trying to piece it all together

man I a spent
so hard to catch up on lost energy

not enough sleep
not enough riding

just not enough time for me to do what I want to do

tonight I was able to squeeze in about an hour 15 on the bike
sure that is not much to the roadie types that are all about centuries and 6 hour spins
but to me it is all about the cumulative experience
lots of little rides
lots of little work outs
some races
and some more rides

got out of work and headed down M Street through Georgetown
before I could get too deep in the bumper to bumper traffic I recalled last night's nightmare on the Mount Vernon trail and figured with my low light set up I was better fighting traffic than risking the head on with the stealth cyclist or the blind runner

so I hung a U-ey and mashed the pedals on my specialized cross bike towards back up Pennsylvania Avenue
the lights were not flowing for me
tough to warm up when the lights are not flowing
but... this is a great way to get a work out for cross
lots of slow and go
trying to get speed in short and fast burst
only to slow and start up again

passed the White House on the carless streets and then turned down 15th in front of the US Treasury
figured I could loop around the Capitol Building and then flow up Mass Ave towards home
once on Independence Avenue things started to work for me
got a good rhythm and was moving faster than traffic
was in what lanes worked for me
so much of the traffic was working the right turn to head towards Virginia so I spent some time in the left hand lane
this did not appeal to some of the car traffic around me
a car with New York tags made an obnoxious pass
I let it go
no reason to start something that can not be finished
just let him think what he is thinking
while I just focused on what I was doing
more passes with that parental shaking of the head

I moved forward

at a Red Light at 3rd and Independence I decide to flow through as it is clear for me
this will send me past the New York tags and all the other disapproving heads
it will also send me rolling in front of two Capitol Hill Police officers who are sitting stalled at the green light
I roll through the red on the curb side all the way to the right
half way down the block I feel the bumper of a car behind me
I drift one lane to the left
out of the left turn lane
allowing the tailgating police officer to make his turn
sensing the second car I slow and stop a the red light for straight traffic even though there is nothing blocking my path
the second police car takes his turn

I paid my respect
with him making his turn I get my momentum forward before my light turns green
figuring that the Capitol Hill Police have bigger fish to fry than some guy on a bike
not to mention my aggravation
as I am not protected when I obey the law
why should I be punished when I disobey the law

with traffic getting the green behind me
I split slow moving traffic leading to the green in front of me
I am in the center lane when I hit the base of the hill
I am no sprinter
I am no climber
I am really not much of a power house
I am racing a Metro Bus to my right
trying to get ahead of him enough to take the right lane
in what seems to be a generous act he does not race me
I break ahead and drift in front of him
trying to keep speed
but not trying to kill myself
assuming that the metro bus will have to stop at any of the stops in front of the Rayburn, Longworth, or Cannon office buildings
as things flatten out I am leading traffic
the light ahead of me is red
the cars getting the green are less of an issue than the pedestrians

I split the mass of pedestrians crossing the street and move down Penn Avenue debating my next turn
with a glance at my watch I see I have a few more minutes before I need to turn around so I keep pushing things south for a few more city blocks
taking the turns with the flow of traffic
the green lights take me looping around Lincoln Park
I consider a few laps on the dirt in the park itself
but feel I do not have enough light to read the roots and whatnot
stick to the street and turn it around the Park then onto Mass Ave headed north

the lights are not entirely there
but I am still flowing forward
some need to slow and go
no real need to stop
some lights are run without hesitation
very little confict
very little communication with the car traffic

I pass a guy on a bike hauling a burley trailer
he looks like a character
I have my camera but do not slow to take a picture

the blocks fly behind me
there is some frustration with speed of traffic around me
a number of cars pass me fast and close
only to have me pass them again
I try not to teach lessons by passing them close
I just try to do my thing

once ahead of them I continue to take the full lane
it is important for me to put myself where is most safe for me
no one is concerned for my health and well being out there but me
no one knows where is safe or how close is safe to pass but me
the cars would pass within the same lane if I allowed them
I do not allow them
they can get there with no change in their arrival time if I take this full lane

I sense a few of the drivers are not pleased with my presence on the road
after a few exchanges of the lead
I leave them behind as I cut the lanes and they get stuck in the queue

I reach the intersection to a clear path and take it
then at the next intersection I take it again
at the next intersection I take the right hand turn
as the option to head straight is not clear
this is fine
the right hand turn takes a hop by the new convention center and puts me back on Mass Avenue
as I take the left turn with the green turn arrow just to the right of a turning car
I try to see if the driver sees me
the passanger looks on at me
I am not sure what he is thinking
I am pretty sure that the driver does not see me
so I am cautious to see if they drift wide on the turn

again I split the lanes to beat traffic to the red light
once the light turns green I race traffic to the next set of what seem to be parked cars
I split the lanes
trying to keep a rational speed
trying always to anticipate the lane changes
trying always to put myself where is most safe for me

knowing that some cars do not care for this action I plot it just the same
I take the tunnel under the traffic circle
as I start to pick up speed to make the light that is about to change I hear one of the straps on my pack slap on the side of a van
I am anxious that this may offend and anger the driver
I let this anxiety give me energy
the fear offers fuel as I imagine that I need to get further forward and away from the white van

the distance grows and changes
this is urban single track
the rear view mirros are various distances appart
some closer than others
some pinching in
the occassional car driver's arm comes close as they go to toss the cigarette
my intention is not to spook anyone
but it happens

I bust a move and take the full lane in front of an old beat up convertible rabbit
it is the sensible thing to do
by this time I am coasting as there is no need to overspin as I drop into the tunnel
on the flat I pedal a few roatations
then sprint my way out of the tunnel only to split more lanes
the curb lane is tight
I am forced on the side walk for half a block
cautious on my reentry to the street

make a few ugly but not entirely dangerous moves as I run a few lights at a traffic circle as I head up 16th Street
the traffic circles tend to be ugly
too many people do not know how to behave in the traffic circles

once on 16th it is more racing the Metro Buses and more cars auditioning for the sequel to the Fast and the Furious
the fast moving cars anger me
they weave in and out accelerating way beyond the speed limit
I am not the only one at risk here
pedestrians are at risk stepping off the sidewalk
other car drivers are at risk as well

I try not to have any confrontations with the car drivers
the flow of traffic is favoring me
I take the full right lane
I have to ride in a fashion that refuses the right of a driver to squeeze by on either side
as they will try to fit through
and well
brushing up against me will not scratch my paint
it will mess me up
so I try to avoid it

a few cars try to make statements with ultra aggressive taking of the lane in front of me as they pass
I try to not the color of the car, the make and model and the tag
so that I can give them space in the future
no need to start a discussion
the car will win that arguement

the blocks flow by
so fast that a glance at the watch has me realizing that i still have a little time before I need to free the babysitter

so I continue on 16th Street North past my neighborhood of Mount Pleasant

once over the bridge past the Woodner I take the to sidewalk
the cars at this point have moved to highway speed
it amazes me that the DC traffic cops allow this
the average speed has to be 45 MPH
there is no way I can mess with that madness
some cars are certainly breaking 50

I work the sidewalk till I pass Carter Baron
then dip into the park
there are no more street lights at this point
a car comes up behind me
I borrow their lights
I do not edge to the side for them to pass
as I am going fast enough
the speed limit is 25MPH
even if I am not going 25.... I am still within the limits of the law

at the base of the hill I roll through one stop sign as it is clear
then stop at the next four way stop
I arrive and stop before the car to my left
yet I let them go
as it is best to let the tie go to car
the car passes
then when I go to take my turn
I watch to see if the next car sees me
of course they do not
they edge foward almost hitting me as I turn in front of them
I moved deliberately slow
as it is better to be a visible obstacle
than to go unseen and get clipped
at the last second he sees me and honks
he gets the finger
how did he not see me?
I am lit up like a Christmas tree

the road from here is a slow steady grade down
it flows nicely
I want to move things into the big ring
but there needs to be an adjustment
nothing that can be done on the fly
so I over spin things

again I take the full lane
the road is has a double yellow line
oncoming traffic makes it tough for following traffic to pass
if I ride to the right cars will try to squeeze past
there is no room to squeeze past
the road near the curb is not well maintained
there are also storm grates

I ride where things are most safe for me
although I may not be going 25 MPH
I am within the legal limits
cars behind me are seeking to speed past
when things straighten out cars make the pass
a few cars get past
then one more
it worries me as another debates
as I am certain that a car would more than likely choose to run me off the road than have a head on collision if they were given the choice
that is why I try to discourage the pass

this is not a long stretch of road
as this is not a long ride
in this short stretch of road a car a few cars back is honking
pushing cars to make the pass
when this car is just two cars back they begin to honk more frequently
it is aggitating
it disrupts things
this could be a beautiful post work ride
yet instead it is an anxious experience

there are chances to pass but maybe risky
the driver immediately behind me does not take the unneccessary risks

as there are no opportunities to pass the cars bet blocked behind me as I get stuck in traffic to take a left up Park Road
the car who had been honking can go around and go straight
yet they decide to honk and give me some lip
asking why I did not move over

I am taken by surprise
I am not prepared for converstation
his line of logic is flawed
not only do I know why I take the full lane instead of hugging the curb
I also know why I did not pull over for a car to pass
as I know that letting one car pass would have all cars thinking that they were clear to pass
not letting me back into the full lane when I needed to
again am not just concerned with traffic flowing behind me
I am also concerned with getting home alive
which is not in their list of concerns
I also know that an irrate driver honking their horn incesently is more likely to have me drift off into a fantasy that I am bruce lee rather than me starting to think that I am ghandi

reminds me of that kid with the red hair...
the one with the patch that read HONKING MAKES ME GO SLOWER
great gwadzilla archive
great eyecandy


Anonymous said...

eh....messenger not,fly by night...high turn over wont be on the streets too long . go back home

gwadzilla said...



it is not about being a "lifer"
it is about being on the bike

not everyone is looking to work as a messenger for all time

some people can not cut it
others find other passions
while there are those that can not manage to make ends meet

only a select few make enough to live an adult life as a messenger

gwadzilla said...

more on the messenger question...

what qualifies one to be a "real messenger"

do they have to work commission?

can the set wage guys still be messengers?

the folks on guarantees?

what is the breakdown from your perspective

when does a "rookie" transition into the real deal?


when does a messenger become a veteran?

for me
the images are about bicycle culture
messengers are part of the bicycle culture

I am fascinated by cyclists
individuals are interesting to me

each pocket of people are interesting to me

my focus in not on messenger culture

those just happen to be the people that are around when I have my camera
I do think that much of the messenger culture if comprised of characters
so they make for good photo subjects

interesting people on cool bikes

Steeker said...

nice read but watch out doing the cat and mouse with cars game( your a Dad now),,,,,,,,,, to me it's about bike culture and bike porn :-D and critical mass

Steeker said...

and the all important thing is that bikes mean FREEDOM !

gwadzilla said...

wonder if people are clicking on the EYECANDY

Steeker said...

I LOVE to see ladies on bikes just makes my heart beat faster ,, as for the eye candy beautiful (very),, up here in Toronto there are some really SWEETT messenger girls racing around .

Anonymous said...

see you all dont see it ....u have to be a dick to be a messenger to all rookies,they cant make it oh well.especially when they bragg! what do they have to talk about? freedom of speech?at this point who r they to say what, when and why? honk i'll ride slow... what a chump!make us all look bad on the account... when u r good enough< cars dont seeya . if they honk there horn have u ever thought a 5000 pound car gonna run u over cause u r in there way? u tell me who will loose and who will get road rash! "the rookie" thats why they r rookies.