Monday, March 7, 2011

Greetings from the National Bike Summit! (Pre-Day 1)

I arrived at the Amtrak station in Atlanta last night around 7, crossing my fingers that they had a bike box available; fortunately, they did! And more fortunate, there was a gentleman there who inquired about bike shipping, and it turned out used to be an avid cyclist. He helped me in boxing up my bike (which only requires loosening the handlebars, removing the pedals, and rolling the bike in), and we chatted a bit about his first diamondback, his favorite giant, and how Amtrak is excellent (which was confirmed during the trip).

After boarding, I was seated next to another friendly guy who was traveling around, watching his daughter compete in D1 softball pre-season games; he clued me in on all the tips and tricks of riding the Crescent line (the Amtrak route from New Orleans to NYC), and was quite polite. Despite his notable snoring, it was a good way to spend the trip. Also, the seats are ENORMOUS and spacious, with 120 volt outlets for each passenger, meaning I could surf the web, watch youtube videos, tweet, and not sacrifice battery life.

Arrival in DC this morning was a piece of cake, and the baggage handlers were very positive about me taking my bike. Its nice when people stop calling you crazy, and start acting pleasantly surprised! I unboxed the bike, loaded it with my panier bags, and rode off to Georgetown to the friends' place I'm staying at. While the conference doesn't start until tomorrow evening, I took advantage of the day to walk the 5 miles down to the capitol (something hard to imagine in Atlanta!), before hoping on the Metro to GWU, and the #31 bus back up to North Georgetown. This is, at its heart, my favorite thing about DC: Like Atlanta, it took up the torch of public transit in the late 70s, to help the city better serve a populace expanding outward into the fringes of the city. Unlike Atlanta, however, DC's WMATA was aggressive about serving people, and built up a multi-modal network centered around the union of heavy and commuter rail, buses, and airports, serviced as well by a small bike share network, lanes, and sidewalks for pedestrians. So that when you travel around DC, you do so in a way that allows you to appreciate the history and meaning behind its buildings, that encourages you to visit businesses, to talk to strangers. Best of all, may be the thing that DC does not have occupying all the visual space: Parking.

I love my car; but today, I didn't miss it at all.

Tomorrow, the start of the National Bike Summit 2011!

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