Not a Vampire

It was a tweener weather day. The thermometer said 49 degrees. Fog hung on the moors. Hounds bayed in the gloom. I decided to wear my rain pants over my shorts to avoid freezing. Instead, withing a mile or two, my legs were wet from sweat. Big Nellie’s fairing was making my legs uncomfortably warm. In Old Town I passed Nancy Duley, who was wearing lycra bikes shorts. She had pulled over to the side of the trail to take a bracing pull from her bourbon-filled flask. Okay, I made that last part up. She was straddling her bike on the side of the trail. We said our “Good Mornings!” as I rode past. It just occurred to me that she is always smiling. And she almost always seems to be riding away from work. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

About a half mile after my encounter with Ms. Duley, I decided that cold legs were better than sweaty legs. I stopped and pulled off my rain pants. It was good planning that I had worn mountain bike shorts underneath, because, otherwise, I’d be writing this from the Alexandria City jail. Back on the bike again I realized I had traded warm, sweaty legs for cold, wet legs. Scar was right. Life’s not fair.

The rest of the ride into Rosslyn was copacetic. I didn’t get killed riding through the Circle of Doom, otherwise I’d be writing this from the great beyond, the sweet by and by.

We had our office Christmas lunch today. Just before my food arrived a waiter lost control of a tray he was carrying. I had slung my waterproof bike jacket over the back of my chair. The fallen tray loosed a slow motion splash of ketchup across the back of my jacket. I took the brunt of the splash, thereby saving my office mates from a mass trip to the dry cleaner.

After the lunch we were allowed to go home. I went back to the office for a little bit to finish off some this and that and was on the road long before sunset. I rode home in daylight!!! I didn’t dissolve or sparkle which depending on how old your vampire lore is pretty much means that I am not the undead. I could still be a werewolf but the full moon is weeks away. (Ahhh Oooooh!!!)

Big Nellie did a nice job tacking through the blustery winds. On windy days fairings make for a challenging and rewarding ride.

When I got home, I through the jacket into the washer with some other stinky bike commuting clothes, of which I have bo-ku.

Then I realized that it felt like 2 a.m. at 5 p.m. And I was shaking with cold.

There wasn’t any garlic around and we don’t have a crucifix in the house.

I am the unwell.

Gloomy Monday

I left early this morning. It being just a few days before the winter solstice, this guaranteed me an extra dose of darkness. When you’re working on a vitamin D deficiency, you can’t get too much darkness. In addition to being dark it was foggy. I felt like Rudolph with his nose on backward.

Other than being kind of depressing, it was a pretty nifty commute. The Mount Vernon Trail was all but empty. Near the power plant I spotted a hawk in a tree looking out over the river. I think it was a hawk. It was big. It didn’t have bald eagle markings. Of course, it could have been an immature bald eagle but I forgot to put an ornithologist on my speed dial so we’ll have to settle for generic hawk.

In addition to being foggy it was warm-ish. I left the holey sweater at home and wore a t-shirt over my base layer.

The ride home was a replay of the ride in. Except there were several ninjas. So far I’ve done an amazing job of not thinning the ninja herd. It’s bad when you wear all dark clothing on an unlit trail. It’s worse still if you are backlit by car headlights. It’s almost inevitable that I will hit one of them. They are simply impossible to see until I am right on top of them. I am averaging a whopping 11.3 miles per hour so it’s not like I’m setting any speed records or outriding my headlight.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. The temps will be warm-ish for one more day. And I am hoping to leave work early and avoid the headlights on the way home.

On Sunday I plan on riding to the city to see the Hains Point 100. A bunch of cyclists will be riding a 3 mile loop to raise money for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. WABA is trying to get more women on bikes. Hopefully most of the riders will be women. I have donated in support of Kate , who is riding. Go Kate!

Big Nellie Rolls to 31,000

31,000 for Big Nellie

It was cold this morning. 26 degrees at the Masonite-enclosed Rootchopper Weather Center. I was in a hurry to get to the early edition of Friday Coffee Club. It was not to be. I had to dig out my fleece lined over boots and put an extra layer of clothes over my legs.

Big Nellie and I rolled into the darkness. All was well until a light shined down upon us. Trumpets blared. Angels sang. I stopped to take a picture (sadly blurry).

It’s been a tough year for Big Nellie. She had a nasty crash. She tried to eat Flor’s pants. Her chain broke. Her seat needed to be replaced.

All that’s behind her along with 31,000 miles.

I made it to Friday Coffee Club but only after Mary and Lisa had left for work. We passed like bikes in the morning in front of the White House. I am sure the President was looking out his window and thinking, “I wish I could ride my bike to work in the cold. Instead I’m stuck being leader of the free world and stuff.”

Poor Barry.

When I got to Swings for the FCC I was taken aback by the number of people there. Apparently they didn’t get the memo that it was COLD outside.

I met Nancy, a newbie and the thrid graphic artist in attendance. Laura, who hasn’t been coming lately, came despite having an office Christmas party last night. And I learned that you can make a Christmas tree out of a lamp. Sort of.

I left for work a little late. I had a ten o’clock meeting. I got to my desk and an email told me that the meeting was canceled.

I could’ve had another cup.

7000 and Climbing

This morning’s ride was uneventful except for some trail bandits. Trail bandits take up the whole trail so that no one else can get by. I came upon the first bandits as I came from under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and headed toward Ford’s Landing along the river. Two women were walking four dogs. They were spread across the trail from left to right: dog-woman-dog-dog-woman-dog.  I rang my bell four times. They made no effort to move out of the way. I came up behind them and said “COMING THROUGH”.  I’d have added “please” but my polite was gone by the fourth ring.  My friend Reba has long said that the people who live at Ford’s Landing, which is a small development of million dollar townhouses, think they own the trail. Now I see her point.

About a mile later on the north side of Old Town Alexandria, two maintenance workers were walking up the path away from me.  One was pushing a dumpster of sorts. I rang my bell. He didn’t move. I rang again. Nothing. I said “PASSING.” Still nothing. I rode around him on the grass. Grrr.

The ride home was uneventful. For some reason I seem to have figured out dressing for the cold. I was completely comfortable. Now if only I can figure out how to keep from being blinded by car headlights.

When I reached the Woodrow Wilson Bridge tonight, no horns honked, no rockets exploded overhead, no bells rung. I felt shortchanged. I had just passed the 7,000 mile mark for 2012.  Can I have some more please?


Just Drive Your Car

Tonight’s ride home was in the dark. I typically ride a bit slower than usual and it makes for an almost effortless ride. It would have been great but for four drivers in their cars, three of whom were probably well meaning.

About seven miles into my commute the Mount Vernon Trail crosses the access road that connects Daingerfield Island to the George Washington Parkway. A car approach from the Parkway from my right. I slowed. He slowed. I slowed some more. He slowed some more. I came to a stop at the stop sign (he had none). He came to a stop.  I guess he must have been waving me through.  Word to drivers of this world: if I have come to a stop, waving me through is pointless. You aren’t doing me a favor. I waved him through. Don’t try to drive my bike. Just drive your car.

A couple of miles later the MVT meets a street at a T with the parking lot for an office building on the top of the T.  I approached the T and saw a car coming from my left. I slowed to let the car go by. The car slowed. It got within range of my headlight. I could see the driver waving me to go ahead. If I had obeyed her signal, I would have ridden directly into the path of a car coming from my right. Thanks, lady.  I stopped, put my foot down and waved her through. Don’t try to drive my bike. Just drive your car.

A quarter mile later I was on Union Street. A road intersected with Union Street from the right making a T with Union Street as the top of the T.  A car was parked at the curb, facing me on the left on the opposite side of the intersection. Next to the car was a car stopped at a stop sign. Curb car put on his left turn signal. And waited. Stop line car waited. I stopped and put my foot down. After a few more seconds, curb car does a left hand turn into the stem of the T cutting off both the stop line car and me. I think curb car wanted me to go first. Thanks, but no thanks. Just drive your car.

A mile later I was clear of Old Town, heading down the MVT from the South Washington Street deck above the Beltway. This nice, gentle downhill is complicated by an intersection with the access road to a large condominium followed by a zig zag in the trail. The access road/MVT intersection has a traffic light for MVT traffic. This was put in place after the condo people bitched up a storm about the trail users messing with their right drive onto South Washington Street unimpeded.

As I approached the bike light, I saw two white vans pulling up to the trail from the condo. The front van pulled right across the trail directly in front of me. I yelled “STOP!” three times to no avail. Despite the fact that I had the green light, I came to a near stop and shined my helmet-mounted headlight at the driver. She was looking down and texting on her Blackberry. As I rode past, I screamed at her. I am proud that I didn’t cuss. Just drive your car.

Long story short, if you wave a bike through an intersection and he doesn’t respond there may be two things going on that you are unaware of. (1) If a bicyclist can’t make eye contact with you, he is wise not to go into your path no matter how slowly you are driving. As my friend Mary says, I assume I am invisible. (2) A cyclists can see and hear things that you may not be aware of.

A State Police officer at my daughter’s driver’s license ceremony gave a scary lecture to the newly licensed drivers. His message was simple: Don’t text. Don’t fool around with the radio or your iPod. Don’t horse around with your passengers. “Just drive your car.”

Thank a Driver Today

It’s December 10. But for the limited daylight, it felt like October 10. I mean it was 60 degrees out when I left work. I’d have ridden in shorts but the shorts I had on under my rain pants are immodest to say the least. They are made by a company called Jackson and Gibbons. They are touring shorts with a chamois and an unusually short inseam. I think the polite way to put it is the inseam is too short particularly for male persons. So I have to either wear them with underpants or get arrested for flashing.  This is a shame because they are super comfortable, otherwise.

The ride to work was supposedly into a headwind, but with two days’ rest I felt like i had a tailwind. The Mule wasn’t complaining a bit.  The tree with the Belle Haven nest had two bald eagles in it. And in a smaller tree just in front I spotted a great blue heron. Dang. Birds o’plenty. Just off the trail underneath the Roosevelt Bridge I spotted another heron.

On the way home I could hear some mallards quacking up a storm in the river under the Roosevelt Bridge. I am sure they were all worked up over RGIII. 

Rare Football Digression: I admit that I watched the Redshirts play yesterday. Memo to RGIII: make sure you have a guarantee on the contract, dude. You keep leaving your legs out like that and some big sombitch’s gonna snap ’em right off. Ask that Theisman fella.

So today’s superb bike commuting weather was brought to you by all those folks who drive to work and heat their homes to 76 degrees. The downside is soon I will be able to fish for frankenfish from my front doorstep. 

My Blog’s New Home

After nearly a year over on Blogger, I reached my memory limit. That means I can’t add photos to my blog without paying Google for the privilege. Since I am not a fan of Google’s attempts to assimilate me into their Borg-like universe of other products, I’ve decided to move my blatherings over here to WordPress. It’s a bit overwhelming but in time I should have some content up. Stay tuned.

Oh, and if you just stumbled on me here, you can read my old stuff over there.