Friday Pandemic Club

As long time readers of this pathetic blog know, Friday Coffee Club is a thing. Every Friday before work, bike commuters would assemble at M. E. Swings house of caffeine on G Street NW in Washington DC for a dose of friendship with a side of coffee. About a year and a half ago, Coffee Club was suspended and Swings suspended operations at it’s G Street location, because no one was commuting to the nearby office buildings.

Coffee Club regulars continued to meet in smaller gatherings. I attended a few, one on Capitol Hill and a few more in Old Town Alexandria. The vibe somehow was not the same.

Earlier this week, Felkerino, one of the co-founders of Friday Coffee Club, posted a picture of the G Street location, open at long last. This morning, without any announcement, the Caffienators assembled. I woke up extra early and rode to DC in the dark. The cool dry air begged for warmer clothing so I broke out a vest that has all kinds of reflective material on the back,

The sun was just beginning to rise as I approached Old Town Alexandria on the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River.

Into a headwind The Mule and I continued the trek. After about 80 minutes we arrived at Swings at 7:30 only to see this sign.

Derp.

There was a large plastic bag on the ledge next to the front door. After a few minutes an employee came along grabbed the bag and went inside. As it turns out the bag contained the day’s shipment of pastries. And to think I could have robbed the Glendale train and made off with the gold!

Soon, I was joined by Man-about-Town, Joe Flood. As always, Joe who is a skilled writer and photographer, made for good company.

Joe Flood and his steed

The shop’s lights went on and I went inside for a jumbo High Mountain drip coffee and a blueberry scone. Back outside Joe had been joined by Jeanne and we were up and running. Soon more folks arrived, eventually including Felkerino and his partner in caffeinated cycling Coffeeneur. The rest of the crowd included Rudi (who was actually once in a Dunkin Donuts TV commercial), Peter, Steve C., Steve O. Leslie, and Ricki.

Friday Coffee Club in between the women’s arrivals and departures

Ricki told us all about his recent bike racing mishap in Vermont. He came bombing down a hill carrying too much speed to negotiate a turn. He had a choice between crashing in the gravel on the road or taking his chances with the bushes on the outside of the bend. He took door number 2 and went careening down a six foot embankment, ending pathetically in a small pond. (His bike was unharmed; it had the good sense to land in some tall grass next to the water.)

As he was soon to learn, Ricky had broken his left clavicle during the crash. (He will have surgery next week. He should be back to what passes for normal in a couple of months.) He was actually fortunate to be conscious (and not underwater). He was out of sight of the road and could hear riders riding past above him. Soaking wet and beginning to chill, he cried out for help and some riders came to his assistance. They found a house nearby where they could leave his bike. An ambulance came and carted him off to urgent care.

After Coffee Club Peter and I rode over to the White House plaza. This is a short stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. As I had done a dozen times this summer, I rode through the security bollards and headed for Lafayette Park. A Secret Service officer on a bike came rolling toward me and sternly told me to leave as the plaza was closed. I think he was upset that his colleagues stood by as I rolled through the security perimeter. All in all, I am glad I didn’t wear my “Stop the Steal” t-shirt. (Just kidding.)

Peter and I split up a couple of blocks later. I could hear him yelling, “You’ll never take me alive, coppers!” as he rode up 16th Street.

On the way home I had a chance to ride through the splendid extension of the 15th Street cycletrack. This two-way bicycle lane continues the cycletrack from Pennsylvania Avenue at the Ellipse to Constitution Avenue. Car traffic is unlikely to be affected by the change as the cycletrack displaces the visual blight of a dozen vendor trucks that sold tourist crap. (There are still scores of them all over the city.) The city also rehabbed the roadbed, removing some nasty moguls just before Constitution. In the days ahead, ‘need to install flexposts or bollards to deter drivers from parking and driving in the cycletrack.

in addition to the police at the plaza there were beaucoup police amassing where Pennsylvania Avenue dead ends at 15th. I had assumed that the police presence was some kind of practice for events connected to tomorrow’s 20th anniversary of 9/11. It turned out to be just normal (three motorcycles, four or five SUVs and squad cars, and a helicopter) security for the President (and First Lady) who were doing some eventing in town. No worries, the presidential motorcade also includes a dozen armored and armed SUVs.

I rode home across the 14th Street Bridge. Each year around 9/11 someone puts small American flags on the railing along the bridge’s side path. They must work quickly because I don’t remember seeing the flags on my way into town.

Flags on the 14th Street Bridge. Pentagon at far upper right.

The ride home was a breeze. Literally, as you can see from the flags, I made the 12 miles without effort.

How nice it feels to have Friday Coffee Club back on my calendar. It’s a great little tradition. Speaking of traditions, tomorrow is my 13th 50 States Ride. It’s a non-competitive ride on open streets through all eight wards of DC. It was designed by masochists who managed to find every stinking hill in town. Only a fool would do it more than once.

You’re looking at him.

When I woke up today, my 50 States posse was just three fools: Kevin W., Michael B., and me. As the day wore on, several more people reached out to join us in the 60-odd miles of two-wheeled urban insanity. We will do ur best to avoid ponds.

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