No way it was January

I slept fitfully last night. The wind was howling from midnight to 2:30. Just when I thought I was in the clear, WHOOSH!!!

Today was about 30 degrees colder than yesterday. The winds had changed direction and was now coming from the northwest. This meant that my morning commute would be every bit as difficult as my ride home last night.  I rode Big Nellie for the last bike commute of the month. The fairing on the front makes a decent wind shield. Despite the headwind I broke 30 miles per hour on the Park Terrace Drive downhill.

Coming through Dyke Marsh I had to stop again for the sunrise. My name is Rootchopper and I’m a Dawnaholic.

Dyke Marsh Sunrise

There was no use trying to go fast. It wasn’t going to happen this morning.

The National Park Service keeps cutting a slot in the beaver dam north of Slaters Lane. Good thing too. All that rain and the high tide had the beaver pond overflowing its banks right up to the edge of the Mount Vernon Trail. This section of the trail was repositioned a few years ago because of flooding.  The old trail was under a foot of water.

North of the airport the real work began. The wind really hammered me from here to Rosslyn. At the Humpback Bridge, I relaxed my hold on the handle bars. A gust caught the fairing and turned the front wheel to the left. Good thing no one was trying to pass me.

I saw a great blue heron in its hiding spot at the end of the TR Bridge boardwalk. If I were you, I’d head south, Dude.

On the sidewalk in Rosslyn, the buildings turned the wind direction to my rear. I glided from the MVT to my office, pedalling only when I needed to start up at a traffic light.

The ride home was a whole lot easier. The wind was to my back and side. I took it easy. It was in the 40s and my body was wondering what the heck happened to spring.

Today was the 18th and final commute for the month of January.  All told I rode Big Nellie 11 times to work. Little Nellie got the call the other 7. My total mileage for the month was 598.5 miles, all of it outdoors.  That’s some kind of personal record. Last January I rode 9 times to work and totaled under 450 miles.

My longest ride of the month was 32 miles. My commuting mileage was 533, which means I did very little weekend riding.

I won’t be riding tomorrow. I will be driving so I can see my daughter perform in a play tomorrow night. I have to kill a couple of hours before the play begins, so I will celebrate mi enero grande with a taco platter and a cerveza at Cactus Cantina.

Burb.

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Incoming!!!

All good things must come to an end, but they sure started out nice. It was in the 50s this morning when I left the house so that meant only one thing: SHORTS!  Few things make a bike commuter’s day like shorts in January, unless, of course, you’re bike commuting in Auckland. 

Rain was forecasted for the evening rush so Little Nellie got the call. The strong southerly wind meant that we’d get a nice assist all the way to the office.  With such good conditions, I hit the road ten minutes early. 

Whenever I ride I first squeeze my tires to make sure they have proper pressure. The rear tire on Little Nellie apparently has a very slow leak. When I started bike commuting I only had one bike. Flats were a total hassle. Now, with three bikes, I can always switch in the event of a problem and fix it later. No worries though; this rear tire seems to hold air for several days.

Loverly ride, all the way in. The scary evening forecast kept the scardy cats off the trail. No bald eagles. No prehistoric garbage trucks. No idiot drivers. Nothing to get hung about. Strawberry fields forever.

Begining about two p.m. my officemates and I started obsessing about the approaching storms. The line of storms ran from central PA to the Gulf of Mexico. It was only a couple hundred miles wide and the doppler radar showed a long line of severe weather. It resembled the derecho that came through last summer except that it wasn’t tracking west to east. Instead it seemed to be drifting to the northwest.

My boss is a bike commuter. He bailed out at 4. He drops off and picks up his daughter during his commute. About 15 minutes later I decided to roll. The skies looked threatening. There was an intermittent drizzle fallling. 

I turned onto the Mount Vernon Trail and began the slog into the gusting wind.  The drizzle stopped after about 20 minutes. I unzipped my jacket and plodded along.  It wasn’t a lot of fun but at least that nasty storm was staying away. It was all very anticlimatic. I’ve ridden in much worse weather than this including a couple of tornado warnings. (In both cases I didn’t know at the time.)

As I turned off the trail and headed due west for home, the nasty storm was laid out before me.  Ten minutes later I had stashed Little Nellie in the shed and was inside. I checked the radar; the storm got hung up about 50 miles northwest of DC.

It’s a comin’.

As I type this we are under a tornado watch.

Send lawyers, guns and money. The shit’s about to hit the fan. 

A Respite from Winter

It was over 40 degrees when I headed out aboard Big Nellie this morning. There was barely a trace of the nasty ice and snow we’d been treated to for the past several days. I drove to work a rare three days in a row because of all the slippery stuff and, as a result, it took me a long time to get loaded and on the bike. One of my secrets to bike commuting success is having all my clothes and gear ready to go in the morning. Fail.

With fresh legs and a warm tail wind the ride in was effortless. One reason I like commuting in the late winter is that I arrive at Dyke Marsh as the sun rises. It rarely disappoints.

Dyke Marsh Sunrise

The National Park Service has been busy recently replacing some of the boards on the Dyke Marsh boardwalk. It looks like a piano with light colored boards interspersed with dark, weathered wood. I think it would be cool if notes played as you rode over them. And, no, I did not have hash brownies for breakfast.

I had little difficulty maintaining decent speed until I came to Jones Point Park. Near the river the Park Service had erected an electric sign warning that the trail was closed ahead. I back tracked to South Lee Street and made my way through Old Town. Lee Street ends at a parking lot that actually goes through to the continuation of the Mount Vernon Trail on the north side of Old Town. I rode through the lot and stopped to take a picture of the demolition of the Sheet Metal Association Building. Regular trail users will remember this as the tiered building clad in ugly green sheet metal. It was a monument for why noone with good taste would ever put sheet metal on the exterior of an office building. All the sheet metal is gone and crews were busy jackhammering the concrete, with chunks falling near the trail.

Sheet Metal Building

After taking the picture I had to lift Big Nellie over a rope that served to deter cyclists from cutting through this parking lot. I made sure to get lots of dirt chain wax on the rope.

The rest of the ride in was uneventful but for an oddity near the airport. A man in full cycling gear was sitting on a rolling yellow suitcase next to the trail at the southern flyover bridge. He didn’t have a bicycle so why was he in cycling clothing? Did he fly into town wearing cycling clothing.

Temperatures rose throughout the day, peaking at 70 degrees just after lunch. No need for a holey sweater or booties for the ride home. And it was daylight for more than a third of the ride!!!  The trail was crowded though. Runners and walkers and dogs on leashes and bikes and kids on their trikes and babies in strollers!!! What an obstacle course.

By the time I reached Old Town it was plenty dark and I was running all my lights as usual. The bridge in Jones Point Park was repaired so I rode through that section. Certain places, usually lower lying, often don’t get the memo about the unseasonably warm temperatures. You’re riding along feeling all comfy then you get hit with a cold slap in the face.

The last 3 1/2 miles on the MVT were the usual ride into blinding headlights. Sometimes I feel like standing along the edge of the Parkway and shining my the light on my helmet into the drivers’ eyes.There were at least six times when I could see absolutely nothing except the blazing headlights of cars. This will only last a few more weeks though. Of course, I am certain to find something else to bitch about. I ride, therefore, I crab.

 

 

 

 

The Limits of Lobster Gloves

I have two pairs of lobster gloves. I have determined that one pair is useless for its intended purpose of keeping my fingers warm. My older pair has rough edges where the different fabrics are stitched together so I haven’t used them in a while. I broke them out for today’s ride and for temps in the 30-45 degree range they seem to be pretty good.

I rode LIttle Nellie over to the scene of my crash.  No ice anywhere. No blood either. It’s all good. I made my way over to the Mount Vernon Trail to see if that’s in good shape.  My left knee was still a little stiff from the crash but by the time I made it to the MVT, all was back to normal. The same can be said of the trail, all clear, even the wooden bridges, all the way to Old Town and beyond. There was plenty of ice in Dyke Marsh and along the river’s edge. Ice is pretty, except when you crash on it.

I rode to the short wooden bridge on the MVT in Jones Point Park.  It’s still blocked off, but repairs are well underway. It should be re-opened in a day or two. A runner came up behind me and asked me if she could get around it. I turned to talk to her and jeez louise was she pretty. Suddenly, I realized how much I miss running.

We assessed the situation  – with the bridge, that is. I decide to reverse course. The runner went for it walking around the bridge, over a log in the little streamlet, and out the other side. I stayed in case she fell and need assistance from a middle aged lech. No dice.

I found the unpaved access point to the adjacent neighborhood on South Lee Street. It’s unpaved to discourage bicyclists from using it. This is yet another example of how Alexandria’s Bicycle Friendly Community award is premature. The unpaved portion has loose stones and is about 20 yards long.  Paving it could not have been a money issue. They just don’t want bikes using it.

I made my way past the power plant and looped back to Slaters Lane. There I took the bike lane to US 1. That took me to the new Potomac Avenue all the way to Crystal City.  At the middle of Crystal City I took the access path under the railroad right of way back to the MVT and headed south.

At the south end of the airport, I took the Four Mile Run Trail back to the west side of US 1.  I worked my way over to Commonwealth Avenue and, eventually, to a traffic light at Del Ray Boulevard.  A shiny, black two-seater Mercedes was waiting at the red light. The car cost a bundle but its driver had a ten-cent head. I took a position behind and to its left in order to make a left turn onto Del Ray. The Mercedes had pulled up past the stop line and the sensors that tell the light that a car is coming from our direction. We waited a full cycle without getting our turn. The dummy in the Mercedes didn’t realize he needed to back up. An SUV came up behind us and stopped over the sensor freeing us from our electronic trap.

Of course, in a bona fide Bicycle Friendly Community these sensors are set so that a bicycle will activate them.  Not in Alexandria.

Riding down narrow Del Ray Boulevard I was followed by a church van. The engine was making a lot of noise that indicated the driver was getting impatient with me.  Once we cleared the busy section of the street, I was expecting him to roar by me, but he went by at a normal speed. Thanks, sir. A few blocks later, I could hear a car coming up behind me. The driver beeped, not all that loudly, as he began to pass me. I shook my head and looked at him over my shoulder. We stopped at a light, both of us in a left turn lane, he in front of me. He rolled down his window and started to explain what he was doing. (Dude, your actions on the road should be self evident. If you have to explain yourself, you’ve probably screwed up.) I told him “Don’t beep your horn at a cyclist, all your going to do is startle me. I heard you before you beeped.” Then the passenger’s side window came down and I started hearing from the passenger. It wasn’t an acrimonious exchange though.  I was just trying to educate the ignorant.  I doubt they understood.

Back through Old Town where I ran a red light after waiting too long. Once again my bike would not activate the sensor. Next it was onto the US 1 connector trail and up Fort Hunt Road. Now I was south of the beltway making my way up a couple of hills.  Life was good. Fort Hunt Road is one poorly designed road though. Shoulders and parking and turn lanes come and go at random.  I was coming down the second hill on a narrow, shoulderless stretch. Cars were going about the speed limit and passing me when on-coming traffic allowed. Then HOOOONNKKK!  A white pick up with a cap on the back roared past me. I had used up all my tolerance for stupid drivers in Del Ray and yelled “F&%k You” at the pick up. The passenger side window came down and the passenger flipped me off. My attempt to return digital fire was sadly thwarted by my lobster gloves.

My 24 mile Sunday ride ended pathetically. One day, I will invent a lobster glove that allows for bird flipping and I will make millions.

My Other Car Is a Bike

Sadly, the roads and the Mount Vernon Trail were still plenty icy today. I drove to work aboard the Millennium Falcon.  That would be a Mitsubishi Lancer.  It’s a small car with no pick up, but it gets the job done. Traffic was very light since the Federal Government allowed its workforce to telecommute because of an approaching snow storm.  The light traffic allowed me to check out the Belle Haven bald eagle nest and I am happy to report that there were two bald eagles in the tree. I hope they stay and mate. Watching eaglets grow would be such a cool addition to my bike commutes.

I zoned out while driving slowly to Rosslyn, so slowly that I missed one of my turns and had to drive all the way around Arlington Cemetery.  The traffic was so light that it only took me an extra minute or two.

I drove home at the peak of the storm. It’s hard to explain the ferocity of this winter event. Visibility was down to a mile or two. What a pathetic excuse for a storm.

My left arm and knee are still sore after yesterday’s crash. I think I will take it easy this weekend, do my taxes, and have another glass of merlot.

It’s tasty.

 

Snow Fail

Here’s the short version: Snow on ground. Side roads untreated. Rode my bike anyway. One mile later. Crash. Ow. Ride home. Fail

The full version goes like this:

Over night we had a lovely snowfall. There was about an inch of very fluffy snow that barely covered the lawn. It was so beautiful outside that I just had to bike to work. I chose Little Nellie for this adventure because a long wheel base recumbent with its lightly weighted front wheel is an invitation to a crash in slick conditions like this. And I didn’t want to muck up The Mule’s new drivetrain.

I also decided to switch to my lobster gloves. These are like mittens with two finger spaces instead of one. This allows better control of the brakes and such. Unfortunately, they are a little on the small side and, as I discovered not 2 minutes into the ride, they are worthless in cold temps. I think they would work better if I had a bigger size so that the air could circulate around my fingertips. As it is, they are a waste of fabric.

Snow and Panniers

I rode out of the neighborhood on the fluffy stuff. There were not many car tracks so I managed to ride without trouble. The main road was well treated and I had no difficulty at all riding on it. I took a left onto untreated Karl Road and made the turn without problem. It occurred to me that it might be best to stay on treated roads, but most of my commute is on side streets and trails anyway. No guts, no glory. Onward.

I made it up the short hill without slipping and took a right on Shenandoah, another untreated side street. I rode up a second rise without incident. So far so good. At Fairfax Drive I decided to take a left. A car ahead of me turned left and seemed to be taking a long time negotiating the turn. Dude, hurry up. The bottom half of my glasses were fogged up so I couldn’t see that the compacted snow at the intersection which has a stop sign was iced over. I felt my front wheel slide and looked down and watched as it lost contact in slow motion on the glazed snow. Down I went. I hit and slid, dissipating the impact. My helmet actually made contact with the ground. This is the first time I have ever hit my head in a bike crash. No worries though, just a flesh wound.

If my brain was damaged, it sure wasn’t affecting my thinking. Screw this!!! I headed back home VERY CAREFULLY. At the top of the slight downhill to the T intersection at Karl Road I watched a car make a left onto Shenandoah. The car was probably going less than 10 miles per hour but it slid across Shenandoah and hit the curb with a CRACK. Bummer dude. Good thing Fairfax County delayed the opening of school because that car hit the curb at a school bus stop. Good thing I was going super slow because that crack could have been my femur. Ick.

The rest of the ride home was without incident. My bike commute was a whopping 1 3/4ths miles, but I lived to ride another day.

As I write this some 12 hours later, my upper body still feels a bit achy from the impact. The outside of my left knee along the iliotibial band is sore and stiff.  Vitamin I to the rescue.

During the drive home I noticed that the Mount Vernon Trail still has some stretches with snow. I am driving to work tomorrow. The Millenium Falcon is far better suited to deal with this than my left knee and head.

Cold as a Goose

You know that if Canada geese are miserable, it’s cold outside. They were and it was. I rode in anyway. I suppose this means that your average Canada goose has more common sense than me. You can add ducks and herons to that assessment while you’re at it.

I toyed with the idea of adding some thermal protection to my personal parts this morning. I have these oversized synthetic socks that are pretty warm. They are about two feet long. I thought about putting one in my shorts. Then I realized that I might actually have to explain pulling two feet of green fabric out of my underwear in the locker room at work. I’m not self conscious about much but pulling two feet of sock out of my drawers is well over the line in my book.

It was lonely out there this morning on the Mount Vernon Trail. The air temperature was actually lower than yesterday morning but there was very little wind so Big Nellie and I made decent time. I had to weave through the Catholic SUVs at St. Mary’s School for the Prevention of Polar Icecaps. The cold made the SUVs somewhat docile so that none of them tried to eat me.

The ride through Old Town and up the Mount Vernon Trail was actually quite pleasant. I tried using chemical hand warmers in my mittens. This helped a little but I think it would be wise to use these things within two years of purchase. The wind picked up when I cleared National Airport but it was still tolerable, except to the water fowl. The geese and ducks were bobbing in the river close to the river bank in a big mass. I can’t imagine this clustering of birds adds any warmth to their bodies. Misery loves company even among ducks and geese.

A little further on where I saw a great blue heron cowering in the cold on the river’s edge, I saw the same heron with another a few feet away. The second heron looked every bit as cold as the first. I am no bird expert but I do believe great blue herons are not cold weather creatures. They should be down in the Okeefenokee Swamp. Too late now.

I survived the Rosslyn Circle of Certain Death today both coming and going. Some days I get lucky.

I left work a little late and still had a few minutes of daylight. I do believe I could get use to this. Despite the cold the ride home was pretty darnn enjoyable. There were a few bike commuters out but no ninjas. Ninjas are wimps. There were several people running and walking on the trail but they were wearing reflective clothing and were easy to spot. I cut the corner on my evening commute. My total mileage was a little over 28 miles for the day.

Tonight, it may snow. It could snow an inch. Strangely, the local TV stations have yet to go to Def Con One. I like to ride while it’s snowing. Once the snow gets packed down, it becomes impractical to ride. 28 miles in the snow simply takes to much time. I might actually have to drive to work. What is this world coming to?

It’s a Bike Commute, Charlie Brown

I woked up and went out to get the newspaper. It was cold outside, windy too. This was going to be one of those challenging bike commutes that I will tell my grandkids about. Unless, of course, my grandkids could give a damn, which they won’t.

I emptied the closet and put whatever wasn’t alive on. Working from the top down I wore a helmet, balaclava, buff, waterproof shell, the holey sweater, a t-shirt, a base layer, Smartwool arm warmers, glove liners, mittens, wicking briefs, tights, windproof pants, wool socks, shoes and over boots. I looked like Charlie Brown. I could barely move. Off to the office I went aboard Little Nellie. Little Nellie has a nice big fairing that I hoped would keep the wind off my torso.

A mile into the ride I heard a squirrel making a racket. If squirrels are pissed, you know it’s cold. The ride in was cold but there was a headwind. i mean you can’t have too much climactic misery on a bike commute. I was fearing the chill on the Park Terrace downhill which I normally take at 34 miles per hour. Today, the headwind held me to 29, a mixed blessing because the wind chill at 34 might have done me in.

I stopped on the Dyke Marsh boardwalk, removed my mittens and gloves and took this picture of the sunrise:

Sunrise over Dyke Marsh

I hope you like it because I froze my ass off taking it.

The ride in was a bit lonely. Until I was north of Old Town, I was pretty much the only one out their on the Mount Vernon Trail. North of Old Town, the battle of the headwind really kicked in. A few bike commuters and a couple of hardy runners joined me in the bitter cold. The open areas near Daingerfield Island and north of National Airport were rough. I was making only 10 miles per hour, but I was surprisingly comfortable until the last 20 minutes. My big toes and finger tips were starting to freeze. The Canada geese were clustered in the Potomac. Hell, if Canada geese are cold you know it’s nasty outside. Under the TR bridge, less than a mile from work, a great blue heron hid at water’s edge in the growth on the riverbank. It was all fluffed up but it looked miserable with its right wing covering it’s head.

In the TR Island parking lot, I spotted a bike commuter whose bike was lying on its side. He was helping a motorist change a flat tire. Actually, he was doing all the work; the motorist was standing next to him in a winter coat looking helpless.

At the Rosslyn Circle of Death I paid forward a debt. Last week a panhanlder yelled at a car that was turning right on red without stopping from the I-66 off ramp on to North Lynn Street in the direction of Key Bridge. Today, I was waiting to cross the same intersection. A blonde woman pedestrian started ahead of me. She was wearing a long cloth coat, heavy leggings and tall black boots. I see her often at the same place. Today, she was looking down at her smartphone as she was about to step off the curb. Just before she arrived I watched three vehicles, two in the center lane, blow through the red light without stopping to make the right turn. Something told me to wait. Sure enough a fourth vehicle came up the ramp and, without so much as tapping its brakes, blew through the red light and took a right. I yelled “WAIT!” and the woman with the smartphone looked up froze. The car just missed her. As I rode past her she glanced at me. Her eyes said a silent “Thank you.” I have lost track of the number of times I have seen this happen at the exact same spot since i started working in Rosslyn 15 1/2 months ago. I simply cannot believe the Arlington police leave this intersection unattended.

The ride home was much nicer. It as just as cold but I had a tailwind. Hallelujah! Instead of slogging along at 10 miles per hour I was cruising easily at 15. Sunset is noticeable later now. I could ride all the way to Old Town without being blinded by car headlights. At the south end of Old Town, I continued on the Mount Vernon Trail to Jones Point Park. I had heard on Twitter today that a small wooden bridge on the MVT in the park was out so I rode past the traffic cones to check it out. The bridge is only 10 or 15 yards long but the near 5 yards was covered in plywood. I wonder if a car hadn’t try to drive over it.

I took the streets through the rest of Old Town and made my way back to the MVT. The rest of the ride was pleasant. Unfortunately, I now had to use my right hand to shade my eyes from the car headlights. When I got home I realized that this caused the tips of two of the fingers on my left hand to be mildly numb. Good thing I didn’t have too much riding left. Another problem was caused by gum balls. Gum trees are all over the place in Mount Vernon. Their seeds fall in little spikey balls the size of ping pong balls. Today’s gusty winds knocked hundreds of them out of the trees and onto the trail. I must have hit them all. My front and rear wheels were bouncing as if the gum balls were made of steel. I hope I still have air in my tires in the morning.

It’s supposed to be super cold and windy again. I plan on dressing like Linus. There’s nothing a blanket can’t cure.

It’s January.Plan’s are made to be broken

Yesterday, I followed almost followed the plan. The plan for the day was to stay off the bike after riding 151 miles during the work week.  I had a couple of errands to run. Then I stepped outside. The weather was so nice I couldn’t bring myslef to use the car.  So Big Nellie got the call. We rode to the bank in the Safeway on US 1.  I try to avoid US 1 but I can get to the Safeway using the side access road and the drive through at a Wallgreens.  I wonder what the pharmacist things when I cruise by on my recumbent.

The tellers at the bank are always amused to see me in my biking clothes.  My pleasure ladies.

After the bank I left US 1 and headed for the hardware store. Village Hardware is a great little place to shop. The people are nice. And the owner rides a Serotta on the MVT in the mornings. They sell shelled bird seed coated with hot pepper. The squirrels don’t like it but the birds go ape over it.

I loaded the big bag of seed in my pannier and headed back for home. Despite having all that additional weight on one side of the bike, Big Nellie rode like a limo.

Today was my day for sitting around in my jammies and watching football after doing a couple of small chores around the house. I did the chores, got online and learned that it was in the 50s outside. Hello, Big Nellie.

We rode the MVT north. Near Porto Vecchio I came upon a father and son who was about 9 or 10 years old. The boy passed his father directly into my path. I braked to avoid him. Dad said, “Keep going. I’m going to wait for your mom.” Dude, the kid is not competent to be riding on a busy narrow bike trail. About 50 yards from them, I came upon mother and daughter. Mother was calling over her shoulder to the little girl who was probably only 7 or 8. The gentle downhill and the traffic passing by on the adjacent Parkway had her on the verge of tears.  If you are a parent, don’t be an ass hat. If you want to take your 8-year old cycling, don’t take then on a busy, narrow bike trail like the MVT. They are not ready for it. You are doing them no favors. When they have tears in their eyes or nearly have an accident with another trail user, clue in.

I continued on to the Woodrow WIlson Bridge trail and took that across the Potomac to Maryland. Then it was up the long hill to Oxon Hill Road.  Grind. Grind. Pedal. Pedal. 8 then 7 then 6 then 5 miles per hour. At the top of the hill, I took a left toward DC. Then I hooked another left toward Oxon Hill Farm. There is a new road that connects Indian Head Highway to the farm. I was tempted to take it but wasn’t up for the traffic on the highway as it enters the District and becomes South Capitol Street.

I rode past the farm and down toward Oxon Cove. The trail continues into DC. I followed the local road parallel to I-295. Unfortunately, civilians are not allowed to cut through Bolling Air Force Base.  Instead, I rode up a steel hill back to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. This is the main drag of Anacostia. People were hanging out in their Sunday best. There were lots of smiles and hellos. There’s nothing like a spring day in January to make people friendly.

I wanted to ride across the South Capitol Street Bridge but I couldn’t figure out how to get there without premature death. I rode MLK to Stanton and headed for the 11th Street Bridge.  The signs leading to the bridge are useless. The roadway is all torn up. I rode into Anacostia Park and made my way under the bridge. There were several DC police officers under the bridge. Security for the innaugural is off the charts. They let me pass without question. I think they determined that Big Nellie was not a threat to public safety.

The bridge side path sucks. It dropped me off at Potomac St where the curb cut was blocked by a police SUV from Homeland Security. I stopped and popped out of my seat. Before I made verticle the SUV backed up. Well done, DHS.

I rode near Fort McNair where traffic was all blocked up with police and military vehicles. I am glad I don’t live in DC this weekend. The inaugural events have the city all messed up.

I rode to the Maine Avenue sidepath. There I encountered a cluster of pedestrians aimlessly plodding toward the Tidal Basin. If you are visiting from out of town, please take note. People live here. We want to get where we are going. So do not walk four abreast and three deep on our trails.

As I passed the eastern end of the Tidal Basin I could see the MLK memorial on the western side. There was a big crowd of people at the memorial. Lucky for me, there were very few people on my side of the basin.

I took the 14th Street Bridge to the MVT.  The crosswind was gusting.  Big Nellie managed fine even with the fairing acting as a sail.  When I looped under the bridge and on to the MVT I had a tailwind. Time to boogay.

I had to come to a near stop four or five times on the ride home, but I’m not complaining. It’s great to see people out in such numbers in mid January.

32 miles. The thermometer at home said 60 degrees. Not half bad for a lazy mid-winter day.

As I write this, I am wearing my jammies. I’m a gonna watch me some football.

Sounds like a plan.

Cold, Coffee, Cake and Cute

Today was Friday the 13th.  Your calendar may say it’s the 18th but it’s my 13th bike commute of the year so your calendar can pound sand.

I left early in the hope of catching the tail end of the early crowd at Friday Coffee Club. Since many of the early arrivals are women the use of the term “tail end” in the previous sentence might be misconstrued. Not that any of these women have deficient tails. It’s just that Mary and Lisa and Crystal, who used to be at Coffee Club during the 8 to 9 core coffee hours usually leave before I arrive these days.

My valiant attempt to arrive early was thwarted by a head wind and the fact that it was Friday and my legs were saying “No mas.” This is the sort of Spanish I pick up by watching telenovellas while I am doing my back exercises after I wake up. Today the woman with the big boobs and the low cut dress was decidedly not pregnant when she was clearly with child last Friday. Thankfully, our heroine Anita is consistently bouncy in her short shorts and spaghetti string top. I have not a clue what the hell is going on in this story, by the way. Nearly all the men look like gymnasts and all the young women are supermodels. All of which makes me want to move to Las Anitas pronto.

Back to reality. I braved South Royal Street which improbably was devoid of Catholic SUVs.  This is good because Catholic SUV drivers get mighty impatient when the have to wait in line for blocks to drop off Mary Margaret and Patrick Junior.  (You can tell that I am familiar with the whole Irish Catholic thing. Suffice it to say, that my early altar boy experiences were in Latin. And my grandmother said the Our Father in Gaelic before we carved the turkey on Thanksgiving.)

Once in DC, I had expected security hassles, but except for some random jersey barriers on the sidewalk across from the Commerce Department, I made it up 15th Street and across the White House plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue without stopping. As I pulled in at Swings Coffee Emporium I spotted Mary, Queen of Caffeine, as she was leaving. Nice to see you, Mary. It’s been too long. She took my picture with Little Nellie. (Actually, she took it with a camera but you get my drift.)

Inside Swings, the joint was jumpin’. Ed (a.k.a Mr. Mary) and Mary had brought a cake to celebrate the first anniversary of Friday Coffee Club. It was already half gone; the cake that is. The early bike gets the frosting.

I commiserated with Tom and Kirsten, Ted, and Adam. Then Kate and Rachel and Katie showed up followed by Jacques and his supercute baby boy Hugo. I even got to hold Hugo which was especially great since it was a cold morning and Hugo was as warm as a loaf or bread straight out of the oven. And because observing babies absorbing their surroundings is fascinating. These people (and the many other nice folks at Coffee Club) have made Friday mornings a joy for the past year.

Ed handed out a pewter pin of a coffee cup as a little commerative gift. He gave out all 25 that he and Mary had made. It’s amazing to me that more than 25 people would show up on a cold Friday morning before a three day weekend. Brew it and they will come.

As we were leaving, Ed and I became enbroiled in an intense discussion. Kate and Rachel are roommates who frequently tweet about their zany escapades. Ed likened them to Laverne and Shirley or Lucy and Ethel. I am in the Mary and Rhoda camp. This scholarly debate needs more research. Keep tweeting Kate and Rachel.

The ride to work my office in Virginiawas frigid and annoying. I had to stop five times on the too-narrow TR Bridge to let DC-bound bikes pass. As I normally do, I salmoned on the sidewalk on Lynn Street from the MVT to my office. Fifty feet from the office garage, I came upon a woman walking toward me. She was obviously quite cold. She had a coffee in one hand and an annoyed look on her face. As I passed with all kinds of room, she said, “There’s a road, you know.” I said, “Thanks.” (“Bitch” understood.)

During the day it seemed to get much colder still, but the wind was at my back for the ride home. After seven miles in the twilight (yes, the winter solstice is behind us!!!), I was once again dodging ninjas. The first two were walking side by side, taking up two-thirds of the width of the MVT. They were dressed in dark clothing from head to toe. I said, “I can’t see you” as I passed.  That’s my new public service announcement. Another two near Old Town were walking opposite each other. A fifth came running onto the trail. His brand new white sneakers saved him from a face full of handlebar.

On the MVT just after the South Washington Street deck, I came upon a man and his two kids. They were on bikes in the dark. They wore reflective vests and had helmets with bright lights on them. They asked for directions to the airport (probably to watch the planes take off). I explained that it was at least four miles (actually it was five) and the kids lost interest. They all agreed to continue to ride into Old Town with remarkable enthusiasm considering the headwind they were dealing with and how cold it was. They had big smiles on their faces.There’s hope for this world.

For some odd reason, I decided to ride up the hill at Park Terrace. In the mornings, I break 30 miles per hour riding down this bad boy. On the way up, it’s all I can do to stay upright. Somehow, I actually got stronger near the top tonight. My body can sense the end of the work week.

When I arrived home, the Rootchopper automotive fleet was back in service. We all celebrated by going out for chili at the Hard Times Cafe in Old Town. After 151 miles of bike commuting this week, I felt like I could use a little EPO. Instead I had a Shiner Bock and some Texas chili.