Coffee is Dangerous

I was riding home as usual on the Mount Vernon Trail. In Old Town Alexandria the trail merges with a bike lane on Union Street. At 426 North Union I left the bike lane to avoid the rear of a car parked perpedicular to the curb. Then I came to a full stop at two stop signs. Then I approached the busy interesection with King Street.

I came to a full stop at the stop sign as two pedestrians slowly crossed the street in the crosswalk in front of me. Take. Your. Time. People.

Then I crossed King. Just beyond the next crosswalk a car was parked illegally blocking the right lane. My lane. It had its flashers on (making it clear to anyone who might care that he was parking illegally) and its white back up lights were illuminated. I approached with extreme care not knowing what the driver was going to do. Cars were legally parked at the curb in front of the Starbucks across from the illegal car. Two cars were coming toward me. Their headlights were shining directly in my eyes. Because of the illegally parked car I had only a few feet of roadway to use.

As I passed the illegal car, I turned to look at the driver. The headlight on my helmet lit up his face and hands as he played with the cellphone in his hand. Typical.

I turned my head forward and there was a pedestrian. Mid block. Dressed in dark clothing. About one foot in front of my front tire. She was holding a Starbucks cup. She shrieked and quickstepped. I have no idea how I did not hit her.


Starbucks addicts do this sort of thing routinely at King and Union. Mrs. Rootchopper told me last night that about a mile away Starbucks addicts  dash across the street in mid block during rush hour to get their caffeine fix at a Starbucks on North Washington Street, a major commuting route for cars and buses.



Dead Beavers Tell No Lies

I was back in the saddle – er, foam pad – for an early morning departure. I haven’t been to Friday Coffee Club in a long time so I was looking forward to it. It was nice of Mother Nature to give Big Nellie and me a tailwind assist. The miles seemed to fly by. I spotted a garbage bag next to the trail just south of Belle Haven Park. It turned out to be a beaver all balled up. I think he was dead. He certainly wasn’t looking very spunky.

Since I left earlier than usual, most of my regulars weren’t out yet.  So the critters kept me entertained. Near the power plant another critter caught my eye. It was a black snake coiled up in the middle of the trail. I think he’s with the beaver in critter heaven.

Near the airport I cruised by Trash Walker, my first regular of the day. Trash Walker hoofs it along the trail and picks up trash as he goes. And he always waves and says “Hello”.  He didn’t get the memo about crumpy-assed bike commuters like me.

The early morning brings out the Lancelots, the bike riders who have delusions of cycling grandeur. (Digression No. 1: Look people, you’re on a bike trail with hardly any hills. You don’t look badass passing a bike commuter carrying 30 pounds of crap on his recumbent. You are pathetic. Chill.)  I came off the first of two flyover bridges at National Airport at considerable speed. Three cyclists coming toward me decided to pass a walker just as I came upon them. (Digression No. 2: The levers on your handlebars activate your brakes. Don’t pull out into the path of an on-coming bike when you don’t have to. Wait your turn, just as you would when you’re driving your car. Otherwise I will have to use the bicycle death ray on you. You’ve been warned.)

I rode into the city with two other commuters. At the Jefferson Memorial I was overtaken by a vast bicycle commuting conspiracy. This included one of my regulars, the guy with the mountain bike with slick tires and aerobars who looks slow but goes lickety split.

Crossing Maine Avenue, French Braid Girl came past. Normally I see her four miles closer to home, so I had a good idea how early I was. As I passed the Garbage TruckWashington Monument, a bike came from my right and a runner came from my left. Somehow we avoided a calamitous collision. At Constitution Avenue the light was green (which never happens without a long wait) making up for all of life’s early morning injustices. Soon, another injustice appeared in the 15th Street Cycletrack.

At Swings, the weekly meeting of the WAAMCCD (Washingtion Area All Male Cycling Coffee Drinkers) was in session. Fortunately, we were soon joined by Kate Drake, fresh from her vacation in the high Sierras, and her friend Kate. New Kate makes the fifth cycling Kate that I know in DC, and sixth overall. The three Lisas  (all local) need to up their game.

Out of the garage I bolted into the bike lane on Lynn Street, kinda cutting off a cyclist. My bad. I caught all the lights and made for the bike trail. Two cyclists on the sidewalk to my right passed me unexpectedly on my right. No warning. Thanks, guys. (Please see discussion of the bicycle death ray, above.)  Down on the Mount Vernon Trail there were all sorts of walkers milling about. I came to a stop until they finished milling. All the way to the airport the wind was gusting into my face. A bike commuter passed my and said “This sucks!” Dude, try it in February. This is positively lovely. Takes the edge off the heat and humidity.

Once south of the airport the trees gave me relief from the headwind. Big Nellie and I tootled home. We stopped to take a picture of the beaver. He was still dead.

Kate Drake asked me about the bald eagle nests. I put her off coming down to see them. The trees have made them very hard to find.  It’s a shame. I should have put together a bald eagle ride earlier in the spring.

Tomorrow is the Tour de Fat.It’s a big party with bikes, acid rock, live nude girls, and beer.  Oh, and it’s family friendly. I know this because every ten minutes somebody tweets or posts something on Facebook about it. (If you are fat, they let you in for free, I hear.) I was tempted to go for the entire event which lasts something like six hours. I can do six hours of bikes or beer or acid rock or live nude girls. (Okay, I am kidding about the live nude girls. There will be at least 1,200 Kates in attendance so that counts for something.) Owing to my age and marital status, I decided I’d go for one hour. My plan is to ride to the Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park to see my friend Lisa’s Japanese taiko drum group at 2 then ride to the Tour de Fat.  I hope they have some beer left.