Falling Down/Getting Up

“Man down, man down”
I was doing so well
A handful of brake is all it takes
To slide out
Crashing to the concrete floor
Jarred back to life
Bikes whizzing by
A dizzying blur
Wrap the chain back on the crank
Grease-stained fingers
Gotta keep going
Do not give up
Get back on and finish
10th  place
Not what I hoped

Disappointment sets in
Blood flows
Adrenaline wears off
Pain takes hold
No skin to protect me
Exposed to the hurt
Exposed to the world
Truly vulnerable

Lessons learned
When you fall
Get up
Keep going
Wounds are superficial
Comfort in healing,
In time
Scars are but a reminder
Of what we endured,
Of how strong we are.

Safety Concern of Pennsylvania Ave. Bridge

In mid April, I wrote the District of Columbia Transportation Department about concerns I had regarding a section of the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge that crosses the Rock Creek Parkway. I cross the bridge two times a day as part of my bike commute to and from work.  During the first few months of this year, I noticed that the height difference between the eastern-most section of the bridge where it meets the road was growing. Given the news of a bridge collapse in Washington state, I figured it would be timely to publish DDOT’s letter in full.

Dear Mr. Huisman,

We at the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) have received your message regarding the stability of the bridge along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The bridge is safe. The reason the bridge is appearing to sag is due to the support bearings having settled slightly. This condition will be addressed in a forthcoming rehabilitation project which will replace the aging bearings. In the interim a temporary asphalt transition will be placed to soften the bump by the end of June 2013, until permanent repairs are made.

Regarding the gap you mentioned. All bridges are built in this manner there is a rubber joint which separates one concrete slab from another on bridges. It’s an expansion Joint between the bridge deck and the hard street approach.

For further questions regarding this matter, please contact DDOT at 202-673-6813. Thank you for contacting DDOT.

d. Clearinghouse


Where to Play Pinball in Washington, D.C.

Updated 6/15/13

I love pinball. It has been a hobby of mine since I was a boy. I grew up playing Space Mission and have always sought out machines wherever I lived.

However, I was disappointed to find that once I moved to Washington, D.C. there seemed to be an absence of pinball culture. The “pinball museum” was even forced to move to Baltimore. That leaves only a sporadic gathering of games across town. With this in mind, I decided to create an unofficial database of pinball machine locations so that others like myself might be able to enjoy this game of skill. I will update locations and machines as they are brought to my attention.

Machine : Location

Big Buck Hunter Pro : Solly’s Tavern – 1942 11th St N.W. – At $1 a play, this is a pricey, but clean machine.

Medieval Madness :  Board Room – 1737 Connecticut Ave. N.W. – Machine is in excellent condition. Machine was removed for repair.

The Lord of the Rings : Penn Social – 801 E Street N.W.

The Getaway : Black Cat – 1811 14th Street N.W.

The Sopranos : Iron Horse Tap Room – 507 7th Street N.W. – Weak left flipper that freezes on you occasionally.

Rollercoaster Tycoon Pirates of the Caribbean: Rocket Bar – 714 7th Street N.W. – New machine, but $1 a play makes it pricey.

Family Guy : Kelly’s Irish Times – 14 F Street N.W.

The Sopranos: MIG Bar – 2226 18th St NW

I will provide updates as needed.

20 Miles, Three Flautas and Two Flat Tires Later or How I Bought a Bike

It’s summertime and for me that usually means two things: bicycling and swimming. Unfortunately, living in New York City limits my ability to do the latter. So to kick off summer, I decided that I needed a new road bike. I prowled Cragislist and a few bike shops before setting off for a bike shop in Sheepshead Bay, a few stops short of Coney Island on the Q train.

But when I got to the bike shop, I was dismayed to find that they only sold new bikes, starting at around $400. Not wanting to drop so much money on a bike before the added cost of accessories, I opted instead to call a guy I met on Cragislist. He lived a short 15-minute bus ride away in Bensonhurst. So I hopped on the bus and met up with the Don in his garage. When I arrived, I found him and a friend drinking Coors Light in the garage.

There she was, a red road bike with greasy gears and a solid frame. The tires, however were rotted and cracked. After bartering him down from the original price, I walked the bike three blocks away to a gas station where I filled it up with air.

Not knowing how long the tires would stay inflated, I headed for the nearest bike shop to get them replaced. I made it three or four miles before the back tire went flat. Luckily,  was a few blocks from the shop by the time this happened.

I left the bike at the shop for the attendant to fix and went next door to a Mexican restaurant to eat lunch. Three chicken flautas and a side of rice and beans later, I was back on the road with two new tubes and tires. And seeing as how safety is a priority for me, I decided the best thing to do was see how fast I could ride the bike. So on my way back to Manhattan I rode through Prospect Park.

Man did it open up. I shifted the bike to the lowest gear as I weaved through other bikes and pedestrians.

The rest of the ride home was rather uneventful. I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and made my way to the bike path along the Westside Highway where I rode all the way home.

The Borough Bridge Challenge

There are 24 bridges that separate the boroughs and I intend to run across all of them.

Manhattan & Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Bridge
The Manhattan Bridge
The Williamsburg Bridge

Queens & Manhattan

Queensboro Bridge
Roosevelt Island Bridge
Ward’s Island Bridge

Brooklyn & Queens

McGuinness Boulevard Bridge
Greenpoint Avenue Bridge
Kosciuszko Bridge

Bronx & Manhattan

Triborough Bridge
Willis Avenue Bridge
Third Avenue Bridge
Madison Avenue Bridge
138th Street Bridge
145th Street Bridge
Macombs Dam Bridge
High Bridge
High Bridge Aquaduct
Washington Bridge
University Heights Bridge
Broadway Bridge
Henry Hudson Bridge

New Jersey & Manhattan

George Washington Bridge

Staten Island & Brooklyn

Verrazano Bridge (no pedestrians)

Skitchin’ a Ride

Traffic is usually a skateboarders worst enemy. Nothing makes riding the concrete wave more difficult than cars whizzing by inches from your board. Now normally I like to ride the hills in Central Park but riding the same street all the time is monotonous. So I took to the streets and decided to use the traffic to my advantage by skitching a ride on city buses. The best way to skitch a ride is to hold on to the bumper or tail light of buses. While not the easiest of vehicle to hang on to, I find the bus drivers are nicer than most drivers. The hazard can be the constant stopping and starting to pick up passengers. This is a more dangerous endeavor than darting between pedestrians.

The advantage is a welcome break from having to push myself.Fortunately today I was able to find a driver who didn’t mind me getting a free ride. I used him to pull me through some lights and finally let go when I saw him signal that he was pulling over. I passed the bus on the left side and waved thank you to the driver. Sometimes I’m not as lucky, but the skateboarding gods were on my side today.

Zen and the Insanity of Running

Yesterday I ran further than I can recall in recent memory. The last time I ran more than 20 miles was six years ago to the day when I finished the Motorola Marathon in Austin, Texas.

So I laced up my shoes and headed toward Central Park. I initially intended to run to a nearby borough – The Bronx or Queens, perhaps, but as I traversed the trees of the North Woods, I decided to detour south, cutting through to Columbus Circle.

” The Brooklyn Bridge,” I thought. “I’ll run across the Brooklyn Bridge.”

The cereal and granola bars in my stomach were getting tossed around with each step and I needed something to level the balance of food. A hot dog fit the bill perfectly. I dug two dollars out of my kangaroo pouch in my running tights in exchange for some red and yellow tube steak.

With zip in my step I started down Broadway again following the green path between traffic and the sidewalk. It was here that I noticed a bicyclist who was keeping pace with me quite well. We matched each other through Times Square but I lost him shortly after Herald Square. Oh well, I thought brushing him off.

I continued past the Flat Iron building, through Chinatown and finally reached a bridge. But to my dismay it was The Manhattan Bridge.

“Maybe I’ll just cross this one instead,” I thought. “No…I’m not quitting now.”

Finally I approached the Brooklyn Bridge as I weaved between photographers and tourists the massive cables ran overhead. The wooden planks that carry you across the East River provide a nice change from the hard concrete and asphalt of the city.

I am not familiar with most of Brooklyn so I knew that I would have to zen it. It’s a combination of a good sense of direction and wandering about aimlessly. I use this quite often.

I remember running down Flushing Avenue until I arrived at Metropolitan Avenue when I realized I was lost. A sign pointing east toward Long Island was a pretty good indication. I had intended to zen toward the northwest part of the island, when in fact I was running northeast. The good news about getting lost is that your ability to zen only improves. Continue reading “Zen and the Insanity of Running”

The Hazards of Skateboarding

So I took my skateboard out for a spin after taking a three week hiatus and no more than 5 minutes after I took off, I hit a patch of gravel that twisted my board cock-eyed. The laws of motion sent me flying off my board and hitting the asphalt road hard. My primary concern, however, was not my own safety, but the safety of my board. The last thing I want is for my board to get snapped by some absent-minded motorist.

I peeled myself off the pavement and scrambled to catch my board which was rolling backwards into oncoming traffic. After saving my board I investigated my own injuries. I shredded the palm of my right glove and have a nasty strawberry underneath it on my hand. Then I pulled up the left sleeve of my hoodie to reveal that some of the skin just below my elbow had been removed.

With adrenaline pumping through my body, I decided to persevere to Central Park and bomb the hill at 108th Street. I climbed to the top of the hill and tucked in as I carved the massive hill, my hair blowing in the wind.