Ride In 6/30: Gated Community

Saw this:

First of all, while I love all chalk messages (especially when Bart wrote 'I will always yield to peds' a billion times in that one Simpsons opening), I think we can all agree that one of the biggest problems that cycling has had over the years is yielding to P.E.D.s. I know that everyone who commutes by bike is a Lance Armstrong wannabe and I know that it's physically impossible to ride a bike without taking some or other kind of drug (such as Claritin), but I think it's a pretty irresponsible message. Don't yield to PEDs! Remain steadfast and unyielding. Maybe you won't win your commute and maybe you won't garner the millions of dollars of endorsements that come from "being the best bike commuter," but you'll sleep soundly at night. Especially if you use PEDs (Pillow Enhancing Drugs). Those you can totally use.

Secondly, what's WABA trying to do here? Is this some kind of cyclist toll? If they don't get  no tolls, will they eat no rolls? Or could it be a trick? Maybe it's not a trick and they just want us to careen wildly into those "people," thereby normalizing cycling by treating it exactly like driving, wherein we crash into a bunch of people and experience no consequences whatsoever! Very clever, WABA. Unfortunately, it didn't work and while I stopped to take this picture, three cyclists rode around the gate, avoiding crashing into the paper people, and also failed the yield to the pedestrians using the crosswalk. Their loss. I waited until the WABAns lifted the gate and rode under, rather than through, the paper people portcullis.

How do I feel about this? Fine, mostly. I think it's a kind of funny effort to remind cyclists to yield in a spot where some cyclists don't always yield to pedestrians. Would I have felt differently about it if those two Bike Lobby toughs tried to shake me down for some money to spend on PEDs ("This is a stick up! Put your money and any allergy meds in the pannier!")? Sure, but that's not what they were doing at all. I don't think, anyway. Should I be offended that the Bicycle Advocacy Community (whatever that is) is reminding me, a bicyclist, to yield to pedestrians while no one from the Car Advocacy Community or the Pedestrian Advocacy Community is reminding those groups to be nice to bicyclists? I certainly don't think so. But maybe you do. Maybe you think any effort to alter the behavior of bicyclists is morally wrong, especially in light of the fact that there are far more consequential bad behaviors by other, non-bicycling groups that have much more negative societal impacts and that any effort to ask bicyclists to do anything differently is an effort spent on not addressing real (real!) problems. I mean, maybe I'd feel that way if it were police officers doing it and not bike ambassadors. Anyway, did you see this? What was your reaction? DO YOU HAVE STRONG OPINIONS ABOUT THIS, OR ANYTHING ELSE, THAT YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? Have at. 


RIde Home 6/27: Artifice

Saw a one-wheeled tandem atop a four-wheeled station wagon parked near work. I assume the other wheel was in the back of the car, packed and ready for travel, but maybe it wasn't and maybe it was just a tandem unicycle. One of my favorite tandems, MG and Felkerino, ride a tandem bicycle, so maybe they have some particular insight into the hot new, and totally conjectural sport, of tandem unicycling. Twice the people! Half the wheels! Somewhere between 1/2 and 4 times the fun depending on whether the fun is multiplied or divided with the addition of people and the subtraction of wheels!

Drivers are idealists and cyclists are realists. Drivers in the city are so hopeful that today (any day) will be the day that they'll have no traffic and that today (every day) no one will be parked in the right lane and they'll be able to zoom by and today (all days) no one will need to make a left turn and today (today today today) the light will stay green and they'll zoom through and today (St. Crispin's Day?) all of the things that make car commuting in the city plodding and onerous and frustrating and, in the worst cases, downright ragey, will fail to appear and it will be glorious! Bicyclists know that the hill in front of them still needs to be climbed, that the lights will change when the lights change and that the inattentiveness of ourselves or those around us can have the somewhat dramatic effect of considerable negative consequences. But, I suppose, you don't need to be an idealist when the reality is mostly good.

21st Street NW could use a cycletrack. I thought about riding another few blocks east to cut back west on New Hampshire to then continue south to L, but the bit of Massachusetts between 23rd and Dupont Circle is a crappy, craggy, ruddy pavement that jostles and jars and gives little space for the slow moving cyclist as it's barely wide enough for the width of two big cars and the cars are always big. Also, I think I have a sort of mental hangup on going east to go west to go south but only because an orienteer beat me up in middle school. I have unresolved issues A compass rose by any other name remains a surprisingly effective weapon in close combat. (Just kidding- I've never been beaten up by an orienteer or any other -teer, including Mousketeer. Yet.)

11th Street is a street with a bike lane and I rode down this street behind a woman in a flowy yellow skirt and I rode on Pennsylvania Avenue with bunches of others, some dressed as normal people and others dressed as normal people in athletic wear. I passed 7th Street where there was an hour before I left work a report of an driver-cyclist crash, but there was no on still on the scene when I came through and I hope everyone was ok. On Penn was when I first noticed how strongly the headwind opposed me and I felt lumbering and slow.

Followed a man on a fixed gear bicycle down East Capitol and I've seen him a few times, but I think this is a different bicycle from the one he normally rides. It was a Bianchi Pista and it glimmered like the shiny side of tin foil. He rode deliberately and not too fast and I rode not too fast deliberately behind him. You can't learn a lot about people from riding a bicycle behind them (at least, not as much as you could from, I don't talking, talking to them or, I don't know, hiring a private investigator to prepare some kind of dossier), but even if you can't learn a lot, you use that time to try to guess what they might be like in non-cycling times or maybe even invent a whole back story for them. I didn't event a back story for this guy, but I noticed his black Nike high tops and I liked how matte they were.


Ride In 6/27: Guaranteed Fresh Until Printed Date

The area in front of the White House was blocked with caution tape and stern looking uniformed men and I rode up 15th street, having little alternative other than turning around and going home. There's a cycletrack on 15th Street, but only up to the White House plaza and when that's closed, there's no direct way to connect to where the cycletrack picks up on the other side of H Street. H Street is one-way east and it's illegal to ride on the sidewalk there anyway, so you at least have to go two blocks north to I Street if you want to get back over. There's no bike lane or cycletrack on the blocks from the White House plaza to I Street, so you're riding next to parked cars in the door zone or maybe you're just riding in the right lane. To make the left turn onto I, you'd have to get out of that right lane and I couldn't do that because there really wasn't much room, so I kept riding on the bike lane-less stretch of 15 past I street to the next block, which is K Street, where there's also no bike lane. You could make a left turn from K Street and maybe ride in the K Street service lane (or whatever that is) and cross back into the cycletrack on 15th. But I didn't make the left turn on K Street, continuing instead on Vermont, where there is no bike lane. There's a traffic circle at Vermont and M and a block before that there's the L Street Cycletrack, but that also only runs east. To get to the M Street Cycletrack, where I was heading anyway, I could've ridden around the traffic circle 330 degrees or so or I could ride across in the crosswalk (or beforehand) and then ride on the sidewalk for a little before riding mostly across the street and then into the protected cycletrack. I didn't ride around the circle. 

I'm used to this. Sometimes bike lanes end and sometimes they're blocked and sometimes roads are closed and sometimes roads are just backed up. It's imperative to be intrepid. When a bicyclist has one good option and that one good option is taken away, that leaves no good options. That leaves being intrepid. Maybe bicyclists should have more than one good option. 


Rides 6/26: Rides 6/26: Rides 6/26

I did ride to and from work today, but I worked from home for a few hours in the morning and then rode to a place near my work to watch sport and then rode to work from there. From work, I rode to a bike shop and then to a grocery store, but not the grocery store I normally go to, and then from there, home.

Some thoughts:

1. Maybe not the best day to ride in jeans. Or flip-flops. Hot. Slow. Got hotter. Went slower. Wisconsin Avenue was interminable.

2. My plan to ride to a place near work to watch the game wasn't a bad plan, as it took my clear across the city on Soccer Match Game Day and I can report back to you that Districtians (and those who come from the surroundings into the District for work and/or pleasure) were a very patriotic bunch of soccer supporters. There were reds. There were whites. There were blues. Stars, they were spangled. I saw a woman with an American flag-inspired pashmina and her golden retriever was wearing an American-flag inspired bandanna. It was like Ralph Lauren vandalized the Humane Society. There were a lot of proper #USMNT jerseys too and other non-jersery shirts that evoked #USMNT jerseys. Some of these shirts might even have been made from jersey. Some of the people might have even been from Jersey. Anyway, DC is soccer mad and you kinda tell.

3. Is there a more silly thing than finally deciding to pass the guy riding in front of you and then getting stuck behind a turning armored car and then he passes you back and then you don't want to pass him again because if the universe put a turning armored car in front of you to make sure for some reason this guy stays in front of you, then that's pretty much nothing to mess with? Or am I maybe just reading too much into this?

4. On the way home, I saw a black BMW with the license plate LUV GOD. Funny. I would've guessed mammon.

5. First Street NE seems like a bad place to drive a car.

6. Columbus Circle seems like a bad place to drive a car.

7. Massachusetts Avenue until Stanton Park seems like a bad place to drive a car.

8. I biked home some burrata without spilling any of the precious burrata liquid. Sure, there plastic wrapping below the plastic lid, but you never know. I've spilled cheese liquids far too many times to take anything for granted.

That's pretty much all I've got. Have a great weekend after having another weekday! Or start your weekend early. In either case, enjoy biking and contained cheese liquids and patriotic dogs.

Ride Home 6/25: Can I Lease a Vowel?

This blog, first and foremost, is about urban bike commuting, but it's also about urban bike commuting and men's facial hair and I've noticed a number of urban bike commuting men with luxurious, thick, full beards and I can't even imagine what that's like when it's 100 degrees with 300% humidity. You would think for summer that these bike commuters might shave down to mutton chops (which also have the benefit of being more aerodynamic) or maybe just some kind of push broom mustache, like an 1890s postman, but no. Beardos ride among us. They ride bearded regardless of the heat and the invariable face sweat. It is not some follicle folly. It's an affirmative decision. They don't let their facial hair choices impact their bike commuting lifestyle. They ride past barber and barber and barber, eschewing them all. They cock back their heads and laugh at razors and strops and thermometers and hygrometers. "Hi, grometer! Bye, grometer!" And away they ride, borne on bikes, throughout the summer and into legend.

I cannot grow a luxurious, thick, full beard. I might be able to muster a wispy and wan beard, more gap between hairs than hairs themselves. I could pretend to be bearded. I could go to a costume shop and ask for the "full Lincoln." (Lincoln did indeed know about beards).  I am not confronted with the choice of whether to carry on boldly bearded, beat upon by the summer heat. But some gentleman bear this choice and so they do. To the bearded bike commuters of DC, we salute you. I mean, I guess. Whatever.


Ride Home 6/24 and Ride In 6/25: Three's LLC

Riding up the hill near the Capitol behind this guy who's going kinda slow, but I don't mind because #SLOWLO, and this other guy on a bike pulls around us and says something along the lines of "Learned a lot from you guys. Don't need to go fast back there [back there being Pennsylvania Avenue] because not gonna catch the lights anyway." Epiphanic. And it's true- most of the time, it doesn't matter if you try to ride fast. The city will not let you. And that's why cities are great: they crush your hopes and dreams they provide limitations and limitations are useful because otherwise people would just do all sorts of crazy things, like bicycle too fast or wear shoes and their heads and hats on their feets. Civilization and its most perfect manifestation, traffic, keeps us in bounds. And submitting to it, rather than fighting against it, is a sign of being civilized. That and the correct wearing of hats and shoes.

This morning was fine. Felt like people were snippy, including me, but snippiness is ok if its not dwelt upon. I don't really think you can ride away from your problems, but you can ride with them and that's generally not the best idea. They bum you out and can turn something fun like a bike commute into something crummy like a car commute. I genuinely believe that most cases of road rage is due to improper venting- the ragey vapors can't get out and I really affects the humors. [No, I didn't go to medical school- why do you ask?] Anyway, why do you think dogs with their heads stuck out car windows always look so happy? Their ragey vapors are properly vented! It's all pretty scientific.

I like the M Street Cycletrack. I want there to be more of it. As Mae West once said "too much of a good thing is wonderful." Everyday I find myself behind more and more cyclists using it. Pretty soon we're going to outgrow it and either we'll need to widen it or shrink everyone's bicycles. There will be a cartoon mouse at M and 14th with a and a line that indicates you must be this tiny to ride the M Street Cycletrack. Sort of like a roller coaster, but in reverse, which is the paradigm that urban bicycling should be embracing anyway. Bike commuting: a reverse roller coaster. [And by that, I don't mean a roller coaster that goes backwards, because they probably already have those and that sounds kinda scary. But rather, the reverse roller coaster should be actively unthrilling, efficient transport from point A to B. No loops. No death defying. No novelty photos of you screaming your head off as you round the final bend that they try to sell you afterwards for $10 (fun fact: when I pop out with my camera from behind the mailbox at 15th and L to take photos of subsequently startled bike commuters, almost no one ever buys the polaroid. It's not very lucrative)]

What about riding up a hill? Yeah, I did that too. I think I'm gonna mix my route up again. It's getting a bit repetitive.


Ride In 6/24: Busted

Saw this:

This was on New Mexico Avenue, near an unsignalized crosswalk. Seeing this certainly doesn't make me feel especially safe about crossing the street. It does, however, make me wonder if we should try to apply some version of the broken windows theory to traffic crimes. We could call it '"busted bollards" or something. Like, what if the fine for hitting one of these signs was like $1000? What if knocking into plastic sticks resulted in your arrest? The idea behind 'broken windows,' at least so far as I understand it, is that you go after the little crimes (graffiti, vandalism, etc.), so things don't metastasize and lead to bigger crimes. Would holding people accountable for minor infractions and not letting anything slide, even the destruction of plastic road markings or street signs, create a climate in which people become much, much safer drivers around things (read: people) that actually do matter? I don't know. What I do know is that I'm looking at a picture of a sign that says that it's the law to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk and that sign has been run over, trampled even, (destroyed really) and maybe this just means that it was an 'accident' or maybe this means that it's not just the sign that's broken, but rather the broken sign is a sign itself that something much bigger is broken and that it's no accident at all.


Ride In and Ride Home 6/23: An awfully long digression on sheep dogs

Rode in, rode home. Worked in between. Not too bad for a Monday, but I didn't feel so great on the way home. A little over-caffeinated, a little dehydrated- like chocolate-covered espresso beans?- and a little not covered in melted chocolate, and that's all for the best because the chocolate would have been hot chocolate and that's for sundaes, not Mondays.

I find that the pedestrians who seem to be the most averse to being near bicycles are also the ones who seem to be the most oblivious to the fact that they're standing in bike lanes. Funny how that works out. The only reasonable suggestion to improve this fact of life would be to remove a travel lane to create a buffer zone between bike lanes and sidewalks. Maybe patrol it with sheep dogs, but like friendly ones, so they can corral any strays back to the sidewalk and/or fend off any wayward bicyclists who encroach into the buffer zone. We'll deputize the sheep dogs and give them vests. How many sheep dogs do you think we'd need for each block? Could we train other dogs do fulfill this purpose? Is this just a big government make-work project for unemployed dogs? Anyway, this is why I'm not in charge of anything. Not just related to transportation, but anything. My suggestions almost always boil down to 'putting animals in costume will solve this problem.' And in reality, putting animals in costume can only really solve about half of society's problems and even though an army of vested sheep dogs would be capable of patrolling buffered space between bike lanes and sidewalks thereby reducing conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians, the infeasibility of procuring a sufficient number of varied sizes of dog vests in the current budgetary climate will doom this program from the outset. Without vests, who would ever take these roaming sheep dogs seriously? I'd certainly be like 'what's the deal with all of these sheep dogs? Are they here to provide some sort of useful traffic control function or are they just out here being dogs? Certainly it can't be the former since they lack vests and no one would ever employ sheep dogs in any kind of official capacity without uniforming them in vests, so I guess they're just out here running around, being dogs or whatever.' And that'd probably raise the hackles of the Humane Society, who I'm sure would be ok with working dogs working, but probably wouldn't be ok with working dogs just running around our city streets not seeming to provide any useful civic function. I don't know where PETA would come down on this because while it might be ethical to employ dogs, it might not be ethical to employ them without giving them some kind of official distinction, such as a vest (or at least, a name tag and/or sassy bandanna) and I don't even know what the wage implications would be and you might have the SEIU upset if the sheep dogs aren't paid a living wage in conformity with local laws and standards or if they're not granted the right to unionize and collectively bargain raises and/or bones. And if the sheep dogs decide to strike, what are you going to replace them with? Do they even make sheep cats? I've certainly never of them. You could probably just leave the buffer space between the bike lanes and the sidewalks unguarded or maybe post a sign that says 'Hey, even though there are no vested dogs here (labor action), you oughtn't step in this space or ride in this space because the space is here to prevent conflicts between people on bikes and people on foot, not to invite it' but if such a sign could work, you wouldn't even need the sheep dogs in the first place. You should just use signs and signs don't need vests or ethical treatment or fall under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board. Signs are just displays of information and we've got them everywhere already and they're approximately as effective as you think they might be. A sign, unlike a sheep dog, can't bark at you. It can't nip at your cuff. It doesn't come when called. It's passive. It's inert. You wouldn't name a sign Rusty and rub its belly when it does an especially good job demarcating which space is for people walking and which space is for people on bikes. It just sits there. And not in a good way, like an obedient sheep dog, ready to spring into action. It's idle. It's as effectual as people let it be. It works to the extent that people consent to it working. It informs, but it can't compel. And it certainly can't wear a vest. Maybe if signs wore vests... If only signs wore vests...

Didn't feel so hot on the ride home. I went slowly. I made it. I rode down Wisconsin and M and Pennsylvania through the newly redesigned Washington Circle, which seems a lot like the old Washington Circle. They didn't make it any more circular or anything. Drivers remain as bad at driving through traffic circles as they've always been, so there's that. I don't particularly care for biking around that traffic circle, but so long as you know that some drivers will come from every direction, heedlessly barreling through and across lanes and cutting off other drivers and bicyclists and pedestrians and everyone else, then you're totally fine. Expect the expected.


Ride Home 6/20: Undercover Underwater

Of the many things I try to anticipate happening as I ride down the hill on Massachusetts Avenue, the appearance of a doe with a fawn in tow, slowly ambling across the street, stopping four lanes of car traffic (amazingly) was not one of them. It's not too shocking that there's wildlife in the city- especially so near Rock Creek Park and I've seen deer farther up Massachusetts by the wooded areas in front the apartment buildings between Wisconsin and Ward Circle, but I can't recall ever seeing a deer hereabouts and this early in the afternoon. Naturally, being DC's 37th best urban fauna blogger, I decided I would document such a sight and so I snapped this picture:

It's where the deer were before they moved in the too long time it took me to get my phone out and switch to the camera setting. You don't get to be the 37th best urban fauna blogger for no reason.

They ducked through the verge and I poked my head through and did manage to capture this blurry image.

The deer enjoyed the grass between the Brazilian and Italian embassies, both for prancing and for eating, and maybe also this means something about the World Cup. Speculate wildly!

Worked my way to and through downtown, but it wasn't so much work as the afternoon was splendid and the weekend was nigh. At 15th and Penn, I rode up behind some Segway-mounted Bike and Roll tourguides (this must be the "and Roll" part) and they asked if I wanted to get in front of them, but I declined, saying that I would pull around once we got moving and then I did that and then I was stopped in front of them and the next red light a few blocks down when one of the pair told me that he also had an Ogre and we both agreed it was a cool bike. He asked about the Jobes bars and I told him that they're made by a guy named Jones and I hope that I was accurate in that and didn't just come off as flip because really I was trying to help. 

Guy passed me riding up the hill through the Capitol grounds and I briefly thought about trying to stay on his wheel and I gave up because who cares and not because of the wheezing and whatnot. Yes, that's what I'll say [whistles tune all cool like].

Saw some tourist Buddhist monks taking some tourist pictures in the plaza where tourists take pictures of the Capitol. Desire is the root of nearly all suffering. Congress accounts for the rest. [zing] 

Don't remember much of the next 16 blocks. Either nothing eventful happened, it did and I've forgotten it, or it did and I'm pretending it didn't to drum up some clicks for tomorrow's post in which I reveal that one amazing thing that did or didn't happen that will blow your mind. So, yeah. 


Ride In 6/20: Don't know how, don't know when

Habits. Sometimes you form them and they allegedly die hard (like Bruce Willis!), but other times you break habits and I've broken the habit of daily blogging and it slipped my mind that I should have already written up the morning commute. It was another lovely one with perfect early summer weather, a fully functioning bike, and a pleasant coffee engagement, as is the a Friday habit that I haven't broken. Afterwards, it was my habitual trip down G Street- a street that could be so much better for bicycling if anyone cared to suggest it might be- and then down Virginia Avenue, across Water Street, and up Wisconsin Avenue. I'm impressed with the amount of unloading trucks on Wisconsin Avenue, parked and double-parked from M Street through Calvert, their absence being less of the norm than their presence. I've been on Wisconsin during the morning hours outside of standard commute times and it seems that then there are even more unloading trucks, if that's even possible. I guess that's the way it's supposed to work on city commercial strips, but I wonder to what extent we'll ever really be able to change the transportation dynamics on Wisconsin Avenue so long as the vast majority of things to the vast majority of stores, shops and restaurants are conveyed each morning my box truck. It seems like an unfun place to drive a car- and this is even before 9:30 when there's [allegedly] not a parking lane. In any case, I've come to much prefer Wisconsin to my old route (and still current afternoon route) of riding up Massachusetts. I'll trade staid and stately embassies for the morning bustle of a commercial strip every day of the week. Cities are for commerce. Bike riding is for cities. And given my spending lately, city bike riding is for commerce. I'll just pat myself on the back for being a job creator. I'm sure I'm personally keeping open tens of tube factories and dozens of rubber plants. I'm not someone with perpetually bad luck when it comes to flat tires. I'm a job creator. (Not flats yet since I fixed the last flat. Yet.)


Ride Home 6/18: BUNNIES

Working from home today, but I did ride home yesterday and it was pretty much everything that I thought it would be. That is, very hot. I've learned to sublimate my distaste for the overbearing heat and I've even come to appreciate it. After all, how else would I cook ribs other than throwing them in my pannier? It's really the only truly sustainable way to make ribs and while I've ruined many work shirts with pork juices and dry rub, I really couldn't bear the looks of disappointment on my family's faces if I didn't bring home bike-bag-cooked meat. It's actually not true that I cook boned meats in my bike bag (in order for my bag's temperatures to get that warm, I'd have to take Metro), but yesterday was awfully hot and if this weather keeps up on-bike cookery will soon seem both practical and reasonable. And think of the time savings! No more waiting for the microwave to finish heating up my Hungry Man Chipotle BBQ Boneless Chicken Wyngz! [Wyngz. Really.] 

Massachusetts to 21st to L. Maybe I should've taken Pennsylvania instead of L. Until the reconstruction work on L is done, I think I'd rather take a wider street with no bike infra than ride through screwy bike infra. I'm really not a VC type (nor am I a venture capitalist) and I plan my route to normally take as many bike lanes and cycletracks as possible (because 1) they're generally better and 2) I think it's important people use them), that situation with the closed lane at Connecticut is really something I'd rather avoid. And this is how 30 bad feet "ruins" 6 good blocks. 

Zebras are still on Penn. The heat probably reminds them of home. They might be removed soon and replaced with other, better, and more barriers and its unclear what equid those will be named after. I hope they're Lipizzaners and first time there's a u-turning driver, we get some badass capriole action. That'd be sweet.

 East Capitol is a really nice street and I'm lucky to bike down it twice everyday. I'd like if more if there were fewer UPS trucks parked in its bike lanes, but it's only like 3 times a week that happen and that means that there are 2 other times when it doesn't happen and yesterday was one of those days. Though there was a USPS truck. Oh well. 


Ride In 6/18: Barn Burner

I rode along the Mall today and I really should more often. It's a nice change from riding through downtown and in the morning it's mostly quiet. Just the stray tourist, runners, and the occasional worker emptying a trash can or erecting a tent for the Folklife festival. Rather than ride on the road, I took to the dirt/tiny rock path, following that from 3rd Street to 14th and then it was paths again past the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial and to and beyond the Lincoln Memorial, which shone brightly in the hot morning sun. The Lincoln Memorial is fine, but I find the area around it to be somewhat moribund. It's very car trafficky, swarms of drivers looping around the curving bends emanating from and around the Memorial Bridge. There's a kind of dead zone between the Lincoln Memorial, Constitution Avenue and the Rock Creek Parkway that always feels so alienating to me. Maybe I'm supposed to feel grandeur and majesty but I mostly just feel like it's difficult to cross the street.

I rode along the water and then illegally through Washington Harbour (the u is for 'u r not British') and also refused to dismount my bike in the Georgtown Waterfront park even though a sign told me to dismount it. I like to live on the edge. Rather than create a pleasant off-street path for bicycles from the end of the Capitol Crescent Trail to the Rock Creek Trail, we've banned them and instead relegated bikes to the subpar Water Street and its lack of bike facilities and many conflict points. No one would ever guess that bicyclists might desire to travel from one heavily used commuter route to another heavy used commuter route. I'm sure it'll get less bad for everyone once they throw a streetcar into the mix.

So many bicyclists riding towards downtown as I traveled away from it. I counted 118, but I'm probably off by at least one or two. Not a bad showing for such a hot day. Have I mentioned it was hot? It was hot. #hot.

Macomb to Glenbrook to Loughboro, which turns into Nebraska. It so slow going, but I didn't mind. It's a bit circuitous and I've toyed with the idea of trying to bike up Arizona Avenue, but that seems like a busy (if not exactly fast moving) street and I'm not even totally sure how I would get to it from the trail anyway. I don't think it's any less steep either. I like riding up Macomb, except for its speed bumps, which seem somewhat gratuitous. Speed bumps are really interesting to me. They're like the ultimate sign of defeat and recognition that putting numbers on signs really doesn't have any power to compel anyone to actually abide by those numbers. The problem with lawbreaking cyclists is that signs that say stop don't actually stop them so we take to the comments section of every story about bicycling to berate them because they are morally wrong lawbreakers who clearly have some kind of socially harmful deficiency  and expecti this kind of righteous suasion to finally convince them to behave, but the problem with drivers is that signs that say 25 mph don't really slow them down so we build giant asphalt mounds to ensure that if they wildly transgress their cars will fly through the air and bottom out, smashing the underside of the vehicle into the pavement and maybe causing significant damage to their function, knowing full well that anything short of totally changing the calculus of their self-interest via an explicit threat to their property will achieve nothing. And the problem with pogoists is that neither signs nor speed bumps will stop them. One of the many problems with pogoists, actually.

I think it's time to start bringing iced coffee in the thermos. That was a very unpleasant sip.


Ride Home 6/17: Trastamara

At least summer is almost over. Wait, what? First major heat wave of what will assuredly be many this summer and there's no sense in getting too upset about it, especially when there are so many simple solutions that you can take to beat the heat. For example, you can remove your bike seat when you get to work and store it in the office break room freezer. Better yet, you can buy some kind of fancy ice cube mold and just make an ice saddle! Comfortable and cooling, at least for a little while. Hurry home. 

Got stuck between an SUV and the curb in Sheriden Circle and there was barely a foot between me and the car. It was unpleasant. The worst was slowly the whole affair unfolded. I was looking over my shoulder and I swear that I saw in the driver's face the exact moment he thought 'yeah, this maybe isn't a great decision, but I'm going go for it anyway.' Maybe I'm just projecting. After he got in front of me and I got over to the right lane, I raised my left arm in a kind of half-hearted 'why?' gesture of semi-resignation mixed with a desire to at least call to his attention that I knew he knew he wasn't doing something great. I mean, I know why. Waiting behind me for two seconds would've been the worst. The worst! I try not to let dumb stuff bother me when it doesn't result in anything other than my own temporary discomfort and frustration (and I highly recommend trying to do this), but this one rankled for a bit longer than I wanted it to. I blame the melted ice saddle.

Lots of wrong-way cyclists on 21st street. See this every day. Street is sufficiently wide for a contraflow bike lane (or even better, a protected two-way cycletrack). There's bike lanes on New Hampshire, which provide another northbound route not too far away, but people tend not to use these. Maybe we should treat 'salmon' like we do the desire lines that form dirt paths in the grass near walkways. After all, people aren't salmoning for no reason or just to piss people off. They're trying to get somewhere. Perhaps to spawn, like the fish salmon. It's probably to spawn. But it could be for other reasons. Maybe.

So, this is bad.

L Street east of Connecticut
It used to be a cycletrack bit and should return to being one when the construction is over. In the mean time, it's a construction zone and it's harrowing and dangerous. 

L to 15th to Pennsylvania to East Capitol. I feel like I bowdlerize these parts everyday, but, honestly, I just can't recall anything worth recounting. Or counting in the first place. Happy to be in from the hot sun, happy to be out in it again tomorrow. 

Ride Home 6/16 and Ride In 6/17: I watched soccer instead of writing this last night

A pretty unremarkable ride home. It was evening! It was summer! Some parts were good! Other parts were less good! [Been back in the bike commute blogging business for a few days and this is pretty much all I've got. Yikes]

This morning I noticed that for the first time that I felt pretty comfortable on the new bike. I think that this might have something to do with the latest adjustment to the seat I had made and then my subsequent decision not to adjust it again. Maybe I finally dialed it in perfectly or maybe I just needed to just stop adjusting it every 10 minutes to allow myself to get habituated. Either way, good for me. I think I'm going to make some minor fun changes to the bike, so watch this space if you care about that for some reason. In any case, impending minor fun changes or not, I'm really happy with the Ogre as a commuter bike and I look forward to it in the fall and winter when maybe it will be ever more practical (more like "practical").

For the second morning in a row, I saw Ted by the White House. Hi Ted! This morning we said hi to each other as we waited for pedestrians to cross 15th and the occasion was also marked by a guy on a bike riding through the crosswalk and cutting off another cyclist coming from the other direction. I believe she called him an idiot. Fun times!

Do you have deep wells of hatred in your heart over the minor annoyances caused to (or maybe just around) you by people who run or bicycle? You have some options. You could leave a comment on this remarkably dumb story or you could simply get over it, realizing that you shouldn't indulge the pettiest of your petty pet peeves. (Or you could start your own blog.)

I rode M Street and then took an illegal detour through the then-not-open-but-now-fully-operational stretch of two-way New Hampshire Avenue and then rode up Pennsylvania Avenue from Washington Circle to 24th Street and then rejoined the M Street Cycletrack and rode it until its end in Georgtown. There I stopped at the bank to deposit a $16.41 check I received as part of a class action lawsuit against the makers of frozen potato product and after that I continued along M to Wisconsin and then up the hill to Volta, which is my preferred westbound street into Georgetown. Volta to 35th, where I sat in some sweet, sweet car traffic, and up to R and then somehow T and then somehow 37th, where there's another hill. Sometimes on that hill, when there's a gap between parked cars, as a courtesy I'll move over and let a car driver pass me. I'm in no particular rush and sometimes it's nice to be nice, especially when there's sufficient room to abide it. I don't think the drivers necessarily expect it, but there are some cases where I'd rather make room to allow them to pass me than either have them tailgate or try to pass when there's not sufficient room.

Slow ride up New Mexico Avenue, but the trees block much of the sun. Take that, sun!


Ride In 6/16: ____ from the ______

Summer haze and should be hot all week. Mornings aren't as bad as afternoons, but in the way that getting eaten by a lion isn't as bad as getting eaten by a tiger. Drink water, go slow, ride in the shade of trees, wear sunscreen, don a hat, be happy you're not on Venus, where the weather is marginally worse. Stupid Venus.

Living on Capitol Hill and working off it affords me the chance to bike through the Capitol grounds nearly every work day, so naturally this buzzy nonsense about closing streets to cars and building security fences evokes a certain level of personal interest and/or concern. In short, the plan would be to close off a bunch of streets to cars, thereby preventing people from using car bombs to blow up buildings that they could now blow up with car bombs but don't for some reason. Maybe closing these streets would make us all safer. Maybe closing these streets would lead to CARMAGGEDON. Maybe both, maybe neither. However, the thing I think about when I ride or walk through the Capitol complex is just how crappy of an area it is for cyclists and pedestrians. There are security gates. There are metal bollards. There are a sidewalks with no curb cuts. There's a shit ton of car parking for the important people and I doubt that any of this would go away in any kind of pedestrianization plan. Because it's not really a pedestrianization plan. It's a security plan. And while a security plan and a restriction of access might incidentally result in spaces that are free (or freer) from cars and thereby pedestrianized, it's not the same thing as designing a great space for pedestrians as the primary priority. I can assure of this because the streets around the Capitol complex which are currently free (or freer) from car traffic aren't great for the through movement of people walking or on bikes. So, why should I trust them to do any better with even more closed streets? Simply put, I don't think that the people in charge of security want people- whether in cars, on bikes, or on foot- around and I don't think that would change if even more streets were closed. Anyway.

Pennsylvania Avenue to 15th to M. The funny thing about the M Street Cycletrack is that it's still not 100% done. Well, funny isn't exactly the right word. I mean, it's like 89% done and I think we're happy for the B+. The last half block should be done soon. The whole thing could stand to be repaved and I'm sure that's in the cards soon enough. Until then, probably not the best route if you're biking with Faberge eggs, as as one does.

I can guarantee you that I'm more held up by cars on Wisconsin than I ever hold them up. In fact, this might just be true in general. A thought experiment: a commute morning, but no bicyclists are on the road. How much faster does the average driver get anywhere? A second thought experiment: a commute, but there are no cars on the road. How much faster does the average cyclist get anywhere? I think about this every time I'm on my bike stuck in car traffic. You can opt out of driving, but you can't always opt of the consequences of others driving. Unfair? Probably.

I rode up Volta Street to 35th and then down to Tunlaw and up the hill and up New Mexico Avenue in the wonderful, wonderful bike lanes, which are wonderful. By wonderful, I mean totally adequate for their being some white paint, but really, I'm not complaining. So much better to have them than to lack them.


Ride Home 6/13: Whales from the Narrows

I was under the impression from Internet Weather Hyperbole that I would be forced to ride home through some sort of monsoon/thunderstorm/derecho/mega-rain, but either I misunderstood or, shockingly, someone on the internet got something wrong. It was dry and sunny enough and remained that way for the length of the trip. I wouldn't have bemoaned the rain so much, except for my riding the fenderless bike with the rim brakes, the bike I didn't really plan to commute on, precisely because of sometimes wanting greater assurance in less sure weather.

This ride was marked by the battle between my left foot and the plastic and metal determined to keep it attached to my left pedal. There are many virtues to riding with clippy pedals (greater power, more efficient pedaling, the feeling of oneness with your bike as you fall over when you can't get your foot free in time) and generally, I really don't mind it. Maybe even prefer it. I certainly feel the difference, especially riding uphill, and more than that, I've always believed that you should have special shoes for each distinct activity in your life. I wear work shoes at work, tennis shoes for playing tennis, snow boots for walking in the snow, penny loafers for penny loafing, moon boots for lunar exploration, and, of course, pogo shoes for pogo-ery. It just seems prudent. But given my lack of practice with these bike shoes lately, each time I slowed to stop, it was a battle to get my left leg free. Subsequently, it was a battle to get my left foot back into the clips. It was a rolling hokey pokey with my left leg in and my left leg out, but the only thing shaking all about was my head, wondering how I got so bad at this.

PSA break:
This Sunday, in honor of father's everywhere, Kidical Mass Arlington is going to ride to ice cream! This time it's, North Arlington style: meet at Hayes Park, ride through Ashton Heights and Lyon Village and finish at Larry's Homemade Ice Cream in Clarendon. **To sweeten this incredibly sweet deal, Larry's is offering us HALF OFF ice cream. Hooray for Larry's!** 
When: Sunday, June 15, 2014 5:45pm (roll out 6:00pm - come early with a picnic!)
Meet: Hayes Park -- North Lincoln Street & 15th St N, Arlington
End: Larry's Homemade in Clarendon -- Wilson Blvd and North Highland Street. (an easy mile from the start via this route)

Route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/4927969
Details: http://kidicalmassarl.blogspot.com/2014/06/fathers-day-more-ice-cream-615-545pm.html

I have to think that if, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Luke and Vader went for a Father's Day Kidical Mass ride, things could've worked out much sooner and with much less lightsaber hand cutting-off. So, keep that in mind as you make your Sunday plans.

Mass Ave to 21st Street to L, where I'm always amazed at how blithely some drivers cross into the cycletrack at the mixing zones. Like, if there's ever any place to look for bicyclists, who at this point are not an unknown entity in the urban transportation landscape, maybe it's as your cross through the bike lane. Maybe that's where they'd be? And maybe that's where you might want to expect them? Maybe? Guys? Anybody? Please? I can't wait until the future when there are self-driving cars and people can no longer ignore bicyclists. That'll be the robot's job.

15th to Pennsylvania to East Capitol and then home. This weekend I aim to fix the flat on the other bike and maybe bring in the Cross Check for a new derailleur. It wasn't a bad backup ride and I really do enjoy riding that bike a lot, but I'd feel much better if, I don't know, it worked. I know- what a stickler.


Ride In 6/13: Nails from the Pharoahs


Not much more dispiriting than discovering a flat tire right as you're about to leave for work. I've had the Ogre for a few weeks now and I've had an evil curse on me for a few years now, so it's about right that this bike has finally been afflicted. I didn't examine the cause. I didn't attempt to repair it. I have patches, but no spare tubes. I was running a little late and didn't want to spend the time trying to diagnose and resolve the issue, especially since I didn't really think I could fix it anyway. I try not to get too upset about flat tires because if I did, given the frequency with which I get them, I would be perpetually upset. Flats, all kinds of flats, happen on all of my bikes. Maybe my house was built atop a former glass factory. Maybe I once accidentally ran over the woodland home of a series of magical elves and they've decided to avenge the loss of their former abode. Maybe I am just supremely unlucky. I don't know. Since it happens on each of my bikes, I can't blame one kind of tire or one kind of rim strip or tube. It's me and I've made peace with that. It's like the worst X-Men mutation ever. "Oh, you can shoot lasers from your eyes? Check this out- yeah, I've rendered this bike temporarily unusable. Yeah, it's my own bike and not the bike of our enemies or anything. Yeah, no, I don't really have another way to get around. What's that, Professor X? You'd like me to leave your special school. Lemme just get on my bike- oh wait, nevermind. Where's the bus again?"

I rode the Cross Check, my erstwhile commuter, and it felt very small compared to the beefy, ample Ogre. I felt hunched over, as if my knees would smack me in the face. Aside from the size difference, I was also riding on road pedals for the time in years and they were tight and I was mostly convinced that my inability to unclip in a timely manner would result in my falling down in a somewhat hilarious (or not) manner. I didn't, so that was nice at least. There's always the ride home.

Uneventful to Friday Coffee Club and then afterwards down G Street through Foggy Bottom. I rode with Rootchopper a little until we parted ways by Virginia Avenue and then for me it was down K/Water Street and up Wisconsin Avenue and for him it was either over the bridge and to work in Rosslyn or back down to his house to sit on the deck and drink beers.

The other funny thing about the Cross Check, which I had mostly forgotten, is that its rear derailleur is kinda messed up and needs replacing. Whoops. It shifted ok and didn't make too many scary grindy clacky noises, but I should probably get it taken care of sooner rather than later. I had put fixing it on the back burner since I didn't intend to commute on this bike any time soon, but you know, flat tires and such. I thought that the bike would feel a bit more springy since it's stripped down with no rack and no fenders and lighter tires and no coffee cup holder, but it didn't really feel much lighter than the very heavy Ogre and I think I attribute that to my own lack of energy lately. Bikes, so they say, aren't horses [note: while this is factually accurate, I'm not sure it's an actual saying. Nor should it be, really] and my bike doesn't go on its own, no matter how much barley and sugar cubes I give it. In fact, I think my bike mechanic would really prefer not to have to pick barley husks from the rear cogs. Live and learn, I guess.

At the intersection of Wisconsin and Massachusetts, I rode across the street in the crosswalk (I normally pull up on the sidewalk to get out of the way while waiting for the light to turn green) and I had a nearly very unpleasant experience with the front of a Mercedes, whose driver barreled it into the crosswalk, presumably in the attempt to make a (illegal there) right turn on red. I have no problems with the rule about right turns on red except for the rule itself, which is a terrible and anti-people idea. You cannot simultaneously prioritize the safe movement of people in crosswalks and the continued flow of car traffic through those same crosswalks. It just doesn't work.


Ride Home 6/11: Mail from the Scarecrows

Ogre? More like Slow-gre. I wasn't feeling it yesterday (it being verve. I did feel heat, humidity and deep wells of lassitude) and so I propelled myself at a speed barely faster than a slow trot. Having no horses by which to pace myself, that's only an estimation. One of the virtues (I guess) of keeping track of my rides for the past two days on Strava (STRAAAAAAAAAVVAAAAAAAAA!) was learning (though I already knew this, so maybe a better word is confirming) that the difference between one of my 'try to go fast' commutes  and one of my 'take your time' commutes is six minutes. Six minutes isn't a lot of minutes (more than 5, fewer than 7 say mathematicians) and in the summer heat and balminess, I'll gladly make the trade of one tenth of an hour of extra time on the bike for more than substantial increase in enjoyment of the trip. In fact, I think I'd make this trade in all seasons.

I shall confess, but only obliquely, to violating my vow of unfiddling. I shall spare you the details of how much time I spent fiddling, where I publicly fiddled, how inept and ineffectual said fiddling was, and how I've, this morning, the day after fiddling, fiddled once more to make up for the ad hoc, in transit fiddling I did yesterday on the ride home. I am very close to taking a friend of the blog's advice and getting a proper bike fitting, if only to sate my neurosis (and to properly fit my bike). I will offer some unsolicited advice that you should not needlessly fiddle with your bike roadside as the conditions are less than ideal and, if you're inclined towards self-consciousness, you might come to suspect that a man nearby talking on his cellphone is conveying in Chinese nothing other than the topic of your mechanical ineptitude to his conversation partner. One of the most hilarious consequences of my fiddling was subsequently having my multitool fall from my bag, through the spokes on my rear wheel, and onto the pavement of K Street as I attempted to cross it. I scurried back and picked it up and considered my lesson learnt.

Normally, L Street is my preferred route but sometimes I find myself on Pennsylvania avenue west of 17th Street and it's a considerably more direct route. It has no bike facilities and fewer bicyclists (heading east at least) and it's a bit of a mess with drivers trying to head home to Virginia. So, tradeoffs.

Passed by a Bikeshare commuter. Passed by other bike commuters as well. Didn't care. Don't care.

Pulled a u-turn and chased down some people collecting signatures for the local effort to legalize cannabis and added my name to the list. I don't (and haven't ever) use cannabis, but it seems like a thing that should be legal given all of the terrible repercussions and consequences of its being prohibited. Plus, it's always good to sign petitions for ballot measures. Democracy and whatnot. I hope you all will sign my forthcoming ballot measure petition for a referendum to legalize the Idaho Stop. Of course, rather than stop at the polls to vote, you'd probably just treat them like a yield sign and we would lose.

No rides to work today (Thursday), but I should be back at it tomorrow. I guess there's been some heavy rain lately, but I've managed to avoid it. My suggestions to those of you who haven't is to go slow, use lights, and wrap yourself in super-absorbent paper towels mummy-style. Sure, it might limit your ability to operate your bike, but the reports in the local newspapers of roving hordes of bicycling mummies would be really fun to read. If you'd rather not don paper towel mummy garb, you can grab a DC flag and show your support for Statehood. Of my favorite hoods, DC statehood ranks above Robin and the brand of ice cream, so I'll be doing my flag selfie (flageflie? that's sounds like a whipping) tomorrow. You can too.


Ride In 6/11: Snails from the Sparrows

Because I just can't leave stuff damn well enough alone, I adjusted the angle of my seat again. I think it's time to start going to Fiddlers Anonymous and I totally would if this group actually existed and also wasn't for violinists and not people who randomly wrench bike parts when there's no special need for it. It's not even that my seat was uncomfortable yesterday. It's just looked not in perfect alignment. I don't know. I'm issuing a 48 hour moratorium on my touching any part of my bike with a wrench, so here's hoping things don't break or whatever.

I'm impressed with the brazenness of my fellow bike commuters who roll red lights next to police cars. Generally, I think there are better deployments of limited police resources than the enforcement of victimless jay___ing, but come on, dudes. It seems like a needless risk. I wonder how many people rolling red lights even notice- the primary concern, obviously, would be the cars potentially coming through the intersection. I think I've only ever seen one time that a police officer pulled over the cyclist in front of me for rolling through a red, but that one time was enough. Of course, you could take this to the extreme conclusion and follow traffic laws even when police officers aren't around, but THAT'S JUST CRAZY TALK. 

I rode up 11th Street today and was pretty lethargic about it. It's a gentle uphill slope, but it really wore me out. I was happy to stop at four successive red lights. Also, to wait behind a turning bus whose driver didn't see me approach in the bike lane as it started to turn. Sometimes it's best to wait. 

M Street from 11th to Thomas Circle and Thomas Circle is terrible and I don't know how you could make it better for bicyclists other than the run a cycletrack directly through the circle but I don't think that the presence of that equestrian statue at the center of the circle is conducive to that situation. Also, I'm sure a cycletrack running from M Street to M Street through the circle would be an unforgivable besmirchment of an important historical circle and one could never stand for such a besmirchment or any polygon, much less a historical circle. There is a bike lane that runs up 14th and another that takes you up Vermont, but neither of those really helps you keep going west and west we must go according to Manifest Destiny and also that's where my workplace is. I guess you could ride through the circle by crossing the slip lane and then crossing another street, but ugh. Anyway, I guess this is why I don't normally go this way.

This is new:

A lot of tourists visit the Reflecting Pool down by the Lincoln Memorial, but don't come see the one in the M Street Cycletrack. I think that they're missing out, but I'm happy to avoid the crowds. The water was only a few inches deep and free of koi. Koi are not NACTO approved. Not yet at least. But they are very colorful and I would have to think that they would improve visibility by 300% (study forthcoming).

It is very annoying to have someone not see you and decide to cross the street against the light as you approach. It's just annoying. It's not the end of the world and for the most part, it's normally not that big of a deal. It happens. But it's annoying. But lots of things are annoying and life goes on. 

Red turn arrows are the new #CONFUSION. 

Wended my way through Georgetown and up some hills and then down Calvert Street and up New Mexico. By the time I got to work, the mugginess and the exertion combined to render my clothes and me beneath them thoroughly gross. Summer is still better than winter. 


Ride Home 6/10: Pails from the Barrows

June hot, but only June hot. Not July hot or August hot or why is so hot in October hot. I like the June heat. There's a lot to like about it. It, for example, wards off frostbite. It keeps at bay rabid penguins (can penguins get rabies? I'm not an expert) It would, theoretically, melt those evil Snow Men from that one Doctor Who episode maybe. It could, though not without sanitary implications, allow for the rising of a souffle inside one's pannier. June heat has a lot going for it.

Down and up and down Massachusetts Avenue and I rode behind a bus advertising the best of music to be played at Wolf Trap this summer. Hall! Oates! Others! (I believe that Lionel Richie and Cee Loo Green might be among the others.) I've never purchased tickets to a music events as a result of being induced by an ad on the back of a bus, but maybe some people do! Maybe you're driving along and this bus driver cuts you off and right as you slam on the horn and just as you're about to curse him out you look up and as the spittle and expletive angle to the edge of the lips you glance up and then, just then, you learn from an ad placed on the back of that bus that the Counting Crows, your favorite band in the whole world, is playing at Wolf Trap this summer and you funnel your rage from the bus driver into the motivation to go to this website as soon as you're home (or maybe you pull over! or maybe you drive right up onto the sidewalk! or maybe you just stop in traffic because you cannot possibly conceive of driving an inch farther without Counting Crows tickets!) and buy those tickets all because of that wonderful, blessed, well-placed bus ad. That's what the Don Draper of bus ads wants. That's what he knows will happen. The Don Draper of bus ads is good. Very good.

Easy down Mass Avenue and easy down 21st, but car traffic on L is mostly ridiculous. I don't know how drivers cope. It complicates things for bicyclists (be safe!) but it doesn't nearly slow things up for cyclists as it does for drives. It's hard to see the system that is car traffic downtown and think that this system isn't broken. I guess most people agree about that- it's the means of fixing it that creates the debate. My suggestion is a congestion charge. No, not a congestion charge for cars, but for noses. But we could also tax Sudafed and Kleenex and use that money for better bus service.

15th to the White House area where the scary security bollards were temporarily down and I rode through but right as I was about to ride through, the guy in the gate house went to lift them. Not to stop me (they're normally pretty ok about bikes) but because a technician who was working on them told him to lift them, having not seen me approach. Tip: if they're down, don't ride through. It's just better for everyone that way.

At Pennsylvania and Constitution, a driver blatantly ignored a red turn signal well after it has turned red and honked quite honkily (I'm a real good writer!) at me and the cyclist in front of me. I responded with my usual fusillade of wit, in which I employ the f word as a noun in between the words stop, you, and what are you doing. It was quite egregious. SIDEBAR: I've never wanted, and don't want know, this blog to become a litany of all the bad and wrong things that sometimes drivers/pedestrians/cyclists/ocelots/M-F-ing pogo-ing bastards do to, at, or near me during my bike commute. One, because I think that's boring. Except maybe if it were ocelots because really. But two, because that's way too negative and the 3 seconds of pique and frustration take up way too much time in the re-telling that it gives those 3 seconds an undue weight. The rest of the trip was fine. UNSIDEBAR (I'm not a lawyer- do you have to announce unsidebars? I should really watch more Judge Judy) My main concern was not that the driver heard me- he most assuredly didn't- but that the bicyclist in front of me thought that I called her the f word as a noun and that I was telling her to stop and questioning what she was doing. I almost said something at 3rd Street to clarify. But how does one even clarify that without even more mortification? "Pardon me miss.." begins the conversation that ends with my mugshot. Anyway. She was totally in the right, the driver was totally in the wrong, and none of the three of us, rightly or wrongly, ended up subject to police action.

Up the hill and down East Capitol and down Kentucky to the grocery store where I bought kale and garbanzo beans ("garbanzo!" is what Spanish paratroopers yell as they alight maybe) and then I rode home and then we ate dinner and then I wrote this.

Two down. Let's keep this going until it gets stale again.

Ride In 6/10: Shale from the Tarots

Friend of the blog and America's most beloved randonneuse, MG, wrote something I found to be especially resonant about riding and writing and that reminded me that I have a bicycling blog and that I used to write quite a lot about riding my bicycle, though I haven't of late. But as of now (before the pernicious fiduciary influence of auto manufacturers leads internet service providers to strangle the bandwidth of marginally popular local bike commute bloggers), there's nothing from stopping me from taking it up again. Though my blogging muscles have atrophied somewhat, I'm going to do my best to (temporarily) revive the old format. The blog and I are going to the Poconos to see if we can get our relationship back on track. We're going to sit in a heart-shaped hot tub together and see if we feel that old spark. Maybe I'll surprise the blog with flowers. Maybe the blog will make my favorite supper. Maybe the blog and I, after some time apart, will look deeply into each other's eyes and remember what it was that drew us together in the first place oh so many years ago. (Well, that was weird. Anyway.)

For the past two days, and against my better inclination, I've pressed to go button on the Strava app that I almost never use on my phone that I use quite a lot. I don't know why I did it. I'm not a Strava (STRAAAAAVVAAAAAAA!) devotee and I don't exactly care about my mileage or time or calories burned. I don't track my miles the same way I don't take a picture of myself in the mirror every morning. I feel relatively confident in my belief that my bike ride existed regardless of an app telling me as much. But for the past two days, I pressed the go button and then I went. I don't know know what revelation I was looking for (or what, if any I've found), but maybe it had something to do with my riding a new bicycle and wanting to quantify (in some rudimentary way) how this new bicycle compares to the old one. Though I don't really need an app to tell me that the new bicycle is performing to my liking and I'm finally happy with the seat height, position and angle. I've fiddled with the seat plenty in the hope of "dialing it in" and this morning, I think it's safe to finally call it dialed. So dialed. More than the soap. More than the M for Murder. It's just really, really dialed. FUN FACT: adjusting a bike seat is one of the few things I can do with a wrench that doesn't totally mess up the proper functioning of my bike and maybe that's why I spend so much time futzing around with it. Also, maybe because a maladjusted bike seat is really bothersome. I am a delicate flower.

Have you noticed that it's summer? One of the clues is the preposterous humidity. It's an urban legend that DC was built on top of a swamp, but not an urban legend that DC was built of top of a giant humidifier, buried by the Freemasons and the Founding Fathers to ward off foreign invaders from naturally dry climates. To this date, America has not been overrun by Bedouins and you can thank the prescience of George Washington and 18th century surreptitious humidification technology.  A lot of people don't know that, but I'm pretty sure I some an exhibit about it once at a museum or maybe it was just a subplot in a Tom Hanks movie. Another clue that it's summer is that there are many bicyclists out and much more than there were in the winter. Perhaps you bemoan these other bicyclists. I know that I get used to having fewer people on bikes around in the winter and I find this somewhat freeing. It's more likely that in the winter I'll be able to set my own pace rather than falling in behind someone, having not enough room to politely pass and enough social grace to recognize that. And then in the summer, there are more other people and it's more likely that my pace will be dictated (at least temporarily) by the person in front of me. And you know what? I'm totally ok with this! Is having to slow down and ride behind someone for a little time something to be very upset about? Not really. Boo hoo, I have to ride my bicycle a little longer than I would have had I been able to go at my preferred speed. Riding at the pace of the bicyclist in front of you, rather than passing them, is like a vacation. Or walking in someone else's shoes. Or getting the wrong luggage at the airport and then wearing someone else's shoes for your vacation (I do not advise this. They might not fit or you might get a fungus.) I think I'd be lying if I suggested that you can learn a lot about someone from riding behind them for a little while. I mean, you can learn if they have cowlicks or if they've stepped in gum or the kinds of things they like to have written on the backs of their tee shirts, but I don't think these sorts of things are very substantive or revealing. [Though the gum thing might reveal that they are careless about where they walk.] What I am trying to suggest, however, is that it's not wholly necessary to try to dictate your own pace all of the time. Especially if you're in no rush or if doing so makes you act rudely. A supple reed blows in the wind or something.

The addition of the cycletrack to M Street has completely altered my route and now I ride across town a few blocks south from where I used to and take Wisconsin Avenue uptown instead of Massachusetts Avenue. I like mixing up my bike routes ("Dialed in and Mixed up: the @sharrowsDC story"), but I also like riding on good bicycle infrastructure and the M Street cycletrack is vastly superior to the stripe of white paint bike lane on R Street. I don't know if it takes me much more time, but I'm happy to make the trade for an overall less stressful ride. M Street in Georgetown, the part that doesn't have the cycletrack, isn't so bad in the morning if you don't mind an occasional bus or unloading truck parked in the farthest right lane. There's a bike lane on 33rd, but most of the time, I ride up Wisconsin Avenue. It goes like this:

M Street to O Street: pretty ok!

O Street to Q Street: less ok! (the left-turn only lane at Q turns the right lane from a haven for slower moving traffic and bicycles to the MUST GET PAST THESE LEFT-TURNING DRIVERS AT ALL COSTS lane, which can be a bit harrowing)

Q Street to R Street: maybe ok! (this depends on whether there is a trafficky cluster at Reservoir and/or whether drivers pretend this street of street is two lanes or just one. If they want to pretend it's two, then I ride on the sidewalk. And I don't feel bad about this at all! And you can't make me! When there are people walking, I go slowly and pass with warning and room. When there aren't people, I go a little faster. But in both cases, it's totally legal and once again, I'm totally fine with riding on the sidewalk. Part of the reason I ride a bicycle is to not be held hostage by car traffic. So I don't hold myself hostage to car traffic. I ride around it and will use the sidewalk [where legal and always politely] where need be. And it's great and I would recommend that you do it too! Please feel free to tell me in the comments how I'm history's greatest monster)

R Street to Safeway: mostly ok!

Safeway to Whitehaven: ok provided that someone doesn't zoom past you and cut you off with a right turn!

Whitehaven to Calvert: pretty darn ok for the most part! It will vary depending on the car parking situation and the road work situation.

Calvert to where the right lane turns into car parking: probably the least ok on account of the steepness and the drivers trying to pass other drivers on the right. Today, I had the distinct pleasure of trying to keep pace with a guy on a time trial bike up this part of the hill. I almost did! (read: did not). But I tried! (read: kind of). When he passed me before Calvert, he said "hey now." I still don't know what to make of that. I almost stayed on his wheel until where the car parking started, then the light at Edmunds turned red and I will never ever pedal harder than I absolutely have to to get to a red light and that's where he opened up a nice big gap and I was like "seeya, dude" and then he stayed well out in front for rest of the way and I was ok with that.

Edmunds to Massachusetts: ok if you don't mind riding in the door zone!

I turned down Mass and saw the time trial bike guy and pondered the idea of giving chase, but I was thoroughly beat and such an exercise would have been thoroughly pointless. Take that, stranger! I was able to bicycle at a speed that closed the gap between us from very far to not as far! Where is my laurel? There is no laurel.