1.04.2007

out spinning on the fixie

tonight after work I went for a cross town ride on the fixie
no particular place to go
just a ride around town
no objective just some time on the bike
with no races or racing in the immediate future my ride was just about riding
then again I am not the heart rate monitor guy out doing a century

was on the fixie so there was no urban fun with curbs, stairs, or other small obstacles
well a few curbs... only down them as I am not comfortable going up them on the fixed gear
there are cyclocross knobbies yet there was to be no cross style riding
no urban cross
the fixed gear is not my second nature
the mustache bars are comfortable for cruising, not a set up for off road control

had an assortment of blinkies on the bike and on the bag
was abscent the head lamp so I stayed on streets with street lights
as aluring as the Mount Vernon trail may be with its view of the monuments from the Virginia side
the trail is not to be approached with anything less than some sort of lights to see as well as be seen
on this day I was equiped with blinkies and no headlamp
not a high powered halogen lamp
not a excessively powerful hid light with its blue glow
not even the triple A powered Princeton lights version of a Petzel
nothing to light the ground in front of me
just lights to be seen
nothing to help me see

left work down the usualy path down M Street
then hooked it back
took the flow of traffic down past the monuments

for part of The Mall I evaded traffic by taking the wide sidewalk paths rather than the streets
the tourist present was thin, not vacant, but thin
thin enough for a good spin without risking being impolite or too dangerous

on and off the streets
on and off the sidewalks

the cars were doing the usual car thing
there was little anxiety as I was not in race mode
adrenalin was down
it was a good fast spin at a nice low speed
36X18, maybe 38X18
okay... maybe 38X16
either way it is a low gear
low as in easy
gearing that would not be bad for a single speed 29er off road
a very easy gear for getting around town
lots of spin to that cadence
but not enough resistence to really race traffic

there had been no issueing of the bird
a few times I whispered asshole under my breath
and I think I used that ugly "C word" once... okay... maybe twice
but each time under my breath
which for me is a less than expressive ride

this was a cross town cruise
not a cross town race
no games with traffic
no illusions of superman racing the train
just an effort to get a flow
tried my best to surf the traffic
tried to glide through the lights when I could
waited stalled at intersections when there was no clear passage
usually turned rather than waiting
always trying to avoid getting into hazzardous situations
as the fixie is not my second nature
in autopilot I will not be as fluid with creating an escape as I would be on a mountain bike with brakes and gears
as the mountain bike is my second nature
not the fixie

the lights favored me
even on the low speed fixed gear I made far better time than the car traffic
I was running some lights and making others
the cars were getting stuck in the queue
at times I had to slow as I felt like I was splitting lanes in a parking lot
a parking where anyone could try to bust a move and switch to the other stagnate lane without any warning


there were a few bicycle photo opportunities when I got deeper into Southwest DC
commuters and couriers
people doing post work errands
a cast of characters I had never seen before
a few nods shared between cyclists around the Eastern Market
me looking at their gear
them checking out my gear
then a few more potential photo opportunities as I headed back towards Capitol Hill on Mass Ave
when passing Union Station I was temped to ask an older gentleman if I could take some pictures
but bypassed the situation
as I was trying to get in a little more than a hour on my bike not out looking to take pictures

this time was about getting out on the bike
feeling that feeling I get when I have not been exercising
a build up
a build up that can be broken down by riding the bike
a build up that must be broken down to keep my brain and body healthy

left the camera in the bag
wanted to spend this hour fifteen window of opportunity on the bike not standing on the sidewalk

that stretch of Mass Ave headed north number streets counting up had the same usual annoyances
there was some honking
there was the usual tailgating
there was the expected lines of parked cars
spinning around fast yet comfortable
I moved slow and safe

at one point there is no real option to ride to the right of traffic
the lanes get thin and the car behavior gets aggressive
knowing the erratic actions of the car commuter I took the full lane
not hogging the lane
just taking the lane
as share the road does not mean share the lane
but putting myself in the space which is most safe for me
making the decision for the following trafffic when it is safe and when it is not safe to pass
knowing that no one is looking out for my safety but me

not a city block down
I feel a large metalic mass very close to my side
I glance over my shoulder
rolling up in my blind spot I see a gigantic SUV trying to sneak stealth style between me and the curb

brb
the boys are getting out of the tub
this little update is being spat out as I converse with my two boys who are over my shoulder
gotta go
will tie this up

back
lisa has long since subbed in as super mom
I have just finished eating some fish and rice
back... where was I?

oh...
so this over sized woman in an oversized SUV tries to squeeze through between me and the curb
it is like she is trying to sneak down an alley that may be too thin for her vehicle
only one thing
one of those alley walls is me
I am not made of brick and motar
I am man... made of flesh and bones
I bleed

well... there was not really enough space
she was in tight
I edged over a bit away from the vehicle as she had her hood right off my hip
once I moved aside she started to move up
still not sure if she could make it I could she her giggling and laughing
with the driver's side door along side of me
our faces closer than I think I would care for our faces to ever be
unable to tell if she was with friends or alone
as I was too focused on keeping the bike upright

I picked up the pace
she picked up the pace
it was uncomfortable having her by my side so I let her go
as it is not a game
there is nothing to laugh about
the stakes are far too high for grins and giggles

I let her go and faded into a position that clearly held the whole lane
I occupied the full lane behind her
she turned right
I turned right behind her
then let it go and let her go

cut the lanes and made a left
she was left a few cars behind
maybe following left maybe headed straight

the jump back on Mass Ave after the Convention Center had me nervous about the bumper to bumper traffic
always cautious that someone will try to solve their traffic congestion problems with a rash decision

made some ground on the stopped cars
took a half a block here and half a block there on the pedestrian free sidewalks
re-entering traffic before hitting the intersection in an effort to dodge the right turning traffic

the action of riding the bicycle through the tunnel under the traffic is never a popular decision
no matter how fast I may be going
tailgating and echoing horns add to the adrenalin of the experience
I take the full lane and try to maintain a solid pace through the tunnels
over spinning on the flats
keeping good cadance on the slight grade up and out of the tunnel

out of the tunnel I take the right up 15th as this red light is too hectic to try and bust a move straight

a few blocks up 15th I smile as I see a familiar face duke-ing it out with a car
a messenger from the old school who has had his photo on the page in the past
not sure of the encounter
but he looks pissed
the driver gets the bird and maybe a fist to the roof of the car

then ahead I see what looks like a few commuters gathering after work
as I pass I see what looks to be george
that same george who panhandles at M Street and Key Bridge
I take a second look as I continue rolling ahead
the situation sets off a radar
it does not look so much like a few people catching up after work
there is some serious energy going on

it looks at first like george had been cut off or hit
either way he is off his bike and his bike is lying on the ground
things got more confusing as I tried to help and sort things out
it was not clear what had happened to george
there appeared to have been a crash
was a car involved?
was one of these people here in a car involved in george crashing?
what had happened earlier?

george was irrate and aggressive
it appeared as if all around him were there to offer assistance
the car drivers were offering aid...
it was not clear if they had or had not been involved in whatever had happened to george
my attention goes to george more than what happened to george

it is hard to get a read on his condition
aggression and aggitation are on the surface
there appears to be no blood or sign of injury
the scent of alcohol is present
george lashes out at each person who offers assistance or shows concern

I walk in and make eye contact
not that I know george well
but each time I have ever seen me before he keys in on basically who I am
we just know each other from around town
george used to hang with the punk crowd
not so much the punk crowd that went to the punk shows
but the punk crowd at the parks
or maybe he was just in the parks
he asked who I was
I told him my name
my name did not click
but the tone told him that we knew each other

now I was on his side
george asked me to ask the people to go away
happily all those who had wanted to help had also wanted to leave
as things were sort of sloppy

george blew some steam
there was all sorts of emotion pouring out
there was all sorts of confused energy still stuffed within
a couple walked their dog on the sidewalk were aggressed as they passed
they and their dog kept moving
as if george were invisible
guess they see this sort of stuff more often than I do

with george off the street and onto the sidewalk I pulled his bike out of the line of traffic
I had noticed george trying to straighten the handlebars in between fits of rage

there was an bent brake lever with a fresh abrasion
some damage to the v-brakes
the wheels were not straight
but the wheels were more than likely not straight before
it was not clear if the front brakes had been connected previously

george asked if I would do him a favor
before I could answer yes or no
george was horizontal on the sidewalk asking me to watch his bike while he lie down
I continued to work on his bike
george mumbled as I finished the basic tool less repair to his well worn mountain bike

before I could even consider how long I was going to have to watch this bike as george relaxes there was an officer
first there was one officer
then there was another officer
then there was another commuter

george was alright with the first officer
then got aggressive with the cyclist who was offering assistance and concern
then officers on foot were front and center asking questions
all smiles
all polite
they were just trying to piece it together

it was a tough transition
but it was clearly time to go
moments earlier I had pulled a few bucks from my bag as a good will gesture
no I do not like to give money to the homeless
as I do not feel that the cash hand out really helps the problem
but how can I really help
so maybe I a few bucks will give him a second of hope
as he was feeling pretty down
feeling backed against a wall

the various police officers may or may not have known george
but they seemed pretty comfortable with the situation
I looked at george's bike and george's bag
rather than tuck the money in a forgotten pocket
I stepped in and wished george a happy new year and good luck
and passed the two dollars in a handshake

that seemed like a good enough time for me to go
there were points in the situation where everyone who had offered assistance regretted stopping regretted getting in close
george was aggressive and threatening

so I was glad to get back on the bike and back towards home
as I was about to re-enter traffic I slowed my start to allow a cyclist to pass
as the biker approached she slowed
it was meredith
so I rolled up along side meredith and we took the whole lane and weaved the final blocks towards mount pleasant

meredith was curious what the action was about
as we rolled forward my glance back gave me a grander perspective
there were multiple police cars and various emergency vehicles
people far better equipted help george than myself

after a short description of george meredith had a clever anecdote from where she was in a track stand and george started heckling her
it all made sense to her
then the topic switched to the traffic around us

too bad the ride was not longer
the initial intent of a hour plus ride turned out to be a 45-50 minute ride plus some urban wackiness

too bad the ride was not longer to catch up with meredith
that picture of meredith is from this gwadzilla archive
which was two days before tim broke his leg
and the same week that had that euro methos chic that so many guys at wakefield

2 comments:

gwadzilla said...

that is a lot of words
I wanted to proof read it
to check to see if it comes together

there were a few steps away from the computer

dean came down and told me what happened in the movie happy feet
I asked him at dinner
he did not care until now
I can see through it
it sees it as a way to stay awake a little longer

it sounds like a good movie

got go brush my teeth

then returned then got distracted

so if it makes no sense
just remember
this is the end of a long day

Anonymous said...

makes total sense...

one of these days in the future (years maybe i suspect) i would love to tag along on the city rides...

i know the city well enough to recognize most names from the summers spent wandering around while my dad was at work... and from exploring what i could on my/his bike.

would love to revisit again...

next trip down i think i'll have to take a mt bike not the cross bike...