Friday, December 16, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Every day I pass by the Bascilia of the National Shrine. Evidently, it's the largest Catholic church in America. I've been in it and it is beautiful. At night, when I ride by, they've put up Christmas lights all around, and I've been wanting to stop to take a picture of it, so tonight I did. It's so nicely done. :) I ride by other nice Christmas decorations on various homes along the way, and enjoy them too. It's one of the enjoyments of biking in the wintertime. :) Some people wonder how can I bike in the cold - but you do warm up and don't even hardly notice the cold, especially when you have pretty sights like this to see along the way. :)

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Beauty of the Bike :)

Yesterday morning as I was about 3 or so blocks from my office, I noticed A LOT of traffic jammed on 19th Street. It's a busy street, but not THIS busy! I mean, it was like a traffic jam we have when it snows - - except there wasn't any snow. People were trying get around it by turning off other streets, but the choices are few because of the one-way streets.

So, I skinnied on through the traffic on my bike, and came up on 19th & L, where there were police cars blocking off the whole block over to 18th. So, that's what the problem was - except that I didn't see any problem - - just an empty block. When I got to work (on time) a couple minutes later, I checked my computer for news of any situation at that location, and it said that there had been a serious accident. (I never found out what exactly happened).

My boss, along with several people in my office, were a half hour or more late getting to work because of the jam...but, as I said, the beauty of the bike is that you can get by these situations...whether it's a tree across a road, traffic jam, road closures, etc. The bike saves the day! :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Up & Down Hills - Through City Streets - Off to Work I Go -

The first couple of days of my new commute, I chose to mostly ride on Rhode Island Avenue, as I needed to stop at stores on the way home. Rhode Island Avenue from my house isn't too bad to start with - it's relatively wide for bicycle travel, but then as you get about halfway to the city, the road narrows significantly (as you go under the Metro tracks) and stays that way. There's no room for me, so I hop on the sidewalk, which can be a hairy time, with pedestrians. I felt like I was in a video game of "Frogger". :)

So I studied my bicycle map for the Day 3, and chose a more western route towards Catholic University, along Michigan Avenue. That was much better, though there was traffic on Michigan, there was a sidewalk available, and no pedestrians. It's where I took this picture, with the pretty golden Fall leaves. I hang a left on First Street which takes me towards downtown and is a one-way street. When I get to R Street, there is a nice and popular bike lane that brings me to my office. It was kind of nice to, at times, find myself surrounded with other fellow commuting bicyclists, some in bike garb, but a lot just in their office clothes. I felt like I was in Copenhagen! :)

Even though the new commute is only 2 1/2 miles longer than my previous commute, I was kind of surprised that it took twice as long! That's because a city commute consists of stoplights and stop signs nearly every block. :/ I miss the quietness and speediness of the bike path I used to commute on. But riding through the city is neat in its own way. There are shops along the way and people to watch. In fact, when I was waiting at a light, I turned to see a lady from my office walking by, so we stopped to chat briefly. She has biked to work in the past, but lately has decided to take the bus so that she could have some "reading time". :) I challenged her to see who would get to the office first...but she smiled and said she knew I would win. :)

On my commute home, I ride on Q Street, which has a nice bike lane to enjoy. Also, as I get closer to home, I veer off on Monroe Street, which parallels Michigan, but has less traffic. This morning, I thought I would try riding Monroe Street towards work and realized it wasn't as fun because it has a LONG uphill that took my breath away. Much better to save Monroe Street for my ride home, when I could enjoy a DOWNHILL. :)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Last Rays of Sunlight...

Last night when I was riding home out of the city, the sun was just about to drop below the horizon. The golden rays bathed the trees and ground, I just had to take a picture. This weekend, Daylight Savings Time comes to an end, and my evening commute on Monday will be in the dark. It always seems to affect drivers on the first dark commute. It's like the lights have been turned off and they are disoriented.

I will be moving over the weekend to my new residence in Maryland (sharing a house), so I too, will be a little disoriented on Monday night, not knowing the streets for the commute very well. I'll just take it slow and easy, til I get used to the streets, traffic patterns, etc. In a way, I will miss the evening commute in sunshine...but commuting in the dark is fun in its own way too. It's like going undercover, you're cloaked in the darkness. I bought new batteries for my lighted vest so that I'll be seen easily. I had to get a new headlight a few months ago to replace my previous one. It's bright, but it's only mounted on my handlebars vs. my helmet, which I don't like as much. I may need to get a helmet-mounted one, we'll see. Since I'm not familiar with the route/streets for the new commute, it's important to be able to shine the light on the street signs so I know where I'm going. :)

A funny thing happened the other night when I was going to pick up one of my bikes from Hudson Trail Outfitters that needed repair. The guy at the register looked at me and asked if I had a Bike Friday. :) I said I do, and he said he remembers talking to me once on the the trail. He recounted the meeting - he was heading to the C&O Canal to meet a friend to go camping for the weekend. When he said that, I remembered him right away - because he had had panniers on his bike and I had stopped to talk to him about where he was going and what he was doing. It's funny because this happened maybe 3 or more years ago! He said he never forgets a face. Funny that he would remember me and our encounter after so long! I didn't recognize him, but definitely remembered meeting him. :)

Well, stay tuned to see how the new commute goes!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Which Way?

I was on my way home last night from work, and just came alongside the Air Force Memorial driveway. A car had pulled in and was turning around. The guard at the guardhouse was standing there and approached me and asked me to stop. I thought it was maybe so the person in the car could back up to then merge onto Columbia Pike. Instead, he asked me if I knew the area and if I could help the lady in the car, who was lost and trying to get to the George Washington Parkway. We came up to her window and she was on her cell phone. She evidently was trying to get to the Holiday Inn in Old Town Alexandria, which was about 5 miles away. Her cell phone battery was pretty low and the directions on her phone's GPS were confusing her. I know the area pretty well, though trying to verbally direct her to get to either the parkway or even Route 1 from where we were, would probably get her even more lost. I was riding my Brompton, and I said that if she didn't mind, I could put my bike in her car and then hop in and show her where the hotel was, and then I could bike back. She was fine with that, so I folded my bike and put it in her trunk. The guard was standing nearby and said "I knew you could help her. And hey, what a cool bike!" :)

We zipped off towards Route 1, taking side roads to try and avoid a lot of the traffic. She was from Lebanon, but has lived in the area about 5 years. I know the roads and signs can be confusing in the area. She was driving a nice BMW, which, she said, is a Zipcar! I lit up and said I was a Zipcar member too, and we talked about the various nice Zipcars available. :) We chatted about other things we had in common - she worked a block from my office; she was having dinner tonight with her boyfriend at a restaurant where I had just eaten at last weekend; she was in L.A. a couple weeks ago, and I was headed there this week, etc. So, we pulled up at the hotel and her boyfriend in Army fatigues met us, happy to see her. She offered to take me back home, which was crazy - - I said I would just bike home, no problem. I wished them a great dinner and got my bike ready for night-time riding. I was right near a friend's place and called her to see if she might be free for dinner, but she was already eating with a friend. So I headed towards home, thinking I'd stop at the pet store to get a couple things I needed. I remembered I didn't have my lock...but then I thought, no problem, I'll just fold my Brompton and put it in the cart and bring it into the store. I had seen videos of other Brompton and folding bikes do that, but I hadn't before. Now was the perfect time for it. :) It was a nice night out for a ride and I enjoyed the fresh air.

So, the Brompton came in handy in a couple of ways - being able to fold it into her car trunk, and then folding it to bring it into the store to shop. I got to meet a nice person and helped her out, and run an errand on the way home. A nice little diversion from the regular commute! :)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Timing's Everything

Last night, I was catching the Metro back home. I recently downloaded the Metro tool of the "Next Arrival Time" for trains...but my cell phone battery was low and I had powered down my phone earlier in the day. So I couldn't check to see when the next train was. I was about halfway up the escalator when I heard a train approaching...I didn't know what direction it was coming from/going to, but it kind of sounded like my side of the tracks, so I picked up my bike (which takes a bit of muscle and balance) and walked quickly up the escalator. When I got to the top, sure enough, it WAS my side, and I had enough time to take my place at the doors to hop on. :) I was real happy to not have a delay in waiting for a train, for a change. :)

On another note, I recently have been looking into buying a house, possibly in Maryland. One requirement that I would need is for the house to be within striking distance of the Metro or a bus line. My brother suggested that if I were to get a cheap little car, that I could buy something in a nice area, with just a little commute to a nearby Metro station. I told him that parking for Metro is expensive, in addition to the long ride on the subway. Not to even mention the traffic getting TO the station. The DC area just became #1 for traffic in the U.S., surpassing L.A. No thanks, I'll take bike commuting anyday. :) However, in looking to live in a new residence, a SAFE COMMUTE is an issue. The homes that fit my budget are kind of in "sketchy areas". :/ This makes me nervous because what good is being a homeowner, if you don't MAKE it home from your bike commute? In a way, it's good to not own a car in areas like this because I read there are car thefts. But then, in not having a car, I have to be concerned with the neighborhoods that I pass through on the commute, since I come and go in the dark and/or possibly late hours (on the weekends). So, it's a little bit of a puzzle to have to figure out...and, if it's meant to be, then it will happen.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Have Some Company!

Well, I didn't have THIS much company this morning, :) but most of the time, I ride to work alone. However, this morning when I headed out, I passed a guy who was riding directly on Columbia Pike, which is quite a busy road. I was riding on the sidewalk, as I usually do, until I get to a light where I can wait on a sidestreet til the light changes. I can then proceed more safely on Columbia Pike beyond the highway merge without a lot of zooming cars around me. As I waited at the light, this guy came along and stopped next to me and he asked if I was heading into D.C. I said yes, and he asked if he could ride with me. He said he had gotten a bit lost, in following his bike-mounted GPS. I asked where in D.C. he was heading, and he said 14th & K. I said I was biking near there and he could join me. We talked a little on the way - he moved here about a month ago from Tokyo, Japan and he works at a law firm in D.C. I asked where he lived and he said Pentagon City. So I told him he could have a shorter commute by riding over the 14th Street Bridge that he could catch off of the Mt. Vernon trail. I pointed out the bridge down the river as we were riding across the Arlington Memorial Bridge. When we got to Constitution Avenue, and I was making my turn, I told him to head on further down and make a left at 14th and that would take him to K Street. So, it was nice to have a little company this morning. I was in a hurry to make it to work on time, but it would have been nice to get his name and email address to stay in touch - I bet he had some good stories to tell about biking in Japan!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Timing is Everything :)

I was heading home last night, and as I was getting near the Pentagon, a couple rain drops came down. I didn't have my rain jacket with me. I started to think of where I could take shelter, if need be. I remembered the bridge overpass that I go under. I looked ahead and could see the rain coming. I made it to the underpass in time, and stopped to wait out the shower. While I was standing there, a man came along dressed in a suit and didn't have an umbrella. He had walked from the Pentagon (right nearby) and there were big splotches of raindrops on his suit. He didn't seem to mind, and he didn't stop walking either....just went right out there into the downpour. Huh. A couple minutes later, another man came along in a suit, and he too, didn't have an umbrella. He also just kept walking and out into the rain. I guess "real men" don't carry umbrellas? :) I know it's kind of fun and nice to walk in the rain. And the way it's been so hot this week (the heat index tomorrow will be 110!), these men probably dried out pretty soon after their walk in the rain. :)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Suspicious Activity...

I've been enjoying the new shorter route to work -- I get to work in 20 minutes. However, today, as I came near the Pentagon, I saw police cars that were blocking various entrances to the Pentagon, and police were standing near the entrances, checking license plates, etc. (The picture shown here is of police and a bomb squad unit). I stopped to ask if I could go on the bike path, but they said they weren't allowing any traffic through at all. I asked what was up, and the police said, "Suspicious activity." He started to tell me how to get around it, but I told him I knew how and I rode off. The problem was that the extra 20 minutes that my new commute saves me, is how much extra it was going to take me to get to work now, since I had to take my old route. So it was a RACE to get to work on time, and I just made it, clocking in right on time. Whew! Car commuters though, had a much harder time, because three major roads were closed, severely limiting their options, and gridlocking traffic. So I'm glad I at least could get to work on time. :)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Shorter commute!

This past weekend, I went on a group ride, and discovered a bike path that I didn't know about. It went by the Pentagon Memorial and then linked up with the Memorial Bridge. I was excited to try the route to work this morning, to see if it would cut the mileage on my commute. I was pretty surprised to see that it did - by several miles! :) :) Wish I had known about it before!

I had been wanting to see the Pentagon Memorial, but just hadn't taken the time to locate it. It's a nice and peaceful memorial to those who lost their lives in the 911 Pentagon plane crash... Under each bench "wing" is a pool of running water which is lit at night. In reading online about the memorial, each bench wing has the name of the victim. When reading the name on the bench, if the victim was on the plane, the name faces the sky; if the victim was in the Pentagon, the view faces the Pentagon. The benches are also arranged according to the victims ages, youngest to oldest.

I remember on 911, biking to my home in Falls Church, crossing the Key Bridge, and seeing smoke rising from the Pentagon in the's something I will never forget. This Memorial is definitely a touching way to remember the 184 people who lost their lives that day....

So, though this new commute route is shorter, it does have a negative aspect in that it crosses a number of busy highways... I will have to pay extra attention to the traffic and make sure it's safe to cross. The good thing is that there are a number of cyclists who ride this route, and I can hopefully cross with one or two cyclists so that there is safety in numbers. :) And speaking of numbers, the new route shaved about 10 minutes off of my commute time! :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

It's been a quiet commute this month (well, except for the tornado watches and warnings!). Biking along the Potomac is so very peaceful and quiet. I often see the Georgetown University rowers out on the river, doing their training exercises. I can hear the instructors talking to them on their bullhorn, and then they're off down the river... Merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bring out the Blossoms! :)

This morning, the temps were in the 30's, wind chill in the 20's, but a lot of the Cherry Blossoms have bloomed despite the cold temps. Yesterday had been rainy, grey and dreary - so the blue skies were a welcomed sight, and always make the Cherry Blossoms look even brighter! When I took this picture, there was a professional photographer nearby, taking a picture of a lady in a spaghetti-strap blouse....she must have been FREEZING!! Quite a contrast to me standing there all bundled up like an Eskimo! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Robin Reunion :)

On Monday morning, I was getting my bike stuff ready to leave to ride to work, and I distinctly heard the loud chirping of a Robin! :) I went to the window and opened it and spotted the Robin in a nearby tree. :) The first sign of Spring!! :) It's always great to see the annual re-appearance of the Robins - - first you see one or two, and then all of a sudden, there are big groups of them - - like a Robin Reunion! :) They're all loudly chirping as if to be yelling "SPRING!! SPRING!!!" It's cool. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ice storm

We got a bit of an ice storm last night...we haven't had one of those in a number of years. I think there's about a quarter inch of ice everywhere. I left about 20 min. earlier than normal. The roads were fine, but of course, the bike path was covered. I walked my bike along various sections where I felt I might have trouble, even though my mountain bike with the studded tires does good. With lower air pressure in the tires, you get even better traction, but still, I wanted to be safe. A few guys passed me, and were riding road and/or hybrid bikes and were doing fine. Made me feel like a "wimp" for walking! :) ha. But everyone has to do what they feel comfortable doing.

I felt more comfortable riding across grassy areas, where I had better traction. There's an open playing field by the airport, and the bike path runs along the outer edge of it. So I rode across the field -- my bike crunching through the frozen grass, which was a little bit of a work-out and slow-going. At the 14th Street Bridge, I walked about halfway across, as it's a little bit of an incline. When the ice looked less thick and more broken up, I hopped on my bike and did fine. Amazingly, I made it to work right on time. :) The temps will rise near 40, so the evening commute should be much better. :)