One day last week before work I went for a spin on my Karate Monkey.
I took the long road into work and tried to sample a few of the urban trails. After a few hundred yards on dirt here mixed in with some paved roads there and some more dirt I found myself over spinning down the Capital Crescent trail heading from Bethesda towards Georgetown. I passed the hidden BMX/Freerider course that exist just near River Road on the Maryland Border, crossed through the Delecarlia Tunnel, over the bridge, and into DC. Just entering DC behind the resivour there is a very small network of trails. But a minute or two on dirt can be like a candy bar, it may not fill my belly, but it is a tastee treat. I rode the loop several times, thinking what I could do to make the trails more fluid. My 'in time' was rapidly approaching so I figured I could hit the loop one last time. On my return I felt my front end getting a little squishy, being a rigid bike I knew that I was losing air in the front tire/tube. Pulled over, found a stump to sit on and did a quick repair. After a thousand strokes of my minipump the tire was filled to a solid PSI, mounted the wheel on the bike, flipped the bike upright, immediately I could feel that the rear end was flat too. I was SOL (shit out of luck.) I had only one spare tube and no patches. It looked like I was going to be walking. Called work to let them know I was going to be a tad late and started my march. A fellow cyclist ended up loaning me some patches after a few miles of walking and I got into work about an hour late. I emailed my brother Marc and told him my tale of woe with the two flats. Marc responded smugly with a simple, "clydesdale, rigid, single speed." As if implying that I had pinched flatted, snake bites front and back.
Then on Sunday as I was doing some home repair Marc went for a spin on the same set of trails. He too got two flats. Having recalled my story he became suspect. Feeling somewhat paranoid he searched for a trap. Sure enough, Marc found a row of nails glued to a strip of wood, tucked under some leaves. Seems that someone does not like the bikes on those trails and has taken matters into their own hands. After he told me what had happened I responded with this email...
after we got off the phone I thought to myself....
"two men arrive at the Pearly Gates of heaven at the same time. st.
peter halts them and asks them to state why they each deserve to get into heaven. the mountainbiker starts off by saying, "well, I did not live a perfect life. there were times when I bent and even broke the rules. I remember the sign said NO BIKING, but I proceeded forward. the woods was so beautiful and the feeling was so pure. I knew it was wrong, but I could not deprive myself of the pleasure." st. peter nods and turns to the other man. the man was an avid hiker who was ready with his reply, "no apologies here. i lived a long clean life. did not drink or smoke. went to church. lived an honest life. so honest that I would try to stop cyclists from riding on local hiking trails by placing traps to cause them to flat out. the nails were miles deep in the trail that they were taught a great lesson when they had to walk out of the trail. you see, the nails usually took out both tires and rarely does a cyclist travel with two tubes if any." st peter nods, opens the gates and motions his hand to enter. the mountainbiker looks in st peter's eyes with question, st. peter nods knowingly and welcomes him in. the avid hiker with his traps and lessons did not look for affirmation as he was so stuck in his head that he was right that he just stepped forward. st. peter put his palm to his chest, stopped him in his tracks, nodded side to side saying gesturing no, then pointed down. the gates slammed shut, the avid hiker with his righteousness was gone, and the gates were shut. St. Peter and the mountainbiker walked into heaven. St. Peter looked the mountainbiker in the eye and nodded, and thought out loud, "yes, I know....I wanted to punch him in the nose too. then the mountainbiker noticed they were no longer walking, but rolling through the heavens on bicycles"
Riding a bicycle on these trails may not be legal. But, setting traps is not just illegal, but also potentially dangerous and nothing shy of obnoxious. No one is in the position to play hiking bernard getz. we have laws and we have people who enforce them. these trails are not marked, giving me the sense that even hiking on these trails is not sanctioned or foot or for bike. The foot traffic is just as much in the wrong as the bike traffice, but I am not trying to stop anyone from enjoying their day. People need to spend more time "POLICING THEMSELVES."
Too often a person is walking their dog off leash on the urban trails and they reprimand me for riding on the foot trails, while they too are breaking/bending the rules. In my life I have never heard of a bike jumping out an biting anyone, seems these people need to police themselves. I try to be pleasant. Thank they for their information and avoid conflict. Although I did have words with a women once and left her with these words...."let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
Not sure if she understood that passage or knew its root, but it felt better than curssing at her.