Mandatory 8 Count

Today was one of those days that TV weatherpeople go nuts over. It’s going to be hot. And humid. And dangerous. And we’ll have another update in five minutes. This just in: it’s hot and humid and dangerous. Drink lots of water. More after the break. It’s going to be hot and humid and dangerous…

That’s right, folks. You MUST panic because we said so. 

Shut your pie hole, Roker.  Can’t you see I’m sweating?

Actually, it was downright nice out when I left home at 7 this morning.  It did get warmer and muggier over the course of the next hour and a half but not dangerously so. The Mount Vernon Trail had most of its usual runners and cyclists.  Since school is out, the Catholic SUV parade at Saint Mary’s School in Old Town Alexandria is gone for a while.

Roker and friends said today would suck, but for nearly my entire ride it was suckless. Until I got to the last half mile of my ride.

I was climbing up the connector bridge from the MVT across the George Washington Parkway to Rosslyn with my usual recumbent sloth.  As I reached the bridge I could see a group of male cyclists at the far end of the bridge. I pulled over and there sitting on the ground among them was a young woman. As I approached, I could hear her conversing with the men. One look in her face and I could tell she was not quite right.

She had come down the hill from Rosslyn in her bike and crashed near the edge of the bridge. I didn’t see any blood but she was covered in dirt and grime. I overheard one of the others say that she crashed, stood up, and fell straight down like a tree. Fortunately, she was wearing a helmet.  (If you’re planning on passing out and falling like a tree, wear a helmet.)

I hung out for a few minutes trying to think of a way to make myself useful. One of the other cyclists was on his cell phone calling for medical assistance.  It occurred to me to go up the trail a ways and direct the bicycle traffic.  I saw her stand and she was saying she was alright.  I turned my back and one of the men said, “Grab her.” I turned and saw her slumping, clearly losing consciousness.  Not good. The other cyclists braced her and guided her back to her sitting position.  Three falls is an automatic TKO in bike commuting. You’re going nowhere, young lady.

(All I could think of was what the nurse said to my wife when she came to after getting hit by an SUV last May. DON’T MOVE.) 

She stayed seated and I went back to being traffic guy.  I heard sirens and in a few minutes I could see the EMTs walking down the hill. I waved to them and they yelled at me to come tell them what was going on. I gave them the scoop and they calmly went about taking her vital signs and evaluating her.  The other cyclists left. I set to work writing my contact info on a business card as I was going to offer to take her bike to my office if she ended up going to the hospital.

For the next several minutes she chatted quietly with the EMTs and drank from my water bottle, They asked her where she was headed and she said, “Foggy Bottom.”

“Do you want to go to the hospital?”


They told her she needed to walk with them to the ambulance to fill out some paperwork.  I suspect this was also another test of her condition. One EMT grabbed her bike and the others escorted her up the hill to Lynn Street.  I left for work.

I hope she is okay.

Many thanks to the cyclists who obeyed me without complaint and slowed down. Thanks to the cyclists who took care of her, kept her calm, and called for the ambulance. Good on you. Thanks to the Arlington EMTs, too. My helmet’s off to you guys.

(By the way, what do the EMTs do with your bike if they take you to the hospital?)

There was some speculation online that she crashed trying to avoid a plastic bollard and traffic cone in the center of the trail at the start of the bridge. The trail comes down a brief steep section then turns sharply to the left where it reaches the bollard, the cone, and the bridge across the Parkway.  Since the bollard and cone can’t stop a motor vehicle, I have to wonder why they’re even there.

The ride home was mercifully uneventful. I rode what I thought was a blistering pace in 97 degree heat. A young woman in gym shorts passed me on a road bike. I tried to give chase. I failed. Here I am going 18 miles per hour and huffing and puffing and feeling my oats. There she goes like a bullet. I don’t even think she was breathing hard. Dang. You go, girl.

Six miles later, I reached the bollard farm.  The world’s most incompetent and creative construction crew was at it again. Under the bridge, a fence obstructed half the trail. The sidewalk bypass with 3 bollards had an added traffic cone apparently to ensure that skinny evil doers on bikes could not ride under the bridge.  I stopped to take a picture. From what I could tell the cone was serving no purpose. I suppose if you have one lying around you should put it in front of something. You might cause a bike accident.  I think this contractor gets a bonus for every cyclist he takes out.

Evil Doers Beware

Once I cleared the bollard farm, I rode the rest of the way unscathed. Remarkably the National Park Service has resisted putting a single bollard on the Mount Vernon Trail for the next 3 1/2 miles of my commute. What’s up with that:?  Didn’t they get the memo?

Did I mention that it was hot and humid and dangerous? 


Tomorrow’s supposed to be worse.

6 thoughts on “Mandatory 8 Count

  1. I don't know what happens if the EMTs take both one and one's bike to the hospital. When I got carted to the ER, I asked Scott to stay behind with the bikes and call a friend to pick him up.Wow. That bollard grove is getting even more dangerous. I guess the cone is there so cyclists will notice the sawhorse between two of the bollards. I can barely see it in the photo. :/

  2. I'm glad to hear that the weather people in other locales have crazy weather modes equal to ours here in Florida. Ours come in the winter. We regularly hear hysterical warnings to check on your older friends and family and bring your pets indoors as part of–are you ready for this?–WIND CHILL warnings. Not freeze warnings, WIND CHILL warnings!!

  3. WOW! You were amazing helping the girl! The last one to get there, and probably the most helpful person! It's really important to wear a helmet but sometimes the problem is the helmet warming up your head! Did you ever think about that?But…still important! Commuting by bike in this hot beginning of summer time requests a lot of water!! And by the way…it's so hot and humid and dangerous!lol

  4. Your comment(s) about directing traffic really rang true. Twice I've had the misfortune of standing on the side of the road/trail yelling "rider down! slow! ambulance ahead!" and gesticulating wildly with my arms only to be met with blank stares. I'm also amazed at the number of cyclist who don't wear helmets, or carry even the most basic items such as a pump/tube. I've actually heard people make asinine comments such as "I don't get flats" to which my standard response is "yet."

  5. Sine, actually I was surprised that everyone seemed to slow down in this instance. I used to be one of those folks who rode without a pump or a spare, until my "yet" happened.

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