Christmas Comes Late

My kids bought me a gift certificate to Performance Bikes. So I took advantage of the good weather to ride to their Springfield Virginia store.

Here’s a tip for bike store companies: try locating your store in a bike friendly place. To get from my house to the store, I rode across US 1, over to South Kings Highway through some neighborhoods. South King’s highway is hilly and has no shoulder (way to go VDOT) even though there is ample room for one. Riding up a hill on Big Nellie, my recumbent, with cars zooming past at 40 miles per hour is not a lot of fun.

Once over the hill I picked up Telegraph Road which has a bike lane for all of 200 yards. In that 200 yards the bike lane gets spliced by a turn lane. Just a totally stupid design.

Next came hilly Kingstowne. Lovely name. Sounds so regal. It has side paths with are asphalt sidewalks so I rode in the shoulderless street. The roads in Kingstowne feed into the Fairfax County Parkway, I-95 and the Springfield Mall area. There is beaucoup traffic. A very unpleasant place to ride a bike. As I crossed Beulah Street I actually picked up a wide paved shoulder (I knew you could do it VDOT). After a turn this took me all the way to the store which is located in a strip mall with very cramped car parking and no bike parking.

In the store I bought some rain pants because my old Marmot Precip rain pants were shredding. The Precip pants are intended for hiking so it’s not surprising that they wear out when confronted with the friction of a saddle (on a regular bike) and a chain (on a recumbent). I also picked up some chain lube and a bell which will probably go on my Cross Check.

For the ride home I made my way back to Beulah Road and took its bike lane south, around most of Kingstowne and the vast Huntley Meadows Park. (Well worth a visit for a leisurely stroll in the woods and out through a marsh on a wooden deck.) When I picked up Telegraph Road I was now two miles or so south of where I rode earlier. Here the road has been redesigned with bike lanes on both sides. After riding up a hill, I let Big Nellie take off on the downhill. About halfway down the hill I took a right on the new Jeff Todd Way. There is a wide side path but at the speed I was going getting on the sidepath would have required a 90 degree right turn through a curb cut. Instead I maintained my speed and stayed in the street.  Jeff Todd goes up and down. On the downs I was going 30 miles per hour, nearly the speed of the cars. On the ups, I was crawling. The right lane seems to be wider than usual and the passing cars gave me plenty of room.

The rest of my ride involved re-crossing US 1, riding to Mount Vernon, and then home via the Mount Vernon Trail.

So my little errand covered 22 1/2 miles. Just the thing for my last day of staycation. Tomorrow it’s bike commute number 1 for 2016.

 

I Bike and I Vote

Today was a pretty nice day to be a bike commuter. On the way to work Little Nellie asked me to take her picture at Dyke Marsh. So I did.

Foggy day on #mvt #dykemarsh

I don’t remember much about getting to work. That’s a good sign though. It means I was in my trance.

My body hasn’t adjusted to standard time yet. I woke up at 5:25 and my body said, “Let’s get going.” This meant that I could leave work a little early. About a mile from the office I spotted the Washington Monument bathed in a faint red glow so I stopped and took another picture.

DC aglow #mvt

I wasn’t planning on voting today. I am really, really sick of politics. And my area of Fairfax County is so Democratic that most of the local election results are a fait accompli. During the day, however, I read Bree’s blog post about biking to the polls. It’s important for everyday cyclists like me to show up at the polls, not so much for our vote, but simply to wave our political flag. This year it was a way to demonstrate my support for the brand new bicycle lanes on Parkers Lane which happens to be where the school that houses my polling place is.

One nice residual effect of the bicycle lanes is that drivers are going a lot slower. Unfortunately, one driver, apparently afraid he wouldn’t get to vote, came flying into the school parking lot as I was leaving. My vote won’t matter a whole lot to me if I am dead. It’s going to take more than bike lanes to change the culture in Fairfax County.