Ride Home 10/31

Here's a Greater Greater Washington Post about redesigning Ward Circle to make it more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly. This is sort of nearish and dearish to my heart, but I don't that any of the solutions offered in the post would actually help. Just get rid of the circle. Where is the planner who can be the Roman soldier to Archimedes?
My light problem, the problem whereby my front light flies out of it holder and bounces once or twice on the pavement as I'm slowly forced to come to a stop to recover it from the middle of the road, is still happening. I was hoping that maybe it was just a fluke the first four or five times it happened, but it's not a fluke and I need to address it, most likely with duct tape. Today, it occurred at an inopportune time, as I was riding down Massachusetts, having already passed one bicyclist and settling in behind another. Three bicyclists riding down Mass at the same time is something of a rarity in the afternoon commute. In any cae, the light landed in the middle of the travel lane and I was forced to turn around and walk back to get it. On a street where cars regularly travel 40 miles per hour, I found this to be unpleasant. What I found to be even more unpleasant was trying to start riding again once I reaffixed the light. I could have lost a leg when I was nearly missed by a passing (speeding) gray BMW, that had a driver who apparently saw no need to slow down in order to pass me as I was basically stopped in the middle of the lane. Is slowing down just a little really that hard? Sure, I know that you don't expect someone to be standing in the middle of the street, but oughtn't that be even more reason to slow down and/or stop? Oh well. I guess getting somewhere marginally faster was worth imperiling my limbs. I pulled alongside the driver at the intersection of Q and 20th. I didn't say anything.
Big time bike traffic on Q today. As a general rule of thumb, I don't think that a bike lane is wide enough to successfully and safely pass another bicyclist without leaving it. It's sort of a one bike at a time zone. That's why I really didn't like it when I slowed down because a guy was stopping to enter the Bike Rack (which is sort of not cool. Stopping in a bike lane not at an intersection seems like an ill-advised idea, but whatever) and I was passed way too closely by another cyclist. Like inches close. It's not cool when drivers do it and it's not cool when bicyclists do it. The cyclist and I had yo-yo-ed a few times, her shoaling me at stop lights and my cycling past her again. After this, I was peeved so I decided to stop messing around and just go all out to get past her once and for all. Generally my rule of thumb for dealing with nonsense, which I broadly categorize as anything that I deem untoward (drivers, other cyclists, road condition, whatever) is just to try to put as much room between it and me as possible. If that means going faster or slower to turning to take a different route, it's worth it to me.
Did you know 11th street has Tesla dealership? For real. Did you know that Tesla, the man, appears, or did circa 2003, on both Serbian and Croatian currency? What a shock! (electricity joke!)
I ended up taking Constitution instead of riding through the Capitol grounds because that's what the road dealt me. It's still crummy. In my dream version of Washington DC bike infrastructure, one of the travel lanes on that road is turned into a two-way cycletrack and then the cycletrack extends down Constitution along the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial. Anyone know if this is part of the 9-9-9 plan? It has about as much likelihood as that of being enacted.
Kids everywhere from about 4th along East Capitol. I think the optimal Halloween celebrating age is about 5. Not too much trick-or-treaters down this way so far, but that's ok. I haven't yet changed from my bike clothes, so I guess I could be considered in costume. Boo.

Ride In 10/31

And so we retreat once again to a simpler time, the past of a few hours ago, where everything seems brighter, metaphorically, as it's much brighter now on account of the sun. It's still cold though, and not in a metaphorical sense, but in a meteorological one. I type this post while wearing mittens, or at least hypothetical mittens, which is coincidentally the name of a cat I don't yet own, as it is quite cold in my office. That's what I get for working at a meat locker, or at least a figurative one.
I'm not sure if I went overboard with the overdressing this morning. I was reacquainted with my winter clothes, which consist primarily of an Under Armor ColdGear long sleeve shirt and a fleece (not Golden) from Target, worn underneath my trademarked (not really) yellow jacket and above my shorts and tights and near my wool winter gloves and wool cap or sort of near my smartwool socks. I didn't wear shoe covers on my bike shoes and I didn't wear earmuffs, sunglasses, or a Mariachi costume for I do not work as a Mariachi performer and my Halloween costume is, what else, that of a "zombie jogger." I might have overdone a bit with the heavy clothes, but not so much so that the ride was unenjoyable. I think that riding a bicycle while too cold is worse than riding a bicycle while too warm and both are worse than riding a bicycle while dressed as a member of a Mariachi band because I don't have enough braze-ons for a maracas holder and everyone knows that maracas are best deployed while driving anyway.
Some days you just feel like riding behind people, even when they're riding slower than you'd prefer. There's nothing wrong with that, provided you don't ride within 6 inches of them. Commuting by bicycle is a social activity, even when it's no one's objective to actual be social. My fellow yellow-jacketed commuter rode a slightly different way through the Capitol grounds and ended up riding behind me a little, though it wasn't ever really my intention to pass him.
Street light down at 12 and Pennsylvania Avenue. Probably caused by the bike lane.
I think I've decided that using hand signals to indicate to other bicyclists that you're coming to a stop and that they should be likewise is quite silly. We're not a trail. We're on a city street and there are stop lights that indicate as much. Furthermore, if I'm paying enough attention to see your needless hand signal, I'm probably paying enough attention to see your deceleration. Commuting by bicycle is a social activity, even when you'd prefer it not to be.
Nothing cuts down your average pathlete like a gentle slope. More fake Cat 6 races end this way than other other.
Caution tape still down near the White House. Yes we can!
Fair number of bicyclists out on the road this morning, undeterred by the low temperatures. Bunching even, especially near the awesome new public fountain in the middle of the 15th street cycletrack leaf depository lane homage to the Trevi fountain. Dip your tire in the water and it's a sure sign that you'll ride through DC again. It's not like it's a real problem; it only inconveniences bicyclists. When I arrived, there was a police van pulling alongside it. Maybe they were going to arrest the water? Just don't taze it.
If I remember anything about the Ideal Gas Law, and I'm fairly certain I'm not sure I do, lower temperatures affect the air pressure in your bike's tires. It might have behooved me to inflate them prior to leaving this morning. I felt sluggish.
Oh yeah, I also wrapped a water bottle cage in duct tape and I transported my stainless steel coffee mug therein without scratching it. I enjoy drinking coffee while riding into work because I enjoy drinking coffee in most any circumstance. It also makes me feel like a "regular" commuter.
I didn't actually mean to ride past a guy on Massachusetts, but he pulled over when I rode behind him (maybe to allow a lady with a German Shepherd to get by, but she seemed to have no interest in doing so) and I rode by and he immediately proceeded to mark me as we both rode uphill. I didn't mind this, per se, but I didn't want to give the impression that I was deliberately trying to pass him or race him or anything. But that's no real way to give this impression, so I just rode along. I don't know what happened to him since by the time I got to Wisconsin he wasn't there. Anyway, if you're the guy on the orange DuraAce Mongoose, I wasn't trying to be a jerk.


Ride Home 10/28

My newish job has it such that I no longer work in the same building in which I park my bike and shower and change for work and now when I leave I walk across campus and get a general sense for the weather. Tonight's general sense: coldish. Not much else to say about that, other than the coldishness suggested that I wear two pairs of socks, which wasn't wholly necessary, but it's Friday, so why not indulge?
I'm never going quite as fast as I think I should be. The power of positive thinking doesn't exactly translate into velocity.
I ended up on the sidewalk on lower Massachusetts because I got stuck in the wrong lane. Quite a bumpy, unpeopled sidewalk with unexpected holes and divots and whatnot. Suboptimal. Stay on the road if you can. I merged back onto the street past California St and it was mostly fine, except for the indeterminateness (real word) of the number of lanes, which is exactly 1.5.
If you ever come to visit Washington DC, you should try to see it by bicycle. We even have a Hard Rock Cafe, so that's something.
Q street is getting lame. What's the highest number Trek Road bike your average meshie will buy? 1.2? I  think that's about right.  It's not really the best commuter, but it is what it is. I followed a guy for a while on one and he seemed rather zippy.
If a driver pulls in front of you and into the bike lane to avoid getting stuck in an intersection after the light changes, shoal him if there's space to get around. Why not?
11th street madness will probably not become any less mad once they're done with City Center DC. Mostly because the real 'madness' part of 11th street madness starts after H where there's virtually no lanes painted, UPS trucks everywhere, and cars turning dither (not hither and) at every street. Would it be better with a bike lane? Yes. But only a little.
Who did I see at Pennsylvania and 9th? Friend of the blog, @JDAntos. I don't think he saw me.
At 3rd and Pennsylvania, some guy shoaled into something off a power skid and stopped about 2 feet in from of me. Strangely, he started only about 5 feet behind me. The other bicyclist behind me chortled. After a couple of seconds, I looked back and him and he just sorta shrugged. Yeah, I know. I don't know what happened to shoal guy, but the other bicyclist lost his pannier when it hit a security bollard when he started riding up the Capitol driveway. Another cyclist said "I hate when that happens" as she rode by but I don't think it's ever actually happened to her and she was just trying to make him feel better.
Lots of bicyclists in and around the Hill. Some of them suffered the bad luck of not making it past the bus stop before the driver of the 97 starting pulling in, cutting them off. Just another mundane indignity of riding a bicycle.
Enjoy the winter weekend wonderland. Hopefully it's not too bad.

Ride In 10/28

Some notes on cold.
1. If you don't like being cold, don't ride your bicycle in the cold. There are many other ways to get around. If being cold is something that is going to ruin your day, you shouldn't subject yourself to it.
2. There's no such thing as a bike commuting martyr. No one cares that you ride your bike when it's cold. You don't get a medal. If you bring up how you rode your bike to work even when it was very cold, your non-cyclist coworkers will greet you with something between total ambivalence, angry confusion and slight derision. Your cyclist co-workers will accuse you (correctly) of being a smug jerk and thinking that you're better than them. If you thrive on self-suffering, start your own blog keep it to yourself.
3. Layer your layers. I've got 'light winter' and 'heavy winter' clothes and I mix and match as the weather warrants. If you're wearing max 'heavy winter' everything, it's probably very, very cold. Today, for example, it was only sort of cold, so it was mostly 'light winter' gear. There are probably better ways to think about dressing yourself for the winter, but I think what I'm trying to say is that maybe it's not a good idea to declare one sweater your winter bike sweater because maybe it won't be appropriate for all kinds of conditions.
4. Chap stick? Sure.
Today was proper cold and it was kind of nice because at least it wasn't raining. I'd rather ease into the cold temperatures without also having to deal with rain and ice and snow, which are terrible. A fair number of people out on bikes as well, including a guy who didn't even come close to stopping at every red light on East Capitol. Lucky, I guess. I watched him skitter ahead as I at least slowed down to make sure the intersections remained clear. I wish I had his naive confidence (or health insurance, since it must have amazing hospital benefits).
I'm thinking about starting a charitable organization dedicated to the eradication of bike blindness. Bike blindness afflicts far too many pedestrians, who when even standing in a bike lane, fail to see approaching bicyclists. Some guy had to yell over whatever was playing on his iPod to a woman to "watch out" as she began to step out towards what would have been a nasty collision with me had I not been paying attention. Bike blindness is a pretty terrible disease and I'd suggest we'd 'race' towards it's cure but that might only result in considerable collisions between the charity riders and those they're trying to help. It would be bedlam. Sure signs of bike blindness include:
- The inability to see oncoming bicycles.
- That's it.
If you have a loved one who suffers from bike blindness, encourage them to seek help. Ride your bicycle by them frequently. Encourage them to take up bicycling themselves, increasing their level of recognition of bicycles and bicycle infrastructure. While carelessness is incurable, I hope to see an end to bike blindness within our lifetime.
If you don't think you're going to make the green bike light at the intersection of Penn and 15th, merge out of the bike lane and into the right travel lane, since that right turn arrow exceeds the length of the bike light. Then you can ride up 15th and jay-salmon (dangerous practice of fish-bird hybrid from an evil geneticist's lab?) back into the lane when oncoming car traffic dissipates. Or you could just wait.
Leaves of 15th got picked up. They were actually gone yesterday afternoon, but I forgot to mention them. Caution tape still down too, but I didn't ride through since one of the checkpoint Charlies was checkpointing a maintenance golf cart on the other side of the barrier. Best not to push one's luck. Or push other's buttons. Pushing yet another lucky buttons? Well, that's a different story entirely.
Is there any particular advantage to riding on the far left, rather than the far right, of a one way street? See it happen on L and M all the time and I don't know if I'm missing something. Since the numbered cross streets alternate between one way north and one way south, it doesn't seem that beneficial. Maybe something about being on the same side as the driver? Feel free to clue me in.
I think that Capital Bikeshare is amazing. I don't say that enough.
Pretty slow going over R and up Massachusetts. By Dupont Circle, I saw a guy riding with what looked like a canvas portrait under his left arm as he "drove" his bicycle using only his right. Someone check the Phillips Collection. I'm of the opinion that using mutliple hands to control a bicycle is better than not, but I suppose when you're absconding with precious artwork, you have to make do.
I don't like using my bell in the morning. I just don't think pedestrians are primed for it. Instead, I ride all stealthy and then regret not using it. Stupid.
I've been meaning to count but I don't have an exact number of cars that are occupied by precisely one passenger in the "bad traffic because of college students" stretch of Nebraska from Ward Circle to New Mexico. I guess car pooling is just a collective action problem. If you can afford driving alone or put a high premium on it, what's the benefit to any two people buddying up? So you can sit in traffic together and bicker over the radio? One less car on the road won't make a hill of beans (not edible) difference to the overall situation. And if there's no incentivized space, like car pool lanes or dedicated bus lanes or something, I just don't see how you get past the problem. This isn't even a "downtown" part of town when you could think about a congestion charge. It's just an affluent part of town where the monetary costs of driving simply don't factor. Is the "solution" just to make driving that much more miserable (and permanently) so people trade it for some other behavior? That doesn't sound appealing at all.


Ride Home 10/27

I suppose that I miscalculated when I said that I might not have time to type up my ride home this evening. Turns out that I started with ample time, then procrastinated a bit and then ate some dinner and now have less time than I need, perhaps, to write with the same level of detail and quality that you've come to expect from the 37th most popular DC bike commuter blog on the internet.
Leaving at 4 is pretty much the same as leaving at 5 as far as cars on the road is concerned. Leaving at 3 is a totally different story. 4 is rush hour, at least in the part of town where I ride. Funny that.
Let's skip ahead a little. Did you know that there's a cool new water hazard on the 15th street cycletrack leaf depository lane?
If you land in the water, don't take the drop. 
I'm up for making as much of life like a miniature golf course as possible (who isn't?), but I think that DDOT might be taking things a bit too far. I'm sure it's not their fault, their responsibilities limited to the terranean and not what's underneath) and at least there are some nifty safety cones there, but I'm still going ahead and give a resounding, resigned sigh in the general direction of this whole affair. It's not like it forces pedestrians to walk in the bike lane at the same point the lane narrows from two directions to one. Wait, that's exactly what it does. Here's hoping it stays above freezing. Be safe.
No caution tape and I rode through, noticing for the first time (perhaps because they've never been there before) the "Restricted Vehicle" signs at the entrance to Madison Place. I still asked the guard if it was cool. He looked exhausted with my very existence, but allowed me through. I sort of accidentally grazed my right brake lever on one of the security bollards. Clod.
What about biking the rest of the way home? Yeah, I did that. Light traffic, bicycle and automobile, for much of it. One question about cars. Do people realize how big they are? Like how absolutely massive an SUV is compared to a person? Because some cars are just huge and I have a hard time believing that the people who drive them have any sense of perspective on how many cubic meters of volume they're occupying with their vehicle, much less what it's like to be next to one while riding a bicycle. Seriously. It's just craziness. I'd love to share the road but I'm just not convinced that there's actually enough room.
If you see a Meshie and he's wearing soccer mesh shorts, he's a Euro-Meshie. I rode by one near the Capitol.
It was sunny when I got home. I didn't expect that. It's raining quite heavily now. I guess I got lucky. I planned on taking Bikeshare to my social event this evening, but I think I'm consigned to Metro. Alas, multi-modalism.

Ride In 10/27

It's easy to know what to wear when it's very hot or very cold, but on intermediate days like today, a day  when it was also raining (sort of), I was befuddled in my choice of attire. Jacket to ward off rain, but would that make me too hot? Tights to keep my legs warm? Certainly not a hat or gloves, right? In some ways, I'm looking forward to colder temperatures so at least I know that there's no mystery in what to wear, namely as much as possible. I ended up wearing slightly more coverage than was totally necessary, but not too much, so it sort of worked out.
Barely anyone out on the road today. I'm not even sure that it was raining, at least not consistently. There were more people by the time I got closer to downtown, but the Hill-izens (what is one called if they live on Capitol Hill? Only non-pejorative names, please) appeared to sit today out. My bike decided to reward me for my decision to ride with a really smooth and easy trip. The wheels seemed to turn with less effort, the handling was generally better and I felt lighter and better in the legs than usual. As someone who rides every day, I seem to experience a lot of variability in the way I feel when I commute. It's odd. I pretty much follow the same morning routine, carry about the same stuff on my bike and take essentially the same route, but some days just feel a lot better than others. Was it the extra cup of coffee? Waking up a little earlier? Blood doping?
Leaf cyclists alone.
Seriously? That's four neatly bunched piles of leaves spaced every 30 feet in the 15th street cycletrack leaf depository lane. If you have any doubts that cyclists are treated with less attention than motorists (and seriously, would you?), just ask yourself someone would stack piles of leaves in the middle of the travel lane and ask drivers to pull around to avoid them.
Caution tape is still down. I'm cautiously optimistic that this will remain the case. Maybe I should make a caution tape sash to show my cautious optimism. I'd be the French mayor of needless prohibition against cycling.
Some people get really, really angry when driving. I wonder if they realize that we can see them cursing up a storm through their windows. I'm not the best lip reader, but I'm pretty sure I can spot a "F-ing go! GO! GO! F-ing MOVE! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHH" when I see one. That's a lot of rage. I guess that why they call it a Rage Rover. Wait, it's called a Range Rover? Oh. Nevermind.
Almost no other bicyclists on R street and, per usual, no one else riding up Massachusetts. I can't say that I mind the solitude. At least, I didn't mind it today. PROGRAMMING ALERT: I have a social obligation this evening (a kitty cat bat mitzah. Meow-zel tov!) and I don't know if I'll get tonight's post up until tomorrow. Just in case, there's lots of other good stuff on the internet to read, like this on "pathletes."


Ride Home 10/26

There might have been a car crash behind me. It was hard to know for sure, but I think I heard the distinct crumple noise of two plastic car parts hitting each other. Initially, I thought that the driver immediately behind me, in an attempt to pass, unthinkingly rammed into the car next to him in the other lane. But I don't think that's the case since the car to my left and behind continued to pass me, something the driver wouldn't have done had he been hit. In any case, I hope that my presence doesn't appear in the accident report since I had absolutely nothing to do with it, aside from the fact that any bicyclist on any road is reason for drivers to take immediate evasive action and crash into anything around them.
The road was the kind of wet that wasn't great for riding- just slick enough to seem dangerous. I don't know what route I'm going to take when things get icy, since I don't think the unabated descent down Mass will be especially fun when slick. Given my general lack of temerity, anything that's less heavily trafficked and in which cars travel at lower speeds will be greatly appreciated. But winter isn't yet. It was surprisingly hot in my work clothes and bike jacket.
I do dumb things occasionally, like ride without a front light for no apparent reason. Well, I wouldn't say "no apparent reason" because the apparent reason was that I'm worried that my front light will eject itself upon my hitting a bump. I think I'm going to take the time to tape it down at some point. Perhaps soon. (With a couple of days soon, not right now soon)
Are woman cyclists more polite?
I rode down 11th and came up another Surly guy, his brown and with one rear blade-style fender. As a rule, I like fenders, but I'm not crazy about those. Full fenders are the best.
I took E from 11th, charting my way through some nearly overwhelming bus traffic and it took pretty much forever on account of the road closures and the stop lights. I should have just stuck with Penn, but I've recently deduced (through the power of empiricism!) that it's less hilly if you ride by Union Station than if you ride by the Capitol. Of course, that requires you to ride by Union Station, which while under construction, sort of sucks.
Another bicyclist and I rode together briefly on Massachusetts past Stanton Park. He had very long curly hair and apparently wanted to ride faster than me, though in order to do so, he had to jump a light, pushing down extra hard on the pedals in order to put some space between us. Ok, dude.
I diverted to Safeway to pick up some broccoli and chocolate cake. The bike parking at Safeway is horrible. I wonder what bike parking at Arlington County grocery stores is like.

Ride In 10/26

As is sometimes my habit, I am wearing a necktie today and I think that it's halting the flow of blood to my brain since I had completely forgotten that I had yet to write this morning's post. Yes, as of today, I am still writing all my own posts since I have neither finished inventing the TFTS blog post generator (I type in the weather my general route, the computer complains about BMWs and light sequencing) nor have I gotten around to hiring a TFTS intern, who would ferry me to worry on a bike rickshaw and shout out his/her observations as I pithily reply "Irreverenter!" between sips of some foamy coffee drink. Until I find either a technological or human resource "game changer," it looks like you're stuck with me. Or you could always read one of the many other fine blogs I've listed on the blogroll on the side of the main page. Because they're quite excellent, individually and collectively.
Sometimes you just end up in awkward traffic "no no zones" and the only thing you can do is just ride out of them and apologize for turning from the wrong lane. I mean, that's the only thing you can do after you've screwed up and put yourself in the "no no zone." You should first try to avoid them, but misjudgement and bad luck can get you. Not a big deal.
I ride the Senate side of the Capitol, past the parked cars. In order to do so, you have to ride a little on the sidewalk by the Visitor's Center. So far, no complaints (either from me or from security).
I try not to pass another bicyclist on Pennsylvania Avenue unless I know that I'm going to make it through the next green light. It's quite awkward to pull around someone only to stop like 5 seconds later at the next light. It might even promote shoaling. And for the record, passing someone on a bicycle isn't a referendum on objective speed- commuting isn't a race. It's more just an indication that in the particular moment one bicyclist elects to travel faster than the other. One shouldn't feel obligated to hold off challengers in the name of preserving your "I bike fast real good" honor.
Legs didn't feel good at all riding up the gentle incline by the Treasury. I was worried at that point that it was going to be something of unpleasant commute, but it sorted itself out as most things do over the course of a ride. Perhaps I was psychically abetted by the continued absence of caution tape on the new repaired security bollards. I approached cautiously and made a point of asking the guards if I could ride through, to which they assented. I don't know if this politeness can/will in any way forestall its reappearance, but one can hope. It's not that the lack of tape allows bicyclists to travel through any faster (the gap is narrow and requires you to slow down a lot), but it separates us from pedestrians which is very welcome, both to them and bicyclists. I'd bake the guards cookies if that would keep the tape away, but I don't think they'd willingly take baked good from a stranger since they might be laced with some sort of knockout gas, allowing the Penguin to foist his dastardly plan upon the White House. My Penguin is, and always will be, Burgess Meredith.
Don't be a moron on 15th Street. Follow the pedestrians signals like the one-a-block signs say. If you get hooked, it's going to be bad.
Bern helmets are everywhere. Everywhere. Thoughts?
Still an unfortunate lack of churros on Massachusetts, but an otherwise nice ride. I guess I don't say it enough, but it's nice to arrive at work not feeling miserable or beaten down, the way I would feel when I took Metro or drove. For me, biking to work just works and I'm glad that I get to do it.


Ride Home 10/25

Another brilliant night and another opportunity to not change back into bike clothes. It did't lead to any noticeable Dick Van Dyke effect, though maybe it did and that accounts for why the Acura driver only nearly missed me when he passed too closely rather than driving right into me. I don't know if it's callousness or over-confidence or just not caring, but I'm always amazed by how little margin of error some drives give themselves (and by extension, me) in the name of driving marginally faster. I guess the consequences seem more profound to the person on the bike.
Great ride down Mass and I caught up to another rider heading down the hill. She, like me, did the thing where we merged from the right-turn only lane at Waterside. It's the best of a few bad options. Though I suppose if karma was paying attention, it exacted itself later on down the road when a pickup truck stopped in front of us in the narrowed right lane and the driver turned on the flashers, leaving us stopped as traffic sped by in the left lane. Less than an ideal scenario, but these things happen.
A few thoughts on the Logan Circle Whole Foods:
1) It's quite crowded in the five o'clock hour
2) Children ought not be allowed to push the family shopping cart, especially when the Whole Foods is crowded with hungry myopic little twits.
3) There's bike parking and a Bikeshare station, but it could probably do with more.
Spotted the DC Bike Ambassador standing in the middle of the 15th street cycletrack by Rhode Island. I don't know what he was doing (holding postcards?), but he didn't reciprocate my hello. Maybe because of diplomatic immunity?
Superbikers are lame, especially when riding in the city. As is my wont, when pedestrians are in the middle of crossing the street, even after their rightful turn has ended, I don't try to ride through them, rather opting to instead allow them to finish. Apparently, this is not done in superbiker culture and you should aggressively dart through the hapless pedestrians as quickly as possible. You know what, superbiker? That's rude. And you know what else? I know the timing of the lights and there's no way that you're not getting stuck at the next red, no matter how tight your lycra is.
Big Sean was right. They were repairing one of the security bollards when I rode by this afternoon. I guess it wasn't me, but routine maintenance. Maybe they won't put the tape back up?
Is interval training when you can't ride for more than a block because the lights are timed to prevent it? Roadies can feel free to clue me in.
I'm never not riding through the Capitol again. Way better than Constitution. For non-American readers, the Capitol is the home of our legislative branch, which is where bills go to become a law held up in an endless morass of extra-Constitutional procedural hurdles by a demographically skewed upper house. Living in DC is majestic.

Ride In 10/25

I love my street. I think it's the best street in the neighborhood. I love it so much that when I go outside in the morning to leave, I tend to think that it's nicer and warmer than it actually is and I don't wear my jacket and by the time I turn the corner, I realize that it's not nearly as pleasant as I thought and that my arms are cold and that I really made a mistake in sticking with short sleeves. But, when you catch successive green lights, which is a rarity,  you don't want to stop just because you're cold. So you wait until you get a red and then you pull over at a bus stop and get your jacket out of your bag (this time of year, always carry a jacket. And a hat and gloves. Also, always pack your bag the night before because you don't want to, for the second day in a row, forget to pack your belt. dark mornings=even more forgetful than usual) and then a bus might pull up behind you, but it's cool and the bus driver doesn't get mad or anything.
I rode through the Capitol grounds for the first time. Good rule of thumb is, even when you don't know exactly which way to go, just ride towards where you see cars. Odds are that if someone was able to drive there, you'll probably be able to bike there. And by the Capitol, you'll see lots of cars, but please do not attempt to count them because of national security. Turns out it wasn't hard to navigate at all and I'll probably start riding through daily.
Six of us in a line on the Pennsylvania Avenue bike lane. All white males.
I was informed last night by L, founding (?) member of the Sharrows Road Team (something I just made up, but it can be a real thing if you want. No, I don't know what it does or why you'd want to be in it) that the Madison Place security checkpoint remained untaped and I was curious to see if it was still the case this morning. It was still the case and I rode through, this time without even asking permission. I went slowly and even still my pannier brushed against one of the security bollards. Please do be careful if you do the same. There's enough space to ride in between, but you don't want to miss. I don't know if DDOT's inquiry into the matter provided any impetus to remove the tape (or, even more delusionally, if it was anything written on this blog) or if budgetary constraints has prevented them from ordering a new roll or if it's just a total coincidence, but I'm grateful in either case. Let's see how long it keeps up (or, more properly, not up). To do my part, I promise that I'll stop tweaking the state security apparatus, perhaps by not continuing to call them the state security apparatus.
I amazed at the willingness of some bicycle riders to chance it on yellow and just-turned red lights. I watched a guy on a CaBi ride through after the light changed at Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Doesn't he know that there's a guy who drives through that intersection distracted by the beat of his own maracas? Or more likely to cause him harm, a line of three taxis waiting to turn left to pick up fares at the hotel? Jumping a red and running a red are two entirely different things. Relatedly, I thought this was interesting and mostly on point.
Mopeds aren't are allowed in bike lanes. I didn't know that til just now, so I take back all the mean things I was thinking about that lady. Sorry. (There goes that whole bit. Looks like this post will be one picture and one rant-laden paragraph shorter today) So, to fill the space, let's talk about who our favorite Late Antique 'barbarians' were. I liked the Alans. You?
Half way up Massachusetts, there was a woman dismounted with her bike resting along a tree. I asked if she was ok and she smiled and just said she was taking a rest. I don't blame her. I think someone could make some coin with a churro stand opposite the Observatory, but I also tend the overvalue the desirability of churros, much less the regulatory hurdles that one must clear to open that stand. Though there are far better locations for a pop-up churreria, including pretty much everywhere else.


Ride Home 10/24

It was too nice out to change into bike clothes. I just untucked my shirt, switched shoes (I leave work shoes at work, which I normally do with work belt as well, but I accidentally wore work belt home on Friday and found that out this morning, much to pants' dismay. Unfortunately, no hilarious old gray mare antics), bedecked my dome helmet-wise and left. It felt good not to change clothes and ride a bike in normal people attire, though slightly unkempt.
The slow down sign said that I hit 34 heading downhill on Massachusetts. Or maybe that was the speed of the car behind me. Just imagine how fast I'd go if I didn't wear parachute pants for work (I work as a backup dancer in an all-white MC Hammer revue) and actually had any ability/willingness to adopt an aerodynamic posture.
There's a slight rise on Massachusetts between California Street and Decatur Place. I only noticed it for the first time today, after wondering for weeks why it is that I always seem to slow down between the bottom of the hill and Stanton Circle. It's because of that. Along that stretch, I also realized that my right quad kind of hurts. Time for Bicycle Space yoga nights? Or maybe I'll skip the yoga and take part in THE CUPCAKE CAPER! The chance to ride around the city, solve a real-life fake mystery and win a Brooks saddle and matching handlebar grips sounds pretty awesome. (Unfortunately, I've got theatre tickets. Theatre spelled this way means that the tickets are expensive) But you should go. Yes, you.
Here's some random building near Dupont Circle. It's the home of the Cosmos Club. I'm pretty sure it was built by Pele and Giorgio Chinaglia in the late 70s.
What happens why I get bored at stop lights: Contextless pictures. 
Slow going down Q and I turned right onto 15th, where it was even slower on account of hitting every single light from Q to K street. But maybe that's a good thing since the pavement on 15th is absolutely terrible and needs to be repaved immediately. It's a ruddy, bumpy mess and a real disservice to bicyclists. There's only so much bicycle-only infrastructure in this town and when the hallmark piece of it is basically impassable southbound, that's not good. So, not only southbound afternoon riding slow on account of the lights, it's highly uncomfortable.
All the stopping gave me ample time to think about my "stopping style" which isn't a thing (yet). I put my left foot down, rest my bike diagonally on the left leg and put my leg hand on my hip, slouch, and I drum away mindlessly on my handlebar with my right hand, looking off nowhere in particular, maybe at the cyclists stopped across the way. What's your (entirely made up thing) "stopping style"?
I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I'm fairly certain that this bike blog is the favorite local bicycle commuter blog of the President of the United States of America. I mean, what else could explain this afternoon's absence of caution tape at the security gate at Madison Place, NW? Invariably, President Obama was outraged at the minor inconvenience caused to me (and other maybe) and order someone who order someone who ordered someone who order someone to remove it. What else could explain it? The fact that they had to temporarily lower the barriers to allow a car to pass an in so doing damaged the tape and they didn't have any tape to reapply the barrier or maybe just didn't care? Ockham's razror. In any case, when I saw that the tape was down, I headed right down the to the barriers, slowing to a stop and I looked to the guard inside, asking grammatically (syntactically?) incorrectly "Can I ride through?" to which I received a big thumbs up. Well, I don't know how big, relatively or objective, the guard's thumb was. I'm glad I stopped to ask instead of just blowing through because that seemed like the right thing to do. We'll see if it's back up tomorrow or if, through the power or a barely read blog, I became the change I wished to see in the world. (There's no way this is anything more than sheer coincidence. I'm not delusional. It'll be back tomorrow)
Behind sweat pants guy on Penn again. Bike commuters are still a rather small community.

Ride In 10/24

Can we stay this lucky with the weather? Can we? For just another couple of weeks? It's keeping people on their bikes well into October and that's pretty fantastic. I think that there were more people out today than there was on Friday and that's saying something since Friday was pretty chock full of bike types. I think that more people beginning to weigh the opportunity costs (and real costs) of their transit choices and, in their own individual cases, realizing that bicycling doesn't stack up badly at all. I hope that DC continues to make strides to improve the infrastructure for "close-in" people (the ones coming from only a couple of miles away), so that even more people feel comfortable riding. No, it won't reduce traffic on the Beltway, but it might make moving within the city (via car or Metro) marginally easier. But then again, I have no idea.
I'm still wearing shorts. For the sporty types who've switched to bike pants, it might be a warm ride home this afternoon.
Virginia license plate HAYEK on a pick-up truck. Friedrich or Salma? Trivia: one of them was a producer for Ugly Betty. (The answer might surprise you). Anyway, there's probably a joke in there somewhere about high gas prices and low fuel efficiency being the real Road to Serfdom, but I'm not going to actually make it. Or did I?
The pants-wearing biker in front of me on East Capitol proceeded through the Capitol grounds, which I've yet to try, sticking with Constitution to Pennsylvania. I think that the grounds might make for an easier transition to Penn Avenue, but it's only bad like every other day. On Penn Ave, some guy really pushing it on a Bianchi hybrid whizzed by and prompted me to ride along behind him as we caught light after light riding an a not insignificant speed. As we approached stop lights or jaywalking pedestrians, he used hand signals to alert me as one might in a group ride. I'm never really sure of the appropriateness of this during a commute, since optimally, we're all our own independent actors and just happen to be riding along the same way at the same time. Or maybe that's just what I tell myself to not feel bad about not alerting riders behind me.Though I think it's probably a good idea to signal in some manner if you're going to coming to a complete stop or turn.
Needs to be some better signage/traffic intervention at the end of the 15th street cycletrack by Pennsylvania and New York Ave. It's sort of just a free-for-all right now, with bicyclists turning on and off the track directly through a pedestrian crosswalk. The solution might be a bike traffic light, since it's mostly the cyclists dodging rightfully crossing pedestrians (unlike on 15th where it's pedestrians jumping out into the bikeway with absolutely no awareness that it's a bikeway). But I'm sure nothing can change because it might be too dangerous for security guards in a checkpoint somewhere.(My bitterness got me in WashCycle!)
The usual bunching on R, including (presumably) a dad and his 12 year old son making their way across town. Parents biking with their children is probably a good thing for the cause of biking in general. Parents biking with other people's children might also be good. Parents biking with chainsaws might be good, but it might also be bad, depending on whether the parents are loggers, devoted amateur fans of logging or just recklessly wielding chainsaws. (This post has officially gone off the rails)
Nice climb up both parts of Massachusetts, including riding behind a guy on a fixie. Fixie guy was pretty fleet and he gained ground on the guy in front him to the point where the in front guy turned around and actually apologized. Never apologize to another bicyclist for not going fast enough. It's a fairly simple reality: someone who wants to go faster than you needs to figure their own way around you and you, minding you own business and riding your own pace and the conditions make it such that they can't pass easily and it temporarily slows them up, well, sucks to their assmar. Be cognizant of other bicyclists and be courteous, but don't say you're sorry for riding slower than they would prefer if you can't immediately accommodate them.


Ride Home 10/21

Didn't I just do this? Well, in any case, let's go once more. Commute blogging is an iterative process after all.
It was #cyclingcapfriday because my head would have been cold without it. (Don't tell anyone, but I've yet to engage in any #coffeneuring. With the new house, I've been engaged in a lot of #HomeDepot-neuring, which to the best of my knowledge, isn't a (yet) sanctioned bike blog contest) I also wore gloves and a jacket. It was almost proper cold out, but it still wasn't dark enough to warrant lights around the time I set off, which was a good thing, since I once again lost my front light while riding, this time while riding down 15th. Ack. I'll actually have to do something about this.
But stuff must've have happened before that, right? Like on Massachusetts or Q street? Um, not really. Mass was really smooth and I made it basically to the bottom without any issues. Q street was fine, but crowded with both bicyclists and motorists. As was 15th (where I lost my light), but with almost everyone riding in the other (northbound) direction. Packs, nay, hordes, of bicycle riders heading to their bars on U Street/apartments in Columbia Heights/other stuff in other neighborhoods.
As I mentioned this morning (which was really like 4:30 this afternoon), the intersection of Massachusetts and 15th is a bit of a mess and every green light on 15th is met with at least one or two automobiles stopped in the middle of the cycletrack. One approach is to ride around it. The other approach, as some cardiganed fellow adopted, was to ride up to one of the offending drivers and say "You're blocking the bike lane" after making, through some contraption, a series of train whistle noises. Now, I'm for sticking up for yourself on the road and "defending" your "rights to the road" or whatever, but this is a bit too much for me and seems qualitatively different from screaming at some jackass who nearly runs you off the road. Who, exactly, does this behavior help? The cause of bicyclists? You individually? I just don't get it. Yeah, some driver do dick things and end up blocking your way. But as it says on my family crest "Life is a series of unappealing choices" "Life is a series of other people inconveniencing you." You don't like people getting in your way? Don't bothering calling them out mid-offense. Wait til after and blog about it. Just don't go outside.
Do other nation's domestic tourist obsess as much as ours over fucking pigeons? Seriously, America. Don't come to the White House and spend your time chasing birds. My goodness.
On Pennsylvania, I rode behind a woman in three inch heels on a Bianchi road bike with SPD pedals. We both rode behind a guy wearing black sweat pants. I think the lights on that street are timed to make bicyclists stop at every block. It's probably for the safety of security guards.
A really nice ride from the Capitol to home. Maybe because it's Friday.

Ride Home 10/20 and Ride In 10/21

Two for one post.
I wore a tie to work yesterday and I successfully managed to ride my bicycle with it on during the afternoon commute. Of course, I was also wearing a bright yellow jacket which zipped over the tie, so perhaps the neckwear's more notorious potential effects were abated.
I don't normally think of a the drivers of black BMWs are the kind of people who would put on their hazard lights to warn the people behind them of a crossing group of deer, including at least two baby deers, but the one in front of me at the base of the New Mexico hill did and I appreciated his or her cautionary efforts. This runs counter to my belief that were life just like Bambi that BMW drivers would be the hunters.
Bad traffic on 34th, but at least there's bike lanes. Not that that makes a difference when half of the road is closed, including the sidewalk, which I only found out after riding a little on the sidewalk because the bike lanes were blocked. At one point, I hit a bump and my front light flew off. That was inconvenient. Time for a new front light?
When I got to the jersey barriers blocking the street, I decided that rather than wait the interminably long length of time it would take for cars to get through the intersection to allow me enough space to ride through that instead I would just lift my bike onto the my shoulder, hoist it up over the jersey barrier and carry it past the car in front of me, placing it down in bike bike lane just beyond. These are the kind of things you do (or can do) when you have the ready excuse of owning a cyclocross bike. Cause lifting bikes past cars and over concrete barriers is what they do in cyclocross, right?
I arrived at Rosslyn and had a great time at the #bikeDC happy hour. The usual suspects (@Blacknell, @BikeArlington, Dave Kirschner) and the chance to meet some people that I know of from the interwebs (@JDAntos, @SwimBikeRunDC, @Zanna_Leigh, @ countless others whose nametags I couldn't read)  and a good time was had. Among the topics of discuss included: triathletes and why they're _____ (insert praiseworthy or disparaging term depending on perspective), the joy that is Robin Hood Men in Tights and Cary Elwes' subsequent lack of career, the lack of widespread appeal of this blog, living on Capitol Hill, those shoes that look like feet, and potential of an all CaBi throwdown super-race (with skin suits and aerohelmets) at Hains Point to determine, once and for all, who's the 'fastest' rider in DC, if not the universe. This NEEDS to happen and it needs to be recorded, edited put on the internet. It'll be the perfect cross between a Streetfilm and Breaking Away.
Thereafter I rode home, electing for the city streets and their ambient unnatural light to the probably fast, but significantly darker, trail route. It wasn't bad down M or Pennsylvania and I made it to the White House without much hindrance. There was a group of celebrating Libyans outside. Penn was again fast, but mostly blocked by trucks on account of some late-ish night road/sewer work. Not a big deal and I still managed to stay within the confines of the bikeway, but just rode on the other side.
Highlight: running into the Bicycle Space I Street Social on East Capitol (and being recognize by Fearless Leader Erik in the near dark. Very impressive. Reason #2,523,522 to shop at Bicycle Space) I dinged aplenty and I think I even said "woo I Street Social" in a sort of a falsetto, so sorry about that.I was just very excited.
Lowlight: literally, being low on light when my front light once again ejected itself from its holder. It rolled under a parked car on East Capitol and I had to shimmy underneath in order to retrieve it. Thanks for not calling the police, anybody! So, yes, I'm going to need to address that.
Then I got home, ate some carrots for dinner, watched tv, went to sleep, got up the next morning and rode to work.
I wore my regular clothes because that's a nice thing to do on Fridays, when offices allow workers to dress down (tuxedo jacket and jeans in place of full tuxedo). In fact, I think that this might lead to greater incidences of bicycle ridership on Fridays. Someone should look into that. UPDATE: If this idea sounds familiar, it's because it was posited by the Official Wife in February.
A lot of bikes on the road today. It was like Bike to Work Day 2: Tokyo Drift or something. Speaking of which, DC should really have an officially sanctioned autumn Bike to Work day. It's just so freaking nice out. Unless of course, you don't like cold fingers (isn't that a James Bond movie?), which I don't, so I stopped to put on little gloves and it took me about three complete stop light sequences. I have the manual dexterity of an eel.
On 15th, I rode behind a guy with two backpacks on, but an empty rear rack. Er?
 At 15th and Mass, there's always a car or two "blocking the box" and cyclists have to ride around into the path of traffic. Today, a woman on an LHT coming in the opposite direction almost rode into me because she didn't want to follow the whole right-side of the road thing. Maybe she was British. Or dyslexic. (Note: I think dyslexia only applies to reading, but I don't know for sure.)
At 15th and Rhode Island, there was a drive who was, LITERALLY, playing maracas on his dashboard as he listened to some salsa beats. When will DC Council consider my long tabled "no playing maracas while driving" law? How many more pedestrians and bicyclists need to be scared into thinking that a rattlesnake is fast approaching before this issue is finally taken seriously?
Saw a guy riding an Xtracycle with a full-grown adult sitting on the back. First time I've seen that, though I doubt it's very uncommon.
That's pretty much all I remember. I really wanted to remember the maracas thing, so I might have displaced some other stuff in the pea that is noggin.


Ride Home 10/20 post tomorrow

Will it feature local bike celebrities? Yes. Aplenty. Does the term "local bike celebrity" hold any real value to you or bear any relation to the actual meaning of "celebrity"? Debatable. Same bat time (roughly), same bat URL.

Ride In 10/20

It's jacket weather. Maybe sweater weather. Finally.
Following my "take what the road gives you" strategy, I ended up riding in front of Union Station this morning. Update: the bicycle infrastructure improvements are still not completed. And then rather than turning down E, the "road" (and by road, I mean stop lights and traffic pattern) told me to keep going down Massachusetts. I briefly flirted with the idea of taking Mass the entire rest of the way, but I figured if I was going to do such a long stretch of Mass, I should've done it for as long as I possibly could and not just pick it up on the other side of Lincoln Park. I should pay special homage to the all-Massachusetts route by riding it on Patriot's Day or Tom Brady's birthday or some other appropriate time, maybe eating a wicked good can of baked beans as I ride.
The road, assisted by a stopped bus, then told me to get off Massachusetts at 5th (actually a little before the intersection because of the stopped bus, I lifted my bike onto the sidewalk for about 20 feet) and ride that to R. 5th NW has a bicycle lane on the other side of New York and is very sedate in the morning. If I had a seal of approval, I'd give it to that street, though I question whether it would be capable of accepting the honor.
Riding across town I was behind a guy with a Bern helmet, Bianchi single speed (freehwheel on the flip-flop hub) and a Chrome bag. If this isn't the direction that urban cycling is heading, this is where urban cycling is.  It's definitely the "au courant" look, even in DC. Make of that what you will.I have no strong feelings about "cycle style." You could easily ascertain this if you ever saw me.
Need to steal of pumpkin for Halloween? St. Sophia's leaves their pumpkin patch unguarded. Of course, if you're stealing a gourd from a church, you have significantly worse problems than a mere lack of a jack-o-lantern.


Ride Home 10/19

Now we're talking. That was a bad news autumn rainstorm and I rode it in the mostly, but not totally, dark. It was a sudden, somewhat brutal reminder of what riding this time of year is all about: muddling through.
Speaking of muddled, here's the response I got from DDOT after complaining about the caution tape at Madison Place, NW.

Dear Mr. McEntee:

Thank you for contacting the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) regarding your concerns about bicyclists being hindered by a security checkpoint at Madison Place NW.

Since this is a security checkpoint guarding a federal building, DDOT has no authority in this matter. A member of DDOT's Bike Team learned that bicyclists who move by this area without slowing down actually cause a safety hazard for security guards checking vehicles entering and exiting the adjacent checkpoint. That is the rationale for not giving bicyclists unfettered access at this location.

d. Clearinghouse 

In any case, thanks to DDOT for getting back to me, especially concerning something that (I rightly supposed) they have no control over. But I'm going to go ahead and call BS on the answer giving to the member of their Bike Team.  Here are just a few of the reasons that the rationale of "speeding bicyclists can hurt security guards" is bunk.
1. Guards are mostly in the booth, protected by bicyclists by something called walls.
2. If there was actually a vehicle stopped at the checkpoint, a bicyclist couldn't "speed" through. The bicyclist would be stopped by vehicle.
3. There's maybe about 2 to 3 feet between the security bollars (if you can call 6 inch diameter metal poles bollards) and there's no way a bicyclist is going to "speed" through. And furthermore, if a bicyclist was to actually speed through, there'd be no one there to potentially hazard (because they'd be inside the security checkpoint, surrounded by walls)
4. The access, as a result of the security bollards, is already quite fettered and removing the tape still wouldn't give bicyclists unfettered access to the area. It would just allow them regular access.
5. So let me get this straight: it's crucial that we preserve the safety of security guards by imperiling bicyclists and pedestrians forced to share a too narrow sidewalk. I mean, if that's the actual calculus and someone has deliberately decided that this is a worthwhile tradeoff, that's fine. But let's at least be clear about what's happening here.
In conclusion, this supposed rationale is considerably less than convincing. This is a case of someone taking offense to theoretically being hazarded by bicyclists than an attempt to actual think critically about an issue. As we're all aware, bicyclists are a public safety menace.
I had two goals for getting down Massachusetts that fed into my larger goal of not getting seriously injured.
1. Stay upright
2. Not ram into the back of anything.
And I did both of these things, thankfully. There was only once when I had the genuinely terrible feeling of not being able to stop in time and it was when I was confronted with a driver looking to change lanes when the person in front of him stopped to turn left. Luckily he saw me in time (thanks yellow jacket!?) and stayed put. In the rain, I don't really mess around with going fast or riding anywhere but in the middle of the travel lane. Most drivers, I think, understand and vaguely sympathize (or at least give a wide berth).
Look for breaks between cars in slowed and stopped traffic. That normally portends something, like someone you can't see pulling out of a driveway. That seems like a useful suggestion, right?
Lights. You really need them. In fact, I'm peeved at a good portion of the DC bike set for not having them. Invisibility in the dark is no cycle chic. It's cycle stupid. Yeah, it's fairly early in the gets-dark-early season, but that's not much of an excuse. Would gentle scolding get you to get lights? Maybe continued and cruel mockery? Rigorous police enforcement? How about this?
Don't make baby poodles cry retroactively
If you're going to try to race me as the light changes, remember to shift into a smaller gear ahead of time. Just sort of awkward when you push off and don't go anywhere.
I don't think there's anything better than rain to remind you how crappy some roads are. Downtown on 11th is just a mess. Not so much potholes as cauldronholes (not a technical term) that extend almost across the entire block. Just bad news for bicycling.
I got a sad, empathetic look from the Capitol Hill police/security (I don't know which) person who guards the three cones that block the lane at the base of the hill on Constitution as I was forced to slow to a near stop and then merge (for 5 feet) into the next-over travel lane after two speeding cars prevented me from doing such until they passed. I'd prefer you just not have cones there. Maybe I'll take it up with DDOT and learn that the cones are there to protect the guy standing in the middle of the lane to protect the cones. It's like an MC Escher drawing of traffic control.

Ride In 10/19

First rule of "Biking to Work in the Rain Club" is that there's no such thing as "Biking to Work in the Rain Club." It's not a real club. It's just something that people do when it's raining and they happen to bike to work. If there was an unofficial uniform for this non-existent club, it would be the bright yellow safety jacket that I, along with many others, don for the occasion. Whether this makes us safer (or drier- mine seems rather porous) isn't quite clear.
Reverse commuting (in my case, heading uptown from roughly the White House) is sort of like a daily time trial, in that I'm riding by myself (not that I'm racing the clock. I'm quite slow. Even a grandfather clock could outpace me), whereas southbound commuters ride in bunches of five or six riders. So lonely.
You know who wasn't lonely? The kid on the back of (presumably) his father's bike, helmeted in a child seat, swiveling his head about while they rode in the rain. Everything I've ever gleaned about parenting  from trend pieces in New York Times Style section (a source that is, in almost all cases, wrong about everything) tells me that children must be coddled and protected, that we live in some namby pamby society (I think Evans-Pritchard actually studied the Namby Pamby, who might have been a tribe indigenous to Micronesia) where exposing a child to either a bicycle or rain (or god forbid both) is dangerous and inexcusably hostile to judgmental observers in wider society. But this guy stuck to his guns and was doing it anyway. Lots of child schlepping on Capitol Hill.
The Official Wife recently got a new pair of rain boots after her old pair broke and was wearing them for the first time today, a choice replicated by many of the women I saw on the streets of Washington this morning. Men, it appeared, wore their regular office shoes. I don't know if many of the women planned to change shoes at the office (that's a thing, right?) or just wear their rain boots all day (is this a thing?), but long story short...I don't know where I'm actually going with this. Gender inequality and patriarchy? Slippery street conditions for walking in high heels? Lack of good rain boot options for men? Treat this paragraph like a Choose Your Own Adventure and work your way out of it with the opinion of your own choice because I'm certainly not going to be able resolve this half-thought coherently.
I think that the Redskins QB controversy is weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of area drivers. How else can you explain all of the distracted, poor driving going on? Saw the driver of a white SUV almost run over a woman midway through the crosswalk without so much as slowing down. And the honking! It was everywhere and worse than usual. The collateral damage of a patented Rex Grossman suckfest ranges much wider than the confines of FedEx. (Or another theory: it was the same as every other day)
Someone out there might actually know the answer to this (or be able to look it up) so I'm going to ask: what were the desired specs/qualifications for the bikes purchased by the Capitol Police? They (the bikes, not the officers) don't look especially sturdy. And is there a Buy America provision? (or is that always the case with federal purchasing?)
Joggers in the rain. Zombies.
Is there something magical about bike lanes that attract fallen leaves? Like a special kind of paint, maybe? Seems to be more leaves in bike lanes than areas where lanes could be but aren't. Just be careful riding near/around wet leaves. It's that time of the year.


Ride Home 10/18

Another nice night.
A fairly straightforward trip on what's becoming my standard route through the city: Massachusetts to Q to 11th to Penn to up the hill. Bikes lanes for about half the trip, some of them quite good and the parts without are generally compatible to bicycle riding, though I suppose, harrowing in some senses. Mass is a fast downhill, but you can merge with traffic. 11th after Mass is pretty tight, especially if you catch some bad breaks with commuter buses blocking the right lane. Everywhere else is fine, except for maybe the brief stretch from Constitution to First, NW. I think that once Union Station is done, I might start taking E, but that leaves the awkward stretch of Massachusetts from the end of Columbus Circle to where the bike lane picks up after Stanton Park. Choices, choices.
Where is the bicyclist traveling down 15th street supposed to stop relative to other bicyclists when he goes to turn on Q street? In front of the stopped bicyclists at Q? Fall in behind them? Ride a little down the road and do a c-turn in the crosswalk and then get in the bike lane? I think that the "right" answer is to line up in front of the stopped bicyclists, but I don't know. There's no real answer and this question probably only concerns an aggregate of 8 people, all of whom are pedants.
Lots of jumping lights today. Got me into trouble, too, but not with a driver. It was a fellow cyclist who took issue with me and if she happens to be reading, I'd like to apologize for any misunderstanding. I first encountered her along Pennsylvania Avenue, when I was the sole male cyclist in a group of maybe five or six women bicyclists. (There's no way women aren't at least 50% of bike commuters). She was the most "aggressive" of the bunch, jumping the right light at Penn and 7th and then proceeding up the hill. I caught up to her at one of the lights along Constitution, as she sidled up next to the side of a Volvo with its right turn signal on. He dropped her feet. Then inched a little. Then dropped again, at about slightly behind the passenger side door. The light was red. I was unclear if she was going to go or wait, so when I thought she was going to go, I pulled up alongside and said "let's go for it." This was a mistake. You should never talk to anyone. You should also do as I say and not as I do, since it seems like I'm violating the maxim that I've been espousing rather religiously for the past couple of days. But in my defense, I thought she was going to jump the light too. My comment was met with "You can go. I'll wait at the light" or something like that. I said "I just don't want you to get hit by the turning car," which I realize sounds paternalistic and sort of horrible. For what it's worth, it was mostly just me that didn't want to get stuck in the blind spot of a turning car, but saying what I said made me sound like a jerk. She then said to me something like "Why don't you look in front of you?" where there was a pedestrian sort of standing near-ish my path (and who was in no danger is being struck by me). I found this to be unnecessarily spiteful, but maybe I was taking it wrong. Anyway, I'm sorry for suggesting that we break the law and I'm sorry for probably coming off like a jerk. I guess if there's a moral to the story, it's just suggest to people that they follow a particular course of action while on a bicycle and then defend your suggestion with the clarification that "it's for their own good." Yes, I recognize the irony that that's pretty much the thing that some jerk drivers do, but I didn't really mean it in a bad way and it was all born from a misunderstanding. And that's all the gnashing I'll engage in on this particular incident. If by any chance you read this, I'd like to hear your take and see if I about got it right or whether there's some other aspect that I missed.

Ride In 10/18

Have I thanked you all for reading lately? If not, thanks. If so, thanks again.  If it's unclear or you can't remember whether I've thanked you, either individually or collectively, well, you're probably over-thinking it.
I don't know if it's my hardy constitution or just my accurate reading of the morning's temperatures, but I'm still wearing short sleeves. And shorts. I'm still "rocking" what I would wear to work in the summer and that's working out for me. I suppose I could wear a long-sleeve shirt and still be fine, but it doesn't seem that cold yet. In comparison, I saw a dude wearing ski goggles. It was, like, maybe 60 this morning. Maybe he's one of those Dubai skiers.  I'm of the opinion that you should wear whatever allows you to get on the bike (including goggles, parkas, mink stoles, chaps, whatever), but I just don't want to feel like I'm outside the norms of the average bike commuter in my attire.
I also saw a guy with his tie tucked into the front of his shirt, which I don't think I've ever seen before. I don't wear a necktie while riding my bicycle (I opt for an ascot and smoking jacket), so I haven't had to consider the implications of "rocking" this look, but I don't think I've seen anyone elect for this specific strategy before. Maybe it was a frightfully long tie and he was worried it would get caught in his spokes. I suppose if I had to daily wear a tie at work (instead of a blimp captain's uniform), I'd probably just wouldn't put it on until I got to the office or maybe just put it on and wear it untucked, allowing it to flap in the breeze like Old Glory (all of my ties have American flags and/or bald eagles on them) because a necktie really isn't that much of a hindrance to bicycle riding. But then again, see the first clause of last sentence of the previous paragraph.
If you time the lights right, you can ride almost the entirety of Pennsylvania Avenue without stopping. I suppose you could neglect the lights and also ride the entirety of Pennsylvania Avenue without stopping, but in that case, I couldn't guarantee you wouldn't be hit by a turning car. I think it's important to use bicycle infrastructure when it's there, provided it's not too much of a hassle.
You like pictures of tents obscured by cars?

It's like a cross between the LL Bean and Urban Outfitters catalogs. I think that the protesters will remain safe from the park police so long as they don't start occupying pedicabs.
Rare downtown superbiker sighting. He must have been heading home from Hains or some trails because I don't think riding 15th in the morning would be very good training, at least not if you're training to go fast for long intervals. If you're training to avoid turning cars and dodge pedestrians (which, come to think of it, might be a good idea considering how recent TdFs have gone), then I strongly recommend it.
I love when on-street parking takes up enough of a lane that it can't be used by cars, but it's still wide enough (and even wider than a bike lane) to be used by bicyclists. I have very mundane, specific passions.


Ride Home 10/17

I don't have very much to offer tonight. New brakes good, which makes a big difference going downhill. Intermediately light out, so I had my lights on, but I probably didn't need them. I saw a very Dutch looking bike near Dupont, with full chaincase. What did the Dutch do to get a particular kind of bike associated with them that the Danes didn't?
Of all the buses I would hate to hit me, a double-decker tour bus with an add for the Hard Rock Cafe (or something) on its side would invariably be the worst. Within (literal) inches of my life. I don't have too many "come to Jeebus" moments when riding, but sheesh.
I think 11th NW is the way to go. I'm surprised how low the buildings are along that corridor. It's not super transit accessible, but I would sort of expect it to be denser and taller, more like 14th. Someone get me a couple hundred million dollars or maybe just Doug Jemal's phone number.
On Penn, there was a line of four bicyclists and we approached a red light and, miraculously, the same order was preserved throughout the light. Victory for civility. And slowness.
It makes sense to yield to pedestrians, especially when the drivers next to you have already stopped. Big party foul, guy riding in front of me in the bike lane. I'm sorry to be so judgy. It's very motorist of me.

Ride 10/17

I often start these posts with some sort of reflection on the weather. It sets the scene, but I mostly do it not for storytelling purposes (because really I'm not that sophisticated of a writer), but instead because it's the most immediate thing that I'm forced to confront. Bike commuting, first and foremost, is an outdoor activity and you can't really escape the elements, which provide both background and context for your daily ride. In this case, the elements, and by that, I mean weather, really didn't warrant escaping, as it was a beautiful morning.
This is yeoman's work and I'm glad that someone took the time to do it, but it sure is rife for satire. PASSING ON THE LEFT! (I hope it's not the videographic equivalent of how this blog reads)
I got new brake pads. And I put air in the tires. So, I'm once again "up to code," or whatever the appropriate phrase is for the libertarian's paradise that is bike commuting (no vehicle inspections, no registration, no property taxes, no fuel taxes. I'm really living the dream. Just waiting for the good folks at Cato to give me my blogging  fellowship.)
So, when I see a uniformed person, I tend to clam up and start following laws since I'm (mistakenly?) under the impression that enforcement of laws might be within their job profile. So it's kind of funny when I diligently stopped at the red light by the Folger Library (Othello?), awkwardly alternately making and avoiding eye contact with the uniformed fellow on the other side of the red light, and a woman behind just rides right through it, giving him a pleasant hello and getting a nod in response. After another 30 seconds, when the light turns green and I ride by, I sheepishly said hi and got nothing. What's your deal, guy? More importantly, would it be ok if I jaybiked too?Can we just work out some sort of understanding so I can know how much I don't have to follow traffic laws? I sincerely doubt that any of the security types on the Hill actually care about my biking, but I don't want to make the mistake of riding past the one guy who does.
Pretty quiet up Penn and fewer bicyclists than I would have expected. A lot of people riding on 15th, mostly in groups of 4 or 5, stuck together after bunching at stop lights. It's like an incipient Amsterdam some days.
So, how soon to the protesters leave McPherson Square and start a baked good shop in Georgetown called "Occu-pies DC" and get a reality show? Because I'd watch a program that involves both pies and social justice, grievances against capitalism and delicious flaky, buttery crusts. If DC doesn't act soon, they might be surpassed by Occupy Wall Strudel. Just saying.
Sometimes I'm quite convinced that I'm much more likely to be in a crash resulting from the actions of another cyclist or pedestrian than from the actions of a driver. I don't think the statistic back that up.
Don't totally blow stop signs. I must be getting over-cautious in my old age, but I'm increasingly more concerned about bicyclists not even slowing down at intersections. Even if you don't want to stop, at least slow down, ok? For me? Or for someone else who's vastly more important to you than I am?
At the base of Massachusetts, I saw that there was another bicyclist riding up the hill on the roadway. I decided that, for the purpose of safety (maybe?), I would ride behind her and slightly to her outside, giving us a "critical mass" that might be useful in alerting drivers to our presence and perhaps getting us some extra space. She was wearing purple jeans and riding a red Jamis road bike. I got the distinct impression (from the jeans I think) that she was German. There was also something slightly Teutonic about her face (I retract this statement if it can be perceived as racist in any way). We rode up the hill and for the most part it went ok. I don't think she knew I was there and at a certain point I decided that I would ride around her and be the person riding in the front since that seems like I thing worth doing and maybe even abiding with some unspoken bike commuting etiquette. So I did and she rode on my wheel for a while. Only a few drivers chose to imperil us by passing within a foot, so I guess that's a victory. It's still better to ride off the street. I wanted to ask her if she rode up Mass every day. Because I'd like to know how she copes with it since, to me, getting passed so closely, is highly vexing.
Like biking? Have handcuffs? Well, you could do this.
You're under arrest.


Ride Home 10/14

It got nice out. I'm going to make this post short, but not because of that. My commute was very short, at least in terms of time and not distance, as I do not live on a house boat or work on a dirigible (yes, there are other workplaces that move, even more contemporary flying ones, but I'm going with blimp). This is due mostly to luck and has very little to do with bicycling acumen. If you want to get across the city quickly 1) pick a good route and 2) hope that you catch a bunch of lights and 3) if you really feel like it, but it doesn't really matter that much, pedal hard. You'll find after bike commuting for a while that pedaling fast really only decreases your travel time at the margins, especially if you don't catch lights. And this makes sense, since if you wait at lights, even if not through their entirety, it takes out a much larger chunk of time relative to your overall commute time compared to the amount you can gain from pushing yourself. Of course, this might just be self-justified dawdliness, but I firmly believe it to be true. So much for keeping things short and to the point.
This is a picture of a bus blocking a bike lane. It won't be the first time and it won't be the last time (that the bus does it. It'll probably be the last time of this particular picture of this particular bus).
Bike lane not shown, covered by bus
I guess my question isn't so much why does the bus pick people up in the bike lane, but why'd they run a bike lane through a bus stop? (Uh oh, it sounds like I'm being reasonable and not reflexively defensive of bike infrastructure. Where are we, Bucharest? Don't tell the authorities) Unless of course, the bus isn't supposed to be using that location as a stop. Then it's back to OUTRAGE.
A fine trip across Q, though I would advise bicyclists stopping at the Bike Rack to either signal or ride on the sidewalk for the last half of the block or do anything other than just slam on your brakes in the middle of the bike lane because other people might be behind you. Accordingly, don't follow people too closely, though that's always a good rule of thumb (if you're only a thumb away, you're too close).
I'd like to thank two especially gracious and understanding drivers, both of SUVs, for allowing me to merge into the travel lane when my path was blocked by a stopping pick-up truck (with flashers) and a FedEx delivery van. Your courtesy really did make a difference, especially on a "Freeway Friday," as I like to call it, because some motorists really drive rather fast in an effort to hasten their weekend.
A woman on Pennsylvania Avenue was walking with a sign that read "The answer to 1984 is 1776." I don't know what that means. I know that the Answer in '96 per 36 went for 21.1, but I'm pretty sure that's not sign-worthy, at least not for any of the current occupiers of various parks and public spaces about time.
Traffic cones are used to block the right lane on Constitution between 2nd and 1st, NW. There's a police/security guy who stands behind them. In my experience, all this seems to accomplish is to make me ride one more lane over. Security experts may please chime in to let me know why this is crucially important.
Still didn't get new brake pads. Maybe some time soon. Have a great weekend. Should be nice out, so ride your bicycle if that's a thing you like to do when you have free time and it's nice. "Ride your bicycle if that's a thing you like to do when you have free time and it's nice" was so close to being the motto of this blog, and be featured prominently on a series of promotional cocktail napkins, but I ultimately demurred.

Ride In 10/14

In a lot of ways, this was the first real fall morning that we've had. It was rainy and gray and dark, air tinged with coolness, though mild and more befitting September than mid-October, when I don't necessarily expect it to be in the 60s, but if that's how it goes, that's how it goes. It was wet enough to soak me though, but the rain provided hardly any resistance to riding, as it some times does when it's driving and hard and accompanied by wind gusts. This rain was, if not gentle, at least non-violent and perhaps even benevolent, not out of character with the season, but instead representative of it. Though I think, overall, I'd like it to be a bit cooler, even if that means a colder rain. For more of my thoughts on rain, please download my podcast "Musings on Rain and its Seasonability" available iTunes. (Note: not a real podcast)
Unfortunately, rain washes away whatever desire I have to ride a different, longer route into work, as is sometimes my wont on Fridays, so it was the typical ho-hum down the stately wide boulevards, semi-stately cycle track (if you're state is in Holland) and alternately stately and unstately narrow stretches of the cross-town letter streets.
This morning, I had alternately stuck in my head: Rolling in the Deep, Here Comes the Sun and the Yankee Stadium version of God Bless America. I'm willing to accept free psychological diagnoses, though not trite derision from audiophiles. Odd.
There's a commuter bus from Maryland that stops to let off a passenger at the intersection of East Capitol and 2nd Street, NE. It doesn't pull over, but instead empties the woman into the bike lane. If you see a bus door open, you might want to stop.
Manhole cover update: it's at 7th. Right in the middle of the bike lane. Do be careful. Especially on rainy days. (Also, is manhole a sexist term? I'd endorse personhole, but that doesn't sound any better. Perhaps underground access point?)
A fair number of bicyclists out, but a far cry from earlier in the week. I can't say I blame them. Though it doesn't sound like Metro is any better on rainy days. Or non-rainy days.
I love my tires. That is all. Not the best rolling resistance, but they're great for commuting, so I guess that wasn't all. Now, that is all. I'm also certain that I can't put off replacing my brake pads for much longer. I'm absolutely killing them dead. I think I've had these pads in since March, so it's about time anyway. It'll make a difference, I hope.


Ride Home 10/13

Made it before the rain and well before the terrible rain, though getting home was complicated by my locking myself out. So, there was that. Not a big deal. Thanks, Official Wife!
It's the same old song for the first part of the ride. Nothing especially noteworthy, except for maybe a gathering of secret service outside the Observatory entrance. 'Uncle' Joe on the move.
I really wish I could ride faster from the bottom of the hill to where I turn at Q. It always feels like it takes longer than it should, but it might just be because it's longer than I think it is or maybe because it is that I'm actually quite slow. But not as slow as the CaBi guy who shoaled me. Am I doing something wrong? Really, I'm getting tired of complaining about this.
D2 bus loads in the bike lane at Q and Connecticut. That's not cool. That means, for all practical purposes, when you get stuck at the light, just ride in front of the first stopped car rather than staying in the bike lane.
Q was bikeless, except for me. Some drivers were having issues on account of other drivers stopping in order to parallel park. To my mind, this isn't really a rightful grievance. If you're going to have street parking, some people are going to stop and park in it. A car is a machine with four wheels, an internal combustion engine, and the ability to drain every bit of patience and empathy from the core of your being.
I remained on Q to First, NW, which was a new route for me and took that to M. It's labeled a bike route, but I didn't find it excessively comfortable, especially after crossing New York Avenue and then waiting to turn left at M. I don't know what could be done to make it better, since it's fairly narrow and already has signals every block or so. M until North Capitol is crowded, but after (east of) it, it quiets down. I stopped at the Harris Teeter to buy cabbage and pop tarts.
I also bought a few other things and my bag was heavily laden, to the point that it was sort of difficult to balance. When the bike rocked a little, I really felt it. It amazes me that I can ride my bike every day and still be sort of terrible at handling it.
4th NE hasn't yet been restriped. Tru Orleans looks like it has good beignets, but that's just an assumption. The Giant that they're building at H and Third is really going to make a difference to that end of the strip. It will be vastly superior to the big hole that's there now. I turned through Stanton Park. There should be a bike lane on the south side of the park, since two travel lanes don't really make sense since Massachusetts only has one lane. At the stop light, a guy on a red single speed, wearing bike gloves, and who had a camera mount atop his helmet, rolled up next to me. Pop quiz: when rolling up to another bicyclist stopped at a red light, where should you halt your "roll up"?
a) in front of him
b) next to him
c) behind him
d) Wherever Wiz Khalifa says 
If you answered b or c a or b, you're wrong. I hate to dwell (or do I?), but it really seems hostile and anti-social. Pass while moving! Also, no touching! 
Some time during the day in our absence, Ellie the Poodle managed to get chain grease on her tail. We might need to take some steps to address this, since this is the second poodle/bike gunk incident this week.

Special Bonus Rainy Day Guest Post

I've been holding on to this guest post for a while now, but since it's a rainy day and we could all use a (non-imbibable) pick-me-up, courtesy of #bikeDC luminary legend, Big Sean, here goes. I'd also be remiss at this time not to mention The Bike House, where Sean volunteers, as both a mechanic and a twitterer. They do great work and if you'd like to learn more or get involved, please check out their site. If you'd ever like to write a post or would like me to promote your bike-related cause, send me an email at talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com.

Ride In 9/28/2011 
Route: Manor Park-Downtown

I recently changed my route and cut out the most harrowing 3-block of stretch of my bike commute along Georgia Ave s/b  b/w Kansas and New Hampshire.  Of course that detour was brought on in whole part by being hit by one arse-hole driver on said harrowing stretch.  
Arse-hole driver’s p.o.s. Hyundai complete with large passenger door dent courtesy yours truly’s knee and front wheel
In any case, heading south on 8th St from Kansas over Upshur, Taylor, Shepherd and Randolph should have been the go-to route as it is signed “BICYCLE ROUTE”, though does not have bicycle lanes, sharrows nor any other such facilities, it is simply a calm residential street.

After a light hill 8th St NW takes me to New Hampshire where there is always a long queue at the light with Georgia Ave.  I filter to the front and at green shoot out like a rocket on the slightly down/up of Sherman, attempting to reach Park Road before any bus car or van can approach from behind and do that “Must Get In Front” thing that drivers are so prone to do. 
Park Road takes me to the friendly confines of 11th St in Columbia Heights which smells really great in the morning  (shout out to the Latino Bakery b/w Meridian Pint & Wonderland that makes that sweet-sweet bread). 
Sometimes there is an idling private vehicle in the bike lane (delivery trucks are understandable).  Yesterday morning there was one which caused myself and another lady to swerve awkwardly almost into a police cruiser also heading southbound.  He noticed the rude obstruction and kindly pulled over behind us and flashed his lights and I presume wrote a ticket for the offender.  It was sweet retribution.  I don’t care if the person got a ticket, I just hope the police officer said something like “What makes you think that what you are doing is OK?”
The short stretch of 12th St b/w Florida and R is a nice respite from the lights and cars (there are none) on either 11th, 13th or 14th.  If you haven’t already, try it.
I’m a pro at Logan Circle.
After making the always tricky sharp right turn at speed while avoiding slick manholes onto G, I said whatsup to the habesha parking garage guys and locked up as usual.  It always takes approximately 97 seconds to fiddle with my locks.  Another guy pulled up and parked his bicycle, I didn’t talk to him, he was just a meshie.