8/21/14

Rides 8/19, 8/20, 8/21: Pompey, Crassus and that other guy

On Tuesday, I had a work thing and yesterday, I had a personal thing, but today I have no thing, so commence Impression: Bikerise. 

On the ride home on Tuesday, a lady stepped out between two parked cars as I biked by and was like "WHOA WHOA WHOA." Two thoughts: 1. I am not a horse and 2. I think I was passed her before she realized that we could have (but didn't actually) had the potential to collide. 

Yesterday, a man asked me to buy him three Bavarian Creme donuts because his blood sugar was 54 and I declined and wasn't pleased with me. I instead bought an ice cream cake and had the good sense to walk my bike home rather than trying to balance it on my handlebars. Sometimes, but not too often, good sense prevails. 

On the morning ride in, I realized that the 90 seconds or two minutes riding alongside the reflecting pool might be the most relaxing part of my day. It's very calming. I think it's the trees. I love cycling in the city, but there's something to be said for smooth and shady paths. 

The other morning, a man scolded me "stop sign!" having thought my "stop" inadequate and not to his liking. More than that, I think he was just upset that he could drive through his stop sign first. I responded "cell phone!" As one was pressed to his ear. Two things: 1. Distracted driving is maybe more relatively dangerous than cycling past a stop sign after half-heartedly half-stopping (but still illegal, so scold away! I am the Gabbo of bike commuting) and 2. Who interrupts his phone call to scold a bicyclist who's doing something marginally wrong? What a terrible conversationalist! Now, it's conceivable he wasn't actually scolding me and maybe the person who was on the otherend  of the line was like "what's the name of that red octagon thing they have at some street corners?" but I think this unlikely. Anyway, my thinking is that if you can interrupt your phone call to scold a stranger who's causing you no harm, maybe you don't actually need to be on the phone? But like I said, I'm the worst. 

Stopped to buy a new key ring on the ride home tonight. Bought the wrong size key ring. That was unfortunate. I kept the receipt, so I hope to exchange it tomorrow and apply my 19 cents towards the purchase of the slightly larger key ring I need. I never would have been in this whole mess had not my keys fallen out of my pocket and gotten run over by a bus. A good reminder to never get run over by a bus. 

There was a gentle rain this evening. You could almost feel the first hints of fall, but not quite yet. Not for another few weeks yet.  
  

There's a new Gear Prudence (again?!?) this week and I really enjoyed writing it. Both questions were real questions from real people with real bikey problems. So, if you're a real people with a real question, please email me at gearprudence@washingtoncitypaper.com. You don't have to come up with the acronym either. People have asked and if that's holding you back from writing in, let it hold you back no further! Many thanks in advance. You're all the best. 

Oh, and to follow up on the question about essentials, allow me to tell you what I carry on the Ogre: 

Hand pump
Spare tube
Patch kit 
Tire levers 
Cargo net
Knog lights
Drawstring bag 
Multitool 

Maybe I should take my own advice. In my primary commute pannier, I carry: 

Some mesh reusable grocery/producebags
A pocket guide to DC bike laws
A form from WABA you can fill out if you're in a crash (given to me by a lady named Judy outside of my local grocery store this week. She was in a crash earlier this year and now is zealous about informing other cyclists to do this. I met Judy previously, maybe a few months ago at the same grocery store, but she didn't remember and I didn't want to interrupt her doing what she's doing because I think it's a pretty good idea)  
A pen
Some SharrowsDC buttons (to give to celebrities to expand the brand. I've yet to do this. Emai/tweet me if you'd like one) 

Basically, I carry a lot of stuff related to buying and transporting groceries, which is good because I do that a lot. No shark repellent, but if I lived closer to the ocean, probably. 

8/18/14

8/18: Candia Crush

"That a bike?" is the commonest question I get from strangers when I take the folded Brompton onto the Metro. It's the secondest commonest question I get from strangers generally, the most common being "that a puppy?" about EtP, who is five six and exuberant, but not a puppy. Like the Brompton, she is small, but she doesn't really fold and I'm pretty sure she's not allowed on the Metro. I guess I could buy her an extra-small service animal vest, but it's unclear what service she could plausibly provide. "Oh, yeah, that's my service animal. She, um, helps me, um, pair wines with meals. Yeah, that's totally a justifiable reason to have a service animal. Why I need her on the Metro? Um, maybe we're going to the wine shop in anticipation of a fancy dinner party? Does that sound plausible?" Anyway. Easy bike ride down Massachusetts to Union Station and another easy one down Nebraska to work.

New Mexico to 37th on the way home. On M Street, I watched a guy on a CaBi try to "squeeze" between a Circulator bus and some stopped car traffic. I think we (and by we, I guess I mean bicyclists, but also every other transportationist) need to excise the whole concept of "squeezing" from our transportation lexicon. Simply put, we don't squeeze well. We are not juice boxes. We are not whoopie cushions. We are frightfully rigid. And while we might fit, in the narrowest sense of the term, there's not much too pleasant about it. And the consequences of "squeezing" even when done well is a level of intimacy with our fellow travelers that maybe should've required us to buy them dinner first. And at it's worst? Attempts at squeezery result in collisions and (even at slow speeds) touching yourself or your vehicle to someone else or their vehicle is neither societally acceptable and can (at higher speeds) be really super dangerous. Reconsider the squeeze. 


Barrels of laughs. 

What's the sound of no shoulders shrugging? 

Lots of parents and kids on bikes onPennsylvania  Avenue and to be perfectly honest, it's awful. These poor kids are going to grow up thinking that bicycling isn't terrifying and have expectations that accommodations be made for safe cycling. It's gross. 

"Tourist family in jorts: German or nein?" isn't likely to be the next big gameshow sensation, but if it were to be, I think I'd like to be a contestant. My guess was "no" but I was willing to be surprised. 

8/16/14

Rides 8/15: ARTCRANK

I consider myself an artist. Mostly, a sandwich artist. [Screw you, Subway. I was making sandwich art at The Factory with Warhol well before you stole the term d'art. And what did we have with our sandwiches, which were primarily grilled cheese ones? That's right, Campbell's tomato soup.] Anyway, like I was saying, I'm basically the sandwich Matisse of bike commuter blogging and I consider it my duty to the artistic community, both the sandwich artistic community and the non-sandwich one, to share the information below about Artcrank, a bicycle-themed art poster show that is looking for DC arts types who don't work exclusively in gouda and liverwurst:

Artists who are selected for the show will be asked to produce one original poster design and provide:
  • - 1 Display Copy (Becomes property of ARTCRANK)- 30 Sale Copies
  • Artists are responsible for printing their own posters.
  • Maximum size for posters is 20" x 26". Posters can be smaller than this, but not larger.
  • All posters will be sold for $50 each.
  • ARTCRANK takes a 40% commission on all poster sales, with the remaining 60% going to the artist.
  • At the conclusion of the show, any unsold Sale Copies of posters will be returned to the artists.
  • No artists selections will take place until after the Call For Artists closes on August 30 at midnight EST. The artist roster for the 2014 show will be announced the following Friday.
So, if this speaks to you and you'd like to participate, don't tarry! It's a great opportunity to share your bicycle art with the world and potentially make $900, which'd buy you 36 work week's worth of $5 footlongs. Go here fore more info on how to submit your work. Go here for more info on the Veggie Delite

As for the bicycle rides of August 15th, yes, I did those. The weather has been immensely forgiving and I think I've mostly forgotten what bad sultry oppressive summer days are like. I can't say I mind forgetting. The temperate weather has proved catnip to cyclists and would-be bike commuters have turned into has-been bike commuters. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

E Cap to Penn to M.E. Swing Co for coffee and from there G Street to Virginia Avenue. On Virginia Avenue this guy tried to pass me on the right twice, having not gotten my disapproval of this maneuver by my hurrying up and refusing to cede any space as we both approached a parked car blocking his path. This response is, admittedly, puckish at best and downright hostile at worst, and I should really find a more mature way to cope. Many bicyclists, for whatever reason, have issues with bicyclists passing them. This really isn't my case at all.  I'm in no particular rush to get anyway and couldn't care less if someone passes me- on the left. But on the right? It's just too much. It's madness. It's anarchy. A man must have a code.

Riding up Wisconsin, I noticed the cyclist in front of me had a prosthetic leg. His prosthetic clipped in (I think) into the left pedal, but other than that, I don't think there was any modification to the bike at all. I've seen riders with hand bikes a few times, but this is I think the first time I've come across someone riding with a prosthetic. I don't know how common it is, but this guy seemed to have it down. 

I rode home down New Mexico and Tunlaw, which eventually turns into 37th. It'd be nice if 37th turned into a road that didn't have so much ruts and divots and potholes. It's a pretty abysmal cycling experience. All you want to do is gently glide down the hill, but between the stop signs every 10 feet and a road surface that could best be described as lunar, it's very unpleasant.

I recommend procuring a bungee cargo net. It's not very useful until it's very useful. I don't use it a lot, but when there's an irregularly shaped thing you need to get home and your bag is otherwise full, it definitely comes in handy. I guess the thing doesn't need to be irregularly shaped. It could just be a square watermelon. 

L Street to 15th, where I saw the guy I always see who bikes with a small white dog in the 'kid' trailer behind him. This guy is my hero. 

8/14/14

Rides 8/14: Quince Jam

"There's a shortage of perfect [summer days] in this world. It would be a pity to damage [your mood by not riding your bike to work on one of those days]- The Princess Bride, kind of, with Robin Hood, Man in Tights, and Mrs. Underwood adapted for bikey purposes. 

Anyway, it was a good idea to commute by bicycle and I did. I rode through the city, mostly because I predicted that everyone and their mothers would be on the mixed-use trails. Luckily, I was able to "share" the cycletrack with some pedestrians forced from the sidewalk by building construction. People, rightfully, seem to have no problem walking in bike lanes and for the most part, aside from having to slow down and be marginally more cautious, I don't have much issue sharing it with them. Not their fault the sidewalk is closed and it's totally unreasonable to suggest that they cross the street to walk a quarter of a block. So, maybe I should get over it bothering me so much. Or, maybe not. Allegedly, the District of Columbia has "laws" that should prevent this sort of thing, but it seems a low priority. Were I to have my druthers, they'd put some cones in the parking lane next to the cycletrack and "sacrifice" a few parking spaces in the name of more room for cyclists and pedestrians. But, I ain't got no druthers. 

Guy in a straw hat driving a convertible yelling and cursing at other drivers because they ____ (?). Kinda gives all guys in straw hats a bad name. FUN FACT: I have just enough self-awareness to know that wearing a boater is not a good look for me. It doesn't mean I don't basically always want to rock a boater (Scylla?) and especially while riding a bicycle in the summertime. But alas, I still don't and it's probably for the best. ["Well, that was an illuminating digression into the writer's regrets on not wearing straw hats," says no one.] 

I saw Kristin riding up Massachusetts Avenue while I was riding down it. We said hello to each other. Was that so hard? Gear Prudence 1, Strawmen 0. 

No great way to to right from L to 15th. Maybe they should build a flyover ramp. Seems practical. 

I love the kids who skateboard in the Pennsylvanie Avenue cycletrack. No, seriously. Kids between the ages of 12 and 16 need a way to get around and I'd rather have them doing it themselves on skateboards (or bikes or hang gliders or whatever) than in the cars of their parents or, even worse, the cars of their slightly older peers. That we've built infrastructure that's putatively safe enough for them to do this is something we should be happy about and we should try to build more of it. Sure, teenagers are annoying and they're especially annoying in groups and in public, but being annoying hardly seems a reason to deny them safe self- propelled transportation options. If that were the case, would we have bike lanes? Interstates? Anywhere? Yeah, no. 

8/13/14

Rides 8/13: Frizzante

Leaving work I saw a van for Aquaman Pool Service. You'd think Aquaman would have better things to do with his time than clean pools. I guess undersea crime isn't what it used to be. You'd think it'd be more prevalent with all of the sunken treasure, but the allure of guarding Spanish gold from Bob Ballard all day must pale in comparison to ensuring the indoor pools of Bethesda have proper pH balance. Or something. 

Such a warm gauzy sun this morning. The rays felt like hay, whatever that means. I took a picture of the Lincoln Memorial, which glistened. "Who left the cap off my f&$king Glisten?" Almost made it into the Second Inaugural. I don't always love Federalia (the section of the city that people who live here think of as the whole city), but sometimes its artificial monumentality makes for pretty enough views. 

Saw a hipster uniformed Park Ranger riding his fixie to work. Saw a car with a Maryland plate and a McDonnel for Governor sticker. Saw a tourist family that I thought was Danish. 

I got lost in Burleith looking for a back way that I knew didn't exist into residential Glover Park. I watched people walk down the street to wait for the bus. You could probably make good money selling breakfast burritos to those would-be bus passengers. Buses are infrequent enough and who doesn't love a breakfast burrito? No better audience for quick-eating breakfast foods. Would they buy waffles? I'm undecided. 

On the way home, the driver in front me let out an anguished scream when another driver changed lanes and she had to slow down a little. It reminded me of Charlie Brown's anguished scream. Good grief. I heard it because I was close by and her window was open. I wonder how many anguished screams I don't hear when windows are closed. Lots of things you don't hear when you're not listening, either.