Bike Me Out to the Protest

Where should I ride today? is a question I ask myself often on the weekends. After riding 150 miles during my workday commutes, I tend to sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays. When I awaken, it’s too late to drive somewhere far for a pleasant ride in the country.

During baseball season, if the schedule permits, I ride to Nationals Park. It’s about 16 flat miles including the first 12 miles of my bike commute. I get to use the bike valet and relax in the sun with a cold beverage and a snack or two. Blissful. (To borrow a word from one of my favorite bloggers.)

Alas, opening day is still more than two months away. For years cynics said that Washington DC could not support a baseball team because it’s favorite sport was politics. In that spirit, I decided to ride to today’s somewhat spontaneous protest of the administrations ban on immigrants from certain predominantly Muslim countries.

After riding to the cellphone store for a tweak to my phone, Deets and I headed for the White House. With temperatures in the mid-40s and sidewinds, the normal weekend mob on the Mount Vernon Trail took the day off. In fact, other than Sunday brunchers in Old Town, I was mostly riding alone. Until I got to within a few blocks of the White House, that is. I was in the 15th Street cycletrack stopped at a red light. There were scores of people coming toward me from Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue. As I progressed up 15th, I could see crowds of people coming toward me on each side street I crossed.

I took a left into the car-free plaza that runs in front of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue from 15th Street to 17th Street. I could see what looked like a very loud, very large crowd. It was too dense to walk my bike through but it was only about 10,000 people. It looked like a lot more because the people were hemmed in by the temporary fencing protecting the inauguration viewing stand that had yet to be dismantled.

I took a couple of pictures and doubled back to 15th. I duck walked Deets to H Street and then back toward Lafayette Park across the plaza from the White House. Hundreds of people were streaming toward me from all directions. Then I heard a familiar voice call my name. It was Ted, a #bikedc and #fridaycoffeeclub friend. He was standing at the curb trying to get a hold of Jean, his S.O., who was somewhere in the now rapidly growing crowd. We talked for about 15 minutes. He introduced me to his friend Hector who is a photojournalist.

After a brief chat we went our separate ways. I waded into Lafayette Park. It was now on the back side of the protest crowd. The crowd was on the eastern end of the White House plaza having been denied access to the space on the western end (nearest the Oval Office and the president’s residence.) From my vantage point it didn’t seem like the protest was going to further develop so I made my way west through a steady stream of people arriving. As I mounted my bike, I said hi to Joe, another photographer (and author), who was walking toward the festivities with camera in hand.

For a change of pace, I rode home via the Mall and the Memorial Bridge. I took the inland route past the vast Pentagon parking lost which were being treated with brine in advance of tonight’s inclement weather.

The ride home was peaceful. I through in a few hills just to goose my heart rate. When I got home, I checked my phone. I was shocked at how many people I knew were in the crowd only a few yards from me in Lafayette Park. And I was doubly shocked to see how large the crowd grew. I left the White House and marched to the Trump Hotel and then on to the Capitol.

So the weekend ended. Tomorrow I work from home so that I can let the plumber in. It’s just a coincidence there may be unpleasant conditions for bike commuting.

I wonder if there will be a protest next weekend. It would be nice if there weren’t one but my sense is that this is the new normal. What bizarre times.

 

October on a Roll

I am having a pretty darn good weekend. Saturday I rode the Seagull Century. It was supposed to rain all day, but we only had a sprinkle now and then. The overcast skies and light winds along with the impossibly level terrain made for a nearly effortless 96 mile day.

On the drive home, I learned that it rained all day in DC only 120-ish miles away. The Nationals-Dodgers playoff baseball game was postponed until Sunday. My Twitter feed said that because of the rescheduling tickets were available at 10:30 Sunday morning.

After a really deep sleep, I woke up late. I bought a ticket for a seat in the left field grandstand. With winds blowing hard from the direction of DC, I decided to go multimodal. I drove 8 miles, parked my car, and rode the last 7 to the ballpark. I could have driven farther but the Army 10-miler (running) road race had forced several road closures.

My ride to DC was hard because of a relentless strong headwind. I wore my baseball cap instead of a helmet. Crossing the Potomac River on the 14th Street bridge, I tucked my cap into my jacket. The crosswind was so strong I had to lean into the wind to stay upright. Lordy!

Once across the river I practically glided to the ballpark.

My 2015 tour-mate Kevin pulled into the Bike Valet behind me. Good to see him.

The game was a blast. It was my first ever playoff game. The ballpark was packed. Fans were given red towels to wave (the Nationals colors are red, white, and sometimes blue). I didn’t get one. Sad face. I mentioned this to the fans next to me. A woman sitting behind me gave me hers. Woot!

We spent about half the game on our feet cheering and clapping and towel waving. The howling wind made for an adventurous game for outfielders. Somehow Jose Lobaton, the light hitting back up catcher who was subbing for his Venezuelan countryman, the injured Wilson Ramos, smashed a three run home run into the wind. Lobeeeeee!!! Pandemonium!

We won.

I left with a sore throat from screaming.

At the Bike Valet, I ran into Kevin again, then Ed and Mary showed up. Mary rode to Harpers Ferry the other day. Then she ran a marathon. And rode home. She was a tad tired. (I’d be dead.) Go Mary!

Then Lauren and Klarence showed up. I only see them at baseball games these days. They seem so happy together. Klarence and I did our traditional bone crushing hug thing. After chatting for a bit we parted but not without another BCH. Klarence leads the league in BCH per nine innings. Suffice it to say, I miss Klarence big time.

The ride back to the car was literally a breeze. The nasty winds had calmed but what wind remained was at my back for five miles.

Today I slept in. The temperature has finally dropped into the autumn norm. The air is dry. It’s perfect sleeping weather. I spent the morning reading four days’ worth of newspapers and doing all the crosswords and sudokus. I am the newspaper puzzlator!

As I write I am listening to the Nats-Dodgers game on the radio because my TV plan doesn’t get the MLB TV network. As someone who grew up listening to baseball games at night on the radio, I feel like a kid again.

The weekend wasn’t all perfection though. After I changed the tires on Deets, I noticed that the odometer was being stingy. My normal bike commute route is 29.5 miles but the new tires were only getting credit for 29.

So I reset the wheel size. In the process I learned that, unlike my other bike computers, this one won’t allow me to re-enter the 3,045 miles I had deleted in the reset process. Boo. Cateye Urban Wireless. Don’t buy this bike computer.

Also, I pulled out my cold weather bike gear. Wind pants. Lobster gloves. Tights. Ear band.

Noooo!

Okay, autumn has its moments. I promise to enjoy them. With any kind of luck, I’ll get to see another playoff game. Woot!

How was your weekend?

 

 

Random Sunday

  • I rode to the Nationals game after work Friday night. It was suffocatingly hot. The Nats lost to the lowly Braves. I went alone. I had a great time.
  • An usher ejected  a fan for heckling the Braves left fielder. The fan got his money’s worth. He certainly gave me a few laughs. Well played, dude.
  • An Atlanta player hit a home run that landed about four seats away from me in the row behind mine. It bounced off a fan and the rebound went to a guy in my row about six seats away.
  • A mom brought three kids to the game. They were sitting in the row in front of me. She went to the concession stand. When she came back and found out that a home run landed two seats behind her she couldn’t believe her bad luck. The kids thought it was pretty funny though.
  • I had the seat at the end of the row. Home run guy and his buddies wore me out with their pee runs. Never buy seat 1 or seat 20.
  • Another home run landed in the seats a section to my left. The fan caught it on the fly. Barehanded.
  • I almost caught a t-shirt during the t-shirt toss promotion but another fan got two hands on it just as it was about to hit my hand. She paid for the shirt: her chest hit the railing in the middle of the aisle. Ow.
  • The ride home was aided by post-game fireworks. Less car traffic means better biking. Boom!
  • The ride through Old Town Alexandria at 11:30 pm was scary. The sidewalks were full of loud, drunken idiots. I assumed that drivers were similarly inebriated. I was extremely careful and am thankful that I made it through in one piece. Of course, the Alexandria police (who spend their time ticketing early morning bike commuters) were nowhere to be found.
  • I have decided to call the Cross Check Deets. After Joshua Deets, the scout for the Lonesome Dove cattle drive. He is described by Capt Augustus McCrae as “Cheerful in all weathers. Never shirked a task. Splendid behavior.” I hope my Deets is as noble.
  • After a year of light riding, I will be using Deets for commuting starting tomorrow. The rack has bigger tubes than the racks on my other three bikes so I had to adjust the hardware on my panniers. I test rode the bike with panniers for the first time. My heels had plenty of clearance so tomorrow’s commute should be sweet.
  • This morning I went for a short ride down to Woodlawn by way of Mount Vernon on Deets. Every time I stopped the oppressive heat and humidity sucked the sweat out of every pore in my skin. It was gross. There will be better days for weekend excursions. Maybe a hike next weekend. It’s been too long.