An Iceberg Calved on My Head

It’s soooo hot and muggy here in DC. Some people really like this. I do too but there’s a limit to everything. Today we passed my limit.

The morning was actually not half bad. The temperature was about 80 degrees and it was very humid. This is not a problem on a bike ride of only 75 minutes such as my commute. There was no need to loosen up. The heat and humidity did it for me. I settled right into my trance.

Pedal, pedal.

I cruised past the halfway point, around the Slater’s Lane apartments on the river. The trail turns away from the river and joins a spur that goes to the opposite side of the apartments. A woman was standing on the grassy island where the trails join. I paid her no mind and cruised past. I looked left to make sure the coast was clear and spotted something familiar. A white pannier with black leafy accents. The pannier had two large loop handles protruding from the top of the bag. I turned off the trail and headed back. Those panniers are unique and the belong to my friend Kirstin who was standing next to her Long Haul Trucker.  How I missed her on my first pass I’ll never know. She has RED hair. (I used to but the last of it left sometime in the Carter administration.)

As soon as she saw me she yelled: “Rootchopper!”

Kirstin rode all the way down from DC, about ten miles, to accompany her friend Yolanda on her ride to work in DC. Yes, she’s that nice.

Digression on #bikedc Connections: I met Mary at the 2010 50 States Ride. Mary is one of the co-founders of Friday Coffee Club. She occasionally runs with Kirstin and told her about Friday Coffee Club, which is where Kirstin and I met.  Kirstin’s husband Tom works out with Ed who is the father of Lolly who used to work for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA). I volunteered to recruit new WABA members one evening. Lolly came to help, subbing for Alex. I met Alex in Baltimore on a bike ride. Alex saw a SharrowsDC logo pin on my saddle bag and asked if I was from DC. I bought the pin from Brian (who is @sharrowsdc on the interwebs) who sold them to raise money for WABA. Brian is one of the co-founders of Friday Coffee Club.

So, back to our tale. Kirstin and Yolanda and I rode five miles or so to the 14th Street Bridge where they peeled off to cross the river while I carried on to my office in Rosslyn across from Georgetown. It was fun riding with them, a great change of pace for me. I have to admit that it was a bit frustrating too. Kirstin can chat a blue streak and the trail is too narrow to ride side by side. So we’ll just have to do another ride together.  Maybe I won’t get lost this time.

The ride home was a whole ‘nother ballgame. Damn was it hot. And muggy. I did fine for about 3 or 4 miles but for some reason my lungs started to ache. Not when I was breathing though. I was not having fun. I plugged along with the pain coming and going and eventually staying. In Old Town I pulled over and took two hits from my albuterol inhaler. I was hoping this would help as it did when I made a rather painful 3 a.m. trip to the ER in May 2016. It didn’t.

I crawled through Old Town. I noticed that sipping from my bottle seemed to help. I made it to Belle Haven Park, about 4 1/2 miles from home. I stopped for some fresh, cool water. And it worked! The pain subsided.

I have no idea what the heck was going on with my lungs but I felt good enough to pull over and take a picture at Dyke Marsh. As you can see, I was no longer dying.

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I actually have a friend who prefers this kind of weather. She is insane. We met during the 50 States Ride on an oppressively hot and muggy day just like this. She appeared to be thriving. The other riders in our group not so much.

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Suffice it to say, we were abandoned to our wretched fate. (The woman in the photo and I actually finished. The dude lasted another few miles before bailing out when we got near his home.)

 

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It’s Like January in Providence

I used to live in Providence. The weather in January was unbearable. It was cold and wet and the streets inevitably turned into glaciers. Going outside was an exercise in misery.

DC is like that. Sort of. In August. It’s hot and muggy and the bugs are biting. I did a 50 mile bike ride yesterday. At 20 miles I stopped to take a meditative moment and enjoy the view of Belmont Bay from the back of the ranger offices in Mason Neck State Park. I took off my helmet, settled into a rocking chair, and admired the few. For about a minute. Then the bugs starting feasting on my lower legs. ACK!

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The View before I Went Off My Rocker

I hopped on the bike and rode on, the breeze dissipating some of the heat and humidity. I decided to cut through Fort Belvoir on the way back. A guard at the Kingman Road check point had other ideas.  After 9/11 Fort Belvoir became part of DC’s security theater and was closed to people without a military id. A few years later without publicizing it, access was reopened to people with photo id. I could finally go onto the base and enjoy low traffic, roads that were fun to ride on. Now it is closed again. I realize the military has a job to but Fort Belvoir has become a shitty neighbor. Closing the base to local cyclists is the equivalent of giving stop sign tickets to bicycle commuters on the empty streets of Old Town on weekday mornings. The prime accomplishment is to piss people off. It doesn’t make anybody safer.

Screed over.

The ride home was uneventful. As usual I didn’t drink enough water and I arrived home zonked. So today, rather than grind out miles in the heat, I am staying inside and watching the Nats on TV. You can’t do that when its cold and wet and icy outside.

Sticky, Wet, and Grumpy

This morning was a rude re-introduction to biking to work in DC. It was incredibly muggy. I was sweating before I pedaled once. Ick.

I rode Big Nellie to ease my way back into reality. It was a smooth fast ride to work. A fellow bike commuter passed me without warning with inches to spare near Porto Vecchio just south of Old Town. I yelled at him to give a warning. He passed a man walking a dog again without warning. I rang my bell and passed the man who proceeded to yell at me for not giving a warning. I said I gave a warning and rang my bell again. “You have to do it louder!”

I can’t win.

I miss the peaceful riding with logging trucks going past at 60 miles per hour.

At the north end of Old Town, a resident had parked his car completely obstructing the sidewalk. Did you know that Alexandria’s city motto is “Where pedestrians come last.”?

I managed to avoid any more unpleasantness until the evening commute.27782018774_13c91636c0_m

My co-workers started warning me about a very nasty storm approaching from the west at about 3:30. (I had the radar on my screen already.) I timed it too tightly and managed to find myself a mile from work or shelter in a downpour. The tailwind was nice but the visibility was almost nonexistent so I pulled over beneath the 14th Street bridge to wait it out.

After 15 minutes the rain abated and I headed out. Within a mile the rain began anew so I pulled over under the National Airport access bridge near Crystal City. I had some company including a dad and his toddler son in a Bakfiets. The boy was upset, not because of the rain but because he had lost his bottle.

The r27782018834_bec4af58b7_mains abated again, this time for good so I headed home. Of course, old difficulties came in Old Town. Three cars pulled u-turns in front of me (two were in intersections) without signaling. A car was parked across the bike lane on North Union Street. Rather than take a picture and report it, I gave the house the finger as I rolled by. Going in the opposite direction was an Alexandria police cruiser. They didn’t bother to stop and ticket the car. They never do. It is days like today that I really believe that the League of American Bicyclists should rescind Alexandria’s bicycle friendly city status.

South of the Beltway the Mount Vernon Trail was strewn with branches and other tree debris. I managed to get through without a problem.

Tomorrow I get to do this again. The day after I may have my head examined.

 

Bittersweet End of Summer

When I go out to get the paper, it’s dark out. I take this personally.

It’s also unseasonably cool. It feels like September.

I want it warm. I want it light. I want it to stay that way. Do I have to move to Argentina or something? Oh wait, a friend already has that covered. I could move to Australia. Oh wait, my daughter has that covered. Maybe I should visit her.

In the meantime, I’ll take a picture of the sunrise over Dyke Marsh.

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Have a great weekend, y’all.