a short post work ride... better than no ride at all

the trip out from work today was pretty standard
there is always some opportunity for variety
but I am a creature of habit
I pointed down M Street and headed for the Key Street Bridge as that is the flow of car traffic when I step outside my office front door

across the bridge there was the standard weave through the same set of characters
another set of tourists, another happy couple, more people marching home from work, college coeds getting in a run
and of course the bicycles coming my way

below the river was still lit by the last hour of daylight
on the river was one lone rower headed out past roosevelt island
on the island fall is approaching fast
the ratio favors orange, red, and yellow over green
soon things will be brown and then vacant

the bike path and its glorious view of the monuments was not what I was seeking
had fought my impulse for another lazy day off the bike and pointed away from home
after a few minutes on pavement I was craving something more
the idea of the grass areas on the national mall seemed more appealing

as I crossed the 14th Street Bridge back into Washington from Virginia I thought about what sections would offer me more than just a flat sprint on an open field
once off the bridge I head out of East Potomac Park towards the Lincoln Memorial
the Potomac filled my periferal to the left and vacant fields to my right
I could see that there was no ulimate game, no rugby practice, no men in white playing cricket, or cast of twenty somethings playing kickball
it did not concern me whether it was too early in the day or too late in the fall for such activity
as I was focused on the not quite dirt path in the grass in front of me

the sod soft from some light rain made the push through the grass a tad slow
it was also a bit techical with sets of roots appearing out of no where causing me to slow even more
a woman cyclist passed me on the road by my side
I did not try to keep pace with her
it was more important for me to focus on the varying terrain infront of the narrow knobbies of my Specialized cyclocross bike

at the light I glanced, nodded, and smiled at the woman who had passed me
she smiled back... or maybe she laughed
I could not tell
the light turned green and we each moved forward
she more than likely headed for the Memorial Bridge
while I pointed for the path between the trees that feeds from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument
I alternated between tourist filled path and root filled single track packed earth
neither was comfortable
as I could not get any speed without risking someone getting hurt

so I crossed onto the land surrounding the Washington Monument
here the earth was even more soft
so soft in places I feared that I would rut out the surface so I stayed to the path or moved towards deeper grass

cautiously I looped the Washington Monument a few times
down by the Sylvan Theater where I saw The Maniacs, the B-52s, and so many other bands at so many festivals I can not recall
on these multiple loops I daydreamed about the Belgian Embassy hosting a cross race on the mall
the daydream reminded me that I was not working hard enough
so I broke from the day dream and headed off the Washington Monument grounds and pointed towards the Capitol Building

here the pace picked up

on the Mall under the trees along side the hard packed gravel path is a dirt path from walkers and runners
I sprinted on the dirt path
always cautious of runners headed my way or crossing my path
I passed through between some families
safe.... but perhaps obnoxious
but.... it is also obnoxious to not look ahead or to not pay attention to what is around you

the sprints were short as I had to slow and stop at the end of each city block

some of the sprints were slowed by packs of people

it was a lot of stop and go
not unlike a cross race with lots of turns

I went up and back and looped around
hitting various stretches of earth several times
then pointed my way home
once back on the street I fought the wind and race the approaching storm

head on into the wind I approached an old neighbor of mine
a die hard commuter
she was in a nice tuck dodging the wind
I caught her and let her know that she would not have to fight the wind so much if she oiled her chain
it sounded like it was enough friction to make every pedal feel like an uphill stroke
then pulled along side of her

we rode the final miles of city blocks from the white house to our neighborhood of mount pleasant

we hogged the road and dodged cars
there were a few near misses
there were plenty of obnoxious drivers
we chatted about our same age children of opposite sexes and the plans for Halloween
she asked about the mud
I was unable to explain

when we got to her house I snapped a few shots and we said our goodbyes

the bicycle gives such a different opportunity to interact with the city than in the car

in a car someone may email later and say that they saw you
on the bike people slow and chat
a far more civil way to travel
it was nice to slow down after my short but hard cyclocross work out

NPS: National Park Service

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