TGIF – BOOM! or The Tao of Bike Commuting

Every bike ride this month was on Deets, my Surly Cross Check. It has been a terrific machine. Then today happened.

I was riding to work this morning. The Mount Vernon Trail was flooded near Dyke Marsh so I took my feet off the pedals and glided through the waters like a little kid. Wheee!

I rode down Union Street and saw more flooding at the intersection with King Street. Wheee!

isn’t it great how bike commuting can make you a carefree kid again. 

Just past the Washington Marina at Daingerfield Island:


My back tire blew out. This is, I think, my first flat tire of 2016. When I took the wheel off I could see that I was not going anywhere on my back tire.My exploding tube had blasted the rubber from the tire off the wire bead that holds the tire to the rim.  I could have put in a new tube but the odds of having another blow out were very high.

So I started walking. I got to National Airport and walked to the bike parking area. As it turns out the area is open-air which is not good on a rainy day. Worse still, one of the bikes (the yellow one)  locked there had had its rear wheel removed. There was no way I was going to leave Deets there.

It was too early to put my bike on Metro (they allow bikes at 10 am, after the morning rush). So I resigned myself to walking to Rosslyn, 5 miles away. After a mile, I came upon the parking lot at Gravelly Point . There were several taxi cabs parked there including a minivan.


The driver agreed to take me. As I was putting my bike in the taxi I discovered that I did not have my wallet with me. I had test driven Mrs. Rootchopper’s car last night and left my wallet in my pants that were hanging on my bedpost at home. I could borrow the cab fare from a co-worker but the rest of the day would be a total hassle without my wallet. So I had the cabbie drive me home. This cost me $36. Oof.

People who know me well will be surprised to learn that at no point during all this did I lose my temper. I just laughed it off. I guess meditation is worth something after all.

Some people I know believe that the universe has a plan for each of us. We may think we are in control but it is an illusion. We control nothing. So you just go with the flow that the universe has created for you.

Or you can look at things another way. A former colleague of mine says: Life is a shit sandwich and everyday we take a bite.

Today I took two bites. 

Afterword: I went to District Taco for lunch today.  I always order a veggie burrito bowl and eat inside the restaurant. It normally takes 5 minutes to get your food. Today, I waited 25 minutes for my order  Finally, I gave up and tracked down the manager. My food was ready. It was packaged to-go. They had tried to find me in the scrum of take-out customers and gave up.

As shit sandwiches go, it tasted pretty good, despite the wait.

Anacostia Bikeabout

The weather here is so perfect that I could not pass up a nice easy ride. Well, it ended up being 65 miles. It was so worth it.

After taking in some smallish hills near home Deets and I picked up the Mount Vernon Trail near Belle Haven Park. In a few minutes we were on our way across the Potomac River on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge trail. Once in Maryland we started the long slog up Oxon Hill. The new casino is nearly finished. It still reminds me of a galactic cruiser in Star Wars.

At the top of Oxon Hill we turned east to head into the Anacostia neighborhood of DC. We needed to use the sidewalk because MDOT no longer allows left hand turns into Oxon Farm Park. The sidewalk was closed as part of the casino project. So we just rode behind the traffic cones against traffic. Just wait until a bunch of up-all-night frustrated gambler start driving around this monstrosity.

The ride down the big bumpy hill through the farm was fun. I did it one handed because I was trying to take interesting pictures. I did not succeed. But I didn’t crash so there’s that.

Once through the flat section of the park we rode up Blue Plains Drive, a road that gets steeper as you go. Not fun.

At the top of the hill we took a left on MLK Jr. Boulevard and rode it through the eastern edge of Anacostia. This is the lowest income area of DC. It also has the most violent crime. On Sunday mornings it is also the church going-est neighborhood.

At Good Hope Road we turned into Anacostia Park where we headed up the Anacostia River. This river was long regarded as little more than a sewer but nowadays it’s a gem. More and more people are coming to the Anacostia for its quiet beauty. After riding about a mile we came to the new (as in not yet officially open) extension of the Anacostia River Trail north of Benning Road.

It was clear from the get go that this new section of trail was really well designed. It is not meant as high speed trail. Rather than cut a straight path, it winds through the parkland on the east side of the Anacostia River. Some of the bridges have concrete decking instead of the slippery wooden decking used on the MVT. There are traffic calming design elements to keep Lance Mamilot and his friends from riding aggressively.

One section of the trail is on a sidestreet. I was shocked at all the new housing in this little Northeast DC enclave. The street riding soon gives way to a cycletrack! Woot!DSCN5627.JPG

Wayfaring signs make it easy to navigate the trail. Except for when the stop where the trial ends as it intersects the old Anacostia Trail system in Bladensburg MD.

We rode the Northeast Branch Trail up to Lake Artemesia. Just before I turned to get to the lake, I stopped for a deer. It just stood there only a few feet away. I think I could have petted it. Then it decided that I was a danger and turned and ran.

Deets and I ended up riding the old trail all the way until I saw an Ikea sign. This is somewhere at the northern edge of College Park. I checked my Google maps for a way to ride to Silver Spring but it seemed hopeless. We were going to go to Meridian Hill Park to see the disarmed Joan of Arc statue. (Somebody cut off her sword at the hilt.) Not seeing an obvious route, we turned around and rode back to DC. On the way back, I switched over to the western side of the river and rode the trail all the way to Nats Park. After cheating death on Maine Avenue I worked my way to the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac and rode the MVT home.

Despite not actually being officially open yet, the Anacostia Trail had some serious traffic on it. Not much less than the MVT. When word gets out, it’s going to get a ton of use.

It’s only shortcomings are a distinct lack of water fountains and no obvious places to eat. All in good time I suppose.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking over on my Flickr page.

Clinchmas Take II

Well, the baseball gods decided to test my patience. The Mets won and the Nationals lost in 12 innings last night. Thus, we are right where we were yesterday. The division title could be clinched tonight but only of the Mets lose and the Nationals win. If I had my act together, I’d drive to Pittsburgh (about five hours from here) and watch the game live. Alas, my act has been in pieces for a couple of decades.

I am planning on going to the game Monday night here in DC. There is a chance (if the Mets keep winning and the Nats keep losing) that the clinching will take place then. My real reason for going is that I am working from home on Tuesday. When I take in a night game, I don’t get to bed until 1 am. Thus I get about 5 hours of sleep which makes bike commuting (and work) a rather groggy affair. I’ll probably take in one or two more games before the regular season ends next weekend. Then it’s on to some other past time until April. I am not a big fan of winter so I need to get creative.

Maybe I need some winter. My whole body feels worn out. I am stiff in my back and legs. So today I am staying off the bike and doing chores like mowing the lawn and washing the deck. I have a big book that Mrs. Rootchopper gave me for my birthday in August. It’s not all hot and muggy outside so I think I’ll take my reading out on the patio. There may be beer involved.

On a completely unrelated note, somebody cut the sword off the statue of Joan of Arc in Meridian Hill Park. This park, also called Malcolm X Park, is a real jewel. I go there sometimes when I am riding in the city, just to relax, eat lunch, and watch the crazy quilt of humanity. The suburbs just don’t have parks with as much joie de vivre. Mostly they have noisy families and stinky grills. Doesn’t do much for me.






It’s Clinchmas!

  • Tonight, if the Mets lose and the Nats win, the Nationals win their division and qualify for the playoffs. YAY! This has been a foregone conclusion for a couple of weeks but longtime Red Sox sufferers like me know that nothing in baseball is to be taken for granted. You could look it up. Of google “Bucky Fucking Dent” or “Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson.”
  • Baseball quiz: who scored the winning run on the Buckner/Wilson play? Answer: Ray Knight, the Nats announcer.
  • Summer is officially over. In the last week, I’ve seen two bicyclists fall on the Mount Vernon Trail. That’s why I prefer the word “autumn” to “fall”
  • Felkerino once told me it is bad luck to refer to terrain as “flat” during a bike ride. It’s a four-letter f-word. Use “level” instead.
  • I am nearly recovered from riding the Backroads Century on Sunday. It had a lot of hills. My body was not happy this week. First, my back gave me a spasm on Tuesday morning. It lasted only a second and I managed to avoid turning into Quasimodo for a week. My legs have been dead for a few days. This morning they sprang to life. I hit 18 mph on the MVT. Must have been a tailwind.
  • The last two days I woke up at 5 am. I waited for daybreak (around 7) yesterday before heading to work. Today I left in the dark, with lights on my helmet and wearing a reflective vest. I am experimenting with strapping my battery to my helmet. I wouldn’t want to do this for hours at a time but it seems to be better than having a battery shoved down the back of my shorts. Note to Light and Motion, make me a Stella lamp with a shorter cord please.
  • It wasn’t until I was practically at work that I thought of going to Friday Coffee Club. I would have had to backtrack four miles. Not gonna happen.
  • One thing that never ceases to amuse me is how I know dozens of bike commuters but rarely see anybody I know. The person I see the most often, Chris M., is somebody I seem pathologically unable to recognize. Weird. Every once in a while somebody says hello as they go by. I typically respond “Blerfg.” I’m either half asleep or in a trance.
  • I signed up for another autumn ride: the Great Pumpkin Ride. I’ll probably be doing it with Ultrarunnergirl.
  • A friend of a friend runs several web-enabled freelance businesses. I can’t quite sort them all out but she is obviously a fan of yoga/mindfulness. When she lapses into yoga lingo on her business videos she says, “Sorry, went a little ‘woo woo’ there.” I have been looking for a word to describe this jargon and now I have it. People who are into yoga and mindfulness will henceforth be the Woowoos on this blog.
  • It’s suppposed to be a perfect weekend. All I want to do is let my body recover. So my plan is:
    • Mow the lawn
    • Swab the deck
    • Do a very gentle and short bit of cycling
    • Read my book about genetics. It is cleverly entitled The Gene.
    • Watch the Nationals clinch on TV!

Backroads – More Better since 2015

I have done various distances at the Potomac Pedalers’ Backroads Century event for several years. Until last year, the ride was based in Berryville VA. The people, and sheriff, of the greater Berryville area were not very receptive to having 1,500 bicyclists invade their little corner of the planet, however. After much frustration and many complaints, Potomac Pedalers moved the ride in 2015 to Shepherdstown in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. I was out of town for last year’s event and have been eager to check out the new routes.

Pre-ride nutrition is important. I had Italian food for dinner with a massive American pale ale. In fact the glass was so big that I could barely get my hand around it. The food was meh but the beer was yay. So after dinner I walked to a gas station convenience store in the dark to get me some more. The area of Martinsburg where I stayed may be a pedestrian nightmare but the beer selection was not half bad.

After a drive to the ride start in the dark, Deets and I were on the road by 7:15. It was barely light out. The route took us along the Potomac River for several easy miles before climbing a bit until we were riding along the Shenandoah River. The eastern panhandle is not mountainous like most of West Virginia, but it does have small hills. We rode up most of them. And down. And up. Etc.

Only a couple of the hills during the day made me consider walking. But I didn’t. I just ground them out. One by one. In between there were fields of corn and soybeans and apple orchards and cows and horses. Sweet.

My 100 mile jaunt exposed some inescapable truths:

  • I am old
  • I suck at hill climbing
  • I am kind of dumb for signing up for so many tough rides this fall
  • When breathing is difficult, an albuterol inhaler is a godsend
  • I am old

I saw several people from #bikedc. Michael (the co-leader of our 50 States 2014 ride group), lawyer Mike, Dave and Jean aboard their monster tandem, Felkerino, and several people from the previous two event ride I’ve done this month.

Mostly we chatted at rest stops. They humored me for various lengths of time while riding.

Some highlights of the ride:

  • Riding alongside a scared fawn is always exciting
  • Daybreak in the eastern panhandle is really beautiful
  • On the steepest downhill, a ride immediately in front of lawyer Mike crashed. Mike stopped and went to his aid. I joked later that he offered legal advice. This is not true. He offered reassurance and found a rider in the throng who happened to be an MD. Bike Crash had first aid withing a minute of crashing.
  • Jean is very fit but can put away an impressive number of tomato and cucumber sammiches
  • Tomato and cucumber sammiches are to die for. So are baked potatoes with salt and butter.
  • Young fawns are awkward runners. I rode alongside one for a few hundred yards today.
  • Even strong riders get cramps on hot, humid days. Dave was dogged by them for most of the ride. I saw another rider stopped in the road massaging the backs of her thighs. I offered to help but she hit me with her pump.
  • The volunteers who put up signs, marked the route with arrows and danger warnings, staffed the rest stops, and marshalled the ride did a wonderful job.
  • The packs of riders did not rudely buzz past me once today. Good on you!
  • It was supposed to rain and thunder during the afternoon. It didn’t

Some lowlights from the ride:

  • Instead of rain we got heat and humidity.
  • I missed some #bikedc peeps who were riding today including Rudy and Linel
  • Everyone loves the baked potatoes but having hot food at the last rest stop on a hot and muggy day didn’t work. They should be at the first rest stop. Or it should be cooler. Or something. (They are still delicious.)
  • Eating popcorn the night before a ride is a bad idea.
  • Clueless, chatty people who block your way while riding up a steep hill when you have a ton of momentum going deserve really hot food at the last rest stop.
  • People who yell “CAR BACK!” when the noise from the car is already deafening need to chill
  • A rider near me was not wearing a helmet. A course marshall yelled at him for his infraction from about 50 yards away. This was obnoxious and spoiled the mood for solitary riders( who like to zone out. What exactly was the marshall going to do about it anyway?
  • When I have an annoying but innocuous shifting problem that I resolve on the fly, I do not need to be told how to shift by a course marshall. I’ve been doing this longer than you’ve been alive, bucko. (I actually soft pedaled for a quarter mile to get away from this marshall.
  • The after party is a great idea. It’s an even better idea to have liquids. Water, tea, and milk were the choices. They were all gone when I got there.
  • Being unable to find your car after the event is not good. I had given up and was riding in search of campus security when I rode passed by car right where I left it. All the lots looked the same to me.
View from the edge of the road
Deets makes a friend
Felkerino rode with me for a while
Desiccated corn
Pre-ride nutrition

All in all, it was a pretty darn good day on the bike. I liked this ride much better than the Berryville version.


Four Hundred States (and Counting)

Yesterday I rode the 62-mile  50 States Ride for the eighth time. If you asked me at the finish if I’d ride it again I’d say, “Hell no!” After a day of recovery (I rode 32 miles round trip to the Nats game and they won) I am already thinking about next year. I guess my fusiform gyrus isn’t the only broken part of my brain.

At the sign in, Chris M. helped check me in. I normally don’t recognize him, when he’s in bike clothing. But this day, he wasn’t. It was a good omen.

I needed one. It was 7:15 am and it was already oppressively humid. The heat was rising by the minute.

I said hello to Reba, Robert and Ed. I told Ed I was starting early. I knew how hard this day was going to be. 2007 was just like this. I was 9 years younger and it took everything I had to finish that ride. Part of what made 2007 so hard was trying to keep up with Flogini (erstwhile spiritual adviser to the Rootchopper Institute) whom I had met at the Anacostia rest stop about 15 miles into the ride. She is 21 years younger than me (remarkably still is) and in excellent shape then (and now, for that matter). Ultimately, she dropped me and two others in Rock Creek Park around mile 50. We simply couldn’t keep up.

I wanted to beat the heat and ride, to the extent possible, at my own pace. So Deets and I left at around 7:30 just before the WABA safety speech that I have heard many times before. I quickly met a couple who were going my pace. Wyoming, California. We made our way through downtown, missing one turn but not missing a state, just a piece of the 15th Street cycletrack. New Hampshire. Rhode Island, Vermont.

I led them through some tricky turns. As we turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, and on coming cyclist nearly took me out. He had swung wide at high speed directly into my path. I yelled and her veered off.

New York, Indiana, New Jersey, Louisiana, unmarked but always important Delaware, Maryland, Washington.

We picked up a third rider in Southwest who yelled at me when I nearly rode past Virginia Avenue. Nice save, third rider.In East Potomac Park, the nonstop turns of the first 9 miles gave way to 3 miles of smooth sailing on Ohio Drive. Rather than push myself to keep pace with the three, I lagged behind.

At least there was a breeze off the river. Did I mention it was hot?

On Maine Avenue in Southwest as I rode by the massive waterfront construction site, a tractor pulling a gooseneck trailer blocked the entire road. It was trying to turn but there was not enough space. I turned around and improvised a route around the mess. (It’s part of the route I use to ride to baseball games.) Once again, no states missed.

I caught all but 1 traffic light on M Street but missed a turn onto unmarked K Street Southeast. I had made this same mistake in the past. The intersection is near some road construction and looks different every time I ride through there.

I turned around, got on K, and was soon across the Anacostia. At the rest stop I caught up to the couple I met in the first mile. I said hi to WABA  Jeff and his associate whose name escapes me, of course.

After the rest stops the hills begin. Up MLK Jr. Boulevard for about a mile. I passed a second couple who were struggling. At the second rest stop, they complemented me on my climbing skills. I almost choked on my burrito. I suck at climbing. I proved this very point about ten minutes later. We descended the back side of the hill and after a brief flats stretch on Mississippi Avenue we climbed right back up on Stanton Road. The fun continued on Alabama Avenue. Lordy. I made it to the top without a major coronary event.

The rest of the ride in Anacostia involves a short downhill to Texas (which isn’t big at all) and the climb back up to Fort Davis. From there the route goes about 1/2 mile down hill on Massachusetts Avenue. Weeee! It ended at a red light. Boooo! This is what makes the ride so hard. You rarely benefit from all that climbing because the downhill fun stops abruptly.

After a few more turns and Minnesota Avenue I crossed back over the Anacostia. The instructions are very specific so I didn’t follow them of course. But I corrected my sins (I said two Hail Marys like a good retired altar boy) and made my way into Capitol Hill on Kentucky Avenue. After South Carolina, I was ready for lunch.

Did I mention it was hot? Well, now it was waaaay hotter.

I think I made it in decent shape to the second rest stop at Eastern Market where lunch awaited. I ate a District Taco veggie burrito. It was delicious. It was also way too much to eat in one go when you are about to ride 32 miles of the 3 Hs – heat, humidity, and hills.






After brief hellos to WABA’s Greg and Michelle, I jumped back on the bike and rode with my belly distended by a Mexican gut bomb. North Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma.

Did I mention it was hot?

We buzzed around Northeast. I missed a turn and found myself backtracking on H Street, which has trolley tracks. I managed rather tensely not to get my wheel caught in them and got back on course.

On busy Florida Avenue a school bus passed within inches of my left arm. At the next stop light I motioned to the driver to give me three feet. He opened his door and said, “Did I hit you?” I said “No” and he shrugged as if to say “What’s your problem?” I only wish my heat fried brain had retorted “If I shot at you with gun and missed you by three or four inches, would you think that was okay too?” I shudder to think that someone is entrusting their loved one to this jerk.

A few miles later I passed Klarence’s house as I made my way up West Virginia Avenue I didn’t drop by. Klarence probably has air conditioning and I doubt I’d ever leave if I went inside. Also, I wouldn’t want Klarence to see me cry.

The climb up Mt. Olivet Street was hard, but I knew it was coming. At the top I turned onto 9th Street to head into Brentwood. A MetroBus beeped at me twice as I began my turn so that he could right hook me without killing me. Don’t you just love polite drivers?

The climb through Brentwood is deceptively hard. I wasn’t deceived though because…

Did you know it was HOT!!!???

Montana led to South Dakota which is normally a cycling hell hole but had no car traffic today. Drivers were probably home because..

It was HOT!!!!

After Michigan I was cruising by Catholic University. Hawaii and its long bumpy hill came next. Normally I stop at the 7-11 at the start of Hawaii but I had plenty of water and didn’t want to fall asleep in its air conditioned splendor. I did not factor in ice. My water bottles were hot. Drinking from them was no fun. I drank anyway.

At the top of Hawaii a stag appeared from the woods on my right. It had an impressive rack. I made some noises so that he wouldn’t jump into me. Death by deer is nothing to joke about.

Back into Northwest we went. I started pouring water over my head. Illinois gave way to Kansas which we took the opposite way than 2007. This was good because Flogini climbed the sucker effortlessly leaving us in severe pain trying to keep up. (The sight of her floating up the hill still pisses me off. How dare she be young and fit. Try it when you are old and fat, honey.)

Northeast is hilly but manageable. I rationed my water as Arkansas, Georgia, Colorado, Missouri and North Dakota went by. The route is so meandering that after 8 times I still have no clue how to get around this section of the city.

My head was pounding. I was out of water. Thankfully I was only a mile or so from Mike and Lisa’s house, the Tacoma rest stop. Normally they have a sign or something welcoming me. This year they had something better. They had ice. YES! They had water. YES! They had WABA’s Adventure Katie. WOW! They had healthy foods. MEH! They had a sprinkler. AWESOME!!!! I picked it up and inverted it over my head. BLISS!!! After discussing Lisa’s serious baseball addiction (the woman need professional help – takes one to know one), I rode off for the last 15 miles.

Alaska led to a fun ride in the shade into Rock Creek Park.On Beach Driver, two riders were stopped trying to figure out whether to turn at an intersection. Follow me! I knew it well. Here, with riding partner Shane lying on the ground in pain, Flogini abandoned us in 2007. Also near here, a 2007 rider later told us she jumped in Rock Creek to cool off. It was that hot.

After Oregon took us northward we headed back south through Chevy Chase DC. Utah and Nevada led us to an abrupt, bumpy painful climb on 36th Street. This was added in 2014 just to piss me off. It succeeded. It’s a gift that keeps on giving too.

Did I mention it was HOT!!!!

Time for some coffee, no? The last rest stop was at a coffee shop. Okay, they had water and healthy food and salt. WABA’s Ursula thinks of everything! And she gives high fives like a maniac. And sometimes looks like she’s coming down a ski jump for no apparent reason.


I did mention that it was HOT, didn’t I?

After topping off my water bottles, I did away with Wisconsin and rode on Nebraska past American University.Then down the long hill on Arizona so that at 58 miles we could climb all the way back up.

Did I mention it was really, really HOT!!!

The climb back up was brutal. Deets does not have super low granny gears so it was just a battle of wills with my lungs and knees on one side and topography on the other. Lungs and knees won but it was a close contest. After New Mexico, the hills continued until we crested Cathedral Heights, so named because it’s up high. How clever!

The last bit was a downhill roll past The Maret School – Go Frogs! – and onto Connecticut Avenue. Once again the traffic was light perhaps because it was HOT!

I was gifted a green turn arrow and blasted left across the Calvert Street Bridge back to the finish and after party at Mellow Mushroom in Adams Morgan.

When I walked in Bicycle Space‘s Phil Koopman greeted me and handed me a big glass of ice water. I nearly cried. The perfect gift!

There was much talk with #bikedc folks with more ice water and iced cold beer. Mr. Felkerino bought the gang a couple of pizzas. Thanks Ed.

So that’s it. 50 States number 8 is in the record books. 400 States. (There is some doubt in my mind. It could be 399 because I think I accidentally missed Vermont one year. Then again, I may have ridden it and gotten confused. 50 states in a day can do that to anybody. Especially when it’s HOT.)

I can’t believe I signed up for another long, event ride next weekend. They don’t have any states either. What a gyp that’s going to be.



Random Thoughts on a Down Day

Taking the rest of the day off

  • It’s hot as blazes outside. And I have ridden 188 miles in the last four days. So I decided to skip my usual night baseball game this week. And I am working from home today as well. I haven’t had a day completely off the bike in two weeks. It’s no wonder that I slept like a log last night. I am still a bit drowsy today, but I will be back at it for tomorrow’s 50 States Ride.

Blog power?

  • The car that was parked illegally for over a week in the bike lane at 420 North Union Street in Old Town was gone yesterday morning. Did somebody read my post? Or is it coincidence?  Either way, good riddence to the scofflaw parker.

Coffee in a tree

  • The forecast calls for horrific heat and humidity. Thank god the last rest stop is at a coffee shop around mile 55. Nothing says relief on a hot summer day like a big hot cup of joe. My friend Ursula will be running the rest stop. The thought of heat and hills and hot coffee gave me a weird dream the other night. (I rarely dream so it has stuck in my head.) I am climbing a tree. And there, sitting on a branch, is Ursula. Drinking hot coffee. She is cheerful. Then she spills the coffee and we mourn the loss.

Keeping my rubber side up

  • A shout out to the bike rider who nearly crashed on the Dyke Marsh bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail yesterday morning. He was passing a runner when he saw me coming toward him. He hit the brakes and his bike went skidding every which way. I was surprised he didn’t go down. His misfortune was a warning to me to take it easy on the wooden bridges which get really slippery when wet. Good thing. There was a pile up on the Trollheim, the boardwalk under the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge, yesterday morning. I wasn’t involved but rode through the crash site about 40 minutes after.

Road rage in North Old Town

  • I was on the receiving end of an act of road rage last night. I was coming to the place in North Old Town where the trail crosses the railroad tracks at an angle on First Street. A driver was approaching from the left. I was braking for the stop sign. About 50 feet before reaching the stop sign, the driver passed in front of me. He honked his horn and started yelling and pointing at me from behind his rolled up windows. He must have been having a bad day. It was weird.

Greetings while you sweat

  • A woman gave me the peace sign after I rode through the Memorial Bridge underpass last night. Then a passing male cyclist said hello. (Odds are it was Chris M. who I never recognize.) Just before the road rage incident two other unknown cyclists said hello. Considering the brutally oppressive heat and humidity, I’d say the people of the Mount Vernon Trail were having and exceptionally cheery day.

Flogini’s healing bike commute

  • My friend Flogini, erstwhile spiritual adviser to the Rootchopper Institute, wrote a cryptic note on her Facebook page yesterday. It was about bike commuting home in the rain and having the rain wash away her heartbreak. She broke up with her boyfriend that morning, on her birthday. I have been in a down mood the last few weeks. Her note was eloquent (not a surprise), and it somehow made me feel better. Whatta ya know about that, Burt? I reached out to her for the first time in months last night.

Impermanent friendship

  • Flogini and I have known each other for over nine years but we don’t hang out together anymore. A couple of years ago she just stopped saying yes when I asked her to get together. After several nos I stopped asking. Then she stopped reading my blog and following me on Facebook. So I unfollowed her. If she read this, she’d almost certainly say “Nonsense. We are still friends,” but her inaction speaks louder than her words. Sometimes life goes “CLANK.”

Any day will do

  • There is no good day to break up a relationship. That is to say, when a relationship is not working out, any day will do. I sympathize with Flogini because I broke up with a girlfriend on her birthday back in my grad school days. It was the right thing to do but the timing was unintentionally unkind. 19 years later she sent me a letter apologizing for breaking up with me! I had to remind her that I was the dumper not the dumpee and that it happened on her birthday. Derp. Time heals all wounds. We are on good terms today.

Trees at the ballpark

  • I hate my birthday. It’s like New Year’s Eve. Expectations are rarely realized. And the next day, if you’re lucky, you wake up another day older. I don’t need to be reminded of the ticking of my life clock. My knees and back and neck and shoulder and bladder remind me of it every day. I just wanted to hide in a hole this year. After the day had passed, I went to a Nats game alone and hid in plain sight. The people in the stands around me were anonymous like the trees I rode by on my bike tour in July.

Charlie’s an angel

  • Finally, a shout out to Kelly, my co-worker who has forsaken bike commuting this summer for baby making. Last night, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Charlotte. Sometimes happiness comes in warm 7.3 pound packages. Congrats to all. (BTW, I lost the friendly, no-awards office pool by a little over 3 hours. Her due date was September 1. When I guessed the 9th, she wanted to burn my desk.)

Old Town Bike Lane Parking Lot

Today I took a picture of the car blocking the Union Street bike lane at 420 N. Union. This bike lane is part of the Mount Vernon Trail and it gets heavy bike traffic at rush hour and on weekends. This car has plenty of company. Often the entire lane is blocked. Sometimes the entire sidewalk is blocked. Sometimes both.

 It’s been there for more than a week. I spotted a parking enforcement officer parked nearby. So I asked him why he doesn’t ticket obvious parking violators such as this.

He told me that they had been routinely issuing $40 tickets to Old Town residents who park in their driveways in such a way as to block the sidewalk and/or the bike lane. According to the officer, residents complain that they are “parking in their driveways” and “have nowhere else to park.”

As you can see from the photo, driveways in this area of Old Town are little more than curb cuts. As such they are  too short to fit most cars. Every house has a garage, but the residents won’t park in them. Of course, there is nothing to prohibit them from parking parallel to the curb like anyone else. In short, their argument is bovine scatology.

But the ticket office at City Hall feels their pain. Their tickets are routinely dismissed. So the ticket officers have stopped ticketing. It was not clear whether the officers were told to stop ticketing or whether they gave up out of frustration. In any case, the officer said, “The city is trying to work something out.”  

What’s to work out? 

The League of American Bicyclists designated Alexandria as a “Bicycling Friendly City.” How many other BFCs allow parking in the bike lane for days at a time? Maybe the League needs to reconsider its award process. Maybe I need to reconsider my membership.


Keep My Boss Happy

The Tour de Fat in DC is a big time fundraiser for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. Last year, it was sunny and hot and Yards Park was filled with people having a great time. Revenues from beer sales were off the charts. This year not so much. It was cold and rainy and not very nice out. It wasn’t all that bad (I was under a tent drawing beers from a keg so what do I know?) but attendance was way down. Unfortunately, so were revenues that go to WABA and other local cycling organizations.

So WABA needs some mid-year love. Wanna get your merit badge for the month? Do what I did: open up your wallet and throw some green WABA’s way. While you’re at it, renew your membership. If you’re not yet a member, now’s a good time to become one.

Why? Bicycling in the DC area is getting better every year. WABA is a huge part of that. If you live in the suburbs and think WABA is irrelevant to you, think again. Changes in DC are being noticed and envied by suburban politicians and their constituents. They can see that DC is booming and that bicycling is a big part of that rebirth. The suburbs are losing young professionals and their families to DC. I heard this with my own ears at a Fairfax County meeting on bike lanes last year. I almost fell over.

Of course, this is not news to me. Every day I park my bike next to my boss’s bike. His bike is a longtail designed to carry two kids on the back. He rides from his home in DC’s Columbia Heights neighborhood to Mundo Verde Public Charter School on the eastern edge of Shaw. Then he rides back through the city to our office in Rosslyn,Virginia across from Georgetown. He loves it. His kids love it. This would simply be impossible without the decades of work of WABA.

So keep my boss happy. Donate to WABA. Here’s the link.