Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Shorts in the Jungle

One thing I hate about winter riding is the clothing. It takes me ten minutes to get dressed or undressed instead of two. And I am forever trying to decide if I have the right mix of garments for the ride to and from work.

It was in the high 40s at 6 a.m. with the promise of much warmer temperatures once the sun rose. I wore a baselayer, a t-shirt and a vest on my torso, wool socks for my feet, glove liners under regular bicycling gloves, a watchman's cap under my helmet, and, wait for it, SHORTS!!!!!! 

It was probably near 50 when I hit the road. I took a slightly longer route to work. Instead of a diagonal from my house to the Mount Vernon Trail at Tulane Drive I rode a straighter line to the stone bridge where I picked up the MVT about a mile south of Tulane.  This route costs me my 35 mile per hour downhill, but I get to ride a curvy wooded trail that is more gradually downhill.

It's nice to see runners in shorts on the trail in winter. This is perfect running weather. I passed the three-step runner (so named becasue she runs three steps then walks) and the hoppy runner (he has as a hop in his step) came and went.

The Morningside bald eagle nest was empty but there was a bald eagle perched in a branch above the Belle Haven nest. It was facing the sunrise over its watery domain.

At the traffic light for the access road to the Hunting Towers apartment the MVT crosses at a crosswalk and takes a right downhill to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge bollard farm. This morning a black SUV was planted squarely in the crosswalk so as to make a right turn on red.  This is illegal and, more importantly inconsiderate. The driver should have been waiting at the stop line. And he should not have been attempting a right on red because pedestrians were present. And he couldn't see to safely make a right turn on red because two Metrobuses idling at a bus stop blocked his view. So rather than simply wait he decided to pointlessly force pedestrians and bicycles into the rush hour traffic on South Washington Street.

I pulled up on Big Nellie and stopped in the crosswalk and made a big wave with my right arm to indicate he should back up and clear the crosswalk.  He didn't budge. I stopped in the crosswalk and stared at him. Then, when I could do so safely, I rode past him in a gap in the traffic and stared at him the entire time. I am not so bothered by the legal aspect of this. What pisses me off is the fact that this jerk is creating an unsafe situation for others for no reason. He was simply being stupid and inconsiderate. Nobody is as important as SUV Man!

As I rode north the temperature crept up, except at the short dips in the MVT.  At a dip toward the river at the Slaters Lane apartment building it was a good ten degrees colder. That woke my ass right up.

I was passed approaching the airport flyover bridges by a guy wearing a back pack on a mountain bike.  He slowed as he climbed and I had to slow because I didn't want to have to spin my ass off to get around him.  I do believe this is the bike path version of shoaling. I finally cleared him at the north end of the airport on a downhill. Big Nellie knows downhills. Mr. Mountain Bike, not so much.

At the Humpback Bridge just north of the 14th Street Bridge underpass, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye. In a tree on the other side of the GW Parkway was perched a big bald eagle. He was facing the Washington Monument across the river. Then Kate Smith walked by singing "God Bless America".  (Okay, I made that Kate Smith part up.)  It's really unusual to see a bald eagle this close to the city.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I survived the Rosslyn Circle of Doom. Somebody should sell t-shirts with all profits going to the people who get mowed down by cars every month.
This evening, Mrs. Rootchopper reported on a near death experience for a cyclist over on 12 St SW in DC. A bicyclists with no lights and wearing nothing reflective turned in front of her taking the center lane. A turn lane was on the right and a through lane on the left.  A Mini Cooper directly behind my wife honked impatiently as she slowed for the cyclist. The Mini then veered left around my wife's car then veered back right. My wife slammed on her brakes to create a gap between her and the cyclist. The Mini passed between my wife's front bumper and the cyclist's back wheel and then zoomed off into the right hand turn lane. 

It's a jungle out there.

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