there are groups and subgroups within the cycling culture

woman in her DC Tri Kit at Bike to Work Day

funny... cycling has its groups and subgroups
there is more competition than camaraderie
there is often more antagonism than support
sometimes I think we hate each other more than the car drivers hate us!

this weekend was coming to a close without anything that resembled a bike ride
there were multiple hikes with the dogs, kids soccer games... some frisbee... but no bike
so... when Sunday evening came and we were headed to my dad's for some swimming in the pool and some food off the grill I decided to take my bike while my family arrived by car

it was a short across town ride... just down Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park to the unpaved section of the Capital Crescent Trail on into Bethesda
once at my destination I jumped in the pool for a few strokes then fueled up consuming far more calories than I had just burned

then before I could start in on a second and then maybe a third desert I suited up and got on the bike
racing the falling sun... only having blinking lights I did not want to get caught in the dark

in urban cycling gear rather than race kit I got on my old Specialized Tri-cross with its mountain bike riser bars and its well worn One By Nine drivetrain that creaks more than the stairs in my 100 year old house

through the neighborhood of Edgemoor passing houses where I cut lawns, shoveled walks, and delivered papers
down Bethesda Avenue taking a route similar to how I walked to school as a child
my how Bethesda has changed... but so has the world
Bethesda is not the Bethesda where I grew up
the world is not the world I was born into

dodging the car chaos and avoiding the self righteous pedestrians I made my way off the road and onto the multi-use bike path
left on the trail headed towards Jones Bridge-Jones Mill rather than pointing it towards Georgetown
through the tunnel under the "Air Rights Building"
a path I took back in the day when trains rolled down the metal tracks
rather than people down this paved path

it was late in the evening... but the trail was still getting some good use
not crowded... but not vacant

in my mind I wondered about the fate of the Capital Crescent Trail
the notion of the PURPLE LINE
wondering if CAR ALTERNATIVES are as important as simple and plain multi-use trails
places for people to walk or ride a bike

I could not help but wonder why a "light rail" could not go down the center of East West Highway rather than stealing the Capital Crescent Trail from the people
taking away a trail... when the powers that be should be working to find ways to build more trails

off the bike trail and onto the road
seconds on the trail and I am already being passed obnoxiously fast and obnoxiously close
one car passes and I wonder why they choose to leave that gap between the drivers side of their car and the center line
when they leave almost no space between my bike and my body and their passenger side of the car

like the Incredible Hulk I am fueled by my anger
I accelerate down the downhill
catching all the cars that just passed me
reaching the light and rolling through a clear intersection

yes... the light was red
yes... I rolled forward without waiting for the green
it irks me how the world believes that the cyclist must follow the letter of the law
while they may do as they choose
driving faster than the speed limit... talking on the cell phone... never giving others their right of way... etc

then... one by one... all the cars that I just passed get to pass me back
most everyone passes with decent space

past Candy Cane City

as expected... my life is put at risk by cars feeding onto Beach Drive from the adjacent neighborhood
cars refusal to make complete stops at the stop line increase my heart rate and fuel my anger even more
just as I flip off a driver in a Ford Explorer for not making that complete stop at the stop line
I am passed on my left by a fast moving woman leaned forward and pedaling fast in a classic "tri" position

I hate being passed.
okay... I said it...
but... I let her go... I do not alter my cadence... my intensity remains the same

I say nothing as she passes... just as she said nothing as she passed
I wanted to say something about her saying nothing
but I know that I am more irked by her passing me
than me being irked by her not giving me an audible as she passed

a quarter mile ahead and I can see that she made a fast pass but we were then moving at the same rate

up a short little hill to the three way stop I see that this same woman on the tri bike is stopped at the side of the road
it does not look like an injury or a mechanical
so I pedal forward... knowing that there is the chance that she will pass me back

what goes up must go down...
just as I was pedaling at a healthy rate sitting up right riding no hands when I was passed previously
I take the downhill in a similar manner
expecting to be passed at any second

sure enough...
not on the downhill... but at some point on the flats I was passed again
again... me upright no handed
her... in that tri pose... hand no where near the breaks
her pass perhaps a little closer to my hip than I would like
again... no warning

yes... I hate being passed
but I let her go
my pace is good and well... I am not looking to go any harder
also... I do not like to put myself into a fight that I will lose
so I let her go

again it is the same formula
she makes a smooth fast pass... maybe a little closer than need be... and without warning
then... once she is a good distance ahead of me her she slips into a groove at a pace similar to my own
that gap would be tough to close... so I let her go

from the Police Station towards Pearce Mill things are a nice little grade downhill
I am moving pretty good... but so is she
only when it straightens out do I see her
the road curves such that she slips out of view and out of mind

a few more encounters with some ignorant or obnoxious car drivers
another car failing to stop at the stop line increases my heart rate
then a car refusing to yield me the right of way takes a left turn nearly on top of me
I have to brake as to avoid making contact with their hood

ahead is a red light... the left hand turn into Mount Pleasant where Tilden becomes Park and where Park becomes Tilden

when I get there the light is still red
I do a bob and a weave and take the turn out of turn
but really... standing in the middle of the intersection waiting for it to be clear to take a left is as dangerous as running the light itself
and there is no way that I am taking a right.... going up the block... and turning into the parking lot only to loop back

headed up the hill I can feel the case
I admit it... I am pushing my pace... taking it a little fast and harder than I would if there were not this cyclist on my tail

she does not pass me on the climb
I hustle up the hill to its crest than turn into the neighborhood and then loop back towards my house

it was not a training ride... I do not really do training rides
I just ride my bike
but I did ride my bike hard
it felt good... I needed that

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