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My first experience with Capital Bikeshare

Posted: October 01, 2015 in Misc

Last week I had SQL Server training.  It was a 5-day class, and I had two choices of class locations - one in the middle of DC the week before the Pope's visit, and one near Union Station during the Pope's visit. Since I already commute to the latter location every day, I decided to brave the Pope to get the better location. Unfortunately, I took the training from a place called ONLC Training, and because they are a bunch of colosal anuses, they waited until I paid for the class, then bait & switched the location to put me right in the middle of DC. During the Pope's fucking visit.  Lovely.

Note to self.  Avoid ONLC at all costs.  Anyway, back to the topic.

I had three options for getting from Union Station to the middle of DC.  They are, from worst to best:

  1. The shitty DC Metro. (motto: Almost better than walking),
  2. Walk (approximately 19 blocks),
  3. The Circulator bus,
  4. Capital Bikeshare.

Now, normally the Bikeshare would be more expensive than the Circulator (which is a buck per trip), but in this case I was able to borrow my friend Jonathan's fob, so the bike was free.  Err, monetarily free.  I was in fact not free if you count my lost wits.

I figured, "Hey, I ride a LOT! I'll have NO problem on a bike! I'll just have to deal with a little traffic and I'll be good."  It turns out actually that the traffic was the least of my problems.  Despite all the douchebag drivers in the DC area, I had not a single problem while on the bike.  Most of them were probably flabergasted to see a bike actually stop at a light. (in DC, pretty much all bikes roll red lights and completely blow stop signs, but that's a separate rant).

My problem on the bike was both the bike itself, and the situation.  First off, there's no warm-up when you swing your leg over a bike in the city.  You're on it, full, right from the get go.  After two or three blocks of twirling the pedals at around 110rpms (the thing has no gear range to speak of), my heart rate was somewhere around 199, only to shoot up to 299 when I grabbed both brakes and.... nothing.

I think the brakes are some kind of attempt at being lawsuit proof or something, because you really have to throttle the crap out of them to get the thing to stop.  And the fact that the bike weights about the same as an aforementioned Circulator bus probably doesn't help.  Fortunately, subsequent bikes I tried had slightly better brakes, but it's my luck to get the dodgy one on my first pick.

So you're spinning the pedals frantically, but you're doing it with an enema.  That's because the seat is way too wide at the back, so the downward motion of your legs pushes you off the front. Plus, the nose of the saddle is tilted down too much. This, combined with what feels like a crazy steep seat tube angle, puts you "on the rivet" for the entire ride.  Which in this case means the nose of the saddle is jammed deep into your rectum.  Not comfy.

Eventually you arrive at your destination, sore assed and heart pounding, and yep - you guessed it! No open docks for your bike.  To be fair, this only happened to me a few times out of the week.  There was one day I decided to walk, one day I had to walk because there were no bikes at Union Station, and one day where I found a bike at the next station a few blocks away.  On the other end, I had one day where there were no docks at my class location, and one where there were no open docks at Union Station.  Each of the no dock times I was able to find one at the next closest station, but had I been rushing to catch a train, eh.

So there you have it.  Not a horrible experience, but there's room for improvements.  But no matter how bad it is, it's still a thousand times better than Metro.

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