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Category: washington, dc (Page 2 of 30)

a safety tip for post-dst cycling in dc: no bike ninjas

Daylight Saving Time is over as of last weekend. For the majority of folks who are cycling commuters in the DC area, it’s dark by the time the office door closes at the end of the day.

And every year, the same thing occurs: a lot of cyclists hit the roads without lights, wearing the standard-DC-issue black jacket, on a bike that very likely has no reflectors on it.

These cyclists are bike ninjas.

Yehuda Moon bike ninja comic, copyright Rick Smith

Most of these folks ride as if it were daylight, and assume they can be seen. That isn’t the case. Dressed in black, and even with a few reflectors, they aren’t visible until too close for comfort – or for safety.

Last night, near Dupont Circle, I counted 40 commuter cyclists within a 15 minute period. Of these, only 17 had proper lighting in the front, as mandated by law. A few more than that had some sort of taillight. And most were dressed in dark, non-reflective, hard-to-see colors.

This is an easy problem to solve without spending a lot of money. Most people own some bright clothing, like a colorful shell or shirt. A basic reflective vest costs under $10. Reflective ankle straps that serve a dual purpose of keeping pants legs out of the bicycle drivetrain and create moving light points for drivers to see are cheap and come in myriad colors (including black, for those who want to keep their DC fashion cred).

And then there are lights. A basic set of front and rear blinking lights (i.e. “be seen” lights) runs around $15 dollars, weighs very little, and lets fellow road, trail, and sidewalk users know your presence as a cyclist. WABA and Bike Arlington even hand out free light sets that serve this basic purpose.

If you plan on riding on more poorly lit roads, trails, or paths, it’s worth investing in more heavy-duty “to see” lights – something I’ll discuss in a subsequent post. But a basic light set is simple, cheap, and effective, and takes care of the “bike ninja” issue.

Note: this “dressing brightly and carrying lights” argument can be transposed to folks who run at night, especially on multi-use paths (MUPs) like the W&OD and Capital Crescent Trails, where being tough to see can cause collisions between trail users.

my 30s: a look back

I turn 40 today. Frankly, it’s not a birthday that’s weighing on me like my 30th did – it’s just another day to me, this time around.

But a lot has happened to me over the past decade, and since I’m feeling a bit put out by other things in life right now, I figured it would be worth a trip back through time to see where I’ve been and what I’ve done, just as a reminder.

  • Settled into DC (2003)
  • Settled into Georgetown U. (2003)
  • Helped two presidential campaigns (2003-04)
  • Run for political office – and won (2004)
  • Traveled to England and Wales (2005)
  • Traveled to Austria and Germany with my mom (2007)
  • Rode up Mount Shasta (2008)
  • Ski trips to Colorado (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
  • Cut off my long hair (2008)
  • Traveled to France (2008)
  • Rode from Boston to Windsor for a beer (2009)
  • Testified in front of City Council (2009, 2011)
  • Traveled to Iceland (2011)
  • Chaired my favorite bike club, Potomac Pedalers (2011)
  • Traveled to Louisiana (2012)
  • Groomsman in two weddings (2005, 2013)
  • Many concerts: Simon & Garfunkel, U2, Thomas Dolby, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Brian Wilson, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Paul Simon (solo), Pink Martini, The Beach Boys, Retro Stefson, Erin McKeown, Nellie McKay, Sloan, The Pipettes, Polyphonic Spree, Elvis Costello, and many, many more
  • Seeing awesome plays written by my friend, Michael
  • Excellent beers, including the rebirth of brewing in DC
  • Birthdays, holidays, picnics, and other random occasions hanging out with friends

So a lot of things – a lot of great things – have happened over the past decade. Yes, there have been setbacks and sadness, but the good has outweighed the bad, all in all.

the errandonnee: wrapping it all up

Today is the last day to log miles and trips for the 2013 Errandonn̩e Рeek! Given I still had a few controls to make, I had to find a way to multitask.

Fortunately, I found the perfect solution: do a lunch run to Whole Foods, book in hand, and pick up some post-work provisions at the same time. It is an elegant – and efficient – solution to this particular problem.

Riding up 37th Street NW toward Glover Park:

Heading north on 37th Street

Welcome to Glover Park:

Welcome to Glover Park

A favorite bit of street art on Hall Place NW:

Street art on Hall Place NW

Parked at the bike rack at Whole Foods in Glover Park, next to the rain barrel display:

Bike and rain barrels

My haul for the Personal Care & Health category: three beers (yes, Mary G. says they count!) and one skyr!

The haul: three beers and one skyr

My lunch, my second Coffee control, and my Library/Reading control, a fun book on artisan cheesemaking in the U.S. From this book, I learned that most cheeses, prior to the rise of industrial dairies in the 1930s and 1940s, was done by women at small farms – and that most of the new, artisan cheesemakers are women who are reclaiming the practice.

Lunch, coffee, book

So, that wraps up the 2013 Errandonnée. Here are the totals:

Total errandonee mileage to date: 137.5
Total controls: 9 categories, 13 controls (Work Commute [x2], Breakfast/Lunch [x2], Dinner, Grocery Store [x2], Bike Shop, Wild Card, Coffee [x2], Library/Reading, Personal Care & Health)

the errandonnee: a bit of shopping and dining

After my early morning run to Heller’s, my third day of acting errandonneuring involved some shopping and some dining.

The first order of business was a post-work run up to Rodman’s in Friendship Heights to pick up a few missing pieces of sprite’s birthday present, as well as some provisions for a dinner and movie party that takes place tonight.

The rush hour traffic on Wisconsin Ave NW is thick, and not particularly friendly to cyclists:

Rush hour traffic on Wisconsin Ave NW

My bike outside of Rodman’s (which is a great place to find imported food products, as well as wine, beer, and other yummy things):

The Rudi Projekt outside of Rodman's

The provisions: tea and chocolates for sprite, mustard for the house larder, and some yummy beers for me (including two from Epic Brewing: 825 State Porter and Brainless Imperial IPA):


Stopped by HTO on the way back home to price some locking wheel skewers for my mountain bike (it may soon see more use as a daily commuter with less-than-reliable parking). Didn’t buy, but nice to see what’s out there:


Riding back down Wisconsin Ave, back toward downtown, with far less traffic (and less sunlight):

Wisconsin Ave at Tenleytown

Much heavier traffic on Mass Ave, just past Observatory Circle. This was painful:

Traffic jam on Mass Ave

sprite chose to have dinner at Pete’s Apizza, DC’s best pizza place, and while we took the bus to Mt. Pleasant, we rode Capital Bikeshare back. Note sprite’s petticoat – very fun:

sprite on CaBi

Total errandonee mileage to date: 26.0
Total controls: 5 (Work Commute, Breakfast/Lunch, Dinner, Grocery Store, Bike Shop)

the errandonnee: fetching a birthday breakfast

Another day, another errand – thus more errandonneuring!

Today, February 14th, is sprite’s birthday! Hooray! So I wanted to give her a breakfast that would make the start of her day extra special. Given she wasn’t wowed by Zeke’s Donutz, I went for what I consider to be the standard-bearer in great donuts here in DC: Heller’s Bakery

So before sprite got out of bed, I was out the door, riding to Mount Pleasant to pick up some fresh, donutty goodness for my love:

Riding the bike lane NE on Columbia Road. The lane, while far from smooth, is far, far better than its previous, two-lane, mixed traffic configuration. However, you still see a lot of delivery vehicles block the lane at various times during the day.

Riding the Columbia Road bike lane

The intersection of 18th and Columbia. The McDonalds on the right, across 18th, is still being repaired after a Subaru decided to try drive-thru service a couple months ago.

18th and Columbia

There is finally some movement on the renovation/addition to the old Ontario Theatre space. Back when the theatre was a performance space (before my time in DC), it hosted David Bowie, during his Ziggy Stardust phase.

Ontario Theatre demo

I arrived at Heller’s shortly after they opened, which meant the donuts were extra fresh and the selection was plentiful.

Heller's inside

The box contained the bounty: two glazed, two sprinkled, one sour cream, one chocolate over glazed, and one BIG apple fritter.

The box

Before I got back on the bike, I snapped this gratuitous self-portrait in a shiny car window:

Self-portrait in car window

Total errandonee mileage to date: 11.5
Total controls: 2 (Work Commute, Breakfast/Lunch)

the errandonnee: morning commute

As I wrote in a post on my daily commute over at Brian’s excellent Tales From The Sharrows back in May of last year.

However, as part of the Errandonnee, I’m logging a commute to work as one of the “to-do” tasks (actually, I’m logging the commute twice, using last night’s commute as one of two post-sunset tasks). And since photos are part of the requirement of task completion, here’s the (short) photoblog of my commute to work:

Traffic backed up halfway down the block between 27th and 28th on Q Street NW:

Damn that traffic jam!

The rope walk at Montrose Park in north Georgetown:

The rope walk at Montrose Park

the errandonnee: night ride #1

Last week, Mary G. put up a fun and unique cycling challenge: the “errandonnee.” The basic premise: run your errands, riding your bike, and chronicle the adventure by filling out an “errandonnee card” and snapping pictures of your journey.

The challenge started on Saturday, but I only got into the swing of it this week. My daily commute counts for one category, which is all well and good, but when I come home late, the night ride enters the fray. And that’s what I present here: my return commute, after sunset.

The view from Taft Bridge, looking down at the end of rush hour on Rock Creek Parkway:

Looking down on Rock Creek Parkway from Taft Bridge

Looking west at the moon and the last bits of twilight:

The sliver of the new moon, looking west across Taft Bridge

My bike’s handlebars, showing off my light, and looking at rush hour traffic heading northeast on Florida Ave NW (spot the cyclist):

The intersection of Florida Ave and R Streets NW

I’ll chronicle more #errandonneuring as I go along – stay tuned!

vote yes on no! (election 2012 live[ish]blog)


Polls are closed in Virginia. Results from there are… forming.

But I vote in DC. I arrived at my polling place at 7:02am ad found a queue of over 100 people waiting to cast ballots.

And by 7:30am, I was done and out. Many ovals were filled with the standard golf pencil: Obama/Biden, Grosso, Beatty (simply because a moderate Republican would provide a needed check in the otherwise mono block DC Council), Strachuzzi (because we need new approaches within Congress), Mendelson, et al. I voted for the weak-sauce ethics reform measures because they are, at the very least, a step toward meaningful ethics reform in the DC government.

My reward? A flat white from Filter – yum!

I worked all day at the office.

Now I head to watch the returns with friends dating back to the days of Howard Dean. I’ll keep you posted by updating this post.


At Tunnicliff’s, drinking a lager. Talking heads on TV are vamping because there isn’t anything to report. Whee. Drink.


Trusty’s has been good. Once the trivia game broke up, it got quiet. Watching results pour in with relative peace. Nice to see Warren, Baldwin, McCaskill, Sharrod Brown win. Interesting to see the national popular vote juxtaposed with the Electoral College.


At the White House – four more years!!!

ten on tuesday: goals are for soccer

So Carole does another non-knitting “Ten on Tuesday,” and I’m compelled to join in. The subject: 10 goals for the summer. I think you can guess where my goals will be….

  1. Get back in prime cycling shape. This goal is vexing me right now: I’m back on the bike, essentially cleared to ride anything (though I still need my doc’s full “OK” to do the big stuff – I’m hoping it comes with tomorrow’s check-up), but feeling so out-of-it. I’m enjoying riding, but my climbing shape is woeful right now, and I have a lot of muscle mass to build back after the long sit-out and gradual build-up to riding again. Working on pedaling mechanics, good as it is in the long-run, doesn’t hold as much satisfaction as being able to climb like I usually can at this point. The rest of my riding friends are well ahead of me, thanks in part to the lack of winter we had in DC. And while I know that recovery from an adductor injury is a long, drawn-out, steady process, my inherent impatience is making things a bit tough. I have a lot of ground to make up, and having to do it in the midst of summer’s heat and humidity will make it extra challenging.
  2. Rebuild my carbon bike. The frame has been repaired for months, but sitting in a shipping box. I’ve stalled rebuilding it because of…. well, because of depression due to not being able to ride and riding like crap. I think I’ll be happier once it’s built and back on the road (and I’ll have two road bikes to choose from in riding – woot!).
  3. Do a mass de-cluttering. The Burrow is in a weird state of “packed” right now, and I could stand to clear out some things that I’m not using any more, but I’m sure could be used by others. Goodwill, local bike swaps and co-ops, eBay: be forewarned, I’m coming!
  4. Cook more. Part of the de-cluttering will involve “rationalizing the pantry.” This will make me more likely to cook. That’s a win-win.
  5. Go camping. I’d like to go backwoods camping – hiking, backpack, tents and all – but would settle for car camping, all the same. That said: must go backpacking sometime in the none-too-distant future.
  6. Go to the beach a few times. I’m a person who believes a beach isn’t a real beach unless there is actual surf (thus why I was never too keen on the Connecticut beaches: salty water but no surf). Why? Because I like to body surf (or at least attempt to do it – success is fleeting). The nearest good beaches are a few hours from DC, but worth the trip.
  7. Go on more picnics and cookouts with friends. I feel that this often gets overlooked in my summer plans. Hopefully, it won’t in 2012 because I’ve committed to it here!
  8. Enjoy what little available weekday vacation time I have. Due to a double whammy of working in academia and a large, enterprise-wide roll-out happening this summer, my available weekday summer vacation time (i.e. the stuff that summer vacations are made of) is all-too-short this year. Putting it gently: I have all of June and a few days in July, and that’s about it. I could complain about the fact that, unlike most of my DC friends, I don’t get to enjoy the dog days of summer with 4-day work weeks (believe me, it’s highly irksome), but that’s just a waste of time. So a road trip sometime in June is a must.
  9. Stay sane. The aforementioned big roll-out, happening in July, will likely tap my physical and emotional strength. My department is expected to turn in long work days for extended stretches of time, and I don’t cope well with these situations if they drag on for too long. So I’ll need my sanity checks along the way.
  10. Keep a positive outlook, come what may. Since my injury, I’ve had more than my share of ups and downs. I’ve found myself fighting to stay positive, and it’s a tough battle. Thus summer’s busy times and tough situations with regard to my favorite summer pastime have me in a bit of an anticipatory funk. I just need to take every day as it comes and find the positives wherever they are hiding. I can’t promise that every day will be good, but I hope that every day has at least one positive moment.

I know that sprite has her list, and that Sarah may also play along. Do any of my readers have specific summer goals? Post ’em in the comments!

(Note that I haven’t mentioned soccer until now? Good!)

ten on tuesday: things to do in 2012

OK, so it’s Wednesday Thursday, but this seems like a good topic to start of 2012, right? As usual, Carole posted a lovely topic, and both sprite and Sarah posted their lists.

So, here goes:

1. Read more books. I read a couple books in 2011, but I really would like to be a bit more diligent about diving into the stack of volumes that are whispering to me, urging me to open their covers and get lost in the pages.

2. Plan another big trip. Iceland was a surreal, magical, wonderful experience – and one that sprite and I planned mostly by happenstance. I’m not sure that this next big trip will happen in 2012, but getting the wheels in motion now wouldn’t be a bad idea.

3. Cook and prepare more things that I would otherwise buy. Often I’m in a rush to leave in the morning and don’t pack lunch. That means having to uy lunch, and the cost adds up. So I’d like to have the foresight to pack more lunches. Also, I’m a sucker for gourmet coffee drinks that I can totally make myself (e.g. espresso, Starbucks’ gingerbread lattés). For Christmas, I received an Aerobee Aeropress, and sprite pointed me to this DIY gingerbread latté recipe, so…. there ‘ya go!

4. Clean a little bit every day. The Burrow is a tiny apartment, and it’s often far from the sanctuary it should be. I’d like to rediscover the space inside by cleaning it a little each day and, like sprite, concentrate on sectors. It may mean that we’ll have guests over more often, and that would be great.

5. Let go of things. This goes hand-in-hand with cleaning, in a sense: I tend to hold onto things, sometimes to the point of obsession. This leads to messes, both literal and figurative, which leads to unnecessary stress. I’ve been working on this for a few years, and it’s a continuing process.

6. Really crush the Death Ride. It’s my big event ride for 2012, and I want to be super-strong in it! So it will involve training smartly, eating well, resting, keeping the bikes in shape and always looking forward.

7. Go hiking in both Rock Creek Park and Shenandoah National Park. One is just blocks from my front door. The other is only 60 miles from my front door. And I really haven’t hiked in either park. I love hiking, so…. let’s do it!

8. Draw more. I have a lovely set of Prismacolor pencils and sketchbooks – I should use ’em more!

9. Post more on this blog. It’s fallen somewhat by the wayside. This will change in 2012.

10. Say “thank you” far more often. I’m often not grateful enough for the friends and family I have, and the things they do to help me through life.

Do any of you have things you want to do in 2012?

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