!5 miles in.
If I’m lucky I average 12 miles per hour. Each ride in takes 75 minutes.
There is no music. There is no news. There is no “Traffic and weather together on the eights.”
Just my bike and me and a ribbon of pavement from home to the office.
I breath. I shiver. I sweat. My legs spin. Pedal, pedal.
I turn. I huff and puff up a hill. I turn again. And again. And again.
I look for deer in the woods along the road.
I hear a dog bark.
I stop. I wait for traffic at a cross street.
The coast is clear. I go.
I swoosh down a steep hill. My face is cold. Tears well in my eyes. I am flying blind. Neil Young was wrong. Flying on the ground is right.
I cruise through an S curve, first right then left.
I survive the Parkway crossing. Cars rush by. Hurry, hurry. Can’t wait to get stuck in the Old Town traffic bottleneck.
On to the Mount Vernon Trail. The Dyke Marsh boardwalk. Sun rising over the PG County hills to my right. Red wing blackbirds making a racket. Mama and Papa goose waddle next to the culvert under the Parkway. Soon there will be babies. Fuzzy green goslings.
The serpentine trail guides me. Cars rushing to my left. Trees stilling to my right.
The Hoppy Guy runs with his improbable gait.
Past the Belle Haven bald eagle nest. No one home. Geese on the river. Ugly National Harbor scars the far river bank. Ugly Porto Vecchio scars the near one.
Down into Jones Point Park beneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Masses of concrete swooping somehow overhead. Making concrete attractive isn’t easy.
Around Fords Landing and down Union Street in Old Town. I ride past the coffee zombies at Starbucks. Beans! Beans!
Back on the trail past the construction site at the old Sheet Metal Association building. No longer covered in ugly army green metal. A brick façade is going on today. A forklift next to the trail raises a stack of dry wall panels high. Please don’t drop them on me.
Around the powerless power plant. Another boardwalk. And another. A mallard waddles across the trail and splashes into the beaver pond where the trail used to be. The umpire in my mind calls, “Safe!”
Snow is falling. Big puffy flakes attack my glasses. One, then another goes into my eye. Cold tears.
Even light snow muffles the sounds of the airport and the cars rushing by. Pedal, pedal.
The forecast has scared away most of the bike commuters. I am alone but not lonely. Along the river now. The city to my right is obscured by a fog of a billion swirling flakes.
Black ice ahead. Tense up. I ride across without touching the brakes or turning the wheel. No problem, thank god. Falling would suck.
Across one more boardwalk this one covered in the white dust.
Up the hill to Rosslyn. Like football, it builds character. Not really. They just tell you that so you won’t complain.
Down the sidewalk dodging the smartphone walkers. Tweet. Bing!
Into the garage. Around the cars waiting to be parked. Wave at the attendant.
15 miles in.