Category Archives: Commute Reflections

It’s The Worst Thing In The World…

To be a driver behind a cyclist.

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Today is a bike tour rest day for Felkerino and me, and it coincided perfectly with an op-ed blowup in the Washington Post, which I am disappointed to admit is also my local paper.

Sadly, I’m sort of used to anti-cyclist, get off my road articles. However, my heart jumped when the writer of this particular piece stated that he could see why drivers would be willing to pay a fine of $500 to hit cyclists. Thanks, Washington Post. Thanks a lot.

It is terrifying to read a writer– in the Post, no less– who suggests that deliberately striking a cyclist in an act of vigilante justice or whatever reason is understandable, if not okay. It is not. This is people’s lives we are talking about here. My life. I am crying in anger and fear as I write this.

I am not cycling around to be taught a lesson by a driver who thinks it is a punishable-by-death crime for me to be on the road. Like drivers, I am just trying to get safely where I need to go, be that work, the grocery store, or dinner with friends. 

I ride my bike in Washington, D.C., almost every day and it scares the s#&! out of me that there are drivers who would want to hit me because I am riding my bicycle on the road that, for many years, many drivers believed belonged to them. But times are changing, at least in the District, and while lots of people are still driving, others are turning to bicycles as their primary form of transportation.

Drivers do not own the road. The roads are ours to somehow find a way to share. We all have to figure it out because our lives depend on it.

Four Years of Chasing Mailboxes

2014 D.C. Randonneurs 600K, photo by Bill Beck

2014 D.C. Randonneurs 600K, photo by Bill Beck

In the middle of a love affair with bicycling and Washington, D.C., I wrote my first post for Chasing Mailboxes. Four years later, this blog is still going. The love affair has hit some sticky wickets over time, but most days it continues, too.

In the initial year, posts read more like postcards than letters. More reserved with my topics and content, I often wrote from the outside in, contemplating what the blog’s audience would think while I composed each post.

Over time, that changed and this space became a place for greater reflection.

Now I post more about whatever is knocking around in my head, and wonder as I press the big “Publish” button if anyone who reads this blog may have felt something similar or have some perspective to offer. I have enjoyed the progression.

I also write, as my friend Nick commented recently, as a way to memorialize my experiences and to say “I was here. I did things.”

Recently I compiled my posts by year (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013) and I have added those to the menu at the top.

Chasing Mailboxes readers, you have been so encouraging over the years, and the feedback I have received from you has been helpful, inspiring, and thought-provoking.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the Chasing Mailboxes challenges and to those who have written guest posts for the blog. This blog is better by your being part of it.

Thanks to Bill Beck for all the rando photos he has taken of Felkerino and me over the years.

I am so appreciative to those that have stopped by to read Chasing Mailboxes. Many thanks to you who have commented, liked my posts, and encouraged me in one way or another to keep writing.

Finally, a special thank you to Felkerino, my randonneur and real-life spouse, for sharing so many of these great adventures and memories with me.

Cheers, everybody.

Unexpected Triumph on a Double Hairpin

Hairpins by Banneker Park

You know those people who say “My favorite part of my day is my bike commute?” Yeah, I bet you do. They’re giving me a headache.

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Bike to Work Day is Every Day

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Soaked at Swings. Photo by Felkerino

Today, many places are celebrating Bike to Work Day in an effort to inspire more people to ride bikes. Unfortunately for those who may have planned to try out bike commuting and enjoy one of the many pit stops scattered throughout the city, today was a true commuter test. It poured cats and dogs all through the morning commute.

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Our House, In the Middle of Our Street

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Whenever we hop on our bikes, we not only expose ourselves to all sorts of elements, but we also come face to face with other bike riders.

Despite that, riders do not tend to talk to one another. We share space, but generally our only apparent common goal is coming and going each day from home to work and back home again.

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Cherry Blossom Farewell: Petals, Puddles, and Pavement


Surly LHT and cherry trees

One of my favorite times in Washington, D.C., is when the cherry blossoms reach out to say hello to all of us. Another is when these delicate petals fall, leaving a textured pink layer over grass and pavement.

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Flow Like Water

The fleeting pink and white blossoms cover the city. Sun shines and spring breezes blow. Families and field trips congregate on our sidewalks. And hey, how about those tour buses! Yes, it’s cherry blossompalooza in Washington, D.C.

Hains Point, cherry blossoms, and the Surly LHT

In previous years I dreaded this scenario. But thanks to my regular midday runs that have exposed me to this sudden, yet annual, increase in activity I figured out a system to keep me moving (mostly) calmly.

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On Naming Your Bike: The Baby Post of Bike Names

One of the posts people read frequently on this blog is Say My (Bike’s) Name: On Naming Your Bike, in which I described my  tandem partner’s affinity for naming bikes and my own tendency not to do so.

Bike collage

That bike naming post received great comments about people’s processes for naming bikes as well as their bikes’ names. I liked them so much that I thought they deserved their own post, rather than being an addendum to my original remarks.

Below you will find the “Baby Post of Bike Names,” a first attempt at capturing the bike names shared on Chasing Mailboxes. Thanks to all contributors.

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#BikeDC Meets #BikeNYC IRL: Dmitry Gudkov

Dmitry Gudkov

Tuesday, the mighty social networking tool known as Twitter paved the internets to an in real life (IRL) encounter with photographer Dmitry Gudkov.

Among other projects, Dmitry is the photographer behind #BikeNYC, a dynamic series of portraits of the people who ride bikes in New York City. Through it I have learned about the people of the New York City bicycling community and glimpsed various places where they ride.

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First Week of September in D.C.

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Like that, everyone is back in the city. Congress gears up and the tourists recede. I forgot so many people work here.

Spectacular weather means an explosion in fair weather commuters. They’re everywhere. Part of me is glad to see more people on bikes, and part of me feels annoyed by the overall congestion.

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