The Plan That Went Horribly Wrong: part I

Our plan was simple: borrow bikes from a nice family in our ward and bike the 18 miles to Mount Vernon, spend the day, and bike 10 miles back to Alexandria for a nice Mediterranean dinner.

Every part of that plan went miserably wrong. I mean, no one died, no one fell off their bike and broke a wrist and it could have been way worse. However, from our point of view, it was horrible. We felt as though the cosmos were mocking us from every side, and while we had it in us for the first few mishaps to readjust and carry on, we simply were no match for the cruel universe that day. So read on and have a pity-laugh at our expense, as we may be able to do that one day. No detail has been exaggerated.

The day started early. We wanted to be out the door by 9:00 so we could walk over and get our tires filled. We got off to a late start, but it wasn't too late. We had to go over the damages/potential damages to the four borrowed bikes and unwrap the new, $40 locks the lenders had bought for this occasion. Dave's back tire had some problems, and he thought if he just unhooked the back brakes, while undesirable, would solve the problem, as we were only borrowing the bikes for one day and we weren't trying to bike a mountain.

We headed off. The morning felt nice--it was supposed to be in the 80s with lower humidity. Perfect weather. We walked the few blocks to the bike stop and as we walked in, Emily's sunglasses broke. (we are now convinced that was the butterfly wings). We asked them where to fill up our tires and we steered our bikes to the back. Dave had road bike tires and apparently, there is a special adapter you use when filling the tube. He didn't know this, but the store owner was quick to make us feel like idiots. Seriously, for some verbal abuse, they'd help you with anything.

He filled our tires, his old and knowledgeable eyes glaring at our bikes as though they were vermin in his store. I mean, we were borrowing them. We were apologetic for their bruised state, but we also felt no responsibility. He told Dave he wouldn't make it past the block with his back tire, and, of course, they could fix that for $15-20. The young guys in the front grabbed his bike and already had it in the holder (where they can then remove the tire...?) as we were discussing if we wanted to pay for this bike's tire to be fixed. The bike wasn't ours; we didn't really feel the need of investing money in it. However, we didn't want Dave to not be able to break or his bike to give out. The punk said something to the effect that they weren't making us do it, (oh, but it was already behind the counter) and hey, you don't want to be the douche with the messed up tire. (ok, I was pissed). Did they just say that to a customer? So while they weren't forcing us to do it, we gave our unneeded permission and we waited for a quick 10 minute fix.

30 minutes later, after further rudeness (I wanted to see if they could fix my seat, as it was wobbly. Sure, he said. "But I won't even go there". uh, what? It wobbles. You can fix it. Where do you think you can go with that? Anyway, we paid $30 for Dave's back tire to be sort-of fixed and we left. Two hours after our desired departure time and the sun was already hotter.

We headed down 23rd, towards the Lincoln Memorial and we were off! It always amazing me how once you learn to ride a bike, it's the most natural thing in the world. We were about the cross the bridge to Virginia and get on the trail when Emily's brakes were loose, and she was nervous about going down too many hills. What we really needed was an allen wrench. We had two leather mans and a multi-use screwdriver with us, but not the tool that bikes need the most. We consulted the map for the closest bike shop. We could head back up the hill for that dark place we were before, cross the bridge and walk forever to ones in Rosslyn or bike East on the Mall to another one. First, Dave and Ryan asked people at the shops near the memorial, but no luck. So it was decided that Ryan would speed over and get a darn wrench at the store near the Mall--because no way in Hades were we ever going back to the other one.

It was 11:30. I was getting nervous about the timing, as we ideally should have been more than halfway to Mount Vernon. We ate some snacks and waited for Ryan to come back. Luckily (maybe the one time we had some), Ryan had bartered his ID for an allen wrench for the day. Dave did some readjusting and we were off once again.

For half an hour, we had a beautiful bike ride. The sound of bike tires as you ride down a trail is an amazing sound. We were riding right next to the Potomac, a breeze blowing our hair and the sun warming our face. It was going to be a good day.

part II
part III

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