Sunday, May 26, 2013

Jellydots -- "Bicycle" (2006)

My legs are getting strong
Bicycle all day long

I always ride my bike to my office on the day after Thanksgiving.  This year, I decided to do that as well on the "Bike to Work Day" that the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) sponsors each May.  

Over 14,000 riders registered for the event.  I'm guessing that I'm not only older than virtually all of those riders but also that I rode a longer distance than just about everyone.  Aren't I special?  (I know that "Aren't I special" isn't correct.  Would you prefer that I say "Amn't I special"?)

I set off at o-dark-hundred -- about 8:45 am my time.  The first third or so of my trip was on the Rock Creek Trail, a paved hiker-biker trail that I can access less than a mile from my home.  About 6.5 miles from my front door, I encountered a fallen tree across the trail:

Quite a coincidence that this tree fell across the trail on the morning of "Bike to Work Day," eh?  Of course, some people say there is no such thing as coincidence.  Those people might suspect that this tree was felled by left-wing pro-automobile extremists hoping to discourage we "Bike to Work Day" stalwarts.  And those people might just be right!

You probably wonder what was playing on my iPod at this point, so I'll tell you:  "Before the Kiss, A Redcap," by Blue Öyster Cult.

At mile 11.2, I could see the spires of the Washington Mormon Temple, which was the first LDS temple built east of the Mississippi.  

A few minutes later, disaster struck.  When you're riding a bicycle and eating an apple and you suddenly have to sneeze, it's not a pretty sight.

On my iPod at the moment of that sneeze: "Popscene," by Blur.

I had planned to take a break at the halfway point of my ride, where the Capital Crescent Trail passes through downtown Bethesda, MD.  WABA had set up about 70 "pit stops" throughout the metropolitan for "Bike to Work Day" participants, and there was supposed to be one in Bethesda, directly on my route.

But when I arrived at about 10 am, there was no sign of the pit stop -- no free food, no free water, and (worst of all) no free T-shirt, all of which had been promised to me when I registered for the event.

On the bright side, I missed all the politicians who dropped by to speechify the crowd.  That's worth sacrificing a free T-shirt any day of the week.

At mile 15.6, I  pulled off the trail to grab breakfast at a nearby McDonald's.  Here's a tip for my fellow healthy eaters: tell them to hold the cheese when you order your Sausage McMuffin with Egg.  (By the way, did you know that when you order a Sausage McMuffin with Egg instead of a regular Egg McMuffin, they put the slice of American cheese so it is between the sausage and the muffin instead of between the egg and the muffin?)

After finishing my repast, I noticed that the bridge that carries the bike trail over River Road had been defaced:

"Visi" is a reference to Georgetown Visitation High School, a fancy-schmancy girls high school in DC.  Despite the fact that they have little time to spare -- stealing their parents' liquor, dressing like sluts, and questioning the authority of the Holy Mother Church keeps a girl busy! -- the class of 2013 (or "Sen13rs," if you prefer) were able to make room in their hectic schedules to vandalize the bridge.

On the iPod as I pedaled away from McDonald's: "I Want Candy," by the Bow Wow Wows -- specifically, the Kevin Shields remix from the soundtrack to the movie Marie Antoinette.

I'm sure you'll agree that my ride to this point had been chock-full of excitement, but things got a lot more dramatic at mile 22:

That's right, there was a big-ass snake right on the trail.  I think it was a black rat snake, or Elaphe obsoleta (also known as there western rat snake, or Texas rat snake). 

Here's a closeup of the snake:

One website refers to the black rat snake as "harmless," while another one has this to say:

Adults can become quite long, with a reported typical length of three feet, six inches, to six feet. . . . The record total length is eight feet, five inches, making it the longest snake in North America. . . . 

When startled, they may freeze and wrinkle themselves into a series of kinks. If they feel further threatened, they may flee quickly or vibrate their tails in dead leaves (a form of mimicry, which makes them sound like rattlesnakes). They are also capable of producing a foul-smelling musk, which they will release onto predators if picked up. They spread the musk with their tails in hopes of deterring the threat.  When cornered or provoked, black snakes are known to stand their ground and can become aggressive. In some instances involving larger specimens, they will often launch a counteroffensive and attempt to chase the antagonizer away.

This species is a constrictor, meaning it suffocates its prey, coiling around small animals and tightening its grip until they can no longer draw breath, before eating them.

Does that sound "harmless" to you?

On the iPod when I encountered Mr. Snake: the Brian Auger/Julie Driscoll cover of "Season of the Witch."

About a mile later, I came to the end of the bike trail.  Before tackling the mean streets of downtown Washington, I stopped to take a picture of my trusty 24-speed Gary Fisher Utopia hybrid, with the Francis Scott Key Bridge (which was opened to traffic in 1923) in the background.

I also got a shot of a guy riding a stand-up paddle board down the Potomac River.  (I hope he's a very good swimmer.)

On the iPod: "Baby's On Fire," by Brian Eno.

After a couple of miles ignoring red lights and dodging cars on K Street, I finally caught sight of the mothership -- my office building, which is officially known as "The 575 7th Street Main Tower at Terrell Place."

On the iPod as I braked to a stop at the building's front door:  "Mr. Soul," by Buffalo Springfield.

To get from my home to my office, I rode about 25.5 miles.  I think my bicycle's odometer slightly understates the distance I ride, but I probably ended up a few tenths of a mile short of the distance that marathon runners run -- 26.2 miles.

It took me two hours and four minutes to complete my ride.  Basically, I rode the distance in about the same amount of time it would taken the winners of the last couple of Olympic marathons to cover it.  

I didn't kill myself on my ride, but I didn't dawdle either -- I pushed myself reasonably hard.  But a top-notch marathon runner would have been able to stay with me all the way.

Keep in mind that my ride ended at an elevation that was a few hundred feet lower than the elevation where I began.  That's at least a little more of an drop than is permitted for official marathon courses.

More importantly, my elapsed time doesn't include the time I was stopped taking pictures of that snake or Key Bridge, or eating breakfast and draining the lizard at McDonald's.  (I don't think they stop the clock if a marathon runner decides to stop for a Sausage McMuffin with Egg in the middle of a race.)

Let's just call my rest breaks an edge that I deserve given my advanced age.  But even with the help of those breaks, my time was no faster than those of the best marathon runners in the world.

Doug Snyder (Jellydots)
The Jellydots is the name that Doug Snyder (an Austin, Texas music teacher) records and performs under.  His music is usually described as "kindie rock" -- that is, indie rock for kids.  

Don't confuse kindie rock with typical kids' music.  The lyrics of kindie songs usually address topics of interest primarily to children, but the music may be no more childish than that produced by bands like Weezer and the Shins.

Here's "Bicycle":

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. We could go back about a hundred year to that sentimental favorite, "A Bicycle Built for Two" or move forward to the 1970s and Queen's "Bicycle Race". Comment on the "Visi Girls"--I don't think the banner is really "vandalism"; it's probably not very durable and should leave no significant damage--not like spray can graffiti that take time and money to remove, or broken windows that have to be replaced at considerable expense.