Deja Vu All Over Again

It’s only my fourth bike commute of the year and it’s already getting repetitive. Good thing I have only 7 months and 1 week to go.

Today was an especially good day because the sinus problems that I had yesterday were nearly cleared up. I used a nasal rinse gizmo (mine has a filter so I can use tap water) patterned after a neti pot twice last night and once this morning. And I took vitamin I to reduce swelling. Success.

So today my head didn’t hurt, the sun came up and it was beautiful. See for yourself.

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

And just like last winter the untreated wooden bridges on the Mount Vernon Trail were icy menaces. I was warned by the hoppy runner who was turning around at the bump out where I took the sunrise picture. I was very careful to ride in a straight line and made the crossing of the Dyke Marsh bridge with my rubber side down.

North of Old Town I bypassed the bridges on the river side of the power plant, but decided to take a chance on the beaver bridge just north of Slaters Lane. A walker on the bridge heard me approach and waved me off. I dismounted and immediately realized that the bridge was very slippery. So slippery in fact that I could see two cyclists recovering from a crash. It took me few minutes to walk the football field long bridge. I saw several fresh gashes in the wood decking, most likely from pedals. I actually had to grab hold of the chain that acts as a railing along the side of the bridge because my feet were sliding out from under me. Several cyclists rode by. I didn’t hear any crashes. I don’t know how.

The concrete bridges near the airport were icy but passable. By the time I made it to the wooden Trollheim bride that passes beneath the TR Bridge into DC the ice on it had mostly melted. I rode across without incident.

It was 55  degrees when I started the ride home. It was downright pleasant so the squirrels in my head could run freely. Thoughts bounced around. Then the trance came. Big Ed blew by me without realizing it was me. He nearly took out a ninja runner in the process. I cracked up. So much for that trance.

I rode into Old Town and my old friend was back. The car illegally parked blocking the bike lane at 420 North Union Street was in its usual scofflaw position. I called the police and asked them to ticket it. Again. If this keeps up, I may ask for an accounting of the number of times police responded to my complaints, how often a ticket was issued, how many fines were collected, and such. What really gets me is the fact that nobody else on this block parks like this. They used to but stopped. It takes only one entitled millionaire to ruin a bike lane. Lest we forget, Alexandria is a certified Bicycle Friendly City.

Once I cleared Old Town and headed down the trail in the dark the trance came back. I honestly lost track of where I was on the trail. I must have ridden two miles before I had that how-did-I-get-here moment.





Latest Sunrise, No – Rise of the Ninjas, Yes

I thought today was the latest sunrise of the year but I got it wrong. We’ve reached the earliest sunset. Sunrises get later until the end of the year. Yeah well. Here’s the picture I took of The Mule at Dyke Marsh on the Mount Vernon Trail.

On the ride home, I nearly hit 5 ninjas – walkers and runners wearing absolutely no reflective or light colored clothing. In addition to it being too dark to see them, they are also backlit by car headlights.Good luck you clueless ninjas. I hope I don’t hurt myself when I clobber one of you.


It’s a Wonderful Cake

The day began with a bike commute into DC for Friday Coffee Club. Today we celebrated its fourth anniversary.  The founding members were three randonneurs Ed (a.k.a. Felkerino, Mr. Mary) and Mary (a.k.a. Coffeeneur, Gypsybug, Mrs. Ed), and Lane (currently in an undisclosed location), along with Brian (DBA Gear Prudence), and Lisa (with whom I’ve done many, many rides). I knew Ed and Mary through Flickr but Mary got me onto Twitter and from there to Friday Coffee Club sometime in late winter/early spring of 2012.

Swings House of Caffeine (at 17th and G Streets NW) is the scene of the crime. On Fridays the place is packed with bike commuters. The promise of cake made for a big turnout today. I had a cake biopsy as Ed was conserving the remnants of the once mighty cake for late arrivals. I suppose we can call this Felkerino’s birthday cake dichotomy.

I didn’t get to talk to half the people there including a newcomer. I am getting worse and worse at greeting newcomers which is disappointing. When I first started to go, I fought my introversion and made it a point to introduce myself.  Probably doesn’t matter; I’d forget their name anyway.

Late last night I was invited to a happy hour that began at 4:30 on Capitol Hill. Too early for me. Around noon, I was invited to another happy hour at 5:30 in Northeast. (Can’t we spread all this socializing out a bit people?) I really wanted to go to this one to congratulate a friend, who I will call Clarence. Clarence recently passed an important professional exam. The idea of riding across town at rush hour, then hanging out in the city and then riding 15 miles home in the cold and dark was not appealing. I thought I could ride home, grab dinner, then drive into the city, but I left work late, totally screwing up the timing. So I made my apologies to Clarence. She told me to have a safe ride home.

(On the way home two things happened that were disturbing. First, I passed workers setting up a boom to contain oil that had been spilled somehow into the Potom24840585465_66664cdc2d_mac River It’s a mystery how the spill occurred but it is already affecting waterfowl. About eight miles later on a dark section of the trail I nearly took out a ninja. The man was walking toward me on the left side of the trail, my side. He appeared in the edges of my headlight’s circle of light. I went to pass on the left, he stepped left. I went right. He went right. I nearly stopped as he hopped off the trail. “Excuse me,” he said without a hint of sarcasm. I stifled a “What the fuck are your DOING?!!!” and continued on my way. Damned good thing I didn’t have anything to drink.)

I owe you one, Clarence. (Again.) Maybe a mulled wine, heavy on the cinnamon and light on the cloves.

So proud of you.






Let’s Play “Was It Worth It?”

Today’s bike commute was an exercise in serial stupidity. I felt like I was trapped in a video game populated by idiots.

I was headed to DC, riding along Morningside Lane, a shoulderless two lane road about 2 miles from my house. For cars, this road leads leads to the GW Parkway; for bicyclists, it leads to Park Terrace Drive. I am on this street for all of 200 yards. I was rolling along and heard cars coming up from behind. I stuck my left arm out to indicate that I was going to take a left turn. The driver of car behind me immediately stepped on the gas and passed me on the left, exactly where I had indicated I was going. Somehow this driver thought my hand signal meant “Kill me over there.”  Endangering my life saved the driver at most ten seconds. Was it worth it?

I stopped to take in the sunrise. You never know when it’s going to be your last.


I headed to Friday Coffee Club. Afterward, I roll west on G Street, a one way street that goes past the World Bank and through the campus of George Washington University. As I was about to start out, a sedan came zooming onto G Street from 17th Street. It careened down the street swerving around other cars to get to a right turn just before the light turned green. The driver nearly hit two cars in the process and saved himself one minute at most. Was it worth it?

A few blocks later a short elderly woman (Think “Where’s the beef?”) was making her way down G. She could barely see over the steering wheel. She decided to turn right into one of the garage entrances to a World Bank building. She didn’t bother to signal and nearly took out two bicyclists. Was the parking space worth two lives?

Our next contestant was a DC bound bike commuter on the narrow path on the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge. I was heading outbound. There was a strong, gusting cross wind. As I usually do, I wave DC-bound riders to pass me then I stop and hug the rail so they have plenty of room. (By the way, very few say “Thanks” which really pisses me off.) Today I waved a cyclist to come on by me. He was looking up river at the Georgetown waterfront. He had a wool hat on and it was pulled over his ears.  He kept coming. On my side of the path. Straight at me. I yelled “Wake up!” He kept coming. I yelled again. About ten yards before hitting me, he turned and saw me and swerved around me. I could see wires extending from beneath his cap. He had earplugs in and didn’t hear me. Was the view and the tune worth it?

At the Intersection of Doom, I normally have at least one close encounter with large deadly metal objects each day. Today did not disappoint. Although the light had just turned red (giving me a walk signal), the driver of car turning from the I-66 off ramp decided to turn right without stopping, the better to save a minute on the way to work. As I have learned to do, I delayed crossing to avoid getting hit. I wonder if the driver even thought about the fact that she could have killed me. Was my life worth one minute of her time?  


Our evening contestants included two ninjas. These fine folks wore dark clothing and nothing reflective and no lights as they ran along the Mount Vernon Trail. Was the money you saved on a blinky lights worth it?


Finally, just south of the Beltway, the Mount Vernon Trail takes a 90 degree right and turn across South Street, the access road from Washington Street to two big apartment buildings. A left turning motorist (sounds so refined) didn’t bother to signal saving at least 10 seconds of bulb life. Had I not anticipated his stupidity I’d have been t-boned. Was the bulb life worth mine?

Sadly, these near misses are pretty much typical for my commute. I am very much aware that most of my #bikedc friends have it much worse since they are on city streets for their commutes. I have managed to survive another week of “Was It Worth It?”

Pass the wine.


Buzzing Amid the Gloom

Last night I took my daughter out to the new District Taco in Old Town Alexandria. This place seems to be very popular with the #bikedc crowd. Unfortunately they do not yet sell cervezas at this location. I really wanted to try their fish tacos because my #bikedc friends rave about them. Sadly, they do not sell fish tacos on Mondays. I’ll just have to go back.

The day after the acupuncture session I was surprised to find that the pain in my right triceps is still gone and my range of motion is normal. Pretty darn  good if you ask me.

I rode Little Nellie to work. When I started a misty rain was just ending. It was well before dawn. Not exactly the kind of weather to lift my mood. I only saw two people on the Mount Vernon Trail. One was someone I have seen before, maybe even at Friday Coffee Club. I’ll have to get his name because after passing me he seemed to fall into the same pace as mine. As it usually does, the ride did my head a world of good. Throughout the ride I tried to just let my mind drift instead of thrashing through the details of life. This is a challenge because if I succeeded at such an early hour, I’d fall asleep. Once I reached the Intersection of Doom I had to get my head back into the game lest I be run over by the motorized mayhem.

When I got to work, my right foot felt normal. After a few hours it reverted to something between numbness and buzzing. I still have a few days to go before passing judgment on the efficacy of my treatment yesterday but at least there is change.

The ride gome was a fogfest. For the first mile on the Mount Vernon Trail, I could barely see ten feet in front of me with the fog and headlights. It seemed like I was alone on the trail then suddenly NINJAS!  An elderly (okay, wait, they were probably my age) couple was walking side by side. I hit my brakes and swerved for the grass. I stopped short of the grass and only a couple of feet behind them.

“WHOA! I can’t see you.” Brakes squealing.

I swerved around them thankful not to be in a heap of bike and bodies. The rest of the ride home was in solitude. It was pretty freaking  nice for late December.

South of the Beltway I was cruising along when I saw something surreal ahead. It was the most intense headlight I have ever seen on a bike. I am pretty sure it was a bike light or maybe I was having a near death experience.

I arrived home with singed retinas. I am looking forward to the 60 degree weather forecasted for tomorrow. I can live without the forecasted thunderstorms. Christmas Eve in DC.

Ninjas and the Golden Years

It’s been a while since I had a close encounter with a ninja so I suppose I was overdue. It was Friday night and well after sunset. I was riding south on the Mount Vernon Trail. As I approached the Dyke Marsh bridge, the headlights of the cars on the adjacent George Washington Memorial Parkway were shining directly into my eyes.  Since I was riding The Mule, I dipped my head so that the visor on my helmet would shade my eyes from the glare. Then I saw something move just ahead of me on the left side of the trail. It was a woman in a dark red sweat suit facing me. The only reason I saw her was the car lights reflecting off the white stripes on the side of her outfit. I started to brake and immediately in front of me was a man in a matching suit. His was black or dark blue. He was turning, doing a button hook in the lane only a few feet in front of me.  I saw the stripes on his suit.


That’s what he said. In addition to having situational and sartorial awareness he was loquacious! I snapped on my brakes and he pivoted and stepped to the other side of the path away from me. My left foot briefly touched ground as I slowed to a near stop. Alarmed, I said something to the effect of “What are you doing!” In retrospect, I am pretty impressed that I didn’t blurt out a stream of f-bombs. There just wasn’t time. He and Red Sweat Suit staggered off up the path.

Rather than confront the Sweat Suits I continued on home.

It was an annoying end to a pretty good day.

In the morning, I went to the second anniversary Friday Coffee Club. Even without many of the regulars, the joint was jumping. Word must have gotten out that there was going to be a cake. Bike commuters are a lot like graduate students; they’ll do anything for free food. Add coffee and you’ve got yourselves some vampires at a blood bank.

I went five for five this week, commuting on all five days. Okay, I cheated a bit. On Tuesday, I drove to a car dealership in Arlington. I rode from there to work, about 12 miles shorter than my normal commute each way. Still, I managed to get in 120 miles with my commuting.

Another significant off-the-bike event was the two-day retirement seminar I attended. I’ve been eligible to retire from the government for a few months so I need to get my ducks in a row.  For many reasons I will continue to work until the end of September. Sometime this summer I will re-assess my situation.  As it stands right now, I’m getting paid to do research and ride a bike along the Potomac River 30 miles per day. Not a bad gig, if you ask me.

The retirement seminar was pretty depressing. There’s a fairly decent chance that I will end up old, blind, toothless, demented, and alone. Longevity is way overrated, if you ask me.

My plan for my final year of life is simple. When I sense the end is near, I’ll buy an electric assist tadpole trike. I’ll hang two panniers off the rack on the back.  I’ll fill one with clothes and bike stuff and the other with cash, marijuana (it will be legal and it weighs very little), cigarettes, and fine scotch whiskey and head for the sun. I’ll probably need some sort of navigation aid, but I figure Google will have that figured out by 2020.

I’ll die in a collision with a ninja outside a retirement community near Pie Town, New Mexico.  

When it comes to retirement, you’ve got to have a plan.

The Return of the Ninjas

Ah, the end of daylight savings time. It was so great to ride to work in the daylight with the warm sun and a steady tailwind.  Wait! Let’s start over. It was flippin’ cold out there this morning. The relentless headwind was not so great either. It took me an entire 15 seconds to shake the fog of sleep out of my head. Sheesh.

The Mule was put back in action today thanks to a new seatpost binder bolt from Bicycle Space. Mechanic to the stars Paul was concerned that it might be too short but that’s probably because the bolt I broke and showed him might have been too long. Everything’s relative, in it’s own way, because Ray Stevens said so. Or maybe not.

It was cold on the river. A gaggle of geese was making a racket near Belle Haven Park just to stay warm. A lone cormorant swam silently out into the river looking like a sub at periscope depth. Ducks were quacking their fool heads off in the marsh north of Old Town.  It made me wonder why cormorants don’t get with the program.

I managed to get to work only ten minutes late, which was about the amount of time it took to put on and take off all the damned layers of clothing I wore. I wasn’t particularly aerodynamic but I felt like it when a guy rode by me with his bike jacket flapping in the wind like a flag in a hurricane.

The bike rack at the office was nearly full. I was shocked. I have no idea what happened. Maybe I work in a building with lots of Aussies who think it’s early summer.  Nobody said G’Day to me so maybe I’m wrong.

I left the office just as the sun was setting. Within two blocks I was shoaled. Shoaling is not allowed in Rosslyn (because I said so).  If you get to the circle of death first, I will ride on your cold, lifeless, shoaling, loathsome body.  And then The Mule will kick you in the head for good measure.

The Mount Vernon Trail was much busier in the evening. Nothing says “Lets go for a walk in our dark clothes, honey” like a cold dark night on a narrow trail with headlights backlighting everything. It was like a ninja convention. Adding to the fun, about a quarter of the cyclists coming toward me had no lights. Tonight, I will have nightmares that I am going to end up in a heap with my front wheel lodged up some ninja’s ass like its a bikeshare docking station.

South of Old Town I encountered my first deer of the rut. It was a young deer, perhaps a year or two old. Probably a doe. She stood on the left side of the trail, facing the trail, seemingly preparing to bolt across my path as I approached. I turned on my high beam. She didn’t even flinch. Until I was 15 yards away. Then she bolted. Thankfully, she turned as she did because she ran up the trail in the direction I was coming from. Deer ninjas are creepy.

Tomorrow, I get to ride to the polls. I love standing in line with my helmet on. Makes my neighbors think they are in line with a weirdo. They’d be right.