As you may have heard, I had a little bike trouble on the way home from work this afternoon. I'm lucky enough to have a flexible schedule at work so I can go home and pick up the kids from daycare/school and hang out with them until my wife gets home, and then I finish my day.
It was this afternoon ride home up the 15th Street cycletracks where I ran into the problem. As I was crossing through the intersection at S Street, there was a horrible noise from behind me, and then I heard the rush of air leaving my rear tire. I pulled over to find that my rear fender had exploded, and there was a nail all the way through tire, tube, and rim.
I had to walk the bike up the hill, carefully raising the back wheel just in case the tire or rim could be saved.
After my wife got home, I strapped the wheel onto my back and headed to 14th and Harvard to pick up a CaBi.
My handy Spotcycle application told me there were three bikes left, which was fine. As I waited to cross 14th, there was some sort of verbal altercation in front of the apartment building to my left. A large group of women were yelling at each other next to a car that was parked in the bus zone. I couldn't really make out what they were yelling about, but they were definitely angry, and they were definitely in a traffic lane.
A man on a CaBi was waiting to cross with me. He wondered aloud to the person next to him if he should call the police. He said he lived four blocks from there (I live less than one, for what that's worth).
"I love my neighborhood!", he announced with some amount of sarcasm. For the record, I DO love our neighborhood. It has some problems here and there, but overall it's a wonderful place to live.
The light turned, and we crossed the street. He docked his bike, and I undocked mine. This is where I tell you how a CaBi membership is a good idea even if you have your own bike. The ride down 14th was uneventful. The lights are timed differently in the evening, I think. Or maybe it's just that I'm slower on CaBi. Or both. Regardless, I missed lights I normally make in the morning. There was a car that I thought was going to buzz me as I took the lane down the hill, as I am legally entitled to do, and as most cyclists do there. But it didn't. Thanks, car.
I docked the bike at 14th and R (trip time: 7:57) and walked to The Bike Rack. I know many readers and bloggers of this blog are big fans of Bicycle Space, but I've never been there, and The Bike Rack is on my way to work. And it's also a really good bike shop. I highly recommend it. The only thing I've bought for my bike that I didn't get there are my tires. I wish they stocked Specialized so I didn't have to ride to Georgetown.
One of the mechanics looked at my wheel and pronounced it dead. I feared as much. The tire and tube were toast, too. I probably could have kept using the tire for a bit with a patch, but I still have the tires the bike came with, and I brought one of them along. I left the old wheel and the tire at the shop. My new wheel will be on their shipment Wednesday, and they'll put the cassette and whatnot from the old wheel on the new wheel, and then soon I'll get around to getting another Armadillo Elite tire to replace the one that died. For the record, that's the first puncture on those tires, and I don't fault the tire for this one. Good tires.
I then continued on to Whole Foods, where I picked up vegetables that my wife is roasting right now [Ed. note: right now means a couple weeks ago] , and milk for my younger daughter. I grabbed another CaBi from the newly moved and slightly expanded station at 15th and P and returned home (trip time: 8:26 (uphill!)). I got passed in the cycletracks by a guy with the quietest "on your left" I've ever heard. On the big huge hill I tried to catch a man on a good commuter with nice panniers, and I gained on him for a while, but then I stopped gaining and remembered why I like my bike better than the big heavy (but still awesome) CaBis.
There were a lot of cyclists out when I came home. A good number of them even had lights. Especially the guy who came up Harvard St as I was walking home. He had a helmet light and two big lights blinking up front, and a blinkie or two in the back. I almost yelled, "Nice lights!" but then I didn't.
And that's it. It remains to be seen whether I will CaBi or Metro to work tomorrow and Wednesday. Since my work clothes for the two days are already in my locker at work, meaning I have to change regardless, I'm currently leaning towards CaBi.
Today reminded me of how great the local cycling community here is. People I know only online or barely in person offered me tubes (which I had). They offered me wheels, and they offered me encouragement. People spread the word on Twitter about the nail danger at the intersection, though I think this was an isolated nail. Maybe we should have a new slogan for the city: DC - Where people you barely know will offer you free bike tubes when you run over a nail. It could catch on.