Soldiering on with Utility Cycling

The weekend was cold and blustery.  As luck would have it, I found myself doing car trips on both Saturday and Sunday.  This pretty much knocks me out of theUtilitaire 12 contest but, in the spirit of things, I continue to do my own cycling utility thing.

Today, I biked to work for the 12th time this year. I was impressed with myself for getting out of the door. I was sick pretty much all day yesterday and even resorted to taking Nyquil last night.  It may be mostly psychological but those little green gel capsules knock me out.  I woke up in a sweaty fog at 530 feeling quite a bit better if not 100 percent. Since my daughter is on a school trip in New Orleans, I can ride every day this week.  So I dragged myself outside to retrieve the newspaper and test the morning’s weather. 

I came back in the house with the Washington Post and the suburban weather report:   no wind, no rain, mo heat.  An hour later I was on the road wearing every conceivable piece of clothing I could.  It was 19 degrees out.  Puff, cough, chug, pedal, cough.  It stayed 19 degrees for 3 miles then the sun got in on the action.  By the time I arrived at work about an hour later it was 30 degrees and I felt overdressed.  One part of my body that did not feel warm was the tips of my middle fingers. Perhaps I need to be more expressive of those who would impede my progress.  This would have been futile since I was wearing lobster gloves; I couldn’t flip the bird to anyone if I tried. The best you can do in lobster gloves is “Live long and prosper” which doesn’t do much for showing that jackass who just cut you off what you really think.

Actually the ride in to work was peaceful.  After a busy, if occasionally, surreal day at work, I headed home in 50 degree weather. Thanks to the Interwebs I have a good idea how to dress.  I shed two layers on the bottom and one on the top. Perfect.  The sun was out for the first five miles so it was nice to see something other than a big white circle in front of me. After cruising along for another few miles, I realized that I was breathing as if I was sitting still.  The zen of bike commuting.  Ahhh.

At Old Town Alexandria I left the bike path a cruised down the bicycle lane on Union Street.  It was now dark and my headlight was on full blast.  I could tell it was effective since all the people who crossed my line of sight put their hands up to shield their eyes.  A car pulled out in front of me from a side street.  If I had been going a tad faster it would have been most unpleasant. My headlight illuminated the driver’s head. She was making the turn with her hand over her eyes.  I get annoyed when people cut me off, but when they do it without being able to see where they are going, I get astounded.

Having had my zen moment shattered by Blind Buffy and her BMW, I rolled on.  In short order, I was back in the zone.  I missed the turn off for the Wilkes Street tunnel. Earth to Rootchopper.  Wake up, dude.

Chocolates in the left pannier. Flowers in the right one.

Back on the Mount Vernon trail, I approach the intersection that provides access to Porto Vecchio, a condo building on the Potomac River. Last year a bicycle traffic light was installed here to reduce conflicts with cars entering and exiting the complex.  I approached with a nice green light.  I could see a small, silver sedan coming toward the trail from the condos.  The driver pulled straight across the trail in front of me. My headlight zapped her right in the head. A little old lady, silver haired perm and all was behind the wheel. I yelled “HEY” twice and she stopped.  Maybe she’s related to Buffy.

I am pretty sure that I need to upgrade my headlight with the optional death ray.  This way the heads of drivers who cut me off would explode like the zombies being put out of their misery in The Walking Dead.

The rest of my ride was pleasantly uneventful. I stopped at Safeway about a mile from home to pick up some essentials for tomorrow morning.  The candy fit in one pannier without problem but the flowers required a little improvisational packing. To avoid messing the flowers up, I had to swing my foot over the front of the bike. Fred Astaire I ain’t but I managed to get underway without incident. Oddly, I dismounted in the normal fashion when I got home and my foot and leg cleared the flowers easily.

So there you have it. Cold in the morning. Danger in the evening.  And a stop at the store to boot. A successful use of my faithful steed.  A glacier somewhere is smiling.

7 thoughts on “Soldiering on with Utility Cycling

  1. Melanie, My headlight is a Light And Motion Stella purchased 3 years ago. It still works like new. Bike lights are amazingly better than they were 10 years ago. And not necessarily more expensive.Happy Valentine's Day. Chocolate does not contain any calories until midnight.

  2. I see I'm not alone. Needed a death ray attachment on my own ride home this evening at both Fort Hunt Rd and at Huntington Ave.Which Safeway do you stop at? The Belle Haven one or the one down at Hollin Hall?

  3. Usually, Hollin Hall. Despite the fact that it was redesigned less than 10 years ago, there is a rumor going around that it is going to be gutted and re-built substantially larger with underground parking. There's also one on US 1 a little farther from my house. I sense that food is a profitable business in these parts.

  4. That rumor is correct. Hyland put out at his Town Hall a couple weekends ago that there's a plan to replace the Hollin Hall Safeway with a 51K sq ft store (almost triple the existing size) with underground parking.

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