Saturday, May 16, 2015

My First Bike to Work Day!

So I've been riding my bikes around on weekends and to run errands, but I haven't actually biked to work all year. I know, I know, it's just so hard to get myself out the door that early in the morning until I make it a habit. I even got packed and dressed a couple of days this week, then promptly sat down and fell asleep again. But for Bike to Work Day, one makes the effort. I was still pretty out of it when I got up though, and tried to put my bag on my Brompton's front reflector rather than on the carrier block, oops. Luckily I only have to go about a mile to get to the Metro for the first leg of my multi-modal commute, and could use the train time to wake up for the rest of my ride.

Train segment of my multi-modal commute

Ride to Work: Last call for wearing wool!

There were no surprises on the route, since it's the same one I started taking last summer. Actually there was one thing was sort of a surprise--the part that I think of as being the worst uphill segment didn't feel as bad as I remembered. In fact, I think going up my street feels like more effort, but maybe it's because I'm starting out cold?

Anyway, it was actually chillier than I expected, so I dug out the wool riding mitts and neck snood/gaiter. I think that if my ride were longer I might have started to get too warm, but from the Metro to the pit stop it was only about three miles.

Bike to Work Day Pit Stop: Can't we foldies all just get along?

Speaking of pit stops, when signing up for a pit stop, it might be good to know where it's actually located. Though I live in DC, I work out in the Maryland suburbs, so my pit stop was in a strip mall area that I wasn't familiar with. I ended up going around a parking lot, which is not the best place to be as a biker since drivers are just not looking for you. Ours was probably not quite as active as the big DC pit stops, but I still ended up spending about a 30-40 minutes there, having some coffee and smoothie samples and a half-donut, and picking up some swag.

I own a lot of orange, but this year's BTWD t-shirt out-oranges them all
I got chatted up by another Brompton owner, and then we talked with a Surly LHT owner (I didn't get names, just bikes) about commutes. The Brompton owner's bike had just been delivered the night before, so of course he was excited to talk about his specs, down to the type of suspension block he had vs. I had. The Surly LHT owner joined in and talked about his Bike Friday, and how well it folded and how he'd never seen any other bike that folded down so well. Well, let's just say that to some Brompton owners, these are fighting words (especially if that Brompton owner had spent three years researching folding bikes and took delivery of his Brompton within the past 24 hours). There was a little back and forth about which one folds best, then which one rides better, and at that point I just decided to head out with someone else who works in my building because we all loves our bikes and can't we all just get along?

Oh, and before I forget, the Surly LHT owner told me about the Seagull Century, which I had never heard of but takes place on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The guy made it sound appealing--nice roads along the water, relatively flat. I'm not sure I'm up for doing the kind of ride that requires training, but the idea is appealing.

Work: In search of better bike parking

I wouldn't normally write about work, but I found out something exciting--they're adding new bike lockers! Our building has a few now, but they were given out based on a lottery system before I even started my job, and they haven't been redistributed since. Anyway, last month I asked about the possibility of getting one, because I wanted to start taking my new bike to work but wasn't willing to leave my new bike parked in the normal parking area. There are only wavy racks that don't allow for two locking attachment points, the parking area isn't guarded from the public (main campus requires getting past security), and it's a little hidden in an area that isn't high traffic anyway, so a theft during the middle of the day would be feasible. In fact, as I was walking with my fellow employee, he told about his coworker whose bike was stolen from our building's bike parking. So, new bike lockers are a welcome addition, though I told facilities management that they should at least look into better racks if there aren't enough lockers for those who want them.

Building bike parking (from last September)

Ride Home: Contemplating neighborhoods vs. busy streets

Rather than riding to the Metro after work, I decided to take the shuttle to main campus so I could ride home from there. I had been checking out new routes online because I was trying to avoid riding on the sidewalk on my usual route. I ended up going through downtown Bethesda, which was not actually the route I had researched, but I figured why not? Looking back it wasn't actually that great because I was dodging parked cars and impatient drivers, and the bike lane was only the last few blocks for the stretch of road I was riding (lucky for me I was wearing my bright orange shirt). To make matters worse, someone was parked in the bike lane, but it didn't matter anyway because there was construction for a block as well. I still tried take a picture of the parker though, which I think scared them off.

Putting on your blinkers doesn't make it okay to park in the bike lane
I may still ride part of this route on the way home, but I looked at the map and there might be a slightly better way. I like it because it connects me to the Capital Crescent / Georgetown Branch trails, and I can take the tunnel underneath Wisconsin to get to an easy route home. The rest of the way was through neighborhoods, where I was briefly drafted by some guy in a two-wheeled recumbent bike. He eventually got past me when I got stuck behind some yard-work truck, and he was smart enough to hop on the sidewalk to get around. The rest of the ride was good. I may not be a big fan of Reno Rd., but Nevada Ave. is great--it seems almost as wide as Connecticut, but instead of six lanes of traffic across, it's only two lanes that are wide enough so that even with the parking by the curb, there's plenty of room for bikers. Also, there are stop signs basically every other block, so cars usually can't build up too much speed. It also helps that it's basically all downhill on the way home.

Home: Celebratory mead

I'm not a big party person and there weren't any on my way home anyway, but I felt like doing something to celebrate. I was going to the market near me for dinner anyway, when I saw a lone bottle of a mead that I'd been eyeing. I'm not actually much of a drinker, but I do partake on occasion, and it seemed light and refreshing--a great way to end the day:

Does mead made from local honey help with seasonal allergies?

Observation: Looking at Twitter throughout the day, there appeared to be many different hashtags for the event, but I stuck to one for better or for worse #BTWD2015 

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