Ride Home 1/31: One Year and like 8 hours later

I promise that all the subtitles won't be this lame.
What a stupidly gorgeous afternoon of weather. This happened:
Bare legs. 
Fairly incredible. It was so nice out that I smiled most of the way home. People probably thought that I was crazy or even more so than usual. My favorite thing about observing my fellow bicycle commuters is looking at their facial expressions and/or their muttering (the overwhelming majority of bike commuters mutter to themselves) and I think the same hobby is present in many others because I'm certain that my ear-to-ear grinning was observed by almost every other cyclist I passed. I also dealt with a bout of nostalgia this afternoon, which took me away from my newish route and back down my old path down New Mexico and through Glover Park and to Georgetown. Thanks to nostalgia, I saw a detached blinky, flashing on the side of the roadway, and a stern looking woman in a red track suit, standing stoically midblock in Georgetown. I also got to ride the 34th street bike lane, a bike lane that I believe was purposely built for me that I have subsequently abandoned. Sorry. There were a few cyclists a couple of blocks ahead of me and I saw them at the intersection with M. They were on CaBis and seemed nice, but one can never tell. Perhaps they were evil. I don't think Bikeshare screens for that, though the user agreement is something like 106 virtual pages when you rent the bike on a daily basis. They made it across the street before the guy with the skull-and-crossbones-wearing-chef-hat bumper sticked cut me off with his left turn. But I was still smiling, because it was just that nice out. I think a lot of bicyclists ride with chips on their shoulder and actively look for things that could ruin their day. I think this is not a good idea.
On M, I rode next to a guy who was riding a purple bike with yellow bar tape. He stayed in the middle lane and I rode in the left and I eventually out-wilied him as he got stuck on the wrong side of a slow cab. I felt very Gwadz and in a good way. Sometimes things just click.
Washington Circle and the other side of Penn were fine. I should go this way more often. If only Washington Circle weren't so abysmal. There's probably another way to get through Foggy Bottom and over to the White House, but I think the side-r streets have too many stop signs for my liking.
I tweeted this and it's true.
Penn was easy, but I sort of wanted to ride down to the Mall and take that across. It just didn't really work out, but there's always tomorrow. And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. And tamari, but that's something entirely else.
Is this yours?
shirt on pole
It's a navy blue tee shirt and it's been on this pole at Penn/Constitution for the past couple of weeks. I pass it every freaking stupid day. I'm surprised that some state security apparatus hasn't exploded it yet. Speaking of security, riddle me these:

I have a solution for medium-term budget balancing. It involves discontinuing any government orders with Caution Tape 'R' Us. Whatever this is trying to accomplish can probably be done a better way.
Not much more awkward than zombie joggers in love. Jogging is a solitary activity, right? To watch a couple do it, with one out front blazing a trail and the other loping behind seems a little sad. But I'm not familiar with zombie culture, so maybe it's all perfectly natural.
I saw a rather tough looking gentleman walking with a rather small and dainty looking white dog, the age of which was no greater than 6 months. Sesame street cred.
Two bicycle cops and a squad car officer near my block. One of the bike cops was smoking. I'd think that'd be counter-productive, but whatevs. There didn't seem to be any need for immediate bicycle policing, so I was terribly concerned for public safety. Oh well.
Tomorrow should also be nice. Ride if you want.

Ride In 1/31:One Year Later

So, it turns out that today is the one year anniversary of this blogging enterprise. I use enterprise rather lightly or mostly incorrectly. Accordingly, in order to not repeat titles for the posts, I'm adding subtitles. Part of me (my gallbladder, I think) just wants to add ":One Year Later" to each post and keep the same naming convention otherwise. However, I don't feel that this word be sporting. Another part thinks that "Tokyo Drift" would be an adequate subtitle for each post, but I think what I'll actually end up doing is trying to add something flavorful (perhaps MSG) after the date. I'm not wedded to this idea, so if you think of anything different, please do let me know. As far as reflection is concerned, I choose not to really engage it. Blogging my bicycle commute for the last year has been mostly ridiculous, but a great deal of fun, in no small part thanks to the many of you who take time out of your busy lives to read and comment on it. The blog has also been an excellent vehicle through which to meet some of you in person, which has been a pleasure without exception. For those of you I don't yet to know, I look forward to meeting you in the coming year, perhaps on the road, perhaps in a coffee shop, perhaps in a bar, perhaps at the zoo, though, to be honest, I'm not a fan of zoos. Thank you all.
Nothing like the balmy temperatures of late January, where the thermometer will probably exceed 60 today. I'd complain, but I'll save that for when the sea levels are washing away the remnants of our civilization/bike facilities in the apocalyptic doomscape that will be our post-climate change future. It'll be more appropriate and dramatic then. Now, I'll just savor the opportunity to ride to work along with plenty of other bike commuters and parallel and separate (hopefully) from even more car commuters, who are really missing out on the joy of a morning bicycle ride. Two of the riders on East Capitol this morning were sock tuckers (I thought they were wearing knickers) and one of the sock tuckers was using her morning ride to talk on her phone to someone, a social activity I think is less than advisable. Sometimes because it makes other bicyclists around you think that you're some kind of crazy person.
Pencil-vania avenue? No, I don't think so.
For some time on Penn, I rode behind a person bundled up in long pants, helmet and and hat and in a yellow reflective vest. 3 blocks behind her and I finally realized it was a woman and this led me to think about bike clothes and androgyny and the cycle chic movement as a way of 'genderizing' bicyclists and I didn't know whether it did that in a bad way or a good way and then I realized that I was way out of my depth, both for thoughts on a morning commute and in general, as I have limited knowledge about a wide variety of subjects and practically no ability to engage in deep thinking. But if anyone has any thoughts on bike clothes and androgyny and WHAT IT ALL MEANS please feel free to email me or send me a copy of your zine.
I wanted to get a picture of tented General McPherson, but I couldn't get my camera to work with my gloves and I didn't want to take my gloves off. I think it looks ridiculous and I worry that the 1% is going to counter-tarp Samuel Gompers and soon all of DC's statuary will be covered in plastic and then I'll have to listen to someone explain how this is indicative of something about post-modernism or post-post-modernism and then I'll have to keep myself from yawning and rolling my eyes and I won't be able to and will then have to deal with the social awkwardness. This is a reductio ad me argument and I don't think it's especially compelling, unless you're the me in question.
I saw Jon on 15th street. I said "hey Jon." He was dragging a kidless kid trailer. I think he was leading the bunch of cyclists recently released from the thrall of the red light at Rhode Island. I love seeing people I know on the bike commute, especially when they're actually people I know and not just people like "that bike messenger with the yellow bike."
Not much special on the crosstown. If you time the lights right and really hustle, you can get from 16th to Dupont without having to stop. I rarely muster the requisite hustle. Today I almost did.
There's a special kind of dickishness that compels a driver to get out of queue and pull into a travel lane that is about to disappear a hundred feet later causing him to merge back in and maybe advance position by one or two places. There should be a name for this. I saw the driver of an ivory Mercedes do this and he cut off the driver of a white BMW to get back in line. It was like Godzilla vs. Rodan.
Never quite know what the driver of a car with diplomatic plates is going to be like. Total crap shoot. Maybe more like roulette. Anyway, sometimes you get lots of space, sometimes not. Mostly not.
Every once in a while, I'll try to see if I can catch up to a bicyclist who's out in front of me. Today, I almost got to the guy on the orange Motobecane and I think that if I had another 10 seconds before he stopped to cross the street, I would have done it. It's not so much a competition as just a way to break the monotony. Of course, had I caught him, it would have been a competition and I would have one. Bicyclists are excellent self-rationalizers. Ask one about stopping at stop signs some time. Anyway, the guy was wearing jeans and I think a Bern helmet and maybe some Chrome shoes. Bike commuter 2.0. or something.
I'm really looking forward to the ride home. Won't be long now.


Guest Post: Lauren Takes TFTS Global, Returns to DC, Rides Home

Sometimes I can't blog, so I outsource these posts to you all. I do this because I feel guilty and can't sleep at night if there aren't two posts a day. My doctor calls it "blogger's brain" and I think he's trying to get my condition published in a medical journal of some renown. Anyway, thanks to Lauren. Follow her on twitter at @lkono if you like awesome tweets, mostly about biking. (Her text and photos, my asinine captions. Sorry)

Tales From The Sharrows International

I was fortunate enough to pick up my #TFTS Button on my way home for Christmas, so I took it on a #TFTSGlobal journey.
Gluhwein ftw.
It went to Christmas markets.

Les sharrows
Rode on French Sharrows and in Swiss protected lanes

Protected, perhaps by button-power, which isn't a thing
It crossed borders in pursuit of wine
...and looked for Africa after some mountain biking in Fuerteventura
Africa's thataway man.
Finally the Button found London's @thebikehouse
Ye Olde Jolly Goode Bikehouse, guv'nor
...and was fortunate enough to meet Big Sean

Big Sean. Button to scale. 
Now Button is back home in DC and commuting regularly.

Hometown obelisk. 

Ride Home: 1/30/12
Rosslyn to Mt. Vernon Sq.

I ride a folding bike, so today's ride home started like most: with people in the elevator mistaking my bike for luggage and wishing me safe travels. I'm not allowed to bring my bike into my office building, so I put it in a duffle bag. It looks like this:

I dinged my way across the Key Bridge to questionable effectiveness (so many headphones!) and then stopped to run an errand on M Street in Georgetown. Bike parking in Georgetown is abysmal. As in, there aren't even signs or parking meters to appropriate. I suppose it's because the sidewalks are already too narrow for even the pedestrians, but I would think they might be able to squeeze in a staple rack per block where the parking meters used to be. For this reason, I usually I try to only run Georgetown errands on Bikeshare days, but today it couldn't be helped.

Heading down M towards Penn/L St, I almost got hooked by a left-turning car with a triathlon sticker. You would think triathletes would be super aware of bikers, pedestrians AND swimmers in the streets. Especially when I'm lit up like a Christmas tree with all my lights and reflective strips. I guess to some triathletes cars I'm still just a surprise mouse squeaking by.

While waiting at the crosswalk in the left turn lane to get from M/Pennsylvania to L Street, a tiny, adorable puppy adorably tried to climb into my pannier. I told his owner he could come, but she said no.

A lot of people seem surprised that I take M and L across town every day, but really they're relatively easy to bike on (as streets without bike lanes go). During rush hour when the right lane is transitioning from parking to driving, cars tend to avoid it and I often get it all to myself. Even when there are cars there, the road is fairly overbuilt, so there's a decent amount of space. That doesn't mean I'm not counting down the days until the fabled M/L Street bike lanes/cycle tracks come true. This also probably means that I've become one of a hardy bunch of inadvertent elitists.

I saw another Dahon at L and Connecticut. It was white and pretty and new looking. I think it was a Mu, and I was jealous. Dahon owners are like Wrangler owners, so it's always a friendly, pleasant surprise to pass one.

Even though I live on L Street, because of the ludicrousness that is L Street reversing one-way direction for one block, I get to enjoy the harrowing excitement of Massachusetts to New York Ave for 3 blocks. Last week I learned @Nikki_D also shares this joy. When I'm on bike/my feet/public transport I often run into people I know and the city feels small and nice and friendly. When I'm in a car I feel overwhelmed by the fact that I don't know any radio stations or how to work the A/C.

Then I got home, folded up my bike again, and tucked it in under the side table by the couch where it sleeps at night. I don't have a poodle to post gratuitous photos of, so here's a picture of the dog I had growing up.

Ride In 1/30

Slept in, didn't have real coffee (tried to make Turkish in an ibrik, didn't really work) and I knew about three pedal pushes into my ride that it was going to be a slog. I probably wasn't helped by eating roughly 6000 calories of sour cream and smoked bacon last night at our Magyar-tacular dinner party (my wife cooked all of the Hungarian food. Nothing falusi [in that it wasn't exclusively gross animal parts], but it was rather a lot) and even the slightest bit of wind seemed to be enough to make my ride even that much more sluggish. Normally, I try to pedal my way through it, thinking that a bit of effort will get the blood pumping and that might have some salutary benefit, but it just wasn't happening this morning and I wasn't even a mile from home before I decided that there wasn't much point in applying any effort at all and that I'd get there when I'd get there. It's not a race. And while I fully recognize that it's not a race, it's also not fun to push out a 45 minute commute into one that takes more than an hour.I can only do so much irreverent observing.
Lack of precipitation always brings out more bicyclists. I've come to the conclusion that every bike commuter, for better or worse, considers him or herself an expert on bike commuting and the routes and stratagems employed therein. That's why I try not to bother engaging anyone, even with "constructive criticism" like "you might want to stop at this red light as the cars in the opposite direction have a turn arrow and you're liable to be struck by one and even if not, you're going to rather piss them off by flagrantly annoying the drivers' rights of way." That's also a mouthful, which is why this morning, I think I said, as someone cycled past me through the red light, "cars turning left," but to no avail. I suppose that as a bicycle blogger and self-appointed advocate, I shouldn't be so willing to abdicate total responsibility for those on bicycles, but sometimes you just can't help people. And while I'd "advocate" for the rights of bicyclists as a special class of road users, I'm not really in the position to defend stupidity. Nor do I really think that any of us should be. So, I guess, in conclusion, what I'm trying to say is that you should do what you want, but try not to do anything abundantly dumb or anti-social. This might also make for good advice for children on the first day of kindergarten. And don't eat paste.
I think there are more occupiers in Freedom Plaza and fewer in McPherson Square, at least as of this morning's cursory tent observation. I don't know what this evening will be like after the crackdown or whatever we're calling today's "no camping" enforcement.
In succession, I saw a guy wearing shorts and a tee shirt and a woman wearing a fur hat. I think that tells you that the temperature was _____________.
Hipster, fixie, u-lock in belt, really light wash jeans, trackstanding, and weekend group ride-style hand signals to indicate turning to the bicyclist (me) riding behind him. Maybe for irony. Appreciated, in any case.
That awkward thing where the approaching bicyclist starts to pass a pedestrian and then sees you coming but rather than either put in any extra effort to get around the pedestrian or drop back behind the pedestrian, he/she remains parallel to the pedestrian and directly in your path. Twice. I get that passing pedestrians on sidewalks is an especially delicate operation (you don't want to do it too fast or too closely), but either pass or fall back. Decisiveness is one of the most important traits to develop. There's a right way, a wrong way and the Tales From the Sharrows way, which is to blatantly rip off Simpons quotes. The blog you'd love to touch, but mustn't touch.
I wish there was direct proportionality between the size of a vehicle and the care with with its driver operates it. However, I fear that the inverse is much more likely. If your feeling of invulnerability comes at the cost of those around you feeling even more vulnerable, I'd consider this a problem. It's like an arms race sometimes. A hippy should put a flower in the tailpipe of a Tahoe and maybe we can talk about demilitarizing our streets.
Maybe no post tonight because of "the school." If anyone wants to write anything, and I mean anything, I'd be more than willing to post it in order to sate the masses.


Ride Home 1/27

I have two speeds: Monday-Friday Morning and FRIDAY AFTERNOON. 10 rides a week and this definitely the best and by far, followed by Tuesday morning, Thursday afternoon and Monday afternoon. Actually, I just made up the rankings for those other rides. I won't deign bothering to rank rides 2-10 as they're so far below ride #1 that it doesn't much matter. Friday evening rides are just the best.
Maybe it was because I left work about a half hour earlier, but it seemed considerably lighter out. Do we have spring sunsets to accompany our spring temperatures? Is the Earth careening wildly off course? Someone consult an astrologist agronomer argonaut astronomer.
49 states to go until DC shoots the moon and gets Senators, right? That's why we elected these jokers, right? Right? Guys? Anyone? Bueller?
I spent the entire ride on Massachusetts behind a guy on a Surly Long Haul Trucker. His is the same color as MG's, that slatey blue-gray that goes especially well with a brown Brooks B17, which his (and I think hers) has. He also had fenders, over some heft tires, and reversible pedals, with clips on one side and platforms on the other. I really wanted to say something, but we didn't really spend enough time at a stop light for me to make my ever-so-awkward "conversation." Anyway, right on, that guy.
I rode in jeans and didn't bother rolling the pant leg. Why bother wearing jeans if you're going to mind getting things like chain grease or yak blood on them? I didn't bother changing back into my still wet clothes. What would be fun about that? Absolutely nothing, except maybe the hilarious opportunity to pretend that I had just fallen in a swimming pool as sometimes happens in hi-larious romantic comedies or such.
This morning I saw a black BMW with the licence plate OMG M3. I hope the DMV charges extra for excess douchiness. Today, I saw some sedan with the plate MRSPUTT. I think that's hilarious as well, as it accurately, probably, describes her golf game, maybe. If bikes had vanity plates, or license plates, mine would be SKYWTR: UNRLNTNG. I might need a bigger bike or maybe a tinier font. I suppose it depends on whether the license plates would be retrofitted from those built for cars, much like they do for our roads when bicycle inclusion is promoted, or whether we'd have separate, bike-sized plates.
On Q, I rode behind some guy who seemed hipstery, but I don't know if hipsters were SIDIs. I turned on 7th and took 7th through Shaw (?) and couldn't help but thinking about gentrification. I have little to say about it. On landed gentry, I have a few things to say, but they're mostly about 16th century Hungarian and the 17th century Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Let me know when Shaw gets a Vasa king and then I'm totally back in the conversation.
I turned on M and then down 6th and then skirted across to 5th via the sidewalk and then it was to BicycleSpace, DC's most my favoritest bike shop. Unfortunately, they didn't have any happy hour specials, but $5 wells and 2 for 1 tire levers would have been pretty cool. I stopped so I could look at this bike:

It's a Kona Honky Inc and it's in my size and it's the greatest bike in the history of the world. Ok, that last part's a minor exageration, but I thoroughly enjoyed my test ride (who test rides a bike on downtown streets near a highway entrance on a Friday afternoon rush hour? This guy) and the bike is even on sale. But, you know, the whole n-1 thing (if you don't know, ask some bikey person as I won't hash it out here). So, maybe sell the CC and buy this? If you have strong feelings and/or too much money that you like to use to buy bikes for random internet bike weirdos, let me know.
After ogling and test riding the bike, I had a nice long talk with shop owner Erik, whom I also saw this morning at #fridaycoffeeclub. Just a great guy and I could talk bikes with him all day. But he's got a business to run and my boss would probably frown upon my having him on speaker phone all day, so, yeah. I mean, maybe the students would like it. "So, do you want to take these courses next semester or do you have any questions about the Linus Roadster?"
5th to G to 3rd to E to Union Station, then down Mass to home. Just a really nice night. Enjoy your weekend rides or weekend laundry-doing or both or neither.

Ride In 1/27

Sometimes it rains. Today's rain was unseasonal and seemed almost tropical, perhaps because it was close to 60 degrees this morning. Most days, I don't wear my work clothes on my bike, mostly because of sweating in them and feeling gross for the rest of the day, but also because of days with weather like this. I keep them in a waterproof pannier (a worthwhile investment for a year round commuter who doesn't live in the Atacama) and I change into those dry clothes at work. And that's pretty much it. Thereafter, you're inside, you're wearing dry clothes (and maybe a top hat, if you work as a magician or something) and the half hour or so that you spent having sky water (I'm rebranding rain for the hip young demo) hit you in the head is just a memory. I don't know what Amsterdamers or Copenhageners or anyone else who's steadfastly committed to "normalizing" bicycle riding do because, frankly, I don't care. I'm not them. I pack a change of clothes for work and it makes sense.
But avant le deluge, nous. Sort of. I did manage to "fix" both of my bicycle-related issues last night, by swapping out batteries in my front light (much, much, much better) and tightening my pedal (also much better). I didn't do anything about the brake pads because I didn't have spare pads lying around. And what's one more day in crappy weather for pads that are already pretty sucky? When I left the house, it was barely raining at all and the rain remained light through when I arrived at Swing's for #fridaycoffeeclub. For much of the ride, I was riding alternately behind one or another woman bicyclist. I suspect, at least based on some observation, that the percentage dropoff for women riding in the rain is considerably less than that of male riders. I don't have any theory as to why this is. Maybe the smaller percentage of female bicyclists is indicative somehow of a greater level of commitment (intensity might be some kind of applicable term) to cycling compared to their male counterparts? Like, woman who have made the decision to bike commute will do it no matter what? I don't know. Ideas are welcome in the comments.
[As I write this, it appears to be very nice outside. Sunny even, even if a little windy. Screw you, weather Jeebus]
#Fridaycoffeeclub was in full effect and it was great seeing the usuals, as well as a few special guests. I regretted that I couldn't stay longer. Most of this regret comes from the desire to spend more time with delightful company, but certainly some of this regret derived from the fact that my announcement that I was leaving was immediately followed by a loud thunderclap, almost as if I summoned it. To this point, the rain hadn't been so bad, but within a minute or two of leaving, it was horrific. It was raining jungle cats and junkyard dogs (Jungle Cats and Junkyard Dogs is the name of my all-fiddle jam band) and I was soaked through by sheets and sheets of unrelenting sky water. ("Sky water: it's unrelenting" will soon be appearing on bus stops outside of bars in Adams Morgan). For whatever reason, riding in the rain didn't feel imperiling. It just felt wet.
At one point near Dupont, I rode through a puddle that was at least 4 inches deep. I'm glad Rivendell sells braze-on pontoons.
Oh, also, today was the inaugural donning of my Road Holland jersey. It received many compliments, as it should. It will probably be wet for the next 33 months, but still. Awesome.
I stayed wet for the remainder of the trip, though the rain abated somewhat. I noticed that each cyclist I passed seemed to make extra effort to try to make eye contact with me, mostly so we could just exchange glances and momentarily make some sort of connection over the fact that the conditions were rather ridiculous for bike riding and yet we were doing it anyway and it was still probably going to get us to where we were going faster than car or Metro, if a little more worse for wear. But once you decide to leave home, what's the other option? Stop riding and wait for a bus and then sit on the bus in wet clothes? Would that really be any more comfortable? Once you're wet, you might as well just keep going. Some people tend to grit, I tend to laugh about it. There's only so much wet you can be.


Ride Home 1/26

Some technical issues have befallen my bicycle lately. My left pedal seems to be rejecting my clip and I think I need to tighten it, possibly using an allen wrench or possibly using a monkey wrench or possibly using a monkey named Allen. A simian helper would be far more adept at addressing the issue, even if the remediation is just a few turns of the screw, so to speak. My other technical issue isn't so much technical as it is just a depletion of battery power for my front light. I plan to solve this by replacing batteries, which I hope to do by myself. We'll see. I didn't realize my light was out until I got to the grocery store, so I have no idea how long I was riding without frontward illumination. Frontword illumination can be found in many Carolingian Manuscripts. I guess that's why they called it the Dark Ages.  #codicology #epigraphy #paleography #dork (If you're an Amazon Prime member, you can download J.B. Bury's Charlemagne and the Carolingian Renaissance for FREE)
#Fridaycoffeeclub tomorrow. Per usual, I'll try to probably make it.
Oh yeah, another mechanical issue that I encountered today was a rather nasty metallic-sounding scraping noise coming from my front brakes. I should address that. (By disabling my brakes and using a parachute to slow down)
At Q and 13th, across the street from me, there were some women singing what I think were church songs. They were just having a fun time with it and were pretty good. A little dirge-y, but still good. When they stopped, I clapped because why not? They laughed and thanked me.
It still impresses me that I get to and from work at the cost of zero dollars. Paying for gas for car commuting seems really terrible. This isn't really meant to be a dig at drivers or some smug self-validating comment. It's just kinda nice not to have to pay for gas. I mean, I guess car commuters could steal it, but that doesn't seem sustainable.
The headquarters of the Diamond Cab Company at 11th and Rhode Island looks exactly like the office of a taxi company should look. I wonder if Judd Hirsch's Ethiopian doppelganger is inside.
I took a somewhat slower pace tonight and I don't think it made a damn difference in how long it took me to get home. Unless you're going really slowly, the choke points you face at your normal pace are probably going to be the same ones you face riding a little easier. It's nice to remember that.
I guess someone got mugged and shot along the Met Branch Trail. Oh, good. I thought biking was getting too safe and easy. Anyway, this really sucks and I hope that MPD ups the patrols, though I don't know to what extent this can address the problem.
I stopped at the grocery store and remembered to lock my bike up this time. Next to me was an unlocked bike. A guy came over, took it off the rack and rode off with it. I don't think I just witnessed a bike theft, but how do you know? I mean, no one was standing at the bike rack when I came back out bemoaning the loss of his bike, so I guess that'd be one clue that the bike was in fact his. But with an unlocked bike, I was hardly going to say "excuse me, sir, is that actually your bike?" because that seems, I don't know, just kind of prickish.
And here's a picture of a fuzzy poodle face.
This has nothing to do with bike commuting

Ride Home 1/25 and Ride In 1/26

Before I left work, I saw this in the locker room:
In the top right of the drawing, the word "Door" is written

I don't know what it means. I think that it's presaging some sort of elaborate heist. When I got in this morning, I saw this:
I think something's afoot. Or maybe the night cleaning crew came. I can't be sure.
Last night was a fundraiser for Girl on a Bike DC's Police Unity Tour Ride, so I biked there. (Could you imagine if my posts were just like "I wanted to go home, so I biked there." Or "Work today, so I biked there." It would save me a considerable amount of time, though it might rob the blog  of some of its zing) The event was held at Duffy's Irish Pub and beforehand I had arranged to meet some friends at Solly's U Street Tavern. I had never been to either of these locales before, though I've seen them frequently mentioned on the twitter by people who actually go out and do stuff rather than ride home, blog about it, tweet about the blog post, watch tv, and cry themselves go to sleep. Actually, I don't mind not going out and think that the life of a homebody is one of great value.
How did I get there? Great question! I rode Massachusetts to Garfield, crossing the street in the crosswalk at Massachusetts and then again in the crosswalk on Garfield because it's both illegal and imprudent. Garfield has bike lanes and Cleveland is generally wide enough not to need them and the lanes pick back up on Calvert. The intersection of Calvert and Connecticut is a little weird as far as bike lanes are concerned since the lane kind of stops before the intersection or at least doesn't effectively keep out car traffic. The bike lane picks up on the other side of Connecticut, but it's not lined up with where the bike lane on the other side is/was. It's probably a good idea to ride in the right travel lane and just get in line behind the right turning cars and that's what I did.
I see a lot of people making u-turns all the time and I wonder why.
I stopped at the ATM in Adams Morgan. Thus concludes my wildest trip yet to Adams Morgan. Didn't get a  receipt. Wild.
I took Euclid across town to 11th. It was decidedly all right, but not great. I think it could probably be better, but mostly if it were free from cars. From 15th to 11th, it was downhill at least, though there were some rather large speed bumps.
11th and U is where I locked my bike. Since I'm kind of afraid of locking my bike in public, I removed the lights and my saddle bag and didn't even leave my helmet there for some reason. The bike was there when I got back, so that was good.
It was a great pleasure to actually meet Kate (the aforementioned girl on a bike) and to help her raise some funds. She's going to selling merchandise at some point, too, so I'll keep you posted on that. At the event, I got to hang out some more with Jon, as well as #bikeDC advocate agitator Dave. Dave biked home with me (as he live on the Hill, but not Armory West) and I much appreciated his company. I'm not sure he especially cared for my blathering, but he was polite enough not to say. We rode 11th to Penn, went up the House side of the Capitol, where I almost wiped out getting through a narrow security barrier, continued on Pennsylvania to 8th or so, up to to Lincoln Park and then down the road some more to my house.
This morning I had to go to work, so I biked there. "So I biked there" is my new catchphrase. Better than my previous catchphrase "Please accept my sincerest apologies for this workplace-inappropriate limerick."
Seemed like there was more Capitol Police out than usual. Also more bicyclists. Coincidence? Yeah, probably.
I think I saw a good number of regulars today. I like recognizing people on my bike commute and I regret that I don't recognize more of them, because I'm certain that I pass more of the same people every day than just Beard Guy, Fox Face, and Front Rack. Oh, also I should come up with better nicknames for people I see consistently.
I left my pannier at work yesterday and rode with a messenger bag, both home and then back in this morning. It was fine, probably even better than I would have expected, but I didn't find it especially comfortable, even if I also didn't find it especially distressing.
On 15th, someone (probably one of you), said something to me as he passed in the opposite direction. I have no idea what it was. I hope it wasn't "Can I have your address so I can mail you my angry letter written in a fit of pique yesterday upon finding out that you didn't bike the whole way to Jon's work?" I mean, I don't think it was that much, but it's so hard to hear things when you're riding past someone. Doppler Effect and whatnot. Sure. Later, a guy nodded at me, perhaps out of solidarity as he was on a bicycle too. I wonder if he nods at every bicyclist he sees or just a select few. It could be a lot of nodding.
Have you ever heard the word suborn used outside of the context of perjury? Like, "I could really suborn some nachos right now." Or maybe even used correctly? I haven't. Thinking about this is how I passed the time for much of the slog uphill.
I saw what I think was the VPs helicopter leaving the Naval Observatory. It was rather low. I wonder if Joe Biden is rocking the hashtag #copterDC for the helicopter commuting community on Twitter.


No post tonight. 1/25

Will post tomorrow. Probably.


Jon is the man behind manfredmacx.com, the site that I used to host the online sale of buttons to raise money to repay WABA for my "extreme biking" through the plate glass window at their HQ. Without his help and technical support, I wouldn't have been able to sell buttons online and been forced to set up a booth at farmer's market between to the squash and the homemade soaps, or perhaps even worse, would have had to resort to using Paypal, which I understand takes a somewhat hefty chunk. On top of allowing me to use his site, Jon also bought buttons AND an I BLOG YOUR RIDE, making him one of #bikeDC's most generous/foolhardy people.
Unlike the other I BLOG YOUR RIDE participants, I had actually met Jon before, though when I met him, he had a large, bushy beard which he has since shaved. I don't know if he did this to increase my degree of difficulty, but I doubt it. And also unlike the other I BLOG YOUR RIDE participants, Jon lives in DC (aka Washington aka the District aka almost on my normal route to work), so this ride would be a "city" ride (whatever that means) from roughly 14th and Harvard to roughly L'Enfant Plaza. Doubly roughly due to the road conditions, but more on that later. So my ride to Jon's was my normal ride and my ride from Jon's was the reverse of my normal ride and my ride back to work was my normal ride but a bit later and after having done it and its reverse already. It was like a movie called The Return of Deja Vu: Part II, the Sequel: Deja Vu Strikes Back Again. (This movie would be universally panned, re-released and panned again)
Jon was riding, and I regret not taking the what I thought was obligatory photo, a road bike, but with lights and fenders and he had a Chrome messenger backpack for his important work papers and probably a change of clothes, but I didn't like inspect it or anything because that would be rude and nosy and well outside the bounds of politeness. We turned from Harvard to 14th and then the fun started.
I'm not especially familiar with the parts of town north of where the letter streets stop, especially in the parts of the city where it retains its more urban character. It was a surprise to me that bike lanes on 14th stopped at U (or started if you're coming the other way) rather than continued up the hill to reconnect to the lanes again at Columbia Road. That's about a seven block gap in a network that would otherwise run from Thomas Circle to the former Walter Reed Medical Center. According to Jon, and apparently disclosed at that meeting I went to, this is on DDOT's list for the planned improvements in 2012. This would be exceptional use of white paint and I'm very much looking forward to this kind of "gap closing." Jon said that he does too, as does his wife, who frequently CaBis (CaBi as verb, sure, why not?) up and down 14th.
The lane itself, however, isn't strictly needed, at least when riding downhill, as we were at enough speed to merge with traffic. Jon says that he daily takes the lane and there's normally no problem. I don't know if it was me (probably) but today some guy honked at us. It was sort of stupid.
14th remained trafficky past U, but when the bike lane appeared, we had relatively fret-free access. There was at least one instance where a parallel parking car forced us from the bike lane, but again, not a big deal. But then the buses came and this is where things got complicated. I mean, complicated insofar as buses pulling towards and away from bus stops separated Jon and me. He was able to ride past the first bus after it pulled out and I got stuck behind the second bus as it pulled towards the stop. And by pulling towards the stop, I mean, the driver just pointed the nose (is that what you'd call it?) of the bus vaguely in the direction of the sidewalk and blocked right and center lanes. And the bike lane. This was by Thomas Circle, which itself is a bit of cluster for cyclists. Jon said that it's the only red on his route that he'll typically consider jumping, mostly on account of not wanting to deal right-turning drivers cutting their turns short and careening through the bike lanes, which hug the sidewalk the whole way around the circle. This is the kind of roadway design that haunts a Dutch traffic engineer's nightmares. I waited, along with another cyclists (she was wearing what I think was a velour skirt with some sequins on it), the bus situation to resolve itself, but then decided I could squeak by between the bus and curb and did as much and caught up with Jon by the light changed. The circle itself was mostly fine, but this was probably thanks to the two buses impeding car traffic.
We stayed on 14th, but it wasn't long before I managed to fall behind Jon again, this time thanks to a FedEx truck blocking the right lane or maybe something else, like a turning car or something. Anyway, I was pretty certain that I had lost him for good this time and I'd have to make up the rest of the blog post and maybe even refund his charitable donation. I didn't know whether he had turned at K or kept going straight and I lifted my bike onto the sidewalk in order to give myself the option of turning back if I didn't see him in front of the truck. But he was there and I caught up with him a block or so later and I didn't have to give him back his money, so I'd say things worked out, except for being out of sequence with the lights on 14th street, which caused me pull up in front of one of those Loudon County Connector buses, the driver of which kept the nose (this doesn't sound right) of his bus rather close to my rear wheel upon my slow start once the light turned green. Rather than make the left onto Pennsylvania, we looped right and put ourselves in the bike lane facing the Capitol and this was when I got to see how the "other half" commutes, the other half not being tho super-wealthy 1% who get to work by pogo stick or dirigible, but rather those that take Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol in the morning rather than away for it. And my heading east during the morning caused no small degree of consternation on the twitters (There was a tweet from the Dalai Lama that read "@sharrowsDC AM EASTBOUND? NOOOOOOOOO!" but I guess he deleted it).
We took Penn to 4th (rather than 7th, where Jon usually turns) and rode 4th through the road construction quagmire that is Urbanrenewalistan and under the train tracks to 4th and E. As is becoming habit (dare I say, feature) of these rides, Jon and I took a coffee in the Cafe Phillips and settled in for a conversation about bicycling (pro), beer (very much pro) and sundry other topics of mutual interest. Jon, like my other ride bloggers, has young ones and bikes them through the city for transportation and for leisure. Three makes a trend, right? Jon's been commuting by bike for about a year and, like I do, remains gobsmacked by how easy and convenient the whole thing is.
We set off from the coffee shop and I left him at 4th and E rather than ride with him to the door of his office. (I'm sorry if this somehow invalidates this blog post. I imagine some reader closing the browser window in disgust and pique and composing an angry letter to my editor, who is me) I thank Jon for everything that he's done to make the charity drive a success and I also thank him for letting me ride with him on (mostly) his morning commute. I had a really good time (we rode almost exclusively downhill) and wish him the best of well wishes (not just regular well wishes, but the best) in his bike commuting and beyond.


Ride Home 1/24

For two nights running, five o'clock came and went and I remained at my place of employ beyond it. It's not really a big deal, in that yesterday it for a graduate level class on social media and bike commuting (those topics courses are oddly specific) and tonight it was doing "important work stuff" (important because it was for my boss) and frankly, I shouldn't complain about working "late," especially in a town that completely fetishizes it. Here there are people whose Blackberrys have their own Blackberrys and they (the people, not the phones) relish nothing more than being on call in case the Senator Chief of Staff Legislative Affairs Guy Intern Coordinator "needs" them. Anyway. The thing that I kind of mind about working beyond normal hours, in that I'm a creature of habit, is potentially having to face marginally different traffic conditions on the way home. I feel like I know what to expect from the post-five crowd. The post-six crown is a totally different story, though I suppose, after riding with them today, I can safely say that they're pretty much the same as the post-five crowd and my worries were essentially groundless. So much for that.
Many a backup on Massachusetts Avenue, starting not much past Garfield and extending to at least Florida. At the sound of a police siren, I decided to make haste for the sidewalk, both out of deference and out of self-preservation. No need to become the hood ornament on the Toyota of an unthinking driver looking to make way to allow the patrol car to pass. Sidewalk riding means going slower and it means sharing with zombies. I'm pretty certain, but not one hundred percent so, that the jogging in place of zombie jogger prompted/guilted the one at the opposite side of the street to start. Oy.
I'm not sure I'd wear a helmet if we had proper, separated bike infrastructure. Judge me if you must.
Bicyclists on Q and plenty. Some the fashion bike helmets. Others in bike pants and t-shirts, which I find to be a weird combo.
I have an idea that might curb drivers using cell phones. Deputize bicyclists and pedestrians. Put a bounty on it. Like, if I can get MPD a picture with irrefutable evidence that a driver is using a phone while driving, I get $5 out of the ticket. Let's crowdsource this. It's the best of both worlds of voyeurism and vigilantism. Anyway, I only bring this up since I watched a driver drift in and out of the bike lane in front of me for most of my eastward trip and I daredn't (probably not a word) risk passing.
I diverted from 11th to E, rather than take Penn to the Capitol, which would have been shut. E was fine, but a little crowded and the bike lanes were what they were, which was sort of blocked.
I smelled the smell of marijuana by Judiciary Square. Irony, maybe?
Union station and thereabouts was essentially free from traffic. Stanton and Mass and beyond to the park was also pretty going.
I stopped at the Safeway for some groceries. If anyone cares, I bought parsley and whole wheat pasta and feta cheese and a six pack of Newcastle. Apparently, I forgot to lock up my bike when I went inside. I am extremely, extremely lucky that it was still there when I came out 10 minutes later. Its theft would have been, roughly speaking, the worst tragedy in the history of mankind. Or maybe just partially that. But still, I got lucky. I've never forgotten to lock up before and I'm whatever the thing more sever than chagrined is.
That crepe place still isn't open. There's a sign that says they'll open in January. We'll see. No that I would have stopped for crepes, but I pass it enough to wonder what the deal is. And that's the deal. Soon. Thus concludes another Tales From The I Wonder What That Guy Knows About When That Crepe Place Will Open.

Ride In 1/24

A big day here in the District of Columbia is State of the Union day when the legislative branch invites the head of the executive branch over for speechifying and calisthenics (with the standing and the clapping and whatnot). I't also like the Super Bowl of security (and the Pro Bowl of security theater) and I think I saw more uniformed officers around the Capitol today than I ever have. I might have seen undercover officers as well, but how am I supposed to know? And as far as invisible officers, I can (or maybe can't) confirm that I didn't see them also. I can't say for sure that the extra security had an impact on car traffic, but I suspect that it did since drivers were backed up the eleven or so blocks on East Capitol to the park. I don't really keep track of these things, but I'm pretty sure that a bicyclist can cover the distance between the park and Capitol faster than someone driving. It might depend on one's diligence when it comes to stopping at stop lights, but maybe not.
The only new (temporary?) security feature that I noticed were some concrete barriers placed at the entrance to the SSA parking lot at 3rd Street and Pennsylvania. I'm sure additional precautions will be erected throughout the day (mayhaps a portucullis or two?) and I'm planning my trip home accordingly. For anyone riding in the general vicinity, here's a list of closures. I'll probably approach from the north somehow.
Ride in was mostly fine. It was warmer (now it's even sunny, but it wasn't this morning) and there was a plenitude/plentitude of bicyclists, almost as if it was spring. I never know how many people I'm going to see on bikes on any given day (when it's sleeting, I expect approximately 2) and I was pleasantly surprised by how crowded the bikes lanes and paths were. I'd pass bunches of four or five cyclists coming in the opposite direction. I can't wait until modeshare hits 10%.
I did the polite thing and asked the security guards if I could ride through the security bollards. I don't like to ignore them when they're standing outside, but they seem sort of peeved that I even bothered asking. It's for their safety, remember. I guess I'll just skip asking in the future and just ride through. And on #sotu day, I guess they have concerns greater than bicyclists.

You probably know this bike. You've probably passed it hundreds of times. Or maybe tens of times. Or dozens. Or LXV times, if you're a time-traveling Roman centurion-turned-bike-messenger in the not-yet-written movie Maximus Rush. (which you probably aren't). It's at 15th and Mass, NW. It lives outside. It seems to be a pretty good shape, maybe some rust on the rear cogs. It's not a beater by any stretch of the imagination. It has fenders. I see this bike every day. Whose bike is this? Why does it live here? Do you feel that it's safe to keep it outside? Are you trying to teach it some kind of lesson? Email me.
I just can't quite not get ticked at people who shoal me.
I don't know what else there is to say. Climbing went fine, insofar as I made it to the top, though at no great pace. Descending went fine, insofar as I made it to the bottom. A little trouble not from riding in the door zone, but from having to leave it, and only trouble insofar (were a Bostonian's loose change goes) as getting passed too closely is concerned. General good rule for driving and cycling: don't hit the thing in front of you and if it seems like that's likely to happen, reconsider what you're doing. Maybe I should open up some sort of school.


Ride Home 1/23

Done with class. It's a class on blogging and brevity. We were let out early.
Great, misty night. Dark and not too cold. I was powered by a burrito. I felt less than lethargic, which is a change for a ride home.
I thought someone was dumping the contents of a mug outside of a car window, but it turned out what I thought was a mug was a head and what I thought were its contents were assuredly vomit. He must've just read the bar mittsvah part.
I don't like to complain about cab drivers as a class of people (that's not fair. I don't like it when people talk about "all bicyclists"), but I will tell you that one almost got me and I didn't much care for it. I yelled "WHOA HEY WHAT THE fuck are you doing?" The driver said sorry. I heard a pedestrian snicker. I don't know if he was snickering at the driver driving badly, and living up to the reputation of cab drivers, or me being all self-righteous and smug and not wanting to get crushed by a taxi. So self-righteous.
FOURTH WALL ALERT: I have just learned that Downtown Abbey did not record. Our DVR doesn't work any more. Comcast is the WMATA of cable companies. And bicyclists blowing stop signs is the "illegal immigration" of local traffic issues. People get far too riled over an issue that barely gas any import. Anyway, this is almost a disaster. We'll have to watch on the computer. UPDATE: it doesn't appear to be up on pbs.org. Back to bemoaning.
I saw some anti-abortion people praying at the Capitol. I think. I'm not gonna get all political here, but I've made my views of other things pretty clear. As the Grand Stonecutter of the Armory West branch of the DC Tea (and crumpet) Party, I believe in small government. Government should only be used for two things: striping bike lanes and permitting the hunting of endangered species. You can extrapolate all of my other views based on that.
I stopped at a carry-out Scottish place (think about it) on the way home. There was bike parking there, right by the drive thru. Way to go.

Ride In 1/23

Monday, and those darn Federals (I do civil war reenactment on the weekends and I can't quite seem to shake the vocab) delayed the opening bell (or however their workday starts) by 2 hours on account of a freezing rain that I'm not totally sure materialized, at least not in the city or at least not in the parts of the city that I rode through. So, while I wasn't spared having to go into work at normal time, I was spared biking through an icy mess, so I suppose I have at least something for which to be grateful. This evening (I ride I shall not be blogging on account of my getting home later than usual on account of my deciding, at least temporarily to enroll in a course, on account of my employer's rather munificent tuition remission benefits, on account of their commitment to personal and professional development of staff) should likewise be cold and maybe wet, which this morning wasn't, and perhaps I'll get to ride in iced roads anyway. I take no pleasure in this. Ice is to bicyclists as I have no idea what is to zombie joggers BECAUSE NOTHING CAN DISSUADE THEM FROM THEIR ZOMBIE JOGGING.
At the base of Capitol Hill, I rode past a gaggle of troops, officers I think, decorously laden in medals and merits. By gaggle, I mean maybe 40. Maybe #occupy has started conscription for the winter or maybe these are some prospective von Stuebens in a yet to be conceived reality show. More likely, they were attending some business with Congress, perhaps about missiles. I only suggest missiles because I have little idea of their branches and I assume missiles are a rather ecumenical concern for our men and women in uniform.
Rode behind a guy wearing shorts, tights, red socks and a bright yellow jacket. His bike also had bar mitts. When a boy adds bar mitts to his bike  it's called a bar mittsvah and it's an important rite of passage. I think he got stuck at the bike light at 15th, whereas I ditched the bike lane and turned from the right lane, getting mostly stuck behind a bus in a manner that could've been perilous, but wasn't. I was in the "no zone," out of view to the driver as he completed his turn. Strive to avoid the "no zone." (this is on an inspirational poster hanging in my office).
I'm glad I wore thick winter gloves today. I needed them, as the wet air made the temperature seem much colder than the duplicitous thermometer might have read. A thermometer is duplicitous if it has the temperature in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. The Official Wife has long tried to convince me that moisture in the air does make it seem colder and I'd like to acknowledge that I now agree with her.
I'd estimate that the late opening for the government workforce reduced the number of bike commuters by about 75%. There were still some of us out, and not a bad number either, but it was definitely fewer than normal. I wonder to what extent the weather delay, on the potential bad weather later, will have an impact on the decision of later arriving bicycle commuters.
Garbage trucks block bike lanes and there's not a damn thing to be done about it. A guy in front of me, after passing a garbage truck that blocked a bike lane, turned around and shot the driver a dirty look. I'd recommend channeling that passive-aggression elsewhere.
It's very frustrating to cycle behind a driver who doesn't know where he's going.
I saw a woman who was stuck in traffic dancing in her car to the reggae that she was blasting from her speakers. Much better than honking, I think. This was around the same time that pedestrians walking abreast nearly forced me into biking through slushy mud. Some people just don't move over. Ever. For me, see here. Oh well. I guess I could just bike in the street.
If anyone would like to supply a guest post for this evening (or any other Monday for a while), please email talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com. Remember to include your credit card information and social security number. (Just kidding! Only credit card info please!). Also, remember about Wednesday.


Ride Home 1/20

Not much better than a Friday ride home. Did I say that last week? Maybe.
I rode behind a woman uphill on Mass before Wisconsin and her rear fender was yellow and bent. Later, she passed me on the downhill on Mass while I was waiting in car traffic and she was riding on the sidewalk. I'm fairly certain that I'm (and by extension, all bicyclists) are slowed more by car traffic than the other way around. I don't have so-called "statistics" to prove this, but I think it's probably true. I mean, if I slow down a driver, most likely he's going to pass me. He loses like 2 seconds. But when there's masses of cars blocking the way, I can either filter around (which means going slower), ride on the sidewalk (which means going slower) or waiting in line with the cars (which means stopping).
The results are in and the bike mysteries have all been solved. I'm glad that he included a picture of me on my brand new computer.
Some other thing happened. I saw a woman on a bike on Q Street and she had bar mitts and was wearing duck shoes. This picture shows neither, really. Anyway, I liked your winter bike attire, if attire means bar mitts and shoes. Maybe someone can review duck shoes. Or lobster gloves. Or anything that can be used when biking that lis named after an aquatic-ish animal. The other bicyclist in front had shoaled me two blocks previous and then shoaled this woman. I guess she was in a hurry to wait at the light marginally ahead of us.
At 11th and New York, I pulled into the right lane to wait behind a white truck. I didn't jump the queue. The light turned green. The truck didn't move. I guess the truck was just parked at the corner. That inconvenienced me. I moved left and snuck in between a bus and big white delivery van. Sort of sucked.
The ride home seemed generally less laborious. Rides home always do.
I think that I might have irreparably burned some bridges with the woman who rides the blue Electra Amsterdam that I've mentioned before. And it really wasn't my fault. I rode behind her on East Capitol for maybe 10 blocks or so until she turned somewhere and as I rode by I said "I like your bike." She turned and said "You WHAT?" as if I had said something untoward and offensive. I save my untoward and offensive comments for friends and family, thank you, and would never direct them towards a stranger who wasn't driving a black BMW. I sheepishly, but perhaps more clearly, said "I like your bike." You should never compliment anyone about anything. Anyway, if you're reading this, that's what I said.
Then the grocery store.
I didn't buy these. 
These are Hungry Man Pub Favorites. I noticed them when I was waiting in line. If your pub is preparing meals for you by microwaving tv dinners from frozen, you should probably go to a new pub.
Then home. Then tuxedo delivery.
Shave, hippie. 
I'd like to thank P. and his family for their generosity. Thanks.
Have a nice Saturday. Sunday, too, if you feel like it

Ride In 1/20

Shall we? Let's.
Friday has come to mean one thing recently. Well, one thing other than riding to work in jeans. It's #bikeDCcommutercofeemeetupfuntimebreakfastifyouwantbecausetheyalsoservesomepastriesbutivenevergottenoneohyeahforgottomentionthatthisisatswingscoffeeandyoushouldcomenextweektoo (we're still working on the official hashtag). Anyway, I was alerted to this Friday "tradition" by friends of the blog and #bikeDC stalwarts Ed and Mary. Here's how it works: bike (or walk or take the bus or drive, but definitely don't pogo) to Swing's Coffee around 8. Go inside, order coffee, drink coffee and talk other people who have biked (or walked) there. It's not very complicated. Today's very special guest was none other than local businessman and bike shop owner, Erik from Bicycle Space (There's not like an actual guest list or a booker or anything. It's just kinda who shows up, but still, cool people show up). Also, it was very nice to meet Zoe this morning and previously Lisa and previously-er Eric and Lane, in case I haven't mentioned that I had met them through Friday morning coffee club or whatever we want to call this.
Prior to arriving at Swing's, it was a coldish and mundane trip down East Capitol and up Pennsylvania. I saw the guy I saw the other day with the old single speed and the leather mudflap and I also rode by a lady pulling a laden kid trailer and another guy on a bike that I thought was a CaBi, but just turned out to be a red bike. The ride was pretty easy-going, in part because I remembered to inflate my tires before leaving home. I took the Haul, now with front basket, and my pace could best be described as slow.
Does anyone know if bicyclists are allowed to ride on E Street? I know that the security gates block direct entrance, but there's a crosswalk and opening in the barrier maybe 30 yards down and you could access the rode that way. I almost asked some security types, but by then I had passed the entrance and wouldn't have wanted to double back anyway. I tend to find myself riding against traffic in the Ellipse Parking Lot and I don't very much like that.
I got the brewed coffee this morning (rather than an espresso drink) and I added as much half and half as my cup could hold. That's just a little superfluous detail that I thought you'd care to know. It's not in any way me just trying to come up with something to write about because I've managed to completely forget most of what we talked about or much of what I observed on the ride.
After leaving Swing's, it was back in front of the White House and up 15th. Rather than wait for the security station on Madison Place to allow access to some driver, I decided to ride on the sidewalk. It's quite narrow. I watched another bicyclist patiently wait, presumably just so she could assert her right to ride through the bollards or maybe just to not have to ride on the sidewalk. Freedom isn't free, I suppose.
Plenty of other bicyclists out today. I wonder what's going to happen with bike commuting modeshare hits 10%. Because, and I really do believe this, that it's only a matter of time. One north-south cycletrack isn't going to be enough. Speaking of which, please remember to follow the pedestrian signals when biking on the 15th street cycletrack. I don't want to see someone get clobbered by a left-turning car.
Whose street is it? R Street. If I were in charge of branding for R Street, which I'm not and never will be and would even question the need for, that'd probably be my slogan. Don Draper I am not.
Very slow going up Massachusetts. I don't know about bikes and gearing and things like that, but I have a dilemma. I typically like to "mash" (as in Monster) down on the pedals in a higher gear but at a slower cadence. It takes more effort, but generally seems faster. However, today that just wasn't happening, slow I rode up in an easier gear, but it seemed like it was taking forever. I don't really know what my question is, or even if I have a question, but it's something like pedal easier but suffer from impatience or pedal harder and suffer from exertion. I'll let you supply the necessary syntax that turns that string of words into a question.
I don't understand the need for tinted windows. What are you doing in there that's so secret? Because if it's something that you really feel like you need to keep secret from those around you, you probably shouldn't be doing it while driving anyway.
When I got to work, I locked up my bike and got some more coffee at the student-run coffee shop. This time an Americano, again with half and half (Now I'm just padding my word count).


Ride Home 1/19

This might be a short one. There's an opportunity for free beer that I'd rather not miss. #bloglife
Every once so often, it seems like there are more jerks out than usual Tonight was one of those nights. I don't know what causes it and I certainly don't know how to stop it. The best I hope to do is deal with it because, frankly, I'm on a bicycle and I'm not going to win.
After watching drivers jerkily drive down Massachusetts, weaving in and out of lanes, cutting each other off, speeding, honking and generally being nuisances, my irish was up. This takes a lot because while my last name suggets otherwise, I've never strongly associated with my Irish heritage, considering myself much more Tyrolean-American, like famous American actor Peter Facinelli (plus) and presidential candidate and internet joke Rick Santorum (minus),  than anything else. Cheesed-off, I rode along the flatter parts (not yet-corporately sponsored "Embassy (Suites) Row" doing my usual thing and minding my usual business. Some guy decided that my usual business (luxury upholstery for pet furniture) wasn't good enough for him. Ove the years, I feel that I've gotten sort of ok at bike commuting and pretty good at seeing traffic and getting through james and avoiding bad stuff. One of the abilities I've yet to develop is being able to sprectrally pass through parked cars. So when I moved slightly over in front him he honked. He then passed closely and fast, causing a pedestrian to say "whoa whoa."I did the whole left-hand shrug "what do you want me to do? spectrally pass through this parked car?" thing that honked-at bicyclists do, passed the parked car and moved back right once there was a gap. I didn't turn my head to make eye contact when he passed. What's the point? Instead, I slipped in behind him and rode as usual. But when he slowed down, I, maturely, yelled "HONK." I don't think he heard me. I hope no one else did either. Not one of my prouder moments. Sort of.
I saw a guy that I've seen before, some time back in Arlington, I think. He rides a Salsa Casseroll and has stars on his mudflaps. I wish I could link back to the post, but Google doesn't want to tell me when it was. Anyway, hello.
At Q and 15, I watched a woman always jaywalk herself to her doom. She wasn't looking for the car pulling out of the parking spot and luckily the pick-up driver saw her. She waved apologetically. I heard another pedestrian snicker. I said "At least he saw her." She said, "Yeah. People." or something like that. I watched the pedestrian counter tick down, but the pedestrian proceeded to cross the street. She said "It's ok. You can go too" and I said "Will you stop a car if one comes?" and she said "Yeah, I've got it." I love DC people. This was the second funniest pedestrian encounter I had today. This morning an old lady at a bus stop said "faster faster faster" as I slowly trudged my way past. Hilarious.
Very light bicycle traffic the rest of the way. Briefly rode behind another commuter on Pennsylvania and through the Capitol. I heard some ducks make a quacking sound that was almost exactly the same as the Penguin's cackle.
Ok, folks. That's a wrap. Supplement with comments.


That's Chris. He's an Arlingtonian, bike commuter, and a nice guy.
This is the second post in my ongoing series of a couple more posts wherein I ride with people on their bike commutes and then remix my observations through the patented Tales From The Sharrows auto-tuner, rendering their rides only vaguely recognizable, but immensely more congenial to fans with questionable taste in popular music. Or something like that. The reason I'm doing this, for those of you who don't normally read the blog, is because I lost an around-the-world bicycle race to Shane Farthing, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and I didn't have the money to cover our gentleman's wager. So, I had to sell buttons and my blogging services to avoid welching. I then concocted an elaborate (sort of?) lie about wanting to raise money for "charity" when what I was really trying to do was ward of WABA's goon squad. They don't break your wrists- they break your spokes. Anyway, one of my "dupes" was Chris. [Note: all of the previous was fabrication.] He was the first person to take me up on the I BLOG YOUR RIDE offer and I'm fairly certain that his inclination towards generosity really spurred others along. For this, I'm especially grateful.
Chris lives in Arlington, a little off of Columbia Pike, and we met at 7. He's an "early bird" commuter, though not as early as the many others I passed in near darkness as I worked my way from Armory West, down Independence (which should have a cycletrack), over the 14th street bridge and past the Pentagon. I guess the Pentagon starts work early too, since the parking lot was rather crowded. I arrived on time-ish (most likely in thanks to the coffee I managed to prepare and drink prior to leaving home. And the blood doping. Just kidding!) and Chris was outside waiting. It was still dark and it was cold. My feet were colder than those of a 13th century Hungarian princess (INSIDE JOKE: and by inside, I mean a reference that's pretty much only "funny" to me, Gabor Klaniczay, and the hagiographer of St. Margit). Chris said that he hadn't been doing too much riding this winter, especially on the colder days, but I don't blame him at all. It's pretty important to be comfortable and there's no need to "subject" yourself to anything in the name of getting to work.
We set off on our route, through quiet residential streets and over to the bike lanes on Walter Reed. The bike lanes turned to sharrows (turning bike lanes to sharrows was one of Jeebus' lesser known "miracles." It was purged from the gospels under the car-centric papacy of Innocent I. Probably) on the other side of Columbia Pike. Car traffic was light, but still there. I spent much of the time admiring Chris's bike set-up, which included things like a side-mirror, rear rack and panniers, cell phone holder, front and back lights, and fenders, the rear of which had reflective tape affixed to it. I've been meaning to do this to mine, but keep using up all my reflective tape in hilarious fraternity-style pranks, wherein I tape someone or something to a flagpole. Here's a picture of his bike, at rest. It's a solid commuter bike.

Chris also told me that he has a kid carrier that attaches to the front of the bike, just like Grant has. His little one is equally enamored with bike travel, so parents please take note. Bike your kids around. It's either that or whatever animated 3D cartoon crap is out in theaters this weekend- how many more unfunny sass-talking cartoon animals can you handle before you snap?
We passed the point of Chris' one and only bad car confrontation, which occurred when a driver came out of nowhere (see how I'm flipping the script?) and passed Chris within inches. While no contact was made, he wiped out and it sucked. You never quite forget the site of the bad wipe-outs. They're like wounds from Nazgul swords. The driver didn't stop. The incident didn't deter Chris from bike commuting and I think that's a good thing. Oh, I forgot to mention that he's been commuting by bike since March of this year. I didn't ask if TFTS played a role in his decision to ride, but let's just assume it did. (Note: this is almost certainly not the case.)
Walter Reed Drive , as many of you might know, as it approaches Four Mile Run and the W & OD Trail, had a gigantic, terrifyingly steep descent (ascent of your coming to other way). It's roughly (est.) a 8,234 foot drop. And we bombed it. It was kind of awesome. I asked Chris is he took the same route home and climbs that sucker daily. He said yes, but that it took a while to be able to do it. I applaud his persistence. I probably would have sought an alternate route (maybe helicopter?), namely one that takes me any other way. I asked him if he's ever passed anyone while going up the hill. He said no. I think he meant "not yet." It'll happen and it'll be the most awesome thing ever.
A few other bicyclists on the W & OD and then it was under the highway (Chris told me about the recent hullabaloo concerning the replacement of the lights in the underpass and the jurisdictional problems associated with it. Basically, if the question is how many local and state agencies does it take to replace some burnt out lights in an underpass of state controlled highway near or at the border of two municipalities, the answer is [you might just want to get brighter lights for the front of your bike]) and then along Glebe.
We passed an older gentleman riding in the other direction in what I think was a purple puffy coat. Chris said that this was the only person he regularly saw on his ride. Chris made a point of saying hello. I think that's a pretty good idea. Commuting at non-peak times has a solitariness to it that I can kind of relate to, given my non-peak (whatever that means) route against the flow of downtown-heading traffic. Plus there's no reason not to be friendly to other bike commuters. They're good people. Unlike pogo-commuters. Jerks.
We temporarily looped off of Four Mile Run onto Mount Vernon Avenue, but picked it up on the other side of the run, the side opposite the water processing plant. I'd never taken this route before. Chris learned about it when another bike commuter whom he had previously passed ended up in front him on Commonwealth Drive, as he took the longer way that required him to briefly ride next to Confederate Traitor Highway to cross the stream. The path was rather bucolic, passing softball diamonds and wooded groves and culminated in our arrival at the back entrance of the Toyota dealership where I got my car's oil changed last month. Like I said, bucolic. More importantly, though, it was direct and it put us on Commonwealth, which would take us the rest of the way there.
Commonwealth has bike lanes for a stretch and sharrows for a bit and then bike lanes again until the sharrows come back. I guess it's not wide enough for bike lanes the whole way, which is a pity. By this time, other bike commuters had roused and most were heading in the opposite direction. It was good to see so many people out, on a day that was turning into one with beautiful weather.
As we rode through and around Del Ray, Chris told me how on nice days, the whole neighborhoods turns into something like an episode of Leave It To Beaver, with kids and parents walking and bike home from school. Not so much this morning, but I could definitely see how that'd be the case. The area is relatively dense and the bike lanes seemed accommodating, notwithstanding the some drivers who couldn't quite manage to keep their speed below the posted limit. Must be a technical issue with the car, but I'm not an engineer.
I always wondered what the Arlington to Alexandria bike commute was like, having down the Arlington to DC route for a couple of years. I rather enjoyed it. Commonwealth seems like a direct route to Old Town and not one that I'd ever taken before. It also seems way more convenient than the Mount Vernon Trail, especially if you're heading into the west side of Old Town.
Chris's office is near the King Street metro. He's permitted to park his bike in the parking garage, though there are no "real" bike racks inside. Nonetheless, it's still indoors and secure and vastly better than leaving the bike on the street. We grabbed some coffee at the Dunkin Donuts across the way and I continued my peppering barrage of annoying bike commuting related questions, as is my wont/compulsion. I asked Chris if anyone else in his office (a smallish company of 35 or so employees) commutes by bike and he said not really. I asked him if he got any of the "BIKE COMMUTING IS SO DANGEROUS, OMG, RIGHT?!?" questions/comments from his coworkers and he said no. I find that heartening. I asked him how he got into the whole commute by bike thing and he told me how he's been on a long and steady health improvement/weight loss plan (one that involved competition with the winner, he who loses the most weight, winning money) and that bike commuting was something that came about afterwards, as a way to cram in a little bit of exercise in time through something (getting to and from work) that he'd be doing anyway. I asked him if he used his bike to run errands and he said that he did. I yammered about a bunch of stuff too, none of it consequential and much of it, I'm sure, platitudinous.
It was 8 and it was time to go. I had a great time and very much enjoyed meeting and riding with Chris. I'd once again like to thank him for his donation to WABA and wish him the best of luck in continuing his bike commuting.


Ride Home 1/18

Long time readers of the blog, or those who happened to just randomly have read Ride Home 8/4, will know that sometimes I blog with the Lifetime television show Dance Moms playing in the background. Please comment if you have any insight/theories on Dance Moms. I lack them.
Colder than I wanted it to be on the ride home. I guess the wind was at my back, though.
What's the deal with some people (in this case, drivers) thinking that they can "outsmart" the system? I see this mostly with lane changes. I don't really get it. I can't tell you the number of times I've ended up in front of drivers who I previously watched weave in and out of different lanes, as if there's some secret formula to getting home faster than only lateral movement can solve. I don't get it.
At the intersection of Mass and Florida and 22nd and 22nd (yes, there are two of them, sort of), what I do is briefly ride on the sidewalk, across the crosswalk and then wait at the light at Q. This is pretty much what I do every day, mostly because I don't feel like waiting to left turn at a full stop. It's my little gift to drivers. You're welcome. Anyway, I did this today and found myself in front of two bicyclists who were already waiting at the light, but behind the crosswalk where I crossed. I'm a fan of falling in line behind bicyclists who've already arrived (maybe from deference, maybe because I overlearned the lessons of first grade and line leaders), but the geography here doesn't make sense, so I ended up in front of them. One decided to shoal me and I guess that's ok.
Read this if you like good bikeshare data analysis. Does anyone have a good explanation for the "afternoon surge"?
Some of the most jaywalky pedestrians are at the intersection of Q and Connecticut, circa Circa. Bike blind, too. Every single day at least one of them sees that no car is immediately bearing down on him or her and decides that in spite of impending arrival of me on a bicycle, that there's no reason to stop crossing. And this is normally after a brief pause, a moment of recognition that's immediately dismissed. It makes me feel small. It hurts my feelings. (Ok, not really, but it's annoying) As a result, I almost never make the light at 19th and then I have to wait light a normal light-waiting rube.
My favorite Lawrence brother is Scoff Lawrence. That's apropos of nothing. I'm confident that at least four of the nine of you who read have stopped and are currently in a different browser window (or TAB!) removing me from your RSS. Whoa.
I wanted to take a detour and visit DC's (if not America's) favorite bike shop, BicycleSpace, to look at some Konas, and maybe even one with disc brakes. I was planning on taking a picture of my favorite one and then putting it to a reader vote about whether I should get it or whether I should get it. But I pretty much turned on auto-pilot (note: bike doesn't actually have auto-pilot) and ended up and 11th and then Pennsylvania and I figured I would go another time.
Ran the red and Penn and 7th. My excuse was being distracted by some pedestrians who looked like they were about to dangerously walk into traffic. My bad.
I try to make it a point to ride in bike lanes. I know that a lot of cyclists don't, or maybe don't care. That's fine with me- I'm not really an evangelist and you should do what you want and ride where you feel like.  So it just kinda cheeses me off (TFTS's official hokey phrase for annoyance), when people idle their cars in them. Especially when there's an parking spot right next to it. This isn't virgin ground- the topic, not the bike lane- and I'm sure I'm written about it before. But seriously, why do people do this? People who I believe to be otherwise fairly well-meaning and vaguely cognizant of the world around them and not intending, necessarily, to make my life harder or worse in any way. Anyway, I see it everyday at pick-up time at the Lutheran madrasa/daycare on East Capitol and 3rd-ish. Is this the lesson you want to be teaching your children? (Note: said for effect (affect?), not for actual smugness)
The driver of the 96 was messing with me. I think on purpose. I don't have any so-called "proof," but it seemed that way. And isn't "seeming" just as good as evidence? I'm not a lawyer, but that sounds right.
Anyway, Dance Moms is coming to an end. The Official Wife says that she is enjoying herself immensely. I just shouted at the screen "WHERE'S THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE, BROOKE?" so I'm probably not having too rough a time with it either. Something special-ish in store for tomorrow morning (if anyone, between the Dance Moms and Lawrence brothers, is still reading).