducting yourself is right and proper. Just ask yourself "if I saw someone else riding the way I'm riding right now, would I think he's an asshole?" If the answer's yes, well, stop doing what you're doing. I ask myself this question a lot around 11th and Penn and I'm pretty sure I don't pass my own test, self-justifications aside.

Dear ToTville,
I saw this in the bike lane. Is it even supposed to be there? Is there Capital BrushShare now?

Helpless Reader
It's sort of marvelous to ride behind a person on a bike who is just absolutely, uncontrollably dancing their brains out to whatever they're listening to through their headphones. I normally advocate against the use of headphones while bicycling for situational awareness purposes, but I'm willing to make an exception if the person on the bike has the same head bops, shoulder shakes and arm extensions that the woman in front of me today had. I wonder what she was listening to. I have an idea. It's the best.

Penn to ECap. I do this new thing where I head fake where Mass SE leaves the park, just because I find it to be somewhat fun and I'm jejune and immature and that's pretty much all.

Ride In 6/20: BPA Free Since 1909

Right proper scorcher today. Don't overdo it. If you would like some real tips about keeping safe in the heat, here are some. If you'd like fake tips, I'm more than happy to oblige:

  • Turn your bike's air conditioner to 11
  • Travel with a penguin. They only go places that are cold!
  • Fill your shoes with sorbet.
  • Put a margarita in your water bottle. 

It wasn't too hot when I left this morning, but it was hot enough to drift towards unpleasantness at certain parts of the commute. I don't typically mind the heat and I figure I can always reduce my exertion by like 15%, calculating that will add about 15% of extra time to my ride, meaning about five minutes more. I can live with that. That's the idea. 

As many of you are not aware, I have a keen interest in fashion. I used to work on the runways of Paris and Milan. (I unloaded luggage for Delta). Unfortunately, my deep and abiding love of all things sartorial doesn't translate into my own sense of personal style. I consider myself a snappy dresser, but only because all of my clothes close with snaps. Buttons are exhausting. In any case, today tended to be a dress day (rather than a skirt or pants day), at least downtown, and most of the dresses were of the type that I would call office dresses, which are essentially cocktail dresses that are boring. Some had sleeves, most had hem lines that hit just above the knees and for the most part, it was a monochromatic, dark color extravaganza, insofar as anything monochromatic and boring can be an extravaganza. One woman, at least, wore pearls. Another had a turquoise necklace that even a roadside New Mexican tourist trap probably wouldn't sell. Oh, I should clarify that I'm only really talking about the many, many women bike commuters I saw riding CaBis. Apparently, the gentlemen of DC, and their slacks, declined the bike commute this morning. Easily 75% of the bike commuters I saw were women and easily 75% of them were wearing work attire. 

Not much interesting going on for much of the ride. I noticed a lot of drivers who continue to have a really difficult time stopping their cars before the crosswalk and some bicyclists who can't help doing the same. And then there was a woman (not in a dress, not on a CaBi) who decided to "shoot the gap," passing me as I stopped to wait at a crosswalk, fitting herself and the bike through the narrow space between the curb and a woman crossing the street. This kind of stuff is pretty outlandish. And imprudent. Civility isn't that difficult. 

I decided to ride up 15th, mostly to find out if I lot of people were riding to work. This is what constitutes "journalism" for me, so you're welcome. As mentioned previously, women in dresses on CaBis. Also, more than one pedestrian who looked utterly confused as to why there was a bicycle riding towards him as he was standing in the cycle track. I don't think the presence of bicycles in a cycle track is especially confusing, but then again, I'm sort of an expert. I hate the idea of having to stencil "STAND HERE TO WAIT TO CROSS" on the corners of every sidewalk at every intersection, but maybe this kind of reductive instruction would be good and socially useful. And perhaps we can get corporate sponsorship "NIKE SUGGESTS YOU STAND HERE TO WAIT TO CROSS...IN A NEW PAIR OF SNEAKERS!" Gotta close that budget gap somehow. 

Saw a woman walking her Serotta on the sidewalk in Dupont. A custom bike definitely fits the best when it's being looked at from the patio of a Cosi. 

Saw a guy in black denim, a black t shirt, scraggly beard, a yellow safety vest slung over his right shoulder and arm, and he was wearing a cowboy hat and boots. That's a look. I don't know if he part of a road crew doing some work or just a very safe cowboy. 

Up the hill went fine, as it usually does. It may be the hardest part of my commute, but it's ultimately not that hard and that's pretty much why I love my bike commute. On the down part of the hill and then back up again, I rode behind a woman who was wearing headphones and every once in a while she would sing a line from the song she was listening to, but it came out mumbly and it seemed sort of crazy. So, this is what singing from a bike sounds like, I thought. Really have to stop doing that. 


Ride Home 6/19: Snuffbox Derby

Remember to protect yourself from the harmful radiation of the sun. Not all radiation gives you superpowers. If you need motivation, think of SPF as an acronym for Super Powers of Fun (!), though that makes little sense. Just wear sunscreen.

It's not always the BMWs, but it's always the BMWs. You know?

Shoaling is bad, but nonchalantly passing a shoaler and casually and effortlessly leaving them well behind you can sometimes be a good feeling. Assuming you don't get shoaled at the night light.

I saw this truck on Q Street. It was transporting Canada Dry, which I believe is a kind of moose product. Commercial vehicles sometimes have decals on them that allow passersby to narc on bad drivers. This one did as well.
You can really taste the moose. 

Per usual, the picture is terrible, but the phone number is something like 1-888-AM-I-SAFE. There's no question mark. But should the phone number even be an interrogative? This is some some soft (moose fur soft) bigotry of low expectations right here. It shouldn't be a question that their drivers are safe, should it?

I saw a driver flip off another driver and call him a fucking asshole. I have no idea why. Any of the behavior I saw seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary, which is to say selfish, imprudent and somewhat dangerous. In any case, what if drivers were tarred with the same "One time, I saw this biker and he did this thing so NOW I HATE BIKES AND GAS TAX AND AHHHHH?" If we held drivers to the same standards of road morality to which some people would like to hold bicyclists, perhaps it would help keep things in perspective. Or maybe it would just make us all look bad.

Here's another question: how much better would car traffic be if all bicyclists just stayed home one day? Like, not if they drove to work and made more, but if they just didn't ride their bikes that day. I suspect it wouldn't be much better.

Here's another another question: how awesome would it be if you taught your left-handed child to throw a knuckleball? Parents: do this. I only have a poodle and I can barely get her to master the slider.

Some guy totally smoked me on Penn. Just flew right by and I tried to keep up, but I had no chance. He was moving. I don't know where he went by the time we got closer to the Capitol, but if it was up the same side of the hill where I went, he was long gone before I made it to the top. Good for you, mystery fast guy who was just wearing khaki shorts and a blue shirt.

Stopped at the store. Actually purchased corn chips. As I pulled out of the parking lot, a lady rode her trike in. I said "cool trike," but she either didn't hear me or didn't care to acknowledge. Rare to see a tricycle in these parts, especially not one piloted by a small child.

Ride In 6/19: Even the Pharaohs were Pyramidal Class

Is it especially difficult to drive an especially small car? One would think that having a relatively wider amount of road in which to maneuver, the drivers of these very small cars (SMART cars, Mini Coopers) would be able to give three feet to each and every bicycle and this continues not to be my experience. Perhaps it's just too tempting to think "hey Vern, I bet this Smart Car can fit in the bike lane." Yes, that was an Ernest reference.

There's absolutely no correlation between the way a bicyclist dresses and how he acts vis-a-vis "traffic laws."  Clothes may make the man, but they don't make the man any more law-abiding. Beau Brummel, as we all know, was a serial arsonist and I'm pretty sure Coco Chanel once said "Take off the last thing you put on and put the money in the bag and don't reach for the silent alarm or I'll blow your head off." I think it's wonderful that normal people rides bikes in normal clothes, but the idea that this would have any impact in whether the run red lights or turn without stopping is pretty fantastical.

East Capitol street and I started singing "O Holy Night." Looks like someone needed a little Christmas, right this very minute.

School children do not know how to share a sidewalk. I'm sure I could get all "streetsbloggy" and denounce this as some sort of horrible byproduct of suburbinazation and car culture, but I'm pretty sure it's just that fourteen year old kids are just self-involved and largely unaware of anything around them.

I've taught myself over the period of the past few months to ride my bike without holding on to the handlebars. I would like to thank my inner ears from providing me with the sense of balance and the Flobots for the idea. I've yet to incorporate juggling into the bike commute, but when I do, I'll be sure to tell you all about it from the hospital.

Up 11th and I caught a few red lights and it took a little longer than it would have had I not caught them, but sometimes this happens and there's nothing to cry about. Variability is good, even when it's bad. And it ultimately makes no real difference if I get stuck at one red light or the one the next block up. Civilization has red lights. I'm fine with that.

The weather wasn't exactly bad this morning, and while humid, it wasn't especially hot. It was suspiciously good weather for the so few bike commuters I saw out there. One of them was a woman I've seen before and she had a messenger bag with a button on it, but it's not a Sharrows button and DOES SHE EVEN KNOW THERE'S ONLY ONE DAY LEFT TO BUY ONE FROM MANFREDMACX.COM? She didn't seem to want to talk to me when I yelled that at her. Weird. (Fun fact: I didn't actually do that). After Wednesday, I'll do the tabulation of how much this round of button sales went and I'll talk to my novelty banker, from whom I withdraw my novelty, comically large checks and then maybe make the presentation to WABA some time thereafter. I will also continue to work with K. concerning the "Me Singing Karaoke in a Tuxedo" even that she has generously sponsored. All I'm saying is that if she doesn't pick some songs from the Smokey Robinson oeuvre, she's missing out. Maybe. I really don't know.

I wish I had a better way to ride west across town that wasn't R Street. I guess I could ride into Columbia Heights. Maybe I'll try that for a week.

I passed a guy riding up Mass who wobbled, hobbled by the weight of some tennis rackets he was carrying on his back and a large, weathered leather Gladstone bag in his front basket. I don't know he ever made it up the hill.

There's a guy I sometimes see who I really want, in my imagination, to work at the Iraq Embassy because he looks like what I would want an Iraqi diplomat to look like because he's an older, Arab man with white hair and a white mustache and he wears a brown suit and in my imagination, these are all of the qualifications that would make someone excellently qualified as an Iraqi diplomat. I mean, here's the ambassador, so I'm pretty much correct about my suppositions about what an Iraqi diplomat looks like. And no, it's not the same guy. I'm pretty sure.

I'd like my bike commute to be one mile shorter. Maybe I'll suggest that they move the university.

Ride Home 6/18: Cheese, Petrol

Let's talk yesterday, when all my troubles seemed so- well, about equidistant to where they are now. I had this crazy idea that maybe I'd write this post before riding into work this morning and perhaps "sleeping on it" would provide me some much need introspection, but then I slept on it a little too much. Given that it takes me enough time just to make and drink coffee and get the dog out of and then back into the house, I failed my mission. But, I did realize that perhaps yesterday morning's grumpiness was brought on by my watching the rather affecting documentary Transformers 2 Senna, which I recommend to you all in spite of it being about race cars and race car driving. It's very good.

About halfway down the first hill on Massachusetts, I saw an abandoned wheelchair. Is the wooded area by the Avalon at Foxhall the new Lourdes? Probably not. Unrelated to any of this, if you like books about pre-modern French religiosity, you might want to read The Holy Greyhound. It's about French villagers and this dog that was unjustly killed but then the villagers were sorry so they made it a "saint" and they dropped off their sick children in the middle of the woods and left them there to seal if the Holy Greyhound would heal them or whatnot. Good times, pre-modern rural France.

Counter-intuitively, it sometimes make more sense to ride closer to cars in the lane over rather than ride farther away. By riding closer, you make it less likely that the driver will decide to change lanes and smack into you.

I saw an abandoned cat scratching post on 11th, outside one of the apartment buildings. I do not know if it has anything to do with a sainted cat and the local sick children. I'm guessing it's more that someone didn't want it any more and left it by the curb.

Unlike some people in DC, I love tourists. I'm glad they come here. Otherwise the only people who would be in town are the people who live here and have you met the people who live here? Assholes, every one of them. Just kidding- you're all perfectly nice. My inclination is to "like" the foreign tourists more than the domestic ones, mostly because I've spent more time as a foreign tourist abroad than a domestic tourist in these United States and maybe feel a greater degree of sympathy towards both their wonder and their feeling out of place. They also tend to buy cooler souvenirs. I saw a young family (parents, two daughters) and the youngest girl, thanks to feminism, bought a kickass action figure and she was carrying it around in her transparent backpack. It was an Air Force One...Flight Attendant.

Tax driver made a u-turn in front of me on Penn and I summoned the outrage to plead "Don't do that, man" and if he heard me, he didn't acknowledge. Nothing quite like desperation to win friends and influence people.

These bollards gave their lives so that bicyclists might be somewhat protected. This is at the intersection where Constitution runs into Pennsylvania. I wonder why more people don't feel safe while biking.

CLEMENS NOT GUILTY! CLEMENS NOT GUILTY! I'll always remember where I was when I didn't care about hearing that.

Watched a guy fly down Capitol Hill and narrowly avoid the security poles at the base of the Hill. You have much more courage than I do, sir.

I think that Lincoln Park could support another Bikeshare station, but on the SE corner at 11th. I don't know  if you could actually fit one there, but I think it'd be nice.


Ride In 6/18: You're the next contestant on the Price is Right

When I was in middle school, I cut my right ring finger while opening a can of soup. Rather than open the lid away from me, pulling the top back towards my body, I did the opposite and I sliced my finger. I have a little, crescent-shaped scar and I'm going to have this scar for the rest of my life, assuming I don't lose the finger in a more grievous canned soup-related incident or have my hand replaced in some super-cool, futuristic robotic upgrade that will give my super-grip and perhaps the ability to crush things that I cannot currently crush. It was dumb of me to cut myself and I wish that I hadn't done it and I wish that I had thought about how careless I was being and about the potential for injury, but I didn't because all I was thinking about was the mundane act of preparing soup. And now I have a scar and a story about the dangers of canned soup and the realization that not being mindful of the consequences of actions can have permanent consequences that can never be redressed. Stuff happens and it can't unhappen. I didn't want it to happen and I didn't plan for it to happen and ultimately, it's a barely visible indentation on a highly overrated finger (I'd rank "right ring" between 7 and 10 on my Finger Power Poll), so it's not a huge deal that it happened, but it's serves as a faint, but ever present, reminder that not paying attention to what you're doing and not thinking ahead about consequences can leave permanent scars and that, while an "accident," it's not an accident free from consequences, namely a skepticism of all canned foods and a general desire to try to think through the potential pitfalls of acting in a way that shows a lack of regard to what's going on around me.

I didn't get hit by a pickup truck. In fact, the truck didn't even come that close to me. The driver began to turn left at the intersection of Pennsylvania and 15th, where the cycle track ends and another begins and a bike light beckons cyclists to cross the street. The bike light was green. The other traffic light, the one that suggests it's safe and prudent for users to make left turns was red. The other light, the one that suggests it's safe and prudent for road users to make right turns, was green and a green arrow at that. Green Arrow, as you might be aware, is a comic book character. To the best of my knowledge, one is his superhero abilities is not the excellent management of the flow of traffic. In any case, I proceeded across the intersection, called forth by the bike light and I watched the driver of the National Park Service maintenance pickup truck begin to do the same, in spite of the fact that I do not believe that it's a "bike + NPS service vehicle" light, though that's maybe in the fine print. I yelled "stop!" and "STOP" again and I sort of hate how my voice is neither deep, nor booming, because I feel like that might have much greater effect. No one would almost run over James Earl Jones. The driver did stop. And then unlike myself, I rode past, turning right to ride up 15th, swiveled my head and yelled back "You're gonna kill somebody." Typically, I don't like to call attention to this fact. It seems morbid and confrontational and I'm a "no harm, no foul" sort of person who isn't especially quick to anger and probably someone who is too quick to forgive injustices, even when I shouldn't. And, ultimately, these were only words and I don't know if they're going to have any effect on anyone (I do know. They won't) and yelling them didn't make me feel any better. It made me feel worse. I hate being confronted with the idea that someone's not paying attention (not willful disregard of the law) could have resulted in something  horrible. Yes, it would be an "accident," in that the driver had no intention to run me down. But he would still be culpable. But would his culpability mean anything to me? I don't know.

Thinking about these things mostly just ruined the rest of my ride. I know that if you're anything like me (peg-legged, lactose tolerant, suspicious of lingering birds), you enjoy this blog for its mirth (not myrrh. There's been a distinct shortage of myrrh for some time now) and I enjoy writing it not as a means to display my righteous indignation with the wrongs of the world (I prefer my displays of righteous indignation to take diorama form. Does anyone have any extra shoe boxes?), but instead to convey how interesting it can be to ride a bicycle through a city and how immediate your surroundings are and how present you can feel in situations that are mostly preposterous. I also like to overuse italics. Sometimes I drift away from those ideas and I complain about petty things and I should really complain less because life is fairly wonderful and made in no small part better by getting to ride a bicycle every day. I simply don't care to be rankled and I don't care to dwell on it when it happens because I think that's the kind of thing that can make a person hard. It can turn a bike commuter from an easygoing, happy, healthy guy to someone who perceives every movement by every other person as a deliberate slight and  existential threat. That's the guy who yells and that's the guy who slaps cars and that's the guy who rides as a big "fuck you" instead of riding as a big "fuck yeah (this is awesome)." I'd much rather be the latter.

Excuse me for meandering. Most of the rest of the ride was fine. It didn't rain as much as I had thought and when I got to work, I realized that I left my lock at home and my bike is now stowed in the locker room, assuming it hasn't been taken hostage by the good folks at Progresso, only to be released when I publish a retraction concerning their flavorful assortment of canned goodness. Here's hoping.


Ride Home 6/15: Sweater Vest

This ride was a frustrating ride. I don't know if it was anyone's fault or if it was more frustrating than any other ride, but the way I remember it, and chose to covey it, is as a frustrating ride with lots of Audis and honking and unpleasantness. So, I thought, instead, perhaps, I could take a diversion through the lens of nostalgia and check back on the Ride Home 6/15 from the previous year and find out if that was any better, but it didn't seem to be much better and, whatever it's worth, didn't even seem to be that interesting. That conceit foiled, I'm now floundering for some other means by which I can frame this ride so as to make it seem moderately interesting, though I think my floundering will eventually come to naught. Far be it from me, however, to let "nothing happened" get in the way of a good blog post and I'd much rather take a left turn from "what did happen a year ago" through "what happened on this ride" to "what could've happened on this ride, but didn't," because the world of the hypothetical is vastly more interesting. Here's what didn't happen: I didn't ride in a bike lane down Massachusetts, even though there appears to be ample room to house one. Furthermore, I didn't ride over some nice paved patches of roadway because I was much too busy bouncing over the ruddy, messy, hazardous, cleaved and battered stretches of pavement that were brought to me through an overabundance of two-ton vehicles and an under-reliance on high quality paving materials. I didn't not have squeaky brakes. Another thing that didn't occur was my easy passage onto Q Street, since I was blocked by a number of drivers who had no choice but to pull their cars into the intersection. And that's all that didn't occur between the time I left work and the time I got to the bottom of the hill, except for maybe the thing where the driver of an Audi almost didn't not avoid hitting me with his car as he pulled far too aggressively forward towards a red light at Idaho Ave. Too be perfectly honest, I'm not entirely sure if I screwed up the negation thing there or if I'm still cool, but in any case, I'm totally fine and I didn't get four rings imprinted on my behind.

When you're not on a bicycle and you see a bicyclist jaywheeling through a red light, what do you think? And when you're on a bicycle and you jaywheel, what do you think people think? And does any of this matter?

I'd like it if bike lanes extended for my entire commute. I wonder what percentage of bike commuters have bike infrastructure for their entire route. I bet it's small.

11th slopes down, towards downtown. Every time that I think I'm capable of riding "fast," I'm pretty sure that I'm just riding downhill. I wish I rode downhill both ways.

I think DC has enough buses to deserve dedicated busways, especially through the downtown core and then out to the "why do we even have these?" urban highways. If DC unilaterally declared "bus only" lanes, could any of the drivers of the surrounding districts actually do anything about it? I sort of don't think so. Speaking of drivers, We're still about two weeks away from the arrival of the first round of the next round of speed camera tickets. I'm curious to see what will happen. Other than a lot of tv news stories about how horrible speed cameras are. For what it's worth, in my experience, I can't say that they've improved driving in any noticeable way.

U-turns across the Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track have to stop. I don't know why midblock u-turns over a bike lane are so hard to avoid. Someone is really going to get hurt, if not worse. It's unconscionable. I'm going to try to think of a way to pressure our political/faceless bureaucrat leaders to address this and when I do, I'm going to lean on you all heavily to try to help me. Just an FYI.

My bike commute would be vastly superior if George Washington and Pierre L'Enfant determined that hills were overrated and that the Capitol and it's surroundings ought to be on a level plane. I blame the Romans.

Not much else exciting for the rest of the way. Nice to be home on a Friday. Good weekend thus far. Hasta lunes.


Ride In 6/15: Green Paint

Some housekeeping. Roughly a couple of months ago, I embarked on round two of the "sell buttons to raise money for WABA"-athon. On Wednesday, or so, of next week, I'm going to bring it to a close. If you are interested in purchasing a button (or another button. Or 60), please do so here. If you're interested in paying so we can sing karaoke together, you can do that as well. I want to thank everyone who has donated for their prolific generosity in this endeavor.

Fridays are the best.

Quiet ride. Easy ride. Pretty much no stress. Barely even much pedaling and then, only when I absolutely had to. It's not that I'm adverse to pedaling- it's one of my favorite ways to propel forward my bicycle- I just prefer not to waste my effort because I'm, generally speaking, a layabout. Specifically speaking, I'm also a layabout.

I rode behind a guy who had his short sleeve blue golf shirt tucked into his khakis. He was on a Canondale hybrid. If I had to guess, his name was Greg. His brown leather belt was shiny. I don't remember his shoes. He wore a black helmet. I followed him from 3rd NW to across the White House plaza on Penn and then he went left and I went right and that's pretty much the last I saw of Greg.

Were there twenty people at coffee this morning? There might have been. That's a lot of people. Like usual, any conversation at #fridaycoffeeclub remains strictly confidential. There's a sacred bond of trust and if you want to know what our cabal is up to, you'll have to come. Though, a cabal with an open invite is much of a cabal. Also, if you can't come, you could always just email or tweet and I'm sure someone who have the decency to reply "bikes and stuff" in response to your query.

At 9:15, Laura and I headed up 15th, past the White House security bollards, and then she turned at M and I rode onward to R and up then over and up and arrived at work without incident.

Road bikes are great, but I don't think they make you any faster of a bike commuter. Unless you're commuting on long, wide-open paths or roads outside of a city. Then it'd probably make a difference. But if you're in the city and there's stop signs and lights and narrow bike lanes, that's going to circumscribe your speed much greater than a sleek bike might enhance it.


Ride Home 6/14: Handel's Like A Prayer

No rivers, no bridges, no nothing. Just a standard ride home. Ok, there was one bridge (the one that took me over the park), but that hardly counts. I've been struggling in deciding between trying to make a pontifex maximus reference or a Ripuarian Franks reference, but instead, I won't.

Remember to shift into a lower gear when you're about to get stuck in traffic. Not much worse than struggling to turn the pedals over as the anxious, frustrated driver of the Saab behind you inches closer. Unless you like pretending to bike in slow motion, or as I call it, motion.

I like the driver who can't quite bring himself to change lanes and just drives down the middle. It's a bold statement. Were it up to me, a hardcore, capitalist, libertarian-type, there'd be no road markings at all. Instead, lanes would just be determined by the free market. (I heard the JP Morgan recently lost a whole elevated highway It's cool- I have a cloverleaf exit credit default swap.)

Motorcycles in bike lanes. Not cool. Many cyclists in bike lanes- cool enough, 'twould (yup) be better if everyone just exhibited a bit more patience and maybe slightly more understanding about when and when not to pass or attempt to pass. Or even why to pass. The "why" is a pretty big, important, fundamental question that goes unasked by far too many bike commuters. If the answer is "to get to the next red light faster" or "to prove that I am faster than this other guy, thereby asserting my superiority," that's probably not a great justification. Be mindful. Act with intentions. But not cruel intentions. SMG taught us that lesson long ago.

Rode behind a guy on a CaBi for most of 11th. He didn't look like he was having fun. I gleaned as much from his scowl. You can treat bike commuting like its a battle to be won or you can treat it like a convenient way to get home. Or you can treat it like some elaborate bit of performance art, replete with bowler hats, clown makeup and live scorpions. If you do the latter, please don't do it near me. I'm deathly afraid of bowler hats.

Rode on sidewalk (illegally). Came close to almost biking into an old lady. I am a terrible person and I put my own convenience over the public order and safety of others. I am sufficiently self-flagellated.

It gets very windy around 3rd street NW. I don't know why this is, but before getting to the Hill, the wind always whips up and I don't care for it.

Grocery store. Might've accidentally hit a Mormon missionary's shin with my bike when I went to lock it while he was unlocking his. My bad. Also, might've had a really difficult time lifting my leg over the bag of broccoli poking out if my unclasped pannier when I mounted my bike to ride home. Crying over spilled broccoli is perfectly acceptable.

Ride In 6/14: Glengarry Glenn Close

The Official Wife went to work early and I decided that rather than share a second pop tart with Ellie the Poodle, I would set off on my morning commute a bit early and maybe take the "long way" (broadly understood). I didn't know which "long way" I would take, but I ended up taking a spectacularly nonsensical one that involved two river crossings and four bridges.

From home, it was down South Carolina to 11th. At the school, there were some Marines on the baseball field practicing their ceremonial rifle manipulations. That's one safe baseball field.

The 11th street local bridge is still incomplete, but it's still completely bikeable. I noticed that they're tearing the deck off the old 11th street highway bridge. Something about mangled, semi-destructed bridges is very affecting. Maybe it's the mangled, semi-destructedness.

Like bad pictures of a boat? You're welcome.

You can lock up your bike and look at a boat.
No one on the 11th street bridge and no one on the sidewalk or road down to the Anacostia Riverwalk, Special Eastern Unit (not the official name). I don't think it's a very popular commuter route, in no small part to the fact that it doesn't really go anywhere except along the river. Also, the Douglass Bridge is terrible and narrow and bike commuting on it is tantamount of riding on a tight rope and I'm almost legitimately afraid of doing it. I rode on the eastern sidewalk and soon found myself behind a man in a US NAVY "Experimental Diving Unit" t-shirt. I just assumed that were I to fall off the bridge, this brave man would experimentally dive after me and I'm sure everything would work out just fine. This total fiction provided me some comfort. It was too narrow to pass, so I rode behind him.

I don't think there's a bike sign that makes me happier than one that gives the directions to the Nationals Bike Valet.

Second from the bottom. 

Did you know the baseball stadium is on a street "named" Taxation Without Representation Street, SE? I saw the road sign for the first time today. I think Municipal Bond Boondoggle Way, SE was a close runner-up.

I crossed South Capitol Street and rode down P Street to the Waterfront, along the Interim Provisional Temporary In-Progress Not-Yet-Finished Design Stage Planned Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (Western Conference), up Water Street and then decided to be monumentally silly and ride into Arlington over the 14th Street Bridge, which was quite crowded with bike commuters heading in the other direction.

On the MVT, I saw a guy standing next to the trail with his bike upside. He was spinning the wheel and fondling (don't be gross) his tire. Something was wrong. So, I stopped and inquired. You should always stop. Never assume that a person with a flat tire is fine or that someone has already stopped. At least three other people biked by from the time I saw him to the time I stopped. I asked what was wrong. He had a flat. I told him I had a tube. He declined. I told him I had a pump. He tried to pump the tire, but the air wouldn't stay. He told me that he thinks the tires had worn through. And that he rode a century this past weekend and this was going to be the last ride on these tires and that this was his first commute into Georgetown. I told him I had a patch kit. He declined. He asked me where he should walk. I suggested the 14th Street Bridge and maybe get a bus from downtown. He told me that he would walk over the Memorial Bridge. He said that this would be his last ride without a flat kit. I said bye.

Mount Vernon Trail was only a little crowded. It was more crowded on the Key Bridge. One commute, four bridges, two river crossings, zero reasons for doing it. Totally worth it.

Not much in the way of bicycle traffic in Georgetown, but it picked up a little in Glover Park. I was pleased to read that DDOT is addressing the 37th and Tunlaw street issue, the issue being that the intersection sucks and needs redesigning. The hills seemed less terrible than they used to be, but I'm sure that's just some kind of bizarro nostalgia. Traffic on New Mexico seemed worse than usual. I'm pretty sure that we can put together some kind of class action lawsuit against the Maryland DMV, maybe with a cease and desist component so they stop issuing licenses until they do a better job of ensuring that their standards actually mandate the safe operation of a vehicle. It's incredible.

Pretty good day over all. I wanted to take the CCT, but maybe some other day. Maybe even tomorrow.