The weather report was perfect. I had to work. Despite the fact that I didn’t get home from a business trip on Thursday until 10 p.m., I decided to ride to work for the 61st time this year on Friday. 14,600+ people decided to give it a go as well. Friday was Bike to Work Day here in DC.
Little Nellie was in the shop. Big Nellie would be hard to park if my colleagues participated in the festivities of the day. The Mule got the call.
As soon as I pulled it down from its hook, I could tell the headset was loose. I only had one headset wrench so I snugged it up and hoped for the best. The steering felt off but it worked. Onward! (Nothing says Bike to Work Day like a good crash, I always say.) Instead of taking the 3-mile bee line, a diagonal route to the Mount Vernon Trail, I took the 4-mile route, straight to the MVT and then a 90 degree turn toward DC. Shortly after making the turn I spotted a group of people under a canopy. It was the good folks from Spokes Etc., my local bike store, staffing a pit stop. I had registered for the Rosslyn pit stop was near my office, but I pulled in to say hello and asked them to check my headset.
After thanking them, I was off headed northwest on the MVT. No bald eagles could be seen,but the warm weather and the green canopy made for a perfect ride. In Old Town, I took South Royal Street, which I don’t normally do, so that I could swing by the Old Town pit stop at Royal and East King Streets in front of City Hall. It was hopping at a little after 7. Rather than get caught up in the festivities, I took a couple of pix and headed out again. I only had so much room in my panniers for free handouts after all.
From Alexandria to DC, I found myself in one cluster of riders after another. Mostly they were newbies. I could tell this because regular riders are usually faster than me and I was doing a lot of passing. Everyone was having a good time and riding with care except for two impatient riders on racing bikes who sped past me without warning. One did this as I was passing a rider nearly forcing me to crash. I yelled out at him, “You know better!” I wanted to say more, using words and phrases that began with “F” but I didn’t. (Next Monday, I’m letting the F dogs run!)
Along the way I saw the French Braid Girl and the Hardware Store Guy. It’s nice to see that my regulars were not deterred by the crowds. I expected to find a back up at the one lane underpass at the Memorial Bridge, but it was a only ten-second wait to get through.
Unlike last year, the Rosslyn pit stop had few people that I knew. Many of my #bikedc associates were at Freedom Plaza in DC or Friday Coffee Club. I did run into Mark (@dismalscientist) and Shawn (@Shawnofthedread). Also, Bob (Don’t Call Me Rachel) Cannon (@rcannon100) was there volunteering at the swag table. Good to see them all.
Instead of heading for home after work, I headed up a long hill on Wisconsin Avenue to Cathedral Heights where my daughter goes to high school. Her final choral concert started at 7. With time to kill and a belly to fill, I ate some pizza and beer at 2 Amys. I would have gone elsewhere, but I didn’t want to end up riding back up the hill and getting all sweaty. Mrs. Rootchopper (not to mention the rest of the audience) might not approve.
After supper, I glided all the way to the school. Weee. I locked up my bike, changed into my new dark blue Bike to Work Day 2013 t-shirt and went in to enjoy the show. The show was terrific as usual. I nearly caused my daughter to laugh mid-song as she caught me laughing. at something. (I looked away for the rest of the number until she got her composure back.) Following school tradition, the various choral groups all took the stage together with non-chorus seniors and alumni. They sang Bruce Springsteen’s My City of Ruins. Near the end my daughter started to cry. This being the senior’s last concert, of course, all the other senior girls near her started in with the tears too. Awww.
After the show, I dropped a pannier in the trunk of Mrs. Rootchopper’s car and headed for home. I rolled down 29th and Calvert Streets, about a mile with only a couple of pedal rotations. Weee.
I continued my downhill folly into Rock Creek Park on the park’s trail A runner coming up the hill from the park was running on my side of the trail causing me to brake until he stepped aside. Dude, it’s not London, don’t go messing with my roll.
Into the park in the dark I sped. I had no trouble with hunger, because every five seconds I rode into a swarm of gnats. It was so bad I held my breath and had to pick them out of my eyes. I heard a splash to my right. A yearling deer was clumsily running through the creek. On I rode, passing a couple of oncoming bikes that were without headlights. Newbies, don’t learn the hard way, spring for a light. $35 bucks is cheaper than an ER bill.
I followed the river to the 14th Street bridge dancing with the tour buses and blasting through more gnat clouds. Once over the river, the gnats thinned out a pit. I plucked them out of my eye lids, eye brows, teeth, and nose. Ick.
Heading for home on the MVT, there were ninjas all over the place, some near the airport were toddlers. Sadly, if brains are acquired genetically, they will not be Mensa members, because their parents are idiots. I was glad I didn’t ride my recumbent because on The Mule my head is facing down, allowing me to use the visor on my helmet to shield my eyes from the car headlights when the MVT runs next to the GW Parkway.
I was riding into a headwind both ways today but didn’t much notice or care. Some of this was from adrenaline from seeing so many, many people riding today. When I could see I was clipping along at 15 miles per hour, not bad for an old fart on a Mule.
South of Old Town the trail gets mighty dark. Four men walked across the trail in front of me in Belle Haven Park. They were wearing white shirts that lit up when my headlight landed on them. A hundred yards later, I rode around a bend in the trail and saw two bright lights ahead. The lights were some sort of critter who quickly darted into the underbrush along the side of the trail. I hoped it wasn’t a skunk. Thankfully, it wasn’t.
Once past the critter, I went on autopilot. It was such a beautiful night for a ride. I really should ride at night more often.
I pulled in to home at 10, bug-covered, but happy. Another loverly ride to work. I really should do this more often, don’t you think. How about Monday? Don’t mind if I do.
My heartfelt thanks to the people who got up way before dawn to set up the pit stops and support all the riders.
To see the pix I took, take a look over on my Flickr page.