Both posts tomorrow

The slide to an inconsistent posting schedule continues. It's mostly work stuff Taft caused the delay of the "ride in," but I chose pizza over blogging tonight. You can hardly blame me for that. Pizza is pretty great.


Ride Home 8/29 & Ride In 8/30 & Ride Home 8/30: When Sharrows Met Kirby

These rides, or all but the first half of yesterday's ride home, were the inaugural rides of the new Brompton, photo below:

The first half of yesterday's ride home was on Bikeshare. I left my own bike at work, figuring that I'd take CaBi to BicycleSpace and then ride the Brompton home and then somehow, at some future point, I'd get the CrossCheck home. It's still not home, but more on that a little later.

I rode down Massachusetts, intending to ride on the sidewalk, but forced into the street at my arrival at some construction and then I stuck to the street through Dupont Circle, around to 19th street, which I took to the Bikeshare station at 19th and L for a re-docking. I have no idea how much time actually elapsed between my leaving work and my arriving at 19th and L, but it was certainly under 30 minutes. Nonetheless, better safe than out $1.50.

I rode down L Street afterwards (still no cycle track) to 11th, where I turned left to ride to M. I guess I'm still in the habit of going to the old Bicycle Space location and not the new one. I would've taken the regular route on Q to 11th, but I wasn't sure about the dock-ritunities (not a real word, but an apt concept). Actually, I was sure: there aren't any, at least not without having to go a block out of your way. I know that there are a million issues related to Bikeshare station "siting," but placement along key routes of bike infrastructure would be a nice consideration. I'm sure it is, but it doesn't manifest itself along this particular street. I rode up 11th, turned right on M, road under/through the Convention Center, docked, walked a block and got my bike.

I'm not going to gush too much about it. At least not here. If you'd like to hearing my gushing, you can do it in person, maybe at #fridaycoffeeclub. I just really love the folding bike and I think that if everyone rode folding bikes the perception of cyclists would be so very different. I feel much more like a rolling pedestrian than a menacing cyclist "other." But maybe that's just me.

From BicycleSpace, I took 7th to Mass to 6th to E and then rode through a milled Columbus Circle (new paving tonight! very long awaited! and even bike lanes when they restripe the road!), which was bumpy and then I found myself in a bike cavalcade on the way to Stanton Park and this guy on a CaBi pulled over, sort of, to let me get by, which seemed needlessly deferent. Must be the intimidation factor of my bright blue folding bike.

I saw the Official Wife and Ellie the Poodle at the corner of 15th and A SE. I then tried, and failed miserably, to show off the folding aspect of the folding bike. I couldn't do it. It was bad. It was also very hot. I became very sweaty. I had to carry the bike home. And then I practiced folding it in the living room. And then the dining room since I was blocking the tv. And then Ellie sat too close to where the bike was supposed to fold and we had to shoo her away a little. And I sort of figured it out. And then I rode the bike around the block a few times and then I brought it back home, folded up the back wheel and the front tire went POP and I had a flat. And then I drove the bike back to BicycleSpace and they gave me a new tire and fixed my bike and then I picked up some sandwiches and drove home the bike and sandwiches.

This morning I took the Brompton again and rode to C Street, around Stanton Park and then down Maryland to Constitution Avenue. There's a squeaking noise that I can't explain. It's a new bike and in my experience new bikes make noises and there's no use to get too worked up over them. I should probably figure out what's causing the noise, but I'm feeling less than inquisitive.

Pennsylvania to 11th and the across town on R. And then a very long climb up Massachusetts Avenue. My biggest worry in getting this bike was that it wouldn't be able to handle the longish, uppish slog of my daily commute, but the bike proved mostly fine. It has two speeds, which I like. In a glass half-empty world, that means a speed for a normal and a speed for slow. But in a glass half-full world, that means a speed for normal and a speed for TURBO.

Saw a Biden-cade.

Biden Limo.
I'm guessing he drove out to tell me that my new bike is a BFD.

Got to work, folded up the bike and rolled it right into my office. Here are some folded shots.

I had a brilliant scheme by which I could transport both bikes home. Here's what the scheme looked like.

That's the Brompton on Cross Check's rear rack. I tried to use my cargo net to keep it together, but that wasn't happening. I had another bungee, but luckily, prudence took over and I decided just to ride the Brompton home. I slung my pannier, with its plastic clips, over my shoulder and the plastic affixments dug into my back and it took me more than half of the ride until I realized that I should just turn the pannier around and rest the other side, the side without the clips, on my back. That felt much better.

The gearing on the bike can't quite match the big downhill on Massachusetts past the Observatory. I decided to assume a kind of crouching position, mostly because I thought that'd be funny looking. It might have been.

Mass to Q to 11th to Pennsylvania. Many an annoying shoalster tonight. Not sure what brings it out. Also, have you ever gotten caught in the middle of a CaBi Cat 6? It's like elephants fighting.

Up the hill, down East Capitol and home. First two and a half rides on the new bike have been great. I'm going to ride the hell out of this bike (as one should all bikes) and I'm really excited about it.


Got my Brompton, got a flat, blogging tomorrow

I got to ride it home from the shop, then a few times around the block. Then the tire went POP and I drove it back to the shop, got a new tire and tube and now it's back home.

I'll blog the ride for real tomorrow.

Ride In 8/29: Foaled

Another commute along the National Mall. I've become quite taken with it, at least in the mornings when it's empty. Except for runners. So many runners. People just love running. If you ever feel like a loner or a social outcast or in any way out of the mainstream, my advice is to 1) go to City Sports and buy a branded shirt and 2) run around on the National Mall. Then you'll be just like 10 million other people. Instant assimilation! (Also, if you feel like a loner or an outcast don't expect riding a bike to solve these problems. In many ways, it amplifies them)

Instead of riding on the Rock Creek trail, I decided to cut through Foggy Bottom. 23rd street is essentially terrible, at least until Virginia Avenue. One of the worst side effects about the over-securitization of already lifeless federal buildings is how the street life is deadened even further, allowing city streets to essentially be converted into freeways. Freeways aren't the best for bicycling. I mean, they'd be ok if there weren't speeding cars on them. A bit boring maybe.

I rode through Washington Circle with the intention of taking 23rd street north until I found out that 23rd street becomes one way south at Washington Circle, so I continued on to 24th street, rode through Hotel Alley (what I call 24th street between Pennsylvania and N) and then found myself at 24th and N, which is approximately the way to nowhere.

So, if you'd like to ride north to get to Massachusetts Avenue, you can take 22nd Street. Or you can take Wisconsin Avenue. And that's a pretty substantial gap and I had no idea.

So, there's some public service in case you ever wanted to know about that. You could get to Massachusetts via Observatory Circle, but that's more east-west than north-south.

I'm wrapping up this post now because MY BROMPTON IS HERE and I'd like to go get it. I haven't figured out the best way to get everything home, including the bike I rode in on, but whatever. It'll get sorted out. Or folded out. Or something like that.


Ride Home 8/28: Criterion Collection Army of Darkness

At some point, late in the ride and after I had left the grocery store, I had become convinced that my rear tire was put on backwards and the tread faced in the wrong direction and this was causes me to feel wobbly. I've since checked and this is not the case. I guess the wobbliness is just something I'll have to own.

I ran into friend of the blog Adam at the bike parking at work. Adam is participating in the Best Buddies Challenge, which is either a bike event for a good cause or a hilarious new reality show on Animal Planet in which pet owners and their pets compete in wacky team challenges in order to earn prizes for both man and beast. On the off chance that it's a bike event, I've linked to his fundraising page here. If it's the other thing, I hope he has a dog and not a cockatoo because I can't imagine how useful a bird would be in a series of increasingly difficult physical and mental challenges. Though, I can't imagine how useful Ellie the Poodle would be either and that's why we'll never get cast and our audition tape will be all for naught.

Ever just ride right past the grocery store where you meant to stop? Yup.

Massachusetts to a very bumpy Wisconsin Avenue through Glover Park and Upper Georgetown or should I say Burkina Georgetown and then a left onto R Street, which really ought to have sharrows, but never will. My intention was to ride through and then get on the Rock Creek Trail at P Street, which I did. On R Street I rode behind a woman who had a bumper sticker for either a kind of jujitsu or a place where one practices jujitsu. Jujutsu was the only word I recognized. On the Rock Creek trail, I rode behind a woman on a bike who was wearing Gore bike apparel. Oh, I see your game Mr. Gore. Tell us the earth is melting so we stop driving and then gouge us with your fancy bike shorts. Well, here's an inconvenient truth for you: lycra is produced by a Koch subsidiary. Or, it could be a different Gore. "You don't own me, Koch brothers," might sing Lesley, for example.

The trail to the street to waiting at a red light by the Lincoln Memorial where I watched a Park Police officer on a motorcycle disperse a bunch of pedicab drivers, who rode away for half a block and then returned to where they were initially gathered. Of all the things in DC I don't understand, it's the antipathy to pedicabbers that I get the least. Clearly people (and by people, I mean tourists) like to take pedicabs around to see the sites. What's the big deal?

The path along the reflecting pool was awfully crowded. I rode slowly at a speed I would label "respectful."

At 17th street, I rode up behind a US Capitol Police bike patrol officer. His uniform was a navy blue jumpsuit that was more than a little reminiscent of that of a Ghostbuster. "Ray, when someone asks you if you're a US Capitol Police bike officer, say YES" I hung behind him for a while, but passed him along Jefferson and then at 7th street maybe, he caught up and shoaled me. One agency bike police officer shoaling down, a few to go. If I can get MPD, Secret Service and Park Police bike officers to do it, I might win a prize. Or buy myself a prize. Or buy myself a sheet cake and ask the guy at Safeway to write "Prize" on it in cursive.

Up the House side and then down East Capitol to Kentucky to the grocery store for a fast in-and-out trip that actually proved to be relatively fast for once. And then it was a few blocks more to home to cap off another fine evening ride.

Ride In 8/28: Is inflation good or bad for dollar stores?

Inflation is good for tires and my bicycle tire, the rear one, doesn't seem to want to accept that. This is a new tire too- one with TOURGUARD- and of all the things I was expecting this morning (namely, a hassle free commute to work via my wife's workplace where I would meet up with her), I didn't expect to meet a flat. And I still don't really understand what happened. I mean, I get the part about the air coming out. That's pretty straightforward. It's the why part.

Last night I put air in both of my tires, seeing that they were a little low, but I didn't suspect the return of the slow leak when I reinflated them. And that's good too, since I didn't get the slow leak. I got a rather fast and dramatic quick leak, as I rode on the path on near the Washington Monument. Perhaps the leak was brought about the pointiness of the obelisk, but I suspect not. My bike does this funny thing when the there's no air in the tires- the rear wheel starts flopping around like a wet fish. The tires start slip-sliding and it's hard to keep the bike riding in a straight line. Initially, I thought that my slip-sliding was a result of the slightly damp pavement, but I soon realized that I was losing air and then that I had lost air and then that my lost air was lost forever and then that I was riding on a completely deflated tire, myself deflated as well.

Prior to this, it had been a rather nice, albeit muggy ride. I might need to reassess my self-imposed exile from riding on the Mall.

I walked my bike to the nearest bench (though I didn't sit on this bench, so in hindsight I'm not totally sure why bench-adjacent was so important for my flat-fixing), flipped the bike over (I have locking tire skewers now and you can only release the wheels when the bike is upside-down. This is meant to deter thieves, but probably not thieves who wear hats on their feet and shoes on their heads), released the rear wheel, removed the tire and examined the tire. There didn't appear to be anything wrong with the tire. I found this tiring. Though, I suppose I was glad that the TOURGUARD worked and I didn't pick up a puncture because that would have really sucked, since this tire is maybe only two weeks old. But this left me with a mystery and not an Encyclopedia Brown mystery because those are for kids. I reinflated the tube and I examined it. There didn't appear to be anything wrong with the tube. I left the tube inflated and put it on the ground and waited a little. The tube seemed to not lose air. So, now I was confused. In my experience, admittedly limited, bike tires don't just mysteriously go all the flat in the matter of seconds without there being something wrong with them. Maybe I left the valve (Presta) open and that's how all the air got out. Because air is sort of like an indoor cat like that? I took the tube, put it back in the tire, put the tire back on the wheel and then I heard the unmistakable hissing of a cobra an air leak, coming from what seemed like the closed valve. So, I took the tube out of the tire, threw the tube away, replaced the tube with the spare tube, put the tire back on the bike and then tried to relock my locking skewers, which I couldn't do. I'm pretty sure I though I knew how to do it but apparently I didn't. Eventually, perhaps through witchcraft, I was able to get it closed without discerning how exactly. I had the rear tire inflated just enough to make the bike rideable and I set off past the Lincoln and along the river to Water Street, where I stopped at CycleLifeUSA to use their very fluorescent floor pump.
You can see the pump from space.
After this, I treated myself to an uphill slog along Wisconsin Avenue and the bike rode well and I hope that there's still air in the tires because if there isn't then I will cry, much like I would if my indoor cat escaped. Though, really, to paraphrase that movie about lady baseball, there's no crying in bike commuting. Just remember to carry a spare tube. Or two spares. Wish me luck getting home.


Ride Home 8/27: Precipitous Decline

At New Hampshire and Q, I ran into friend of the blog, and purveyor of fine chicken, Michael and we rode together through Dupont down to the Rock Creek trail and along the water to the steps by the Lincoln Memorial. Pictures were taken, chatting happened, and it was, as always, nice to run into him.

Afterwards, I rode past the Lincoln Memorial and the now filled reflecting pool (verdict: reflecty!) on the now paved path alongside the pool (verdict on the paving: pavey!) and I think I made it around the World War II Memorial and the Washington Monument faster than I ever have, mostly because the paths, while not totally empty, were more devoid of people than the other times I've taken them. The Mall, in my opinion, still isn't great for bicyclists and probably won't become so any time soon.

I continued down the mall on Jefferson Drive (which doesn't have sharrows) and I mistook the silver-painted "look at me- I'm a statue" man as an impromptu Neil Armstrong memorial statue, which it was not, and I rolled alongside a pedicab whose driver was sitting side saddle, his body turned at a 90 degree angle from the direction his cab was rolling, his feet propped up on the side of the cab. He didn't have any passengers.

I rode up the House side of the hill, encountered some bicyclists riding down the hill, and then rode for ten paces behind some young women talking about someone who was "92 and could do what he pleases." I imagine if he's 92 there are many things he'd be pleased to do that he can't. If I make it to 92, I hope they've'd invented some new pudding flavors by then.

It was a quiet last mile and it's quiet now still. I keep thinking that it's Friday. It's definitely not Friday.

Ride In 8/28: Trivium, Quadrivium and 6 credits of electives

So about last night.

I karaoked in a tuxedo. There's video. There might be more (better?) video. There was even supposed to be a second song, but the karaoke meister rejected my Katy Perry request and then it was Carly's 30th birthday party and the place was closing soon and I also sorted of lost all momentum and started getting stage fright/totally and irredeemably sober, so I gave up my spot to Carly and she treated us to a considerably less sober version of a Boy Band hit of the late 90s/early 2000s. Honestly, I think the worst part (and this surprised me) was wearing the tuxedo. I felt very self-conscious. Also, and I had no idea of this ahead of time, the karaoke place happened to be popular with extremely talented and theatrical gay black dudes who simply brought it every single time with every single R&B hit you could imagine. They were awesome and I might go back just to watch them perform, assuming that they're regulars. If they aren't regulars, they should be. I'd like to thank those who attended (I'll withhold their names out of respect, assuming that they'd prefer not to be associated) and I'd especially like to thank Kate for her extraordinarily generous donation to WABA which made this happen.

The next morning, this morning, the bicycling to work thing happened, as it does on most weekdays. It's the first day of school (and the first day of classes at the educational institution at which I work, explaining the relative lateness of this post) and the first day of school brings with a noticeable uptick in car traffic. I'd never begrudge a parent for sending a kid to an "out-of-boundary" school on the other side of town- you do what you think will work best for you and your kid and I get that. It'd be nice though if the money that was spent on gas to drive the kid to school was just given to the local school where the kid could walk or bike. There's no real way to arrange this kind of transfer, I guess.

East Capitol, Pennsylvania, 15th. Lots of bicyclists out, too. All your streets are belong to us.

This is the Treasury Department.

This is where OBAMA is trying to excavate George Washington's secret gold stash to pay for OBAMACARE and sundry other socialisms or maybe it's a tunnel to Mexico for Bill Ayers to use in 2 Fast 2 Furious starring Eric Holder as Vin Diesel.

It might just be routine construction, but I've always wanted to create a right-wing internet myth and I figure secret Obamacare gold mine might get the kind of play that would increase page hits on the blog by millions. Tell your crazier relatives!

I'd like to know who the genius is who decided to put a traffic cone in one of the puddles along 15th street. Puddles tend to be pretty visible and bicyclists tend not to need that much further deterrence from riding through them.

Please yield to pedestrians at unsignalized crosswalks. It's the right thing to do.

It's entirely possible that I saw The New Republic's Lydia DePillis at 17th and R.

Shoaling is when another bicyclist rides in front of you when you're stopped at a red light. To the best of my understanding, it's only the case that is a foul when the light is still red. Is there a term for when a bicyclist passes you as soon as the light turns green? Suggestions?

#bikeDC has some pretty impressive calves. It's a well-muscled group out there.

R street to Dupont and I was passed after Connecticut by a guy in an untucked dress shirt who signalled his left turn with a very straight left arm, like he was trying to stiff arm the car next to him. He should win the Heisman for bike commuting, or at least pose for the statue. It seemed very formal and disciplined and I can't help but wonder if he attended some bike traffic class run by strict German people. My hand signals, such as they are, tend to be half-assed. Quelle surprise.

Solid climb up Massachusetts Avenue and then I was the first bike at the rack at work. There's no prize for that. I guess, aside from getting to choose my spot. I chose the same spot I normally do. I've read advice, somewhere, that you should mix up your bike parking location to somehow deter thieves. I'm pretty sure it only matters where you park on the day the thieves try to take your bike and not on all the other days, but maybe I'm wrong. Hopefully not.


Ride Home 8/24: Oblique Tangents

Guys, did you hear about Armstrong? He took dugs and now he's not the first guy to walk on the moon. Personally, I think this is out of NASA's jurisdiction and I wish he would've appealed it. Now Buzz Aldrin (no angel himself) thinks he took one small step for man and the whole thing has really been a big setback for space exploration. If I find out that Curiosity tests positive for high levels of testosterone, I'm gonna just give up on following the sport. But how do you think those other Mars rovers managed to stay working so long, huh? Few people know that Dr. Michele Ferrari also has a PhD in aeronautical engineering.

UPDATE: So, Neil Armstrong died today. I wrote the post prior to this happening and to the best of my knowledge, it was coincidence and my gentle joshing was not the cause of his passing. Rest in Peace. 

Some events today (Saturday) that you might want to do since I can't:

St. Elizabeth's Bike Carnival

DC Bicycle Advisory Committee "Rolling" Meeting through Ward 2

And some news you can use if you use news about Bikeshare expansion into Old Town Alexandria. I don't spend a lot of time in Old Town, but I still think this Bikeshare expansion is going to be a big deal. Especially for the touristical types. If you ride the Mount Vernon Trail on weekends (and really, if you do this, WHY?), expect more CaBi traffic.

As for the ride home, the description of which is the putative reason behind this post, it was fine. I followed a lady superbiker down Massachusetts Avenue. She was wearing a white kit and I'm pretty sure one of the sponsors was Wendy's. Otherwise, fairly standard superbikerliness, including her assuming a tight aerodynamic tuck on her descent. She turned off to ride down into the park and I continued straight onto Massachusetts and almost into a turning SUV, the driver of which chose to abort his turn to avoid the oncoming car in front of me, but declined to do the same for me, whom he didn't see or didn't care to see. Braking, muttering, a shaking fist and life goes on.

I decided to ride through Dupont Circle and down 19th Street, a one way that would take me through the M/L/K (the letter streets are a secret Martin Luther King homage?) nexus to Pennsylvania Avenue, where I turned left. 19th wasn't nearly as crowded as 21st normally is and aside from having to ride through Dupont Circle, it's vastly preferable.

Let's just build a cycle track on the western end of Penn, ok? I promise that I'll use it. Though I'm willing to compromise for a sooner completion of the planned cycle track on M.

I'd be alerted to this via twitter, but I saw for the first time that the gap between the steel plates on 15th that I mentioned the other day has since been covered, partially, with an orange traffic cone. Not the best solution, but at least it's something. I guess they couldn't just push the plates closer together? The cone union in this town is powerful- almost as powerful as the caution tape lobby and I'm pretty sure this is just another make-work solution for a traffic cone with some seniority that gets the first bid.

That thing where a driver isn't looking closely and thinks a green bicycle traffic light is a green left turn arrow and then the driver behind them does the same and then I get all mad about it and maybe use curse words.

Quick down Penn and then fairly East Capitol. No drama with the 5-0 this time.

And one last time, a reminder: I'll be wearing a tuxedo, singing karaoke (song tbd) at 7PM tomorrow (Sunday) at Banana Cafe (Barracks Row). See you there. It'll be fun.


Ride Home 8/23 & Ride In 8/24: um, we've all seen fire and rain. they're pretty common things. you're not special, James Taylor.

Putting the dull in self-indulgent since 2011.

I suppose, if ever, my bike commute last night became marginally interesting when I was riding in the bike lane behind a woman who was driving a Prius. She hadn't drifted into the bike lane, as sometimes drivers do and she wasn't halfway in, as sometimes drivers are. She was just driving in the bike lane. Clearly, there was some misunderstanding on her part. Maybe I should forgive her or maybe we shouldn't let people who can't distinguish between a bike lane and not a bike lane drive cars. Either/or. I think the worst was when she slowed to a stop so the impatient driver behind her could more easily pass. Incredible. When I see stuff like this, I think I'm less angry than I am (rightfully) frightened for my safety and well-being. It makes me sad. It's much harder to forgive kooky and wacky driving when you're in the position to much worse feel its impacts (hopefully not literally).

A guy on a CaBi rode in a circle around me as I waited to the light to change at 11th and L. Like a shark or a bird of prey, or maybe like the water flushed down a toilet bowl.

Saw this on a bollard along Pennsylvania Avenue:

Because it's white chocolate chip cookies, I think it's some sort of statement about gentrification.

It is my new life mission to try to ruin any picture of any DC monument taken by the driver of a moving car. A person has to have goals in life, right? This seems appropriately petty to be one of mine. Honestly, please don't do this.

I do love tourists, though, and they love Bikeshare. This is both statistically true and anecdotally true. I don't know what kind of other kinds broad generalizations we can make about Bikeshare as it approaches its second birthday, but I sort of can't imagine DC without it.

Livable, Walkable, Joggable? But maybe not in the bike lane?


Friend of the blog Michael has blogged his ride. If you've always wanted to bike along the C&O Canal Towpath but don't have time, I encourage you to scroll down the page really fast. It's like a flip book. Or, conversely, you could just make some time and actually do the ride since that's also fun.


A long time ago, I decided that I would accept money to sing in public. Rather than keep this money, I would give it to WABA, so they could, I don't know, do bike stuff with it. And now the details of where I shall sing (while wearing a tuxedo) are to be made available. So here they are:

Sunday, August 26 around/after 7PM
Banana Cafe

You may attend. In fact, I'd really like it if you came not only because I have the pipes of a young Sinatra (I know this plumber in Hoboken) but because it might be fun to see you watching me watch you as you see me sing. I'll also bring some buttons if you'd still like to buy one/another one. So yeah, that's happening. Woo. Please promote this event widely as I'd prefer to have a large audience who will clap for me no matter what. Also, please clap for me no matter what.


On my ride in, I was told by a Capitol Police officer "Bike lane, sir, bike lane" after I found myself riding not in the bike lane because I had left it to pass another cyclist. First of all, it's amply legal for me not to ride in the bike lane. Secondly, leave me alone. Thirdly, if the reaction he was hoping for was anything other than my continuing to ride down the center of the lane, he would've been sorely disappointed. Stuff like this chafes me because it's needlessly antagonistic. If my riding my bicycle somehow endangers the Capitol, feel free to intercede. Otherwise, get over it. And I suppose I should do the same.

Black Volvos are black BMWs with a soul. In Buffy parlance, they're basically Angel.

I rode up 11th to New York Avenue and then took that down across past the White House. This route took me out of my way, but better riding longer than waiting at even one red light. Although, then instead of waiting at one red light on Penn, I waited at three on 11th and then two more on New York Avenue. Whoops.

Coffee means comity.

After staying too late, I rode with minor haste up 15th then across R and up Massachusetts. Someday I'll ride across 15th, up R and across Massachusetts but not today because today I didn't have time to switch up my prepositions.


Ride In 8/23: Waiter, there's a puma in my soup

Fantastic morning. Here's how I went to work:

East Capitol to Massachusetts, then up 6th Street NE to L. Down L to First NE and then around Dave Thomas Circle, doubling back a half a block to ride up Eckington Place to R Street. I took R across town to 7th Street, rode up to V Street, made a left on V, turned right onto Flordia and then made a hard left onto Vermont to turn left again on V, which I stayed on until Florida again and then it was California to 18th to Adams Mill to Calvert to Woodland Drive NW (did you know there was a Woodland Drive NW?) to Garfield to Massachusetts.

A bit roundabout. I wish there was an mapping app (developers, listen up!) that cumulatively recorded the streets I've traveled on so I could take pleasure, someday, in having covered all of the territory of DC (or Arlington, Alexandra, Fairfax, etc). I suppose I could make my own map and just color in the lines or something, but that doesn't seem as fun. Though I do enjoy coloring.

While the sidewalks are pretty wide at the intersection of First NE, New York Avenue and Florida Avenue, it'd be nice if there was a more direct bike route to get from First, which will soon-ish have a cycle track, to Eckington Place, which currently has bike lanes. This might involve moving that Wendy's.

There is so much multifamily residential construction happening. (Multifamily residential is a snooty way of saying "apartments.") It's really going to change a lot of neighborhoods. Whether for the better or worse, I'll leave you to decide. I'll just be happy when some of the projects end because riding past construction sites is always iffy. Beware of girders.

I wish there were a better way to get from V Street to V Street.

Sorry for all the white space. 

V stands for vinconvient, which is not a real word, but just the word inconvenient with a v tacked to its front. Reading that word and parsing that nonsense explanation  is the literacy equivalent of biking from V Street to V Street.

Tryst seems to be a very popular place in the morning. I didn't stop, but it was tempting.

Woodland Drive NW is probably not home to many woodland creatures, unless those creatures live in mansions. The hill there starts shallower but then climbs much steeper. It's a nice alternative to Cleveland Avenue as there is virtually no car traffic, but there was one lady in a kaftan walking her little, black, ornery old dog, so if you that's not someone with whom you'd like to share the road, be advised. If I have to read another letter to the editor about how the roads were built for kaftans, I'm gonna be really cheesed off.


Ride Home 8/22: You're done in this craft war

By the time I arrived home, I was very wet. It started drizzling and then it started really raining and there wasn't much I could do about it except ride through it and it was mostly fine because it was neither especially hot or especially cold nor especially dark nor did the rain prove especially daunting. If anything, it was a boring rain. But a boring rain still leaves you wet and it still leaves your bike slightly less responsive with regards to braking and so I found myself nearly colliding into the rear end of a car that was in the process of being maneuvered out of a parking spot by Lincoln Park. I went around a blind-ish curve and maybe I went too fast, but there I was shooting the gap between the car pulling out and the car alongside me that had stopped to allow the car to pull out. Rain. It can get you sometimes. But it didn't.

Well before the rain happened, I had left work and I rode behind a woman who took her hands off her handlebars to tie the front of her shirt into a knot, exposing her midriff. Ok.

I rode down Massachusetts and I was tailgated by a bus driver. This is a decisively most unpleasant experience. I ran a red light to put some distance between us. I'm not especially apologetic about that.

When the rain starts, how do I know when to put on my lights? I don't have windshield wipers. I don't have a windshield. I didn't put my lights on my bike.

I wore my new Road Holland jersey home. Typically, I'm the kind of person who would make fun of this kind of admission, but gosh, sometimes it feels great to don bike clothes and bike home like you're not some kind of citizen cyclist, but instead some kind of super-special bike person who is special and different and special. You may mock me accordingly. I don't think I rode any differently.

So many bikes. Even in the rain. Someone should give the bicycle a Nobel Prize. Maybe for economics? Or peace? Or medicine? Basically, any and all Nobel Prizes should probably be given to bikes. Except for literature. That should go to some obscure midcentury small country European playwright because boo Nobel Prizes.

Ride In 8/22: The Velveeta Rabbit

How did people bike on bike's that weren't theirs before Bikeshare came around? Did they just steal em? Or maybe "share" them from an unsuspecting out-of-town rube/yokel? Or maybe they just didn't bike to work? I'm personally leaning to they "hey rube, can I "share" your bike?" theory, but science and/or extensive polling would most likely indicate that people just didn't bike when they had left their bike at work the night before and maybe they took another steed from their stable, which is a metaphor for going to work by horse.

I got the last bike.

My key is starting to separate a little, meaning that I'll soon progress to Bikeshare key number 5, I think. Apparently, I'm not gentle enough with my Bikeshare keys. The plastic pieces start to separate or whatever expoxy holds them together starts to undo and then the key has a harder time fitting into the slot and then the key basically becomes inoperable. Not a huge problem when you're not using Bikeshare, but sort of an annoyance when you want to rely on it.

Up Massachusetts SE and then around the park and down East Capitol where I rode behind a guy who would pedal 3 times and glide and pedal 2 times and glide and pedal 4 times and glide and seemed allergic to the idea of consistent pedaling, which I believe, is an important part of making the bike go or at least go consistently. It was slow going, but since I was on a CaBi, I didn't think I could muster the oomph to expeditiously pass him and would instead find myself puffing and still unable to pass him clearly. Such are piddling concerns of me in the morning.

Did you read La Burbuja's Guest Post?

Penn and then 15th. Steel plates, a popular road covering for construction crews engaged in underground activities (like repairing pipes or hunting for mole people), can indeed become quite dangerous for the bicycle-bound.

That's a gap between the two plates on the 15th Street cycle track. Joe Skinny-tires (not a real person) could easily see his 700 x 23s caught right in there and down he would go, right into the steel plates (and hopefully not any lower because mole people are merciless captors). This is pretty unacceptable.

I docked briefly at 15th and New York and then set off again up the cycle track towards R street, which I would take across town with many other bicyclists, many of whom wanted to be in more of a hurry than I was. Could we all agree to be a little less "eye of the tiger" during our bike commutes? Maybe a bit more "purr of the kitten"? I have no problem with people who want to ride their bikes fast (sometimes I do, approximately), but I take issue with the I WILL CRUSH YOU vibes floating off many a bike commuter. Vibes float, right? I should check Vibe magazine, which I believe will tell me per its title.

I watched a woman try to turn left from a right hand bike lane, almost turn into a passing driver, stop, try to turn left again and almost do the same thing to another driver. In no way is making a left turn from the far right of bike lane a good idea, nor does it make sense. Don't let bike infrastructure become a gilded cage. These are the Etsy search results for gilded cage.

I turned left on to Connecticut and then rode down to Dupont Circle, where I got the second to last available dock for another redocking prior to riding up the hill.

At Sheridan Circle, I got to yell "Stop" at a driver who was about to roll through a yield sign and perhaps get closer to me than I would've preferred. I suppose I should've yelled "Yield" and I'll try to be more accurate next time.

The climb up the hill was fairly daunting on the heavy CaBi, but I passed some dude on a Dahon and screamed "Bromptons rule!" in his face. Ok, I didn't do that. Also, I still don't have my Brompton. If you want one by 2015, you might want to order now. The good people of England were probably just trying to spare my having to ride it in the August heat. Now I will only have positive associations of the bike when I take ownership of it in...September?

They keep making college kids younger. Weird.

GUEST POST: La Burbuja’s Guest Chicken 8/21/2012

I love people who don't just wade into the tepid waters of bike commute blogging, but instead take a flying leap off the diving board, much like did La Burbuja, who is an awesome person. While I'm off lounging on a tropical beach somewhere (or marginally overwhelmed with minor professional obligations) she's out riding and writing ensuring the the dear readers of this blog (now in double digits!) have something to peruse. I don't like to bandy about this word lightly, but "hero" comes to mind. As does "gyro," but mostly because I didn't have any birthday cake for breakfast this morning. Millions of thanks!

I’m not sure I’m up to writing this post but figured I’d give it a try. Seems like if I don’t do it, there won’t be one, so it really just has to be more interesting than nothingness. Doesn’t sound too hard, but let’s not count any chickens before they hatch.

Some days I bike all the way to work, from Adams Morgan to Suitland. This involves bikey clothes and a shower (or reasonable facsimile) when I get to work, and using my own bike (an oldish steel road bike which was made custom for someone other than me), and the smell of fish (Maine Ave) and the smell of trucks (Maine Ave) and crossing bridges with narrow ‘ATLs’ (the one on Rock Creek Parkway over the Tidal Basin, and the one on South Capitol over the Anacostia), and one pretty gigantic hill (Naylor Road). On other days I just bike either to U st or Gallery Place and take the metro. This involves worky clothes and Cabi and the 15th street cycletrack and people looking at me funny/nervously for being so sweaty on the metro and knitting. Actually in the summer, my drippy face generally doesn’t merit a second look, but when it’s cooler, some people look a little like they think I might have a bomb strapped to my chest. And some days, I telework (now, two days a week!). This involves sleepy clothes and way better lunches and the radio on and hearing the neighbor’s dog Emma (not to be confused with Ellie) barking a whole bunch.

Today I thought I would take my own bike but we had an overnight guest sleeping in the study. And while I was smart and forward-thinking enough to get my bike out last night to avoid waking our guest at the crack of freakin’ dawn when I leave for work (well, 7:15 ish), I was not anywhere near forward-thinking enough to also get my bike bag out. The thing I like least about bike commuting is having to remember a whole bunch of stuff including clothes and undergarments and work shoes and shower stuff (“shower stuff” sounds like a new overpriced liquid soap but I just mean my soap and shampoo and towel and comb). The thing I like best is the bike commuting part. So today was a Cabi and Metro day.

Sometimes I have a mad dash between my coffee and getting dressed an repeated checking of Spotcycle to see if I’ll have a bike and then even when I think I will, I don’t. But today there were lots of bikes. Yay! And the morning was cool and crispy (well, crispyish), and all the cyclists around me were delightfully non-shoaly (even the ones who were obviously faster waited behind me at the red light and then passed appropriately after we were moving again). I don’t really mind some shoaling when I’m on a Cabi and the other person is on a fast bike and/or clipped in and is clearly going to go faster, as long as they don’t do it on my right, or then be all stupid slow and checking their phone or spazzy clipping in when the light turns green (for the record, I am very patient about slow starters and riders in front of me if they didn’t just shoal me). My least favorite kinds of shoaling are 1) when I am commuting on my road bike (clipped in and moderately bikey looking), and some goofball shoals but then is really really slow, and 2) when I’m on a bike ride ride (vs commuting) and waiting patiently at a LONG red light on Beach drive, and some old man rolls up and plants himself in front of me and then is kinda slow and sucky when the light turns green and I’m stuck behind him for a while. Dude, really? What made you assume you were faster? Or did you just feel so entitled you didn’t even think about it?

On the way home I got out of the Metro at Waterfront in order to enjoy a slightly longer ride home. And the first (tiny little itty bitty) raindrops started to fall just as I took a bike out of the dock. But for some reason (and its not that I’m general an optimist, cuz I’m not) I was pretty convinced that the rain wouldn’t be too bad. But whatever the reason, I think maybe it was the same reason that on Sunday I thought I had time for a nice bike ride on Beach Drive before the rain started. I was wrong. Both times. I got totally totally, completely 100% soaked both days. Like it’s hard to keep your eyes open with your sunglasses on or off soaked. Like your sandal straps stretch way out of whack and your feet get all slippy slippy on the pedals and practically slip out of your sandals soaked. Like you have to wring out your clothes before hanging them in the shower to dry soaked. On Sunday I was still maybe 10 miles from home when it started pouring. This evening I was on Madison by the Mall. (Oops – I just realized I didn’t give any details about my route. Hope that wasn’t a requirement….)

On Sunday the rain followed a slightly annoying thing (old man shoalers) and a very unpleasant and scary thing (an on-purpose pulling up of a pick truck within 2 inches of me at a red light and a dick of a driver pointing me to the side of the road). And then it started raining. At first I was all “this sucks” and “I shouldn’t have gone so far from home,” but then I realized how beautiful and peaceful Rock Creek Park is in the rain when its almost empty, and how most people are very smiley (like in a snow storm), and how I was really glad that I hadn’t had a better weather forecast cuz I would have missed a great ride. Today was kinda the same; the rain didn’t follow anything bad or unpleasant (well, work), but I questioned whether getting off the Metro was a dumb idea, and I thought about how getting work clothes wring-‘em-out soaked is more of a pain than throwing bike clothes in the wash. But then I realized how much fun I was having riding through torrents of water, and I self-congratulated my brilliance for taking 15th street north (rather than 12th street like I usually do) (Hey look! Route info!). And people were huddled under building ledges and umbrellas, and scurrying about. Some of them looked a little miserable, and some of them looked like they felt bad for me. And I was totally soaking wet and smiling.


Ride In 8/21 and No Ride Home 8/21: Des'ree sure is bossy

This will be brief. Ride in and then a social/work event at the end of the day meant it was more convenient to Metro home than bike. I could've biked there, but didn't and now my bike remains at work and I'll get it home tomorrow, perhaps by means of dirigible, but more likely by pedaling. That might mean I'll take Bikeshare in the morn'.

As for this morn', (I say morn' now, because of Irishness or something), it was a great ride, greater by being back to bike commuting after more than the usual days off. Same route as normal, goodly numbers of fellow cyclists out (some fellows, some lasses) and a weather that was fitting an Irish Spring soap commercial, overcast and hygienic.

Zero incidences, only one or two bumper stickers of note (Tester and Kaine. Where are you from?) and other things that I've since forgotten.

Bike commuting in DC is Godzilla-free since forever. So that's good.

Safety gear doesn't make safer bicyclists , even if it might make bicyclists safer. I see many people in bright yellow jackets make many questionable moves. Just like anyone can buy a "fast" bike, anyone can buy a reflective jacket with no guarantee it will prompt any degree of self-reflection as far as safety is concerned. Like GB Shaw shows us, something something statue into a lady something something.

I won't suggest that you learn the publicly accessible restrooms available on your route. You may infer whatever you want. In case of emergencies.

I'm done. I hope to get two posts in tomorrow. Namaste.


No Rides 8/20

Today is the Official Wife's birthday and we're leaving town for the day. If you would like to submit a guest post, please email talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com. Rules concerning guest posts are the following:

2. Ok, maybe one rule, in that the post should be vaguely related to bicycling and/or commuting. 

I hope to be back at it tomorrow, but this week might prove crazy work-wise (they've sped up the conveyor belt and I can only eat so many candies) so if you're inclined to write more than one guest post or many of you would like to collude and each submit a post, there will be ample space on the blog to host. Thanks in advance. 


Ride Home 8/17: Postcard Sharks

I took Bikeshare. I also took umbrage, for reasons I can't really understand. Maybe I'm paranoid or maybe they (they being "they") are really out to get me. Were I to change the name of this blog or maybe sell it to Washington City Paper (make me an offer!) I'd rename it Persecution Complex.  This is how ingrained car culture is- that even doing the same I do every day, a perfectly reasonable and safe and healthy and fun and acceptable thing, I still feel like I'm some weirdo whose "lifestyle choice" does nothing but impose burdens on others and then I internalize that and just assume that most every driver and pedestrian and other bicyclist is upset at me or something. It's weird and essentially untrue.

I switched to the sidewalk on Massachusetts after Wisconsin and I spent a lot of time ducking to avoid tree limbs.

I turned right on 20th street and decided that I would ride through downtown, turning right at New Hampshire and then left on 19th and then left again at Pennsylvania. There were far fewer than "peak" cars on the road and yet some drivers still couldn't manage to make it through their trips without being antagonized and honking at other drivers. Maybe they should guest post for Persecution Complex. I'm convinced that there could be two cars on the road and the drivers would still find reason to honk at each other. Before turning on Pennsylvania, I stopped at docked and undocked at 19th and L, maybe. The L Street cycle track is still a chimera. In the sense of vain fancy and not the sense of fire-breathing monster. Bike infrastructure in DC isn't great, but at least it doesn't spit flames. That's not NACTO approved.

Pennsylvania and then across the White House plaza. I'm thinking that I can save everyone some effort and instead of me having to ride through the background of their pictures, I can just make a cardboard cutout and lean it up against the fence or something.

15th to Pennsylvania and down Pennsylvania and across Independence and behind the House office buildings. There's a highway exit over there and a lot of surface parking lots, so I've taken to calling this area "Real America." I rode up D Street through a nice neighborhood of row houses and I docked at 3rd, the first time I've ever docked at this station. I should keep a list of all the Bikeshare stations I've used and all the ones I haven't and then maybe give myself a prize if I use all of them because no one else is going to give me a prize and frankly, I'm not totally sure this is even prizeworthy.

After dinner, my wife and I biked home, her on her bike (a Linus) and me on Bikeshare and we took North Carolina up to Lincoln Park and then rode around and she rode home and I rode to the Bikeshare station a couple blocks away. Post-prandial bike rides are the best.


Ride In 8/17: If Sammy Sosa replaced Frank Foer, they could rename it the New Dominican Republic

One ride, three parts. All parts on Bikeshare, except for the parts that involved walking and taking the Metro. First part, not of three bike parts, was a walk from my house to the Bikeshare station. Second part was biking the CaBi from 15th and Independence, around Lincoln Park, down East Capitol, through the Capitol grounds (is this the name of the House coffee shop? shouldn't it be?), down Pennsylvania Avenue (a road that feels like it should always be hosting a boring parade) and across the White House plaza, where I was snarked at by a snarky security guard, snarkily. Yes, I will ride my bike in the 30 foot gap behind the truck which wasn't even backing up yet and if you didn't want me to do that, you'll have to tell me so. This put me in a bad mood. Leave me alone. I docked at Pennsylvania and 18th and walked, the second walking part of my trip, to M.E. Swing & Co. the friday coffee home of that group of people who sometimes ride bikes and drink coffee. I couldn't stay as long as I wanted, but it was good seeing everyone, as usual. After coffee, I walked back to the dock where I had docked my first CaBi (this was the third walking part of my trip), took the bike from Pennsylvania and 18th to Pennsylvania and 20th and then turned right into 20th Street, a one way street heading north and a street that is somehow both over-wide and seemingly too narrow. I found it best to avoid the far right lane as it would become home to turning car traffic and since I had no intention of turning, I decided to stay in one of the middle lanes and made my way through the downtown part of town that I don't really know the name of (Golden Triangle? West End? Blandsville?) up to Dupont Circle, where I docked again.

This was the part of the trip when I decided that I would stop biking and start taking an underground train. It would cost me money, but the time would be a wash (probably) and I wouldn't have to lumber up the hill on a CaBi. I just wasn't feeling it this morning. Also, I had an early meeting and I didn't want to get overly gross biking in and I figured that if I just biked for the short and flat parts, I could manage that.

I arrived on the platform with a moment to spare and the train arrived, emptied and I boarded, sat and zoned out. I recommend zoning out during train and bus travel. I do not recommend zoning out during bike travel. I would also recommend zoning out at a zoning hearing, unless hearing about the zoning is of utter importance. Zoning for dairy farms is of udder importance. If you were at a hearing for dairy farm zoning, you'd probably just hear mooing. Assuming, of course, that they let the cows testify.

I took the Metro from Dupont Circle to Tenleytown and I walked up the escalator and down the street and I had an awkward half-conversation with someone I sort of know from work. It was one of those things where we both just wanted to say hello, but neither of us could think of a pretense to stop after only hello. So it was hello followed by long pauses followed by comments about where we were going (both to work, obviously) followed by long pauses followed by comments about the weather. Conversation is not exactly my forte.

The last leg of my bike trip, the third time I was on the bike, was from Tenleytown to school, a trip of under a mile on a flat and open road where little of note happened. Whenever I ride on Nebraska Avenue, no matter the time of day or whether it's on my own bike or a CaBi, I feel very exposed and very in the way, like I'm likely to be passed too closely by an aggressive driver. I don't know what it is about the landscape (roadscape?) that brings about this feeling, but it seems to be very particular to this stretch of street. Some roads just don't feel conducive to bicycling.


Ride Home 8/16: Chareth Cutestory

"Dance with the devil and you're gonna get stung" is a malaprop cliche that combines the elements of a few of my favorite different cliches and maybe incorporates the devil for reasons that I don't fully comprehend. It combines elements of "Dance with the one that brung ya"  and lie "Lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas", but replaces with the dogs with bees and replaces the fleas with beestings and I suppose the "devil" is, so to speak, in the details and the details of this malaprop cliche (The Malaprop Cliche was the name of the French fighter plane used, unsuccessfully, by the Lafayette Escadrille) are that I had been trying to prolong the life of a tire tube that didn't want its life prolonged and my repeated efforts and reinflating this tube instead of replacing it hastened its eventual demise. Whether the leak was from bee sting, Red Baron, devil horns, or worn thin dancin' shoes is neither here nor there. What happened was that when I went to reinflate for what I hoped to be the last ride, it turned out that the last ride had already happened. The last ride was from work down into Glover Park, where a former coworker and I met for drinks. I walked the bike back to my coworker's apartment, about 6 blocks away, locked it to a fence and took Bikeshare home.

I rode Calvert Street to 37th, down through Georgetown across R and down through East Georgetown, intending maybe to divert to the Foggy Bottom metro at some point, but I continued past that when I realized that I'd rather just stay biking than waiting for a train. I live on the Blue-Orange Line and there are a number of stops along my bike route home where it would make sense for me to ditch the Bikeshare bike, especially if I want to avoid riding it up the hill. I think the last one that theoretically makes sense, or would have on this ride home, would have been Metro Center at 12th and G or thereabouts, but it would have maybe even made more sense to dock the bike near Farragut West or McPherson Square, which I didn't do. Actually, I did dock momentarily by McPherson, but only to re-up my 30 minutes. Every time I re-dock, I think of Kid Chameleon on those clock bonuses. I once stayed up nearly 24 hours trying to beat Kid Chameleon but this didn't happen. Last weekend sure was crazy. In reality, this occurred when I was in middle school  and my friend Jeff and I both thought that achieving this aim would be an accomplishment and furthermore than this accomplishment would be somehow fraught with meaning. With some perspective, I can assure you that this wouldn't be the case, though I'm the one harping about our failure to beat the game all these laters later so make of that what you will.

I rode through Dupont Circle, down Mass and then down 15th to H, over a block on H and down 15th again (yeah, 15th Street is weird) and then down to Pennsylvania, where my phone fell out of my pocket. I heard the phone drop and I quickly divined that it was my phone and I rode back to pick it up. At this point, I realized that my wallet was not in my pocket. Please be in my bag, please be in my bag. It was in my bag. Then I put my phone in my bag. Then I put my keys in my bag. Then I continued to ride home.

Riding up the hill isn't nearly as bad as I made it out to be and then it was a quick jaunt down East Capitol to the Bikeshare dock nearest my house. I got home to find that the new tire I had ordered wasn't delivered by UPS. I walked and fed EtP, then we drove back to pick up my bike. You shouldn't bring your toy poodle with you when you go to pick up your bike. There was one minor poodle escape when we got there and there was one minor "I'm just gonna throw this dog in the trunk while I'll try to hoist my bike in there and hope that the guy in the Mercedes will be surprisingly cool with my blocking the street (which he was)" and then I drove home and now the bike is in its place and I'll figure out how I'll get to work/Friday Coffee Club tomorrow.

Ride In 8/16: James "The Pearl" Monroe

It was a charming morning in Charm City, or so I would assume because Baltimore isn't very far away from here and it was charming here, at least as far as weather, and perhaps princes, go. Prince, we all know, is from Minneapolis, which is the City of Lakes and DC is the Chocolate City and I'd like to live in the city of charming chocolate lakes, which I believe is somewhere would be somewhere in Switzerland. I've learned from this site that Prince has toured Switzerland on many occasions and I've learned that the Prince-Bishops  once ruled Basel, but this still doesn't tell me anything about the weather in Baltimore, which I'll still assume was just nice.

What route should we take to work today, Brain?
Same route we take every day, Pinky.

There were bikes on every block and lines of cyclists along many stretches of road and it would seem remarkable, but I've grown accustomed to it. The logic (and joy) of bicycle commuting seems to have taken root and there's no part of my ride where there's anything resembling a lack of bicyclists. I suppose I have the benefit of riding through the downtown core, but I predict that on a day like today, most roads will have seen at least a few bike commuters and hopefully those few bike commuters saw each other and maybe smiled or winked or high fived. The bike-to-bike high five is not something I've ever set out to do, much less accomplish, but one of these days I'll make it happen, hopefully with the consent of the other fiver so it's just not assault.

Felt a little bit heavy on the bike today. Maybe I was just carrying more stuff than usual, including a weird ceramic 'coat of arms' all hanging that I bought in a post-wine tasting fog in Eger, Hungary in 2003. It's hideous and that's why it's now in my office instead of in my home. I submit for your disapproval:

I also brought my lunch in glass containers, which I prefer to plastic containers, but are considerably heavier. Also, why did I bring rocks for lunch? Just kidding about the rocks- that's for dinner. Maybe it wasn't my slightly heavier than usual bag that slowed me down, but instead my not riding to work yesterday. Consistency is important for exercise and also the hobgoblin of little minds, which I think means that Emerson didn't belong to a gym.

Wore my new Road Holland today. It's the best. Go buy some. (I am not a paid endorser of this product. But I would be!)

East Capitol to Penn to 11th to R to Massachusetts. Construction on R Street led to a situation in which the roads were unambiguously temporarily closed to car traffic, but not really to bike traffic, or at least the gentlemen managing the traffic didn't seem to think so. Or at least one of them didn't and maybe the other one said "Oh shit, we were supposed to stop them" as me and another cyclist found ourselves biking towards the path of a reversing crane truck. It was fine- I was on a bike, so I could just move over a little and avoid the truck and so I did and crossed New Hampshire before there was even another truck doing some other kind of traffic pirouette, which was also avoidable. It's sort of easy to get around a city when you're not encased in a multiton vehicle. The idea that we think it should be just as easy to do things when in a car has always struck me as odd.

There's a statue of St. Jerome outside of the Croatian Embassy. "Greatest Doctor of the Church" it proclaims. That's pretty braggadocious and I'm sure that the St. Ambrose fans (to say nothing of what the supporters of the Eastern Conference Church would think. I mean are you really gonna write off Chrysostom like that?) would have to disagree, but this is what happens when you rely on polls and don't have playoff.

Sloggy the rest of the way. A BMW driver stopped for me at a crosswalk. General feelings of contentment upon arriving at work after another great bike commute.


No Rides 8/15

No work, no rides. I'll be back tomorrow. With a vengeance? Unlikely. But with a blog post or two, yeah, probably.


Ride Home 8/14: James Bond Medicated Powder

Sometimes the tires go thud thud thud and it's the road and sometimes the tires go thud thud thud and it's the tires. I fear that this time, once again, it's the tires. The slow leak is back y'all and I've nary a clue. I'll do some investigating at a future point, but for now, the present, or at least a description of the present as it was in the past, which is to say the then that was once the now but is now the then from the perspective of the now from which I am blogging about the now which is now the then, which is to say the ride home, I'm just going to leave the bike in the corner and let the air slowly leak and inflate the tires as needed, but maybe also just take Bikeshare.

If you've always relied on the kindness of strangers it's highly unlikely that you've ever been able to cross the street.

Same route home as always, except maybe this time with a little bit more verve and a little bit more caution and a lot more drivers driving in the bike lanes. Could it really be so hard to keep one's car out of the bike lane? Maybe it is. I don't know. When I drive, to the best of my knowledge, I don't drive in bike lanes, but maybe that's not the case and I'm just as horrible as everyone else. What if the outside of bike lanes were divoted like those highway rumble strips? That sounds like a fairly inexpensive solution to the problem of drivers "inadvertently" driving into bike lanes. Just throwing that out there.

It behooves the bicyclist to occasionally be a bit forward and to take the lane when the situation calls for it. It might be one of the hardest things to learn, but it's one of the most valuable. The best way to get around a car parked in the bike lane is to shove your hand out, look over your shoulder, move into the travel lane and just get on with it. It doesn't always come naturally, but it's just the way that it works sometimes. That's some trite advice.

Guy on recumbent-type bike at 11th and Mass:

Worst picture ever. 

Then some traffic at 11th and New York:

I blame bike lanes

11th is a funny street. South of Massachusetts, there are no bike lanes. Instead, the cyclist is asked to weave through ludicrous traffic or wait amidst it and the road conditions are horrible and there are many bus stops and underground parking garages and there are grates and manhole covers and it's one of those streets where the number of users (pedestrians, cyclists, bus passengers, drivers) are not adequately represented in the amount of road space given (almost all to cars). But such is the way of the world, I guess. I don't see this problem getting any better once City Center, and it's 1800 new parking spots, opens. There's actually a banner on the side of the construction site that advertises the number of parking spots that the development will have. I heard the Egyptians did the same thing at Giza.

I saw Justin in the Penn Ave cycle track on his way off to Crystal City to visit their farmers' market. I was off to another farmers' market (at Eastern Market) and we talked farmers' markets and bike stuff and it was nice to chat for a while and I wonder if he made it there and back before the rain.

George bellows? George Bellows.

George Bellows

You can yell "stop," which I did, and you can hope that a driver making an illegal left turn on red stops, which he did, but you can't know if your yelling is what prompted it. When I passed the driver, who had stopped in the middle of the intersection, I slowed, deliberately, and I didn't make eye contact, deliberately, and that was pretty much what happened. Did he feel chastened by my iciness? Unlikely.

There's a parking lot between 3rd Street NW and the traffic circle at First NW and Pennsylvania Avenue and this parking lot is controlled by the Senate Sergeant at Arms, allegedly, but it's also a popular place for drivers to slow down and have their passengers take pictures of the Capitol while the car is still moving or maybe parked. Please, I beseech you. If you come to Washington to see the sights, please at least get out of your car to take your pictures. I can't promise that it will be worth it, but I will promise that I won't deride you if you do. Is there anything more American than the drive-by photo-op? Sigh.

East Capitol to 7th Street and then I stopped at the farmers' market to buy what I thought was an heirloom tomato (it was a pepper), some cherry tomatoes and some squash. I purchased these vegetables from the Amish. Here's an Amish child:

I only buy locally sourced organic vegetables from authentic artisanally crafted, behatted children. That lady and her kid, on the left of the picture, had left their baby carriage (and baby!) in front of my bike, thereby blocking me in. First time that I've ever been blocked by a stroller. It was cool and she apologized and made some sort of self-effacing "OMG who abandoned their baby" joke but it was no big since I knew exactly who abandoned her baby and she didn't even abandon it because she was like three feet away buying tomatoes from the Amish.

Up North Carolina behind a guy on a fixie and then past the park, which was filled with small, fuzzy dogs. Small, fuzzy dogs own this city. 

Ride In 8/14: A Sinking Feeling

Maybe it was raining this morning. I don't know. I wore a jacket for a little while, but then I took it off because it's just too hot in the summer for jackets. What must yellow jackets feel like in the summer? Existentially angstful? My yellow jacket felt overbearing and clingy, so I dumped it at the first red light when I really stopped. This was at the base of Capitol Hill, where I stopped behind another cyclist. Her bike had a rear rack but no fenders and I find this look bizarre and I most unsubtley disapprove of it. I'm making a thumbs down gesture at the computer screen right now and I'm booing quite loudly. I'm sort of a jerk. I get that you might want a bike that lacks a rack and fenders both, but the rack-no-fenders combo just doesn't make sense to me. Maybe fenders don't fit? Maybe you like to carry stuff and get the underside of that stuff wet? Like, if you've set up some sort of sea monkey habitat on your rear rack and you need to water them for some reason. I'm pretty sure that "sea monkey habitat" is never the end result of Occam's Razor.

I have reversible pedals on my bike and some days I wear clippy bike shoes (technical term) and other days I wear non-clippy shoes. I wore the clippy shoes today and I felt like it made a really substantial difference. Perhaps even my wattage was greater. I care deeply about my wattage.

On 11th, first I saw a guy smoking a pipe and on the next block I saw a guy wearing a bow tie. Had I seen a dude with a monocle, I would have hit the trifecta. Later on R, I saw a pudgy-faced, pale WASPy time, bleary-eyed behind dark sunglasses, smoking and drinking a red bull, wearing light khakis and a blue blazer and looking overall like a parody of a parody of someone who went out for Halloween as someone who was in an extra in Dead Poet's Society. His O Captain would be Cap'n Crunch.

It takes a real special kind of jerk driver who doesn't want to move over to allow you a little bit of room when there's a truck blocking the bike lane. I'm not shy about riding my bike close to people's cars, but many of those people have the common decency to recognize that maybe I'd like more than 6 inches of space. This lady was steely-eyed. Her license plate said Maryland, but her driving said so much more. I expect this kind of cold-hearted determination to be exhibited by tank drivers in battle, not SUV drivers on city streets. Just move over a little. Please?

What: Me. Tuxedo. Karaoke.
Where: TBD
When: Sunday, 8/26. About two drinks after I get there.
Why: $ for WABA. Time to pay the piper.

More details to follow. It would be kind of hard to have fewer details. Speaking of the piper, Kate (she who is paying for this luxury of my "singing") wrote a really smart and honest blog post about bikes and burnout and I encourage you to read it.

So more music stuff! NORA and One Left, a music band, sent me a copy of their album Bicycle and while I've listened to it (and enjoyed it), I haven't had time to write up a formal review. But Washcycle has! So read that. And if you'd like to review it for this here very blogging enterprise (basically TFTS is the Pitchfork of bike commuter blogs. No, I'm not entirely sure what Pitchfork is), I'd be happy to pass along my copy to you. But you can't just abscond with it because that wouldn't be fair to the 8 other people who read the blog and might want to know about it. Email talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com. Please have an extensive background in music reviewing and/or not that.

Some exciting shoaling action on R Street, mostly undertaken by a guy on a CaBi.

Some less than exciting last couple of miles action from Dupont to work. I'm going to need a way to make this more fun. I've been riding this route for almost a year and I still haven't figured out a good enough way to keep myself distracted during this fairly boring stretch. Maybe I'll ride on the other side of the street. That might spice things up.


Ride Home 8/13: What's the French word for crouton?

Two posts today and two titles with oddly francophilic themes. It's curious. In the battle of francophilia and anglophilia (as most recently brought about by the Olympics), I fall very much on the side of the former and violently oppose the latter. I don't care for royalty (maybe as a historical curiosity, says me, the former PhD focusing my research on royal grave sites [you can't make this crap up]) and I don't care for pretension and while I tend to enjoy British cultural products (Dr. Who primarily), I'm pretty sure that the British people, as a lot, as just inferior New Englanders. Whereas the French are not the English. But just in case a certain Lizzy Windsor is reading, I kindly request that you do not take away my Brooks saddle and Brompton. K Thx Bye.

Didn't think blog used to be about bicycling? Presumably. I took the same route home as normal and I went as fast as normal which is to say slow. But before I went home, I stumbled upon a mystery and it's the mystery of "Who the Hell Keeps Moving My Hat?" To that effect:

It was on the hook before

Why? My cap wasn't bothering anyone. It was just on the hook, but someone moved it to the bookshelf. Why? No one else uses the hooks. In fact, I'm pretty sure no one else even uses the locker room. And furthermore, who even wants to touch a sweaty cycling cap? This is a greater mystery than Roswell and the Shroud of Turin combined, leading my to believe that some kind of alien Jesus-face guy is responsible. Maybe I'll leave a passive-aggressive note, which is the solution to most problems, at least if the goal is to be mocked on the internet.

Oh yeah, the part about bicycle riding. Down Mass and up Mass and down Mass again. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I got a flat tire during a fast descent, but then I decide that it's not worth wondering about because in all likelihood the result wouldn't be awesome. Thus far it hasn't happened and I'm glad for it.

I followed a bus and the bus was labeled OMEGA TOURS. The last tour you'll ever take, I guess. Or this. The OMEGA bus was piloted by an ok driver and he mostly knew not to drive poorly and I passed him when I could and that was all that occurred between me and the OMEGA bus.

And 11th and Massachusetts, I watched a Peapod delivery truck almost crash into a man, the driver of the truck trying to turn right on red and the man trying to cross the street on a red light. They were both wrong, but I know with whom I sympathize more. The back of the truck had a little message written on it: Driver does not carry cash (only cashews). Hardy har har. I hope the driver carries a license and insurance. I'll never quite understand why PEOPLE WHO GET PAID TO OPERATE VEHICLES seem to be the worst at it. There's some sort of Marxist alienation of labor critique in here somewhere, but I'm just going to walk away lest someone shouts "pinko!" at me from the virtual galleries.

At Pennsylvania and 10th, I saw a delightful looking young woman in her grey t-shirt emblazoned with the Stars and Bars. Of all the places to wear that symbol, DC might be the worst. Anyway, freedom or whatever.

I don't know what Polk's Soliloquy is about, but someone had a car magnet on their driver's side door advertising it. I'm not sure how many times I've been stuck in traffic and thought, "hmm, I wonder if any of the cars around me are advertising a self-published novel. Wait, a minute, that guy!" In any case, he got me mentioning it, for what it's worth (very little).

Is there a way in which the scofflaw cyclist can fit into the American 'outlaw' tradition? Because I tried to imagine a hypothetical conversation between me and some cultural conversative-type fellow and I thought that maybe evoking the Tea Party guys (the first one, where they dumped the tea in the harbor. Outlaws and racially insensitive, so that's two solid American traditions, right there) and/or Jesse James (the bandit, not the Sandra Bullock ex) might help me convince this hypothetical guy that maybe my rolling through stop signs is somehow an ennobled part of the American experience.

Stopped at the store. Biked home tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, tortillas and limes. Learned in the checkout line that Harris Teeter employees are not unionized. Learned from the girl sitting on the rail by where the bikes are locked up that she needs to stop getting small shirts and start ordering mediums. I didn't learn anything about pretzels because I didn't stop the the pretzel bakery. I learned the crepe place has "summer hours," which makes me wonder how their business is doing. And then I learned that I was home.

Ride In 8/13: More leeks than a potagerie

The guy who overtly raced me on Friday was on East Capitol at the same time that I was and perhaps unbeknownst to him I was onto his game this time so I secretly, but somewhat nonchalantly, raced him and I beat him and now we're tied 1-1 and I don't know if this is a best of 7 series or if we're going to have to play out the whole season. I'm sort of hoping that Nate Silver just runs like 10,000 computer simulations so we can find out who's "better" at "bike commuting" without having to repeat this process 9,998 more times.

I made a left onto 3rd NW and rode past the east side of the east wing of the National Gallery of Art before stopping at a ludicrously superfluous stop light at Madison Drive, before turning right onto Madison and following it along the Mall, past the various Smithsonians. Fun fact: Madison Drive, as we're well aware, is named after every five year old girl you know.

There was a guy doing push ups outside of the west wing of the National Gallery of Art, perhaps aspiring more for Praxiteles than Botero. Maybe he body is a temple and he wants it to fit right in with the silly faux Classicism of the National Mall. Maybe he was listening to classic rock on his iPod. Classic Greek rock.

There are signs along the Mall that indicate the parking policy thereabouts and on Jefferson Drive, one side of the street is restricted to permits and the other side is free with a three hour time limit. I think that this is bad policy for any number of reasons. The confusing thing, though, was that the signs also indicated that parking was prohibited Monday-Friday from 1AM-10AM, but there were plenty of cars parked. Does Monday-Friday not mean the Sunday night going into Monday morning? Or is parking on the Mall plagued by lawlessness? Maybe Congress should have a hearing.

I rode down Jefferson and then around the Washington Monument and then across 17th street because I wanted to check out the new and improved Reflecting Pool, which I thought was once again full of water and reflecting things. Rather than reflecting, I was rebuffed (The rebuffing pool is a totally different things) and "nearly ready" doesn't actually mean "ready" and I should read things more closely next time. Here's what it still looks like:

From the path

From the steps near the Lincoln Memorial

And here's the Lincoln Memorial. Why do you detour a bike commute to the Lincoln Memorial? Because you can.

I rode over to the Rock Creek Parkway Trail and the Park Police were engaged in some speeding enforcement activities. The drivers who got got did not look happy. I think this is just yet another reason why we shouldn't have any parks. You can't have a park without running a road through it and you can't turn that road one direction during rush hour without people thinking that it's ok to drive faster than the posted speed limit and you can't enforce speed limits on one day when you're not going to enforce them on all of the other days, so ipso facto, it's time to pave Yellowstone.

After the trail, I rode for a couple of blocks on K Street and rode up Thomas Jefferson (making that my third President street after Madison and Rock Creek Parkway. I'm just assuming that we're not too many years away from "The Rock" being elected President and then getting the parkway "renamed" for him) past Baked and Wired and its pink decorative bicycle of which I have no picture. I took a picture of the building of the Junior League of Washington, which I believe alternates with the American and National leagues in determining who hosts the all-star game. If the JL hosts, you know there will be enough tea sandwiches.

M Street to 31st and I rode 31st uphill to R, which makes for a nice, but somewhat boring, alternative to Wisconsin Avenue. I mean, it's not boring if you like looking at mansions and fancy houses. It's a fairly untrafficked street and quiet too, so the ride was free of dispute and hassle and I recommend the road for anyone looking to get from M Street to R Street in East Georgetown. So that's like a recommendation for maybe 6 people.

I decided to take R Street across Wisconsin and then along my old, old route through Glover Park. The horrible intersection at 37th and Tunlaw will soon be changing (for the better) and I wanted to pay my respects, which mainly consisted of my rolling through the stop sign on my way up the hill and to the left.

I passed a woman standing outside of the Russian Embassy who had sunglasses the size of saucers.

Whatever happened to the bike lanes on New Mexico Avenue? They sure never got installed. ANC 3B, where you at on this?

Another great ride and another great day for it. Fall is right around the corner and you can feel it in the air. Ok, not really, but it's nice to be optimistic.


Ride Home 8/10: Sea Urchins: The Urchins of the Sea

My clothes were still wet. However, for some reason, there was a box of free shirts in the hallway by the copier and there happened to be one is my size, so I took it and I wore it on my ride home, along with my work pants and my work shoes and I didn't have to wear wet clothes, so huzzah for all that. It was a hot afternoon, not sunny but bright and it was humid to the point of mild discomfort. The shirt wicked moisture well. I guess I haven't really thought about it until now, but I don't know why there was a box of shirts labeled free in the hallway. But you should never look a gift shirt in the... neck hole?

I jaywheeled through a bunch of red lights. My law is the law of Idaho. I'm all state's rights like that. Sorry.

Got passed by the driver of a 90s era model of Ford Sedan. He gave me just enough room, but he didn't seem happy about it. Here's the deal: if you're somehow opposed to or uncomfortable with sharing the road with bicyclists, stay home. Or just drive on the highways. Times, they are a-changin', which I believe is a famous line from a Jonah Lehrer book. City streets belong to the people and people want to walk and bike and even pogo (lame) and that's pretty much the deal, so it's time to get over it.

I accidentally shoaled a dude, but he shoaled me back, so there was karmic justice or something. He turned off somewhere up on New Hampshire Avenue, but I stuck to Q and took it the same number of blocks I always take it. At 11th, I barely missed the green light, but turned right on red and then the counter showed 3 at Rhode Island, so rather than race, I stopped. I was looking down at my phone (I was trying to coordinate dinner ingredients with the Official Wife) when I heard the horrible thudding noise of two cars colliding one block in front of me. At first I didn't see the issue, but the light changed and I biked forward. There was a pickup truck in the intersection, pointed diagonally toward the curb in the direction of the Greek restaurant. The driver was still inside and the gathering crowd was beseeching him to leave the cab of the truck. I couldn't quite tell what he crashed into. The truck had a DC flag on the side. It was a government truck, probably DDOT's. The crowd continued to suggest that he leave the cab, when one guy from the corner walked out and tried to open the driver side door, which was stuck and then he told the driver, an older gentleman, to get out on the passenger side, which he did. I biked up another half a block and saw a grey minivan, askance in the bike lane. The damage to the van wasn't at first apparent, but when I passed it, I saw how bad it was. The driver's side of the van was crushed inward, the curtain airbag had deployed and the driver was a shaken up younger woman, who kept looking at her hands. There were no visible signs of injury to either driver. Here are some pictures:

This was my first time calling 911. The operator was curt, efficient, patronizing, thorough, unpleasant, impatient and helpful. The police were deployed and I didn't know what to do, really. I stood around with the gawkers, but I didn't approach anyone. When I heard sirens, I left. I was an ear witness, but I didn't see the event transpire so I felt absolved of responsibility to suggest to any official as to what had happened. I heard one of the gawkers say to another than someone went through a red light. I guess. I was glad that I called 911 because I'm not sure that anyone else had. I also tweeted to DDOT because I'm a social media maven or whatever.

Car crashes are a strange thing to come upon as a bike commuter. It's a terrible reminder of the weight and momentum of the vehicles with which we share the road and the damage witnessed provides a visceral jolt of the implications of what happens when things go wrong. I don't think either driver was injured and I'm glad for that.

After the crash, there wasn't much eventful going on. Spurts and fits down 11th and then Penn and slower going than usual up Capitol. Some days it takes more than others to make the pedals go round. I blame gravity. Some guy on a mountain bike decided that he wanted to race me, or at least that's what his multiple looks back over his shoulder suggested to me and if he was racing me, he won. I saw this guy:

The guy immediately in front of me is the guy who wanted to race me and the thing that looks like a camouflaged banana is some kind of recumbent or velomobile and I wasn't the only one to take a picture. A pair of accented tourists approached at the intersection between the Library of Congress and the Folger Shakespeare Library and one asked "Do you want a picture?" asking, I think, if they had his permission to take a photograph. He assented. I don't know much about the velomobile driver, except that he wore white sneakers that reminded me of the kind that my college roommate used to wear.

I stopped at the store and got some broccoli and cake. On the way there, I saw this neo-Pennyfarthing locked up outside an apartment building on Kentucky. I actually went back to take a picture:

Bike people are weird.