Friday, July 06, 2007

bike story

Gobbergo has a couple excellent posts on his bike rides on the Madison loop. He rides amazingly fast, sees amazingly much on the way, and has some amazing encounters with locals.

Though not so bucolic, I had a bike experience yesterday that may be worth reporting. On the way home from work I got a flat. This is unremarkable, in fact hardly unexpected since the rubber on my front tire is just about worn through and these summer months bring with them plentiful broken glass on the pavement.

What's worth recording is that my flat occured as I approached the new Victims of Communism Memorial on the little triangle where New Jersey crosses Massachusetts Ave. Just above the star on this map.

{click to enlarge; source: Mapquest}

Without much thinking about it, I had assumed that the heyday of memorial statues had come and gone. But it seems we do keep getting new ones.

This one, the statue, is modeled after the one that was paraded on Tiamamen Square during the democracy demonstrations of 1989. It's not very imposing or particularly aesthetic, but it's well proportioned to the space it's in -- a little triangle-shaped pocket park. I've put some Flickr photos at bottom taken on the day of dedication, as well as a photo from Tianamen, and an image of the dedication program.

I recall the day it was dedicated, just about a month ago. It was a Tuesday. I was doing my usual 6am inbound ride and encountered DC sanitation trucks blocking the street ahead. In fact, cop cars, sanitation trucks, and yellow tape had been used to seal off the whole area surrounding the little triangle where the statue had been placed. Usually, I'm able to by-pass police barriers on my bike. I do this when streets are blocked for fire emergencies and the like. The police almost always let me pass. Not this time. I had to re-route via 2nd street. There, I encountered a woman coming out of her condo building for a morning jog. She told me President Bush was arriving later in the morning to dedicate the memorial and that was the reason for all the security.

So, here I was yesterday in the same place, using the plinth of the statue for a table top as I removed tire & tube, replaced tube, mounted tire & tube, inflated, etc. All the time being grateful that for once I wasn't awkwardly squatting on the ground while doing these tasks. I even sat on the handsome granite bench to re-flate the tire, much easier on my back than the normal bent-over position.

Maybe I wasn't sufficiently respectful. The millions of victims of Russian and Chinese Communism deserve my sympathy and I have no reluctance in according it to them. But I didn't think that at the time, I just felt gratitude at the functionality of the place for my purpose and thought about the extreme preparations for Bush's visit a month before.

{flickr photos}

{Tianamen Square, 1989; source:}

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