I was standing in a back tunnel of Nats Park on Thursday afternoon, dreaming of scones and imperial stouts, when suddenly someone rode past me on a bicycle.
Turns out it was Tyler Clippard.
He cruised down the tunnel leading from the sunlight to the clubhouse, hopped off the bicycle, greeted a couple employees, and wheeled it into the clubhouse.
Now, I guess this isn’t exactly a news story. Drew Storen — who has also commuted to work on two wheels — assured me that MASN has covered their bicycling escapades in the past. But it felt new to me. Plus, bikes=clicks in this bicycle-mad city. So I asked Clippard why he takes a bike to work.
“I don’t know, I’ve ridden bikes my whole life,” he said. “It’s easy. It’s a lot easier to ride your bike in the city sometimes than it is to drive, and I live so close. I don’t live but three or four blocks away from the stadium, so it doesn’t take a lot of energy to do it. It takes me like five minutes to get here, so it’s not a big deal. I mean, there are guys that work for us that ride their bikes to the field.”
Well, sure. But somehow it takes on a different meaning when the biker actually plays for the team. But Clippard — who said he takes his bike to work two or three times per homestand — said he’s virtually never recognized during his commute.
“Just the people that are standing outside our parking lot that are kind of looking for me,” he said. “Otherwise no. I don’t think they really are looking for that. They’re not really thinking that a ballplayer’s going to be riding his bike down the street. So it’s kind of cool in that way. They never know.”
Storen agreed, pointing out that he is of normal size, unlike, say, an NFL offensive lineman or NBA big man.
“It’s not like I’m a huge guy or anything, like, ‘Why is that guy riding his bike?'” he said.
Now Storen, you surely recall, used to live with Clippard near their workplace, which is partially why he would ride to the office. He mostly biked to work before day games, which were the the only times he had to deal with a normal D.C. commute.
“And so it was our way around traffic,” he said. “It kind of got you going a little bit, kind of warmed you up a little bit, gets the adrenaline going when you’re dodging cars once in a while.”
The only downside either reliever mentioned was the Washington heat.
“I always had to get my shirt washed every time I [biked] in last year, especially during the summer when it was hot, I was just blown-out sweaty,” Storen said. “You’ll get a little flak for that, like, ‘What’d you do, run here?'”
But mostly, teammates didn’t seem to notice or care. The relievers would park their bikes in the clubhouse manager’s office, and then go about their day.
And while nothing has changed for Clippard, Storen has since moved downtown. Biking has become a less appealing option, so he hasn’t yet gone that route this season.
“Maybe if I get a little more achiever in me, if I want to achieve a little bit more with my biking abilities,” he joked. “But there are potholes downtown. It’s tough.”