Today was supposed to be the end of the world in DC. Anytime we have bad weather the 48 local weather services go to DEFCON 1. Bulletins flash across TV screens. Emails from local governments clutter in boxes.
So, of course, I rode my bike to work. You wouldn't want to get your car all messed up in weather like this now, would you?
Hey I survived the Great New England Blizzard of '78, Snowmaggedon, and the Derecho. (Okay, we lost power for 5 1/2 days on that last one but it only got up to 94 degrees in our livingroom.)
I stepped out the front door, saw gray skies with fast moving clouds and felt some sprinkles. Oh no, this is gonna suck. Then I got on my bike, the sprinkles stopped and the wind was a mighty tailwind all the way to the office.
The Mount Vernon Trail was curiously devoid of its usual commuters tho. (Although I understand there was at least one interloper on a circus bike.) And there was the woman who runs three steps at a time. (Damned, if I can figure her out.)
All day long my co-workers, many of whom have cubes near the windows, were freaking out about the weather outside. I was parked in my interior office oblivious to it all. Around three in the afternoon, I pulled up the local radar. There was a storm from Charlotte to Poughkeepsie. In the middle of the storm was a long, red line. The long red line went right through the DC area. Gulp.
Realtors will tell you that it doesn't matter what your house is worth now. It only matters when you sell it. The same is true for storms. It doesn't matter that a tornado just touched down in the suburbs, it only matters if it touches down on the MVT when your riding your bike home.
At 4:45 I check the radar again. There was a gap in the storm that corresponded almost exactly to my route home. Time to boogay.
As I hit the road I noticed that my handlebars had rotated forward. This is not a good thing, especially if they rotate forward at a time you need to control your bike. Did I stop? You can't be serious.
The trail was littered with small tree branches but there were few people about so I just rode around it all. It sprinkled a bit here and there but considering the fact that THIS IS THE BIG ONE!!!! I was pretty pleased with my progress.
I came to the railroad bridge underpass, the last of the underpasses at the 14th Street Bridge-o-plex. I was in my usual commuting trance when I heard a voice. I looked to my right under the bridge and I saw a cyclist changing a tire. The voice said, "Do you have a pump?"
Now if I was a wise guy I would have said "yes" and kept riding, but I stopped and asked him if he needed help. His name was Eric and his pump had ceased to exist, it had expired, it was defunct. It was like a Pythonian dead parrot.
He thank me profusely for my ancient black Zefal XP frame pump and began pumping away. To no avail. His spare had an inch long slice in it. Good think his name wasn't Bruce Banner or he'd have turned green and smashed me.
"That's okay, I have a patch kit," he said.
Not wanting to wait for open tire surgery, I pulled a spare tube from my saddle bag and gave it to him. Earlier this summer I was waylaid by a broken chain and a bike commuter stopped and spent 20 minutes working on my chain. My roadside assistance deficit is now expunged.
Eric said his original flat had eight punctures in the tube, but he only found one piece of glass in his tire. Eric's math was less than inspiring. I'd have looked that tire over like a hawk but he nimbly put my tube right in and pumped it up. It seemed to hold.
With my pump back on my bike, I wished Eric well and rode off.
Alas, my time with Eric had cost me my opening in the storm. The remnants of today's Storm of Certain Death were actually rather wimpy. It was just your basic gloomy rainy ride home. Nothing special.
When I got home I rotated my handlebars back to their proper position. I dried off The Mule and called it a day.
I was alive.
Take that Bob Ryan.