From time to time in the coming months Sports II will relay goings-on of local bikers - events, safety, legal developments, tales of bicycling people.
This is all going to come as a mild annoyance to the colleague who came to my desk one day last fall as I was writing a Biker Fights Traffic Laws story and muttering unkind things about automobile drivers. The reporter read over my shoulder for a minute and snorted: "Bicycle chauvinist."
Guilty as charged.
So here goes.
On Monday, the first day of D.C. Bike Week, the chill left the air and the sun came out. It was a good sign: biker encouragement from all quarters. If you are really crazy, you've been riding all winter long, slugging through the snow storms in long johns and wool gloves with a Himalayan face mask. But if you've not yet reached that level of mania, this is a good week to begin working on it.
Friday you can ride to work with other commuters, who will share their early morning grousing with you and advise as to routes, clothing and the cleverest nasty things to shout at rude motorists.There are departures points throughout the city and suburbs. For places and times call 629-4386, D.C.'s Bicycle Hot Line. Rain date is Monday.
At noon on Friday there will be an hour-long biker rally at the Ellipse, with displays of biking and camping equipment. Speakers will discuss federal policy on bicycles.
More goings on Saturday and Sunday, also at the Ellipse: demonstrations, inspections, bike registration (free this weekend only - bring proof of ownership); information on touring, bike safety, racing, club riding, and hostelling.
From noon to 3 p.m. there should be some tours heading out of the Ellipse, and if you've never ridden in a group before, this might be a nice way to start out. On Sunday, the National Capitol Velo Club will sponsor the National Capitol Open Race around the Ellipse.
It all seems like a fitting way to usher in warm weather, which for a certain segment of Washington's population does not mean crocuses or love affairs or setting out the tomatoes. It means biking.
Washington has a bicycling subculture of astonishing proportions, a network of otherwise normal people who can carry on passionately about helmet brands and the potholes on their bike paths. (I must acknowledge that I know this because I am one of them. It crept up on me after a long bicycle trip last summer.)
They have organizations of their own (most of them reduced to acronyms because this is Washington, after all) and all welcome new members. If the idea of spending the summer exploring Washington on a bicycle appeals to you - never mind about getting up at 5 a.m. and riding 100 miles a day; that comes later - here are some good sources of companionship and information:
Federal Bicycle Council, a group of government employees working on recommendations for federal and local bicycle policy. Next meeting May 11; site to be announced. For information call Eileen Kadesh at the Bicycle Hotline, 629-4386.
Washington Area Bicyclists Association, 1520 16the St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, phone 265-4317. Primarily a research and political activism group. Sponsors bicycle events, works on bicycle path improvement in the Washington area. Also offers a legal service for distressed bikers.
Potomac Area Council of American Youth Hostels Inc., 1520 16th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20036, phone 462-5780. Operates a weekend "nonfanatical, easy going" trips program; runs hostels at Sandy Hook, Seneca, Annapolis, and Baltimore, carries excellent supply of maps and trial guides.
National Capital Velo Club Inc., P.O. Box 14004, Benjamin Franklin Station, Washington, D.C. 20444, Phone 588-6160. Sponsors amateur bicycle racing; will be running races in Rock Creek park at Beach Drive and Military Road on the mornings of April 24 and May 1.
Potomac Pedalers Touring Club, P.O. Box 23601, L'Enfant Plaza Station, Washington, D.C. 20024. Sponsors both daily and weekend bicycle trips in Washington, Virginia, and Maryland.