Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Mule Knows

The weathermen were all lined up with snow panic in their voice. "Slush and slippery roads coming tomorrow," they said. This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. The thought of slipping and sliding for 15 miles on the way to work is unappealing to say the least. I went to sleep early thinking that tomorrow's going to suck.

At 6 am I went out to get the paper. It was 40 degrees out and barely sprinkling. No worries.

When it rains, I switch to The Mule. Planning for the worst, The Mule was the choice du jour. The Mule knows rain. With it's 700C wheels it is significantly more stable on slippery surfaces than my recumbent. It also has the oldest seat in my bike fleet so I won't cry if it gets damaged by rain.

I tried a trick that I have done in the past.  I put my socks on then put my stockinged feet in the plastic bags that the newspaper comes in. Then I put on my shoes. After some smirks from my daughter (okay, it does look silly having plastic bags billowing out of your shoes) I headed out. It took a while to get used to my feet sliding a bit inside my shoes, but at least my feet were dry.

I wore the hood on my waterproof jacket to keep my head dry. A buff completed my head and face ensemble. In the event that the office was unespectedly closed, I could rob a bank.

Instead of a miserable, slippery ride I was warm and dry. The rain came, but it was never became more than a heavy sprinkle, if that isn't an oxymoron. Speaking of morons, the people sitting in stop and go traffic on the GW Parkway looked unhappy. Cars never look like fun in the rain. They never show cars like this in commercials. There is a wide gap between the myth and the reality of automobile ownershop. Back on the Mount Vernon Trail alongside the GW Parkinglot,  I had the trail pretty much to myself all the way to Old Town.

A lone bald eagle eyed the Potomac River smorgasbord from a branch above the Belle Haven nest. With that long beak and fluffed up feathers, he looked like an emperor looking down his nose at his subjects. I swear I heard him say, "What fools these drivers be!"

I passed a walker on the MVT on the north end of Old Town. A scaffold covered the trail in anticipation of the demolition of the adjacent Sheet Metal Association Building. They have associations for everything in the DC area. Snack Food Manufacturers, Retired Military Officers, Statisticians, Human Resources professionals. No Rainy Day Bike Commuter Association though. Lobby? We don't need no stinkin' lobby!  At the far end of the scaffold, a walker was about to put his umbrella up. I rang my bell and he hesitated. Good thing he did, he would have nailed me in the head with it.

Once clear of Old Town I started to see bike commuters.  I am a passee not a passer. A couple miles after a particular passer flew by me, I saw him on the side of the trail. The one thing you don't want to deal with on a rainy bike commute is a mechanical problem.  His was apparently a quick fix. He passed me again a mile later. I'm not giving you another chance, bro. Passees have their pride, you know.

The red maples on the river bank on the trail across from the Washington Monument are still clinging to their leaves. They are the last hold outs. Soon they will give up their color and all will be barren. A couple of months of this and I'll be dying for spring to come. And it will. Trust me.

In Rosslyn, a section of the sidewalk is closed. Walkers and cyclists salmon along the curb for 50 feet. Drivers seem displeased. Maybe we should have the lane closed. Will that make you happy? No? Then shut your pieholes.

The ride home was dry but surprisingly cold. I had to dodge Loudoun County commuter buses that were taking up the bike lane and a regular travel lane and the curb lane! I think Arlington's finest should show them all the tolerance that Loudoun County's police show bicyclists. A taste of their own medicine.

Riding The Mule home was much more pleasant than Big Nellie. Since my head was pointed down toward the trail, my helmet visor blocked the blinding headlights from cars on the Parkway.  The MVT had very few people on it. Only one ninja, in fact, and I managed to miss him. Bad aim.

I was passed by only three people. Of course, I passed no one. That made me 0-12 on the day just like the Wizards.  Think Teddy boy will give me a job as a coach?

My chain was making crunchy sounds. When I put the bike away, I pulled lightly on the chain where it contacts the big chain ring. It came off the teeth with ease. I do believe this chain is toast. So is the cassette and at least two of the chain rings. (I rarely use my granny.) All I want for Christmas is my new gear teeth. And a new chain ring. When I finish with The Mule, I'll be doing the same for Little Nellie. I wonder if I could get a group rate at my local bike shop. Replace one transmission get the second for half price!

I can dream can't I.

The Mule gets the call again tomorrow. There may be ice on the trail. The Mule knows ice.


  1. I think I'll get you some waterproof shoe covers for Christmas. Loving mine!

    1. I have overboots from Performance. They are plenty warm but not waterproof. The waterproof shoe covers I've seen look good for use with road shoes but not the mountain bike shoes I wear. Any recommendations?

  2. That Mule sounds like a real trooper. Good thing she's on your side because it sounds like she's old, she's experienced, and she can kick some ass. OK, so she doesn't pass anyone.....what she may lack in speed she makes up in longevity. Go MULE.

  3. Hooray for the Mule. A fine steed, indeed!