Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Second Day – Tuesday May 20th

I spent some time looking at maps last night so I could avoid the route 29 section over Paint Branch stream where I almost got run over by the semi-truck yesterday.  I decided to try riding through the FDA since it would take me from New Hampshire Ave to Cherry Hill Road. 

The ride from Bethesda to Silver Spring on the path is a delight in the morning.  There are a few joggers and bikes but not very many and the path is nice and wide.  Driving on Brookville road requires going up the one lane road full speed which is probably a little slower than most cars would like but there is a speed camera on that section of road so I’m really doing them a favor by going slow.   

Coming up Lockwood I took a right onto Northwest Drive which took me directly onto the FDA property.  There was a security gate but nobody was manning it so I just continued onward.   There was a lot of traffic on the road and I was a bit uncertain about which way I was going so I pulled off to the side to check the map.  Sure enough I needed to turn left at the intersection Bowditch Road.  They were doing construction so only one lane was open and there were some gravelly spots but I was able to get past that.  I rode along Dahlgren and suddenly in the middle of the road there was another security gate.  This time a man came out and asked me to show my badge.  I told him I wasn’t an FDA employee and he said that I was going to have to turn around.  “Shit”, I said.  “Couldn’t you make an exception, just this time?   I’m afraid my battery is going to run out on this thing”.  “No”, he said.  “If someone found out, it would be my job.”  “Shit”, I said.  “I don’t know how I’m going to avoid route 29”.  “Damn!”.  Then I turned around and rode along the bike path back past the construction and out to New Hampshire Ave.

I turned right onto the sidewalk along New Hampshire Ave and stayed on the sidewalk even though there actually is a nice bike lane there.  Then I turned on the road on Lockwood and cut through White Oak onto Old Columbia Pike.   I was really pissed and didn’t want to repeat yesterday’s semi-truck problem so I took the entire lane on 29 over Paint Branch and up the hill (slowly) to Industrial.  The cars went around me (fast) but nobody honked and I wasn’t in fear for my life (any more than usual).  I was still pissed about the FDA experience when I flew down Tech Road full speed taking the entire lane until I got to the office.    I finally cooled down in the shower and was able to focus on work for most of the day.

I decided to take the ELF over to the local strip mall for some Mexican food at Qdoba.  Usually I order the naked salad but I was concerned about spillage from the bumpy road so I went for the burrito, which fits nicely in the storage bin in the trunk of the ELF.  I didn’t get a lot of people asking about the ELF but certainly people were looking and the lady at the Qdoba said she liked it.

The ride home
I spent a good amount of time looking at alternative routes to avoid Route 29.  The problem is getting across Paint Branch and Northwest Branch rivers.  I talked with one of my office colleagues and we looked at the map to see if there was a way to go through Kemp Mill and end up back on Sligo Creek Trail.  It looks like you have to use the bridge on Randolph Road to cross Paint Branch.  There are some trails that include a crossing over Northwest Branch but they look like dirt trails.  After studying the possible routes for a while I decided that it wasn’t worth taking the chance on getting stuck or having to ride on Randolph road.

I decided to go the normal way on Old Columbia Pike.  When I got to the first Barrier, I found that it was completely blocked again so I was prepared to lift the ELF over the curb onto the grass.  Before doing that, I thought to try moving the temporary barrier and found it really wasn’t that heavy after all.  With a few quick pushes, I was able to open it up enough to get the ELF through without any problem.  Whew! 

When I got to the steel barrier I pulled up carefully and got out of the ELF.   As with yesterday, I was able to bend the metal enough to clear the fender and front wheel and push the ELF through.  The indian lady walking by didn’t seem to take much notice.  I was kind of hoping she would offer to help or at least ask questions.   

I rode down the hill at Lockwood and turned left onto the sidewalk along 29.  There was a guy walking who didn’t hear me ringing my bell incessantly until I finally honked the horn.  Then he stepped aside so I could get past and continue up the sidewalk along 29.  In order to avoid the light pole in the middle of the sidewalk at Southwood Drive, I turned left onto Crestmoor Drive, up, over the hill to Lorain and then down the hill back to 29.  Then turned right on the sidewalk and back down to the same intersection to the crosswalk at Southwood.  There was a pedestrian waiting there so I let him cross first and then made my way up the hill on Eastwood to Dennis, and over the hill at University and down the hill to Sligo Creek Trail.  The rest of the ride through the park was without incident and I went pretty slowly behind several runners.  The only surprise was that as I exited the trail onto Newdale road, I looked in my rearview mirror to see a runner right on my tail.  I don’t know why he decided to get so close but I really was surprised and wondered if he was mad at me.

Anyway, I'd much rather piss off a runner than anyone in a Car or Truck!

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