Sunday, May 27, 2012

Summer's Here!

It's Memorial Day weekend and that means its officially the start of summer, my favorite bike riding season.

I've been pretty busy since I finished the Police Unity Tour. I actually had a whole other post written last week, but blogger ate it and I haven't had time to rewrite it; so you'll just have to read the "abbreviated" version ;-)

Myself and Mir had registered for Bike DC before we did the Tour not knowing how we were going to feel about biking another 25 miles after we got back. Luckily, we felt fine. I first rode Bike DC in 2009 and it's my favorite bike event of the year. In previous years I've ridden with my brother, on my birthday and with plenty of friends. It's my favorite ride because you get to ride on roads that are normally reserved for cars. Vehicle traffic is completely shut down on the route and the roads are wide open (or as wide open as they can be with over a 1000 riders on them). The first year that I rode it, it was held in the autumn. It was cold and rainy & I couldn't feel my toes or hands. I loved it. Thankfully they've moved it to the spring now.

I like to save my bibs.

Bike DC gets bigger and bigger every year. And this is where my problem with this year's event comes in. There is an option to pre-register for BikeDC, which I always do. It's (usually) convenient for me because I don't have to waste time standing in line to register the morning of. I just check in, get my bib & go. It's also convenient for the organizers because they can get a rough idea of how many people are expected.

I showed up to the start line with Betty to get my bib and wait for Mir and discovered a line a mile long. Not even kidding. And this was Will Call.  There were only TWO tents to handle check-in and registration. ONE will call tent, ONE registration tent. That is ridiculous. There is absolutely no excuse for that lack of planning. I am quite sure there were still people waiting to check-in for the long ride, long after the start line for it closed. It was unorganized & chaotic and the volunteers were simply overwhelmed and inexperienced. When I finally got up to the table to check-in, the volunteer never checked my ID, never checked to see if I was registered--he simply shoved a bib at me. I had to specifically ask for a map of the route. And I never received the tag/bracelet for my t-shirt which I had already paid for (which I didn't know about until after the ride when I went to pick up my t-shirt. I was made to feel like I was trying to steal. Not cool at all.)

Bike DC is simply too big to have same day check-in/registration. It really needs to have an Expo of some sort where folks can register & pick up their stuff BEFORE the day of the ride.

Anyway, that whole process really soured things for me. I started the ride in a really foul mood. On top of that, somebody (MIR) overslept and missed the start. So I was on my own.

This year's route included Rock Creek Parkway, which was really cool. Normally, bikes aren't allowed on the parkway itself (there is a MUP beside it that I usually ride). Riding on the parkway gave me a completely different view than I usually get to see. It was neat. Until I got to the turn-around and saw this:

Nasty collision ahead
I'm not sure if you can see from this photo, but there are two ambulances ahead and what looked like a nasty crash scene. Yikes. This is one of the dangers with routes that attempt to funnel hundreds of riders into a 180 degree turn. There really needs to be signage/marshalls warning riders to SLOW DOWN and SHARP TURN AHEAD.

Anyway. we all turned around and headed back towards the way we came and soon enough (too soon, actually) we hit the first rest stop. The usual assortment of bananas, granola bars & water was provided (why no gatorade AGAIN?). I skipped this stop because it was way too early in the ride and I was still in a nasty mood.  The course took us near the Kennedy Center than over some bridges to get to the GW Parkway (one of my favorite parts of the ride).

It was nice and I saw plenty of familiar faces along the way. The next part of the route took us near the Iwo Jima, and this where I witnessed the most unforgivable eff-up ever:

Do you see the problem in the above photos? Let me lay it out for you: after descending a rather steep hill, riders than had to make a fairly tight turn into what you see above--a route that is under construction and FULL of bike hazards. If you look carefully at the paved area, you will see metal plating all along the right side of the paved road. Because cyclists obviously couldn't ride on that, they simply divided the rest of the paved area into two, expecting riders that are both coming AND going to squeeze into that very narrow area. Because this is simply ridiculous, riders had to get off their bikes and walk them. Fine, except it caused a bottleneck with the riders who were coming up behind them at speed because no one was warning them of what was ahead. Those riders who chose to stay on the paved area and ride risked colliding with riders heading in the other direction.

Of course, the worst happened. Two riders had a really nasty head-on collision and that part of the route was temporarily shut down.

That was unacceptable. Of course last-minute construction happens and things on the route can't always be predicted. However, this is why you do a dry-run of the route before the actual ride. Whomever did this (IF they did this) should have seen what a danger this section was. Any simpleton could have seen that collision happening. This sector should have been removed as soon as it became apparent that it was too dangerous to attempt to ride. If they couldn't see that it was too dangerous? Well, I don't even really know what to think because IS VERY VERY OBVIOUS.

Face of a very annoyed rider.

Once past that section, the rest was pretty much smooth sailing. Mir (finally) woke up and called me and told me she would meet me at the Air Force Memorial and ride the rest of the way. I met up with her and we had a good time riding back to the finish line together.

If you squint and look at the rider in the top left, you can see a Tales from the Sharrows button!

Top of the Air Force Memorial

Bottom of the Air Force Memorial (its really tall)

Finish Line

T-shirts ( I wish they would offer more colors. I'm sick of dark blue)

Back of the t-shirts. The design on the back changes every year.

I really hope that the organizers of BikeDC (which is NOT WABA--WABA is just a beneficiary. I heard they took a lot of heat over the ride, oops) step up their game next year. They generally do a really really good job, and the volunteers are awesome. Unfortunately there were some pretty glaring problems that marred the experience a bit. Next year: provide an Expo or do a better job of organizing check-in/registration and be a bit more safe with route design. Overall though, it was a fun morning and I can't wait for next year!

Bike to Work Day also happened, and I had a blast. Since I don't normally work until 1:30 in the afternoon, I had the chance to check out a few pitstops & Friday Coffee Club. I was even able to work the afternoon pitstop in Columbia Heights as an MPD representative.

Adams Morgan pitstop. Awesome volunteers and coffee from Tryst.

Hey! It's BicycleBug and his TFTS button!

WABA reppin' at the Bike FROM work pitstop.

Packing up for the day. Where's the brakes on that thing?

Bike to Work day was fun. I saw a ton of riders out. They should do it every week.

Last week my birthday. It was a really busy week for me, so no birthday fun rides for me. Most of my riding was done at work. I still managed to sneak in one ride to the Pre-Tour de Fat fundraiser at The Pug. They were raffling off a New Belgium cruiser! I was really hoping to win it, but I didn't. I did walk away with a sweet New Belgium bike bell though. It's probably a good thing I didn't win it because The Boy would divorce me and we're not even married yet.

My watch knew what time it was. Cake time!

I love this "cop car" outside of Sticky Rice on H St. NE

Okay, yes. Those are rollerblades in the last photo above. I got it into my head that I wanted to rollerblade around Hains Point at least once. I used to Rollerblade all the time when I was in high school and I loved it. I skated more than I biked. When I first moved to DC, I have a fond memory of skating around the Memorials with my college roommate and running into the Million Man March. Of course I haven't been on a pair of rollerblades in just about 10 years.  It should be just like riding a bicycle, right? Once you do it, you never forget?

No. No it is not. Not at all. First of all, did you know that rollerblading uses muscles in your feet & ankles that I didn't even know existed? It does. I think I got about .5 mile before I gave up, and I wanted to throw them in the river.

Practice makes perfect, right? Maybe I'll just stick to biking.


  1. Nice post and good pictures. Sounds like BikeDC let some newbies do part of the organizing...

  2. KC, I totally agree about Bike to Work Day. At least you got to go to the Air Force Memorial; I didn't.

    The cop car looks like the one from the old TV series Highway Patrol. I loved watching the car lean and rebound as Broderick Crawford got out. The dude was huge.

    I like rollerblading in theory too. I have wide feet so I can forget about getting comfortable skates. It's okay if I look past the falling and the bleeding and blistered feet.

    This was a boffo post, BTW.

  3. Hermosa Beach All parts and components are blacked out,giving it a very cool,toughb and mellow look.

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  4. Interesting, entertaining post, as usual. It raised a question for me, tho. You write:

    "This year's route included Rock Creek Parkway, which was really cool. Normally, bikes aren't allowed on the parkway itself (there is a MUP beside it that I usually ride)."

    I've looked around and i've never noticed any signage indicating that bikes aren't allowed on Rock Creek Parkway. Is there such signage somewhere? or if not, what rule prohibits bikes from using the parkway? Also, what about Rock Creek & Potomac Parkway, further down? In both cases, the MUPs are highly inadequate if you want to go faster than 12 mph or so.

    Thanks in advance. Stay safe!