Ride #5: Nov. 2
H Street Coffee House & Café, 1359 H St., N.E., Washington, D.C.
This was my epic ride of the event. Following a stop at the Meet Market craft fair, I had decided I was going to head across the river to Anacostia’s sole coffeehouse, Big Chair Coffee. To get there, I rode down to the Tidal Basin,
past first the marina,
then the fishmarket, and then Fort McNair. I pedaled through Buzzard Point and over the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. It’s worth noting that the center of the bridge is a drawbridge and it gives your stomach butterflies to pause there, even if the clouds and the view of Alexandria are magnificent.
The view of the east side of the Anacostia
is far superior to that of the west.
The bridge essentially empties onto the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which follows the river north for miles. There is public art,
views of familiar locales (that’s Yards Park, where we picnic every Friday evening during the summer),
and cool, decrepit city water structures.
I left the trail for the historic heart of Anacostia, the most famous landmark of which is the Big Chair.
And across from the Big Chair was my destination, which, it turns out, had closed for good two weeks earlier.
Not finding anyplace else to Coffeeneur, I hopped back on the trail and figured I’d get a drink back on the other side of the river, maybe at the new Buzz Bakery. But just after getting back on the trail, I was rewarded with this:
Yup, a rainbow. Pretty cool, eh? (I admit I’d been looking for it.)
Anacostia is home to a really cool playground pirate ship.
It was here, while I was taking pictures that a cop on a motorcycle asked if I was having mechanical difficulties. Explaining I was just capturing a few snapshots, I told him it was my first time exploring the trail. He asked what route I was planning to take and expressed concern that I not be on the trail at night. I assured him it wouldn’t be a problem and that I had lights if I ran into trouble.
Eventually, you leave the parkland,
cross a bridge over the train tracks, and traverse some woodlands.
Behind this flaming tree is a whole swath of river grasses belonging to a wetlands reclamation project.
I crossed the Anacostia on the Benning Bridge, exiting the trail by Kingman Island, where I promptly discovered I had a flat tire.
So here’s the thing. I do all this bike riding, but I don’t carry a spare tube, my multi-tool has gone missing, and my patch kit, which I don’t know how to use anyway, was at home. I’ve never changed a bike tire. And I’d left my metro card at home accidentally. I did have enough cash to get a bus, and maybe even (with the extra $1 for a paper ticket) a train, home. But I was still a bit of a walk from a Metro stop or the stop for the bus that ran through my neighborhood.
But, I did know where I was. And there was a gas station, where I decided that, unlikely as it was to work, I should partake of their air machine. There was a woman in a minivan just finishing up when I walked up and she offered me the rest of her time, but it expired too quickly. She then gave me quarters in exchange for my dollar bill and held my bike for me while I reinflated my tire. As she was getting in her car, she suggested that I probably shouldn’t be out on my own in the neighborhood at night. I thanked her, she drove away, and then my tire promptly lost all its new air.
Fine. Benning Road connects to H Street N.E., where there is a bike shop and a coffeehouse. (Remember how this was supposed to be a ride to a coffeehouse?) I decided to walk, since it was just a mile or two.
By the way, did I mention it had started to drizzle?
But walk I did. The H Street Coffee House and Café was first stop. I warmed up with a cup of cocoa and an apple tart. Neither was exquisite, but I was hungry and it was dry inside and it was nice to be around other people for a bit.
Sated, I then turned my sights to the Daily Rider. I locked the bike up in front of the shop and then battled to get the rear wheel disentangled from the rest of the bike. I haven’t taken the back wheel off since the first summer I had the bike, when I realized it was more of a pain than it was worth if it wasn’t necessary — and it hasn’t been necessary.
But eventually I prevailed. I carried the wheel inside and asked if a mechanic could change the tube and walk me through the process so I’d know how to do it the next time. The mechanic was very kind, probably taking twice as long as she would have otherwise to make sure I understood what she was doing and proffering helpful tips.
Then it was time to wrestle the wheel back onto the bike. After a false start, where I realized I didn’t have the wheel tightened enough and it was coming off the frame (luckily your chain locks and your pedals freeze when this happens to prevent you from doing real damage to your bike or yourself), I pedaled back home through the dark, using those lights I hadn’t expected to need. The wheel came undone one more time, but I swore and groaned and got it tightened up enough to get it home finally.
This was a longer story than I’d expected, so I’m shifting the final three rides to yet another post.