walking around in tap shoes and pyjamas since 2010 - my cycling log (opens in new window)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Off the Back ... errr, Bike*

I spent a whole three days off the bike this weekend, and I didn't die of bicycle-withdrawal. In fact, I barely noticed.

DD (formerly known as PT Guy, but I think that's just too much to keep typing) and I flew out of the lovely Louisville International Airport on Friday morning as the sun was rising. We were delivered post-haste to Thurgood Marshall International Airport, also known as BWI, whereupon we snagged a Metro Bus headed into DC via the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. At the Greenbelt station, we hopped onto the Metro subway, which took us in short order to my sister's neighborhood.

She wasn't kidding when she said she was 'right on the Metro' — you can't see her apartment from the station, but you can see the one behind hers.

The train was great (but, then, I'm a sucker for trains). Greater still was the staggering number of bikes parked at every metro stop we visited.

While traveling in the DC Metro, I noticed that the bikes and cyclists I saw were more diverse than the bikes and cyclists I see here.

On the bike paths that criss-cross the Hyattsville area, I saw tons of casual cyclists of every age and race dressed in basic athletic wear — loose shorts, t-shirts, and bike helmets — mostly mounted on hybrids. This isn't to say that I don't see casual cyclists here, too — there were just a lot more of them there.

The casual cyclists on the paths and streets in DC appeared to mostly just be out enjoying themselves, which I found pretty impressive, considering that it was about a million degrees out and so humid that getting off the train was like walking into a steam bath. They all get 999,647 Hard Man Points each. I also had to wonder how they managed to survive without gas masks (there was an Air Quality Alert on Friday). I guess I can bump them up to 999,735 Hard Man Points.

Most of the machines rolling around in the city or tied up at the metro stops were decidedly commute-oriented — 700c flat-bar hybrids made up a significant portion of the population. Treks dominated the scene. There were also a good many road bikes and slightly fewer mountain bikes, most in both categories bearing some commuter updates. Once in a while I'd spot a fixie or the kind of bike I would guess was someone's 'double-duty' road bike, like my Quicksilver (perhaps I should say 'all purpose,' since Quicksilver will soon be commuting, training, doing non-competitive endurance rides, and racing). I saw one rider in lycra — a woman in team kit rolling in the heart of DC on Sunday.

I thought the preponderance of 'casual cyclists' and hybrids was telling. Specifically, I know DC has a very active lycra-wearing, road-bike riding cycling community that does big group rides and so forth. It was cool to see that the non-lycra-wearing community was also well-represented. Cycling is alive and well in DC — in part, I suspect, because the public transit system makes it so easy to get around without driving.

I am definitely feeling more hopeful for our local transit system here. While we've been trimming back bus routes lately, DD believes that if we put it to a vote, the people of the Louisville metro would back a light rail system and even probably a bond to fund it. I know I would.

* Oops! Forgot to post this yesterday!

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