On the Lookout for a Bad Apple

A couple of months ago, a motorist tried to teach some cyclist a lesson about driving on the George Washington Parkway.  It seems this old man has decided that he is the boss of all you cyclists who dare to ride on the Parkway.  According to news reports, this demented fool first tried to intimidate a pack of 5 cyclists by crossing over the center line and veering toward them as the approached from the opposite direction. When that tactic didn’t satisfy him, he did a u-turn and overtook the cyclists, swerved in front of them, and slammed on his brakes. Four of the cyclists escaped serious injury; the fifth was not so fortunate.  He ended up underneath the rear of the car and suffered (among other injuries) a broken hip. He and the others are damned lucky to be alive.

The driver sped away down Collingwood Road, in the direction of my house.  He is an elderly white man driving a gold Cadillac.  There is a $10,000 reward leading to information about him.  I have spent my last three weekend days doing what amounts to a grid search for this car.  I have so far covered over 70 miles of streets in the area near the incident.  I figure that sooner or later I will find this car. The money would be nice but I’m motivated by self preservation. We have to get this lunatic off the roads before he kills someone. 

Here is an account of the incident and a description of the vehicle and driver.  If you are in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County, please keep an eye out for him. 

Bike Commute 138: Incoming!

I had an interesting commute today. I came upon another bike commuter and we played leap frog for about a half mile or so on suburban side street. At one point, she was some 150 feet ahead of me; I was in my usual early morning daze, my head hanging down. I heard her bell go “ding” and I looked up. I saw two deer crossing the road only a few feet in front of her. As they reached the lawn on the right side of the road, I saw them turn. Then I realized they were following 2 other deer. They were running at full tilt and heading straight for me! Thankfully, they stayed on the lawn and blew past me. I had no chance to get a picture. Later, I stopped near National Airport to get a shot of a commuter jet coming in for a landing.

Nellie’s World

Nellie's World by Rootchopper
Nellie’s World, a photo by Rootchopper on Flickr.

Whenever I tour, I find myself drawn to beautiful old houses. This is the Tower House in Mount Vernon. It once stood alone with a commanding view of the Potomac River. Now it is surrounded by new megahouses, none of which can hold a candle to it. About 20 years ago, Tower House was in disrepair but recent owners have done a terrific job of fixing it up. The wrap around porch and the spectacular tower are two features that will go on my dream house. (I am planning on building it once my Powerball investment pays off.

Little Nellie stands in front of the house. For some reason, this reminded me of the Wyeth painting Christina’s World. Neither Nellie nor I are much for grassy hills though.

It’s That Time of Year

We’ve lived in the Mount Vernon section of Fairfax County for over 20 years.  Over a decade ago a homeowner started to build something big behind his little Cape Cod house on Collingwood Road, about 1/2 mile from ours.  That something turned out to be a much larger house.  When he was done, he tore down the Cape Cod.  The big house is actually pretty distinctive looking.  This time of year, however, it’s VERY distinctive looking.  The homeowner has turned his house and yard into a genuine Christmas lighting extravaganza. This can make for traffic problems, especially when idiots pull over and let their kids walk along the narrow road in the dark.  A few years ago he added a low wattage radio station so that people who park in front of his house can listen to Christmas tunes as they check out the lights.

This actually started out as a modest lighting display but he has added to it every year. Sometimes the lights go out then come on sequentially, sometimes he has flashing white lights distributed among the steady colored lights. And every year is different.  If you are in the area, take a meander down Collingwood Road to check this out. /It’s about 4 1/2 miles south of Old Town Alexandria on the Mount Vernon Trail and GW Parkway.

Screw Fashion; It’s Cold and Dark Outside

It’s been a little chilly here in DC this week. What’s a bike commuter to do? Dress wisely. I suppose you could look fashionably in the process but who the heck is going to see you?  With this minimal get up, I was completely comfortable with temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s.  Here’s what I wore.

A Bell helmet for safety.  On top of the helmet is a Light and Motion Stella light. Stella is light weight and her battery lasts long enough that I can set her on full power for my 90-minute round trip.  On the back of the helmet, I have a Planet Bike red blinky light.  It works just fine as long as I keep fresh AA batteries in it.  Under my helmet I wear an oversized skull cap. The cap is made of wicking material so I don’t get sweaty. This keeps the air from the helmet vents from freezing my head off and keeps my body heat from going up the chimney.  It also covers most of my ears.  A dial on the back of the helmet snugs things up so my helmet doesn’t flop around.

On my upper body I have a green t-shirt made of similar wicking material.  Over that I have a plain cotton short-sleeve t-shirt. The gray jacket is made for hiking.  It’s the Precip model by Marmot and it is nearly waterproof.  It has huge zipper vents that allow my body heat to escape.  I also route the cable from the head light under my jacket, through a vent and into a side pocket where it connects with a battery pack.  It has a hood that I use when it gets down in the 20s or when it rains.

Not shown are my massive full-finger gloves. These extend half way up my forearms and cinch tight to the jacket sleeves. They have four fingers instead of five; the ring finger and pinkie share a finger compartment.  Very warm and also water resistant.  To top it off. the gloves have reflective material on them which comes in handy when signalling turns.

My legs are covered with long black tights over briefs. Both are made of wicking material.  Finally my feet are covered in Smartwool socks and my normal biking shoes. Each sock is wrapped with a reflective strap for more visibility.  My toes were a little cold when I got to work so I think I am going to slip a plastic bag (courtesy of the Washington Posts delivery man) over each foot tomorrow.

My bike has an additional head and tail light.  My Orlieb handlebar bag and rear panniers have big reflective white diamond on them. My Zimbale saddle bag has a reflective patch on it as well.  If you can’t see me, you are blind.

I have some more stuff that I wear when it gets colder but I am hoping not to use them for a few more weeks.