Ride Home 8/31

Peace out August. I'll always remember you as that month with the earthquake and the hurricane and in which I bought a house and the one that came before September. It was also the month in which my Bikeshare key didn't work and I think I might now know why. I first noticed during a meeting today (Dear Employer, I am in fact very attentive during meetings. So attentive, in fact, that I'm able to do other stuff like mess around with my keys) that my key was split in twain. Twain! Twain I tell you! Here's a gruesome pictorial.
Free TFTS "merch" to anyone who can identify the brand of paper towel.

I used it for contrast, not for forensic antiseptic properties. 
I wouldn't encourage you to find out, but I suspect that there should be some electronics, like a chip of some sort, embedded in this plastic. There was none and this probably explains why my key no longer works. (For CaBi users not in "the know," my key is black because I signed up super early or something. Its replacement will probably be red and I'll lose all of the very significant cachet that comes with a black key. On a related note, I'm completely delusional.)
If you're going 50 in a 25 and the only negative consequence is my yelling "SLOW DOWN" at you, I'd say you lucked out. You're driving a car with Mini in its name. If you have to compensate by speeding, you've got some problems.
When passed on a short block between stop signs by an aggressive driver in some big American luxury sedan, it's best to let it go. I try not to play "nimble bicyclist" (I think this was staged once by Diaghilev) and see if I can weave past again because if a person can't muster the patience to not do something this stupid, I'd hate to find out what else they'd be willing to do.
Two bicyclists on 34th between Prospect and M. One I wanted to ask if she knew about Black Women Bike, but thought it might come across like a lame pick-up line. The other appeared to be carrying plastic grocery bags by tying them in a knot and throwing them across his shoulders that the knot would rest on his neck. This is what happens when you ride a racing bike with 0.0 braze-ons!
Zombie joggers. I complain about them approximately 4,636,3242,341 times a week, so it should come as no surprise that I'm going to again. You can't run down the middle of the bridge sidepath! Believe it or not, but there are other users who might (mechanically aided) be travelling faster than you. I get that you're running and outpacing pedestrians, but seriously dude, I have a bicycle. I'm not exactly going super fast, but I've got wheels, which are sort of great, so I'd really appreciate it if you would just stay to one side and let me get by. Five dings and nothing. Speaking of zombies, you know that girl? She's like 5'7'' and blonde-ish? Wears a white tank top? Jogs? Maybe in Georgetown or Arlington? Maybe she's in your yoga class? Her? Yeah, she's like everywhere.
Quiet ride up Wilson. Only a couple of bicyclists out, spaced in such a way that there was no commuter peloton. I have mixed feelings about the commuter peloton. On one hand, a group of bicyclists would seem to be safer and mutually beneficial to all parties. On the other hand, riding alone is also pretty pleasant.
Saw Tim at the George Mason law school. He was doing this. For what it's worth, I noticed the full bike racks before I noticed Tim, but he noticed the full bike racks before I noticed them. I think it's time to add more since there's clearly demand. We rode together a bit, him portaging a baby, me a laptop. Still need to write that post about bike parking at Arlington grocery stores. (I swear that I started it (again) the other night.) In any case, there's no better way to commute by bike than with someone else (unless you're a Hinkley-esque loner...) and for anyone just beginning the whole enterprise of pedaling to work, try to enlist a buddy to accompany you.

Ride In 8/31

Another exceedingly pleasant morning for bike ridery (not a word) and I wanted to meet it with a better attitude than the ones I've had lately. And I sort of did and that's something of a victory. Earlier in the summer whenever I was in the bike commute doldrums, I would take a different, more challenging or ambling route to work, but I haven't been doing that as much lately, perhaps on account of feeling more tired than usual. And since I try to make commuting seem as unlike a chore as possible and minimize its burdensomeness to the greatest extent I can, I elected to trundle down quiet and bucolic 5th street, a road empty except for dogwalkers and a couple of crews engaged in the planning stages of some sort of home improvement. Nary a car in sight, except for all of the cars parked on the street and in driveways.Were the intersection at 10th and Irving better, it'd really be a nice parallel (on the south side) route to Fairfax. I might have written all of this before. It sounds like something I would write. I can't recall.
What's up, meshie? I think that a greater percentage of bike commuters were mesh shorts than lycra.
Our couple of week, hyperlocal nightmare is over and the bike lanes are now unblocked near Clarendon and Pierce. That doesn't mean it's safe though- cranes unloading bundled metal pipes from the back of flatbed trucks aren't exactly precision instruments and there was more than enough sway to make me think about ducking to avoid the potential hazard. It's hard to judge things like that because in some many cases does one really have the opportunity? You just don't want to guess wrong, I suppose.
I don't think it's a great idea to wear headphones while bicycling. Mostly because I find that having the ability to hear things (an approaching car or truck, rampaging pack of elephants, whatever) positively correlates to safety. And don't get me wrong- I love audio entertainment. I can barely take the dog out for a quick trip without spending 10 minutes untangling my headphones (this is moderately infuriating to witness or so suggest the jawdropped looks I get from the Official Wife because it's taking forrrrrreeeevvvvvveeeeerrrr). And I get why people like having radios in cars: to sonically drown out the monotony of driving. And runners need headphones because, as we all learned in biology, the music bone is connected to the running bone (I went to public school). But biking is actually fun and interesting, so why miss at least 1/3 of the experience (sights and smells being the other two. I don't oppose a clothespin on your nose if you're biking in an especially malodorous part of town, though breathing might be an issue) and imperil yourself at the same time?
Crazy zombie jogger cut off a driver on the Key Bridge slipway then ran diagonally across M street into the path of oncoming car traffic. I said aloud "what the? what are you doing? You crazy?" because I'm paid my a viral marketing company to ask semi-incoherent questions in public, but also because this kind of zombie jogging was really beyond the pale in its ludicrousness.
Still not learning my lesson about R Street.
Still not learning my lesson about the intersection of Calvert and Tunlaw. (Light is still out! Geez.)
I really like seeing parents walking their kids to school. Something about it just seems Orwellian Rockwellian and right and schmaltzy.


Read the blogs I read!

I mean, if you want. Check the blogroll, which I believe is some kind of delicious sushi, on the ride side of this page. If you get this through RSS, visit the actual page and check it out. A lot of people put really great stuff on the internet and I'm fairly certain that it's our collective responsibility to ignore that and instead read about bikes and local issues! Thanks.

Ride Home 8/30

Is this an e-bike? In bike parking, AU
Grouchy Groucherson here. No matter how nice the weather, no matter how enjoyable it is to leave on your own schedule, no matter the fresh air or the endorphins, no matter how enjoyable is generally is to commute by bicycle, some days I'm just not in a good mood when I'm riding my bike home. And today was one of those days. No specific reason, really. Just a vague uneasiness born of nothing in particular and in spite of the overwhelmingly wonderful weather. With bike commuting, it really is all in your head. Is it far? In your head. Uphill and far? All in your head? Cars too close with smoggy exhaust? All in your head (and lungs). It's all about perception. Once you can clear the perception issue, convince yourself essentially that it's nothing special or not a big deal to ride your bike and it's not especially far or especially onerous, well, then it's a totally different deal entirely.
But what can you do if you don't really feel happy about riding home? Take the Metro? Pshaw. Walk? Well, that's no better, You just ride your bike home and you just sort of get over it. Do you give a few extra dirty looks to drivers who block the bike lane? Probably. I certainly did. Do you say anything? Why bother? Maybe you say something like "Whoa. You're going too fast," but only after the fact and not really to anyone in particular. I did. One gets so used to the indignities of "sharing" the road with people who happen to be driving huge cars that it's hard to muster outage at the petty slights and antipathetic indifference. What's the consequence of driving your car slightly to the left vis-a-vis other car traffic is concerned? Not much. But as far as bikes are concerned? Quite a bit. I had to ride on the sidewalk for a couple of blocks, which is not my preferred method of riding.
I don't want to too publicly disparage students, but I think I have noticed much more speeding around the local universities in the past few days. Don't tell the ANCs. They might start enacting traffic calming strategies to stick it to them no good students. On the other hand, if this will get me some more bike lanes, please do.
Anything worse than a Harvard cycling jersey? No? Cool. Perhaps VERITAS could be replaced by CITIUS.
Still not feeling the whole 'uphill' thing lately. I think I just need to get over it. The more you dwell on it, the worse it is. It's all in your head.
If you're going to stop at an eatery such as Five Guys, it might behoove you to ask for a plastic bag to encapsulate the paper bag which holds your over-filled styrofoam cup of fries. It'll soften your fries, but it will also prevent your work clothes from picking up needless burger grease, which I'm told is "unprofessional." Well worth it.
Stuck in the blind spot of some giant black SUV and got caught in the driver's blindspot as he went to turn right. Said "Heyyyyyyy" as he almost moved his car into me. It might have been my fault for riding in the "no zone," but I suppose he could have been more responsible. No harm though. I think one's willingness to commute by bike is directly tied to one's willingness to be close to automobiles. People love "kicking tires" and going to car lots and whatnot. If you like seeing cars up close, just ride a bike. You'll see them plenty close and get some exercise to boot. (This is the most unconvincing argument ever.)
Would really like a "Bikes May Use Full Lane" sign on Henderson. I heard that it's forthcoming, but "forthcoming" doesn't always mean soon.

Ride In 8/30

I've had this suspicion that my front tire is scraping against my front fender (you would think I would have mentioned that in the post I just wrote, right?), so I checked to make sure my wheel was correctly skewered and centered and it appeared to be so maybe I'm just crazy? I've been feeling a little more sluggish on the bike lately (again, shouldn't I mention these things as they occur?) and have wanted to blame something other than myself, like the weight of my new tires or maybe that one of them is scraping a fender. However, I'm pretty certain that it's just me. Isn't there some phrase about a craftsman blaming his tools? (totally unrelated but for the title)
Not much to report from this morning. Yo-yo-ed a bit with Cervelo-man, Fizik-shorts in the USA socks (white socks with USA printed in black letters on them. This sock thing is becoming a problem) down Fairfax and Wilson and he caught a light that I didn't around Rosslyn and rode off to wherever.
Heavy bridge traffic, but pedestrians and bicyclists. Passed a bit too closely by another cyclist as I slowed for the Whitehurst entrance. She was on the move and I was just kind of pokey, so I can't blame her. Maybe I shouldn't be, but I'm always remarkably pleased by the number of bicyclists on M street. It makes me think that DC could really become a bike town if the politicians just let it. Whatever that means. 
Usual slog up Wisconsin. Nothing to note there, except how nice it is when a city bus gives you a wide berth. The little things, I suppose.
Way more bikes near campus since the students have come back. Got passed and subsequently rode behind a girl who really rode fast up Massachusetts. Riding behind someone has its benefits, but also some serious downsides. I tend to lapse in my vigilance and pay less attention to the possibility of a car door opening or someone turning across my path. It's never good to zone out.
She cut across the road before Ward Circle and I rode behind her, both of us trying to make it to the sidewalk before the onrush of traffic coming in the opposite direction. She made it with a lot more room to spare than I did, ditching to the sidewalk about a second before a speeding red (what else?) BMW arrived in the space that I had just occupied. This is an example of peer pressure and I share it with you to warn you that you shouldn't succumb to it.

Ride Home 8/29

This was the first time I've taken my bike from my office to the new house and I'm not entirely satisfied with my route. Massachusetts was fine, but it was also 3:30 and accordingly a little less hectic than the typical rush hour. Q street was ok, but there are too many lights and I just don't think that going right past Dupont is going to be a good long-term solution. The Kleinway, the hallmark piece of bike infrastructure in DC, is way ruddier and bumpier than it ought to be. I was surprisingly displeased. The area by the White House had some security tape, the part of the 15th street cycletrack by the Treasury was occupied by pedestrians, forced to walk there because some chain link fences blocked the sidewalk. It was only at Pennsylvania Avenue when things seemed demonstrably better.
Capitol Hill is, indeed, a hill. I rode up the Constitution side, but maybe the other side is less slopey.
From East Capitol down, it was a pretty good ride. A lot of bikes out. Also, a lot of people in uniforms with badges, which leads to my greater compliance with traffic laws. Though, based on the riding style of other cyclists, the uniformed people don't exactly enforce traffic laws.
I rode back from the house to our current place (we're not moving in officially until mid-September) down East Capitol and up Pennsylvania. It was around 6:30 and there were just tons and tons of bicyclists out. Working on the periphery of the city, I don't think I ever really gotten to see the extent to which the bike facilities and, more impressively, Capital Bikeshare are employed by commuters. Seeing this is quite heartening- especially because it means more and greater fodder for the blog bicycling is really taking root as a significant and meaningful means of transportation.
On Pennsylvania Avenue, I rode past Tommy Wells. Shout-out ensued. When I told the Official Wife, she first was like "cool" and then she was like "wait, you know what our councilmember looks like? We just bought the house last week." So, yeah.
15th still a mess on the way back, salmoned a bit to avoid the more oblivious of the pedestrians. Rode in front of the White House and out to Pennsylvania Avenue on the other side. I someone with a really cool saddle bag affixed to a nice Brooks saddle on what appeared to be a Surly LHT. I rode by and glanced back and it was MG from Chasing Mailboxes. I (sorrily) interrupted her conversation to congratulate her on PBP, introduced myself "Brian, Tales From the Sharrows" mumble-mouthed as usual and maybe fumbled through some other pleasantries that I can't remember. Anyway, I don't know if this counts as an official "meeting" or more like a bike-by accosting, but it was cool to run into a second local bike celebrity in one night.
Didn't run into any other local bike luminaries for the rest of the ride. It would be pretty wonderful for DDOT to pick up the Penn Avenue lanes on the other side of the White House and take them to Washington Circle, but I don't think that's going to happen. The Circle, as always, was harrowing, but there were lots of bicyclists going through so I think that had a somewhat calming effect on traffic. I rode 3/4 of the way around to New Hampshire and had to merge to the far right in front of a pink taxi in a way that in retrospect seemed a bit unsafe. Drivers coming down Penn from Georgetown really, really don't seem to be looking out for bike traffic in the circle even though they're supposed to be the ones yielding.
New Hampshire over the TR Bridge, up the MVT to the Custis to the usual way home up Wilson and Fairfax. Fewer bicyclists in Arlington, but it was later, so I'll cut them some slack. Plus, I think the evening bike traffic in Arlington is much more trail-based than on-street, though we'll soon have bike/ped counters to find out whether than assertion is in any way true.


No Post Tonight

Lots of riding (work to new house, new house to current place), but I'm not going to write it up until tomorrow. Also, Kabob Palace in Crystal City is quite good. Eid Mubarak and such.

Ride In 8/29

Bad film school symmetry this morning. Right after leaving, the driver of a black BMW sedan blocked the turn lane attempting to continue driving straight. Close to work, the driver of a white BMW SUV blocked the straight lane attempting to merge into the right turn lane. I've never been in a BMW dealership, but do they screen specifically for people with anti-social behavior? "I'm sorry, sir. We're ran your Myers-Briggs and we just think an Audi might be a better fit for you." And maybe they aren't worse than the average driver/bicyclist when it comes to interacting with other road users, but then again maybe there are?
Sometimes I engage in rank hypocrisy, indulging in the very pet peeves I rail against. Then, I have to scramble for justifications so as to mitigate my feelings of guilt for engaging in the hypocrisy and sometimes I can come up with pretty good rationalizations or ones perhaps good enough to convince myself that I was doing something different from the exact very same thing that I always complain about, which in this case was riding in front of another bicyclist who stopped at a stop light. And here's how I justified it to myself: he was stopped in a position that was too "dangerous," in that he wedged himself very close to the sidewalk and well in back of the stop line in such a way that would make him vulnerable to a right hook and safety demanded that I ride in front of him to as to prevent myself from being put into a precarious situation. That sounds vaguely convincing, but I'm typing it with no strong conviction.Sorry, dude.
More than the usual number of bike commuters out today. Should be a great week for it, maybe even the best month in the year for riding your bike to work. September and April really are the sweet spots.
Only a few more weeks of riding over the bridge.Only a few more weeks to wear funny socks in order to get a blog shout out.
I passed a kid heaving a teary goodbye with mom and dad as they were leaving after successfully having moved him into school. It was sweet, but it felt very public. Perhaps because it was on a sidewalk, which tends to be a public place. The parents looked just as cut up as the kid. It'll be ok, kid. His hug with his dad was especially long and bittersweet and I think his dad might have been telling him something during the embrace and maybe even used the word "champ" because that's how I assume people talk in the made-for-tv-movie that are my suppositions about conversations I can't hear.
Requisite hurricane damage.
35th wasn't closed, but it wasn't really open either. Car traffic was diverted in parts and halves of roads were closed at various intersections. This most succeeded in stranding bicyclists, who tried to pick their way through the hazards in whatever manner seemed best. The best manner, generally speaking, isn't to stand there with your bike and look confused. Sometimes you just have to go forward.
Traffic cop is back at her post.
Traffic light is still out at Calvert and Tunlaw. There are some temporary stop signs there and that does an adequate job of regulating the traffic, but the whole processed isn't assisted when you've got a bicyclist who just doesn't seem to know what to do (I'm actually not talking about myself). She made the mistake of stopping about 15 feet short of the stop sign, which made it really unclear whether she intended to cross the intersection or was just stopping for some reason. And then when I got to stop sign and was waving a left turning driver through, she kind of rode up a little too quickly and it didn't look like she was going to stop, so the driver stopped and then the drivers heading down Calvert thought that they could go through. If there's a case for vehicular cycling and really biking as if you're a driver, it's in cases like these where differentiation is simply not your friend.
Specialized Allez bike guy pulling himself up New Mexico, pedaling on the biggest back ring with an overly zealous cadence. Sorry.


Ride Home 8/26

I left work about an hour later than normal (an hour and half later for a Friday) on account of having to attend a social event for new and returning students. You might not know this, but most higher ed employees spend the first weeks of the semester attending as many catered events as possible in order to eat free food and stockpile chips and sodas and even in some cases drink school-sanctioned cheap Californian reds. No, we're not proud of it, but aside from the tuition remission (!!! if you need/want to take classes), it's the closest thing we get to a fringe benefit. It comes at the cost, at least in my case, of mingling with a lot of people I didn't know (awkward) and smiling politely at the people I barely know, but that's the price of admission, I guess. Never look a gift hors( d'oeuvre) in the mouth.
So, I missed the rain and I really missed the hard rain and by the time I left it was almost actually pleasant outside. Something like autumn even, but not really.
My front tire felt slightly softer than it did when I first got in this morning. I suspect that there's something wrong with it (a busted valve?), but I'm going to break my newly formed habit of constantly squeezing my front tire every time I stop because, aside from looking odd ("them bicycle peoples always fiddlin' with them their's bicycles" say the fictitious hill people driving their fictitious jalopies down the over-wide streets of upper northwest Washington upon seeing me), it dirties my hands considerably and that's always a pain. Nonetheless, the tires rode fine and I felt much more confident on the wet downhill part of my ride. There's something about these tires that make them feel more connected to the road than my previous ones. And now, I'm officially declaring myself a Schwalbe snob.
Frequently, when I'm biking along and I pass a bicyclist riding in the other direction, I look over and give some sort of nod of recognition. Not because I know him. And not (exclusively) because I'm looking for blog fodder, but mostly just to say "yeah, I know- biking, right?" which is really a nonsense phrase, but actually encapsulates pretty much what I'm feeling. However, I always have a hard time determining whether to smile or whether to keep the stoic "I'm biking and it's serious for some reason" face. There's probably a middle-ground, something like a blank stare + nod that means "I see you and I have no particular valence other than acknowledging you" but I'm not exactly wedded to that level of ambivalence. What kind of random look from someone you don't know would you like to get? Smile? Blank stare? Scowl? 'What me, worry'? Just ignore you and let you ride by in peace?
34th Street traffic was miserable. Bikes don't cause car delays nearly as much as cars cause bike delays. Finish the lane and maybe it'll be a different story. Otherwise, once that bike lane goes away, I'm riding on the sidewalk because too many drivers, much like gaseous materials, "expand" to take up as much of the roadway as is perceived available to them. It makes it hard to get by.
I saw the WABA crew (guy) on M street. A selection of stickers, pamphlets and maps were available:
I took these ones. 

And then I saw Michael. He shouted "It's Ride From the Sharrows!" Right! I mean, almost! The two girls waiting with their bikes to cross M looked back, but apparently the reach of this blog remains limited and I don't think they had any idea what he was talking about. I guess neither of them was L.  We rode out to the middle of the bridge for an impromptu photo shoot and pleasant, as always, conversation. I really love running into people I know on the ride home.
In Roslyn, I saw a bike traffic jam.
Anything more than four is a jam, right?
Before getting home, I made sure to stop for supplies. It was successful, but I worry that the local stores won't be able to meet demand.
Hurricane+ returning students= run on bottom shelf Vodka
I wish everyone a safe weekend. I have to go into work tomorrow, but I don't think I'll be riding. Please don't do anything stupid in or near the hurricane or any other weather event that might affect your locality.

Ride In 8/26

After a rare bout of driving yesterday, I can't say that I feel anything but relief to get back on the bike. I honestly don't know how people do it every day and I think it's a pretty big failure for political leaders and policy planners to set up a system in which public transportation or biking is extraordinarily inconvenient or cost prohibitive. I imagine that this afternoon's drive commute will be even worse on account of HURRICANE PANDEMONIUM and I wish everyone a safe and not-too-exceedingly frustrating trip.
Part of the reason I drove yesterday was carpooling and the other part was bike flat tire related. I threw my bike in the trunk and brought it home in anticipation of the arrival of my new tires. Last night, I took what seemed like 3 hours to swap out the tires. Curiously, the front tube thatl I thought I had deflated somehow didn't seem to have any problems and looked to be holding air just fine. That meant that I didn't have to patch it, which was good, but still something of a mystery. It took me a while to get the tires on and the fenders aligned correct and at the end of the process, I looked like I emerged from a coal mine. Even though I tried my best, I was like a bike grime Tobias leaving marks all over the house.
This morning, I went downstairs and noticed that the tires seemed a bit deflated again, so I gave them another top off. I'm hesitant to check again for fear that there is something wrong with my tube because I'd very much prefer that that's not the case.
Oh well. The tires themselves are quite nice. They seem a bit heavier than my previous ones, but also sturdier. It's my hope that they prove to be excellent commuter tires, which by all measures, they should.
I rode behind a guy who was wearing one Chicago maroon and burnt orange Virginia Tech bike sock, one green and yellow U of Oregon bike sock and a red, white and blue American University cycling ensemble. I think he belongs to some sort of colorblind bike team.
I rode the cobbles up 35th. Both sidewalks were occupied and I wanted to test the new tires (or something), so I took the bike the wrong way uphill in the middle of the street. Bumpier than I remember. Passed another weird sock guy (Castillian red and yellow) huffing and puffing on his Trek racer through the construction zone that is Georgetown.
School's back so it's time to stop riding on R Street between 35th and 37th. I think that DC should make it HOV-4 in order to suppress the lame parent drop-off chicanery. If every parent brings every kid to school in a separate car, it's going to cause a lot problems. Also, it's not the bicyclist who is slowing you down- it's the 50 other cars! I think I'll either ride up to S or T or maybe I'll ride to Wisconsin and take that the rest of the way.
A textbook example of how not to drive around a bicyclist at the base of New Mexico. If I'm riding in the door zone, it's a definitively not awesome to drive within 2 feet of me, matching my exact pace and keeping the hood of your car exactly even with me. Just slow down! For like 10 seconds! Please. I guess I could have turned around and given a look or made some sort of 'back off' gesture, but I was kind of focused on keeping myself in the 18 inches of space between the parked trucks and grandma's Toyota. While I appreciate your not trying to pass me (because at least she had the sense to know that wasn't a good idea), driving alongside me isn't that much better. It's actually really sort of dangerous.


No Rides 8/25

Looks like I'll miss out on what will probably be an afternoon thunderstorm. Stay safe out there. I'm bringing home my bike in the truck/beackseat of the car and plan to ride in tomorrow (with new tires). As usual, here's a link.


Ride Home 8/24

I don't think I'm riding in tomorrow (carpooling obligations, maybe), so just a heads up. Frankly, I didn't feel much like riding home this afternoon. It was a long and busy day and come five o'clock, I hardly felt up to changing into what were probably still damp bike clothes only to have to change/patch a tube and boot a tire (with my last dollar!) because, with my luck today, that probably wasn't going to work anyway. So, luckily, since I live in a place where the city leaders had the forethought/myopia to give the people a bikeshare system, which would allow me to get home (or kind of close-ish) via bicycle and not have to take a bus or train and catch germs from the hoi polloi. (Instead, I can inhale the exhaust from the hoi polloi's cars!) And likewise, I had the presence of mind/myopia to sign up for said bikeshare system and I have a neat little bikeshare key (in black, even, because I was one of the first 2k members) that grants me access to these bicycles.
When I got to the station, there were already two young ladies there with undocked bikes and 4 more bikes sitting in docks. Per usual, I loaded my bag first and adjusted the seat before undocking (clock is ticking once you undock). The girls set off, somewhere down Massachusetts, riding down the sidewalk. I put my key in the slot and nothing happened. This isn't what I expected, since normally the key unlocks the bike, changing the light on the station from yellow to green. I thought that maybe the slot was jammed, since the key seemed to kind of rub against the side in a way that it normally doesn't. Although, I can't say for sure since I've never really paid too much attention to the mechanics by which my key unlocks the bike, instead focusing on liberating the bike once the light tells me it's ok. Curious. Two young guys walked up the station and were looking on the side for the "pricing structure." They walked away without renting the bike. Another guy approached the station and undocked one of the bikes, making sure to roll up his pant legs prior. Um, do you know why people roll up their paint legs? These bikes have chain guards. It's wholly unnecessary. But whatever. I tried the other two bikes in the station with my key and nothing happened. WTF, CaBi?
I called the number and, as always, was greeted by a pleasant-sounding French Canadian bloke. He asked for my key number and I couldn't provide it because it has long since rubbed off the key. He then asked for my name and looked me up in the system. My membership was ok, so it wasn't that. Apparently, my key had been "demagnetized." So along with my broken Faberge eggs and damaged Gutenberg Bibles (insurance claim still pending), my bikeshare key was a casualty of yesterday's earthquake. Who knew?
He said he would send me a new key. I asked, I think, "so, what should I do until then?" It's amazing how quickly one adjusts to a world in which there is a bikeshare and can't really imagine the city without it, even if you're just a very casual and infrequent user like me. It hasn't even been a year. He said that I could use credit card and they'd reimburse me when the new key comes. We'll see.
So I set off, down Mass and up Mass a little. I passed the girls on CaBis and Mass and Cathedral and I quickly rode up behind some old dude on an expensive-looking racing bike with a cursivey W name that I couldn't really read. Down Wisconsin, which was bumpy and crowded and driven on by at least one total db in some kind of Audi supercar. I plodded down to 34th and then down 34th, mingling in with traffic on the parts that were too narrow to pass. The parking has been temporarily displaced on a couple of blocks where the bike lane has yet to be painted. I'm sure it's related to the streetcar track removal, but maybe I'll be surprised and they'll stripe the lane some more. I can dream, can't I?
Nice days mean open car windows and amongst other things, I heard some Kanye, some The Who, and some J Lo. Ambient radio noise is a side benefit of bike commuting. Overhearing the conversations of pedestrians is not one. Especially if one of them is holding a Georgetown Cupcake bag. No, I don't think you should "just run for it" across the street. Yes, it is "the busiest time of the rush hour."
I planned to dock on Lynn and walk to the bus. This worked. However, this was annoying:

There's no ramp to cross Lee Highway, so when I cross Fort Myer, I inadvertently rode myself into a crummy position to cross the street. Fix this?
Did you know Arlington has a protected two-way cycle track?

Sure it's only 30 feet, but eat it, DC! (I'm trying to display as much Arlington pride as I can muster prior to moving). This 'cycletrack' mostly helps CaBi users trying to get to Lynn.
Bus was there when I got there, so it was a pretty convenient ride home. I stopped at Glebe and picked up some beer at CVS (In Virginia, CVS carries beer, so another point for Arlington pride). I'm looking forward to being able to bikeshare from door to door (one of the new stations will be about a block and a half from our new place) and not have to take the bus, but I guess I'm looking forward even more to having tires that don't pick up flats so easily.

Ride In 8/24

My now slightly abated rage was from the second flat tire and not the first, which I believe was the result of the earthquake or at least that's what I'm going to say on my insurance claim. (The quake also totally ruined my Stradivariuses and Picassos, so it's going to be a considerble claim). Sometimes you're just riding along and you see that jut in the road and you know it's going to be iffy and then your bike pitches slightly up, with just enough time for you to think 'uh oh' and then when the tire hits the ground again, you can just hear it's not right. And then the thud thud thud thud thud and the air escaping and then the whole thing is over. Hilariously, I changed my flat at the corner of Clarendon and Rhodes, a mere 30 feet from a stocked Bikeshare station. Maybe I should have just locked it to a sign post and rode a CaBi to work. Those are at least reliable.
I changed my flat, slowly but reasonably efficiently. I tried to determine the cause, but the tube didn't want to take in air. Rather than patch a hole I couldn't find, I used my replacement tube (which I make a point [now] to carry in my bag) and got back in the road relatively easily. I examined the tire for gashes and there were some pocks, but nothing that looked like it was truly bad (I must have been wrong, but more on that later). Rim strip seemed fine as well. Some things to consider for commuting post-flat:
  • Ride along a bus route that gets you to work if need be. I have this terrible habit of picking up multiple flats in a row and rather than chance it on some trail, I stick to streets and streets with buses that get me to the office (or close). That meant Wisconsin.
  • Know where your local bike shops are. Because they normally have floor pumps you can use. I don't try to pump my tires up to full pressure with my hand pump because I'm a piddly weakling. Instead, I try to get the tire to a reasonable PSI and take it the rest of the way using a floor pump. I thought that the Revolution on M had a pump outside, but it didn't. So I rode down to CycleLife on K/Water. This shop even opens at 8 because it happens to be half-juice bar or something, so had my bike needed further repair, I could have done that. 
  • Don't try to ride to the bank at lunch. Because this is when you'll discover that your front tire is flat again for reasons you don't fully comprehend and this will make you so, so mad that you'll take to twitter and immaturely complain about it. 
I thought that I had made it to work without incident, but there must be some gash in the tire, hitherto imperceptible to me. I thought these tires were good, but apparently, I need something sturdier. On the advice of S., I've ordered some Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires (in 28, because I'd like to continue to be one of  the few people in the world who rides 28s) and they should get here tomorrow. It really wasn't my intention to order new tires, but I did so in a fit of pique and desperation and I'm just going to reconcile myself to the fact that it was a good decision. I haven't figured out how I'm getting home today. I'll try to patch the tire and boot it, but maybe I'll take Bikeshare.
Other than that whole saga, it was a beautiful morning for riding. Car traffic was light, weather was pleasant, earth remained mostly still.


No Rides 8/23

No rides today, but here are some bike events for your calendar:

September 12: Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee Site Visit to Lee Highway and Lynn Street
Starts at 6:30. Around 7:15, the meeting will transition to more of a social event where you can meet members of the ABAC and the BikeArlington team and find out more about all of the important stuff they do for cyclists in the area and how you can get involved.

September 19: WABA Annual Meeting
Starts at 6:30 in Silver Spring.

Ride Home 8/22

It was a nice day yesterday. You can see as much (or take my word for it) from the official locker room weather station.
Locker room previously used by DHARMA initiative.
I took my work laptop home with me yesterday and my bag doesn't wasn't really designed for it. I think if this were to become a regular thing, I'd want to get a different bag, maybe something that's a little more structured. I also unthinkingly tossed my u-lcok in the bag, so I should be happy that I didn't smash the thing to bits (computer joke!). In my experience, carrying the extra weight in a pannier attached to the bike is significantly less noticeable than doing the same in a backpack, so I guess you can consider that an official TFTS recommendation. This joins the list of other TFTS recommendations, that includes: fenders, lights and don't fuck with dump trucks.
Maryland driver, left hand outside of the car clasping a cigarette, Clamato Palmetto sticker on the back windshield, mid 90s Honda Accord. If this isn't a recipe for being passed too closely, I don't know what is. At least it was on a narrow curve going uphill. Wait, no, that's not cool.
You salmon in my bike lane and you're going to get a dirty look and maybe hear my mumble "fuggin (because it really doesn't merit the hard 'ck' sound and actual curse) salmon." Of course, the likelihood of realizing that my invective is directed at the bicyclist and not at, let's say, a poorly prepared fish dish depends on listener comprehension of insidery bike commuting terms. If you jog in the bike lane (in the same direction), you'll probably just get a wistful sigh. If you salmon jog in the bike lane, you'll get an audible and clearly enunciated "ugh." Under no circumstance will anyone get hit or actually yelled at because that's not really my style. Thus concludes the passive-aggressive bike commuter sounds section of this blog.
The thing I love the most about automobiles is their ability to display hilarious (?) bumper stickers. Take this guy:

As you can't see from the picture, it says "MY IDEAL GIRLFRIEND IS A NYMPHO LIQUOR STORE OWNER." Hardy har har. As you might be able to actually see from the picture, he's parked outside of a liquor store. So, this begs the question, did he find true love? Or it doesn't beg this question at all. I frequently see on New Mexico a parked car with the bumper sticker "GO TARHEELS! GO AMERICA!" Srsly? Thousands of pounds of vehicle and this your chosen self-expression. Way to go.
Lots of jaywalkers on Wilson. Time to suggest that pedestrians should be licensed and need to carry insurance.
Rode briefly behind a guy in a racer's tuck just coasting along at 7 mph towards a green light on Fairfax. While I appreciate the effort at aerodynamics, it might not be worth it if you're just coasting along slowly. But to each his own. Maybe he was participating in a Slow Bike time trial.


Blogging Postponed Until Tomorrow

I'll write up the ride home from tonight some time tomorrow morning. I won't be riding in or home tomorrow on account of my working from home/buying a house. Here are some links (of a sort) to tide you over. I should be riding in for the rest of the week, but it's conceivable that I won't on account of some work stuff and carpooling. Might be time to find a more dedicated commuter blog, maybe done by someone who takes the bus every day. It could even be called "Tales From the Guy Who Takes the Bus Every Day." Oh, also, keep up with Chasing Mailboxes as MG and Felkerino take part in PBP. That's highly badass of them.

Ride In 8/22

So, I'm riding on Clarendon Boulevard behind a guy who's face I never saw. He's on some silvery, shiny hybrid bike that's top tube and down tube have been wrapped in yellow (or yellowed) tape and it's a bit strange. Though, I suppose I'm not one to talk about doing strange things to bicycles considering that I spent more than half hour yesterday sitting on my kitchen floor using a hair dryer set on high to melt the adhesive that held various decals to my bike's frame and scraping away the loosened stickers with an old, broken SmartTrip card, all while being circled by a very curious poodle, who I desperately hoped wouldn't try to eat the sticker flotsam as it blew across the tiled kitchen floor. (I removed the decals because they were coming off anyway and from maybe the desire to have an unadorned black bicycle, which I'm told, by no one, is cool. In fact, conceived this way, it's probably the antithesis of cool. At least I didn't say Nazgul.) So anyway, we're biking along and I'm behind him and riding in the bike lane and he's off a little to the front and riding in the travel lane. There are a few cars in front and a few behind, but it's not exactly super busy. Just after Fillmore and before the entrance to the Market Common Clarendon mall, this guy in a blue Prius (dios mios! That's the kind of car I have) pulls up behind him, honks and wildly gesticulates with a pointed finger that the bicyclist clear the travel lane and move back into the bike lane. He's doing this even though a) there are two travel lanes on Clarendon Boulevard and it would be quite easy for the driver to move into the other one and b) there's a bus in the bike lane and two stopped cars directly in front of the bicyclist that would have stopped the Prius driver anyway and that the bicyclist was moving left to avoid. So, the driver was greeted with a middle finger, extended sideways 'gangsta' style, and then the bicyclist moved around traffic and around Court House turned right down 15th street and I never saw him or the car again.
I hate seeing stuff like this. It's one of those situations where a bicyclist is in the travel lane (legally, though maybe unnecessarily) and he's greeted by someone both ignorant of the laws and, for lack of a better word, violently opposed to his very presence. The driver just looked mad as anything. Not peeved, not piqued, not disgruntled, but angry and far angrier than the situation called for. And while I can't say that the cyclist's reaction was appropriate (though far, far better than stopping and smashing the guy's windshield in with a u-lock), I just don't know if enough drivers fully comprehend the disparity in volume, mass, speed, and specific heat between cars and bikes and how imperiling and terrifying this difference can be. Honk and point at someone in another car, fine, you're both sitting with a few tons of Detroit's Finest (not a real nickname for cars) around you. But doing the same thing to someone on a bike? It's just a totally different ball game (did Don Draper say this about jai alai maybe?). And this was a relatively mundane interaction. So, here's my suggestion for angry drivers. It's the same one as Jeebus might have made lo those many years ago: Honk and manically gesticulate unto others as you would have them honk and manically gesticulate onto you.
Filing this, again, under pet peeves: don't pass me on your bike when I'm stopped waiting for the walk signal. Just please defer to the bicyclist in front of you and if you plan to pass, do so when you're both moving. I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it does and since I'm the one with the blog, well, I'm going to public grind my axes. And then, the offending bicyclist proceeded to teeter across the bridge and passed pedestrians far too closely and too fast for my preference. My general rule of thumb with passing pedestrians on mixed-used paths is to give them as much space as you safely can rather than just enough space to avoid hitting them. You really have no excuse not to do this.
First day of school in DC and the car traffic in Georgetown reflected as much. Unless that was just everyone driving over to Jack's house to pick up their tickets. I might alter my route to avoid going by Duke Elllington, at least for the next couple of weeks during my 'farewell tour' to my current route before we move. As much of a pain climbing through GP and up New Mexico is, it'll probably be better than my impending Mass Ave slog.
A good amount of bicyclists out today and the weather was well-suited for it. It might even be the nicest day of the summer.


Ride Home 8/19

No sunglasses, even though it was a little sunny. I thought a little about stopping to put them on, but, really, who wants to stop on a Friday when it's 5 and time to get the hell out of work after a long week? Not me.
First time in a while that I felt really free on the bike, not consumed with things around me, not worried about jerk drivers and not worried of slipping on slick pavement. There's not much better than that feeling, though admittedly, it's difficult and not exactly wise, to engage in this kind of carefree convivial-embrace-the-world-around-me-kumbaya-itude because one must bike defensively and that's pretty much the way it is.
Bicyclist in scrubs riding up from GU hospital. I got a kick out of that for some reason. Maybe because I have really positive associations with the show Scrubs and can't quite reconcile the fact that not all hospitals are hilarious. Truth be told, my one emergency room experience, itself the result of a bike crash, was so absurdly hilarious that I couldn't help but have a shit-eating grin on my face the whole time. When asked by the nurse attendant if I had been drinking, I replied "well, it's 9 in the morning." That only prompted her re-asking the question. In any case, hospitals really aren't funny places and I'm grateful that I haven't had to spend more time in them.
Jerk drivers can be jerks. For example, I know that the woman driving that SUV deliberately and dramatically slammed on her brakes extra-hard at each stop sign when I was behind her to prove some kind of weird point about my following her. I suspect this because once I dropped a block behind, she had no problem rolling right on through, like any other normal driver would. I'll freely admit to being paranoid. Doesn't mean I'm not right though.
Landrovers. They have significant mass. If you want a car with significant mass, get a Landrover. That's pretty much all I have to say about that kind of car. Other cars I have something to say about:

  • Anyone driving anything Mitsubishi scares the hell out of me. I think there's some selection bias there. Maniacs drive Mitsbushis or Mitsubishis make people drive like maniacs. I just don't know. 
  • Buicks. Good god. If you see a Buick, just pull over and wait til 6PM because it's driver will be asleep. 
  • Anything with a Maryland license plate. I hate to stereotype, but it's true. 

Sometimes I have to park my big white van on the sidewalk. Sort of like this guy did:

Parking it in the street would have inconvenienced people.
Behind four people, thee of whom were men and three of whom were on racing bikes on the Custis from Nash onward. One guy- a dope- stopped at the bike light only to then go, even as drivers were trying to make turns, both left and right. Riding into the middle of the street against the light while people are, rightly, trying to drive by is nothing short of a, technically speaking, dickish move. Just don't do this. You're needlessly antagonizing people. Do the normal bike thing and run the light when there's no one around.
Ever been eye to eye with a Castelli scorpion? Scary. Just like The Pearl. Any bike companies have either toads or rabbits as logos? Anyway, guy had some fancy carbon BMC jobber and he rode behind another guy with some Specialized whatever and neither of these bikes seemed especially pertinent for the commuting task at hand. Racks and fenders, people!
Rode along the Custis and down Lee Highway and over Kirkwood and once again realized that I'm wholly unsuited to riding on flat, empty roads. Boring. Especially when I'm by myself. Maybe I need get lapped to do some laps at Hains Point.
There's a weird logical fallacy about drivers and bikes that goes something like this:
Cars are faster than bikes (at maximum speed)
Sometimes cars have to go slow on account of traffic.
Sometimes when that happens, bikes are around.
Ergo, bikes are causing the traffic and making the cars go slow.
I see (hear?)this kind of thing every time I get honked at for not going fast enough through an intersection, even though the driver behind me can't see the reason (namely, the cars in front of me) that are causing my delay. It's just assumed that because I'm on a bike, I'm the one who's making things slow.
Obviously, this isn't the case, but I think that this is a sort of "assumed" truth of the road and I really wish this kind of thinking could be eradicated. Maybe through dermabrasion?

Ride In 8/19

There was nothing especially offensive about this morning's weather, but nothing much to praise either. It was the kind of muggy, cloudy summer morning where the wet air is pretty still and ominously (but not really) foreshadows an afternoon thundershower that might or might not come exactly as you leave from work. I brought my jacket, just in case, but I'm expecting to leave it in the bag. I wore it for a bit yesterday and while I appreciate it's coverage (I hate getting rain on my arms for a reason that could only be exposed through rigorous hypnotherapy or maybe rigorous dermabrasion), the jacket has no real ventilation and I feel like I'm wearing a bright yellow trash bag. If you can't tell, I'm rather looking forward to the cooler temperatures of autumn.
Fridays in August are essentially weekends and the roads are lightly trafficked, even by bicyclists. I don't think I even saw another cyclist until after Court House. I remember him because he was in the process of screwing up the merge from the bike lane to the travel lane at the presumably everlasting line of barrels where there used to be a bike lane on Wilson. It's kind of like merging onto a highway- you need to get up to speed and then blend in. Slowing down is just going to leave you stuck in the bike lane, waiting for traffic to abate. And then you have to start from a stop, which I find, at least, to be much more dangerous and difficult than blending in with traffic while everyone is more or less moving at the same speed.
I've taken to riding down to Lynn Street and turning onto the Lynn bike lane from the center travel lane, since there's almost always a long line of cars waiting to turn left and merging in with them requires more foresight than I usually possess. Since I only do this when there's a left turn arrow and I'm assured that there's no other traffic coming, I feel relatively safe in adopting this strategy. Of course, as a result, you have to ride on Lynn, which might have a bike lane but I can never tell since it's always occupied by double-parked cars, delivery trucks and tour buses. And then there's the Lee Highway crossing OF DOOM where cyclists can take the full lane but probably won't on account of their likelihood of being run over by a speeding driver behind them.
Stuck in a caravan of four bikes on the bridge. Girl in front of me was carrying a yoga mat. We rode slowly and it was fine, until we reached the Whitehurst Freeway entrance OF DOOM and were cut off by a turning car and then the front bike guy just barely didn't run over some pedestrians foot and the whole thing was some of embarrassing. Don't think the bike guy even apologized, which is very rude. Downstreamers. Ugh.
I gave 33rd one more shot and of course I have to now retract my apology since once again it was devoid of cars using it as a cut through. I promise to stop flogging this non-issue, but it really boggles me.
If I wanted to upgrade to a 105 groupset, would anyone be willing to help me do it? Like, with tools and such. And as you can see by that last statement, by "help me," I mean, keep me as far away from trying as possible while you pretty much do the entire project. Maybe if you need to reach a certain number of hours of community service to get something expunged from your record or to fulfill your probation? Send all emails to talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com and remember to cc your parole officer!
Ever been chased by a mystery car? One that you're totally certain exists because you have this strong sense that it's right behind you and you're pedaling along thinking 'just pass me already' and then you turn around and it's not there any more or maybe even wasn't there in the first place. I'm hoping this is a relatively common feeling amongst bike commuters (happens to me all the time on Wisconsin) and that I'm not just suffering from bike-related brain rot.(That would require considerable dermabrasion) Mystery cars can be powerful motivators and I'm certain all the pros use them in their training. That, or real cars.


Ride In 8/18 and Ride Home 8/18

I don't prefer to blog this way, but allegedly, sometimes work involves lunch meetings and that's my usual blogging time and I can't quite pry away additional time because in August, there just isn't very much on account of the alleged "students." Anyway, here are the "goods," for what they're worth.
It was a quiet morning, one that started with my adjusting my seat post height (back) to where it was two days ago. I've got a real problem with using allen wrenches unnecessarily in an effort to make my bike ride marginally improved and then I lack the patience to find out, if in fact, my ride is improved and not just uncomfortable and different, so then I re-adjust things in an effort to erase whatever I mistakenly did previously. I wonder if there's a bike mechanic reading this with dollar signs flashing in his eyes.
One of the things I forgot to mention yesterday is that I saw a Virginia license plate with "BRO ICON" upon it. Wow. Either that guy truly is an icon to bros, which would make him something of a db, or orthodox monks are now driving pearl white Mercedes.
So, this happens. What do you do?

It's a bus driving in the bike lane. There's room on the left and sort of room on the right. There's another bus stop in about 400 feet. I pretty much just rode behind the bus. I think that was the right call, but I guess I could have passed on the left and then cut back across right to get into the bike lane when I was well in front of the bus. As a general rule of thumb, I try not to fuck with buses.
On the bridge, a clearly addled man made a pistolero gesture in my direction and I just nodded back. That's cool. I'm sure he meant no malice. Still a little disconcerting though.
Gotta merge fast if you want to merge at 34th on M. That or wait for the light. I made it all right, or so I thought, but I guess there was a car on my tail in such a way that a woman (Australian?) on a vespa honked at him. I'm normally pretty good at knowing whether I'm about to be hit by a car, but maybe I didn't notice or maybe her "almost" isn't the same as my almost. In any case, when she pulled alongside of me and explained that her honk was in my defense, I said 'oh' and maybe 'thank you' but I'm pretty sure I didn't actually say 'thank you.' "Almost" is problematic and I've been thinking a lot about it since reading this article on sidewalk cycling. Everyone's 'almost hit' by a cyclist or a car or a jogger is a little bit different and it's hard to say exactly what to do about it. Have I 'almost' been hit? Yes. Have I 'almost' hit someone? Sure. Do I know how close 'almost' is and how to standardize 'almost' to ensure that it's abundantly obvious to everyone when they're 'almost' hit and when someone is simply passing closely but not too close? Nope. Is the answer bike lanes? Maybe?
And then I went up Wisconsin and everything about cleaning my bike having a positive effect on my biking were pretty much proven right and I felt much better about it.
Remember those morons who I didn't think would drive by Ken's house?

Guess they're real. Sorry for insinuating that they didn't exist. As Larry Summers once wrote...
Slow slog up the hills. A few people 'almost' drove their cars into me.
I rode home in the rain, at least for the first part. Lights, front and rear, and a fluorescent jacket. I was highly visible and yet still not entirely comfortable. It's rained so little that I've developed rain riding amnesia and have no small amount of discomfort riding when the road is wet. I think I'm slower downhill than up. It might have taken me an hour to get home, I don't even know- I was just going slow.
And that was fine. Just now my bike's dirty, so I'm glad that I invested that time (15 minutes) pretending to clean it.
What's the height of high heel shoe that causes someone to fall that evokes schadenfreude (rather than sympathy)amongst people who feel compelled to wear high heeled shoes? 3 inches? 4? 2? I don't know.
No lights out, pretty smooth ride. A few bike people, but not too many. I don't know if people don't ride there bikes home or if I'm just leaving work at a time when most others are still working or maybe biking to a happy hour.


Ride Home 8/17

If you have a limited amount of time to read DC bike stuff on the internet (cause you have a life or something?), stop reading this and read friend of the blog Alex Baca's excellent WCP story on bike lanes. And if you'd like to achieve "friend of the blog" status, all you need to do it link to it, or comment on it, or tweet about it or just continue reading it because, honestly, it's just an honorific and and it's all yours if you want it.
Sometimes there's not enough room for you to drive around me. This is a good indication that you shouldn't try it. Really. Sometimes it's as simple as that. If it seems like it's gonna be too tight, just don't try.
Avoided being rundown by an M3 by dramatically extended my arm and pointing left and down. Looked like an ass, but I guess it worth it. In the future, I'd prefer not to have to ride down the yellow stripE because someone just needed to double park so badly.
Arlington was a mess today. There were lights out on Fairfax Drive and there was a disabled bus on Wilson at Pollard. There's not much more dangerous for a bicyclist than a series of stop lights out. You're pretty low priority in that situation and drivers are definitely not thinking, "oh, I should yield to that kindly cyclist." My advice is to find a car buddy and stick with him as best you can as you go through intersections. Also, make sure that your car buddy is going in the same direction as you are.
Some bikes that I saw:
A purple Peugeot

A Bike Friday with Carradice saddle bag.

Both of my calves somehow got covered in bike grime. I attribute this to the bad bike parking at the Harris Teeter. I choose not to attribute this to my continued lack of coordination and inability to go near my bike without brushing my legs against the oily parts.

Ride Home (via Baseball) 8/16 and Ride In 8/17

Three rides:
Work to ballpark
Ballpark to home
Home to work

Prior to leaving work, I asked for some assistance in figuring the best route from my office to the stadium. One would think that when it comes to knowing the best route from my office to anywhere, that I'd be my own best resource and not have to rely on the knowledge and pity of others to direct me. Nonetheless, I did receive some helpful hints concerning travel in the south and east direction and I basically followed N.'s proposed route. Or at least with some modification. It's a straight shot down Mass to Q, one in which I pretty much take the lane and zoom along with car traffic. Taking the lane, for me, somehow manages to be both banal and terrifying. Along Mass, I saw the associate registrar who shouted "congratulations" at me after I goofily waved at him (I got a new job that's also a better job, but still at the university) and I shouted back "thank you" once it registered that he was yelling at me. I cut across some traffic and raced on oncoming taxi to get to Q. Q has a bike lane, but it also has at this time of day a number of cars evacuating and pulling into parking spots with little heed for any occupants of the bike lane. Also, a lot of opportunities for right hooks. Q took me to Rhode Island, where I sort of got mixed up about the best way to turn left and might have come across like a jackass biker with complete disregard for the law. And while that's mostly an accurate description, I was really just trying to get out of the way and in the best position to continue on Q to 7th. On 7th, I was passed (while stopped at a red) by a hipster on a fixie. Yawn. Can hipsters move on to another mode of transport (single spring pogo sticks?) and leaves bikes for the rest of us. On 7th, I started improvising because I forgot to move over to 6th per my instructions. 7th isn't really fun, though there were plenty of other bicyclists taking it. I lurched through by alternately riding in the parking lane and squeezing past stopped cars. I was behind another rider, one who looked much more familiar with the area and considerably more adroit and the dodging and weaving game. She was quite good at it and even knew how to best get into the Penn Ave bike lanes, whereas I managed to find myself a) riding on the sidewalk (CRIMINALLY!) for 20 feet b) stuck waiting for a walk signal to get into the center of Penn behind a gaggle of tourists and c) riding too far into the intersection of Penn and 7th and almost the path of a turning Metrobus. Sorry, everyone. Penn was easy enough thereafter and 4th is basically pleasant until you cross Independence, though whatever the posted speed limit is through the Mall, unless it's 50 mph, is blatantly disregarded. I rode past a parking enforcement officer on a Segway (why not just give him a bicycle?) and into the cluster of brutalist nothingness that is LBJistan. I don't know what the plan is exactly for revitalizing this area (arson? having Paul Ryan sell it to pay down the debt?), but between the raised railroad tracks and the raised highway bed, it's rather unpleasant. Then I screwed up on my directions again and instead of taking I, I rode down to M, SW. M was fine until I got near the intersection of South Capitol and sort of freaked out because I didn't know what the intersection with South Capitol was like and I turned down Carrollsburg and salmoned on N. And then I waited 3 (!) light cycles before I was given the opportunity to cross. This is insane, especially given that there's a huge baseball stadium and people might want to walk or bike to it.
All in all, it was a pretty good route and I made fairly good time. I'm going to doing a lot of northwest-southeast biking through town once we move, so this was a good primer. 
Bike valet. It's great.
I was at the baseball game thanks to the generosity of my friend J and his generosity was courtesy of IAVA. Thanks IAVA!
After the game (or more accurately, some time in the bottom of the 7th), we left and while I've ridden home from the ballpark before, I'm always unsure of the best way to go. Part of this has to do with the limited lighting I have on the front of my bike, which while sufficient for making myself visible, isn't the best for showing the path in front of me and this rules out most area trails, which are thoroughly unlit because that's how George Washington intended it or something. So, I rode M, SW until it became Maine, SW and then rode Maine as fast as I could because it was empty and the rode was flat and open. And then I rode through the tunnels underneath the highway and that was kind of cool, all the time thinking, wait, am I going to end up on the highway and wondering if I should bail to the sidewalk (which given the urban renewal-ness of the area would probably also put me on the highway) and then I turned left onto some kind of mystery street.

The mystery street (on ramp? Maine Avenue extension?) took me again under the highway (more properly the 14 street bridge) and then I was like, whoa, I need to turn here like now because I sort of new again where I was. And I did turn, sharlpy, onto a smallish pedestrian refuge area, beating the rush of an oncoming car by a couple of seconds, so that was good. And since I didn't have light enough to take the MVT, I eschewed the 14th street bridge for a Monuments at Night-style ride down Ohio Drive. If you haven't done this, you really should. There's something about biking in the dark that I really enjoy. I think it's because you feel like you're going faster than you actually are and accordingly you get this sense of tremendous satisfaction knowing that it's you yourself that's propelling you along to fast. And at the same time, you can completely detach yourself from the act of pedaling and just look at the hunks of marble lit in the medium distance.
Memorial Bridge to almost the cemetery to missing to bike path to doubling back to the bike path to riding down the dark, dark windy bike path to past the security guard/police officer/MP/marine in front of Iwo Jima who might or not have shone his large security light up the hill so as to provide me a little bit more light. A rather close pass by a car near the entrance to Fort Myer and then it was a straight shot down into Rosslyn and then a longer, slower plod up the hill through Wilson. Past the Clarendunces (there were fewer, but it was Tuesday), and down Fairfax and home. All the while, I was doing an outloud running commentary which mostly consisted of me saying things like "stop' and "too fast and too close" and "come on" and "just park" and "get out of the bike lane." The dark makes excellent cover for the snide.
And then I rode to work this morning.
A saw a Bikeshare rebalancing truck near Court House. I wonder if he was scouting for the new location, since there's no station there. Woo hoo, if so.
Muslims for Life would like you to give blood in honor of the 9/11 victims and they have bus ads to tell you as much. I haven't given blood since I attempted in high school when a nurse botched it and hit a nerve instead of a vein. It's probably something that I should be doing. And with transfusions of my super, biker (not superbiker) blood, we'll be able to defeat Smugness Deficiency Syndrome once and for all.
Always with the honking at each other. People can be so rude.Unjustifiable honking should be the subject of a Law and Order episode.
A rare "four bicyclists all get to a four way intersection at the same time" occurrence. Not one of us stopped and we managed to get by just fine. It's an anti-Nader. Also, a not uncommon "checking out babes while I roll my car through a stop sign not paying attention to anything else around me" move. I don't think the babes were interested in your leering.
For the second day in a row, I've had a taxicab driver cut me off when I'm making my left turn from 37th to Tunlaw. Not cool. And yes, it did look like I was going to ride my bike into your car on purpose to, I don't know, win some sort of stupid moral victory and accrue hospital bills to prove a dumb point. Don't do stupid stuff.
Two bicyclists in the course of my New Mexico climb. Passed the first, couldn't get to the second. I think there'd be more if there were bike lanes. Maybe by the fall.


No "the blogging" tonight

I'll write up both the ride to the stadium (Nats! troops! woo!) and home from there (boy, I'll be happy when we move) tomorrow.

Ride In 8/16

After all of the caterwauling, I finally cleaned my drivetrain, in the half-assed is-this-even-cleaner sort of way that I'm so very good at. I had buckets and Simple Green and dishwashing soap and rags and paper towels and brushes and I even wore a shop apron ironically non-ironically. I managed to keep myself relatively clean, limiting my grime only to my hands and somehow the top of my left foot (wtf?), which is no small victory. It did make a difference, in the kind of way that a long overdue cleaning always does. There sure was a lot of gunk in there.
Thanks to my cleaning, I was running late. I didn't wear bike clothes and I opted for a messenger bag instead of the usual pannier. I really, really don't like carrying a bag on my back. I don't find it comfortable and I don't know why so many people do it. Bicycle racks are really great and highly accessible.
Nothing makes my bike make weirder noises than a rushed, substandard cleaning. It's just easier not to brake to avoid the embarrassment. Of course, that's leads to a totally different embarassment.

This unassuming pole counts bicycles.
This unassuming Pole is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Apparently, more riders and pedestrians cross the bridge on the downstream side, which isn't surprising, since that's the side that goes down M Street, where there's stuff. You'd only cross the other side of the bridge if you're either heading to that university that everyone hates (via the Exorcist steps?) or that Exxon that everyone hates.
Lots of CaBis out today. I guess CaBi types tend to ride later in the morning. Interesting. Figures that those bikeshare users are hippy slacker layabouts who don't even get to work on time. (Or tourists).
Trash outside of a Georgetown dorm. I imagine this is what Amsterdam trash pickup looks like. Or maybe not since no Dutchman would ever throw out a perfectly good (?) rear wheel.
A bunch of road crews out this morning too. Pretty much every street had some sort of minor, yet totally disruptive construction. Yeah, just because a car can drive over it doesn't mean that your street work is totally cool for everyone. It's not the same when you're riding on a bicycle.


Ride Home 8/15

I saw a van with Batteries Delivered written in big blue letters on the outside. It's, apparently, a car battery delivery service and not a goon squad, though if I ever form a goon squad (which would be the least intimidating goon squad since Riff's), we're going to go by Batteries Delivered, copyright infringement be damned. Our squad will have no problem gooning intellectual property. That'll be the only thing our squad will have no problem gooning.
Legs just weren't happy going home either. However, I've deluded myself into thinking that it's not a leg problem, but a perception problem. You see, I've gotten so used to the vehicular cycling mindset that I am just shocked- shocked!- that I'm not traveling at the speed of the speeding cars that speed past. That's the only reasonably explanation. If you believe that, I've got a square-wheeled Czechoslovakian bike to sell you...
I hate having to half-yell at drivers who just don't follow the damn rules of the road and "obligingly" half-stop at four-way intersections to let me ride though. Just go! Go! Please, if you're there first, just f'ing go! It's worse for me when you wait and I have to wave you through because the driver hovering inches off my rear wheel thinks it's my fault and likely to run into me thanks to your largesse.
No traffic on 34th means the following: I'll get to M only slightly before the driver who starts at R at the same time. That's with both of us stopping at stop signs.
There's a new bike/ped counter on the Key Bridge. I was tempted to ride past like 50 times (grade inflation 4-eva), but I didn't know exactly where it was. I only saw it out of the corner of my eye when I biked by, so there goes that plan. It sort of looks like a smoker's pole. Please do not ash on the counter.
I took the Custis to Quincy. Pretty quiet on the trail. I passed a cyclists and she might have said "oops" for a reason I don't fully understand. Maybe she was saying "Proops" for a reason I equally don't understand. Girl with some sort of weird creeper (the vine) tattoo under (below?) her shoulder blade. Two bicyclists off their bikes and on phones at the sharp corner before the Lee Highway trail bridge. I didn't stop to ask if I could help because they looked occupied with the whole talking on the phones thing. No one looked injured and the bikes seemed fine. Rode behind a guy struggling on his Mongoose.  You know the best thing about commuting on a Mongoose? Me neither.
No drivers yielded to me in the crosswalk on Quincy. Time to write a letter to the editor about it demanding that drivers should be licensed and carry insurance. Because that'll get them to follow the law.
Finally switched back to index from friction, while stopped at the light at Henderson and George Mason. Maybe that's been my problem.

Ride In 8/15

The rain yesterday did manage to have a cooling effect and temperatures this morning were much cooler than normal and a complete aberration for August. Normally, I try to make the most of these days and look for some long, roundabout way to ride in, but I was running a little bit behind schedule and it's been busy at work lately, so I felt a bit of pressure to take a more direct route.
Our long, national short, hyperlocal nightmare continues with the blocked bike lanes on Clarendon Boulevard. Motorists have been quite obliging in a way that I've found to be both uncharacteristic and unexpected. I guess when you can clearly see that the bike lane is blocked and that there's nowhere else for the cyclist to go (sidewalk is blocked, too) and when you realize that thanks to the slope that the cyclist is more or less traveling at your speed, most people will calm down and not freak out about sharing the lane for 8 seconds. Or maybe I've just been fortunate enough to be riding in front of extraordinarily obliging drivers and tomorrow we'll regress to the mean and and the mean-spirited.
Here's an exciting scenario in which I've discovered some new danger. Sometimes I get stuck behind a large van or truck as it slows to turn right (and I intend to keep riding straight) and almost get hit by a driver turn left from the opposite direction who didn't see you because you were behind the large vehicle. This is a recurring problem in lower Rosslyn (I style this area LowRo. You're welcome, Rosslyn BID). Not much in the way of options to deal with this other than to just be really careful.
Lynn Street. Ugh.Can we get the Vamoose bus somewhere else to do pick-ups? Other than the bike lane at the intersection with 19th?
Behind a lady on the loudest, bootleg-iest, barely functional Schwinn Traveler (maybe?). If you're bike is louder than a car's engine, that's not a good thing. If every time you pedal, it sounds like the din of some early Industrial Revolution widget works, it's really not a good thing. I get the virtues of riding an older bike (maybe you don't have the money to get a new one or maybe you don't want to commit to a new bike if you're unsure about how much biking you'll do or maybe you like the retro cool of older bikes or maybe you've traveled through time after you hit 88 mph on your commute in 1985 one day), but at a certain point, you need to make sure that the bike is in proper condition. It's for your own good (safety and well-being, to say nothing of efficiency) and would also really benefit those of us who don't like being subjected to horrible scraping metal noises.
I deviated from my normal route and my back-up normal route and took 33rd up through Georgetown. In part, I did this because that's what the lights gave me and in part because I wanted to check out the street in the morning to see it clogged with Virginians heading in their cars to their hospitality jobs. This wasn't the case. Maybe because the hotel shifts don't happen to change at 8? (The Official Wife is still so, so, so mad about this article and frustratedly still can't figure out "why they let him publish this!?). Anyway, I was passed by one car with a Virginia license plate. 2 cars with DC plates. And those were all the cars that passed me. All things considered, it was rather sedate and much calmer than the equivalent stretch would be on Wisconsin. Maybe today was an anomaly, perhaps related to August. The street would be a great one for a bike lane (and maybe even at one point was slated for one?) and that would certainly have some traffic reduction effects, maybe even get it down to 2 cars during the morning rush. Another thing about 33rd is that its intersection with Wisconsin (especially for drivers heading north on Wisconsin) is, to use a technical term, crappy.

View Larger Map

A stop sign, then a bend in the road, then a blind left with no regulating stop light? If you're clogging 33rd, you're kind of a moron. Unless, you're turning right on Q. But even then, just drive down to Wisconsin and make a left off of M. Geez.
You ever bike past someone and they give you a weird, creepy smile? Yeah, that's weird and creepy.
I don't know what's happening to me, but I think I'm getting slower and slower climbing uphill. Yesterday, I barely made it up Utah Avenue (a real gem of a hill. Have fun 50 States riders!) and today I struggled up Wisconsin and Massachusetts. Maybe it's the bike (I haven't cleaned or lubed the chain in a month), maybe it's all of the beer I've been transporting home via the bike. Maybe it's the reverse-Dorian Gray scenario wherein the portrait of Richard Virenque in my basement gets younger and fitter as my legs and lungs shrivel. I don't know.


Ride Home 8/12

It's finally the weekend and I'm pretty happy about that. I feel like I've been complainy lately, so I'm going to try not to do that right now. I can't remember any particular grievance that befell me on the ride home, so I guess that's good. 
Sometimes you stop at stop signs. It sort of slows you down. A lot.
Sometimes you see French people, or maybe French-Canadians. It was a father and son and they were getting thoroughly honked at as they wended their way across Prospect and 34th and M. (A quick googling of the dad's bike brand reveals that they're probably quebecois.) Anyway, welcome to DC. They had this aura of total nonchalance about them that I both appreciated and was infuriated by. I suppose it's easy to be jealous of the carefree. 
No crashes crossing Lee Highway. That puts me in the top 1% of bicyclists in Arlington. Speaking of crashes, I really worry about getting nailed by another bicyclist as I cross the Custis trail from the Marriott parking lot. Sometimes I try to roll out to the other side of the trail (and pretty much leave myself in the middle of street), but for the most part I stay where I'm supposed to stay and just expect some careless moron to barrel into me. This sounds suspiciously like complaining, so I'm sorry. 
This bike is dirty as well. I have a long weekend of bike cleaning ahead of me. Chain also sounds wonky. I've never been entirely convinced that this bike was put together properly. If I had more mechanical aptitude (as in, any mechanical aptitude) I'd take things apart and put them together again. 
Do you know Mr. Faux? I've seen him on a bumper sticked in Rosslyn for the past two days. I want to open up a restaurant that pretends to serve Vietnamese food and call it Faux '79 or something. Actually, that's only my second favorite fake Vietnamese restaurant name, with the first being Dien Bien Food
Relatedly, I don't even like Vietnamese food. 
I like to ride right inside of the outer (closer to the travel lane) stripe of the bike lane. This keeps me the farthest out of the door zone. It also makes it less likely that a car will pass me by too closely in the right lane, since I'm almost in the right lane. I rarely ride in the center of the bike lane, since according to ancient Sumerian prophecy, that's bad luck. The ancient Sumerians were really quite progressive in their transportation policy. (Did you know that most extent cuneiform texts were originally from Streetsblog Uruk?)
I think I'm going to try to get myself out on some kind of fun group ride this weekend, most likely on Sunday. I think that'll be good.