My standard evening view. I know people pay a lot to come here and see it, mostly because they like to stand in the bike lanes and photograph it (please do not stand in the bike lanes).
I had a great Utilitaire post all ready to write up about how I rode my bike 35 miles to buy a chicken. But you know what I did not do? Take a picture during the trip. Therefore, according to Utilitaire rule 9 my 35 mile chicken ride is not qualified to be a Utilitaire. I have a receipt, and most of the chicken still. But that would be a picture taken after the fact. I am very disappointed.
I did, however, take some pictures on one of my commutes last week so instead I will write what I can remember of my commute on the Thursday night in question.
My commute to work starts in the morning with a stop at the gym. I ride in my gym clothes and bring work clothes with me. My boyfriend and I ride together but he goes directly to his office first since it is pretty close to the gym and he has a good place to leave his bike there. Unless the weather is bad, it is rarely dark out when I leave in the morning.
I really do have a beautiful commute. I live on the south side of the National Mall so it is rare that any of my rides do not involve crossing it. My commute takes me directly passed the National Museum of the American Indian, National Air and Space Museum, National Gallery of Art East Building, Canadian Embassy building, and Newseum. I also see, but am not directly adjacent too, numerous other historical and important buildings including the Washington Monument and National Capitol. All of that is just within a mile. I try not to take it for granted and remember how lucky I am to live here.
After the gym, I ride the rest of the way to the office (just over half a mile) where I am again lucky and have a secure place to leave my bike in the garage in our building. The excitment level of the ride varies depending on how many people are parked in the lanes illegally or how many pedestrians decide to cross without looking right in our right of way (what possesses a person to walk into a street on a “Don’t Walk” and proceed slowly while looking at their BlackBerry I will never understand). Occasionally other cyclists will decide to do something ridiculous too and I have yelled at more than one. I do not recall anything truly exceptional that day meaning someone likely did something and I likely yelled but it has become part of my new morning norm.
I do remember the ride home better. Most days I ride to my boyfriend’s office and we ride home together because 4 eyes on crazy rush hour traffic is better than 2. It is also just a nice way to finish the day too. On Thursday nights he has a class though so I ride home on my own. On those nights I take 9th street. I have a love hate relationship with 9th. There is a shared bus and bike lane from where I pick it up until a block before I hop back on to Pennsylvania Ave (the last block has a separate bike lane). If you are a regular DC commuter, particularly from MD or VA, you will recognize the shared bus bike lane as the “OMG! EMPTY LANE! Mine! All Mine! MUST SPEED OUT OF TOWN!!!” I love this lane because it is big, the road is on a down grade for almost its full length so you can pick up some nice speed and once you do, you pretty much never hit a red. I hate this lane because I think it is one of the more dangerous bike lanes in the city. It is on a primary route out of the city to VA and in addition to the crazy rush hour traffic a lot of pedestrians seem to favor it as a great place to jay walk. I feel I need to ride it once in a while though because it is there and I would prefer it get safer rather than go away all together. So why do I still remember my ride home on it almost a week later? Because nothing remarkable happened. The drivers were not particularly crazy. There were no drivers like the time 2 weeks before when a lady from VA zigged in and out of the lane and I actually rear ended her through a series of wonderfully crazy moves she pulled all in a lane she never should have been in. I did not encounter jay walkers, especially none like the “gentleman” the week before that walked out into the road without looking while wearing HEADPHONES then yelled at me for being on my bike in the bike lane. When he finally agreed it was a bike lane (not that it made a difference if it was not since legally I can be in the street and I was in one of the sections of the city where it was illegal for me to be on the sidewalk based on the time of day, but I really did not think we could get that far in his lesson on the laws that evening) he decided I still needed to look out and stop for him as opposed to him watching where he was going or, heavens forbid, crossing the 4 lanes of traffic legally. None of that. Just a nice 22 mph ride down to the Pennsylvania Ave lanes where I had the usual jay walkers and photographers and pedestrians who like the nice waiting area in the middle of the road, completely oblivious to the fact they are in a live traffic lane.
I took a few breaths and reminded myself I live in a beautiful city and I was never going to survive tourist season if I did not start finding new cycling routes. And I took the picture above just before turning back down 4th and across the mall to battle the headphone wearing zombie joggers that wear no reflective gear.
This was a night ride and my light setup was as described in my first night ride. I was wearing the same jacket too since it is water proof, has reflective strips and is a good windbreaker. It also layers well. I rarely wear a different outter layer when I bike.
Week 4 of 6
Ride 2 of 2 (8 of 12 total)
Control Card Category: Work
Miles Completed: 5.02
Night Ride?: yes
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