Rootchopper: Ninja Hunter

I rode Little Nellie today. The ride in was cold but quite fun owing to the fact that the Mount Vernon Trail was practically deserted. If evil doers want to invade Washington, now’s the time to do it. Car traffic on the George Washington Parkway looked like a Saturday afternoon. There are no DC natives; just immigrants from the 50 states and beyond. When important holidays approach, everyone goes home.

Except me.

I rode to work. No eagles. No possums. No Nancy Duley. Just the three step runner. (She runs three steps, then walks for a bit. Then runs three steps…) Near the Memorial Bridge I was passed by a guy on a Bike Friday. It didn’t have any racks or fenders or bags. It looked naked. And it had an AWESOME paint job. It was some sort of metallic shiny light green color that’s not listed on the Bike Friday website. I resisted the urge to whack the guy with one of my weighty panniers and steal his bike.

The ride home was windy and, as usual, dark. It’s always a challenged to ride into the headlights of the cars on the Parkway. I was doing fine, given the light traffic on the trail. As the trail runs between the airport and the Parkway, the car headlights are particularly bad. Then I saw something move and I instinctively moved left. It was a ninja. A man dress in a black watch cap, a black coat, dark blue jeans, and black boots. He was back lit by the headlights. I yelled as I swerved past him. I missed him by little more than a foot. As I passed I realized that what caused me to react was the bend in his leg as he strode forward. If he had been standing still, I would have hit him for sure.

After the adrenaline wore off, I settled into a nice rhythm, staring at the white circle painted by my helmet mounted light. I heard him before I saw him. A running coming my way on the opposite side of the path. Then I saw the white trim on his sneakers. He was dressed in dark clothing.

Onto the streets of Old Town, Little Nellie and I rolled. I was pretty happy to have the darkness and the ninjas behind me. As I cleared the commercial area, I made my way past a row of townhouses. A car was waiting, double parked on the left side of the road. Out of the shadows to my right, a man dressed in black ran straight for the car. He pulled up when I yelled and I swerved to avoid him. “Sorry!” he said. Great, dude. Little Nellie and I are practically Las Vegas on two wheels and you can’t see us coming!!!

Here’s the complete Rootchopper Vegas biking package: Front reflector on bike. Front reflective patch on handlebar bag. Front LED light on stem. Headlight on helmet. Reflective bands on ankles. Reflective tab on shoes. Reflectors on pedals. Reflective vest over my torso. Reflective fabric on the fingertips and palms of my gloves. Red light on back of helmet attached to a yellow reflective band. Red light facing rearward on my seat tube. Reflective patch on my saddlebag. Red LED light on the back of my rack. Reflective patches on my rear panniers facing both forward and rearward. Reflective sidewalls on both tires.

How could this guy have missed me?

I was beginning to think all these near misses were my fault. Then I rode into the pitch black of Belle Haven Park. Up ahead, well over 50 yards I spotted someone walking. He had an reflective band around his right forearm. It probably cost a few bucks. Why don’t more people wear them?

I made the rest of my trip home with no more incidents.

My goal for the rest of the winter is to bike commute without hitting a ninja. It’s not a very good bet, I’m afraid.

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